29 March 2011

I'm finally finding my footing after a great week in Ireland, and a brief tour of Amsterdam. I'm blogging my travel-log here if you are interested.

Now a word about in-flight entertainment:

Delta- The only bad thing about this flight were the movie selections. Sure, they started off with Oscar winning picture "The King's Speech" (seen it, give it a solid "okay"), but then it's like they lost out on the bidding war. "Wall Street 2"? Did anyone pay to see that? Why should I be subjected to it on a transatlantic flight. Thank god for sleeping pills. I awoke to "The Karate Kid" and I got excited for a second because my sleepy brain thought we were being treated to a classic. Nope, wrong again. This time tiny Jaeden (or however you spell it) Smith is getting beat up by bigger Asian youth. I have no idea what's going on, but I'm going back to sleep.

Of course, I don't expect to be entertained on a flight. That's why I borrowed a Kindle and brought my iPod. Still....

KLM- THIS is the way to travel. You get your own TV and remote with a huge selection of current and classic movies, TV, music, games- You name it, they've got it. I watched "Burlesque" (my sister made me), "Love and Other Drugs" (Love), and "Salt" (not as bad as I anticipated). Praise be KLM for understanding there are lots of different tastes out there. Also, for not editing the movies for content. This is a big plus for private entertainment... I just realized that sounded dirty. Plus, they fed us a lot. Every couple hours there was a snack coming around or a meal. We could get up and grab cookies and candy and drinks from the galley at any time as well. I need to take more international trips so I can fly them again.

"Burlesque"- This is not a good movie. While the sight of watching Cher sing while her face remains immobile is thrilling, that does not make up for the lack of a believable story line, decent acting (Dear Christina- NO!), or overall stolen movie idea. I already saw this movie, it's called "Coyote Ugly". Also, I go to burlesque shows all the time. I've yet to see one in which the girls don't take their clothes off. This is not to say comedy acts and singing may not also happen (totally depends on the show). What it is to say is there is no room for prudence at a burlesque show. So, show us some pasties. I heart Stanley Tucci and he did get the best line of the film ("No deary, a wig. I'm wearing one right now."), but for the life of me I cannot understand why some of these people are in this movie. It's perplexing. This is, however, the perfect plane movie. No one will bother you and if you fall asleep, you won't have missed anything once you wake up.

"Love and Other Drugs"- Also known as the naked Anne Hathaway movie, this is actually pretty good. Jake Gyllenhaal is a smart young man with no real ambition save for disappointing his intellectual family. He tumbles into pharmaceutical sales where he meet-cute Anne. Problem- she's got Parkinson's. The movie could be a total downer, but instead chooses to focus on the duo's relationship rather than hardship; so once that arrives we are totally on board. Rent it if you haven't already seen it.

"Salt"- The problem with this movie is that it is not the movie you saw a trailer for. This is the "Bourne Identity" if Bourne were actually the bad guy everyone thinks he is. Without giving too much away- Angelina Jolie is the model CIA agent and loving wife until a Russian defector names her as a mole. Even more amazing, he says she's been trained to be a sleeper agent since childhood. Disturbed by this news, Jolie breaks out of the CIA front and runs off looking for her husband and to clear her name. Chasing her is the always delectable Liev Schrieber. Please Hollywood, put him in more movies. I would recommend renting this, if for no other reason than a sequel as already been greenlit. It's enjoyable, and while the twist isn't so clever, the getting there is still a good time.

10 March 2011

I will be back with a bunch of reviews I've been sitting on in about a week. Enjoy your St. Patrick's Day celebrations (I'll be doing so in the Motherland!) and bon voyage!

06 March 2011


***Disclaimer and open letter to Blogger.com: I wrote this review yesterday, complete with photos and quotes and the whole nine yards. Then, Blogger, in its infinite wisdom, didn't save any of it. Thanks. You'll just have to take my word for it that the original post was hilarious and insightful. I'm not sure what can be said about this one.***

2005 was another year in which the majority of the public and, it seems, journalists; thought the Academy got it wrong. That year, "Crash" beat out critical favorite "Brokeback Mountain"; as well as "Munich", "Capote", and our film last night: "Good Night, and Good Luck". I'm not saying "Good Night" should have won, that place in my heart belongs to "Brokeback Mountain", but it is another example of when good films don't win. The sting hurts all the more that a movie that is basically an open casting for L.A. and two-steps from Lifetime won instead. Oh well.

"Good Night" was also nominated for Best Director- George Clooney, Best Actor- David Strathairn, Best Orginal Screenplay- Clooney and Grant Heslov, Best Art Direction, and Best Cinematographer. The cast, from the leads down to the day players, is heavy calibre talent: Robert Downey Jr., Patricia Clarkson, Frank Langella, Jeff Daniels, Matt Ross, and more.

What I liked best about this movie was the use of archival footage from the McCarthy trials and from interviews with the senator. For those unfamiliar, Sen. Joseph McCarthy lead what many considered a witch hunt through the ranks of America looking for communists and communist sympathizers. What made this probe even more intersting was its wide ranging scope. Not only citizens in government employ were targeted, but actors, writers, directors, and civilians. The U.S. was a scary place to live at the time. Clooney's decision to use real footage helps remind those of us too young to remember that what we are seeing is real.

The choice to shot in black and white also helps keep with the period in which the film takes place. Oscar winning DP Robert Elswit ("There Will Be Blood") camera work reminded me of a Cohen brothers movie ("The Man Who Wasn't There")- long static shots on unmoving faces, hand held through the news room, and often focusing on a background player while the actor speaking is out of focus. It sounds odd, but it really helped keep the audience fixated on what was important; namely the words and not the actions.

If you have not seen this movie, I highly recommend it. At about 90 minutes, it's a clear and concise view of the only TV channel that stood up to McCarthy (CBS) and the men who helped bring him down.

**** (4.5 stars)

01 March 2011

And the Oscar Goes To...

The Academy Awards on Sunday was supposed to represent "young, hip" films and actors. For the most part, hosts Anne Hathaway and James Franco did their part spot on though not all of the winners were so "young" or so "hip".

Let's just get the fashion of the night out of the way, shall we?

Best Dressed

 I could not have been happier about the return to Hollywood glamour on sight at this years awards. The men all looked dashing in classic tuxedos and the women in, mostly, fuller skirts. My best dressed of the night is Marisa Tomei- stunning! Anne Hathaway would have taken top honors but she got to wear more dresses than anyone else. She was absolutely stunning as well and a pure delight to watch. I totally want to be her friend. No, you are not mistaken, that is Helena Bonham-Carter up there. This was perhaps the best (and most normal) she has ever looked!

Worst Dressed

Christian Bale's beard and Jennifer Hudson's hair was amongst my least favorites of the night. I know everyone else loved Gwyneth Paltrow's silver, modern dress but I did not. Annette Bening, who has looked very nice all season, chose a shapeless dress that did nothing for her. Same can be said for Mrs. Robert Downey Jr (a producer I love) but who chose a somewhat matronly dress. Also, what was up with the wings on Nicole Kidman's dress?

Eh? Dressed

The "Eh?" category was created for those dresses that I couldn't quite decide if I liked or not, or were completely boring (see: Jennifer Lawrence). Ever since her divorce, Scarlett Johanson has looked like she just woke up and forgot to brush her hair. The dress isn't bad, but the overall look is not. I love almost everything about Mila Kunis' dress save the lace pasties. From a distance it looks much better than it did in close ups when I feared for an FCC fine. Cate Blancett was on many of my friends Best list, but I was confused when I first saw it. It didn't play well on TV and looked clunky and white. It's actually a lovely pastel lilac shade that I liked much better in some photos.

* Pre-Show: I'm really tired of some of these interviewers (for the life of me I cannot remember her name... Vanessa Milian? Whatever, the brunette with the best spot on the carpet right before they go in. Ugh!), as well as E!'s eagles nest chatter. Save it for your "Fashion Police" show! Tim Gunn was wonderful. He seemed the most prepared and asked great questions. I love that he also asked questions tweeted and facebooked by viewers. As much as I love Vanity Fair magazine (and I really do), their West Coast editor Krista Smith was as boring as the room they were in. Why was everyone whispering? My Father informs me it is because the VIP lounge is supposed to be a quiet respite to the chaotic evening. Whatever, I couldn't hear half of them and what I did hear was BORING.

* The opening montage was great! I loved that they weaved many of the best picture movies into the "Inception" concept. The biggest laughs went to the "Inception", "The Fighter", and the "Black Swan" bits. ("The dance of the Brown Duck!"). PS- How can I get Morgan Freeman to narrate my dreams?

* As briefly stated earlier, the joke on hiring Hathaway and Franco was to appeal to a younger demographic. The host's riff on that very topic was funny. I also think they were two of the best hosts we've seen in a while. Franco with his quiet, very dry humor, and Hathaway with her over the top enthusiasm played well off each other.

* I loved Kirk Douglas presenting. Just the fact that he can walk out on stage is amazing and the shows producers were milking it for all it was worth. I did feel badly for the Supporting Actress nominees. Poor things. PS- Can you believe that was the first time someone had drop the F-bomb during the telecast? How can that be true. Poor, poor Melissa Leo.

* Dear Aaron Sorkin- This isn't your first award. This isn't even your first award for this movie. Who else can you have to thank? When the music starts playing, WRAP IT UP! That is not your cue to keep talking and thanking random people. Geez.

* Two words: Franco as Monroe

* Best Live Short acceptance speech:

* I'm kind of sad the special Oscar's are no longer televised, though it does save space. At least they all got to walk out and wave. Honorary Oscars were give to Eli Wallach (actor), Jean-Luc Goddard (film maker), Kevin Brownlow (historian), and Francis Ford Coppola won the Thalberg Award. [side note: What do you think Goddard does with his awards? Sell them? Throw them away? Give them to bystanders at the nearest cafe? He is famously not interested in awards and never attends them. Curious.]

* The ode to this years musicals (there weren't any FYI) featuring my favorites: "Harry Potter" tiny ball of light and "Twilight" He doesn't own a shirt. (Not sure why it says "Grammys 2011")

* Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law's banter was hilarious! Only these two guys can get away with a hooker dressed as Batgirl joke.

* I'm curious, why are they doing additional tributes during the "In Memoriam" segment? Last year it was John Hughes and this year Lena Horne. What makes them so special? Why the added time? It really bothers me when I think of the people who don't make the telecast due to time constraints. They could have shown at least 5 other faces instead of Lena Horne's twice.

All in all I got 19 out of 24 correct predictions, further emphasizing that all you need to win the office pool is to go and see the movies! How did you do? Highs and lows??