Pages

Friday, March 30, 2012

A Stroke of the Ego

The following is a recent excerpt from the Feedback section of the well-known magazine, Entertainment Weekly:

Girl Interrupted
Although I don't consider New Girl the greatest new series of the season, I still enjoyed your article on the show. Zooey Deschanel's "adorkablity" has gotten rather tiresome by now, so I'm glad that the powers that be are trying to downplay it.

You may be asking yourself, "Why did I include this particular comment?" I've never discussed New Girl, nor have I expressed my own fatigue from Zooey Deschanel and the supposedly-cute energy she represents. I'll tell you why I happen to mention it. I sent this comment in to EW Letters myself! Those are my words, published in a prestigious movie magazine! My name is in Entertainment Weekly, as are my own original words. Well, they edited what I wrote so it would fit in the issue, but the fact that they took the time to condense it shows how valuable my opinion was. And there is my temporary egotism shining on. That's all I have to say for today. Until next time.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

A "Female-Driven" Debate: The Analysis of Culture Phenomena

In a far-from-recent interview with Marc Cherry, he stated that there will be no Desperate Housewives movie, wryly commenting that he will "not be sending these girls to Dubai". This is an obvious jab at the infamous Sex and the City movies, particularly the second one where the four girls, indeed, travel to the Middle East on a fairy-tale getaway. But it was Abu Dhabi. Get it correctly. What I find curious is that Marc Cherry is actually comparing his four girls to Darren Star's four girls. Does Cherry think Lynette and Miranda are based off of one another? Just a little food for thought. And now, the following is my own comparison of the two shows starring four sexy women. A feast for the mind, if you will. Let's begin with each show's overall momentum.

Desperate Housewives - What started out as an incredibly decent, even excellent, show transformed into an unbearably awful mess of junk. Yeah, that's right. The general public, I'm sure, agrees with this description of the show's major downfall from one of the best shows on the air to something desperate for viewers. (Pun.) While my dad an I find ourselves more amused by the ridiculous antics of the show (what we refer to as "Sex and the City torture"), the majority of people do not. So, I bring up the subject of momentum. It started strong, a fresh witty show that combines mystery and comedy. Then, it evolved, or rather degraded, into a beyond-corny, soap opera-status thing of television. This change did not happen overnight, oh no. It occurred during the sixth season, when the plot lost intrigue and they brought in Renee. (That was actually in the seventh season, but it definitely contributed to the show's downfall.) We are now in season eight. Therefore, Marc Cherry had plenty of opportunities to, shall we say, pull the plug on this already-rotting show. However, the show continues. (And they just killed a major character. Score.)

Sex and the City - I just finished watching the entire series a few weeks ago, and I have to say it was a good thing they ended it there. Smart move by the writers. (Cough, Marc Cherry, cough, should learn a thing or two here, cough.) Anyway, by this point, Carrie Bradshaw seems to have run out of those so-called witty insights she's always bragging about--in fact, near the end, she appears to be even more conceited about her "genius" than before, when there may have been something interesting to read. By the last two seasons, she is completely and utterly revolting in her personality, but that's a topic we will cover in just a moment. The fifth season was where the show began to display signs of depreciation and overall awfulness (which delighted my dad and I, of course), but surely it disappointed viewers. In fact, that season was the worst-received one out of the entire show. But that didn't stop Darren Star from extending it to one more season. Unlike Desperate Housewives, however, that final season tied up the loose ends of the show, and they concluded on a high note, so to speak.

Next, the characters.

If you haven't read my colossal post on Desperate Housewives, you really should because I explain and analyze every character there. But, for your sake, I will give you an overview. I will, also, give the character's Sex and the City counterpart, just for kicks. Susan Mayer (Carrie Bradshaw) is a clumsy-but-in-a-cute-way, supposedly-famous children's book illustrator whose relationship with men is domestic yet tiring to watch. Lynette Scavo (Miranda Hobbes) is a lackadaisical mother of five who is "always right" and just loves to insult another person then apologize for it later, expecting it to be accepted. Bree Van De Kamp (Charlotte York) is the ideal mother/wife/woman who has a dark past and can be quite disagreeable when it comes to certain decisions. Gabrielle Solis (Samantha Jones, I suppose) is a selfish, rather dim diva whose wardrobe is packed with designer clothes that are questionable as to how she afforded them. (That is rather Carrie-esque, actually, but we cannot have two Carries. Chaos.) A comparison of the characters of each show is inconsequential, for every show's characters are different from one another. Regardless of whether there is a purpose for this or not, I shall continue.

I would have to say that there is a little bit of Carrie Bradshaw in all these Housewives, especially now in this horrible season, because they all, at one time or another, make ridiculous mistakes that they merely say they're sorry about. Sometimes, they expect an apology from the injured party! Lynette and Miranda are very much alike, in my eyes, for they both dress like they don't care for their image, they are both workaholics (according to the show's story lines), and they are awkward when handling their kids. Yes, despite Lynette's constant self-labeling of "great mother", she can be quite a horrendous one. Why, just recently, when her two eldest sons came home, she blockaded the door with all her might. Some parental affection, that is. Bree and Charlotte are, also, very similar, for obvious reasons of pristine appearance and overall courteousness. They share aggravating qualities, as well, such as when Bree sent her adoring husband, Orson to prison for running over Mike Delfino (that's not how he died, by the way). In a less severe way, Charlotte practically destroyed her perfect marriage with Trey by violating MacDougal traditions and wanting to adopt a Mandarin baby. Coincidentally, Orson and Trey were both played by Kyle MacLachlan. Gaby and Samantha really are not all that alike, for Gaby is more concerned with material possessions (like Carrie), while Samantha is all about sex. And do not compare that vulgar Samantha with Edie Britt, who was possibly one of the best characters on the show until that damn Marc Cherry went and electrocuted her. Unlike Samantha, Edie had keen sense on life, aside from her delusional experience with Carlos, and she did not go around shagging men as often as Ms. Jones. Oh, and Edie looks much more attractive, at her age. Much better.

Onto the overview of the ladies of Sex and the City. Carrie Bradshaw. Where does one even begin with this remarkable character? I mean remarkable in the sense that she is so unbelievable, so preposterous, that it's a wonder how women actually idolize her. Women actually purchase and wear, with pride, that ridiculous "Carrie" necklace that she so often fashions. As for her general wardrobe, I hesitate in even calling it that, for it is more like a mess of glitter, fluff, and tutus. Her whole outfit-spectrum is way off, matching gold boots with white capris and a purple striped top. That's just an example, there are many more instances of her awful fashion sense, or rather a lack of one. But enough about her "style".
As a person, if one prefers to call her that, Carrie Bradshaw is an absolutely terrible thing of nature. To immediately support such a bold statement, an anecdote: When the four ladies are at the same cheap cafe they always go to, one of them (that's not Carrie) is in the middle of a story about what happened to them previously in the episode. Then, all of a sudden, Carrie jumps in and starts talking about herself! And her friends don't even call her out for it! Imagine you're with your friends, telling them how your day went, and suddenly one of them says, "Right, well speaking of erotic nightmares..." What would you do in that situation? Your topic of conversation has not been resolved to its own momentum yet, everyone was still listening to you. So, if one of your so-called friends made such an ignorant gesture, wouldn't you respond by saying something? It is just so aggravating that Carrie gets away with such obnoxious audacity every single time she does it. (There was one chance occasion when Carrie brought bagels to Miranda because she was sick just so she could bitch about her relationship issues. Miranda, for a fleeting moment, became my hero by telling Carrie: "You know what, this is bullshit!" Sadly, this was temporary, and Carrie continued her self-absorbed account.) This habit of blatantly interrupting people, her friends no less, really defines Carrie, as that is exactly who she is: conceited, selfish, and an overall bitch. Seriously, every time she pulls these sorts of stunts, I shout at the projector screen, "Bitch!" Juvenile, I'm aware. As I wrap up this lengthy rant, grunting in a frustrated manner as I do so, I'd just like to say that it is truly appalling to know that thousands of women look up to her. Simply appalling.

The other ladies of the show are not all that impressive as the former fine specimen. Miranda Hobbes is your average somewhat-irritating feminist, perking up whenever an inappropriate comment is made towards women and acting as if her appearance isn't everything. At times, I find myself liking her as a character, compared to Carrie and Samantha, of course. Her relationship with Steve Brady is existent throughout the show, starting in the second season. I should say Shteeve Brady because that's how he says it. ("Hey Murandah. It's me, Shteeve.") I must say, considering that I admire Miranda just a tad, my respect really drops when she's with Shteeve. He's so whiny and clingy and obnoxiously childish. And short. Really short. The two of them have an awkward relationship, yet it somehow works, even in my eyes.

Charlotte York is the absolute ideal woman, much like Bree Van De Kamp: polite, classic style (unlike Carrie), traditional in terms of values (unlike her friends), and, most of all, the prettiest one of the group. While I don't usually coin the term "pretty", it certainly fits her as she is absolutely adorable. Of course, as I've said previously, she's made some mistakes, primarily with her first husband, Trey. Perhaps the show's creator wanted Charlotte to break out of her 1950s shell, as well as the housewife standard that goes along with it, and defy tradition that calls for a wife to be eternally obedient and loving of her husband. That's what I believe in anyway. I'm not condoning total enslavement to your husband, but I wouldn't want to completely harness his genitals, so to speak in Samantha-vernacular. Overall, Charlotte is just lovely.

Samantha Jones is, shall we say, a bit of a sex addict. That was a humorous understatement. I hope you enjoyed it. Throughout the show, she's slept with countless masses of men in a wild, pompous manner. (Really? It's that good you have to scream?) In addition to that, she is incredibly tacky in terms of fashion, branding such accessories as huge Chanel-logo earrings. (They took the cake. Meaning they were the highlight which defines Ms. Jones.) She is a supposedly successful publicity agent, as she so often brags about being the fucking best in the business, who represents the fabulous Carrie Bradshaw. (What does she need publicity for? Her column? Okay.) In later seasons, she finally gets a second client, a hot waiter named Smith Jerrod, and brings him to Bradley Cooper-fame. And she sleeps with him as well. Like Carrie, Samantha thinks enormously high of herself, yet somehow it suits her. Perhaps it is because she is such a large lioness of a woman, both physically and socially? Perhaps her socialite accent allows her to do so? Either way, I'm not justifying it, for I find it almost (but not nearly) as annoying as Carrie. Despite my acidic description, I must admit that she may have the most common sense out of all of these brauds. Despite that minor compliment, I still find her utterly repulsive.

To wrap this delusion of a debate up, each female-oriented series has a certain something that makes it unique within itself. Sex and the City did initiate a shock wave in entertainment, bringing amusing and even taboo subjects above the prudish standards owned previously by media, and also lifted women into key roles and allowed them to express themselves freely. At times, that fearless expression can bring horror to the eyes of sane viewers, such as myself. (I really did not need to see Miranda flash her boob. That goes for the rest of the flashers out there.) Regardless of my biased view, the show did make a mark, and is even compared to by other television shows after its time. Shows such as Desperate Housewives. That series, however, was a show all on its own, in the beginning at least. It was a refreshing comedy-mystery that truly intrigued its many viewers, and brought to us, really, a cultural phenomenon. While the show may now be remembered as the show that ended sourly stale, or the show where Nicollette Sheriden valiantly sued against Marc Cherry for wrongful termination (I just had to bring that one up), there is a tiny fragment in my memory of when it was at its best. That's something.

I'd just like to point out something. In a more-recent interview with Marc Cherry, in Entertainment Weekly, the man said, and I quote: [to ABC] "I know that you guys don't like to say goodbye to a show before its time, but I'm telling you that eight seasons of Desperate Housewives is enough." I included the italics, for that one phrase was so amusing to me. The fact that Marc Cherry genuinely believes the show was good up until just now, that's simply baffling to me. What delusion.

What started as a minor comment in an article turned into my own intrinsic analysis of each show, pointing out similarities as well as an overall review for both. That just shows the endless bounds of my curious mind, eternally analyzing the most interesting of observations. That was an attempt to sound insightful. Was it a success?

Sunday, March 18, 2012

A Shameful Omission

After a surprisingly quiet weekend comes to a close, I am finally reunited with my Apple, otherwise known as my MacBook Pro, to which I will call my Apple. Tomorrow is our three-month, by the way. It was worth mentioning. Anyway, during this still weekend, I watched a few Oscar contenders, both past and present, finished an epic novel, and ate more than plenty of pancakes to satisfy me for the next week. All while maintaining a (generally) healthy routine of dedicating one hour a day to working out. Plus, I just ate a salad that served as my entire entree at Texas Roadhouse, thank you and you're welcome. All right now, let's get to the good stuff: the movies, obviously.

His reaction to getting killed off the show.
On Thursday, when my weekend officially started, my dad and I settled down to a delicious dinner and the latest episode of Desperate Housewives. It began with Mary Alice informing us of the death of a major character on the show. As you feign a shocked expression, I'll go right out and tell you who died--spoiler ahead--it was Mike Delfino. Yes, the once-sexy-and-mysterious plumber, who has evolved into a somewhat-pathetic-and-goofy husband and father, is no longer living on the Lane. Not only is it upsetting that the only character close to being normal has gone and died, but the way he died further displays Marc Cherry's new-found incompetence or lack of talent. The tough-guy loan shark, who's been roughing him up ever since he got the money he needed, shot him on his porch in the middle of the afternoon. Okay, let's back it up (beep, beep, beep): Why would a loan shark kill someone, who already gave him his money? Loan sharks are trying to stay away from trouble. Are the writers over there that barren of good ideas? Or do they actually believe this is the work of great television? Either way, Desperate Housewives has really gone downhill, and will continue to fall until the end. I'm hoping it will, anyway...until the movie arrives.

For our evening pleasure, we watched Mommie Dearest, a second time for me as you know. I must, again, express my disagreement to this being the opening act for the Razzies. It was not that bad, adequate even. And as a pre-bedtime film, it was ideal. Sarcasm. The following day, after "work", we treated ourselves to leftovers and a palate of Oscar contenders of the previous ceremony. These included Young Adult, My Week With Marilyn, and an encore of Bridesmaids.

Beautifully nasty.
Here is where the title of the post comes to having meaning, as it is applied to the shameful omission of Young Adult. Throughout awards season, there have been strong hints that it will find a place among the Best Original Screenplay nominees, and even for Charlize Theron as Best Actress. Unfortunately, neither of these hints turned to be a reality. The closest the movie got to award-esteem was at its one Golden Globe nomination for Charlize Theron. This, boldly stated, is an absolute disgrace. Even before watching Young Adult, I knew I was going to enjoy it--and wouldn't you know that I did enjoy it, immensely. Charlize Theron, once more, proves that she is an amazing actress, as she transforms herself into an unpleasant former-prom-queen-now-failing-alcoholic mess. Throughout the film, she switches from stunningly attractive to morning-after frightful, which doesn't show anything other that she looks beautiful in any shade or lighting. To me, anyway. The basic plot is that her character, Mavis Gary, an unsuccessful writer of young-adult novels, returns to her hometown to reclaim her high-school boyfriend, Buddy, who just had a baby. In her attempts to seduce him, she is so coaxing towards him and so vile to others, who find this mission of hers to be utterly pathetic. Of course, everyone there hated her in high school as she was the psychotic prom queen bitch that everyone hates.
When sidekicks aren't annoying.
Her confidante in the film is Matt Freehauf, played by Patton Oswalt, whom she ignored all throughout high school. An emotional factor of the film, which really touched my heart, was his tragic story of how some jocks beat him so brutally that he is now crippled and scarred for life. Even with that haunting over him, he seems to be the most content person in the entire town. So what if he makes his own bourbon in his garage, and designs action figures for his enjoyment? At least he's happy doing it. Not that I'm making an argument here. Also, Patton Oswalt, who usually comes off as repulsive to me, is surprisingly bearable, and even likable, in the film. His strange relationship with Mavis is one made in perfection, as they understand and respond to one another so precisely. Furthermore, the friendly chemistry between the two actors is believable and genial. What is truly remarkable, and even frightening, about Mavis is that she is so delusional, so sure that Buddy still loves her and is miserable there with his new family. That, my dear acquaintances, is great acting at the core--to provoke such feelings in your audience.

I won't say anything.
Which brings me to my next point: Michelle Williams vectored over Charlize Theron at the Golden Globes for Best Actress in a Comedy/Musical. Now this is additionally aggravating, for when you even compare each performance to another, it is apparent where the glory truly belongs. To Charlize Theron, of course! And now I say this objectively, as well as subjectively, because I actually watched My Week With Marilyn to make my opinion non-biased. While the film itself was more than decent, Michelle Williams actually did not bother me as much as I thought she would. I just imagine that she was playing a different actress of the time, certainly not Marilyn Monroe, as that would be preposterous. (Her lips are far too wide, and--I've ranted about that far enough, haven't I?) The film describes an assistant director's experience on the set of The Prince and the Showgirl with greats such as Sir Laurence Olivier and Marilyn Monroe. Of course, here, it is not Marilyn Monroe, but some lesser-known actress whom Michelle Williams actually resembles. The ambitious youth's name is Colin Clark, and the real-life character is actually a bothersome element of the film. Perhaps it was the choice of actor to play him, I don't know. I just did not like him. It happens on occasion, right? Kenneth Branagh, in my eyes, is a nearly ideal choice to play Sir Laurence Olivier--how fateful for Branagh to portray his most-admired director. He is a tad pudgier than Olivier, mind you. One very delightful surprise was Emma Watson, who is just as enchanting as Hermione Granger. Really, just as enchanting, for she hasn't really fazed out of the whole Harry Potter fame. But I am confident that she will because, unlike, say, Ron Weasley for example, she is a good actress. Michelle Williams gave a decent performance, I won't be stubborn and say she was as awful as I thought she'd be. I will say, however, that her performance was not worthy of an Oscar nomination, and it certainly should not have triumphed over Charlize Theron. I suppose the Academy just adores her, Michelle Williams I mean, for whatever reason. I also find it funny that Michelle Williams, as she states in interviews, worked so hard to capture the essence of Marilyn Monroe--"mastering" her voice and bouncy walk--and it turns out that she, in fact, doesn't resemble her at all. That I can say objectively, as well as mischievously.

The final film of the night was Bridesmaids, since we were already watching female-driven movies considered for the Academy. I say female-driven with a little wink to myself, as I find the label "female-driven comedy" attached to Bridesmaids to be more than tiresome. I believe I already said that previously. Here is me repeating it then. As I've said, the first time we watched Bridesmaids, we were very disappointed considering how we've been anticipating it, what with Kristen Wiig and the possibility of another Hangover. Like I said, there is nothing Hangover about this. You all know the plot, I'm sure. When the Oscar nominations were released, and I found the movie listed twice, I began to feel averse to the movie in general. Why? It is not Oscar material. There will not be any exaggerated explanation as to why this is because, again, I think I've mentioned it a few times. Didn't I write a post about it too? Anyway, the fact that I found the movie to be merely okay, as opposed to the excellent comedy everyone else calls it, and that it received recognition at the Academy really tousled my panties. So much so that I refuse to make myself watch it again. Until that fateful Friday night. On the second time, I found this movie to be slightly more entertaining than the first, perhaps because the awards season has been over and the irritation has faded. Overall, Bridesmaids was a fairly decent comedy--and I must admit the disgusting food-poisoning scene was funny. I won't say anything else in reference to its worthiness for esteem.

Saturday was a particularly silent day, as I watched no movies, and finished the final hundred pages of An American Tragedy. The reason I started reading this to begin with was because I had just watched Match Point, and my dad mentioned how it was much like An American Tragedy. Since I liked the film, why not try the book? Although there were only some elements relating to Woody Allen's film, I still enjoyed the novel very much. I call it an epic because it consists of three books, or parts, and it's eight-hundred pages. Completed in two months. How do you like them apples? I am no critic of literature, so I cannot dignify the great novel with textual praise, other than "It was an extraordinary read."

And so I come down to Sunday, the day before I return to "work". Waking up bright and early at seven-thirty, my dad and I make some Swedish pancakes with Swedish pancake mix. As for the entertainment, we have All About Eve. I realize I said I'd watch it on Saturday morning in my previous post, but we just didn't get to it. By that, I mean my dad fell asleep after working a night shift. (Nice, real nice.) I absolutely adore this film, which won Best Picture in 1950, simply because it has the appearance and feel of a play. A damned good play at that. The marvelous film follows the rise of exceedingly ambitious Eve Harrington, who achieves fame by studying great artists of the theater, such as Margo Channing, Bill Simpson, and Lloyd Richards. Eve, played by an enchanting Anne Baxter, portrays a devious, wicked woman, so viciously planting herself in such grand company. Her transformation from an overly-modest, grateful apprentice to a malicious snake of an actress is captivating to behold. Bette Davis does not go much farther in portraying the acclaimed Margo Channing, though she manages to shine brighter than everyone else. As a great actress advanced in her years--and therefore less appealing, theoretically, to the theater--she is threatened by younger, and possibly more skilled, talent that is Eve conquering her. The film is absolutely glorious, too wonderful for merely my words to describe. While I may sound like Eve Harrington herself when I say how truly wonderful this picture is, there is no way I can fully succeed in flattering it. All I can say is... "Fasten your seat belts. It's going to be a bumpy night." Astounding quote from an astounding picture. See for yourself.

There's my weekend in an enlarged nutshell. I've never cared for that idiom, or figure of speech. Have a great week, and may your dreams come true.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

My Preferred Pixar Classics


Fair midnight, everyone. I know I should be asleep by now, but considering I just had a modest work-out, I don't think it would be wise to doze off right away. My veins are still popping out and--anyway. I was browsing the various film galleries on Entertainment Weekly's website, and came across one titled, "11 Pixar Classics". Allow me to list them, in order of greatness I'm assuming:

11. A Bug's Life
10. Monsters, Inc.
9. Ratatouille
8. Toy Story 2
7. Cars
6. Up
5. Finding Nemo
4. WALL-E
3. Toy Story 3
2. The Incredibles
1. Toy Story

It's hard to believe that there are merely eleven feature-films in Pixar's history (excluding a disappointing sequel to Cars). To think, as a whole, they all grossed millions of dollars and are individually cherished by audiences all over. And it was rather clever of Walt Disney Studios to join forces with the major company, isn't it? Now, I will not waste any time, for I must get some rest. (In case you were wondering why, I am looking forward to waking up bright-and-early with my dad to watch All About Eve.) So, without further delay or elongated introductions, here is my list of my personal eleven Pixar classics, in order:

11. Ratatouille
10. A Bug's Life
9. Cars
8. Toy Story
7. Toy Story 2
6. WALL-E
5. Toy Story 3
4. Up
3. The Incredibles
2. Monsters, Inc.
1. Finding Nemo

I must accentuate how dearly I adore Pixar films, and sincerely hope they create another brilliant piece of animation. Have a great weekend everyone!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Happy Birthday Billy Crystal!

Hello humans! That was a Mike Wazowski/Disney World inside-joke, in case you were confused. Today, the beautiful, talented Billy Crystal turns sixty-four, and I'd like to celebrate by naming a few of his greatest accomplishments, both in film and elsewhere. Yes, that was a very short introduction. Would you even enjoy it if there was a long, detailed one anyway? I think not.

When Harry Met Sally... - Also known as one of my all-time preferred films. I'm still contemplating whether I can call this my absolute preferred (remember, I dislike the term "favorite"), but this delightful romantic-comedy is definitely up there. As one of the greatest films, in my opinion. Recently, the genre of romantic-comedy has been continuously ridiculed and automatically deemed an undesirable blockbuster. (Yes, they still make a whole lot of money, despite the audience's groans and moans of its quality. Hypocrisy at its finest.) Regardless of what today may think of these romantic comedies, When Harry Met Sally... is much more than that. Rather than a predictable boy-meets-girl-and-they-fall-in-love scenario, the creatively brilliant duo of Rob Reiner and Nora Ephron compose a witty, fresh, enormously sweet film that incorporates both romance and comedy. I wouldn't call this a romantic comedy because, once you attach that label on a film, it is placed among the rest of movies of that type. And it most certainly is not just like everybody else. Billy Crystal is phenomenal as the wonderfully cynical Harry Burns, providing me with my first experience with him, aside from Monsters Inc. The chemistry between him and Meg Ryan is, also, undeniably adorable--not only their romantic chemistry, but their general, social chemistry, which is an impressive scene to witness. Most preferred film or not, I absolutely love this picture.

Monsters Inc. - Yet another great achievement by the brilliant minds of Pixar. A story about a monster civilization who obtains power from the terror of children--additionally, monsters cannot come into physical contact with children, or they will be severely sterilized--Pixar concocts a wonderful tale about friendship and...making new friends in spite of what authority says? Regardless of the theme, this animated feature is sensational. Billy Crystal lends his voice to the now-timeless character of Mike Wazowski, a one-eyed, conceited green monster, who, along with his buddy Sulley (voiced by John Goodman), defy the rules to protect a cute little human girl named Boo. Mike Wazowski, unquestionably one of the best Pixar characters created, is hilarious when accompanied by the voice talent of Billy Crystal, who I must say is ideal for the role. (Great quote: [on being called a cretin incorrectly] "First of all, it's "cretin". If you're going to threaten me, do it properly.") Definitely one of the most excellent produced by Pixar. As much as I love this animation, I have to agree with the Academy awarding Shrek the (first-ever) Oscar for Best Animated Feature. Otherwise, the gold would clearly, without question, go to them.

Analyze This - I nearly forgot about this one! And how could I? A hilarious comedy about a psychiatrist whose newest primary patient is an insecure mob boss, starring Billy Crystal as the shrink and Robert DeNiro as the mob boss. Forgive me, it's been a while since I've seen this picture, but I can assure you, I laughed quite a bit. I most certainly did. Ahem. In one of his first comedic turns, Robert DeNiro shines as Paul Vitti, who approaches his doctor whenever the slightest complication arises in his life. Of course, being a dangerous member of the mafia, Billy Crystal as Dr. Ben Sobel complies with his varied antics. I'm sure you all know the famous image of Robert DeNiro, squinting at Billy Crystal and saying "You!" You know what I'm referring to. Billy Crystal himself is not the highlight of the film, clearly going to his costar, but with someone else in his role, I doubt this film could be successful. Thus, Billy Crystal is utterly irreplaceable. The on-screen relationship between him and Robert DeNiro is fantastic, and considering what a force DeNiro is in the industry, I'd say that is pretty impressive on Billy Crystal's part.

America's Sweethearts - While this movie wasn't as well-received as others, I still enjoyed it. That's right, I found this romantic comedy (in this case, the term applies) about a separated Hollywood couple who get back together for sake of publicity, to be rather entertaining. Maybe John Cusack, who plays Eddie Thomas, was a bit too depressed and cynical, and though I enjoy cynicism, I enjoy it when done properly. Such as when Billy Crystal does it! Here, he plays Eddie's publicist, Lee Phillips, as he tries to manage the major conflict between his client and his ex-wife, Gwen Harrison, played by Catherine Zeta-Jones as a detestable diva. (The fact that I disliked her so much displays what? Talent.) Julia Roberts plays her sister, Kiki, who is sweet pushover and tends to Gwen's every need. I won't give anything else away, other than that it is a predictable, typical romantic comedy sort of movie. What are the highlights, you may ask? Billy Crystal, as always witty and quick, and, a very-much under-appreciated actor, Stanley Tucci, playing the heartless, anxious studio head. Two marvelous actors simply displaying their immense talent.

The Academy Awards - I hope you know that this is not a specific movie of his. He has hosted nine times, and each time, I'm sure, was fantastic. I've seen merely two out of those nine (unfortunately, they do not distribute past Academy Award ceremonies to the public) and I can say with definite assurance that he was probably the best of the best. It's no wonder they asked him to host again this year, after such a weak, disappointing ceremony in 2011. (To clarify, that ceremony celebrated the achievements of 2010.) Billy Crystal was a refreshing change this year, as he brought some of his timeless humor to satisfy all viewers of the show. There is no doubt in my mind that everyone was truly entertained this year. (Or is it, there is no doubt in my mind that no one was entertained? When the word "doubt" is used, it's difficult to determine which is the proper form. Oh, woe is English.) The other ceremony I've viewed with Billy Crystal as host was when Lord of the Rings: Return of the King won every single Oscar. I will always remember a certain "secret insult" he made towards Bill Murray, who lost that year to a magnificent Sean Penn in Mystic River. (He seriously thought he would win against that?) Well, when the winner was announced, and the other nominees cheered on, Bill Murray just sat there, with this nasty, sore expression. Then, when Sean Penn walked off stage, Billy Crystal says, "Bill, don't go. No, Bill. We still love you, Bill." This, to me, was an obvious jab at his petulant reaction to losing, which just pleased me all over. If only the Academy would produce past award ceremonies, like from the 1960s as well as Billy's past hosting gigs, for the purchasing-pleasure of the public. Someone must record these events, right? Hint to those people: Sell.

Unfortunately, I'm ashamed to say that is basically all I've encountered with the comical talent of Billy Crystal. Believe me, I intend to experience more of his comedic prowess, with films such as Mr. Saturday Night, City Slickers, and The Princess Bride. Be patient with me here! Unless you really couldn't care less whether or not I watched more of his filmography or not. If that's the case, you should have stopped reading a long while ago. Once again: Happy Birthday Billy Crystal! I spelled Birthy at first.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Mommie Dearest

Back in 1981, this seemed to be the movie to garner all the awards. It had all the elements, for sure: major biopic on a major Hollywood star, big acting (I'll explain), and alotta drama. Yes, Mommie Dearest appeared to have the Oscars as a certainty. Strangely, it received no recognition of the kind. To clarify, I do not agree with what I said about it being a sure-thing for award buzz by means of quality, only that it did in fact. No, the film did not receive any esteem, quite the contrary actually. In 1981, during awards season, someone out there, stunned by the absence of Mommie Dearest, maybe even reveling in it a bit, made a decision. This stroke of genius, in that someone's mind anyway, was the creation of the Anti-Oscars. An awards ceremony where the movies were dishonored and disgraced by a group of nobodies. The Golden Raspberry Awards. (Such a moronic name. Referring to the noise of a "raspberry" no doubt.) Over the years, the Razzies have evolved into awarding truly dreadful movies, such as Gigli, Disaster Movie (and the like of them), Twilight, and many others. Also a trend of the Razzies is nominating great actors, such as Elizabeth Taylor or Jack Nicholson, solely because of their fame. They, as an "organization", are massive posers, in that they believe their choice of the Worst really affects the recipient. It doesn't. It really doesn't. Did you know the actual statuette is made of plastic? Classy.
Now, why mention such a filthy thing? Well, just what I was talking about in the beginning, silly. Mommie Dearest, the "biopic" about Joan Crawford, based on her adopted daughter's memoir, is the first-ever Razzie recipient. The film "won" Worst Picture, Worst Actress (Faye Dunaway), Worst Supporting Actor (Steve Forrest), Worst Supporting Actress (Diana Scarwid), and Worst Screenplay. Quite a sweep, if I do say so myself. Ironically, Faye Dunaway placed second in the New York Film Critics and National Society of Film Critics' awards, practically guaranteeing her an Oscar nod. Instead, she established the most infamous award for actors everywhere. Even though the Razzies are not as grandiose as the Academy Awards, people still do not look forward to getting them. What actor would enjoy being named the Worst of the year? Am I right, Adam Sandler? (Mischievous laugh.) Anyway, I really do not agree with the film's title of Worst Picture, nor do I comply with the many condemnations of it being the worst ever. While the screenplay did deserve a nod, as did Diana Scarwid and Mara Hobel, who both played versions of Christina Crawford. That makes sense, considering the highly-plausible fabrication of this entire story. I very much doubt Joan Crawford was that abusive. If so, she would have never died, for she is the devil. (Isn't the devil supposed to be immortal?) Allow me to elaborate on this theory of mine.

In the film, they depict Christina as this poor little victim of a girl, abused both physically and emotionally by her god-awful mother. She is meant to be seen, also, as a harmless angel and wonderful daughter, for even after her mother's meltdowns, Christina always loves her mommie dearest. "Wow, after all that, she still loves that wretched, so-called mother? What a harmless angel and wonderful daughter." By my sardonic tone, you can probably assume that I do not see this image at all. In fact, I view Christina as an ungrateful, petulant, and even mocking little girl. Oh, and when she's older, ever more so, as well as rebellious. What enhances this portrait of Christina is my overall judgment on the book the film was based on. For those who are not aware, Christina was adopted, lifted from poverty and homelessness into the lavish life of Joan Crawford. Of course, this is a somewhat eye-rolling justification, as if this makes Ms. Crawford's actions reasonable. No, if Joan Crawford did, in fact, abuse her daughter, it is unforgivable and utterly vile. Notice the emphasis on if. I find it very hard to believe that Joan Crawford, a Hollywood legend, acted in such a cruel way towards her own adopted daughter. Why would she adopt a child, one off the street no less, only to behave that way? If you ask me, something does not add up. Even taking into consideration the actress's situation, that she was abandoned by her husband and deemed "box office poison" (therefore, undesired by movie companies), it still seems doubtful Ms. Crawford would act so horrid.

Onto the film's overall quality. The acting. Faye Dunaway is uncanny as Joan Crawford, appearance-wise. Otherwise, I'm not a good judge in comparing Faye Dunaway to the famed actress, as I have never seen a film with her. Either of them, actually. Evaluating Faye Dunaway's performance, in general, I would say there was nothing too horrible about it, certainly not Razzie-worthy. Her performance was a tad over-dramatic and perhaps even extremely exaggerated. No, it was definitely exaggerated. But was that really to the fault of Dunaway's acting? I think not. More likely the script is to blame. Even more likely, Christina Crawford's petty publication of such a terrible memoir is to blame. Once again, Faye Dunaway gave a strong performance, given the circumstances.
The two actresses portraying young and old versions of Christina Crawford were, however, atrocious, and it had nothing to do with the script. For some peculiar reason, I perceive both actresses as if they were the actual Christina Crawford, which increases my dislike for them both. Mara Hobel, as a child actress, really should not be disgraced in such a way as to be nominated for Worst Supporting Actress, for she is a minor, inexperienced in the ways of acting. With this girl, I'd really have to back up her nod, as she was absolutely dreadful as the four-year-old Christina. When her mother burst in violent tantrums, Mara Hobel simply whimpered, unconvincingly mind you, and shrugged away from her in faux-terror. I will not reveal any particular outburst--watch it for yourself, if you're in the mood for some cinematic torture. As for the elder Christina, Diana Scarwid did, indeed, snatch a Razzie for Worst Supporting Actress. While I'd rather see Mara Hobel walk away with the plastic toy, her older counterpart was almost as bad as she; Diana Scarwid, playing a now-rebellious Christina, shoots her mother dirty glances while winking at random strange men. That may be unfair, since she nearly slept with only one guy her age and winked at a waiter for kicks. Either way, she has a saturated tramp-vibe. And her attitude towards her mother, who, after sending her child away to boarding school, treats her daughter with kindness, as if to apologize for her behavior in the past. Sure, maybe it was totally unacceptable and unforgivable, but at least she's trying. I have a feeling this argument, or whatever you would call it, is going nowhere. To sum up, the acting was not the greatest, but surprising as to the fact they were the first to be dishonored by the Golden Raspberry Awards.

I compare this film to an over-stuffed, over-fluffed, ivory cotton feather pillow. From a book filled with events that may or may not be factual, the director and/or writer "fluffed" the material up, highlighting the especially juicy details. They made the viewers pity and sympathize with Christina (the author's intention as well), while plaguing Joan Crawford's corpse. Do not deny this accusation--watch the film yourself and decide whether you hold her in high regard or not. The pillow is ivory, not white, because the film tries to achieve perfection and elegance, as if Joan Crawford herself were observing the production, prepared to burst at the appearance of one error. Of course, this is all my imagination. I've no idea how this movie was made, and under what circumstances. As I said, I compare this. Ergo, my opinion. Gee, I love saying that, don't I?

Sunday, March 4, 2012

An Original Comedic Debate

What was the best comedy of the year? First, you'd have to specify what kind of comedy. For instance, Midnight in Paris was a lighter-than-air, witty comedy (a sensational one, at that), and Horrible Bosses was a "raunchy", inappropriate comedy (a hilarious one, at that). For the sake of this post, I'll ask you to direct your thoughts toward the latter kind, as that is the genre I'll be referring to.
So, I ask you again: What was the best comedy of the year? My answer to this would be just what I mentioned above, Horrible Bosses. The dark comedy had all the elements to make it an enjoyably funny picture: an outstanding cast, as well as casting job, an interesting if not original plot, and the ideal humor and joke timing. What I mean by the last reason is that the writers did not stretch a funny joke into a long, no-longer-funny one. Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis, and Charlie Day are the perfect comic trio--seriously, I've never been in such a situation where I find all three guys hilarious and genuinely good actors. They have such a great chemistry, and it is believable that they're friends in real life, also. (I like to have that image in my mind, that all actors truly get together in reality to have a friendly cup of coffee, or even a nice, long lunch.) The villains of the film are equally amazing, if not more. Kevin Spacey, as the egotistical psycho, was expectantly great, though I wished to see someone who hasn't mastered this role before (Swimming with the Sharks). Colin Farrell is truly disgusting as the complete douche bag who takes over after his father passes away (defining quote: "You can fire Professor Xavier. He's roaming around all day in his special little secret chair. I know he's up to something.") Jennifer Aniston is, by far, the most surprising and entertaining part of the movie, playing a sexually violent dentist, which is so uncharacteristic of the actress. And that she pulled it off, well I might add, is even more impressive. The plot: all three friends scheme to kill one another's boss. Overall, an incredibly refreshing, hilarious movie. Many people have called this movie "completely unoriginal". Now, I ask those people, what other movie has there been a plot such as this, where friends plan to murder each other's bosses. Maybe wish they were dead, but never actually confront a contract killer for guidance and go through with it. (I am not insinuating that they killed their bosses, that's for you to find out with this enormously funny film.)

Well, that's my choice for funniest comedy of the year. Most people would merely nod, saying they thought it was okay, but nothing compared to the "true best comedy of last year". Which movie am I hinting at? Bridesmaids. The movie that was nominated for an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. The movie that is considered to be female comic actresses' entrance to real comedies. Believe me, there are many female actresses who are funny, and they are participating in movies all the time. The public just doesn't notice them, evidently. Plus, the whole "female-driven comedy" title being tossed around in nearly every article regarding the film is exhausting. Really, it was not the first successful one, or even good one. I'll use Sex and the City as an example: I'm not saying that series is intentionally funny or great, but it was a major success and still is. Sure, it's a television show, different from movies, but...is it all that different, really? But let me return to the whole Oscar debacle. (Debacle?) Once more, Bridesmaids was nominated for not only Best Original Screenplay, but Melissa McCarthy nabbed a nomination, as well. And you all know my opinion on that occurrence. Best Original Screenplay. Original being the key word, I assume. Well, in all honesty, Bridesmaids was not that ground-breaking. In fact, it was very predictable, familiar, and even corny at times. When a movie is familiar, it automatically removes its chances of being nominated for Best Original Screenplay, for a movie requires to be fresh, different, or from the mind of Woody Allen. Thankfully, the only chances of winning were Woody Allen himself for Midnight in Paris (who won) and Michel Hazanavicius for The Artist, two incredibly unique and entertaining films. As much as I love Kristen Wiig, I really disagreed with her being nominated there, for a movie that really disappointed me since I like her so much. (Rest assured, I still enjoy Kristen Wiig in other comedic roles.) Also, a movie like Bridesmaids is really out-of-place at the Academy Awards, considering it was filled with "raunchy" humor and (sorry, but) shitting in sinks. Don't get me wrong, I found that scene to be amusing, despite my apparent opposition to it; it's simply that it has no seat at the Oscars, I think. And let's say for a moment that the Academy should nominate movies such as these, "raunchy" and the like, then they have overlooked a much more original candidate.

Two years ago, the winner for Best Comedy/Musical resonated throughout Hollywood and audiences everywhere. It was extremely original, hilarious, and something I've never really encountered. That movie, ladies and gentlemen, is The Hangover. During that year's awards season, when The Hurt Locker dominated and Avatar made a box-office record, I had a little hope that The Hangover would be recognized for its sheer originality and shock-value. It was the perfect nominee, especially considering that the much-less unique Bridesmaids scored a nomination this year for that very category. Many even compare both movies to one another, calling Bridesmaids the "female Hangover". Those who loved the film vehemently disagree with this claim, calling it a movie that is hilarious on its own. I, also, disagree, though for a different reason. One, the ladies never even went to Las Vegas to get drunk. Mainly, however, Bridesmaids did not, on any level, surprise me nor did it entertain me as much as The Hangover did. The only surprise of Bridesmaids was that I didn't like it. With all this pointed out, I ask, why was The Hangover shunned by the Academy, being called too inappropriate, when Bridesmaids was honored for their supposed-individuality? When putting both movies up beside each other, in comparison, the male-driven Hangover clearly triumphs over the female-driven, so-called revolutionary Bridesmaids.