Posts Tagged ‘blonde’

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: Watchmen

March 10, 2009

Two Blondes (plus a guest “Blonde”) review a movie and mostly ramble about themselves:

We have something special for you folks today.  Today we have guest “Blonde,” Jim Campolongo, weighing in on Watchmen along with Alison and Jessica:

 

ALISON SAYS:

Jessica and I went to see Watchmen at the dome at Arclight Hollywood.  Before the movie started, Jessica turned to me and said: “I love movies.”  I agreed and we sat back contentedly (not sure if that’s a word) into our theater seats ready to watch a movie, even one that was 2 hours and 45 minutes long.

I had not read the comic book series before seeing this film. I didn’t have the same expectations that some of the diehard Watchmen fans might have.  All I really knew was what I had seen in the trailer and I heard there was going to be a lot of blue dong in the film.  I had warned Jessica that I might giggle when the naked blue man appeared on screen, but some semblance of maturity must have taken over, cause I watched the movie like a grown-up rather than the twelve-year-old girl who lives inside my heart.

I thought the film rocked.  My favorite part was the amazing opening sequence.  I thoroughly enjoyed myself for all 2 hours and 45 minutes of it.  I was blown away by the cinematography, the effects, the and by the sheer spectacle of it all.   There’s a part of me that wonders if I would have enjoyed watching this film as much as I did if I hadn’t seen it in a theater like the Arclight.  I’m not sure if it would have struck the same chord.  Despite my enjoyment, I don’t think every plot point would stand up under close scrutiny.  I wasn’t that into the ending, but was so happy to be watching a movie like this in a big, beautiful theater, that I didn’t care.  Also some of the music was a little heavy-handed, but once again I was still happy and thrilled to be along for the ride.

And now for some fun random trivia regarding the people who created Watchmen.  The director, Zack Snyder, turned down a chance to direct S.W.A.T., because it wouldn’t be rated R.  I gotta give the guy props for knowing what he wants to work in. The film 300 would not have been the same if he had been forced to make a PG-13 film out of it.  And one of the screenwriters, David Hayer, played a role on the show Major Dad.

LA Viewers: If you’re into violence and comic book movies, go see it at Arclight.

Translation for non-LA natives: It’s a really cool movie to see in the theaters, but it’s long, so don’t buy a large soda.

JESSICA SAYS:

I would like to start this review out with a warning to my mother:  Mom, this is not a movie for you.  You know how you don’t like any violence or sex in movies, much less gratuitous sex and violence?  Yeah, don’t see this.  It’s not your average PG-13 comic flick.  The costumes alone would make you blush.  I’m not even going to mention the full-frontal naked blue man because I’m sure Alison has.  She couldn’t stop talking about it before the film started.

I don’t know a whole lot about comics (or graphic novels).  Maybe that’s because I’m a girl, but I think I would probably enjoy them.  I was just never exposed.  I don’t know where you would have found comic books for sale in the tiny town I grew up in.  I sort of feel like there is a whole pop culture world out there of which I’m not a part, by not knowing comics.  So I guess what I’m saying is, don’t expect any, “It doesn’t match the glory of the comic,” kind of reviews from me.

I see most of the comic-based movies when they come out, and I must say, this is one of the better ones I’ve seen recently.  All of these heroes are dark, twisty, and above all flawed.  They are almost flawed to the point that it’s hard to root for any of them.  Almost.  I was pretty won over by Patrick Wilson’s Night Owl.    It didn’t hurt that he’s pretty, besides playing the lone nice guy.

Most of all, what won me over about this film was the visual look.  It somehow manages to be slick and gritty.  It was, in a nutshell, exciting.  It probably helped a little that Alison and I saw it in the Cinerama dome at the ArcLight in Hollywood.  For those of you who don’t live in LA, the Cinerama dome is awesome.  The experience there is how movies are made to be seen.  It feels like an event.  There are ushers who come out before the show to give a little talk that is half audience warm-up and half ‘please shut off your phone’ reminders.  The screen wraps completely around your field of vision.  The sound system is overpowering (almost a little too overpowering).

I recommend you go see this move, but only if you’re old enough that all the violence and sex in this movie can’t corrupt you any more than you have already been corrupted by rock-n-roll and cable TV.  You should try to see it in IMAX or the Cinerama.

JIM, OUR GUEST “BLONDE,” SAYS:

Before we get into this review I have to admit something: I am not now, nor have I ever been, a blonde. There was one misguided attempt in seventh grade to streak my hair, but even then, the hydrogen peroxide shaded my locks a less than lovely pumpkin-vomit orange, leaving no trace of blonde anywhere except maybe within the act itself.

I will say this, though — I, like any red-blooded American male, love blondes. In spades. And I thank Alison and Jessica for the honorary club membership. I’ve been waiting for this ever since I bought those Green Day and Offspring CDs in middle school.

So without further ado, let’s get to the reviewin’…

Like a good chunk of our moviegoing public, I too saw Watchmen this weekend. And I’m baffled by my reaction. Why? Because I’m a nerd.  Before we get all accusatory here on the interweb, trust me, I’ve got the nerd cred to prove it: I still hit the comic shop every Wednesday, own multiple Batman shirts, and did not see a girl naked in real life for several years longer than I care to admit. I’ve owned the graphic novel of Watchmen for over a decade now and revere it.

So imagine my surprise when I walked out the theater thinking the movie kinda sucked.

If I subtract my bias for the material, I’m left with a film that doesn’t engage me, plain and simple.  Despite a well done set piece or two, the story lacked a sense of pace. There was no rhythm. No forward momentum. For example, just as we get an interesting helping of plot progression, the movie would pause for ten minutes to tell us how the character of Dr. Manhattan came to be. Or how anti-hero Rorschach lost his moral compass when confronted with a panty sniffing pedophile. This kind of non-linear presentation may be structurally sound in the novel, but it sure as shit doesn’t work in this film. While non-linear storytelling can be well executed in cinema, Watchmen’s dense source material plays as though its been compressed in all the wrong parts. As an average viewer, the character moments feel tangential, while the story’s mystery crawls at a snail’s pace, leaving me indifferent to both. I’m watching this thing from the POV of a dude wanting to be stimulated, but I’m feeling every second of the near-three hour runtime instead. And not in a good way.

watchmen-scream-awardsPetty stuff like plot and character work aside, I also had massive problems with the music. Every song cue, from the opening Dylan track to the closing “Desolation Row” cover, felt so damn bush league. I’m still not over the crazy laughable sex scene set to Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.” (Note to the baked film school undergrad who compiled the soundtrack: I’ve seen more subtlety on Cinemax after dark.)

All right, all right…  So I’m ragging on the flick pretty hard. But I do think it’s warranted. Remember, I’m a nerd. When I add in my bias for the source material, I remember Watchmen is supposed to be a commentary on the comic book medium itself, demystifying the idea of the superhero and showing him as a possibly psychotic, flawed, and maybe less than average being.

So why does the movie treat us to delicately choreographed fight scenes in which our heroes emerge unscathed? Where they can perform daring feats of martial arts wire trickery set to amped techno music? In presenting these guys as bad-ass crime fighters, the film becomes the antithesis of the novel’s primary themes. Leaving the geek inside of me pissed enough to order more porn on my mom’s credit card, even though I know she’s gonna see the bill and ground me again.

I guess I can only blame one person for this inevitable exile: director Zack Snyder. To be fair, I’ve never been a huge fan of the guy.  His Dawn of the Dead remake lost a lot of steam after the first ten minutes, and his follow-up 300 played like a vapid Lexus commercial for guys who won’t admit they subscribe to the Here! network. Snyder’s perception of cinematic cool has never been cerebral.  It’s always been sex, violence, and rock and roll. Which may explain why the only thing he brings to this film is excess; excess in gore, violence, and even misogyny. The attempted rape of Silk Specter, for example, is far more brutal in the movie than the novel (check out the panels if you don’t believe me). It’s unnerving to me that this is where the filmmaker decides to step in and expand upon the source material.

Truth be told, the only thing I can’t accuse Zack Snyder of is being insincere. I truly believe the guy set out to make the most faithful adaptation of Watchmen possible. I just don’t think he understood a damn word of it.

And there you have it, a nerdy non-blonde’s review of moving picture. If you liked it, hurrah. If you hated it, blame Alison and Jessica.

Two Blondes Go To a Movie: The Reader

February 24, 2009

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

thereader_poster061

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 Use A Camera: Oscar Prep

February 19, 2009

Wondering what’s going on in Hollywood with Oscar prep?

Sure, getting dressed up for the Oscars is a lot of work for all the celebrities.  I wonder how many hours Ryan Seacrest must spend getting his blond tips just right!  But what’s even more work is the prep that goes in to getting the Kodak Theater and Hollywood Blvd ready for the big day.  Hollywood Blvd has been blocked off all week, and you should see all the worker bees constructing bleachers and rolling out the red carpet.

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 Go to a Movie: Revolutionary Road

February 9, 2009

Two Blondes review a movie and mostly ramble about themselves:

revolutionary-road-poster-full1

ALISON SAYS:

If you’ve ever been someone who’s a little scared of the concept of marriage and life becoming stagnant and losing all meaning, don’t go see Revolutionary Road. It will only reinforce this fear. But the film will also reinforce your love and respect for Kate Winslet, Sam Mendes and for the costume designer on the film (her character had such great dresses). Kate Winslet rocks. There’s not much more to it. She’s beautiful, an incredible actress and has always chosen interesting roles (and even has comic chops, as exhibited on “Extras”). I can’t imagine though what it was like to make this film with your husband (for those who don’t already know this, the director, Sam Mendes, is her husband).

It was fun to see Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio reunited after all these years, and DiCaprio impressed me, at least in the second half of the film. During the first half, I never really forgot that I was watching Leo. He’s still too pretty to completely believe him as a grown-up, angry man. (Leo, go get a little rougher around the edges and those Oscars will roll in, I swear.) But during the later part of the film, I thought he had some great scenes that did show his depth as an actor and reminded me of some of my favorites of his past performances (Arnie in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape and Jim in The Basketball Diaries). There were scenes where he broke out of being Leo and we saw a desperate, broken man who doesn’t know how to save his wife or make her love him again.

While I was impressed by some of the performances and aspects of the film, and still think Sam Mendes deserves loads of acclaim, I can’t say I loved the film as a whole. It was interesting to be in this world, but I couldn’t help thinking “Mad Men” did it and does it better. On a sidenote: my mom also saw this film and was recollecting how during her childhood, some women on her street would dress up for their husbands when they were getting home from work.

LA Viewers: Go see a matinee.

Translation for non-LA natives: If you live in the suburbs and ever doubt some of your life choices, maybe pick something more upbeat.

JESSICA SAYS:

For once, a movie makes you glad you’re a singleton and not a smug married. The portrait of a marriage provided by Revolutionary Road is anything but appealing. Take this scene:

April Wheeler: So now I’m crazy because I don’t love you, right? Is that the point?

Frank Wheeler: No! Wrong! You’re not crazy, and you do love me. That’s the point, April.

April Wheeler: But I don’t. I hate you. You were just some boy who made me laugh at a party once, and now I loathe the sight of you. In fact, if you come any closer, if you touch me or anything, I think I’ll scream.

Doesn’t that warm, kind exchange make you want to run right out and get married? No? Let me tell you, that fight only gets worse from there.

It is uncomfortable to watch two people completely emotionally eviscerate each other the way Kate Winslet (April Wheeler) and Leonardo DiCaprio (Frank Wheeler) do in this picture, but it’s completely riveting too. Kudos to Richard Yates and Justin Haythe (or ‘granola to you,’ as one of my friends might say) for a fantastic script. Yates’ 1967 novel this film is based on has been added to my must-read list. This is one of those films where you can just see that every member of the small village of people it takes to make a major motion picture brought their A-game. (I can’t believe I just used the phrase ‘A-game.’) Production design, props, costume, it is all spot on authentic.

REVOLUTIONARY ROADBoth Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet deliver Oscar-worthy performances here and the fact that neither of them was even nominated is ridiculous. It’s just further proof that politics and money have more to do with who wins Academy Awards than the performances too often. Michael Shannon is only in a few scenes, but he is so good I wished he got his own film about a mental patient in the 1950s. His performance is one of only three nominations for Revolutionary Road, with costume and art direction. If I ruled the world, it would get nominations for Best Picture, Best Lead Actress, Best Lead Actor, and Best Director. Alas, I do not; otherwise we would all take flying cars to work.

This movie left me thinking about a lot of things which, I think, is one of the best things you can say about any piece of art. For instance, as a woman, I am very thankful I was born at a time when the possibilities for my life were not determined by the fact that I’m female. Also, I marvel at how well Sam Mendes seems to understand the American suburbs for someone who grew up in Reading, England. In this film, he shows the same stiflingly powerful push to conform the suburbs seem to have as he depicted in American Beauty, only this time we get to watch a woman futilely struggle against it.

My advice? Go see this movie soon.

Two Blondes Go to a Movie: Happy-Go-Lucky

February 2, 2009

Two Blondes review a movie and mostly ramble about themselves.

ALISON SAYS:

I really wanted to like Happy-Go-Lucky.  Sally Hawkins seemed so cute and offbeat at the Golden Globes.  I’ve read some raving reviews for the film, but I hate to say, I wasn’t too impressed.  For about the first hour, I kept taking sideward glances at Jessica to see if she was as unimpressed as I was.  She didn’t seem overly involved in the flight of Poppy either.  My mom (who joined us to watch the film) had fallen asleep, probably from a combination of wine, jetlag and from the fact that she found the film boring as well.

I’m not saying I hated it or disliked it immensely.  It just didn’t grab me.  Maybe it was too British, though I do love British people and films.  Maybe Hawkins’ cuteness was too offbeat for me.  I can’t put my finger on it exactly.  There were parts I liked and things I related to in the film, but other than that, I felt an almost blahness in response to watching it.

LA Viewers: Wait for the DVD.

Translation for non-LA natives: Netflix, baby!

JESSICA SAYS:

When we sat down to watch Happy-Go-Lucky, I told Alison, “I have a confession.  I have no idea what this movie is going to be about.”  When the end credits rolled, I turned to her and again said, “I have no idea what the plot of that movie was.  Do you think it had a plot?”  (Long pause.)  We both answered, “Mmmm, not really.”


I thought this movie was…perplexing.  I was genuinely charmed by Sally Hawkins’ character, Poppy, but what makes it perplexing to me is this:  if you enjoyed watching something, but it had no plot does that mean is was good or bad?  Is having a plot central to any story’s success?  Mr. Oldvader, my high school AP English literature teacher says yes.  Happy-Go-Lucky definitely has a theme, and it happens to be a theme I quite liked:  happiness is a decision you make for yourself.*  Poppy is a perpetual optimist, not because life has been nothing but kind to her, but rather because she chooses to see everything as a glass half-full.  It’s just…where was the story?

After staring at the cursor blinking here, in the spot where I’m supposed to say whether or not I recommend this movie for about ten minutes, I’ve decided to recommend it like so:  Add it to your Netflix/Blockbuster queue; not at the top, but on there somewhere, and some Saturday afternoon curl up on the couch with a cup of tea (obviously it has to be tea; Happy-Go-Lucky is v. British) and see what you think.  Maybe you will see a plot where I didn’t, but at the very least, maybe this will inspire some self-reflection in you.  It did for me.

*Alison agrees with me on this, despite finding the movie a little blah.  She did like that idea and theme in the movie.

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