Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Glee season 1

This is a much-talked about show for a lot of reasons. First of all, it features a bunch of high school students who don't always fit the mold...a lot of them are outcasts, an they';re a motley crew drawn together by the fact that they all have talent. they can sing and dance (to varying degrees of success, but that's a minor quibble that I'm tired of hearing). Honestly, I heard nothing but positive things about this show for months, and I finally watched it and fell in love with it, and it was only then that I learned that a lot of people hate this show. It's been called racist, sexist, abelist (for its depiction of disabled people, for those who aren't familiar with the jargon) and homophobic. It's been slammed for trading in stereotypes, and people complain that it maligns the very students it's trying to showcase as talented and worthy individuals. I don't agree with this portrayal, but I don't really have time to address each and every slam this show has received, and it wouldn't help anyway. those who are determined to hate it won't be swayed by anything I have to say since they've heard it all before. what I will say is that while this show might not be perfect, it at least TRIES to show outcast minority students (who don't fit in for many reasons) coming together and growing and changing as their love of music unites them. They express their feelings through song, and a lot of the songs are familiar tunes you'd hear on the radio, which helps people relate to the show even if they don't normally enjoy "musicals." I love music and I often find listening to music is the only thing that keeps me from snapping and killing lots of people, so I relate to this show. I laughed, I cried, I sang along, and I loved it. I didn't like every episode ("Funk" was particularly flat for me) but I found SOMETHING to love in every episode, and that's something I can't say about every show...ok, about just about any show. So I dig it, and I think it will find a home among those who will always dig it too, even if it isn't always perfect.

TV I Watched: Law and Order: The Second Year

This is the second season of the long-running primetime TV drama "Law & Order." Some changes this season were evident right from the beginning. Detective Max Greavy was killed in the first episode of this season, and Detective Mike Logan had to track down his killer. Of course, being Mike, he broke a bunch of laws to do it, and the case almost got thrown out. when I was a kid, I thought Logan (Chris Noth) was the coolest cop ever, but now that I'm pushing thirty, I definitely see him for the hotheaded jerk he can often be. I really enjoyed Paul Sorvino as detective Phil Ceretta in this season (Greavy's replacement) because he was cool and calm and levelheaded, which was the perfect compliment to Logan's tendency to fly off the handle. This season was just as hard-hitting as the first, and like the first, still holds up today.

TV I Watched: Law and Order: The First Year

This is the first season of the critically acclaimed show "Law & Order." The original series has been on for over 20 years now, and it has always been and will probably always be my favorite TV show, no matter how many other shows I happen to like along the way. I keep coming back to this one, and I can watch episodes over and over again, even ones I've seen time and time again. I started watching reruns of this show on A&E =back when I was 12 years old (I wasn't allowed to watch it, but I'd watch it while my mom was at work) and I fell in love with it. The setup, the cops investigating the crime, catching the suspect, and the DA and ADA trying to convict the suspect (and often failing...even when the suspect is convicted, the show offers conflicting messages about how there can't ever really be justice for victims of homicide and the lives of the victims' families are often torn apart beyond repair). this is a show that didn't like happy endings and pat answers. sure, you can mock it for any number of presumed failings, but the fact remains, it often gets its law and its facts straighter than any other show on primetime TV dares to do. Maybe it has deteriorated recently, I wouldn't know, but these classic episodes are still just as good (if a bit dated) as they were when they first aired.

The Life Before Her Eyes

This is a movie that I'd heard about for a long time but somehow missed seeing. Somehow I got the impression that critics loved this movie, but when I checked out reviews after I saw it, I was surprised to learn that most critics panned it, and a lot of them unfairly so. they made really stupid observations too, like more than one review bitched that Uma Thurman and Evan Rachel Wood don't look anything, excuse me? First of all, that's a stupid objection to a movie, and second of all, it's patently untrue. Sometimes it's hard to tell the two actresses apart in this movie. Wood plays the rebellious teen Diana, and Thurman plays the grown-up Diana who keeps flashing back to a tragedy that occurred 15 years ago at her high school. Forced to make a choice between life and death, to choose between her life and the life of her best friend, Diana is haunted by the consequences of this decision.

The twist ending is another thing that critics bitch about, but they can just get over it. Yes, I've seen this twist done other times in other movies. Most of those movies suck. this one doesn't. I'll also say that while I usually guess twist endings right at the beginning of the movie, this movie had me so engrossed that I forgot to try and figure it out so it took me until almost the end of the movie to realize what was going on, and I'm a pissy little movie snob, so that's hard to do. I enjoyed this movie and think you should ignore then critics and give it a chance.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The New Daughter

PG13 horror movies have a bad rep among horror fans. We expect them to be dumbed-down and removed of all gore and shock value. There's not much gore on display here (but there's enough that it surprised me) and this movie delivers on the shocks. Kevin Costner plays a complete idiot in this movie (he doesn't know enough not to squeeze glasses while washing dishes, so they break, and he forgets to buy his cat a litter box when he moves, so he takes the thing outside to pee like a dog and is surprised when it runs away...moron) but he's likable enough. We feel for him, moving to a new house in an isolated location with two kids who grew up without him due to his job keeping him away from them for years. His kids are believable...the younger son is doting, and the teenage daughter is...well, a teenage daughter. One minute she's cuddly and loving, the next minute she's screaming at him and stomping off to her room. Teenage girls are so moody anyway (damn those couldn't PAY ME to be a teenager again) that at first, it's hard to tell whether she's just being moody or whether something is really wrong, but soon it's clear that something at the house is changing the girl and making her do increasingly frightening things.

I won't spoil anything, but this movie has the balls to do some things that even R-rated movies won't do, and some of the images really got under my skin. I respect that. Give this movie a chance.


It's probably best to come into this movie like I did. I saw the trailers for this movie and they sucked me in and I totally wanted to see it, like most people did. then everyone I knew saw it and told me how awful it was, one right after another, and I lost all expectations and when I finally saw it, I was prepared for it to be terrible. It isn't. Oh don't get me wrong, there are many things that are terrible ABOUT this movie (the ending was so unintentionally hilarious that I was almost rolling on the floor with laughter) but there's enough good here to keep me entertained, so I ended up enjoying myself. I think it's because I expected it to be so bad. If I'd expected it to be good, I would have been royally pissed.

Crazy Heart

I finally watched this movie yesterday. It was really a great movie. Very touching. the song "The Weary Kind," the main theme for this movie, is perfectly fitting and it's a beautiful song.

The Blind Side

This movie is about an affluent family who adopt a poor young homeless man, encourage him to play football, and help him get into college, where he then goes on to play professional football. I really identified with the homeless kid, because I was so much like him when I was a teenager that it's scary. I loved this movie.

The House of the Devil

There are a lot of great posters for this movie. Here's another one:

That one especially just transports me back to my childhood roaming the aisles of the video store, looking at horror movie covers and wishing I could see the movies (sometimes the movie cover was better than the movie itself). Horror movie covers were made to sell the movie back then, and this one is no exception. the movie is surprisingly good, though. It's a "take no prisoners" kind of movie. It builds slowly, getting you to know and like the main character, even while she's being stupid and you know something bad is going to happen to her. this movie doesn't waste time with long explanations either, you either buy what's going on or you don't, but you're not given much time to think about ti because you're kind of thrown into the horrifying situation just like the heroine is (and she's not stupid after all! She actually fights back and makes halfway intelligent decisions, which is something you can't say for most horror movie characters).

District 9

This movie is bleak and dark, and it's gritty and sad, and honestly, it's a very good movie, but it's another one of those movies that laments about why we shouldn't trust the government or the media, and I already know that, so movies like this hit me harder than they would otherwise. It's also a movie where I start out not liking the main character and end the movie really liking the main character and being sad for him. There are a few huge plot holes that piss me off because they could have been easily avoided, and those made me stabby with rage, but the movie is so good it overcomes that (which usually isn't the case for me...I watch hundreds of movies a year; I don't have time for bullshit). This movie is worth watching.

Dear Zachary

I hadn't heard anything about this movie until a few months ago someone told me it was very depressing and I should watch it. I finally checked it out, and it's very raw and emotional, and you should check it out, too, but I'm not going to tell you anything about it because I think the best way to come into this movie is blind. I will say that it's a documentary from a man to the young son of his murdered friend, and it's very sad and I cried like, through the whole movie, basically, and yelled at the screen a lot. You probably will too.

Land of the Dead

I hated this movie the first time I saw it, but it reads better the second time. I think it was too bleak and depressing and such for me the first time around.

Right at Your Door

This movie is very low-budget. It mostly works. there are a few logical inconsistencies that you can tell are a factor of the budget (it's unbelievable that we only see very d=few people in this film...none of the neighbors wanted to cause a ruckus and leave their houses?) but you won't mind those because the story at hand is too compelling. A man kisses his wife goodbye and she leaves for work in the morning, and then he learns that a bomb has gone off in the city. He tries to rescue her but it herded back to his house by cops. He seals everything off to keep whatever toxin came from the bomb from getting into his house, but after it's all sealed, his wife returns and he makes her stay outside for fear of what she'll bring in with her. I knew something bad would come of this and I yelled at the screen a lot, but neither of them listened to me. this movie is bleak and if you already don't trust the government, this won't change your mind. It's very depressing but very worthwhile.


This was a movie I hadn't heard of until a few years ago, and when I watched it, I was underwhelmed by the first hour. It's one of those "slow burn" movies that takes awhile to get going, which is all fine and dandy when I'm enjoying learning about the characters, but these characters are a bunch of vapid rich people whoi don't give a shit about anyone but themselves and a bunch of tech people behind the scenes who are ignoring signs that something is very wrong at this vacation spot, so I wanted them all to pretty much shut up and die. Once the first hour was over and things got going, though, I enjoyed the mayhem, so I think watching it again would be less painful since I know there's a payoff for all my tedious hard work. Yul Brenner is great in this movie as a sadistic robot who kills off a bunch of people I don't like.

Vantage Point

A fun little action movie. It has a gimmick that might make you pull your hair out, but when all is revealed, it's worth the watch (which is something you can't say about most gimmick movies).

The Burning

I'd heard about this movie for years, and I love slashers so I wanted to see it, but I never got around to it until last month. I'm sorry I waited so long. this movie is the typical "killer slashes teens in the woods" fare, but it's so much fun you won't care (plus this was one of the early flicks in this sub-sub-genre so it wasn't copying much). There's a massacre scene on a raft floating down the river that kicks so much ass I don't know if I've seen a better kill scene in any movie, even those made today. Check this one out especially to see Jason Alexander (from "Seinfeld" fame) when he was young and hot!

Silent Night Deadly Night III: Better Watch Out

This is a case of the movie's poster being a hundred times better than the movie itself. Good LORD. I needed something to help me calm down after "The Hurt Locker," but this was something no one needed. this movie is so bad I can't even describe it. It manages to be horrible, but not so bad it's good. I almost went to sleep. this movie is so bad at characterization it took me half the movie to figure out that the lead character is blind, and she looks so much like her brother's girlfriend that you won't be able to tell them apart. Plus did you know that shooting someone twice won't kill them, but if you then stab them once in the chest, they'll die? Ugh. skip this. even if you love bad movies like I do, this isn't worth it.