Apr 1, 2015

My Mom and I Review Some Movies and TV Shows

There's been a new addition to the Tableau family (that's a link to a generic baby, in case you don't know what a baby looks like), which means that, over the last month, my mother has been in my neck of the woods way more often than usual. And, since I don't really know how to communicate with people without talking about movies and television, my mom and I have been consuming a lot of pop culture together.  Here's a breakdown of some of the fluff we imbibed:

Cinderella (2015)
This live action adaptation of Disney's classic film adds some modern touches and nixes the songs.

Mom: The transformation scenes are amazing.

Tableau: When Cinderella and her mice and lizards are magically changed in time for the ball?

M: Yep. Compared to the other movies, you could actually see the changes happening. You can see the animals morphing into their human/horse counterparts, yet they still maintain elements of their original features. The lizards, especially.

T: The transformations scenes are both really beautiful, and Helena Bonham Carter as The Fairy Godmother is a lot of fun. She is certainly having a good time.

M: Cate Blanchett, too. She's over-acting in the best way. I also like that they show more of Cinderella with her mom (Hayley Atwell). 

T: It helps strengthen her character, and it helps to sell the idea that Cinderella would stay with her stepmother after her mother and father die, since her mother was all about being kind and courageous. How about Cinderella (Lily James) and Prince Charming (Richard Madden)? Do you buy their romance?

M: Meh. They are okay. Nothing to write home about.

T: How do you think this Cinderella movie stacks up against others? There are many to choose from.

M: It's definitely a good Cinderella movie, but Ever After is definitely better.

T: Agreed. Even though this movie is beautiful, from the production design to the costumes to the sets, it lacks bite. I kept waiting for it to be smarter than it actually is. With HBC and Blanchett in the cast and Kenneth Branagh behind the camera, expectations were high.

M: Probably unattainably high.

Fresh Off The Boat
Set in 1995 and based on the book by Eddie Huang, an Asian-American family moves from DC to the less-enlightened Florida 'burbs. Season 1 is currently airing Tuesdays on ABC.

T: I was definitely prepared to hate this show. I was screaming "casual racism" before the first scene.

M: And there are definitely elements of that. But, as an Asian who immigrated to the US, I feel that there are definitely elements of the show that feel true to my experiences.

T: Absolutely. I think they are able to sidestep the racism debate by being really specific in their characterizations. Also, it isn't really about race as much as it is about being a fish out of water.

M: It also shows how first generation Americans really hook into American culture. It's a show about change.

T: As a quasi-first-generation American who grew up in the mid nineties, I can definitely relate. I wasn't as into hip-hop as I was really into Alanis Morissette, but the rest feels very real. How do you feel about the mom (Constance Wu)?

M: I love her. She's really able to showcase her character's ingenuity, the fact that she'll do anything to be the best. The father (Randall Park), too. You do what you can to succeed in a new environment. Plus, she's hilarious.

T: The show gets away with some things because of its humor. I really hated that call center show that came out a few years ago. All of the humor was race-based, and it wasn't funny, so I just focused on how racist it was.

M: Yeah, you get away with a lot by just being funny.

T: Plus, since I'm also terrified of my Asian mother, I find a lot to relate to in this show.

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
For the sequel  of the very enjoyable The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, the hotel residents in India, led by Sonny (Dev Patel), embark on a mix of wacky capers and serious introspection.  Richard Gere (blech) joins in on the fun.

M: I loved the first movie, and I was... less into this one.

T: It is pretty boring, and nothing happens. The characters sort of did everything they needed to do in the first movie, so they spend two hours in this movie spinning their wheels.

Judi Dench spends 45+ minutes
looking at fabric samples
M: Judi Dench is still amazing, and her story with...

T: Bill Nighy?

M: Her story with Bill Nighy is still a lot of fun. She is the best.

T: What about Maggie Smith?

M: Oh, she is the best! I forgot she was in it.

T: I think that sort of sums up the movie. Lots of great actors, and nothing memorable happens.  However, it is really beautiful.

M: Well, India is beautiful. It's not that hard to make it look nice.

T: True. How do you feel about Richard Gere being added to the cast?

M: The less we talk about him, the better.

T: Agreed.

Kingsman: The Secret Service
A secret spy organization looks for new recruits after the death of one of their own with Harry (Colin Firth) teaching Eggsy (Taron Egerton) as a likely candidate. Elsewere, Samuel L. Jackson plots world domination while sporting nice threads and a distracting lisp.

T: So, I already saw this movie before I saw it with you. I loved it, and I hoped that you would love it too.

M: I really like spy movies, and I love James Bond movies, so the odds were in its favor.

T: I'm named after James Bond, so I was aware of your fanaticism. And Kingsman is both a very modern spy movie and an exciting throwback to the more campier James Bond films of the 70s and 80s. Colin Firth certainly has a Roger Moore vibe.

M: mmmm.

T: I take it from your weird groan that you approve of Colin Firth in the part?

M: I mean... (smirk) He's better than Roger Moore. Colin Firth is Sean Connery calibre.

T: Alright, moving on. What did you think about Samuel L. Jackson?

M: His lisp! And he is so cartoonishly evil, with his grandiose plans of world domination.  It is great. Even his henchwoman was a fun update of a classic villain.

T: Ah, yes, Gazelle. She is a treat. The lead of the film, Taron Egerton...

M: Eggsy! He has to really carry the film, and he does an admirable job.

T: Yeah, I think he's about to blow up. Now, I had warned you that the movie was going to be violent, and then, right when the first two deaths occurred on screen, you laughed.

M: It was so silly. Some of the violence is too difficult to watch, but many of the deaths are fun. When people are shot, they crumple dramatically – it reminded me of when I was younger, and my brother and I would pretend to kill one another and we'd flop all over the floor.

T: Yeah, the stylistic violence helps you forget that literally millions of people die in this movie.

M: But it's so fun! And smart. I loved it.

T: Yeah, it's a really quick movie. Top notch.

The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
After 15 years of being kept prisoner an underground bunker, Kimmy Schmidt (Ellie Kemper) tries to rebuild her life and put her past behind her. Her new roommate (Titus Burgess) and employer (Jane Krakowski) help and hinder her on her journey of rediscovery. The 13-episode 1st Season is available on Netflix.
Kimmy! Plain and tall

T: First, let's talk about the theme song. Great theme song or greatest theme song?

M: Oh, it's definitely up there. It's so catchy. Now, I haven't seen all of the episodes, but I have seen the end of it.

T: And I've watched all thirteen episodes twice.

M: All I can say is I love her roommate Titus and I love Carol Kane. I always love Carol Kane.

T: What do you like about Titus?

M: I don't know how to describe him. He's great, because he's such a 180 degree change from the company Kimmy had in the bunker. He's outspoken, he's opinionated...

T: He's prone to singing jags at the drop of a hat.

M: Exactly. He's a fresh character.

T: I also like that he leads a huge chunk of the stories. It's Kimmy and Titus's journey in the first season, which is great.

M: They're both trying to find their place.

T: Which Jane Krakowski's Jacqueline Voorhees is also trying to do. Albeit in a much different way.

M: It's a show about lost people who haven't given up hope. It's really nice.

T: And, also, very funny. But you think it loses some steam in the last few episodes, right, even with some impressive guest stars?

M: It is too hokey pokey, whatever that means.

T: Are you glad the show's getting a second season?

M: Absolutely. I need to see how they'll bring it back to its core. It gets lost a little near the end, but it can easily re-calibrate going into Season 2.

T: I completely agree, although I definitely liked the last three episodes more than you did.  The first season is a lot about the three leads' journeys towards accepting who they are, so it'll be interesting to see where else they can go in Season 2.

M: To Season 2!

T: So we've watched a lot of movies and television, and we'll likely watch a lot more. What would you recommend people would watch?

M: Go see Selma.

T: I mean, yeah, everyone should go see Selma. It's amazing! But what would you recommend of what we've seen together?

M: Oh, I would say Kingsman. It's incredible.

T: Indeed.

My mother, the Guest Blogger

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