March Movie Madness

Not an entirely accurate post title because I didn’t watch a whole hell of a lot this month. At least, not beyond The Walking Dead. Remember how I was supposed to be embarking on a new cinematic journey? Well, did not happen. Didn’t watch a single one of the four films I had vowed to make time for. Here’s what I did manage to get around to:

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Veronica Mars (The Movie):

Of course I watched this and loved every single stupid second. LoVe for life, bitches.

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Thor: The Dark World:

Jimmy and I just watched this On Demand a few days ago and mostly enjoyed. I love Loki so he steals the show for me EVERY TIME. Jimmy thought the cinematic scope of the film was gorgeous and wishes he’d seen it in IMAX theaters. Wasn’t the biggest fan of Natalie Portman’s character, but loved, loved Kat Dennings.

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House of Cards:

Just started watching season one. Enjoying the Southern campiness of Kevin Spacey. And Robin Wright is fierce.

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Game of Thrones, Season Three:

Squeezed this in just in time for the beginning of season four. The Red Wedding might have been even more brutal on screen than on the page. Of course, I did throw the book across the room during that scene and refused to pick it up again for three days. So both were highly affecting.

What did you watch in March?

Rec Thursday: Movies

Have I mentioned that I have a goal of watching three movies a week this year? Well, I do. And it’s going rather successfully so far. Here’s what I’ve recently added to the been there, watched that list:

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Oblivion: Y’all remember this sci-fi film starring Tom Cruise that came out last year, right? I never got around to watching it. Even though I know it’s based on a graphic novel. I even forced Jimmy to go on a man-date after I read the horrible reviews. But HBO has the thing On Demand currently so I sat down and got through it. I liked the visuals. I liked Tom Cruise. I liked the premise. But the storytelling was all over the place. A better script could have raised this film to a whole other level.

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Blackfish: This documentary has been all the rage lately. Thankfully, Netflix allowed me to quench my curiosity. The film examines the lives, treatment, and trainers of the SeaWorld whales in light of the most recent killing of animal trainer Dawn Brancheau. Documentaries often bother me because they all have very one-sided agendas, but I liked Blackfish. I got the feeling that the film tried as hard as possible to tell a complete story. Many tears were shed, though, so beware.

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The Spectacular Now: Yet another on-screen adaptation of a book I haven’t read. It was on a recent list of best underrated films of 2013 so I rented it from my local Redbox. It’s a teen romance set against the backdrop of alcoholism. The story is bleak and hopeful, gritty and endearing. I loved the actors – particularly the drunken father played by Kyle Chandler. It was filmed in Athens, GA where I went to college so that was awesome as well. A quiet little movie with a lot to say.

Rec Thursday: Movies

This Thursday I’m recommending some recent movies I’ve watched since the beginning of the year. There have only been three so I’m just going to slap all of them down here. I enjoyed each for different reasons and think that others will appreciate them as well!!

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The Heat – I know, I know. You’ve all seen this before. But I’m just now getting around to it so oh well. Sandra Bullock is my girl from the way back. Throughout the nineties, she was my favorite actress, hands down. Comedy is my least favorite film genre so I’m picky. Loved seeing a buddy cop movie that stars two women!

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Drinking Buddies – I recommend this one with hesitation. People HATE the ending. But it was so realistic. Olivia Wilde and Anna Kendrick played very well here as ordinary girls dating ordinary boys. Neither was overly made up or felt like glamorous movie stars. A great look at what dating after college can be like, and Jake Johnson is a sweetheart. Plus, the actors improvised their dialogue!!

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Her – Go see this now, oh my goodness. If only for the beautiful color palette, cinematography, and music. The story is sweet, haunting, and I felt the writing down to my bones. I’ve literally said some of the lines in this movie out loud in my own real everyday life. But Spike Jonze still left me with so much to ponder and yearn for. Joaquin Phoenix is brilliant. Amy Adams, despite having a small role, was utter perfection. I saw a lot of myself in her character. If Drinking Buddies was a look at adult dating, then Her is a lovely and brutal discussion of marriage/love in the 21st Century. Watching Her felt like reading a T.S. Eliot poem.

Have you seen any good films lately?

A Watch List

Okay, so just because I haven’t been reading much doesn’t mean I haven’t been doing other things. Most especially, watching the good ol’ television. Here’s what’s I’ve seen and the things I thought while doing the seeing:

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The Walking Dead – obviously I love this show something fierce and just wanted an excuse to post more Norman Reedus. But also, I love how much of a character Georgia has become. It’s nice to see my home featured so prominently. Plus, I can literally feel what the characters are feeling (heat and humidity-wise) by merely stepping outside my door. I can take a drive down the same backroads they travel. And even take a trip to Woodbury (a.k.a. Senoia) if I so choose!

Six Ways to Sunday – a great little 90s indie film starring Deborah Harry (and maybe Norman Reedus, too) which I loved when it first came out and have rediscovered all these years later and still love it. It’s about a boy and his mother (the Jewish mob, Adrien Brody with some unfortunate hair styling, and Agent Coulson also make appearances).

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Sons of Anarchy – I watched this in my efforts to avoid Breaking Bad. Just finished watching the third season and it’s hitting all of my buttons!! I’m feeling really nostalgic for Jimmy’s motorcycle which we exchanged for some much needed car repairs many years ago. We need another Suzuki cruiser in our lives.

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Supernatural – I’m rewatching season 7. I’m not sure where I quit the show, but have decided to catch back up. Because Felicia Day. Plus, Dean Winchester. I missed him. And Cas!!

Moonshiners – Okay, I don’t want this, but Jimmy does. He is borderline obsessed.

What have you been watching?

Also, Bonus Reedus:

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June Movies!

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I recently posted a vlog over on my YouTube channel wrapping up all the movies I saw in the theater during June. Nothing fancy, just a quick rating and a couple of thoughts on each. So click below if you want to know how I felt about the following films:

Man of Steel
World War Z
Before Midnight
Much Ado About Nothing
This is the End

The month’s best film award went to a surprising choice!

Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare + Joss Whedon!

13586849Y’all should know by now that I’m a Whedon fangirl. For further proof, I’m on my bazillionth rewatch of BtVS right now. So when I heard he was adapting some Shakes – I got hella excited. And yes, Shakes and I are on a nickname basis. What of it?

Much Ado About Nothing is pretty much your typical Shakespearean romcom. There’s mistaken identity, masks, bastards, marriage, and a bumbling sheriff named Dogberry. Who will be played by Nathan Fillion in the movie. THANK THE GODS – Old and New.

If Elizabethan English terrifies you, never fear! So many Shakespeare editions these days come with plain English cheat sheets. But MAAN isn’t exactly a difficult play to understand. The plot is fairly straight forward and revolves around two couples trying to get to the alter. Beatrice and Benedict spar with words and neither believes in marriage so they are perfect for one another. Claudio and Hero fall in love after a couple of sentences until the rascally Don John plots against them – defiling Hero’s virginal reputation which leads Claudio to break off the engagement at the alter. You know, just normal 16th/17th Century shenanigans.

And the sex! If you didn’t know, Willy had an intense love of sexual innuendo and crude jokes.

Joss Whedon’s version sticks to the traditional language and was filmed completely in black and white. Most everyone in the film is someone he’s worked with before. The film was shot over 12 days at his own house! I cannot freakin’ wait. It’s being released wide on June 21st, I believe. I will be there with bells and whistles – and maybe pompoms.

You are welcome.

Movie Review: The Great Gatsby

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We got early tickets to see Gatsby Thursday night. As y’all can imagine, I was ridiculously excited. The theater was packed with many people dressed up which was so much fun to watch. Unfortunately, our theater had many technical glitches and they never could get the curtains to open all the way. Thankfully, the viewing experience wasn’t really affected and we got free movie passes as a bonus. Win.

The movie itself felt a lot like attending the circus. That’s what I kept saying. That’s what my gut automatically felt – like we were in a giant, colorful bigtop with Gatsby as our ringleader. And I’m still not sure what to say beyond that. I’ve been mulling over my thoughts for quite some time and think I might not fully comprehend my feelings until I’ve had another viewing. But here’s the randomness that has crossed my mind.

All of the actors were enjoyable, but Leo, Edgerton, and Mulligan take the cake for me. I had heard that Mulligan’s Daisy was often overacted, but I really enjoyed her performance so that was a surprising positive. When all of our main characters were in a room together, the movie shined. When the film was concentrating on green screening everything, I totally lost interest and was completely taken out of the story. Perhaps the plastic, fake look of the green screen was supposed to be a commentary on the absurdity and frailness of Gatsby’s world, but it didn’t work for me at all.

And while I adore the soundtrack on its own, in the movie the music was often jarring. There’s one scene in particular that could have played out in any nineties rap video starring Biggie Smalls. Nothing about that says 1920s to me. My husband even leaned over and was like WTF? The costuming, makeup, and jewelry were gorgeous and so faithful to the time period. Loved seeing everyone all dolled up.

In the end, I think I liked it more than disliked it. However, I’m not sure I have any sort of emotional attachment to what I watched. The ridiculous over-the-top imagery really detracted from the emotional depth and character development. Everything felt more like a plastic production than a movie focused on the humanity (or lack thereof) of its characters and the idolization of the American Dream. I think this version of The Great Gatsby will attract fans not familiar with the book and a much younger target audience. Perhaps some viewers will even find the book through this movie which is always a great thing.

I definitely want to hear what y’all think! Let me know in the comments. So far, most people have been very mixed with their opinions. Some love it desperately, others find it trite and shallow. I think I’m still on the fence.

Bonus:

I loved the humor! So many hilarious moments played wonderfully by Leonardo DiCaprio!

At the Cinema: Wreck-It Ralph and Bunheads

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On the movie front, I redboxed Wreck-It Ralph Thursday night and had really high hopes. I haven’t ever been a huge fan of animated films as an adult. I’m not sure why that is. I hear rave reviews from others well out of childhood and get such high hopes never to have my expectations met. Jimmy loves animated movies and hates that I never want to see them. But I’m trying to put more of an effort in. The last animated film I saw in a theater was Wall-E which was okay but overly preachy.

I popped Ralph in and the first half of the movie bored me to tears. Not being a gamer (even in childhood I only played maybe 2 or 3 games regularly enough to remember), I just didn’t feel connected to that aspect of the movie. I needed something emotional to connect with and quickly or it was going to wind up a DNF. Thankfully, Ralph met Vanellope just in the nick of time.

Ralph is a game villian with a heart of gold who wants to be the good guy and win medals. Vanellope is a race car driver who can’t compete in her game because she has a glitch. The relationship that develops between Ralph and V is so well done, so sweet and touching that the movie’s first half was quickly forgotten. I loved the second half so fiercely that there might have been a tear shed. Also, Jane Lynch’s character was awesome even if her storyline seemed a bit forced and out of place.

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As for the smaller screen, I recently started watching Bunheads. I always meant to watch this Gilmore Girls throwback, but not having cable I had to rely on a streaming service to offer it up for free. Obviously, as a GG fan from inception, Bunheads hits many of the right chords. The dialogue is sassy and fast, Michelle is a likable, flawed protagonist, the small town vibe and quirky characters reign supreme, and I adore seeing old friends again. Daddy Huntzberger cracks me up as a surfer dude.

While I don’t think Bunheads is nearly as brilliant as GG, there’s still plenty to love and plenty of room for growth. I’ll be watching as long as the show runs and can’t wait to see more guest appearances from GG alumni.

At the Cinema: Breaking Dawn Part II

The_Twilight_Saga_Breaking_Dawn_Part_2_posterI finally got around to getting Breaking Dawn Part II from Redbox Thursday night and giving it a little look-see. It was the perfect movie after a long work day and horrendous commute. Plus, Jimmy was in Raleigh so I wouldn’t be forcing anything Twilight related upon him. He is super thankful for this thoughtfulness of mine, I assure you.

My relationship with the Twilight saga is a mixed bag. Love/Hate with more hate than love – both in movie and book form. Most of the movies, in my opinion, have been almost completely un-watchable. With that being said, Breaking Dawn Part II was most definitely the best in the series.

I know so many readers loathed the fourth book in this series, but I enjoyed it. Don’t quiz me on anything that happened since I remember next to nothing about my reading experience. What worked for me in the fourth book is vampire Bella. What didn’t work for me throughout most of the series was human Bella. I hated human Bella. The weakest, most absurd female character I might have ever come across in literature. Vampire Bella finally grew a pair and stood up for herself.

That reasoning plays a large part in why Part II was my favorite of the five films. She’s just so much more likable dead – errr, undead. Sorry to all you Bella apologists out there (totally not sorry).

What else does BD Part II get right? The kooky vampires that Carlisle and family gather to witness for them. Loved seeing this strange family reunion. Particularly loved seeing Lee Pace. I think if the writers of Pushing Daisies had just made Pace a vampire in the series the show might have been saved.

The epic battle at the end was also well played. All the be-headings, oh my! Loved it. Finally a sense of urgency, fear, and action in this droll film franchise. And the twist was fun. It made sense.

Now, this wouldn’t be a Twilight film without some glaring problems. The CGI is still hit and miss. I’m sorry but after millions upon millions of dollars made, you cannot convince me there wasn’t a way to make wolf-shifting far more realistic looking. Shame on you, Twilight. Jacob still can’t act, the dialogue still has cringe-worthy moments, and that Nessy/Jacob story line is still creeptastic.

Let’s end on a positive note, shall we? The music is awesome. I’ve always thought the soundtrack to these films were superb, especially for the younger audiences these movies are supposed to attract. Something else on the pro side? There will (fingers-crossed) never be anymore K-Stew Twilight movies ever again. You’re welcome, internets.

At the Cinema: Schindler’s List

tumblr_mbvrq3Bkg91rvp3zlo1_400I really wanted to film my reaction to watching Schindler’s List immediately after watching, but decided y’all really didn’t need to see me do my version of the ugly cry. I’m fairly certain I look worse than Claire Danes when she ugly cries, which is really saying something. However, I do want to take a moment and discuss my emotional response to watching this film for the first time.

When I saw that the 20th Anniversary edition of this movie was being released on Tuesday, I knew I had to order it and add it to my ever-growing collection of purchased films. And I knew this without having ever seen the movie. I’m glad I waited or was just never exposed to Schindler’s List until now. I’m not sure I could have appreciated and had such a visceral response had I viewed as a child or teenager.

Steven Spielberg knows how to direct a movie, how to gut us emotionally and leave us reeling yet filled with hope. As I cried my eyes out at the bittersweet end to Schindler’s story, I couldn’t help but be filled with joy at all the people he had saved and all the generations that had come to be due to his compassion. Schindler is such a flawed protagonist. He begins his journey greedily – out to make money and nothing else. He views the Jewish plight as a means to an end and monetizes their suffering to grow his wealth. But somewhere along the way, the people he is unintentionally saving save him as well.  Through their thanks, kind eyes, and relief to be alive, they show Oskar just how effective one man can be, even when he’s not trying. They show him that one man can overcome the cruelty of the many. They show him that one man can change himself as well as the paths of so many lives. While so many Jews were losing their sense of humanity, Oskar was finding his own and continued throughout the war to diligently return the favor – restoring humanity so wrongfully stolen.

Was that babbling? Did that make sense? I found Schindler so compelling and Liam Neeson did a beautiful job portraying this historical figure. As did Ralph Fiennes playing his perfect foil. As Oskar grows more human, Amon turns more evil – an oddly pure evil without conscience. He even tries to do the decent thing and stop his murdering ways, but simply can’t as it’s not in his nature. The atrocities men, women, and children suffered at his hands were gut-wrenching and nearly impossible to watch. I covered my eyes multiple times. Spielberg and his creative team definitely don’t shy away from depicting these horrors in such a bluntly realistic manner.

Filming the movie in black and white was also a stunning and winning decision. It gives the film a timeless feeling – you literally have no idea whether the movie was shot years ago or just last week. The contrast between the light and dark also resonates heavily and adds a layer of depth to the movie beyond the brilliant script and acting.

Needless to say, I loved the movie and believe there aren’t many movies I’ve ever seen that can hold a candle to it. Not an easy movie to watch, not one you can sit idly on the couch and watch repeatedly, but an important film, a necessary film. If you’ve never watched it, do yourself a favor and find some time. You won’t regret it. And of course, I need to get my hands on the book is was based on!

With two movie posts in a row, it’s time to get back to book blogging! This week is dedicated to that very purpose. You can look forward to such dandies as my reviews of Swoon and The Night Strangers along with my Vanity Fair wrap-up post!