Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Beautiful Creatures

I read half of the Beautiful Creatures series last year and really enjoyed it.  My friend Keenan would disagree as she's been having trouble even getting through the first book.  Anywhoodle, I was excited when I read that they had cast some heavy hitters like Emma Thompson, Viola Davis and Jeremy Irons in movie adaptation.  I was fine with the two relative unknowns that were cast for the two main roles of Lena and Ethan.  I was less happy with the casting of one other character, Ridley, but I'll get to that.  I was truly angsty about this adaptation when I saw the trailer and sadly, the movie didn't prove me wrong.

So overall the movie was fine.  I really, truly tried not to sit there the whole time comparing it to the book but then that's just impossible.  The story is this: a girl, Lena, with powers moves to a small-minded, small town in S.C. and becomes outcast, undesirable #1.  The good news is there's a cute, smart, boy, Ethan, with (early)Ginsberg glasses that's hot for outcast witch girls.  Lena is about to turn 16 and when she does, she and her powers will be claimed for either the light or the dark (supposedly based on her true nature). There's a lot more to it but I think the movie didn't really do a great job of getting it all across.  Instead they picked the main plot and stuck with the basics.  But then I guess that's what they have to do when adapting a book for the big screen.

There were problems.  One problem was the accent used by a few characters.  Actually the aforementioned heavy hitters did just fine (it's been proven time and again that the Brits have no trouble with a southern accent).  The kids?  Well actually the girl who played Lena, Alice Englert, did fine but then she's from New Zealand.  The actor who had the most trouble was the guy who played Ethan, Alden Ehrenreich...an American.  His accent was soooo thick and comical that it was distracting.  Plus he tended to get a bit high-pitched and screechy at times, which didn't help.  The actor himself is utterly adorable (he's 23 so it's legal for me to swoon) and pretty much embodied who I thought Ethan was so that's good. 
What did I like? Um, well, uh, mostly the movie worked on the whole but when it's broken up into parts then I get a bit stabby about it.  Some of the choices made by director Richard LaGravenese were a little head-scratchy but most of those were because I wanted it to be truer to the book (like keeping it filmed in SC instead of New Orleans-but I'm sure it was a tax thing).  My biggest issue was the casting of the aforementioned Ridley:
Ridley is supposed to be more teen Lolita than a vampy, slutty 20-something.  Emmy Rossum is a fine actress and was ok in the film but I can't figure out why they went in such a different direction with only one character.  Everyone else looked pretty much the same as the characters were written.  Sometimes I'd really love to know exactly how decisions were made and the motivations behind them but I won't so I'll have to learn to live with that disappointment.

Anywhoodle, see the movie, don't see the movie.  I just don't care.  It's making no money so it's not like there's hope for the sequels to make it to the big screen.  So I'll just keep my fingers crossed that the Hollywood powers-that-be don't hold it against Ehrenreich.  I'd love to see him screech his way through some more movies.

Sunday's Walking Dead

Expecting a recap?  Well you're not gonna get one.  My Sunday was consumed with Oscars mania so I didn't get to watch The Walking Dead.  Guess what?  I didn't watch it yesterday either.  I'm a slacker and I have no excuse.  Sorry!

Here's a fun infographic to make up for my lameness:

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Safety Not Guaranteed: Is It Ever?

This 2012 sort-of drama, sort of comedy, sort of sci-fi, sort of mumblecore, all the way awesome flick won screenwriter Derek Connolly a writing award at Sundance. He deserved it. The movie was inspired by a fake newspaper classified ad seeking a partner for time travel without any guarantee that either person will escape unscathed. But the film's true concern is the all-too-real risks anyone takes when they open themselves up to another person.

The movie follows a trio of magazine writers who go rather clumsily undercover to write a profile on the man who placed the ad, the reliably excellent Mark Duplass. A young intern with pain in her past agrees to pose as the interested partner, and as she tries to convince Duplass's Kenneth to trust her, she begins to believe in him as well.

Her boss, Jeff, is also pursuing a type of time travel: he agreed to take the story in order to look up an old girlfriend, love for whom he confuses with nostalgia for a younger, more hopeful version of himself. Jeff, who looks like Oliver Platt crossed with Mark Ruffalo, nearly steals the movie. His stutter steps toward emotional maturity are compelling and moving to watch.

But this movie belongs to Kenneth and Aubrey. Their story is a reminder that falling in love with someone means listening to, sharing, and believing in those intimate fictions we tell ourselves about our lives in order to make it through the night. Moving backwards in time like that is just as complicated and dangerous as the machine Kenneth claims to have constructed and used once before. And, as Safety Not Guaranteed spectacularly affirms, those "fictions" are often the most authentic, most real, truths about life and how it's not just survived but lived. As Kenneth concludes, going it alone looks like freedom, but having a partner in a world that is capricious and cruel is better than safety--it's liberating.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Last night's Walking Dead



The episode opens at the prison with birds chirping on a sunny morning and a crazy Rick watching Lori’s ghost stand by her grave in a pretty, white dress.  So, of course, he goes to talk to her.  By the time he gets to the grave she’s moved outside the gate.  He runs to her and she stays put this time.  Lori’s ghost touches his face, he melts into her touch and we see what Michonne sees…a crazy man, standing alone.

In Woodbury, Andrea gets a visit from the Governor who compliments the speech she gave to the townspeople to calm them down.  She asks about retaliation against the prison group and he tells her that as long as they leave them alone, there’s no reason for it.  Oh and he wants Andrea to step in as interim Governor for a while.  I’m guessing he’s gonna be busy with that non-existent retaliation. 

THE DIXON BOYS!  Honestly these two could have their own show.  They’re hiking through the woods, hungry and disagreeing about how to do things.  Poor Daryl.

Back at the prison, Glenn is devising a plan to hold off the Governor.  He wants Michonne to help since she knows where his place is.  Michonne agrees without actually saying yes. She really doesn’t talk unless absolutely necessary.  Glenn and Hershel go back and forth about staying at the prison or moving on (former wants to stay and latter thinks they should go).  Glenn makes good points that being on the road was easier when Hershel had two legs and they didn’t have a baby with them.  Then again, Hershel thinks it’s better than staying there like sitting ducks.

Next stop on the Governor’s tour of tying up loose ends is a visit with Milty the science guy.  The Governor tells him how valuable he is, how he thinks of Milty as a friend, yada, yada.  Then the Governor sures up Milty’s loyalty by asking if he’d take a bullet, which Milty agrees to.  Unfortunately the Governor questions Andrea’s loyalty and wants Milty to keep an eye on her, you know, since the Governor doesn’t have one to spare…  Meanwhile, Andrea is looking for Martinez and then wants to know where the Governor has gone off to.  All Milty says is that he’s on a “run.”

A section of the prison is overrun again with walkers so Glenn wants to do a check of the far side.  I’m thinking they mean the section where Tyrese’s group came in, which leads me to wonder where they got off to.  Before heading out, Glenn checks on Maggie and pretty much forces her to recount exactly what when down when the Governor humiliated her.  Glenn reaches for her but Maggie slaps him and then slaps him a few more times before shoving him away.  They have got to get fixed, y’all.  Daryl gone and Glaggie fighting?!?!  No bueno.  We catch up with Carol and Axel who spills what he did to land in prison.  She shows him how to use the gun he’s been given and he compliments her.  This time is cute instead of creepy like when he was hitting on young Beth.

The Dixon boys (!) are still wandering and bickering when Daryl hears a baby cry in the distance.  Merle is convinced it’s some animals getting it on but they spot a group of survivors fighting off some walkers.  Daryl rushes off to help them but, of course, Merle can’t be bothered and would rather not waste bullets on strangers.  What a stand-up guy he continually proves to be.  Merle, never change you racist jerk.  Daryl and his crossbow help out quite a bit and even Merle takes out one walker.  However it’s Daryl who gets the kill of the week…decapitation by Subaru!  I rewound it twice.  The folks they’re rescuing are Spanish-speakers so Merle starts in with the racial slurs and tries to relieve them of some of their supplies but Daryl stops him with his crossbow.  The boys finally revisit the recent past and even go back to their childhoods.  It’s revealed to Merle that their dad beat on Daryl too and Merle, who had to leave for his own sake, left Daryl feeling pretty abandoned back then.  So Daryl decides to go back to the prison (yay!) and Merle begrudgingly follows.

Glenn is taking a shiny new-ish pick-up out to go who knows where (Woodbury? the back of the prison?) and Hershel tries to stop him.  It’s at this point I realize we haven’t seen Rick since the beginning and it’s like they read my mind because Hershel gets a load of Rick wandering around outside the gate.  Rick hears his name and is a little creeped out until he realizes it’s just Hershel who has hobbled his ass down there to talk.  Rick tells him that he’s been seeing ghosts, namely Lori and Shane back when they were in Woodbury.  He knows they aren’t real but feels like they’re appearing to him for a reason and is waiting for some sort of answer.  It’s obvious to Hershel that Rick is in need of a good night’s sleep (one of the first things to drive a person crazy is a lack of sleep).

We join up with Carol and Axel who are still chatting about life when Axel gets shot in the head.  HOLY CRAP, Y’ALL!!!   It’s the damn Governor on that retaliation mission he didn’t see as necessary.  He’s unnecessarily shooting at everyone and has 3 guys with him who are doing the same.  One, Martinez I’m guessing, is shooting at Rick and Hershel, one is in a pick-up next to the Governor (who is standing in the open) and one is up on a tower.  All of our folks are shooting back as best they can but it’s not doing much good.  The shooting stops when a truck comes speeding up to the outer gate and blows right through it.  Nothing happens for what seems like forever until the back doors open and a mess of walkers amble out.  Great.  The only good things about this cluster eff is that it forces Rick to rejoin the living and Michonne gets to use her katana.  Rick comes WAAAAYYY too close to getting overtaken by a few walkers when one gets an arrow through the head.  DARYL IS BACK!!!  He and Merle rush in and help Rick with his current walker problem.  Glenn speeds up, passes the Governor’s truck as it speeds away, and picks up some of the folks to bring them inside to safety.  Rick gives Daryl a nod to welcome him back but then we realize they’re still on the wrong side of the fence and there are a ton of walkers between them and the inside of the prison.  The episode ends on a close-up of an incredibly pissed-off Rick. 


Friday, February 15, 2013

A Good Day to Die Hard (aka Die Hard 5)

Yesterday was valentine’s day and because of that (and a couple of other things) I was in the mood for a good action flick.  I wanted to see Bruce Willis blow shit up.  I needed the quips and a really fantastic bad guy (or bad girl).  What I needed was Die Hard original sauce.  Die Hard 5 is definitely not Die Hard original sauce.  But it was Bruce Willis blowing shit up so I guess I got what I wanted.  Sort of.

It was not good.  There were obscene amounts of death and destruction.  The number of totaled cars alone was staggering.  The dialogue was lame and the quips were incredibly weak.  And the story?  Well, the story is this: blah, blah, blah, Russian baddies; blah, blah, blah Chernobyl; blah, blah, blah uranium; blah, blah, blah reconnecting with estranged son.  BLAH.

Don’t even get me started on the camera work.  Oy.  There was tons of moving camera, even when there was no particular action in the scene.  Then there was the speedy editing that made no sense.  Oh and the zooming.  OH. THE. ZOOMING!  There was one scene, early on, where the camera zoomed in and out on each person in a room and there were like 15 people in the room.  Actually there might have only been 5 but the camera kept moving, and zooming, and moving again so at some point I got totally lost.

And the cast?  Well Bruce seemed not totally thrilled to be there.  Thankfully there are movies like Moonrise Kingdom to remind me that he’s a great actor.  He delivered lines and shot a lot of people so I’m sure he was in the movie but he still seemed kind of absent.  Then there were some nondescript Russian baddies and that was a problem.  I want my baddie to be recognizable.  Where were the Alan Rickmans and the Jeremy Ironses (Irons'?) ?

So what did I like?  Well I liked having Russians as the bad guys again.  And I really liked the guy playing John McClane’s son, Jack.  Aussie actor, Jai Courtney, had that honor and I REALLY enjoyed his “work.”  Ok, his “work” consisted of tight tees, big biceps, and shooting at people but he did it well.  

 And honestly...it was still better than Conan.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Walking Dead - recap

 “Suicide King”

(So who else had to choose between their favorite high-browsoap opera and their favorite zombie drama?)

Bless them for picking right up with Dixon vs. Dixon instead of making us wait and wonder.  Andrea tries to break up the impending fight but the Governor insists the brothers Dixon must end it themselves. Merle proceeds to kick Daryl around a bit but assures him he has a plan. I wonder if that plan changed when the walkers were sent into the ring.  Rick and Maggie start shooting up the place and the brothers Dixon escape with them.  The Governor is now surrounded by smoke and darkness but sees pretty well with his one remaining eye. 

While escaping Woodbury, Rick makes it known that he doesn’t want to bring Merle with them but there doesn’t seem to be another option.  Their departure leaves an opening in the gate, which is quickly discovered by a walker.  Glenn and Michonne have been waiting by the car and they aren’t too thrilled to see Merle made it out unscathed.  Merle takes this time to let them in on the nugget that Michonne knows Andrea and that she used to have some pet walkers in her care.  He’s yammering on and on and on so Rick knocks him out and I hear Chris Tucker’s line from Friday in my head.  Heh. 

At the prison, Hershel is tending to Tyrese’s group and we get a bit of their origin story.  Hersh reminds them that whether or not they stay is up to the group.  Speaking of the group, or what’s left of it really, Rick, Daryl, Glenn and Maggie are still debating what to do with both Merle and “Last Samurai” Michonne.  Daryl elects to take off with Merle for the greater good of the group.  Rick doesn’t want to see him go.  I don’t either.  But I get it, I guess.  Tyrese’s group is taking their lost member to be buried.  The other dude and his son thinks they should just take out everyone there because they’d be easy pickings.  Tyrese does not agree and instead wants to continue to be decent folk.  On the way back to the prison Glenn gets to take out some major aggression on a walker’s head.  He’s still feeling a lot of pain and anger regarding what the Governor did to Maggie.  Plus he thinks Rick could have done a better job at keeping Daryl.

In Woodbury, the Governor is M.I.A. and the townsfolk are trying to flee.  It gets ugly.  Andrea tries to keep the peace but walkers have invaded and even got to a guy.  The Governor shows up just in time to put the recently torn up guy out of his misery, says nothing to anyone, and then leaves.  What a guy.  The Governor and Andrea chat, well, technically she yells at him a bit.  He’s done protecting the town and is preparing himself for war against Rick.  Oh and he finally tells Andrea that it’s her old pals that have been shooting at them and causing all the problems.  He definitely has a way of spinning it that will make Andrea stop and think.

Carol and Carl are reminiscing about how loud the world used to be.  He’s still grappling with what he did to his mom and I think he will for quite a while.  Rick and company finally return and Carol notices there’s no Daryl in their spiffy Hyundai SUV.  She’s almost as upset as I am.  Blond Beth (I learned her name) greets Rick with a hug and a kiss on the cheek and she’s not wrong for trying.  Well her timing is way off but I can’t blame a girl, especially if Daryl went off with his dumb brother.  Rick tells Hershel all about the Governor.  They go inside and Rick blows right past Tyrese’s group.  The dad makes a requisite joke about Rick being chatty.  Then Rick spends about 30 weird seconds holding his daughter who cries as soon as he has her in his arms. 

Woodbury’s Milty the science guy is giving a shot at calming the townsfolk down but it’s Andrea who gets through to them with a little speechifying.  The Governor, creepy as always, watches this from his window above.

Ok, the cutest thing on the show yes, aside from Glenn’s love for Maggie, is the bed they made for baby Judith.  It’s a postal bin and says “Lil Asskicker” on the side.  LOVE IT!  Hershel is tending to Glenn and there’s still some major tension between Glenn and Maggie, which doesn’t escape Hersh’s notice.  (Side note: Hershel’s hair is so long now that he’s holding it back with a scrunchy yet Carol’s has barely grown an inch.)  Hershel goes to Maggie to get the full story of what went down in Woodbury but she’s being stoic.  He comforts her, patiently waiting for his little girl to come around.  I’m glad they didn’t kill him off.  I think he’s needed.

Rick is creepin’ around and wants to know when Michonne can be sent away.  They’re preparing for the Governor’s retaliation and Hershel thinks they need reinforcements (aka Michonne and Tyrese’s group).  This brings about introductions with Tyrese’s group, who quickly offers his hand for a shake but Rick doesn’t even flinch.  Geeze, Rick.  I learn that white guy and son are Allen and Ben but do I really need to know this?  I mean, aren’t they just going to get killed off soon?  Tyrese offers to do anything to contribute, even fight off any other groups (it’s like Hershel prepped him) but Rick says No.  Sasha, Tyrese’s daughter, pleads but Rick shoots them down.  Hershel wants to discuss this, obviously forgetting it’s a Ricktatorship.  Rick doesn’t want to be responsible and Hershel stands firm that Rick is making the wrong call about these folks.  That’s when Rick sees a shadowed Lori standing above them.  He predictably freaks out, no, he has a full-on mental breakdown waving his gun around and talking to Lori’s ghost.  Tyrese’s group leaves and so does Lori the ghost.  For now.

P.S. I try not to watch Talking Dead until after I've posted my recap but I caught some of it last night.  I want to thank Kevin Smith for giving us all a new nickname for Carl...Wyatt Twerp.  Love it.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Being Human - A Twofer


“The Times They Are a Changin”

Nora and Xander (who I’m sure has a character name but I don’t care) are ok after the standoff in the storage unit.  He helpfully reminds her of some wolfy code that “there is no worse sin than turning on one of your own.”  Oy.  This is the last we see of Xander but I’m guessing he’ll be back soon enough.

In other Josh and Nora news, Josh meets a teen patient, Erin, who got scratched during the last full moon.  Erin’s parents are meth addicts or some such so she’s been stuck in the foster system, which is why Josh and Nora break some rules and bring Erin home to help her through her first shift.  She finds their prediction about her turning into a wolf a bit hard to swallow.  Even more difficult is watching Josh’s video of him turning, especially the nekkid bits.  Heh.  The night of the full moon, they send her and Nora into the woods with a slab of meat and tips for pre and post-shifting.  Josh reveals that he’s packing some tiny heat (not a euphemism) just in case things go sideways.  The shift goes fine…bringing a new meaning to terms like ‘female bonding,’ ‘that time of the month,’ and ‘ladies’ night.’

If you remember, Sally kissed a guy from her past, Trent, and he died.  She wants to go to his funeral but there’s too much risk that other folks from her past would be there.  She manages to find his ghost and explains how she’s sort of responsible for his death. He takes it as well as you might expect.  To help make amends and to possibly help him get his door, Sally agrees to talk to his fiancĂ© and apologize on his behalf for cheating on her with Sally.  Turns out the fiancĂ© had been cheating on him for over a year so she felt a lot less guilty.  Trent yells at Sally a bit more, eventually finds his door and goes through it.  On the other side of the door is Donna the witch, with a really big knife.  She slices him, turns him to dust and eats it.  Then Donna the witch gets younger.

And Aidan?  Well Aidan and Henry are trying to find folks with clean blood.  It doesn’t go well and Henry is still pretty pissed at Aidan for setting his blood-slave girlfriend free.  Aidan asks Josh for help finding folks at the hospital who never got sick.  Josh is hesitant at first but agrees.  Henry is weak and has apparently fed on a tainted human because he’s sick now.  Oh and he feels the need to remind Aidan that everyone who loves him dies.  Nice.

“I’m So Lonesome I Could Die” aka Aidan Dances!!!

It’s 3am and Aidan is having a party while Josh and Nora are trying to sleep.  Erin’s drinking and Josh shuts that down quickly (she’s 15).  Sally spot checks to make sure she doesn’t know anyone and then joins the party.  She’s dancing with Aidan and it’s pretty cute.  Unfortunately Aidan is just covering up his pain with frat parties. 

Nora’s going home for her mom’s birthday and Josh wants to come along.  Nora doesn’t think this is such a good idea but he wears her down.  So he and Erin go with her and Erin makes an impression on Nora’s brother, RJ.  Josh was hoping to make a good impression on Nora’s dad (by asking his permission to marry his daughter) but the dude doesn’t have much personality.  Later RJ shows up at their house and makes out with Erin.  Josh shuts that down pretty quickly and they throw him out of the house.  This pisses off Erin and she runs away.

Sally has a dream that she’s killing people she knows.  She decides she needs a new identity and goes to Aidan for suggestions since vampires have been doing just that for hundreds of years.  He takes her to a dive bar where she’s sure to not run into anyone from her past but he’s really only interested in the rather large tattooed gentleman at the end of the bar.  Aidan follows tattooed dude outside and leaves Sally alone.  She goes outside and finds tattooed dude on the ground with fresh bite marks.  Later Sally yells at Aidan for being so careless but he makes a point about even people who didn’t get the virus before could be getting it now so there’s no way to be totally safe.  Aidan awakens to find Sally straddling him with a stake pointed near his heart.  They have a heart to heart, he shows her where the heart actually is and he decides to get his life together.  He takes a shower, the universal symbol for starting over and goes back to the hospital to get his job back.  At the hospital he finds a bubble boy who’s been locked up for the past eight months.  Oh boy.  Oh and Sally gets caught at the funeral home where she talked to Trent’s finace.  She was looking for possible new identities in the dead baby files (ew!).  The hot funeral director offers to help her and offers her a job too.