Thursday, November 29, 2012

Musical Revertigo

Every once in awhile, a song will play or I will reread a book or even think about a time in my life and that action will connect in my brain to something else. And I will begin thinking about that something else. If you’ve seen most of How I Met Your Mother, you’ve probably seen the episode in which they discuss revertigo-named by Marshall as such it is the experience of someone acting like their old self around someone from the past. Lily sees her high school friend Michelle and becomes more ghetto. Ted sees his high school friend Adam “Punchy” Punchiarello and he becomes more pushy and violent. Robin sees her old high school flame and she is transformed into a googly-eyed teen. I have somehow in my brain transformed this phenom to attach itself to music.

Senior year of high school can be a very magical time, as well as a stressor for a need of caffeine. That was the year I started drinking coffee regularly. And unfortunately for my wallet, there was a coffee place on the way to school that had a drive thru. Of course, I was just starting with coffee so I couldn’t actually drink real coffee. I had to get the froofy drinks. My poor wallet! This was the same time I had gotten the How to Save a Life album from the Fray. The distance to school was short so I only really listened to the first few songs. But to this day, that album reminds me of driving to school in the dark and sipping overly priced “coffee.”

Freshman year of college, I had not gotten an ipod yet and was using a dinky mp3 with minimal space on it, which limited my musical selections. The few albums I had installed became what I listened to over and over again, until I got sick of it and switched out albums. Two albums stick out that which when I hear them, immediately throw me back to Freshman year. I can remember walking to class, having lunch in Fresh Foods, and spending ample time curled up in bed reading. Paolo Nutini’s These Streets immediately makes me think of fall. His soft sounds and slightly raspy voice call to mind changing leaves and comfy blankets. The other album is the Transformers soundtrack. The eclectic group of artists on that album offered a more aggressive tune than the smooth sounds of Paolo. It was my “I’m frustrated with my professors” music.

Also Freshman year was two significant discoveries, strangely enough offered to me by the same person. Almost at the same time was I introduced to the artist Breaking Benjamin and the book series Twilight, by none other than Rachel DeWitt. To this day, their album Phobia has distinct lines that make me think of scenes from Twilight. And whenever I reread the series, I get serious hankerings to listen to Breaking Benjamin.

Sophomore year of college I started watching the show Supernatural, and the show has a music base of classic rock. I was already a fan of AC/DC, but the show’s love of the band increased my love for them as well. I ended up going through episodes and picking out classic rock songs that I either owned or wanted to own and created a Supernatural playlist. Now, whenever I hear those songs, I immediately think of the specific episode they are played in and how much I would love to run around the country hunting ghosties.

Lastly, one album and one specific song remind me of one of my favorite trips I’ve ever taken. On the airplane on the way to Ireland, I fell asleep listening to Civil Twilight’s debut album. I had already listened to it repeatedly, and finally just let myself wear out. Sadly enough, I still didn’t get much sleep on the plane. Not enough room + children behind me + children across from me + not much sleep = cranky Alex. Later on in my adventures around the emerald isle, the group of us took a bus ride to Cork (heehee, in Ireland when they say it, it sounds like cock). From Cork we went to Blarney, where I kissed the stone. But on that bus ride, I practically listened to Tom Petty’s Last Dance with MaryJane on repeat. So to this day, hearing that song puts me back on that miserable bus ride (is there any long bus ride that isn’t miserable?) and I’m back in Ireland for a spell. That song still has the power to make me hit repeat and play it over and over again, like no other song does.

These instances, though there are more (Miles Davis reminds me of my dad; Huey Lewis and the News reminds me of cleaning), are ones that happen every time one or the other comes up. These memories or sentiment are almost interchangeable in my brain now; they are so attached to each other. And myself being so attached to these attachments has made the memories somehow stronger in my mind. Music has weird powers, I don’t dare question. Only enjoy.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Allure of Christmas Music

I’ll admit, I’m one of those people who loves Christmas music to a fault. I’ve been listening to it since the beginning of November. As evidence of Facebook and Twitter, my cousin Colette (also a huge fan of Christmas) and I have already purchased a tree and decorated it in our room. It is adorable. And now has presents underneath it :)

If you’re a Christmas music purist, as most people are, you can’t stand that stations start playing it in November, and you believe decorations should wait until after Thanksgiving. And in some ways, I understand that. Holidays go in a specific order, so decorations should as well, right? But here’s where I disagree a bit.

Society as a whole has dubbed this the “holiday season.” Meaning all holidays. And the reason I cherish Christmas above all else is the meaning it carries with me. Christmas to me is the epitome of love and family. I enjoy spending the time I have on this planet with the people I love. And I love spoiling them. Seriously. There are fewer joys to me than to see someone I care about open a present into which I put thought and care. People know when someone has put effort into their presents. So for me to be blasting “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” while I’m driving is my way of celebrating that I can’t wait until I get to see the people I love and spend time with them.

So maybe, other people feel the same way I do. That Christmas music to them is an excitement for the time coming. Maybe people think Thanksgiving is just about eating a lot and buying things on sale, with a little bit of thanks on the side. And some football. Or maybe this anticipatory playing of Christmas music is a way for commercialism to push people into buying more presents for people. But personally, give me The Beach Boys Christmas album and a glass of peppermint hot cocoa any day. Because there is nothing more awesome than celebrating my favorite holiday with the people I love.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Super Superhero Films #23-25

For the past few years, the age of the geek (or geek chic) has permeated entertainment. I attribute at least part of this to the success of the Big Bang Theory. Because c'mon, nerds are the bomb! In the geek/nerd love, it was become even more concentrated in the past year or so with superhero films. Superheroes are all the rage/in season/whatever other way you want to describe it. And I LOVE it. As a self-proclaimed "nerdette" (OMG I want a shirt that says that), I adore superhero films. There is something so enjoyable/hot about someone who sacrifices everything to save the world. This summer especially has been rife with hero worship in film.

#23: The Avengers
Before the film came out, I was going to try and see all the films that create background for the characters in the ensemble. Unfortunately, I fell short of this goal (by, well...a lot). So I was hesitant about whether I would be able to follow story lines, given that I might have missed out on some tidbit in one of the films. This was actually not a problem. The story stood alone just fine, and the cast was epic. Robert Downey Jr. reprising his role as Iron Man, Chris Evans reprising as Captain America, Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye, Chris Hemsworth reprising as Thor, Scarlet Johanasson as Black Widow, and Mark Ruffalo as the Hulk were the central characters in the Avengers ensemble. But, the assorted cast that made up the supporting characters were fantastic as well. The central story is that Thor's brother Loki is causing mischief and has otherworld help in doing so. The Avengers need to come together to stop it and save the world. Basic plot line for any superhero story. What sets this film apart is that while it has plenty of action to keep the movie lively, it also has emotional depth for its characters. The internal turmoil for Bruce Banner/the Hulk was played out very well. I was excited to see the film, and I left the theater not only not disappointed, but wanting to see the film again immediately. This has only happened a few times, most notably after both parts of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. In conclusion, I am giving this film a 10 out of 10. Something I have never done, though come close on a few occasions. There really is not anything I would change about this film. It can easily be enjoyed by someone who is not well versed in comic books and can be enjoyed by a younger audience, as well as adults. Fantastic film! I don't want to wait another two years for the second film.

#24: The Amazing Spiderman
As with comic book movies, when a story has already been flushed out before, a new movie can meet with resistance. People who are not comic book readers often do not understand how a story can go off in such a different direction but with the same characters that appeared before. Story arcs in comics can often be confusing. We meet Spiderman/Peter Parker (played by Andrew Garfield *YUM*) while he is still in high school and living with his Uncle Ben and Aunt May (played by Martin Sheen and Sally Field). Instead of forming an attachment to Mary Jane like the previous films, he instead courts Gwen Stacy (played by Emma Stone, my number one girl crush). The villain of the story is the Lizard, a scientist who inhabits reptilian characteristics while trying to genetically grow back is missing arm. The story followed the superhero archetype pretty much to the letter. I give it a 7.5 out of 10. It was a decent movie. The saving grace for me was the chemistry between Andrew and Emma who are a couple in real life. All I can say is that if their interaction on screen is any indication, they must have one hell of a sex life! It also helped that Andrew Garfield is funny. His little quips reminded me of how a teenage boy would really act, superhero or not. It was an entertaining film, though lackluster for me as I've never been a huge Spiderman fan. In my opinion, it was definitely better than Spiderman 3. Spiderman 2 is still good on it's merit, and it's been too long since I saw the original Spiderman to make that comparison.

#25: The Dark Knight Rises
Oh my, what can I say about this film? We return to Gotham after an eight year hiatus. Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) is still a broken man, and Alfred (Michael Caine) is desperate to get him back into the real world. Criminal beast Bane (Tom Hardy) is already operating in Gotham's underworld, and Catwoman (Anne Hathaway) is making her way through the purses/jewelry boxes of Gotham's elite. Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman) is trying to save the floundering business investment with Miranda's (Marion Cotillard) company. Meanwhile, the streets seem safe to Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman) and Officer Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) but they still go above and beyond the call of duty anyway. Then, mayhem ensues. Can Batman save the city without destroying himself or his future happiness? Can Gotham survive if there is no symbol of hope? I repeat what I did above, another rarity, and give the film a 10 out of 10. I was stunned by the action, the cinematography, and the story. It leaves off somewhat ambiguously. But I again left the theater wanting to see it again straightaway. I did see it again a week later and felt the same way leaving the second time. Stand out performance for me was Anne Hathaway. After growing up on Princess Diaries, I was wary about how she would handle the roll of Catwoman. Well damn if she didn't make me feel like an idiot for doubting her. She flew seamlessly through emotional changes that would make any conman/woman proud. As always, the male cast made me happy. Oldman and Bale again, plus the addition of Gordon-Levitt *SWOON* It is a film that I know I will enjoy seeing again and again. Hopefully it will be in the dollar theater soon. Then I'll just have to hold out for the DVD and whatever Nolan's next project will be.

The tragedy of superhero films is that without a villain, there would be no superhero. Villains can take my forms, and it was with a heavy heart I woke up the morning after the midnight showing of TDKR to see such terrible tragedy befallen. What should have been an enjoyable experience turned into a movie goer's nightmare. Ideology has always been maladapted or twisted to suit the fancy of a murderous crusade. Instead of it being religion, it was this time a character of comic books. My heart goes out to the victims and the families of the victims of Aurora. May they be at peace in a world with no villains, and only superheroes to keep them eternal company. And may justice be done to the villain responsible.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Supposed Exclusivity of the Term "Best Friend"

I guess I will never understand why people reserve the term best friend to mean only one person. To me, there are a select few people that combined know everything there is to know about me. Each person has a different connection with me but all of them are equally important to me. There are five people I use the term for and truly mean it. These are people who have had my back through thick and thin. People I have held while they cried and they have done the same for me. If any of these people ever exited my life, I would feel such sorrow because it would feel as though a piece of me has gone with them. I have some close friends that I have a very good connection with, though do not see as often or have as in depth relationships as I do with my dearest friends. I guess I mean this to be a tribute to these friends who I am deeply missing since my move and want them to know how I feel. Since telling people how much you care and love them doesn’t happen as much as it should, why not try and change that. The order does not dictate strength of relationship or anything else, only that this was the order I chose to put them in.

My first best friend is my cousin Justene. Since we are only four years apart and our mothers are sisters, we spent a lot of time growing up together. In many ways, we are sisters. We call each other sisters because the relationship, besides sharing a parent, is like a sisterly bond. We fight, we have fun, we come to each other for advice. The hardships we have dealt with separately have in many ways strengthened us, not only in personal strength but strength in our relationship with each other. She is wise beyond her years and had been through more in the past few years than most adults would deal with in a lifetime. And yet, she has come out of it with grace and maturity, and makes me proud to be her big sister.

My second best friend is my darling (ex) roommate and “bro” Michelle. Having met our freshman year, we were still not very close when we moved in together our sophomore year of college, but as time passed and we got to know each other, I found in her a kindred spirit. She can always make me laugh when I am feeling down. Her fire for life and adventure is inspiring, and is one of the things that helped give me courage for my move to Bama. She is one of the warmest souls you’d ever meet; she gives with her whole heart and is always there when I need to talk through something or vent or cry. I’m truly grateful that destiny threw her into my life, well not so much destiny as the Grand Valley blind housing office.

My third best friend is my cousin and (current) roommate Colette. Though not related by blood, we have known each other since we were toddlers. We didn’t get to spend enough time together growing up, but still we formed a very strong relationship. She has so much passion and goes after what she wants with such fervor, it’s awe-inspiring. She truly does kick ass and take names! She’s delightfully witty and funny and can cook like a beast (I don’t know how I’m not 300 pounds). Even though our families have been complicated and messed up, she is always there and helps me to appreciate myself and feel more confident in who I am with her presence. Forget diamonds, cousins are forever!

My fourth best friend is another (ex) roommate Rachel. We went to the same grade school and high school, though our friendship didn’t develop until freshman year art class (haha blowing yarn, sorry inside joke). We eventually became close and I found someone I could talk to about literally anything for hours…and hours and hours. She’s one of the most laid back people I’ve ever met. The ease in which she lives her life translates easily to the ease in her friendships. I can be exactly who I am and know that I won’t be judged. Our late night map nerdiness and even later slurpee runs are some of my favorite memories, and I’m going to miss her even more when she moves to Honduras. Though I know she will have the time of her life helping children.

My fifth, and last, best friend is my nerdy confidant Meredith. We didn’t meet until high school, but her quirky nature and witty sense of humor drew me to her. Through classes and plays, we got to know each other. She turned me into even more of a nerd than I could have anticipated, and I have loved every minute of it. We have shared so many amazing memories. Even just hanging out watching random, weird tv shows, painting our nails, and drinking. Or going to a local park and talking about our zombie plans. Her strength in life is inspiring, and I can always be brutally honest with her and she is with me. She’s such an amazing person to spend time with, but if she does get bit in the zombie apocalypse, I’m going to kill her. And she will completely understand.

These five people have been such an integral part in why I am who I am today. They have each given me strength when I needed it and have been a wonderful addition to my life. I wish desperately that I could see them all the time for the rest of my life. But I know that we are each growing, and going on our own paths in life. So at the very least I want them all to know how much I love them and treasure them. That they will always have a place in my heart as people who have supported me and given me some of the best memories of my life. Without them, I would be a different person today. Without them, I would have missed out on the most amazing years of my life. I will always hold dear the times I have spent with each and every one of you. And I just want you all to know that. As I’m sitting here at work, bored out of my mind :)

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

#19-22 of My Movie Loving

#19: Titanic 3D
While this movie stunned the first time around in the box office, it was unsure how it would hold up again as a 3D film. Personally, I think the whole 3D remake of older films idea needs to die. Films have enough merit in 2D. Remaking a ton of old films is not going to enhance a lot of older movies. Unless the movie is continually moving and a lot of stuff comes flying at the screen. I don't need to say a lot about plot because if you haven't seen Titanic, you must be living under a rock and therefore lack internet. Basic equation: Rich girl who is engaged + Poor boy who falls in love + Jealous Fiancee who wants their love to die + sinking boat = Titanic. I give this movie a 7 out of 10. The 3D did nothing to enhance the film until the boat hit the iceberg. Then the film provided enough water movement and screaming to create a good 3D film. The only problem I had was that at a certain part of the film water is rushing, the lights are flashing, and the 3D just provided too much. I actually started getting nauseous. But once that subsided, I was fine. So it was good, but mostly based on its original merits.

#20: The Cabin in the Woods
I have started getting more into horror films and when I saw the preview for this, I flipped out a bit. Awesome cast + Joss Whedon (fangirl squee) + horror = OMFG. Cabin follows a lot of stereotypes from films but plays them up to the audience as humor. The film had some genuinely funny parts, included the moment when I said quite loudly, "You bitch." and made the people around me giggle. I give the movie a 9.5 out of 10. While there is an ending that I could have seen done differently, the film provides enough humor to keep the mood light, enough romance to keep it soft, enough gore to please horror fans, and enough twists to please an intellectual. But I can't say anything else in order to maintain integrity. Just go see it, it's awesome I promise.

#21: Tucker and Dale vs. Evil
I had seen this film in pop up ads and decided to investigate it. Upon my pleasure of seeing Alan Tudyk in the cast (More Whedon fanlove), I put the movie on my to see list and presently forgot about it. Every once in a while, it would flit across my Netflix and finally amongst other Whedonites, it was watched. The film is about two hillbillies Tucker (Alan Tudyk) and Dale (Tyler Labine) who have saved up and bought a fishing cabin. On the way up, the duo run into a group of students heading for a camping trip. The students get the impression it's like stumbling into a horror story, while Tucker and Dale think they're just being themselves. Hilarity (and gore) ensue. I give the movie a 7.5 out of 10. It's cheesy in a funny way, and Joss gets some cred. But a lot of the film is predictable and slightly awkward at times. Also besides a couple names, the cast is relatively unknown and rather untested at acting. Overall good movie, but not making any top lists for me.

#22: Malice in Wonderland

Because Carroll's Victorian masterpiece is one of my favorite books of all time, I was both hesitant yet somewhat hopeful to see the film. So when I couldn't decide what to watch one night (all hail Netflix), I played it. The journey of our Alice, played by Maggie Grace, starts with her journey into "Wonderland" which is also kind of London at the same time. Her journey into Wonderland has wiped part of her memory so for the entire journey into Wonderland she's trying to figure out what she knew before she got there. She's aided in her quest by the white rabbit equivalent, which in this case is a cab driver named Whitey. I give the film a 7.5 out of 10. The storyline is extremely complicated to follow at times and there's barely anyone of name in the film, but the visuals are stunning. It's an incredibly complicated, but incredibly amazing imagery of film.

Sex, Society, and the Single Woman

I've been single most of the 23 years I've been alive. Apart from a week and a half long relationship in college, I've gotten used to being single and a virgin. Some of my damaged romantic past is my fault, and some of the fault is certainly on the shoulders of the guys who have treated me like crap (one guy in particular is on my kick-your-ass-if-I-ever-see-you-again list). As I've grown up and matured into the woman I am today, I'm becoming more comfortable in my singledom but also more frustrated at the perception society has about sex.

Society already has power over women by telling them what size their waist should be (I'm personally a fan of size cheesecake) and if that pressure wasn't enough, now society is trying to dictate my sex life. Great, thanks society. Like I don't already have enough issues.

Television, film, and music are permeated with the idea that if you're single, you should be sleeping with random people to find "the one." Am I the only person that sees the flawed logic in this plan? If a guy is willing to sleep with a girl on the first date, he's probably not looking for her to be the one. And this perception is spreading into the minds of girls everywhere. Look how that's going. Shows that focus on girls who get pregnant in high school like 16 and Pregnant and Secret Life of the American Teenage exhibit some of the problems of having children when you're young, but not nearly all the difficulties or statistics. I'm not saying everyone needs to remain chaste until marriage (props to those who do), but sleeping around isn't the answer and it's certainly not a good idea for people in high school who aren't emotionally ready to handle it.

It's extremely frustrating when people tell me, "Oh you need to get laid." Seriously? If I had wanted to get laid, I would've done so already. I told myself that I was going to be in a committed relationship when I lost my virginity and I've stuck to that. I want sex, but I also want intimacy. I want someone to create a bond with emotionally. Not just wham bam thank you, now get out.

Unfortunately, a lot is stacked against me in that regard. My foray into online dating was a great example of this. At the behest of my cousin, I created an online profile and sat anxiously waiting for responses. After some creepy inquiries and straight up invites for a hook up, I changed my profile so the tagline read "If looking for a hook up, need not apply here." My response rate plummeted and I lost interest in the idea of meeting someone that way. Even though eharmony tv ads keep informing me that lots of happy couples meet online.

So guys are looking for sex not intimacy, teen girls are getting pregnant in high school, and people I know think getting laid will fix me. Well that's discouraging.

Recently an article popped up on my facebook or twitter and it was celebrities discussing when they had lost their virginity. Here's some highlights:
Khloe Kardashian 14
Daniel Radcliffe 16
Britney Spears 14
Matthew Morrison 21
Tina Fey 24 (before marriage, but to the guy she's now married to)
Matthew Fox 12
Adriana Lima 27 (yes, the Victoria's Secret model waited until marriage)
Johnny Depp 13
Angelina Jolie 14

So there's a general slutiness about celebrities, but also some who waited. So it's nice to know that some celebrities feel the same about sex that I do. Go Tina and Adriana! I guess my whole point of this blog, besides telling everyone I'm still a virgin, is to give some youth hope that it's ok to wait. More people will say they wished they had waited versus wishing they had lost it sooner. Don't sell yourself short, wait to find someone who is worth that level of intimacy. And always use protection, no matter when you decide to trade your V-card!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Movie Review #18: The Hunger Games

From the announcement that this book would be transformed into a movie, I have been on pins and needles awaiting its release. But lo and behold, March 23rd eventually came and I found myself at the midnight showing, nearly hyperventilating in excitement (ok, not really). But I am beyond pleased to say I was not disappointed. Gary Ross, who unfortunately has recused himself from directing Catching Fire, did a phenomenal job creating the starting point for the series, but making sure the film held its own. I'm bummed he won't be coming back for CF, but I'm not surprised. And I think that having different directors for each movie would be a good way to create the individual flavor that each novel has. But, back to the film.

When Jennifer Lawrence was cast, I was slightly skeptical. I had not seen her in anything else, and it's hard to picture someone as a character that they in reality don't look like. But as soon as I saw pictures of her with darker hair and her representation as Mystique in X-Men First Class, I was sold. Overall, I believe this entire film was phenomenally cast. Liam Hemsworth is extremely talented at being dark and brooding as Gale. Josh Hutcherson as Peeta was to me a miscast at first, but I think with the first film he got his foot in the door, and I'm ready to see what he can bring to the next two. Elizabeth Banks was amazing as Effie (more on her later), Lenny Kravitz as Cinna was brilliant, and I called Woody Harrelson as Haymitch. No joke, when they announced it was in production, I pointed my bat to the stands and said him. You cannot imagine the laughing fit (and proud moment of course) when I was right. Even the tributes were well cast. Amandla Stenberg was cast as Rue, and OMG I just want to hug her. She is so adorable! But now to the actual film.

Because I have read all the books, and am such a huge fan, this is going to be nitpick time. I think that as a whole, the film was amazing. It complemented the book wonderfully. That being said, there were certain things I think could have been changed. Right at the beginning, the film portrays Katniss getting the mockingjay pin and giving it to her sister, who then gives it right back to her. This completely cut out the character Madge, the district mayor's daughter who has an unspoken friendship with Katniss. Obviously, I get why Hollywood eliminated her. She isn't really plot relevant. Second nitpick: the breakfast scene on the train. This scene in the book in one of my favorites because it's how Haymitch realizes he could actually have a chance at some good tributes. District 12 is notorious for having weak tributes, but both Peeta and Katniss immediately let it be known they are in for a fight. In the film, Katniss has her moment, but Peeta does not. It bothered me because Peeta's character in the book is friendly, but will be violent when needed. The scene on the roof "I'm sure I'll kill when the time comes..." that isn't really backed up like it is in the book based on his previous don't-screw-with-us moment on the train. The movie portrays him too much as the nice boy with the bread. And the movie doesn't do much to show his rougher, can-kick-ass-when-need-be side. Third nitpick: the chariot. In the book, Cinna tells them to hold hands, and Katniss doesn't fight it. Much better than her aggressively pulling away from him like in the film. Which seemed cold and bitchy, while in the book is distinctly a power play move in her regard and she goes with it. Fourth nitpick: tribute stash of supplies & Rue's death. While Rue is dying, she says "Did you blow up the supplies?" They didn't know it was booby trapped, and Katniss doesn't discover this until she sees the hoard for the first time. So, how can one comment on bombs if it was an unknown? Plus, when Katniss hold up her fingers to Rue's district, that is not the time they rebelled. District 8 begins rebellion then, but 11 is still intact for district visits in CF. Fifth nitpick: the cave scene. This is me being sad that my FAVORITE scene in the book was so maladapted. I understand time requirements for films, but couldn't you have put another two minutes to show them stuck in the cave, rainy, and sickly. C'mon. Sixth nitpick: the mutts. This is not so much a nitpick, as a disappointment. I was REALLY looking forward to seeing the mutts as their representation of the dead tributes, especially Glimmer's mutt who has shaggy blonde hair. Kind of a let down. Seventh and last nitpick: the relationship between Peeta and Katniss at the end. There was kind of a moment in the film where Katniss at least lets it be known she's unsure of the future, but it isn't established that she played it all up to win the games. The end of the book is their arrival at home and them having to attempt faked romance when he's pissed as hell at her. I will be interested in how this issue is tackled in the next film. Personally, I can see them having it start off on the way to district visits. But now that the nitpicking is done, I will expound on all the stuff I thought was done really well.

Firstly, the reaping was done perfectly. I am not ashamed to admit that I welled up when I saw the movie the first time, and flat out started balling when I saw it the second time. The scene captures the raw emotion of a girl believing she's going to go die, and an older sister's despair at the same thought. Brilliant. Secondly, the cornucopia. Personally, whenever I read about it I always pictured a giant wood one, like Thanksgiving. Which is obviously not what it would be. But I was so impressed with the film version. Thirdly, the way violence was handled. This book is violent, it's about war. It's about kids killing kids. The fast camera movement helped dispel some of the tension. There was still one moment when Cato snaps the neck of the male district from 5. And I jumped. I literally freaked for a minute. Fourthly, the whole games. In the book, you have the understanding of the technology involved in the games, but not an in depth look at how it works. The film gave a couple scenes that allowed the viewer to understand the effort and technology involved. And it was awesome. Fifthly, the odd little moments of humor. This is a sad story, but that doesn't mean it can't have a little bit of levity in it. Granted, I might have been the only person laughing, but still, it was nice. Lastly, Rue's death. I balled during this scene both times that I saw the film, and at least once while reading it. Amandla Stenberg was amazing. So much emotion. It's such a poignant moment because it captures the essence of THG. This is a child who would still be alive if not for the unfortunate reason of being picked to die for sport because of a rebellion and treaty from 74 years ago. So in conclusion, even with all my nitpicking ways, I give this film and 8.5 out of 10. I really believe it did a great job portraying the book. And I can't wait for the next installments. The director Alfonso Cuaron, directed HP3, is in talks and I think he would do really well. But there are few others I would be ok with. Personally, I really really really want Kathryn Bigelow to direct Mockingjay. That one is primarily the war, and even though I haven't seen the Hurt Locker, I think she would be brilliant.

A couple of other important THG related things have happened since the movie came out. First, there was an onslaught of negativity directed at the African American actors from the film. One tweet in particular that made me nauseous "Rue's black? Suddenly not so sad she died." Based on the descriptions in the books, these characters were either going to be African American or Middle Eastern. What the Apocalypse happens and that means all the African Americans die? C'mon people. Get your heads out of your asses! I think every single African American actor cast was awesome, especially Amandla. Hopefully she gets really wealthy and can tell all the haters to suck it! Secondly, there has been a great outpouring of criticism against these amazing books, claiming them anti-ethnic, anti-family, and violent. Ok, the violence part, I understand. But anti-ethnic? This book to me is a great equalizer of race. Proving the power of money to bring people of different backgrounds together to protect themselves. And especially the anti-family sentiment? Are you kidding me? It's all about familial sacrifice. What would you give up to protect ones you love? If that's not about family, I don't know what is. Third and lastly, I follow Elizabeth Banks on her website. She's awesome and funny. But as put on a previous blog post, my bff Rachel and I created a super awesome map of Panem. We used the series, the webs, and a kid's book of the USA as our logic and justifications for choices. Well EB was having an art contest and I submitted the map. And I won. Cue the awe at winning something EVER. I'm just one of those people who never wins anything. I got to submit a guest blog to her website:

Best birthday present that ever existed! Cannot be topped! So anyway, in conclusion: movie rocked, people still suck, and map nerds rule!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

How Mad Men Reminds Me that We Haven't Come that Far

The double edged sword of sexism was also a possible title for the blog post. I've recently renewed my interest in the fashionable television show Mad Men, which gives an in depth look at the dynamics of the advertising world in the 1960s. I'm currently half way through season 4, trying desperately to catch up to the current season (5th) because I hear it is awesome.

So, I'm calling spoiler alert NOW. If you have not seen the 4th season, I'm going to be giving a bit away. Not anything that is hugely plot related, but still. If however, you have seen the 4th season, or simply don't care about spoilers, then by all means, read on.

Two of the main female characters of the show are copywriter Peggy (Elizabeth Moss) and office aide/secretary/keeps-the-entire-operation-running-sometimes Joan (Christina Hendricks). In the episode "The Summer Man," a young, freelance copywriter Joey (played by Matt Long *yum*) starts casually dropping sexual insults at Joan. After a scolding from her, he blows it completely out of the water when he draws an offensive cartoon of her engaging is a sexual act with another male employee. Peggy sees him drawing it and tells him to stop, but Joey finishes it and tapes it up on Joan's window. Joan's reaction is to tell them that when they all get drafted and sent to Vietnam, she won't care if they die, because she never liked them. They are all astonished she would say something like that (personally, I would probably say the same). Anyway, Peggy goes to Don, who doesn't like the cartoon but won't do anything about it. He tells her it's her problem and to fire Joey if she doesn't like it. Peggy fires Joey. Later in the elevator, Joan and Peggy are discussing the cartoon. Peggy says she fired Joey. Mad that Peggy went over her head, Joan says, "So all you've done is proved to them that I'm another meaningless secretary and you're another humorless bitch."

Joan's point is that while she knows there is nothing in particular that she can do, she makes it known that she doesn't give a crap about them. She can't fire them, but she can make their lives in the office a living hell if she wants to do so. She's bluffing her authority, and they believe it. By Peggy firing Joey, Joan is still just a meaningless worker bee. She could still make their lives horrible, but what's the point since other people have higher authority than her? Peggy doesn't like the cartoon, and truly she's right in firing him. So in reality, they both have valid points. And that is why the situation sucks, and is still relevant.

I used to be the kind of girl that had a lot of guy friends, but as I have grown up and matured, I've realized that guys are not all that great to be around sometimes. Being around guys (at least, the immature ones), when they make an offensive comment and you call them on it, they immediate chime in "It was a joke, chill out." So you pipe down. But if you say anything more, you're too sensitive and can't take the humor. But obviously this is a common "humor" for guys, so you hear it a lot. So you have to take it or you're too weak to handle it. Ok, here's my enormous issue with this: instead of me having to listen to you degrade women, how about men just don't degrade women? Shocking, right?

Mad Men is set in the 1960s, and yet I still deal with crap like this today. After repeatedly saying a sexist comment and following it with "I'm joking," umm no!, eventually you're actually just being yourself and making excuses. And it's bullshit. But unfortunately, there is no clever denigrating term for me to use against men. Granted, that would just bring me down to their pathetic level, but sometimes my immediate instinct to just fight back. But to be the better person, I have to choose my flight instinct over fight and walk away. Which is why today, I have more friends that are girls than friends that are guys. And the few guy friends I still have, know better than to say sexist crap with me around. And if they did, the situation generally goes like this:

Guy: Stupid, sexist comment.
Me: *menacing glare*
Guy: Sorry.

And any guy that reacts differently around me, probably won't have me as a friend much longer. Because I refuse to tolerate or deal with sexist humor. It's not a joke. It's just offensive. And that's why unfortunately, not much has changed since the 1960s.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

#15-17 is a Spooky Series of Films

#15: Paranormal Activity
As I'm getting older, I'm starting to get more into scary movies. So I finally decided it was time to see this trilogy. Begin full day marathon session! The first movie of the series is about Katie and her boyfriend Micah who have just moved in together. Weird things start happening in their house so Katie tells Micah about how she's experienced paranormal occurrences ever since she was little. Micah decides to film the experiences to try and figure out what is going on and to have documentation of the events. I rate the movie a 6.5 out of 10. Since I had heard so much about the film before I saw it, it took away from the scariness factor and the fact that I knew at least part of the ending really made it fall flat. Plus, there are some continuity issues with the later films. You can tell that they hadn't planned for any sequels, but decided on them when it got popular. Decent scary movie but certainly not the scariest I've ever seen.

#16: Paranormal Activity 2
The second movie of the trilogy intertwines story lines with the first film, but centers around Katie's sister Kristi who has just brought home her newborn son Hunter. A weird break-in happens not too long after the arrival of Hunter and it shakes the family up. Kristi mentions to her sister about what happened when they were little and how she thinks something might be happening again. Katie tells her to forget about it and let it go; this is mere weeks before the events of the first film. Things continue to get stranger and stranger, but to keep the integrity of my synopsis I won't continue. I rate this movie a 7.5 out of 10. Better suspense building than the first film and I would say overall, a bit scarier than the first.

#17: Paranormal Activity 3
This was the film of the trilogy I was most excited to see because I had not heard anything about it except seeing the trailer, which had freaked me out. This film of the trilogy is all about Katie and Kristi when they are younger and how the paranormal events started. Katie and Kristi live with their mother Julie and her boyfriend Dennis, who is a wedding filmographer. Note, I love the way they work in excuses as to why cameras are around the house in each of the films. So, weird things start happening *shock* and it all seems to stem back to Kristi, who has a new invisible friend named Toby. Things start getting worse, again *shock*. As with above, if I go any further I'll start giving away plot. I give this movie a 7 out of 10. Even better method of building suspense than the first two, but some plot continuity issues have you scratching your head. Definitely has more of a creepiness factor because it has two little girls in it. I swear, when people sit down to write horror movies, they have a list and little girls are at the top of the "successfully creepy" list. Really interesting to watch all three in order of release. But I do plan on rewatching in order of plot to see how much better that is. One thing I can say for the franchise is that they used mostly obscure actors. I only recognized one of them. Use of lesser known actors on top of the film footage typology creates a more believable story.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Why the Hunger Games is FREAKING AWESOME

The nation has been taken captive by a series of books, written by Suzanne Collins, that take place in an apocalyptic North America, called Panem. A new government called the Capitol rules over twelve districts. After the thirteenth district had tried to fight back and was annihilated by the Capitol, every year each district contributes a girl and boy drawn from a lottery to fight to the death in the "Hunger Games." So why is it so awesome? Glad you asked.

1) The cast is freaking legit. Jennifer Lawrence is cast as the main character Katniss. After seeing X-Men Origins, I kinda have a crush on her. If she came out tomorrow and I had a chance, I'd probably switch sides for her. Anyway, Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth are supporting characters and are yummy. Elizabeth Banks, Lenny Kravitz, Woody Harrelson, and so many more amazing actors are in it. And I can't wait to finally see it on the big screen.

2) The books are amazing. Written for young adults, the thematic elements are easily identifiable to adults. Suzanne is brilliant as a writer and I want her to do more. The characters can be easily related to and you so quickly get sucked into these books, wondering what's next for each of them. The main female character is a good role model for young girls.

3) It solidly competes with other series that are popular right now. Harry Potter and Twilight obvious have huge fan bases. Hunger Games holds its own against these other books and, at least in the case of Twilight, has a MUCH better message. Harry Potter is about sacrificing your life for the greater good of humanity. Hunger Games has a similar message. Twilight is about sacrificing your life for a guy. Yeah, exactly.

So anyway, I could keep going on about why it's great. Instead, I would love to comment on my own nerdy fan-dom. It was late one night and I was hanging out with one of my bffs. When suddenly we started talking about the new movie and the books and what the map of Panem would look like. Thus began the multiple hour project of creating a map.

That is my map. The districts are all the same for my map and the ones my two bffs did. But we got to fill in our own interpretations of flooding and wilds.

Another thing I've done that shows I'm nerdy to the extreme is that I've entered contests to try and get tickets for the premiere. And I continue to do so. Anyway, for the contest E! was doing you had to create your own look to fit either the luxury of the Capitol or the district look in the actual games. I chose to do Capitol Couture.

So that's the end of my nerdiness. But as I said before, the nation has been taken captive by these books. Which includes the creation of a nail polish line by China Glaze for the series. Which I want. Really badly. If you haven't read the books, I wholeheartedly suggest them. They're quick reads and insanely interesting. So seriously, go read them. NOW.

12, 13, 14 of My Movie Lovin'

This post is a bit more Rachel McAdams centric because two of the three movies include her. But it's ok because she's f-ing adorable.

#12: The Time Traveler's Wife
Eric Bana stars as Henry, an attractive librarian with a rare genetic condition that allows him to travel through time. In his travels, he meets a girl named Clare, played by Rachel McAdams, and the two create a very deep bond. As he ages he continues to travel and meet Clare at various ages, having a moment with her in her late twenties one minute and suddenly he shifts and is seeing her as a little girl. I will give the movie a 7.5 out of 10. On the one hand, it's a very bland love story. On the other hand, Eric Bana is naked A LOT. And that to me is no downside. The movie also made me want to read the book which is next in line for my reading schedule. There are just quite a few questions I have about time travel now that can't really be answered, which is a bummer.

#13: The Vow
Based on a true story, this film tells the story of a couple who deal with what happens when one partner suddenly can't remember anything about their life together. Channing Tatum stars as Leo and Rachel McAdams as Paige, a couple who have been together for four years. After a tragic accident, Paige has had the past four years completely erased from her memory and reverts back to her life before then. The couple try and recreate their life together, but it proves harder than they imagined. I give it a 7 out of 10. I would love to learn more about the real couple behind the film. The trailer was misleading because I expected more romance and it ended up being more serious. The supporting cast was great, and the two leads were phenomenal. But I wanted more romance and was disappointed in that regard.

#14: The Adjustment Bureau
Based on a Philip K. Dick story, Matt Damon plays David Norris, a politician running for office. He meets Elise, played by Emily Blunt, a beautiful dancer who alters David. But just after meeting her, David sees "behind the curtain" and is told there are people in charge of making sure everyone goes down "the right path." And that Elise is not meant to be on David's path. They have moments in and out of each others lives. And now have to fight for each other against "the Adjustment Bureau." I give the movie a 9.5 out of 10. The two main characters are brilliantly portrayed. The dialogue is witty and catches you off guard. And it is wonderfully done as a thriller. The only mark off was that it could get slightly predictable at moments. But other than that, great film.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

8, 9, 10, and 11 of My Movie Madness

#8: Horrible Bosses
It's a timeless story. Hard worker, under-appreciated at their job, and a douche of a boss. Horrible Bosses takes this theme and creates three hilarious characters played by Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis, and Charlie Day. Their bosses are quite literally the scum of the earth in the forms of Colin Farrell, Kevin Spacey, and Jennifer Aniston. The men, fed up with the crap from their bosses, decide it would be best to off each others bosses. What ensues is a hilarious mish-mash of insanity that leaves you guessing. Will they pull it off or will them end up being slaves to "the Man" forever? I rate it 9.5 out of 10. The plot leaves you guessing up to the last second. The deduction is for laughing so hard, I nearly got a cramp. Great flick. Standout for me in the veteran category was Jennifer Aniston. This movie has proven that she hasn't lost her comedy chops just yet. And the rookie standout was Charlie Day. I've never watched It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, but he might have changed my mind.

#9: The Mechanic
Jason Statham stars as Arthur, a very capable hit man aka "mechanic." His mentor is played by Donald Sutherland, who has been doing something shifty *bum bum bum*. Arthur is then contracted to kill him and does so. Feeling guilty, he takes the mentor's son, played by Ben Foster, and teaches him how to be a "mechanic." Eventually something changes the game and the boys take you along for the ride. The action is non stop in this amazing film and has very well done cinematography. I give it an 8 out of 10. Occasionally the dialogue gets stiff when the action can't cover it, and it sometimes gets rather gory. But overall, the story moves well and makes for an entertaining viewing. Also, Ben Foster and Jason Statham are hot so, you know, great man candy who are well dressed.

#10: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (American Version)
Ok, so I finally went and saw this in theaters. For fuller details check out my stuff on the Swedish version, but since I already covered it, this one is going to be shorter. I really really really liked Daniel Craig as Mikael. And I really really really liked Rooney Mara as Lisbeth. The two of them have chemistry that is straight out of the book. Everything was great. Except two things. One is the insanely weird/long intro. While I enjoyed the cover of "The Immigrant Song," the intro was just too long. The cinematography of it was well done, but so weird. The other thing I can't really go into because it is plot related, but I went "WTF?" hardcore when it happened. Because it seemed like it could have been done appropriately to the story based on time and such. But it wasn't, and I didn't enjoy it. Which is why I am giving it a 7 out of 10. The intro was just too much and the plot twist was mismanaged. Apart from that, the cast was phenomenal and the cinematography was well done.

#11: The Switch
Did this movie seem like a cheese factor? Yes. Did watching it seem like a good idea? No, not really. Did I kind of fall in love with it? YES. Jennifer Aniston and Jason Bateman play Kassie and Wally, best friends who tried to date but realized they had better chemistry as buddies of the non-fuck variety. Kassie's biological clock is ticking and she decides she wants a baby the non-old fashioned way. Wally doesn't know if it's a good idea, and in his attempt to be supportive he screws some shit up. Drunkenly replacing the donor sperm with his own, Kassie goes her way and he goes his. Now several years later, she's back in town and he's starting to remember what happened that boozed up night. The movie stars adorable Thomas Robinson as Sebastian, Kassie's son. I give it a 8.5 out of 10. I deducted two points for being a semi predictable will they-won't they movie. But I gave back half a point because the son is so frickin' cute, you spend the whole movie going "Aww, I just want to hug him!" Also, Jason Bateman is one of the most underrated actors in Hollywood. Get with the program people, he's awesome and needs to be in more movies!