Monday, January 26, 2009
Reasons to Watch Dollhouse:
1. Joss Whedon is the mastermind behind it! For all of you living under a non pop culture rock the past 20 years, Joss Whedon is amazing. He is the creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, and Firefly (also made into the movie Serenity). He also did an awesome webshow called Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog if you haven't checked it out, do it! It's on i-Tunes. He is pretty much the king of all pop culture geeks. Google him.
2. It stars Eliza Dushku. She's hot. Plus she can act. And her last awesome show was canceled (Tru Calling, anyone *crickets* yeah I thought so)
3. The plot is awesome. It's actually creative. And I don't know about you, but I am tired of reality shows, actually I never really liked reality shows. This is the Wikipedia run down:
In Dollhouse, Eliza Dushku plays a young woman named Echo, a member of a group of people known as "Actives" or "Dolls." The Dolls have had their personalities wiped clean so they can be imprinted with any number of new personas, including memory, muscle memory, skills, and language, for different assignments. They're then hired out for particular jobs, crimes, fantasies, and occasional good deeds. On missions, Actives are monitored internally (and remotely) by Handlers. In between tasks, they are mind-wiped into a child-like state and live in a futuristic dormitory/laboratory, a hidden facility nicknamed "The Dollhouse". The story follows Echo, who begins, in her mind-wiped state, to become self-aware.
4. I'll give you a cookie if you watch it.
These are all very good reasons. Watch Dollhouse, you won't be sorry. But you will be if you don't. Just kidding! Kind of.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Monday, January 12, 2009
See a good movie and want to tell me about it? Leave a comment.
While standing in line to get movie tickets (no this isn’t a plug for movietickets.com) a man behind me asked what movie I was seeing. After my reply of Gran Torino, he asked, “What’s that?”
It’s a Clint Eastwood film.
“Oh yeah, the one where he shoots kids.”
To be fair, I went into Gran Torino probably knowing less than that guy. I didn’t even know what a Gran Torino was (it happens to be a car, for those still left in oblivion). All I knew that it starred Clint Eastwood who also directed and produced the movie and it looked serious. But what I’ve learned is that Eastwood movies always look more serious than they actually are (Changeling, Million Dollar Baby).
The movie opens with a funeral. Walt Kowalski’s (Eastwood) wife is dead. Kowalski stands beside his wife’s casket and growls at the scene in front of him: his wife is dead, his children and grandchildren are disrespectful and the priest, just out of seminary, knows little of life or death yet he preaches like he does. Going home doesn’t get better. After promising Mrs. Kowalski on her death bed, the priest takes special interest in Walt, trying to get him to go to confession. He growls and growls and growls. His once “wholesome” neighborhood is being overrun with Hmongs. He is awoken one night by the sound of someone trying to steal his one prized possession, his ’72 Gran Torino. Although the intruder gets away, Walt keeps his shot gun out (and out it stays the rest of the movie) and the next night he is well prepared when a Hmong gang is fighting on his lawn. The next day, neighborhood ladies (who only speak the Hmong language) bring food, flowers and other goodies to his doorstep. The neighborhood considers him a hero and eventually, Walt starts acting like one and starts to make the community a better place.
Gran Torino takes place in Michigan and actually is filled in Michigan, taking advantage of the state’s new law that provides tax incentive packages to film productions. But it didn’t add to the movie much since the audience only sees the little neighborhood where the story takes place. I wasn’t a fan of Eastwood in this movie. He was a grumpy old man and it got repetitive at times. Okay, he’s angry, we got it, let’s move on! Walt’s extremely racist view on the world (calling Hmongs, Italians, African Americans, Germans, Mexicans, any ethnicity by name) received large laughs from the audience but those too got old and most of them were sheer ignorance. The laughter derived from the shock value and nothing else. I don’t think any specific ethnicity will be offended; the movie is equally offensive to all.
The Hmong actors were all chosen from various open casting calls across the country. In the whole movie only one Hmong actor had appeared on film before. The two main Hmong actors, Ahney Her (Sue) and Bee Vang (Thao), did a wonderful job, especially for their first performances. Her’s bright performance early in the film was a great compliment with Eastwood’s moody acting.
Overall I found the movie to be fairly decent. It was entertaining but I wasn’t surprised with the lack of Golden Globe nominations. The storyline was weak, the plot was predictable and the scenes were repetitive. There was one painfully obvious Diet Coke product placement moment that made me cringe. And sadly, watching the preview on the Gran Torino website shows all the good parts of the film. I would skip the theater and wait until the movie comes out on DVD.
One of my problems with award shows in general is the fact that one person/movie usually takes everything. And that’s choosing from the same movies/people from every category. Kate Winslet was definitely the most irritating point of the evening. She won twice (for performances that I didn’t find all that great) and took a very long time up on stage both times. When the people were shooing her off, she said that she didn’t care if she was taking up all that time; she was going to do it anyway. That brings me to another point, these people are professionals, can’t they think of their speeches ahead of time? Is it so surprising that they won? They were nominated weren’t you?
It wasn’t all bad. 30 Rock did win along with Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin (dominating affect). Heath Ledger won as well, but that was pretty much a given, his toughest competition was Tom Cruise in a fat suit.
All the winners:
Motion Picture, Drama
Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy
Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Director, Motion Picture
Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire
Actress, Motion Picture, Drama
Kate Winslet, Revolutionary Road
Actor, Motion Picture, Drama
Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler
Actress, Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy
Sally Hawkins, Happy-Go-Lucky
Actor, Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy
Colin Farrell, In Bruges
Supporting Actor, Motion Picture
Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight
Supporting Actress, Motion Picture
Kate Winslet, The Reader
Simon Beaufoy, Slumdog Millionaire
Waltz With Bashir, Israel
Motion Picture, Animated
A.R. Rahman, Slumdog Millionaire
"The Wrestler," The Wrestler; music and lyrics by Bruce Springsteen
Television Series, Drama
Television Series, Comedy or Musical
Actress, Television Series, Musical or Comedy
Tina Fey, 30 Rock
Actor in a TV Series, Comedy or Musical
Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock
Actress, Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television
Laura Linney, John Adams
Actor in a Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television
Paul Giamatti, John Adams
Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television
Actress in a Television Series, Drama
Anna Paquin, True Blood
Actor in a Television Series, Drama
Gabriel Byrne, In Treatment
Supporting Actress in a Series, Miniseries or TV Movie
Laura Dern, Recount
Supporting Actor in a Series, Miniseries or TV Movie
Tom Wilkinson, John Adams
Wednesday, January 7, 2009
Okay, so this movie is no longer in the theater and not yet on DVD but I thought I would start off my blog with the Changeling review. I wrote this when the movie first came out. I'm pretty disappointed that it didn't get nominated for a Golden Globe for best picture. Have you seen it? What did you think? And if you haven't seen it, do you you want to? Dying to know.
The lengths that a mother will go through for her child have been told in story form as far back as the Moses story in the Bible. So I was initially stunned when I wasn’t bored out of my wits watching Clint Eastwood’s Changeling. From viewing trailers about the long awaited Eastwood flick, it seems as if the story is about a mother who lost her son and the police return to her the wrong boy-- that actually only takes up about one-fourth of the movie. The movie is hardly about the lost son at all but more about Christine Collin’s (played by Angelina Jolie) struggle with the L.A. police department that eventually inspires most of the city. It is based on the true story of the Wineville Chicken Coop Murders.
In 1928, single mom, Collins comes home from her job as a telephone operator supervisor to find her son missing. After phoning the police, she finds out that she cannot file a missing person’s report until her son, Walter, has been missing for 24-hours. Five months go by without any sign of Walter when Collins receives a call that they found her son. That’s not her son. The corrupt LAPD with JJ Jones as Captain (played by Burn Notice’s Jeffrey Donovan) convinces Collins to take the mystery boy home because she simply is in shock. Jones later has Collins committed into a mental institution where she witnesses the un-justice that occurs at the hands of the over-powered LAPD. With the help of Reverend Gustav Briegleb (played by John Malkovich), Collins confronts the city authorities and corruption in the LAPD to find out the truth about her son.
After doing research on this movie, it is eerie to see how true the events are, down to the picture that is taken at the train station of “Walter’s” homecoming. After growing-up on Lifetime movies, it’s good to watch a movie that is actually close to being true. Changeling shows the fact that life goes on, even when your child is gone. Eastwood finds time in the depressing tale to actually make the audience cheer and laugh. Donovan’s Captain JJ Jones makes the audience hate him and root for Collins while being able to deny anything that Jolie throws at him, even at unbelievable times. When Jolie shines at the police station, defying Jones, saying that it was impossible that a bum made her son 3-inches shorter, it seems unbelievable that Jones would say that it was medically possible and even proven. It was nice seeing Jolie in something where she’s actually wearing clothes (except once in the institution) and not using magic bullets to kill people. Jolie made me believe in the character and within ten minutes I didn’t even remember I was watching Lara Croft. The only problem I had with Jolie’s portrayal of Collins was that she cried, a lot. Hands down the best movie Jolie has ever done. But really, what is there to compete with? And rumor is, Eastwood practically had to beg her to do the piece.
The main problem I had with Changeling was the fact that it seemed really long. Although it is only 141 minutes, it seems a lot longer. There was at least three times when I thought it was over. Eastwood should have cut it down by like twenty minutes. Some of the lead up to the Chicken Coop case could have been cut because when those scenes were on the screen, I was too confused about the movie. I was so busy worrying if I knew who these characters were to even pay attention. I did like the subtle, blink-and-you-miss-it, lead in with Detective Lester Ybarra (played by Michael Kelly). I was disappointed with the lack of screen time Amy Ryan had as the institution prostitute that befriends Jolie in her short time there. Ryan who has played very different roles in The Wire, The Office, and Gone Baby, Gone deserves way more credit in Hollywood than she currently has. Another problem is that the ending gives off two different feelings. Eastwood has said that he wanted to keep the ending open, which he does, but then there are summaries of what happened to certain characters. Completely unnecessary. The movie does a pretty good job of making these apparent and they could be axed all together.
Overall, Eastwood has made another great movie. Like Million Dollar Baby, another movie about a strong woman that took Hilary Swank’s career to the next level, hopefully Changeling will do the same for Jolie. Changeling is charming, funny, suspenseful, and a great look at a piece of history. A mother’s story that changes the way things work and is actually entertaining.
And so the fun begins.