Posts Tagged ‘blond’

Two Blondes Go to a Movie: Star Trek

May 13, 2009

Two Blondes review a movie and mostly ramble about themselves.


JESSICA SAYS:

 

I’m pretty much on board for anything involving J.J. Abrams. I have also been a closeted Star Trek fan (I will avoid use of the word I hear some Trek fans find offensive) for close to 12 years now. So you can imagine my delight when I heard J.J. Abrams was tackling a new Star Trek movie. There are a couple of caveats I should note to my love for Mr. Abrams and Star Trek before we go any further: 1.) I did not love Armageddon, nor did I love Cloverfield. I didn’t hate them either. Fringe took a bit to grow on me, but I’m hooked now, so it’s not a blind love I have for Mr. Abrams; 2.) I’m really only a closeted fan of Star Trek: Voyager. Yes, I know Voyager gets malinged by many, but I like Capt. Kathryn Janeway, Seven of Nine, etc. Judge me if you will. I have only ever seen a handful of the other various TV incarnations and none of the films.

 

So, I was very excited at the mere idea of a J.J. Abrams-helmed Star Trek retooling, but I tried to keep my expectations in check (I learned my lesson from Cloverfield). Then I saw the first preview and was filled with joy, much like a child who desperately wants a new bike and sees a bike-shaped present under the tree on Christmas Eve.  Even still I resisted allowing my expectations to inflate to unrealistic heights, but, as any fan knows, ‘Resistance is futile.’

 

I had big expectations and guess what? I was not disappointed. I loved every minute of this movie. I can’t remember the last big tent-pole, summer movie I have seen that I enjoyed this much (that includes The Dark Knight). My mom was in town visiting from Missouri, so Alison and I took her to see Star Trek at the Arclight’s Cinerama dome in Hollywood. When I told mom that was the plan, she seemed less than enthused. Unlike me, my mother is not the kind of person who has the patience nor desire to devote countless hours of her life to watch shows about time travel (Lost…and Alias and Star Trek, but more on that in a sec.) or super spys (Alias). Felicity is more Mom’s speed. Guess what? Mom loved it too! I believe her quote at lunch afterwards was, “It was one of those movies that is so entertaining that when you have to go to the bathroom, you just hold it because you don’t want to miss anything.” I laughed, I cried (well not technically crying, but a little glassy-eyed), I was on the edge of my seat, I cheered.

 

Kudos to Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci for a great script. I loved the casting with two excetptions: Winona Ryder and Tyler Perry. It’s not that either of them were bad or wrong for their parts, it’s just that they both played relatively small roles. Their roles were so small that it was distracting to have such famous people playing them. All of the sudden you go, “Hey, is that Tyler Perry?,” and you get pulled out of the story for a second. The main cast was great (Chris Pine, welcome to stardom). I can’t wait to see the next two films in which they are all contractually obliged to appear. One more tiny criticism. There is a fight scene that is so reminiscent to the scene in Empire Strikes Back where Luke loses his hand that even my mom noticed and commented on it. Was that an intentional homage? Why?

 

In conclusion (which, by the way, is how I started the conclusion paragraph of every essay in high school AP classes), I recommend you go see this movie right now. Don’t even bother to shut down. I will probably be going a second time.

 

p.s. Any other J.J. Abrams fans out there notice that he is apparently really into all-powerful, red swirling balls (Alias and Star Trek)? Time travel too (AliasStar Trek, and Lost).

 

ALISON SAYS:

Star Trek made me happy.  Like insanely happy.  Where I was clapping with glee and at times looking at the screen with my hand under my chin, intent and thoroughly entertained.  It kinda reminded me of meeting a really cute guy you click with.  And then later whenever you think about him you smile and/or giggle.  And yes, I realize the irony of comparing something as nerdy as Star Trek to dating. 

Jessica and I watched Star Trek at the Arclight Dome in Hollywood with her lovely mother, Phyllis.  Right before the movie, I ran into about 500 friends in the lobby and realized I know a lot of film nerds, myself included.  I ran into some of my friends after the movie as well and everyone seemed to have the same level of excitement and happiness as I did.  It was one of those rare moviegoing experiences, where you feel the entire theater’s enjoyment.  Everyone had a good time and was moved (Sidenote: there may have been a part in the movie where I may have teared up a little…).

   

I was not a Star Trek fan in the past.  I’d seen the TV show a few times as a kid, but was never a dedicated viewer.  So I may have been more open to a new interpretation of it than some Trekkies.  Also, I’m a huge J.J. Abrams fan.  If I didn’t think fan mail was creepy, I would write him a letter every week saying how much I love Lost.  I think J.J. Abrams is a master storyteller and Star Trek is just one more example of what will continue to be an amazing career.

 

I think Jessica’s mom’s quote sums it up best:

“It was so completely entertaining, that when I had to go to the bathroom, I wasn’t going to get up to leave.” 

LA Viewers:  Go see it now at the Arclight Dome.  Hurry!

Translation for non-LA Viewers: Why haven’t you seen it yet?

 

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Two Blondes Go To a Movie: The Reader

February 24, 2009

Two Blondes review a movie and ramble a lot about themselves:

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ALISON SAYS:

I really related to the The Reader, because Jessica and I often read our blogs out loud to one another, while playing with each other’s hair and one of us carries a terrible secret that will cause the other great pain and intimacy issues.

300thereaderkrosswinsletlc1211081All joking aside, I thought this film was fantastic. Sure, I had trouble sympathizing with Hannah Schmitz, a woman who chose duty over human life. But she was one of the most complex characters I’ve encountered on film. And she was brought to life by the amazing Kate Winslet, who deserves every accolade and naked, golden man to come her way. I also was equally impressed with David Kross, who was barely eighteen when they shot the film. He held his own while sharing the screen with one of the world’s most famous actresses. And made me believe his story as he evolved from naive innocence to a man burdened by betrayal.

Here’s what we’ve also learned from this film and the Oscar winners: Stephen Daldry + talented actress + special effects makeup = Oscar (Please see either The Reader or The Hours as examples.)

I read that Daldry will be directing The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay. This was one of my favorite books of the last ten years, so I’m both excited and nervous to see what he does with it. If you haven’t read it, please run out and get it right away.

LA Viewers: Hurry to Sunset 5 and go see this film.

Translation for non LA-viewers: Go see it. And be prepared for a lot of nudity and top-notch acting.

JESSICA SAYS:

This may sound dense, but I didn’t really think The Reader was going to be about reading. I know, it’s right there in the title, but I just didn’t give it much thought. I just assumed it was about a Nazi SS officer and probably sex, since Kate Winslet was supposed to be naked for a large part of the film. I must admit, I was quite pleased when I realized it really was about the joy/power/sexiness of reading. I love being read to, which I’m sure is true for a lot of people. However, I also love reading to someone. I like to put on voices for the characters and give my own interpretation, but don’t get me wrong, I have absolutely no designs on ever acting. I just like to give the occasional dramatic interpretation for an audience of one or two. Unfortunately, after somewhere around the age of 12 (junior high), people think it’s weird if you want to read to them. Well, most people. My sister and I have logged hours on beaches or in bed at Mom’s or Dad’s house with me reading to her (until she falls asleep). I was particularly proud of my Bridget Jones’s Diary reading I gave at Myrtle Beach some years ago. You should try it. It’s fun.

Kate Winslet is splendid, as always. I’ve never seen a performance of hers that I did not enjoy…and that includes The Holiday (not a great film, but she’s lovely). She is so completely raw and daring; totally deserving of her Oscar and Golden Globe win. However, she won the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress and this is clearly a lead actress role. I understand that by putting her in the supporting category, she wasn’t competing against herself for Revolutionary Road, but it just seems weird to call this role ‘supporting.’

I am very thankful I can read, especially after seeing The Reader. That’s the main thought I came away with at the end of the movie. You see, Hanna Schmitz (Winslet) is illiterate and the big question of the film is does this excuse not only being complicit, but directly involved in one of the most tragic and horrifying events in history. I felt like the implied answer by the end of the film was yes and that bothers me. Well, OK, perhaps the statement made was closer to saying the fact that she teaches herself to read in prison somehow makes up for allowing innocent people to be murdered.  I think instinctually, even if you had never seen a book in your life, a (sane, adult) human knows it’s wrong to kill another person. The fact that there was some sort of redemption for a Nazi in this story was hard for me to swallow.

After you see this movie, I want you to think about Ricky Gervais’ quip at the Golden Globes about Holocaust films garnering automatic acclaim and see if there isn’t the ring of truth there. Kate Winslet is splendid. The Reader is…OK. I recommend waiting until it comes out on video.

Two Blondes Go to a Movie: Doubt

February 10, 2009

Two Blondes review a movie and ramble about themselves.


JESSICA SAYS:

I had my doubts about whether or not this film would live up to the hype.  Get it?  ’Doubts?’  It’s a pun!  But I digress.  My mom saw this movie before I did and every time we’ve talked since she tells me how good she thought this movie was.  Now, Mom doesn’t have bad taste in movies, per se, but her taste is not necessarily the same as mine.  For instance, she enjoys watching made-for-TV-movies on Lifetime Television for Women.  I do not.  I enjoy Pulp Fiction.  There is not a single scene in that movie Mom would enjoy (violence + swearing + sex + drug use = a film Mom would never sit through).

It turns out Mom and I pretty much agree on this one.  I’m not ready to say it’s the best movie I’ve seen in years, as Mom did, but it is definitely worth seeing.  The hesitation I had going in to this film was that the previews made it seem so dour and bleak.  You have to be in the right mood to want to sit down and watch a story about sexual abuse allegations.  I now realize that this film isn’t really about sexual abuse.  It does deal with that, but the story has more to do with gossip, standing up to authority figures, and trusting your instincts, than abuse.

The acting performances in the movie all around are as good as you have been hearing.  What can I say about how great Meryl Streep is that hasn’t already been said?  She really is a force to be reckoned with and Amy Adams, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Viola Davis all more than met the challenge.  I want to give John Patrick Shanley a huge amount of credit because this story and the way he tells it are fascinating.  The characters are constantly making twists and turns and as the audience, you never are quite sure who to believe until the end.  That is not an easy feat to pull off.

I was raised Catholic, but I didn’t go to Catholic school, so I can’t really speak as to what that experience is like.  The nuns in my parish didn’t seem as draconian as Streep’s Sister Aloysius, but they were certainly not to be messed with.  I remember Sister Ruth Ann specifically who told us in CCD (the Catholic version of Sunday school) that it was healthy to have a glass of wine each night and in fact sometimes she just drank straight from the bottle, since it was only her and Sister Rose. I said I was raised Catholic, not I am Catholic because I’m still working out whether or not I really want to be Catholic.  All the issues raised in the film about the Church are issues I struggle with internally, being Catholic.  To say the Church is patriarchal is a bit of an understatement.  It is the oldest of old boys clubs.  Why does the mere fact that she is a woman determine that Sister Aloysius is a subordinate to Father Flynn?  That’s only the tip of the iceberg of questions you’re left with at the end of Doubt (sexism, sexual abuse, the effects of progressive reform, racism, etc.).  Let’s just say, like Sister Aloysius, I too have my doubts.

I recommend seeing this movie and it is worth a full-price ticket.  Maybe you should plan a dinner or drinks afterwards with whoever you see it because you will want to discuss.

ALISON SAYS:

I’ll be honest, I thought I’d find Doubt boring.  I knew I loved Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Amy Adams, but when I saw the trailers, it just looked like an overblown Oscar-baity drama with lots of boring outfits.  I was wrong, very wrong.  It’s great, truly great.  My grandmother, who NEVER goes to movies anymore, actually made her way to the theater to see this film and said it was really good.  My mom, who attended Catholic school with nuns as teachers, also saw the film and loved it.  It was interesting to me that two of the main women in my life both made the effort to go see a film where one of the main themes is that of womens’ powerlessness in the old days.

As always, Meryl Streep and Philip Seymour Hoffman blow you away with their skills as actors and remind you again why they’ve had enduring careers.  Amy Adams is also fantastic and charming, continuing her streak of being the best thing to ever come out of dinner theater.  And then there’s Viola Davis as the mother of Donald, Mrs. Miller.  Her screen time is minuscule compared to Streep, Hoffman and Adams, but her performance was one of the most memorable of the film and haunts you long after watching it.

I just looked up the director, John Patrick Shanley, on IMDb and noticed the last thing he directed was Joe Versus The Volcano and he wrote Moonstruck.  What a varied career.  It also goes to show the Midas touch Scott Rudin has as a film producer, whatever that guy touches turns to Oscar gold.  I talked to Rudin on the phone a few times at an old job, and just his voice alone can put the fear of God in you.   Maybe that level of fear is it what it takes to continually create amazing, Oscar worthy films.

LA Viewers: If you’ve ever wanted to see the epitome of superb acting, go see this film in the theaters.

Translation for non-LA natives: Same goes for you.

Two Blondes Watch Their TiVo: Lost Season Five Premiere

January 22, 2009

Two Blondes watch their TiVo and ramble about themselves:

JESSICA SAYS:

NOTE:  This is less a ‘review’ of the episode and more my stream of consciousness while watching it…
“You know that sound you’re hearing, you know, that boom? That’s my mind blowing.”
(That’s a quote from another JJ Abrams-related project.  Bonus points if you know which one.)

Seriously folks.  With the words, “Previously, on Lost,” my excitement is at a level not reached since…last night watching the President and First Lady take their first dance.

Is that an aged Sun in the bed with mystery man?  No, I don’t think so, but they look similar.  OK, I think they are telling us we are in the past, what with the lack of a microwave and the presence of a record player.  Dr. Candle is the mystery man!  Orientation film tells us the Dharma Initiative was trying to spy on the natives.  Interesting.

Faraday is in the past!  Oh, I get the feeling this season is going to keep me on my toes, what with the time traveling plots.  Apparently the guy who died drilling the holes into the wall suffered to something similar to what was going on with Desmond in “The Constant” because it looked like he died of a nosebleed.

I don’t like future-Jack.  He’s a total downer.  At least he just shaved of the depressing beard.

OK, I don’t want to jump the gun here in our ‘review,’ but I LOVE THIS SHOW.   Faraday tells us he was ‘inside the radius,’ so apparently the freighter and the helicopter were not.  The weird donkey has apparently taken them back in time (cue Huey Lewis).

As a major fan of My So-Called Life, I am delighted to see Tom Irwin has joined the cast…for at least two episodes, according to IMDb.  If you want to see a great story about the relationship between girls and their dads, you must check out the “Father Figures” episode of MSYCL (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0654950/).  Note ‘father figures’ is a recurring theme on Lost too.  See how I tied it all back together there?  I can review and watch at the same time!

I liked the little nod to Hitchcock and North by Northwest with the smuggling plane flyover Locke.  This is a question I would like to pose:  Who has creepier eyes, Ben or Ethan?

Ahhhhhhh!  Light bulb moment!! Could the ‘skipping through time’ be related to the whisper voices on the Island?  As in, some sort of people stuck in another dimension kind of thing?  Think about it.

Things I have learned from Lost:  If you suspect evil people might be after you, load your dishwasher with the knives sharp end up so you can whip open the door in the middle of the fight with said perpetrators and push them on the knives.

OK, right I’m supposed to be reviewing.  Reviewing…
How long will Sawyer be shirtless?  Is it too much to hope the answer to that is three more seasons?

Now Charlotte is suffering from the nosebleed disease too.  Uh oh.

Why does Hurley see dead people?  Are they really just figments of his imagination?  I like Ana Lucia’s fringe.

*Tick, tick, tick…what’s that noise?  I’m counting down how long Neil/Frogurt (http://lostpedia.wikia.com/wiki/Neil_%22Frogurt%22) stays with us considering he’s basically a sock (‘sock’ is what the producers call the background players http://lostpedia.wikia.com/wiki/Background_cast).

Ha ha!  I was right!!  Frogurt just took a flaming arrow to the chest.

I knew Ms. Hawking was going to be important to the show.  Fionnula Flanagan is too great an actress to be wasted in a tiny role.  Although I didn’t dig the fact that the scene between Ms. Hawking and Ben felt like it was out of The DaVinci Code.

OK, it just ended and all I can think about is how I feel like I need to watch the show three more times.

ALISON SAYS:

The second the 2 hour premiere of Lost ended, I literally sat up and yelled out “No” at the TV, because I am so eager to see what happens next. If you are not watching Lost, then I am very, very sad for you and think you should reevaluate your priorities in life.  Lost is the of the culmination of great television.  I can’t imagine any show reaching the pinnacles of storytelling that this show has reached.  And the season 5 premiere did not disappoint.  Also, Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof were adorably charming during the 1 hour recap before the new episode, especially when they described Jack going downhill in Season 4 and growing a bad beard.

I don’t want this review spoil any plot points, so I won’t go into too many details.  The opening sequence and reveal of who we’re watching was just an incredible beginning to what is sure to be an incredible season.  Sawyer being without his shirt for much of the beginning of the episode didn’t hurt either.

 

During the premiere, we spend some of our time in the “real world,” and it must be noted that Ben is just as scary a bad guy off the island as on the island.  Seriously, when does Michael Emerson get his Emmy and/or Golden Globe?

Two Blondes Go to a Movie: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

January 9, 2009

Two Blondes review a movie and ramble about themselves.


ALISON SAYS:

I love David Fincher.  I think Se7en and Fight Club are two of the best movies ever.  Ever! Also, on a personal note, I met Fincher at a premiere a while back.  He was super nice, despite me being a rambling fan who probably reeked of Appletini’s at the time.  And he’s pretty cute.  That said, I really liked The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, but I didn’t love it as much as I wanted to.  Is it a marvel and an accomplishment of film making?  Yes.  Am I impressed with what they were trying to do?  Yes.  Is Brad Pitt talented?  Yes.  Was the movie too long and felt a tad too much like Oscar bait rather than just passionate film making?  Yes.

Brad Pitt did really impress me with his performance.  Especially during the times when he was a child/old man at the beginning.  There was a vulnerability to his performance that I haven’t seen from him before and was really happy to see.  Of course as he grows younger, he stunned with those golden boy looks.  But this movie also proved Brad Pitt is still pretty damn hot, even with wrinkles and lanky gray hair.  Congrats Angelina!  Cate Blanchett is stunningly beautiful and talented, as always.  I’m not sure if there’s anything she can’t do.

I was intrigued by the idea of a person growing younger throughout their life and how that wouldn’t be a fantasy scenario.  I will now be much more grateful to grow old with the person I love, rather than growing younger.  I also loved the idea of the clock that runs backwards. There were a lot of parts about the movie that I loved, it’s just the whole that threw me.  I didn’t find myself caring at all about the story in the present with the daughter and her dying mother.  I’m still not sure how I feel about the random shots of the old guy who was continually hit by lightning.  On one hand it was funny and visually interesting, on the other hand, it was distracting from the main story and seemed unnecessary, especially when the movie was already an hour too long.

There’s something about The Curious Case of Benjamin Button that made me feel like Fincher decided he needed to make his Forrest Gump.  Despite that, he still accomplished a mood with the movie, a timeless love story, and a connection to the past that is worth going to the theaters for.  Just be prepared to get restless butt syndrome while you’re watching it.

LA Viewers: I’d say to hit up a matinee at the Grove or Arclight, or wait till it hits one of those little cheap theaters on Beverly Blvd.

Translation for non-LA natives: Go to a matinee.

JESSICA SAYS:

I saw The Curious Case of Benjamin Button over Christmas and have been putting off writing my review because I didn’t really know what I wanted to say about it.  The film is long.  2h 47min.  I mean, I feel like I complain about movie lengths a lot on here, but if you expect me to sit still for three hours in a dark room, the story better be pretty riveting.  I can’t say that I thought this movie was.  I feel like I gave them three hours of my time and I didn’t come away thinking anything more than what I went into the movie thinking—it’s a story where Brad Pitt ages backwards.  Aging backwards is an interesting thought, but I didn’t get anything profound out of the story about life, death, aging, etc.  It was just…OK.

I recommend renting this movie, but I bet this will end up being one of those titles you add to you Netflix/Blockbuster queue and when it shows up at your house you keep it for about two months before you get around to watching it.

Two Blondes Go To A Movie: Frost/Nixon

December 28, 2008

Two Blondes review a movie and ramble about themselves.


JESSICA SAYS:

I am not old enough to have any first-hard knowledge of Watergate or Nixon.  I only know the handful of TV clips that get replayed:  sweating during the debates, “I am not a crook,” the wave as he boarded Marine One for the last time, etc.  Also, I grew up hearing my grandmother refer to Nixon, almost exclusively as Tricky Dick.  I remember asking my Mom once, why was he ’tricky.’  “He lied,” she told me.  “Don’t all politicians lie?”  “Well, he lied about trying to spy on people who disagreed with him.”  I didn’t get any more information than that about Watergate in school because our textbooks always seemed to stop right after World War II, as if nothing noteworthy happened after that.  Perhaps that is because I went to public schools with text books that were at least a decade old, which means Watergate was still recent history when they were written.  It’s OK though, you don’t have to be a historian to enjoy this movie.

The synergy of Frost/Nixon being released during a scandal involving a powerful politician brought down by taped conversations where he talks about, amongst many appalling things, going after the press for criticizing him is remarkable.  Even more remarkable to me is that out of the two of them, Richard Nixon is more sympathetic than Rod Blagojevich.

Frank Langella is absolutely fan-freaking-tistic as Richard Nixon.  If he doesn’t at least get an Academy Award nomination, then I don’t want to know ya, Academy.  Michael Sheen and Langella are as well matched as opponents as Frost and Nixon were.  You find yourself rooting for the good guys to pin the bastard to the wall, while at the same time sympathizing with the villain (his dad was mean to him and he just wants to be liked…).

Was Diane Sawyer really part of the team trying to put a shine on Richard Nixon’s image after he resigned?  I don’t want that to be true because I like Diane Sawyer.

I recommend this movie to…everyone.  Seriously.  Go see this movie.

ALISON SAYS:

I’ll be honest, I’m not the biggest history buff.  My knowledge is spotty at best when it comes to basic things having to do with the history of our country and the world.  I wish I was like my father and retained that kind of stuff (he would kill on Jeopardy orTrivial Pursuit), but I don’t and I sometimes find it boring. So I was kinda concerned that I would find Frost/Nixon boring and wish I had just stayed in and watched more DVD’s of Friday Night Lights.  I was also concerned I wouldn’t know what was going on, because when I think of Nixon, the first thing that comes to mind are the Nixon masks Patrick Swayze’s gang donned in Point Break.  But all my fears were unfounded.  I loved the movie.  I’m not saying it’s a perfect film by any means, but it is interesting and really sucks you in.

Frank Langella’s Nixon broke my heart.  I was shocked to find myself sympathizing with Nixon, but Langella’s amazing performance won me over.  I just wanted to give Nixon a hug.  I was also really impressed with Kevin Bacon, because there were definitely times where I forgot it was Kevin Bacon and just saw a loyal, tough colleague to the ex-president.  I can’t really think of one weak link among the entire cast.  And of course there is their fearless and adorably red-headed leader; Ron Howard is a pro. The guy knows how to direct and how to make a great film.  He will always hold a special place in my heart, because he made Splash and he brought the world Arrested Development.  I also love that he and his producing partner, Brian Grazer, have been together from the beginning.  It’s a bromance made in Hollywood heaven.  I kinda stumbled into Brian Grazer the other day in Beverly Hills (yes I am very, very clumsy), and he was super nice, not at all blustery or asshole-ish like some big film producers would be.

LA Viewers: It’s worth paying full price at the Grove or Arclight.

Translation for non-LA natives: Get to the theaters

Two Blondes Go to a Movie: Twilight

December 17, 2008

Two Blondes review a movie and ramble about themselves:

JESSICA SAYS:

I called dibs on Robert Pattinson years ago, but when I say ‘Robert Pattinson,’ I really mean Cedric Diggory.  I first noticed him in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and the role of Cedric required him to be charming and heroic without saying much and to keep his hair at a reasonable level of unkemptness.  Now yes, I know that at the time he was only 17 and I was…older than that.  However, I knew if I just had a little patience, one day the world wouldn’t judge us as harshly.

These days, his hair has reached ridiculous levels.  Have you seen this: http://www.tmz.com/2008/12/04/robert-pattinsons-internal-hair-war/? I mean honestly.  We can’t go out now because I feel certain that he does not meet one of my dating requirements—that he take less time to get ready than I do.  I can only imagine the effort that goes into getting one’s hair to do that. Even with the nonsensical hair, he is still v., v. pretty.

When I heard Robert Pattinson was cast as the beautifully heroic, beautifully sullen, beautifully tortured, beautiful vampire, Edward Cullen, I have to say I was v. pleased.  (That’s just a small taste of how often Stephenie Meyer points out how beautiful he is in the book, but we are not here to review the book.)  I should point out that I was about halfway into book three from the Twilight series when I saw this movie.

I read the first book in two nights and I am not a fast reader.  It’s not really that the book was that good, but more so that I wanted to hurry up and get to ‘the good stuff,’ if you know what I’m saying.  My inner teenage girl was constantly screaming, “Ooh!  Kiss her!!”  Then I realized when I got to the end of the book that there wasn’t going to be any ‘good stuff.’  I had heard Stephenie Meyer is Mormon, but I never really thought about what, if any, effect that might have on her writing, in the same way that I never considered what John Grisham’s religious beliefs might be when I read The Firm.  I was just enjoying a fun, light read.  It turns out I was probably underestimating what it means to be Mormon, since *SPOILER ALERT* the whole saga turns out to be a morality play about the value of virginity.

When I see a movie after having read the source material, I really try not to make nitpicky comparisons over stuff like whether Bella’s truck looked like it was described in the book or not.  No one wants to be anywhere near the person in the theatre whispering loudly, “That’s not how it is in the book.”  Since the movie was already cast and publicized by the time I finally got around to reading the books, Bella and Edward in my head looked like Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson.

There were some plot changes, but they didn’t bother me.  I was really too distracted by other issues.  It was only moments into the movie when I discovered that unless guided by experienced hands (with a large budget), all those pieces of the vampires-are-real plot that were totally logical and not hokey in your head while reading the book, will look completely and utterly absurd on the big screen.  I didn’t flinch at all when I read that Edward, being a vampire, sparkles magnificently in the sunlight.  However, when I saw that in the movie, I convulsed into what I like to call the ‘church giggles’ (you know, when something funny happens in a situation where you are not supposed to be laughing, which only makes it harder not to laugh).

I have to say, I’m going to lay a lot of blame at the feet of Catherine Hardwicke, the director, here.  I expected the movie to be cheesy, being that it is a romance about vampires marketed to teenage girls and a lot of the time I like cheesy, but this went beyond.  I don’t know what direction, if any, the actors were given, but whenever someone was supposed to be brooding (which happens a lot in the film) they looked either like they were trying to telepathically communicate the lyrics to “Bohemian Rhapsody” (Robert Pattinson) or they were suffering from a bad case of irritable bowel syndrome (Jasper played by Jackson Rathbone).  Oh, and the music!  Ugh.  I felt like there was a constant, overpowering score that was trying to make up for the drama or tension that wasn’t happening on the screen.

Let’s just suffice it to say:  Robert Pattinson—still pretty, but please stop it with the hair.  I’m not ready to write him off as a bad actor yet because he has some upcoming roles that sound intriguing, but if I had to judge only off his performance in Twilight he wouldn’t be getting very high marks.  I was not going to waste money seeing the sequel until I heard the studio changed directors, so wise move on your part, Summit Entertainment, et al.

I don’t recommend seeing this movie, unless you could make some sort of Rocky Horror/Showgirls-like drinking game out of it.

ALISON SAYS:

I just want you all to know that I am breathing very heavily and looking at the computer with brooding eyes as I type this blog. Okay that joke may be a couple weeks late, but some of us aren’t thirteen and have jobs and may have been too busy to go see Twilight opening weekend.  Speaking of opening weekend, I heard a funny story from someone who did actually attend a Twilight screening that weekend. As we all know, lines were long and full of teenage girls.  And apparently before letting lines in, movie ushers would instruct the crowds not to scream, run, or squeal as they entered the theater.  I love that this had to be stressed.  Those poor theater employees must have their ears pounding by the end of opening weekend with all the screaming fans.

Overall, I found this movie hilarious.  I laughed a lot, I know I wasn’t supposed to, but I did.  All the jumping and sparkling and lingering looks and angst.  I also learned that apparently when vampires go into direct sunlight their button down shirts suddenly open up, revealing perfectly carved abs and pecs and they become sparkly.   I am a huge fan of sparkles (huge), but I don’t understand why the undead would be sparkly.  I realize the target audience for this movie are big fans of glitter, so what could possibly be better than a dreamy, glittering hunk of a man/boy, but still it seems to go against every conception of what it is to be undead.

A lot of the movie felt like an overly dramatized music video.  Lots of heavy guitar twangs underlining what’s happening in the story and the oh so deep emotions of Bella and Edward.  But it’s definitely still an entertaining flick to watch, even if you’re not a thirteen-year-old girl or a die-hard fan of the book series.  Let’s just put it out there, Robert Pattinson is hot.   Any red-blooded woman probably felt at least some kind of twinge in her lady parts from his appearance on screen, even with all the white powder.

Dear Robert Pattinson’s cheekbones,
We get it.
Alie

I’ve had some of my less good looking male friends complain about how they can never tell what a girl wants.  And they’re right.  You could have a guy show up with a dozen roses, and if you don’t like him, you’d find it weird or creepy, but if you like him, it’s a grand, sweeping gesture.  Someone like Robert Pattinson can tell a girl he likes to watch her sleep and it doesn’t register on the creepyometer, because you’re too entranced by his perfectly messy coif or his dark, searching eyes or the way the light catches his beautiful skin. So to my less handsome male friends, don’t tell a girl you watch her sleep or stare at her from across a room while breathing heavily.  Unless you look like Pattinson, it’s probably not gonna go the way you had planned.

LA Viewers: It’s worth catching a matinee at the Grove or Arclight, but I wouldn’t pay full price unless you are 13.

Translation for non-LA natives: A matinee is the way to go.

Two Blondes Go Shopping: Ikea

December 13, 2008

Two Blondes review a store and ramble about themselves.

Alison says:

Ikea is one of my favorite stores, except for going on a Sunday afternoon.  Then it becomes hell on earth.  But other than that, it’s a delight. You can wander for hours wondering what kind of person you would be if you had a new living room, or how you would definitely become organized with a new Expedit desk.  And no matter how hard our economy’s downfall is hitting you, you can still find something you can afford, be it a $200 couch or a $3.49 pot lid holder or a $7 stuffed blue giraffe (it’s awesome).  But the most affordable thing is the food.  And by affordable I mean financially, not calorie wise.  It is not the kind of food to trim the waist line, but hopefully you spent enough time walking in circles through mock living rooms, kitchens, etc. that you’ll burn off any calories you ingest.

I decided to go try the cinnamon bun.  It seemed like a good way to go to try and recover from an open bar holiday party the night before.  The cinnamon bun was yummy, but a little on the dry side.  It doesn’t have that doughy mushiness that one has come to expect after the spread of the chain Cinnabon. But luckily a soda doesn’t cost much more than a stamp, so that helped wash it down.  After our shopping adventures (i.e. aimless wandering interrupted only by “Oh, I could really use….), I went for a $1 yogurt and it was creamily delicious and a perfect way to end our time at Ikea.

Another reason I love Ikea (aside from their many, many products and funny names) is that I’ve heard the owner of Ikea still drives a beat up Volvo to work.  This is a guy who has surpassed Bill Gates in terms of wealth, but still has the good sense and character to drive an old Volvo.  You gotta respect that.

Jessica says:

Oprah has this section in her magazine where she asks interesting people, “What do you know for sure?” (http://www.oprah.com/slideshow/omagazine/200811_omag_for_sure).  I like to come up with different answers so I’m prepared for the day when Oprah and I bump into each other, become instant friends, and she asks me–of course after we have talked for hours about our favorite books, philosophy, politics, etc.  Here is what I know for sure today, Oprah, the English make really crappy hot dogs.

I know this because you get weird cravings for the foods of home when you live abroad; things you would never really be that excited about, if they were readily available to you.  Occasionally I would get hot dog cravings when I lived in the UK (as well as macaroni and cheese made from the orange powder mix and that pink strawberry cake from the box).  My first year living in England, I decided to throw a Fourth of July party and set about gathering all the necessary equipment:  fireworks – check (after a brief trip to a store filled with bongs, roach clips, and various tie-dyed things where the proprietor told us about a rave we should totally come to that night), Budweiser – check, hamburgers – check, hot dogs – uh oh.  I had concerns about what passes as ‘hot dogs’ in England from an earlier experience I’ll explain in a second, but H assured me Sainsbury’s would have them.  I searched the refrigerated sausage section and saw none.  When I told my
friend, H, they didn’t have any she said, “Oh no, hot dogs wouldn’t be in this isle, they’re over here…”  She led me to the canned food isle and I knew this could not be good.  H pointed at a tall tin can with a generic-looking label ‘HOT DOGS.’  I tried to explain to her that there was no possible way those were hot dogs, but I think she just thought I was being a food snob (or as much of a food snob as you can be over meat scraps encased in synthetic animal intestine).  I refused to buy whatever was in that can.

My first experience with English hot dogs happened months earlier during what was also my first Ikea experience.  About a week after moving in with my flatmates in Bristol, we trekked out to Ikea.  By the time we made it through the maze of the store, I was starving.  When my flatmate suggested we get some hot dogs from the snack bar I was confused why a furniture store would have a snack bar, but that was quickly replaced with delight when I noticed the price.  If memory serves, they were about 25p (about $.50).  I’m in!  Then I ate one, or rather took two bites of one.  It tasted like sawdust encased in plastic.  V. v. disappointing.  At the time I assumed that all Ikea hot dogs tasted as such.  Not true.  That’s just all English hot dogs.

To get back to what I’m supposed to be talking about here, my review of Ikea:

Alison and I, in a slightly hungover state (we are suckers for free alcohol), decided it was a swell idea to get in a little Ikea Christmas shopping Sunday morning.  I have a studio apartment and need space-saving kitchen and office furniture.  However, because we might have been a smidgen hungover, we required sustenance before we could muster the energy for any shopping.  As it turns out, the Ikea hot dogs in the US are good (and still cheap).  The cinnamon rolls were not so good.  I think they had been sitting out too long because when I tried to tear off a piece, it would crumble in my hand.  Cinnamon rolls are supposed to be soft and gooey.  Of course, in the state I was in, that didn’t stop me from finishing mine.

My Ikea tip #1 is if you are going on the weekend, go before noon, otherwise there are so many people there even the fun of trying to pronounce words with umlauts is not enough to make it worth the trouble.

Tip #2 – beware the super-cheap siren that is the Ikea kitchen accessories section.  You might think, “Oh yay!  Funny shaped ice trays!  And they’re only $.25,” but remember–you have an ice maker and don’t need ice cube trays.

I love that Ikea has maps posted throughout the store directing you to follow the one pathway in and out.  It feels like you’re on a treasure hunt.  I walked in and out of every show room declaring I wanted everything in it (even the children’s rooms).

On the Ikea furniture I would say the best qualities are the simple Swedish design and reasonable prices; the worst bit is that every piece ‘requires some assembly.’

I recommend Ikea if you need cheap, simply designed furnishings or enjoy umlauts, but only before noon.

Two Blondes Watch a DVD: WALL-E

November 21, 2008

Two Blondes review a DVD and ramble about themselves:

ALISON SAYS:

I’m a person who is easily excitable by nature.  But with WALL-E my level of excitement is at a whole new level, one might even say a level that is out of this world, if one was into cheesy metaphors.  I saw WALL-E twice in the theaters and was extremely moved and filled with glee both times.  I don’t cry at movies, I’m not the type of girl who goes to movies hoping to cry and be emotional.  That’s not my cup of tea.  I’d rather watch super heros battling or cars exploding.  But I did cry four times the first time I watched WALL-E.  And by cry, I mean I started welling up and furiously wiped my eyes in an effort not to look like a weepy girly girl.

As I sat down to watch it for the third time on the recently released DVD, I was smiling from ear to ear.  I could not wait to be reunited with my sweet, curious robot friend.  This movie is possibly the best movie I’ve ever seen.  I don’t think I could date someone unless they agreed on this.  WALL-E’s unconditional love for EVE is a beautiful thing to watch.  Sure, if you’re a cold-hearted person with no imagination, maybe it’s hard to care about two little animated robots.  But if your heart is pumping warm blood like mine, then you will be moved by what happens and grows between these two characters.  Maybe I’m just a nerd who thinks robots are cool (especially cute ones).  Maybe I relate to WALL-E, because I do look at the world with childlike wonder and I have the curiosity of a hyper monkey.  Maybe you’re not someone who has these traits, but you should still agree that this is one of the most amazing films ever created. Pixar obviously has a really good track record, but in my humble, robot-loving opinion, they’ve even surpassed their past achievements with this film.

The opening is a moving masterpiece.  It should be framed and hung on the wall of some fancy museum where snooty people in tiny hats eat cheese and babble on and on about meaning and art.  What is established without the use of dialogue is amazing.  After witnessing the desolation and loneliness of future Earth, it only makes WALL-E’s positive, curious, caring nature that more admirable.  Despite living in a broken world, this little robot has not become bitter or mean.  He still just wants to help and wants to find happiness in any small way he can.

The future this movie painted is terrifying, but also feels like a real possibility to me.  If you’ve ever walked down Universal’s Citywalk and been surrounded by overfilling trash cans, carts selling plastic junk and crowds of jiggling, obese tourists, then you’d realize that vision may be exactly where we’re heading.  Maybe if enough people see this movie, we can all take a breath and start making small daily choices that will add up to a big impact.  Not to turn into a “The More You Know” (SFX: DING) moment, but please recycle and please turn the water off when you’re not using it.  Turning the tap off while you brush your teeth (rather than just leaving it running for 5 minutes straight) can save gallons of water a day.  Just don’t be a dick to the earth.

Back to the movie.  A shout out must be given to Fred Willard who is always hilarious.  As always, Pixar chooses their cast for talent rather than who’s recently graced the cover of “US Weekly.”  If I could find him, I would bow down in a “We’re not worthy” moment to Ben Burtt for creating the voice of WALL-E.  WALL-E’s manner of speech and sounds can make me giggle with glee.  There is not much else in the world that makes me as happy as hearing WALL-E talk and “ohhh” and ahhh.”  And looking over Burtt’s IMDb page made me even more awestruck at his many credits and his creativity with sound engineering.  Here’s two really interesting bits fom his trivia page:

To create the rumbling sound of the gigantic boulder in Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), he placed a microphone close to the tire of his Honda Civic as it coasted slowly down his gravel driveway. The recording was later engineered at various speeds to best replicate the rolling boulder.

For Star Wars (1977), he created the sound of the lightsabers by mixing the humming sound of his TV set – tuned between channels – with the sound of an old 35mm projector.

Pixar, thank you, thank you, thank you!  You constantly make me believe and make me happy.

Final Word: Buy the DVD and watch it many, many times.  But be sure to recycle any plastic packaging after you buy it.

JESSICA SAYS:

I don’t have a good history with robots which might be why I didn’t feel compelled to see WALL-E in the theater this summer, no matter how many times Alison told me it made her cry and she never cries in movies.  I remember the first ‘bad’ grade I ever got in school (OK, it’s at least the first one I really remember).  It was in my junior high gifted class.  We had just finished the unit on the Maya and I loved it–not the part where we had to learn how to multiply and divide in the Mayan math system (base-twenty…don’t ask me to explain it.  I couldn’t if I wanted to, but maybe Wikipedia can help).  Math was always by far my worst subject, so I barely had a handle on our numerical system, much less anything else.

Things took a sharp downward turn for me when I found out our next unit was robotics and computer programming.  Keep in mind that I went to a public school in a small town in Missouri, so the budget for the program was approximately $2.74.  We were each given a box of parts we were supposed to assemble into something that resembled WALL-E.  The problem lay in that the robot I was given was used…heavily used.  I came to discover that it was missing at least 20% of it’s parts–most importantly, the instructions.  At the end of the unit what was supposed to be my robot was a collection of seven pieces that just looked like choking hazards.  My mom was called in for a conference.

Alison would not stop going on about how much she loved this movie, so when I saw it was coming out on DVD I decided to swallow my biterness towards robots and suggested we review the DVD.  The movie is set on future Earth, where WALL-E is a robot designed to compact garbage into a cube and stack it.  He appears to be the last remaining working robot, as humans abandoned the planet years before when it became so overrun with trash that life was unsustainable.  The story is part cautionary tale about where our planet is headed and partly a portrayl of that most basic emotional human need for companionship.

I loved the first section of the film on bleak, desolate future Earth.  WALL-E collects random pieces of the trash he compacts–a spork, an eggbeater–and keeps them in his home.  They are just tiny examples of the millions of things we use and discard without much thought on where things come from and where they go when we throw them away.

I loved the film less when WALL-E left Earth and joined the remaining humans on their spaceship.  Everything became shiny, fast, and silly.  It just felt so disjointed after the beginning of the film that my mind began to wander.  I started to think about how the companies behind this movie are as culpable as any for the consumerism and consumption the first part of the film warned against.  Now, I don’t want this to sound like I’m getting up on my soapbox against Disney or Pixar.  For the record, both companies have made films that would be on my list of favorites.  It’s just that people become the fat, lazy, narciscistic creatures like the humans in the movie by spending a childhood plopped in front of the TV for hours watching things like the WALL-E DVD, playing the WALL-E game on their PS3, etc.  Where does all that garbage that Wall-E collects in the movie come from?  Things like the 20+ variations of the WALL-E figure and all that packaging they come in, the comforter set, lunchbox, sticker book, Halloween costume, stuffed dolls, and laptop–all available at http://www.disneyshopping.com for your convience, but keep in mind kids, “Only grown-ups can buy stuff at DisneyShopping.com.”

I loved the scenes set on future Earth, but the rest left me unsatisfied (especially the happy ending, but like there was a chance of anything but a happy ending in a children’s movie).  I would recommend watching this with little ones, but it would be nice if parents followed the movie with a conversation about what we can do right now so that our planet never looks like where WALL-E lives.  When you wish upon a star…

DVD extras:  I loved the feature on the sound design process for animation, but I am a geek:  see paragraphs one and two of this review.  Of the two shorts, I prefered Presto over BURN-E, but they were both cute and definately worth checking out.

Two Blondes Watch TV: 30 Rock

November 14, 2008

Two Blondes watch their TiVo and ramble about themselves:

JESSICA SAYS:

Alison and I discussed writing a review of the season three premiere of 30 Rock, but then, to quote Alison, “Who are we kidding? It will really just be us worshiping Tina Fey.” It’s true, even the worst episode of 30 Rock is funnier than nearly everything else on TV (The Office can give it a run for its money). Anyway, life got a bit hectic for the two of us, so the review got put off. So here is my review of the first two episodes: “Do-Over,” and “Believe in the Stars.”

It’s true; I worship Tina Fey. She is at the top of my list of celebrities I’m positive I would be friends with, if only we had the chance to meet. Others on this list include: Rebecca Romijn, Lauren Graham, Christina Applegate, Gwyneth Paltrow (yes, I know she annoys many, but I find something about her to be charming), and of course, Oprah. It seems Oprah is one Tina and I had in common. That’s how Oprah ended up as the special guest in “Believe in the Stars.” In that episode, Tina acted much the way I would imagine myself acting, if ever seated next to Oprah on a plane (freaking out like an over-excited fanboy), which means maybe I won’t ever be besties with Ms. Winfrey.

Let’s back up to, “Do-Over,” the first episode of the season. I started laughing out loud in the opening scene. Liz (Fey) sees her old boss, Jack (Alec Baldwin), on the street. He left the company at the end of season two to work for the Bush Administration. Liz tells him how happy she is to have him back because his replacement, Devon (Will Arnet), “is the worst. It’s like he doesn’t even care when we should have cake for people whose birthday is on the weekend.” “The Friday before. At lunch,” Jack answers without giving it a second thought. Everyone in this show is hilarious, but especially Alec Baldwin. All that comedic prowess he showed in his numerous appearances on Saturday Night Live is finally being put to good use on a regular basis.

To be completely honest, “Do-Over,” wouldn’t be in my top five episodes of 30 Rock. It has some great jokes, but the plot of this episode was a bit too far fetched for me. Liz is trying to adopt a child, which seemed to come out of left field at the end of last season. In this episode, a woman (Megan Mullally) tries to evaluate whether Liz is a good candidate to adopt. As someone who works in TV production, I got a nice little kick out of Liz’s response to how many hours a week she works, “60-80.” Ah, if only that was a joke.

“Believe in the Stars,” was a lot better. This is the genius of Tina Fey—she is consistently able to make jokes that are so smart and insightful, yet they feel like something that could have easily been said by you or one of your friends last night at the pub. For instance, this is how 30 Rock talked about sexism today–Liz and Jenna (Jane Krakowski) are talking about a lawsuit between Jenna and her costar, Tracey Jordan (Tracey Morgan) over royalty payments:
Liz: Well of course Tracey takes care of his boys and not you. He thinks he can take advantage of you because you’re a woman.
Jenna: Men think they can get away with anything. It’s like when Adrien Brody kissed Halle Berry at the Oscars.
Liz: No one has it harder in this country today than women. It turns out we can’t be president, we can’t be network news anchors, Madonna’s arms look crazy.
Jenna: Mmm hmm.
Seriously people, I don’t understand why more of you aren’t watching this show.

ALISON SAYS:

Dear People Who Don’t Watch 30 Rock,

What the BLEEP is wrong with you? What is it? Did someone sketchy touch you in your bathing suit area and cause some permanent damage to keep you from enjoying what is arguably one of the best shows on television? Really, I want to know. What are you even doing with your time? I can’t imagine a better use of one’s days on this earth. Maybe you’re a little scared of change and something being that funny and that smart at the same time. But it’s okay. Just try it. Try one episode. See what happens. See if your concept of television comedy doesn’t change. See if you don’t wake up the next day and hear the birds singing just a little bit louder. See if it doesn’t erase all those shudders from accidentally stumbling onto Two and a Half Men on television. It may hurt a little at first to love a show that much, but you will be a better person for it.

Thanks,
Alison

Dear Tina Fey,

Hi. (insert nervous laugh) I love your show! And your glasses!

Alison