Movies, Music

Girl Crush of the Week: A Whole Lotta Lana

I’m just going to destroy any hope you have of me mentioning Lana Turner. I’m not a 75 year old man reminiscing about the good old times, okay? She’s not on the list (even though I will admit she’s a super babe). I have some fresh and modern Lana’s to dish out. So sit tight and shut up.

Lana Del Rey– Obvs I would start with this bombshell. She can do no wrong in my eyes. Granted, I’m supposed to be wearing glasses 24/7 and I’ll probably have a lazy eye by the time I’m 35, so I wouldn’t fully trust the judgement of my eyes, but I digress. Miss Del Rey is a bit of a meathead in the brain department, but she has perfectly pertinent lyrics and melodies that calm my worried soul. Her groovy music videos and velvety voice could melt anyone’s cold, grinchy heart.tumblr_nfi2ptBCjk1rq171wo1_r1_500

Lana Tisdel– You’re probably like, who is this obscure Lana that Lily speaks of? No, she’s not some random girl I went to high school with, although that would be cool. She’s a character played by Chloe Sevigny in the movie Boys Don’t Cry. This movie resonated with me on so many levels. I went into a spiraling depression (and by “depression” I mean that I was kind of maybe upset for ten minutes) and made everyone around me partake in the disturbing topic. I even featured the film in one of my college Film Crit essays about female directors. Sorry, TMI. Anyway, Lana is one of the only characters in the movie that shows the qualities of what a kind and accepting person should be. Even though she’s surrounded by bad behavior and a dead end life, you can tell she’s optimistic and emits beauty in a somewhat dark place. tumblr_lzjkrxj4oI1r7vb7no1_500

Lana Kane– Okay yes, this is another character from a show. Does anyone actually know a real person with the name Lana or is it just one of those names that writers make up? Lana Kane depicts the bad-ass side of Lana’s around the world. She’s one of the secret agents in the adult cartoon, Archer. If you haven’t watched this entire series, what have you been doing with your life? Lana tells it how it is and has no time for losers like you. Or me, for that matter. She has a rockin’ bod, a good sense of humor, and is relatively down to earth for someone who risks their life on a daily basis. tumblr_mm50xuHHxz1qefwl8o8_500

Lana Winters– Yet another fake Lana. But a good one. American Horror Story is one of my newest and best obsessions and Lana Winters appears in the second season as a hard-hitting news reporter trapped in a mental institution gone…well, mental. Her story line is perhaps the best and most chilling because she’s the typical tragic tale of someone trapped somewhere they shouldn’t be with no one that understands their situation. Basically a nightmare. But she ends up prevailing after a series of incredible feats and ends up doing something very human–becomes famous for her memoir and lets narcissism take over. Don’t worry, I couldn’t ruin this season if I tried. You should still give it a go. And Chloe Sevigny is in it too. So we have officially come full circle together. I love when that happens!

Literally same.

Literally same.

Who have you been crushin’ on lately?

 

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Judging, Movies

Oscar Noms

I was feeling super uninspired a couple of minutes ago until I read Katie’s post about the fashion choices at the Golden Globes. I was obviously really passionate about this topic because I wrote her a 100-or-so word comment sharing my thoughts and feelings. Then a little light bulb went off in my head–Hey the Academy Award Nominations have been posted! I can write about that! And everyone knows I’m extremely talented when it comes to talking about movies and judging celebs because that’s the topic I was Freshly Pressed for. See, I’m good for something. tumblr_mjom5uWBbV1qaaafzo1_500

And that’s how I arrived at today’s post. And it’s going to be a lazy one. I’m going to filter through all of the nominees and determine which ones I would choose if I were single-handedly running the awards show. This is a really creative idea for a blog post, so no one steal this. It’s never been done before. I’m in awe of my innovative spirit.

Best Picture:

I would award Wolf of Wall Street best picture even though it’s probably not. The length really does it in for me. Did it really need to be 3 hours? No. Could a full hour have been cut out and make the film feel more concise? Defs. It was slightly indulgent on Scorsese’s part, but it was an entertaining show and a good story. Also I didn’t see 5 of the other movies up for the award soooo that kind of narrowed it down for me. Also, I just spelled Scorsese without looking it up.

Best Supporting Actress:

I’m glad JLaw got a Golden Globe because I will literally jump through my TV and pull a Kanye if she get’s another Oscar. Especially with the terrible NY accent she had in American Hustle. I think Sally Hawkins should win for her performance in Blue Jasmine. She was pretty great. However, I wouldn’t be upset if Lupita N’yongo won just because of the awesome red dress she sported at the GG’s. She has proven to be a person of worth.

Me, thinking of Jennifer Lawrence winning.

Me, thinking of Jennifer Lawrence winning.

Best Supporting Actor:

I like all of these fine men (except maybe Barkhad Abdi because his teeth scare me–I’m sure he’s nice) but I think Bradley Cooper deserves an Oscar. Or Michael Fassbender. Or Jared Leto. Or Jonah Hill. Idk all of them? What if “Idk all of them?” was on the envelope for Best Supporting Actor? I would make a great Academy.tumblr_mfnr9kolNf1r6kb4xo1_500

Best Lead Actress:

I think Cate Blanchett did a fantastic job in Blue Jasmine. Like, I’m not the biggest Woody Allen fan, but I thought the part of Jasmine was beautifully tragic and…I sound so dumb. I really liked Judi Dench’s character, Philomena, but I don’t think it required a lot from her. To be honest, I would be happy with either of these ladies.

Best Lead Actor:

Aww poor little Leo. He tried so hard. Give him an award already. Plus, I really don’t want to hear Matthew McConaughey’s voice again.tumblr_mjpp1agTA11qenmvro4_500

Best Director:

David O. Russell for American Hustle I guess. Purely because his movie rhymes with his name.tumblr_mxhoco5O8t1r7fvkfo1_500

Best Animated Feature:

Frozen. It’s the only one I saw and the only one I needed to see. Do we really want a movie called The Croods being awarded with a golden statue?

Achievement in Cinematography:

This is bordering on “boring award” territory, but I loved the movie Prisoners and I think it deserves to win something. Since this is the only award it’s up for, I thought I would give it some love.

Adapted Screenplay:

Philomena gets my vote. Did you know that Steve Coogan was one of the main writers? It’s a lovely and heartbreaking story that I think everyone should watch.tumblr_my6aedVUyj1qepf8yo1_500

Original Screenplay:

Okay, I didn’t really like Her that much (I thought it would be weird, but just weird enough where it was okay. It turned out to be I-forgot-how-gross-Joaquin-Phoenix-is weird.) but I applaud Spike Jonze’s creativity.tumblr_my9fcqoa8B1sqwfb9o1_250

Who and what are your top picks for this year?

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Movies

My Favorite Foreign Films

Times must really be desperate if I’m devoting an entire post to the foreign film genre. Did I even use the word ‘genre’ right? I feel like it’s interchangeable with the word ‘category’ but I could be wrong. Also, am I using those single quote marks correctly? I don’t even know who I am anymore.

Sooo yeah foreign films. This is a dry subject that I’m going to try to make fun and colorful! Most people roll their eyes at foreign films because they’re a lot of work:

A) They’re hard to find. You can’t just run to Target an pick up a copy of Gomorra. It’s just not gonna happen. They do have every season of Friends available though.

B) They require a lot of attention. You can’t play Candy Crush and read subtitles at the same time (much to my chagrin).

C) It’s hard to know which movie to choose when you’re unfamiliar with another country’s actors and actresses. It’s also difficult because you most likely haven’t heard much about any titles or watched any trailers for these movies. So how do you know where to start?

The words ‘foreign film’ mean different things to different people. To some, it simply means any movie with subtitles. To others it means films made by foreign directors. And a lot of people equate the term with anything that isn’t American made.

I personally feel like it’s a combination of all three. It definitely depends on the film, but not all movies with subtitles constitute a foreign film in my book. For example, I don’t think of Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds as a foreign film even though most of the movie is subtitled. However, I feel like some movies that are spoken in English are foreign to me simply because they take place in a different country, like Slumdog Millionaire for example.

If you have no idea where to start, here are some of my favorite foreign films:

Pan’s Labyrinth (Guillermo del Toro, 2006) This magical tale takes place in fascist Spain in the 40’s. The main character is a young girl who moves with her mother into a new, grand house with storybook surprises around every corner. It’s a beautiful movie and a captivating story.pans-labyrinth-movie-screencaps.com-

The Magdalene Sisters (Peter Mullan, 2002) Taking place in the harsh Catholic society of Ireland, this movie shows the devastating struggles that women had to endure in asylum laundry houses. It’s unbelievable. A great story that you’ll never forget. (No subtitles)magdalene_sisters_verdvd

Raise the Red Lantern (Yimou Zhang, 1991) The fascinating story of the four wives to a powerful lord in 1920’s China. At just nineteen years old, Songlian is sent to become the master’s fourth wife and learns the ins and outs of her new home. Raise_the_Red_Lantern_DVD

Amélie (Jean-Pierre Jeunet, 2001) Amélie is just trying to make sense of the world around her. She wants adventure and something worth living for. Her escapades in Paris are sweet and fun to watch. She’s an enjoyable character that you can’t help rooting for.amelie_ver1

Bicycle Thieves aka The Bicycle Thief (Vittorio De Sica, 1948) The touching story of a man and his son looking for their stolen bicycles. The twosome run all over Rome in search for their bikes. It’s frustrating and sad but overall a good watch.bicycle_thieves_criterion_dvd_image

Let the Right One In (Tomas Alfredson, 2008) A true vampire classic, this story is about a lone female vampire living in the frozen tundra of Sweden. She befriends a young boy living in her neighborhood and protects him when he needs her help. A great and creepy story of what life must really be like for those sad vampire children.MV5BMjE1OTY2MTM5MF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNzQ5Mjc5MQ@@._V1._SX640_SY949_

M (Fritz Lang, 1931) This early black and white tale takes place in a German town where a child murderer is on the loose. Unable to catch him, locals keep their eye out for the criminal. It’s a great early cinematic production worth watching.M

Do you like foreign films? What are some of your favorites?

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Movies

Movie Review: Frances Ha

I love going to the University theater to see movies that don’t make it to the bigger screens in town. Artsy-indie movies, documentaries, old movies that our generation never got to see in the theater–all good reasons to go. Last week I took my friend to an indie-ish black-and-white film called Frances Ha starring Greta Gerwig and some other people that I don’t know.MV5BOTY0NDQ2NzQ2N15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMTU0OTkwOQ@@._V1._SX640_SY1004_

I was prepared for the movie to be a cross between a Woody Allen flick and the HBO show Girls. So what I’m trying to say is, I was prepared for the worst. It wasn’t the worst though.

Frances Ha starts off introducing the audience to Frances and her best friend slash roommate Sophie. They do everything together and get along well. Eventually they find themselves reluctantly parting ways and Frances is faced with some tough life decisions. Life is hard, but it always seems like it’s harder for 20-somethings in NYC.

Frances hops from job to job and apartment to apartment hoping to make it big as modern dancer. One of my favorite montages in the film is when she goes home for Christmas to Sacramento, California. They capture the feeling of going home to your parent’s house when you’ve been away the whole year very well.

The movie also illustrates the stupid spontaneity of my age group. In one scene, Frances was having dinner with some impressive people and they were talking about their apartment in Paris. Afterwards Frances decides that she wants to go to Paris on the weekend, and does, even though she has zero spending money.

Sophie and Frances

Sophie and Frances

Sometimes we’re faced with desperate times, and the movie shows this when Frances decides to go back to her Alma Mater to work as an RA (free rent!) and waitress. It’s definitely a low point in her life.

But for all the struggling that she does, Frances makes one good choice and everything seems to fall into place. It’s funny how stuff like that always works out. It made me happy that the ending turned out well for Frances. She was lovable. Some of her humor didn’t fully translate on screen (I think it was supposed to be like that), and she wasn’t perfect.

It was a good movie. I would give it 3 and a half out of 5. I know that seems low. It wasn’t amazing, but I obviously liked it enough to write about it. The ending is cute, and they played some good tunes. It also shows an adequate picture of how fugly some NYC girls can be.

 

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Movies

Film Faux Pas

I had a big debate in my head whether to name this post “Movie Missteps” or “Film Faux Pas.” I obviously just wanted to write the word ‘faux pas’ and now I’ve written it thrice, so mission accomplished.

Are there certain moments in movies that ruin the experience for you? It happens to me a lot. I think I spend too much time concentrating on what’s going on in the background or actor’s expressions to fully get absorbed into the experience of just watching. That’s probably why movies don’t make me cry. I just can’t get into them enough to let my emotions get all crazy. I’m usually too busy concentrating on whether the actor or actresses’ tears are in the same position between cuts. Which brings me to my first point.

Bad cuts/Sloppy editing

I grew up knowing how to spot a bad cut. It’s a skill that will never come in handy unless your goal is to sound like a total douche. A “bad cut” is basically when a scene ends and goes onto a different scene without a smooth transition. OR it can take place within the same scene, which makes it more obvious and even more frustrating. Here is an example from one of my favorite movies during one of my least favorite scenes: between 2:40-2:45. It’s quick! See if you can catch it.

Dancing is extra tricky. You have to do a perfect take all the way through otherwise it’s easy to spot the mistake. Gene Kelly is always perfect so I’m going to assume it was Cyd Charisse’s fault.

This happens a lot when props (usually food or drinks) are involved. Have you ever seen a movie where someone is eating an ice cream cone and the director cuts away and then when he cuts back to the person eating the cone, it’s a different size, shape, or height?  The worst. Consistency is a big deal. The damage that’s done between takes is big. And it shows the audience that the scene wasn’t accomplished in one fluid moment. They had to stop in the middle of it, take the ice cream away, get the person a new cone that looked nothing like the other one that had already almost melted, and start again from where they took off. Movie magic? I think not.

Another example happened in the movie Titanic when Jack hands Rose a white note to meet him at the stairs and when she opens the note, it’s on yellow paper. What genius made that mistake? Did they even have yellow paper in 1912?

Movies within movies

I don’t like to give my dad credit for things, but he did bring this faux pas to my attention. When you show characters in a movie watching another movie, it takes the attention off of the movie that you’re watching and puts it onto the movie that they’re watching. This is especially bad if the characters are watching a great, classic movie. It makes the audience think about how great that movie is compared to the stupid movie they’re watching right now.

I can’t really think of any examples off the top of my head besides Gilmore Girls. They would over-use obscure pop culture references and often sit in front of their television watching movies that were immensely better than Gilmore Girls itself.

Too much length

It turns into a problem if I can identify a scene that doesn’t belong in a movie. If a movie starts to head into the longer-than-two-hours zone, I begin thinking of ways I could’ve solved this problem if I were the editor. Most movies, even the classics, have pointless scenes that make the film a little longer than it should be. You know that rare feeling when a movie is so succinct and perfect? Nothing could be removed, yet nothing is missing either? Yeah, that’s what a lot of movies miss now. Trust me. I accidentally watched the director’s cut of Amadeus and it was like, 3 hours long. I feel like I’ve seen The Magic Flute in it’s entirety because of that movie. Rough.amadeus-movie

Using a name to fill in the gaps

It seems to me that whenever a scene in a movie or TV show includes an argument between two characters, or a moment where one character is trying to convince another of something, names will be overused. I couldn’t have described that any worse. What I mean is when actors are trying to add more emotion, and steer away from their lines. I think when they do that, it causes them to get flustered and overuse their counterpart character’s name.

For example, if a character was crying and fighting while talking to her boyfriend and saying something like this:

“But Brad, I love you Brad. Brad, why won’t you talk to me? I can’t believe you would do this to me Brad. Brad, I’ve always been there for you!”

Bad example, but you get the point. They rely too much on an character’s name and it doesn’t seem like a real conversation. That kind of thing always takes me out of the moment and usually ruins what is supposed to be an emotional scene.

Any movie moments that bother you?

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Movies, Sports

Wimbledon Whiplash

My title doesn’t really make sense, but I’m a sucker for alliteration so whatever.

Yesterday I was cleaning out our PVR (It was stocked with Beachcombers reruns and Nazi movies…I’ll give you a guess who recorded those) when I saw that we had that old Kirsten Dunst/Paul Bettany movie, Wimbledon. I’d never seen it and I happened to have 6 hours of free time on my hands so I thought why the hell not?Wimbledon - Movie Wallpaper - 01

The movie itself was cute, but I thought it was a little convenient. There’s no way that a tennis player who’s ranked 115 in the world would ever be able to beat one of the highest ranked players of all time. I mean, it’s possible, but so rare that it seemed slightly unlikely for the movie to end that way.

Later that night Paul (not Paul Bettany, but Paul my husband) and I were watching the first day of actual Wimbledon and my eyes almost popped out of my head. One of the currently ranked best players in the game was being beaten by a nobody. This lucky guy was ranked maybe 120? AND he actually looked like Paul Bettany. I feel like I willed this twist of events to happen by watching the film Wimbledon. My bad.

Sorry Raf!

Sorry Raf!

This kind of thing never happens so that’s why I’m taking all the fault credit.

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Movies

My Favorite Movie Kids

I would’ve posted this piece to my other blog Kidz Showz, but it didn’t seem appropriate. Especially since some of the “kids” might be 20 and others might be from R-rated movies. Kidz Showz is a pure blog and I don’t want to be the one who tarnishes it. Although, it’s tarnished in many, many other ways.

The following names are some of my favorite weird kids from movies (not TV!):

Clifford from the movie Clifford. I don’t care who judges me, I think Martin Short plays a pretty funny adolescent. I always liked Clifford because he behaved sweetly in front of adults, but tormented his Uncle Martin to no end. Clifford is the definition of passive-aggressive, which is hilarious if you don’t have to deal with that kind of behavior in real life. He also has a green dinosaur toy named Stephen as his companion throughout the movie.clifford

Dawn Wiener from the movie Welcome to the Doll House. Perhaps one of the most tragic souls of all is Dawn Wiener aka Wienerdog. The kids at school torment her to no end, calling her “lesbo” and “dog face”, which prove to supply her with names to call her little sister. She has a crush on one of the members of her older brother’s band, has the saddest fashion sense of all time, and cuts the heads of off her sister’s barbie dolls. She’s basically my idol.dawn-wiener-welcome-dollhouse--large-msg-131051452577

Harold from the movie Harold and Maude. Harold isn’t technically a kid, but he’s a great character. And he’s also pretty young compared to his movie counterpart Maude. Harold is a privileged only child who enjoys cemeteries, funerals, and faking his own suicide. His life is revolved around death until he meets Maude, lover of life. Maude teaches Harold how to be carefree and happy. They save trees, walk through fields of daisies, and sing together.haroldandmaudeeyetwo

Marcus Brewer from the movie About A Boy. Marcus is the definition of odd-ball but only because his vegan mother raised him that way. He sports a bowl-cut, sings with his eyes closed, and tries to find happiness in his life even though his mother recently attempted suicide. Luckily he meets Will, an adult with no responsibilities, living the easy life. Hesitant at first, Will spends time with Marcus and gets to know the cool kid that’s deep inside him.arts-graphics-2007_1175913a

Matilda from the movie Matilda. It was between Matilda and Sara from The Little Princess. But Sara was too normal. Matilda was abnormal in that she had special powers that helped her survive her crappy school and even crappier family. But much like Sara, Matilda was sugary sweet and a bit daring. In this Roald Dahl classic, Matilda’s world is filled with people who are self-centered (her parents, her principal…almost all the adults in the movie) until she meets her teacher Miss Honey. This semi-dark children’s story taught me that if you’re blessed with magic powers, everything will eventually turn out fine.Matilda-matilda-4452227-640-480

Who are some of your favorite movie kids?

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