Friday, October 26, 2007

i'm published!

So, since I was a freshman, I've written for one of my school's student-run newspapers, often writing their movie reviews. Recently I wrote a review of Once for them which was just posted on their website, and you can read it here. Enjoy!

I would be far from the first person to complain that "there are no new ideas in Hollywood," but it certainly seems that in a time when sequels and adaptations take up the bulk of the marquee, much of what audiences watch in theaters ends up being totally unmemorable. Studios can drum up a death rattle of buzz for their movies at DVD release time, but within a month or two of each film's opening audiences generally have forgotten what exactly made them want to go see it in the first place. As this year's blockbuster season blends into the romantic comedies of fall, there seems to be one movie that has made an indelible impression on movie audiences: John Carney's Once. For a film advertised largely through word-of-mouth since its premier at a few European film festivals in the summer of 2006, Once has stuck around surprisingly long.

So what has made Once so memorable? It is the simple story of a vacuum cleaner repairman (played by Glen Hansard, lead singer of Irish rock group The Frames) who spends his free time busking with his love-worn guitar on the streets of Dublin. While pouring his heart out into the empty night air, he meets a Czech girl (the lovely Markéta Irglová) selling flowers and other miscellany, and they begin a friendship. When he discovers what a talented pianist she is, they begin writing songs together which reveals a truly deep connection between the two.

The plot of Once takes place over the course of a few days, and for a film so imbued with emotion, it is refreshing to see the inexperienced actors convey such strong feelings with little explicitly laid out for the viewer: what other films portray through unnecessary sex scenes and unrealistic monologues, Once portrays more vividly with subtle glances between the two lovers. The love story is tempered by the complications of their realistic living situations - family, past infidelities, finances--which only adds to the charm. The film's philosophy on love is a refreshingly honest one. It reminds us of an indefinable gray area stretching across romance and friendship, and that true beauty can be found not in one's destination, but in one's journey.

The real heart of the film is its music. The relationship between the leads would be meaningless if not for the music that they play together. When they first play a duet shortly after meeting, it is possibly one of the most intimate love scenes ever captured on celluloid. Anyone who has ever understood how music can connect with the soul will revel in that scene long after the movie has ended.

Though the low budget direction and cinematography are warm and charming, I wonder if the soundtrack is enough of a footprint of the film that ardent fans will have no need to purchase the DVD once it is released. Since watching the movie in June, I have listened to the soundtrack almost daily, if only to remind myself of the awesome power of music and film.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

fea es la nueva bella

So, I watched the entire first season of "Ugly Betty" on DVD in the last couple of weeks, and definitely fell in love with it. At first I thought it was campy and sweet, but that there wasn't enough there to keep viewers interested for much longer than the novelty would have lasted. Now, having completely caught up with all of the episodes, I have added it to my list of weekly must-see shows. The show strikes such a great balance between hyperbole and approachability, and I think that is incredibly difficult to do.

My favorite relationships on this show are the ones between Amanda and Marc, Hilda and Justin, and Daniel and Betty, in that order. Of course, as a devoted 'hag, I think that the catty back-and-forth between Amanda and Marc is just the sort of thing that my 'mo and I could aspire to have one day. Even though Justin is a pretty uninteresting caricature most of the time, it is very refreshing to see how his whole family treats him with respect, and Hilda portrays a very sympathetic mother character, which I don't think is really that present on primetime. The relationship between Daniel and Betty is flat at some points, but it seems like it may be one of the strongest ones on the show - despite everything Daniel does, Betty is there for him, and there are moments (like on tonight's episode), when Daniel notices Betty's lucky sweater and is a true friend to her at Mode. (Also in tonight's episode: the recurring appearance of John Cho!)

So, I know that critics have already heaped praise on this show's treatments of homosexuality, transsexual issues, body image / beauty, and race, and I am totally behind all of those accolades. But mostly I admire how the show creates incredible microcosms that fit really well together, and I am always entertained whether the plot has taken us from Mode to Queens to the green screens of New York. Also, the season 1 finale was so perfectly crafted...maybe I'm just a sucker for West Side Story, but the closing set piece was so good, I could only appreciate it with the knowledge that I could immediately go online and see what happened next! So I figured if my latest guilty pleasure Gossip Girl could get its own blog post, then this great show could too. Right now, I'm really looking forward to Marc's character growing up, as he has totally won my heart with all of his fabulous facets.


On a smaller side-note, I did want to say that I am glad The Office is back to its half-hour length - for the time being. I do think that it has the potential to be able to carry an hourlong time slot, as long as it doesn't sacrifice character continuity for sensational episode ideas. Kudos to last week's writer Paul Lieberstein (the incredible HR guy Toby), whose first time direction was magnificent. As for tonight's episode, it was heartfelt and simple like Office episodes of yore, and I think that had a lot to do with the episode's length. There was just enough material without distracting us. Other than the amazing musical stylings of Darryl (f. Creed, Kevin, Kelly, and Andy), I also want to point out the hot advertising guy with the beard...IMDb isn't giving me any clues as to who he is, and I'm curious!

Monday, October 22, 2007

across the universe, pt. 2

Just a couple of things I found on Wikipedia and wanted to add to yesterday's discussion of Across the Universe:

1. Evan Rachel Wood and Across the Universe co-star, Jim Sturgess are reported to be involved in Spiderman the Musical, the upcoming Julie Taymor Broadway production. Music for the show will be composed and written by Bono and The Edge, of the band U2.

2. I did buy the soundtrack for the movie, and highly recommend it. It's a nice change from listening to the same versions of Beatles songs over and over. I do wish "With a Little Help From My Friends" and "Dear Prudence" were included on it, though.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

julie taymor, star v.j.

The night before last I finally saw Across the Universe, because I had been worried it would leave theaters before I got the chance to see it on the big screen. Having had a couple of days to sort out my varied feelings about the film, I'm very glad that I was able to catch it before it closed. I'd had previous warning from a large number of sources that the story would be inescapably thin, but I followed my gut instinct which told me that the draw of the film would be its visuals, not its story. Thankfully, I was right.

From the trailer I could tell that there was an incredibly artistic vision at hand in this film, and also that the story rested its crucial Beatles tunes on a plot consisting of 1960s romance and the Vietnam war. Ehhh... Dave Calhoun of Time Out London wrote, "Taymor has mistaken a deeply clichéd view of the late ’60s for a radical slice of the zeitgeist. Let it be." This is pretty much the big problem that the story has. I think it's understandable that when crafting plotlines around the beloved and culturally relevant songs of The Beatles, there would be a strong impulse to focus on the political situation of the '60s. However, I think much of the beauty of the music is its emotional impact that transcends time frames. There is a beautiful scene set to "All You Need is Love," and I wish that the film had taken more of its cues from the lyrics to that song. Any number of stories could have better served the musical while giving it more of a storytelling appeal, and I even think that Movin' Out told the Vietnam story better with its "Goodnight Saigon" set piece alone...

That said, I still thought this was an excellent movie. How I managed to come to that conclusion was to check out of the storyline completely about ten minutes in. One of my friends, who left the theater calling it her "new favorite movie," referred to it as a string of amazing music videos. For anyone not looking to try too hard to figure out what's going on throughout, this is the best way to watch Across the Universe. There are too many lulls in the story to keep it feeling fresh and smooth from start to finish, yet almost every one of the songs is treated with beauty and grace.

Even someone like myself who is not necessarily fluent in the full discography of Beatles music was aware of stretches that the film made in order to incorporate song titles or lyrics into non sequitur pieces of dialogue. But even though the music didn't alllways fit with the storyline, there is one crucial aspect to this movie that I have yet to mention: the music is BEAUTIFUL! Of course, Beatles music is amazing as is, but the performances were at times so moving that I felt all I wanted to do was listen to that song for the rest of my life. T.V. Carpio's voice gave "I Want to Hold Your Hand" a raw, caramelized beauty that I had never heard in it before, and Jim Sturgess' "Strawberry Fields Forever" harmonized so well with the visuals onscreen that I was in awe of the visceral experience being projected in suspicious 2D a few yards in front of my face.

So, I must recommend that you see this movie in the next few days before it leaves theaters. I fully intend to buy the soundtrack and start listening to the original Beatles music I haven't played in a long time. I understand why the movie got a 51% at Rotten Tomatoes - some people love it and some people hate it. I would have to give the visual aspect and the musical performances a 100%, and the storyline a know I can't resist a good love story, and this one is sweet if taken in small doses. As far as the performances are concerned in general, I enjoyed them all, for the most part. The actors did a good job in spite of the flaws in the screenplay. Cameos by Bono, Eddie Izzard, Salma Hayek, and especially Joe Cocker were delightful surprises, and the supporting actors all suited their roles very well.

Evan Rachel Wood managed to get under my skin, though, and not in a good way. I can't really tell how much of my current distaste for her comes from the Dita/Marilyn thing, or how much of it is my jealousy at her pin-straight golden hair and porcelain, patrician face. All in all, I just found her annoying. As for Jim Sturgess, I would like to officially welcome him to the club of "Katherine's Hollywood Heartthrobs." Honestly, I can't even remember the last time I saw an actor in a movie and immediately felt the heartstring flutters of teenage celebrity crushes. I know I was not the only girl in the audience who uttered a satisfied purr every time he sauntered onscreen, all British and pretty. Yum.

So...where was I? Anyway, great soundtrack and worth the price of the ticket, if you go in with the proper frame of mind. I'd love to see what Taymor could do with actual music videos, and if she could translate this movie into a better version of itself on the Broadway stage. Note to self: rent Titus.

Friday, October 19, 2007

move over, mcg!

A few days ago I posted a link to the YouTube site that my friend Esther and I use to host the videos we collaborate on for contests and stuff. Last night we uploaded a stop motion animation that we submitted to the Dashboard Confessional contest. It's a music video for their new single, "Thick as Thieves," and if it wins, it'll be the official video for the song! So please watch it at and vote, comment, tell me what you think!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

trailer thursdays!

My trailer reviews will never fall on the same day of the week, it seems...

Wristcutters: A Love Story (October 19)
Sometimes I think the value of an independent film can be hinted at by the caliber of actors who consent to play bit parts. Tom Waits and Will Arnett both appear in small roles in this movie that I've barely heard of. Though I'm really not a fan of Shannyn Sossamon, when Patrick Fugit's onscreen I'm sure I will have nothing to complain about. He's toeing the line between hot and sexyugly, and I think I like it. He plays a man who's killed himself, and is searching for his ex-girlfriend who is also somewhere in the afterlife. So basically, it's Defending Your Life but more cynical. Awesome.

Southland Tales (November 9)
I have no idea what's going on here, but Moviefone calls it an "ambitious fusion of comedy, drama, dystopian science fiction, and music." It's possible that Richard Kelly, after turning enough heads with the amazing Donnie Darko was told his next script would have a huge budget, and he just threw every crackpot idea he had at it. Hopefully, Kelly will follow Charlie Kaufman's school of crazy with this one. The Rock and Sean William Scott are involved. Good heavens.

I'm Not There (November 21)
The way that this film uses a number of very different actors to play Bob Dylan is going to be very exciting, I think, and will probably diminish the romanticism of movies like Ray and Walk the Line. That's not to say it's trying to subvert those movies like Walk Hard is (see below), but that it will give some rawness to the film. The trailer doesn't reveal very much, but David Cross plays Allen Ginsberg, and I am pretty pumped to see that.

August Rush (Novermber 29)
This movie looks like it has everything heartwarming I would want to see, except maybe an underdog sports team beating State against all odds. I'm a total sucker for Freddie Highmore, and this looks like it will be an inspiring, if unconventional, hero tale. Robin Williams' presence and appearance are a bit baffling, but if there's enough Terrence Howard then I won't care. Most importantly though, it completely makes my spirit soar when movies are able to convey the magic that comes from a love of music. It seems as though this film does place a heavy emphasis on what music can do to our souls. Lastly, I must reiterate that Keri Russell and Jonathan Rhys-Meyers are two of the most beautiful people in Hollywood.

Juno (December 14)
This movie originally got some hype as the "closest we'll get to an Arrested Development reunion," but that is an entirely misguiding reason to want to see this movie. Of course, Michael Cera might just be my soulmate, so there is no question that I'd want to see this, but the trailer is particularly impressive. I still haven't seen Hard Candy, but from what I've seen, Ellen Page has a charming frankness that will play against Michael Cera really well. I've yet to see what the big deal is about Jennifer Garner, but it seems like her primary role is to temper Jason Bateman's pre-mid-life crisis. Can't wait. It's the hipster Knocked Up, with a splash of Junebug.

Walk Hard (December 21)
I got to see about half an hour's worth of clips from this movie when Judd Apatow was on the Columbia panel at Comic Con, and it was gut-bustingly hilarious. Definitely over-the-top, and with a pretty broad sense of parody, but I trust Judd Apatow to do that without insulting the audience's intelligence too much. There's a whole panoply of cameos that look very promising, as well.

Be Kind, Rewind (January 25)
Another trailer that I saw at Comic Con, and I am really hoping that my expectations are not too high for this film. After Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, I was disappointed by The Science of Sleep, even though I felt that Gael Garcia-Bernal and Charlotte Gainsbourg are both impressive. Maybe the problem there is that I know Charlie Kaufman's writing will impress me, but Michel Gondry's directing is not always a hit. In the world of music video directors turned feature directors, though, Gondry is much more of a Spike Jonze than a ... McG. Anyway, I think Mos Def and Jack Black will have great chemistry, and the premise is very charming. As anyone who's ever reenacted something with their friends understands, most of the appeal of movies is what you share with people reminiscing about them.

Monday, October 15, 2007

once more, with bitches!

I would just like to amend my earlier post about this fall's season premieres to say that I am now caught up on The CW's new series Gossip Girl. I never read the series of books that the show is based on, and I've never really been into the high school drama shows with age-inappropriate actors like Dawson's Creek or The OC, but this show did draw me in for two reasons. As an alumna of a very clique-y all girls' prep school, I think I'm craving more drama in my life, since this semester it has been spent entirely in a book, in front of a computer, or behind a camera. Also, it stars Blake Lively who was in The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, one of my guiltier pleasures.

So far, it isn't the best show on TV, and even though it isn't that slowly paced, I am just not sure that enough happens in each episode. There's a lot of exposition, but not that much action. Of course, I'm not expecting it to be LOST or anything, but I think the show does have a lot of potential. Oh, and for the record: I was kind of on the fence about the show until there was a totally pointless a capella version of "Glamorous" performed in a church. Seriously.

I managed to catch up on the season's first three episodes when I accidentally noticed they were being replayed on MTV yesterday afternoon. I have a big gripe with MTV right now. Every commercial break starts with a clip of Rilo Kiley (one of my absolute favorite bands) performing, then the video transitions into an ad for one of their reality shows about rich girls or skateboarding teens. WHILE THE RILO KILEY MUSIC IS STILL PLAYING UNDERNEATH IT. I don't know why this bothers me so much, but it reeeeally does. Their new CD, "Under the Blacklight," is excellent, and I love hearing tracks "Silver Lining" or "The Moneymaker" every ten minutes when I'm watching MTV, but I'd rather not have to be distracted by some other show at the same time.

Anyone know why they do this?

as the (real) world turns...

So, I don't often get too personal on this here film blog of mine. I mean, I mention goings-on in my life, and it's all about my opinions, but this isn't really an emotion-based blog like my xanga or MySpace of yore. However, I've been thinking a whole lot lately about my impending career in film and television. Unfortunately, I haven't really got much experience to speak of in the industry. The past two summers, since I realized that I wanted to work in Hollywood, I have had to sacrifice an internship in entertainment in order to take a paid job in a fairly unrelated field (public affairs, communications, and my school's alumni relations - all peripherally related to entertainment). So at this point, I'm looking for entry-level positions to begin in Fall of 2008, which require a B.A. and hopefully not too much experience. Yeesh.

Though my long-term goal is to be able to make a living as a writer for film and television, I am open to most kinds of entry-level positions in production. Though it's a bit early in the year to be actively submitting my resume, really, I have been scrolling through job listings as a new form of "productive procrastination" (cleaning my room, cooking, doing laundry, etc.). Primarily, I've been looking through the major production companies' and networks' job listings, and I did a more general search on Variety, but I still feel a bit lost about how exactly I should be job-searching. My school is primarily a government and economics school (though it is, nominally, a liberal arts college), and the career services center is in no way prepared to guide any student in how to search for jobs that aren't in consulting, accounting, or investment banking.

I am doing my best to take baby steps towards my goal though, including looking at other possible "ins" to The Industry than assistant jobs at studios. I sent my resume to the NBC Page Program in Burbank, but it was probably too early to do so. I've recently begun reading the blogs of Jane Espenson and Lisa Klink, and next semester I really want to start writing as many spec scripts as I can, even if I never send them to anyone, but just so I can get the hang of it. Of course the reason I have to wait until next semester to do this is because this semester I am writing my senior thesis, which is my first ever feature-length screenplay.

Also, there is the alumni connection. I have worked in alumni relations at my school ever since I was a freshman, and have found this to be my best resource that the school can offer. I am currently the student liaison for the fledgling Media Advisory Board, which is a great initiative working to get alumni in the entertainment industry able to enlighten interested students about the industry. Another recent happy accident is that the entertainment alumni from all five colleges in the Claremont University Consortium (Pitzer, Pomona, Scripps, Harvey Mudd, and my dear Claremont McKenna) have independently decided to get together and start creating a stronger network. Luckily, I get to be one of the two current students who will be attending the first mixer of the 5C entertainment alumni, and hopefully I can do a good job of networking there.

So, I am reaching out to the internet community at large, which my StatCounter informs me is, um... not yet obsessed en masse with my blog, to ask for advice. I realize that one avenue I should be looking into more actively is jobs at writers' agencies, but I have no idea how to find these agencies. When I did a preliminary Google, I couldn't tell which sites were reputable, and which I should bother sending resumes to. So if someone in the know comes across this appeal of mine, please comment with any thoughts you may have about good paths to take in this job hunt!


Friday, October 12, 2007

more shameless plugs of placentia

So, my friend Esther and I started collaborating on short films whenever we have the time, particularly with the intention of entering into the various short film contests we find on the internet and on YouTube. So, if you'd like to see the two pieces we submitted to the NBC Diversity Promo contest, you can check them out on our site. They make more sense if you watch Heroes. Also, there will be more videos added to our page in the coming weeks!


season premieres!

It is far past time for me to organize my thoughts about this season's new and returning offerings of primetime TV! So far, the one show that seems to have found itself on the cutting block is ANTM, which I just haven't been able to find the time for. The great thing about that show is that it has two "cycles" each season, so I don't have to wait a whole year to catch a new crop of skinny bitches. Also, I have to wait until February for more LOST, but at least there won't be a mid-season hiatus this time around.

Mondays at 9pm on NBC
So far, I have been greatly impressed by the reintroduction to the Heroes-verse. Unfortunately, there was about a month last season when I really had trouble keeping interested in some of the show's many plotlines, so I feel like I keep missing out on some backstory now and again, but I feel like I'll catch up. As far as the Nakamura family is concerned, I'm sad to see George Takei go, but I am thrilled with the interaction between Hiro and Takezo Kensei. Not only does it reinforce how amazing of a hero Hiro really is, but it's nice to get a totally different perspective on the super powers. As far as Peter Petrelli is concerned, I like how much of a total badass he is, but I hope they just don't make him omnipotent and take the humanity out of him. That said, he looks a lot hotter this season. Claire is getting less annoying now that she's not a cheerleader any more, but I have to wonder how far they are going to take her abilities.

I Love New York 2
Mondays at 9pm on Vh1
So, my dear friend Evan and I became obsessed with Tiffany Patterson's search for love on the first season of I Love New York, and were sad to see that she didn't find it with Tango (personally, I think Mr. Boston would have been her best shot). So of course we more than eagerly tuned in to see the premiere of this second season. So far, it looks promising - plenty of fame-hungry 'mos looking for a shot to hook up with the living Bratz doll that has been on Flav. Now, don't get me wrong, I think Tiffany is great. I just think it's funny how these guys claim they've been in love with her ever since they tuned in to Flavor of Love for the first time. So far, no particular standout suitors, but I really hope Vh1's lawyers get Sister Patterson to stop being so hateful to self-named "Midget Mac."

Pushing Daisies
Wednesdays at 8pm on ABC
I'd heard good things about this show, which had gotten some buzz in recent months, but the advertising and word-of-mouth never really stuck with me. On a whim, I watched the pilot on last week, and became totally smitten! Lee Pace, from the late, great series Wonderfalls, and the beautiful Anna Friel (see The Land Girls if you ever get a chance) have extremely charming chemistry, made sweeter by the fact that they cannot touch. The character interactions are reminiscent of those on Dead Like Me, though there is less cynicism, and the show is so well-produced that it is like watching a high-budget movie fairy tale each week. Always a gem, Kristin Chenoweth is able to be physically comic and sing on the show, which I am very grateful for!

30 Rock
Thursdays at 8:30pm on NBC
The first two episodes of the season thus far have not been as hilarious as much of last season was, but I fully expect that the show will start delivering in a few weeks. It took me a few episodes to really get into the show when I started watching, and I'm sure it just needs to get back into the swing of things. That said, there have already been a couple of jokes which keep me giggling at inappropriate moments ("Oh no! Did a Korean person die?" and "Boys becoming men; men becoming wolves!"), and I just hope that the show doesn't start to rely on cameos and fat jokes for season two.

The Office
Thursdays at 9pm on NBC
With one major exception, I have been pleasantly surprised by everything that season four of this show has given its viewers. At first, I was really worried that a premature resolution of the Jim/Pam storyline would siphon all of the magic out of the show, but so far that hasn't happened. The Dwangela storyline seems to be filling its shoes quite nicely, and I look forward to Angela's character being given more room to breathe. The first four episodes of this season are hour-long, and so far that has worked sometimes, but last night's episode felt stretched too thin. The main problem I'm having with this season is that Michael's character has changed from a well-meaning idiot to a completely unrealistic buffoon. I can't really sympathize with him anymore because the things he does seem to be stupid for stupid's sake, like driving into a lake. It's almost Brentian. Hopefully things right themselves, because my impulse purchase of the first three seasons on DVD really made me fall even more in love with the show.

Grey's Anatomy
Thursdays at 9pm on ABC
Nah, not really. I hate to say it, but this show has really lost a lot of its charm. I couldn't justify spending the money on the season 3 DVDs because of the sour turn that the show took during the second half of the season, and so far season 4 has yet to draw me back in. I've decided that The Office gets my viewership on Thursday nights, and I will watch Grey's online when I have time, in the hopes that the writers can find a way to get back on the right track, but at this point I really don't even care what happens to the characters. I wish I could be as gung-ho about this show as I was for seasons 1 and 2, especially as a minority female hoping to become a writer someday, but it has gotten...boring. Characters making too many stupid mistakes and not getting out of their ruts is just...not doing it for me.

So, hopefully I'll have a chance to catch up on ANTM, Private Practice, and Gossip Girl (which I'm sure I'd love), but as I'm writing a first-semester thesis, that just doesn't seem too likely. Fingers crossed!



Before I get to my assessment of the TV shows that I am trying my very best to keep up with each week, I wanted to give a shout-out to Netflix, and the shows that I have been catching up with lately. Shortly after I first got my Netflix subscription in early summer '06, I started using it to make up for the time I'd lost during the first two years of college when I didn't have a TV anymore. If it weren't for Netflix, I wouldn't be watching some of the shows which I consider to be my current favorites, like LOST, Grey's Anatomy, or The Office.

I am now caught up with the first four seasons of Nip/Tuck, and I have been totally sucked in. Now, I've heard from the show's fans that after the first two seasons it disintegrated into a pointless soap opera with more twists than necessary. For this, I am grateful. Yes, the first two seasons made me care more about the characters than I do currently, but the show wouldn't be as sensational and addictive if it didn't push the boundaries of believability, network standards, and comic hyperbole. For a while during season 4 I was displeased with Sanaa Lathan's character and with the departure of Julia, but the way that the season wrapped up was very satisfactory. I am quite looking forward to the complications that will arise from Sean and Christian's relocation to my sunny neighborhood of Los Angeles. Also, as I mentioned in my last post about Death at a Funeral, I have become very impressed with Peter Dinklage. I was very happy with his character in Nip/Tuck, especially the romance between him and Julia. The flash-forward episode was a little "LOST" though, and I wasn't over the moon about that.

Also, I am two discs away from being finished with season one of Ugly Betty. I had seen a couple of episodes of La Fea Mas Bella when I was younger, and did watch the pilot of Ugly Betty last year, but I guess I had quite underestimated the quality of the show. Once I catch up, I plan to keep the show as part of my general rotation of primetime programming, and I can't wait to see if this show will have legs. My favorite parts (so far) are the snippets of telenovelas that we get to see, and the interactions between Mark and Amanda. Also, I think that America Ferrera is a very good actress, and I like seeing her do something much more comedic than Real Women Have Curves or, my guilty pleasure, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.

recent movies

I must, once more, apologize for my latency with this blog. I am currently going through what I think must be the busiest semester of my life, and I wish I hadn't sacrificed the frequency of my posts so soon! So instead of dedicating a full blog to each of the movies that I saw towards the end of summer, I'm going to try to sum them up here!

A few weeks ago, I saw Stardust with my dad, after looking forward to it since seeing how radiant (*chortle*) Claire Danes looked in the trailer. It was a very nice father-daughter sort of movie, because it is really no more complicated or heavy than your typical fairy tale. The advertisements did a good job of pointing out that this is a movie about flying pirates, evil witches, and a fallen star, so I was very pleased with what the filmmakers gave us. Though the story is simple and easy enough to understand, it still has enough cute surprises to keep it from being too formulaic. I've heard it referred to as "the next Princess Bride, and I actually think that is a pretty fair assessment. We'll see what kind of a following it gets once it's released on DVD.

At Comic Con I missed the opportunity to see Shoot 'Em Up, but I did get to see Clive Owen and the writer-director discussing it and presenting some clips from the movie. I saw it right after it came out, and quite exceeded my expectations. At times, it was so ridiculous that it almost veered into XXX territory (I'm talking about the movie with Vin Diesel and Asia Argento), but in the end, I was very glad that I had chosen to see it in theaters. Now, there was some sort of story that made me wonder what was going on for about 5 seconds, but once I realized I should just ignore any plot and pay attention to the gunfights and sex, I really started getting the most out of it that I could.

I'm very glad that a new Laemmle theatre opened up just a few blocks away from my school, because I have some really great movies right at my fingertips. I saw Death at a Funeral there, and though I very much enjoyed it, it ended up being a bit different than the American-audience-geared trailer made it seem like it would be. Much more British in its bumbling and quiet than I was expecting, I really felt that there were a lot of heartfelt interactions between the characters. Alan Tudyk is always a pleasure to watch, and didn't overplay the "accidentally high" character, despite the nudity and paranoia. The most impressive part of the film was definitely Peter Dinklage's character. I have often championed blind casting, and I am especially pleased to see LP actors treated with respect in film and television.

I also went to a free screening of In a Day at the Laemmle, and am very glad that I didn't pay money to see it. I could overlook the shortcomings of the actors or the low budget, but there were too many screenwriting and directorial flaws for me to not feel cheated out of my time. I didn't understand any of the character's motivations throughout the entire film, and had trouble sympathizing with anyone onscreen. Also, the continuity editing would sometimes be improperly framed, so there'd be a conversation filmed in shot/reverse-shot, where there were no eyeline matches and incorrect amounts of negative space on both sides of the characters. Just too obviously amateur, I guess. And I wish I weren't so critical of people getting started in the business, but it was not an enjoyable movie to watch.

After much, much waiting, I finally saw Superbad! Now, my good friend and collaborator Esther has decided that it was her favorite movie. I cannot give it nearly that high of a recommendation, but I did enjoy it. Jonah Hill was a bit disappointing, just overacting a little too much, and sometimes seeming like he was reading off cue-cards, but I think it was unfortunate for him that he was acting opposite the impeccable Michael Cera. Michael's subdued performance was very engaging considering the subject matter of the movie, and made me fall in love with him all over again. Christopher Mintz-Plasse as McLovin was much more than the one-note joke that I expected him to be, and I even felt that the cop subplot was funny if taken with a grain of salt.