Friday, March 30, 2012

Bully - 2012 (Off Topic)

I went to see "Friends With Kids" yesterday.  It was a pretty good movie, kind of a "When Harry Met Sally" except Harry and Sally decide to have a baby together and stay just friends.  But as anyone knows, men and women cannot be friends because the sex thing always gets in the way. 

But that isn't what I am going to write about.  Since this movie was an indie film, it had all those indie trailers in front of it that you don't see when you watch "21 Jump Street" or "The Hunger Games".  

One of the trailers was for the movie "Bully".  It has been in the news a lot due to rating issues.  Apparently there is a lot of language, specifically the "F" word.  The makers want this to be shown to high school students and they can't do that with an R rating.

The trailer is heart wrenching. 

The message of this film is important.  As a kid I was teased, excluded and once in a high school math class, taunted until I cried while the teacher was out of the room.  Kids can be cruel.  I can't imagine how difficult it is today with social media added to the mix. 

My fear is that the wrong people are going to see this movie. 

This movie addresses the unfortunate children that are targeted.  There is a family who's eleven year old child was so distraught that he killed himself.  No parent should ever have to bury a child. 

But what about the kids that are doing the bullying?  I can't imagine these children or their parents seeing this film and making a change. 

How do we stop our children from being cruel to each other? How do we get them to accept the differences in their peers rather than ostracizing them?  I know self esteem is important.  Kids should believe in themselves and be strong.  But is building that good self image at the expense of any child that is different in any way?  How do we foster strong children who don't need to push others down to feel good about themselves?

I don't have the answers. 

They can put teachers in the hallways. They can put an extra adult on every bus. But until the people who are sending these children into the world work toward change, nothing will happen.

In movies there are underdogs. But they always have their moment of triumph and success. But this isn't a movie, this a documentary and these are real kids. In every school there are kids who go to school every day and are tortured by their peers. They are never going to get that magic makeover and date the quarterback. They aren't going to save the day and find acceptance where it wasn't before. They are going to keep falling down and getting kicked while they are there. Somehow these kids keep going back every day. I don't know how they do it.

Just the trailer for this movie makes me bereft. I don't think I will be able to watch the entire film.   

Friday, March 23, 2012

The Hunger Games - 2012

I first heard of the book about a year and a half ago.  I had my Entertainment Weekly while on vacation, I love to save it for the plane.  I was heading to Vegas with my husband, son and father-in-law.  While waiting to board the plane, I read that the last book in the series was coming out.  The premise sounded interesting.  Thank goodness for my Nook, because a couple of clicks later I had it downloaded and was already three chapters in when they called out rows to board. 

The book is absorbing and a quick read.  I finished it my first night in Vegas and ended up downloading the other two books in the series right away.   I finished the last book on the flight home.  Since then I have reread the books a couple of times.  The main character, Katniss is a strong character and the story is told from her point of view.  When I heard the movie was coming out, March 2012 seemed very far away.

I like to have some distance between reading the book and seeing a movie.  Usually about six months.  If it's a good book the main things will stick with me and I won't get caught up in the details that the filmmakers will inevitably dump.  I try to imagine who would be good for the roles.   This is a movie that needs unknowns.  You can't put Zac Efron or Kristen Stewart in the lead roles and expect it to fly. 

Jennifer Lawrence was pretty much unknown to me.  She'd been nominated for an Oscar, but I didn't see it, so no preconceived notions.  She was blond, and Katniss is described with dark hair, but that didn't worry me.  I wanted to know if she'd portray Katniss' survival instinct and her vulnerability. 

When they released a photo of her in character, I thought "Yeah, that is Katniss."

So, enough background.  How was the movie?

It was a good adaptation, holding true to most of the main parts of the story.   Going from a first person narrative to a movie is difficult.    I missed the bits of history that showed us what made Katniss tick. 

There are two young men in Katniss' life.  There is her hunting partner, Gale and her fellow tribute, Peeta.  Both look pretty good for living in such a poor district. 

Elizabeth Banks is unrecognizable as Effie Trinket, the chaperone from the evil Capitol. 

Woody Harrelson was very good as Haymitch.  I wish there had been more of the book dialogue, but we got to see a little of the behind the scenes action of him working for sponsors.  I also missed the drunken fall off the stage, but I have to say it would have added levity to a powerful scene.  It worked without it.

They did a good job with the other tributes.  Very few had to be established as they aren't going to be in any future movies.  But one of them is the son of Meg Ryan and Dennis Quaid.

The theater was packed for a morning show, with people lined up waiting almost an hour ahead of time.  It is the most packed I've seen a theater in ages.  I hope it does well and they make the sequels.  It was very good.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

21 Jump Street - 2012

I went to the movies today with my son.  I have seen some ads for this and thought it looked OK.  I was a fan of the series.

The Johnny Depp years.  I stopped watching after he left.

The movie is great.  It acknowledges the history.  The backstory is that they are bringing the program back. 

Jonah Hill is Schmidt.  He had a bad high school experience.   Channing Tatum is Jenko.  He had more fun.

They weren't friendly.

They meet again in police academy and end up friends and then partners.

After a failed bust, they are transferred to Jump Street.   They are assigned to a high school that is seeing a new drug.  They have to infiltrate the dealers and find the supplier.  That is all I'm saying about that!

The movie is hilarious.  My son had zero knowledge of the series.  He enjoyed it as much as I did. 

There are some great cameos from the original Jump Street crew.  I can't tell you about Johnny Depp's, cause there is a major plot point involved.  But it is great.

There is a lot of action and some really funny stuff.   Definitely worth getting out of the house.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Election - 1999


This is my favorite political movie.  Sure it is about a high school election, but it depicts the process so well. 

Reese Witherspoon is awesome as a driven girl running for class president. 

(cheery, awkward)
I can't wait to start campaigning.

Should be easy.  So far no competition.

TRACYWell, you know, Coca-Cola's the world's number one soft drink, but they spend more money than anybody on advertising.  I guess that's how come they stay number one.

There is quite a bit of awesome voice overs.  Some of the best of it belonging to Ferris Bueller himself, Matthew Broderick.  He plays Jim McCallister a high school history teacher.

It's hard to remember how the whole thing started, the whole election mess. What I do remember is that I loved my job. I was a teacher, an educator, and I couldn't imagine doing anything else.
Jim's best friend had an ill-advised affair with Tracy and had to leave the state.  It sets Jim down a road.  He decides that Tracy needs to go down.   He recruits Paul Metzler, a former quarterback who's been sidelined with a broken leg. 

This was Chris Klein's first role.  He is a lovable idiot who is happy to go along.  He is even supportive when his little sister throws her name in the ring. 

Dear God, thank You for all Your blessings.  You have given me so many things, like good health, nice parents, a nice truck, and what I've been told is a large penis, and I'm very grateful.  But I sure am worried about Tammy.  In my heart I still can't believe she tore down my posters, but sometimes she does get so weird and angry.  Please help her be a happier person, because she's so smart and sensitive, and I love her.  Also, I'm nervous about the election tomorrow, and I guess I want to win and all, but I know that's totally up to You.  You'll decide who the best person is, and I'll accept it.  And forgive my sins, whatever they may be.  Amen.

It is the story of Jim McCallister's downward spiral.  He starts as a respected teacher with a wife who wants his baby. 

By the end he is alone, unemployed and not looking real good. 

The journey is funny and dark.  All the performances are pitch perfect and avoid parody.   I guess I am in a dark comedy mood this week.   It is also a great break from all the March Madness that is the current election.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Fargo - 1996


This is a movie I love.  Over the years I have mentioned how much I love it and especially how funny I think it is.  More than once I have had people stare at me with a dumbfounded look on their face at this.

They are truly shocked that I find it amusing.  I first saw it when I was selling it.  I watched it alone and immedietely told my husband he needed to see it too. 

It is a simple story but so layered and rich. 

William H. Macy is Jerry Lundegard. (BTW, Happy Birthday Mr. Macy!)  He has gotten himself into some money trouble.  He is running a dealership owned by his father-in-law.  He's been dodging calls about some VIN numbers related to some loans.   They never come out and say exactly how he got into this trouble or what he used the money for.  Which I think is awesome.  I think knowing that he gambled or bought weird sex would take away from the story.

He hires a couple of guys to kidnap his wife.   It is a no rough stuff kind of deal.  They are supposed to grab her and take her to a remote little cabin on the lake and hold her till Jerry gets the ransom from his father-in-law.  But even the best laid plans fall apart.

Jean doesn't go quietly.  I love that she fights!  They finally get her in the car and head for the hideout.   A routine little traffic stop turns into a major problem leaving three people dead.

We are then introduced to one of the best female characters in film history.

Marge Gunderson.

From the moment she is woken up early to the final moments, Frances McDormand was spot on perfect and deserved every award including her Oscar.  She gives the film it's heart.   Whether she's interviewing prosititutes or comforting her husband she is engaged and real. 

The whole cast is great.  There is violence and language, but that has never turned me off if the story is good.  I don't like anything that is just there for the shock value.  

This movie is a great example of that.  And it is funny.  Maybe it's because I live near Minnesota and know that there are people that talk like this. 

My husband and I took a weekend trip there a few weeks after seeing this movie and could barely keep a straight face when were hit with the "Minnesota Nice" accent at our hotel.  Then we went into our room to find a giant moose head hanging over the bed.  That is romance my friends.

This is one of my unclickable movies.  If it is on I watch it. 


Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Wanderlust - 2012

My husband is on vacation and I am still on leave from my surgery, so we decided to actually leave the house.  I'm not ready for any wild parties or major physical exertion, so we decided on a movie.  There wasn't a whole lot showing, so we picked "Wanderlust".  We are both fans of Paul Rudd and the trailer looked cute. 

We were wrong.

It is the story of George and Linda.  They are a New York couple who have just bought their first apartment.  Everything is going fine until George's company is brought down.  No real explanation as to why except seeing his boss led out by cops.

Since Linda doesn't really have a job, she is trying unsuccessfully to sell a weird documentary to HBO.   So they are suddenly broke.  They decide to go to Atlanta and live with George's brother who owns his own successful business. 

On their way they decide to stop for the night and the GPS finds a crazy little bed and breakfast.  They have a great night, smoking pot and getting to know all the residents.  It turns out to be a commune founded by Alan Alda in the early seventies. 

They leave the next morning and get to the brother's house.  He has a boozing wife and annoying child.  They last one day before running back to the commune to give it a try as a new lifestyle. 

They get back and announce that they are back to stay.  The group embraces them and introduces them to the real way they do things. 

Soon Linda is loving everything about her new life.  George is instantly missing the old life.  He starts looking for new work and trying to avoid the nudist guy who is writing a political thriller. 

The movie is just embarrassing.  It has some humorous movies but nothing that had me laughing out loud.  The storyline wasn't very cohesive or even terribly original.  It is a typical fish out of water movie. 

I can see why it didn't do that well at the movie theaters.  Guess I should have held out for "The Hunger Games."  I can't believe how long it has been since I've really been blown away by a movie. 

Oh, and if you heard about this movie and thought you'd see it because Jennifer Aniston is topless, don't bother.  They blur out the boobs. 

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

What Is Happening

I realized the other day that I hadn't seen a movie in the theater since "Breaking Dawn" came out in November.  This is sad since it recently came out on DVD.  This is my longest run of not seeing a movie in the theater.

I can explain it.  I was working every weekend from Thanksgiving to New Year's Day.  Sundays are usually my movie days.  Getting in to January, my husband was making lovely large breakfasts on the weekends that necessitated a nap.  Then I had surgery.  My next planned movie is to see "The Hunger Games" on March 23rd or at least that weekend. 

There are other movies that look good coming up, but I just don't know if I need to see them in the theater. 

I looked through the summer movies and nothing jumps out at me.  I am feeling some movie depression.  Maybe when the movies start advertising more I will get more excited. 

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Father of the Bride II - 1995 & 1951

Some months back I wrote about "Father of the Bride" and compared the original with the remake.  This morning I saw the remake sequel, so I am going to write about both remakes.

They both boasted the return of the original casts.  But other than the first third of the film, they are quite different.

They both start with the young couple from the last film announcing a impending bundle of joy.  Everyone is thrilled about the news except the father of the bride. 

Now, Stanley Banks, played by Spencer Tracy, doesn't like the idea of being a grandfather.  He sees his wife getting giddy and wanting to buy all kinds of things for the baby.  She wants to have it stay with them.  Stanley figures he's put in his time and doesn't want the kid to cramp his style.

Ellie can't wait to spread the good news.

George Banks, played by Steve Martin, is equally unhappy at the idea of his daughter having a baby.  It makes him feel older than he would like to admit he is.  He starts going on a self improvement tirade in an attempt to prove he isn't ready for the rocking chair set yet.

He tries working out, coloring his hair and finally only succeeds in knocking up his wife. 

This is where the remake veers wildly off the original.

Both movies have the amusing discussion about baby names.  Both have the arguments that make the mother to be turn up at her parents house.  But Kay's pregnancy is not the whole movie.  Heck, she hardly appears pregnant.

The untucked blouse is a sign of pregnancy in fifties movies.

Annie and Nina are a little bigger.  But their shirts aren't tucked in either, so who knows. 

Kay has her baby and the big issue becomes that Stanley and the baby don't like each other.  The baby cries anytime Stanley enters the room.  He is fine with this though, because he still doesn't like the whole grandpa thing. 

Then Kay and Buckley, yes, her husband is named Buckley, decide to take a trip.  They bring the baby over to her parents house for the weekend.  Ellie has something come up and has to leave Stanley alone with the baby.  In an effort to keep the baby quiet, he takes the baby to the park.  It is calmed by the ride in the pram and falls asleep, so Stanley parks him at a bench. 

A ball rolls his way and he is soon caught up in a game with some kids.  When he gets back to the bench, the pram and the baby have disappeared.   He rushes to the park office and finds that the baby is there.

But there is a moment of distress.  The baby doesn't like him.  How will he prove that it is his baby if the child just cries when he walks in the room?

But the baby is thrilled to see him and smiles and giggles at the sight of him.

So Stanley is instantly wrapped around his little finger.   The movie ends with the baby's christening where he is finally named.  Little Stanley. 

The kid is pretty big before the christen him.  Did they just no reveal the name till the ceremony?  But Kay gives her, "I love you Pops" look and Stanley is touched.

In the update, it is all about the pregnancies of Annie and Nina.  George accepts things pretty quickly and makes it through.  It ends with the births, although due a month apart, they have their babies within minutes of each other.

Both movies have all the comic moments.  Stanley battles the in-laws over who will spend the most on the new baby.  George rushes around taking care of two pregnant women with cravings.  Both deal with the false alarms. 

I like the new version the best.  Even though some of the updates seem silly, like making Nina pregnant too.  It is still cute. 

This is the kind of movie that will continue to be updated over the generations.  They are both examples of the times they were made. 

Plus my husband sat with me as I watched the remake and could quote quite a bit of it.  That makes a good movie.