Archive for the '2012 Movies' Category

Movies and TV 2012

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013

Looking back on what I watched in 2012, there were a lot of crowd pleasers, and not a lot of recent Big Serious Movies. There are a lot on the year-end best-of lists that I haven’t seen, and don’t care to see, like Lincoln and The Master. This was obviously a year in which I wanted to be entertained and I must say, the Marvel superhero franchise delivered in spades with Avengers and Amazing Spider Man, plus the opportunities to rewatch Iron Man and Thor. The Dark Knight Rises was a disappointment, but then, it almost had to be after The Dark Knight, which may be the apex of superhero movies to date.

Watched, and enjoyed, a lot of good TV on DVD: Party Down, Slings and Arrows, Cowboy Bebop, The Wire, Veronica Mars, Friday Night Lights.

And went on my usual holiday movie bender, and enjoyed re-watching Planes Trains and Automobiles, Shop Around the Corner, and The Sure Thing. Finished out the year on a high note (no pun intended) with The Big Lebowski. It was a good reminder that re-watching classics is a worthy, and rewarding, pursuit.

December Movies

Monday, December 31st, 2012

Something about December makes me ravenous for stories.

Argo: enjoyed it while watching, but dislike it the more I think about it. Manipulative and vain storytelling.
Jiro Dreams of Sushi. Utterly charming.
Hot Tub Time Machine. Made me laugh.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Magic Mike. Because I like Soderbergh movies. And don’t mind looking at Channing Tatum.
The Shop Around the Corner. MY FAVORITE HOLIDAY MOVIE.
The Ref. Made me laugh.
Bridget Jones’ Diary. Ditto.
Les Miserables (2012) Made me cry. One critic described the Fantine solo as “emotional porn,” and can’t disagree. Amused by this argument between Anne Hathaway and Sam Jackson over whose movie is the saddest.
Scrooged. Funny enough.
Home Alone. Oh, how the boys laughed. A joy to hear.
A Christmas Story. On second viewing, I see why this is classic.
The Sure Thing. Oh, such a good and funny road movie.
Silver Linings Playbook. Departs from the book in several ways, but really good, and enjoyable, as was the book.
Shaun the Sheep: We Wish Ewe a Merry Christmas. The boys laughed and laughed.
The Big Lebowski. My husband and I laughed and laughed.
Santa Claus is Coming to Town. With the boys.

Not sure what we’ll watch to ring out the year. Candidates include Clueless, Emma (Paltrow version), It’s a Wonderful Life and White Christmas.

DVD & Movie Bender

Monday, November 26th, 2012

Long weekend plus stitches in my leg from having a non-melanoma but atypical mole removed meant permission to sit on my a$$ the long Thanksgiving weekend. Woo hoo! Here’s what we watched.

Friday Night Lights Season 2. I’m glad people warned me that this season is silly and to persevere. Otherwise, I wouldn’t, because it’s as if the writers threw ever cliche at the screen they could think of: murder! drug dealers! love triangle! Also, they ended season 2 with a surprise pregnancy, as they did season 1. Keeping the faith that Seasons 3 to 5 are as good as people say.

Harry Potter 3: Prisoner of Azkaban. With the kids for family movie night. The day after, my husband G. Grod and I were in the kitchen discussing whether we should buy the whole series of movies, or just borrow from the library. I said I didn’t care for them that much and was leaning to the latter when 9yo Drake said, “Hello? I’m standing right here! I LIKE them.” And we now have the entire set on Blu ray. I do like film 3 better than the previous 2, it’s darker and the kids are growing up.

Planes Trains and Automobiles. John Hughes’ first movie for grownups. Thought we might watch it with the kids, but was glad we didn’t, give the eff-ing scene in the middle. But a good one for Thanksgiving.

Our Idiot Brother. Carolyn said she liked it, and she was right. This was dumb but entertaining and sweet like its main character.

The Amazing Spider Man. Again, with the kids. I just love Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker, and Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy.

Skyfall. G. Grod and I saw Goldeneye on our second date, in 1995. We’ve been going to see Bond movies for 17 years. This was entertaining, though overlong and doesn’t at all hold up under even light consideration.

And, to finish out the weekend, we watched the pilot of Homeland, since everyone gushes about it. I was immediately sucked in. Can’t wait to tear through it.

Wanderlust (2012)

Monday, November 12th, 2012

I may have to stop listening to Entertainment Weekly reviews; they gave Wanderlust an A-, and I thought it was reaching for a B-. I thought this would be a short, funny diversion. While I did laugh at some parts, I’m having trouble remembering what they were the morning after. (Unlike 21 Jump Street, where I saw a gas tanker yesterday and my husband and I started laughing over a joke from that movie.) What sticks instead are the excruciating overdone dick-centric, homophobic scenes with Ken Marino, and the awful Paul Rudd in a mirror scene followed by the insult-to-injury Paul Rudd with Malin Ackerman scene.

I found 21 Jump Street (also IMO overpraised at EW) and Wanderlust uneven, but where 21JS had boring and silly bits, Wanderlust had actively unfunny/offensive bits that largely obscured the funny parts for me.

Also, I have now had it with penis humor. Grow up already.

“21 Jump Street” (2012)

Sunday, November 11th, 2012

Uneven, silly, but 21 Jump Street made me laugh. A perfectly fine free viewing experience, courtesy of the public library.

“Howl’s Moving Castle” (2004)

Saturday, November 10th, 2012


I believe I saw Hayao Miyazaki’s animated Howl’s Moving Castle right after I re-read the excellent book by Diana Wynne Jones it was based on. I was disappointed that one of my favorite directors and one of my favorite books by one of my favorite authors had not yielded a trifecta, but rather a mess.

I decided to give Howl’s Moving Castle the movie another chance and we watched it for family movie night this week. In it, a plain girl named Sophie meets a handsome wizard (voiced fetchingly by Christian Bale in the US adaptation). A jealous witch’s curse plunges her into old age, and she goes to work for the notorious wizard, Howl, who is rumored to feast on young women’s souls. In a turn of events everyone can predict, the nameless handsome wizard from the beginning is Howl. Instead of finding him terrifying, Sophie slowly learns that he’s vain, cowardly and selfish. But her influence on him, as well as the backdrop of a war, pushes him to transform, literally and figuratively, over the course of the movie.

The film makes little sense. Who is waging war for what reason, and why Howl is afraid of his old magic tutor are never made clear. But to my delighted boys, (and my husband and me) it didn’t much matter. Sophie is an engaging resourceful heroine, the moving castle is an animated wonder to behold, Billy Crystal is delightful as the cheeky fire demon Calcifer and if these weren’t enough, there’s a besotted turnip-headed scarecrow, a wheezy dog, and Lauren Bacall voicing a sometimes evil witch. Plot, schmot, this was lovely to look at and fun to watch. Just don’t watch it too close in time after you’ve read the book, so that it can stand on its own as entertainment, and not suffer by comparison to its source material.

2 Family Movies and a MISTAKE

Thursday, November 8th, 2012

Last weekend we squeezed (squoze?) in two family movies. At home we watched Harry Potter 2 The Chamber of Secrets (the one with the basilisk, the diary and Dobby), with Kenneth Branagh’s brilliant turn as the vain, cowardly Gilderoy Lockhart. 6yo Guppy pumped his fist at the first quidditch scene. So far he and 9yo Drake are handling the images well, so I’m going to continue on to #3, which was my favorite of the films.

Then we went to to see Brave so I could write about the inexpensive but awesome theater where it was showing. Both boys gave Brave a good review, though we had an unfortunate ending when G. had to rush Guppy to the rest room at the end when he complained of feeling ill. Warm theater + too many Skittles was too much for him, so he missed the very end, but didn’t seem that bothered by it. And didn’t actually barf, so all was well that ended well.

With two good movies under my belt, I was feeling cocky. A recent reunion issue of Entertainment Weekly had reminded me of John Hughes’ Some Kind of Wonderful, which I owned but hadn’t re-watched. Rather than obsessing over election results on Tuesday, I decided to watch what I thought would be a cheering, diverting movie. Alas, it was terrible–a lame retread of Pretty in Pink with a pretty Eric Stoltz pining for prettier Lea Thompson while cute-as-a-button Mary Stuart Masterson squirms. I did learn from the EW article that Thompson married the director, (Hughes just wrote and produced) and that they’re still married. That piece of trivia, though, does not merit a recommendation. This, like Weird Science, does not hold up.

Fright Night (2011)

Wednesday, October 31st, 2012

Do you ever have that feeling like your life is a purse that’s too small for all your stuff, and no matter how much you try to prune away, you just can’t fit it all in? Kinda feel like that, today.

So, didn’t want to go another day without telling you that my husband G Grod and I watched the remake of Fright Night from last year. And it was hella fun. It’s a funny/scary vampire tale written by Marti Noxon, who used to write for TV’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer (and whose name I always confuse with Marni Nixon, who did the actual singing for many classics like West Side Story). It has David Tennant, formerly Dr. Who, in a significant role. Colin Farrell is perfectly cast, so kudos to whoever picked him. AND I liked the 1985 original (seem to remember watching it with my sisters) and one of the stars from that has a cameo.

SO, hardly haute cinema, but if you’re a Buffy, Dr. Who or Fright Night ‘85 fan, check this one out.

The Great, the Great and the Ugly

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012

In which we go two for three on DVDs.

Last Friday night was family movie night. We watched the new Blu ray 25th anniversary edition of The Princess Bride with our boys, 6yo Guppy and 9yo Drake. We’d watched this movie together before, but it had been a while. Oh, what a joy this movie is. So many great moments; so many good lines. We loved it. The boys loved it. We loved that the boys loved it. And the best part? The next day, when Guppy recited Mandy Patinkin’s famous line: My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die!

We put the boys to bed, and returned to the television to continue re-watching Veronica Mars season 1. We were on episode 17 of 22. We finished the first one. “Let’s watch one more,” I asked. We finished the second one. “It’s Friday,” I said, “we can sleep in. Let’s keep watching.” After the third one, my husband turned to me and said, “You may go to bed if you like. But if you think I’m going to bed before I watch to the end, you’re crazy.” So we settled in and watched the last three episodes. Till 1:30am, when I usually go to bed at 10:30pm. It was utterly satisfying. There were so many scenes in those last 6 episodes of season 1 where G and I cheered and pumped our fists. Those six episodes were on top of having watched Princess Bride. So I estimate 6 hours of screen time, which according to yet another study, has lessened our life span by 2 hours. Totally worth it.

Then, a few days later, I’d gotten a well-reviewed film from last year, The Deep Blue Sea, from the library. I figured watching a grown-up film might be a good counterpoint to our recent entertaining if not life-changing DVD choices.

But oh, did we regret it. The movie opens with Rachel Weisz’s character narrating a letter, shutting the curtains, and turning on the gas to kill herself. We are then hurtled back and forth through time as we glimpse her former marriage to a sweet, if inept, older man with mummy issues and the subsequent hot romance with former fighter pilot Freddie, played by Tom Hiddleston.

The troubles we had with the film were many. By opening on an attempted suicide, then finding later what prompted it, I found it impossible to empathize with Weisz’s character. I felt sorry for the both the men in her life, not for her. G thinks a better title might be: Mentally Ill Woman in Post War England Doesn’t Get the Help She Needs.The classical score, by Barber, rose to excruciating volume at times, bludgeoning me with “feel something NOW!” Equally unsubtle was the contrast between opening scene (closing curtains on grey day) and closing scene (you guessed it: opening curtains on bright day.) And towards the end, there were more than a few times when I sensed Weisz reading lines rather than inhabiting a character, and it became clear to me that the suffocating story was adapted from a play. I depart from critical opinion that almost universally praised Weisz’ performance in another way, too, in that I didn’t care for the long tracking shot of a flashback scene set in the London underground during wartime. It felt long, tedious and mawkish, in its singalong of Molly Malone. Much more successful was a bar room singalong to You Belong to Me.

So, my husband and I did not care for this very well reviewed film, though we loved Veronica Mars and Princess Bride. Are we philistines? Perhaps. Or perhaps we just were not in the right frame of mind for a slow film about people’s differing definitions of love. Or perhaps it just wasn’t as good as all that. In any case, not recommended.

Family Movie Night

Monday, October 15th, 2012

We’ve had family movie night the last two Fridays. We broke one of my cardinal rules by eating home-made pizza and then ice cream in front of the TV to watch a movie we all agreed on.


Two Fridays ago, we watched The Avengers on Blu ray.


The boys loved it even more than they did when we saw it in the theater. They found the Hulk segments even more funny, especially “Target angry! Target angry!” G. Grod and I watched that entire 2.5 hour movie with them, then hustled them into bed so we could watch the extras and before the weekend was over had watched them all AND the movie with director Joss Whedon’s commentary. That’s how much we liked this movie.

Last Friday, we watched Miyazaki’s Spirited Away, which I consider his masterpiece.


Then again, saying that unfairly denigrates his other masterpieces, so best of the best? We tried to watch it a few years ago with the kids, but they were scared by some of the imagery. We watched it this time, and things seemed to go well. Both 9yo Drake and 6yo Guppy enjoyed it, as did G. Grod and I. But that was before bedtime.

After we tried to put the boys in bed, they got up again three times. Drake was disturbed by memories of the image of a monster from the movie that went on a rampage, ate several characters, and then vomited for a very long, long time. Interestingly, nothing from The Avengers the week before fazed him as this did. We finally got him into bed, and by the next day seemed happy to take our suggestion to remember the funny and cute and beautiful parts, like the return of soot sprites from My Neighbor Totoro, and adorable duck creatures, but still, Spirited Away was only a qualified success.


After pizza, dessert was my favorite combination of Ben & Jerry’s flavors, Chocolate Therapy and What a Cluster (formerly Clusterfluff).

Chocolate Therapy is chocolate ice cream with chocolate cookies & swirls of chocolate pudding ice cream, formerly only available in scoop shops.

What a Cluster is peanut butter ice cream with caramel cluster pieces, marshmallow swirls & peanut buttery swirls.

Chocolate Therapy on its own is quite something, but when combined with What a Cluster, well, something rather magical happens.

Desperate Attempt to Catch Up on What We’ve Been Watching

Friday, September 28th, 2012

Because fall television has begun, and I no longer can be so carefree with my screen time. Here we go:

The Bourne Legacy (2012) with Jeremy Renner. Good, but not as good as the previous films.

Hanna (2011) About a girl programmed to be an assassin. I didn’t like it as much as my husband did. But did appreciate a very creepy turn from Tom Hollander, who played Mr. Collins in the Keira Knightley Pride and Prejudice. Wondering: was Cate Blanchett’s X-Files Scully-look deliberate?

The 39 Steps
(1935), Criterion Collection. The movie is great, as are the extras, and the booklet/essay that comes with the DVD. I think my favorite part is where the guy takes a woman home, and then offers her haddock, and cooks it for her.

The Wire, Season 5
. Such a good show. So sad to be done. Fingers crossed for some of those characters, but by the end, I did not give a sh1t about McNulty. He got off too easy. Oh, Bunk, Bunny, Carver, Dukie, Omar, and so many, many characters. I loved spending time with you.

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953). Trifling, but probably worth it to see the original song by Monroe, since I grew up with Madonna’s “Material Girl” homage, and liked Nicole Kidman’s in Moulin Rouge.

Back to the Future (1985). The kids loved this, and I love watching my kids love a movie. The film holds up, though the Huey Lewis soundtrack doesn’t.

Fish Tank (2009). Michael Fassbender. Woo. Great indie, and loved the lead actress.

Being Elmo: a Puppeteer’s Journey (2011). Could it be MORE different than the previous DVD? Interesting and charming docu about the man behind the puppet, but I wanted more about his experience as a black man in a white man’s milieu, and felt it glossed over how he was loving to millions of kids as Elmo, but not so much to his one actual kid. (Reminded me of Miyazaki)

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, the 1979 miniseries with Alec Guinness. So classy, so good. Better than the recent film, and appropriately lacking the film’s unnecessary violence. Like the film, I had to let go of trying to follow the plot and characters and by the end they were all sorted. My husband about had a geekjoy apoplexy when he recognized the actor playing Karla.

Chronicle (2012) A surprisingly solid indie about kids who develop superpowers.

Woot! Caught up!

Currently enmeshed in season 1 of Veronica Mars (watching w/husband) and Friday Night Lights (sans husband.)

More of What We Watched This Summer

Friday, September 14th, 2012

Continuing to catch up on the DVD goodness we availed ourselves of this summer. Unlike the rest of the world, we do not have Netflix streaming. We get most of our DVDs from the library. Long wait, but FREE!

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001) with the kids after we listened to it on CD during our road trip. Those kids look so impossibly young! The quidditch brought to life is a delight, and our boys really enjoyed this.

Batman Begins (2005) rewatched the first movie in Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy. While the Evil Plan doesn’t actually make sense, it’s a very good action flick, and superbly cast and acted. (Even Katie Holmes, IMO.)

Batman: The Dark Knight (2008) Poor dead Heath Ledger. One of the (the?) best superhero movies ever.

Batman: The Dark Knight Rises (2012) Good, but not as good as its predecessor. Joseph Gordon Levitt is one of the best young actors, and utterly engaging. Also, covering up Tom Hardy’s face with a mask the whole time? Ill advised.

Crazy Stupid Love (2011) Steve Carell and Julianne Moore are divorcing, and sad sack Steve gets adopted by Ryan Gosling, playing to type times infinity. Emma Stone is flailing in her own bad relationship, and somehow all these characters and more cross over. I didn’t care for some aspects, but overall, this was very entertaining. If Joseph Gordon Levitt and Emma Stone did a film together, would the world implode with charming cuteness?

What We’ve Been Watching

Thursday, September 13th, 2012

Turns out I basically took the summer off from writing about movies. Unintentional, probably because I was huffing and puffing to keep up with the Shelf Discovery readalong. I have also acknowledged to myself that it is unlikely that I will be able to catch up in one fell swoop of a post. Probably not desirable, either, for me or you, dear reader, eh? Thus, without further ado:

Stepbrothers (2008) Recommended by a friend, and as with many Will Ferrell movies, I wanted it to be funnier than it was. And yet, thinking about “Boats and Hoes” and the “Catalina Wine Mixer” both make me laugh in memory.

Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries Season one. I re-watched these with my boys, who are the ages my sisters and I were when we watched it. It’s terrible. But we all enjoyed it anyway. My husband G. Grod, though? Not so much.

Cowboy Bebop the Movie (2001) Not as fun as watching the series was.

“The Amazing Spider-Man” (2012)

Thursday, July 12th, 2012

Can we just leave aside the argument about whether it’s too soon for a reboot? The reboot is here, so let’s discuss it.

The superhero action story, about Spider Man up against The Lizard is adequate, though the final sequence and fight scene are ridiculously similar to that from the Edward Norton Hulk.

Speaking of, I’m officially done with the trope of Daddy’s Little Girl in love with the anti-hero. “No, Daddy, no! Don’t hurt him!” Enough, already, Betty in Hulk, Lois in Superman, and Gwen in Spider Man.

BUT, the characterizations in this are terrific. Martin Sheen as Uncle Ben is great, but Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield are terrific as their respective characters. And together? Together, those two science geeks have chemistry enough to light up a lab. Hoo–ee, those two are both adorable and sexy.

Linda Holmes did a great breakdown at NPR’s Monkey See of Geek (Garfield’s Spidey) vs. Nerd (Tobey Maguire’s, see also Christopher Reeve’s Clark Kent, et al.)

So while the action in this one is OK, everything else, the backstory, the characters interacting, the acting–was tremendous, I thought. And the Stan Lee cameo was especially good this time.

One question: they cast the immensely like-able Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy. Unless there are major revisions in comic book storylines, which do of course happen, I foresee howls of outrage down the line of this reboot.

Lots of Movies

Thursday, June 28th, 2012

I seem to have fallen RATHER behind on my movie entries, so this will be a crazy mash up. Buckle in; it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

The Cabin in the Woods (2012) Written by Joss Whedon. Both an homage and a send up of horror movies. A lot of fun, if you can stomach scary movies. Like a 90-minute, really good episode of Buffy with lots of Whedon alums.

Working Girl (1988) Oh, the hair and the fashions. Young Alec Baldwin, with chest hair so thick you could lose small items in it. Melanie Griffith, whose breathy girly voice works, and she even carries the movie, though with plenty of help from Joan Cusack, Harrison Ford and Sigourney. I’m including quotes for those of you who will smile at them. If you haven’t seen the movie, or don’t remember it, rent now!

Cusack, in one of her earliest “less good looking but funnier friend” roles:

Sometimes I sing and dance around the house in my underwear. Doesn’t make me Madonna. Never will.

Six thousand dollars? It’s not even leather!

Handsome, rakish Harrison Ford (oh, the shirt-changing scene):

[the morning after Tess passed out from drinking]
Tess McGill: What did happen, exactly?
Jack Trainer: The earth moved. The angels wept. The Polaroids are, are, uh… [gropes about in his coat pockets]
Jack Trainer: are in my other coat. [Grins]
Jack Trainer: Nothing happened. Nothing happened!

Harpyish Sigourney:

Why that little… slut! Bitch! Secretary!

A really good romantic comedy, which is a scarce commodity these days.

Iron Giant
(1999) I love this film. We watched it with the boys. They really liked it.

Coraline (2009) Watched with the kids. Liked, but didn’t love it.

Slings and Arrows Season 3. The last season of this Canadian series about the wacky adventures of a Canadian theater. Not as good as Seasons 1 and 2, as it’s repetitive. Might have been better at just 4 episodes, not 6. Canadians pronounce the word “sorry” in a way that’s strange to my ears, and they say it A LOT in this series.

The Incredible Hulk (2008) aka the Edward Norton, not the Ang Lee one. Decent. Like the other Marvel superhero movies we watched, a solid B movie.

Take Shelter (2011) A moody, weird movie, slow but engaging with great performances. A man is having really bad dreams; is he crazy, or a visionary?

Tiny Furniture (2010) Odd little indie. Has that weird, uncomfortable, self-conscious vibe of Woody Allen movies. But funny, and oddly sweet at times.

And finally,

Cowboy Bebop (the television series)

The series became a cult classic and later came to be regarded as a masterpiece. Cowboy Bebop is now considered to be one of the greatest and most influential anime of all time. It garnered major science fiction awards and has received universal praise for its characters, story, strong voice acting, animation and soundtrack.

We watched all 26 “sessions” as well as Session 0. Entertaining and involving, though uneven as most series are (I liked the mythology episodes and ones with Ed and Ein best, and disliked the Jet backstories) but visually and musically striking. A CLEAR influence on Joss Whedon’s Firefly. No space hookers, though, for which I was grateful. In fact, no hookers at all. Woo hoo!

Hey, there was no dud in this bunch. Again, woo hoo!

“Anatomy of a Murder” (1959)

Wednesday, May 16th, 2012

New to the Criterion Collection, you know the iconic movie poster for Anatomy of a Murder, even if you haven’t seen the film. And you should see the film.

I’m just a humble country lawyer trying to do the best I can against this brilliant prosecutor from the big city of Lansing.

Jimmy Stewart is that “humble” lawyer, Eve Arden is his sassy secretary, Lee Remick is the femme fatale, and Ben Gazzara her husband, accused of murder. Duke Ellington did the music and has a cameo, George C. Scott is terrific as a city lawyer, and the whole thing is just kind of jaw dropping for its subject matter and its all-over-the-map tone. Bizarre, but entertaining.

Marvel Movies, in a Moment

Friday, May 11th, 2012

Have to go meet the boys’ bus in a moment, so this’ll be quick. My husband G and I decided to test whether our boys, 6yo Guppy and 8yo Drake, were ready to go with us to see The Avengers when it opened last Friday. We had a Marvel movie marathon last week, starting with Iron Man, which they liked, followed by Thor, which Guppy really liked, and by Captain America, which Drake really liked. We picked them up at school on Friday, went to a nearby theater, not crowded because it’s not fancy, and had a tremendous time.

If you like the other movies, you’ll like Avengers.

And in case you want to go out for schawarma after, look for an Arabic restaurant. Schawarma is like Greeky gyros or Turkish donen, but it’s from places like Kuwait, I think. We went to Holy Land in Minneapolis.

A Mishmash of DVDs and a Movie

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

As Parks and Recreation, possibly my favorite current show on TV, is on hiatus, I felt the need to fill the imminent Adam Scott void in my life. I’ve developed rather a crush on him as Leslie’s love interest, Ben.

So we borrowed Party Down seasons 1 and 2 from the library. Party Down is a sub-par Hollywood area catering company. Ken Marino is the Michael-Scott-ish team leader who pines to open a franchise of his own, while Adam Scott is the actor returning to a day job, his tail between his legs having been one of the “hey it’s that guy” guys. The episodes are 30 minutes and funny, raunchier than network TV, and in general, really solid. The cast features alums from Veronica Mars and Freaks and Geeks, and Jane Lynch steals every scene until she departed the show for Glee. Did the showrunners (one of whom is another of my crushes, Paul Rudd) take that as a setback? No, they hired Megan Mullaly for season 2 and she was hilarious. The humor is Apatovian, and he is name checked a couple times, so if that’s not your thing, this won’t be either, but if any of the other things I mentioned have been and you haven’t watched it, check it out. We enjoyed it a lot.

What we enjoyed much less? Real Steel with Hugh Jackman. I requested this from the library because Entertainment Weekly said positive things about it. It’s not without merit, but it follows a Disney plot trajectory: guy is a jerk, guy meets son, guy wants to become better man for son, guy succeeds! The robot fighting effects were good, but in the end, this felt more like a story my 8yo would have enjoyed, though I would have had him skip most of the beginning. Forgettable. Eminently skippable.

But what did we enjoy EVEN LESS? Julie Taymore’s The Tempest. Oh, I was so excited when I heard about that project. I really enjoyed her Titus Andronicus and Across the Universe. Helen Mirren as Prospero/a! Alas, the reviews didn’t lie. It was painful to watch, so after a bit we stopped watching. It feels like Taymore has pulled a Gilliam–she’s talented and creative but she needs someone, somewhere, to rein in the crazy. Example: naked Ariel flitting about the skies to weird music.

So two duds in a row, then I went with some mom friends to see Friends with Kids, starring Adam Scott and a bunch of people who were in Bridesmaids. One of my friends noted that we were laughing loudest of all the theater goers–perhaps we were just closest in experience to those punishing-on-a-marriage years of little kids. It was good, and Adam Scott was impressive throughout, especially toward the end though the rest of the movie ended more with a whimper.

So, my takeaway: when in doubt, watch the thing that Adam Scott is in. Don’t trust EW’s reviews, unless they’re of the Tempest, in which case, they’re right, stay away.

PS this entry had tons of links, then wordpress ate my draft and I don’t have it in me to do them over. Go to IMDB for more info.

How Things Are

Monday, March 5th, 2012

Last week my husband G. Grod sends me a notice that our favorite revival theater is showing The Seventh Seal, which we’ve never seen.

“No thanks,” I said. “I feel like I should see it, but I’d much rather collapse on the couch with you and watch the rest of Season 1 of Party Down.”

So we did. And I loved it.

Pride and Prejudice (2005)

Friday, February 17th, 2012

I got to pick what we watched on Valentine’s Day, so I picked the 2005 version of Pride and Prejudice, you know, the one with Keira Knightley. I saw it in the theater with my friend Queenie when it came out, but my husband G. Grod hadn’t seen it. He made buttered popcorn, I added a handful of spice drops, and we settled in.

Before I saw it way back when, I was prejudiced against Keira in the role of Lizzy. (I was going to refer to her by her last name, Knightley, but found that confusing in a review of an Austen-related work, no? Such a geek am I.) While Keira does have a pair of fine eyes in a pretty face, as Lizzy is described in the book, I think she’s perhaps beautiful rather than pretty, and thus takes away some of the every-woman aspect so important to the character.

But that was before I saw the film. Keira won me over. Her Lizzy has an infectious laugh, and her knowing glance at ironies is true to the character. Alas, the irony over class and social mores is more limited than in the book, and the movie focuses more on the romance between Lizzy and Darcy. And Matthew McFadyen, whom I loved in MI5, doesn’t seem quite up to the challenge of a complex Darcy. His Darcy shifts suddenly from grouch to suitor. I would have preferred a more gradual transformation. And the beginning, which lacks the famous opening line, and the end, which panders to ’shippers rather than Janeites, are serious drawbacks, to me. That said, many of the supporting cast is terrific–I like Sutherland as Mr. Bennet, Blethyn as Mrs., Dench as Lady Catherine is about as perfect casting as there is, and the little guy who plays Collins is hilarious. Additionally, I like the realistically grubby look of the Bennet’s home. So, good enough, but my favorite is still the 1995 miniseries with Colin Firth–more hours to do better justice to the text.