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UPular: An UP Remix by DJ Pogo

January 20, 2010

Ben found this the other day, and it’s one of the coolest things I’ve seen in some time.

I’m not sure if it’s as awesome if you haven’t seen the movie Up, but then again, if you haven’t seen the movie Up, you should. As soon as possible. It, in itself, is awesome.

My only problem? The song is stuck in my head now. πŸ˜€

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Sometimes the Great Hollywood Machine makes me SO angry!

January 19, 2010

So, my husband and I went to see Up in The Air today. We got there in time to watch the previews, which is always my favorite part of going to the movies, so that was awesome.

There was a trailer for a Focus Feature that I can’t remember, staring Ben Stiller that I really have no interest in seeing, and there was a new preview (finally) for Shutter Island, which I’m really excited about, but didn’t want to see, yet again, the same preview that we’ve been seeing for months.

There might have been another one in between, but then there was a preview for a movie about a funeral. The first shot is of a black man, staring down at a coffin saying, “Who is that?” and “That’s not my father, you brought me Jackie Chan!” And as the trailer progresses, I’m thinking, ‘Oh, no, they didn’t.’

But oh yes they did. Just wait.

About a year and a half ago, my husband and I were watching a different indie movie, and we saw this preview:

And we said, “British comedy? Alan Tudyk?! That guy from Pride and Prejudice!” (Okay that was mostly me… :D) We said, “This we have to see!”

So, we rented it, and it was just as brilliant as we thought it would be. A little understated, as British comedy tends to be, but nonetheless amazing. I promptly started recommending it to everyone I knew who might possibly appreciate it. (Not everyone appreciates British comedy, sadly.)

But, as Eddie Izzard says, “Whereas if the [British] film did any bit of business in America, if the film did some decent bit of business, then Hollywood would take it, and they’d remake it, and they’d up the budget by fifty million…”

Compare the above trailer, to this one:

A “remake with an urban spin” indeed.

The movie feels cheapened, somehow, much like when Hollywood took one of my favorite Japanese movies, Shall we dansu?, and remade it for American audiences. Because we’re apparently not cool enough to get the subtleties of the Japanese version? Or because no one wants to watch a movie with subtitles? I just don’t get it.

And I’m sure that the remake of Death at a Funeral will sell like hot-cakes among its target audience, so it’ll make a bunch of people a bunch of money, but I just don’t get why they felt it needed to be remade at all (other than the obvious money thing, and maybe that’s all the reason they need).

I should change the title of this post. It doesn’t really make me angry, it really just makes me sad.

Julie & Julia

January 9, 2010

I just watched Julie and Juila, and it was wonderful.

My husband went to work (he works the evening shift) and I sat down in my living room with a basket full of back-filing and what I’ve been told by many is a great movie. I had wanted to see it in theatres (what don’t I want to see in theatres though, really?), but Ben didn’t want to go because one reviewer — probably Peter Travers of Rolling Stone because that’s the only reviews I’m ever really exposed to — said that, while Meryl Strep‘s performance as Julia Child was marvelous, he was less thrilled with the storyline of Julie. We were a little strapped for cash that month, so I shrugged and said, “Eh, I’ll see it when it comes out on video,” and that was that.

So I’m sitting on my living room floor with my box of filing… I will often try to multi-task when watching TV or movies, in an effort to pretend I’m being productive. One of two things usually happens:

1) The movie isn’t great and I end up concentrating more on the task at hand;

2) The movie is amazing and I end up just watching it and not getting anything else done.

This movie definitely fell into the latter category. πŸ˜€ It doesn’t help, of course, that filing is something that I don’t like doing under the best of circumstances, and what I really need to do is rework my filing system so it’s “fun and easy” (at least according to the guy who wrote Getting Things Done).

In any case, I got just far enough in the filing project that the living room floor looks like a disaster area, and since it’s 1 am, I am disinclined to pick it up, right at the moment. But the movie was lovely. Meryl Strep did an absolutely brilliant job as Julia Child, and Stanley Tucci was fantastic, as always. They were also wonderful in The Devil Wears Prada, which I highly recommend, but Meryl Strep’s character is a little less… loveable in that movie. She’s certainly very lovable as Julia; you just want her to succeed.

I was also pleasantly surprised that Julia’s sister, Dorothy, was played by Jane Lynch, the actress from Role Models and the TV show Glee. It was fun to see her in a more serious role than those she usually plays. And at one point in the movie Julia and Dorothy have this delightful conversation about being tall women in the early half of the last century, which is just wonderful. Being a tall woman myself, I completely agree with the sentiment, “We never quite fit, so we never quite fit in!”

I will say that I don’t completely disagree with the reviewer who said that the Julie story-arch was somewhat less engaging that the Julia story-arch. I do, however, have a great amount of sympathy for the Julie character, because I am also trying to reconcile a sometimes negative job situation with the rest of my life. If you are not in a similar situation, I could understand that the trials Julie faces would be less interesting. But, as always, Amy Adams is a delightful actress; I’ve loved her since I saw her in Enchanted, which I also highly recommend.

The movie is wonderful because it will make you laugh, and it will make you cry. Well, it made me cry. Tears of happiness at the end. But, if my husband were here, he would tell you that I cry at most movies, sad or happy. Throughout the movie, Julia Child experiences everything with such joy and triumph, you cannot help but laugh and cheer with her. And Julie goes through such a great change as a person; it makes me smile just thinking about it.

And that’s the occasion for which I would recommend this movie: Any time you need a smile or a laugh. The only thing that was missing from my half-failed movie and filing project was a nice glass of red wine. And of course some of the delicious looking food they were cooking, but that’s neither here nor there.

Genre: sappy but awesome, sincere and heart-warming, culture, comedy, chick-flick

Go, watch it. It’s wonderful. Just trust me.

Recommendation: Ever After

January 1, 2010

Every Thursday I post a movie Recomendation. Yesterday, being New Year’s Eve, I was running around like crazy helping my mother-in-law get ready, and forgot. So it’s a day late. Sorry!

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Title: Ever After

Summary: Cinderella as it might have actually happened, in France, in the early 16th century. Drew Barrymore plays Danielle, a young woman who’s father, while not a noble, was a learned man, and taught her to read and gave her a love of books. He dies when she is only ten, leaving her with his new wife, now widow, and her two daughters. Danielle is headstrong and intelligent, and catches the eye of the young Prince Henry (played by Dougray Scott), who believes her to be a noble because she played the part to buy a servant back from the King.

Genre: historical (sort of), chick flick, culture, philosophical, romantic comedy, sappy but awesome, uplifting, women’s rights

Audience: Most women I know would enjoy this movie. Most men I know would either dislike it or merely suffer through it.

Occasion: A great movie to watch with your favorite group of female friends and a nice bottle of wine. Good to watch on an evening by yourself when you want something to give you a little bit of an emotional roller coaster, but with a happy ending.

Watch every minute? I think so, but it’s one of those great movies where there are many layers, so upon re-watching, even if you watched every minute, you will see things you missed the first time.

Big Screen vs. Small Screen: Either.

Why I liked it: I love this movie for a variety of reasons, but first and foremost for the strong, intelligent, willful “Cinderella” that Drew Barrymore plays. In a time of inequality, not just between the classes, but also between men and women, she runs her father’s farm in the guise of being the “servant” to her step-mother, she fences, reads books, and thinks about class and status and other political and philosophical things. She is an ideal model for women of all ages, and her character provides a refreshing take on the Cinderella story.

In one scene, where Danielle and Prince Henry are walking back to the palace after the Prince’s coach loses a wheel, they are set upon by gypsies. The gypsies want to hold the Prince for ransom, but are willing to let Danielle go, with “anything that she can carry.” She gives the gypsy leader a haughty look, walks over, and picks the Prince up and slings him over her shoulders in a fireman’s carry and starts to walk off. Now that’s feminine strength for you.

“Own it” vs. “Once is enough”: I love this movie and own it, so that when I’m feeling despondent, I watch it and it almost always cheers me up.

If you liked… You’ll also enjoy…: Enchanted (Read my recommendation), The Princess Bride, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, (I will not put Disney’s Cinderella on here because I’m not a fan.)

Recommendation: Avatar (late night edition)

December 29, 2009

My husband, my siblings-in-law, their significant others, and I all went to see Avatar 3-D today [Watch the trailer]. It is very late, and I have to be up early tomorrow so I won’t do a proper post at this time, but I will say this: see it.

With this movie, Director James Cameron has revolutionized 3D movies, and has furthered the cause of realistic CGI used with live action, bringing it to a whole new level (300 was probably the real start of the realistic CGI movement, although there might have been an earlier one that I can’t think of at the moment).

If you like sci-fi at all, or are interested in witnessing movie-making history, see it. And if you’re going to see it, see it in 3D. James Cameron created the movie to be viewed in 3D and it’s worth it. As I’ve said, I’m a huge proponent of seeing things as they were intended to be seen. And if you haven’t seen a 3D movie since they came out with the “Real-D” 3D technology, it’s awesome, and not anything like it used to be.

Genre: action, political, romance, sci-fi

Recommendation: Invictus

December 22, 2009

Just before I went home to visit my family, the Husband and I decided to go out to the movies, since he wasn’t going to be able to come with me. The movie we really wanted to see, Up in the Air with George Clooney, wasn’t in theatres near us yet. Lame. So, we decided to go to Invictus. I was sort of interested in seeing it, and I like Morgan Freeman, Matt Damon, and Clint Eastwood‘s movies. As Peter Travers (movie reviewer for Rolling Stone) wrote in the most recent Rolling Stone, “Clint Eastwood, 80, blew through the decade on a creative high…” directing a whole mess of really good movies:

Mystic River
Million Dollar Baby
Flags of Our Fathers
Letters From Iwo Jima
Changeling
Gran Torino
Invictus

Unlike Peter Travers (who chose Mystic River for his Top 10 Movies of the Aughts), however, I do not have to pick just one to recommend. But for today, I’m recommending Invictus.

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Title: Invictus

Summary: After spending thirty years in prison, Nelson Mandela is freed and becomes the leader of a poor and angry South Africa. He knows that if the long-oppressed black South Africans can learn to forgive their oppressors, the white Afrikaners, the country will heal and grown strong. Mandela, played by Morgan Freeman, decides that the first steps towards unity should be taken on the Rugby field, using the symbol of the Afrikaners, the Springbok rugby team.

Genre: action, historical, political, uplifting

Audience: Anyone who likes history, and movies about historical events; anyone who likes South African culture or music.

Occasion: This is a serious movie, so it’s not one to watch just for fun, or have on in the background at a lively party. I would watch it with a few close friends and some popcorn, one a quiet night when you want a serious but uplifting movie.

Watch every minute? Yes.

Big Screen vs. Small Screen: This is definitely one worth catching on the big screen, if you can. Some of the camera action on the rugby field is a little shaky, so if you’re easily nauseated, I would sit further back in the theater, but otherwise, definitely worth watching on as big a screen as possible.

Why I liked it: I knew that I would enjoy the movie, if only because it was done by Clint Eastwood (any more that’s reason enough to see a movie) and had several actors in it whose worked I often like (Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon). I also was raised by a man who was fascinated by South African music, and listened to it all the time when I was growing up (specifically the music of Johnny Clegg), and so had that point of interest as well. I don’t know diddly about Rugby, except that it involves a football shaped ball and it is popular among larger guys who like to drink a lot.

The movie was fascinating. It was interesting for me to learn more about South Africa and to hear the dialects spoken by the people there. It was interesting to learn more about Rugby and the struggles of Mandela and his party to unite South Africa. And it was incredibly uplifting and moving to watch the Springbok rugby team struggle to improve their chances to win the Rugby world cup, and to watch Mandela and the other black South Africans grow more and more enthused about a game that was played primarily by people who had oppressed them their entire lives. Clint Eastwood is a master at highlighting the character arch, and letting you watch how the characters change and evolve through the course of a movie in a way that seems completely natural and unstudied. It helps, of course, when he was incredibly talented actors with whom to work, but the movie just pulls you in and makes you care, viscerally, about the lives of the people on the screen.

There were some parts of the movie, especially near the end, that felt a little slow, but when it was over I recognized that those moments were creating tension and anticipation for the final Rugby game, which was well-worth the build-up.

“Own it” vs. “Once is enough”: I plan to own this movie, if only so I can show it to other people.

If you liked… You’ll also enjoy…: Gran Torino, Ghandi

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Coming Soon… Preview Reviews! “…”Everyone knows previews are the best part of going out to the movies. When we went to see Invictus, these were the previews

Recommendation: Sweet Home Alabama

December 17, 2009

Every so often, you just have to watch a silly, sappy movie, and tonight, I was really in a mood for one. So, I flipped through my movie collection, and debated between French Kiss, 27 Dresses, and Sweet Home Alabama.

Yes, they’re all “girly” romantic comedies, but sometimes, that’s just what you’ve got to watch.

Title: Sweet Home Alabama

Summary: Melanie Carmichael (Reese Witherspoon), a budding New York City fashion designer with southern roots. Fun, funny, and beautiful, she seems to have it all together. She’s just released her first line of designer clothes, and is about to get married to the smart, handsome Mayor’s son (Patrick Dempsey).

But underneath that polished, fashionable exterior is a honky tonk young woman who’s forgotten where she came from. And who happens to still be married to her high school sweetheart. With her pending nuptials to Mr. New York City, she has to come to terms with her past, and her not-yet-ex-husband, Jake Perry (Josh Lucas).

Genre: chick flick, romantic comedy, sappy but aweswome

Audience: Women (and I imagine gay men, but I’m more comfortable speaking to the tastes of women). Unless you actively dislike chick flicks, or country music, you’ll enjoy this movie. Most men I know would not enjoy this movie.

Occasion: Any night when you need to unwind, watch an enjoyable, happy movie, and not think too much. Watch it by yourself or with a bunch of your best girlfriends, a bottle of wine, and a nice selection of chocolates.

Watch every minute? Nah. What are you going to miss? Well, that’s not true, there are some cute, character-developing details that you might miss, but it certainly won’t ruin the movie for you. You just won’t now why everyone else is sighing happily, or laughing, or whatever.

Big Screen vs. Small Screen: Either.

Why I liked it: I like this movie for all the reasons mention in the “Occasion” section above. Sometimes, all I want in my entertainment is something happy, funny, heart-warming, and fun, that doesn’t take much thought. This movie fits that bill perfectly. Beyond that, it’s actually a well-constructed film, and it’s got some good actors in it. I love Reese Witherspoon, of course, she’s a very talented actress (as evidenced by her work in Walk the Line, among other movies), and I’ve always been fond of Patrick Dempsey. And you can’t beat both of the leading men in the movie for eye-candy, especially Josh Lucas. Yum. I’d like my own thoughtful, artistic, lanky hunk of a man with a slow southern drawl, if you don’t mind.

“Own it” vs. “Once is enough”: I own it, but it’s one of those movies I come back to when I want something on in the background that I’ve seen a million times while I’m doing other things around the house.

If you liked…: Legally Blonde, The Nanny Diaries