Friday, March 5, 2010

In which I get unintentionally rant-y and off-topic... sorry...

Um... apologies in advance... apparently a certain movie REALLY hits one/ several of my hot buttons... sorry... very sorry...

I don't get out much. At least, I haven't recently.

**!!Brief interjection to point out that this may change now that I've


It's almost a real-really-real trilogy, kids!!**

Right. So. Where was I? Oh yeah - didn't get out to many movies in the last year.

Saw Avatar. Umm.... how do I put this.... HATED IT. I was SO bored.

Sure, it was pretty. It was shiny to look at. It was a technological acheivement. And I would have opened up a vein for a single moment of original dialogue or an unexpected plot twist. Just one. ONE.

Or a character I cared about or found interesting. Maybe, y'know, a villain that had more depth than a card-board stand-up video game ad display.

"I see you?" That's great. Now please, get your creepy ear/tail/hair out of my creepy ear/tail/hair.

Not only was Avatar a predictable, uninspired dumping ground cobbled together out of the stolen plots of every other movie James Cameron has ever seen - including his own!! - it just plain made no sense. Er - in my opinion.

Honestly though, why does a giant robot suit need to carry around a giant robot bowie knife??? 'Cause it looks cool? Not a good enough reason.

I found the whole 'noble savage' trope uninspired and lazy in its employment here. Why does it take the "white" guy to figure out how to tame the dragon? You know - that thing we all knew he was going to do as soon as the giant dragon/great leader plot point was introduced in the clunkerific info-dump of a scene designed to let us all know an hour before it happened that this is EXACTLY what was going to happen?

I think it would have been much more interesting story-telling if JakeSully had failed miserably in his attempt at dragon-surfing and needed the cranky blue guy's help. (Of course, I think it would have been more interesting if he'd gotten eaten by the dragon. Or plummeted to his death. So never mind.)

I miss Ripley. Seriously - how did Sigourney Weaver go from that, to this, where she displays all the charm and acting subtlety of a giant redwood in hiking boots? And why is her Avatar wearing hiking boots again??? To differentiate her visually? That's called poor character design. Also, what exactly makes her character so sooper-speshul that she gets to have the care-bear sparkle-tree healing attempt, but not any of the grievously wounded natives - who actually have a vested belief in said tree?

Why are all of the mammals on the planet based on a six-limbed genetic model... except the mostly (but never completely for some reason, although they don't seem particularly shy) naked blue people... who are bi-peds? Is it because JakeSully would never have had any sympathy for the Na'vi (or hots for the Na'vette) if they'd looked like the aliens in District 9 (which I didn't see, but really wish I had - mostly I wish I'd seen it instead of Avatar).

The creepy ear/tail/hair thing really is creepy. And makes NO physiological or biological sense whatsoever.

"Unobtainium"? Seriously? You're actually naming your macguffin after... a macguffin? And not ironically? And the stuff is SO rare that your company CEO has a random chunk of it floating above his desk like a paperweight???

Oh, I could go on. But I won't. Oh wait, I already did. Sorry. And I don't mean to suggest that those who enjoyed Avatar shouldn't have. I just think that maybe I saw a different Avatar than everyone else. The "gag" Avatar. Which strikes me as unfair. :-(

And DON'T get me started on this bloody 3-D crappola. What a crock. I don't want gimmicks. Especially ones that hurt my delicate proboscis and give me a scorching headache at the twenty-minute mark. Whatever happened to plain old storytelling? Would Raiders of the Lost Ark have gained anything by being shot in 3-D? No. No. No.


Oh, look. I got all rant-y and off-topic. That never happens.

(Er - just a heads-up - I'll probably hate Alice in Wonderland, too.)


Um... okay. Back on track, then: movies I saw recently that I liked.

Star Trek. More fun than a barrel of space monkeys, pitch-perfect, witty, straddled the line between respect for the source and not getting precious with it, imaginative stoytelling, great performances, awesome design, great score, fun fun fun.

Strangely enough, Zoe Saldana - who Star Trek shares with Avatar - was the only thing I half-liked about Avatar. She managed to do that hissy thing without coming across as a complete dork. Which, as any voice actor knows, can be tricky.

Up. Aside from a bit of drag around the middle, a thoroughly delightful movie. And, like Star Trek, had a prologue that had me weeping before the opening credits. 3-D crappola not an issue - saw this one on DVD, didn't miss the pop-up bookery for a second.

Other than that? Well... a couple of weeks ago, John sat me down and made me watch To Kill A Mockingbird - which, I am ashamed to say, I had never seen. And there is nothing for me to say about it other than it is a Perfect Movie. That is all.

So. Yeah... I'm gonna give the Oscars a miss this year. 'Cause if Avatar - by some catastrophic confluence of universally bad judgement wins best pic - I'm gonna have to find a new planet to live on.

Maybe one with nekkid blue people and glowy plants trying to eat my face.

Or maybe not.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

My "Recent" Faves

I have to admit here that I think the last grown-up movie I saw in the theater was in 2004, but since I’m a huge movie fan, I usually try to catch things as soon as they’re on DVD or Pay Per View, or sometimes, sadly, HBO. Which means I’m dreadfully behind when it’s time to watch the Oscars (I finally just watched Slumdog Millionaire in December, and yes, I did love it, even though I’m about a year too late to join that Oscar party). So be forewarned that most of my recent favorites are probably everyone else’s favorites from last year.

One exception to that, and one of the two movies I saw in the theater this year (a kid’s movie, of course) but still amazing, was The Princess and the Frog. Why yes, I am a sucker for Disney animated musicals! But also the message of the movie, about Tiana working hard and doing everything she can to achieve her dream is definitely relatable for us oft-rejected writers! (In case you’re wondering, the other movie I saw in the theater this year was Alvin & The Chipmunks: the Squeakuel – and no, this does not make my list of recent favorites.)

On DVD recently, I saw The Invention of Lying, which I didn’t know much about going in, and so I was surprised by how much I LOVED it. It’s the story of a man who lives in a society where nobody knows how to lie, and then he literally invents lying. I thought it was super-funny but in a really smart way. Plus, I love most movies with Jennifer Garner (except for The Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, which I’ll admit, I also watched recently).

I know Maureen already mentioned it, but I also recently saw The Hangover, and I can’t remember laughing so much and so hard through a movie since Rat Race (not a recent favorite, but, I might add, a movie I can watch over and over again and still laugh at.) I can’t wait until it’s out on HBO, so I can watch it again, because I’m pretty sure I’ll laugh just as hard watching it the second time.

I’ve been really bad about keeping on top of my reading lately so I’ll also add a few movies that came from books that I’ve seen lately (without reading the books first): Julie & Julia, The Time Traveler’s Wife, and Twilight. Yes, you did read that right – it could be I’m the only YA writer on Earth who hasn’t yet read Twilight, and certainly one of the last to see the movie. But also, I really, really, really enjoyed the movie, in a way that completely shocked me. In fact I may just be fighting all the teenage girls for a copy of New Moon, when it comes out on DVD later this month!!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Crazy for Crazy Heart

I only have a week to catch up on my movies so I can be an informed Oscar watcher. As great as I think the Hurt Locker must be, I won't be able to "take that one in." I don't do war movies.

But. I did see a different kind of war movie - Avatar. I absolutely loved it. The love storyline certainly didn't hurt my chances of loving it. Couldn't tell you the last time I saw a movie in 3D. Disney maybe. But now I'm so into seeing movies in 3D. Plus I saw it on an IMAX screen. Now, I'm a big fan of Avatar. I've told everyone I know to chop chop.

It's Complicated
is way more my style of movie. The romantic comedies always win out when I have a choice. I've seen it twice and will probably see it again on DVD! Why? It's hilarious. Laugh-out-loud-lots-of-times hilarious. When Meryl Streep sneaks off for a cosmetic surgery consultation and runs into her ex-husband (Alec Baldwin) and his new young wife in the elevator, and then pushes her eyelid up to act like she's young, too, I thought I would have to have my stomach operated on. Pure genius comedy. At least for me.

And finally let's talk a second about my man, Jeff Bridges. That hunka hunka burning love, even when he's the Big Lebowski. Finally, he's getting the recognition he has deserved since venturing into Hollywood. Crazy Heart is fantastic - my favorite movie of the year. It's absolutely wonderful and a must-see. If he doesn't win the Academy Award, I'm not watching the Oscars again. He's the real deal. Nothing contrived about his performance as an aging, washed-up country western singer. He sings his own songs and plays the character of Bad Blake so well, you'll feel as though Jeff is Bad Blake in real life.

So. Along with a million other women, I'm pulling for you, Bad Blake. I mean Jeff!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

My Picks!

This topic is very appropriate for this week, since Sunday is Oscar night! I, unfortunately, haven't seen many of the movies that are nominated, but I always look forward to the glitz and glamour of the evening. I plunk down in front of the television mid-afternoon and turn on the red carpet coverage, much to the feigned dismay of my husband. I say feigned because after awhile, he forgets that he's supposed to roll his eyes at the red carpet, and starts commenting on the clothes right along with me.

But, like I said, I haven't seen many of the nominated movies, so I can't discuss them for this week's topic: Favorite Recent Movies. So here are my picks for movies I've actually watched:

Food, Inc.
I grumbled for a long time about seeing this documentary about the state of the food industry. It had been recommended many times to me, but I was dearly afraid that I'd watch it and go bug-eyed. Not to mention, I was terrified I'd never be able to eat a normal meal again. Which turned out to be kind of true, albeit in a good way. The movie covers everything from food production, cost, trends and additives. It was eye-opening, but not in a grotesque way. It simply encouraged me to really "know" what I'm eating and make better meal choices for my family, even if it costs a bit more.

A definite must, but don't say I didn't warn you when you find yourself frozen in the middle of the organic food aisle in the grocery store!

Oh boy, my husband resisted this one in a big way. He complained for weeks after the movie came out that it resembled a cartoon, that it reminded him of Jar Jar Binks in The Phantom Menace, despite all of our friends commenting otherwise. Finally, I bribed him with unlimited free popcorn and we went to see the movie in 3-D. Afterward, he was silent until I poked him in the ribs and said, "Well?" His words, lo, did he eat them.

Now, of course, he recommends it to everyone he meets, including random strangers.

The Hangover
OK, so this one isn't really recent, but other than Avatar, it's the last movie I saw in the theater. This time, I was the one grudgingly pulled into the movie. I thought the previews looked dumb, but (again) the repeated endorsements from friends convinced me enough to buy a ticket. I had little hope and expectation, and figured it would be a couple of hours where I didn't have to police my son. (The people next to us did not have the same thought; they brought their three year old. To an R-rated movie. I think my head exploded a bit.)

This time, I was the one munching on my words. I laughed my butt off, especially at the end. If you haven't seen this movie, you must rent it. Yes, it's stupid, juvenile and raunchy, but in the best possible way.

So that's it! I wish I could get out and see more movies, but alas, I'll have to settle for renting DVDs. My husband and I are going to rent The Cove next, a documentary about dolphins kept in captivity--I've heard it's a must-see.

Any other recommendations?

Monday, March 1, 2010

Movie Time!

We did a week of posts a ways back where we talked about our favorite movies, but this week, we're going to share what some of our recent favorite movies are. Normally, a lot of my movie-watching is from DVD or VOD, because we don't get out to the theater all that often, but this year, I made it to the theater several times.

I used to love going to the theater. I guess I still do, but I'm also getting to the point that staying at home in my pjs, curling up on the couch, with popcorn made the way I like it, is preferable most of the time. But when a movie is truly special, then there is nothing like watching it on the big screen.

So, here are some of the movies I've really enjoyed lately:

  • Sherlock Holmes: This movie is one I was able to see in the theater. My family went on the weekend after Christmas, and we all loved it. Okay, well, 1/2 of my family saw Sherlock Holmes and the other half saw Avatar (which, um, I still haven't seen and I really, really want to). But I LOVED Sherlock Holmes. Come on...Robert Downey, Jr and Jude Law? What's not to love? The humor was awesome, the relationship between Holmes and Watson was a joy to watch, and I left the theater feeling as if the price of admission was well worth it.

  • The Time Traveler's Wife: I just watched this movie this past weekend, and I'll admit I was hesitant. Not because I've read the book and I was worried about the changes that might have been made in the movie ( wouldn't know the difference), but because I'd heard conflicting reports from friends who also haven't read the book. But, I was in the mood for a love story, and I'm always a fan of the time traveling plot, so I decided to give it a go. Wow. I loved this movie! It is such a love story, but it also asks a lot of questions that I found compelling. Sort of "What came first, the chicken or the egg?" type of questions. At any rate, now I want to read the book, even though I know there are differences. But aren't there always?

And because I like to do things in threes...

  • The Blind Side: I wanted to see this movie the second I saw the first preview, and I was also able to go to the theater for this one. I'm a huge fan of Sandra Bullock, but I am even a bigger fan of true, inspirational stories. And this is a HUGELY inspirational story. This movie is being released on DVD this month, and it's already on my must-buy list. If you cry at big, soppy, emotional moments, then have your tissues nearby.

So, those are three of my favorite recent movies. What have you seen recently that you absolutely loved? I'm always on the lookout for more!