Posts Tagged ‘los angeles’

Two Blondes Go to a Movie: (500) Days of Summer

September 11, 2009

JESSICA SAYS:

I moved into my current apartment in Los Angeles just over two years ago.  It’s a v. cute, old building – Art Deco, built in the 1920s, etc.  However, it is in a neighborhood that has its sketchier bits.  It seems that the combination of Art Deco and a slightly dodgy neighborhood attracts hipsters like moths to a flame.

Anyway, I quickly learned that people like to film in my building…a lot.  The first thing that was filmed there after I moved in was (500) Days of Summer.  I looked it up on IMDb when I saw the notice of filming signs and was not all that surprised to find that it seemed to actually be a film about LA hipsters.  It stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel (the reigning queen of hipsterdom) as two young Angelinos, who meet, fall in love, yadda, yadda.  Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not entirely anti-hipster (as I’m realizing I might sound).  It’s just that I tire easily of the whole aren’t-I-cool-the-way-ironically-like-things-from-two-decades-ago.  So, I was intrigued by the movie, not only because I knew it would feature my home, but also because I find Zooey Deschanel to be quite charming.  Did you see her sing in Elf?  Adorable!  Here’s a shot from the film of Deschanel and Gordon-Levitt on my roof:

(500) Days of Summer won me over fairly easily.  It’s a pretty charming little story.  The opening narration warns you that, “this is not a love story,” and that is true, kind of.  It is a love story, just not a story of everlasting love.  I’ll give kudos to Marc Webb (director), Scott Neustadter (writer), and Michael H. Webber (writer) for managing to tell the story of a man getting his heart broken without being overly sentimental or depressing.  The title, (500) Days of Summer, refers to the 500 days the relationship between the main characters, Summer and Tom, lasts.

The film has a great soundtrack, even if it does heavily feature songs by The Smiths, a band of which I am not a huge fan.  I have been known to rock out to the blue-eyed soul styling of Hall & Oates on many an occasion, so imagine my joy when there was an entire dance sequence in the film choreographed to their hit, “You Make My Dreams Come True.”  Awesome!

I recommend seeing (500) Days of Summer, but you should try to go quickly because it’s been in theatres for a while now.  It would make a good date movie.

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Two Blondes Go to a Movie: Monsters vs Aliens

April 17, 2009

Two Blondes review a movie and mostly ramble about themselves:


ALISON SAYS:

There are a lot of beautiful people in LA.  Like, a lot.  And many of them haven’t developed much of a personality because of their ridiculous good looks.  Sometimes holding a conversation with these types of people can be painful.  On one hand, you’re dazzled by their amazing looks and it feels like being in the warm glow of the sun.  But then they open their mouths and you want to yell, “Shhhhhh, no talking!”  This sort of sums up how I felt about watching Monsters vs Aliens.

The animation is amazing and fun.  DreamWorks has reached new levels of being awesome when it comes to the production of an animated movie.  I saw this film in IMAX and 3-D, which was super cool.  My favorite of the visuals was B.O.B. the blob (voiced by Seth Rogen).  But in terms of the script and “jokes,” (yes, those quotes are meant to be snarky), I just wasn’t impressed.  I was so excited to see this film.  The premise seemed really funny and I can’t imagine a more talented cast (Reese Witherspoon, Hugh Laurie, Wil Arnett, Rainn Wilson), but their comedic talents just didn’t translate.  I can count the number of times I laughed on one hand (or on the hand of a chainsaw artist I know who’s missing several fingers).  A lot of the jokes fell flat and I may even have heard Jessica groan and/or sigh several times.  

That said, I’m still really excited they had a main character who’s a girl and who kicks ass (not just because she’s a giant).  

LA Viewers: The animation is worth paying a matinee price.  Especially if you’re as high as the guy who sat near Jessica and I (he reeked of a certain substance that Woody Harrelson is a huge fan of).

Translation for non LA-viewers: If you don’t have a theater near you that offers 3-D viewings, wait for the DVD.

JESSICA SAYS:
There is a very essential thing about myself that I was reminded of by going to this movie:  I don’t like having to deal with the public.  You see, Alison and I saw Monsters vs Aliens 3-D at the IMAX theater at Universal City Walk which, on a Friday night, is almost as bad as being in the airport security line on the day before Thanksgiving.  I know that shouldn’t affect my review of the movie, but I was sufficiently annoyed and ready for some charming animation to cheer me up after fighting through crowds of tourists, waiting in line behind teenage boys acting like idiots to impress teenage girls, and couples so engrossed in their PDA that the world could collapse around them and they wouldn’t notice.  (Although for the latter Alison did provide an entertaining inner monologue for the couples, “I’ve never felt this way before *giggle*giggle*.”)

 
Monsters vs Aliens didn’t really charm or cheer me up.  The ads looked cute.  I had high hopes.  I like Stephen Colbert, Seth Rogen and Reese Witherspoon, who provide voices.  It just fell flat.  Monsters vs Aliens had great animation, especially the bit in space at the beginning, but the story felt so disjointed.  It starts out as a story about how a woman, Susan (Witherspoon), gains self-confidence after she is struck by a meteor on her wedding day and grows exponentially taller.  Then it jumps to a X-Men-meets-Mars Attacks story where a rag-tag group of mutants/monsters are the only beings able to defend Earth against evil aliens.  In between those two stories there is a random Dr. Strangelove homage in ‘the war room,’ but it’s like one of the writers thought, “What if it’s like Dr. Strangelove, but George W. Bush is the president?!”  I think we all know kids these days can’t get enough dark political satire references in their cartoons.

 
Sadly, I don’t recommend seeing Monsters vs Aliens.  I know if you have small kids and want to see a movie, you don’t really have other options right now.  To be entirely honest, if I didn’t have to write a review on it, I might have left halfway through.  Keep in mind though, I was already crabby going into it.  Have you seen it?  If so, am I wrong and just a crabby-appleton?  IMAX = always awesome.  The 3-D animation of outer space at the beginning = awesome.  The story, jokes, direction, etc. = uhhh…

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 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: Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist

October 18, 2008

Two Blondes review a movie and ramble about themselves:

Note: Our review may have some similar sentiments, but we swear we wrote them separately. Great minds think alike sometimes…

ALISON SAYS:

I haven’t loved a cast this much in a long time. First off, I love Michael Cera. Not in a creepy way. I’ve never gone looking for where he might live in Los Angeles and stood outside wondering if he’d walk out, see me and find me as charmingly awkward as I find him. Really, I haven’t. But I have watched DVD’s of Arrested Development and been amused for hours. Clark and Michael has distracted me from doing work many a time. I may have even considered writing a non-creepy and comedic love ballad to express my thanks for there being a boy-man like Michael Cera both on the big and small screen.

Second, there’s Kat Dennings. Can we just talk about talented and beautiful this actress is? Angelina, we have a real contender for “best lips in Hollywood” now that Kat Dennings is on the scene. And Kat is beautiful in a way that’s real and not just good make-up. She was the perfect slightly insecure, but knows who she is teenage girl. Here’s two quotes I read on IMDB from Kat: “There’s nothing else I would rather do, unless there was a profession that involved cuddling bunny rabbits and kittens all day for money.” “I’ve basically made a career out of my imagination.” How cute is she?!

Then we also have Ari Graynor with her portrayal of the drunk best friend, Caroline. I wanted to stand up and applaud her hilarious, spot-on portrayal of what drunk teenage girls act like. She was able to be charming at the same time as being obnoxious. Then I also loved the boys who played Nick’s gay friends. They were funny and sweet, and never felt like a stereotypical portrayal of the gay best friend.

Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist felt very real to me. Possibly the realest (is that a word?) movie about teenagers I’ve ever seen. Some past teenage movies (like Juno) left me feeling manipulated and like someone was just trying to sound “cool.” Nick and Norah just felt real and left me happy, amused and charmed. It reminded me of being young, insecure and trying to figure out love. And made me somewhat nostalgic for the days of kissing boys in the streets of New York just when the sun is coming up, or being seventeen and asking a boy if “he’s interested” and being so scared of rejection. It’s a movie that leaves you with that attitude of life being full of infinite possibilities, not to mention lots of great music.

LA Viewers: Worth paying full price at the Grove or Arclight. Yes, I realize what’s going on with the economy, that’s why being entertained is so important right now.

Translation for non-LA viewers: Unless you’re dead inside or hate young love, go see this movie right away.

P.S. The director’s first film Raising Victor Vargas is worth getting on Netflix. A grittier, lower budget look at young love.


JESSICA SAYS:

I like to consider myself to be somewhat of a master when it comes to the mix CD–incidentally, I still feel the urge to call it a mix-tape. ‘Mix CD’ doesn’t have the same ring to it. As of today, my iTunes library has 5,238 songs in it, which is 343 days worth of music, so there is a lot to pull from. There is an art to a good mix. One song needs to lead to the next and you certainly never put back-to-back songs by the same artist. That’s the antithesis of the mix.

So, I was already into this movie, simply from the title. A title that is also, admittedly, a bit clunky. Although this irritates me about other people, I am also someone who is annoyed when my new, favorite, quirky, little band that no one has heard of becomes big, e.g. Vampire Weekend. I have been known to grumble when a song I like is featured on Gossip Girl, or the like. This movie is full of bands to whom this has already happened, or they are dangerously close to it happening. To my point, Vampire Weekend is on the soundtrack.

Two minutes into the movie, watching Michael Cera leave a squirm-inducing voicemail to his ex-girlfriend, and I knew I was going to like it. As we were leaving the movie, I realized what was so familiar and likable about it–it felt just like a John Hughes movie. Instead of Chicago suburbanites, they were New York. Instead of finding the meaning of life at the end of a rollicking day that included singing on a Von Stuben Day float in a parade, they passed through a gay Christmas musical review. And of course, instead of cassette tapes, there were mix CDs.

For full disclosure here, I wrote my Master’s thesis on John Hughes movies. I chose them because I figured if I was going to spend that amount of time reading about and watching something, I had better like them. Plus, I had already seen them each at least five times. As much as I loved Jake Ryan by the end of Sixteen Candles (OK, who are we kidding, I still do love him.), I think I love Michael Cera more. He’s just so funny and sweet and adorable.

So yeah, I really liked this movie. My one criticism would be there were parts that dragged a little bit, but on the whole I really liked it. If there were a competition for best bee-stung lips, Kat Dennings could give Angelina a run for her money. As someone who has had friends that were carbon copies of Caroline, the attention needy intoxicated friend, I can attest that Ari Graynor was perfect in the part.

Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist is worth the full Friday night price. I especially recommend this if you ever had a crush on Jake Ryan, Ferris Bueller, etc.

Two Blondes Go To A Movie: Choke

October 3, 2008

Two Blondes review a movie and ramble about themselves.

JESSICA SAYS:
Here is what I knew about this movie going into it: It’s based on a novel by Chuck Palahniuk. That’s it. Sometimes that’s a really nice way to go into a movie (or book for that matter) because it prevents the sentiment that my mother utters after every single movie when you ask her what she thought–“Well, it wasn’t what I expected.” I have read Fight Club, which is also by Palahniuk, but haven’t read Choke. So, I expected it to be dark and twisty, with a little social commentary added in for good measure. To borrow from Mom, “It wasn’t (totally) what I expected.” It was dark and twisty, but I missed the social commentary. Side note: anytime I quote my mother, be sure to read it with a pretty strong Midwestern accent (specifically Saint Louis).

A quick plot summary–Sam Rockwell plays a recovering sex addict, Victor Mancini, who works at a colonial reenactment site. His mother, played by Angelica Houston, is a patient in a mental hospital who no longer recognizes her son. Victor begins to fall for his mother’s doctor, played by Kelly MacDonald, as he sets out to find out who his father is.

Kudos to the casting director of this film. I don’t think there is another actor out there that plays sleazy, but likeable as well as Sam Rockwell. I’m kind of in love with Anjelica Huston now. As I left the movie, it dawned on me that I don’t think I’ve ever seen any of her movies before. I am in the process of adding her films to my Blockbuster queue right now. This film was filled with scenes that turned on long, silent close-ups of her face as she processed emotion and information. I was in awe. Plus, I got kind of mesmerized by her looks–she’s attractive, but not in a traditional sense and I could never quite put my finger on what made her striking. It’s like the individual parts are kind of odd, but the sum of the parts works. Last but not least, I was so pleased to see Joel Grey, star of Broadway and father of Baby Houseman (a.k.a. Jennifer Grey–“Dirty Dancing”). He’s such an odd little man and he worked that beautifully as one of the recovering sex addicts in therapy with Victor.

Have you ever seen a movie and thought, I bet this is a really good book? That’s how I felt with “Choke.” That’s not to say I didn’t think the movie was good; I did. I just felt like the book probably said things the movie didn’t even attempt to (the missing social commentary I referenced at the beginning of this). I laughed out loud several times, which is how I judge how funny something is. Even better, it was pretty moving, too.

Just a warning: I was unprepared for how much sex there was in this movie. After reading this, you will already be aware it’s about a sex addict. I was not. All the sex scenes felt appropriate and were relevant to the plot, just…you know…this isn’t one for the kids.

This is worth seeing for the full Friday night price. Just don’t see it with anyone whom you might be uncomfortable watching people do the ‘around the world.’

ALISON SAYS:

Who knew broken, depressed sex addicts could be so funny? I sure didn’t until I saw this movie. I have never read any of Chuck Palahniuk’s books, though after reading some of his info on Wikipedia, I’ve just added some of his work to my library account (yes, I have a library card and actually use it). Here’s a few choice pieces:

When Palahniuk “attempted to publish his next novel, Invisible Monsters, publishers rejected it for being too disturbing. This led him to work on his most famous novel, Fight Club, which he wrote as an attempt to disturb the publisher even more for rejecting him.”

“Palahniuk would also become a member of the rebellious Cacophony Society* in his adulthood. He is a regular participant in their events, including the annual Santa Rampage (a public Christmas party involving pranks and drunkenness) in Portland. His participation in the Society inspired some of the events in his writings, both fictional and non-fictional. Most notably, he used the Cacophony Society as the basis for Project Mayhem in Fight Club.”

“Choke” is the latest film adaptation of Palahniuk’s work, and it’s definitely worth seeing. It has a stellar cast, all talented and all funny. There’s a depressing realism to the misery that is their lives, but you still love being along for the ride and keep hoping they’ll find some semblance of happiness. Sam Rockwell dazzles as a guy you sort of want to hate, but can’t help being charmed by. I can’t believe I just wrote “dazzles.” Brad William Henke masterfully portrays the sweetest, most cuddly chronic masturbator you’ll ever meet. Clark Gregg should be proud of himself for his directorial debut with this film, not to mention his hilarious performance as Lord High Charlie and the fact that he wrote the screenplay.

LA Viewers: Worth paying full price at The Grove or Sunset 5.

Translation for non-LA natives: It is worth paying money to see this movie in the theaters. It will make you laugh and you get to see boobs (if you’re into that).

Sidenote: This is not the movie to bring your small children or your mom to. Or to bring anyone who might be weirded out by somewhat explicit sex scenes.
*Jessica has no idea what the Cacophony Society actually does, but you had her at “pranks and drunkenness.”

Two Blondes Go to a Movie: Burn After Reading

September 22, 2008

Two Blondes review a movie and ramble about themselves.

Alison says:

I am a Coen Brothers fan for one reason… “The Big Lebowski.” It is my favorite movie ever. I have been to Lebowski Fest three times. I even won “Best Maude.” And yes, I am very proud of that. And yes, I would call myself a Coen Brothers fan and not just because of my love for the Dude. But I didn’t love “Burn After Reading.” I liked it, but no, I will not be attending any festivals dedicated to this film, though I would attend a fan club for Richard Jenkins or J.K. Simmons after their performances in the film.

I was also really impressed with Brad Pitt’s performance There’s no question about Brad’s movie star quotient. It’s big, the biggest. But my favorite BP performances don’t involve him being a super star. It’s his “smaller” side performances that are truly awesome. Let’s rewind to 1993. Brad plays a small role as an LA stoner named Floyd in “True Romance.” He’s hilarious and perfect in this role. Another favorite “small” performance is his role of a crazy guy in “Twelve Monkeys.” He commits to that role fully. Then, there’s his portrayal of Mickey in “Snatch.” And of course we can’t forget “Thelma and Louise,” where the world first learned about Brad’s charm and abs. Maybe I’m just nostalgic for movies from the early 90’s, but I love seeing Brad playing more than just a hot guy. And he does that in “Burn After Reading,” In a scene with John Malkovich, he’s trying to act tough and mysterious. He does these little eye movements that cracked me up. There’s an earnestness and blind optimism that shines through in this character and shows Brad’s got comic chops. I also want to give a shout out to whomever did hair on “Burn After Reading.” Brad’s horribly tacky blond tips were stupendous.

With a lot of movies and TV shows, I usually find myself predicting what’s gonna happen. But I was happily surprised with some of the narrative and the violence in this movie. It felt really good to not know what was coming. But overall the film felt a bit disjointed to me. The whole didn’t always seem to match its parts and I also just didn’t care enough the characters to get super into the movie. I found myself wondering more about who Tilda Swinton’s dermatologist is, rather than being invested in what was happening to the characters.

LA Viewers: This movie is worth paying matinee price at the Grove.
Translation for non-LA viewers: If you can catch a matinee and go half price, go see this movie.

Jessica says:

How do the Coen brothers manage to get such attractive people to agree to look like such…dorks, for lack of a better word, in their films?  It’s impressive.  Brad Pitt actually seems to revel in his character’s dorkiness.  Well, let me back up.  I should probably explain that I am not a huge Coen Brothers fan.  I don’t dislike their work; I’m just not a fan.  I’ve seen Fargo and The Big Lebowski (but only once—I’ve been told I need to see it about three more times to really ‘get it’)*.

So, back to Burn After Reading, for the most part, I thought it was pretty funny.  John Malkovich was as creepy as always, but the performances I enjoyed the most were J.K. Simmons and Richard Jenkins.  I love J.K. Simmons in everything I’ve ever seen him in really.  They are both character actors, so let me help you out with where you might have seen them before:  J.K. Simmons was the dad in Juno and Dr. Skoda on Law & Order and Richard Jenkins was Nathaniel Fisher on Six Feet Under.

Now, I knew I was watching a Coen brothers’ movie and I knew that meant dark comedy and the possibility of some surprising violence.  Yet, somehow I got lulled into a relaxed state by the comedy/spy plot and then BAM you see someone get shot in the head with brain splatter.  That was mildly startling compared to seeing a character get axed in the face in the middle of the street.  I literally jumped and covered my face with my hands when the axe came down.  I’m afraid I really am my mother’s daughter.  She’s been complaining about violence in movies and TV for as long as I can remember and now apparently, so am I.  Oh, yeah, SPOILER ALERT.  Was I supposed to say that at the beginning?

Something about the whole film was just not quite right.  I had issues with the score.  It was written as if the movie was an actual spy thriller.  Imagine the score to The Fugitive and cut to Brad Pitt with frosted highlights sucking from a water bottle.  I’m sure that was supposed to be ironic, but it made me a little uneasy.  I was trying to decide if I was supposed to be horrified that I just saw someone get axed in the face or amused.  The feeling I ended up with was uncomfortable.

I recommend seeing it as a matinee.

*Alison vows to remain my friend, despite this fact.