Friday, March 30, 2012

A Reading Assignment

I couldn't have said it better myself. I highly recommend you read this article by one seriously great newspaper columnist.

Thursday, March 29, 2012


Over the weekend, we watched the newly-released-on-Blu-Ray "The Muppets" starring Jason Segel as Gary and Amy Adams as Mary, and, of course, the title characters including Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Gonzo, Fozzie, and the whole gang. There is also a new Muppet character, Walter, whom the story appears to be about until Miss Piggy makes an appearance.

The musical numbers were hit-and-miss. "Life's a Happy Song", sung by Gary and Walter (brothers... go figure that one out) and a host of other folks, including Adams, was so-so. I liked the energy of it, and Adams glowed (she always does), but Segel seemed uncomfortably self-aware and not quite wholly there, which made me uncomfortable. By the end of the movie, he seemed more in character, but at the beginning of the film he seemed to be balancing a "no one's going to buy this brother business" and "I'm in a movie with the Muppets!" awareness. It's still fun and entertaining, though. See what you think:

I suppose I should issue a spoiler alert here... you've been warned.
I love Kermit, always have, and I have always despised Miss Piggy. This movie did nothing to improve my feelings either way. I thought the Muppets going to Paris was great, but the whole "Kermit broke Piggy's heart" business was too grown up for the Muppets! I always liked how in the past Piggy thought they would get married and Kermit seemed blissfully unaware, or maybe more aware than he let on, but not ready... there used to be blissful innocence in their relationship, but this film kind of shot that down...

Anyway, as the film progressed, we got to see what the Muppets have been up to, and I loved that Gonzo was a wealthy plumbing supplier, especially. The scene with Animal in anger management was funny, but I the whole "no drumming" and then he, of course, ends up drumming (and there is no closure-- what happened because he drummed? Did he lose his mind? Did he get angry again? Did he handle it just fine???) was kind of over-done. I loved Animal just the way he was. He's Animal-- he's supposed to be wild and crazy! His best scene was when he knocks on the trailer and Jack Black (who attended Anger Management with him) answers the door and asks him what he's doing there. Animal says, "Acting... naturaaal... in control." Awesome.

I was disappointed by the film overall. It was just okay, and I wanted it to be great. My younger kids (9 and 12) really enjoyed it, so I guess it's a win. I was surprised by the warm fuzzy of the opening Muppet Show theme, though. Hearing that and "The Rainbow Connection" made me feel so happy. I used to love "The Muppet Show" and "The Rainbow Connection" was the first song I taught myself to play on the piano, plus I have always loved hearing Kermit sing it.

Oh, and the new song, "Man or Muppet" was genius. Very funny, very well filmed, with Jim Parsons doing a cameo performance as the dream-human version of Walter. Hilarious.
The celebrity cameos make the movie worth watching, including Neil Patrick Harris, the aforementioned Parsons and Black, Zach Galifianakis, Alan Arkin, Ken Jeong, James Carville, Whoopi Goldberg, John Krasinski, and others. They were really fun.

The question is, would I recommend this movie? Sure. It's a decent, entertaining movie. It's not the best thing from the Muppets, though. If you want that, go back and rent the original "Muppet Movie" from 1979. Though, we may not recognize most of the cameos from that movie, would we?

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Hunger Games

Believe it or not, I actually saw a movie in the theater yesterday! My two teenage sons were going to an afternoon show of "The Hunger Games", so I tagged along. It was a "spur of the moment" decision, which is also rare for me, and I'm so glad I went!

It's been a couple of years since I read the books, so my memory wasn't clear on many details. I think that made the movie more enjoyable because I wasn't comparing the two versions. I do think the movie was very true to the emotions and the heart of the book, and the few changes they made story-wise were necessary for the flow of the film. I also thought it was perfectly cast. I was nervous, as the last YA book-to-film I was excited about was woefully miscast and horribly directed and had some jaw-droppingly stupid moments added in. Yep, you know what I'm talking about. It's inevitable that we fans would draw some comparisons between "The Hunger Games" and "Twilight". After all, both books are YA with a leading heroine; both books feature gore and death, though "Hunger Games" is decidedly deathier; and both books have a heart-tugging love triangle. To compare Kristen Stewart and Jennifer Lawrence is terribly unfair. But I'm going to anyway. Stewart looks like a cardboard cutout onscreen, and Lawrence shines. Stewart's attempts at subtle emotional expressions look like she's sulking or simply deadpan, while Lawrence's subtlety is perfect and her face is so expressive, even when it isn't spelled out for the audience, we can tell what she's feeling.

So bear with me a moment as I repeat what everyone is saying: that Jennifer Lawrence is brilliantly well cast as Katniss- authentic, powerful, strong, but still a teenage girl, whose heart doesn't know what it wants. She's pretty, but not distractingly so-- she looks real. Believeable. And compelling-- you can't take her eyes off her.

Liam and his hunky-Thor brother, Chris and Chris' eyes. Yum.
Both the men in her life are also perfectly cast: Liam Hemsworth as Gale (I wanted to see more of him, especially since I have a bit of a crush on his brother. Hopefully we'll get more Gale in the next two films. I don't remember the books well enough to say... 

I especially loved Josh Hutcherson as Peeta. He absolutely broke my heart in Bridge to Terabithia 5 years ago. I could tell he was one to watch. Good looking, talented, and has that elusive presence all screen actors try to capture. He was so good as Peeta-- emotive, adorable, smiling at the crowd, heart-breaking when he talked to Katniss, just wonderful. Exactly what I pictured as I read the books. I do have to say, though, that his hair color doesn't look natural to me. Most likely that's because I know he's really not a blond... but it looked fakey-bad... and they left it dark in the flashback scene where he throws the bread out to Katniss in the rain. Um... poor editing? Just confusing? Yes. But maybe only to me. My boys didn't even notice, or care.

The casting is the biggest difference between HG and Twilight. The Edward of my imagination was good looking, Adonis-like, beautiful and muscular. The Edward of the film looks like a British misfit, bad teeth, worse hair (in the first film, especially), skinny and sick-looking. Not what was in my head at all... but with the casting of HG, they have managed to cast people who look exactly like their fictional counterparts, and who lo-and-behold are actually rather talented actors! 

For the first time in a long time, I'm excited to see the sequel next year... or whenever they release it. I can't remember the last time I was excited for a sequel. Unless you count the Avengers... don't get me started...

UPDATE 3/29/12: My friend Diane brought to my attention that I neglected to mention Woody Harrelson, who is absolutely spot-on as Haymitch. I wasn't sure I would like him; I haven't seen him in anything in so long, but I can't imagine Haymitch being played by anyone else! She also reminded me that I forgot to comment on what I call the "Bourne School of Camera Work" shooting of the fight scenes-- especially the one set on the large, metallic cornucopia. I despise scenes shot up close and with the cameraman doing the disco as he rolls film. There weren't a lot of them in this movie, thank goodness, but it was distracting when they shot like that. Thanks, Diane, for helping my forgetful-prone brain on this one! :)

Monday, March 19, 2012

Doubly Curious

Two curiosities with regard to the 2011 hit movie "The Help". 
  1. First is a library mystery: I'm a librarian and we have DVDs at the library. I put myself on hold for the DVD of "The Help" about two months ago (it's been extremely popular) and I was about 8th in line. Last week, I checked the queue. I was 11th in line. Wha??? I think there's been a hiccup in our system, and not wanting to cheat, I've decided to remove myself from the waiting list and rent it at the Redbox. By the time I get the library copy it will probably be scuffed and scratchy to the point of rendering it impossible to enjoy, anyway. SO we rented it at the Redbox this weekend and watched it, which brings me to curiosity #2:
  2. Oddly, I think I enjoyed the movie version of "The Help" better than I did the book! This is nearly unprecedented. Generally, I enjoy the book versions better. Probably better than 90% of the time. Harry Potter? Books. Lord of the Rings? Books. Twilight? Seriously, don't get me started on the poor casting, acting, direction... ugh... let's just leave it at: books.
But "The Help" surprised me. I read the book a while ago, and though I liked it, the "terrible awful" that Minnie does to Hilly was just the one thing I couldn't get over. Maybe I'm a snob, maybe I'm a prude, maybe I'm just disgusted by poo being used in ANY way in a story, but I was unable to move past that. Here's my review on Goodreads if you want to know what I thought of the book.

I think the reason I'm leaning toward the movie being superior is just that it was a great example of when "less is more". The order of a few plot elements were rearranged, and I would have enjoyed more stories by the "help" ladies, and less story about the getting of the stories, but the script was tight, the acting superb, and the performances of the leading women were authentic and genuine. I especially loved these two: 
I wholeheartedly agree with the Academy Award nominations for both Octavia Spencer and Viola Davis. (Octavia won, Viola did not.) I don't know if I agree with the Best Picture nod, but that could be because I didn't see all the films nominated and I don't really trust old Oscar...

Friday, March 16, 2012

Good Stuff

A few happy things. First off, Community is back! Yay! I love this show, especially the unpredictable antics of Troy and Abed. Here's hoping it doesn't get cancelled after this season ends!!

Second, holy awesomeness!!!! Watch!!

Johnny Depp is delicious as a vampire!! I love the campy over-the-top feel of this! I never saw the show, I was born 1972, and I understand from this KSL article that the show was more serious than deliberately campy, but I think a somewhat silly over-acting feeling fits perfectly. As for the other cast members, I'm not a huge Helena Bonham Carter fan, but she and Depp and director Tim Burton are generally a good team, so I'm sure she'll be good. And I adored "Eli Stone", so I can't wait to see Jonny Lee Miller in another role.  Michelle Pfieffer seems well cast, though we don't see much of her in the trailer, and I actually don't think I know who anyone else is, so that will be fun as well!! 

Third and last: 
I'm recommending this with a warning- there is adult language, so if the f-bomb burns your eyes (as it does mine), be prepared. However, this site is very, very funny, and one of those things that made me think, "Why didn't I think of doing that!?" I found it because Jen of epbot posted it on her site. It's a hilarious take on the ridiculous-to-ludicrous fashions of the TV show "Star Trek: The Next Generation". It's called Fashion It So. If you've ever watched NG, you'll appreciate the bloggers' snarky commentary and quick-witted plot summaries. So funny... just beware the f-word land mines...

Friday, March 9, 2012

Friday Morning Begging

If you regularly visit this blog and find it of some interesting reading value, will you please, for the love of St. Patrick, click "follow" at the top?? I would like to know how many people are frequenting the place. If you are not a regular visitor, just popping in by accident or for a look-see, you are also welcome to click "follow" and see if you like it as we go along together. 

Thank you!!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Look What I Found Today

I was adding some photos to my entry about the 2012 Oscars, when I came across this photo of Angelina Jolie in various dresses at various events. Notice what's similar? "One of these things is just like the others... which one is it, can you tell?"
Just in case she wants to fire her stylist for the backlash from her Oscars dress, before she does, she might want to refresh her memory and remember that she just really, really likes to show off her legs. Stylists aside, doesn't one of Hollywood's most powerful women have a say in what she wears and how she wears it? Just sayin'... And really it was the hoe-down pose that was the problem this year. Her hip must have been sore from being held at that angle all night. Sexy? Nah... just weird.

New Blog

Check it out: Curious Soup

I know, I know, I didn't really need another blog, but I wanted a public catch-all blog, since this one and my author one are sort of specific. I suppose I could have just written all the other junk in my head into this blog, but I like organization, so I'm trying this out. It will probably be too much to keep up with, but I'm giving it a go.

Maybe one day I'll be like Jen at epbot and cakewrecks and blog for a living. :)

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Playing Movie-Catch-Up

Last night we finally got around to watching "Moneyball". Brad Pitt's incredibly attractive aging notwithstanding, this is a very good movie. I wasn't quite sure what to expect, but it was generally well reviewed, and, of course, it was nominated for 6 Academy Awards. That doesn't always equal movies I like, but in this case, I thought it was worth a look. Pitt's performance is solid-- charming, witty, passionate, and authentic. And, yes, still hunky at 48 years old. He reminds me a lot of Robert Redford, and I really think he has matured as an actor and is easily one of the better actors working in movies today.

Jonah Hill was perfectly cast, as well. I haven't watched him in anything, so I didn't have any expectations or preconceptions, and I really enjoyed him. The rest of the cast was great, the directing was tight and the story enjoyable even for a non-baseball fanatic like myself. It's definitely worth your time.

Tonight we had a double feature, catching up on movies we missed last year that are now out on Blu-Ray. First up was "Tower Heist" featuring Ben Stiller, Eddie Murphy, Matthew Broderick and others. I wanted to like this movie-- who doesn't enjoy a fun caper movie where the little guy gets the evil, rich jerk? And I keep wanting so badly to see a film with Stiller that has something new, something different from what we've seen, or if he can only do the one schtick, at least a fresh face on the schtick. Not so much here. In this film, he seems to be basically channeling his museum security guard character from "Night at the Museum"-- it wasn't unpleasant, but felt like I'd seen it all before.

Murphy seemed to be trying to return to his "Beverly Hills Cop" persona, but the angry-black-man bit just isn't funny. The sexual humor wasn't funny, the yelling and cussing was overplayed and obnoxious, and he just wasn't funny. I wanted SO much more from him, especially.

And then there was Broderick. Matthew Broderick has been trying for a while now to reignite his film career, and while I sympathize (I thought Ferris Bueller was adorable!!), he seems to be just missing the mark. His performance in "Heist" wasn't bad, it was just a bit bland. And who the heck did his makeup??!! Terrible! Just awful. I realize movie stars feel like the rest of us about aging, only moreso, but I don't think a bad makeup job is going to help.

This movie was a dud, not worth the money they spent making it, for sure... and not a family movie...

The second movie tonight was "The Big Year" starring Steve Martin, Jack Black and Owen Wilson. This was pretty good, but my husband thinks that was mostly because we watched it so soon after "Tower Heist", but I thought it was pleasant and entertaining. And mercifully clean, except for a few cusses. The story was about the three of them trying to accomplish a birding record for spotting the most birds in one year and the way their obsessive hobbies affect the other aspects of their lives. It was a light, gentle movie, with sweet, genuine characters and believable sub-stories. I enjoyed it a lot and would recommend it. It's a refreshing change from the usual shoot-em-up movies we watch around here.