Sunday, January 30, 2011

Random Thoughts About Things You Don't Care About - "Valentine's Day" edition

Last night I got home from a dinner party and although it was almost 11, I wasn't tired, so I decided to watch a movie. Instead of being smart and diligent and watching Animal Kingdom, thus crossing off another movie and category in the Oscar Death Race, I instead decided to watch the ridiculous movie Valentine's Day, which my Tivo for some reason decided I needed to see.

First thing you need to know about this movie is that it's a Garry Marshall film. Enough said right? The next thing you need to know is that it's done in that scattered, 25 different stories that all link up somehow, Pulp Fiction style that sometimes works in movies but more often does not. In Valentine's Day it just comes off as lazy; lazy directing, writing, and acting. The plot is basically about a bunch of different people in Los Angeles dealing with the joys and horror of February 14.

It wasn't awful. I mean, I watched the whole thing and only rolled my eyes like 7 times; usually during any scene with either/both Taylor Swift or Taylor Lautner. But there are a ton of things wrong with this movie.
First, it's too long. There's no reason this damn movie needed to be over 2 hours long. It's like 135 minutes! Also, there are too many characters/actors/stories in it. Do you recall hearing about the HUGE cast when this movie came out last year? The fact that Jamie Foxx, Shirley MacLaine, Anne Hathaway and Geore Lopez are all in a movie together is ridiculous, not to mention Ashton Kutcher, Taylor Lautner, Bradley Cooper and Julia Roberts. Y'all, believe me when I tell you that I haven't even listed half of the cast; this thing is so bloated with stars it's ridiculous.
Which leads me to wonder - what was in it for them? I don't think the budget was big enough for everyone to get a huge paycheck, and except for maybe Kutcher, all of the actors had roughly the same amount of screen time - 8 minutes. Does Garry Marshall still have enough clout and power in Hollywood that people like Jennifer Garner and Queen Latifah agree to appear for 15 collective minutes in one of his films? Also, what does Marshall have on Julia Roberts? Pretty Woman was over 20 years (!) ago; she can't possibly feel like she still owes him for something, can she? Did she lose a bet?
Roberts' character's story was probably the most touching. And I'll admit that the "twist" or reveal or whatever that her character and Bradley Cooper's had at the end of the movie actually surprised me. I know I was 1 o'clock in the morning! I was tired. But damn was I annoyed that there wasn't more to the romantic reveal of Cooper and Eric Dane being gay lovers. You have these two hot men in your movie, as BOYFRIENDS and we don't even get to see them kiss? That's just cruel.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

2011 Oscars - Nominations, Death Races, and Opinions

It's one of my favorite times of the year! The 2011 Academy Awards nominations were announced this morning. Considering how whack-ass the noms were for the Golden Globes this year, I was worried that we were going to have some awful choices for Oscar nominations, but that didn't come to pass and for the most part I am very pleased.
A lot of the categories are sort of no-brainers for me (just give Christian Bale and Aaron Sorkin their Oscars now), but the category I'm the most excited and torn about is Best Supporting Actress. How am I supposed to choose between Melissa Leo and Amy Adams's performances in The Fighter, much less having the awesome Hailee Steinfeld in the mix to complicate things.

Sarah Bunting at TomatoNation is also doing her annual Oscar Death Race, and this year I'm going to participate. Every year I try (and usually succeed) to see every film nominated for Best Picture, and as I suspected yesterday, I've already seen all of the Best Pic noms for 2011. Woo hoo!
So I was definitely feeling the need to up my game a bit, and this year's Death Race with its 56 movies nominated in 24 categories is right up my alley. Will I succeed in seeing all 56 films? Probably not. Wolfman is after all one of them. But I'm going to try my damndest. As of day one I've already seen 21 out of the 56 movies, and completed 10 of the 24 categories.

Wish me luck! Or better yet, join me in the fun.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

NBC Thursday Night Comedy is BACK!!!!

Anybody else as excited as me about the return of Parks And Recreation tonight on NBC at 9:30? If you're not watching this amazingly hilarious show; if you gave up on it after watching the first couple of, albeit weak, episodes in early 2009; YOU DO NOT KNOW WHAT YOU ARE MISSING.
Please, I beg of you, watch/record tonight's episode. The late 2009/2010 season was some of the greatest comedy television ever produced. Don't worry about not starting from the beginning or thinking you can't catch up. It doesn't matter. The writing, the characters, the acting, everything is so funny and well done that it doesn't matter. Jump right in folks!

UPDATE on Things that blew my mind

Last week, I posted about my shock at finding out that radio personality Jesse Thorn isn't even 30 years old yet.
Well, this week came an even bigger shock - I know Jesse Thorn's mother! Our mothers were very close friends back in the 1970s. In fact, I have a picture of Jesse Thorn's mom hanging in the entry way of my house!
The story of how I discovered this crazy small-world coincidence is kind of funny.
I'm a little behind on my Jordan, Jesse, Go! podcast listening, so it was only yesterday morning that I began listening to episode #159 with Nick Adams from a couple of weeks ago. About 5 minutes in, the guys started talking about Wesley Snipes and my mind immediately went to a story that my aunt Claudia (my mom's best friend) told me about meeting him once.
No sooner was that thought bubble floating around in my head, when Jesse Thorn started talking about his aunt Claudia, his mother's best friend, and the story he told was the same as mine!!!

Anyway, I screamed out loud as he continued talking about Claudia and it all came to me - OMFG, Jesse MOTHERF*CKIN' Thorn is the son of my mom's friend Judy! I don't know why I've never connected this. I've always heard about Judy's kid being on the radio, but for some reason I thought he was some DJ in San Francisco.  And because until just recently I thought that Jesse Thorn was in his late 30s, and I knew Judy's son to be in his late 20s, there was no way for my brain to put two and two together.

It's definitely been the best thing that's happened to me all week. I look forward to reconnecting with Judy. I feel like my mom is orchestrating this whole thing from above. Thanks mommy!

Friday, January 14, 2011

We'll always have "Campus Man"

You guys! John Dye just died! I never watched that drecky show Touched By An Angel, so I really don't know anything about Dye's career in the 1990s. But when I was 16 I had the biggest crush on him.
Well, it was really a crush on his character Todd Barrett from the cheesetastic groundbreaking film "Campus Man" (which believe it or not was based on a true story of an Arizona State student who sold a beefcake calendar featuring a bunch of his jock friends in the early 80s to help pay his tuition).

I loved Todd Barrett. He was my totally dreamy ideal of what a "college guy" was. Smart, ambitious, not overly athletic but not schlubby, funny, cute but not agressively so, awesome feathered John Taylor-esque hair.
I was super disappointed when I finally got to college and figured out that the dudes around me weren't going to live up to that expectation. Anyway, John Dye I hope you're up there in heaven getting touched, kissed and whatever else by the angels.


Don't have the time or the inclination to try and find an out-of-print copy of Campus Man to watch?
Have no fear, this "lady" (I assume) has taken the time to capture really crappy screen shots and give a SCENE BY SCENE recap of the entire movie. It's just like being there.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Things Blowing My Mind - for the week of January 10, 2011

I love America's Radio Sweetheart Jesse Thorn and regularly listen to a number of podcasts featuring him including Jordan Jesse Go, The Sound of Young America, and Judge John Hodgman. And even though I've seen Jesse Thorn in person, I recalled him looking like a younger version of Peter Sagal from NPR's Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me. I thought he was a tall man with short dark hair who was in his late 30s.
But then I listened to him on a podcast relate a story about his stepmother where he was talking about being in 4th grade in like 1990 and I was like WTF?!!
Jesse Thorn looks like this -
Totally different than I thought or recall when I saw him at Bumbershoot in 2008. And he's only 29 fucking years old. Jeezus, I'm old.
I know I'm the only person on Earth who is shocked by, or who even cares about this revelation, but it was truly something that blew my mind. And kind of ruined my fantasy if I'm being honest.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Random Thoughts - "Little Darlings" movie edition

So I watched one of my favorite movies from childhood last night - Little Darlings, starring Kristy McNichol and Tatum O'Neal as teen girls at summer camp competing to see who can be the first to lose their virginity.

There's no way this movie could get made today. These girls aren't even old enough to drive and the whole premise is them casually trying to have sex first to win a bet. Sure, we've seen this type of plot in other teen comedies like American Pie etc., but usually involving older male teens, and never treated so flippantly.
The late 70s/early 80s were such different times; this movie is too innocent and yet too sophisticated at the same time to be something that could be viable these 30 some years later. Wow, acknowledging that this movie is over 30 years old is really hard for me to swallow. I AM SO OLD.

Other thoughts that struck me as I watched -
Evidently in 1979 it was perfectly okay for 15 yr olds to smoke cigarettes right out in the open, ALL THE TIME. Angel smokes on the school bus going to camp, in their cabin, during swimming lessons, while watching the camp talent show...none of the counselors, or the other kids, or her mom, ever seem to have a problem with her smoking butts every 10 minutes.

This movie, along with Meatballs from the same year, was the number one reason that I BEGGED my parents to let me go to camp in upstate New York. I wanted to experience everything that these girls were doing at Camp Hiawatha. And while my camp experience in 1981 and 1982 was pretty great, it never lived up to the expectations that I had set because of Ferris Whitney and Angel Bright.

Kristy McNichol was my idol! Sexiest tomboy alive.
I wanted to be Angel Bright, but I was totally Dana. You know, the brainy daughter of big-city progressive liberals, who quotes Shakespeare and listens to Rickie Lee Jones and Joni Mitchell while fantasizing about gettin' it on with her Philosophy professor in college.

I always forget that a pubescent Cynthia Nixon plays little hippie Sunshine in this film. She's awesome.

In one of my favorite scenes from the film, villainous Cinder has set up an elaborate seduction scene between the girl that she's backing in the bet Ferris (O'Neal), and counselor (and object of desire) Mr. Gary Callahan. Nixon's Sunshine is tasked to play background music near where Callahan is giving Ferris a swim lesson, and Cinder demands that Sunshine play something "sexy". On her recorder. Hee hee hee. Nixon promptly busts out a little Persian snake-charmer melody. Real sexy.
You know that this movie was made in 1979 because swarthy, short-shorts wearing Armand Assante is the hunk that all of the girls are lusting after. Mr. Callahan would not be considered hot these days.

The Angel Bright Guide to the Perfect Date -
  • Feather your hair with a round brush
  • Wear your prettiest purple tank top with your Levi's (cigarettes in the back pocket 'natch)
  • Pick up date from neighboring summer camp by pulling up in a "borrowed" canoe that you rowed across the lake yourself.
  • Row your date (because you are a badass that doesn't need the guy to row) down the lake to a secluded/abandoned boat shed.
  • Pack a 6-pack of Bud, extra cigs, and condoms in your rucksack.
  • Proceed to get your date so drunk that he passes out in his tighty-whities before you have a chance to make your move.
1980 Matt Dillon? So damn hot.