Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Who knew the end of the world would take so long?

There are action movies and then there are Michael Bay movies.  Something really separates the men from the boys on this one...though I'm not really saying that Bay's movies are more like men than boys here.  Rather there is a huge, slightly emotionally manipulative, highly illogical feel that comes with watching one of Bay's movies.  Granted, there's a reason he still is making movies...because sometimes you want something big, emotionally manipulative, and highly illogical to take your mind off of things.  From his first film, Bad Boys, to his latest, Transformers 3: Dark of the Moon...you can sense that there is a boy directing these films who is pretending to be a man (and I mean that in the nicest way possible).  Such is the case with one of Bay's biggest and longest productions, where he depicts a world about to be destroyed by a global killer asteroid and throws together a grab bag of personalities who are hell-bent to stop it.  This film was meant to be biblical in both scale and in topic, so its appropriate then that it is called Armageddon.

The film opens with a narration about the first time a 'global killer' hit the Earth.  The resulting shockwave and dust cloud decimated the population of life on the planet and plunged the planet into an ice age lasting several (hundred? thousand? million?) years.  Flash forward to present day (read: 1998) and a similar asteroid finds itself hurtling toward Earth.  The big bad rock will hit the planet in 16 days, preceeded by several small meteor showers that destroy large portions of famous world cities, and the government quick cobbles together a plan to save the planet.  They will send two space shuttles to the surface of the beast where the two teams will drill into the asteroid's core and deposit a nuclear device capable of cutting the beast in half and sending it harmlessly around the edges of the planet.  They must find a team who are capable of working under these conditions, however.  Enter Harry Stamper and his motley crew of oil drillers.  It seems Stamper had invented a drill for quick, undersea drilling (similar to the conditions in outerspace) and said design was stollen by the government.  They now need Stemper to tell them why it won't work...which eventually leads to him and his team having to go on the mission themselves.  What then transpires is a 12 day crash course in astronautics and finally the mission itself which proves to be more arduous and dangerous than any of them could have ever expected.

You know, for a movie about the urgency of the end being near...Armageddon certainly takes its sweet time.  This is one of those disaster movies that seems to think that it has enough character and emotional development to last 2 and a half hours when it's really more of an hour and 45 minutes to 2 hours worth of story.  Yes, there are some very good action set pieces....each one building upon the last....but there are too many of them.  There's a threshold of acceptability in an action/disaster film for allowing things to go wrong in order to increase suspense and raise stakes...but Armageddon takes this to an extreme.  Every 5 minutes, something fails or goes wrong, leading me to wonder if this isn't the worst planned space mission in history.  Granted, they do throw it together fairly quickly...but they could still have someone check that Mir's fuel pump isn't gonna blow up the day they need it or that the nuclear bomb has several failsafes on it.  Just sayin.  Is Armageddon fun?  Sure...but like most things that overstay their welcome...it is a bit too much fun and in the end (when it FINALLY does end) we're more anxious to leave the party than we are to stay (though I'll admit, I cried toward the end due to the emotional manipulation).  Do with that what you will?

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Dirty Deeds, Done Dirt Cheap

Ah, finally motivated to write a whole fresh blog post for today.  I'm feeling very good today actually, seeing as I had a very relaxing weekend of solitude and films, actually got some festering chores done, and finished a script I was working on.  It wasn't an original work sadly, rather it was a remake of Brian De Palma's Dressed to Kill...see 2010's De Palma A'la Mod for info on that fabulous film...and I'm very proud of it despite the fact it will never be produced.  However, it is the first written work I have finished in years and I'm suddenly motivated to finish more...particularly the original works that I started so long ago.  I'm currently waiting for my friend Will to finish reading it, but he keeps gushing about how much he loves it.  Anyway, I decided to write about a film I took a very special liking to when I saw it this summer because of the amazingly witty script and the way I found myself relating to the main character (gender differences aside).  I'm sure you've all heard of it and its about time I talked about something contemporary, so let's go have a day with the girls while we get down and dirty with Bridesmaids.

(Note: not using posters anymore because of that nasty Photobucket problem).  The story begins with Annie, a thirtysomething woman who is working at a jewelry store to repay her debts after losing her shirt, and her boyfriend, from opening a bakery that failed.  She also is in a horrible relationship with a man who makes her feel like crap and she lives with two horrible roommates who are as stupid as they are ugly.  So when Annie's oldest friend Lillian announces that she is engaged and wants Annie to be her Maid of Honor, it is almost too much for Annie to bear.  However, not to admit any flaws or failings, Annie presses on to try and be the best Maid of Honor she can be and plan Lillian's wedding to be perfect.  Along the way she meets the other bridesmaids: Rita, a married mother of three boys who is unhappy with her marriage and family and needs some distractions from that.  Becca, Lillian's newlywed friend from work who is almost too bubbly.  Megan, a tough and overweight firecracker who is man crazy and up for any extreme experience.  And then there's Helen, Lillian's new best friend who is perfect and beautiful and who seems to be angling to bump Annie from both her standing as Lillian's best best friend and her position as Maid of Honor.  What then transpires is a madcap adventure that sees the best laid plans fall completely apart making us wonder if Annie, and her friendship with Lillian, will survive.

Being single and wondering how to make my life better aren't the only things I felt I shared with Annie upon watching this movie.  I also found myself relating to her hidden talents for cooking and creating, which I have but I don't utilize much beyond my own kitchen because I'm too scared to try to branch out in the scary unsafe professional world. And then there was her skewed and cynical perspective of the world, which isn't totally me, but which I could completely understand given the current global climate.  Then there were the supporting characters.  Lillian reminded me of several of my best friends and the chemistry between Maya Rudolph (Lillian) and Kristen Wiig (Annie) was tremendous (owing much to the fact that they really are friends).  Seeing them together made me pine for my friends who live so far away (or who leave town every weekend....you know who you are) and that I don't get to spend as much time with as I'd like.  The other bridesmaids were hilarious as well, with the scene stealer being Melissa McCarthy as Megan (who also ends up giving Annie her third act pep up speech that she so desperately needs).  There was so much that was good about this movie, and I've already watched it three times this year (which is unheard of for me).  All of you should too, particularly you mother.  Trust me, you won't stop laughing.  Oh, and one last thought...it was a stroke of brilliance for this film to utilize "Hold On" by Wilson Phillips....excellent song!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Quick Update

Ok...this goes to show how often I read my own blog to see how it looks.  But it has come to my attention that you can't see a frackin' thing on it because of all the Photobucket crap all over the screen.  So I've gone back and deleted all the posters and pictures from the blog and the majority of those have disappeared.  I've also gone back to Google Adsense because I'd like to see if I can make a few cents (so click on some of those ads please).  Hopefully my blog will be more readable and user friendly now...and of course, not frickin ugly.  OH!  And before I forget, I'm a huge Janet Evanovich/Stephanie Plum fan so when I heard that they were finally making a movie of Miss Plum's first adventure, One For the Money, I was totally stoked.  Now the official trailer has been released and I couldn't be more pleased to see that it is following the book very closely (and the actors, whom I had doubts about - particularly Miss Heigl - are actually fitting my visions of how they would be).  I don't expect the film to appeal to everyone (especially being released in the dead zone that is January), but I am hopeful that it will give some people a few chuckles.  So here is the official trailer for One for the Money:

Thursday, September 22, 2011

"Why are there so many songs about rainbows...?"

This week has been an especially draining one for me, mostly because I think I've finally realized that...despite my skill...I really don't want to be a teacher for the rest of my life.  What's equally draining is that I have no idea what I'd do instead.  I mean, I have a degree and a license I paid good money for (well, and that dad paid taxes for) but it really only qualifies me to teach.  So I guess I've felt a little trapped this week...and of course, having some already difficult and uncooperative classes doesn't help.  So I've reached into my shelves this week for some movie comfort food...films that are colorful, funny, and just make me feel good.  This week, in honor of their glorious return to the silver screen come November, I decided to revisit my old friends, The Muppets.  And what better way to talk about The Muppets than to discuss their first movie.  So let's get "movin' right along" as we watch The Muppet Movie.

When the film begins, we are introduced to Kermit the Frog as he sits and plays his banjo in a swamp.  His life is changed, however, when an agent approaches him and shows him an add in Variety that is asking for frogs wishing to become rich and famous.  After a second and a half of soul searching, Kermit takes off on his journey toward fame.  Along the way he meets a terrible stage comedian, Fozzie Bear, and they decide to make the long road trip together in "a bear's natural habitat - A studebaker".  Their trip is not a smooth ride however as they attract the attention of villanous Doc Hopper, the owner of Doc Hopper's French Fried Frog Legs and who's obsession with Kermit becoming his mascot drives him to near insanity.  The frog and bear also meet Dr. Teeth and his band The Electric Mayhem (consisting of Animal, Janice, Sgt. Floyd Pepper, Zoot, and Lips), Gonzo the Great, Scooter, Sweetums, and the love of Kermit's life...Miss Piggy.  What follows is a rollicing adventure across the country as the Muppets race to Hollywood trying to become famous and trying to keep Kermit from becoming food.

There's something enduring and timeless about The Muppet Movie, in that it feels like it could have been made today.  Perhaps that is because The Muppets are still just as popular now as they ever were, or maybe it is because the charactaristic punny humor of the Muppets feels like something that never gets old.  Or maybe it's just my nostalga talking.  However, whenever Kermit and Fozzie pass a literal 'fork in the road' and Kermit says, in typical dry straight-man fashion "I don't believe that", I can't help but breaking up in fits of giggles.  I think The Muppets are one of the few troupes of characters that, throughout their careers, has carte blanche to be completely and utterly silly.  This could explain their enduring popularity and longevity.  Everyone knows who they are and everyone can appreciate their ever so innocent, and yet sneakily sarcastic and dry, humor.  I suppose that's why puns such as the fork in the road and Animal's "BIG scene" work even today.  Heck, there are even some groaners that only work because The Muppets are in charge, like "Myth, MYTH! - Yeth?"  Classic comedy that includes puns, running gags, and musical numbers are what makes this film and all of those in the Muppet Cannon so enduring.  I suppose it is a comfort to know that, even as we refine and change our tastes in comedy, the old tricks never go out of style.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Quick Update

I just spent an entire weekend watching the Star Wars movies again...having just got them on Blu-ray this weekend.  I also made my first batch of hollendaise sauce ever to put over fried pork chops last night for dinner, which was an adventure.  We're in Week 5 (Week 4 by the calendar) and I'm still getting the hang of taking care of block classes every day, but I'm coping.  I just wish I didn't see complete disdain on every one of my students' faces.  It wears on you when you're blamed for the limitations of your subject (something I have little to no control over).  Oh the plus side, I've never had a class that ran too short and I am impressing my colleagues, which is good because I'm hoping to get good recommendations for if and when I even decide to move on from my school.

Something of film-related interest...the latest trailer for The Muppets went online last week and boy is it a hoot.  It is a full-blown spoof of the trailer for David Fincher's version of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and I gotta say, at this point it really doesn't matter if the movie is good or not.  With advertising like this, I have to see the movie (of course, I'm sure it will be great...I mean, its the friggin' Muppets).

Have a look below and try not to laugh: