Dec 18, 2014

Film Review: Annie Remake

Ermahgerd, it's Annie!

Let's review Annie!

In case you don't know (perhaps you're a recently unfrozen caveman), every iteration of Annie, including this latest from director Will Gluck, follows a delightful orphan as she is swept off her feet by a single billionaire who takes her away from her life of orphaning. Songs, laughter, and paternal love follow. It was originally conceived as a comic strip, then adapted as a radio play, a few movies, a musical, and finally the 1982 classic movie-musical starring Carol Burnett as Annie's alcoholic, evil-yet-nuanced caretaker Miss Hannigan and Albert Finney as the rich man who welcomes Annie onto his palatial estate and into his heart. The plot is bare-bones, and many of the musical numbers are regrettable; the 1982 version exists as a great movie mostly for the many stellar performances. This 2014 remake stars Cameron Diaz and Jamie Foxx in two main roles, which is the very definition of downgrading.

Dec 11, 2014

Film Review: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1

Everyone wants you to lead the revolution but you're a big dummy...
What's a beautiful archer to do!?
Oof. I really went into the newest Hunger Games movie with the best attitude I could muster. Sure, the third book is the weakest in the series, and splitting it into two movies seems like a cash grab with no other reason behind it, but I really wanted to like the movie. It's got actors I really love, including newcomer-to-the-series Julianne Moore, and the movie promised some new locales, a meatier role for Liam Hemsworth, and some interesting thoughts about the perils and pitfalls of war. But... oof (2X), this movie is a dreary mess. Its plodding narrative is matched only by its overuse of exposition.  But there are some silver linings on these noxious, money-grubbing clouds. Let's look it over.

Dec 2, 2014

Trailer Dump: 2015 Sequel Edition

Sometimes my brain is tired, and I need to unwind with a good movie trailer. There's nothing like a 2-minute dose of movie wonder to jog me out of a funk. The spectacle! The CGI! The voice over work! The soaring score! The over-explaining of plot to the point that it ruins the movie! Thankfully, in the past few weeks, we have seen the releases of exciting trailers for movies that plenty of people are waiting to see, myself included. 2015, like 2014 before it, will be another year full of sequels, prequels, and reboots of some of the largest film franchises of all time. In an era increasingly defined by unearned nostalgia and Buzzfeed listicles, next year will possibly be the apex of our growing need to mix the new with the familiar. Let's take a look at what the new year has to offer, and judge harshly and preemptively:

Nov 19, 2014

Chris Hemsworth is People's 2014 Sexiest Man: Alive Category

The good people at People have released their list of the Sexiest Living Humans With Dongs (not so fast, ghost-of-noted-lothario Beetlejuice Casanova), and the most sexy living person this year is Australia's Thor, AKA Chris Hemsworth. The 6'3" actor is most known for his work in Marvel films and for placing fifth on Australia's version of Dancing With the Stars. By achieving the honor of most attractive man with a pulse, Hemsworth joins a vaulted list of famous humans who have male genitalia AND publicists who work really hard to get their clients on covers of magazines. He takes over the position from purportedly sexy, now disgusting crooner Adam Levine, who in turn inherited the mantle from stripper-turned-dancer-turned-actor-turned-stripper/actor Channing Tatum.

Hemsworth will spend his year as presiding thirst-maker traveling the globe, spreading goodwill and sexiness where'er he goes.

Congratulations on all your success, Chris Hemsworth. The people (and the people at People) tip our inferior musculature to you.

Nov 17, 2014

Chris Pratt Will Not Get Fat

At some point during the pole dance for Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy, Chris Pratt went from being an affable everyman who oozed charm to an affable everyman who couldn't stop talking about his workout regimen and his (admittedly substantial) weight-loss. It wasn't annoying, per se. It definitely needed to be talked about to some extent (the previously fat elephant in the room), but, near the end of his time promoting GotG, the subject was wearing thin. Many people longed for the days of a slightly less svelte, and slightly more endearing, Chris Pratt.

Recently, while crowning Pratt as one of 2014's Men of the Year, GQ broached the 'fat or not fat' question. To the annoyance of chubby chasers the world over (including Pratt's wife, Anna Faris), it seems like Chris Pratt is staying thin. Asked if we'll ever see Fat Pratt again, he only had this to say:

"I'm done with that"

So, it's good news for Pratt's blood pressure and cholesterol, bad news for fans of a chunkier Andy Dwyer on Parks and Recreation:

Good by, Chris Pratt's muffin top. You're 5,000 Candles in the Wind.

Nov 14, 2014

Good News, Everybody! [The Force Awakens]

Man, it seems like the world is heading to hell in a handbasket. Early winter is causing people to have Premature Seasonal Affective Disorder (or Pre-SAD). Interstellar was a beautiful bore of a film. Bill Cosby is probably a serial rapist. Kim Kardashian's attempts to 'break the internet' only resulted in the breaking of humanity's collective spirit. And Chris Brown still exists.

Still, it's not all bad news! There are some glimmers of hope on the horizon. When you're feeling down and out, let this news be your bridge over troubled waters:

Nov 12, 2014

This music video...

This music video is almost perfect. And it's a reminder that I still haven't seen Gone Girl yet.

Oct 10, 2014

Gwyneth Paltrow Is Thirsty for POTUS

It's been a while since Gwyneth Paltrow consciously uncoupled from her husband, noted 'singer' Chris Martin. He's moved on (apparently to Lawrencier pastures), and it was only a matter of time before she did the same. And, since Ms. Paltrow is the most powerful woman in the world (according to sources-close-to-her-but-probably-it's-just her-doing-a-funny-accent), it is understandable that she would look for a mate of equal caliber. That man, apparently, is the President of the United States.

Yes, Paltrow went fishing for some Head of State tail, hosting a benefit for President Barack Obama at her home in California and really laying the compliments on thick. While speaking at the event, Gwinnie made it clear how big a fan she is of our nation's leader, talking about how he reinvigorated politics and he's so great at President-ing and whatnot. While her effusiveness is easy to understand, the following quote from her speech is a little less defensible:

"You’re so handsome that I can’t speak properly"

Keep it in your pants, Paltrow.  He's the President, not the newest bachelor on The Bachelor. Plus, you're in public, your kids are in the room, and he's married to a woman who could bench press you. 

We all know you've been lonely. And, sure, you're thirsty...
...but you need to find someone a little further down on the totem pole. That's why you married someone from Coldplay instead of marrying someone from Radiohead. You need someone who you can exert a little power over.

Don 't be an Olivia Pope, Gwyn. Be a Jennifer Lopez.

Oct 3, 2014

My Mom and I Review "The Skeleton Twins"

Television might be my one true love, but there's nothing quite as comforting as being in a darkened theater, popcorn in hand, to watch a movie with family.  So, when The Skeleton Twins, a dramedy starring Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig, premiered, I knew that there was one person I needed to see it with: my mother. Thankfully, she was in town.

The Skeleton Twins tells the story of Milo and Maggie (Hader and Wiig), two twins who have lost touch over the years but are thrown together again due to circumstance. That circumstance is Milo's attempted suicide, which forces a reunion between the siblings and brings Milo back to his hometown and into the home of Maggie and her husband Lance (the always dependable Luke Wilson). Milo and Maggie are depressed and messed up by themselves but seem to function better together; they're like conjoined twins who are having trouble surviving without the other's constant affection and interaction. With Milo back home and falling back into a dysfunctional relationship, and Maggie trying to stay in her relationship and out of trouble, the reunion seems to come at exactly the right time.

Sep 28, 2014

George Clooney Pulls Off Greatest Prank Yet

Though we don't yet know whether Clooney's marriage to lawyer/activist Amal Alamuddin was part of a complicated casino heist OR his latest attempt to prank a bunch of his friends into giving him gifts before sending them thank you notes with the word "PSYCH" in beautiful calligraphy, we do know that the world's most eligible bachelor has pulled his latest escapade with his signature smug confidence and debonair attitude.

Yesterday, post heist/prank, Alamuddin and Clooney were seen riding boats in Venice, Italy, saltwater spraying their utilitarian sunglasses and wind interacting perfectly with their beautifully coiffed hair. While many believe their confidence will be their undoing, at this point Venetian police have yet to intercede and bring charges against the international stars and thieves.

Whether or not jewels were hidden in the folds of her dress are still unknown, but onlookers did spy a moment when George Clooney, seemingly out of reach of the paparazzi, shared a moment with guests/cohorts Brad Pitt and Matt Damon, the three of them quietly staring at a fountain with content smiles on their faces.

I extend a congratulations and slow clap to the happy couple.

Sep 25, 2014

Hollywood Couples We Root For: Part Deux

Man, pop culture news has been pretty depressing recently. The summer movie season has been weird and a little disappointing, and television has been less than diverting. Plus, between the deaths, suicides, and Modern Family winning big at the Emmy Awards, it's a pretty bleak picture off-screen as well. So to liven things up, I'm bringing back one of the earliest features on the blog.

Maggie Gyllenhaal hasn't yet left
Peter Sarsgaad for an orb of pure light.
Way back in 2011, in my second post, I talked about celebrity couples who needed to stay together, because the strength of their bonds actually helps people believe that love for normal, non-famous people can exist.

And that hope remains. I guess. I mean, all the couples are still together. Maggie Gyllenhaal and Peter Sarsgaard are still keeping it weird. Anne Meara and Jerry Stiller are still alive. Jennifer Aniston is technically all up in Justin 'Sweatpants' Theroux, but everyone knows that Courteney Cox is the real love of her life. 

So let's look at more couples who prove love is real, even if it's just real for the pretty people. Without further ado, here is a list of Hollywood Couples We Root For, Part Deux:

Sep 19, 2014

Go See Bridget Everett's Rock Bottom

There's a show on the Joe's Pub stage that you need to see. It's Bridget Everett's Rock Bottom, which is running now through October 16. And you need to see it. Because it's fantastic.

Now, granted, I'm a little biased. I've been a fan of Everett since I first saw her as "Drunk Party Girl" in the first Sex and the City movie. Seeing it in the theater, I remember my sister leaning over and whispering, "That's Bridget Everett. She's amazing."

Sep 14, 2014

Pray for Gwyneth Paltrow

Some old white lady was really mean to her.

In an interview with Net-a-Porter's Porter Magazine, Martha Stewart had a lot of great, frank opinions about subjects as diverse as Lean In and Taylor Schilling's performance in Orange is the New Black. However, it was perhaps most refreshing to hear her opinions on Gwyneth Paltrow, a wonderful woman who everyone in Hollywood seems terrified of. While the world recoils at her out-of-touch advice and breathy judgmentalism, celebrities only have wonderful things to say about her. Not Martha Stewart! Speaking about Gwyneth Paltrow's GOOP franchise, Stewart says:

She just needs to be quiet. She's a movie star. 
If she were confident in her acting, she wouldn't be trying to be Martha Stewart.

Adrift in a mist of criticism
Poor, poor Gwyneth Paltrow.

...and for fun, some Alternate Headlines:

  • Convicted Felon Throws Shade at Bucket of Elbows
  • Blonde on Blonde Crime
  • Someone Still Considers Gwyneth Paltrow a Movie 'Star'
  • Person Ana Gasteyer Used to Impersonate is A**hole to Star of Country Strong.
  • Self-Made Millionaire Gives Constructive Criticism to Blythe Danner's Daughter
  • Single Mothers Don't Get Along

Sep 3, 2014

Thoughts When Looking at First Official Photo of Allison Williams as Peter Pan

Via the Today Show's twitter feed, we now have the first promo photo of Allison Williams in the Peter Pan LIVE! sh*tstravaganza that's airing December 4.  

It's...something. In fact, it's so many somethings that I feel the need to break out my thoughts into salient points: 
  1. The people behind this photo clearly have some experience with Photoshop. I refuse to believe that anyone's leg is that thin and buttless.
  2. Speaking of Photoshop, why did no one think to add a glint to Allison Williams' signature dead eyes? Peter Pan is mischievous. This Peter Pan's only claim to mischief is snorting crushed up Lithium pills that he found in his mom's vanity.
  3. Shorts.
  4. Obviously, this photo portrays the scene in which Peter relaxes on Captain Hook's ship in plain view of the crew, because everyone is best friends. Or this is the part where Peter Pan tells the crew to bring him that horizon.
  5. I have to believe that the production budget for this photo is more than the entire budget for NBC's The Sound of Music LIVE!
  6. Are those shorts actually spandex bike shorts?
  7. I will never understand why costume designers translate 'ruffian' as 'mesh undergarments.' Is Peter crafting his clothes from old mermaid nets. ha...mermaid nets.
  8. What expression is on Allison's face? Determination? Happiness? Hope? Anger?
  9. These leather wrist bracelets were provided by 1995 Hot Topic.
  10. Sword holster, but no sword.
  11. Fun with wigs!
  12. Are those bike shorts actually AQUAMARINE bike shorts?!
I love live/event television. More than the fact that it's fun to see Twitter explode with comments, there's an unfiltered, raw quality to live television that you can't get from regular ol' pre-taped TV. Which is why this photo is so disappointing. Everything is so staged, so Instagram-filtered, and so beatifically polished that it has absolutely no energy. It's a shame that you have a popular television actress in drag and on a ship, playing a classic character from an iconic stage play, and the most exciting thing in the photo is aquamarine bike shorts.

Still, there's no way I'm missing this.

Aug 27, 2014

Pop Culture Wrap Up (7/27-8/27)

It's been a big month for me, pop-culturally speaking. I've seen things. I've done things. I've seen some of the things I've done. Basically, I've had some experiences, and I want to talk about those experiences. But what do you do when your whole life is packed to the brim with pop culture but none of it is really deserving of its own blog post? Well, I'll tell you: you cram everything into one post and hope that your immediate family will account for less than 50% of the readership.

Aug 24, 2014

Who Wore It Best?

HAHAHA...Just Kidding.
There's no way Taylor Swift can match Beyonce's allergic-to-pants game.

(Beyonce image via HERE)

Aug 4, 2014

'Guardians of the Galaxy' Is The Space Epic We've Been Waiting For

"When we are in our infancy, we look to the stars. We look to the sky, stretched out above us, full of mysteries unexplored, dangers untold, and thirsts unquenched. Space is the future; space is hope; space is where all the cool people are hanging out without us." -  Helen Keller

It would be an astronomical understatement to say that I really love Guardians of the Galaxy, the most recent – and buoyant – film in the Marvel franchise. Following a ragtag group of underdogs as they fight against seemingly unbeatable foes, the film is a love letter to movies about space, movies about friendship, and movies about kick-ass soundtracks.

The ragtag group in question is led by Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), a Terran (film-speak for 'from Earth) who, after his mother dies of cancer, is abducted by a race of bluish, alien thugs and grows up as a thief,  with an awesome mix tape as his only keepsake of home. He's joined by a  sassy raccoon named Rocket (Bradley Cooper), a somewhat-sentient tree named Groot (Vin Diesel), the overly-literal and revenge-bent Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista), and the genetically-modified assassin Gamora (Zoe Saldana, joining yet another space-film franchise). The plot is dense, and pretty MacGuffin-laden, but basically there's a super-bad dude named Ronan (Lee Pace, completely unrecognizable without his lustrous eyebrows) who's aided by Gamora's quasi-sister Nebula (Karen Gillan, a little out of her depth here) and an even badder dude named Thanos (who will feature heavily in many of the Marvel movies to come). Though their motivations are murky and full of backstabbing and frontstabbing, they all basically want to get their hands on a mysterious orb, which Quilly has just stolen, in order kill a bunch of people. Oh, yeah, and for a fun bit of back-story, Thanos killed Drax's family and happens to be Gamora's adoptive father. The 'Guardians' have to band together to stop Ronan, and save an entire planet of people, including a bunch of space cops holed up at the base of the Nova Corps, which is run by the stellar Glenn Close.

Now, I really liked this movie, but I'm afraid that, if I start to review it, I may never stop talking about it. So, instead, here is a list of  points worth talking about:

Jul 30, 2014

Birthdays Make Me Feel Like a Dying Eva Perón

Today is my birthday (and Neville Longbottom's...and Lisa Kudrow's), but it isn't a particularly important one. I'm not allowed to do or drink something that was previously, legally unattainable. There will be no celebration of a new half – or even quarter  century. Heck, I even woke up today in the same decade of my life that I was in yesterday. Still, birthdays have a way of feeling important, even if they're only important to one person. So, when someone wishes me a Happy Birthday, be it via Facebook post, text message, phone call, or even *gasp* an actual, in-person interaction, it's definitely some sweet icing on the cake of life. 

Jul 24, 2014

1999-era Tina Fey and Rachel Dratch Rock a Two-Woman Show

I'd like to take you back 15 years, to the year 1999. It was a simpler time. The Millenium was just around the corner. Y2K was a legitimate fear. Women were getting impregnated with children who are now freshman in high school. Cher's "Believe" was at the top of the charts. People still wore cargo jeans. Jennifer Lopez was just starting her singing career. And amazing, funny people Rachel Dratch and Tina Fey had a two-woman sketch show called Dratch & Fey. Until this week, I'd only heard rumors of this comedic collabo, happy to hear whispers of it on the wind and watch the few sketches I could find on YouTube. But now there's, like, a full night of Dratch & Fey, and it's in a convenient, 47-minute-long video!

Once you get past the poor video quality and bad haircuts, what you're left with is a super solid collection of sketches that weave in and out of one another with seamless panache. Plus, you get to hear Tina Fey sing a song about her vagina while operating a whale puppet, and you get to hear about the suicidal tendencies of Rachel Dratch's half of a pair of guitar-playing Siamese twins.

It's...pretty great.

Jul 9, 2014

Hail, Hail, The Gang's All Here [Harry Potter]

Everyone reunites for a fun game of Quidditch and fan service.
Just when the world was beginning to forget about Harry Potter (sort of), J.K. Rowling swings back into the fray with a brand new bit of writing to get everyone's attention. A 1,500 word 'news report' from Rita Skeeter made its way onto the Pottermore website yesterday, and it follows a quasi-reunion between members of Dumbledore's Army at the Quidditch World Cup. Like the much-discussed epilogue in the last book of her hit series, the article reads more like fan fiction than actual, canonical text –  Rowling loves long sentences of expository writing. Honestly, if this were a real article, the wizarding world would probably be confused as to why, when attending a live event, Skeeter decides to write a piece with as much life and energy as the Wikipedia page on Mulch.

Jul 4, 2014

Hit or Miss: Quick Movie Reviews 8: 4th of July Edition

You guys! Here in America, it's Independence Day, which means it's time to celebrate 'Merica the only way we know how: drinking too much, eating a variety of meats, prank-calling anyone named Tim Howard, and spending a long weekend watching movies. To help you make the decision on what movie to see, I have spent the last few days watching a crap-load of movies. Like, I don't know how I do it. It's staggering. And since you can't spend this whole weekend in a cinema, I'mma tell you which ones to HIT the theater to see, and which ones you can MISS:

Jun 23, 2014

Talkin' About Philly Comic Con, With Square Peg

Tableau and Square Peg Take On Comic Con
This weekend, I had the privilege of attending the Philadelphia Wizard World Comic Con with my good friend (and occasional Guest Blogger) Square Peg. It was may first Comic Con, and, though we only attended for one day, we were able to see a lot of events, panels, and art:

Jun 20, 2014

And So I'm Back...From Outer Space...

So, I've been away from my blog for over three weeks. My computer went in for repairs, and with it went my ability to draw any pictures/post and thoughts. I was without an outlet, and there was so much going on.

There were so many things that I wanted to write about in the past three-odd weeks, but it just wasn't an option. I had no Personal Computer! And I feared what would happen if I used my bizness computer for non-bizness needs (jk I'm rolling deep in Facebook 24/7). Anyway, I'm officially back, rested, and ready to start blogging again. So, before I go into the crap that's happening in the world now, here are some things I missed talking about in a timely manner:

After what seems like a year of press and trailers, this re-imagined take on a Disney classic finally hit theaters. I was primed to love this movie, being a fan of Disney and Angelina Jolie, but the whole thing was a big old nothing.  All the spectacle in the world couldn't save a movie that involved a woman losing her agency through rape and then attempting to regain that power by avenging that rape only to forget about it 15 minutes after. The film takes one of the Disney villains with the baddest ass and reduces her to a beautifully cheekboned wimp with confusing and poorly executed convictions. Angelina Jolie was pretty much born to play this part, and she does as much as she can with the material, but the whole movie is as half-baked and ill-conceived as the cake that Aurora's fairy guardians attempt to make for her. It both ruins a lot of the original Sleeping Beauty (which is gorgeous and simple and musically rich) and adds a whole bunch of Tim Burton-esque nonsense for seemingly no reason. Also, there's a really terrible narrator who adds nothing to the proceedings.

Jay Leno is Getting The Mark Twain Prize for American Comedy
I can't roll my eyes hard enough. This is embarrassing for comedy, it's embarrassing for Mark Twain's ancestors, it's embarrassing for anyone who has ever spelled the word Mississippi.

Orange is the New Black Season 2
Obviously, the most important thing that happened in my absence was the return of OITNB, basically one of the best shows on television that isn't really on television. Netflix's strongest original series (yeah, you heard me, lackluster House of Cards) came back into my life with another batch of 13 cracker-jack episodes that expanded the universe and focused the narrative. While race relations between the inmates were always in the background of Season 1, that hot-button topic becomes the focus of the second outing and is spearheaded by the season's Big Bad AKA Taystee's mother-figure Vee, played with lioness realness by Lorraine Toussaint. She's electric. Also, by downplaying Piper and Alex's love story from last season and putting the spotlight on the secondary players, OITNB was able to make huge strides creatively. Especially welcome were episodes that focused on Morello, Poussey, and Taystee, and it was great to have expanded time with Red and Gloria and the entire kitchen crew. Not everything worked, and the conclusion to the season was both incredibly satisfying and troubling for the world going forward. Still, I love Jenji Kohan more and more with each episode of television, full of complex female characters and relationships, that she creates. If she kills off Larry and Polly in Season 3, that's just gravy.

The closer it got to the release date for the Zac Efron/Seth Rogen comedy, the more convinced I was that it was going to be terrible. Instead, it's pretty great. Seth Rogen's in fine form and Zac Efron finally gets to put that weird, soulless face of his to good use. The writing is solid, and it's just a really good college comedy. Especially fresh is Rose Byrne as Rogen's wife, who gets to be a person outside of her husband and stays away from the 'nagging wife' trope that so many movie wives fall into. Is it the best comedy I've seen in the past two months? You can Bet On It!

Louie and the Complicated Relationships Therein
Louie and Amia
Louie, the FX comedy from Louis C.K., has been one of my favorite shows on television for the past few years. It's experimental, occasionally gorgeous, maddening, and thought-provoking. It's so many things, and this season brought more to love and more to find troubling. Louis C.K. seems like a good guy, but "Louie" the character consistently pushes things into unbearably uncomfortable places. He is especially hard to watch this season, as two of his romantic relationships include some form of forced intimacy (I swear this isn't a rape-themed post). His girlfriend, Amia, who doesn't speak English and can't seem to articulate how to say no to his sexual advances, is pretty-much forced into a strange, possibly unfulfilling sexual encounter.His longtime friend and unrequited love, Pamela, is trapped by Louie in his apartment. She keeps insisting that she doesn't want him to kiss her but is still met with Louie's super aggressive, wet kisses of sadness. She even shouts "This would be rape if you weren't so stupid" in the midst of the encounter, in theory to cut the tension but really just adding to it. It's disturbing enough that both of these scenes follow a lead character who is supposed to be likable, but it's even worse that he's forgiven for both of these transgressions by the women he transgresses. Amia takes him back in time to have a sweet farewell (she's leaving the country), and the season ends with Louie and Pamela in some kind of screwed up relationship, the awkward quasi-rape just an unremarked-upon prelude to their actual relationship. I still really like watching the series, and this season had a lot to love. There were great, hilarious meditations on co-parenting after divorce and trying to raise a kid to not make the same mistakes of the parents, and there's the episode with the monologue about 'fat girls' that I found fascinating. There are truly wonderful guest performances from Sarah Baker, Charles Grodin, Ellen Burstyn, Pamela Adlon, Jeremy Renner (who is usually the personification of the lack of charisma), and Amy Landecker. Still, the two instances of physical, sexual abuse are hard to get over. Maybe it's because C.K. is a dude, and therefore any conversation about rape seems poorly conceived. Maybe it's one of those cases of an interesting idea being poorly executed. C.K. isn't some infallible god -- he's more than capable of screwing crap up. I dunno. I'm still trying to figure this one out. All I know for sure is that it doesn't sit well, even weeks after the incidences.

Maya Rudolph Joins the Already Amazing 
Tina Fey & Amy Poehler Sister Comedy
With Maya Rudolph joining The Nest, the comedy written by former SNL scribe Paula Pell and starring Amy Poehler and Tina Fey, it's clear that it is her time to shine. Poehler and Fey are playing sisters returning home after a long absence, and Rudolph will reportedly play their childhood friend. Get Rachel Dratch in this thing and I may never need to see another movie ever again. THE RUDOLPH REVOLUTION HAS BEGUN!


Phew! It feels good to get all of that out there. Now it's time for some regular posting. Or semi-regular. I don't know.

May 20, 2014

It's Time For The Maya Rudolph Revolution

Maya Rudolph with contemporaries Fey and Poehler
When Maya Rudolph left Saturday Night Live in 2007, she seemed poised for a gigantic career. For seven seasons, she had shone in a cast packed with many soon-to-be television and film stars. But, instead of going the traditional post-SNL path (one terrible movie, a few years of obscurity, rising like a phoenix from the career ashes with a hit Funny or Die video, etc), she instead took a break to give birth to a veritable litter of Rudolph-Andersons. Sure, she has been in a ton of movies and TV shows since her departure, but it always feels like she's flying under the radar, not quite rising to the heights that a person as talented as she is can reach (I did not mean to include as many flying/bird analogies in this post). While Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, two of her SNL compatriots, became supa-dupa famous after they left Studio 8H, Rudolph stayed just moderately well-known, her only real breakout moment being when she pooped in the street in Bridesmaids.

Anything for a laugh.
Well, if last night's one hour variety show, The Maya Rudolph Show, is any indication, now is the Age of Maya. Though the special was a little light on laughs (especially in the second half-hour), it was a great showcase for how amazing Maya Rudolph is as a performer (not to mention how great she is at wearing a variety of sparkly dresses). Even among a cavalcade of guest stars, including Tableau Your Mind favorite Kristen Bell, the elements that shone brightest were pure Rudolph. Like Carol Burnette and, um, Rosie O'Donnell before her, Maya took to the stage with a comedian's bravado the chops to back it up. She hoofed, she sang, she did a few regrettable accents. She did anything for a laugh, and even included a few moments where laughter wasn't the point. Watching old The Carol Burnette Show clips online, I was amazed by how often the sketches weren't about the comedy – it was about highlighting the guests and friendships and giving audiences little peeks into their lives. Now, in a world where we know everything about celebrities, from their preferred birth-control rings to their thoughts on healing crystals, it's a delightful throwback to just watch stars perform as themselves. Chris Parnell's song to his newborn was a particular highlight:

Really, that's all a lot of lead up to explain why Maya Rudolph, despite exhibiting a love of all things old, is the comedy star we need now. Television, and particularly television comedy, has shifted monumentally in the last few years. Changed in part by shows like Poehler's own Parks and Recreation, what has arisen is comedy built on collaboration and friendliness more than snark and resentment. Sure, the TV landscape is full of Louie's and Louie-wannabes, but more and more there is a space for television where everyone gets along and all anyone wants is to have a good time. Shows like Broad City, Playing House, The Middle, and Key and Peele get as many viewers from the actual jokes as they do from the camaraderie exhibited among the casts. People can only handle so much 'depressing' – they want to see people getting along. And nobody seems as attuned to that friendly frequency as Maya Rudolph. She's our maternal and funny gal-pal. I mean, there's a reason she can so effortlessly play all of America's most powerful women: Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Beyonce Knowles, Phylicia Rashad. She's the performer we need and the comedic actress we deserve.

It's time for the Rudolph revolution! It's time for Maya to shine!

May 13, 2014

Farewell to an iPod

Last week, my iPod died. And it wasn't a temporary death, a single charge able to bring it back. No, this was permanent. After many years at my side and in my pocket, it shuffled off its digital coil, heading to that giant iCloud in the sky.

My iPhone came to me in college, at a time in my life when I really needed it. My Discman had just suffered a regrettable accident and wouldn't stop skipping, making it difficult to listen

May 7, 2014

Film Review: The Amazing Spider-Man 2

America's favorite stalker
Oh, brother. It's only been two years since the last Spider-Man movie, but it's amazing how the goodwill for the franchise has been zapped in those two years. After the disappointing third installment of the Tobey Maguire-led Spider-Man franchise, Andrew Garfield's web-slinger was a breath of fresh air. And the first movie, despite its many problems, was still incredibly enjoyable. Most of that was due to the one-two punch of Garfield and co-star Emma Stone and the fact that charisma and chemistry can be enough to carry a movie. It's worked for plenty of worse actors in plenty of worse movies.

I wish the same was true of the sequel, which picks up not long after the events of the first film. Still trying to make good on the promise he made to her father, Peter Parker (Garfield)

May 2, 2014

My Judi Takes The Morning Train

Part of the fun of living in New York is celebrity-spotting. Though it is no Los Angeles when it comes to the ratio of Celebrities to Normals, New York does provide residents with a higher incidence of accidental run-ins: Jason Sudeikis eating behind you at a restaurant, Steve Buscemi passing you on the street after you just finished talking about The Big Lebowski, Taylor Swift and Jake Gyllenhaal f*cking everywhere in Brooklyn back when they were dating. It's like constantly living in a magazine's Stars: They're Just Like Us section. 

Of course, that also means that you don't question it when you see a celebrity in a weird location. Of course Bebe Neuwirth is at the same crappy bodega in midtown as you are. Of course Ira Glass's dog is crapping on your stoop. So, when I got on the N train one morning and spotted my favorite celebrity, Dame Judi Dench, staring right at me, I didn't think twice about it. And sure, she was in a wig, and probably trying to keep a low-pro, but is it such a crime to casually take out a phone and snapped a quick pic of one of the greatest actors of our time? I think not! Of course, once I got to work and was fully awoken by my second cup of coffee, I realized that the picture I had taken was not of the star of Skyfall, but rather of a mean-looking old lady:

Still, I wasn't disappointed. Fake celebrity sightings just make it that much more exciting when you see an actual celebrity. Like when I sat next to Meg Ryan and Patti F*cking LuPone in Joe's Pub, or when I saw Rider Strong at a Ben & Jerry's. Plus, the Faux-di Dench (Clone-di Dench?) on the train was basically a doppelgänger for the Oscar winner. But, you know, Asian.

Apr 30, 2014

Film Review: The Other Woman...But Also a Ton of Other Movies

Three Women on a Mission
Last weekend, I saw the not-really-all-that anticipated movie The Other Woman, starring a slew of women (Cam-ron D, Aimee Leslie Mann, and Kate Upton) who find out that their man (Nicolaj Coster-Waldau) isn't solely theirs, which prompts a little scheming and a lot of day-drinking. I went into the movie theater with historically low expectations (26% on Rotten Tomatoes and all), but it is actually a pretty decent flick (if you can get past how grating Cameron Diaz is and how bad at acting Kate Upton is). However, it's not exactly the most original movie in the world. In fact, almost every single moment in the movie feels reminiscent of an earlier, often better movie. To help illustrate that, I broke down the movie into its many parts, examining where exactly it was pulling its influences. That's right, it's time to talk percentages!
The Other Woman is:

25% The Entire Plot of John Tucker Must Die
The movie's clearest companion is the high-school revenge flick John Tucker Must Die. In the movie, three high school students find out they're all dating the same guy and plan a series of hilarious pranks to get back at him. Take out high school, and that's pretty much The Other Woman. Of course, being a teen-driven movie, the pranks in John Tucker are pretty tame, and mostly involve the titular Tucker seeming like a totally rad dude. In John Tucker, you actively root against the women. In The Other Woman, you really only root against Cameron Diaz, but only because she's judgmental and inconsistently damning of slutty behavior.

09% The Vanity Pranks and Dumb Girl of Mean Girls
There are more Mean Girls similarities in The Other Woman than first meet the eye. Sure, both movies involve trying to make a blond person look less attractive and feel less confident (hair-loss pranks and estrogen smoothies are the male equivalent of Kalteen bars). But, even more than pranks, Kate Upton is clearly just a grown-up version of Amanda Seyfried's lovable idiot Karen Smith. And, while we're on percentages, it's important to note that there's a 30% chance it's already raining.

04% The Creepy Children in Children of the Corn
The Other Woman has two things in common with the children who live amongst the corn: the leads (including but not limited to lothario Nicolaj Coster-Waldau) often act soulless, AND there's not a brunette among them. Even Nicki Minaj (as Diaz's assistant) is blonde for most of the movie. Apparently diversity in The Other Woman meant making sure that Leslie Mann's blonde was strawberry. Blond People: 18% of the US population, 100% of this movie's population.

25% Diane Keaton and the Coordinated Outfits of The First Wives Club
Sisters are doing it for themselves.
When I went into see The Other Woman, I had high hopes that it would basically be a newer version of  The First Wives Club, a 90s insta-classic about three friends who team up to get back at the husbands who did them wrong. It's a fantastic movie that's all about bonding together as women towards a common goal. The Other Woman would be a lot like TFWC if it focused more on Leslie Mann, whose life is turned upside down when she finds out her husband is sleeping with a myriad women. Leslie has to learn to be brave, to stand up to her husband after years of neglect have left her unable to speak her mind. That's Diane Keaton in TFWC in a nutshell (they both have a similar, nasally voice as welll). Also, Leslie goes after her husband's business, which is pretty much exactly what Diane does in her movie. If anything, The Other Woman should have worked harder to be like TFWC. That movie had heart, a pro-feminist message, and the ability to really sell the female friendship angle. In The Other Woman, most of that is swept under the rug so that the characters can figure out their own rom-com sub-plots. At least the women in The Other Woman do occasionally wear coordinated outfits – so they got something right.

02% The Closet Porn from 13 Going on 30
Cameron Diaz has an enviable closet filled with a veritable treasure trove of quality clothing. So, just like Jennifer Garner before her, Cameron realizes that her closet is a great place to hang out with her new lady BFF. And while that party is happening, Pat Benatar's Love is a Battlefield needs to be playing, because that's how you make sure that a closet party is successful, dammit!

06% Don Johnson's Character from When in Rome
In The Other Woman, Don Johnson plays Cameron Diaz's father, an older man constantly going through a divorce with bimbo after bimbo who is nonetheless a fount of wise relationship advice. You may be confused, since that is basically the same character he plays in When in Rome, the underrated rom-com starring one Ms. Kristen Bell.

09% Beautiful Locales and Slow-Motion Beach Boobs of Just Go With It
Bo Derek basically perfected the slow-motion, tropical-locale beach run in 10, but I'm going to go with Brooklyn Decker's slo-mo walk out of the ocean as the clearest connection to Kate Upton's beach activities in The Other Woman, if only because the camera's attention is firmly on the chest and not at all concerned with the beaded hair.

04% "Federal, Pound-Me-in-the-Ass Prison" from Office Space
As an audience member, probably one of the most delightful parts of the movie is hearing Leslie Mann babbling incoherently about what life in prison will be like. She's pretty sure she's going to be someone's plaything in the joint.

02% Cameron Diaz Talking about Pubic Hair from that Book where Cameron Diaz Writes about her Pubic Hair
Cameron Diaz, even as a fictional character, can't stop talking about intimate carpet cleaning. She advises Leslie Mann to keep some hair down there, but keep it groomed. Solid advice, C-Diff (which is a terrible nickname for Cameron Diaz that should in NO WAY catch on. DO NOT spread it like wildfire).

05% Nicolaj Coster-Waldau's Jaime Lannister in Game of Thrones
Jaime Lannister (played by Coster-Waldau) is a character that audiences go back and forth between loving and hating.  Sure, he pushed a kid out a window, but he also formed a wonderful relationship with Brienne of Tarth. But then he basically [spoiler alert] raped his sister next to the corpse of their dead son. But he's so freaking charming! He may be difficult to like, but you also kind of want to root for him. Such is the case with Nicolaj Coster-Waldau's dog-of-a-husband in The Other Woman. Even when he's being a complete dick, he's still pretty likable. At least the movie recognizes this, and makes much of the film about the women resisting the temptation to fall back into his arms.

08% Leslie Mann's Character in Knocked Up
For the last 6 years or so, I have found myself occasionally in the position of defending Leslie Mann's characters in film. Mann is a fantastic comic actress, and I find her both incredibly funny AND emotionally moving on film. In The Other Woman, she's once again called on to play a nagging housewife who, despite her husband's indiscretions, can't seem to stop loving him. It's a difficult line to toe, and she is fantastic. Like I said above, this movie would have been 100% better if it was more about Leslie Mann and the struggles in her marriage and less about anything else.

So, that's pretty much the makeup of the film. Like I said, it's almost 100% other movies. It could be called The Other Movie, it's so unoriginal. Of course, mathematicians in my readership may notice that the numbers above only add up to 99%. That's because of the many featured shots of Nicki Minaj's butt. As she is wont to tell you, that baby is all original.

Film Score: B- (but fun!)
Made up of:
25% John Tucker Must Die (C-)
25% The First Wives Club (A+)
09% Just Go With It (D)
09% Mean Girls (A-)
08% Knocked Up (A-)
06% When in Rome (B-)
05% Game of Thrones (A)
04% Children of the Corn (C)
04% Office Space (A)
02% 13 Going on 30 (B+)
02% Cameron Diaz's Body Book (I mean, the sky's the limit)
01% Nicki Minaj's assets (A)

Apr 24, 2014

Hit Or Miss: Quick Movie Reviews 7

It's been a while since I've written anything, and I'm sorry about that. I had a sibling wedding to attend, and the week-long hangover that followed made me unable to blog. I should also mention at this point that when I say 'sibling wedding', I mean that one of my siblings got married, not that I went to a wedding wherein two siblings got married. Just want to clear that up. Anyway, even though I haven't written anything, I have been watching a ton of movies. So, I figured that the best way to jump back in the swing is to review some of them. And let's start with Captain America: The Winter Soldier, the sequel to the movie that was featured in the very first Hit or Miss almost three years ago:

Apr 8, 2014

Cameron Diaz's Lush Pubic Hair [The Squeakquel]

Hey, All!

If this blog is anything, it's a complete collection of every time Cameron Diaz talks about her pubic hair in public. In an effort to make that vision as fully realized as possible, here is Cam-ron D talking about her downstairs lady-hair on The Graham Norton Show, effectively making Astrid Peth Kylie Minogue, Russell Crowe, and the delightful Richard Ayoade incredibly uncomfortable. She's effectively using the same language that mothers have used for generations to scare their children out of getting tattoos, but it's just a little weirder when your mom is Cameron Diaz and your tattoo is in your swimsuit area.

Keep the crusade alive, Cameron! You're doing God's work.

Apr 2, 2014

This One's For You

Ladies and gentlemen, you are such a wonderful crowd, we'd like to play a little tune for you. It's one of my personal favorites, and I'd like to dedicate it to some young women who don't think they've seen anything good today  Michele and Sara, this one's for you:

Also, it's time for some Soundboardt.

Mar 28, 2014

Hit Or Miss: Quick Movie Reviews 6

Hello once again.

It's time to crawl out from under the Veronica Mars rock where I've been staying to look at some of the other movies that are currently out in the universe. And, since I'm blessed with an inordinate amount of free time on the weekends (take that, people with kids and/or friends), I have basically seen all the movies. Since I know that some of the readers do not have all the time to skulk around theaters, Phantom of the Opera-style, I have compiled a helpful list of movies that are worth HITting the cinema for, and movies that can be MISSed. That's right, 'tis time once again for a little Hit or Miss!

Muppets Most Wanted
It's not easy being green.
The Story: Directly following the events of the first movie, the Muppets head out on a European tour. It isn't long, though, before Kermit is replaced by the villainous frog and Kermit doppelganger Constantine, the most wanted criminal in the world. While Kermit tries to escape a Russian Gulag (and becomes chummy with guard Tina Fey in the process), Constantine and his cohort Dominic Badguy (Ricky Gervais) carry out successful museum heists while hiding under the alibi of the Muppets tour. Things get complicated, songs get sung, feelings get hurt, and Miss Piggy sings a sad duet with Celine Dion. You know, totally normal Muppet stuff.
Pros: I loved the first of the new Muppets movies, but one thing that it was rightly criticized for was focusing more on the human characters than the Muppets themselves. In this sequel, it's back to Muppet Classic, with humans adding color to the movie but not driving the plot. Ty Burrell and Ricky Gervais have interesting parts, but Tina Fey is really the only important human in the movie, and she's great. Like, really great. There are some other cameos (I won't spoil anything) that also add to the fun. The music, while not quite as great as the songs in the previous movie, is undeniably catchy. The movie is also incredibly fun and goofy, and some of the large plot holes are explained away by a general positive vibe. It's a feel-good delight. Plus, in my opinion, any time spent with the Muppets is time well spent.
Cons: While the film is generally great, it's also incredibly meta. As an audience, you're never allowed to forget that this is a movie, and that none of it is real. The Muppets make mention of it consistently throughout the movie.  Also, I'm a little tired of wondering whether or not Miss Piggy and Kermit are married (I've seen at least 2 weddings), which is a major plot point of the movie.
Consensus: It's funny, it's light-hearted, and it's a fun addition to the recent spat of great kid's movies (Frozen, The LEGO Movie, etc.). Also, you get to hear Tina Fey say "Good night, Danny Trejo" in a Russian accent.
Hit/Miss: HIT this movie up. it's a fun time.

The Grand Budapest Hotel
At The Grand Budapest,
everyone is checking out.
Like, they're being murdered.
The Story (Or, rather, the story within the story within the story): Gustave H. (Ralph Fiennes) is a concierge at a super swanky hotel. When he is framed for the murder of one of the hotel's ultra-rich clients (Tilda Swinton), it's up to a young lobby boy to clear his boss's name and break him out of jail (and effectively woo a young pastry chef played by Saoirse Ronan). Along the way, they run into a who's who of Wes Anderson mainstays, including Jeff Goldblum, Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Adrian Brody, Jason Schwartzman, and MORE!
Pros: Moonrise Kingdom, Wes Anderson's movie previous to this one, also happened to be one of the best movies ever (not The Royal Tenenbaums good, but still). This movie's not quite at that level, but it is the most Wes Anderson-y movies that Wes Anderson has ever Wes Anderson-ed.  That means audiences get cracker-jack pacing, blunt and direct dialogue, great actors hanging out and being great, and a beautiful and rich color palette. Also, it's good to see Ralph Fiennes being funny and with a normal-looking nose.
Cons: Again, it's the most Wes Anderson-y movie in the history of movies, and the director's twee sensibility can be a bit much at times. Also, the plot involves a lot of murder and quasi-Nazis, and sometimes it's difficult to watch your favorite actors get murdered, be murderers, and/or be kind of Nazis (in the movie, the fascist group is called The Zig-Zags). Also, something bad happens to a cat, and it's either the funniest or most frightening thing you'll ever see, depending on how you feel about cats.
Consensus: If you like Wes Anderson movies, you will like this movie. If you don't, then this movie isn't going to win you over.
Hit/Miss: Again, I really enjoyed this movie, and it's a delight, but you can probably MISS it for now and catch it on DVD.

Nymphomaniac: Vol. 1
The Story: After being beaten and left in an alley, sex addict Joe (Charlotte Gainsbourg) is taken in by a man named Seligman (Stellan Skarsgard) and nursed back to health. While resting, she recounts her many tales of sexual deviance in a somewhat clinical manner, and her rescuer compares said sexual encounters (some of which involve Shia LaBeouf) to fly fishing, classical music, and the Fibonacci Sequence. The film, which is part one of a two-part film, is both strikingly forward and maddeningly snooty.
Pros: Despite the film's premise and its 'we're going to show you more vaginas, penises, and butts than you've ever seen on-screen before' attitude, the movie is incredibly funny, and often that's on purpose. Stellan Skarsgard is quite funny as Seligman, a man who is gentle and unassuming but who will porbably turn out to be a monster in Vol 2. Uma Thurman is scrumtrulescent as Mrs. H, the cuckolded wife of one of Joe's paramours; I honestly wish that the movie was just about her. Also, the actress playing Young Joe, Stacy Martin, is impressive in basically her first acting role. Also, possibly a Pro, there are a number of fairly explicit sex scenes that kind of hint at the strange banality of sex while still being fairly hardcore. Still not sure how to feel about them.
Cons: The movie, and the director Lars Von Trier, tries so hard to be daring and bold, and it feels like everyone is trying to hard. It's like when a teenager smokes in front of her parents, daring them to call her on it, "I'm not your little girl anymore" practically screaming behind her eyes. But really, all those boobs and butts and dongs just feel kind of silly, and it feels less like Von Trier is trying to get at a universal truth about the human experience and more like he's trying to justify his own demons. Also, Christian Slater and LaBeouf try unsuccessfully to have some sort of accent in the movie, and both of their attempts are laughingly bad. Also, this movie is so pretentious. It's "using a bidet while Queen Elizabeth II spoon-feeds you caviar and reads the New Yorker out loud" level of pretentiousness.
Consensus: I'll wait until after I see Vol 2 to fully form my opinion, but right now the movie is more spectacle than substance, and I could have done without the strange PowerPoint presentation of sad wangs.
Hit/Miss: I'm going to go with MISS for right now, but maybe the second half will win me over. Also, be sure you're 100% comfortable watching this movie with other people. It can get a bit weird at points.

Veronica Mars
She's got a taser and a camera,
and she's not afraid to use 'em
The Story: Okay, I said I was going to forget about this movie for a while, but I also just realized that I never actually reviewed it. So, here we go. Veronica Mars follows a young woman (the titular Mars, played by Kristen Bell) and former private detective as she returns home to a life she left behind in order to clear her ex-boyfriend (Logan Echolls, played by Jason Dohring) of murder charges and attend her high school reunion. She's tried for 9 years to leave her old life behind her, but the past has a way of sneaking up on old Veronica Mars.
Pros: If you're a fan of the television show of the same name, then there's a good chance you will like this movie. So, let's just talk about Pros for newbies. If you're going into this movie with fresh eyes, there is still a lot to love: tortured romance, big brawls, explosions, noir-style detective shenanigans, and more. The real reason to see this movie, though, is Kristen Bell, an actress who has never found a role quite as good as the damaged youth she played for three seasons on TV. Bell, like other TV stars before her, hasn't quite found her niche in film, though she's admirably shuffled through cheesy rom-coms that Katherine Heigl would turn down and delightful indies that nobody saw. This is her big-screen chance to play a fantastic character, and she doesn't disappoint.
Cons: The movie can be hard to get into as a non-fan (here's a helpful primer for people who haven't seen the series), but even as a fan there are plot points and character notes that are difficult to swallow. The central plot moves along nicely, but so much of the story involves plot points that are never resolved, in a way that makes the movie feel like the first episode in a much-longer series. Also, there is a clunky 'addiction' metaphor laced throughout the film, and it's super heavy-handed. We get it – Veronica, like her mother, battles with an addiction, but, unlike her boozy mama, Veronica is addicted to... solving murders? Or something?
Consensus: This movie is important, and I hope it does well so that other 'gone-but-not-forgotten' television series have some sort of life, be it a movie, or a comic book, or a spinoff musical.  What's dead may never die.
Hit/Miss: I mean, HIT. How often do we get to see complicated female characters on screen?

Well, that's it for this edition of Hit or Miss. Go forth and watch movies. You'll be glad you did.
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