Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Props to Pandora!

My 16-year-old son recently introduced me to the Pandora app on the ipod touch.  I tend to be very particular about music and haven't really used it much for music, but it occurred to me to look for a comedy station, and, much to my delight I found a PG comedy station!  It is mostly clean, family-friendly comedy-- bits from various comics shuffled together for my enjoyment.  The only thing I've heard that I wouldn't consider "family-friendly" was a short routine about sex after marriage.  Really, though, with hours of listening to it, that was the only even moderately offensive thing!  Well, unless you count the "bible" swears.  Those are used quite freely...

The comics include our family favorite Brian Regan, as well as Jim Gaffigan, Henry Cho, Jeff Foxworthy, Bill Engvall, Bill Cosby, Steven Wright, Jerry Seinfeld, Ellen Degeneres, Frank Caliendo, and a bunch I'm not very familiar with, but who are also very funny.  My one complaint is that they don't play very much Ellen, and she's hilarious.  Oh, and they play too much Cosby.  I know most of his routines almost by heart, having listened to them since I was a girl and my dad had a couple of his records.

Thumbs up and big thanks to Pandora for providing my children and me with a place to hear some great comedy without risking too much naughtiness or language making its way through their headphones...

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Anticipating 2012 Movies

My two-and-a-half teenage sons and I are very excited about next year's promised crop of movies. We are looking forward to:

Spiderman.  Yep, another "reboot".  My son tells me this version will be truer to the comics, including Gwen Stacey as Parker's big High School crush, rather than MaryJane, who came much later in the comic books.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.  I love Martin Freeman.  I think he's such a fantastic, understated,  subtle actor.  I was so impressed by his performance as John Watson in the BBC production "Sherlock", and I can't wait to see his Bilbo Baggins.  I have a soft spot for hobbits as it is, so the casting of Freeman pushes this movie into the short list of my most anticipated movies for next year.

"The Dark Knight Rises"-  I was so impressed by Christian Bale's Batman, in spite of his throaty stage voice, and in spite of the darker nature of the most recent movies.  I found "The Dark Knight" a bit too dark for my taste, but "Batman Begins" is one of my all-time favorite films.  Just great entertainment.  I am interested in where the story will go, now that Bruce Wayne's lady love has been killed, and he has resigned himself to a life of "darkness".

The 2012 movie I am most looking forward to has to be "The Avengers".  The bringing together of so many awesome characters, played by fantastic actors can't be anything short of amazing:  Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk (played by Mark Ruffalo this time), Hawkeye, Thor and Captain America... did I miss anyone? Enjoy the trailer.

Have You Seen This?

One of the funniest things I have ever seen on the internet.  Whether you are a supporter of Romney or not, this is hilarious.  I love the idea of "bad lip reading".  It reminds me of when we were young and sometimes my dad would just turn down the sound on a particularly bad movie and he (and my brothers, probably) would make up funny dialogue to go along with the stupid action.

This is very good, but most of their other videos are pretty stupid.  I did like the Justin Bieber/Rascal Flatts video, though.  That was good for a laugh, even though I hadn't ever heard the real song...


Oh Captain, My Captain...

Lack of spending cash has severely damaged my movie attendance in the last few years.  I was very disappointed when I missed the many theatrical showings this year, but my sons and I have enjoyed catching up on my husband's ridiculously-oversized TV at home.  Tonight's installment was the highly anticipated (at our house), "Captain America", which my second son has been talking about since it first went into development.  I wasn't sure what to expect.  As usual, I went into this movie not really knowing the back story, and (as with Thor), not sure the star was good-looking enough to impress me as the hero.  And (as with Thor) I was pleasantly surprised.  Chris Evans provides some lovely patriotic eye-candy.  

As far as the film itself is concerned, I was blown away by the computer-graphic animation (or whatever it's called) that was used to make Evans look much, much smaller than he really is.  It was seamless-- amazing!  They even made his face look slightly slimmer.  He was so cute-- like his own little brother.  Special effects just get better and better. 

This isn't Evans' first foray into the genre of comic-book movies.  He stole the show as "Johnny Storm" in the "Fantastic Four" movies a few years ago, but I wasn't sure he could pull off the sweet-kid-turned-soldier. I was impressed by his seemingly effortless performance. He's a lot more talented than I realized.  I completely believed he was a skinny, bullied young man, and I completely bought his physical transformation that didn't change who he was inside.  

I also enjoyed Hugo Weaving as the Captain's nemesis, Red Skull, but I had a hard time shaking the image of him as Elrond (a leader of one group of elves in the LOTR films), and that was distracting. Not his fault, just what got stuck in my head.  He was good, though, sufficiently evil and naughty.  

I had anticipated that, because the story is set in the 1940s, much of it would have a corny feeling, but the director and scriptwriters handled the cheesy, comic-book stuff really well-- it was amusing, and a little uncomfortable to watch the Captain performing for crowds, encouraging them to buy war bonds, instead of doing what he wanted to do and fighting against the Nazis, but the reaction of WWII-era children (especially those reading "Captain America" comics) was very well written and heartwarming.

There were a few unintentionally amusing things in the movie, which I wouldn't have even noticed had they not been pointed out by someone (so sorry, I can't credit whom, because I can't remember; if anyone knows, please tell me so I can give credit where it's due) such as the fact that the bombs heading for the U.S. were conveniently labeled "New York", "Chicago" and "Boston", in English, though the baddies were German.  Also I wasn't totally convinced that the Captain had to make the choice that he made at the end-- I understand the story has to go that way, but... really?  He couldn't turn the plane around?  I won't say more, I don't want to spoil it if you haven't seen it, but it seemed like a silly thing to do, really.

This was a four-star film, engaging, fun, adventurous, humorous and surprising.  Just what you go to the movies to enjoy.

I found the photo on: