Archive for the 'Movies' Category

Oscar Movie Marathon: Year 3*

*technically this is my 4th year of doing the movies, but the 3rd year there have been more than 5 and I’ve blogged about it

If you were paying any attention to the world a few weeks ago, you probably knew the Academy Awards happened.  My family continued our tradition of participating in AMC Theaters’ Best Picture Movie Marathon.  This year we had an even bigger group (11!) of family and friends who traveled from out of town or cleared their weekend to watch 9 movies back to back in a 24 hour period.  The marathon started on the Saturday before the Oscars at 11:00 am and ended on Sunday morning around 8:30.  Overall, the 9 movies were great.  I liked them as a whole better than the 10 from the last two years.  Last year wasn’t bad, but I was excited to see more of these movies.

The movies (in the order I saw them) with my thoughts:

Hugo (in 3D)

I enjoyed Hugo but definitely not as much as everyone else.  It’s a good, interesting story, and from what I can remember it was true to the book.  But I just didn’t LOVE it.  I think I had a problem with some of the acting.  There would be some pauses before dialogue or I didn’t understand why Hugo did some of the things he did.  A lot of us picked it for Best Picture though, so if you haven’t seen it, go and make your own decisions.  I give it a 3/5.

The Tree of Life

You guys, I did NOT get this movie at all.  I knew going into it that it was going to be a very unique way to tell a story, but even that didn’t help.  Some of my family had already seen it, and they all really liked it, so they were excited to see it again.  They did say that when they saw it the first time, they discussed it for about 2 hours afterward – which is one of the big problems with doing a movie marathon – no time to digest a film.  Maybe I would have liked it better if I had been able to really talk about it with someone afterward.  I can see why it was nominated.  The three little boys are really great in it too, but I just didn’t get it.  Rating: 1/5

The Help

I really enjoyed this book, but I was really unsure how the movie was going to be, especially after seeing some of the trailers.  It was better than I had expected.  The acting was good, but I’m not sure I was really WOW-ed.  Jessica Chastain was great as Celia Foote though.  It was quite a switch from her role in The Tree of Life but she was great in both.  Not really much to say beyond that; I don’t think it had a shot at winning Best Picture.  Rating: 3/5

The Artist

This movie was great!  I kind of knew I would end up liking it though because I love old black-and-white movies, and this really feels like one of those old classics.  I don’t think I’ve seen a true silent film though, and this was so much fun!  The music is wonderful, the acting is excellent.  (Jean Dujardin is so good!)  I highly recommend seeing it.  Maybe you’ll discover you like the feel of older films.  It’s just a good refreshing alternative to today’s modern films.  I’m really glad it won Best Picture.  5/5!

The Descendants

This film felt similar to last year’s The Kids Are Alright with the family issues.  I liked it a lot, but I didn’t feel it was worthy of the best pick.  It’s set in Hawaii, which was interesting.  The acting was good – especially the girls who played George Clooney’s daughters.  I’m always impressed with child actors – when they’re good.  Consider yourself warned that George Clooney looks much older than you’ve ever seen him.  Movie rating; 4/5.

Midnight in Paris

This is the only film I had seen before we started.  I enjoyed it just as much, probably a little more, than the first time.  It’s a great throwback to the people, culture, life of Paris in the ’20s.  I won’t tell you much more, and I don’t suggest looking into the film much before you see it.  And you should see it.  It’s a wonderfully fun, kind of quirky film. Rating: 5/5

War Horse

I have to admit that this was probably the film I was least interested in seeing.  I’m not really a big animal movie fan, and I don’t know much about or am really interested in horses.  That said, it was better than I expected.  A little long at times, but it’s covering World War I, so there’s a little bit of an epic feel.  See it if you’re interested in horses, WWI, or need to see all of Spielberg’s films.  FYI: I think this was one of the films where afterward we played “Did you spot the Harry Potter actor/actress?”  Rating: 2/5

Moneyball

Besides animal movies, I’m not much of a sports movies fan.  However, it did hold my interest most of the time – toward the end, they show a lot of clips of a game, and I may have started to doze a little bit.  Of course, this one started at 4 am, so that probably had more to do with it.  It probably held my interest so much because Aaron Sorkin was one of the screenwriters, and I love the way he writes.  The acting is pretty good – both Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill are good, but I didn’t expect either to win.  The best part of the movie may have been the girl who plays Brad Pitt’s daughter who plays guitar and sings Lenka’s “The Show” a few times.  She is SO GOOD!  Oh and Chris Pratt shows up in this movie.  It’s kind of weird to see him play a real adult when you’re used to Andy Dwyer, but he was great too.  Rating: 3/5

 Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

Since I absolutely LOVE this book, this movie was one I was most interested (and scared) to see.  I didn’t expect much going in, since I’d read some less-than-great reviews, but I was pleasantly surprised.  There are several things different, but I think I can live with it for the movie.  I know a lot of people didn’t like the movie, but I think it’s because they haven’t read the book.  It’s hard to get the full picture when you’re missing the other peoples’ stories that help tell the complete story.  Still, the movie hits pretty close to the tone and emotions for Oscar’s story in the book.  Thomas Horn who plays Oscar is phenomenal.  I wish he had earned some kind of recognition for his acting.  Fun fact: He won the Kids’ Jeopardy tournament.  🙂  Rating: 4/5.

Has anyone seen any of these yet?  What did you think?

– Jill

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This Movie Trailer Might Make You Pee Your Pants

When I first heard that Daniel Radcliffe was going to star in the movie version of The Woman in Black I was super excited.  I feel a strong connection to that story since I survived seeing the play when I was in London.

Why do I say “survived” seeing the play?  Because the play is freaking terrifying!!  When I was in London, I latched on to a lovely group of theater majors who were also on the trip and we went to a lot of shows together.  I think I went to 12 in all during the three months I was there.  I missed most of the big ones (The Lion King, Wicked, Chicago, etc.) but offhand I remember seeing Les Mis, Stones in His Pockets (the play Dan went to with his parents and met David Heyman for the first time……not a play for kids btw), Mama Mia, Noises Off, Private Lives (with Alan Rickman!!!) and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (with Brendan Fraser).  It was easy for us to go to so many plays because if you had a student ID you could get any last minute tickets for super cheap right before the show started.

Well, one evening Josh asked if I wanted to go see The Woman in Black.  I said sure, whatever, because I had no idea what I was getting into.  Not until we got to the theater and I saw all the super creepy posters did I realize that this was a SCARY play.  I figured, “how scary can it be?  It’s a play, it will be so easy to tell that everything is fake!”  I could not have been more wrong.  The Woman in Black is soooooooo terrifying.  I don’t even remember much about the plot, just that this young dude spends some time in this spooky house and a woman in black keeps appearing.  It may sound kind of lame, but trust me, it is anything but.  At one point during the show, the woman actually walked down the main aisle of the theater and everybody screamed bloody murder.  If I hadn’t been safely up in the cheap balcony seats I would have run out into the dark streets of London by myself to escape the horror.

So anyway, enough rambling.  I figured that since I survived the play, the movie would be no problem at all.  Well, after seeing this trailer, I think I am going to skip this movie until I can watch it in broad daylight, surrounded by family and friends and my cats.

Awwwww man!  Why did I have to watch it again??  Now I am going to have nightmares for days.

Jen

Edit:  I just found the website for the play!!

I gotta get over it… and accept Katniss as she is.

soooooo…a few months ago this cover came out:

And I was all “ROWR THEY ACTUALLY MADE HER LOOK OLDER! she looks flippin’ 25! I am so MAD!” and I was rampaging and grumbling and really upset. Yes, she looks badass. But she does not look anywhere near 16.

So then I got all arrogant and decided to prove the point to no one who cared. I asked several of my coworkers, who were unfamiliar with the Hunger Games (beyond knowing the title) and the film’s casting, how old was the girl on the EW cover. I was very very confident that I would hear a “24,” a “about 23” and maybe a “19.”


I was SHOCKED when instead I heard: “14” and “17” and “about 14 or 15.” WHAAAAA?! Are we looking at the same picture? I was speechless. I still do not understand it. But I need to get over it because obviously they are not going to recast just because I am a little grumpy. and yeah yeah yeah, I get it that Jennifer Lawrence is a kick-ass actress…But KICK-ASS is the very point! How much would that movie had changed if they had had, say, Emma Roberts play Hit-girl?!

Weird that I am so negative about this movie so far. It is going to be awesome. SERIOUSLY AWESOME!

But what is with Katniss’ skin-tight leather jacket and boots in the promo pics? Yup, that sure makes her look younger and less like a Bond girl…I just hate it. 😉 gosh, I need to watch Spinal Tap…

My Thoughts on Deathly Hallows Part 2

I went to see this movie at midnight and it was a wonderful experience.  I was in line at 3:30 p.m. and it was quite lovely.  I watched a movie, did several word searches and ate a lot of food.  We got great seats and the whole evening was phenomenal.  My poor sister was in Ames and she was nearly trampled to death at her theater.  They wouldn’t let anyone line up until 9:00 p.m., so there was a literal “Wal-Mart on Black Friday” mob running across the parking lot to get in line.  She was the only one from her group who made it into the building so she had to save seats for 12 other people.  Poor thing, she was so traumatized.

Anyway, I have already seen the movie twice and have managed to put together some thoughts (once I mopped up all my tears and stopped whimpering).  It will be filled with spoilery type things, so only click through if you have seen the movie.

Continue reading ‘My Thoughts on Deathly Hallows Part 2’

It All Ends Thursday.

I have spent the last ten days re-reading the Harry Potter books for what is probably the 12th time (at least for the first four books).  I went through a period of many years when I read them at least twice a year, but I haven’t read them in at least two years.  It was wonderful to jump back into one of my favorite worlds and meet up with my favorite characters again.  I enjoyed reading each and every book, but in different ways than I had in the past, which was interesting.

I first read the books back in November of 2001.  That was almost ten years ago!!!  Back then I was an immature little college sophomore frolicking around London and having the time of my life.  But as soon as I picked up that first book, I completely gave up sightseeing and going to the pub to sit and read in my little room.  I remember being on the tube on my way to the theater or a museum and seeing at least half a dozen people reading Harry Potter.  It was funny to see the ones who tried to hide it by buying the “adult” covers and then the ones who blazenly didn’t care and were reading the kids version.

Ah, memories.  I can remember what I was doing when I read each of the books for the very first time.  I can also remember my first experience seeing each of the movies.  Even when the books ended, we still had three more movies to look forward to, so it was not as sad as it could have been.  Now it is really all going to be over and there is nothing left to look forward to.  (Don’t come back and say anything about Pottermore.  Don’t even get me started on that…..that just seems like a bunch of rubbish to me.  She should have spent her time working on the Encyclopedia, not a stupid website.  J.K. Rowling’s on my list now.)

Anyway, I am really excited to see the movie on Thursday at midnight.  I am lucky enough to be going with a huge group of people, and I will be the first person to get there to hold our spot in line.  I am going to pack my bag pretty soon so I will have everything I need.  Pillows, blankets, laptop with movies, books, headphones, cards, and lots of food are all necessary to survive the wait in line.

That is going to be a great day for me because it is the last day of summer reading programming.  I am going to clean up from my afternoon program as quick as a bunny (Oh man, why did I have to do a glitter project on the last day!!!) and skip out of the library waving my hands in the air and singing the Hallelujah Chorus.  I have already warned people that I will be doing this, so it probably won’t be seen as too odd.  After that, I won’t have to go back to work till the next Wednesday, so I am going to be the happiest girl in the world when those first few credits start to roll.

I will be very happy, but I’m pretty sure I am going to cry through the whole thing, so I should probably add a box or two of Kleenexes to my bag.

Here is a little video to catch everyone up on all the movies, and to show just how much those crazy kids have grown 🙂

Anyway, I hope that all my nerdgirls have similar plans to see the movie and get to see it with good friends.  I wish I could see it with you, but I haven’t learned to apparate yet.

Jen

Documentary Monday~~Bigger, Stronger, Faster*

TitleBigger, Stronger, Faster*

Year–2008

Awards–Nominated for a Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival, 2008

Nominated for the Feature Film Award at the Prism Awards, 2009

Summary–Takes a look at steroid use in America, especially among celebrities and athletes.  The film is made by Chris Bell, and follows him as he struggles with whether or not to use, especially since both of his brothers do.

My Thoughts–I wasn’t sure if I was going to like this film or not.  I don’t know a lot about the topic, and aside from being a baseball fan, don’t really think too much about steroids.  My opinion is that if they are illegal, then nobody should be using them and also, it is cheating.  I thought it was interesting that one of the big questions this film asks is, “Should they even be illegal?”

Chris Bell is the director and narrator of the film.  He talks about how Arnold Schwarzenegger, Hulk Hogan, and Sylvester Stallone were all his heroes.  He spent a lot of his high school years bodybuilding and getting buff to be like his role models.  Of course, later in life he realized that they were all on steroids at one point.  Chris thinks steroids are morally wrong and after trying it, decided that he wouldn’t use them.  But both of his brothers use them on a regular basis.

The documentary spends a lot of time talking about how the negative effects of steroids have been blown out of proportion.  It is pointed out that all drugs have negative side effects and potential pitfalls.  Also, tobacco and alcohol are legal even though they are harmful when used and cause thousands of deaths every year.  One statistic they mention is that deaths related to steroids in one given year were only 3.  From the info they provided, I can understand why it is a little bit silly for someone who possess anabolic steroids to be classified as a federal drug criminal.

I do, however, think that they should not be allowed in sports.  One of the most depressing things about this documentary is how many people said “everybody does it, so that’s why I did it.”  He talks to people from so many different sports and they all say the same thing.  It kind of broke my heart a little bit.  It really is true when the narrator says “Steroids are as American as apple pie.”  Sigh.

There are a lot of things addressed in this film (my one complaint is that it did feel a little long) but all of it is tied in with Chris’ struggles with his family and their decision to use steroids.  The interviews and discussions with his family members really added a lot to the topic and made it more personal.

Final Verdict–Well-made, interesting film that will never let you look at your favorite athletes in the same way.

Jen

Documentary Monday~~Sound and Fury

TitleSound and Fury

Year–2000

Awards–Nominated for the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature, 2001

Nominated for Best Documentary at the Independent Spirit Awards, 2001

Won the Freedom of Expression Award from the National Board of Review, 2000

Summary–Follows the story of a two related families who are considering cochlear implants for their children.  One of them is an infant, Peter, who was born to parents who can hear.  The other is his cousin Heather, who has grown up in an all deaf family.

My Thoughts–This was a really good film, but parts of it were hard to watch.  It is a very emotional story where people feel very passionate about their views, so there is a lot of arguing.  I am not big on confrontation or fighting, so some of the family discussions were hard for me to watch.

The main focus of the film is a 4 1/2 year-old girl named Heather whose parents and siblings are all deaf.  She is interested in getting a cochlear implant which would allow her to hear so it will be easier for her to interact with other children who are not deaf.  Her parents have very mixed feelings about the idea because they are worried that she will stop identifying with the deaf community and lose herself in the hearing world.

Heather’s infant cousin Peter (their fathers are brothers) is born deaf and his parents really want to get him an implant as soon as possible.  Peter’s maternal grandparents are both deaf and think that this is not the right choice for their grandchild.

One of the good things about seeing all the arguing amongst family members is it really helps to illustrate what a huge impact these implants have on the deaf community.  Many of the older deaf people in the film seemed to be opposed to them, while the majority of the hearing people seemed to think it was the only way to go.

I admit that I fell into that category at first.  I thought, well, of course I would want my child to be able to hear.  But after listening to Heather’s parents discuss their fears and seeing how great it was for Heather when she went to visit the deaf school, I began to rethink my position.

This is a good film to introduce you to the topic because there are good arguments on both sides of the issue.  I’m so glad I watched it because I was only vaguely aware that this surgery even existed.  I also enjoyed watching everyone speaking in sign language.  I almost never get to watch people signing, and I am always so impressed with how beautiful the language is.

Final Verdict–This is a good, emotional film that will make you really think.  It’s impossible to watch it and not think about what you might do in the same situation.

Jen