There seriously needs to be more hours to the day… or at least one more day included in the weekend. Right?

It’s been a busy few weeks… read a lot of books, saw a few movies and a couple shows on Broadway. I’m also 25+ chapters into the book I’m writing, have submitted query letters for the book I finished writing a few months ago, and have been having all sorts of terrible interactions with guys. (Ranging from seeing a guy jerk off in public to getting dumped by a guy via text even though we weren’t dating. Good riddance to that, though. The text guy was really rude and called me all sorts of names – “weird,” “crazy,” “complicated” – all because I wouldn’t tell him where I lived or agree to go with him to go see a movie right when he asked. Mind you for that last one, I was already in bed with a migraine. But this self-proclaimed “nice guy” told me he was done with me and wished me good luck finding someone as nice as him. Because, you know, “Just keep in mind I never asked for any obscene pics or anything like it.” Gross, right?)

But enough about my oh so entertaining personal life. This post will be about the three movies I’ve seen in the last two weeks.

The Maze Runner

I’ve read all four books in Dashner’s Maze Runner series and The Maze Runner is by far my favorite. I was really scared heading into the movie that it was going to be dumb… but it wasn’t. The Maze Runner movie was actually really well done for the most part. The cast (led by Teen Wolf’s Dylan O’Brien) was a capable group of young actors and they brought a real sense of urgency to the story. The guys in the Glade have been there for years, but the audience is introduced to them at the end of their respective ropes – Thomas (O’Brien) and the lone girl Teresa are the last two Gladers to arrive and then everything basically goes to shit. The large walls surrounding their Glade suddenly don’t provide the protection from the Grievers that they once did and they either need to find a way out of the maze or everyone will die.

There were some huge variances from the books that bothered me (the shape of the maze and Thomas and Teresa’s lack of telepathy, among others), but I bet if you haven’t read the books it wouldn’t affect your enjoyment of the film because you didn’t know what you were missing out on. I was looking forward to the cliff, but was okay with it not being there. I was not a fan of the big exposition-filled monologue at the end of the film. The movie was hugely entertaining leading up until that, and then it just felt like someone was sitting you down and explaining all this stuff you had absolutely no idea about if you haven’t read the books. But for the people who have read the books, it’s adding insult to injury by not using better plot devices to foreshadow what’s going on outside of the Maze.

Although I wasn’t a fan of The Scorch Trials or The Death Cure, I will see the latter films in this series. (I know The Scorch Trials is already in production…) I don’t watch Teen Wolf, but some of my friends do and have told me repeatedly of their infatuation with O’Brien.

I get it now.

This is Where I Leave You

A cast that strong deserved an infinitely better script than what they had to work with. I haven’t read the book from which this film was based on, but I think I probably would have liked it better just because it felt like the movie was missing something meaningful.

Four siblings and their mother gather to sit Shiva after the father/husband die (even though they don’t actively practice Judaism). Everyone’s got some sort of problem or secret going on in their personal lives – all stemming from relationship issues. It seems that just about everyone is unhappy, so they cheat on their SO or get cheated on by their SO or want to get pregnant or blah blah blah.

I am so sick of movies and shows that use cheating on people as a main plot point. Like, seriously? Maybe this is just me being naïve, but is that really a plot point that a majority of people can relate to? I know that I rarely side with a character that cheats. To me, that’s a cowardly way out of one’s problems and often causes even more problems later on. WHY CAN’T PEOPLE JUST TALK TO EACH OTHER? Hash out your problems instead of just screwing someone who isn’t your SO. You’re unhappy in your relationship? THEN TALK TO YOUR SIGNIFICANT OTHER AND DEAL WITH IT LIKE A FRIGGIN ADULT.

To top it all off, on top of all the cheating and whatnot, the movie wasn’t even that funny. It’s mostly a drama, but there were obvious attempts at moments of comedy and a lot of them fell flat. And as much as I love Tina Fey (I LOVE her. So much. She’s my lady hero and I’m actually in the middle of reading Bossypants right now…), she was not the right person to play the sister. Or maybe she would have been the right person if that character was written better. (The female characters were horribly underwritten and there were clichés everywhere. EVERYWHERE.)

You could tell that these characters were supposed to be complex, layered people… but they all just read as flat, douchey privileged people whose lives were falling apart because they were making dumb choices left and right.

I wanted to love this movie. But I couldn’t.

The one thing I did love… Will Swenson was the dad! He kept popping up in photographs and then he had a 30 second flashback. That 30 seconds was the most I was engaged the entire film.

I was so disappointed. On paper, that was one of the best ensembles of the year. On screen, it was just a bunch of talented people being underused as they told a story about irresponsible people making irresponsible choices.

Pride

A friend had free passes to see an advanced screening of Pride and I’m so grateful she asked me to join her.

Pride is based on the true story of how a small group of lesbians and gays in London helped raise money for a Welsh mining community in the mid-1980s. This film reminded me a lot of Billy Elliot, The Full Monty and Brassed Off… basically Margaret Thatcher, unhappy coal miners and how hope and a sense of community can go a long way.

The epically sad thing is, is that I had never heard about this story before seeing the movie – and I took a film class in college that dealt exclusively with the Thatcher Era and what was going on in GB during that time. Obviously this movie wasn’t out while I was in college, but we did study what was going on in the news at that time and this story wasn’t part of that.

Pride was one of the most inspiring films I have seen in awhile. It was really powerful to see the members of the LGSM (Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners) raising money for a mining community simply because of solidarity. The lesbians and gays had dealt with adversity from the government and members of their community and thought that the miners shouldn’t have to deal with similar situations.

Of course there was a culture clash. The small mining community the LGSM was raising money for was not entirely receptive of the charity because some of the people in said community were homophobic. The LGSM and Welsh community came together through little events and meetings and eventually more and more people realized that the LGSM was just trying to help when seemingly no one else was.

Juxtaposed with the striking miners was the rising awareness of HIV and AIDS within the gay community. This plot line was not at the forefront of the film, but its weight could be felt throughout.

Though Pride was dealing with a low point in recent history, its overall message was incredibly powerful. It was a nice reminder that kindness to others really can go a long way and change peoples lives for the better.

What was really cool about the screening was that some of the actors and creative members from the crew (the director and screenwriter) were in attendance, but even more awesome was that some of the people whose real lives were portrayed on screen were there too! The LGSM member who was the second person in London to be diagnosed as HIV positive was there (according to the “where are they now” bit at the end of the film, he just celebrated his 65th birthday), as was a woman from the Welsh community who later went on to be a member of the government. I didn’t get a chance to talk to them, but I did see them in the lobby as I was exiting the theater and they were chatting with people about the film and their experiences when the strike was actually happening.

I did have a super brief moment in the lobby with Andrew Scott. Most people know his as Jim Moriarty from the BBC series Sherlock, but in Pride he played a member of the LGSM. He was taking pictures with people and talking to press and I was able to tell him how much I admire his work and did get a picture with him.

Pride opens in LA and NYC on September 26th, but I hope it goes wider because more people need to see this wonderfully uplifting film.

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I went and saw Her yesterday and I didn’t know it when I purchased my ticket, but it was exactly the movie I needed to see in that moment.

I remember watching the trailer a few months ago and thinking that I would probably love the movie. I was right. I loved it. How could you not? Written and directed by Spike Jonze… starring Joaquin Phoenix. Already a recipe for cinematic success in my eyes.

What a heartbreaking and hopeful film that has moments of pure joy and soul-crushing sadness. It’s nominated in the Comedy/Musical film categories for the Golden Globes and I guess I see why it was pigeonholed as such. There weren’t many quality laugh riot comedies out this year, so shoving art films like Her into the Comedy category because it has more of a chance there than in the Drama category up against 12 Years a Slave. Because let’s be real, even if you consider Her a drama, it’s not the kind of DRAMA that 12 Years a Slave is.

But I digress.

Her. (some slight plot spoilers, but nothing super specific)

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the plot, Her takes place in the future where people are even more connected to their phones/computers/operating systems than we are in the present. Joaquin’s character, Theodore Twombly, is in the middle of a lengthy divorce and he’s a bit anti-social and a little glum. He’s very good at his job (“writing” handwritten letters for people via a program that types up what he says in a font that looks like people’s handwriting) and is friendly with his workplace’s receptionist (Chris Pratt!) and his neighbor/college friend Amy (Amy Adams!!!), but he’s still a little lost. Theodore downloads the latest operating system (OS1) to help organize his life a bit, but he ends up having a more personal relationship with his OS. His OS’s name is Samantha (voiced by Scarlett Johansson… and her voice acting was PERFECT for this film, holy hell) and little by little, he falls for her. Samantha is a constant companion that provides support and enriches Theodore’s life. With her friendship (and then some…), Theodore becomes a much happier guy. He smiles. He laughs. He lives life. The cool thing is, is that being in a relationship with an OS system is not unheard of or frowned upon by the whole of society. Yes, there are some people who look down on Theodore for dating his OS, but human/OS interaction is commonplace and mostly accepted.

The movie takes a sharper turn toward the dramatic when Theodore and Samantha talk about the extent of their relationship and how he is not the only person Samantha is in contact with. There are scenes that deal with the physical limitations of being in a relationship with a bodiless entity. I know this film is obviously a work of fiction, but it does raise some awesome questions about whether something along these lines could actually happen sometime in the future. People already walk around with their heads down and cellphone in hand all day, everyday. The movie shows the same thing, but the characters also wear these ear buds so that they may communicate directly with their OS. It’s completely okay to look like you’re talking to yourself.

But that’s the thing – even though all these people are with their OSs, they still are alone. So much communication was going on, but with whom? A computer program. And while that was working for awhile, human/human interaction was still a necessary entity.

Joaquin Phoenix has been one of my favorite actors for a long while and I have seen almost all of his films. I am continually impressed by his acting skills and how he really is able to wear all of his characters’ emotions right there on his wholly expressive face. His eyes are mesmerizing and it is damn near impossible to not react to whatever it is his character is feeling (or trying to hide). The vulnerability Phoenix is able to bring to his characters, especially those like Theodore, is so real. He’s so talented at allowing us to see his characters very private moments/feelings. You feel like you’re intruding one something you shouldn’t see, but at the same time I always feel really grateful for being allowed to see everything he’s feeling. If we can’t be in his head in the moment, it’s a real pleasure to understand those feelings (even if they aren’t the most pleasant ones) because of how Phoenix is able to just have/be the proper emotion. Watching Theodore be happy made me happy. Watching Theodore fall apart made my heart hurt. I wanted to hug Theodore a lot. He looked like he could use a good hug.

Amy Adams is also a delight. Though her character was not in the film for very long, her presence was always welcome and she was the one who voiced the importance of being happy and living life because life is short and we only get one of them. Her character is a documentary filmmaker and dressed in a manner that most people would call “frumpy,” but that I refer to as “hella comfortable.” She wasn’t dolled up. In fact, no one was.

The costumes and makeup for this film were GENIUS. Though the film takes place in the future, it was shot in a very muted way and everyone’s wardrobe looked really retro. All the guys wore high-waisted pants and (mostly) tucked-in shirts. Some of the women had mod dresses on, while others wore pants. No one teetered around in towering heels or slinky skin-tight anything. The lack of shine and perfection really allowed the characters’ interactions and the words of the script to stand out.

This muted reality was also very much reflected in the production design and cinematography. Instead of bold colors and harsh lighting, the movie had a softer feel to it. (Almost as if we were watching something that looked like someone got a little too filter-happy while using Instagram.) The muted earth and jewel tones that were used instead of primary colors (coupled with un-jarring camera movements and editing) gave the film a pleasant, near dream-like quality. Nothing was really in your face. It was lovely.

What a great, thought-provoking film. It really made me wonder where technology is headed and how it will (or won’t) affect communication among people. How happy can an OS really make you? Is being in a relationship with an OS a viable option for people who might lack interpersonal skills but still want the benefits of being loved by someone/something?

I mean, think about it… nowadays there are so many ways to meet people online without ever having to meet them in person. (Or, you can meet someone online and then meet him/her in person. Or you can just meet someone in person… that is a thing that still happens. So I’m told.) I honestly think the kind of OS/person relationship played out in the movie is something that will actually happen in the (near) future. I get the appeal, but I also see the downsides to it, because this film told that story so beautifully.

Thank you, Spike Jonze. Thank you Joaquin Phoenix. Thank you, Scarlett Johansson.

God, I love well-made movies.

A friend asked if I’d go see Frozen with her, and I’m super glad I said Yes.

 

To be forthright with you, I haven’t been much of a Disney fan as of late. The last Disney film I saw in theaters was Enchanted, and the most recent Disney princess movie I saw was The Princess and the Frog. I had heard mostly good things about Frozen via the Interwebs and people were going ape-shit over Idina Menzel’s big song, “Let It Go.” Add in the facts that the film also co-starred Jonathan Groff and Josh Gad and I was all in.

 

(SPOILERS, obviously.)

 

The film is about some royal sisters, Elsa (Menzel) and Anna (Kristen Bell). Elsa was born with the ability to freeze things – something she told at an early age to hide/suppress because it would be hard to control if she would become afraid. Once close, Elsa and Anna grew apart because Elsa was basically put into solitary so she wouldn’t hurt herself or others. Anna was unaware of her sister’s power until it was too late. They fought and Elsa accidentally turns their kingdom (Arendelle) into a frozen entity during the summer. Elsa runs away and sings “Let It Go,” the greatest female power ballad (which reminds everyone of “Defying Gravity” – especially because both songs are belted by the same vocally flawless lady) and deems herself free. Unfortunately the people of the kingdom are not pleased about it being winter and whatnot, so Anna decides she’s going to find her sister and talk some sense into her. On her journey, she befriends Kristoff (Groff) and his reindeer, Sven. They later run into Olaf (Gad), a snowman from Elsa and Anna’s childhood that Elsa recreated during her power ballad. (Olaf was my favorite character in the whole film – he was super funny, very cute, and was a selfless and caring character… inherently good and loved Anna unconditionally… my theory is because he was created by Elsa and although Elsa and Anna had grown apart, Elsa still loved Anna unconditionally.) Anna, Kristoff and Olaf face several external obstacles on their quest to have Elsa reverse the winter. As it’s a Disney film, all ends well and with true love overcoming all.

 

Overall, I really enjoyed this film. I thought the soundtrack was great and I left the theater with a lot of songs stuck in my head (always a good sign from a musical). The “Do You Want to Build a Snowman” might be one of the saddest songs I’ve ever heard about best friends/siblings growing apart. “Let It Go” would be my go-to car song if I still had my car. (I’ve listened to it thrice in the last hour…). “In Summer” was HILARIOUS. Oh, little Olaf… singing about what he would do in the heat of the summer. The best part was Kristoff’s reaction and how he really wanted to tell Olaf the truth about what happens to snow in summer. (Later, Olaf does find out what happens when snow comes in contact with heat, and it breaks your heart when he says, “Some people are worth melting for.” AWWWWWWWWW) During the end credits, Demi Lovato sings a pop version of “Let It Go,” and I loved that too.

 

The music was very reminiscent of other work. The opening song that the ice guys were singing very much reminded me of “Fathoms Below” from The Little Mermaid or “The Virginia Company” (and to some extent “Steady as the Beating Drum”) from Pocahontas… songs that establish the tone while also revealing cultural aspects of the setting. As mentioned before “Let It Go” was very much a “Defying Gravity”-esque ballad. It’s a means for Elsa to express her fears, but also allows her to take control of them and declare her newfound freedom and individuality. (Elsa had a lot of Elphaba moments… A LOT of them.) “In Summer” reminded me of some of the songs from The Book of Mormon (which originally co-starred Gad… not hard to put two and two together). Olaf’s obvious naivety about what would happen to him if he tried to stick around during the warmer months was very much akin to Elder Cunningham’s “Baptize Me” or “Man Up.” His heart is completely in the right place, but his common sense is very much elsewhere.

 

I was a little (okay, a lot) sad that Jonathan Groff only had one song (and a less than stellar one at that). He was wonderful voicing Kristoff, but I wanted to hear him sing much more than he did.

 

Another thing that bothered me about the film was the plot twist with Hans. I won’t spoil that for you, but it very much came out of nowhere and he basically just has an epic monologue that’s like “Here’s what’s really going on with me even though there was no foreshadowing to come to this conclusion, but you’re all going to go along with what I say because my voice is dreamy and I said so.”

 

The last thing that I found a bit unpleasant was that it got a little “damsel in distress” near the end when the film had been setting the female characters up as independent and headstrong women. However, I was pleased with the turn the scene ended up taking and was glad that the focus of the film was more about Elsa and Anna’s relationship than anything else.

 

I have an older sister and I definitely called her while I was walking to my apartment and left her a voicemail that she should go see this movie. A sister/sister relationship is a sacred thing and it was nice to see a well-crafted (and visually STUNNING) Disney film about sisters instead of just another film about a princess finding a prince.

 

Frozen was very entertaining and I really enjoyed myself. If you’re looking for a funny, heartfelt movie about family and friendship, I highly recommend it.

 

 

 

Last weekend, I sat/stood outside in the freezing cold and epic windiness for two hours to get Student Rush tickets to see Big Fish. The show is closing at the end of December and I knew I had to see it before its truncated run was over because 1.) It’s a musical based off of one of my favorite books and films   and  2.) Norbert Leo Butz.

 

A lot of people are probably familiar with the movie version of Big Fish (my tied-for-first favorite Tim Burton film [tied with Ed Wood, of course]), but maybe not so much with the book (written by Daniel Wallace). I highly recommend the book – it’s a good read and allows you to use your imagination to picture Edward Bloom’s stories as fanciful as you want. I read the book before the film came out, and then I saw the film twice in theaters. I’m not one to cry at movies, but the ending made me tear up both times. (No tears actually fell, but my eyes were definitely glassy.) I bought the DVD the day it came out and have watched it multiple times since.

 

I love the movie and I really wanted to love the musical.

 

I liked the musical.

 

But believe me when I say (write?) that I CRIED during the last couple scenes.

 

And I was not the only one in the theater to burst into tears. There was audible sniffling all around me. And rightly so.

 

Big Fish is a father/son story for the ages. It’s about a man named William Bloom who is trying to reconcile with his father, Edward Bloom. Edward Bloom was a traveling salesman while William was a boy, so he was not home as much as William wanted him to be – and when he was home, Edward Bloom told these wildly fantastical stories about giants, werewolves, witches and the war in which he himself was always the protagonist. Young William (and later adult William) thought these stories were too ridiculous and he wanted to know the truth about his father and what really happened in his father’s life. When illness strikes the Bloom family, time literally starts running out (as opposed to stopping/slowing down… see what I did there? Wink) and William desperately tries to piece together the truth. Additional stresses pile on as William finds out he is to become a father and he worries about being to able to raise a son when he thinks he doesn’t have a great example from which to lead. There are a lot of scenes of father and son butting heads, but also moments of redemption and forgiveness. Let’s just say a lot of the people crying in the theater were adult men.

 

For some reason, I am more affected by Father/Son stories than Mother/Daughter stories. Actually, I know the reason… it’s because Father/Son stories force the characters to open up and discuss feelings. And watching men talk (and sing) about feelings is not only entertaining, but heartbreaking. Vulnerable male characters are much more interesting to watch than guys who keep all their feelings bottled up inside. This is why I love Big Fish (the movie). This is why I only liked the musical.

 

Yes, the emotions were there in the musical. But I just wanted more. The whole idea behind Edward Blood is that he lived this crazy, almost unimaginably fantastical life… but the stage version just doesn’t quite live up to how big Edward Bloom’s world really was. Yes, there were still a giant and a mermaid and a big fish… but I selfishly still wanted more.

 

There were big musical numbers, but sadly I did not find the songs all that catchy. I can only remember a couple lyrics from a couple songs. I mean, if they have a cast album, I’ll totally get it… but that’s only because I crave anything sung by Norbert Leo Butz. His voice is magical. He was the perfect Edward Bloom… I just wish the musical lived up to his stage presence.

 

I am wholly biased when it comes to Norbert Leo Butz. (Though luckily, a lot of people share my bias.) I have been a fan of his for over a decade. In undergrad, I would watch bootlegs of Wicked and The Last 5 Years on youtube and stare at my computer screen with a look of pure wonder etched across my face. He’s such an animated performer and plays those big moments as huge as they deserve to be… but at the same time, he masterfully pulls back and allows the vulnerable moments to just be. And it breaks your heart.

 

In the musical, NBL plays both the younger and older versions of Edward Bloom (sometimes within mere seconds of each other… his physicality of those two characters is brilliant and impressive). Though his bigger moments definitely play out when he’s young Edward, I was more impacted by both Edwards’ quieter moments. For young Edward, it was the daffodil scene. I was in the fifth row for the show, and this was the only point that I wished my seat were up in the mezzanine so that I could see the daffodils from far away. I don’t consider myself that sappy of a romantic, but I definitely swooned when NBL sang “Daffodils.” His voice is perfection. It goes into your ears and then flows like cocoa throughout the rest of your person, making you feel all warm and protected. You feel safe and smitten at the same time and I honestly could listen to him sing anything. But I digress… Edward’s quieter moments.

 

The end scenes. Oh, lord. If you have not read the book or seen the movie, I will not ruin it for you. (Please at least see the movie. Really.) But, William and Edward come to a sort of understanding at the end of the book/movie/musical and William finally gets his dad’s stories and why Edward did what he did and why he was away so much when William was little. There is just so much love and understanding that happens when William achieves clarity about his father and it’s very beautiful and a sucker punch to your feels. It was at this point where my tears started and they did not stop until the finale reprise of “Be The Hero.”

 

Despite the shortcomings with the songs and some of the staging, the cast on a whole is really quite good. It’s an entertaining show and an emotional one at that, but I very much understand why its open-ended run is now drawing to a close at the end of December. If you have the means to see it, I would definitely recommend it. Everyone should have the opportunity to see Norbert Leo Butz in a musical at least once in his/her life. (That’s another reason why I kept crying during the last few scenes… this was a decade-long dream come true for me. I was supposed to see NBL in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels years ago, but his understudy was in the day I had tickets. Yes, I did see him in Dead Accounts last year, but that was a play… and a meh one at that.)

 

Big Fish is a great story. If you can’t/don’t see the musical, at least check out the movie and/or book.

 

Big Fish is playing at the Neil Simon Theatre until the end of December 2013. Student Rush tickets are available at the Box Office ($27/ticket, and up to two tickets per student ID). I was the third person in line and my tickets were E 17 and E 19 (Left Orchestra).

(This is spoiler free for Thor 2, but I do mention important plot points from the first Thor movie. So, if you haven’t seen that, then get thee to Netflix…)

A week after the rest of my friends, I finally got around to seeing Thor 2. While it was not quite as awesome as the first film, it still had a lot of things going for it. Mostly all the Thor/Loki scenes, all the Loki feels, and the addition of Zachary Levi.

I’m not interested in revealing any of the huge plot points from this film or reminding you to stick around during/after the credits (it’s a Marvel film… you stay until that screen turns blue to remind you of the MPAA rating of the movie you just watched). I mean, you know the drill – there was plot that revolved around some fantastical evil entity and the “good guys” had to save the day. But, I did want to share some of my opinions about certain characters and aspects of the film.

Thor 2 continues the tradition of the rest of the Marvel movies (as well as the recent Star Trek franchise reboot) in being an action-filled Chick Flick. Yes, these films are marketed toward the ever-popular demographic of young men in their teens/early 20s (surely you’ve noticed all these films are PG-13), but they are practically tailor-made for women who like action movies as much as a solid bromance.

Yes, bromance. Not romance.

Sure, Thor’s got a lady friend (hello, Jane Foster), but his biggest relationship drama comes from his interactions with his (adopted) brother, Loki. And THIS is what us ladies love – aesthetically pleasing men hashing out their feelings via talking, bickering and fight sequences. (Plus, there were a couple minutes of shirtless Thor for pretty much no reason except to gawk at Chris Hemsworth’s immaculately built upper body. I’m sure it was to appease those who were “dragged” to the film by their man friend, but let’s be real… I personally know more women who have seen this film than men. And we went to see the film for Loki.)

The Thor/Loki (or “Thorki”) scenes were definitely among the most entertaining and/or heartfelt sequences in the film. These brothers were enemies during the first Thor movie and in The Avengers, but Thor 2 finally brings them together as allies to take out an even more problematic foe.

It was established in the first Thor film that Thor and Loki are not related by blood. As a baby, Loki was left to die and he was taken in by Thor’s dad, Odin. Odin and his wife, Frigga, raised Loki as their own, but it was Thor who was being prepped to take over as King or Asgard. This did not sit well with Loki both before and after he found out he was adopted (which was why he acted out so much in Thor and The Avengers). He gets this information thrown in his face (especially by Odin) quite a lot and you can almost understand why he’s so petulant and sassy.

I’m sure you noticed how sassy was Loki was in Thor 2. If you didn’t, you must have been sleeping during the film because Loki was sassing up the joint like it was his job. Witty barbs, constant bickering with Thor, and smug remarks were flying around more than that Aether was.

It was all an act, people.

Yes, Loki is sassy. But all that sass was a façade to attempt to cover up the pain he is obviously in. Having rewatched the first Thor film recently, I realized Loki’s sass stems from both jealousy and insecurity. At the end of the first Thor film, Loki is legitimately concerned when the Rainbow Road portal thing separates Thor and Jane because there is a likely possibility that Thor will never see Jane again. Loki feels for his brother, but it’s not just one feeling and the feelings are conflicted. Loki feels bad that Thor might not see the woman he loves again. But at the same time, Loki (at least from what we’ve been presented) has never had that kind of relationship with someone to lose. No one has ever loved him unconditionally with the exception of his mother… and she’s not even really his mother. So, even though Loki calls Frigga his mom, that familial tie is wholly artificial and he feels that with every breath he takes. He shouldn’t be alive, but he is because of Odin and Frigga’s charity. When that love is compromised or taken away, Loki basically has nothing going for him except for his relationship with Thor – and that is shaky, at best.

Watching Thor and Loki interact is great. They have the brotherly bickering down (that scene when Thor is trying to fly that plane thing while Loki is taunting him is a stitch), but there are also moments when you can tell they want to trust and respect each other but they aren’t sure if that is the smartest thing to do since they have had a bit of a rocky past the last couple years. Watching them work through their differences and fight alongside each other instead of against each other is rewarding and makes for good, emotional drama. Watching them do that while they are fighting bad guys makes it good, emotional, entertaining drama.

Also entertaining – Zachary Levi as Fandral. He obviously did not play Fandral in the first film, but according to IMDB, he was supposed to, so it made sense that when they had to recast for the sequel to bring on the guy who was supposed to be in the film to begin with. The part is small, but I couldn’t help but smile when I saw him on screen. (My first introduction to Zachary Levi was with Broadway’s First Date and now I’m watching Chuck because it’s finally on Netflix. [No, I have not seen Tangled. Stop asking.] Having briefly met him, I think he’s one of the nicest people on the planet and will continue to support his artistic endeavors because he is the bee’s knees.) He definitely looks better with his natural brown hair as opposed to Fandral’s blond coif, but Zachary Levi is Zachary Levi and the man has solid comedic timing and a welcome presence.

I’m glad I saw Thor 2 in theaters. It’s a spectacle of digital effects and handsome actors/pretty actresses who can actually act. It’s a popcorn movie. Not the best Marvel film, but certainly nowhere near the worst either. If you have Loki/Thorki feels, definitely go see this.

I went and saw 12 Years a Slave today after hearing phenomenal reviews and seeing the trailer. The film has Oscar Bait written all over it and I wanted to see if the hype was warranted. It was and it wasn’t.

 

Yes, 12 Years a Slave is a powerful film. It tells the story of Solomon Northrup and how he, a free man living in New York, was forced into slavery in Georgia where he spent 12 years surviving on the different plantations he worked on. His story is heartbreaking and uplifting at the same time, but while watching the film I felt like I was being told exactly how I was supposed to feel. Of course I felt terrible for the situations Solomon and the other slaves lived through – NO ONE should have had to gone through that. As our government’s documents say, “all men are created equal,” so there is no excuse for how poorly slaves were treated. (People are not property. No person is worth more or less than another person, nor should s/he be treated as such. Basically all the rhetoric Brad Pitt’s character said in the movie…) But, at the same time, I thought some of the sequences and specific shots in the film were wholly self-indulgent and were put in for the shock-value they provided. At times, this was used well (the scene were a hanged slave is barely surviving by standing on his tiptoes for almost an entire day), at other times, I was put off by the in-your-face nature of it all (I’m all for close ups of Chiwetel Ejiofor’s beyond expressive face, but the camera hung on him so long, I became distracted by his contact lenses that he was obviously wearing…). The film has graphic depictions of violence (Remember The Passion of the Christ? This film was way worse than that, lashings-wise. I had to look away a few times.), but it’s sadly necessary to drive home the point that slavery was one of the stupidest and inhumane things our country ever took part in.

 

The cast for this film was amazing. Ejiofor continues to amaze me with the amount of emotion and character he is able to display with his facial expressions and body language. He is graceful on screen and is an ideal protagonist. You root for him because you care. You care because he should never have had to live through that. And honestly, it’s amazing he did. (That’s not a spoiler… the movie is based off of the book he wrote about being enslaved for 12 years.)

 

Another standout performer is Lupita Nyong’o, who plays Patsey (a slave woman who works alongside Solomon at Edwin Epps’s plantation). This woman goes through hell and then is repeatedly dragged back through it. She’s a hard worker who is on the receiving end of unwanted affection and detestation from the Epps patriarch (Michael Fassbender – beyond creepy and a total asshat) and matriarch (Sarah Paulson – oh my god, I wanted to smack her so hard and/or scratch at her face). Patsey asks Solomon for a favor in one scene and it breaks your heart, but not as much as her lashing scene. (Also not a spoiler – basically anyone who is a slave in the film gets beat at one point or another because slavery was a terrible, terrible, terrible thing that hurt a lot of people who didn’t deserve to be on the receiving end of such intolerance.)

 

And then there are the slave owners/overseers. Benedict Cumberbatch plays Solomon’s first owner and was the “nicest” one of the lot. He didn’t actively beat his slaves, but he didn’t treat them as equals either. Conversely, Michael Fassbender portrays a borderline maniacal slave owner who states on multiple occasions that slaves are property and he can treat them however he wants. (If I could have reached through the movie screen and ripped his nuts off, I would have.) Brad Pitt’s character confused me. He seemed like a wanderer who was just kind of there. He was one of the few white characters in the film that saw that slavery was wrong and spouted all sorts of equality-driven dialogue at Fassbender’s character. I am not a Brad Pitt fan, but I obviously had to like his character because he was one of the only people who spoke out against all the wrongdoings that were going on.

 

The cinematography for the film was gorgeous while the editing left something to be desired. There were some shots and short sequences of scenery that dragged a bit. I get that they were meant to establish location, but I cared about Solomon and would rather have had a few less water shots to keep his story going.

 

I knew Hans Zimmer did the music before the credits rolled. My favorite bit of music was a sequence that sounded like it might have been lifted from Inception – a series of loud, long, ominous tones to heighten the drama and cause unrest. I dug it.

 

Before the movie started, I tried to scope out what other people were in the audience – whether people came alone or were with others. I heard a child or two somewhere in the theater (this movie is NOT appropriate for little ones… holy hell). There was a wide variety of people, which I thought was good. I went to the movie by myself, but ended up seated near a group of black women who were my age or a little younger. The woman seated closest to me handed me a wad of tissues part way through the film. I wasn’t crying (my nose is just always running), but I accepted the tissues and thanked her just the same. I did tear up a couple times (there is a scene with Solomon and his violin that symbolized him finally losing hope and that really got to me, as well as the ending… oh, that ending), but I didn’t cry. I did let out a few curse words during scenes where Solomon and/or other slaves were treated poorly, or when Solomon had the courage to stand up for himself/others. But then people clapped at the end of the movie… I hate it when people clap at movies. Ugh.

 

12 Years a Slave is a good movie. It’s not the best movie I’ve ever seen ever, but I can see it getting nominated for Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress, and perhaps some production awards. However, I think that critics and awards voters need to think about the quality of the film, though, and not just the message. I mean, yes, obviously slavery is beyond wrong and the film’s message is inspiring, but giving this film a slew of awards it might not deserve when compared to other worthy films is not going to change the fact that slavery existed. Handing 12 Years a Slave a bunch of trophies will not make up for the terrible things slaves went through. Instead, people should look at this film and vow never to let anything like that happen again. (Yes, I’m talking to YOU, people who still treat minority/disenfranchised groups of people with less respect than they deserve…)

 

Awards season is just beginning. 12 Years a Slave is a contender, but I wouldn’t push it to the front of the Oscar race just yet since we still have two months of releases to go.

Probably because I had a strongish drink and the whisky is getting to me.

The joke is on you, though, if you think this blog post is going to be chock-full of spelling errors because I’m not even remotely tipsy. Just tired. Really tired.

I stayed up past midnight last night as I was watching Richard II on PBS and then texted with a friend regarding our mutual love of Tom Hiddleston. (He was not in Richard II, but will be in Henry IV and Henry V, which will air on upcoming Fridays on PBS. He was shown in some BTS footage and some interviews. We swooned a bit as we fancy him.)

I thought I would get decent sleep last night as I had no where to be this morning, but a roommate (or someone else in the apartment building at the very least) had a very loud alarm that went off at 7:00am. I was not pleased.

That being said, laundry was done by 9:30am and I spent the rest of the day reading, writing and researching.

This whole upcoming health care thing with registration starting on October 1st will impact me, so I was trying to look up what all that entails. I am the first to admit I have absolutely no idea what any of it means (something that I told my mom earlier this week), but she said that I’m an adult and I need to figure this out. How on EARTH am I to figure this out? Do you know how much “official” paper work I’ve read through this year with regard to health insurance stuff and whatnot? I am a very, very smart girl but I do not understand a majority of the overly verbose crap that is written on those documents. It’s like the government is setting us up to fail. (This isn’t me blaming Obama. I love Obama. This is me blaming the people at the top of the life food chain who make stuff for us peons below much harder than it needs to be.)

I did some reading. I finished reading John Green’s “Paper Towns.” I find myself wholly loving his writing style but getting frustrated with some of his characters. This time I was frustrated with Margo Roth Spiegelman. I mean, I get why she did what she did (to a point), but I thought she was super selfish… and that Quentin deserved better. I need to reread the last chapter (as I was distracted by something that was on my television), but I don’t think it’ll change my opinion.

I’ve said this before on here that I’m trying to read more YA books because I’m writing one. I wrote a few pages today and am up to 11,000+ words. I’m on the sixth chapter and it’s progressing all right. My biggest problem when I write is that I fixate so much on what I’ve written and what’s likely wrong with it that I’m slow to move forward. I’m trying to just keep going. I have an idea of where it’s headed, but there is filler stuff that needs to be written out and that is not my forte. I still feel like I’m in an exposition-y stage and need to explain the different teachers and what classes my protagonist is in, in addition to his progressing attraction toward who will eventually be his BFF/love interest.

The BFF/love interest is likely going to be my favorite character. I feel slightly guilty that I’m building him up as this great person when I know that in a few chapters he has to mess up really badly in order for the rest of the story to unfold. Nobody is perfect, but that doesn’t mean that that person can’t be perfect for someone else. So, for now he’s going to be this golden boy, but I’m going to have to knock him down a little later. But knocking him off his pedestal is going to help the protagonist find his own footing and be able to accomplish stuff he didn’t think he could or would.

I’d apologize for this being so vague, but I don’t want to give away too much of the plot. Not that I think anyone would steal my idea or anything… but this is mine until someday when I hope I will be able to share a finished entity to anyone who wants to read it.

Tomorrow is the Broadway Flea Market. I had hoped to go to a movie beforehand, but the film I wanted to see is no longer playing and the other film I want to see is not playing at a convenient theater/time, so I shan’t be attending a screening (at least not tomorrow). I will go to the flea market (depending on the weather), as I’d like to get some more window cards to hang in my room. There are some from shows I’ve seen that I really want, and hopefully I’ll be able to track down a couple at a reasonable price.

Tomorrow night is also the Emmys. I have a standing text and watch date with my sister, so hopefully we’ll be able to do that. It’s nice to still “watch” something with a sibling even though we can’t actually be together.

I miss my family. I miss them a lot. I talk to my mom almost every day (especially since she and my dad are apart for a couple months while he’s off in a different state for work stuff), but I haven’t seen any family since June. I miss my siblings. My sister was supposed to visit this month, but she couldn’t swing it because of her job. I’m supposed to see my brother and his wife next month, but it’s not a certain. I just hope to God I am able to make it back to see my family for Thanksgiving. I will be an emotional wreck if that does not happen. I need family hugs.

Whelp. My movie is just about over. (I was watching Atonement because I love it dearly and had been aching to re-watch it for awhile.) I think I’ll shut down my computer, brush my teeth and curl up with another book or perhaps continue watching Safety Not Guaranteed (a movie I started to watch on Netflix). I hope to sleep in tomorrow. Should someone else’s alarm wake me up, I cannot be responsible for my actions if I go all Hulk on someone. You wouldn’t like me when I’m (super tired and) angry.

Have a good one

P.S. I got my ticket for Little Miss Sunshine today. I am so freakin’ excited to see this musical. (The cast alone is bonkers amazing… Will Swenson, Rory O’Malley, Wesley Taylor. Granted I’ve seen all of them on stage before, but not all in one show!!!!)