A blog about general entertainment, fashion, and movies. And some random stuff too.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Movie Trailer: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

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I am truly going to have to brace myself for the end of this one! I... just..... speechless!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Movie Review: Last Night

I was so excited to see that this movie was on pay per view. It's coming to the Dallas Angelika in 2 weeks, but I just couldn't wait. I had to watch it as soon as I had a spare moment, which just happened to be tonight. I have been waiting to see this movie for about a year and a half. The release was delayed a few times because of the problems Miramax was having, but thankfully, it finally made its way to me! Keira in a modern time period? I hardly knew what to do with myself! Unfortunately, I am unable to write a review about a Keira movie without spoilers.

This movie begins at a fast pace, showing the dynamics of characters and background of couple. Immediately you can see the chemistry between the two leads and how comfortable they are in their relationship. They've been together for a while, even though they are still newlyweds (married for 3 years). Keira (Joanna) was completely lovable and genuine in her role, and surprisingly, Sam Worthington (Michael) was even tolerable. (This is a big deal because I have pretty much despised him in everything else I've ever seen him in.)

Eva Mendez's Laura is hard to connect with because she is presented in a way that makes you dislike her on principle, but eventually I did end up feeling for her. The only character I never really connected with was Guillaume Canet's Alex. It's hard to say why, but it could have had to do with the fact that the whole time I kept expecting him to speak with an Irish accent but he was most certainly French. It never ceased to throw me off, and that's just my own stupidity. But also, I found his character to be the only one who never became more self-aware nor did I feel that his intentions were ever anything but selfish.

The story takes place as a side by side as Joanna's husband goes on a business trip. The actions of one spouse mirror the actions of the other, both in similar situations, just in different parts of the country. (The film cleverly does a few camera tricks with mirrors to drive home this motif.) Both spouses deal with equal temptations at the same time. Neither are really the bad (or should I say worse) guy because they are both doing things that they know are wrong or shady, both feeling guilty, and having to decided moment by moment what to do in their own specific temptation. When asked by Laura if he is happy in his marriage, Michael replies, "You can be happy and still be tempted."

The stance this film takes on cheating is that a person can't always be blamed for being attracted to another or having feelings for another. The true betrayal is subjecting your loved-one to the knowledge or the image of your desires for another. Joanna mentions a few times that Michael should have "spared" her from seeing his attraction to Laura. She wasn't upset that he was attracted to her, she was just mad that he didn't try to hide it better. She retorts, "I would've spared you." This is a kindness to be dealt your partner, in her eyes. Later, even Laura mentions the things she could never get our of her mind, when she was cheated on, were pictures she saw on a computer. Not the infidelity itself. "I could have done without the visuals." The images of cheating are more hurtful than the actions. If you have to see it, it's more of a betrayal, in this story.

As well as speaking with candor like this, the two main characters were also very self aware. They know themselves well enough to verbalize things many others wouldn't be able to. Joanna is very honest with Alex when he begins to ask about why they never have worked out. She says, "I don't know that this would be what it is on its own." She loves Alex because she idealizes him and she likes it better that way. What's rare here is she knows that's why she loves him. She won't allow more to happen because he'll become too real and the ideal will end. For a person to step out of their own head and admit this to themselves is very rare. This made her such an interesting character.

The entire movie is building up to the part where both our lovers make a decision about what to do in their temptation, creating a turning point on either front. The voice overs from one scene laid across the others' bring the actions together, even though they are geographically far apart. It links them seamlessly and makes them feel like they are happening in the same room. It's very affective and cleverly done.

In the end, the degree of betrayal on either side will have to be judged by each individual viewer. Michael has a physical affair, Joanna has an emotional affair. Which is worse? No matter what you decide, I think the film is really asking this: Is it better to know or not know when you have been betrayed in a relationship? Is it selfish to admit to it, subjecting your lover to this horrible news to clear your own conscience, or is it noble, being honest to try to work it out? And in all that goes into a marriage, how would you define betrayal?

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Movie Review: Jane Eyre

I saw this four weeks before it opened in wide release, but I wanted to see it a second time before I wrote my [SPOILER FREE!] review. I came into this movie slightly skeptical. One, because I hadn't like Mia Wasikowska in any of her earlier roles, and two, I was defensive because I felt this movie might replace Pride and Prejudice to an audience with a short attention span. I was having none of that. However, as soon as the movie began, my preconceptions melted away.

As I settled into the film, I realized how silly it was of me to be worried that it could take the place of Pride and Prejudice to viewers. They are two very different types of stories, and just as the books were vastly different (although written around the same time period), so are the movies. Jane Eyre's tone is melancholy and somber, which is reflected in the bleak English countryside and low lighting throughout the film. But this movie doesn't need a lot of bright lights because the performances are what really shine (Yeah, I totally just segued into the next paragraph with a corny movie-critic pun. DEAL WITH IT).

Mia Wasikowska finally won me over, and I was so thankful she did it early on. If she hadn't I may not have been able to really sink into the movie, but I did! She was genuine and believable. She did a great job and I finally agree she was cast correctly! Winning me over was a big accomplishment for her (as I was trying hard not to give in), but on top of that, the fact that she fits so well in a role as iconic as Jane Eyre shows her potential. She'll be doing some damage in the future. Michael Fassbender was wonderful as well. Rochester is not an easy role to fill because he is another romantic hero that so many women read about and idealize. To live up to that character's title can be intimidating. He did it with grace, charisma, and charm. He was easy to love while still being difficult, abrupt, and antagonistic. He certainly had me swooning by the time Rochester proclaimed his feelings for Jane. (I'm just a sucker for the Byronic hero, every time!)

The first trailer I saw for Jane Eyre was really interesting to me. It made it seem like the film was a horror/thriller. Anyone who has read the book, although there is a lot of Gothic imagery, knows that it's not a horror story. If this was how you felt about the movie preview, rest easy. There are a few moments where you jump, but nothing that changes the tone of the story or insinuates that something supernatural is present. However, this story does deal with some shocking twists and turns, so the suspenseful pauses and music only add to it. It doesn't distract.  

Overall I loved this movie. I think that it has a pretty good shot at making a dent on awards season next year, if the Academy has a good memory (we shall see). It's a beautiful adaptation of a classic piece of literature and I believe that many of the book's fans will be happy to see these characters come to life on the big screen.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

We Have To Go Back: Lost Seasons 4-6

I finished the series Sunday evening and I spent a good 15 minutes crying after doing so. This experience has been a whirlwind and now that it's over, I don't know what to do with myself. I can't imagine what all of you LOST fans did with yourselves at the end since you were invested for YEARS. Just a few weeks' investment stings now, here at the end. (If you missed it, here is my take on seasons 1-3 here).

Season 4-6

Leaving the finale of season 3 and entering season 4, I knew I was in for something that was a little different. I didn't realize, however, just how different it would be. From this point, every season was 10 episodes shorter than the first 3, the rules began to change because people had left the island, and on top of that there were no longer flash backs, but instead, flash forwards. Time travel came into play with a few other science fiction twists, and the series stopped basing the mysteries on what happened in the plot as much as it depended on how the story was told (what information was revealed until what moment, etc). I certainly felt like I was watching a different version of the show.

At the beginning of Season 4, all I wanted was for everyone to mourn Charlie, acknowledge his sacrifice, and basically mention him in every conversation they had. This, however, was an expectation I knew could never be fulfilled. I watched season 4 so quickly that it's hard to remember all that happened. I think it was such a haze because the flash forwards were such a surprising idea. I loved it and thought it was unique. Seeing these characters in new situations, in different lives than what I could have ever expected blew my mind. Each new twist and unexpected turn seemed to land with more punch just because the nature of the show was so strange. I tried to keep notes to help myself keep track of some things, but ever so often I would write "I miss Charlie" with a sad face. At least Hurley hallucinated him once, which is still one of my favorite moments of the show. At the end of this season John Locke was dead and I had no idea where we would go next.

Then season 5 came. This one took me the longest to get through. It was the only one that took me longer than a week to watch. It tested me the most of all 6 seasons. There were moments of season 5 where I just had to cock my head to the left and go "WTF LOST!" I don't really do the SciFi thing, so when it ventured into that territory... I got nervous. Of course the thing that kept me going was my love for the characters, and the fervent promise that Season 6 was much better. When the Oceanic 6 finally got back to the island, things got a little better (though I felt the way they got back was SO silly; HOW did that work?! And how does Eloise know that doing that would work?? Ugggh, that is my only continued annoyance from the show). I felt much more comfortable with everyone being back together and on the island, even if they were in a foreign time. And this finale really left me sitting with my mouth hanging open. I felt the season 5 finale was better than the whole rest of the season's episodes combined. Plus, knowing that everyone who watched this on TV had to wait an entire 6 months between that ending and the beginning of season 6 made me crazy!

Luckily for me I was able to put disc 1 of season 6 in immediately. And it was like Christmas. We were back on the plane and everything was starting over. For the first time since season 3 I felt the extreme need to go on without looking at the clock or stopping for meals. I loved seeing what it would have been like if the flight had never crashed. I loved seeing the alternate reality, or these "flash-sideways." Again, it was SO unique. It's something I think every fan of any show wants to play around with. What would these same characters do if they were in this different situation? Would these characters be friends? How would they act/grow/react here? It was just amazing!

I felt like in season 6, LOST regained it's footing and was rooted once again in what I loved so much, the characters. We were finding out what it would have been like for each character to live in a psudo-regular life. I actually liked alternate-reality-Ben, teaching European Lit at a high school. I couldn't get enough of Sawyer as a police officer (ZOMG). And, not to mention the thing that I had been waiting for the entire last 3 seasons, Charlie lives!!!! (Of course in true Lost fashion, Charlie started out basically dead and I was LIVID for a good 10 minutes, until they revealed he was ok. For almost the entire series it seemed the only main character who actually died and stayed dead was Charlie, my favorite character. It was Lost's way of personally flipping me off.)

The Cast and Characters

I'm in love with this cast, hence the reason I've used mostly cutesy cast pictures in this post rather than screen caps from the actual show. They are so adorable and affectionate together, much like the Lord of the Rings cast that I love so much. (Secretly I believe the cause is Dom, I mean he is the common denominator.)

Charlie is still my favorite, but now I am sure Sawyer is a fast second. After he spent a good 4 episodes or so being so protective of Claire I knew that he had won my heart. Seeing him in the leadership role when he was working for the Dharma Initiative was really great for his character, too. He really just got better and better with time. And I really liked him with Juliet! I thought it was a good match and he really did love her so much. Definitely one of the saddest moment of the whole series was when she fell in the season 5 finale. I couldn't stand how sad Sawyer was in the next few episodes after that.

That leads me to the fact that Jack and Kate ended up together, which I was ok with! He wanted her so badly, and if she really loves him and will treat him right, then I approve. Plus they were both kind of a hot mess by the end of the series. I loved Jack's alternate-reality, having a son and taking Claire in, his sister. Both elements struck me as very sweet.

I knew it was inevitable that Jack would try to fix everything for the final time through some sacrificial gesture. I think that may have been why I actually cried all the way through the fight that he and Smoke Monster Locke had near the end. That, and I hated seeing Jack and Locke fight, two characters I really love. I know that that version of Locke wasn't really him, but it was still emotional for me to see, for some reason. Yes I said I like Locke, the REAL Locke. His story, like no other character, brought me to tears every time. He was so sad and pitiful and in need of something good to happen. And it NEVER did! I just felt such sympathy for him, I can't help it.

Sun and Jin had perhaps one of the saddest stories of all. First they fake us out with Jin not making it off the freighter, then reuniting them only to have them both die in the submarine. With Sayid! Who I was disappointed to see be "claimed" by the darkness. Thankfully he redeems himself, but I agree with my friend, Amanda, that there was so much more they could have done with him. My attachment to Desmond is the one that really surprised me. I absolutely loved him by the end of the series. It didn't hurt his case that he named his son after Charlie. I think that actually made me tear up, haha.

 To sum up:

Favorite characters (I made two spot tie, I just can't choose):
  1. Charlie
  2. Sawyer
  3. Jack and Hurley
  4. Desmond
  5. Son and Jin
Saddest moments for me (aside from the finale, I mean come on):
  1. Charlie's death
  2. Juliet falling/Sawyer trying to save her
  3. Son watching the freighter explode
  4. Son and Jin in the sub
  5. Locke's entire life

The Finale: Choose your side

I didn't really know what I expected from the finale, but it was at the point of Sayid and Shannon's reunion that it became clear: I needed to see Charlie and Claire together and get a glimpse of what I wanted from that story that they DEPRIVED me of while he was alive! As I realized this is what I really needed, I said "This must happen, and if it does, I will be totally happy." Luckily, it came true and THEN some.

When I finished the series, it wasn't but a few seconds after I posted my positive feelings about the ending that I got a few negative responses about it. People are passionate about the ending of this show no matter which direction they go with it. It's my understanding, however, that the two sides are very different types of viewers. The viewers who watched the show for the mysteries and for the answers were generally disappointed by the emotional ending with few explanations, but the viewers who watched because of their love for the characters were mostly satisfied with its poetic farewell. And then, of course, there were those middle-grounders who loved it just as much as they hated it. I guess those viewers like both elements of the show equally.

Luckily for me, I absolutely adored the ending. I knew that I would. My friends who watched Lost loved it too, and most of them told me based on how I tended to talk about the show that I was prepped to enjoy the ending. I have said from the beginning that the show is about characters. It is interesting with the plot twists and such, but what kept the show afloat were the characters. That's at least what kept me watching. I loved those characters so much I knew I had to stick with them, and I believe the writers knew it too. Which is why in the end, the finale was centered around friendship, homecoming, love, and feeling that emotion that everyone needs to feel at an end. Not a detached unveiling of answer after answer, but a personal and loving conclusion that bids these characters goodbye with an embrace.

For those unhappy about it, here is a pretty neat video you may find amusing! My LOST friends sent it to me.

Also, for LOST finale lovers and haters alike, this is a great video from the guys over at How It Should Have Ended. HILARIOUS. Check it out.

Overall Impression

The show is just beautiful, and now I absolutely understand why so many people count it among their favorite TV shows of all time. I've already begun to add the box-sets to my collection. Watching it again will be a trip for sure, and the next time I may try and make Justin join me. I only wish there was a way to go back and re-watch it... but for the first time!

Also, I want this T-Shirt.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Movie Review: Hanna

I cannot describe how excited I was for this movie to come out. Not only is it another Joe Wright film (I've said in the past that he is my Director-soul mate), but Cate Blanchett, Eric Bana, and Saoirse Ronan are all in it. Usually Cate Blanchett alone would be enough to get me to anticipate a movie, so this line up was overwhelming. I've been excited to see Saoirse do more ever since Atonement, but especially since having seen The Lovely Bones and learning that she will play a role in The Hobbit (probably my most anticipated movie of the next 2 years). I realized just how excited I was as the lights dimmed in the theater and I got a little nervous. I leaned over to Justin and said, "Justin! What if it isn't good? I'm going to be SO disappointed."

Luckily, this movie was NOT a disappointment. Saoirse's ethereal look coupled with her bad-ass ways was just visually confusing enough to grab me in right away. The opening scene (which is mirrored in the last scene) let me know that this was absolutely something new and fresh from Joe Wright. It's hard to place what genre this movie goes in, but it's not really a drama, it's not fully an action movie, and it's not a comedy. Behind all the action is a film that deals with characters and their stories. The characters ultimately drive the movie, which makes it borderline drama. It's a little bit of everything, and it does each part well!

Of course, Cate Blanchett was completely wonderful, as always. She is supposed to be a character that you dislike, maybe even hate. She does some despicable things, and yet, with every scene she was in I couldn't help but love her more. She is just so fantastic! In this role, you love to hate her (and I secretly just loved to love her). Saoirse Ronan was wonderful, too. I was severely impressed and it made me so excited that she is going to be in The Hobbit (yes it's a made up role, but whatever... and that's another blog post, altogether)!

Half way through the movie I thought "This is such an awesome role for a young girl to have!" It's a type of character you hardly ever see for young actresses. Rarer still is an entire movie built around this type of character without some other character partnering with her (usually a man). Hanna spends almost the entire movie on her own, finding her own way, and defeating her own bad guys. In a few small ways, it reminded me of Kill Bill (I said SMALL ways, no one take that comment the wrong way, haha). Either way, it will certainly do wonderful things for Ronan's career. She deserves many more amazing roles in the future. She is so versatile.

Overall, Hanna is a very entertaining film. I loved it! It's fun to watch, but also raises questions about society, government, and morality. The performances are solid and the direction is great (so glad to see him do something so different!), plus the music really added another level to each scene. I highly suggest this one. Go see another side of  Joe Wright and Miss Saiorse Ronan.

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Hunger Games Casting Reactions

In August of 2010 I wrote a blog that held my suggestions for The Hunger Games movies that were being cast. It's been my most popular entry to date with over 12,000 hits! This is not because I am such a savvy and popular blogger (though THAT would be cool), but really it's because of the huge success and popularity of this amazing book series. People are STARVING for more of it and are so enthralled with what's to come with the movie, they will even look at my silly ramblings about it. (Thank you!)

When I heard that they had cast Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss, at first I was a little confused, but then I settled into the idea and was glad. The fact that they went with someone like Jenn, someone who is not very well known but is obviously very talented (with one Oscar nomination under her belt already), shows they are taking this movie seriously. They want someone they know can act Katniss, not just look like her. I kept telling my friends who were skeptical that "talent rather than physicality" is what really counts. You can change her look to fit. You cannot make someone a better actress. This was a great casting decision, in my opinion!

Now the news just broke that they have cast the two main male roles for this film, and I am trying to follow my own statement of "talent before physicality," but it's hard for me to do so! Josh Hutcherson will play Peeta. He was good in The Kids Are All Right - however- HE DOESN'T LOOK LIKE PEETA to me! I am sorry, I really am. I want to be on board, and I can't wait for this kid to prove me wrong... but HE IS TOO SHORT! One thing you can't change about appearance is making someone taller... and he isn't tall enough to fit my mental image (or the description in the book). Also, to play romantically across from Jenn? With her height and figure, the actor opposite has to be a MAN. Josh just... isn't. Next to her... it will not look good. He's not right physically. Like my friend, Matt said, Josh's audition tape must have been EPIC. I hope it truly was and I hope that whatever he brings to the screen blows us away. I am trying to be open minded, but ... it's hard! (I feel so shallow saying all of these things, but... it's true!)

Liam Hemsworth will play Gale. This makes me nervous, not because of the way he looks (I am sure Gale could have looked that way, maybe) but more because all I know about him is he was in the Hannah Montana movie. Also. He is so much bigger and stronger-looking than Josh Hutcherson. I just... but... I can hardly explain why this matters, but... Peeta isn't supposed to be smaller than Gale. Less trained in the way of fighting and hunting? Yes. But he's not supposed to look physically inferior to Gale. I just... I am trying to be gracious, but I ... I don't know how this will work out. I can barley picture it! And when I do... it's not good. People who haven't read the books are going to want Katniss with Gale just because they look more fitting together, physically. I just... I am having a hard time with this!!!

I am still keeping and open mind, because I know that in the past, watching movie adaptations of books I love, things I didn't think would work turned out ok. So I know this will be ok. But right now I am having a hard time with it! Maybe when the shooting actually starts and we see pictures from the set, how they will look in costume, etc. it will be easier to accept. We shall see!

Leave your thoughts in the comments, please. I'd love to hear your thoughts!