Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Wednesdays Movie Mashup No. 25

I can't believe we made it to 25 of these already.  Next week I'll have been doing them half a year!  Whoa.  Hatter came back with a vengeance this week. 

Last Week's Clue: The rebels suffer a great loss and a guy nearly goes on a date with his mother

Answer: The Empire Strikes Back to the Future

Hatter - 12
David, James - 3
Dylan, Rachel - 2

Sebastian, Andrew, Nick - 1


New Clue: A woman discovers her husband's dirty little secret at the office (and takes refuge in the arms of a her gardener) while a football player comes back to life as a millionaire.  

The goal is to figure out the two movies who overlap in some words creating a new movie described by the clue.  Leave your answer in the comments. Good luck! 

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Reel Insight Episode 43: Emma Thompson

I have previously described my love for Emma Thompson, but this time I got to talk about it with Rachel!   Of course, we talked about other things too, but tried to keep it short so you don't get too far behind.  Enjoy!

New movies with Emma Thompson:

In the Name of the Father - Good Daniel Day-Lewis movie, short on the Emma Thompson.  Look for this in a future DDL episode.

Dead Again - I really liked this mystery that involves amnesia and past lives.  Oh, and directed by Kenneth Branaugh and starring him and his then-wife Thompson.

Impromptu - Odd period drama about author George Sand (a woman) and her obsession with the musician Chopin.  A little too period, but Judy Davis is awesome.  Hugh Grant at Chopin is terrible.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Romantic Comedies: Categories

I love romantic comedies and I wanted to figure out what makes a good one.  What makes a great romantic comedy?  What makes a bad one?  Are there different types of rom-coms that can be put into categories based on their story?  I found that yes, there are a few different things that are staples of rom-coms.  And a few things that define a bad rom-com.  I took the 150 top-grossing rom-coms and the bottom 100 rom-coms (no, I haven't seen them all, there are a few dozen I couldn't put into a category because I knew too little about it and the description didn't give me enough).  So here's a basic breakdown of the 9 main categories I found and some examples.   I know I've missed a ton of movies that are thought of as rom-coms.  Please let me know any I missed and what category you'd put them in.

After the 9 categories of rom-coms that usually works, I start figuring out why other reasons brought down some rom-coms - I came up with 5 big ones.

According to Wikipedia the definition of a romantic comedy is a film with light-hearted, humorous plotlines, centered on romantic ideals such as a true love able to surmount most obstacles.   This is what I'm using to describe the movies I used.  

1. Family stands between them - This is a pretty standard category and generally creates mediocre to good rom-coms.  The family of the couple provide enough of a problem that our main couple cannot be together, and the obstacle they must overcome is their family.  
My Big Fat Greek Wedding
Father of the Bride
Meet the Parents
Say Anything
Mickey Blue Eyes
Because I said so
Hannah and her Sisters
Fools Rush In
Date Night

2. He Lies - This is a fairly typical problem.  The man of the couple lies about something and when the woman finds out it throws their relationship out the window - often to be saved by a huge gesture of forgiveness or cheesiness.   It doesn't always mean an actual lie takes place, but more that an omission has happened that he continued.
What Women Want
There’s Something About Mary
Coming to America
You’ve Got Mail
America’s Sweetheart
Along Came Polly
Shallow Hal
Fool’s Gold
She’s All That
Doc Hollywood
Music and Lyrics
Made of Honor
Sense and Sensibility
Fever Pitch
About a Boy
10 Things I hate About you
40-Year-Old Virgin
Bird on a Wire
The Secret of my Success
License to Wed
40 Days and 40 Nights
Good Luck Chuck
The Heartbreak Kid
The Pallbearer

3. She Lies - This happens nearly as often as when He Lies.  The same problems ensue, but this is much less frequently the problem that stands in their way.   Julia Roberts is probably the biggest offender in this category.
Runaway Bride
My Best Friend’s Wedding
Notting Hill
Mr. Deeds
50 First Dates
Failure to Launch
While You Were Sleeping
Bridget Jones’s Diary
Working Girl
Easy A
Never Been Kissed
Forces of Nature
Kate and Leopold
Confessions of a Shopaholic
Must Love Dogs
The Truth About Cats and Dogs
Return to Me
Ever After
Simply Irresistible
Forgetting Sarah Marshall
The Back-Up Plan

4. They Both Lie - These tend to be the ones where they've both kept something from each other in order to make the relationship work.  Only when both lies are revealed and forgiven will the couple end up together.
Sweet Home Alabama
It’s Complicated
How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days
No Strings Attached
The Mirror Has Two Faces
Bridget Jones the Edge of Reason
Keeping the Faith
Down with Love
Just Married

5. Different Backgrounds - This is one of the most frequent love story plots - comedy or not.  The man and woman come from different places in society or have totally different lifestyles, but somehow come together and need to overcome the problems to be together.  Probably the lease plausible of all the categories, but definitely the most uplifting - since we don't see what happens next.
Pretty Woman
Knocked Up
As Good as it Gets
Shakespeare in Love
Maid in Manhattan
Pride and Prejudice
The Cutting Edge
Pretty in Pink
Maid in Manhattan

6. They Pretend to be in a Relationship and Fall in Love - This is probably my favorite category for no obvious reason, but it gets me every time.  The main couple has to pretend to like each other, or they're forced to stay together and ultimately that's enough to make them fall in love.
The Proposal
When Harry met Sally
Just Go With It
Life as we know it
What Happens in Vegas
The Wedding Date

7. He/She Won’t Commit - I lumped the men and women together in this one.  One of the couple will not commit, and only something astounding must happen to force them to realize they cannot live without the other.  Usually it happens only in the nick of time - if at all.  Hugh Grant rules this category.
Something’s Gotta Give
Nine Months
Two Weeks Notice
(500) Days of Summer
High Fidelity
No Reservations
About Last Night
The Bachelor

8. He/She is with someone else until the last second - This is kind of like the commitment category, but in fact they're committed to someone else.  It usually takes most of the movie for them to realize they are with the wrong person and discover the love of their life has been in the cubicle next to them.
The Wedding Singer
27 Dresses
The Wedding Planner
Four Weddings and a Funeral
Sense and Sensibility
Seems Like Old Times
A Lot like Love
When in Rome
Leap Year

9. One of them is crazy, sick and/or dead - This is the fantastical category.  One part of the couple is actually mentally ill, sick and dying, or actually dead already.  Those are obstacles you can't get over, but the love story is usually one worth watching.
Truly, Madly, Deeply
Just Like Heaven
Punch Drunk Love
Addicted to Love
Mad Love
Benny and Joon
All About Steve
Down to Earth
Heaven Can Wait
Love at First Bite
Blind Date
Joe vs the Volcano
Over Her Dead Body
City of Angels
Love and Other Drugs

Ensemble - This isn't actually a category, but bigger ensemble movies belong in so many I thought I'd list them separately.  
Valentine’s Day – He Lies, She Lies, 
He’s Just Not that Into You – He Lies, She Lies, They Both Lie, He Won’t Commit
Love Actually – He Lies, She Lies, Family Keeps them Apart
The Holiday – One of them is with someone else until the last minute, He/She won't commit

There are usually good reasons why movies don't really click with rom-com lovers.  Here are some of the reasons I found looking at the movies.  These are a mix of good and bad movies (more bad than good though).

1.  It's all about the girlfriends - Pretty self-explanatory.  I would say these belong in the other genre of chick flicks.  The movie isn't really about the love story, but about the female relationships.
Sex and the City
Sex and the City 2

2. Not really a romantic comedy - This is not really a fault of these movies, but they don't belong in the rom-com discussion.  They're much more focused on something else - sports, wine, etc.
The Break Up
Tin Cup
Bull Durham
How Do you Know

3. Main Couple Doesn’t end up together - This is truly the let down of the rom-com genre.  You've invested in these characters and there's no payoff at the end.  (Yes, (500) Days of Summer Should also be here, but they overcome it with the story's delivery)
Rumor Has it
All About Steve
The Object of My Affection
P.S. I love you
Bringing Down the House

4. Main story isn’t about the couple
Alex and Emma
Bride Wars
Morning Glory
Because I said so
The Sweetest Thing (*chick flick)
That Thing you Do
Me Myself & Irene 
I love trouble

5. The raunchiest just doesn’t pay off - These movies are really about just being raunchy and don't really make for a good story.
The Ugly truth
My Best Friend’s Girl

Extra Ones I can’t classify as I haven't seen them recently:
Little Black Book
Just Married
Six Days Seven Nights
Sweet November
Employee of the Month
Down to You
My Boss’s Daughter
Good Luck Chuck
The Beautician and the Beast
Mr. Wrong
From Justin to Kelly
Drive me crazy
The Bounty Hunter
One Fine Day
Dr. T & the Women
Someone Like You
Home Fries
You Me and Dupree

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Wednesdays Movie Mashup No. 24

I stumped Hatter!!!  And James took it, as I predicted.  Well done. 

Last week's clue: A drifting guy returns to his hometown to try to win back his high school girlfriend and develops an alter-ego that just likes to cause trouble.

Hint: These films came out 50 years apart.

Answer: Sweet Bird of Youth in Revolt

Hatter - 11
David, James - 3
Dylan, Rachel - 2

Sebastian, Andrew, Nick - 1


New Clue:  The rebels suffer a great loss and a guy nearly goes on a date with his mother.  

Hint: Sorry for more vagueness than usual but they're  both really famous movies.

The goal is to figure out the two movies who overlap in some words creating a new movie described by the clue.  Leave your answer in the comments. Good luck! 

The LAMMYS are here! Nominate me!

Yes, it's time for the shameless plugging of a site and it's offspring, but dammit this is supposed to be fun.

Rachel and I have worked really hard to make REEL INSIGHT a contender in the Best Podcast category, so please don't forget to nominate us.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Podcasts galore!

Just in case you can't get enough of me, there's a lot of me to go around.  First, of course, listen to the newest episode of Reel Insight.  The Mad Hatter joins us to discuss lots and lots of Steven Spielberg.  Longest episode in a while (with some terrific editing by Rachel).  Also, we talked about all the new movies I saw this week, so I'm not going to review them here (how do you review the classic Spielberg films anyway).

Second, you can hear more of Rachel and I on the MILFcast.  You'll never believe the scores of The Game.  It's amazing.

And saving the best for last, check out Muppets vs. Toons on the Demented Podcast!  Nick and I debate two  movies and then play the new Tower.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Wow - Thanks all 50 of you!!!

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen.  I feel I must acknowledge the fact that I've finally reached 50 Followers, if only to say thank you!  I didn't notice the 48th and 49th and then all of a sudden it's up to 50!  I know it's a somewhat arbitrary measure of the success of Insight into Entertainment, but I want to tell you how much I appreciate it.  There are so many terrific blogs I read too.  And for your procrastination enjoyment here's a post from all the blogs I currently follow (I did leave out the personal blogs of friends).  Some are recent (all within the last month or so) and some are even from today.  Enjoy.

Big Thoughts from a Small Mind

Cinema Sights

Kano's Lay-Z-Boy Theater

Screen Insight

A Life in Equinox

Anomalous Material

Blog Cabins

Cut the Crap Movie Reviews

Encore's World of Film & TV

Films from the Supermassive Black Hole

Hoping for Something to Hope For

Invasion of the B Movies

Just Chick Flicks

M.Carter @ The Movies

Movie Reviews by FAQs

Movie Reviews by Tom Clift

Rachel's Reel Reviews

Random Ramblings of a Demented Doorknob

Reel Fanatic

Reel Whore

Riku Writes - Mostly about Films

The Cooler

The Dark of the Matinee

The Large Association of Movie Blogs

The List

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Wednesdays Movie Mashup No. 23

Congrats to my podcasting partner in crime!!!  Well done Rachel.  

Last week's clue: A woman is really, really, really, really unsure about getting married but a murderous doll convinces her marriage might be a good thing. 

Answer: Runaway Bride of Chucky

Hatter - 11
David - 3
James, Dylan, Rachel - 2

Sebastian, Andrew, Nick - 1


New clue: A drifting guy returns to his hometown to try to win back his high school girlfriend and develops an alter-ego that just likes to cause trouble.

Hint: These films came out 50 years apart.

The goal is to figure out the two movies who overlap in some words creating a new movie described by the clue.  Leave your answer in the comments. Good luck! 

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Guest Review: MegaShark vs Giant Octopus

I mentioned seeing this on the latest episode of Reel Insight.  When I sat down to write an actual review, I knew my brother, Tom, with whom I saw the movie along with his fiancee, would do a much better job describing the experience.  So here is his review of MegaShark vs Giant Octopus.

Action movies always require of the viewer some level of suspension of disbelief.   We're not supposed to question it when Jason Bourne emerges unscathed from a barrage of bullets, only to turn and fire three perfectly-placed shots into the foreheads of his assailants.  And somehow, the love interest never catches on to how similar Clark Kent and Superman look or how Peter Parker always seems to arrive just after Spiderman leaves.  But none of these films can prepare us for the level of suspension of belief required for a battleship-sized extinct shark jumping 20,000 feet out of the ocean and timing a perfect chomp on a jumbo jet cruising at 500 miles an hour.  Such is the awesomeness of Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus.  

For movie-goers who thought the utmost pinnacle of American cinema was Snakes on a Plane, this film will not disappoint.  Never mind that both animals prefer feeding on inanimate metal objects such as oil rigs, submarines, and in one particularly memorable scene, the Golden Gate Bridge.  Never mind that a battleship fires its guns straight ahead and up into the air to fend off a shark.  If you can let go of any shred of plausibility, decent acting, or plot continuity you might expect from a movie-going experience, this film is a heck of a good time.  

Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus is the type of movie that the guys from Mystery Science Theatre 3000 would sit and make make wisecracks about, but it is so over-the-top awful that no wise cracks are necessary for it to be hilarious.  The graphics for special effect scenes (which are repeated identically throughout the film to stay within budget) look like they were made using Microsoft Paint, and evoke late 1980's Atari video games.  Perhaps this is why pop-singer Debbie Gibson fits perfectly in the lead role, as no one has heard from her since the late 1980's either.  Gibson delivers lines as if she was randomly selected from the audience at a film-making demonstration at a Universal Studios theme park.  Her co-star, along with The Bold and the Beautiful's Lorenzo Lamas, Sean Lawlor takes on an accent that Jess took to be Australian and I thought was supposed to be Southern until it was revealed that he is, in fact, Irish.  The actors work together in a science lab, studiously pouring liquid from viles into beakers until the liquid glows bright green, at which point they look at each other and nod, thus letting the audience know this is the outcome they were hoping for.   

There is a strong environmental theme throughout Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus.  For instance, the two monsters are awakened from their dormancy after an illegal US Navy SONAR exercise confuses a pod of whales in the Arctic who then crash into a glacier, cracking it open and releasing the ancient creatures frozen inside.  As Gibson's character explains, mega shark and giant octopus are natural enemies and were frozen mid-fight, which makes perfect sense because most things freeze while thrashing violently in the water.  All of this has something to do with global warming.  Also, the scientists are adamantly opposed to killing either creature because, as the only one of their kind, they are of course an endangered species.  They seem to be assuming that the shark and the octopus are somehow planning to breed with each other, thus creating the fearsome MegaGiant Sharktopus!  (Why not, it worked for Donkey and Dragon in Shrek!)  

In the end, the scientists' plan works and they lure the two creatures together who both manage to kill the other one at the same time.  They do this using "pheremones," which I'm pretty sure the screen writers read about on the side of a jar of honey.  In the final scene, the characters sit on a beach and reflect on their adventure when they are approached by a colleague urgently describing another "disturbance" in the North Sea, thus setting us up for the sequel, entitled (I'm not making this up)...Mega Shark vs. Crocosaurus.

And if there aren't enough over-sized heterotherms for you in that film, stay tuned for the final installment in the trilogy, due out later in 2011,Mega Python vs. Gatoroid, in which Debbie Gibson is joined by (oh how I wish I were making this up)...Tiffany.  

Monday, April 11, 2011

Reel Insight Episode 41: Cate Blanchett

We talked about some recent movies, some good TV, and even a terrific actress in some wonderful and less than wonderful movies.  Let us know what you think!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Happy 4th Birthday!!!

Yes, that's right, Insight into Entertainment has turned FOUR.  Can you believe it?  Rachel and I were almost twins!  Almost 700 posts, 41 episodes of Reel Insight, and more movies watched than could possibly be counted.  Thank you to everyone who reads or comments on the blog and listens to the podcast.  I can't believe the fun I've had along the way.  Here's to another year of movies and friends.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Wednesdays Movie Mashup No. 22

Hatter took over again!  Then he and Fletch teased each other for a while - go check it out.

Last week's clue: A bunch of ladies take their clothes off to raise money while some younger ladies try to dance their way to fame.  

Answer: Calendar Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

Hatter - 11
David - 3
James, Dylan - 2

Sebastian, Andrew, Rachel, Nick - 1


New Clue: A woman is really, really, really, really unsure about getting married but a murderous doll convinces her marriage might be a good thing. 
The goal is to figure out the two movies who overlap in some words creating a new movie described by the clue.  Leave your answer in the comments. Good luck! 

Monday, April 4, 2011

Reel Insight Episode 40: Jo-Go

After a week away we came back stronger and longer.  Rachel's voice is back, so we discuss the Millennium Trilogy, Wrecked, The Lincoln Lawyer, and some TV Talk with Veronica Mars and the Grey's Anatomy musical episode.  Then it's on to a discussion of one of the greatest actors working today: Joseph Gordon-Leavitt (Jo-Go).  From his early days on "3rd Rock from the Sun" to last summer's Inception, there's a lot to say.  Enjoy.

New movies I saw this week with Jo-Go himself:

Uncertainty - A parallel worlds kind of movie (Sliding Doors is better), with Jo-Go and his girlfriend, Lynn Collins, split into two different days in New York City.  In one, they spend the day with her family, discussing their relationship.  In the other, they find a cell phone in a cab that turns out to belong to a terrorist/mobster and spend the day trying to stay safe.   Not a bad flick, but the visuals were a bit too much - to distinguish the different stories they split them into yellow and green, from the clothes they're wearing to the filters on the lens.  Interesting stories that just didn't blend particularly well.  

Brick - I'm so glad I finally saw this movie.  A film noir reminiscent of a Raymond Chandler detective black and white, except it's set in a California high school.  The dialogue is sharp, totally out of place for a high school, but the acting is so good they carry it off perfectly.  A murder mystery of the drug-lord type, brilliantly made movie.  

GI: Joe The Rise of Cobra - Jo-Go was nearly unrecognizable, and the story didn't make much sense at all.  I wasn't expecting much, but it was just so strange I'm not sure what to say.  

Latter Days - Follows a young gay waiter who decides to try to corrupt the new Morman missionaries that just moved in.  Well, one of them happens to be gay too, so it works, but ruins the kid's life.  Jo-Go plays a racist, bigoted Morman Elder.  It's barely more than an after-school special from the 1980s.   

Sunday, April 3, 2011

DVD Roundup: The Millennium Trilogy (aka The Girl who...)

** If you haven't seen the first movie or read any of the books, this will have some spoilers.  However, the shock value of some of the surprises isn't worth it, so read on.**

The first half is a repost of my reviews of the first two movies, with an addition now that I've finished the Trilogy

I feel like I've discussed this series a lot with quite a few different movie geeks, and I haven't actually written a review of anything.  The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and The Girl Who Played with Fire are the first two films based on books in The Millennium Trilogy by Stieg Larrson.  The third Swedish film was just released in theaters here in the States (though I'll have to wait until Netflix gets it).  The first two movies are intense drama/thrillers with many murders and violence thrown in.  They're definitely some of the best story-telling to have come out recently.  
Noomi Rapace plays Lisbeth Salander, a petite bad ass computer hacker who had an epically terrible childhood.  She's required to check in with a "Guardian" (kind of like a probation officer here in the States), and when her former Guardian has a stroke, she's stuck with a terrible guy who does unspeakable things to her (one of the most violent scenes on screen I've ever seen).  She does get her revenge, thankfully.  But you can't unring a bell.  So that's the understory.  The overarching story involves Mikael Blomkvist, a journalist who has been found guilty of libeling a megamogul.  Since he's heading for jail, he gets hired by a wealthy guy, Martin Vanger, to investigate a family mystery - the disappearance of his niece.  Salander and Blomkvist cross paths after she investigates him for Vanger before he hires him.  
Salander hacks into Blomkvist's computer and watches as he tries to find the niece.  Eventually, she has to join him to try to find the truth.  Again, they find some unbearably disgusting facts from decades ago and the whole mystery does get solved, but man is it way out in left field.  At the end, Salander does her computer genius thing to prove that the megamogul actually did the things Blomkvist said he did, clearing him.  She steals a ton of the guy's money -secretly of course.  And this leads us to the next film.  Brilliant first entry - amazing acting by Rapace, and terrific thriller action sequences.  Once I got around the extremely violent scene, it's a wonderful movie all around.  5 of 5 stars/lambs

Blomkvist coming to the rescue, but Salander has it in hand
In The Girl Who Played with Fire Blomkvist is back at his magazine and a fellow journalist and his assistant are killed.  Also dead is Salander's "Guardian".  She is accused of the crime, but since she has tons of money now, she moved and can't be found.  Blomkvist, who has a soft spot for Salander, knows she didn't do it and goes about trying to figure out who might have.  He stumbles upon a den of human trafficking, prostitution and murders going back a long time, with links to Salander's terrible childhood.  Not nearly as thrilling as the original, but still a brilliant story told with great acting and an interesting plot that will keep you on the edge of your seat.  Less violent, but more mystery and a few gory scenes that almost make you want to look away.  Less edgy, but an excellent return to terrific characters.  4 of 5 lambs/stars

And finally, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest - finally available on Netflix streaming.  This film picks up almost exactly where the previous one left off - Salander is in the hospital after the brutal attack by her half-brother and father.  Oh, and her dad is in the hospital too and Lisbeth is charged with trying to kill him. The movie follows Salander trying to figure out how to defend herself and prove she's not crazy and must not be committed again.  The psychiatrist who originally locked her up and molested her has shown up for the prosecution.  And Blomkvist and his colleagues at the magazine Millenium have decided to expose all of Salander's story and its bad guys - from her father all the way up to the government conspiracy that sent her to the mental institution and want to keep her there.  Thankfully, Blomkvist is still willing to risk his life (and his friends) to save Lisbeth - and his interest is somehow still not creepy.  

I think I liked this movie the best of the trilogy.  The violence was much more toned down - if nailing someone's feet to the floor so they can't chase you can be considered toned down.   Now that we finally know all of the details of Lisbeth's story, she becomes an even more remarkable character, and watching her soften just a bit to related to Blomkvist as a friend and his sister as he attorney, her bad-ass-ness is amazing.  The complexity of the story builds really well on both the first and second movies in the trilogy, and really should be viewed as a group - at least as much as the Star Wars films.  If you gave the first one a shot, definitely finish the series - it's absolutely worth it.  5 of 5 stars/lambs.