Friday, April 30, 2010
Thursday, April 29, 2010
Tiana (Anika Noni Rose) wants to open a restaurant in New Orleans in memory of her dearly departed father (the mother stays alive throughout this movie, voiced by a notable Oprah). She works really hard to save up the money ("Almost There"), but can't really figure out how to get all the way. A prince arrives in New Orleans, and Tiana's best friend Lotte (voiced by Jennifer Cody who I knew as a teen working in musical theater - so cool that her voice was awesome) wants to fall in love with a prince. However, the bad guy steps in ("Friends on the other side") and turns the prince into a frog. Now, the fairy tale we all know kicks in, he needs to get a princess to kiss him and he'll turn back into a prince. He mistakes Tiana all dressed up in Lotte's fancy clothes for a princess, but when they kiss, she gets cursed too. They escape to the bayou and meet up with a trumpet-playing gator and a Cajun firefly ("When we're human", my fav song). Of course all goes well, but I won't spoil it because it actually has a pretty good twist at the end that was unique enough to make me smile in surprise. It's a good movie, not the best, but fairly original, well voiced, very well sung, but weak on the songs. Mary Poppins has 5 songs I could name right now that are memorable, and even The Little Mermaid has a couple not to be forgotten, but I'm not sure The Princess and the Frog lives up to that legacy. It feels a bit like a copy of a copy of a copy, with some new scenes and a twist at the end, but nothing particularly new. What newness it does have comes from the New Orleans and cajun feel, though Randy Newman's score does sound a bit like watered down NOLA. 3 of 5 star/lambs
Monday, April 26, 2010
I can't really explain why I chose The Little Mermaid for this week's Monday Musicals, except that Pandora (online radio) kept choosing songs from it when I set up a station based on the music from "Glee" (don't judge me, work was hard this weekend). And since it's been turned into a stage show, I think The Little Mermaid fully qualifies as a musical, even though it's animated. Oh, and over at Random Ramblings of a Demented Doorknob and The Movie Encyclopedia, their podcast was asking questions about opinions on the big 3 animation studios (Disney/Pixar, Dreamworks, and Studio Ghibli), so the time was apparently ready to watch this again. It also makes sense in my own chronology now that I think about it. It was the second videotape I ever owned (also on Betamax) and I think I watched it every single rainy day one summer. I saw it in theaters and loved it. I think it might have been the first CD I ever bought for myself too.
Anyway, rewatching it today I was struck by how incredibly outdated the animation seems now. While it was a huge jump ahead for it's day, and was a rebirth for Disney animation and started the whole Disney Princess creations, I don't think it's animation is anything spectacular even for hand-drawn animation. It's large and colorful, though mostly block colored without much detail. Watching the trailer for The Little Mermaid 3 (a straight to DVD, I imagine) at the beginning had much more detail and precision than the feature film. While Snow White and Sleeping Beauty were also hand-drawn Disney flicks, their style doesn't seem dated today, just a classic form of animation.
However, the music is still just as awesome as I remember, even the orchestral soundtrack is terrific. "Kiss Da Girl" and "Under the Sea" sung by the reggae-inspired crab Sebastian are still terrific songs, that I've heard redone by a cappella groups as well as pop singers. "Part of Your World" is still my favorite, when Ariel sings about her collection of human paraphenalia. It always makes me smile. I probably won't do too many animated films for this weekly musical feature, but I did enjoy watching The Little Mermaid again. The Princess and the Frog are next on my Netflix queue, so I'm excited to see how far Disney has come in 20 years. What are your favorite animated movie musicals?
Sunday, April 25, 2010
Three shows I have really enjoyed this season ended a bit early considering May sweeps haven't even started. Ugly Betty, Damages, and Project Runway all completed their seasons, and in the case of Ugly Betty (and possibly Damages) it's the end of the series. Ugly Betty did what the best finales do, wrap up all the stories enough that avid fans are satisfied without putting everything to rest. Betty was slowly wrapped up, she lost her braces, started dressing better, and straightened her hair more. It made her look more professional and fashionable (helpful given where she works) and it was done gradually enough that it didn't seem like it was something she forced. Her sister got married, and she seemed to have a job she was going to like, and possibly a romantic interest we didn't have to watch unfold, but were content was okay.
Damages, however, wrapped up the mysteries of the series slowly and with very little satisfaction to the ending. The character we'd known was dead from the first episode of this season was still dead at the end of the season, and they kept us guessing who might have actually done it, but by the time it was revealed, I didn't care. There were a few false starts, but basically in this season a whole bunch of people died, mostly bad guys, but no one I was upset to see go. There were mysteries that didn't really matter (who cares that Ellen was nearly (but not) given away as a child?), and people going a little crazy for no obvious reason (Patty dreaming again and again about the baby she lost which we knew about in the first season). All in all, I enjoyed much of the season, but not the finale. I didn't watch season 2 and don't think I'll watch again should it get renewed.
I wrote the beginning of this post earlier, but had to wait until Project Runway showed to conclude the post, and man it just got worse as it went along. I was happy that Seth Aaron won the season, but this had to be the most boring finale EVER. Usually they do a reunion show BEFORE the finale, and we get to find out what the finalists thought about their performances on the show. Also, there's usually some sort of final challenge where the producers force the finalists to be more creative at the last minute, and they bring back some other rejects to help them complete it all in time. Those were fun. There was also often a scandal about how things were paid for (Kara's boots, Jeffrey's wigs). This year, NOTHING. Just the show, some analysis, and over. So odd. Very disappointing. But I'll definitely still keep watching. (PS - Why did Seth Aaron make his hair look like earmuffs?)
Thursday, April 22, 2010
Though the story doesn't really matter, here you go. Fey and Carell are a husband and wife from NJ who decide to have dinner in NYC, and because they arrive late, they steal a no-show's reservation. The no-shows were blackmailing some bad people who have shown up to get the blackmail stuff back. Tina and Steve confess to having hidden the material to escape and then they stay one step ahead of the bad guys for quite a while trying to find the real blackmailers and ending the problem. They ask Wahlberg for help - he's a "security expert" so he knows how to do all kinds of spy stuff. During the chasing around Manhattan in one night, some of the humor comes from the physical comedy trying to escape bad guys or changing clothes to blend in, etc. The rest comes from the Fey/Carell repartee, some arguing about their marriage and some just being normal people thrown into a strange situation and how they react to it. I'm trying not to give away all the funny parts, so forgive the rambling. There are at least 2 moments when I actually thought I would hurt the person next to me at the theater I was laughing so hard. And lots of other giggling. Possibly one of the funniest movies I've seen in the last couple of years. It's not non-stop laughs, but if you like Fey or Carell in their day jobs on "30 Rock" or "The Office", you'll really like this too. 4 of 5 stars/lambs
Monday, April 19, 2010
Like most musicals of the Rogers and Hammerstein genre, there's not a lot of story to go between the songs, but here goes. Curly (Gorden McRae) is a cowboy in Kansas before it was a state who has fallen for Laurie (Shirley Jones), but she's not sure what to do. There's a big dance coming to raise money to build a schoolhouse and Laurie agrees to go with her farm hand, Jud (Rod Steiger), rather than Curly, who takes her Aunt Eller. Before getting ready for the dance Laurie has a psychedelic dream about who she should marry (my least favorite part). Jud and Curly attempt to outbid each other for Laurie's picnic basket at the dance, with Curly coming out ahead and Laurie agrees to marry him (this IS a musical). However, Judd's pissed and attacks Curly at their wedding and dies. Very sad, but all's well that ends well. The B story is a friend of Laurie's, Ado Annie (I've never understood that name), is trying to decide whether she wants to marry cowboy Will who has nothing besides that he loves her, or traveling salesman Ali Hackim. Ultimately she picks Will but because he promises to love her, so again with the happy ending.
The most important part of Oklahoma! is the music. It opens with "Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin'", followed closely by "Surrey with a Fringe on top" (a common karaoke song - Harry and Sally fans know). As with most musicals, the first half is loaded with upbeat songs that might not exactly drive the story, but explain what's going on within the characters. Laurie dreams of a happy life with love, and nearly falls for Curly when he sings about taking her out in the luxury of the surrey. Later, Laurie sings to her girlfriends about how she won't complain when her man goes away or does something wrong ("Many a New Day") and then Laurie and Curly sing together about how people will gossip about them if they reveal their true feelings ("People Will Say We're in Love"). Curly also tries to manipulate (and foreshadow) Jud's life by telling him people really do like him and they'll prove it by attending his funeral ("Poor Jud"). The side story with Ado Annie has all the fun songs, "I cain't say no" (and she means it, the little hussy), "Kansas City" about Will's trip to the big city, and "All Er Nothin'" between Will and Ado Annie promising to love each other all the way. And of course the whole thing ends with the song "Oklahoma" which is totally how I still spell it in my head because they spell it during the song, and it's how I remember it. The only part I really don't like about the movie is Laurie's dream sequence. It starts out kind of happy, and ends really dramatically and scary, and it's about 10 solid minutes of interpretive dance without words or song. I've only seen Oklahoma on stage once and didn't really care for the actors taking on the parts of my beloved Shirley Jones and Gorden McRae, so I prefer to just watch this on TV when I feel the need. The new version on DVD is really crisp, both visually and audibly. I loved getting the chance to rewatch one of my favorites. Another thing I think suited a kid's attention span was the fact that the overture and entr'acte were both relatively short (under 3 minutes - for perspective, West Side Story's overture is nearly 15 minutes).
Saturday, April 10, 2010
And this is the 400th post. Thank you for all the support.
I appreciate all the people who comment and interact with the blog.
Thanks in particular to Rachel, Fletch, Nick, Andrew,
and Buttercup for all the great comments.
I hope over the next year to continue reviewing movies and TV,
and look forward to revamping the style of the blog a bit.
The story is pretty simple, a woman with an abusive, controlling husband has an epic talent for making pie. She works at a dinner and designs a new pie every day. To escape the drudgery of her life, we often get to see the machinations in her head and they always leave me hungry. Marshmellow Mermaid Pie makes me feel like a kid. Mmmmm...pie.
2. Groundhog Day
There's a scene after Bill Murray realizes he's not going to get to leave the town when he throws caution to to the wind and starts eating everything at the diner, and stuffs a whole piece of cake with pink icing in his mouth at once. In one of the "making of" features I recall for this movie, he actually ate the piece of cake EVERY time, for something like 20 takes. Andie McDowell watched him eat it and felt sick herself, but it always makes me want pink icing (and to wipe the icing off his face).
3. Gone with the Wind
After Scarlett finally marries Rhett Butler, he takes her to New Orleans for their honeymoon, and after years of near starvation, she lives it up, eating all she can. The line Rhett throws back at her always pisses me off, "if you don't stop eating so much, you'll get as big as Mammy, and I'll divorce you." It's said in jest, but for the food that passes by in that scene, I'd probably divorce Rhett.
4. Notting Hill
"Apricots soaked in honey, which actually stops them tasting of apricots and just tastes of honey, but nonetheless, they're yours if you want them". - Hugh Grant trying to offer food to Julia Roberts. He kind of makes me want to try apricots in honey, but it's his rambling about the food he has to offer always makes him more real and endearing.
What's not to like about the food in this movie? All kinds of chocolate, drinks, sweets, savory, etc. It's definitely a dessert island DVD. Just watching it makes you want to break any rules just to have some more chocolate.
6. Julie and Julia
There's a scene where she casually makes a chocolate creme pie, and it always looks like pudding, but that's okay, cause I like pudding. Most of the movie is about the savory dishes Julia Child was really well known for, but there are a few moments even on a dessert island that food would be good.
7. Fried Green Tomatoes
The Whistle Stop Cafe serves all kinds of food, and there's a great food fight scene where Mary Stuart Masterson and Mary Louise Parker (I couldn't keep them straight for years!) cover each other in flour, berries, chocolate frosting, and tomatoes, and even with the mess, I still want to eat there. I love Fried Green Tomatoes too, perhaps they should be allowed on my dessert island.
8. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
The ultimate dessert island movie, it practically IS a dessert island. When they first get into the room with the chocolate river (where they lose Augustus), I always want to be one of those little kids. And lickable wallpaper. The fact the the movie spawned its own candy line makes this top pick for movies on a dessert island.
What would be on your dessert island?
Friday, April 9, 2010
Thursday, April 8, 2010
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
ABC: Castle, Lost, Cougar Town, Ugly Betty, Grey's Anatomy, Private Practice, Desperate Housewives and Brothers & Sisters
AMC: Mad Men
CBS: How I Met Your Mother, The Big Bang Theory, CSI: Miami, NCIS: Los Angeles, The Good Wife, The Mentalist, Numb3rs
Fox: Human Target, Bones, Fringe, Glee
Fx: Damages, Justified (both are new additions to my own watching pattern)
Lifetime: Project Runway, Drop Dead Diva
NBC: Chuck, Parenthood, Friday Night Lights
TNT: Saving Grace, The Closer
USA: In Plain Sight, Royal Pains, Burn Notice, Psych (which might be over soon), White Collar,
used to watch Monk, but that just ended for good
So I guess ABC is the winner. I actually found that surprising, but some of them are my favorite shows. Also ABC has the best online viewing after the fact. Hulu is good for NBC and Fox, but CBS is abysmal. I think what I like about the shows on USA over the other channels is that since so few people I know also watch them, it kinda feels like they're shows just for me. I'm sure more people watch them (or they wouldn't be in multiple seasons) but they're not really part of the zeitgeist or appointment TV so I don't have to forgo something else to watch them. As always, I'm sure I forgot something good that will return in the not too distant future. As you can tell, I don't watch much reality TV, mostly just Project Runway. However, thanks to the Demented Encyclopedia podcast and the Blog Cabins Survivor updates, I keep track of what's going on. If you feel the need to know what's going on without actually watching the shows, check them out.
Monday, April 5, 2010
If you leave a thoughtful and relevant comment that contributes to intelligent discussion of movies or any other topic I bring up here, you will be entered into a random drawing for a prize. The more you comment, the better chance you have of winning. My hope is that you will be get in a habit of commenting that extends beyond the end of the contest.
What is the prize? Well…
The winner will receive their choice of one of the 10 Best Picture nominees from 2009.
The drawing will be, as I said earlier, completely random. I’ll probably write notecards for each comment and draw one out of a hat. But, if you are interested in improving your chances, I have a few little ways for you to improve your odds.
Fellow bloggers, if you post a link to this contest on your own blog, I will give you two extra entries.
Non-bloggers and other friends, if you refer a first-time commenter to “Marshall and the Movies” and they mention you by name, I will give you three extra entries.
PS - Yes, I'm totally using this plug as another post to boost my numbers, sue me.
Botany of Desire is a documentary based on books and writings by Michael Pollan. Narrated by Frances McDormand, they examine 4 different plants that have been influenced by humans for very different reasons. Pollan wants to flip our perspective on these plants and look at them from the plant point of view and see how these plants, if they were able to have a thought process, were able to force humans to do their bidding. The four plants are apples, tulips, marijuana, and potatoes. Each section is told with a background about where the plant originated, how they developed to fulfill different desires in humans: sweetness, beauty, hallucinations, and nourishment. It's a really interesting documentary told from a unique perspective. I like Michael Pollan's writings so I was already intrigued by the topic, but the depth the documentary reaches is more detailed and easier to understand than some of his books. Also, it's told for a broader audience, without Pollan's strong politics involved. Both are great films that are entertaining, and interesting. 3 of 5 for both
Sunday, April 4, 2010
It's a really interesting movie, and told with beauty and restraint. The violent fights between Plummer and Mirren have absolutely no restraint. They play a couple that has obviously lived and loved for decades and knows what's what in their marriage and inside each other. Their chemistry is amazing, just for the power and presence they command on screen. Giamatti is a perfect weaselly character that he's played (intentionally or not) countless times. You're never sure he wants to totally ruin everything or is just trying to help. McAvoy is all earnestness and hope that this movement he's joining is a good thing and that he can be helpful to it. All the performances are really good, but I was most struck by Kerry Condon who plays McAvoy's love interest who only joined the movement to escape Moscow and be able to eat and live for free, so she doesn't actually believe in everything and makes McAvoy question all his beliefs. McAvoy's real-life wife, Anne-Marie Duff, played Tolstoy's conniving daughter. Odd trivia I thought I'd share. My only complaint about the movie, and it wasn't a small issue, wasn't the fact that all the actors spoke with a British accent (though they're supposed to be Russian) but rather than they used the FULL Russian name EVERY time they addressed anyone. I've been told this is customary in Russia, but hearing them say Lev Nikolayevich every time they spoke to or referred to Tolstoy in an English accent was really distracting. It was a good movie, and if you like period pieces, Russian history, or incredible acting, I recommend this movie. 3.5 Lambs/Stars
I was trying to think of a movie in which Easter is even mentioned, and I couldn't think of very many. I was trying to avoid many of the movies that show the sources of Easter. I'm thinking more of the chocolate bunnies and Easter eggs. The only one I could think of barely mentions Easter, but when you think about it, Easter figures prominently at least twice in Steel Magnolias. Based on a play by the same name (which I saw with Cherry Jones as Dolly Parton's character Truvy), there are 3 main acts: Getting ready for Shelby's wedding (Julia Roberts) which seems to be taking place right around Easter as Truvy has been dying eggs to send to the church get hidden. Weezer smashes them in the trunk when her dog gets scared and runs away. The second act is when Shelby has returned, and though diabetic and advised against it, has decided to have a child. The third act (spoiler, but this movie is several decades old at this point) is when Shelby dies and it's several months after the funeral we see her son playing at the Easter egg hunt with all the other main characters. I think the colors and the fact it takes place in spring always makes that last scene seem a little less sad, even though I'm usually still crying. That and Dolly Parton squealing, "I'm a chain" always makes me giggle.
Anyway, there's your Easter movie. Enjoy!
Saturday, April 3, 2010
I was inspired by Rachel over at Rachel's Reel Reviews to check out when my own blogiversary would occur and how close I would be to reaching some sort of round number. Well, it turns out Rachel and I might be kindred spirits (though not usually in movie taste) in wanting to blog as the 3 year anniversary of Insight Into Entertainment will be on April 10!!! Also, I'm at 392 posts, so I will attempt to hit 400 posts in the next week. Wish me luck!