Monday, September 21, 2015

4 Thoughts on the Emmy Awards

1. The Host - I've never really been the biggest fan of Andy Samberg. On SNL, he always came off as a narcissistic, privileged, frat-boy type of personality. I found some of his stuff funny, but mostly obnoxious. However, I became more of a fan with Brooklyn Nine-Nine (hilarious show). I don't think he has necessarily changed, but my perception of him did. He seems like he has a lot of fun with what he does, and he also seems to appreciate his privilege. This is exactly how I would describe his performance as Emmy host. He had fun and he seemed happy to be there. The opening song was really cute and relevant to how we watch television today. I feel the stress of watching EVERY show possible. It's overwhelming to think about all of the shows I still need to watch, and I watch a TON of television. The other highlights of his hosting gig were: 1. "Racism is over!! Don't fact-check that." 2. The Mad Men parody. 3. Classifying Louie as "jazz" (that's actually quite fitting). 4. His dig at Paula Deen & Kim Davis: "If I wanted to see an intolerant woman dance, I would have went to one of Kim Davis' four weddings".

2. The Winners and Losers - I thought this was going to be an easy awards show to watch. There were so many wonderful shows and talented performers nominated; I thought it would be pretty impossible to piss me off. Then, Game of Thrones won the awards for writing, directing, and series, and my blood began to boil. Game of Thrones is a good show. Above average? Sure. I'll even concede the directing award, because it's such an epic show, with so many different characters and plots; making it all cohesive, is a talent that deserves recognition. It is not, however, a well-written show. I'm often questioning character motivation because of inconsistencies in development; I get bored after watching 2 episodes in a row because it's repetitive; and, for a show that is geared towards "geeks", it isn't especially intelligent. I understand that it has a huge fan-base, but even the biggest fans have called the past season its worst (I just finished season four, so I wouldn't know). There is no way anyone will ever convince me that it should win a writing award over Mad Men (and it's certainly not a better show). Anyway, moving on, I was happy with all of the other winners. At least they were smart enough to give Jon Hamm an Emmy, fucking finally (although, I admit, I always rooted for Bryan Cranston or Michael C. Hall in the past). While, I love Amy Poehler, I knew the award was going to Julia (and she deserves it). I love that not one, but two, women won in the directing category (although, I have yet to see Olive Kitteridge or Transparent). Viola Davis gave an outstanding performance this year, and an even better speech. They threw in a few surprises, too, which is always nice. Regina King should have been nominated several times for SouthLAnd, so it was a bit of a redemption for her to win (even if American Crime was mediocre, at best). And, even though I am pissed at the awards love for Game of Thrones, Peter Dinklage is definitely deserving. I tend to zone out during some episodes, but his scenes always bring me right back in. Also, I guess I should watch Olive Kitteridge?? I mean, holy hell, that is one heck of a cast.

3. The Show - While, it seemed to move a little bit quicker than usual, some of the presenters really took their time up there. Do people really think Jimmy Kimmel is funny? Like, seriously? His hosting of the Emmys is probably one of my least favorite, ever, and it wasn't well-received, so why give him so much time up there? The only presenter that I enjoyed was John Oliver because he called out how ridiculous the "limited series" category is. I also enjoyed Tracy Morgan (and that's a sentence I never thought I would say). I find Morgan unbearably obnoxious and self-centered, but he's one-of-a-kind and I'm glad to have him back. Plus, he made fun of his obnoxious behavior...twice! Amy Poehler always steals the show, and I adore her for it. I also thought it was really funny that during Lady Gaga's presentation for Lead Actor in a Limited Series, everyone was laughing at Ricky Gervais, leaving Gaga really confused. Little things like that crack me up. The absolute worst part of the show was the unnecessary spoiler-filled goodbye to shows that ended this past year. It was nice to say goodbye to an epic year in television history, especially with Fred Savage introducing it. Then, before I even realized what was happening, I unwillingly watched the final scene of Boardwalk Empire (I still haven't seen the final season). Who really thought this was a good idea? Especially after addressing how difficult it is to catch up on television shows, in the beginning of the show! So dumb.

4. The Fashion - First, I would like to, once again, question how Giuliana Rancic still has a job interviewing celebs on the red carpet. She is terrible, annoying and arrogant. There are thousands of people in the world who would love her job, and be better at it. I almost died when Sarah Paulson said "no, sorry sweetie, everyone asks me that" after Guiliana is surprised that someone else has already asked her the same ridiculously unoriginal question. Anyway, in regards to the fashion (I love it, get over it!), I wasn't that impressed. Off the shoulder dresses are so unflattering (what woman wants to look like she has broad shoulders?), and they were EVERYWHERE (Paulson, Sarah Hyland). The usual "risk-takers" that I love, like January Jones, all disappointed. Claire Danes had the most interesting dress; I think I would have liked it if it weren't shiny. I also loved that she totally embraces her body (most women would wear an insanely painful push-up bra with a dress like that). Heidi Klum wore the worst dress. I don't get it at all. And Jaimie Alexander - that dress, it's just so sparkly and bright. I can't look directly at it. I think, overall, my favorite looks were: Allison Janney, because DAMN GIRL. I hope I look that good at 55. Anna Chlumsky. It was pretty, feminine, but still a bit odd-looking. And, Ellie Kemper, with the most beautiful dress of the night.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Thoughts on 5 Films

1. Aloha - So much potential for this movie. The cast, although problematically white-washed, is excellent. The plot, from what I could understand, is interesting (but overly complicated). The writer/director, Cameron Crowe, is strong aesthetically, and in character development. So what went wrong exactly? It's hard to pinpoint, but the biggest problem is that the character motivation is really off; none of their actions make any sense. The "romance" part is a complicated love triangle (actually a square). It begins with Brian (Bradley Cooper, who is soooo not a "Brian") and Tracy (Rachel McAdams); he has hurt her in the past, and now she is married to another guy (John Krasinski, in probably his most boring role ever, but still the best character in the movie). Even though she is clearly not over Brian, she exists in an unhappy marriage (why?....). Then Allison (Emma Stone) is introduced as a love interest for Brian, but she is presented as literally the most annoying person on the planet. He can't even stand the sound of her voice. Then a lot of confusing, non-romantic, stuff happens (I couldn't tell you the plot to save my life - something about satellites and weapons and sacred grounds.). Suddenly, Brian falls for Allison, and Tracy is happy in her marriage (again, why?...). Sorry if I just spoiled the movie for you, but be honest, you weren't really going to watch it, anyway. There's a little bit of misogyny thrown in the movie, too, just for kicks. For example, Stone is portraying someone who is very head-strong and professional, yet her boss warns Brian against "corrupting" her. Um...fuck off, Aloha. I'm pretty sure she can take care of herself. This movie will most likely end up on my worst of the year list (the second Bradley Cooper movie to make the list, so far. How sad!). The only positive that I can think of is the beautiful shots of Hawaii. I still really want to go on a volcano tour of Hawaii. Who wants to join me?

2. Far from the Madding Crowd - This movie was my introduction to this story. I've never read the novel; never seen any of the previous adaptations. Yet, somehow, I already felt like I knew how the story was going to unfold right from the very beginning. There are few things that I liked about the story. It's beautiful to look at. I enjoyed that it was about fate and destiny, over romantic love. There was a "sliding doors" effect with every choice that a character makes, but in the end, everything is as it should be. The female lead is independent and claims to have "no need for a husband", which is incredibly rare for a story from the late 19th century. Overall, though, I felt bored for most of it. The acting, aside for Matthias Schoenaerts, ranges from mediocre (Carey Mulligan and Michael Sheen, who both seem really comfortable in their roles, but bored) to awful (Tom Sturridge, what were you doing?). Schoenaerts is probably in the "easiest" role, as the obvious choice, but I felt like he is the only one who seemed to stretch himself, emotionally. And speaking of the "obvious" choice, this is probably the biggest problem with the story. The other two are ridiculously terrible choices; one offers to "buy her dresses" in exchange for marriage, while the other one flat-out tells her that he's in love with someone else, which causes her to become jealous so naturally she says yes to his proposal. HUH?! That's a reason to get married? That's even dumber than the dress guy. It's frustrating when a woman chooses everything but the obvious (so obvious that he's even the one featured on the poster!).

3. Black or White - I like the intentions of this movie. I think it's meant to open up discussion of race, family, and cultural differences within different races. The characters are just so off-putting, though. It starts out really rough, with this man losing his wife in a car accident, going home, getting wasted (perfectly acceptable), then waking up the next morning and carting his granddaughter off to school like nothing has happened. Then, he picks her up and is like "oh're grandmother, the one who raises you, is dead", while they are still on school grounds. The audience is instantly under the impression that this man has no concept of raising a child, being sensitive to emotions, or is capable of appropriate reactions to life-changing events. Her paternal grandmother tries to intervene by fighting for custody, citing that she belongs with her side of the family because he won't know how to raise a black girl. Yet, she was perfectly fine when the grandmother was alive (there are references to an "understanding"). So, really, it's more of an issue of gender, and not race. The custody wouldn't have been questioned if he was the one that died. But for some reason, the paternal grandmother, under the guidance of her lawyers, make it a race issue. This is frustrating because he has raised his grandchild, who is half black, since her birth, so one would think it would be hard to suddenly call him racist....but then, he SUDDENLY BECOMES RACIST. Please, take this child away from this man. He's an asshole, he's a drunk, and he's a racist. But, he has money, so that makes him a viable candidate to raise this girl, apparently. They try to make it a "grey" area, because the girl wants to live with her grandfather, but she is a child, and far too young to understand what is best for her. They also try to portray the paternal side of the family in a bad light, by having one "bad apple", which happens to be her biological father (not only a drug addict, but also a statutory rapist). The court could easily give custody to the paternal grandmother with the understanding that the father has no visitation or relationship with her. DONE AND DONE. Instead, they go back and forth between who is worse, and we are forced to pick the lesser of two evils, never really giving this poor girl a chance to live any semblance of a loving life. It's just really fucking depressing.

4. Mad Max: Fury Road - If you keep yourself updated on movie news, reviews, etc., then you already know that this movie is ranked among the best of this year. I was really hoping to catch it in the theaters, but I wasn't able to (this year has sucked in regards to my theater outings. I've barely been to the theater at all). I remember seeing the trailer before American Sniper, and I was blown away by it's sheer energy. I'm happy to say that the entire movie is just pure, exhilarating, non-stop adrenaline-inducing action. Not only is it action-packed, it's also really beautiful. Just really fucking beautiful. The monochromatic, post-apocalyptic, desert location could have been really dull, but it is so vibrant, with so much to look at. I was pretty blown away by it. Plus, even better, I really enjoyed the story. It's a simple "good vs. bad" plot, but it's done so well. It's a nice reminder that there is still room for originality within a story that's been told a million times before. Not surprisingly, my favorite aspect of the movie is Furiosa, perhaps the strongest female character onscreen, this year. She's everything. It's stunning when a movie, especially an action movie, relies on very little dialogue, but still makes the audience care for the characters and invest in their story. The biggest realization that I had while watching, is that this was the first George Miller movie I've ever watched. What an introduction! I will definitely seek more out.

5. The Voices - Why have I heard nothing about this movie?! It's HILARIOUS. Seriously fucked up, but totally hilarious. It's probably the first time I truly loved Ryan Reynolds in a performance. I really never got the love (yes, his abs are nice). I still don't, because I will just consider this a fluke unless he makes another performance that I love. Then, and only then, will I reevaluate my opinion of him. This is the kind of movie that I think benefits from not knowing much about it (so maybe that's why no-one is talking about it?), so I don't want to give too much away. However, I don't really know how to talk about it without giving a little away, so *slight spoilers ahead*. I think it's a fantastic insight into a killer's mind. For the sake of "justice", determining someone as insane in order to limit the punishment, is often frustrating, but in some cases, people resort to murder because they are actually mentally unstable and not necessarily evil. This guy's instability comes from the voices that he hears from his pets (and decapitated heads...), which is just him imagining that he's having conversations with them (is that not normal??? Because I have conversations with my cats all the time; and I totally imagine their responses. Don't worry, everyone, they say mostly nice things. Except when they are hungry...). Mr. Whiskers had me in tears, his humor is only accentuated by his really terrible Scottish accent. Really, just fucking hilarious. Then, just when you think the movie couldn't get weirder, it ends with the oddest song during the credits. This movie would definitely make my Best list this year, but the release date is 2014, and it's doesn't quite make the cut among the best of last year.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Fall TV Preview: 4 New Shows to Watch

I only picked 4 new shows!! I'm so proud of myself. Maybe my DVR won't fill up after 2 days. There are a few other shows that I'm excited about even though they aren't considered "new", like the second season of Fargo (HOLY SHIT, that cast!), AHS: Hotel (hopefully better than Freak Show!) and Heroes Reborn (Man, I used to love Heroes). 

1. Blindspot - I admit, the marketing for this show has been complete overkill. I almost don't want to watch it just out of spite. But, I ADORE Jaimie Alexander. I've loved her since Kyle XY. I'm so glad that she is headlining a show and I think this seems like the perfect role for her. It's been described as a "female Bourne", which is great, but it's also been described as The Blacklist, which is disappointing. That show had so much potential that it threw away in favor of cliched dialogue and unoriginal ALIAS-like plots. So, I'm hopeful that it's more Bourne, but I'm also hopeful that it has some originality as well.

2. Scream Queens -  There are two things that Ryan Murphy excels at: casting and creating really strong first seasons of televisions shows. The cast for this is mixed with newcomers (who will probably be "it" actors soon enough), proven talent like Lea Michele, Emma Roberts, Niecy Nash, a few "what the fuck" surprise choices like Ariana Grande and Nick Jonas, plus the perfect horror icon/legend Jamie Lee Curtis. It doesn't get better. I am confident that the first season will be impressive - just as perfect as Nip/Tuck and Glee were

3. Supergirl - Speaking of Glee, one of the only casting missteps was Melissa Benoist in the later seasons. I had a hard time watching Glee after season 4 (and I stopped watching all together once Cory died. I'm still not over it.). Part of the terribleness was the weak, repetitive plots, but Melissa's horrible acting was also a HUGE part of it. I hated her character; I hated her voice; I hated her dead-behind-the-eyes stare. I still have to watch this show because with the huge boom of superhero tv shows/movies that exist, this is the first with a female lead. I'm going to support it because I basically feel obligated to (just like I would support a Black Widow solo movie, even though I don't like Scarlett or Black Widow, really). I've heard mixed reactions about the leaked pilot - some criticized it for being too "girly", while others praised it for taking more of a fun approach like The Flash (and I love The Flash). I still have high hopes for this show. Maybe Melissa won't be so bad???...

4. Limitless - I liked the movie. I don't really remember that much about it, other than Bradley Cooper running around being all smart and hot. I was super excited when my mom informed me that he was "starring" in the show. I was skeptical, but she was "positive". After looking into it, I realized he's just there as an introduction to the character - to pass on the story. Pretty disappointing, HOWEVER, I love the Jake McDorman! He's an awesome choice as the lead. Plus, Jennifer Carpenter! I love her so much. Although, it will be weird watching her in a show in which she doesn't curse every other word.