Friday, May 31, 2013

Beautiful Creatures Movie Review

There are some movies I’m never going to talk the husband into so if I’m ever going to watch them, it will have to be on my own. The time in which to take in a movie by myself has dwindled from slim to none and slim took a bus out of town the second my daughter became an official toddler. But recently I made time to watch Beautiful Creatures.

Let me start this review by saying that a movie like Beautiful Creatures is fodder for someone like me. It has all the makings of a perfect little guilty pleasure. YA adult paranormal fiction? Check. Based on a beloved book series? Check. Likeable, interesting leads? Check. A great cast of side characters including a Academy Awards winner Jeremy Irons and all around bad ass Emma Thompson? Check and Check.

But the sum of its parts didn’t quite add up for me as much as I hoped it would. And I can’t quite figure out why. I can’t pinpoint if it was some of the characterization or if it was the story itself, but the emotional heft wasn’t there, as much as I was hoping it would be. I don’t think it was the fault of the two leads. I think Alden Ehrenreich was absolutely perfect as Ethan and I think the character of Ethan was just the right mix of teenaged ennui and literary hero mash-ups. There were a couple of times where I caught Alice Englert trying too hard, but she still did a really passable job in the role and the chemistry between the two was palpable. Is it wrong that I could watch hours of the two of them making googly eyes and whispering to each other?

But when the focus moves off of them, the film loses its momentum. And I’m really not sure who is to blame. Thompson and her over the top accent? Emmy Rossum and her not even played for laughs Siren routine? Margo Martindale? (Kidding. I could never blame Margo Martindale for anything.)  Thomas Mann? You know what, after Project X I hold him responsible for damn near everything. Why did Fun Size suck? Thomas Mann. Why did Craig try to kill himself in It’s Kind of a Funny Story? Thomas Mann. Global Warming? Thomas Mann.  But he was the least of this movie's problems, I think.

I get the sense that the movie may have glazed over big chunks of exposition/plot from the book just to get where it was going. I’m not sure what those sections are, and I’m almost willing to break my one rule of book-to-movie adaptations (the rule is – never read the book after you’ve seen the movie) just to confirm that there was indeed something significant missing in translation.

It has some real, tremendous moments. Come for the meet cute, stay for teenage romance, leave when Emmy Rossum starts slutting it up. B-

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Four Movie Reviews and a Funeral

I kid with this title, well with the latter, not with the former. I totally intend to review four movies, but there will be no funeral that I need attend or review, at least none that I know of for the present moment, knock on wood.

So yeah, I saw four movies this weekend and one of them didn’t involve OnDemand and actually involved my butt in a theatre seat for the first time in six months. I know, exciting. I’ma review them from my most favorite to my least.

Iron Man 3 – You know the broad strokes by now. I mean, the movie’s been out for awhile, and the internet doesn’t have a filter, so you likely have run into a movie review or two by now. I’ll spare you the longwinded review (especially since I no longer have a movie bladder and had a large diet coke so I had go to the bathroom twice and I’m missing big chunks of the movie…I know. Sorry for the overshare) and boil it down to brass tacks: 1) James Badge Dale is as awesome as advertised. 2) Even more awesome than him was Ben Kingsley and the bait and switch going on with his character. Freaking genius! 3) Even more awesome than THAT was Dale Dickey in the world’s tiniest/most awesome cameo. She deserved better than that bit part ya’ll. She rocked it, but still. She’s starting to stack up Beth Grant levels of admiration in me. She deserves all the parts ever. 4) And the most awesome of all? That Kid. Jesus that kid was freaking perfect in every way. I just wanted to pick him up, tuck him in my pocket and take him home. The back and forth with RDJ was so much fun. I could’ve used a whole m
ovie of that with fifteen more minutes of Dale Hickey. B+

Killing Them Softly – I talked the hubbie into this one mostly on the strength of My New Plaid Pants’ review, because he is my bell weather for all things movies/pop culture. And he was not wrong. I thoroughly enjoyed this one, because it was perfect showcase for all sorts of character actors, and a lot of them came out of nowhere. I mean Max Casella! Max 'Newsies' Casella! He had a perfect scene, but I was distracted trying to figure out who he was and it came to almost as violent as the kick in the ribs he delivered on poor Ray Liotta. But there was a lot of talking that didn't got anywhere, which I understand is part of the point, but it was distracting nonetheless. James Gandolfini's role seemed pointless and didn’t go anywhere. I could’ve used 30 more minutes of Brad Pitt and Richard Jenkins just talking in a car over his little pointless insertion into the movie. I understand that his presence was to flip things around, to be that one thread that never went anywhere, but you know what really would've flipped things around? Scoot McNairy shirtless, alot, for no reason. There, problem solved.  Also, Scoot McNairy has got to become a band name somehow. The Scoot McNairys? The McNairy Scoot? Scoot his McNairys? Okay, I know I’m reaching, but the band would be almost as cool as the guy himself.  B

Jack Reacher – I should’ve subtitled this post Richard Jenkins film festival, because this was the second movie this weekend I watched with him in it. And let me just state that Richard Jenkins is never the wrong answer. I almost always smile when he's on screen. But with that said, I liked this role the least of the two, not that it matters, because he was barely in it. Who was in it was Tom Cruise, in yet another installment of Tom Cruise the movie, which is not a bad way to spend two hours especially if those two hours also include Micheal Raymond-James (yum!), Jai Courtney (double yum! Although, with all the Die Hard jokes we were making, poor Jai can't win for losing), Rosamund Pike, a creepy Werner Herzog, and Robert Duvall at his craggiest, which for the record, is how I like my Robert Duvall. But the mystery, while resolved, just kind of stayed a mystery in that the motivation for the bad guy was never fully explained. It might just be me, but I needed more resolution than that. B-

Red Dawn – Jesus with this movie. I mean, Lord was this movie not good. It wasn’t horrible, and it did seem to have a sense of itself, what it was trying to be, but what it was trying to be was mediocre to begin with. And I can’t fault the actors, well I can’t fault most of them. Hemsworth tried and pretty much carried the movie the entire time. And I can never dislike Hutcherson in a role, even if that role and the movie he’s in is terrible (Cirque Du Freak, I’m looking at you), but he didn't even have a part to sink his teeth into. But Josh Peck! Gawd! And I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. I saw The Wackness and I liked it, I even liked him in it, fercryingoutloud which is not something I thought I could do in regards to the kid who played Robe (yes, I’ve seen Max Keeble's Big Move, multiple times, without kids. Shut up! I don’t need to explain my art to you Warren!). But he was so over-matched in just about every way in this movie as to make the whole thing laughable. And there were so many dead plot threads, they probably equaled the number of dead bodies they created in the movie. It was ridiculous. I could go on and on, about its many flaws, and definitely its implausibilities, but what’s the point? I’ll just say that I’ve never been happier to see Jeffrey Dean Morgan show up in a movie in my life. Now, what that says for the movie is up to interpretation. C-

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Trifecta Challenge: Appear

“You’ve never made any promises to me and I don’t expect one now, especially if it’s one you’re going to break.” There was emotion in Ariana’s voice he’d never heard before. Sadness was not an emotion that would appear on her face much if at all and he didn’t know how to react. “But if I mean anything to you, stand your ground, or at least try to.”

“What does that even mean?” Ben’s anger at the situation kept him from saying anything further. Finally, they’d made it to the gravel drive his car’s GPS had indicated, which meant the end of the long journey but, he was starting to suspect, the beginning of another one. He threw the car in park a few yards from her childhood home, a dusty ranch house in the middle of nowhere as the sun set, casting the sky in cinematic violets and pinks.

“Please, if you love me, stand your ground.” The tears came streaming down her face again as she left. He was a violent mixture of emotions as he exited the car, trailing after her.

“Well, there you are,” a lilting voice he’d recognized from phone conversations with Ariana’s mother rang through the air. He was at once comforted and unsettled by the voice. He came to find her streaming out of the door, slow for a split second and then coming at him at a dead run. A glint of something long and shiny in her hands caught his eye. She lifted it above her head and let out a primal scream, her face a contortion of fury and anger. His whole body tensed as if to sprint but then he felt it, Ariana’s hand on the back of his arm, her fingers echoing her voice, stand your ground. He didn’t budge an inch. If this was his death, he could think of worse ways to go and if it was a test, it was some damn test.


The above story is for the Weekly Trifecta Challenge:

This week's word is:

1a : to be or come in sight
  b : to show up
2: to come formally before an authoritative body
3: to have an outward aspect : seem

This is from a larger story I'm working on and I might use for more prompts. I took me awhile to whittle it down to under 333 words, but I'm pretty happy with the result. Enjoy! This part of the story is actually part of a much bigger conversation, so you didn't get to read the beginning, but I think it still stands on its own.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

A Completely Absurd Conversation about Pretty in Pink

Fighting Nun: Why the hell did you buy Pretty in Pink? (Picks up copy of Pretty in Pink and looks at it sternly)
Bloody Munchkin: I didn't! I won it fair and square!
FN: How did you win it?
BM: I donated to that Donor's Choose fundraiser that Tomato Nation holds every year. I closed out a project for seventy bucks and got this prize in return.
FN: Seventy bucks for a twenty dollar crappy movie. Hardly seems fair.
BM: I didn't enter just to win a prize. I did it to make kids happy. And I'll have you know that this movie fills a void. Other than Ferris Beuller's Day Off, I don't think we have any John Hughes movies in our collection. We don't own Breakfast Club. Do you know how empty I feel sometimes because "You mess with the bull, you get the horns" is not something I can watch instantly?
FN: Whatever (rolls eyes). As long as you didn't pay money for that movie.
BM: Oooookay.

Harry Dean Stanton, National Treasure? via
This little conversation is all thanks to The Tomato Nation fundraiser and the copy of Pretty in Pink I won. Fighting Nun is not a Pretty in Pink fan and thinks pretty sternly that Duckie got screwed. Which yes, he did. But he got Kristi Swanson as a consolation prize! I don't see what the big deal is. It's not my favorite but you can't beat that ending. Well you can, with the ending from Sixteen Candles, with Jake Ryan waiting by his car while Molly Ringwald comes out of the church, but the Pretty in Pink ending is a close second. And also, I take offense that something with Harry Dean Stanton in it would be considered anything less than stellar. That man is a national treasure! Everything he's in turns to gold just by dent of him being in it. Want proof? Watch Seven Psychopaths. He didn't have a speaking part, was in that sucker for two minutes, if that, and was the best part of the whole movie. And that's hard to say when Christopher Walken is in a movie.

Ahem. Conversations like the one above, DVD copies of 80s movies and more could be yours if you donate to the Tomato Nation Fundraiser today. If we reach 50,000 we get a Tomato Nation prom which is bound to be a thousand times better than the two proms I went to. One of those proms, gum from my date ended up in my cleavage. A root canal is bound to be better than that, but still. A Tomato Nation prom is going to rock! Also, you can donate and help some Oklahoma school that were affected by that tornado at the same time! Doesn't that sound great?

Friday, May 17, 2013

Trifecta's Weekend Challenge

 Trifecta caught me off guard with one of their challenges again. This weekend extra was to use three of the six words they chose. I decided to use underneath, honey, and loop.


The dead bodies aren’t going anywhere. I might as well lie here awhile, watching them above me flit from flower to flower to hive. Underneath the honey loop I feel alive.


I've always found the idea of having beehives in cemeteries to  be oddly beautiful. Honey seemed to be the triggering word for this. Watching a place teeming with life while there's so much death around is such an interesting idea that I might have to expand on it.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Trifecta Challenge: Deliberate

A new week a new trifecta challenge. This time the word is deliberate:


Ilieana was deep in thought. She should’ve been focused on the escalating conversation between Gonjuri, the emissary for the Golrathians , and Dathraka, a Djokian who had helped set the daring raid that aided her escape into motion. All of it seemed so hopeless. She got the feeling that no matter what she did, she and the child she was carrying were bound to die.

As if in reaction to her thoughts, the being in her belly kicked with some force. It was its first movement. This brought her back to the present moment. Gonjui and Dathraka were in each other’s faces, other members of their respective parties were on their feet. If Ilieana wasn’t careful, the two groups could tear the ship apart.

“I say we take her to Djoki!  We’ll have a tactical advantage if Geori comes for her!” Dathraka growled, raising his weapon in defiance as Gonjuri did the same. Ilieana would have to put a stop to this.

“Enough!” She barked, jumping to her feet, forcing her concealed arm blades into both of their throats.  “I’m seconds away from vomiting again, my head won’t stop throbbing and I have to piss! I’ve got enough problems of my own to worry about that I don’t need spilled Golrathian blood to be amongst them, but if it is to be one of my problems, it’s because I spilled it along with some Djokian. Make no mistake.”

Both the emissary and Dathraka softened and looked at her. She dropped her hands, and the arm blades retreated under her sleeves again. She took a long deliberate sigh and decided to show her hand. “We can’t retreat to either of your home planets.”

“Why not?” someone asked.  

“The Holemaker is operational.”  They all gasped in her direction. “Geori can make a black hole whenever he wants and he can be light years away when it happens. And he will use it if it means the death of this child.” She said, patting her belly.

I've had this sci-fi story in my head for awhile and I finally decided to use the Trifecta challenge as a way to to sat least start writing part of it. I really want to write something in which the heroine is pregnant or with child but instead of impending motherhood softening her, it hardens her, makes her stronger, more fierce. I think the only way that really happens is if that character feels threatened. I'm not sure if that comes across quite yet, but we'll see.