Short Reviews: Movies and TV

Four hours of Egyptology talk, then two hours of burlesque, with of course my fire-eating model from previous blogs. How was your Sunday?
On to the second part of me telling you what I think of certain media, like it matters. . .

Cake
I love Heather Graham, and will watch anything she’s in. Unfortunately, most of the movies she’s done, since Boogie nights at least, have sucked so much that I fast forward to just her parts or, more likely, watch without sound. . . and yes, let it be said she’s nude in most of them, or as Benny Hill put it, barefoot all over. Yet even when nude there’s only so much I can take. I did, however, find a delightful exception: Cake. She plays a hippie world traveler who rebels against her rich father, until he has a heart attack and she has to take over one of his magazines. . . a wedding magazine. Hilarity ensues for the vehemently anti-relationship one-night stand girl. . .

Thor
Not sure what I was expecting, but somehow I thought it was better than expected. Before I go any further, I gotta say I’m not a superhero fan; haven’t seen any spidermen, iron men, or any other kind of men in costumes, though I will eventually see the Avengers, and if I like whoever’s chosen as Wonder Woman. . .
Digressing as usual. I’m not much for the action scenes–which is probably why I usually don’t watch these kinds of movies–so my review is mostly about the rest of it, which I found surprisingly funny and at times even poignant. More to the point, I went in knowing there was a beautiful brunette actress I love–Natalie Portman–and a beautiful brunette actress I really like–Kat Dennings–only to find another beautiful brunette actress I’d never heard of, Jaimie Alexander, so it gets 5 stars just for that. {not really–4 stars} They did a good job with the mythology too, though I may have laughed a bit too hard as I watched the credits and saw the name of Stan Lee. . .

Avalon High
Surprisingly good acting by all the teens, even if once in a while an Australian/Kiwi accent turns up, and lovely use of mythology, much like Thor. Molly Quinn should always be braided; think of the lovely red rope-like braid on Fiona from Shrek and you’ll know what I mean. Steve Valentine, one of my fave actors, plays what might be his straightest role ever, which is weird for me because he’s such a comedic genius. Great twist at the end with Arthur being. . . someone not excepted (you thought I was gonna give it away, huh?)

Life Before Her Eyes
What do you–or I–get when there’s a movie with two of my favorite actress, both incredibly beautiful? Well, I was hoping for something a lot better than this. Not even Uma Thurman and Even Rachel Wood couldn’t keep me interested, and the topic–school shooting–didn’t help. It might be the first Uma Thurman movie I couldn’t finish since Even Cowgirls Get the Blues.

Conan the Barbarian
As mentioned earlier, I’m not much for fight scenes, especially when I see them so badly choreographed that I could have killed the opponent in three seconds, usually when he turns his back. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much else here. I expected some light moments with the actor who was one of the best parts of Stargate: Atlantis, but. . . nope. Not even the lovely Rachel Nichols—whom I know is much better than her turn as Profiler Barbie on Criminal Minds–could save this drek that showed exactly why I’d rather watch at home than in the theater: I can stop watching and do something else without feeling ripped off

Craig Ferguson’s comedy specials
For those of you who only know him as a late night host, Craigy was on The Drew Carey Show for a few years, and before that had a guest starring appearance on Red Dwarf. Yeah, the guy is all about comedy, and he really brings it in these two specials. In one of them he only had one joke to tell, but he kept getting sidetracked so often that it filled and entire ninety-minute show. Very self-deprecating, especially when talking about being in a band in his teens, and his Sean Connery accent is the best ever. . .

Dollhouse
Even though it hasn’t been that long since the series was on the air, or off it, I’m finding so much more now that I’m perusing it again. Sometimes seeing a few episodes in a row makes a huge difference over having to wait a week; things are more easily remembered, for one. As an instance, it seemed strange to see the introduction of Mellie in one episode and go right through to her reveal in a few hours’ time. But the real takeaway here is the lovely Eliza Dushku showing off all her different looks, particularly the fetish gear that. . . um, I’ll be in my bunk. . .

One for the Money
In case you haven’t been here before, I LOVE KATHERINE HEIGL. Having said that, some of her recent movies haven’t been very good. The only dreadful one was The Ugly Truth, but even though I liked Killers, for example, I think it could have been better. One for the Money, thankfully, brings her back to excellent movie territory, her first since 27 Dresses. Based on the detective novel of the same name, it shows a very different character than the type she usually plays, and though it takes place in New Jersey, she doesn’t show much of an accent, certainly not like Janet Montgomery did in Made in Jersey. In a way that’s too bad; I still remember her doing a huge Noo Yawkah accent on Roswell. More importantly, the movie is very funny, and while a lot of the jokes are at her expense, the character doesn’t become a butt monkey, instead triumphing over everyone, even the love interest, in the end. This is a movie I’m gonna watch every few months. . .

Archer
Not since the days of Better Off Ted have I run through a whole season of a series, even a comedy half-hour, in one day. Think of a modern-day Get Smart, only much “worse” as far as sexual connotation and adult situations. The man character is as stupid a spy, but in a different way, not so much clueless as can’t get out of the way of his own ego and libido, especially considering his mother is his boss. The fact that it’s animated helps, making the most outlandish situations seem almost mundane, but the best point in its favor is the voice talent, especially H. Jon Benjamin in the lead but particularly the awesome Judy Greer–whom we still remember as the actress who got to “slap” Katherine Heigl–and Aisha Tyler.

Macbeth
Patrick Stewart was a famous Shakespearian actor long before he played Picard, but it’s always worth noting that film can do some things that theater can’t; doesn’t mean it’s better, just more versatile. Case in point: the imaginary dagger Macbeth “sees” isn’t imaginary here.
This version happens in almost-completely contemporary times; call it 1950s or 60s, and in some kind of Eastern European Stalinist/Fascist state. . . or at least it becomes one when Macbeth gets his hands on the realm. Since I suspect most of you know Shakespeare well enough for me not to dwell on it, I will simply comment on some of the modernistic touches that I thought worked well, like having the witches be nun nurses! I love it! Though not later when they were rapping; that’s toil and trouble in itself! And I’m guessing that in order not to scare their patients they were not costumed as black and midnight hags. . .
But to me the most important part was what is usually referred to as the “assassins’ scene” {Act III, scene 1}. This is where Macbeth is telling the boys to kill Banquo and his son. . . and Macbeth is making a sandwich! WTF? But after the movie there’s an interview with Patrick Stewart, where he says he told the director, “I wish I had an action” during this long, exposition-filled scene. And the director–who’s married to Lady Macbeth, it turns out–told him, “Why not make a sandwich?” And in fact Macbeth makes sandwiches for the assassins as well, gives them a hug while they’re munching. Stewart talks about how making it something so commonplace only makes it more horrible, and boy is he right; this scene is just chilling, and to me the most memorable.
And I always have to include some of my favorite quotes; it’s a rule.
My hands are of your color, but I shame to wear a heart so white
Full of scorpions is my mind, dear wife.
Where silent sorrow seems a modern ecstasy
Let’s make us medicines of our great revenge, to cure this deadly grief.

Coming Up:
Rewatchings of Sherlock Season 2, along with all 3 seasons of Veronica Mars, now that the Kickstarter campaign reached epic proportions. . .

;o)

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2 thoughts on “Short Reviews: Movies and TV

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