Baby Mama is the story of a workaholic career woman who suddenly finds out she can't have kids: a ginormous cliché if there ever was one. The thing is, clichés exist for a reason; there are plenty of us girls who ache to be mommies. I could totally identify with the scene in which Tina Fey's character surreptitiously sniffs the head of a stranger's baby. Many of us have that same hunger, which is why, I suppose, stories like this tend to find their market.
On the other hand, we like us some originality, too. Not a whole lot of that in this movie. If you've seen the trailer, you've seen the movie. It was completely predictable, full of stereotypes, and not one laugh-out-loud moment for me. Disappointing, really.
And what the heck is with Tina's look in this movie? She's got a distinctive scar on her face (one of the thing that makes Ms. Fey unique), which was nowhere to be seen.
Do we need a generic Tina? I don't. But that's what we get in Baby Mama.
UPDATE: Pistola just reminded me of one good thing.... Steve Martin and Sigourney Weaver kicked booty in this! Hi-larious. ...Click here for the rest of this tasty post.
So on Saturday morning I really was going to watch it. I curled up on my bed with my laptop (the most convenient way to see a movie at my home if Captain Crash is sound asleep in the other room), grabbed a box of White Cheddar Cheez-its (yummy!) and put the DVD in. I turned on the computer.... somehow strayed to Netflix.... and decided to watch Amadeus online. Oh, well.
I've wanted to see Amadeus for quite a while (it does have a crapload of Oscars), and I wasn't disappointed. It left me with a few thoughts:
- Why isn't Tom Hulce more famous? Yeah, the laugh was annoying, but his performance was outstanding. I confess I didn't even know who he was until I checked out IMDB. By the way, check out this current picture of him on Wikipedia. Yeesh.
- Salieri and Mozart: one is not so talented, but loved by the masses; the other is an artistic genius, but not much of a crowd-pleaser. Take out the murder and betrayal, switch the media, and you've got Michael Bay and Paul Thomas Anderson.
- The score was outstanding. (Duh).
- This was SO not based on history, but it was still really entertaining. On the other hand... I'm thinking the actual story might not have been too bad, either. (I read today that Mozart and Beethoven actually got syphilis from the same hooker. Gripping.)
Nah. I'm on an extended marathon of The Office at the moment. I can't be bothered. ...Click here for the rest of this tasty post.
Captain Crash and I showed up to the screening a full 30 minutes early and discovered a line out the front door of Landmark's Lagoon Cinema. I'm thinking either The Visitor is hugely popular, or the screening was grossly overbooked. Anyway, we gamely got in line, and we got within three people of the box office... when they announced that it was sold out.
Here's the thing... figuring we had plenty of time (I've caught a few of these screenings before, and 30 minutes is always plenty early), we stopped at Mac & Don's Golden Rainbow Lounge for some soft serve. Those precious minutes would have gotten us seats at the Lagoon. Ugh.
The ice cream wasn't even that good. All melty. So not worth it.
I consoled myself with a Blue Moon and some quesadillas. Captain Crash finished The Village Pub's "Big @$$ Burger" and got me a free Grain Belt, too. It's all good, I guess.
...Click here for the rest of this tasty post.
Greg is definitely moving to California next month. I think I'm ok... whether I stay that way or crumple into a million devastated pieces remains to be seen.
I'm catching an advance screening of The Visitor tonight. I'll let ya know.
P.S. Sorry I've been so lame this week. I'm doing some major catch-up at that job where they actually pay me. I'll try to slack off a little more.
This is what they're showing this weekend, in this order:
- The Forbidden Kingdom - 73% Tomatometer - All right, it might be fun to see Jackie Chan sporting sick dreadies like mine.
- Superhero Movie! - 15% Tomatometer - Yeah. The Leslie Nielsen one. Ick.
- Never Back Down - 26% Tomatometer - They should be paying me to watch this dreck.
I was really hoping for Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Why, Vali-Hi, why???
But it's in the 60's today, and I can smell summer. Even a night of trash cinema can't bring me down. ...Click here for the rest of this tasty post.
I do have to say... the cast is stellar. I love, love, love Dennis Quaid, and I love him even more when he's all scruffy and grouchy. I also love, love, love Sarah Jessica Parker and Thomas Haden Church.
And, of course, I love, love, love Ellen Page. This is the thing, though: I know she filmed Smart People before Juno, but she pretty much played the same character in both movies (aside from some glaring political differences). It would be so refreshing to see her play somebody else. I know she's got it in her.
So, overall... it was OK. Great cast, mediocre story, dialogue that's cute in places. It made me laugh... but I thought it would make me think. That's what I get for having expectations. ...Click here for the rest of this tasty post.
There's always something new to be angry about. To be honest, there are times when I feel like throwing my hands in the air and giving up on humanity.
I've seen a lot of documentaries in the last year about the Iraq war, Afghanistan, torture, our broken health care system... all depressing issues having to do with the current state of American politics. All those issues have one thing in common, though: there is an apparent solution.
The HBO documentary I watched the other night was a different story altogether. As I watched The Greatest Silence: Rape in the Congo, I was overcome by a feeling of helplessness, and hopelessness. The problem is evident; the solution, not so much.
Here's the situation:
- The Democratic Republic of Congo is a huge nation (about the size of Western Europe) in the central part of Africa.
- Congo has a vast wealth of resources: gold, diamonds, and 80% of the world's reserves of coltan (a mineral used in all cell phones and laptops).
- Despite the wealth, Congo is a destitute country. The nation has been ravaged by a civil war since 1994.
- The war makes it easy to loot Congo's resources: an estimated $1,000,000 in coltan is stolen across the border each day. The war is profitable, so the war continues.
- The most striking consequence of this war is rape. Soldiers from every side rape civilian women with impunity, mutilating them afterwards so they lose the use of bladder, uterus, and/or rectum.
- Due to societal conventions, women who have been raped are often shunned by their husbands and families, as though the rape were the fault of the victim.
This woman is Maria Namafu. She is 70 years old. As she was raped, the soldiers told her, "You're not too old for us." How does that not make you angry?
I first became aware of this situation a few weeks ago when Ann Curry did a story on NBC's Today show. It's easy to say to yourself, Oh, that sucks. But there's crappy stuff happening all over the world. What can I do about it?
Honestly, I don't really know what can be done about it. There are UN Peacekeepers, but the country is so huge that their efforts barely make a dent. There is a Congolese "Special Victims Unit"... of one officer in a ramshackle wooden hut. There is one hospital, the Panzi Hospital, for treating the victims of sexual violence... but most never make it there. There are vast resources in that country... but they are used to line the pockets of criminals instead of to save the women of Congo.
It's a shit situation.
The only thing I can think of is to raise awareness. So I guess that's what I'm trying to do. Watch the doc if you get HBO... if you don't, research the problem, and donate if you can to the Panzi Hospital or other nonprofits that try to help in the region. This is as good a place to start as any.
I'm not an activist by any stretch, and I'm certainly not a Congolese. But I'm a woman, and I'm a human being, and I'm a citizen of this planet. And those are my brothers and sisters. I'm not sure what can be done...we've just got to do something....Click here for the rest of this tasty post.
So we hopped on a Metro bus and headed to downtown Saint Paul, spent some time in the lovely memorial gardens on the capital grounds...
We walked to Mickey's Diner.
Mickey's is an art-deco style diner that's been on this corner in downtown Saint Paul since the 1930's... It's one of the only diners on the National Register of Historic Places. Mickey's has been featured on several food/travel shows (they've even got their own Department 56 miniature), but what I was REALLY stoked about was the fact that it's been featured in several movies, including all the Mighty Ducks films, and--my favorite--A Prairie Home Companion.
Matter of fact, we got the same booth that the cast occupies in the closing scene. Think about it... my ass has shared real estate with Meryl Streep's!
I decided on something called the "Lil Jill": a grilled cheese sandwich with bacon and tomato, accompanied by a big bowl of the best chili I've had in a long time. Captain Crash opted for a hamburger, fries, and baked beans.
I really don't remember the last time I've had such a fun, satisfying meal. Of course most of the fun was the fact that we were eating on an actual movie set. Sooo cool.
After stuffing ourselves stupid, we hopped back on good ol' Metro Transit and headed home. Nothing else much notable about this weekend except that TNT broadcasted all three LOTR films... with horribly timed commercials. To be fair, I can't imagine well-timed commercials for those movies, but they actually cut Haldir off in the middle of his speech when the elves came to fight at Helm's Deep! Bad form. We actually shouted at the television.
Eleven more days and the waiting will be over. Unless Vali-Hi keeps jerking us around. I don't know how much more I can take of this... but I'm open to suggestions for keeping my sad self busy next weekend. ...Click here for the rest of this tasty post.
In my lifetime he was much older, but he still seemed so strong. He was gentle, with such a sweet smile, but that voice gave him some serious authority. Even with the whole gun control issue, it was so disarming; anything he said in that gravelly, slow voice just had to be true. I didn't agree with everything he said, of course... but it was like when your Grandpa tells you something: even if it's total crap, you nod your head and say, "Of course."
It was really hard for me when he announced his diagnosis of Alzheimer's. It's such a devastating disease anyway, but to think of hard, tough Charlton Heston being reduced in that way was just heartbreaking. I'm actually glad he didn't make too many public appearances after that... that's not how I want to remember him.
When I think of Charlton Heston, I prefer to think of his cameo as The Good Actor in Wayne's World 2, giving the best driving directions EVER:
*Some sources say 1924. ...Click here for the rest of this tasty post.
Awwww, yeah. I loves me some Coen.
I'm watching The Hudsucker Proxy tonight.
So I decided to sit down and come up with the only top movie list that will ever be perfect. Of course, I'm talking about my list. (Hang on, while I pry my tongue out of my cheek. OK, that's better.) Seriously, it was a lot harder than I expected, especially putting all these movies in order. Frankly, if I compiled this list daily, it would probably look different every single time.
I've included movies from nearly every genre: sci-fi, comedy, fantasy, drama, animated, musicals, foreign films... there are even some short films and a documentary included. You'll certainly notice an abundance of "chick flicks". (Hey, I'm a chick.) All my favorite filmmakers are represented: Peter Jackson, the Coen brothers, Baz Luhrmann. You'll see my favorite actors here, too: Cate Blanchett, Edward Norton, Ryan Gosling, and Audrey Hepburn.
...And, yes, the Britney Spears movie makes the list. Say what you want, but Crossroads has a hold on me like The One Ring had on Gollum. The karaoke scene rocks. I adore that scruffy guy who drives the car. I want to go on a road trip with those girls. I like what I like, people.
And you know you love me anyway.
So here's Nayana's Top 100 as of April 2008.
- The Lord of the Rings - The Return of the King IMDB
- The Lord of the Rings - The Fellowship of the Ring IMDB
- The Lord of the Rings - The Two Towers IMDB
- Moulin Rouge! IMDB
- The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe IMDB
- Love Actually IMDB
- Schindler's List IMDB
- The Passion of the Christ IMDB
- Juno IMDB
- Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi IMDB
- Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back IMDB
- Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope IMDB
- William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet IMDB
- Pan's Labyrinth IMDB
- Breakfast at Tiffany's IMDB
- Ever After - A Cinderella Story IMDB
- The Diving Bell and the Butterfly IMDB
- The Little Matchgirl IMDB
- Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut IMDB
- The Princess Bride IMDB
- The Matrix IMDB
- Somewhere In Time IMDB
- Persepolis IMDB
- Once IMDB
- Across the Universe IMDB
- Casablanca IMDB
- Into the Wild IMDB
- My Big Fat Greek Wedding IMDB
- Sweet Land IMDB
- Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith IMDB
- Forrest Gump IMDB
- The Graduate IMDB
- 50 First Dates IMDB
- Fargo IMDB
- Notes on a Scandal IMDB
- Walk the Line IMDB
- Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home IMDB
- Pride and Prejudice IMDB
- An American Tail IMDB
- Edward Scissorhands IMDB
- No Country for Old Men IMDB
- Amélie IMDB
- From Here to Eternity IMDB
- Sleeping Beauty IMDB
- Elf IMDB
- The Wizard of Oz IMDB
- The Truth About Cats & Dogs IMDB
- Fiddler on the Roof IMDB
- Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan IMDB
- Wayne's World 2 IMDB
- Wayne's World IMDB
- The Shawshank Redemption IMDB
- Shakespeare in Love IMDB
- Knocked Up IMDB
- Happy Gilmore IMDB
- Paris, Je T'aime IMDB
- Lars and the Real Girl IMDB
- Volver IMDB
- Clueless IMDB
- Michael Clayton IMDB
- West Bank Story IMDB
- Vertigo IMDB
- The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford IMDB
- Enchanted IMDB
- The American President IMDB
- Fried Green Tomatoes IMDB
- Dan in Real Life IMDB
- It's a Wonderful Life IMDB
- I Met the Walrus IMDB
- O Brother, Where Art Thou? IMDB
- The Italian Job IMDB
- Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind IMDB
- Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street IMDB
- Batman Begins IMDB
- Tommy Boy IMDB
- Finding Nemo IMDB
- Titanic IMDB
- The Painted Veil IMDB
- Waitress IMDB
- The Notebook IMDB
- Napoleon Dynamite IMDB
- Babel IMDB
- V for Vendetta IMDB
- Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day IMDB
- Big Fish IMDB
- Rain Man IMDB
- Sabrina IMDB
- The Sound of Music IMDB
- Gandhi IMDB
- Life is Beautiful IMDB
- Chicago IMDB
- Crossroads IMDB
- Sleepless in Seattle IMDB
- Ratatouille IMDB
- Dead Poets Society IMDB
- A Christmas Story IMDB
- My Fair Lady IMDB
- The Wedding Singer IMDB
- City of Angels IMDB
- This Film is Not Yet Rated IMDB
I had the chance to see this classic again last night, thanks to the magic of TCM, and I took the opportunity to try to figure out what's so dang freaky about The Birds. My thoughts:
- There's no music.
Alfred Hitchcock's movies (notably Psycho) are famous for their terrifying scores. The grating, dischordant strains of music are a huge element of the fear we experience during these movies. The Birds, by contrast, is shockingly silent. I first noticed this in the scene where we first see a man pecked to death... It's totally quiet, and Hitchcock just uses a triple-zoom-in to make it super-scary. Even during the attack scenes, all we hear are the otherwordly squawks of the birds-gone-wild. I may have missed some opening bits of score... but the only music I heard was the creepy song the kids in the schoolhouse sing as the birds amass on the jungle gym.
- It's not just about the attacks; it's also about the reactions.
Hitchcock was always really good at exploring the creepy psychological motivations of his characters. That's really evident in Vertigo, Marnie (which I just saw last night for the first time), and of course Psycho. Even in The Birds, where the menace is more tangible, the really freaky thing is peoples' reactions to the crisis. One woman in a cafe screeches, "You're eeeevillll!!!" at Tippi Hedren; Jessica Tandy rushes home and takes to her bed without saying a word after seeing a friend's eyes pecked out; Tippi Hedren screams and claws at imaginary winged assailants after a particularly bad attack is over. The reactions of the characters are almost as scary as thousands of crazed sparrows coming down the chimney. I said almost.
- Everyone looks right into the camera.
In the really intense scenes, whenever someone's screaming, it seems like they're making direct eye contact with the camera. And everyone seems to have really piercing blue eyes. (I saw the color version.) The bloody guy outside the phone booth, the lady who thinks Tippi's evil, and of course Tippi herself, all look directly into the camera in the midst of their terror. Even the birds fly directly into the camera in the final attack scene, when Tippi gets mauled in the upstairs bedroom.
So maybe now I understand it a bit better... and of course I love Alfred Hitchcock. He's a master. But I have to admit I still squirmed a bit last night....Click here for the rest of this tasty post.
Print media all over the country are, apparently, laying off critics. And, according to the article, it may have something to do with us, the movie-blogging community.
Without film critics, great indie movies which are light on crowd appeal will have a hard time flourishing... this could be really bad for the non-commercial, innovative, unique films we love.
Could we actually be part of the problem? Is this going to make it harder to make a living doing what we really love (writing about film)?
Read the article here.
Last week I posted the IMDB Top 250, and I listed the ones I'd seen in bold. I had only seen 91 out of 250 at the time of that post, but since then I've added three more. Subsequently, we all pretty much came to the conclusion that lists like this are meaningless... especially the IMDB list, which is chosen by popular votes from ordinary yokels. (If you have any illusions that the masses are capable of choosing the best movies, just look at the weekly top grosses so far in 2008).
In spite of all that, I thought I'd waste a bit more time, and post the AFI 100. This list was published in 2007, and was chosen, of course, by the American Film Institute. The main glaring flaw of this list, in my opinion, is that it fully ignores foreign language films (which include many of my favorites). So, whatever. If my count is correct, I've seen 39 of these.
- Citizen Kane (1941)
- The Godfather (1972)
- Casablanca (1942)
- Raging Bull (1980)
- Singin' in the Rain (1952)
- Gone With the Wind (1939)
- Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
- Schindler's List (1993)
- Vertigo (1958)
- The Wizard of Oz (1939)
- City Lights (1931)
- The Searchers (1956)
- Star Wars (1977)
- Psycho (1960)
- 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
- Sunset Blvd. (1950)
- The Graduate (1967)
- The General (1927)
- On the Waterfront (1954)
- It's a Wonderful Life (1946)
- Chinatown (1974)
- Some Like It Hot (1959)
- The Grapes of Wrath (1940)
- E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
- To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)
- Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)
- High Noon (1952)
- All About Eve (1950)
- Double Indemnity (1944)
- Apocalypse Now (1979)
- The Maltese Falcon (1941)
- The Godfather Part II (1974)
- One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975)
- Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)
- Annie Hall (1977)
- The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)
- The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)
- The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)
- Dr. Strangelove (1964)
- The Sound of Music (1965)
- King Kong (1933)
- Bonnie and Clyde (1967)
- Midnight Cowboy (1969)
- The Philadelphia Story (1940)
- Shane (1953)
- It Happened One Night (1934)
- A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)
- Rear Window (1954)
- Intolerance (1916)
- The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
- West Side Story (1961)
- Taxi Driver (1976)
- The Deer Hunter (1978)
- M*A*S*H (1970)
- North by Northwest (1959)
- Jaws (1975)
- Rocky (1976)
- The Gold Rush (1925)
- Nashville (1975)
- Duck Soup (1933)
- Sullivan's Travels (1941)
- American Graffiti (1973)
- Cabaret (1972)
- Network (1976)
- The African Queen (1951)
- Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
- Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966)
- Unforgiven (1992)
- Tootsie (1982)
- A Clockwork Orange (1971)
- Saving Private Ryan (1998)
- The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
- Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)
- The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
- In the Heat of the Night (1967)
- Forrest Gump (1994)
- All the President's Men (1976)
- Modern Times (1936)
- The Wild Bunch (1969)
- The Apartment (1960)
- Spartacus (1960)
- Sunrise (1927)
- Titanic (1997)
- Easy Rider (1969)
- A Night at the Opera (1935)
- Platoon (1986)
- 12 Angry Men (1957)
- Bringing Up Baby (1938)
- The Sixth Sense (1999)
- Swing Time (1936)
- Sophie's Choice (1982)
- Goodfellas (1990)
- The French Connection (1971)
- Pulp Fiction (1994)
- The Last Picture Show (1971)
- Do the Right Thing (1989)
- Blade Runner (1982)
- Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942)
- Toy Story (1995)
- Ben-Hur (1959)
Well, that's it. I think it might also be fun to do a list of all the Academy Awards for Best Picture (it's always fun to count along during the Oscar montage), and maybe the top-grossing films of all time. But eventually I'll do the perfect list... which, of course, will be my own Top 100. Because my list will be flawless, naturally....Click here for the rest of this tasty post.