Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

Drew Barrymore and her leading men...

I was having a conversation with a friend about our mutual love for Drew Barrymore, but that not all her leading men were created equally, nor is their on-screen chemistry. From best to worst of her romantic comedy/dramas (chemistry, not movie quality) are:

Adam Sandler (50 First Dates) - This movie is probably one of the most original romantic comedies, telling a story about love and relationships without everything working out perfectly but making a very satisfying ending. Sandler's best work as an adult shows lots of sides of falling in love and what it means to create a relationship. You want them to succeed and you're impressed that they overcome a lot of the problems.

Jimmy Fallon (Fever Pitch) - Drew plays a woman who falls in love with a Red Sox fan who hasn't figured out the difference between obsession and fandom. Their relationship transforms them both (isn't that what you want from romantic comedy?) and they figure out how to be together, but still pursue their individual goals.

Hugh Grant (Music and Lyrics) - Her character in this is more than a little kooky, and that gets in the way of their romance, but given that they sing together, and Grant's dry wit making fun of her all the way through, they seem like good friends who fell in love, rather than two weirdos stuck together.

Adam Sandler (The Wedding Singer) - She is super cute in this movie, and really believes in true love, which almost makes you believe she'd turn down what she thought was a happy, successful relationship for the Wedding Singer. She makes him believe in himself and then he realizes he loves her. It works pretty well, but their chemistry definitely improves in 50 First Dates.

Dougray Scott (Ever After) - As Cinderella, she has more chemistry fighting with her stepsisters than she does with the Prince, but since you know the Prince will finally sweep her away, it's easy to believe. Her intellectual fights with the Prince over his entitled attitude sometimes breed chemistry, but mostly you just think "how stupid is this guy to not get that he's a prince?"

Michael Vartan (Never Been Kissed) - The sketchy nature of the teacher crushing on his student never really goes away, even though you know Drew is old enough to date him. He's impossibly cute, and her nerdy-girl crush works, but it never makes sense that they would actually get together.

Eric Bana (Lucky You) - Their chemisty NEVER comes together. He's a gambler who can be turned into a good guy by the love of a good woman. But Drew doesn't seem all that interested in the role, and Bana can barely see past his cards to realize Drew is sitting right there trying to flirt with him. Dreadful and unbelievable chemistry throughout.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

My own Top 50

I'm all for sharing our favorites and many of my fellow bloggers have put up their top 50 lists (without any particular order, except that the Top 10 are the best). These are my favorite films. I own most of them or have seen them dozens or hundreds of times. They're not for everyone, but they all have something I like to see. Check out the really different lists at Blog Cabins, Hoping for Something to Hope For, and The Center Seat.

Top 50 Films

1. Sense and Sensibility
2. Gone With The Wind
3. The Princess Bride
4. Out of Africa
5. The Shawshank Redemption
6. Star Wars Trilogy
7. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
8. When Harry Met Sally
9. Waitress
10. 50 First Dates
11. Finding Nemo
12. The American President
13. 10 Things I hate about you
14. Good Will Hunting
15. Walk the Line
16. Dogma
17. Little Miss Sunshine
18. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
19. Sliding Doors
20. Top Gun
21. V for Vendetta
22. My Fair Lady
23. O, Brother Where Art Thou?
24. The Philadelphia Story
25. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
26. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
27. Grosse Pointe Blank
28. Groundhog Day
29. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
30. Men in Black
31. 12 Angry Men
32. Forrest Gump
33. The Little Mermaid
34. Monty Python and the Holy Grail
35. The Sting
36. A Few Good Men
37. Gattaca
38. Notting Hill
39. The Lion King
40. Live Free or Die Hard
41. Say Anything
42. March of the Penguins
43. The African Queen
44. Minority Report
45. Fargo
46. Bridget Jones’ Diary
47. Almost Famous
48. The Incredibles
49. West Side Story
50. Cold Mountain

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Jon Hamm on Saturday Night Live

I know I'm behind, but I just watched this week's Saturday Night Live. Jon Hamm from Mad Men was the host, with Elizabeth Moss (Peggy) and John Slatterly (Sterling) guest starring in sketches based on the show. They did a great job of writing sketches for Hamm specifically, much better than for Michael Phillips earlier this season. There was a terrific sketch with Maya Rudolph and Fred Armisen as Michelle and Barack Obama using their half hour on prime time to host a variety show rather than a political speech. Hamm channelled JFK talking to Obama. Overall, it was a funny show, particularly Hamm's part. Here's one where he plays it perfectly.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

TV Questions?

I watch a lot of TV. I've posted on many of the shows in the past, but I feel like I have some issues with the current crop of TV, which strangely includes very few new shows, though I prefer the new ones.

First, Heroes was such a great show. It's first season was amazing, changing the culture a bit ("save the cheerleader, save the world") and impressing all TV audiences. The second season was a huge letdown, with poor story development, too many new characters and no solid villain. This third season shows much more of the original creativity and story lines, but I'm still confused. The story seems to focus on finding a formula that would give all people "hero" qualities, but I don't understand who has it, who wants it and why all the people who have met before don't seem to know each other any more. I'm just confused, but it looked like this week built up enough steam to give us some answers soon.

Chuck which I loved last season has also upset a few things with some strange small story changes that confuse me too. I don't get why certain people are fighting and why Chuck is still involved. Still good, but not better.

I love Samanth Who? but the story arc she was using last season about understanding who she was before her accident seems to be done, and they're just trying to move forward. But she's bland and boring now with little funniness about why she's different now.

House has been playing very strange stories. House's dad dies and we find out he was not really his father. Wilson finally returned, but I still don't get his story much either - his girlfriend died, House was to blame, but it's not really coming across well, though they repeat it constantly! New stories would be helpful.

Numb3rs appeals to my super nerdy nature, but by disrupting the character dynamic moving Charlie into LAPD instead of the FBI made little sense. Why would the higher ups be against Don, and why do they think all people will turn in their boss? Very strange plot points, go back to the numbers people.

Other returning shows that just aren't performing well, but I have no good reason include: Private Practice, Pushing Daisies, CSI: Miami, and The Office. Not up to par, but not terrible.

Great Standouts this season that have higher than expected quality so far include CSI (Las Vegas), The Mentalist, Boston Legal, Fringe, Eli Stone, Bones and surprisingly ER. Comments and ideas for shows I should give up and what I can replace them with are much appreciated!

Large Association of Movie Blogs

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Leatherheads, another marketing failure

So George Clooney's Leatherheads is many things. It's a one-minute buddy comedy, a one-minute screwball comedy, a one-minute romantic comedy, with one-minute about the old rules of the NFL, two minutes about the new rules of the NFL, and two minutes about being a war hero. By my calculation that means the movie should be about eight minutes long. The other 90 minutes don't seem to do much. This movie was marketed, right in the title, as a story about football. The original profession football players and how they became legitimate. This is NOT a sports movie. And then it was supposed to be about the love triangle with Clooney, Renee Zellwegger and John Krasinski (totally inappropriate for this role, still channelling Jim rather than this character). That doesn't happen, except for the lipstick scene shown repeatedly in the commercials. The war-hero story line was interesting, but kept losing it's focus between other non-plot points. So basically, this is a terrific 8-minute movie, but I wouldn't bother with the rest. 2 LAMBS/stars

Large Association of Movie Blogs

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Sorry for the absence

I've been sick for a week or more and couldn't get up the energy to post much. I did finish John Adams and was enthralled. There were some less exciting bits when Adams became curmudgeonly at the end, but seeing them shape the country and ideals and then build the White House was exciting stuff. Makes you rethink the influence of just a few people, and makes the decisions we make today about what TV/news/journalism we support in addition to which leaders we elect really should make a difference. All US history class should watch this.

As for other stuff I've seen, I really want to support a kids movie, Nim's Island with Jodie Foster, Abigail Breslin, and Gerard Butler. It was terrific, more than met expectations of frivolous fun. Breslin and Butler live alone on an island in the South Pacific where he studies ecology. Nim is home schooled and educated about everything around her. And when her shipment of supplies arrives, there's a new book by her favorite author, Alex Rover, adventurer extraordinaire. It turns out Alexandra Rover is a agoraphobic who never sees the world. When Nim's father doesn't return on time from a plankton scouting trip, Breslin calls on her author to help find him. It's lots of fun, with Nim defending her island from tourists, and Foster's fight with her phobias to try to save a little girl. Definitely watch the deleted scenes if you get the DVD, they cut whole story arcs that are terrific, but would have made a kids movie much too long. Great to see Foster in something light-hearted, and Breslin is growing up to be less annoying all the time. 4 LAMBS/stars

Oh, and it's been a while, but I LOVED The Great Debaters with Denzel Washington, but really wanted to point out the great future career of one of it's stars, Jurnee Smollett, she plays the female debater, but also had a stand-out role on last season's finale of "Grey's Anatomy" (the girl with the brain tumor who survives). She's a really terrific actress, and hopefully will keep getting good roles.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Terrific, so far...can't wait to see how it turns out

I've been wowed by two totally different shows recently, and I've only seen the first few hours of both so far. Believe me, they couldn't be more different but they're both terrific productions, with incredible acting, great storytelling (though one's fiction, and the other fantasy, okay actually it's historically accurate but is so moving it's hard to believe it was true). True Blood is a new series on HBO starring Anna Paquin (showing her Oscar-winning chops) as a mind-reading waitress curious about the newly "open" vampires. It takes place in Louisiana either today or not too far in the future. Vampires have been given rights since a synthetic blood means they don't need to feed on humans. However, not all vampires feel that they should give up their old ways and mainstream their lives. But Paquin meets Bill, 130+year old trying to fit in. He's old-fashioned, courteous, but definitely doesn't seem human. The show is interesting in its exploration of all the vampire myths, and the wonderful ways it elaborates on them - e.g. vampire blood is a drug, so humans hunt vampires not to kill them, but drain them. But luckily vampires still need to be invited to enter humans homes. Paquin's brother also causes all kinds of problems, has been arrested twice for murders he probably didn't commit. It's just a terrific show, different, unique, fantastical and fun.

The other show I've only see the first few hours of but am already in love with is the John Adams miniseries from HBO and Playtone. I recently watched Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee which seemed to be HBO's entry for the Emmy miniseries last year. It won best Made for TV movie. It was also a historical fictionalized version of a lesser known aspect of a well-known story. But the acting, directing, etc. (ironically starring Anna Paquin in a supporting role) was nothing compared to John Adams. They both won awards, though John Adams won, and deserved, more. Paul Giamatti and Laura Linney give wonderful performances (so far). The episodes I've seen follow them from the Boston Massacre through the signing of the Declaration of Independence, so only about 5 years, as Adams goes from being an attorney fighting for the rule of law, whether under the crown or independence, to a delegate from Massachusetts who lobbies for the Declaration. History is always fascinating, but watching what Adams had to go through to force the changes that created our country makes me wonder how far we've actually come. It took months and months of negotiation, lobbying with favors (not including slavery abolition from the beginning), and each state trying to assert its dominance. But seeing it from the beginning before there really was an actual identity for each state, it was just the personality of the delegate they selected that forged their interests into a common document. I can't wait to see how Adams, a quiet lawyer, makes it all the way to the Oval office.

Large Association of Movie Blogs