Thursday, October 30, 2014

Random (Halloween) Poll: Which Sanderson Sister is Your Favorite?

I was going to write something up about Halloween movies for this year's holiday, but everyone is doing that. Instead, I would like to focus briefly on my all-time favorite Halloween movie: Hocus Pocus. Being from the north, I appreciate the leaves, the jack-o-lanterns and the general autumn-y feel to the whole thing. It will be very hard for a movie to unseat this Disney classic.

Everyone has a favorite Sanderson Sister, but I want to know which was your favorite. Each one has their own lovable qualities, so feel free to vote more than once.  Happy Halloween everyone!  

What's the Matter with Kids Today? And Adults?

Jason Reitman's Men Women & Children is a somber affair, and that's an understatement. The all-star cast spends the entire film sexting each other and not connecting. Yes, I realize that's the point, but does it have to be so serious and dour? 

The glow of cell phones and tablets illuminate almost everyone's faces at all times. Adam Sandler's Don uses his son's desktop to watch porn, and he doesn't realize that his wife, Helen (Rosemarie DeWitt), has created an online dating profile to meet men. Chris, their son, spends a decent amount of his time sexting girls and looking up domination porn. Jennifer Garner plays a mother that is so obsessed with protecting her daughter that she monitors her navigation on a GPS, and she has created a system to delete messages before her daughter can even see them. She's kind of like Margaret White with a cell phone package. 

If infidelity isn't your forte, Ansel Elgort plays a football player who draws ire from his fellow players when he suddenly quits the team after reading Carl Sagan. He no longer sees the point of doing something so insignificant, but he connects with Garner's daughter, Brandy. The pair sit in almost silence in the library, a romance blooms, and Elgort spends the majority of his screen time with a wet face. Did he watch The Fault in Our Stars before every take? 

While some of the acting is solid (Garner is the most interesting, DeWitt is the most wasted), some of the other characters don't seem fleshed out or real. Judy Greer plays a photographer who is trying to get her daughter famous, but the scandalous snapshots on her website might stand in the way. It's all very interesting, but in this day and age, it's not very compelling. The similarly-themed drama Disconnect from two years ago dealt with technology ruining lives but in a more specific way. 

There is a shot where DeWitt and Sandler are playing Words with Friends silently in bed next to each other. If they are dying to connect, all they need to do is turn to each other. Don't ask me to relate or sympathize if you are going to be lazy.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Fantastic Felines of Film

Since today is National Cat Day, I wanted to give a shout out (meow out?) to some of my favorite felines in movies. I have always been a cat person (Shut up, shut up! I love dogs too!), and I've always thought that they have gotten a bad rap compared to other animals depicted on screen.

I could have made this a big countdown, and I definitely left some more iconic kitties off the list. Sorry, Cat from Breakfast at Tiffany's...sorry, Oliver from Oliver and Company...sorry, Aslan from Narnia. Here are my favorite six kitty cats from the big screen.   

This is more of a brief obituary for the white cat from National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. The poor thing never had a proper burial, I don't think. Every cat owner is wary when they haul out their holiday decorations, because they know that their cats might possibly break a beloved ornament. In the case of Lampoon, the curious cat electrocutes himself while comping on some Christmas tree lights. 

I'm paranoid that I'm going to come home and find my cat fried on the living room floor. Rest in peace, little guy. 

I know this isn't necessarily a traditional choice considering that Michelle Pfeiffer's Selina Kyle wasn't exactly a cat. Well, she kind of was, right? 

Pfeiffer's incarnation of Catwoman will probably forever be my favorite, and the way those cats revive Selina is downright...scary. I distinctly remember hiding my face during this sequence when I saw it in the theater back in 1992. 

My friend had me watch his Siamese cat for a few months, and I was instantly reminded of the mischievous cats from Lady & the Tramp

It's sooooo racist...

Can you have a list of great cats without The Cowardly Lion? In a word, no. 

Thackery Binx might be the best name for a cat ever. 

In case you have never seen Hocus Pocus (kill yourself), Thackery Binx was a young boy who was turned into a cat by The Sanderson Sisters in 1693 when he tried to protect his baby sister. When the witches are resurrected 300 years later (man, I need to watch this movie...) Binx is the guide for the trio of teens who will stop at nothing to turn those witches to dust.  

Surely, Binx was responsible for some young people throwing out the idea that black cats are scary and evil. I mean, he turns back into a cute boy at the end--he can't be that bad, right?!

The honor of top feline has to go to Sassy from Homeward Bound: The Incredibly Journey

Not only was she an adorable Himalayan cat, but she was bitchily and sassily voiced by none other than Sally Field. Let me repeat that: two-time Academy Award winner Sally Field has voiced the greatest kitty cat of all time. 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

It's Rita Wilson's Birthday!

I've always felt that Rita Wilson should have a bigger career. She's charming, sweet, and so damn likable! I mean, she's married to Tom Hanks for goodness sake! Wilson celebrates her 58th birthday today.

She's done a lot of smaller roles in romantic comedies like Runaway Bride, Sleepless in Seattle, and It's Complicated, but my absolute favorite performance is from Rob Reiner's The Story of Us. She played Michelle Pfeiffer's best friend, and she delivers a great monologue about the monotony of the every day activities of marriage. Unfortunately, I had trouble finding it online, but it's featured in the trailer. Story wasn't very well liked (except from Owen Gleiberman) when it originally came out, but I still like it.  

Wilson has also produced some hits (My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Mamma Mia!), and she popped up on HBO's Girls as Marnie's mother. She's great in the role--hopefully she will be on more episodes. While her husband had a great year last year, Wilson continued her music career, and she has a real soothing sound (her album, AM/FM came out in 2012).  

Happy Birthday, Rita Wilson!!!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Well, I Saw 'The Judge'...

To be perfectly honest, there was nothing about The Judge that drew me in. Nothing. There's always one major fall release that does this to me, and this father-son drama was it. When I showed up at my local AMC, the only thing starting was the Robert Downey Jr./Robert Duvall drama, and I was too stubborn to wait for another movie to start or go home. 

Downey plays a cocky attorney named Hank who returns to his small hometown when his mother dies. He reconnects with his two brothers (Vincent D'Onofrio and Jeremy Strong), but he clashes with his headstrong father, played by Duvall. Instead of becoming an intimate family drama, The Judge turns into a mixture of family dysfunction (a fight seriously happens outside during a huge thunderstorm) and courtroom melodrama when Duvall's respected judge is accused of running down a former felon that he convicted 20 years ago. Oh, and Duvall has cancer. One pile on another pile on another pile. 

Just when I thought I wouldn't like anything The Judge has to offer, I am reminded how great of an actor Downey Jr. really is. Sure, he's playing a smart-mouthed, cocky attorney, and he's definitely corned the market on the good-looking smarmy guy thing. I was so happy to see him out of that damn Iron Man suit. He might quarrel with his father nonstop, but it felt rather refreshing to see him not surrounded by blinding CGI the entire time.

The childhood love story between Downey and Vera Farmiga is a bit stunted, but Farmiga should be in everything. The running time on this drama is sort of killer (it clocks in just under 2 and a half hours), and it kind of feels like something could have been left out. The tension between this father and son doesn't really settle until Hank is defending his father, but the reasoning as to why these two keep fighting isn't really clear. Hank's rambunctious younger days don't seem like enough of a reason for these two to continually bite each other's heads off.

While it's not something I necessarily wanted to check out, it had a homegrown charm. Can you really do better than Robert Duvall and Robert Downey Jr. duking it out? The Judge reminds us that Downey Jr. is one of his generation's best actors even if the material doesn't live up to his talents. 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Only Shot in the New 'Avengers' Trailer That I Care About...

The first teaser for Marvel's The Avengers: Age of Ultron came out late Wednesday night, and it's superhero serious. Not only does it suggest that the clan of spandex-clad frenemies return, but it also suggest that they are crushed by this opposition. Thor drops his hammer, Robert Downey Jr. looks troubled, and Captain Ameria's shield is ripped in half. Even newcomer Elizabeth Olsen (as Scarlet Witch) is seen silently screaming. A creepy version of "I've Got No Strings" from Pinocchio plays in the background.

How is the trailer? It's pretty epic, but surely fanboys will have something to bitch about. Can't win 'em all, right? While there are some cool shots (including some random ballet dancers that I highly enjoy), my favorite shot has to be this one. Are you surprised?  

Jason Adams has a hilarious comparison over at MNPP

Random Poll: Which 'Into the Woods' Cover Will You Buy?

Earlier today, Entertainment Weekly dropped the cover for their upcoming holiday movie preview issue, and it features Rob Marshall's Into the Woods on 4 separate collectible covers. The costumes look pretty great for the most part (why doesn't The Wolf...have a wolf nose?), and I am still waiting for some character posters to drop. EW also has some concept production design and costume art here.