Tag Archives: movies

Argo (2012)

21 Feb

I probably would have never bothered to see Argo at all if it weren’t for all those darn award nominations. And I fully intended to write this post about how Ben Affleck is all talk and no walk, and the movie is totally overrated, and the academies don’t know what they’re doing and give totally predictable nominations and bla bla bla.

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Then I saw the movie.  Argo is excellent.  Even though I am fully gung ho on the Beasts of the Southern Wild bandwagon, I would not fret one little bit if Argo swept the Oscars this weekend instead.

Although I love spy movies, I am consistently bored with movies focused on the retelling of historical events.  That’s a weird way to describe a genre, because isn’t almost every movie a retelling of a historical event in a way? But you know what I mean.  Telling me that a film is about the Iranian hostage crisis is a surefire way to get me to not care about it, hence my complete lack of interest up until award noms were handed out.

argo_ver7Argo is full of suspense. And it’s exciting. And it’s got a million actors I love in it (Alan Arkin! Brian Cranston! That woman who played the girlfriend of the reporter in American Horror Story:Asylum!) Even though you have a general idea of how the whole thing will play out since it already happened, I was on the edge of my seat and biting my nails every moment of the way.

Touche Ben Affleck, touche. You really can make a film.

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AFI Top 100 List finally COMPLETE!!

3 Feb

Truth be told, back in November I only had 2 films left to watch.  Then Netflix decided that it did NOT want me to complete my list, and despite the last two films being at the top of my queue, and it being very unlikely that there were tons of subscribers clamoring over them, Netflix nonetheless kept sending everything and anything else EXCEPT those films.  Last night, I realized that I could, ta-da, finish the list by watching films through Amazon’s streaming service, and TA DA, here we are!!  I have now watched all 100 films on AFI’s Top 100 list.

AFI 100 yearsThe 100 films are all great films, but Westerns as a genre are overrepresented, as are films from the 1960s and 1970s.  The films from the 1940s and before are very clearly classic films, but once you get into the 1960s-1970s, it seems like several of the films selected were a function of just being the favorite films of the AFI members.  I think a top 100 film should be timeless and resonate with the viewer, regardless of the viewer’s time or background or circumstances, due to universal themes.  Many of the films from the 1960s and 1970s on the list were so heavily dependent on context that they were boring and virtually meaningless to me.  In particular, All the President’s Men, Easy Rider and The Last Picture Show stood out as films that hardly spoke to me at all, and I think just didn’t belong on the list.

There were a number of films that I absolutely loved that I probably would not have watched at all, were it not for my quest to finish this list.  Singin in the Rain, Sunset Blvd., The General, Network and Do the Right Thing all stood out as amazing films that I only picked up because of this project.

Unexpected Day of Rest (and movies and books)

2 Feb

My January got hijacked by a million different things.  I’m dreading getting my hours report for January, because the meager billables number is going to make me cry big tears.  I wasn’t sitting around and being lazy, there was just a lot going on.  Trial college and the HFF happy hour both took up a LOT of time.  Plus, there were fewer work emergencies because a lot of the things I was working on big time in December either settled or went into dormant mode.  These events were not unanticipated, I knew they were coming.  What I did not expect was that I would get sick and KEEP getting sick in January. Argh.

I don’t know if I came down with two separate cold/flu things, or if it was one sickness that waxed and waned, but I spent most of January sniffling, hacking, destroying box after box of Sudafed, and feeling miserable.  I eventually knew that January was a lost cause in terms of productivity, so I set my sight on February for a new, diligent beginning.

And then on February 1, I came down with pink eye.  ENOUGH with the getting sick already.  I look a total mess. Not a hot mess, but a scary gross terrible mess.  I went to the doctor on Friday afternoon, and she said that I could go back to work for the rest of the day as long as I washed my hands a lot, but I don’t think my coworkers would appreciate me risking them to catching this gross sickness.  I worked at home the rest of the day Friday (and yes, I actually did work).  Now that it’s the weekend, I’ve had to set aside most of the things I planned, and instead I’m sitting around, trying to hide my hideous, swollen, gross face from the world.

Baby Beez and I rented Hotel Transylvania on OnDemand, and we’re both loving it.  It’s a kid’s movie with a predictable storyline, but it’s funny, clever and a lot of fun for both adults and kids.  We got it for a 36 hour rental, we’ve already watched it three times, and I don’t mind at all.  I think we might need to buy this one to add to the DVD collection.

Hotel-Transylvania-Poster

I’ve also spent my time on the couch reading. Well, not a lot of reading, since I keep having to do eye compresses, and it’s very difficult and disorienting to read out of just one eye.  I’ve been slowly making my way through The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon.  It won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 2001, and it keeps coming up in lists of favorite books, so I decided it was worth a read.

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The major themes of WWII/Nazi Germany and comics/the comic book industry are not themes that are high on my list of interests, but the storyline of the characters’ personal lives was interesting and kept me engaged.  It is a long book (639 pages), so reading it felt like it took forever, but the writing is smooth and (despite my impatience) was not a struggle to get through.  I can easily see how this book could reach certain readers to be their absolute favorite book ever, but it just didn’t have that fit with me.  It’s a great novel, exhaustively researched and beautifully written, but is not the sort that I feel the need to run out and tell everyone to read right now.

So to the extent I can actually see out of my disgusting eyes, I plan to spend today watching Machine Gun Preacher, reading The Antagonist and The Red Tent, doing a bunch of laundry, and washing washing washing washing my hands.

What’s up with yinz this weekend?

OSCAR SEASON!

10 Jan

Seriously, you have no idea how much I love the Oscars. No idea. The Oscars are my Superbowl.

Oscar nominees are out now, THE ANTICIPATION IS KILLING ME!!

Since this is serious business, here are my hopes and my predictions for several categories of the 2013 Academy Awards:

Best Picture: Amour, Argo, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Django Unchained, Les Miserables, Life of Pi, Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook, Zero Dark Thirty

My Hope: Beasts of the Southern Wild

My Prediction: Silver Linings Playbook

Actor in a Leading Role: Bradley Cooper (Silver Linings Playbook), Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln), Hugh Jackman (Les Miserables), Joaquin Phoenix (The Master), Denzel Washington (Flight)

My Hope: Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln)

My Prediction:  Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln)

Actor in a Supporting Role: Alan Arkin (Argo), Robert DeNiro (Silver Linings Playbook), Philip Seymour Hoffmann (The Master), Tommy Lee Jones (Lincoln), Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained)

I have absolutely no idea who will win that category.

Actress in a Leading Role:  Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty), Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook), Emmanuelle Riva (Amour), Quvenzhane Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild), Naomi Watts (The Impossible)

My Hope:  Quvenzhane Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild)

My Prediction:  Toss up between Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty) and Naomi Watts (The Impossible)

Actress in a Supporting Role:  Amy Adams (The Master), Sally Field (Lincoln), Anne Hathaway (Les Miserables), Helen Hunt (The Sessions), Jacki Weaver (Silver Linings Playbook)

My Hope: Helen Hunt (The Sessions)

My Prediction: Helen Hunt (The Sessions)

Animated Feature Film: Brave, Frankenweenie, Paranorman, The Pirates! Band of Misfits, Wreck-It Ralph

My Hope: Wreck it Ralph

My Prediction: Brave

Directing: Amour, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Life of Pi, Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook

My Hope: Beasts of the Southern Wild

My Prediction: Beasts of the Southern Wild

Writing (Adapted Screenplay): Argo, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Life of Pi, Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook

My Hope:  Beasts of the Southern Wild

My Prediction:  This is a really hard call.  I think Life of Pi, Lincoln and Silver Linings Playbook are all equally likely.

Writing (Original Screenplay):  Amour, Django Unchained, Flight, Moonrise Kingdom, Zero Dark Thirty

My Hope: Moonrise Kingdom

My Prediction: Amour

southern wild

My favorite film for the year is Beasts of the Southern Wild, but I have a pessimistic feeling that it won’t get the Oscar attention I think it deserves.  I also think that Django Unchained will be largely passed over.  On the other hand, I think Silver Linings Playbook, Zero Dark Thirty and Lincoln are all going to get lots of love for the Academy.

What are your predictions for the 2013 Academy Awards?

Not a bad start to the New Year

1 Jan

Last night we had a delicious dinner with our friends Sandy and Ben at Alla Famiglia (more on that tasty experience to come later), then spent the rest of the evening at home sipping champagne and watching New Years Eve with our kiddo.  In my true lazy fashion, I fell asleep on the couch well before midnight.

I’m excited to restart my book and movie lists for 2013.  I was really surprised by how many books and movies I got through.  I watched 138 movies in 2012 (some of them multiple times) and read 41 books. Not too shabby at all.

This morning I got to sleep in til 9, started the day off with some Starbucks, and now we’re hanging out at the in-laws.  We’re relaxing and watching TV, and later this evening Mr. Beez and I will go see Flashdance at Heinz Hall!  No complaints here, it’s a nice way to start the year.

Flashdance

2013 looks to be a good one.  I’ve set the foundation for my grown up life– I’m pretty satisfied with how things are in my professional, civic and personal lives.  There’s plenty of room to grow, but I have sorted out a solid foundation to start from.  2013 is going to be the year of bigger, stronger, faster, better.

In the professional sphere, I’m kicking off the year by leaving for Trial College at the University of Virginia on Friday.  It’s a five day intense seminar on trial skills, where you learn through classroom style teaching, and also putting together your own trial start-to-finish.  I’ve been told it will be exhausting but awesome.  I’m looking forward to this amazing learning opportunity.

In the civic sphere, I’m still working hard at getting sponsors and attendees to the Haitian Families First Back to School Party on January 31.  I’m also going to work hard this year to up my blog/social media engagement.  I read tons of blogs, but I need to get better at getting into the conversation with comments, RT’s, Follow Fridays, etc.

In my personal life, I’ve spent 16 weeks so far working hard with Weight Watchers and have seen some good success.  I’m looking forward to keep moving toward my goal weight, and to incorporate more exercise into my life.  I failed to get to yoga today, but that’s OK because I took advantage of one of the very rare opportunities I have for sleeping past 7am.  I plan to do more yoga, and also experiment with some fun new workouts.  Aerial Yoga maybe?

What does 2013 have in store for you?

Total Recall (2012)

18 Dec

Mr. Beez is a HUGE sci-fi fan.  I like me some good sci-fi, but Mr. Beez could plant himself in front of a TV and watch every version of Dune back to back for days on end.  We were both excited when the remake of Total Recall was announced, because we both love the campy, silly, but awesome original.

Total-Recall

Since we do not frequently get to the theater, we marked our calendars for the OnDemand release.  The day was today! Hooray!

Total Recall Film Reboot

Too bad the Reboot gets a D-

By no means are we purists.  We both like a good remake that deviates from the original, as long as it adds some new creative vision, and maintains the core elements that made the original so great.  Total Recall failed miserably with this.  The only common thread between the original and the remake is that they both deal with implanted memories, and both have a brief scene with a woman with 3 breasts.  The remake is much more of an action movie than sci-fi.  The remake lacks:

1. Outer space whatsoever.  The remake is all on earth.

2. Much of a backstory, other than “good guys” and “bad guys”

3. Kwato

4. Anything remotely sci-fi-ish

5.  Anything resembling the campy weirdness that made the original so great.

In other disappointing news, Attack of the Show is being cancelled.  Please send my husband your condolences, because he may never recover from that heartbreak.

Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012)

3 Dec

How do I even explain this movie? It’s kind of a post-apocalyptic type drama, kind of a fantasy, kind of a coming of age story. Even without reviewing a list of the best movies of 2012, I can easily tell you this is my favorite. It is unique, accessible, and beautiful. This film fully deserves the Best Picture Oscar.

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Beasts follows the Lord of the Flies style survival of families roughing it in “the Bathtub”– a former land mass that has since been flooded out and cut off from dry land by the levees. Six year old Hushpuppy is all but abandoned by her parents, starving and struggling, but she has astounding grace and maturity. There is one scene where she accidentally starts a terrible fire, and instead of evacuating, she hides under a paper box. I was practically screaming at the television “GET OUT OF THERE!” and then realized that wait, she is six. Of course she would hide under a paper box, she is terrified and has no idea what is going on. I was so distracted by her maturity and self-sufficiency that I forgot what a child she truly is.

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Beasts is amazing. Truly amazing.

Layer Cake (2004)

28 Nov

Layer Cake is a more than typically clever drugs and guns flick.  It is full of guns (obviously), drugs (obviously), British accents, deception, plot twists, and several actors who are also in Harry Potter films (but no spells).  On the whole, the film was excellent, except I could have done without Sienna Miller.  I can always do without Sienna Miller.  Tom Hardy is in this film also, but his part is far too short.  I can always do with some more Tom Hardy.

I especially liked that the plot twists were neither painfully predictable, nor overwhelmingly complicated.  I tend to pay half-attention to films, and while my ears did have to perk up and I had to focus a little more to sort things out at times, by no means was I ever lost.

I am shocked that this movie is from 2004.  I had only heard of it recently, and had assumed it was a 2011 movie that I just missed.  Netflix it, kids. It’s a good show.

An Evening with Kevin Smith at the Carnegie Library & Music Hall of Homestead

25 Nov

Mr. Beez is the hardest person in the universe to buy gifts for. He has very specific interests, and when he wants something he tends to just go and get it before I have a chance to buy it. Also, I am TERRIBLE at keeping secrets when it involves a surprise for Mr. Beez. Whenever I buy him a present, I get super super excited, so very excited that ALL I want to do is tell him about the present, and then I can’t keep my mouth shut and I ruin the surprise.

This time, however, I managed to keep my big mouth shut and for real surprise Mr. Beez with something he really liked! Kevin Smith is Mr. Beez’ all time favorite director. When I heard he was coming to Pittsburgh to speak at the Carnegie Library and Music Hall of Homestead, it was a no brainer. I bought tickets immediately.

Although I’ve been to the Music Hall for prior concerts, I had never been in the library. It’s very cozy and nice, and would be a perfect place to settle into a big chair and read for an afternoon.

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Kevin Smith was hilarious and engaging. He was supposed to speak from 8pm-10:30pm (which is a long time for a talk), but he was so into chatting that he didn’t stop talking until 11:15. He talked about all kinds of things– his movies, his podcasts, his fantastic relationship with his wife. The overarching theme of his evening was CREATE. He is moving away from movies into “smaller” media like podcasts, and he emphatically encouraged the audience to turn on their laptops, get some friends together, start talking, and start podcasting20121125-140451.jpg

While podcasting isn’t my thing, Smith’s enthusiasm encouraged me to keep going strong with blogging. I’ve got entertaining things to say, and people have fun reading this, and by writing publicly I keep myself accountable to keep creating. Even if you’re not a huge fan of Smith’s movies, he is hilarious and a lot of fun (anyone familiar with his movies will know his language is not for the feint of heart, so don’t bring your grandmother). He’s busy talking in cities all around the country. If he comes to your town, it’s totally worth it to plunk a couple bucks to check him out!20121125-140504.jpg

Quick Rundown of My Recent Kids-Movie-a-Thon

16 Nov

Baby Beez is a mama’s girl.  When she’s feeling fine, she wants to snuggle with me and sit on my lap and climb all over me.  When she’s not feeling well, she wants to snuggle with me and sit on my lap all the time.  I love that she is comforted by me, and that I can make her happy, but after a while it can be overwhelming.  This weekend, for my birthday, I’m doing all kinds of grown up things that I want to do, like a yoga class and spa treatments and hanging out with grown up friends.  Baby Beez will be hanging out with her grandparents, and having a great time.  And I won’t feel the least bit like I’m neglecting her, since I’ve spent the last four days snuggling that baby nonstop (she’s much better, and no longer in constant need of snuggles).

My knowledge of recent kids movies has increased exponentially this week.  Here’s a rundown:

Tangled

Although based on the classic save-the-princess fairy tale of Rapunzel, the princess in Tangled was a lot more empowered and clever than in the original.  There was some singing, but it wasn’t too obnoxious, and the jokes weren’t irritatingly punchy. There were some funny scenes with the goofy horse and band of misfit pub regulars.  Both Baby Beez and I enjoyed this movie, and I wouldn’t mind if it went into regular rotation on our TV.

Puss in Boots

Baby Beez loved this movie, and kept talking about it as “the kitty cat movie!”  I love Shrek, but this spin off was kind of terrible. With the exception of Patton Oswalt’s piercing voice as Humpty Dumpty, I was able to tune out most of the movie.

Treasure Buddies

Words cannot describe how awful this movie is.

Brave

I wish that I would have paid more attention while this is on, because it looked pretty good.  Baby Beez was very interested in it for the beginning, but her interest gradually tapered (probably because there aren’t singing and dancing cats).  I think that if we revisit this film in another two or three years, she’ll really love it.

Oliver & Company

An oldie and goodie.  And of course, its got singing and dancing cats and dogs, so Baby Beez was happy.  And with Billy Joel songs, I of course was happy too. Why should I worry? Why should I ca-a-a-a-are?