Wednesday, March 19, 2014

DIVERGENT Movie Review

While I have not read the books, I was all too curious to see the latest in teen film phenomena (presumably), "Divergent."  In addition to it taking place and being filmed in my awesome city of Chicago, was based on the novel by Veronica Roth, who wrote the first one as her thesis for a creative writing class at Northwestern University.

I was able to see a pre-screening at IMAX for this film.  The trailers left me intrigued, but sometimes, you can never be too sure.  I must say that it wasn't misleading.

"Divergent" offers a spin on some new ideals, but includes all the basics to make for an engaging film--action, angst, that feeling of being different/other/outsider, romance and change.

There is some strong supporting cast, including Ashley Judd, Kate Winslet, and Tony Goldwyn.  Newcomer Theo James is a great male lead--nice to look at, and not too shabby on the acting.

All these things and more were enough for me to overlook the weak acting efforts delivered by Shailene Woodley as the lead, Tris.  Good lord, there was just no...real zest to her.  Oh sure, she was nowhere near as dull and unbearable as Kristen Stewart's Bella, but there's still something integral missing.  I watched her on screen and thought of Sarah Michelle Gellar's Buffy or Jennifer Gardner's Sydney Bristow.  Geena Davis' Charli Baltimore.  To have both that edginess and tenderness is a tricky thing, and for the moment, Woodley does not have that.

I think this would have been a role better suited for Saoirse Ronan or Michelle Trachtenberg.

That being said, it's a great film.  I plan to see the other two in the series, and check out the books, and you should too.

Meeting Josh Holloway and Ian Somerhalder

Today's Fangirl moment is brought to you by Karen:

Last night at the LOST panel at Paleyfest, I finally fulfilled my ten year quest to meet, talk to and get an autograph from Josh Holloway. Needless to say, I am more than thrilled.

As expected, he was a real Southern gentleman. He was only going to sign my photo, but after seeing the TV Guide with me yelling at him at the season 6 premiere, he signed that too! This Lostie's mission is accomplished ;p

Also, called me "darlin'" and touched my shoulder after the signing.

After, I saw Ian Somerhalder. He had to rush to catch a plane and said he could not sign, but guess who he recognized and stopped for?

That's right.

He said "Oh hi, sweetie. How are ya?" I said please Ian and he said, "Okay, I will for you." He only signed for me and the girl next to me.


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Thursday, January 16, 2014

And the Oscar Goes to...

Best Picture Nominees:

"American Hustle"
"Captain Phillips"
"Dallas Buyers Club"
"12 Years A Slave"
"The Wolf of Wall Street"

Who I think should win: "12 Years a Slave"
Who will probably win: "12 Years a Slave"

Best Actor Nominees:

Christian Bale, "American Hustle"
Bruce Dern, "Nebraska"
Leonardo DiCaprio, "The Wolf of Wall Street"
Chiwetel Ejiofor, "12 Years A Slave"
Matthew McConaughey, "Dallas Buyers Club"

Who I think should win: Leonardo DiCaprio
Who will probably win: Matthew McConaughey

Best Actress Nominees:

Amy Adams, "American Hustle"
Cate Blanchett, "Blue Jasmine"
Sandra Bullock, "Gravity"
Judi Dench, "Philomena"
Meryl Streep, "August: Osage County"

Who I think should win: Meryl Streep
Who will probably win: Amy Adams

Best Supporting Actor Nominees:

Barkhad Abdi, "Captain Phillips"
Bradley Cooper, "American Hustle"
Michael Fassbender, "12 Years A Slave"
Jonah Hill, "The Wolf of Wall Street"
Jared Leto, "Dallas Buyers Club"

Who I think should win: Michael Fassbender (with Jonah Hill as an honorable mention)
Who will probably win: Jared Leto

Best Supporting Actress Nominees:

Sally Hawkins, "Blue Jasmine"
Jennifer Lawrence, "American Hustle"
Lupita Nyong'o, "12 Years A Slave"
Julia Roberts, "August: Osage County"
June Squibb, "Nebraska"

Who I think should win: Lupita Nyong'o, omg
Who will probably win: Jennifer Lawrence (vomit)

Best Director Nominees:

David O. Russell, "American Hustle"
Alfonso Cuaron, "Gravity"
Alexander Payne, "Nebraska"
Steve McQueen, "12 Years A Slave"
Martin Scorsese, "The Wolf Of Wall Street"

Who I think should win: Steve McQueen (honorable mention to Scorsese)
Who will probably win: Steve McQueen

What are your picks?

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Living Single Movie

When I went to San Diego Comic Con 2013, I unexpectedly ran into a woman who portrayed one of my favorite TV characters--Living Single's Erika Alexander.  I couldn't think of her name on the spot, so I asked her, "Maxine Shaw?" to which she quickly replied "Attorney at law!"  And then we hugged.  So awesome.

She was there on comic related business (to which I can't recall the name of, sadly), and the chat got around to Living Single.  I asked her would there ever be a big screen reunion in the works.  The gist of her response was that Queen Latifah more or less wouldn't discuss it.  I must now wonder why?

The cast, from what I gathered, were on fairly good terms.  And given the commercial success of the Sex and the City films (based on a show, which, came after Living Single) and "The Best Man Holiday," you'd think they all would be chomping at the bit.  I mean Latifah is still an actress.  Producer.  Started her career on a message called UNITY.  What's the real opposition here?  Showing a big screen version of this successful series which features successful black women who are BFFs?  It would be positive and funny and highly successful, and it's not even like one would have to be familiar with the series to enjoy the film.  This mysterious opposition baffles me to no end.

So, if there's anyone out there in touch with Queen Latifah, tell her to have a bit of fun and bring joy to the hearts of movie goers with a green light for a film adaptation of one of the funniest sitcoms of the 90's.

Monday, December 30, 2013

American Hustle

For the last several weeks, the trailers for "American Hustle" have left me ambivalent about seeing it in theatres.  The other night, I saw a Richard Roeper review, in which he raved about how awesome it was, and that the DeNiro cameo was possibly some of the best ten minutes of his acting career.

After seeing it this afternoon, man did I feel deceived.

I really should have stuck with my gut on this.

I think that the story itself was interesting, but the directing and editing was all wrong, and they actors were cast in the wrong parts.  As much as I love Christian Bale, there's no way in hell he should be nominated, let alone win an Oscar for this performance.  I kept hearing about how he should be in the running, and I'm hear to tell you right now, no, he shouldn't be.  In fact, I think he was miscast.  I think they all were.

Bradley and Christian needed to switch.  I'm sorry, I just couldn't buy Bale as this balding, gut having, uncouth con artist.  If he were a suave, Thomas Crowne kind of con artist, okay, but this was just wrong.  He's a great actor, but it just didn't fly.  Bradley could have done it.  On that same token, I didn't buy Bradley as an FBI Agent.  I think that role would have been better suited for Bale.

I think Amy Adams is fabulous, but she and Jennifer Lawrence needed to switch roles in order for the whole thing to work on screen.  I think Adams was capable of playing either role, but Lawrence was not up to snuff.  That being said, Lawrence was given the harder role, in certain respects, even though she had less screen time.  The role just didn't hold a lot of weight with her at the helm.  Adams' role required an English accent, so perhaps Lawrence couldn't have done the part?  I don't know that for certain, but her range just was not there as Bale's wife.

The film also started out slow.  So slow that I caught a few z's after the first thirty minutes.  It's rare indeed for me to fall asleep during a film, regardless of how tired I am.  I felt like Scorese or Soderbergh should have directed this.  I felt like the director, David O. Russell, was way out of his depth on this one.

In short, this is a film better served as a rental, or waiting for it to hit HBO or something.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Diary of a Fangirl: The Wolf of Wall Street

"The Wolf of Wall Street" brought back a boatload of nostalgia.

I love Scorsese, and I love DiCaprio, so I was 99% sure I was going to love their latest project.  After viewing it, I can tell you that was a complete understatement.

"Goodfellas" is not only my favorite Scorsese film, but my favorite film, period.  "The Wolf of Wall Street" felt like a total throwback to that film, except all of the violence is replaced with nudity and drug use.  Even the appearance of Jon Bernthal (who, omg, is so awesome you guys), made me think of DeNiro, and tied the whole thing together for me.

Anyway, this film is based on the true story of Jordan Belfort, who makes his start on Wall Street, loses his job, goes into the penny trades and creates a mega millions stock company with his rag tag friends.

Back to the "Goodfellas" connection--

A lot of the styling of shots and narration also harken to Scorese's early 90s masterpiece.  DiCaprio as Belfort tells a good chunk of story to the audience with voice overs, and at times, breaks the fourth wall and talks directly to the audience (as Ray Liotta did at the close of "Goodfellas").  Even Leo's on-screen wife, actress Cristin Milioti, reminded me a bit of Lorraine Bracco.  And it's a period piece.  I'd have to watch it again to see if there was a gradation in color throughout the piece.

DiCaprio also doesn't work alone--he has a great supporting cast accompanying him.

All in all, I give it damn near four stars (I want to say between 3.5 and 3.75 out of 4), and it's definitely worth the watch.  And a rewatch.  If Leo doesn't get an Oscar for this, I just don't even know.

Diary of a Fangirl: Fast & Furious 7

The writers and producers of "Fast & Furious 7" are working frantically (I assume) in tweaking the script to accommodate the tremendous loss they've been dealt, while honoring both the character of Brian and Paul Walker's final appearance in the franchise.  Being a writer, I couldn't help but ponder the course of action they'd take.

Paul was only able to finish about half of the scenes he was supposed to do.  Therefore, I'm thinking the start of this film may very well begin with a funeral--Brian's (though it's not explicitly said).  Then the film will move into the initial storyline, with Paul featured prominently, and then the bad news happens midway--the plan was botched, and they lose him.

The film then takes us back to the opening (or shortly thereafter), and the team makes the decision to avenge him, and the story picks up from there.

Just a thought.  No clue which route they'll take...but clearly, it's been on my mind.