Posts Tagged ‘comedy’

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.
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Two Blondes Go to a Movie: Slumdog Millionaire

January 30, 2009

Two Blondes review a movie and mostly ramble about themselves.

JESSICA SAYS:

My mother is known for two constant comments, when it comes to movies:

“Well…it wasn’t what I expected,” and, “You know, I’m just such a Pollyanna…”  So it was no surprise that when I asked Mom what she thought of Slumdog Millionaire, she said, “Well, it wasn’t what I was expecting.  T (one of my other sisters) said it was going to be uplifting and I guess there was just too much abuse of children for me.  You know, I’m just such a Pollyanna…”*

*Please note:  To be accurate, any quotes by my mother need to be read with a strong Midwestern accent.

As it turns out, both Mom and T are right.  There is a lot of horrible abuse of children (and adults) in this film, but it still manages to be uplifting.  I think the beauty of this film is that really horrible things happen to the characters, but the hero doesn’t let it change who he is as a person and in the end (and I don’t think this is giving anything away), he triumphs.

The child actors in the movie (Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail, Ayush Mahesh Khedekar, Rubiana Ali, Tanay Chheda, Ashutosh Lobo Gajiwala, and Tanvi Ganesh Lonkar – and yes, I had to copy and paste those) are fantastic and totally lacking in all the saccharine precociousness most child actors have that makes me squirm.  I listed all their names because each one of them was remarkable.  They will break your heart.

I am fully aware that this might sound a bit corny, but I don’t care.  It’s true.  This film reminded me that movies have the magical ability to transport you to a world you’ve never seen before.  This scenery was rich and beautiful and so much credit must go to Danny Boyle and Loveleen Tandan (directors), Anthony Dod Mantle (cinematographer) and Mark Digby (production designer).

I loved this film.  I recommend you go see this movie right now.  Seriously, go!  Also, if you like this movie I recommend Cidade de Deus (City of God) and Tsotsi – both similar films set in Brazil and South Africa, respectively.

ALISON SAYS:
Some of the reviews make this look like a feel good movie.  And I guess by the end, you do feel good about watching this film and feel uplifted by a tale of triumph over impossible odds and a story of love.  But be warned, this is not an easy film to watch.  The slums of Mumbai is not an easy place to be, either as an orphan on the run (like our main character) or as an audience member viewing a world that is harsh, dirty and dangerous.

I would love to pick Danny Boyle’s brain (the director).  Here’s a man who made Trainspotting and 28 Days Later and now this film.  These are three terrific, riveting films, but all so completely different.  I am happy to see him being showered with accolades, and while he is obviously is responsible for this film being so incredible, I also think a lot of credit should be given to the cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle and to A.R. Rahman, who composed the music.  The directing and acting in the film is superb, but what stayed with me were the images, the colors of this world I know nothing about.  And the amazing soundtrack.  According to IMDb, A.R Rahman is known as the John Williams of the Indian Film Industry.  I will definitely be (legally) downloading the music from Itunes.

Jessica and I went to see Slumdog Millionaire at the Arclight in the dome with my mom.  We paid full price on a Friday, dealt with huge crowds and it was well worth it to see a film like this on the big screen, especially in such a spectacular theater.  And I must thank Fox Searchlight for putting a film out there that both my mom and I could enjoy.  She tends to love romantic comedies, while I tend to hate them.  And usually any film that I love, she will call “interesting,” (which means she didn’t like it or enjoy it).  So it was nice to bring Mom to a fancy Hollywood theater, to a film that we both really enjoyed.  Mom used the word “exciting” a couple times when asked what she thought about the movie.  She also loved the dancing and said she “would recommend it.”

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

Translation for non-LA natives: Find a theater near you on www.moviefone.com

Check out this interesting article on Slumdog Millionaire:  http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0„20254915,00.html

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: 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 Go To A Movie: Changeling

October 25, 2008

Two Blondes review a movie and ramble about themselves:

JESSICA SAYS:

WARNING:  This film is TWO HOURS AND TWENTY ONE MINUTES LONG.  That is a really long time to sit without fidgeting too much.  I’m always afraid I annoy the people who sit next to me in movie theaters because I fidget.  It’s just not comfortable to sit that long.

In case you hadn’t yet noticed, Angelina Jolie is beautiful.  I mean truly, truly beautiful.  She owes the DP and editor a cut of her salary.  Throughout the entire film she was lit to highlight just how stunning her face is.  Sometimes the focus was the color of her eyes, sometimes those amazing lips.  We get it, she’s beau-ti-ful.  You could have cut out at least 30 minutes of the film if you just spent less time admiring how pretty she is.

For a quick synopsis, Changeling is the true story of a single mother, Christine Collins (Angelina Jolie), who loses her child in 1928 Los Angeles.  In her efforts to find her son, she is forced to deal with the corrupt and incompetent LAPD.  The police tell her they have found her son.  When the two are reunited, Mrs. Collins realizes the boy they found is not her son.

Mrs. Collins’ struggle against the LAPD pits her against Captain JJ Jones (Jeffrey Donovan).  I never really thought about the fact that Irish-Americans in the 1920s would have still sounded pretty Irish.  Captain Jones had quite a brogue in the scenes where he was agitated (which were most of his scenes).

At one point, the police have Mrs. Collins committed to a state mental facility.  The phenomenal Amy Ryan plays another mental patient Mrs. Collins befriends in the institution.  I have yet to see Amy Ryan’s nominated performance in Gone Baby Gone, but I have completely fallen in love with her as the new HR manager on The Office.

I felt like the movie had ended, looked at my watch, and realized there was still going to be another forty minutes of admiring how beautiful Angelina Jolie is.  Actually, those last forty minutes felt more like an episode of Law & Order:  SVU, 1928.  The movie took an odd plot turn and began to reveal what actually happened to Mrs. Collins’ son.  Adding to the SVU vibe was character actor, Denis O’Hare, as Dr. Jonathan Steele.  O’Hare is one of those actors that you’ve seen in a million things, but never remember.  For instance, he has been in Charlie Wilson’s War, Law & Order (original, SVU, and CI) Brothers & Sisters, CSI, Michael Clayton, Garden State, A Mighty Heart, 21 Grams, and Half Nelson.

My overall opinion of this movie was…it was OK.  Too long, sometimes too melodramatic, too many subplots, etc., but good performances with a good director.  I recommend seeing this on a Sunday afternoon, but make sure you’ve blocked out the rest of the day on your schedule.

Overall, I still think Clint Eastwood is a master director.  However, this is not his best work.  Mystic River is better.

P.S.  I can recommend a much more entertaining story about a missing child set in the past.  This American Life, the NPR radio program, aired the story of Bobby Dunbar in episode 352:  “The Ghost of Bobby Dunbar” on March 14, 2008.  Along the same lines of Changeling, the police bring a boy back to the Dunbars claiming it’s Bobby, but the parents don’t believe them.  Check it out at http://www.thisamericanlife.org/Radio_Episode.aspx?episode=352.

ALISON SAYS:

I’ve never wanted to be a hat person more than after I finished watching Angelina Jolie’s new movie Changeling.  I don’t usually sound like such a girl, but Angelina’s hats and clothes were absolutely gorgeous.  It made me think I was born during the wrong era, but then again I’m the kind of person who spills everything everywhere, so such beautiful, detailed clothing might have become an issue.

Jessica and I went to see this movie at the Arclight.  Before it started, one of the adorable little ushers announced that the movie was two and a half hours long.  The entire audience groaned.  Don’t get me wrong, the movie is amazing, as long as you’re okay with thinking it’s ending on four separate occasions and still having to continue watching for another forty minutes past that.  It’s long.  The directing and acting is superb.  On all levels, it’s a gorgeous, moving, well-made film.  You will be stunned by how beautiful the lighting and Angelina are.  You’ll realize how important a good director is when you see the performances of everyone in the cast.  Yet, there’s still something…

Have you ever had a conversation with someone who is well traveled, intelligent, interesting and completely aware of themselves as a well traveled, intelligent, interesting person?  And while you enjoyed listening to their stories, you felt like maybe they enjoyed hearing themselves talk a little bit too much?  There’s a similar feeling in watching this movie.  The film is a little too in love with itself and its star.  But then again, you can’t really blame it.  First off, you have Clint Eastwood directing.  He is the one of the most talented men on the earth, not to mention he’s aging really well.  Then there’s the lovely, hauntingly beautiful Angelina Jolie. It’s definitely one of Angelina’s best performances and I am a huge fan of hers.  During crying scenes, she’s able to create a quiver in her chin to show she’s on the verge of tears.  It almost seems like CGI, because how is someone able to make her chin quiver on cue?  It’s an awesome skill and a perfectly understated way to show the character’s tremendous undercurrent of emotion.  So it’s easy to see why this movie would be a little too in love with itself and then decide that it’s deserved the right to go on for two and a half hours, but for me, it just left me with restless butt syndrome by the end.  And some of the ending(s) got a bit heavy-handed for me.  But I would still watch it again, just to live in that world again and to have the pleasure of watching what awesome talent can create even when there may be too much talent going around.

LA Viewers: Worth paying matinee price at the Grove or Arclight, but just keep in mind you’ll be sitting for a while.

Translation for non-LA viewers: Go see a matinee.

Two Blondes Eat Some Food: Kiss My Bundt

October 25, 2008

Two Blondes eat some food and tell you what they think:

Jessica says:

Alison and I tried a new bakery in Midcity last weekend, Kiss My Bundt. If you couldn’t figure it out from the name (and if you can’t, I’d imagine you are the type of person who has a hard time telling what direction West Hollywood is, in relation to Hollywood), they specialize in bundt cakes.

Kiss My Bundt is like most of the cupcake specialty bakeries that have popped up around LA in the last couple of years. Their cakes come in sizes ranging from the Mini Bundts, Baby Bundts, to the Big Ol’ Bundts. There are a couple of benefits the bundts have over cupcakes. First, the Mini Bundts are smaller than your average cupcake, so you don’t have to feel as guilty when you just want a little something sweet. Second, the icing to cake ratio is closer in bundts than the bakery cupcakes that usually seem to be 1/3 cake to 2/3 icing. Most importantly, ‘bundt’ is a really fun word to say.

Alison says:

Kiss My Bundt is a new bakery on 3rd street near The Grove. From it’s brown and pink color scheme to its pink couch to the kissing lips stickers on the bags, every detail is sweet and cute. Quote from their website:

“Kiss My Bundt is a specialty, made-from-scratch cake company created
out of a love of baking and bundt cakes.”

The girl who served us was helpful and nice. I tried the red velvet cakes and was very happy I did. I think Kiss My Bundt has the best red velvet cake in all of Los Angeles. It’s rich but somehow not heavy at the same time.

My review: Adorable and delicious!

Two Blondes Go To A Movie: The Secret Life of Bees

October 20, 2008

Two Blondes review a movie and ramble about themselves:

ALISON SAYS:

This might be one of the first movies I’ve reviewed that both my mom and I would enjoy together. Most movies I like she would refer to as “different,” which means she didn’t get it or enjoy it. But I think she would love this film.

I had read the book The Secret Life of Bees a few years back and really enjoyed it, thus I had my misgivings about seeing the movie, as I’ve found movie adaptations usually don’t live up to the book (see all Harry Potter movies for examples). But I am here to say Gina Prince-Bythewood did a masterful and moving job with this film. She should be applauded for the performances she brought forth from her cast.

Dakota Fanning was amazing. Most of us already knew she has acting chops from her many performances as a kid. And this film proves she’s still got it and then some. Not to mention she’s absolutely stunning. Maybe I missed a few of her films and thus some of her awkward phases, but to me it seems like she went straight from cute to beautiful.

The rest of the cast was equally as compelling. What a powerhouse of talent. Actually, to be completely honest, Queen Latifah seemed to be phoning in the wise, warm-hearted maternal figure a little bit, but I feel bad saying that because I think she’s great. I was very impressed with Alicia Keys. I hadn’t seen her act before, but after seeing some singers turned actresses (see any Jessica Simpson movie) I wasn’t sure if I would be able to believe in her role. But I did. I completely forgot I was watching Alicia Keys and only saw June Boatwright.

I watched Gina Prince-Bythewood speak after an AFI special screening of the film. I found her and her film really inspiring. I also think it’s awesome that she wrote on A Different World way back when.

Dear Gina,
Can we be friends?
Alison

LA Viewers: Worth paying full price at the Grove or Arclight.

Translation for non-LA movie viewers: Go see it!

JESSICA SAYS:

Having grown up a white girl on a honeybee farm run by three black woman in 1964, I really identified with this movie. OK, that’s not true.

I have not read this book, which I realize is surprising, considering I’m someone who TiVos Oprah. It probably isn’t a movie I would have necessarily been lining up to see, but Alison lobbied for it. I think I was a bit apprehensive that it was going to be heavy-handed with the lessons it wanted to teach us and too schmaltzy.

The most pleasant surprise was Dakota Fanning. Holy crap was she good! She acted everyone else in this movie under the table. There is a scene where her character has a breakdown about why don’t her parents love her that made me cry copious tears. I probably cried as much as I do during the, “Give my daughter the drugs!!” scene in Terms of Endearment.   She was fantastic.

The movie was a bit schmaltzy, not that I’m totally opposed to that. I did enjoy the movie, but it won’t be on my favorite of the year list. The rest of the cast was good. Dakota was great.

I recommend seeing this as a Sunday matinee.