Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Review: The Fighter Gives Good Vibrations

Who would've thought back in the 90s that Marky Mark, underwear model and rapper extraordinaire, would continue to wow us, and not (only) with his washboard abs.

People tend to forget how talented Mark Wahlberg actually is. Not only did he put together the once ground-breaking and hilarious, (now fizzling) Entourage, first to really showcase the bro-mance. But he was also Oscar-nominated in one of the greatest Gangster films ever, The Departed, playing a wise-ass detective and the only man left standing - an amazing accomplishment in a film where everyone else dies. Not to mention, you've officially made it when you get to work with Scorsese on just about anything.

Also starring a barely recognizable Christian Bale and Amy Adams, The Fighter is an intense and uplifting (based on a true) story about Micky “The Irish” Ward and his rise from ‘stepping stone’ boxer to his World Championship win. It's about an underdog overcoming physical and emotional obstacles (including probably the craziest, most dysfunctional family ever seen on film) to do what he loves. But really, at the root of it all was the relationship between two brothers, one always in the shadow of the other. And it's pretty good, too, with a scrappy and gritty feel reminiscent of Rocky.

Christian Bale's performance as big brother Dicky Eklund is jaw-dropping. He's pretty much guaranteed himself an Oscar nomination, for his convincing portrayal of a crack-addicted, washed-up boxer not ready or willing to come to terms with his disappointing life. It's kind of a sad reality that athletes must face once they pass their prime. Many turn to drugs to chase that high from winning, or to mask the disappointment they feel from losing.

We get a hard look at the tough lives of the working class, blue-collar residents of Lowell, Massachusetts and I can see some getting angry with their harsh depiction. At times, you don't know whether it's appropriate to laugh, because parts are actually quite funny (in a sad way), but a crack-head jumping out of a window shouldn't really be funny.

The film opens December 10th. Go see it.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Michelle Williams - Putting the 'Blue' in Blue Valentine

Just found this clip of a scene from Blue Valentine. How is it even possible that Ryan Gosling can be so dreamy?! Just answer him, Michelle, seriously! He's willing to jump off a bridge for you so if you don't want him, please, let me have him.

Get ready to swoon on December 31st, when Blue Valentine is finally released, although, I'm not sure what kind of a reception a New Year's Eve release is going to get. Plus, the whole NC-17 rating is causing quite a stir. At least it'll keep the kiddies out of the theatre.

I love - love - love the one-sheets.

Vulture Blog

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Over Your Dead Body - Only 3 Episodes Left for Dexter to Chase - Jordan

It's hard to believe there are only a few episodes left for this season of Dexter. It feels like just yesterday we expected to join the growing Morgan brood on a trip to Disneyland only to find (SPOILER ALERT!!!) our beloved Rita dead in the bathtub. I know that's not very sentimental, but we've now had almost an entire season to get used to this sad truth. That, and the fact that Julie Benz is now on ABC's No Ordinary Family, so we know she's not actually dead.

I have a major beef with cable television channels for making ridiculously short seasons filled with ridiculously long breaks in between. The only thing keeping me going is the fact that at least with cable, the seasons are scattered, so just when I start to get stir crazy come January (going through serious Dexter-withdrawal), Californication and Big Love will be starting up again to stir up controversy and drama in my TV-life.

This may not be the popular opinion for people who favour the hard-edged Dexter, but this season, I've really grown to love the single dad he portrays, trying to find the balance between his dark passenger and the fact that he has actually started recognizing his emotions. I love the way he handled Astor's inconvenient return to Miami last week - he acted like he actually cared about protecting her from her friend's abusive step-daddy. He always had Rita and the kids around to balance out his demons. And, with the fear that baby Harrison (seriously, can he get any cuter?!) may end up following in Daddy's demonic footsteps, he may need Astor and Cody around to add a dash of humanity to his complicated mix.

A (too short) preview of next week episode that just leaves me asking, "is it Sunday yet?"

Thursday, November 18, 2010

I Need You So Much Closer

I randomly came across Transatlanticism by Death Cab on shuffle today and it immediately reminded me of Six Feet Under. Even though the moment in this scene is drug-induced, there's something so special and real about it. This (phenomenally-cast) group of misfits, sitting around, contemplating the meaning of 'it' all. The atmosphere the Death Cab song creates literally mesmerizes you into a dream-like state, till you can't really tell if they're on drugs or you are. It's sort of beautiful.

It got me thinking about how when you hear certain songs, they automatically make you think of a movie or TV show you heard it on. I love that about music, the way it reminds you of different moments in your life, connecting you to memories of the same emotions you may have felt when you first saw or did something that you love.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

This is Not the Little Red Riding Hood I Remember

Warner Bros. Pictures.
This is not the Little Red Riding Hood I remember. With a super-steamy trailer and up-and-comer Amanda Seyfried playing the red-caped heroine, this one's getting filed under guilty-pleasure. I'm actually starting to like watching Amanda Seyfried on-screen, she's grown on me through her time on the addictive HBO series Big Love. But I think I can safely say she'll never be as hilarious as she was in Mean Girls! ("I think I have ESPN." 'Nuff said.)

Directed by Catherine Hardwicke, (let's hope this is a little more Thirteen and Lords of Dogtown, and a little less Twilight), you can see the obvious parallels between this and Twilight - the werewolves, the temptation of other-worldly passion. It also looks very teenage-melodrama and angst-y, which seems to be Hardwicke's specialty. But I don't know if I'd complain in Amanda's position, since it looks like whoever the wolf ends up being, casting pretty much guarantees he's swoon-worthy. Vulture's Willa Paskin explains it perfectly, that Hardwicke's "using a fairy tale as an allegory of sexual maturity, and a creature of legend to explore the age-old question, what do you do when your boyfriend's a monster and you're super-hot for him anyway?" I do love modern interpretations of fairy tales and stories, though, getting to see a different side to a story you already know by heart, plus the casting looks absolutely scrumptious. Either way, this takes fairy tales to a whole other level. Definitely leave the kids at home though.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

'I hope she'll be a fool - that's the best thing a girl can be in this world' - Baz Luhrmann takes on The Great Gatsby!

It's official! Carey Mulligan has signed on to play spoiled little rich girl Daisy Buchanan in Baz Luhrmann's rendition of the classic American novel, The Great Gatsby. Since the rumors started, I've been hoping they'd pick her for this role, craving to see more of her since her phenomenal performances in An Education and Never Let Me Go.

Now before you start recalling the torture of reading this book in high school, let me add that the role of Jay Gatsby is being filled by Leo Dicaprio. Swoon. And Nick Carraway (although who really cares after you have Leo) will be played by Tobey Maguire. Although it may have been a bit much to grasp in high school, this novel had all the elements of a great drama: love, betrayal, jealousy, misconception... Ok, now it sounds more like an everyday episode of General Hospital.

Perfect timing for this film adaptation, with Boardwalk Empire getting us all warm and fuzzy over the 1920s and prohibition era (as some of you may already know, Gatsby is a bootlegger!). The clothes, the music, all of it is so intriguing and addictive to watch, to be completely drawn into. Plus, Baz Luhrmann (with the exception of the torturous mistake that was Australia) is a genius, having made two of my favorite movies, Moulin Rouge, and the only rendition of Romeo + Juliet that I can actually sit through. He's already proven to be capable of staying true to the themes of classic literature, but we'll definitely be in for some of his signature flash and pizazz. And of course his great taste in music - both Romeo + Juliet and Moulin Rouge have two of the best soundtracks of any film.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Weeds - My On-again, Off-again Boyfriend's moving to Copenhagen

Weeds has always been like an on-again, off-again boyfriend of mine that I just can't seem to leave, no matter how bad it gets. Sure, when it's good it's really good. But, as season 4 began, my attraction to the story fizzled, and the Botwin family’s move from Agrestic to Ren Mar became a long-distance relationship I just couldn't handle - so I broke it off.

After giving Ren Mar a second chance, my addiction was back like I'd never stopped watching and two seasons later, I was intrigued to see where this new chapter would take the family – a new husband and baby in tow. But in typical Weeds-fashion, it all blew up in Nancy’s face as soon as there was a shred of normalcy in their lives.

Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve really grown to hate the selfish and destructive woman I once admired. Turns out, she was always just an attention-craved masochist, moving from one destructive relationship to the next, making sure to bring her family and friends down with her. And, did anyone else notice that Stevie (baby Avi) was missing the entire episode with not so much as a mention by Nancy. At this point, Avi's probably better off being raised by a crime lord like Esteban. Even growing up to be a spoiled, heroin-addicted teenager like his daughter would be better than the neglect Avi’s experiencing on the run. At least there'd be a nanny attending to him, instead of deeply disturbed 16-year old.

Don't get me wrong, I love the dark comedy and craziness of it all and you do have to give the show credit for one thing - it's ability to keep the audience on their toes. The latest episode was no exception, with a hat full of shocking surprises to make sure we tune in to see the finale next week. (Spoiler alert!) First off, Silas isn't a Botwin, which kind of ruins the 'perfect' relationship she had with Judah (Jeffery Dean Morgan). I always thought of him as the love of Nancy’s life and this somehow taints that, pretty much saying that she didn’t become this way because of her husband’s death, but she’s always been a mess, sleeping with crazy teachers and getting knocked up in high school.

And baby daddy Esteban is back, with Guillermo in tow, just in time for the finale. But Nancy still has season 7 to get herself into and out of even more sticky situations.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Trailer: Jane Eyre - To Mr. Rochester, with Love

Last summer I picked up Jane Eyre due to sheer boredom and the fact that although I’ve tried to read most classic English novels, somehow I’d missed that one. I couldn’t put it down, from beginning to end. Reading it, you are transported into a gloomy world, dark and full of secrets we can’t even imagine. The story is riveting and, as it always seems to happen, we fall madly in love with the perpetually angry and tortured ‘bad-boy’ character, Mr. Rochester.

After finishing the novel, I proceeded to find every film adaptation I could. Being a movie-obsessed person, I desperately needed something visual to relate to. Unfortunately, the Hollywood film version was just about the worst thing I’ve ever seen. With terrible casting and the tight, hour and a half condensed-story, it was a complete disaster. The BBC version was significantly better but I still have very little urge to watch it seasonally, over and over (and over) again, like I do with the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice. (Oh, Mr. Darcy. Swoon.)

But coming soon for literary nerds everywhere, a new film version of Jane Eyre, releasing March 2011, starring Mia Wasikowska (Alice in Wonderland), and the always memorable Judi Dench. As someone who loves a good period piece, I couldn't be more excited. And, from the looks of the trailer, we may finally get to see a worthy adaptation of this classic story.