Friday, March 30, 2012

Trailer Park Time!

I have an odd mix as usual this week:

This looks sweet.

Scott Speedman should have a big career.  This could be his make it or break it movie.

I love crappy dance movies! Seriously. I could write a serious, academic paper on Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo and connect it to the dance movies coming out today. I probably shouldn't admit that, huh?

This looks pretty great.  I love small movies like this that have such an interesting premise.

CHRIS PINE! Plus other people.


And now some Stephanie Meyer-related teasers that I just can't resist posting.

Community and 30 Rock - Didja watch?

Didja watch Community "Digital Exploration of Interior Design?"

- Subway is open but no one remembered the scissors.  As an aside - it makes me kinda happy that Subway loves the shows I love (Chuck and Community).  According to school regs, any business on campus has to be part owned by a student.  Enter new student "Subway," played by Scrubs' Travis Schuldt. He's officially changed his name and is the real person representative of the collective corporate humanity.  All he had to do was waive his birth identity.  That's not at all strange because that's where we're headed...corporate sponsored humans.  Pierce and Shirley want Brita to befriend Subway and do a little corporate espionage but Brita won't be used! 

- Troy, Abed and Annie's building is currently tented for termites so they've had to find ways to sleep on campus.  Annie's signed up for a sleep study class where she just has to wake up screaming every so often. Troy and Abed have decided to do a pillow fort (not their already done blanket fort). They could set a world record, which would be easier if they do blankets again.  Abed won't be swayed but Troy wants that record so they split.  Y'all!  There is so much tension with Troy and Abed lately.  I'm stressed.  The A/C Repair College's Dean Laybourne, played by John Goodman, sees this tension and approaches Troy again about following his natural talent in A/C repair.  Troy resists and Dean Laybourne plays the Inspector Spacetime card with him.  Well done, sir. 

- In a smaller storyline, Jeff and Annie find a hate letter in the locker he never knew he had.  Now he wants to find the person, Kim, and force her to like him.  He's informed by another student that she died two weeks ago.  He's all busted up about it but it turns out Kim isn't dead and is really the guy student who told Jeff she was.  He's pissed that Jeff never remembers his name.  Annie thinks the dude is lame.

- Brita and Subway have tons in common, fall in love, and get it on.  They almost get away with it but a certain degenerate act during their lovemaking was recorded with a spy lipstick thingy and Subway gets fired then carted off.  Poor Brita.

- Troy could break the record but he'd have to overtake Abed's pillow fort.   Abed is about to take his fort down when Dean Laybourne appears behind him.  He gets in Abed's head and evokes Inspector Spacetime with him too.  Both sides fight and we get a "to be continued..." from Abed.  Intriguing.

Didja watch 30 Rock "The Shower Principle?"

- Liz is at her accountant's and finds out that she's totally predictable.  He's kind of oddly snarky about it too.  She's afraid she's stuck in a permanent rut so Liz goes to Jack about it.  He's in the middle of an important work thing...The Shower Principle.  This is that thing when you get a moment of genius creativity when you're doing something inane like showering.  Jack's hoping to get some inspiration while putting in his office.  He's determined to impress the Kabletown owner who thinks it's fancy to refer to the thing you sit on while watching TV as a "sofa" instead of a "couch."

- It's warmer out so Cerie is wearing tiny, tiny clothes.  As a matter of fact, so is Hazel who ups the creepy by handing out pictures of her in a bra.  "Eyes down here, boys.  I have breasts you know."  Also she's still creepy stalking Liz and works to get rid of Jenna. Speaking of Jenna, TGS is doing a McDonald's version of Macbeth and Jenna thinks it's cursed.  Really it's just Hazel trying to scare Jenna off the show so she can have Liz all to herself.

- Jack realizes listening to Liz and her problems is his Shower Principle.  He gets his inspriation - a couch factory for TV watchers - and it's total vertical integration!

- My bummer of the night was not getting to hear all of Mayor Macbeth at the end.  Stupid DVR cutting off too early!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

At the Movies with Steve: The Muppets

So my dad is in town for the weekend to watch the Final Four. In the meantime, we'll be watching some movies, and trust me, his commentary is not to be missed. So, without further ado, my dad's take on The Muppets, which he had never seen.

After the introduction of Jason Segal and Amy Adams's characters: "They've been dating for ten years? Yikes."

After the opening musical number: "Is there a lot of singing in this? Great. Gonzo is in it later, right?"

After I informed him that a song from the film won the Best Original Song Oscar: "Well that says a lot. Let's make ravioli."

After the cameo of Alan Arkin as a tour guide: "Is that Alan Arkin? Did you ever see The Heart is a Lonely Hunter where he plays some deaf guy? That was depressing."

After the appearance of Kermit's 80s robot: "Who is the voice for that? It sounds like George's secretary on Seinfeld."

During a lull in the action: "You know who was a good host on 'The Muppet Show'? John Denver."

After a succession of cameos including Selena Gomez, John Krasinski, and Neil Patrick Harris: "I'm sure this is what happens to celebrities before they turn up on Dancing with the Stars."

After the montage of Miss Piggy in Paris: "That's probably not Paris, but I wish I were in Paris. Let's have some more wine."

After I informed dad that Rashida Jones was the offspring of Quincy Jones and Peggy Lipton: "Well, she's very attractive."

Ten minutes later, when Rashida Jones again turns up on screen: "She's really quite attractive."

After Fozzie Bear debuts his "fart shoes": "That's funny. Might be a guy thing, but it's funny."

Out of nowhere, after Whoopi Goldberg shows up on screen: "Ah, Caryn Johnson."

As I'm quietly weeping during Kermit's rendition of "The Rainbow Connection": "Kermit is left-handed . . . just like all the cool people in the world." (Dad is left-handed.)

Dad's take on the movie: Funnier than The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

Survivor "The Beauty in a Merge"

Apparently the new name of the merged tribe is Tikiano and they get a black buff.  The tribe members celebrate with bottles of something (champagne? wine?), fruit, bread and more.  This togetherness will only last so long.

Alicia – holding onto blaming Colton for screwing her over by not giving her the immunity idol.  Yes, I’m sure it’s got nothing to do with the fact that you’re not a likable person.
Jonas – showing his chef skills at camp and makes some coconut chips.  Nice.  Puts Tarzan in his place and he doesn’t take it that well.  Shocking.  Later, Jonas realizes that to make the right move he must apologize to Tarzan who gets all teary at it.  Their repaired relationship doesn’t last long.
Tarzan – has some smallish freakouts and possesses very little patience.was under the impression it’d be guys vs. girl again and makes the move to establish this plus Alicia because she was Colton’s toadie.  But…
Michael – who receives the pitch from Tarzan doesn’t have an interest in being in an alliance with Tarzan.  Actually, for someone of his type (strong dude) he's been way under the radar lately.

The members of each (randomly selected) team must do another race and dig combo then two members must put the puzzle together.  Reward is pizza, beer and a special note that tells the winners there’s another idol hidden back at camp. The orange team loses their lead but pulls out the win anyway. 

Chelsea – I’m totally jealous of her tan.  Poor thing is minding her own business, doing her laundry and Tarzan tosses his poop stained underpants in with her stuff.  EW! EW! EW!
Troy – Finds the hidden immunity idol!  Good for him.

And we have the traditional, ugly immunity necklace up for grabs.  Each Survivor has to perch on a log and balance a plate with 1, 2, then 3 balls on top.  If a ball falls or they do then they’re out.  Tarzan is first out and I’m hoping this is foreshadowing because dude annoys me.  It’s down to Leif, Kat and Troy.  Leif drops out, Troy seems to be struggling a bit and amazingly Kat seems to be in a trance.  I can’t believe I’m rooting for Kat!  Apparently I’m bad luck because she’s out and now Troy has two immunities.  Yup, this is definitely his island.  Be careful, Troy.

Back at camp everyone is discussing the next contestant to get the boot.  The ex-Salani tribe wants Jonas gone because he was the strongest of the Manono.  Tarzan wants it to be Kat because she’s useless around camp.  So how this plays out will confirm whether it’s guys vs. girls or ex-tribe vs. ex-tribe.  Chelsea wants to keep Jonas because he’s nice, he provides, etc. and wants to get rid of Tarzan.  I’m with her and not just because she’s from Chucktown.  Have I mentioned the fact that she’s from Charleston, SC?

Kim - points out that keeping Christina and Alicia around for now could be useful if the girls need to band together later.  Girl is thinking straight.  So even if the majority of former Salanis are voting together this week there’s still the option of gender later.  Smart.

At tribal:
Jeff asks what’s different now that they’ve merged?  Are they already planning who they want to be next to at the end (an argument for keeping Tarzan around because no one would give him the win)?  Does anyone ever give answers that are original or is it the same stuff every time?  Jonas gets vocal about his name coming up and makes a last effort to throw Michael’s name in the mix because he’s strong and smart, which makes him a threat during challenges.  He’s right, y’all.  But it matters not.

“Jonas, the tribe has spoken.”

Mom’s quote of the week (regarding Tarzan), “I’m so glad he wasn’t ever my doctor.”

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games
Director: Gary Ross
Stars: People who did a fine job but I still think were wrongly cast; and a bunch of other people I thought were going to be fine and ended up being pretty perfect.

Because I've been so hesitant to see this film I thought it'd be cute to include a picture of my movie ticket from yesterday afternoon to prove that I saw it.

Foiled again, y'all
Apparently I paid to see The Lorax and not The Hunger Games.  Plus I was alone so I have no one to corroborate my story.  And I paid in cash so we can't track my movements through my bank account either.  Conspiracy?  Perhaps.  How many other people wanted to go see The Hunger Games but were sold tickets to The Lorax instead?  Idiocy?  More likely.  The ticket person was talking her coworker/friend whilst processing my request so I'm guessing it was a mistake.  You are just going to have to take me at my word.  I actually saw The Hunger Games yesterday.  Guess what else?  I liked it.  This was what I wanted to happen.  I wanted to hate it on the way into the theater but like (not love) it on the way out.  I was never going to love it.

Overall I was pleased at the book-to-film adaptation.  They got the story and the essence of the book onto the big screen.  I was scared that they wouldn't be able to nail the scope of the book.  They did.  I was scared that the essence of the characters weren't going to come through.  They did...for the most part.  I was scared that Gary Ross was going to be a sucky director.  He was.  So thanks for that, Gary.  But aside from some awful directing choices I was happy with the film.

First I'll get my issues with Gary off my chest.  Gary, Gary, Gary.  About a week ago I read an interview on about your use of my two most hated movie-making techniques...shaky, hand-held camera and tight shots.  I hoped it would be used sparingly.  It wasn't. My friend Michael suggested that he should have used it during the games and at no other time.  Michael, who claims to be right about everything, was totally right about that.  Other than that, and incorrectly shooting a movie is big, I was pleased with his work.  All of the actors did a great job with portraying their characters.  I want to think that was due to his direction and that he's better with acting choices than camera technique choices.  Ok, I've beaten this dead horse enough.

Jennifer Lawrence played a very flat Katniss but then Katniss is kind of dead inside anyway and Jennifer Lawrence is good at dead inside.  She's not effervescent in life or on screen so I now get the choice.  Also I kind of get wanting to cast someone in their early twenties to make the kissy stuff not icky.  Had someone younger been kissing on another actual teen I might have been creeped out.  I still think casting actors in their early twenties takes away from the shock value of teen-on-teen violence but I'm finally letting that go.  Until the next installment when our stars are in their mid-20s.  Then it's very possible I'll be bringing all this up again.

Josh Hutcherson is a good actor.  I'll say this again.  Josh Hutcherson is a good actor.  He just doesn't do it for me. And the hair.  Oh, the hair.  Don't people, and by people I mean hairstylists, know that blond isn't all over one color?  People with naturally blond hair have tones and highlights.  Sorry, I'm ranting.  But he was very good as Peeta and played it just right.  I just need to get past the hair.

As far as the supporting cast goes I think they all did excellent jobs.  I still don't understand Woody/Haymitch's hair either but he was great.  I was happy to see Wes Bentley in a decent role again after spending some years in obscurity.  The other tributes were good, especially the creepy chick from Orphan who played Clove. I must say, how good was Lenny Kravitz?  He was sweet and supportive but restrained...just like Cinna.

Speaking of, I need this to happen at some point in my life but preferably not with me heading off to my possible death:

Be like me and go read Tracy's review on  I make it a habit to not read her reviews before I write my own and it was especially true this time around because she and I had many of the same issues heading into the theater. I'm totally excited to read what she thought and you should be too.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Being Human "Don't Fear the Scott"

It's still kinda making me giggle that they named the Reaper "Scott."  But then I'm easily amused.  Sally is doing a little cross-promotion by watching some Syfy reality programming about ghosts.  How very meta!  "Scott" the Reaper is trying to chat with her but she just turns the volume up on the TV.  Aidan and Josh totally want to be there for her but they get preoccupied with their respective girlfriends. To get her mind off of the bad that she's done, Sally goes to visit Janet in the crazy part of the hospital.  You remember Janet!  She's the girlfriend of the cute doc that Sally kept possessing so she could get it on with cute doc.  Janet couldn't get anyone to believe her about her dreams and visions so they checked her into the mental ward.  Nice.

Aidan and Henry are prepping for Mother's visit but Henry can't be too involved...old wounds being as easily opened and all.  Even if you're a vampire that heals quickly.  Josh and Julia are dating again and he wants her to be comfortable coming over to the house. He harbors some hope that it won't be awkward even though she and Aidan totally bumped uglies not so long ago.  Josh wants to do a dinner with both couples and Sally.  Too bad Aidan never took the time to tell Suren about his past with Julia.

Dinner is a bit awkward at first and Sally watches from in the kitchen and provides some bored commentary.  Then Suren tells them a sweet story about how she's always loved Aidan (he secretly tended to an orchid she kept trying to kill) and I melt.  Also, Suren loves Antiques Roadshow, which happens to be one of Josh's favorites.  I didn't think I'd come around to Suren but I gotta say she's winning me over a bit.  If only she'd stop feasting on humans.  Suren and Julia establish, less awkwardly than you might think, that they did not in fact overlap with Aidan and all is well.  How very mature of them.  Unfortunately for Aidan this pleasantness doesn't prevent the nightmare he has of Suren sucking Julia's blood and offering him an arm.

Josh and Julia are all kissy in front of the hospital and of course this is when they reveal Nora standing there watching.  Now that's awkward.  Much more so than dinner the night before.  Nora wants Josh and is a little surprised at the speed with which he got back with Julia.  She and Sally catch up, which is good because Sally needs a female friend.  Nora even offers to help Sally speak to Janet and try to help her understand that she's not crazy.  Nora explains the situation and Janet is hesitant to buy it until it's proven to her through one of Sally's poems from when she was little.  It's a sweet poem too but I didn't write it down.  Sally apologizes to her and Nora is determined to get Janet out somehow.  This also helps Sally realize that her will is stronger than "Scott" the Reaper's influence over her and that's pretty great.  "Scott" the Reaper seems to be giving Sally some space now so she turns the TV volume down and enjoys her peace.

Mother decides Suren's been doing a fine job in Boston and wants to keep her there, which upsets Suren but not as much as the next thing Mother declares.  She grants Aidan his freedom but really it equates to his banishment from all things vamp...including Suren.  No one is allowed to associate with him or they'll be punished severely.  Aidan wants to take Suren away to see the world and she seems up for it.  This will go well.  I'm sure of it.  He's all packed and ready and barely gives Josh and Sally a proper goodbye.  It's very bittersweet and I don't want him to go.  And just like that, he's gone.  They end up at a seedy motel and it's not quite what Suren had in mind.  I'm guessing Aidan thought they'd have more time before Henry and his thugs found them.  Oops.

Nora fills Josh in on what happened to her while she was hanging out with female twin who apparently has quite the appetite for destruction.  Oh and Nora knows how Josh can lift his wolfie curse.  If he can find and kill Ray (his maker) it'll be reversed.  Josh doesn't believe it's that easy and yet he still refuses to take a life, even if it's the guy who ruined his.  So if Nora wants her life back she'd have to kill Josh but she can't do it either.  She loves him too much.  Julia had given him the option to pick and he chooses her.  Poor Nora. 

Monday, March 26, 2012

Mad Men "A Little Kiss"

I found myself terribly excited to catch up with the Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce folks last night.  I've missed them and I haven't had the wait most fans have (since I caught up with all 4 seasons on McStreaming).  It's been off of TV for something like 18 months.  That's a really long time for a show to be off the air.

They provide us with some previouslies, which amount to Joan being pregnant with Roger's baby while her hubby is off at war.  Don's divorced and engaged.  Pete is married to awesome Trudy who tends to henpeck him a bit.  Lane is lonely.  Betty's not happy but then that's an impossibility.  And we're off!

There are some African American protestors on a picket line outside the building.  Some yahoo jerks drop bags of water on them, which they find hilarious.  Turns out they're Y&R ad men and this pleases the folks at SCDP.  Roger, never one to miss a juvenile prank himself even takes out an ad in the paper claiming their company to be an equal opportunity employer.

Hi Sally!  Good morning, my favorite person on the show.  You seem to be all settled in Dad's new place along with your brothers. Speaking of, that little brother of yours is, what, like 16 months old?  You'll have to forgive me.  I'm trying to put a length of time on this.  Hilariously Don drops the kids off and they're riding up front with him and his arm is as close to a seat belt as they're gonna get.  Nice.

Pete!  Still a weasel.  He's taking the train to work these days.  One of his train buddies shares tips on avoiding the "emotional" little woman at home.  How about the emotional little women that is Pete?  He's all pissy about Roger's lack work at SCDP and goes over the edge a bit when Roger shows up at a meeting with Mohawk airlines.  Pete calls a partners' meeting and declares that he wants the silver fox's office.  They come very close to patting little Pete on the head.  Roger gives in and forces Harry out of his office and into Pete's.  Maybe Harry will walk face first into that dumb column just like Pete did.

Don's wife, yep...wife, Megan, has graduated from secretary but apparently she's designing coupons or something.  She wants to throw Don a surprise birthday party for the big 4-0.  Meanwhile Don's lightened up a bit and is being kind of nice and patient.  Peggy doesn't like it.

Speaking of Peggy...she's pitching to Heinz for a bean campaign.  She wants to use this fancy new camera to choreograph a bean ballet.  Sadly the Heinz guys don't get it and Don doesn't really back her.  They want beans to be cool again.  Cool like hippie protestors and college kids.

Party time!  Most of the office is there except for Joan who is at home with baby Kevin and her mom.  Roger and Jane ruin Don's surprise part of the party.  Peggy is still with the hottie beatnik who freaks out a guy headed off to war.  Peggy gets snippy with Don about having to work over the weekend and Don just looks at her.  Megan's gift to Don is a song.  Something French and annoying about Zoobie Zoobie Zoo*.  She's a hit to the entire party.

 Roger to Jane: Why don't you sing like that?
Jane: Why don't you look like him?

That ad SCDP placed gets Joan's mom in a tizzy and she mistakes it as an ad to replace Joan.  Apparently her mom doesn't watch the show because it's impossible to replace the figurehead of a ship.  Picture it, I'll give you a second.  Joan heads in to work with baby Kevin in tow and Lane reassures her that they're barely scraping by without her. 

Speaking of Lane, my favorite sexy-ugly Brit, he's still kinda lonely but finds a wallet in a cab.  Instead of trusting the cabbie to return it he takes the matters, and the photo inside, into his own hands.  He has a very flirty phone conversation with the wallet owner's girlfriend, the lady in the picture and even tries to get her to come down to SCDP to meet him.  The wallet owner shows instead and Lane is bummed.  Poor Lane.

Megan is sore about Don not appreciating the party she threw him but he's never been big on parties or attention.  She proceeds to clean the apartment in her undergarments and yells at Don while doing so.  This turns them both on.  I think Don really loves her, by the way.  I'm with Peggy, it's strange.

A number of African American applicants are patiently waiting in the lobby for an interview.  I guess they thought it was a job ad too.  Thanks to the Y&R stunt they collect resumes and will be hiring an African American secretary.  The times they are a changin.'

Wow, I really missed this show!

*UPDATE: Zou Bisou Bisou.  Geeze, you'd never know I took French in high school and college.  I should really look these things up.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

"Are You Now or Have You Ever Been" a belabored metaphor? (Angel 2.2)

I tease Angel because I love Angel. And there's nothing I enjoy more than vamps going retro (see my overwhelming affection for Being Human and The Vampire Diaries, which rock Back to the Future vampire hair almost every week). So we're gonna go back in tiiiime for the Angel guide to metaphorizing a witch hunt.

DO put Angel in a wife-beater. This is applicable in any situation.

I know "wife-beater" is an offensive term. I also know that Angel looks smokin' in one.

DO engage in thick description. As my intrepid co-watcher Jenn points out, this episode establishes its time-frame (the 1950s) through focusing on the Americans who were marginalized. An African American family is denied service at the hotel where Angel is hiding out and brooding, and a gay couple has to hide in the hallway. However, some Golden Age Hollywood glam is also included, by way of this building.

Griffith Observatory. Gorgeous.
You might know it from here.

A little film called Rebel Without a Cause,

to which Angel's red jacket alludes.
Also, if you're of a certain age (mine and Jenn's), this video.

You're welcome for the 90s-era Keanu Reeves. Oh, and there's also a beatnik.

Don't tell me you haven't fantasized about doing this to a beatnik.

DON'T become governor of Clever-Clever Land. And here is where this episode goes a bit wrong for me. The context of the McCarthy hearings is echoed in the show through a "Paranoia Demon" who infects the inhabitants of the hotel. The plot finds Angel helping a black woman posing as white, but she is also possessed and eventually turns on him, provoking the rest of the residents to hang him in a pretty chilling lynching.

Didn't take. Vampire.

Now, I get that the Communist witch-hunts were a function of paranoia, and I get that, as Jenn puts it, "A lynch mob---how appropriate for the 1950s." But I feel it cheapens the actual victims of both national embarrassments to suggest, even through proximity, that the sources of these outrages were demonic rather than emblematic of the historical and social fractures in American culture at the time. That lets everyone off too easy.

Would have been better if he made all of them smoke weed and then knocked on the door pretending to be the cops.

DO climb down off your high horse, Bealer. Having said that, the episode does get Angel et. al. ensconced in the hotel, and fills in some gaps in Angel's history, which is always fun. The script also includes the line "Don't you dare use alliteration with me," which is undeniably hilarious, and now that I think about it, quite possibly the inspiration for this moment:

That one's for you, Alisa.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

"Real Me" (Buffy 5.2): Dawn and the Dead

So after the meta-tastic awesomeness of "Buffy vs. Dracula," a bit of a letdown was almost inevitable. "Real Me" is all about bringing everyone on board with the new Summers sister in Sunnydale, and though there are some fun moments, it's a little, as my intrepid co-watcher Jenn terms it, "blah." But on we merrily tread through the Buffy guide to executing a notorious mindfuck.

DO have a bit of fun with it. Dawn's true origins will be revealed later in the season, so we'll save any and all debates about the sturdiness of that mythology for then. As for now, all we know is that suddenly Buffy has a little sister, and no one is acting like that's at all odd. The episode is framed by Dawn writing in her diary, and some of her lines--"No one knows who I am"; "No one understands"--are clever nods to the audience's likely responses.

For the first but not the last time, let me express my admiration of Dawn's hair.

DO include some other new beginnings, to take the edge off. Dawn's appearance is not the only changes that get introduced in season 5. We get a new Scoobie clubhouse to replace the library when Giles becomes proprietor of the Magic Box (his apartment never had the same feel).

Me? I would have tried to buy the adjacent liquor van.

The store's previous claim to fame was serving as the location of Spike's magnificent "I'm love's bitch, but at least I'm man enough to admit it" speech in season 3's "Lovers Walk." Let's look at an animated rendition of it, shall we?

Giles has also made some other life changes over the summer, including getting rid of the Citroen and buying a mid-life-crisis-mobile.

Looking good, Ripper!

DO keep the tricks coming. So far, this season seems to be all about messing with the fans' minds. Vamp Harmony and her minions playing at Big Bad is both a deflection from and a nod to the real snotty, materialistic girl who will bring the pain this season--Glory.

Not for nothing, but Harmony also has nice hair.

Now might be as good a time as ever to air some grievances about Dawn. I'll let Jenn take it away: "Dawn's age. She's supposed to be 14, right? But, that has NEVER played for me. She's right she shouldn't need a babysitter at that age. Moreover, everyone treats her like she's 10-12. There is no way a 14 year old would be so young. I don't care about the whole Key thing. Her age has never sat well for me. I really think the writers--even Joss--have really missed the mark when it comes to portraying her. They should have taken a cue from JK Rowling when it comes to representing kids."

It's true--I don't mind Dawn's existence, just her infuriating immaturity. Oh, and just because I can't leave a post without a Riley Rant--why is he laughing it up at the idea of Harmony having minions? He didn't know her in high school.

It's an inside joke. Tool.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Young Adult: I Wanted to Love It But Didn't

Screenwriter Diablo Cody's 2009 black comedy/horror mash-up Jennifer's Body currently posts an anemic 43% on Rotten Tomatoes. Critics called it mediocre, disgustingly smug, and a disappointing studio product--and those were the ones who liked it. I happen to think it's the sort of progressive horror film that deserves to be spoken of in the same company as Rosemary's Baby, and is, in its way, more original and important than her mega-hit Juno. So I've got to say, I picked up her 2011 collaboration with director Jason Reitman, Young Adult, with quite high expectations. So I really didn't expect to be more disturbed, scared, and ultimately disappointed after watching it than I was after viewing a movie about a cheerleader who was murdered in a demonic sacrifice, and then possessed by a flesh-eating succubus.

Initially, YA seems to be merely a demonstration of how difficult it is for a woman to wear a Seth Rogen suit. The protagonist of this film romanticizes adolescence by conflating it with freedom, overuses mind-altering substances, wears age-inappropriate t-shirts, and resists emotional maturation in career and personal relationships. In movies like Knocked Up, Old School, and Role Models, or even non-Apatovian fare like Grosse Pointe Blank and Beautiful Girls, such characters are ultimately comedic and in their way, heroic. But when it's a chick and not a dude hitting the sauce, or on an old high school flame, we usually run into the Taming of the Shrew comeuppance plot covered by My Best Friend's Wedding and Sweet Home Alabama. Rather than affably charming and lovable, these women are meant to be pitied by an audience who knows more than they do about their own lives, and reformed by and through a humiliating realization of their own instrospective shortcomings. I don't always have a problem with this plot--I mean, you can say the same thing happens in Austen's Emma--but I didn't expect it from Cody.

Charlize Theron's Mavis does undergo public mortification and an epiphanic coming to consciousness of the self-loathing and self-deceit that Cody writes into her character--Mavis demonstrates pathological hair-pulling disorder and an impulse to disguise her real body through fake boobs, fake hair, and compulsive manicuring, along with her self-diagnosed alcoholism and childish fantasy fulfillment through the YA novels she ghost writes. There's even a handy trauma to glibly "explain" her arrested development and misguided belief that her high school boyfriend still loves her, despite his obvious happiness with his marriage and new baby.

I was pretty bored by this narrative arc while watching, and it would be one thing if that were the end of it. But the film takes a, to me, unexpected and shocking turn in the last few scenes that left me equal parts skeptical, unsettled, and confused. Not to give anything too crucial away, but after Mavis seems to realize the toxicity of her own immaturity, she has a conversation that corroborates every lie she has been telling herself about her own importance and worth. A woman confesses her abiding admiration for and jealousy of the way Mavis, the popular girl in high school, escaped their small town and small lives. Mavis concludes the film if anything more smug and deluded than she began it. I honestly don't know if this is a ballsy inversion of the comeuppance plot, or a clumsy betrayal of the film's own values. Either way, its disjointed story, lazy dialogue, and uneven performances just left me feeling icky. Diablo Cody has shown in her previous two films a real facility for the way power and gender intersect--at least in high school. If anyone's seen The United States of Tara, I'd love to hear if she dodges some of Young Adult's missteps.

Editorializing. It’s my pleasure.

I'm in a mood so be prepared

I’m gonna tell you about things I’m not doing.  One is a thing I’m specifically not doing this weekend but will get to eventually.  The other is something I’m not doing ever and don’t want you to do either.  Thing #1 is that I’m not going to see Hunger Games…wait for it…this weekend.  Thing #2 is that I’m not going to see Titanic in 3D.  Ever.  In fact I am saying right here, right now that I will NEVER WATCH TITANIC EVER AGAIN.  Quote me on it.

So…Hunger Games.  I’ve already aired my concerns about the casting.  I don’t think I mentioned my hesitancy about the director.  But I do think I mentioned my problems with the trailer in the aforementioned casting post. 

Listen, I loved the first book.  It had a huge impact on me.  I rushed out and bought each of the subsequent books when they were released.  IN. HARDBACK.  I didn’t wait for paperback or get it on my Kindle.  I wanted it in my hands.  Of course I haven’t seen those books since I read them (they’ve been making the rounds amongst my friends.)  I loved Catching Fire but not as much as Hunger Games.  I liked Mockingjay a lot but didn’t love it but that’s got nothing to do with why I’m hesitant to see Hunger Games, the movie. 

There was no way the movie version of Hunger Games was going to live up to the version in my head.  I had hopes but knew that whoever took on the project would not be able to really capture the sheer scope of it. Also, I KNEW that the studio or director or combination of would shy away from the teen-on-teen violence.  Casting someone in their early 20s (who actually looks like she’s in her 20s and not in her teens) took away from the shock of teens killing each other.  But I’ve been over this in that other post. 

I actually have out-of-town plans this weekend but if I had been even the slightest bit excited I would have gone to see it today.  For most adaptations I am able to divorce the two and accept that the movie is never as good as the book.  But I just can’t do it.  Maybe my incredibly low expectations will serve me well this time around.  It’s getting good reviews but each reviewer can’t help but compare it to the book.  That doesn’t bode well for the purists.  I think I’m mourning what could have been but I can’t say that with any certainty until I see the film.  And I will see it, just not this weekend. 

Now for my other rant…Titanic 3D.  DON’T GO!  Yes, I’ve been over this before in my James Cameron rant but it’s worth repeating.  There’s no reason to see this film in 3D.  I’ve seen the trailer in 3D and the only difference is the depth of field.  That’s no reason to shell out 3D money to see a movie you’ve probably already seen.  I don’t care if it was your favorite movie ever.  I don’t care if your walls are papered with images of Jack and Rose.  I don’t care if you’ve seen Celine Dion in concert 15 times just to watch her pound her chest while singing about her heart going on. 

Ok, I’ll admit that I saw Titanic in the theater when it first came out.  I liked it (at the time) and cried.  Then it got popular, Cameron’s ego got bigger, and I hated it.  People saw it 4 or 5 times in the theater.  FRIENDS OF MINE (Ashrey!) saw it 4 or 5 times in the theater.  That’s enough people.  This madness of re-releasing movies in 3D must stop.  They weren’t shot with 3D cameras so they won’t look terribly different.  It’s just another way for studios, producers, and ego-maniacal directors to take more of your hard-earned money. 

I’m not going to remind you of when it’s being released but it’s coming up.  I’m begging you…don’t go.  Ignore it.  I can promise you that it will have no impact on your life whatsoever. 

Didja watch Community and 30 Rock?

Didja watch Community “Contemporary Impressionists?”
 - The group, sans Jeff, catches up after their winter break.  Brita’s taking Intro to Human Psychology.  Look out!  Also…human psych?  What kind of psych has she been taking before now?  Jeff arrives as does the sexy.  He informs the group that his swagger has new swagger.  This is thanks to a new shrink who has him on anti-anxiety meds that have boosted his self-confidence.  Brita is concerned, y’all.

- Abed has been hiring actors to re-enact scenes with him from his favorite movies.  Chang, thinking he’s helping, shoots at them with a tranq gun.  The Dean tries to yell at him but Change squint pouts and this only makes the Dean feel hatred for Renee Zellweger.  YAY!  I love hatred for Zellweger! 

- Brita looked up Jeff’s meds and thinks he could be vulnerable to a syndrome called hyper-narcissocis and I have no idea how one would spell such a fake syndrome.  Jeff thinks she’s overreacting as is the Dean’s seizure at the sight of a sexy Jeff.

 - French Stewart shows up and he’s the owner of the celeb impersonator service that Abed’s been using.  He hires the group for a gig (Howie Schwartz’s Star Mitzvah!), which will cover Abed’s tab.  If they screw it up then Abed’s legs get broken by guys who look like Ving Rhames and Michael Chiklis.  Troy is concerned, y’all.

- At the Star Mitzvah Jeff is getting tons of compliments and his ego gets dangerously big.  The guy who played Not Moby on HIMYM is there playing…Moby.  He looks a lot like the Dean too, which confuses Chang.  There are awards at the Star Mitzvah and Howie wins them all.  This upsets Jeff’s ego because it thinks Jeff should win Most Handsome Young Man.  When he doesn’t the ego explodes and he hulks out.  It’s pretty great. 

- Troy’s pissed at Abed for wasting money on the celeb impersonators.  Abed’s upset that Troy lied to him about being angry and has some alone time in the dreamatorium.  Actually, that’s not accurate.  He has time with a goatee’d Abed in the dreamatorium.  Oh boy.

- And Chang gets his Patton on.

Didja watch 30 Rock "Grandmentor" and "Kidnapped by Danger?"

I did but I just don't really care about it. So here's a quickie recap:

- Jack made a TV movie in hopes of getting Avery back from North Korea; the best part of this storyline is his brother, William, playing actor Lance Drake Mandrell, who gets hired to play Jack in the TV movie.  He's pretty great at playing Alec playing Jack. 

- Hazel the page is creepy and puts Tracy's life in danger, which Kenneth has to fix.

- Kenneth is strange 

- Jenna is crazy.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Survivor: One World "Thanks for the Souvenir"


Alicia - Gloats about how funny tribal council was (blind-siding Monica).  I really dislike this woman.
Colton - Adds insult to injury by telling Christina that she's on the chopping block and will be gone soon too.

Kat - Had a dream that Alicia killed her.  Omen? 
Troy - He's feeling quite confident about Salani's abilities in the upcoming reward and immunity challenges. 

Speaking of the reward challenge, each person races up a platform and has to bounce a coconut onto a trampoline and hit a target.  The first tribe to hit all the targets gets an afternoon of ice cream party goodness.  The best part of this is Jeff hurling insults (mostly at Alicia) at how bad they are at this.  I bet Monica would have been good.  Idiots.  Salani wins.  Shocker.

Christina - She fusses with Alicia and then POVs to the camera that she's ready for a fight and basically wants to show everyone how awful Alicia is.  Good for her.  It won't work but yeah, give it a shot.  She makes an effort to get Jonas and Leif on her side by pitching it as a numbers thing.  Alicia hears the whole thing and then gets super bitchy about it for no reason.
Jonas - He's no real help but he does find Colton and Alicia's personal attacks on people "interesting." Dude, grow a pair.
Leif - sleeps in a box.  Sure, it's a large box but it's still a box.  Cozy:

Colton - He's in pain and apparently feels so icky that he receives comfort from Christina.  He has pain and Tarzan the doctor thinks he could use a coconut water enema.  Ew.  The Survivor medics, escorted by Jeff, declare that Colton quite possibly has appendicitis and must be removed from the game.  He's pretty bummed about having to leave and declares: "I wish I could have done more." My mom replies, "Damage?"  Heh.  Also, instead of granting his partner-in-crime, Alicia, with the immunity necklace (THAT WAS GIVEN TO HIM), he keeps it as a souvenir.  Ha!  I love a vulnerable Alicia.

Both tribes get a note saying to report to tribal council that night.  Jeff tells them about Colton's status and poor, dumb Kat have never heard of an appendix and is now suddenly concerned that she needs to protect hers.  There's no immunity this week but there is a merge!  We're back to 6 guys and 6 girls.  The producers sure are changing things up a lot.