Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Sister, Sister Alert!!! Mowry Mystery in 'Baggage Claim'

I will get to my Sister, Sister point here in a second.  Bear with me, folks! 

I will see Paula Patton in almost anything.  Quite the underrated actress, Megan from Megoblog and I were hoping for a surprise Best Supporting Actress nomination for Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire.  Alas, our dreams did not come true, but we do keep an eye out for whenever Patton is featured in something. 

Her latest, Baggage Claim, comes out in September.  Patton plays a flight attendant who is desperate to find a husband after her younger sister gets engaged, and she has thirty days to land a man before her sister's big day.  Her plan is to contact all of her exes and rekindle a romance.  Apparently, all of her former flames fly all the time, so her co-workers think it will be easy for her to come into contact with all of her ex-boyfriends.  What great co-workers! 

First of all, do girls really get freaked out if their younger siblings get engaged before them?  This happens all the time in movies.  If your sister is getting married in thirty days isn't that a sign that they are rushing into it?  Do you really want to appear more desperate than them?  Second of all, Megan cleverly pointed out that this is just a re-hashing of What's Your Number? starring Anna Faris and Chris Evans.

Yes, this is necessary.

My favorite part of the Baggage trailer comes when Patton is visiting a seemingly wealthy ex, and we come to discover that his apartment actually belongs to his current girlfriend.  This girlfriend is played by one of the Mowry twins (of said Sister, Sister fame), and she looks none too pleased in the trailer.  We only get a glimpse of her (as she is trying to barge through her own door), but she's really funny as she demands to be let into her apartment.

As soon as we realized that we were in the presence of a Mowry, my friend Kristin leaned over and said, " you think that's Tia or Tamera Mowry...or both...?"  What a keen observation, Kristin!  I don't think I have ever seen them apart.  Let's face it.  My knowledge of either Mowry's filmography is slight.  I would like to believe I am keeping part of my childhood innocence intact by assuming that the other twin is right behind her in that hallway, just as angry.  Do we have a Parent Trap-y situation going on here?  Did Tia film one day and Tamera the next?


Paula Patton makes the screen glow, but I would like to see a behind the scenes featurette about the Mowry jokesters.  

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Kingdom of Heaven Just Got Zanier...

Eileen Brennan died today.  She was 80.

I know Brennan best as Mrs. Peacock from 1985's Clue.  I've watched that movie a million times, so her face will forever be ingrained in my brain with that obnoxious feather hat and sour puss.  I love it.  Brennan was an accomplished stage and film actress.  Her later career was devoted to television.  As I look over her filmography, I am ashamed that I haven't seen more of her films.

Brennan was nominated for a BAFTA for her role as Genevieve in Peter Bogdanovich's The Last Picture Show.  She went on to reprise the role in the unofficial sequel, Texasville.  

Didn't know Brennan could sing?  An accomplished soprano, Brennan starred in the off-Broadway production of Little Mary Sunshine in 1959.  Watch her sing "La Vie en Rose" in Neil Simon's The Cheap Detective from 1978.  She slinks around the stage like a cat and gets the audience to sing with her. 

"Now just me!"

Brennan was nominated for an Oscar for playing Captain Doreen Lewis in Private Benjamin alongside Goldie Hawn.  She went on to reprise her role in the television spinoff of the same name, and she earned herself an Emmy and a Golden Globe Award.  

She starred in a slew of television including Murder, She Wrote, Magnum P. I., Taxi (Emmy nomination), Newhart, The Love Boat, and Mad About You.  The list goes on an on.  The television role I most identify her with is as Zandra on Will & Grace.  Zandra, Jack's acting coach, was so surly that you didn't know if she was going to chase you out of the room or throw a lit cigarette at you ("Don't you mean zigarette?").  She was also nominated for an Emmy for that role.  

I am sure I am missing soooo much.  Brennan had such amazing comic timing.  Not very many people come close to her.  

I will share my favorite Mrs. Peacock moment with you!  Lucky!  Near the beginning of the movie, Mr. Boddy is passing out the weapons to all the guests.  Next time you watch the movie, watch Eileen Brennan the entire time.  Mrs. Peacock is the last to receiver her present, but the entire time she looks unbelievably disappointed that a parcel hasn't been passed to her.  Anxious even.  When Boddy hands Peacock her gift, she mouths, "For me?!  Ooooh!"  It's my favorite moment of hers in the movie.  

Rest in peace, Eileen.  I hope you and Madeline Kahn are sharing lots of laughs.  

Where No One Can Hear Me Scream Like a Little Bitch

The more stuff I see for Alfonso Cuaron's Gravity, the more anxious I get.  This movie is giving me panic attacks, and it doesn't come out for another three months.

Sandra Bullock and George Clooney star as a medical examiner and an astrounaut who struggle to survive after an accident leaves them adrift in space.  Yup, Miss Congeniality and Michael Clayton floating around for two tense hours!  Adrift.  In.  Space.  

The trailer debuted a while back, but clips have been popping up everywhere.  I've tried to avoid everything since I like to watch a movie in its entirety.  I've seen the trailer before a few movies, and the trailer alone makes my pulse quicken.  Could this be the scariest movie of all time for me?  Who knows.  What I do know is that the newest poster even freaks me out.  I saw The Way, Way Back last night, and the poster caught my way out.  Check out my legit reaction:

Monday, July 29, 2013

'Fruitvale Station': A Passionate and Important Film

Fruitvale Station infuriated me.  I don't want anyone to think that the movie itself is bad, or that I am angry because I didn't like it.  The performances are strong, but the incident on which this is based only angers me the more I think about it.  The film lingers in my brain after seeing it a few days ago. 

Ryan Coogler's Station follows the last day of Oscar Grant III (Michael B. Jordan), a 22 year old Oakland, California resident who was shot by police officers on New Year's Eve in 2008.  While traveling home from New Year's festivies, Grant becomes involved in a fight on a crowded BART train.  Police officers responded to the fight reports and Grant was shot on the Fruitvale Station platform after a heated fight with officers.  Many witnesses filmed the incident on their cell phones, and the footage became a sensation. 

Coogler's film tells the story of Grant's last day.  We are firstly introduced to Grant and his girlfriend Sophina (Melonie Diaz).  She's concerned that he will be unfaithful to her, but he assures her that he wants to take care of her and their daughter, Tatiana (Ariana Neal).  By the way, their daughter might be the cutest little girl ever.  Watch out Quvenzhane Wallis!!!  Octavia Spencer plays Grant's mother, Wanda. 

At the time of his death, Grant was trying to turn his life around.  He had been in prison twice, and he didn't want to return to selling drugs on the street.  As I followed him through his day, I felt like things would turn out differently.  I wanted them too so badly.  Despite all the negative qualities that people could focus on (recently out of prison, unemployed, etc.), I really liked him even though I just "met" him.  Michael B. Jordan's quiet performance really got to me.  I loved the scenes between Oscar and Tatiana.  There is a gentleness that really rang true. 

His relationship with Wanda, however, is more complicated.  Wanda's birthday falls on New Year's Eve, a fact that only darkens a mother's tragedy.  Spencer makes Wanda a very understanding presence at the beginning of the film.  She clearly loves her son, and there is a great scene between them when Station flashes back to a scene where Wanda visits Oscar in prison. 

Coogler opens the film with the actual cell phone footage of the incident.  It feels voyeuristic, and it looms over the rest of the film.  It's weird how our culture can capture such things now, and it can get hundreds of hits on YouTube.  Station is small and feels personal, but the themes resonate in a large way. 

While on the subject of small,  Fruitvale Station is something that deserves to be seen.  I saw the above standee shoved into a small corner.  Why not have such a small advertisement on the box office counter to let customers notice it?  

Go see it.  

Thursday, July 25, 2013

'Pacific Rim': Suck it, Transformers

Pacific Rim is one of the best movies of the summer.  There.  Let's just get it right there in the open.  I have been a tad obsessed with it since I first saw the trailer, and I feel like the movie delivers on many levels.  It's a big, loud, fun blockbuster.  The best part?  It's not a sequel or a remake!

In the near future, giant Godzilla-y, Cloverfield-esque creatures come through an interdimensional portal at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean.  These ugly, angry lizards are known as Kaiju, and soon big cities like San Francisco and Manila are reduced to rubble.  No vacation spot is safe, people!  In order to fight them, the government develops huge robots to take them down.  These robots, called jaegers, succeed in combating the kaiju for a while, but the monsters get stronger. 

He's not having a good day...

Jaegers are operated by two pilots who are neurologically connected through a process known as "the drift."  These guys must be in sync with each other at all times, and they cannot allow to get involved in each other's memories or experiences.  In the beginning of Rim, we meet Raleigh Becket (Charlie Hunnam), a hotshot who pilots a Jaeger named Gipsy Danger with his brother Yancy during the first Kaiju resistance.  During a fight Yancy is killed, and Raleigh is traumatized (he was still connected to the drift when he died). 

Soon the Kaiju have become so powerful that the Jaegar project is in the process of being shut down.  A wall is being constructed to hold the Kaiju back, but in the meantime, the four remaining Jaegar are deployed to Hong Kong to hold of the beasts until the wall is complete.  Pentecost (Idris Elba), the Jaegar commander, enlists Raleigh to come back and fight until the wall is completely fortified. 

All right, all right, enough plot.  Pacific Rim packs the plot in at the beginning to get everyone up to speed, and then the movie really gets to show what it wants to show.  Robots beating the living crap out of monsters.  This is straight-up entertainment.  Big, colorful, loud entertainment.  Have I mentioned that it's robots fighting monsters?  It's fun and awesome.  Plain and simple. 

Del Toro's flick is a blast of fresh air this summer.  I am so sick of sequels and remakes.  I had a better time during Pacific Rim than I did in Star Trek: Into Darkness and all of the Transformers movies combined.  He includes some great characters like Charlie Day as a Kaiju enthusiast who clashes with his scientist parter, Burn Gorman.  Rinko Kikuchi (Oscar nominee from Babel) plays Mako, a young trainee who gets paired as Raleigh's new partner.  There is a great scene where Raleigh takes down all the other potential co-pilots during training, but Mako puts him in his place. 

I love the design of the movie.  It's not slick at all and has a grungy, dirty look to it.  When the Kaiju and Jaegers fight in Hong Kong in the climactic battle scene, the neon purple and red lights from the city almost pop off the screen.  I feel like I need to personally begin a campaign for this to get a Production Design nomination, because the movie deserves it. 

Does anyone else remember the video game from the 80's, Rampage?  The one where you tear down cities and avoid being shot down?  Rim made me want to play it.  Random.  

The movie isn't performing as well as everyone thought it would at the box office, and it makes me really sad.  Go see this movie, people!  Summer is the time for loud, stupid entertainment, Pacific Rim knows what it is.  Sure, it has really cheesy dialogue, and it goes on too long sometimes, but when was the last time you saw something that was this fun that wasn't something you've seen over and over?  I was happy to get an original back story and new character at this point of July. 


'The Conjuring': No, Seriously...Get Out of the House

I was ridiculously excited to see James Wan's The Conjuring.  I love me a good spookfest, and the movie delivers.  Originality isn't the movie's strong suit (haunted house, exorcism, the works), but it's one of the strongest of its kind.  Man, is it effective.

A prologue introduces us to Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga), a married team of paranormal investigators who have seen their share of possessions and hauntings.  She's a clairvoyant and he's demonologist, and together they explain that sometimes people's imaginations run wild when they hear creaky stairs or the wind howling outside their bedroom window.  They do, however, stumble on an actual haunting.  BUM BUM BUUUUUMMM!!!

Carolyn and Roger Perron (Lili Taylor and Ron Livingston) move into a huge house in Rhode Island with their five daughters.  Everything goes smoothly, except that their dog refuses to enter the house.  Hey, Perrons...get out now.  Your dog doesn't want to go inside, so pack the U-Haul back up and get the eff out of there!  The Perron family soon begins to experience some serious paranormal activity.  It begins small: doors close and floorboards creak.  Their daughters feel a presence in their bedroom at night, and they can also occasionally smell rotting meat throughout the house.  Carolyn's body becomes plagued with large, purple bruises.

Lorraine feels a particular malevolent spirit has latched itself onto the Perron family, so leaving the house won't save them.  In order to perform an excorcism on the house, the Warrens must gather enough evidence to present to the Catholic Church and receive permission.  This is where stuff gets pretty spooky.  While researching the house's history Lorraine and Ed discover numerous accounts of murder on the property (I don't want to spoil anything, so that's all I will say).  Ed sets up thermal cameras all around the house, and they illicit the help of Drew, a cameraman and Brad, a local police man. 

I don't want to say too much, because The Conjuring is actually really scary.  It's not the most original horror movie out there, but it's incredibly effective.  The build is slow, and, by the end, all hell has broken loose.  I thought Insidious, Wan's last horror effort, lost steam by the third act.  While I appreciate the visuals of it, I thought it became hokey and borderline stupid.  The Conjuring is tauter and more focused. 

It also helps that he has strong actors to work with in Farmiga and Taylor.  Wilson is becoming sort of a Wan staple (he will appear in Wan's Insidious: Chapter 2 later this year).  I don't remember the last time I saw Taylor on screen; she is an actress of intense focus, and it balances with Farmiga's calm demeanor. 

The Conjuring reminds me of a camp fire story.  Sure, it has the standard, jump scares, but it's more concerned with giving you goosebumps. 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Fake Daria Movie Looks Better than the Rest of the Summer's Offerings

CollegeHumor's fake Daria movie looks better than most of the crap that comes out at this time of year.  August is usually a dumping ground for movies, but I would be first in line if it was legit.  Can someone greenlight this?  Righ this second? 

Audrey Plaza (whose The To-Do List opens this Friday) dons the big, circle glasses as animation's most droll female protagonist Daria Morgendorffer.  She might be the perfect Daria.  I remember when everyone thought Janeane Garofalo voiced Daria, but everyone was disappointed to learn otherwise.  Thank God MTV didn't make a live-action Daria movie already, because I would demand they remake it with Plaza in the role. 

I don't know who these two people are (they are probably super famous, and I look like a boob), but they are perfect as Daria's sister, Quinn, and her sidekick, Jane.  In 2011, MTV even made a theoretical "dream cast" starring Plaza.  I don't know how I missed this.  I am shaking my fist at myself from two years ago. 

Check out the fake trailer!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

A Whale of a Controversy

When I went to SeaWorld as a kid, the only thing I remember was that I really wanted to sit in the splash zone.  For some reason, getting doused by whale-inhabited water was the highest my ambition climbed.  Like most children, I never thought about how a whale or dolphin would feel about swimming in a bathtub and entertaining the masses ten times a day.  I forgot all about orca whales in my adult life until, in 2010, a SeaWorld trainer was killed by a whale named Tilikum, a bull orca who has lived in captivity for the majority of his life.  Tilikum's behavior is the focus of the new documentary, Blackfish, and I am anxious to see it. 

Blackfish, directed by Gabriela Cowperthwaite, focuses primarily on Tilikum's captivity.  The orca whale has killed three people, but the most publicized death was when he killed trainer Dawn Brancheau in front of an audience.  Cowperthwaite became interested in the capture and training of whales and wanted to make Blackfish because she wanted to see if there was "more to the story" than Brancheau getting her ponytail caught in Tilikum's mouth. 

Blackfish debuted at the Sundance Film Festival in January, and it was quickly snatched up for distribution.  The film has received quite positive notices.  It currently holds a perfect score of 100% on Rotten Tomatoes with the top critics.  In their review, NPR said, "Its argument never fails to be gripping, its structure perfect executed to maximize its persuasiveness."  The film has already nabbed up European distributors. 

SeaWorld, however, went on the offensive when the movie was released.  An email was sent out to over 50 critics with the subject line,  "A dishonest movie," and breaks down the movie's alleged inaccuracies.  Fred Jacobs, SeaWorld's Vice President of Communications and sender of said email, claims that no animal has been captured for SeaWorld in over 35 years.  He questions waaaay more than that, and the film responds to each of Jacobs' comments.  You can read them all on Blackfish's official website here

I am interested no matter what.  The trailer alone sold me when I saw it weeks ago.  Will you be taking your kids to SeaWorld next time you plan a summer vacation?  Check out the trailer below:

Marks the Spot

I have always been a fan of X-Men, but it kind of felt like there was never unanimous support thrown behind any of the film adaptations.  The second flick, X2, was my favorite, and I really enjoyed 2011's X-Men: First Class.  This past Saturday, director Bryan Singer surprised fans in San Diego at Comic-Con by introducing the cast of the latest superhero entry, X-Men: Days of Future Past, and two new posters dropped. 

The poster mash-up the faces of the original Magneto and Professor Charles Xavier (Ian McKellan and Patrick Stewart) with the First Class Magneto and Professor Xavier (Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy).  I barely noticed a difference with the poster on the right.  The faces of Fassbender and McKellen blend startingly well.  McAvoy and Stewart, not so much. 

Days is based on a two-part installment that was originally published in 1981.  The comic jumps back and forth between the present day where the X-Men fight Mystique's Brotherhood of Evil Mutants and the future in a time when the X-Men failed to kill Senator Robert Kelly.  In the future, Sentinels (giant, mutant-hunting robot baddies) hunt down mutants and put them in camps.  Kitty Pryde (you know, Ellen Page in the movies) warns the present-day X-Men, and they must prevent this future from happening.  I think I got that right.  I think. 

I had no idea that the new X-Men was going to be so ambitious.  It's a bit surprising that they didn't split this into two movies (one film per comic) like all the franchises want to do lately.  Either way, the posters are cool. 

Monday, July 22, 2013

How the HELL Did I Miss the New Trailer for 'Catching Fire'?!??!?!?

I don't know how this happened.  Normally, I am on top of something like this.  The new trailer for Catching Fire dropped sometime this weekend, and I am just finding it now.  Let me say this, my friends, this trailer is sort of epic.  I was worried about the director change (Gary Ross to Francis Lawrence), but the imagery and drama of this trailer calms my fears.

Doesn't that look awesome?!  I love some of the photography in this trailer.

We see this images very early on in the trailer.  The first is Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) walking to her new neighborhood, and the second is when she is on the train (perhaps on her way to the new Games, or her ride back after the first?).  I just love those two shots.  The first is very bleak (almost black and white), and the other is kind of opulent and everything is symmetrical. 

We get a bit of the beginning of the uprising, and one of the moments I am most looking forward to is when Caesar Flickerman (Stanley Tucci) interviews Katniss and her dress becomes a Mockingjay.  Suck on that, Capitaol!  Boom! 

Speaking of Stanley Tucci!  We get to see him all grand and over-the-top, and I LOVE how much he is chewing the scenery.  He literally roars.  I love it. 

Speaking of supporting characters!  Not only do we get to see returning favorites like Elizabeth Banks as Effie and Lenny Kravitz as Cinna, we get our first real glimpse of Johanna Mason (Jena Malone) and Finnick Odair (Sam Clafin). 

Now we all know how much I dislike Malone.  Ok, maybe you don't, but I really don't like her.  For some reason, I feel like I won't mind her in this.  Yes, all we see is her angrily swinging an ax, but who knows.  Maybe I will appreciate her from now on.  Finnick on the other hand looks ridiculous.  I understand that it's only a quick glimpse, but he looks like a guy selling homemade pineapple ashtrays on some Hawaiian interstate exit. 

The look of the opening ceremony is revealed a bit as well.  The Hunger Game in this adaptation kind of looks like the opening ceremonies of the Olympics.  Is Danny Boyle the coordinator of The Quarter Quell?

We also get to see a bit of the aquatic arena in this trailer.

So what does everyone think?  

Friday, July 19, 2013

'Clueless' Just Graduated

Today, Clueless turns eighteen.  Cher Horowitz would be graduating.  Ah...

I first saw Clueless when it came out on VHS.  My cousin Natasha (who lived across the street) invited me over to watch it with her, and I couldn't have been more thrilled.  Natasha was all freckles and strawberry blonde hair.  A beautiful oasis that this young gay boy could look up to. 

I didn't really get all the humor in Clueless on my first viewing.  I was eleven or twelve when I first saw it, so I sort-of knew what all the high school jokes meant.  I mean Cher, Dionne, Tai and Elton were fifteen.  Much more mature and sophisticated than I was at my ignorant stage of life.  They had cell phones.  They could drive.  They could go to a house party and steal a plastic snowmen Christmas decorations!  Hello new favorite flick!  I also just liked looking at the girls in the fun, pretty clothes.

I knew that Clueless was a modern take on Jane Austen's Emma, but why read a literary classic when you can have Alicia Silverstone and Paul Rudd act it out with fun jargon!  

One of the best things about Amy Heckerling's ode to California teens is the performance by Brittany Murphy.  Murphy's Tai is awkward and relatable.  After Silverstone's Cher takes her under her wing, she becomes a popular Betty like the rest of the group.  It was a breakout role for Murphy, and she provided one of the movie's most memorable, and quoted, lines.


Clueless is just a great movie.  It introduced me to actors that I will always love.  

"Would you look at that body language?  Legs crossed towards each other.  That's an unequivocal sex invite."

I can't even quote everything because it's gold.  Obviously.  Here are my favorites though.

This might be my first introduction to a gay character.


It just goes on and on.  One of the great things about Clueless is that Entertainment Weekly did a photo shoot for their annual reunions issue.  

Congratulations on graduating Clueless.  Hopefully, somewhere Natasha is watching it too.