Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Beautiful But Boring

Review: Hugo 3D

I often say that while I like to think I am more informed than the average movie viewer but not as stuck up as the average movie critic, I’m probably just dumber than the average critic and more stuck up than the average movie viewer. In the case of watching Martin Scorsese’s new film Hugo, I’d like to think I occupy the former position. This is because while I think I can appreciate the love letter to cinema that Scorsese has created in this kid’s movie more than the average movie viewer, I disagree with most of the critics who apparently loved it, because, frankly, it is a pretty boring movie. So let’s break it down…

The film centers on Hugo Cabret (Asa Butterfield), an orphan who lives in the walls of a train-station and is determined to fix an automaton left to him by his father (Jude Law). Despite being pursued by the station inspector (Sacha Baron Cohen), Hugo fixes the robot with the help of Isabelle (Chloë Grace Moretz), which leads to a surprising discovery about Isabelle’s guardian, Georges Méliès (Ben Kingsley).

Monday, November 28, 2011

Can We Resist Popular Culture?

The past few blogposts have all been movie reviews, so I thought I would switch things up by talking about something else I am interested in: Communication and Culture. Going to the movies is a choice. As are the t.v. shows we watch and the music we listen to. But how much of culture's influence is really our choice? This is a paper I wrote for my Intercultural Communications class, addressing the question: "How Does Popular Culture Influence You and How Do You Resist It?" And yes, somewhere in there I did quote Gandalf in a college-level essay...

“Popular culture is the new Babylon, into which so much art and intellect now flow. It is our imperial sex theater, supreme temple of the western eye. We live in the age of idols. The pagan past, never dead, flames again in our mystic hierarchies of stardom.” – Camille Paglia

As we’ve discussed in class, popular culture is everywhere. We cannot run from it. We cannot hide from it. We cannot escape it. It reminds me of the goblins in the mines of Moria that Gandalf reads about: “We have barred the gates but cannot hold [popular culture] for long. The ground shakes, drums... drums in the deep. We cannot get out. A shadow lurks in the dark. We cannot get out... [Popular culture is] coming.” The approach and influence of popular culture is inevitable.

Aloha Oscars

Review: The Descendants

“My friends think that just because we live in Hawaii, we live in paradise. Like a permanent vacation, we're all just out here sipping Mai Tai's, shaking our hips and catching waves. Are they insane? Do they think we're immune to life? How can they possibly think our families are less screwed up? Our heartaches, less painful?”

The life of Matt King, a Hawaiian land baron played by George Clooney in The Desecendants, is certainly no paradise. His family is definitely screwed up and his heartache quite painful. Matt’s wife is in a coma, the result of a boating accident, and the clock is counting down to the removal of her life support. This leaves Matt alone to deal with his two rambunctious kids, Alex (Shailene Woodley) and Scottie (Amara Miller), and alone to grapple with the unexpected discovery that his wife had been cheating on him. As Matt takes his girls and Alex’s friend, Sid (Nick Krause), along to find his wife’s mysterious partner, Brian Speer (Matthew Lillard), to give him a chance to say goodbye before the end, Matt is also forced to continue his dealings to sell a huge tract of land on behalf of his large, extended family.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

You Get What You Pay For

Review: We Bought A Zoo

Director Cameron Crowe has tricked me! I went into a sneak preview of We Bought A Zoo (opening Dec. 23rd) expecting a simple, cheesy kid’s movie. Instead the film proved to be a heart-felt drama in disguise. The movie centers on Matt Damon’s character Benjamin Mee who tries to start a new life for his two kids, brooding Dylan (Colin Ford) and adorable Rosie (Maggie Elizabeth Jones), by moving to a new house, which also happens to be a zoo. Of course, the purchase of the house stipulates that the new owner must care for the animals. And the only way to pay for all the animals food, shelter, and medical costs is to re-open the zoo, an idea which is going to take a lot of work to accomplish. Benjamin says it’s a modern day adventure!

Animals are always fun and the ones we meet in this film are no exception. Bears and snakes get loose, peacocks have babies, and monkeys make funny faces. But beneath this facade of silliness, real drama comes out. Obviously, they’re in way over their heads in preparing the zoo for the inspection preceding opening day. Benjamin can’t seem to get over the recent loss of his wife or connect with his even more troubled son. In fact, the scene of their climactic confrontation was refreshing and surprising, showing the acting chops of both Matt Damon and Colin Ford. In a movie that had the potential to be ultra-goofy, kinda like Kevin James' recent Zookeeper, We Bought A Zoo has real depth and truly makes you feel for the characters.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

It's Time to Play the Music, It's Time to Light the Lights...

Review: The Muppets

It's time to meet the Muppets on "The Muppet Show" tonight!

They’re back! But are they better than ever? In the new Muppets movie, Gary (Jason Segel), Mary (Amy Adams), and unaware Muppet Walter team up with Kermit the Frog to get the old gang back together to save the Muppet Theater from being torn down by evil oil tycoon, Tex Richman (Chris Cooper). Since The Muppets is a relatively simple film, I thought I would try and do a more simplistic review than usual… 

Meet Marilyn Monroe

Review: My Week with Marilyn

So, I just met Marilyn Monroe. She was giggles and laughter and light. And she was tears and insecurity and emptiness. She was the first real celebrity Hollywood icon. And it almost destroyed her.

Of course, I didn’t meet the real Marilyn. But I was introduced to Michelle Williams’ stirring portrayal of her in director Simon Curtis’ feature film debut, My Week with Marilyn, one of my absolute favorite movies of the year. The movie is more of a case-study-like glimpse into a moment in time rather than a life-to-death biopic, detailing the shooting of a film in the 50s called The Prince and the Showgirl, during which Marilyn’s unpredictable behavior continuously frustrated her co-stars and cast. Feeling alienated by the production team and those closest to her alike, Marilyn turns to young assistant director Colin Clark for companionship and support. For about a week.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Grand Old Party Predictions

So I just finished watching the CNBC “Your Money Your Vote” GOP Debate and thought I’d share my thoughts on the night and the state of the primary situation as we stand a little less than one year away from Election Day.

Let’s start with Mitt Romney. I’ll be honest, as an Independent, Romney has the best chance of winning my vote over Obama than any of the other candidates. He’s got 25 years as a businessman before he became governor, so he’s got economic experience (the most important qualification for this election) and he polls the best against Obama in national polls. And Republicans have a tendency to elect candidates who were the runners-up in the last primary. McCain was runner up to George W. Bush before he clinched the nomination in 2008 when he edged out Mitt Romney. So now establishment rules predict a Romney nomination. Except that Republicans don’t seem to be warming up to the former Massachusetts governor and while he’s had a consistent, well-oiled campaign machine, Romney still cannot seem to significantly outdistance his opponents.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

The 5th of November - Best "V for Vendetta" Quotes

If it is November 5th, you need to be watching the fantastic film, V for Vendetta!!! Below are some of the best quotes from the movie and, at the bottom of the post, a couple videos of those scenes!

"Remember, remember the 5th of November, the gunpowder, treason, and plot. I know of no reason why the gunpowder treason should ever be forgot..."

"Voilà! In view, a humble vaudevillian veteran cast vicariously as both victim and villain by the vicissitudes of Fate. This visage, no mere veneer of vanity, is a vestige of the vox populi, now vacant, vanished. However, this valorous visitation of a bygone vexation stands vivified and has vowed to vanquish these venal and virulent vermin vanguarding vice and vouchsafing the violently vicious and voracious violation of volition! The only verdict is vengeance; a vendetta held as a votive, not in vain, for the value and veracity of such shall one day vindicate the vigilant and the virtuous. [laughs] Verily, this vichyssoise of verbiage veers most verbose, so let me simply add that it's my very good honour to meet you and you may call me 'V'"

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Imperialism of the English Language

As a Communication Major who specializes in the Critical Approach, I love to talk about the big, overarching influences that shape how we construct our perceptions of the world. Things like history and dimensions of power. So I thought that I'd share with you a paper I wrote about the English language and how it operates as a new form of colonialism. Sound fun? I thought so too!

Okay; I know Wikipedia is not a scholarly source. But it had it the best definition of colonialism I found: “Colonialism is the establishment, maintenance, acquisition and expansion of colonies in one territory by people from another territory. It is a process whereby the metropole claims sovereignty over the colony and the social structure, government, and economics of the colony are changed by colonizers from the metropole. Colonialism is a set of unequal relationships between the metropole and the colony and between the colonists and the indigenous population” (Wikipedia.org).