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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Pink Panther: Two in One

It is truly sad to admit that critics generally hate this movie. Well, I'm not really admitting it because that would suggest that someone was hammering me for that information. Moving on? Yes, the 2006 remake of Blake Edwards's supposedly "brilliant" Pink Panther was bashed by critics. Honestly, the 1963 was a dreadful bore. In respect to the late Blake Edwards, whose directing I enjoyed in The Great Race among others, the old Pink Panther was just not great. At least not as great as everyone is setting it to be. Peter Sellers portrays the bumbling Inspector Jacques Clouseau, in an iconic role. My interpretation: the textbook-hilarious Peter Sellers provides a performance that simply does not satisfy my sense of humor. A nice way of putting what I really think, but I'm not as callous as you believe. (Just to note, for future possible reference: The only place I enjoy Peter Sellers is when Geoffrey Rush portrays him in The Life and Death of Peter Sellers. Moving on.)

Now, the new Pink Panther, directed by Shawn Levy, is a pure work of comedy. Sure, it's full of (what some may call) cheap gags and lots of physical humor, but...it's a comedy. I know I'm not one for that kind of humor, when actors like Kevin James are on the screen, but, here with Steve Martin, it is a delight. That's right, I believe Steve Martin's role as Inspector Jacques Clouseau is one of the best in his career. And definitely beats Peter Sellers by a whole lot. Now, I know Steve Martin fans (and Peter Sellers fans) are violently shaking their heads in disagreement. But it's my opinion, and I am standing by it, god damn it. Or God damn it? Damn It? Anyway.

Watching this film is like sucking the sweet vanilla extract that made a treat so delicious. Meaning that this film is the core of most great comedies. Of course, not this movie in particular, but older ones like this. (And no, not the original Pink Panther. Like I said, it's boring.) The humor may be somewhat simple, and at times plain silly, but, in this whole scenario of a movie, it somehow works. The idiocy of Steve Martin's Jacques Clouseau is rather typical... (but that is the epitome of Clouseau, no? yet it is just hilarious. Now, what I do not understand is why critics harshly bashed his performance, as it was much funnier than Peter Sellers's confusing, apparently-subtle humor. Then again, I am most likely the spawn of a new generation... (most likely?) one that doesn't "appreciate 'true' comedy". (Yet I do adore Jack Lemmon and Billy Wilder. Interesting.) Whether Peter Sellers was great as the Inspector is not relevant here! Why I keep returning to it is a puzzle.

Better than Daniel Craig? I think not.
Emily Mortimer plays the clumsy-cute Nicole, who would be the object of equally-clueless Clouseau's affection; Jean Reno plays Clouseau's seriously serious confidante, Ponton; and Kevin Kline plays the Chief Inspector of Paris, who despises Clouseau and wishes for him to blunder as he expects him to. One key point that I adored in this movie was a cameo in a certain scene: Clive Owen, as special agent 006. Might I highlight the obvious hint? This movie was released just before the new James Bond was announced! As you already know, Daniel Craig (ugh) got the coveted role. (Is it coveted? I imagine it would be.) Here, in The Pink Panther, it seemed perfectly clear, and clearly perfect, that Clive Owen would take over as the new 007! And it irks me that much more to know this was the closest he will ever be to being a secret agent. Unless he makes a hilarious chain of spy-spoof films. Or, if life is truly cruel, those spoofs will be totally unfunny and be just another failed Epic Movie. Moving on.

One factor I did not particularly care for in the movie was Beyonce. Her role as the sexy singer Xania was a bit aggravating to deal with. Plus, she and Steve Martin are an awkward couple, wouldn't you say? Seriously, she's a bit out of his league. (Steve Martin's hot.) I'll sum it up by saying she is not a good actress. Correction: She's not an actress...as in she cannot act.

It's a shame, an absolute shame, that such a wonderful movie produced an utterly horrifying sequel. Of course, this is Hollywood, the Land of Terrible Sequels Except the Times They're Actually Pretty Good or Better. (No, that's not what Hollywood is known as at all. I made that up. Disregard my attempt at humor.) But yes, The Pink Panther 2, directed by Harald Zwart (different director, there's your first problem), was atrocious. Jean Reno's character, who was stone-faced funny in the first one, is now reduced to a corny family man-type sidekick. One outrageous change was of Chief Inspector Dreyfus, played by the always-delightful Kevin Kline with an impressive French accent, underwent an unusual transformation. I'll just get to it: In the sequel, he's British, played even more British by uber-British John Cleese.

The most foolish concept of this movie is the sheer idiocy of the Dream Team. This childishly-named team of the world's greatest sleuths (oh, forgot to put air-quotes, as they are probably the worst detectives in the world) assembled in order to capture one thief known as the Tornado. This thief has been stealing priceless artifacts, such as the Magna Carta and, of course, the Pink Panther diamond. This so-called master thief is rather stupid, if you watch this movie with the mind of an intelligent adult, as he/she always leaves behind case-cracking evidence at the crime scene. Dumbass.

There will be no spoilers here, as I move on to the movie's overall quality.

The members of this wondrous Dream Team are Andy Garcia, as an overly-Italian "casanova" Vicenzo Brancaleone; Alfred Molina, as a chip-chip-cherrio British sleuth Randall Pepperidge (guess Sherlock Holmes wasn't available); a Japanese tech-geek, whose participation in the Team is not that impressive (then again, is anyone's?); and Aishwarya Rai as the sultry-sexy Sonia Solandres. They are all depicted as buffoons, plain and simple. Whether that was intended by the director or not, it just did not work out. At all. Jeremy Irons, also, makes an appearance, which sort of baffled me. It was a fine how-do-you-do, that's all.

Overall, I would just like to say that the new Pink Panther is really funny. Don't argue with your screen because, as always, that's what I think of the movie. Both movies were rated rather low on IMDb after all. The first one, in 2006, was flat-out hilarious, even after a seventh viewing of it. True, as I have said before, its humor may appear to be for the simple-minded, while the Blake Edwards classic is inclined to more "intellectual" folk. I guess you can call me part of the unrefined population. (Although you shouldn't, considering I'm far more sophisticated than most adults I know. But I don't care what you think. Yes, on paper, I'm haughtier than I claim to be in reality.) Anyway, The Pink Panther is, indeed, entertaining. The Pink Panther 2, I'm sad to say, was a tremendous disappointment, bearing in mind how anxious I was to see it. All those stars (well, one Oscar-nominated Andy Garcia) turned out to do nothing for the movie. In fact, the Oscar-nominated actor himself was the worst part of the movie! That horrible Italian accent! One would think that if he was in The Godfather Part III would be a bit more capable with an Italian accent. Did you know that Andy Garcia was Cuban? I didn't.

I'd also like to add that Steve Martin's Razzie nomination for the second one was totally unnecessary. His accent might have gotten thicker and less-understandable, and he might have endured much more physical gags, but he was definitely not the worst thing about this film. Actually, he might have been the best part of the film, as his comical portrayal as Inspector Jacques Clouseau was just that: comical. Even with the repetitious and exhausting "damburger" joke.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

A Thanksgiving Crave

Happy Thanksgiving everybody! Since there aren't many good Thanksgiving movies, I won't be watching any themed films today. I will, however, be seeing The Muppets at around 5 o'clock... (I'm telling you the time because I'm hoping you will meet me there. Just kidding, please don't follow me.) and I am pretty hyped about it. Before that, I'll be having Thanksgiving lunch at my grandmother's house, with the whole gang: my mother, my two brothers, my mother's husband, my grandmother, her boyfriend, and their many animals. I just know you are super antsy to join me. Considering how fun it all sounds. We are not having Thanksgiving dinner because we flip tables and say, "To hell with tradition!" Actually, I really don't know why we have lunch. I guess it's a Russian thing. Did I mention I'm Russian? Well, I'm Russian.

Anyway, it is highly likely that I will be indulging in lots of foods, including white-meat turkey, sauteed vegetables, and some succulent red wine. It's the holidays after all, so it shall be a guilt-free trip. Even though I'll probably end up regretting it the next morning. Insecurity and it's consuming power. Okay, what the hell am I telling you all this for? Well, I'm going there in about thirty minutes, and am biting my lip in worry of what it's going to be like. I know for a fact that the screams of football with echo throughout the house, to my dismay. And my grandmother will be scolding me for drinking, in Russian. Whoops, I mean she'll be scolding my mother, as she does every year. My baby brother, an adorable two-year-old with the manners of a gentleman, will be engaged in conversations with anyone who feigns interest. Most likely, me. (But I do love the little guy...though he's rather big for a two-year-old. Sorry, mom.)

Let's see, what else? My nine-year-old brother will be irking with questions of why I'm not with my "stupid dad" today, or with remarks on how I hate his dad. More like constant announcements on how I can't stand him, so everyone can hear and shake their head at what a rotten girl I am. At least, that's what I believe they're thinking. Don't get me wrong, I love my brother, but lately he's been turning into a callous, gruff boy. Maybe because he's making up for the fact that he's overweight, he's trying to impress everyone and let them know he's a tough guy? You know how boys can be, you can figure it out for yourself. All in all, I love both my brothers. (I don't refer to them as my half-brothers, even if they really are. I don't.)

Reluctantly, I will not make any sardonic remarks on my mother's husband, even though I'm really eager to. I won't because, as always, my mother could be reading this. Plus, I do not want to suck you all into my life, drama and all. This is a blog for movies, not my own personal life. Then why am I writing all this? Didn't I answer that already?

Anyway, onto the significance of the post title. I have been browsing several "foodie" blogs, gazing at the tasty-looking pictures of food, mainly desserts. I am a major sweet tooth. It's a sickness, really. Speaking of which, my mom baked some dessert called Death by Chocolate: apparently, it's this elaborate tower-like treat with chocolate (the yummy brownie kind) and toffee. If you don't know what toffee is, well neither do I. But I have tried it before, in Disney World, and it is delicious. Speaking of Disney World, that's my haven of over-indulgence of various foods, specifically in the Epcot World Showcase. My mouth is watering from just mentioning it. While I wander over to my grandmother's enjoy some delectable images of scrumptious food. Your mouth may indeed flood with saliva. (Eww.)
Banana Toffee Tower - Brown Derby

Cheesecake Napolean - Coral Reef

Gelato with fruit and chocolate - Tutto Italia 

Duck with green beans - Chefs de France


























I took all those pictures with my Blackberry, at Disney World. Just thought I should tell you that. Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

You've Got Mail

Don't you love the now-vintage AOL greeting? Well, I sure do. It is also the title of the romantic comedy directed by Nora Ephron, one of two queens of the genre (accompanied by Nancy Meyers). This is such a joy to watch for many reasons. One being my absolute love for corny romances, and how I so enjoy rewatching them over and over. Another is my equal love for Meg Ryan films, whether she's adorable or plastered with plastic. Yet another is my confusing love for the immensely corny, and at times irritating, Tom Hanks. Say, if you find him so annoying, why do you love him? Well, it's much like the Sex and the City-effect: so awful, I can't help but enjoy. Moving on to the title of the post, Meg Ryan plays a quirky bookshop owner named Kathleen Kelly, while Tom hanks plays a cheesy-friendly man named Joe Fox, partner to a superbookstore chain called Fox Books. Gee, that's clever.

Written by Nora Ephron, same as When Harry Met Sally..., You've Got Mail is a much cornier romantic comedy, relying on childish humor and an easy fall-in-love scenario. This scenario involves two complete strangers (Kathleen and Joe) falling in love via email, and hating one another when they meet. They do not know, however, that the other is the one they've been emailing. Kathleen Kelly is much like Sally Albright, though it's hard to distinguish as she doesn't have a pessimistic Harry to debate with. (I sure wish she did.) Plus, Ms. Ryan's lips are starting to show signs of collagen-consumption. Damn shame, that is. The man, Joe Fox is very...Tom Hanks. That's my characteristic of him. Yes, he's an actual adjective. It entails someone who thinks a lot of themselves: they think they're super witty, super clever, and super wonderful in practically every department. And that's just what Joe Fox is here. When Kathleen discovers the true identity of the friendly stranger in her bookshop to be Joe Fox, the mind behind the Fox Books Superstore, he decides this is a time to make a so-called funny joke involving yet another Godfather quote. (He would be making tons of them.) From that point on, the two would bump into each other practically everywhere. Grocery stores, restaurants, neo-Nazi rallies, you name it. (That last one was a joke. Sort of funny.) I find it amusing that they were so close to crossing paths before, when they were emailing one another, and they finally start to see one another every place they go when they start despising each other. (Quite a few 'others' there. Moving on.) They continue their correspondence via email throughout the film. Just saying.
Joe is the first of them to figure out who his fellow email-buddy is, when they decide to meet in person. That's the consequence of being the first one there. So, clever rascal he is, Joe casually enters the cafe and invades on Kathleen's anticipation. Here, he decides to act friendlier towards her, as if the fact that she was his cyber-crush changes the fact that she is trying to ruin his business. (Although that would never happen because Joe Fox is the best.) Kathleen, evidently naive and very forgiving, reciprocates his kindness. (Reciprocates?) Consequently, they become dear friends! Aww!

Alright, do not panic, but I just realized something: I was starting to tell you exactly what happens in the movie, point-by-point. No need in erasing what I had already written, it's out there for you to see. I apologize. Allow me to continue, spoiler-free.

Besides the obvious difference in plot, When Harry Met Sally... differs from You've Got Mail in one main point: the male lead. If Tom Hanks assumed the role of the cynical Harry Burns (a type Mr. Hanks isn't necessarily great at), the entire film would no longer have an individualistic wonder about it. It definitely would not be my favorite all-time movie either, partly because I dislike Tom Hanks as a romantic character. (And I love Billy Crystal.) Same as if Billy Crystal played the role of Joe Fox in You've Got Mail, who is somewhat of a cynic because he's in big business. The role of Joe Fox is made for Tom Hanks because that is a corny role: a guy who makes corny jokes when caught in an awkward confrontation, or otherwise. Billy Crystal is totally wrong for that part; he would have made it an entirely different movie, from what it's supposed to be: incredibly cheesy. Don't get the wrong idea from my what-may-seem-to-be mocking tone, as not all corny movies are unwatchably horrible. In fact, they are really enjoyable! You've Got Mail included. Corny movies give the audience a break from the to-be-taken-seriously theme of other films. Maybe one would rather watch an intentionally hilarious comedy, such as The Hangover, to satisfy their taste for some laughs. That would be the obvious path to take. Usually I take that path, but sometimes, I'm in the mood for something older. Yes, I do get into that groove often, which is why I force my dad to sit through yet another You've Got Mail-esque film time after time.

Overall, this film is a classic whether you like it or not, and it's truly an enjoyable one. Next time you're in the mood for some cheesy romance, just check you're AOL inbox (if you still have one or live in the 90s) and your answer lies there.
  • "Orange you going to give us a break?" -- example of the hilarious work of Tom Hanks...had to mention this one, it was so funny. Not.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

An Incredulous Chuckle

Before you ask, no I did not use a thesaurus to create the title of the post. At first, I was going to title it "A Baffled Shock", but that wouldn't include my amusement of the whole occurrence. (Wait, what occurrence?) Well I'll tell you what occurrence! (I won't say occurrence again.)

As I go on my computer and venture over to the Internet Movie Database (IMDb), as I always do every morning, I see three new trailers that have been released. One is a latest trailer for The Hunger Games, which I have absolutely no interest in, whatsoever. Another is for Mirror Mirror, an adaptation on Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, starring a not-so-fair-looking actress as Snow White. Again, my interest isn't so significant. The third trailer is for a movie called Titanic. Say, didn't that movie come out, almost fifteen years ago? And didn't it win eleven Oscars? What gives? I'll tell you what gives: James Cameron's (only) masterpiece, Titanic, is being rereleased...in 3D. You read that right. 3-bloody-D.

There were rumors of this ridiculous event in recent years, when the surge of 3-D movies exploded into cinema. In all reality, 3-D movies have been irritating many viewers, including this one. (That would be me.) It seems that everything is in 3-D now, but that rant is so 2010. Here's a joke: Instead of saying a movie will be in 3-D, in their trailer, they should just specify if the movie won't be in 3-D. Because so many movies are in 3-D, there's no need to even say it will be in 3-D. Did you laugh?

Anyway, moving on to Titanic. I watched this movie, literally this past Saturday, for the third time, and am still amazed by the film. It is truly a cinematic work of art, with the final touch of marvelous acting by Kate Winslet as Rose DeWitt Bukater and Leonardo DiCaprio as Jack Dawson. You read my review of the film on Leo's birthday-post. (If not, you should. It's kind of a big deal.) To release this movie in 3-D is an absolute crime. Why commercialize an already massive success? Oh yeah, to attain more success. Can you imagine the reception for Titanic IN 3-D? It would be massive! It might even break Avatar's box-office record! (Here's hoping.)

Now it may sound like I'm criticizing the whole thing, and it might seem like I'm justifying it as well, therefore somewhat of a paradox. However, I am doing neither. I'm merely astounded that 20th Century Fox (or whomever is selling this) actually made the decision of 3-D-izing a timeless classic. Who knows? Maybe Star Wars is next.... To be continued! (Not really.)

Titanic IN 3D will be released April 6, 2012.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

When Harry Met Sally...

I'll have what she's having. Not until a year ago, I thought this memorable quote was shouted by someone who was serving some cheesy punchline. (I'll have what SHE'S having!) Not until a year ago, I learned this quote was said to prolong the timeless joke of faking orgasms. And lastly, not until a year ago did I first watch what would be my all-time favorite film. Ever.

That's quite a statement coming from me, a vast admirer of movies. It's your basic romantic-comedy, upon hearing the plot without actually watching it: boy meets girl, they develop a relationship that would blossom to romance, major conflict in their relationship, conflict resolved, and they live happily ever after. It may sound simple, but it is, remarkably, far from it. What makes me say remarkable is that...well, it is. In some wondrous way, maybe magic, the collaborative minds of Rob Reiner (director) and Nora Ephron (writer) created a meaningful, funny, romantic, insightful classic.
Sure, the insight relates to the art of relationships rather than academia, but its relevance to the lives of real people is what makes it entertaining. People want to see movies where they learn something they already know, such as the fake orgasm. Women know they do it, men don't think their woman is faking with them. Now, it's considered cliche... (who would even dare try to put that joke in their movie and get away with it?) but for the 1989 classic, it is just that (classic).

Let's get into the substance of the great film. Its main characters are Harry Burns (played marvelously by Billy Crystal) and Sally Albright (played wonderfully by Meg Ryan, looking as adorable as ever). Harry is a cynic, who always has some narrow-minded opinion on the smallest of things; Sally is a bright, cheerful woman, who always objects to Harry's pessimistic provinciality and tries to prove him wrong and therefore assure herself that he's wrong. The two meet when they drive to New York together, and on the ride there, Harry prudently states that they can never be friends because men and women cannot be friends. The reason for that (you should know this) is, no matter what, there is always a chance of sex getting in the way. I love this scene because, like every scene in the movie, Harry and Sally are going back and forth with their quick responses; they have a simple yet interesting conversation in the movie, like any two people in the real-world would. It projects such a warm, comfortable aura about the entire film. You can watch it any time of day, whether you're on the brink of falling asleep (as I am at this very moment) or busy with some other task. It just absorbs you in a way that doesn't distract or consume you. If that makes sense.

When the pair stops by at a diner, Harry accuses Sally of never having had great sex, which Sally vehemently denies because she doesn't want to live in a world where some contemptuous jerk is right. (Further defines their relationship, as this is how they respond to one another throughout the film.) Still at the diner, Harry orders a simple meal known as "a number 4". Sally on the other hand, orders her dessert in a much more complex manner: "I'd like the pie heated and I don't want the ice cream on top, I want it on the side, and I'd like strawberry instead of vanilla if you have it, if not then no ice cream just whipped cream but only if it's real; if it's out of the can then nothing". I just had to include that one bit from the movie, it was just so amusing. Then, Harry brilliantly states how men and women can never be friends. And it's absolutely true! I know from experience, myself; eventually, either I start to develop feelings, or he does...it's just inevitable, in such a supernatural way. Well, actually natural way. Men and women are attracted to one another, even if one of them is generally unattractive (Harry: You pretty much want to nail 'em too.)

Five years later, Harry and Sally meet again, in an airport, where Sally is kissing her boyfriend, Joe, goodbye. (Another factor I love is how Harry and Sally actually have time to fall in love, unlike typical romantic comedies out now. In those movies, the audience is to believe that two characters fall in love in the course of about a month. That's not the way it should be. Here's your example, romantic comedies of 2012.) Here, the so-true moment of forgetting the name of your best friend in college or what someone you met five years ago is doing now, job-wise, is displayed. (Note: there are many so-true moments in this film. Yes, I will mention each and every one of them. If I fail to do that, I'm only human.) Once Harry recognizes Sally on the plane, after she made her usual complication of a simple order of a drink, the two catch up on things: Harry is married to Helen, while we already know Sally is in a serious relationship with Joe. How, pray tell, do we know it's serious? Well, as Harry explains it, he took her to the airport, and that is definitely a six month-plus task to carry out. What guy who you just slept with would take you to the airport the next day? Anyway, I have to say, the character of Harry (who I strongly hope is truly out there for me to snatch) may be cynical and sees-the-cup-half-empty, but at least he has a fathomable hold of reality. (Fathomable?) There's nothing wrong with a little cynicism people, not everything has to be a Christmas elf. Nor do they have to be plain assholes. Where was I going with this...? Either way, Harry is a wonderfully pessimistic character, which will be more clearly shown throughout the movie. You'll see.

Having read over what I already wrote, I've come to a decision. No votes will be made on the issue either. (Like you even would. I'm so insecure. Moving on.) I've decided not to reveal every little thing about the movie. While it is a wonderful film, probably the best I've seen, I don't want to spoil it for you. Even if you watched it, I doubt you would want to read the script of the movie here. You know what happens, you've seen and enjoyed it. And for those who haven't seen it, I want you to be delightfully surprised by just how great it is. I will not erase what I have written above because, well, it's already typed up. With that being said, allow me to continue, without telling you exactly what happens.

When Harry Met Sally... is a genuine cinematic gem. Definitely the greatest romantic comedy ever made, and quite possibly the best movie. (Then again, one might enjoy Gigli or Bounty Hunter...I'm not judging, but bad taste. Oh, I judged anyway. Terrible taste.) This movie is truly a marvelous marvelous creation, focusing on the small yet crucially important components of relationships, and life. From the honest and intimate conversations between Harry and Sally to...well, to their incredibly touching climax when they...you know...and live happily ever after. Yet, that cheesy ending isn't exactly set in stone, as it typically is in these types of films. They simply kiss and undergo their own, adorable interview. Their interview follows many other sweet interviews of elderly couples, who have ended up together in unconventional ways. (By unconventional, I mean not your everyday boy-meets-girl-and-falls-for-her-instantly gimmick. Once again, this movie is pure perfection.)

Similar to Woody Allen films and other lovable Rob Reiner films, When Harry Met Sally... is all about the dialogue, and the warm sensation it gives off. The whole film centers around the relationship of Harry and Sally, two seemingly ordinary people (yet two of the finest character in the history of cinema), over the believable course of more than ten years. From watching Casablanca together late at night, over the phone, to casually discussing the topic of one another's sex lives in public places. Harry Burns and Sally Albright stand as the ideal cinematic couple... (move over Rose and Jack!) in an ideal romantic film. When Harry Met Sally... is truly, utterly, and completely the unsurpassed romantic comedy, nay movie, of our time. Get used to it.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Happy Birthday Leonardo DiCaprio!

I'd like to start off by wishing Leonardo DiCaprio a very happy birthday. (Didn't I already do that with the title?) I would also like him to know that a marathon of all his greatest movies (basically all of them) will commence sometime soon. (I would today, considering today is his actual birthday, but I wouldn't enjoy watching them all by myself. Hint: I'm all by myself.) In the meantime, I will evaluate a few of my favorite films of the brilliant actor.

Titanic - Not surprising that I listed this one first. Quite possibly one of the most romantic films of all time, James Cameron's epic has everything. From the obvious and endearing romance between the film's lovers, Rose DeWitt Bukater and Jack Dawson (played by Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio, one of the most perfect cinematic couples), to the extraordinary scenery and spectacular sinking scene. (Spoiler: The ship sinks.) Leonardo DiCaprio, at a ripe and gorgeous age of twenty-three, shines in one of his earlier roles as the dashing Jack Dawson. Paired with the stunning Kate Winslet (a year younger than her co-star), the couple's chemistry is mesmerising; I cannot take my eyes off of their passionate, indescribably heart-warming romance. While over the years this film has become a cliche for epic romances, and even as far as being branded "over-rated"... (preposterous!) Titanic will stand the test of time as one of cinema's more passionate romances. It's all topped off with a tragic, heart-breaking ending. Tears, both sad and ones when witnessing utter beauty.

The Aviator - Even though I watched this film only once (it's quite long), Martin Scorsese's masterpiece stands as one of my favorites. Here, Leonardo DiCaprio displays his undeniable talent, playing the eccentric Howard Hughes; here is where the wonderful actor truly deserved his Oscar win. Now I don't want to throw you off with that statement, as Leo did not attain his well-earned award. (Again, he lost to Jamie Foxx for Ray. I haven't seen that one, but I doubt it was any better than The Aviator. My opinion, that is.) I really must stress how amazing Leo was in this film, his greatest performance so far, in my opinion. Fortunately, he did receive a Golden Globe, his only one I might scornfully add, which has more worth than an Oscar, actually (to me, anyway). The Aviator features the elegance of the 1920s, my ideal time period; also, Cate Blanchett portrays Katherine Hepburn in a lovely performance which won her an Oscar. There is a reason the magnificent Martin Scorsese chose Leonardo DiCaprio as his go-to actor for many of his films.

Gangs of New York - Another fantastic Martin Scorsese film, Leonardo DiCaprio plays Amsterdam Vallon, a young man seeking vengeance for the death of his father. More specifically, he's planning to kill his father's murderer, known as Bill "The Butcher" Cutting. (I know it sounds like a Mafia name, but this is 1863. He's seriously a butcher.) While Leo is great in this film, the main attraction is Daniel Day-Lewis's magnificent performance as the sinister and menacing Bill "The Butcher". He positively glows in this film, providing one of the greatest acting performances of the twentieth century, and most definitely of 2002. Criminally, he lost to Adrian Brody for The Pianist. (Figures. Anything even remotely related to the Holocaust is Oscar gold. That's a whole other topic up for discussion, and will probably be judged by many.) Moving on, Daniel Day-Lewis is hypnotic as the intimidating butcher as he takes Amsterdam into his confidence, and would be deceived by him. Watching the Butcher behave, you'd think he knew all along that Amsterdam was the son of his deceased enemy, and scheming to kill him for revenge. A superb scene in the movie is the Butcher's excellent yet vile dialogue about killing the man who killed a poor little rabbit. His sarcastic tears were the peak of genius. Martin Scorsese, you done did it again.

Blood Diamond - Yet another disappointing loss for Leonardo DiCaprio, who was again nominated for his role as Danny Archer, a South African involved in the dangerous business of diamonds. (Here, they are far from a girl's best friend. Didn't you expect that pun? Is it even a pun? Anyway...) Danny, accompanied by an African fisherman, Soloman Vandy (played by Djimon Hounsou, in an astounding Oscar-nominated performance), and a charming journalist, Maddy Bowen (Jennifer Connelly), fight the aggression of the government, in order to attain a diamond that will help Danny out of the chaos of Africa. Eventually, the three fight together for the cause of the atrocities of the blood diamond trade. To be honest, I haven't watched this movie in a while, and am getting all this information from a plot synopsis. (I'm ashamed. However, I will certainly watch it tomorrow!) I do remember enjoying this film very much, and am safe to call it outstanding. Yes, that's right, simply outstanding.

Inception - There's really no need to even explain this one, as I'm sure everyone has seen this mind-blowing blockbuster. (An $800 billion-plus box-office supports this assumption.) Inception, a movie about dreams within dreams within dreams, is absolutely breath-taking. The visual effects and all, Christopher Nolan's film is a modern masterpiece. Leonardo DiCaprio plays Cobb, a dream extractor, who is encountered with the impossible task of inception--planting an idea in someone else's head, rather than the typical extraction of it. From that, you can tell this movie is a bit puzzling and requires more than one watch. In fact, the more the better, for this movie will leave you speechless in the most stunning way.

Well, there you have it. Just a slice of the immense talent Leonardo DiCaprio possesses. And I must groan, again, on how this marvelous actor does not have an Oscar. I know those things are simply trinkets, to make its owner feel accomplished, but it's still nice to have one. At least I imagine it is. I'm sure Leo doesn't even care whether he has one or not, or whether he will ever get one for that matter. He acts because that's what he loves. Why else would he keep making movies? Unless my ideal vision of him is completely wrong and he is an arrogant, attention-loving prick. I feel horrible for even saying that! No, he is exactly how I picture him: humble, sincere, kind, intelligent. Yes, I see him as a perfect person. (And hope he indeed is.) Alright then, I figure I'll wrap up this post now. Happy birthday, Leo!

P.S. Leo's upcoming film, J. Edgar, is shrouded with Oscar buzz. Here's wishing him the best of luck this year, as well as for years to come!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

An Elated Joy (adjusted from An Aggravted Gasp)

Wonderful news! Truly, this is a marvelous occasion, bring out the celebratory music! Okay, let's all calm the hell down. (We don't have time for my lengthy oddities.) I'll just get to the point: It has been announced, earlier today, that Billy Crystal will take over as host of the 84th Annual Academy Awards. Yes, 'tis be true!

If you haven't read my post from last night, which I highly recommend (it's kind of a big deal), I got into how... actually, you should just read it. While you do that, I'll go on and gloat on how the Academy went with a smart, excellent decision, instead of (what I expected) a foolish choice. In other words, not Neil Patrick Harris. Jolly good evening.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

An Aggravated Gasp


 As you may guess, I use the Internet on occasion. In fact, I spend nearly half my day on the thing. Is it a thing? Or a place? Anyway, tonight, on this decent Wednesday evening, I am hit by a metaphorical train. Yes, a huge, flabbergasting slice of information. It regards the upcoming Oscar ceremony. I'm not sure if you know, but Eddie Murphy, the hilarious Eddie Murphy, was set to host the event. Did you see the was in that sentence? It implies that it was once a truth, but is now not a truth. A false statement. The wonderfully comic actor, who in my opinion is one of the funniest comedians of our time, has dropped out of the hosting gig after Brett Ratner, the former producer of the event, has also dropped out. The two of them have collaborated on the new comedy Tower Heist, and apparently they are very close friends. Why else would Eddie Murphy drop out? You may be wondering why Ratner himself dropped out. Well, I'll tell you why!

Brett Ratner, famous for the Rush Hour movies and The Family Man (possibly the best Christmas movie ever), made a derogatory comment directed towards...the homosexuals. I'm not even sure if that's the socially correct term for them. Is the fact I referred to them as a group offensive? Is my sarcastic tone offensive? Seriously, we all have to be so careful about what we say nowadays. Doesn't the fact that we're tip-toeing around the probable pitfalls of being called "anti-gay" discriminatory towards them? Honestly, if I were gay, I would feel insulted that people are over-flattering me and giving me special treatment. I might be a tad out of line, according to actual homosexuals, but I see this everyday. What may be seen as justice or fair treatment, such as saying that "being gay is cool" or boasting about homosexuality, is really incorrect. When I say incorrect, I mean that it's not...right...to promote homosexuality, nor is it right to protest against it. In other words, the gays... (or homosexuals, yet they mean the same thing, yes?) should simply be left do live their own life, just like any heterosexual person. Either orientation is born the same way and is made of the same components... (like robots?) we just do different things behind closed doors.

Alright, now that I got that out of the way. Onto why I started this post. To why I gasped aggravatingly. During an interview with the racy Howard Stern, Brett Ratner referred to the homosexuals as "fags" (not cool, man) for whatever reason. (I still don't see how gays got into their interview, which I assume was about his new movie, Tower Heist. Anyway...) after that comment, Ratner was forced out of his role as producer of the 84th Annual Academy Awards. I'm sorry, I mean he resigned. After he stepped down (more like pushed down...I mean, pushed down with assistance) Eddie Murphy dropped out of hosting. And here we are. This news is all over the place, from MSN Home to Entertainment Weekly. News travels fast.

The reason I typed up this post was to express my genuine disappointment that Eddie Murphy won't be hosting this year's Oscars, an event I look forward to all year long. That Eddie Murphy was hosting it made me anticipate it with even more joy! This could have been his comeback, after all his cinematic disasters. In my opinion, his recent movies were no different than his others. They are all hilarious, those I watch more than once. Especially Norbit! Sure, the humor isn't intellectual, but he does make a not-so-subtle hint to how ghetto some African-American girls can be. That movie, which got a handful of Razzies, and others that received negative reviews: they were all great. Eddie Murphy is, most likely, the greatest African-American actor/comedian out there. (Yes, even better than Martin Lawrence...sarcasm, Martin Lawrence is a bad actor.) Anyway, it is truly upsetting that he stepped down from hosting.




Hopefully, the Academy will make a smart choice in hiring another fantastic comedian. Yes, a comedian, not another Anne Hathaway-James Franco disaster. Already, rumors of another host are spreading. The most-popular candidates, I've seen on the Internet, are Billy Crystal, Neil Patrick Harris, and Ricky Gervais. First off, a huge no to Neil Patrick. Yet they might hire him because he's gay. You may scoff at my cynicism now, but just wait until he gets the job. (I'd be really disappointed, by the way. And no, not because he's gay, because he's not funny.) Billy Crystal is a sure-fire winner, since he's actually won Emmys for his incredibly hilarious stints on previous Oscar ceremonies. Plus, I just adore him. If Ricky Gervais hosted, an astounding long-shot, that would be something to see. I must note that I absolutely love him, finding his wry sense of humor scrumptious! (Scrumptious?) If he hosted, the Academy has truly changed their predictable ways. Being unpredictable. Obviously.... I'll wrap this post up by bidding you adieu, as I continue my Friends marathon. And no, it's not a marathon where I hang out with all my friends. Because I don't have any, duh. It's a marathon of the hit television series. Okay, I think I'll go now.


*Again, I must stress how this was not a post on how gays are assuming control over pop culture and society. It was about my shock and upset towards the departure of Eddie Murphy as host of next year's Oscars. Just want to put that out there. Into the world.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Midnight in Paris

I would love to wrap myself around the artistic simplicity of Woody Allen's dialogue. How he portrays everyday events, or what would seem like insignificant occurrences, in such an engaging matter is truly remarkable. Right there, that is pure brilliance. It is, also, the basis of his recent film, Midnight in Paris.

Like all other Woody Allen films, he provides a cozy, yet unlikely, feel of the city, mainly of his hometown of New York. Even in a city as vastly different, culturally, as Paris, he has the marvelous ability to project a comparison between the two. He shows the, dare-I-say, perfection of the usually large, crowded cities, making them appear to be the quietest, most serene places on earth.

The plot may sound familiar, where from I don't know, but watching it before your eyes (in beautiful Paris, which is a major plus), is truly a delight. Basically, Owen Wilson (playing the role of a struggling Hollywood screenwriter, the opposite of Woody Allen's archetype character) is magically transported back to the 1920s, in what his perception is the Golden Era. Once there, which happens like clockwork at midnight, he encounters prominent figures of that time, including F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway. To him, being there, immersed in the glamour of the Jazz Age, was an absolute dream.* However, he would soon learn that living in the past would eventually get boring, or, in other words, routine. Then, he would want to go even farther back, until he's at the dawn of time. But what's so enlightening there? Irrelevant. Moving on. Woody Allen expresses, through his glorious film, that ''nostalgia is an unhealthy trap that's very seductive", and that, ultimately, life is upsetting and you just have to keep breathing.
 *In an interview for Entertainment Weekly, Woody Allen states (so official) that his perception of the perfect era was the 1920s, the time of jazz and true elegance. I'm paraphrasing there.
Rather than ruining the wonderful surprise of the movie (unless you're an admirer of the director, as I am, then the movie will simply be a refreshing and wonderful treat) by revealing the entire plot point-by-point, allow me to simply say this: After you watch this movie, if you ever have the pleasure, not only will you experience a lightness of mood, but a kind of ethereal joy. (Aren't they the same? I'm not sure.) Either way, if you comprehend the talent of Woody Allen, you will definitely relate with my reaction to the film, and then some.

Also starring: Rachel McAdams, beautiful as ever, as Owen Wilson's stiff fiancee; Michael Sheen, as the man who captivates Rachel McAdams's character, and whom she falls for; Adrien Brody, ideal for his role as the abstract Salavador Dali, with his thin visage and strange air about him; and Marion Cotillard, as the breathtaking muse Owen Wilson's character become entranced by in his magical world of the 1920s.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

I give you... The TV-Lineup

I had a sudden urge to list my favorite television shows, that are currently airing. These are the only shows I watch, the ones I wait all week to enjoy at their designated (right word?) hour. Well...here they are.

30 Rock - While I don't watch the new season every week, I am just starting to get into the hit series. The original (that's right, original) show was created by the brilliant Tina Fey, and she made the genius decision of casting Alec Baldwin, in his career-defining role. As Jack Donaughy, he provides sharp humor and a charming-yet-morally wrong persona. He is 30 Rock, the reason I ravenously watch it one after another. (Ravenous?) Jack McBrayer is a surprisingly hilarious character, playing Kenneth, an innocent, awkward (I want to say...) male secretary. (I say male because most secretaries are female. That's not sexist because I am a female.) I also want to mention Jane Krakowski's wonderful performance as the conceited star of the network, Jenna. The only downside of the show is Tracey Morgan (cleverly named Tracey Jordan on the show...sense the sarcasm?). He is, as defined in the show also, a man-child...an extremely annoying, dim-witted man-child. However, that does not diminish the show to something I cannot physically watch. Another major plus is the massive amount of guest stars on the show! There is at least one high-profile guest in each episode. Almost. Overall, the show is refreshingly smart, witty, and addicting. Oh yes, addicting.

Modern Family - Why I list this one second, I'll never know nor forgive myself. (Okay, easy there.) Perhaps the greatest show of the twenty-first century (easily the greatest of the 2010s), Modern Family has everything. Absolutely everything. Everything. There is not one character I dislike. In fact, I'm having trouble naming my favorite one! In each episode (yes, every episode), the brilliant writers concoct a hilarious plot line for each character! By my uncontrollable enthrallment of the show, you should be able to comprehend how amazing this show is. If you can't, well you're just a smart-ass then, aren't you? (Wait, what?) This show is true entertainment, much like the (unfortunately) short-lived comedy Arrested Development. The humor is ceaseless, even in its third season. Rather impressive if I do say so myself. And I do. Whether it's your cup of tea or not, I will still wait for each episode to air, sitting on the edge of my seat in excitement. Simply wow.

Suburgatory - Now here is a delightful surprise. With a generally unknown cast, and a few has-beens, I didn't have high expectations for this show. Therefore, one can imagine my exceeded enjoyment upon watching the first episode. From there, I am hooked to Suburgatory. Its fresh humor and witty lead character, an unknown Jane Levy, are the stuff dreams are made of. Actually, they're the stuff that captures my interest and my following. From that, I'm confident in saying that this is the best new show this fall. I'm sorry, autumn.

Desperate Housewives - In its final season, I am still dragging along with the show's staggering decline. When I say decline, I mean its rapid downfall. If you haven't read my colossal Desperate Housewives post (and I don't blame you, it is quite long), I'll just cue you in to the fact that the show is awful. Dreadfully painful to watch. (Therefore, oddly satisfying.) Yet, I stay tuned because I want to go down with the show in all its unpopular glory. Oxymoron? Sure.

Pan Am - The only serious drama of the bunch. (Don't even suggest Desperate Housewives is anything serious. Carlos killing Gabby's stepfather? No, that's just stupid.) Set in the jet-set life of the 1960s, Pan Am centers around the adventures of the employees of Pan Am. Gee, how did the television people come up with the title? (No, that was sarcasm. I'm not clueless. Onto the show!) The front-liner of the show was originally meant to be Christina Ricci, who has aged weirdly and looks like one of those martini toothpicks with the olive. Her character isn't totally annoying. Not totally. The one character, her plot lines and all, I really don't like is Kate, or Beaver-Face. She has all these top-secret spy missions for the CIA. An example of one of her dangerous missions was to deliver a camera to some guy. Don't worry, she survived. The pilots of the plane are, in my opinion, a couple of doofuses (or is it doofi?). One of them is fooling around with his boss's "secretary" (mistress); the other is chasing the Beaver's attractive yet clueless sister, Laura. The one character I really like is Collette, the French stewardess, who now has a significantly lower level of importance in the show. That makes me frown. Overall, I have a feeling this show won't get picked up for another season. Sure, it's a decent show, for a drama anyway, but I don't see much success in its future.

Up All Night - I won't get into too much detail for this one. Right before all the exciting new shows were going to air, this one topped my list. Christina Applegate and Will Arnet? Two actors I love, and on television they're golden. Maya Rudolph...not too crazy about. Based on that 2-1 score, I was thrilled overall. Then, I watched the pilot. All I can say is that is was OK. (I say it like that as opposed to the proper "okay" because I say it with emphasis. That was a bad explanation.) After a couple more episodes, my opinion has slightly declined. I'm sad to say, but it has. Even with Christina Applegate, whose humor isn't as great as it once was, this show cannot muster up to anything more than a 2 out of 5. I hope that isn't too harsh. Anyway, this marks the bottom of my list. Thanks, Maya Rudolph. Thanks.

There you have it. These are the shows I wait every week to see. Make a comment below of some shows you have in your weekly itinerary! And, overall, enjoy television before it becomes completely corrupt with Jersey Shore-type programming.

Friday, November 4, 2011

A Friendly Letter

Dear Mr. X,

This letter is directed to one person in particular. No, not you, you. I just wanted to formally say hi! It's been three years since I've seen you on a regular basis. That's such a long time! And I have matured since then, oh yes. For starters, my fixation on Robert Downey Jr. has diminished quite noticeably, as I have turned my obsession on actors such as Jack Lemmon and Jack Nicholson. (It was a pure coincidence that they both happened to be named Jack. A total accident. Then again....)
Anyway, I have continued my eternal marathon of watching movies. Some include The Apartment, Midnight in Paris (recently, actually, and I will write a post about the marvelous film...by Woody Allen), Horrible Bosses, Casablanca (which is over-rated, in my opinion; everything on this blog is my opinion), and so much more. But I'm sure you expected that. Speaking of Woody Allen, I still absolutely adore him. He is a magnificent director, an absolute artist. I sincerely hope your view of him has changed in these past couple of years. If not, there is something deeply wrong with you. (I hope I don't get in trouble for saying that, even if it is true. Damn, I said it again!)
Oh! (That was unnecessary.) I also watched my now-all-time favorite movie between the last time I saw you and the present. That movie is...When Harry Met Sally..., starring Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan. I am completely and utterly in love with that movie. I'm sure I will review it on this very blog very soon. Maybe no emphasis on "very". I can get pretty darn lazy when it comes to writing on this blog, taking up to six-month hiatuses. You'll get used to it...unless you hate it and never read it again.
Anyway, I think I'll wrap up this little letter. I hope you enjoy my blog, if you decide to be an avid reader of it! And if you do, please do me the favor of following it. There should be a "follow" button somewhere in the top-right section of this page. You take care now!

--Veronica

P.S. I'm listening to Alphaville.