Saturday, December 31, 2011

alisa's 2011 Film Favorites

If I went with Tracy's categories then I'd pretty much be duplicating her list save for a couple of things.  So here's a bit of a different list:

Movie I bought the day it went on sale on DVD/Blu-ray: HANNA.  I couldn't wait to watch it again and enjoyed it as much the second time as I did the first.  Super 8 was a close second for this as were Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows parts 1 and 2.  I'm so tight with my money that I rarely buy a movie the day it comes out.  Usually I'll wait a bit and it'll go down in price.  If you wait a year you may even spot it in the $5 bin at Walmart.  It's not often I buy something so that I can have it in my possession on the Tuesday it arrives in stores.  I did with Hanna.  I almost did with Super 8 (I was a week late with that one.)  I was lucky that with HP7.2 it was on sale on black Friday at Best Buy.  Now I'm waiting for them to release a super Blu-ray collection of the HP movies.  I know they have it bundled but I want a special one with a cuddly Dobby toy inside.

Movie I most wanted to live myself: Midnight in Paris.  Corey Stoll was AH-MAZING as Papa.  And honestly, who wouldn't want to sit in a Paris cafe and listen to Dali go on and on about a rhinoceros.  I can't decide, though, if I'd want to be with the actual artists of the time or the actors playing those artists.  Shameful as it may be...I think I'd much prefer to be with the actors Woody chose.

Movie I least want to live in myself but still loved: Drive.  It had quite an impact on me when I saw it.  Sadly I saw it alone and had no one to discuss it with.  I immediately got online when I got home and wanted to see what other people were saying.  I loved it but I felt wrong about loving it.  Turns out not everyone loved it but it didn't have an effect on my loving it.  I feel like I'm talking in a bit of a roundabout way.  It's violent and upsetting but incredibly well done and Gosling was as talented as usual. 

Movie that most reminded me of why I love going to the movies: Super 8.  I do have to say that Hugo was a very close second.  It was beautiful to watch and should only be watched on a large screen.  But Super 8 was more emotional for me.  It brought me back to seeing ET in the movie theater when I was a little kid.  In fact it reminded me of seeing most of Spielberg's movies in the theaters.  I guess that's what JJ was going for and it worked.

Movie that I love for solely personal reasons and was actually a good movie: 50/50.  I have a few movies that I've loved for personal reasons but they weren't necessarily good movies.  50/50 was a good movie.  The subject matter hit close to home and helped me deal with some stuff.  That's pretty cool.  Aren't most movies supposed to evoke emotions?  It was so well made, acted, etc. and I appreciated how they approached a touchy subject matter.  I'm sure there are other movies I felt emotionally attached too as well but 50/50 was a standout.

Movie that most brought back my childhood: The Muppets.  Oh how I loved The Muppets.  It was simple and perfect and fun and sweet.  It was exactly what a movie about getting the Muppets back together should have been.  It harkened back to Muppet movies of the past but still felt right for this time.  It had fun cameos and a solid leading (human) cast. This is one that I'll buy the day it goes on sale.

Movie that I saw the most times in the theater (and loved it the same each and every time): Bridesmaids.  Seriously.  I could watch that scene where Wiig drives her car back and forth trying to get Chris O'Dowd's attention over and over and over again.  In fact the next time I'm feeling a bit blue I may skip right to that scene.  It puts a smile on my face and makes me giggle.  I hope they don't do a sequel to it.  They don't need to.  It didn't work with Hangover 2.  But they probably will.  My only hope is that everyone comes back and Wiig gets to script it again with writing partner Annie Mumolo.  It could have been the female Hangover and I know people refer to it that way but it wasn't.  Oh and I saw Harry Potter parts 1 and 2 twice each.  I saw Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows two times too and that was fun.

Movie in two parts that I'm desperate to watch back-to-back: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 1 and part 2.  I'm convinced that part 1 will rise to the occasion when partnered directly with the second half.  I won't know until I do it and I don't know when I will be able to sit down and spend over 4 hours with the final installments of Harry Potter.  But when I do I will let you know.  I'm in the minority because I didn't dislike part 1 at all.  It's a hard one to put on screen because it's slow going and mostly just the three kids on the run.

Movie that I'm beyond proud that I followed from beginning to end: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.  I haven't posted about it yet but I will tomorrow.  It was so very great.  The acting was insanely good.  The look and feel of it just SCREAMED cold war.  It was smart and restrained and genius.  I'm sorry it didn't get a wide release yet and people aren't putting it on their best of lists.  The acting in it was astounding.


OUR 300th POST!

In our previous 299, we have . . .

Written about 64 movies and recapped 41 new TV shows . . .

 Rewatched 30 episodes from the Whedonverse. . .

Finally arrived at fandom for 3 new (to us) TV shows . . .

 Linked to dozens of trailers and newsy bits . . .

 Had 1 memorable viewing of Conan the Barbarian . . .

Unleashed 1 rant against madman James Cameron . . .

And said 1 goodbye to a beloved and admired writer.

So . . .

But tomorrow we'll be back for post 301. We plan to include more of the above in 2012, as well as get a Facebook page up and running, link to books we're reading, and maybe, just maybe, give you some ComicCon liveblog action. Requests? Suggestions? Cries of outrage? Let us know, and thanks for reading . . . Won't be long until it's time for

--tracy and alisa

Friday, December 30, 2011

The Adventures of Tintin

The Adventures of Tintin
Director: Steven Spielberg
Stars: Jamie Bell, Andy Serkis, and Daniel Craig

Ok, I really enjoyed Tintin.  It's getting mixed reviews I guess but I didn't bother reading any of them before I saw it.  All I needed to know was that Spielberg was directing it and I knew I'd be seeing it.  He has me at 'Hello' every time. Then I find out the cast included Bell, Serkis, and Craig then add to it two of my favorites Simon Pegg and Nick Frost and there weren't wild horses alive that could keep me from seeing it.  THEN I FIND OUT that Edgar Wright (writer/director of Shaun of the Dead), Steven Moffat (writer behind Doctor Who and the BBC's Sherlock) and Joe Cornish (the up and coming writer/director of Attack the Block) were the screenwriters and I was counting the days. 
I was blessed to be in attendance at Comic Con this past summer when Spielberg and producer Peter Jackson talked about making this film. To hear them describing the technology behind it and the fun they had making it was pretty cool.  I honestly didn't care what the story was and maybe that's a problem.  Don't know if it is and I don't care either.  Ok, it's not perfect.  If it was then it'd be doing better than it has been.  It seemed a little long (however it was only 107 minutes) and the story is basically a young Indiana Jones type deal.  But if you go in expecting to get mystery and adventure you won't be disappointed. Tintin, his dog, Snowy and new friend, Captain Haddock, go all over the place and piece together the mystery of a model ship that Tintin bought, which has only brought him trouble since he took it home. 

Aside from the issues it was really cool to watch.  The animation was incredible and at times I forgot there weren't real people on the screen.  Sadly I don't have much else to say.  It really was a fun adventure and totally worth seeing on a big movie screen.  I saw it in 3D and was very glad I did.  It was what movies should escape.

Mission Impossible 4

Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol
Director: Brad Bird
Stars: Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner, Paula Patton, and Simon Pegg

First I must share my history with Tom Cruise.  I used to love him when Top Gun came out.  Then I liked him but didn't have my Top Gun feelings for him anymore.  Then I was totally indifferent.  Then the Katie Holmes stuff happened and I could not have liked him less.  Seriously.  I never liked Holmes in the first place (I only watch Dawson's because of Pacey).  I really couldn't picture them together and I still don't get it.  I swore I'd never go see a movie of his in a theater and that I'd avoid seeing any of his films on DVD or cable.  I've been mostly successful.  I would have avoided MI: 4 but it looked kind of fun and my local, incredibly cheap theater was showing it meaning Tom would only get a dollar or two of my money. 

All that said, I kind of enjoyed MI:4.  It was fun and exciting and full of action.  I was mostly impressed with the directing.  Brad Bird transitioned well from animated Pixar flicks to live human stuff.  His directing of action sequences was good.  The one-on-one conversations where people were kind of trying to share emotions or things like that left me wanting.  I don't need feelings and discussions of the past.  I need more of Cruise hanging off the side of a the tallest building in the world.

The acting was fine.  Everybody served their characters well.  I would have liked to have seen more from the bad guy played by Michael Nyqvist (from the original The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo).  We get some discussion via intel and see one flashback via video.  His character wanted to blow everyone up via nuclear war because he believes the best of humanity would rise from it like a phoenix from Chernobyl ash.  Again, his character would have been better served from a little more development.

Anyway, I'd recommend the movie.  There were lots of times I rolled my eyes at the sheer impossibility of someone walking away from whatever car crash or stunt they threw at us.  But it was fun and a good popcorn movie.  I still don't endorse Cruise as an actor/producer of movies though, but I'll leave moral movie decisions to you.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

tracy's 2011 Film Favorites

Oh, how I love a good list. And seeing how it's nearly the end of 2011, lists are in abundance.
Because I live in a tiny town on the prairie, I haven't been able to see as many of the year's finest films as I'd like. For example, I've only seen two Michael Fassbenders and a shameful single Gosling. So rather than compile a "Best Of" list (see here and here for selections from two of my favorite critics), I've catalogued some of my favorite flicks that might indeed be among the best movies the year had to offer, but are memorable to me for other reasons. Happy New Year!

Favorite movie about the economy that's about the economy: There seems to be something about the global financial meltdown that has captured the imaginations of directors from Brett Ratner to Jason Reitman. I was really impressed with J.C. Chandor's Margin Call, which traces a really bad twenty-four hours in the life of an investment firm based on Lehman Brothers. Though it suffers a bit from too-many-endings syndrome, this film is smartly shot, scored, and scripted like a horror movie, which in a lot of ways, this crisis is. It stars always awesome Zachary Quinto, Jeremy Irons, and Stanley Tucci, and recently awesome again Kevin Spacey. Additionally, this is the first feature-length film from Chandor, who wrote and directed. Talented little bleeder.

Favorite movie about the economy that's not about the economy: Like the Vietnam War (and unlike the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan), the economic crisis has probably affected you or someone you know quite directly. Warrior is in some ways a pretty typical sports movie (though the sport is MMA), but the motivations of the two fighters are directly tied to the country's un/underemployment problem, as well as the struggles of returning veterans, and their families when they don't return. It stars it-boy Tom Hardy and future Tom Buchanan Joel Edgerton, as well as Nick Nolte as "not a train wreck Nick Nolte." Alisa reviewed it here.

Favorite nostalgia-drenched film from a noted auteur: It was a tight race, with J.J.'s Super 8 and Scorsese's Hugo giving strong showings, but I'm going with Woody's Midnight in Paris, if only because I think that's *exactly* what it would be like to hang out with Hemingway. It stars Owen Wilson as Woody Allen, Rachel McAdams as the shrewish Allen girl, and too many fun cameos to list here.

Favorite movie I liked that no one else did: Though the feministas were furious and beat it bloody with the undeniably better Bridesmaids baton, I quite enjoyed What's Your Number? It stars the still criminally unfamous Anna Faris and Captain America.

Favorite gritty reboot: For your consideration: Andy Serkis for Best Supporting Actor in Rise of the Planet of the Apes. And, despite the Franco factor, I though this film was clever, provocative, and knew how to shoot a balls-to-the-wall CGI-enhanced action sequence. In addition to Gollum and Franco, it's also got Draco Malfoy.

Favorite novel adaptation (contemporary): Well, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 of course! It stars D-Rad, Ru-Grin, E-Wat, and a host of British thespians, including the perpetually crush-worthy Alan Rickman.

Favorite novel adaptation (classic): The forbidden love! The dark and tormented Byronic hero! The madwoman in the attic! The FASSBENDER! It has to be Jane Eyre. Though Fassbender's presence should be enough, it also stars Mia Wasikowska and Dame Judi Dench.

Favorite novel adaptation (graphic): Yeah, he didn't wear the helmet, but I quite liked Thor. I enjoyed the light and unpretentious touch and, of course, the upcoming Avengers implications. It stars Kirk's Dad, Erik the Vampire's Dad, and the Black Swan.

Favorite indie darling: When enough people tell you to see Weekend, you start to believe them. I'm glad I did, and now I'm joining the chorus. It's like Before Sunrise, except with more sex, more drugs, and two hot dudes instead of one hot dude and one hot chick. And it streams, so you really have no excuse. It stars no one you've ever heard of, unless you're a lot hipper than me.

Today in Pop Culture History

29 December 1967: The beloved Star Trek episode "The Trouble with Tribbles" aired for the first time. The season-two classic is ostensibly about a contested sector of space and a trade dispute (we all know how badly that plot can go awry), but what everyone remembers is the furry creatures brought on board by Uhura. The tribbles trill adorably when around humans and Vulcans, but shriek like a two-year-old having a tantrum in the presence of Klingons. The episode actually has some eco-crit concerns: the "trouble" is that the tribbles are an invasive species in a predator-free environment, and threaten the planet's food supply. However, any sophisticated real-world parallels are all overwhelmed by delightful images like these:

Apparently, the crew of Star Trek had a lovely time pelting Kirk with tribbles from off-camera, and allegedly, all the props "disappeared" from the set after filming.

But that doesn't mean you can't have one!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

12 Days of Cheesy Holiday TV Movies - Day 12

Apparently 12 days of cheesy Christmas movies was too ambitious a task.  Those who know me well would be proud that instead of spending my day in front of the tv, it was spent baking with my mom and getting ready for Christmas Eve dinner with my parents, grandmother, Uncle, Cousin Jess (HI JESS!), her husband Eric, and their kids Cade and Zoe.  I love these people.  They're strange and wonderful and hilarious and exactly who I'd want to spend Christmas with. 

I did watch about half an hour of a TV movie starring everyone's (2nd) favorite teenage witch, Sabrina (aka Melissa Joan Hart) while I was getting ready.  In the movie she kidnaps Mario Lopez.  It's called Holiday in Handcuffs and the story is exactly what you think it might be...she  and forces Mario to pretend to be her boyfriend so her mother won't be disappointed.  If this is how mother's actually feel then mine must be so disappointed because I've never forced a guy to pretend to be anything of mine. 

Anywhoodle, I could guess that over the course of Mario's capture he finds Sabrina, er, MJH's character (I can't be bothered to look it up) to be a wonderful person and falls madly in love with her.  This will be mutual of course.  She saw something special in him early on or she wouldn't have taken him hostage, right?  I'll likely watch it tomorrow so I can do this post in two parts.  Or we could just all agree that it was a terribly cheesy Christmas movie that was terribly predictable, and terribly acted. 
If you were Mario, would you forgive Sabrina for a felonious holiday kidnapping?

So I guess what I want to say is that I hope you have a family or friends or a kidnapped boyfriend you can spend Christmas with this year. 


Friday, December 23, 2011

12 Days of Cheesy Holiday TV Movies - Day 11

Grade: A-
Channel: ABC Family

Yep, we've got another "A!"  Ok, it's an "A-" but it's pretty close to great.  As you can see this one stars Amy Smart and ZACK! (aka Mark Paul Gosselaar).  I think Smart is adorable and I've loved Zack, er, MPG since I was a teenager so I'm glad they landed in a decent cheesy Christmas movie.  So let's get to it!

The story is: SHE is Kate (not Katie), a singleton who is doomed to live Christmas Eve over and over again, Groundhog Day style.  HE is Miles, a widower and all-around amazing guy (a parkitect for a living and hockey coach and tutor for a boys group home in his spare time).  She's still stuck on her ex who has moved on (he's going to propose to his new girlfriend) and doesn't see what a catch he is.  Add to the mix her father, his new wife, her friend, her neighbor, a dude at a bar who looks a lot like Rivers Cuomo, and some other randoms that she befriends over and over and over. 

He's just so dang wonderful!

Periodically she's pisses him off or brushes him off.  Then a couple of times they have an incredible night together and she learns something about herself.  No matter what happens she always ends up meeting him though so she learns about fate and what it has done in her life so far. 

Ok, so the story is a rehash and you can pretty much guess what happens at the end but the journey was fun.  She has some fun with her curse of reliving the same 12 hours over again.  She goes on a shopping spree, gets a tattoo, dyes her hair black and so on. Plus she and MPG had fun chemistry so it was fun to watch.  Why isn't it an "A" you ask?  HER EYELINER!!!  Just look:
It's awful.  Half the time it's running down to her cheekbones.  Just awful.  There were a couple of times that her eye makeup looked better though so I was able to relax a bit.

I'm kind of scared that today's movie was pretty good.  I really hope tomorrow's isn't bad.  Though maybe bad would be kind of fun.  We'll see.

"Hush" (Buffy 4.10): Silent night, awesome episode

Many believe that this is the best episode with which to introduce the uninitiated to the Buffyverse. And truly, it is classic television, whether you're a fan of the genre or not. I mean, it's not easy to be nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Writing for a show that has twenty-plus minutes of zero dialogue. So if you're a Scoobie home for the holidays with a newbie, consider queuing up "Hush." After all, it's the episode so nice, I blogged it twice. The earlier post focused only on the horror that is the Gentlemen,

Quick reminder.

so let's pick up the rest of the fun with this, the Buffy guide to saying it best while saying nothing at all.

DO brush up on your Freud.
The episode opens with a patented Buffy portentous, symbol-laden prophecy dream. In addition to the appearance by the spooky child--

as my intrepid co-watcher Jenn notes, the older we get, the more creepy nursery rhymes become--we get hints that Professor Walsh likes to watch. Ew.

DO make every word count.
In the first oh, twelve or so minutes, we get lots of people bemoaning their inability to communicate, through subtext that, pace Whedon, rapidly becomes text. Buffy and Riley can't tell each other about their respective secret identities, Xander and Anya can't manage a relationship-defining talk to save their lives, and Willow isn't able to get what she wants out of the "wanna-blessed-be" school Wiccan group.

Well, she doesn't get what she wants just yet.

DO sit back and enjoy the genius.
Then, roundabout minute 13, love 'em and leave 'em Olivia utters the fateful line, "That's enough small talk, don't you think?" And so it is, until the last few minutes of the episode. The Gentlemen having stolen their voices, the Sunnydale-ites have to find other ways to talk. They range from

automated voices,

Hal, as it turns out, is right.

to price-gouged message boards,

to overhead projectors,

Thankfully not the last Rupert Giles original of the series.

to gestures,



to touching. Everyone touches a lot more in this episode. For good,

for bad,

for, oh, I'm not going to say it.

In fact, DO give Riley a break. It's Christmas.
As Jenn rightly observes, "I know he is a douche, but at least in these early stages, Riley does seem rather cute albeit in a bumbling kind of way." I will allow that, as well as her other point:

The dude got height.

This is a remarkable episode. It's laden with crucial details that will resonate throughout the rest of the season and series. And just in case you were on the fence about Joss's genius? The silent sermon Buffy and Willow witness uses Revelation 15.1 as its text, which reads:

And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvellous, seven angels having the seven last plagues; for in them is filled up the wrath of God.

Seven . . . why does that number sound familiar?  "Hush" is truly a series highlight, wonderful for all the reasons that Whedon written and directed episodes always are. And if "Hush" left you hungry for something a little more seasonal, there's always "Amends"!

 Merry Christmas, Whedonites!!