Saturday, June 30, 2012

Kardashian Preferences

My sister had a baby a few weeks ago, and I stayed with her for a few days. Having a newborn allowed for some TV watching of the best (and most random) kind... The Golden Girls at 1am, Princess Diaries 2, and a Keeping Up with the Kardashians marathon. Watching the Kardashians marathon helped solidify what I have thought for many months now, which is that I have favorite- and least-favorite Kardashians.  I'm not going to take the time to rank order all of them for many reasons, the least of which is that I don't spend that much time thinking about them to know that. But I do have my least favorite and top 3, so here they are:  

Least Favorite:  Kris Jenner.  I can give the woman props for making a whole lot of money for her family. But I also find the whole thing to be slightly disturbing, especially seeing the two youngest girls on TV and out there as they are. She reminds me of Jessica Simpson's dad Joe, and that's not a compliment. She's also all over the place emotionally on the show. (And yes, I get that this all sounds a little hypocritical as I watch the show sometimes.) 

3rd Favorite:  Rob Kardashian. I will say that Khloe and Lamar were both in the running for this coveted spot, but Rob ultimately took it. He manages to let all of the craziness around him roll off his back most of the time. Plus, I liked him on DWTS.

2nd Favorite: Kourtney Kardashian. She seems the most real to me, even with the contrived situations that they have on the show.  She also seems to be the most even keel, and she's not as blunt as Khloe.

Favorite: Scott Disick

Scott is by far my favorite. He is the funniest (we watched when he tries to be Ryan Gosling from The Notebook and I laughed out loud) and will do crazy things and still be likable. He's come a long way from his alcohol days, and I'm glad because for me he makes the show entertaining.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

One for the Money--A Bad Movie

I like several Katherine Heigl movies, quite a bit in fact (27 Dresses and Life or Something Like It). One for the Money is not one of those movies. In fact, it is far from it. I saw it many weeks ago, in the theater. Now, I had read reviews that were not favorable and so the only reason that I saw it was because it was at the dollar theater and I had a gift card, which made it free. I was glad that I didn't spend money on it as it falls into a category that fits just that--see on cable only.

What made it so bad?  Katherine was not good in it.  She should have had a New Jersey accent and instead mostly had no accent with a hint of something in and out. The plot wasn't good. It just wasn't well made. Following the movie my friends and I had a discussion of the worst movies that we have ever seen. It didn't make the list but prompted the discussion, which should say something. The bright spot was Sherri Shepherd, who I happen to really like and was funny in it.  In deciding whether I suggest to never watch it or not, she pushed it to the cable movie.

One for the Money:  Cable Movie

Sunday, June 17, 2012

My Bachelor and Bachelorette Cycle

I have discovered that I have a little cycle that I go through with The Bachelor and The Bachelorette. It goes something like this:  I watch and enjoy a season of one of the shows (examples:  Andrew Firestone, Andy Baldwin). I then decide to watch one of the next seasons, and sometimes enjoy that. Eventually something happens that is either ridiculously dramatic (the Jason/Molly/Melissa debacle) or that I think is stupid (Jillian choosing Ed over Reid). At that point I will usually say I'm not watching this show anymore. If I haven't gone that far, they put someone in as The Bachelor who helps me choose not to watch (Jake Pavelka or the most recent Bachelor, Ben).  But then the summer happens, and there is no new tv on. If The Bachelor or Bachelorette seem at all likable, I end up watching.  And the cycle begins again.

I'm currently at the summer watching point of the cycle.  Truth be told, I'm kind of enjoying it.   Emily is likable enough and there are at least a few guys that seem datable so it has kept me watching. I do think that it is a little odd how much they show her daughter on the show, and as always there are some very strange guys. But once again, I continue to watch. 

I'm currently rooting for Jef. He's likable. And as a Utahan I'd like to add that it's nice to have someone from Utah on who is not the season's villain. I'll enjoy it until it annoys me and I take another hiatus.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Summer Reading Thus Far

I like most books that I read.  Sometimes I find a book that I can't put down, sometimes one that I finish but would say is "blah", and occasionally find one that due to boredom or content I stop reading. But overall I would say that I enjoy most of them. As a result, I won't be rating books here. I'll point out if one fits into a category other than I liked it, and if I'm talking about a few of them, I'll pick my favorite.

So here's what I've read this past month:

Killing Lincoln by Bill O'Reilly--This was my first Bill O'Reilly book experience. I get that it isn't the typical Bill O'Reilly book.  Regardless, I really liked it. It focused on the two weeks leading up to the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and the few days after that. It was nicely written so that I learned a lot and it still kept my attention. He is writing a book called Killing Kennedy and I plan to read that now, too.

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby--This is a book about a man who had a stroke and has something called locked-in syndrome where he was only able to blink his left eye (no talking or anything).  He has since passed away though prior to this wrote the book by blinking his eye. It was beautifully written and somehow managed to be uplifting.

Look Again by Lisa Scottoline--I get ideas of books to read primarily from family and friends, magazines, or browsing in stores including Target. This was on the popular reading for awhile so I read it. It's about a woman who adopts a baby to find out that he was basically the boy on the milk carton. This was a "blah" book for me. I finished it and it was fine but nothing spectacular.

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley--I really liked this book. It's about an 11 year old girl who works to solve a mystery to help clear her father in a murder investigation. It was entertaining, sweet, I laughed, and I stayed up reading it to see what happened next.

Ali in Wonderland: and Other Tall Tales by Ali Wentworth--This is a book of stories from Ali Wentworth's life. Her parents were involved in politics, she was on In Living Color and Oprah, she's married to George Stephenopolous. She has interesting stories to tell. And I love George S--and his book--so I enjoyed hearing about things like how they met and their marriage. It was well written and funny. Another like.

So not bad for the start of summer reading. I enjoyed most of them, but if I have to pick a favorite (which I'm making myself do), I pick this one:

It's just a nice little story, unique and well written. People should read it.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Jimmy Fallon and "Call Me Maybe"

i need to say from the start that i love jimmy fallon.
loved him on snl, loved him hosting the emmys, love his show, and (as a red sox fan) loved fever pitch.
he does great stuff on his show about current pop culture stuff. and it's funny.
see the history of rap, whip my hair, charlie sheen winning, and slow jam the news as examples.
here's one of his latest--singing with carly rae jepson.
it's obviously not a review of anything.
just something pop culture to enjoy.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Tony Award Watch: For the Love of Jeremy Jordan

This tony awards are on tomorrow.  I love the Tonys as its the outside-NYC-worlds opportunity to glimpse Broadway in full, and oft times, fantastic performances.  Big name stars have taken to Broadway and break out singers are discovered.  The show is always funny and is being hosted again this year by Neil Patrick Harris. He is the host with the award show host extraorinaire.  But, my favorite Tony host will always be Hugh Jackman and last years 'host off' between the two  (Harris and Jackman) of 'Anything you can do I can do better" was hilariously fun!

This year I feel I have less investment in any of the nominated shows than ever before - Last year was the year of The Book of Mormon (too much to say - not enough hours in the day to tackle this topic).  This year - seems more broad - less specific.  Save one show:  Newsies.  Who doesn't love this Christina Bale classic film?  I love that they made this in to a musical - I would love, love, love to see it.  I can't believe it took them so long.  Jeremy Jordan plays the Christian Bale - lead role from the film and is nominated for a Tony for it.  I'm pulling for him here's why:

1.  His name.  Jeremy Jordan has some amazing namesakes.  A porn star...and a mid-90s pop star that I fondly remember singing 'Right Kind of Love" over the end credits of Beverly Hills, 90210 one season. Love that this Tony nomination has given him the celebrity edge in the most famous Jeremy Jordan competition.

2.  His voice. Perhaps this should be number one.  Love the soundtrack, loved his performances I've seen on talk shows with this Newsies company.

3.  Joyful Noise.  I just watched this stinky, stinkety, stinker this week - not realizing he was in it.  Oh, boy did I hate this movie.  Cloying and intent on ruining some perfectly good pop songs, this movie felt incredibly long and Dolly Partons fitted choir robes were the topic of discussion for most of it.  The one saving grace: Jeremy Jordan.  You would think among Queen Latifah and Dolly Parton, that his vocals and acting performances would not be noteworthy - but they were.  If he can rise about this material and shine - he is a star.

4.  Newsies.  What a great show.  What a great idea to make this into a Broadway musical.  A win for him would mean more positive attention for the show and I'm all for that.

5. Bonnie and Clyde.  He actually starred as Clyde in the Tony nominated Bonnie and Clyde this season as well.  The show closed after only 30 days  - but it was still nominated for 2 awards.  So, he is doubly present in the nods this year.

I just reviewed the nominee list and there are a lot of big names up for Tonys: Audra McDonald, Stockard Channing, Cynthia Nixon, Linda Lavin, Judith Light and Andrew Garfield.  I'm pulling for Andrew Garfield or Christian Borle from Smash to take home their category.

I do so love the production that is the Tonys...and for the love of Jeremy Jordan - I really hope its his year.

Friday, June 8, 2012

MIB 3 aka Josh Brolin is fantasic

I saw Men in Black 3. I enjoyed the other two movies and this one fit right along with the other two.  Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones make for a great pair. Emma Thompson was funny in the 5 minutes she was in it. There were plot holes and other things but overall it was entertaining. A nice, popcorn summer movie.

What stood out is Josh Brolin. He was excellent as a young Tommy Lee Jones. From his voice to mannerisms, it was impressive. The movie seemed to pick up energy once he was on-screen. Don't get me wrong--he was very good in True Grit. And, of course, Goonies. I just never realized how good he really is. It's worth seeing this movie just to see him.

Men in Black 3:  Dollar Movie

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Movie Doppelgangers - A List

What is the deal with all the movie pairs - 2 movies out within a year with essentially the same or very similar plot or theme.  When I began to think about these two Snow White stories (review below) - I started making a list of all the movies with a doppleganger.  The question is which is the real deal and which one is a copy.  I think I have concluded that one can always be deemed to be better and one will always be an inferior copycat.  Though, sometimes - its a pretty close call.  I'm sharing my list - it got kind of long - as I got serious about it.    The real deal first - followed by its doppelganger.

1982:     Tootsie - Victor/Victoria - Best. Guy. In. Drag. Ever.
86/87:    Short Circuit - *batteries not included - Johnny 5
88/89:    Oliver & Company - All Dogs Go To Heaven - Billy Joel. Huey Lewis.
1989:     K-9 - Turner and Hooch - Sorry, Tom - saw K-9 on my first date - sentimental real deal
1989:     Like Father Like Son - Vice Versa - Dudley vs. Judge? 2 words: Kirk Cameron.
93/94:    Tombstone - Wyatt Earp - 134 mins
1995:     Rob Roy - Braveheart - Liam Neeson
1997:     Dante's Peak - Volcano - Remington Steele 007
97/98:    Prefontaine - Without Limits - Jordan Catalano
1998:     Armageddon - Deep Impact - Gazelle

1998:     A Bug's Life - Antz - Dave Foley. California Adventure.
98/99:    Saving Private Ryan - The Thin Red Line  - Steven Spielberg
98/99:    The Truman Show - EdTV - Good afternoon, Good evening and good night
01/02:    Treasure Planet - Titan AE - Disney
03/04:    Van Helsing - League of Extraordinary Gentleman - Wolverine! by hair over 007
03/04:    Finding Nemo - A Shark's Tale - Just keep swimming
2004:     Troy - Alexander - Sorry Jordan Catalano, Brad Pitt - Brad Pitt - Brad Pitt
2004:     Chasing Liberty - First Daughter - Matthew Goode. Jeremy Piven.
05/06:    Capote - Infamous - Phillip Seymore Hoffman
05/06:    Madagascar  - The Wild - You got to move it.  Move it.
05/06:    Sky High - Zoom - Kurt Russell. Linda Carter!

05/06:    Garden State - Elizabethtown - Sorry Cameron Crowe - I  love you, but JD killed it.
2006:     Open Season - Over the Hedge - Ashton Kutcher
2006:     The Prestige - The Illusionist - Wolverine vs Batman with Magic
2010:     Killers - Knight and Day - by a hair  - Tom sort of creeped me out
2011:     Friends with Benefits - No Strings Attached - JT. Flash mob.
2012:     Snow White and the Huntsman - Mirror Mirror - Close call - serious and earnest wins!

Why does this happen?  My guess is that plots get pitched to multiple studios and multiple studios green light the same ideas?  Its an intersesting phenom.  One I'm sure will continue.

What movies and their clones did I miss?

Mirror Mirror Vs Snow White and the Huntsman

Same story.  New twists.  Totally different approaches.  3 months apart. Mirror Mirror and Snow White and the Huntsman may be telling the same story, but they are vastly different and weirdly have really, really opposite endings.   

Mirror Mirror:  Fun and family friendly.  Willfully silly.  Julia Roberts clearly having the time of her life as the Evil Queen - in funny, sarcastic - but not very sinister fashion. The sets are bare and sometimes obviously in studio - but the costumes are incredible, other wordly - so artistic and beautiful.  There is a scene where the queen is playing live action chess - with her 'subjects' and the costuming is divine!  Lily Collins is fresh faced and cute and ultimately adequate for this light fair.  Armie Hammer and Nathan Lane help bring the funny - but none seem to lend it any credibility.  It feels more like a made-for-TV movie - with a really great and winsome cast and some crazy artistic and amazing costumes.  I have no idea why but I kept thinking about the 1965 made for TV Cinderella with Lesley Ann Warren mashed up with the 1997 version with Brandy and Victor Garber in comparison to this film...both TV movies. It takes a few liberties with the original story.  But a very literal adaptation with the Dwarfs - and Snow Whites presence among them.  On Rachels rating scale: Redbox this one with your kids.

Snow White and the Huntsman: A more dark and serious telling of Snow White.  Earnest in its creation of this world.  Visually stunning - with some incredible CGI - albeit - sometimes un-necessary.  Visual seems to be the priority - I have no idea why Charlize Therons magnificent Evil Queen needed to suddenly in silence take a milky white bath and emerge covered in some smooth white plaster like substance and stand there looking like a statue - but it looked really cool.  I also didn't know exactly why fairies needed to emerge from the bellies of birds - but it looked jarringly cool. All of the stuff with the Evil Queen was visually fantastic - and Charlize gives new meaning to the word sinister and is by far the best part of this movie.  There are so very many problems with this script - do I really need to know the back story on the Evil Queen - she was abused?  Am I supposed to understand her behavior, then? 

Kristen Stewart - is a little better than adequate for this material and is lovely as Snow White - but there was no real arc for her.  Yes, she teams up with the hunstman (the ever yummy Chris Hemsworth - wielding an axe instead of a hammer) - but he did not really train her.  He gave her a knife and 15 seconds of direction - no arc.  So,  how she emerged this strong warrior after being locked in tower all her life - is unknown.  Her speech in front of the people was not commanding nor the words inspiring or coherent, really.   I like the few twists and variances from the original fairy tale- but the end fell very flat. I like this view of Snow White and the Dwarfs.  I think there were actually 8 dwarfs in this film - mostly British actors shot to appear small - led by the fantastic Bob Hoskins  - but this Snow White was not about to do any cooking and cleaning nor tidying up of any kind. She is a warrior and a leader - and I generally like this outlook - if only the writing had supported the attitude and visuals  better - this would have been a great movie.  Instead its just a good one.  Its great on the big screen - see it at a matinee.

Casts both good.  Snow Whites both adequate.  Visuals in their own way both striking.  Both lacking.
Snow White and the Hunstman wins by a dwarf for its earnestness and general outlook and look, though the comedic Mirror Mirror is not terribly inferior - just incredibly different.

Monday, June 4, 2012

One Show - Two Views: Dancing With the Stars: All Stars

Rachel's View
 In general I'm a fan of All-Star reality TV shows. I think they're fun. I'm really a pro of the idea of DWTS All-Stars.  I think the potential is there for a great season.  What I'm really a pro of is the stars being re-paired with the pros they were with.

Here's why:

First and foremost is to see see the chemistry and camaraderie in the pairings. As my friend says, "You want to recreate the magic." And I guess that is true. I think a big part of the stars and show being so likable is due to relationships between the stars and their partners. It's a gamble to bring in the same stars and assume that that same rapport and chemistry will be there with another partner. You see it in the various seasons with pros--pros are more likable in some seasons based on who their partner is, what their partner brings out in them, and vice versa. Quite frankly, I don't want to find out what the relationship with a new partner would be. There have been a lot of great pairings, and I want to see those pairings again in All-Stars. Not all new ones. I'll see new ones the next time they bring on new stars.

Next, I'm a loyal person. I think it's weird for a viewer to have rooted, and possibly voted for, pairings, and then have those same people be split. Is it because I root for the pro?  This many seasons in I do have favorite pros (Maks and Tristan), but I don't just vote for a pro regardless of their partner (here's looking at you, Hope Solo). When you vote on-line you aren't just voting for the star--it's for the pairing. I think it will potentially be odd as a viewer. I think it could also potentially be odd for the pros and partners to not be working together, having spent so much time together previously and most likely having a strong bond as a result. That dynamic could throw off the vibe of the show. 

Finally, the show is about dancing.  For this season, I want to see the best dancing possible. You are going to see the best dancing in bringing together stars and pros who have danced together before. There is already a baseline both of having some dance experience and previously being partners. This will get the best dancing. 

Top 5 Dancers I want to return (factoring in that they will have the same pro, of course):  Gilles Marini, Mel B, Mario Lopez, Sabrina Bryan, and (this is a dream I know), Apollo Ohno.

Who I don't want to return:  Bristol Palin, Nicole Scherzinger

I am ultimately excited for DWTS All-Stars.  I will watch it even if they have all new pairings. And I will even watch if Bristol or Nicole is on.  

JED's View
 I am excited to have an All Stars version of this show - but I really don't think the All-Star celebs should be paired with their same DWTS pro.  File it under 'Been there. Done that."  There is typically an arc of growth and better dancing throughout each season that culminates with almost all the dances getting 3 10s or very near to it in the last few episodes.  If a contestant and their partner has reached perfection - I don't think it can be topped and creates far less of a challenge, far less interesting TV.  If the 'star' got eliminated unexpectedly early - that is another thing - if they haven't enjoyed the arc - I say it wasn't connecting and working anyway - because they got voted out early, so bring on someone different.  

There are obvious logistical hurdles in trying to pair the stars with their original dance pros - Mark Ballas, Derek Hough, Julianne Hough, Cheryl Burke, Kym Johnson, Maksim, Louis, Edyta, Tony... - each have danced with so many different partners across different seasons - that if they get 2 stars coming back that had the same pro - it just wouldn't be possible.  Also - there are some failed romances in the mix - that would just be a bad idea to bring together - Karina Smirnoff and Mario Lopez - Derek Hough Shannon Elizabeth...Reunited would NOT feel so good.

I also think that new pairings would make for better TV.  There is a curiosity about new matches - there is a reveal involved.  Was it the pro that made the celebrity good? Tricky choreography that hid the flaws of the celebrity? Or was the celebrity just a natural - and maybe the original pro should not get as much credit as they originally did.  There is something to not knowing how the chemistry will be - and if they really became good dancers or not.  It makes for a stronger more equal competition.  I thought for a bit that I might be in favor of having both options - some with their originals and some with the new pros - specifically to give new professionals a chance to be involved and to solve the logistical problems - but I'm not.  I don't think that would be fair to have some with the familiar pro and some not.  I want to see them all challenged.  I want to see them all on as equal footing as possible - and that means all new pairings. It will make for a good show and great TV.  And I do so love a good show.  New Star/Pro pairings, in my view: Its a MUST!

I had the hardest time - picking my 5 star wish list - so I have my list plus some honorable mentions.  My returning star wish list:  Kelly Osbourne, Stacy Keibler, Rob Kardashian, Mario Lopez and because she got voted out WAY too soon this season - Sherry Shepherd.  Honorable mention wish list: Evan Lycasek, Gilles Marini, Jennie Garth, Lisa Rinna, Joey Lawrence and because I just always wanted to see her with a taller pro - last seasons amazing Kathryn Jenkins

Please no: Nicole Scherzinger, Hines Ward, Brooke Burke, Shawn Johnson, or I'm sorry to say Jerry Rice.

PS: I just read Rachels view and list - and I have to say Mel B would make my Wish lists - I'm just not sure who I would bump to honorable mention.

PPS:  Whats your view?

Rating System and The Avengers

I need to explain how I rate movies. I don't do it by letters or by stars. I do it in terms of dollars and time.  The rating is as follows, from best to worst:  Full Price, Matinee, Dollar Movie, Redbox, Cable, Never.

Now that that is explained, I saw The Avengers.  And I loved it. It was a great all-around movie, and I was entertained from start to finish. I have never watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer or any other Joss Whedon show, but I have to say that I am slightly intrigued at he wrote a good script. It was funny, well paced, the acting was good, and it was well cast. This even includes casting Scarlett Johansson, who sometimes drives me crazy, but in this did not do so.

There was one flaw for me, which I can forgive but is still a flaw. There was a plot hole involving The Hulk. (Spoiler Alert) You have The Hulk chasing Scarlett Johansson around, trying to kill her as he can't control himself as The Hulk. Then suddenly he is able to control himself, helping save the world and Iron Man. All it would have taken was a little scene where someone talks to Bruce Banner and helps guide him on how to channel that energy.

I was also sad about one other thing. It's not a flaw, it just makes me sad. (Spoiler Alert) Clark Gregg died in it. He's popped up in Iron Man and all those little movies and I was sad that he died. In fact, I specifically sent a text to a friend following seeing it that said, "Saw Avengers. Loved it. Sad Clark Gregg died."

The Avengers:  Full Price