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I actually don’t have many entries to make here!  I’m so upset that this is the last chance I have to get my snark on during awards season, and I have so few targets to choose from.  I guess I’ll do my best with what I have.

Sharon Stone

“Oh, hey girlfriend, I think a vulture molted on your shoulder.  You might want to look into that.”  She kind of looks like she wants to steal a litter of puppies and make a fur coat out of them.

Russell Brand

Okay, I know I said last time that I love it when guys take chances on the red carpet AND when they wear navy tuxes.  So you’d think I’d be over the moon for this ensemble, right?  But no.  It’s the plaid that kills me.  He looks like a fancy lumberjack, like Paul Bunyan’s hipster brother.

Helena Bonham Carter

Helena, isn’t being with Tim Burton enough to prove your goth cred?  Must you always be wearing something crazy, black, and/or velour?  And the fan?  I just can’t.  She looks like her dress is made out of the lining of a jewelry box.

Christian Bale

Bale kind of looked like a stiff undertaker.  I hate the black-on-black-on-black look that some guys gravitate towards on the red carpet.  He’s got a black jacket over a black vest over a black shirt with a black tie.  Jesus, Marilyn Manson, we GET it.  Plus there’s the red beard, which makes him look like young Kris Kringle in that old Rankin-Bass movie, “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.”  But at least he combed his hair this time so he doesn’t look as homeless.

Gwyneth Paltrow

When asked who designed her gown, Gwyneth replied, “Reynolds Wrap.”

Melissa Leo

Did you know Melissa Leo is a Transformer?  Yeah, at the end of the night, she’ll transform back into a doily and return to her rightful home on your grandma’s coffee table.

I think there were a lot of wonderful looks last night on the red carpet and during the show.  It was pretty consistently good, and some people took some risks that I think paid off in spades.

Anne Hathaway

Whatever you think of Anne Hathaway the Host, she (mostly) killed it this year as Anne Hathaway the Dresser.  This Armani Prive gown she wore during the broadcast is a stunning blue jewel tone, and much different than anything other ladies had on that night.  I also love the off-the-shoulder look.

Sandra Bullock

Red complements Sandra’s hair color and skin tone, and this Vera Wang gown did the job very nicely.  It’s subtle, but with a great shape.

Hailee Steinfeld

For a red carpet newbie, Hailee has been killing it this awards season, opting for dresses that are age-appropriate but not childish.  The pink hue of this Marchesa dress is young, girly and fun.  I love the textured skirt with the light pattern.  Also, she opted to wear Chuck Taylors with the gown for the after parties, which is basically the cutest thing ever.

Mila Kunis

This romantic, ethereal lavender Elie Saab gown went perfectly with Mila’s dark hair.  I love the touch of lace at the bodice, and the texture of the whole thing. Read the rest of this entry »

Step Up 3D hardly revolutionizes storytelling.  It doesn’t even break the mold of the “inspirational arts and/or sports film” subgenre.  There are your typical characters – attractive and confident or nerdy and awkward, but always likable – and their struggles are always the same – “I want to pursue my passion, but my parents want me to do otherwise,” “We’re a scrappy band of outsiders and we want to follow our dreams, but someone is standing in our way!”

This time it’s floppy-haired Moose (Adam G. Sevani), who looks like a young David Krumholtz but dances like the rubber-boned, b-boy offspring of Michael Jackson, who has given up his passion for dance to live out the dream his parents have for him.  He starts the film as a freshman at NYU, pursuing an engineering degree, but quickly – like, before orientation is even over with quick – falls in with Luke (Rick Malambri) and his rag-tag dance crew, The Pirates.  Luke is like a more wholesome, young, attractive version of Charles Dickens’ Fagin, or maybe like a dancing Robin Hood.  He plays the father figure for his crew and houses them at a giant warehouse called the Vault, which his late parents converted into a rehearsal and living space.  But time and money are running out and his rival Julien (Joe Slaughter), a trust-fund baby and leader of rival dance crew The Samurai, is looking to buy the Vault.  So Luke must figure out how to win the World Jam and care for his patchwork footloose family while also romancing the mysterious Natalie (Sharni Vinson).  Meanwhile, Moose must juggle his new position as boy-wonder superstar with The Pirates, his actual school work, and his relationship with BFF/love interest Camille (Alyson Stoner).

The story is warmed over and scarcely “inspiring,” and the romantic sub-plots are paint-by-numbers.  The dialogue can be painful and some of the acting (especially Malambri’s performance) is sub-par.  What does make Step Up 3D exceptional is that it utilizes this new 3D trend in a truly original way.  Unlike recent “3D” posers such as Clash of the Titans and Avatar:  The Last Airbender, which were converted to 3D after filming, Step Up 3D was actually shot in the 3D format.  And there are plenty of crafty visuals to take advantage of that format.  One thing this film does as opposed to the previous two Step Up films is that it features more than one big dance scene.  The other two would show plenty of practice scenes – just to let us know that the characters could dance and were putting the time in – but they saved the truly awesome stuff until the very end.

The makers of Step Up 3D know that you aren’t there to see the same characters act out the same plots for the third time; if you’re shelling out $12 a ticket for this film, you want to see some dancing.  And they deliver.  There are at least three big dance battles, and plenty memorable scenes in between with the dancers performing for the camera, their arms and legs coming directly at the audience.  They utilize their atmosphere, too.  In one scene, dancers send clouds of dust wafting from the screen.  In another, they slosh across a soggy dance floor, spraying water everywhere.  The final dance ups the ante with more tricks and crazy visuals, including some that would be impressive even without the added bonus of the 3D.

On this blog, I’ve knocked other films that fancy themselves to be more thought-provoking or that aspire to a higher level of “art” than Step Up 3D does (like James Cameron’s Avatar, and Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland).  But what made me appreciate Step Up 3D was that it’s a self-aware film.  It’s not set-up to be some breathtakingly original spin on an old classic, or an award-grubbing movie with a message.  It aspires to nothing less than to entertain the audience for a while, and to give viewers exactly what they expect.  Sure, the plot may be mind-numbing at times, but the dance numbers and the sheer thrill of experiencing a 3D film like it’s supposed to be presented nearly outweigh any artistic follies.

And, perhaps accidentally, the film has opened a door into a new film-making possibility.  The sheer abandon and pure spectacle of Step Up 3D hints that this may be the format that suits dance films, and maybe even big-production movie musicals, best.  I’m not usually a fan of the “just turn your brain off and enjoy the film” argument, and so I’m not going to make it.  There is a better reason to enjoy this film, and that is to appreciate dance on the big screen in a flattering new light.  Not to mention that it may be the best entry into the new canon of 3D films.  If Hollywood insists on making more of them, here’s hoping that they resemble Step Up 3D.

Grade:  6/10

Pic source

[NOTE:  I was going through some of the papers I wrote for classes this past semester and thought I’d post a few of the ones that focus on various art forms. This was my final research paper for my honors class on Banned Media.  I have no copyright, but stealing isn’t cool and you’ll probably get busted anyway, so don’t do it.  Feel free, however, to use the works cited for inspiration.]

The 1950s saw the Production Code Administration’s firm grip on Hollywood loosening.  Studios had to compete with television for viewer’s attention, and oftentimes found that they could fill theater seats by pushing the envelope, in terms of subject matter.  They were less willing to comply with the Code if it meant taking a loss at the box office.  Director Elia Kazan knew this, and relied on edgy material to draw in an audience.  It had worked with his adaptation of Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire, and he employed the tactic yet again with another Williams adaptation, Baby Doll.  This time around, however, his film became the target of the Catholic Church’s ire, and a pawn in the Production Code Administration’s struggle for power and relevancy.  The objections to Baby Doll were certainly based on morality – so much so that it became a matter of eternal damnation for Catholics to see it – but it truly became something of a landmark of censorship history when it got tied up in the politics of Hollywood.

Based on a one-act play by Williams, entitled 27 Wagons Full of Cotton (Palmer par. 4), Baby Doll focused on the marriage of a middle-aged cotton gin owner, Archie Lee (played by Karl Malden), to 19-year old Baby Doll (played by Caroll Baker).  Baby Doll agreed to the marriage at the behest of her now deceased father, and with Archie’s promise that he would wait until her 20th birthday to consummate their union.  The film takes place during the two days leading up to her 20th birthday, and both Baby Doll and Archie are considerably aware of the occasion.  The first half of the film establishes their dysfunctional relationship and climaxes when Archie, in a fit of anger at his failing business and sexual frustration, burns down a neighboring cotton gin that had been putting him out of business, along with every other cotton gin owner in their county.  The next day, the owner of that cotton gin, a Sicilian immigrant named Silva Vacarro (played by Eli Wallach) comes to their house, distracts Archie with business propositions, and promptly seduces Baby Doll, who lets it leak that Archie was the one who burnt down his cotton gin.

When Kazan first toyed with the idea of making Baby Doll, the Production Code Administration (PCA) was still being run by its first director, Joe Breen.  No studio could seriously expect their film to be featured in prominent cinemas across America unless it passed the Code’s standards.  Technically, then, Breen controlled which films would be seen by Americans, and what content would have to be cut before approval could be given to said films.  Interestingly enough, just prior to becoming the director of the PCA, Breen, along with Martin Quigley, publisher of The Motion Picture Herald and co-author of the original Code, formed the Legion of Decency (Brook 349).  The Legion of Decency was a Catholic review board with its own ratings system for films (Walsh 99-100).  Because of Breen’s strong Catholic affiliations, the PCA and the Legion of Decency worked almost hand-in-hand in objecting to “questionable” content in films. Read the rest of this entry »

I realized just now, while I was complaining about something elsewhere on the Internet, that I have a lot of hatred inside me.  So, what better way to release that hatred than to complain about it on my blog, so I won’t irritate everyone on my Facebook (even though I know that I’ll continue to blah blah blah about my little peeves in every outlet I’m allowed, and that includes the FB)?  Yes, a blog entry.  Perhaps it will become a new feature here.  As long as it’s a day that ends in “y,” I’m probably going to find something new to hate.

1.  American Idol (or perhaps Americans who vote for American Idol)

Okay, just a few minutes ago it was announced that Lee DeWyze is the new American Idol.  Good job, America.  For the third time in a row, all those hormonal pre-teens who vote for American Idol have chosen a white, heterosexual, twentysomething male who plays guitar.  Of these three dudes, Lee is most certainly the dullest.  He seems to have little (or no?) personality, he’s terribly awkward on stage (especially without his guitar – he moves his hands around like a malfunctioning robot), and a person could go to any bar in America and hear at least two guys who sound just like Lee singing there every night.  I don’t understand what’s so special about him.  I think that Crystal would have been a much better choice, both musically and financially.  Right now, female solo artists are having a heyday.  Lillith Fair is back, Lady Gaga is huge, Christina Aguilera has a new album out soon, as does M.I.A., Taylor Swift swept the Grammys, and as I type this, Katy Perry has the #1 single on iTunes (La Roux, Ke$ha, Lady Gaga, and Miley Cyrus also appear in the top 10).  While Crystal is hardly a Lady Gaga or Ke$ha, it’s clear that the world is ready to welcome unique female artists with open arms right now.  Plus, she harkens back to the radio of the 90s – Alanis Morissette, Melissa Etheridge, Sarah MacLachlan, Sheryl Crow – and I think that’s a time that we’re all nostalgic for.  I’m probably looking too deep into this, but I really do think that she would’ve done well in the music industry right now.  Or at least she would be more interesting than Lee Tweedle Dee.

2.  Summer Movies

There are absolutely no good films out now, nor will there really be any at all this summer.  Too many sequels, adaptations, remakes, and 3D cheesefests.  Sure, I’ll give Toy Story 3 a pass because it’s Pixar and the first two films were great.  Inception might be good.  Get Him to the Greek has a good cast (minus Jonah Hill, who I also hate), as do Dinner for Schmucks and Scott Pilgrim.  But then we have Prince of Persia, a video game adaptation; The Last Airbender, an adaptation of a cartoon TV show; Marmaduke, an adaptation of an ancient comic strip (which also looks like it could be the worst film ever made); Sex and the City 2, a sequel AND a film based on a TV show.  There’s Iron Man 2, The Karate Kid, Twilight:  Eclipse, Cats and Dogs:  The Revenge of Kitty Galore (god help us all), etc. etc. etc.  Even the “original” films are bland, the typical mix of copycat rom-coms and copy and paste horror films.  The most disappointing aspect is that I’m sure there are at least a few legitimately good films coming out this summer (Jeunet’s Micmacs is one I’d love to see), but if you live in the middle of nowhere as I do, you won’t get to see those until they get a DVD release (and still, that’s if you’re lucky).  This points at a more consistent problem that Hollywood is having, though, and that is a loss of originality.  It’s no surprise that they’re obsessed with money, to the point where art is almost completely forgotten.  But never has it been as obvious or sickening as it is this summer.  AND I HATE IT.

3.  Arizona

Seriously, how are they still going through with this legislation?  How is it that supposedly around 68% of Americans agree with this whole idea?  I’m glad to see people and cities boycotting Arizona, because they deserve it, but what is the major disfunction with folks that they could think it’s a good idea?  Here’s the thing, people, let me explain it in easy terms:  The idea is that police officers have the right to pull over “suspicious” looking people to check and see whether or not they are “allowed” to be here.  Like a Nazi who spies a person with dark curly hair on the streets of Warsaw, they’re going to ask to see their papers.  And how are we to interpret “suspicious looking people?”  I’ll tell you how:  skin color.  If you aren’t as white as Dracula’s pasty thighs, you best watch out, and keep your papers on you at all times.  This legislation basically assumes that every brown person living in Arizona is a non-citizen, and as a result, they will be harassed as if they are.  News flash, folks:  there are people living in Arizona who aren’t white but are still – GASP! – citizens of the United States of America.  I know, I know.  That’s a crazy idea; dark skinned people can’t be from Amurrka!  So, do we see the issue?  About how if you’re not “white,” you’re going to have a hell of a time dealing with this insanity?  I personally would be incredibly angry if I were a darker complected U.S. citizen living in Arizona, and if I were constantly being pulled over, if I always had to have my “papers” on me, and if I were consistently treated like a fugitive by the countless white, entitled cops crawling all over my state.  I’d have to leave 15 minutes early for everything I did because I’d have to anticipate getting pulled over and put through the ringer.  I’d have to live in constant fear that I’d leave my ID and citizenship papers and whatnot at home.  What the Arizona government is doing is creating an environment of fear and inherent racism.  Which, in 2010, is completely hideous.  To the people who dare to say that we live in a post-racial America, and that racism is something we don’t have to worry about anymore, you should shut your mouths.

And if you still don’t get it, have this handy picture that explains it all (and with crayons, yay!).

For many, the phrase, “down the rabbit hole” connotes something quite enchanting and memorable.  For me, Tim Burton’s journey down that bunny’s burrow was quite the opposite.  Instead of the magical world of Wonderland that we know, filled with beauty and whimsy and all that inspirational hooey, we’re given a half-hearted attempt at a “sequel,” of sorts.  It comes across more like a dull retread of the original story, advanced a few years and with a “girl power” ending tacked on. Read the rest of this entry »

I think this second entry features a strong batch of films, for me at least.  I even have two documentaries listed!  Let’s hear it for me being all kinds of diverse.  The more time I spend writing this list, the more certain I feel that I need to watch a greater number of films.  Now, onto the best of what I have seen.

Read the rest of this entry »

8:13 pm – Well, I’ve decided to live-blog the Golden Globes.  I thought I’d do it, then I was eating dinner and it got too late, and then I decided that late is better than not at all.  So here goes.  If you’re following along, just refresh the page every so often while I update the entry – that’s really the only way I know to “live-blog.”

8:16 – For the two awards that I’ve missed, all I have to say is:  1.)  I’m sad that Tina Fey didn’t win for Best Actress in a Comedy/Musical, and it would’ve been neat to see Lea Michele win (although she doesn’t really deserve it as much some of those other ladies do, I just like her, I like Glee, and I enjoy seeing newbies win).  However, I do like Toni Colette.  So, good for her!  2.)  Mo’Nique’s speech was very good.  I thought it was cute that she’s known her husband since they were at least 14.  I was rooting for Anna Kendrick, but it’s always nice to see a comedian do well in a dramatic role, as Mo’Nique has done, and the buzz surrounding her performance started months and months ago, so it wasn’t much of a surprise.

Read the rest of this entry »

I’m finally cracking down and getting this done.  I’m still not entirely set in the rankings, and I’m having second thoughts about putting certain films  on the “runners-up” list as opposed to my top 30 list, but as Carole King once said, “it’s too late, baby, now it’s too late.”

30.  El laberinto del fauno [Pan’s Labyrinth(del Toro, 2006)

An intense, chilling fairy tale, laid out beautifully by the very imaginative Mexican director Guillermo del Toro, Pan’s Labyrinth is eerie and dark, the way most fairy tales were before Disney laid claim to them.  Even the Faun, one of the “good guys,” is slightly terrifying, but he pales in comparison to some of the vicious baddies here, like the Pale Man and our heroine’s unusually cruel stepfather.  Unlike the candy-coated Princess tales of late, Pan’s Labyrinth doesn’t end on a decidedly happy note.  But then, it has a strong tether to reality, much more so than faries and fauns and mandrakes would first lead us to believe.

Read the rest of this entry »

I got a little out of control and ended up with 50 films on my “top films of the decade” list.  While I’ve seen a lot of films from this decade, I know that I haven’t seen nearly enough.  So, the list will be a mixture of my personal favorites (even the rather stupid ones that I just love to watch over and over again), and the ones that I think are the best.  And that’s 50 films.  Whew.  I’ll rank the top 30, and do write-ups for some, if not all, of them.  For now, here are 20 honorable mentions, just in alphabetical order.

Read the rest of this entry »


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May 2020

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