Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Day 25 - Young Adult

Young Adult

So, while I thought Juno was just okay, I loved Jason Reitman's Up in the Air.  Thusly, I was cautiously optimistic towards Diablo Cody's and Reitman's newest offering.  I shouldn't have worried.  Young Adult was one of the most brilliantly uncomfortable movies I've seen this year, and it made me laugh and squirm, sometimes at the same time.
Charlize Theron portrays one of the most selfish, disturbed, alcoholic, and pathetic characters that I've seen in a long time.  And she completely embraces the role.  Mavis Gary is an author of a series of young adult novels whose world shifts when she sees the news that her high school boyfriend and his wife have welcomed a baby girl.  Mavis uses this news to make a trip back to her hometown, and, misguidedly, try to win him back.
We, as an audience, know this is crazy. And Mavis' attempts to justify her scheme to Patton Oswalt's Matt Freehauf is met with the incredulity it deserves.
But that is genius of this film.  Mavis is a broken woman on the inside, and Matt is a broken man on the outside (which is a pretty brutal story once you hear it).  Together they make such a perfect odd couple that you anticipate every night that they get together and just drink themselves into oblivion.
But the whole plot of the film - that Mavis wants to win back her old flame (played solidly by Patrick Wilson), beyond being the driving force of the film, causes an incredible amount of tension.  You're never sure if Mavis' mechanicians are going to have any effect, or if they don't, what is her reaction going to be?  You know the possibility that something bad happening to any of the characters is right around the corner.
And in spite of all that, the movie is really funny.  Every time Mavis speaks you feel uncomfortable, and can't help laughing.  She's so acerbic and self-involved that you laugh because, while she can be incredibly mean, she's also simply being true to her self, even if that self is a jerk.  There's also a great scene with Mavis' cousin ("the happiest cripple in the world").  And Mavis and Matt bond over the fact that they can't stand him.
Charlize Theron gives one of the best performances of the year, and for as good as she gives, Patton Oswalt gives right back.  He continues to build on the amazingness of his Big Fan performance.  He's much more than just a comic - he really is an actor.  And he's great to watch.
Oh, and that ending is one of the best of the year.  You want to scream at the screen, but, at the same time, you're forced to look at things in just a little bit of a different way.  And when you do, you may find yourself nodding in agreement to what was said.  Not many movies can capture that as well as this one did.  This can be a hard movie to watch, but it so worked for me.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Day 4 - The Party Animal

The Party Animal

Pondo Sinatra is a 26 (or 22 depending on what you decide the movie want you to think) virgin, who's going to college to try and get some.  Unfortunately for him, the ladies want none of what he's selling.  Unfortunately for us, the movie is terrible.
I'm a huge fan of terrible 80's (and 90's) comedies.  Most of them can be pretty bad, but I can usually try and see the worthy in a number of them.  Whether it's the acting (with sympathetic or funny characters) or the direction (you know, a fantastic visual style that has no place in a movie like the one it's in), I find myself forgiving a lot of the movies faults.  But sometimes a movie just fails on all those levels.  This is one such film.
First off, the pacing on this film is glacial.  At under an hour and 20 minutes, this still was one of the longest-seeming films I've seen in a while.  And if you cut out the musical montages you'd have less than half the running time.  Now, I realize that this being an 80's film and all, montages aren't merely filler, but essential.  However, that doesn't give the filmmakers a license to cobble a pretty weak story around those montages, regardless of the coolness of the music that they got the rights to.
I would usually use this next paragraph to try and tell you some of the more positive aspects of the film, but I don't have much.  There's a weird interlude in a sex shop that reminded me of a Kevin Smith film in both the dialogue and the look.  But aside from a few random laughs , the film just isn't good.  And then there's the whole ending.  It's supposed to be one last joke, but it just seems sort of callous, and more of a reminder that the writer probably had no idea of how to end the film.

0 stars

Monday, December 5, 2011

Day 2 (or how I may be addicted to reality TV)

When people ask me what TV shows I watch, I have the same canned answers - Community, Castle, Revenge, How I Met Your Mother, The Big Bang Theory, etc.  I usually throw in Survivor, because it's a show that I have watched since season 2 with my family.  I even tried out for the Survivor about a year or so ago (didn't get it).  But even though I watch all those other shows, I also am hopelessly addicted to Pawn Stars, Storage Wars, American Pickers and Chopped.
I was going to say I don't know why I watch these shows so religiously, but that would be a lie.  I think/know the reason why I watch the first three.  I have a crap-ton of stuff and I love to see the crap-ton of stuff other people have and how much it's worth.  I know I don't have a 1910 bicycle, but I do know I have some expensive out of print DVD's and books.  Apparently I can't get enough of vicarious discovery.
As for Chopped, I just love the contest/cooking combination.  I have one of the most limited palates known to man, and I don't think I would eat a full plate of what they serve on the show, but I love the confidence that these chefs exhibit.  And I also can't get enough of the judges.  They aren't overly mean or overly nice, they're just so persnickity that it lets me empathize with the contestants.
Oh, and of course, there's The Amazing Race.  I really have no explanation as to why I watch this.  I don't like to travel.  Some of the challenges they have to do seem near-impossible.  I dislike more of the contestants than I like.  But the way the show is edited just manages to keep me on the edge of my seat.
None of these shows have any historical merit.  20 years from now Community will still be discussed as a brilliant show.  But Chopped will just be another show that existed at one time.  Am I wasting hours of my life by watching the shows?  Perhaps.  But I will say, that on this particular Monday night, I have experienced no stress.  And maybe that's all these shows are supposed to do - simply be a release valve for me after a long day of work.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Day 1 (again)

And so begins another adventure into the world of blogging.  For those of you who don't know (and may actually care), I previously had a blog on MySpace (which has apparently gone the way of the dodo, laserdisc and walkman).  I used that blog to write mostly about movies, but there were also a few book reviews and concert reviews.  Along with other miscellany.  Hopefully, this will be yet another avenue for people to read my stuff.  I'm not trying to reinvent the wheel.  I plan (heh, best laid plans and such) to continue to write longer reviews when possible, repost some of my older MySpace reviews, and also add in some Big Bad Dead Bird cartoons that my dad used to send me in college.  The cartoon appearances will hinge on my ability to get my scanner working, and then getting said picture posted.  I do not expect this to be either a quick or easy option.  For those of you who've missed me, why thank you.I appreciate that.  For those of you just getting introduced to me, I hope you'll make repeat appearances.
As for my first little "review" - I'm eight episodes into Dexter Season 5.  I know lots of people hate the Julia Stiles season, but I still thoroughly enjoy the characters.  Deb (Dex's sister) is still one of the most wonderful and wonderfully profane characters to ever exist on television.  Every personal judgment she makes turns out wrong, but professionally, she just keeps getting better and better.  Sure there's not a lot of subtext to the season, but who doesn't want to see Dexter take out a self-help guru?
I'm also on book 3 of Piers Anthony's Bio of a Space Tyrant: Politician.  It's part of a 6 book series, and this is about the fourth time I've gone through the series.  These books are the only ones of Anthony's that I've read, and after spending the last couple of days reading about his other novels, I think I'll continue to stick with these.
So that's it.  I'll try to write something longer next time.