Thursday, October 30, 2014

Random (Halloween) Poll: Which Sanderson Sister is Your Favorite?

I was going to write something up about Halloween movies for this year's holiday, but everyone is doing that. Instead, I would like to focus briefly on my all-time favorite Halloween movie: Hocus Pocus. Being from the north, I appreciate the leaves, the jack-o-lanterns and the general autumn-y feel to the whole thing. It will be very hard for a movie to unseat this Disney classic.

Everyone has a favorite Sanderson Sister, but I want to know which was your favorite. Each one has their own lovable qualities, so feel free to vote more than once.  Happy Halloween everyone!  

What's the Matter with Kids Today? And Adults?

Jason Reitman's Men Women & Children is a somber affair, and that's an understatement. The all-star cast spends the entire film sexting each other and not connecting. Yes, I realize that's the point, but does it have to be so serious and dour? 

The glow of cell phones and tablets illuminate almost everyone's faces at all times. Adam Sandler's Don uses his son's desktop to watch porn, and he doesn't realize that his wife, Helen (Rosemarie DeWitt), has created an online dating profile to meet men. Chris, their son, spends a decent amount of his time sexting girls and looking up domination porn. Jennifer Garner plays a mother that is so obsessed with protecting her daughter that she monitors her navigation on a GPS, and she has created a system to delete messages before her daughter can even see them. She's kind of like Margaret White with a cell phone package. 

If infidelity isn't your forte, Ansel Elgort plays a football player who draws ire from his fellow players when he suddenly quits the team after reading Carl Sagan. He no longer sees the point of doing something so insignificant, but he connects with Garner's daughter, Brandy. The pair sit in almost silence in the library, a romance blooms, and Elgort spends the majority of his screen time with a wet face. Did he watch The Fault in Our Stars before every take? 

While some of the acting is solid (Garner is the most interesting, DeWitt is the most wasted), some of the other characters don't seem fleshed out or real. Judy Greer plays a photographer who is trying to get her daughter famous, but the scandalous snapshots on her website might stand in the way. It's all very interesting, but in this day and age, it's not very compelling. The similarly-themed drama Disconnect from two years ago dealt with technology ruining lives but in a more specific way. 

There is a shot where DeWitt and Sandler are playing Words with Friends silently in bed next to each other. If they are dying to connect, all they need to do is turn to each other. Don't ask me to relate or sympathize if you are going to be lazy.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Fantastic Felines of Film

Since today is National Cat Day, I wanted to give a shout out (meow out?) to some of my favorite felines in movies. I have always been a cat person (Shut up, shut up! I love dogs too!), and I've always thought that they have gotten a bad rap compared to other animals depicted on screen.

I could have made this a big countdown, and I definitely left some more iconic kitties off the list. Sorry, Cat from Breakfast at Tiffany's...sorry, Oliver from Oliver and Company...sorry, Aslan from Narnia. Here are my favorite six kitty cats from the big screen.   

This is more of a brief obituary for the white cat from National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. The poor thing never had a proper burial, I don't think. Every cat owner is wary when they haul out their holiday decorations, because they know that their cats might possibly break a beloved ornament. In the case of Lampoon, the curious cat electrocutes himself while comping on some Christmas tree lights. 

I'm paranoid that I'm going to come home and find my cat fried on the living room floor. Rest in peace, little guy. 

I know this isn't necessarily a traditional choice considering that Michelle Pfeiffer's Selina Kyle wasn't exactly a cat. Well, she kind of was, right? 

Pfeiffer's incarnation of Catwoman will probably forever be my favorite, and the way those cats revive Selina is downright...scary. I distinctly remember hiding my face during this sequence when I saw it in the theater back in 1992. 

My friend had me watch his Siamese cat for a few months, and I was instantly reminded of the mischievous cats from Lady & the Tramp

It's sooooo racist...

Can you have a list of great cats without The Cowardly Lion? In a word, no. 

Thackery Binx might be the best name for a cat ever. 

In case you have never seen Hocus Pocus (kill yourself), Thackery Binx was a young boy who was turned into a cat by The Sanderson Sisters in 1693 when he tried to protect his baby sister. When the witches are resurrected 300 years later (man, I need to watch this movie...) Binx is the guide for the trio of teens who will stop at nothing to turn those witches to dust.  

Surely, Binx was responsible for some young people throwing out the idea that black cats are scary and evil. I mean, he turns back into a cute boy at the end--he can't be that bad, right?!

The honor of top feline has to go to Sassy from Homeward Bound: The Incredibly Journey

Not only was she an adorable Himalayan cat, but she was bitchily and sassily voiced by none other than Sally Field. Let me repeat that: two-time Academy Award winner Sally Field has voiced the greatest kitty cat of all time. 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

It's Rita Wilson's Birthday!

I've always felt that Rita Wilson should have a bigger career. She's charming, sweet, and so damn likable! I mean, she's married to Tom Hanks for goodness sake! Wilson celebrates her 58th birthday today.

She's done a lot of smaller roles in romantic comedies like Runaway Bride, Sleepless in Seattle, and It's Complicated, but my absolute favorite performance is from Rob Reiner's The Story of Us. She played Michelle Pfeiffer's best friend, and she delivers a great monologue about the monotony of the every day activities of marriage. Unfortunately, I had trouble finding it online, but it's featured in the trailer. Story wasn't very well liked (except from Owen Gleiberman) when it originally came out, but I still like it.  

Wilson has also produced some hits (My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Mamma Mia!), and she popped up on HBO's Girls as Marnie's mother. She's great in the role--hopefully she will be on more episodes. While her husband had a great year last year, Wilson continued her music career, and she has a real soothing sound (her album, AM/FM came out in 2012).  

Happy Birthday, Rita Wilson!!!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Well, I Saw 'The Judge'...

To be perfectly honest, there was nothing about The Judge that drew me in. Nothing. There's always one major fall release that does this to me, and this father-son drama was it. When I showed up at my local AMC, the only thing starting was the Robert Downey Jr./Robert Duvall drama, and I was too stubborn to wait for another movie to start or go home. 

Downey plays a cocky attorney named Hank who returns to his small hometown when his mother dies. He reconnects with his two brothers (Vincent D'Onofrio and Jeremy Strong), but he clashes with his headstrong father, played by Duvall. Instead of becoming an intimate family drama, The Judge turns into a mixture of family dysfunction (a fight seriously happens outside during a huge thunderstorm) and courtroom melodrama when Duvall's respected judge is accused of running down a former felon that he convicted 20 years ago. Oh, and Duvall has cancer. One pile on another pile on another pile. 

Just when I thought I wouldn't like anything The Judge has to offer, I am reminded how great of an actor Downey Jr. really is. Sure, he's playing a smart-mouthed, cocky attorney, and he's definitely corned the market on the good-looking smarmy guy thing. I was so happy to see him out of that damn Iron Man suit. He might quarrel with his father nonstop, but it felt rather refreshing to see him not surrounded by blinding CGI the entire time.

The childhood love story between Downey and Vera Farmiga is a bit stunted, but Farmiga should be in everything. The running time on this drama is sort of killer (it clocks in just under 2 and a half hours), and it kind of feels like something could have been left out. The tension between this father and son doesn't really settle until Hank is defending his father, but the reasoning as to why these two keep fighting isn't really clear. Hank's rambunctious younger days don't seem like enough of a reason for these two to continually bite each other's heads off.

While it's not something I necessarily wanted to check out, it had a homegrown charm. Can you really do better than Robert Duvall and Robert Downey Jr. duking it out? The Judge reminds us that Downey Jr. is one of his generation's best actors even if the material doesn't live up to his talents. 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Only Shot in the New 'Avengers' Trailer That I Care About...

The first teaser for Marvel's The Avengers: Age of Ultron came out late Wednesday night, and it's superhero serious. Not only does it suggest that the clan of spandex-clad frenemies return, but it also suggest that they are crushed by this opposition. Thor drops his hammer, Robert Downey Jr. looks troubled, and Captain Ameria's shield is ripped in half. Even newcomer Elizabeth Olsen (as Scarlet Witch) is seen silently screaming. A creepy version of "I've Got No Strings" from Pinocchio plays in the background.

How is the trailer? It's pretty epic, but surely fanboys will have something to bitch about. Can't win 'em all, right? While there are some cool shots (including some random ballet dancers that I highly enjoy), my favorite shot has to be this one. Are you surprised?  

Jason Adams has a hilarious comparison over at MNPP

Random Poll: Which 'Into the Woods' Cover Will You Buy?

Earlier today, Entertainment Weekly dropped the cover for their upcoming holiday movie preview issue, and it features Rob Marshall's Into the Woods on 4 separate collectible covers. The costumes look pretty great for the most part (why doesn't The Wolf...have a wolf nose?), and I am still waiting for some character posters to drop. EW also has some concept production design and costume art here.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Fifty Shades of Suck: The Idiot in the Cupboard

Anastasia Steele has a slight pregnancy scare in the latest chapter of Fifty Shades Darker. It's not even good or dramatic (no shocker there). Every time someone thinks they miiiight have a baby, I always want them to launch into a rendition of "There Are Worst Things I Could Do," but, alas, we can't always get what we want. Especially when it comes to this damn book. 

You can hear Megan yawning her face off during this chapter--much like I did in the last one. How the living hell do people actually read this stuff? It's not good. The sex is even boring now. She takes her time taking off his clothes and describing every detail...she calls him a god...he stretches out her nipples...and then she collapses into a million little pieces around him. YAWN!!! 

If you are new to Fifty Shades of Suck, my best gal pal Megan and I meet up every week to read a chapter from the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy, but we provide our own snarky commentary.  Last year, we subjected ourselves to the first book, and now we are chugging right along through the first sequel, Fifty Shades Darker.  If you would like to play catch up, the first set of podcasts are available here, and Fifty Shades Darker chapters are available below.  We hope you enjoy, and share them with your friends!!!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Willkommen, Emma!

The last time Cabaret was revived on Broadway (back in 1998), it became a celebrity stage institution. Like Chicago, Cabaret hosted a slew of well-known actors and actresses in the roles of The Emcee and Sally Bowles. When I saw it, Gina Gershon pleaded for me not to tell mama, and Matt McGrath pranced around shirtless as the playful master of ceremonies. 

Emma Stone is set to take over the role of Sally from Michelle Williams on November 11th. Entertainment Weekly has the first official image of Stone in her sexy lingerie, and, sorry to all the haters out there, she looks fantastic. I've always suspected that she would have been great for Sally, because men are always drawn to here, but they can feel comfortable with her as well.

Surely, a lot of men would have a hard time saying "no" to Stone's Sally if she asked to room with them...

Thursday, October 16, 2014

In Case You Needed to be Convinced of Neil Patrick Harris...

No one actually views Neil Patrick Harris hosting the Academy Awards as a bad thing, right? Didn't think so. In case there is one person out there who is against NPH taking the next step toward EGOT hosting, I ask this individual to take a look at Harris hosting the Tony and Emmy Awards.

So, we are guaranteed some musical numbers, correct? For good measure, let's watch NPH kill it as Hedwig from this year's Tony Awards.  

You're still secretly on the fence? Well, here's a picture of Neil Patrick Harris on a unicorn--a poster that I proudly have in my collection. Nuff said. Suck it, haters. Wait, there's no such thing as a NPH hater. 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Walk in the Park: 'Jurassic World' Poster Drops

You know you want to buy tickets. I am just going to leave this here since I don't have much to say about it. I am totally geeking out over this movie.  

Should We 'Burn' This 'Friggin' Poster?

The poster and trailer for Robin Williams' final film, A Merry Friggin' Christmas, came out yesterday, and I immediately thought of the Coen Brothers' Burn After Reading when I saw the one sheet. 

Burn's design was based on famed designer Saul Bass' work, so does that mean Merry's is too? Or is it just copying it?  

Family Dysfunction: 'Leave' the 'Skeleton' in the Closet?

Family dysfunction is quite common in film. An audience can laugh at the familiarity between the characters and be taught a lesson about their own brood. Does it always work? Not necessarily. Last year's August: Osage County was a hit with the awards crowd, but that was based on a lauded, Pulitzer-Prize winning play. The Skeleton Twins and This is Where I Leave You are this fall's two dysfunctional family offerings, but are they both worth taking the time to visit?

Jonathan Tropper's This is Where was one of the best books I've read in a long time, so I was anxious for it to get the big-screen treatment. What would stay? What would go? Gone Girl is a great example of a novel being adapted and slimmed down, but I'm not necessarily sure that Tropper did his own novel justice. 

Jason Bateman's Judd Altman gets hit with the double whammy of his father's passing and his wife's infidelity with his boss within days of each other. His father's last dying wish was for the entire family to sit shiva, even though the Altman's aren't "particularly Jewish," a concept that is hammered into the audience. His siblings include the tired Wendy (Tina Fey, not tired enough in my opinion), argumentative Paul (Corey Stoll, channeling some hot Michael Cerveris Sweeney Todd bald realness), and impulsive and childish Philip (Adam Drive, in full-cusp-of-superstardom mode). Their mother, played by Jane Fonda, just had an impressive boob job, and she is about to embark on the anniversary tour of the family therapy book that she wrote and humiliated her kids with. 

In addition to the Altmans are an abundance of spouses and girlfriends and family acquaintances. This film is almost bursting with characters that it's like you need to go outside and take a breath at Thanksgiving just to get some air. Tropper's screenplay barely skims the surface of how Judd feels about his father, and it spends too much time making sure it hits all the "important" stuff that fans are wanting to see (I was most disappointed that Judd didn't hurt the lit birthday cake at a naked Dax Shepard). 

The cast definitely has chemistry, and Bateman is allowed to be truly sad in his scruffiness instead of someone's straight man. Surely, this must have been a fun set to work on, but the connection between Judd and his father feels kind of lost. There is one scene where he remembers his father giving him a nickname, but it hardly feels like enough. The rest of the shenanigans surrounding his family weigh down the true discoveries of the novel. While I understand that the Altmans fight, I got a bit sick of them chasing each other around the front yard and fighting with each other. Loved it on the page but not on the screen. Perhaps I will be able to appreciate the Altman clan down the road when the details of Tropper's pages are fuzzier in my mind.  

Unlike This is Where I Leave You, The Skeleton Twins primarily focuses on the relationship between Maggie (Kristen Wiig) and Milo (Bill Hader), a pair of twins who happen to cheat death on the same day. Milo gets closer. He slices his wrists in the bathtub, and Maggie is about to swallow a handful of pills when she receives the call from the hospital. They haven't seen each other in over ten years, but, like most siblings, they pick up right where they left off. 

There is an easiness between Maggie and Milo, and that's probably because Wiig and Hader spent so much time working together on Saturday Night Live. Their relationship is a perfect demonstration of how siblings act around one another (Fey and Driver have this ease together in This is Where). It's an unspoken, comfortable bond that is so present it almost radiates from them. 

At the doctor's suggestion, Maggie takes Milo home to live with her and her cheerful husband, Lance (Luke Wilson, smiley and gung ho in every sense of the word). Maggie and Lance have been trying to have a baby, but Lance doesn't know that Maggie is hiding her birth control pills and sleeping with other men. Milo begins working for Lance's landscaping company to make some extra money, and he lies to people as to why he is in town (he says that he has an agent back in Los Angeles). Ty Burrell plays Milo's former married flame, and his presence causes a rift between Milo and his sister. 

Wiig might not be everyone's cup of tea, but she doesn't get the dramatic opportunities that she should. When people complain that she's obnoxious, I encourage them to watch her performance as Jason Bateman's cheating wife in Extract, and she's given a meatier role here with Maggie. She's the girl who never left town, but you never took the opportunity to get to know. Hader's Milo is adorable in his desperation. Thrown out of the comfort of the city, it's amusing to watch him try to pick up men in the local gay bar only to find out that it's dyke night. 

Skeleton also takes place around Halloween, and my heart just ached to be around pumpkins, falling leaves and sweater weather. The entire film felt like it was ready to be warmed up by a big, oversized sweatshirt. 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Fifty Shades of Suck: Benefits of a Childhood Bedroom

Talk about a missed opportunity!

In this week's long-awaited chapter of Fifty Shades Darker, we pick up right where we left off. Ana just bid 24Gs of Christian's money on his own cabin in Aspen. Yup, that's the kind of writer EL James is--the most literary tension this tiresome tome can muster is when Ana wonders if her beau will be mad that she spent his money. 

Christian takes Ana to his childhood bedroom, and I was hoping that he'd bread into a male version of the SNL hit "(Doing It in My) Twin Bed." Alas, I've learned that I never get what I want out of this wretched book. You can almost hear how annoyed I am while I read it in this week's podcast. 

James also spend a lot of time describing a fireworks display. I've honestly never heard fireworks described in such detail, because, you know, authors would normally just write, "there were fireworks." Make sure Ana doesn't get hold of any Disney movie made in the last 20 years, because she will pee her pants in glee watching the grandeur above Cinderella's castle. What a boob.  

Oh, and then there is some semblance of a plot later. It comes at literally the last 2 pages of the chapter, and it might perk up our narcoleptic listeners. Probably not, but still.  

If you are new to Fifty Shades of Suck, my best gal pal Megan and I meet up every week to read a chapter from the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy, but we provide our own snarky commentary.  Last year, we subjected ourselves to the first book, and now we are chugging right along through the first sequel, Fifty Shades Darker.  If you would like to play catch up, the first set of podcasts are available here, and Fifty Shades Darker chapters are available below.  We hope you enjoy, and share them with your friends!!!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

That's 'Life.'


Life Partners looks absolutely adorable.

Leighton Meester and Gillian Jacobs play Sasha and Paige, a pair of besties who seem to grow apart after they each find a life partner. Sasha is a lesbian and Paige is straight. Everyone has had that issue, right? Best friends always have to transition when the other begins giving their time to someone else, but Partners looks very sweet and funny.  

How is this not a real fundraiser? 

Has there been a movie recently where the sexuality of a gay character has been blazed across the screen like this? I can't think of one, but, of course, people will say "straight people don't need to do that..." blah blah blah.  

I've always been a fan of Meester (spotted...), so I am glad she gets to do a lighter comedy-drama instead of schlock like The Roommate. I only recently became aware of who Jacobs is (thank you RuPaul's Drag Race), and she's utterly delightful. Partners co-stars Adam Brody and Gabourey Sidibe. 

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Happy Birthday Matt Damon!

Matt Damon (formerly of Matt Damon and Ben Affleck) is one of our most dependable and versatile actors. To me, he always delivers--whether he's trying to save the world in Elysium or make chalk appear on a chalkboard in Good Will Hunting. Okay, maybe I just have a giant crush on him. Damon always seemed like a genuine nice guy, so I don't accept anyone's alleged dislike for him. He turns 44 today.  

If I had to pick a favorite Damon performance I would probably have to go with his turn as slippery serial killer Tom Ripley in The Talented Mr. Ripley. It's probably a cliched choice, but not very many actors would have played Ripley at that point in their careers. Damon just won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay for Hunting, and 2 years later he starred in Anthony Minghella's sophisticated thriller. It might have been the first time I saw a gay person portrayed on the big screen--even though he, you know, killed people. 

And then there was the neon green bathing suit on the beach early in the film...

Aaaaaand the bathtub scene between him and Jude Law...

Yeah, yeah, it's in French...still sexy...

Now that I think about it, Damon is in bathing suits a lot...


So, Happy Birthday, Matt Damon! Hope you are in your birthday suit today as much as you were in bathing suits in your movies!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

A Calculated Marriage--One Diary Entry at a Time

If you are one of the people who hasn't read Gillian Flynn's insanely readable novel, Gone Girl, I suggest you don't read this review. 

Let's just get one thing out of the way. Flynn has adapted her own novel with surgery-like precision. It should definitely satisfy rabid readers, and the things she left out are merely the collateral damage that comes when adapting a novel. Get over it, people. It's a very confident screenplay, and the first lines come directly from her novel. 

Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) is wondering about his wife's head. In the opening shot, his wife, Amy (Rosamund Pike), is resting her head on Nick's chest, and she looks at him (at us) with a curious expression--her eyes wide. Nick says he wants to know what Amy is thinking, and we, the audience, are right there with him (especially if we've read the novel). Nick wants "to crack her head open...unspool her brain..." These are horrifying images that will not help Nick in the upcoming weeks. 

Nick arrives home on his fifth wedding anniversary, and his wife is missing. The living room suggests a struggle, but Amy is nowhere to be found. When the police arrive, it becomes apparent that Nick doesn't know what his wife does all day. They moved to Missouri to look after Nick's dying mother after both losing their writing jobs in the recession, and the film jumps back and forth from their courtship and relationship drama detailed in Amy's diary to the growing media frenzy that leads everyone to think that Nick is responsible for Amy's disappearance. 

Gone Girl is a meticulously crafted film. While the novel is an absolute page-turner, David Fincher has created a crime drama that is suspenseful, funny, and a sprawling tale of marriage gone sour. It is one of the best ensembles I've seen all year, and every actor brings their A-game to this highly-anticipated adaptation. 

The film drops Nick's narration, and Fincher sets us up to be a viewer to the violence that is about to take place. We watch his every move, and we almost want to dial that AMY TIPS hotline every time Affleck raises his voices or gets angry in frustration. The film is a marital battleground. It will look like a standard man vs. woman, psycho bitch vs. selfish jerk standoff, but it really is about how we communicate with each other in relationships. If these two were more upfront and honest with each other, would any of the events in Gone Girl have happened? Does that even matter? This is a marriage bloodbath, and we have front row seats to the carnage. "Marriage is hard work," Amy writes in her diary. 

The film's ugly sleekness is captured by Fincher's trademark dark aesthetic. As soon as Fincher was announced as Gone's director, I knew it was in deft hands. Fincher and Flynn are a sort of nightmarish dream team, so it's no wonder that they are teaming up again for HBO's Utopia. While reading the book is sort of a thrilling he said/she said, the film feels open yet intimate at the same time. Behind closed doors, Nick confides in his sister Margot while the assault of the media lies waiting outside to devour him. It's alive and scary. 

I was most looking forward to see Pike's portrayal of Amy Dunne. Isn't everyone? Every person has an opinion about how this character should be portrayed (the same way how everyone had their "own vision" of another Fincher leading lady, Lisbeth Salander), but Pike knocks it out of the park. Initially, I thought that her voice would give away her calculated intentions through her diary voice overs, but Pike's calmness is soothing. Readers will be wary of every syllable she speaks. Affleck is perfectly cast. He's simultaneously cocky and earnest--he treats his lack of knowledge over Amy's daily activities with a shrug as if he's accepted that Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus. 

Is this one of the most extreme battle of the sexes ever committed to film? Maybe. The audience I saw Gone Girl with was obviously a mixture of fans of Flynn's novel and newbies. I suspect that a lot of men in my sold out audience were brought by women who read the book, because they had the most vocal and extreme reactions. Nick and Amy's reunion had my theater in stitches: a mixture of shock, laughter, and light applause uniting them. The theatergoers seemed divided on the ending, and one guy in the restroom loudly proclaimed, "I was going to propose to my girlfriend, but now...I'm not so sure."  

Gone Girl is easily one of the best films of the year. It's deliberate and calculating and fierce. It's a conversation starter about gender and marriage. Surely, husbands and wives will be talking about it on their drives home, and it will linger with them for days. It's a deadly good time. 

Friday, October 3, 2014

'Desperate Housewives' Tenth Anniversary: An Appreciation

Before there was Scandal and How to Get Away with Murder, ABC debuted Marc Cherry's Desperate Housewives, a sudsy tribute to women that forced everyone to ask: how much do we want to know about our neighbors? I remember opening my Entertainment Weekly, and a two page ad featuring all of the women welcomed me on the inside cover. I knew I had to watch this show, and I didn't even know what it was about. Desperate Housewives celebrates its 10th anniversary today.  

At the time of its debut, there was nothing really like it on television. Nighttime soap operas like Dynasty and Dallas hadn't been around since the late 1980's, and Housewives tapped into a genre that was prime for a resurgence. Cherry originally stated that his inspiration for the show was combination of "American Beauty and Knots Landing," and the four women at the center made it instantly watchable.  

Of the four women, I had always loved Marcia Cross' Bree Van de Kamp. Perhaps it was my burgeoning love of redheads at the time, but I had never seen Cross before. Her clipped way of speaking and her obsessive household precision made me love her. Bree's outward projection of how life should be always felt like what the show was about. She kept a sunny demeanor on the outside, but inside she was grappling to keep control of her husband and her two kids who were slowly distancing themselves from her. Bree represented the manicured lawns and the spotless kitchens, but behind Cross's beautiful porcelain face was fear, desperation, and loneliness.  I wish someone would cast Cross in something, because I miss watching her so much. There is so much about Bree that would make me not like her (she's very religious and a proud card-carrying member of the NRA), but she was always my favorite of the four main housewives.

When the show debuted in 2004, I remember that everyone was talking about it. It was before I ever got a DVR or was versed in watching television, so I never watched Housewives during its original run. I borrowed the first season from my college friend Ryan (also a Bree enthusiast), and I was instantly hooked. Interestingly enough, I didn't tune into the second season on television. I purposely waited until each season was on DVD, and I binged it as soon as I got home. Desperate Housewives was quite literally the first show I binge-watched. Sorry, Netflix. 

The first season centered on the mystery of why their friend Mary Alice shot herself, and it peeled back the curtain of these women's lives. Why everyone continued to live on Wisteria Lane is a mystery, because everything happened on that street. The yearly "disaster episode" was always one of the season's highlights, but it's quite surprising that none of these characters decided to move off the Lane. A tornado touched down...convicts moved in...houses burned to the ground...people were shot, strangled, and run down more on Desperate Housewives than any show on television. It was addicting. 

Subsequent episodes were criticized for not living up to anything in the first season. While the first season remains the best (mainly because it was so fresh and different), other seasons are pretty darn good. The show always worked the best when Susan, Bree, Gabby and Lynette were on a united front, but their own storylines got too much criticism. Did audiences want them solving crimes every season like some soccer mom version of Scooby-Doo? There are people who abandon shows and then all they do is talk badly about them. Everyone does it, but Housewives didn't deserve it. In its fifth season, Cherry turned the show on its head by flash forwarding the action five years. It breathed new life into the show and also gave them five years of back story to work with. It was a genius move. You know, shows do sometimes drop in quality, but no one gives them credit when they have a comeback.  

People might argue that the women aren't likable characters, but I say bring on more unlikable people, male or female. Lynette Scavo was constantly challenging her husband on the roles of men and women in the workplace, but a lot of people viewed her as uncompromising or bitchy. If a man did the same thing, it would be a power play, and the show addresses the roles of men vs. women throughout the entire show. Sometimes people can't see it amid all the scandal or salacious details. Desperate Housewives celebrated women going after what they wanted whether it be a high-powered job or just the hot man down the street. Roles for women are much better in television right now than they are on film, and Housewives was full of women who went after what they wanted. Sex and the City was on around the same time as Housewives, and they are two very different (and very good) representations of women at the forefront of television.

Coincidentally, I re-watched the last season of the show, and when it was over, I re-watched the pilot. It holds up very well, and I love it as much as I did when I first saw it. It's glossy, but is that bad? It's fun to watch these women bounce off of each other while they navigate their lives. 

Suburbia is a dangerous place, and you can call these women desperate if you want to. I would watch them uncover secrets and lies and make fools of themselves over and over. Wisteria Lane had its picket fences and perfect sunny days, but the dark ones and the dangerous secrets were addicting.

It's October 3rd

Another year...another Mean Girls reference.

Remember that moment early in Mean Girls when Cady Heron met her destined love interest, Aaron Samuels? Every girl and gay boy who watched Mean in 2004 wanted Aaron to sit in front of them no matter what math class they were taking at the time. Or was that just me?  


Thursday, October 2, 2014

'American Sniper' Takes Aim in First Trailer

The trailer for Clint Eastwood's latest just dropped, and it's pretty awesome. 

In American Sniper, we get a scruffy, grizzled Bradley Cooper as U.S. Navy SEAL Chris Kyle. He's one of America's best shooters, and his reputation begins growing across enemy lines. The quick tease also hints at Kyle's personal life with his wife (played by Sienna Miller) as they have their first child together.  

Love this shot.

My favorite part of the trailer is how we don't hear a gunshot. The first minute is a mini-scene, and it cuts to other parts of the movie in the second half. It's rather exhilarating. 

Why, hello, Mr. Eastwood...

'Tusk' is Definitely Memorable, Definitely Weird

People had told me that Kevin Smith's Tusk was a very weird experience. Some didn't know if it was supposed to be funny, but Smith's church-bashing, blood splattering Red State freaked me out. A friend mentioned that people walked out of his screening of Tusk, and this only excited me more. Say what you want about its tone or script, but Tusk is easily one of the most memorable films of the year. 

Justin Long is very good at playing doofy, lovable characters. Early in his career, he was smiley and adorable, but Tusk lets him play a real douchebag. Donning a poorly grown mustache that every 1970's porn star would encourage him to shave, Long plays Wallace Bryton, a podcaster who ventures to Canada to interview a kid who chopped his own leg off with a samurai sword. Apparently, Wallace and his co-host Teddy (Haley Joel Osment--yes, that Haley Joel Osment) think this kid amputating his own leg off is hilarious ("I'm going to ask this kid everything," Wallace says. "I wanna know what he jerks off to"), and it will do very well for their show titled The Not-See Party.  Turns out Wallace's trip is a bust, because the kid kills himself before Wallace arrives.  

Pissed that he flew all the way out to Canada (the eh jokes surprisingly restrained), Wallace finds a friendly community post in a bar restroom written by a guy who has "many stories to tell" from his "amazing life." What luck! Luck like this only happens in the movies. Wallace drives for 2 hours, and he meets wheelchair-bound Howard Howe (Michael Park) in his home in the middle of nowhere. Howard regales Wallace with tall tales of Hemingway and meeting walruses, and soon Wallace is knocked out senseless. He wakes up seatbelted to a wheelchair and his left leg is missing. How's that for irony? 

This is where Tusk might lose its viewers. Howard tortures and mutilates Wallace that it's pretty hard to watch, but it's Howard's goal that is absolutely strange. You'll either laugh and roll your eyes at it, or it will really freak you out. Watching Tusk will make sure you never want to see a walrus ever again...that's all I'll say. 

Park starred in Smith's Red State, and he was absolutely crazy in that as well. Instead of thumping a Bible, however, his craziness in Tusk is homegrown and it's even more unsettling to think of Howard festering in that huge house all alone. The idea of how much he thinks on this plan is just as freaky to think about. Long's behavior early in the film is enough for you to hate him. He's disrespectful and obnoxious. By the end, I felt bad for Wallace. It goes places I never thought it would go.

Is it weird? Yes. Is it twisted? Absolutely. Some of the imagery is so messed up that I guarantee I won't be able to shake it for a while.