Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Zero Dark Thirty

Zero Dark Thirty

               Zero Dark Thirty is a fascinating film which challenges my beliefs without preaching ideology or shoving politics in my face.  Jessica Chastain is killer as Mia the CIA agent doggedly pursuing Bin Laden despite countless barriers.  In fact, several of the actors create a credible, terse reality in the intelligence agency.  Zero Dark Thirty reminds us of several tragic events that happened in the years after September 11th and provides a poignant  quiet moment in the last seconds of the film that left me declaring that Chastain should win Oscar gold.  For a thought-provoking, morality-questioning film, look no further than Zero Dark Thirty.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Downton Abbey Season 3: A Picture Response to a Devastating Episode

Get ready for Oprah's Ugly Cry, but first:

Sybil, Tom, and their sweet family

               If you haven't watched the last of Downton Abbey season three, stop reading now.  I mean it. As for me, I had this episode spoiled months ago when I accidentally read a comment on a youtube trailer.  Here, in picture form, I can finally fully respond to the revelations of last Sunday's episode.

1.  This is how devastated/angry I was when I stumbled on the spoiler that told me the tragic new of the episode months earlier.
Just let me be angry.
2.  This was how I felt when they were not taking Sybil to the hospital.

Okay fine, come back, but LEAVE NOW

3.  I felt for poor Daisy and the poor kitchen maid who faced the wrath of a woman scorned.
Daisy has enter the friend zone.
4.  And now, for the devastating finale, when Sybil, the sweetest spirit at Downton, tragically died, forever changing Downton and sending even Carson and the Dowager into deep depression...

Ugly Crying

Ugly Crying and Eating


Saturday, January 26, 2013

J.J. Meet Jar Jar: Star Wars Has New Hope with Director J.J. Abrams

George Lucas and J.J Abrams: Directors of Star Wars

               J.J. Abrams is one of my generation's film and television gurus.  When his name is attached to something, I typically trust that the storytelling, characters, and adventure will be above par.  Look at his track record.  He's generated shows like Alias and Lost and movies like Super 8 and Star Trek.  The man knows his way around a franchise with a huge wealth of mythology and mystery and is notorious for holding his cards close and not revealing spoilers.  While I wasn't clamoring for a new Star Wars film, hearing that Abrams is officially set to helm the next Star Wars is intriguing.  Knowing that the screenwriter of Star Wars VII also wrote Toy Story 3 (aka the movie that sent a world of grownups back to their childhood) doesn't hurt my interest in the next chapter in the Star Wars Universe.  If Abrams can create such fresh life and vigor in Star Trek, why not take over Lucas's Wars as well?  I doubt we have to worry about any Jar Jar-Gate controversies.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Austenland gets Stellar Review at Sundance


          Fan, coming from fanatic describes how many people are when it comes to Jane Austen's works.  When I heard that Keri Russell was to take the main role in Austenland, based on a story of a girl swept up in a pretend Austen-like world, I was rather fanatic myself.
          The reviews are coming out from Sundance, where Austenland was screened, and they have been raving for both the supporting cast and Ms. Russell herself.  Described as a broad, original comedy, the film celebrates and kindly juxtaposes the world of Austen and the modern world.  I for one, want a ticket when Austenland hits the theaters of the common people.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Downton Abbey Season 3 Episode 2: Picture Response

Downton Abbey Season 3, Episode 2

              Downton Abbey was recently knocked down and called the Ford Fiesta to the Aston Martin of Shakespeare by Brit actor Jeremy Irons.  Well, man who voiced the lion Scar in the Shakespearean Lion King, be prepared for backlash...

Be Prepared Jeremy Irons

                    If Downton Abbey is like a Ford Fiesta, it only means it's a fun, quirky spin on tradition.  It doesn't aspire to be Shakespeare, so it doesn't really deserve to be compared to it.  Being a beloved, of the people show isn't a bad thing.

Ford Fiesta (aka Downton Abbey)

              Now, moving on, last Sunday's S1E2 of Downton brought with it a Ford Fiesta sized load of trouble.  Here, in picture form, is my response to various moments of the show.

1.  Ms. Hughes telling the beloved butler Carson her tumor was benign equaled one of the cutest musical reactions to good news ever.  Carson had a Disney princess moment while he cleaned.

Happy Working Song, Enchanted

2.  Matthew receives a rather too perfect letter releasing him from any guilt over taking money from the relation of his jilted, dead fiance.  It was a little too easy of a fix.

3.  Lady Edith, that obnoxious old man with the lopsided mouth does not deserve you, and you didn't deserve to be humiliated at the alter.  I wish for a time machine so that I could bring you some Nutella from the future.

Can we note how great it is that the spoon in the Nutella is labeled "spoon," as if we needed the clarification?


Sunday, January 13, 2013

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

                  While I am the first to admit that I didn't know any high school students as self-aware and self-assured as the teenage "misfit toys" in The Perks of Being a Wallflower, I still hold that Perks is an emotionally poignant tale of the difficult lives of people in touch with their delicate and complicated selves. These people are so aware of themselves, so aware of life, that it is difficult to live happily in the fold.  Instead, they are relegated to the edges.  On those edges, they will live their lives "infinitely."
            Logan Lerman (Jack and Bobby, Percy Jackson) plays the broken but not ruined Charlie with such heartbreaking fragility.  I constantly fought the urge to weep for him and for his group of lovable and breakable friends.  While much praise as been heaped on Emma Watson and Ezra Miller for their memorable and often vulnerable roles as Charlie's ringleaders, but it is Lerman who really holds the power of the film.
          As a side note, I loved that Joan Cusack appeared as a voice of reason doctor near the end of the film.  She has been the source of wisdom in more movies than I can think of (Raising Helen, My Sister's Keeper, Runaway Bride....)  I am going to start using her name as a verb when someone offers wisdom.  "You've been Joan Cusackced, You're welcome."

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Star Trek Into Darkness: Another Reason to love J.J. Abrams

J.J. Abrams

           I stumbled across this story yesterday, and had to share.  A New Yorker recently diagnosed with terminal cancer really wanted to see the new, shrouded in secret Star Trek Into Darkness 9 minute trailer.  He wasn't able to, but director J.J. Abrams did him one better.  Make that one hundred times better.  The rough cut copy of the film arrived at Dan Craft's home. (The film doesn't hit theaters until May.)  Craft and his wife were able to watch the film that no one knows anything about because of the J.J. Abrams no spoilers policy.  I appreciate not knowing everything about Star Trek, but I really appreciate Abrams sharing his story with a passionate film lover before he died.  When film nerds unite, it is sometimes a beautiful story.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Downton Abbey Season 3 Premiere: A Picture Response

Downton Season 3 Premiere

          Oh the joys of across the pond television obsessions.  The long wait for season 3 of the much obsessed about Downton Abbey finally ended when the period piece/soap opera debuted last night.  Clocking in at nearly 2 hours, the episode saw a lot happen to the Crawley family, the estate, and of course, the downstairs. Here, via pictures, I express my general feelings/reaction to the most important moments of the episode.

     1.  The fight between Lady Mary and Matthew over the future of Downton was frustrating, to put it mildly.

2.  Branson and Sybil returning and causing shenanigans, upending stuffy traditions like only they can.  All while discussing Ireland of course.  Oh how I missed them in the Christmas special.  They are such a breath of normal air.  Irish air of course.

Man do I want want to go there.
3.   The whole Bates, Anna condundrum, where Anna fights clear Bates's name and release him from prison.  All she needs to do is get a map of the prison tattooed to her, just like Michael in Prison Break, and then get in prison herself. Or maybe they need to get Bates out stat...

4.  The appearance of Shirley Maclaine as Cora's American mother caused quite a stir among the more traditional Downton crew.  Go 'Merica.

5.  The arrival of a new, ginger footman. (Maclaine is too, thus there are two main gings)

I just love a good ginger moment.

6.  The wedding of Lady Mary and Matthew finally happening, because as Branson said (pulling straight out of Wuthering Heights, Matthew won't be happy with anyone else as long as Lady Mary roams the earth)

They finally did it!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Looper: What Sci-Fi Can Be


           Science Fiction isn't what it used to be, which is a good thing.  Once relegated to the sidelines of pop culture, science fiction films and shows have evolved and grown in their relevance and grit.  Looper, the 2012 film starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis as Joe, plays with a grim future where assassins are drafted to kill men of the future, only to eventually kill themselves and close the loop.  Levitt plays the younger Joe who struggles to kill his older self, played by Willis.  Looper questions the possibilities and limitations of time travel while demonstrating how choices truly shape the a life and a man.
          The film really picks up the stakes and pace during the second half, when young Joe hides out with a telekinetic young woman played by Emily Blunt and her son.  I won't give the dramatic second act away, but be ready for a truly powerful conclusion.  Looper is science fiction executed with intelligence, heart, and creativity. The falsest moment of the film doesn't involve any sci-fi at all.  It is when Bruce Willis takes down countless men alone.  Not super likely.  Beside that hiccup of cheese, Looper was an excellent example of the new wave of realistic science fiction films.  Catch Looper on dvd or bluray now.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

What to Watch: 2013 Movies

            2012 was a good year for movies.  Les Miserables, The Hobbit, The Dark Knight Rises, The Avengers, Brave, Chronicle, Pitch Perfect...and several others made for a year of storytelling.   As for 2013, there is a new set of films contending for your attention.  Though this isn't a comprehensive list, here are 15 movies I am already ready for.

Warm Bodies

1.  Warm Bodies
          Based on a young adult novel, the zombie rom-com follows a zombie boy who falls in love with a living breathing girl.  Don't be fooled, the film's trailer suggests the humor of Zombieland.  Look for Warm Bodies February 1,2013.

Zero Dark Thirty

2.  Zero Dark Thirty
          Technically, this controversial film from the director of The Hurt Locker debuted in 2012.  However, the movie opens in wide release January 11, 2013.

Jack the Giant Slayer

3.  Jack the Giant Slayer
          I am not sure about this re-imagining of the classic tale, but I am interested enough to include it in my list.  The film starring Nicholas Hoult, who also stars in Warm Bodies, will be released March 1, 2013.

Oz The Great and Powerful

4.  Oz: The Great and Powerful
          The story of Oz has been revisited many times.  In this Disney film starring James Franco, Mila Kunis, Michelle Williams, and Rachel Weisz, there is a potential for a unique adventure or a tired tale.  Either way, I am curious.  Look for Oz March 8, 2013.

The Host

5.  The Host
          Maybe it's because the actual premise of the story-that the world is overrun with aliens who take over the bodies of humans is interesting, but I am actually intrigued by the movie.  I tried to read the book by Stephanie Meyers, but found it a little tedious.  The trailer for the film, starring Saoirse Ronan, Diane Kruger, and Max Irons, used one of my current favorite songs to rope me in.  Perhaps The Host will be a rare film that improves upon the book's premise.  Watch the sci-fi story unfold March 29, 2013.

The Great Gatsby

6.  The Great Gatsby
          Originally intended for a 2012 release, The Great Gatsby, in all it's slick glory will open May 10, 2013.  The film unites friends Leonardo DiCaprio with Toby McGuire, along with Carey Mulligan.

Star Trek Into Darkness

7.  Star Trek Into Darkness
          I am perhaps most excited about the next chapter in J.J. Abram's intepretation of Star Trek.  With Benedict Cumberbatch on board as a mysterious and destructive villain, Star Trek Into Darkness releases May 17, 2013.

Man of Steel

8.  Man of Steel
          For the first time in a long time, a Superman film may be relevant in this darker, more poetic interpretation starring Brit Henry Cavill.   Man of Steel, full of the potential of  Dark Knight films, comes to screens June 14, 2013.

Pacific Rim

9.  Pacific Rim
          I am interested in Pacific Rim, directed by Guillermo del Toro.  The premise of robots being used to battle aliens isn't all that original, but knowing the director's creativity, we can expect great things from Pacific Rim, which opens July 12, 2013.

City of Bones

10.  The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones
          Like so many YA book to film adaptions before it, this sci-fi urban fantasy about the discovery of a supernatural underbelly in NYC could succeed tremendously or fail horrifically.  The first three books in the series are worthy of a film series.  Look for the first film August 23, 2013.

Ender's Game

11.  Ender's Game
          Based on a beloved sci-fi book, Ender's Game, starring Harrison Ford and Asa Butterfield debuts November 1, 2013.  The concept of a battle school for young warriors to train for war with aliens is rather classic.

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs

12.  Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2
          The first film was such a classic, that if the second Cloudy is 75% as good I'll still enjoy it.  Catch it September 27, 2013.

Thor: The Dark World

13.  Thor: The Dark World
          There may be a dark theme in Hollywood, but I don't mind.  I am very excited for the return of everyone's favorite hammer wielding Norse hero.  Let's not forget the superb Loki as well, who makes audiences sympathize with a villain.  Watch Thor is all his glory November 8, 2013.

Catching Fire

14. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
          I'll admit, I much preferred the book to the first film, though that doesn't diminish the power of the story.  I'm still ready to catch fire with the sequel, which comes out November 22, 2013.

15.  The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
          Having seen The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey two weeks ago and fully digested it, I can say I am really excited for the second film, which will feautre the battle with the great dragon Smaug, voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch.  Look for The Desolation of Smaug December 13, 2013.