Easy All Right

July 12, 2012 by

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I’d heard that Easy A was good but, as with so many things that are highly recommended, I get skeptical. It’s the reverse of the lady doth protest too much. I let it creep up my queue but didn’t leap on it. When it arrived, though, I admit I was excited.

Now, in my book 10 Things I Hate About You and Clueless are just about perfect modernizations of classic literature. Sure I watched O, but it was klunky and flimsy. Easy A is neither of those things. It’s smart and pro woman and pro teenager, even, while steering pretty close to Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Scarlet Lettered shores. Then, because adapting an iconic piece of literature isn’t enough, the writer skillfully weaves the high points of a handful of beloved teen movies into the narrative. It’s a fucking treat, I tell you!

Emma Stone deserves every syllable of praise she won for this role. She carries a heavy load and does it with creativity and joy. Stone is backed by all manner of fantastically crazy folk. Patricia Clarkson, Stanley Tucci, Lisa Kudrow, and Thomas Haden Church are but to name a few.

There’s nothing heavy or labored or chewy about this movie. If you don’t love it I’ll be a monkey’s uncle.

Every Little Step

July 12, 2012 by

I guess I was on a bit of a musical theatre roll for a while.

Every Little Step is a documentary about casting the Broadway revival of A Chorus Line. A Chorus Line is a show built out of workshops using the real life stories of dancers and singers who performed on Broadway. If you’ve ever had even the slightest interest in how a professional audition works you should check this out. If you’ve ever dreamed of being on the Broadway stage this might just tear your heart to shreds. You should see it anyway.

I wasn’t familiar with how the show was originally developed. The documentary honors all of that work and brings it to light using priceless interviews with original performers and the actual tapes the writers worked from. It was the first time a show had been created in quite this way but certainly not the last.

Somehow the filmmakers manage to introduce the audience to an enormous numbers of hopefuls over the course of this movie. I’d seen the production but it was a few years ago so I still managed to ride the waves of suspense. There are reasons to love almost every person auditioning. Plenty of reasons why they aren’t right for the show, too. I don’t envy the people who had to choose and that is perhaps the saving grace of the documentary because it prevents you from getting too attached to any one performer and hating the people hiring them.

A bunch of my theatre friends often make fun of a very old commercial for, I think, Phantom of the Opera. We’ll say about something that is, at best, mediocre, “I laughed, I cried, it was better than Cats!” The thing is watching Every Little Step I did laugh, I did cry, and it was definitely better than Cats.

Candidely Spoken

July 12, 2012 by

Damn, Candide was awesome! I watched a recording of the most recent production as part of the Encores series at City Center. The cast, including the incandescent Kristin Chenoweth*, is wildly inspiring. The plot is this very strange, campy coming of age thing that spans time and oceans and life’s milestones. The music is Bernstein so, of course, it’s brilliant. I thought I was watching something good for me and it tasted delectable, too! If you’re not a musical theatre person it’s probably not your speed but if you have even the tiniest leaning in that direction I think you’ll be delighted.

* I read today that she was struck on the head by a falling light fixture on the set of The Good Wife today and taken to the hospital. Please spare a healing thought for her.

Adam

July 12, 2012 by

ImageI don’t remember why I put this in my queue. I think I was watching Damages and interested in what Rose Byrne was doing. Also, I like to see how people on the Asperger’s spectrum are portrayed in the media.

It’s a nice little story about two people trying to find their way through a connection they discover. They’re both appealingly quirky and, while there are complications, the whole place makes it seem like the world is ultimately good. I didn’t find it as odd or as satisfying as Lars & the Real Girl but that’s just me.

There used to be links in this post but WordPress ate them so I decided fuck it and published anyway.

Tho Thorry

July 11, 2012 by

I fell asleep during Thor. So sad when a body like that and the promise of Kat Dennings being funny can’t keep me awake. I’m sure if I’d seen it on the big screen I’d have been able to stick it out.

It’s a superhero movie. It’s one that not a lot of people know. There’s a lot of back story. The chemistry between the romantic leads is nearly nonexistent. Kat Dennings and her wit are sorely underutilized. Anthony Hopkins does a fair amount of declaiming. There are very weird special effects. The photo above feels to me like the whole movie. You know, it reminded me a lot of the Christopher Reeve Superman back in the 70s. It was hard to take it seriously in the present.

And yet, I’m still looking forward to The Avengers.

Bubba Ho-Tep

July 11, 2012 by

A year ago my friend, Roger, recommended Bubba Ho-Tep to me when he was visiting. I raced the movie to the top of my queue when I realized he was due for his next annual visit and I hadn’t gotten to it yet.

It’s…baffling. I mean, it’s Bruce Campbell at his campy best. The Ossie Davis shows up. There’s Elvis and Egyptian gods and an old folks home and someone blows up a barbecue. I…I just…I don’t even know how to tell you about it.

This movie isn’t even in the same galaxy as high art. It makes Campbell’s work on Xena look like Shakespeare. Yet, I can see why it’s become a cult classic. It’s so bizarre and unhinged yet performed with such commitment that it’s easy to be sucked right in. If you feel the need to be jostled out of your reality and into the possibly highly disturbed mind of someone else this is your movie.

Also, bonus points for the sheer volume of references to Bruce Campbell’s junk.

Survivors

July 11, 2012 by

As a kid (and well into adulthood) I lived in mortal fear of some mass-hysteria apocalyptic event. It would stand to reason then that I would be heartily against any movies on the subject. Weirdly I have become fascinated by movies and TV shows about fictional pandemics and disasters. 28 Days Later changed the way I look at what I want to write.

I forget where I read a recommendation for Survivors. I think it was in the comments of a blog post or on social media in a flurry of movie and TV recommendations. I had barely skimmed the description, was relatively skeptical about how much I would like it, and left it lingering in my queue for months.

Fast forward 12 short episodes later and I’m a bitter believer. This Brit series about a population-devastating outbreak is surprisingly engaging and satisfying. The characters are interesting, the plot twists nicely, and it doesn’t reinvent the apocalyptic genre, just massages it into a new enough place to keep you slavering for more. The one thing to love about British series TV is that they challenge the American television buttonholes for women and minorities. The cliffhanger ending had me scouring the internet for Season 3.

There is no Season 3.

Well, that’s no zombie apocalypse but it’s a crying shame at the very least. I understand this series is a reboot of one from the 1970s, though, so at least I have that still to look forward to.

Lemony Pledge

July 11, 2012 by

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OK, The Pledge isn’t a lemon exactly. It is a moderately paced run of the mill indie film, though. Directed by Sean Penn and starring his then-wife Robin Wright Penn opposite Jack Nicholson with a smattering of other familiar faces to round it out it’s got all the oomph anyone could possibly ask for. Despite all that you can’t get around the fact that it’s achingly average in both plot and style.

Oh Brothers

July 11, 2012 by

ImageI didn’t expect to like Brothers as much as I did. You can’t hide from the fact that when Tobey Maguire and Jake Gyllenhaal decide to put their backs into the work the results are riveting, though. Based on a Danish film of the same name the transition to one of the Northern US states is surprisingly well done. The way that kind of landscape and weather shapes its people is important and the filmmakers trust that. The story isn’t especially innovative or shocking but, like I said, the execution is superb. I wouldn’t say it’s a must-see but if you have the chance it’s absolutely worth it.

It’s A Conspiracy All Right

July 11, 2012 by

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I’m going to own that my iPad doesn’t have super great volume and I tend to watch things on it while I’m doing other things. This does not make for a detailed and nuanced viewing.

There, now you know my shortcomings I’m just going to say that, after watching it on my iPad, I can neither recommend viewing or not viewing The Conspirator. It was an all star cast doing some pleasantly forgettable work of questionable historical accuracy. Watch it. Don’t watch it. I think you won’t be especially disappointed either way.

In searching for a photo for this post I read for the first time that Robert Redford directed. That explains the all star cast. I might need to retract my historical accuracy comment, he’s usually pretty good about that stuff. I didn’t like The Milagro Beanfield War either so it’s possible you can’t trust me.


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