Monday, April 20, 2009

Really strange things that are fun to watch...

Okay, because of the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency showing on HBO, we've had a chance to see a few extra shows/movies at home. I saw the new "Grey Gardens", with Drew Barrymore and Jessica Lange as young and old Edith Bouvier Peale, who lived for decades in a house in East Hampton that became more and more decrepit over time, but they continued living there until it was condemned. Their life was documented in the 1977 documentary at the time, but this film shows a version of their whole lives - from young beautiful women in the heyday of Grey Gardens to the falling apart bitter women who refuse to acknowledge the lives they've given up or the life they're living. It's amazing. It's sad and funny and entertaining and historical and just a great movie to watch. Drew Barrymore masters the Long Island/Boston accent of the high society of the '30s and handles the craziness that was her personality and life so well you can't stop watching. Jessica Lange is good, but older Edie just isn't as interesting a character, but she's still pretty amazing to watch. Check it out if you get the chance.

The other movie is Sydney White a funny retelling of Snow White in the way 10 Things I hate about You does "Taming of the Shrew". Amanda Bynes is great and the supporting cast is fun. It's a quiet, family friendly movie that takes care of a good afternoon.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Monsters vs Aliens review

A blog friend commented that Dreamworks animation has been making the same movie over and over with Shrek, Kung Fu Panda, and now Monsters vs. Aliens. The idea that they're all about it's only what's on the inside that counts. So I started thinking about the other animation studios and what they seem to keep redoing. Pixar's theme seems to be "friends can make anything happen". From Toy Story to A Bug's Life and Nemo, even Cars, all hinge on the fact that the hero needs his or her friends to help solve the problem. Disney has had the theme of motherless (sometimes completely parentless) heros or heroines all the way from Snow White through The Lion King. So I don't think it's necessarily a bad thing if Dreamworks keeps spinning out the same theme. And I still liked the newest entry.

Monsters vs Aliens has been accurately summarized in the commercials, but there are actually lots more details in the film. Susan (Reese Witherspoon) is hit by a meteor on her wedding day and grows to be huge, renamed Ginormica by the military who have been keeping strange monsters for decades. Susan gets put in a secret military facility with the other monsters: Dr. Cockroach (a mad-scientist experiment gone wrong, Hugh Laurie), the missing link fish man (Will Arnett) and BOB (a gelatinous blob, hysterically done by Seth Rogan). Oh, and there's a huge insect-like dinosaur that follows bright lights around. Susan is locked up with them. This ends Act One.

Act Two starts with the alien Gallaxhar (Rainn Wilson) who wants to get back the mineral that crashed into Susan so he can rule the world. He sends a huge robot to earth to get it back. The monsters are set free to try to battle this robot and save San Francisco. Since Monsters aren't actually bad things (and thus you must look deeper to see their inner beauty) of course they win the day, and are allowed to be freed. However, fitting into society isn't easy when you're 50 feet tall or really strange looking. So they're sent off again. End of Act Two.

The Final Act involves our heros heading to Gallaxhar's ship to destroy him before he can take over the world and destroy Susan to get his power back. I won't give it all away, but I really liked it. It was funny with small lines dropped for the adults in the audience (Dr. Cockroach invoking "Hawking's Chair" in amazement) and BOB dating Jell-O to make the kids laugh. All the kids in the audience laughed really hard and many of the adults. Overall it was a fun way to spend an afternoon. 3.5 Lambs/stars

Friday, April 10, 2009

Happy Anniversary!

Insight into Entertainment turns 2!!!
Only 290 posts, but still trying to create more.
Thanks to all the people who read this blog,
and provide comments, I appreciate all the support.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

L.A.M. Blog-a-thon: TV thoughts

The L.A.M.B. is having a blog-a-thon to discuss the high quality of television that has risen to the level of films. Since I watch A LOT of TV, I thought I'd sum up what I think of what I watch.

Shows I watch live if possible (this is a big deal as I DVR everything and can't stand commercials):
Bones - The most consistently good show on TV. They might not get very far with each episode and they don't do a lot of small arc storylines, but they always make it work.
Grey's Anatomy
Friday Night Lights - Still my favorite show, season 3 really turned it around.
The Closer
Big Bang Theory - This show always makes me giggle. As a grad student in a fairly nerdy scientific field I find it pretty hysterical.
The Mentalist

Shows I always DVR:
How I Met Your Mother
Lost - I've stuck with it all these years and just can't give up. I've put a lot of trust in the fact that they're going to make me not confused by the end of the series, but I'm guessing I'll be disappointed.
Private Practice - I like the medical dramas, even when they're barely about medicine and more about the moral dilemmas.
Ugly Betty
ER - Of the 15 seasons, I watched probably 9 or 10, but I really liked this most recent season. The ending wasn't any better or worse than the sum of the series, but it wasn't particularly memorable.
Numb3rs - I told you I was a nerd.
Saving Grace

Shows I will watch if I remembered to DVR and have time:
House, MD - I didn't really like the most recent season, but given the cast changes, I might pay more attention.
30 Rock - If I miss this live, I'll catch it online Friday morning for sure.
Two and a half men
Jon and Kate Plus 8
Dancing with the Stars

Shows I watch on DVD cause I don't get the channels they've shown on:
Dexter - I first caught this during the writer's strike when they put it on CBS as a filler, and loved the stories. How they manage to make us root so strongly FOR a serial killer, I still don't quite understand, but this show is awesome.
The Tudors - I loved watching Anne Boleyn's final season, and Rhys-Meyers is terrific if capricious as Henry VIII.

Shows I own and rewatch on DVD:
Sex and the City
The West Wing - The first 4 seasons are amazing and then season 7 brings it back and finishes it brilliantly.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer - My favorite season is probably 4, but I own 6 so I can watch the musical and the Buffy/Spike romance.
Gilmore Girls
Arrested Development
Friends - Still my favorite show of all time. I've seen every episode and watch it repeatedly.

This is to show I watch a lot of TV, lots of different kinds of TV and I really enjoy quality TV. If you're looking for filmic quality TV, "Sex and the City " already made it to the cineplex and was of the best quality the show proved. However, I don't thin that will work very often. "Friday Night Lights" came from a movie that came from a book, and only the TV show is amazing and worth watching on Direct TV because you get more scenes and no commercials (it's sponsored television rather than commercial-based, not sure why that works, but I loved it). The writing on FNL is superior than almost any movie. Even if you're not from Texas and don't understand or watch football (which I imagine makes for a small demographic), you can love these characters and find amazing acting, storytelling, and except for a small snafu in the second season, a brilliant series. So that's my recommendation - watch seasons 1 and 3 and you'll enjoy this wonderful TV that feels like film. I've written about this a few more times, here and here.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Zack and Miri, DVD review

I wasn't disappointed by Kevin Smith's most recent comedy, Zack and Miri Make a Porno. I listen to Smith and his producer, Scott Mosier's podcast almost weekly, so I feel like I know how Smith speaks and what he finds funny, and Zack and Miri fits great into that. Seth Rogan and Elizabeth Banks are terrific, as is much of the supporting cast, especially Justin Long. However, I don't really care for the amount of swearing and sex that goes into all of the conversation. I'm not particularly curious about the many different possibilities that the porn world explores, and this movie takes to a different level. So, I have to say, I liked the movie, but I doubt I'd watch it again, and I have trouble recommending it to people who don't already know what they're getting into. If you like Smith's style and storytelling, then you'd probably like it too.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

What Happens in Vegas

I thought the concept would be too cliched and stupid. Ross and Rachel did it on the fifth season of Friends. They got drunk, ended up married and couldn't get it annulled so they had to fight to get a divorce instead. However, the movie with Ashton Kutcher and Cameron Diaz is much funnier than that. Diaz is a planner, controlling personality who gets dumped at the surprise party she's planned for her fiancee. Kutcher is a slacker who gets fired from his job working for his dad. They each take a friend and head to Vegas to blow off steam. The steam ends with Diaz and Kutcher married, but then they win the jackpot of $3 million and when they appear before a judge (Dennis Miller) to get their marriage ended he won't dissolve the marriage until they've tried being married. The rest is them trying to live together, and in Diaz's case, become less rigid and for Kutcher to grow up and be a man. Their machinations to make the other one leave are hysterical, bordering on mean, but still really funny to watch. However, they're both pretty good people and by being together they get the chance to be better people. Kutcher helps Diaz at work by showing her coworkers she's not a robot. Diaz gives Kutcher the confidence to go on his own. It's just a simple comedy - not quite up to Role Models or I love you, Man, but still very funny. If you want a laugh, it's simple and inoffensive.

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