Tuesday, April 15, 2014

He tried to make love to me and I shot him...

This post is part of Nathaniel's "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" series in which the participants must post a single image from a movie he or she deems as the "best shot" for any particular reason.

Not only is this the first time I saw The Letter, but this is also my first Bette Davis film ever. And golly, isn't she just something to behold? Her eyes in particular are striking, perfectly complementary to her stark surroundings. So my favorite shot actually came super early in the film...

Oh, it was all instinctive. I didn't even know I'd fired. Then I followed him out to the veranda. He staggered across the porch, grabbed the railing, but it slipped through his hand and he fell down the steps. I don't remember anything more, just the reports one after another till there was a funny little click and the revolver was empty. It was only then I knew what I'd done.

The shot is right after she has unloaded six bullets into the guy she was having an affair with (aka best character entrance ever). The moon is momentarily covered by the clouds as she stares at his lifeless body and then the clouds break and she turns her huge eyes up to the sky as if finally realizing what she had done. Of course, we learn later on in the film of the exact circumstances which leads her to this moment, but for now the audience is all eyes on her as it should be.

Below are a few more shots of Bette Davis' eyes (yes, yes I know)...

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Thoughts on Shameless, Girls, and Other Recent Finales

It's been a few weeks since I talked about anything TV related and that was me talking about the divisive How I Met Your Mother series finale. But that wasn't the only show I watched that ended its run this season during the past month, so I'd like to say a few words on them.

Shameless is one of my recent favorite TV shows so when I realized that its season finale was last week and I still hadn't watch any episodes from the past season, I had to get myself together and finally watch what new shit the Gallagher family was up to. For the past week, I watched and with every episode I kept being more and more impressed. Certainly the cast, especially its younger members, has been quite good since the beginning but they all seem to be better. Emmy Rossum and Jeremy Allen White in particular were this season's MVPs with Rossum expertly handling Fiona's descent to rock bottom and White balancing Lip's new collegiate life with his family's troubles back home. Even usually odious Frank had a storyline that enabled William H. Macy to play his character with a bit more humanity than usual. Apparently the show has decided to submit itself as a Comedy this year rightly thinking that the Drama category is way too packed, but it's strange it's also doing this with its most dramatic season yet. But if there was a show (other than The Americans) that deserve all the awards and praise it can, then this would be it.

Girls actually had its finale earlier in March, but I only saw the finale just a couple weeks ago. In any case, I thought it was a pretty solid season in terms of seeing the next evolution of Hannah as a person--stable relationship with Adam, working a corporate job--which of course couldn't last. In terms of getting all of the "girls" together, it was a mixed bag. Apart from a few instances like Hannah's birthday and the Hamptons episode (a stand out), the girls were mostly isolated from the others which makes sense in the real-life sense of these people not having that much in common, but also makes for a disjointed show. As it is we didn't get much of Zosia Mamet until the very end, which was a bit disappointing. I'm intrigued to see how next season will play out.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine has been an absolute delight and while I wished it hadn't ended early, we still had a full season of laughs with minimal breaks. To say I'm excited about what they'll bring next season would be an understatement. For me, every single character is just so fleshed out as well as how they relate to everyone else making it so that there's rarely a weak scene in the show. It's a show of surprises for me. Andre Braugher in a sitcom? Andy Samberg as the lead character? Gina becoming one of my favorite characters? Rosa and Charles' friendship not creeping me out? Jake and Amy's relationship giving me FEEEEEELS? Just talking about the characters is making me miss them so much.

Teen Wolf is not a perfect show by all means. The pacing of its season-long arcs are oftentimes frustrating and most of that is because a lot of the characters who should know better don't bother sharing key information with each other that would solve everything in a day or so. Fortunately, the cast is not just MTV-approved good-looking, but also quite talented so it's not such a drag watching the show even when the plots are. Dylan O'Brien was definitely the season's MVP playing a Stiles that was possessed by an evil spirit giving the actor something completely different to do and it was simply a joy to watch. The heartbreaking ending with Allison was just that and with the knowledge that the actress was leaving the show all along, I now wished they had given the dark spirit story to Crystal Reed as much as I love O'Brien's work. That also would've given that nogitsune storyline more weight since that ending was slightly anti-climactic (Stiles is fine after all of that? I guess.).

Walking Dead split its latest season in two with the latter part focusing on what everyone has been up to since the Governor's raid on the prison forced the group to splinter off into smallers groups. It enabled the show to highlight different sets of characters, locations, and stories for each episode and the variety quite effective after a couple of stagnating seasons. All of the different stories were tied towards their one goal of going to Terminus, a self-proclaimed haven where all the train tracks meet. And while the reunion was brief and incomplete in the last couple of episodes, it was still well worth the wait (who didn't squee with joy when Glen and Maggie finally saw each other again?). Obviously answering what exactly Terminus is will be the focus on next season, but I'm also looking forward to our heroes reconnecting and seeing how they've all changed after being separated. For example, Rick has given in to his darker instincts while Darryl seems to have grown feelings for Beth. There's also the harrowing journey that Carol and Tyreese went through plus the new "save the world" characters to address.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield in London

With Spring definitely in the air today in NYC, I thought it was fitting to post this recent picture of Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield being ridiculously good-looking and totally in love during the world premiere of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 in London yesterday. They're such a breath of fresh air, aren't they? Please, don't ever break up.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Looking Forward To...

Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Release: April 4, 2014
Distributor: Buena Vista
Director: Anthony & Joe Russo
Starring: Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Cobie Smulders, Hayley Atwell, Toby Jones, Robert Redford, Emily VanCamp,and Samuel L. Jackson

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Magic's when I come together with my friends...

This post is part of Nathaniel's "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" series in which the participants must post a single image from a movie he or she deems as the "best shot" for any particular reason.

Since it's April Fool's Day, it was deemed appropriate to pick the film that was notoriously the first ever Razzie "winner" for Worst Picture, the 1980s bomb Can't Stop the Music, a glittery ode to the fictionalized origin story of The Village People. To be honest, I don't have much to say. A film this hilariously awful and campy is something to be seen to believe. For this post, I'm just going to limit my focus on the musical performances and my favorite shots from them.

This is from "Samantha" which is a song that Steve Guttenberg's DJ character puts on in the club getting everyone hot and bothered. Yes, that's a person dressed up as an "Indian" dancing in front of a rainbow. This movie is subtle like that.

The next number is a dream sequence of sorts (isn't the whole movie a disco-fueled dream sequence though?) where the hunky construction guy sings "I Love You to Death" to a group of totally fierce ladies. Here he's surrounded by them while they look straight to my soul.

I actually like the casualness of this next performance. It's the group's first impromptu group number taking place in someone's backyard. This shot, which is my pick for Best Shot, is from the very end of "Magic Night" and I think just encapsulates the sheer joy the movie tries so hard to force through the screen with every scene, for better or worse.

Ah, remember the good old days when you just fell into a heap of other sweaty guys after a good workout? This shot is at the end of the infamous "YMCA" number. It's actually not the most interesting shot from that PG-erotica sequence, but it caught my eye.

Her "Milkshake" brings all the boys to the yard. Easy joke. Shut up.

So... this guy is literally shooting out rainbows singing "Can't Stop the Music." And that brings us full circle. Now, help me get this song out of my head, please.

Monday, March 31, 2014

HIMYM Series Finale: Last Forever

One thing you can say about How I Met Your Mother, which was true from its pilot to its very last episode, is that it wasn't afraid to take risks. Sometimes those risks pay off extremely well (their penchant for non-linear storytelling for one), but other times not so much (final season happening over one long weekend). The series finale, which aired tonight, dealt with the consequence for better or worse from the three riskiest decisions the creators made early on in the show's history: Robin not being the Mother, Ted not meeting the Mother until the very end of the series, and Ted getting together with Robin in the end.

The creators filmed the final scene with Ted's kids early on in the show's history essentially locking themselves on an ending. And that ending was that their mom has been dead for six years and their dad moves on with their Aunt Robin. Yikes! That's pretty dark isn't it? And yet, by itself I actually applaud the development. It's a somber ending certainly, but it's just another example of the show constantly trying to push the limits of its genre. Unfortunately, the execution leading up to that predetermined ending left much to be desired. For one, we just spent an entire season trying to get used to Barney and Robin being great together again culminating to a pretty heartfelt wedding. For another, we also spent a season falling in love with the titular Mother, played flawlessly by Christin Milioti (this season's MVP). So to have Barney and Robin get a divorce and the Mother die in the span of the finale just so Ted and Robin can get their blue french horn ending was simultaneously jarring and more disappointingly, predictable. It might have gone down better if they hadn't tried Ted/Robin multiple times in the show's history or if we had actually spent more time with the Mother rather than her being sidelined even at the end, but as it is, that aspect of the finally didn't satisfy.

But I've been an apologist to this show for so long that it's hard for me to just focus on the negatives in the finale, as big as they are, when there were also a few positives I would really rather talk about. Like after nine years, the actual meeting scene between Ted and the Mother, under the yellow umbrella, was perfectly written and was well worth the wait. That very first scene, with the gang in the booth back in 2005, made me so happy as did all of the callbacks to a bunch of the show's running gags (High Five Infinity, Fudge Supreme, Major Pleasure salute, cock-a-mouse, wait for it... etc.). And there's of course the biggest positive of them all, the element that kept me watching all of these years, the cast. Through all the laughter, tears, slap bets, musical numbers, exes, high fives, jokes about Canada... I've enjoyed watching this group of actors do their thing weekly on my TV and I will highly miss them all. Alyson Hannigan, Neil Patrick Harris, Cobie Smulder, Jason Segel, and Josh Radnor thanks! Can't wait to see what they're up to next.

As for the show, no matter what we'll always have Robin Sparkles. No one can take that away from me.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Birthday Girl: Alyson Hannigan

Alyson Hannigan is celebrating her 40th birthday today. If you don't know her then I don't even understand you. At the very least, you should know that she played Willow Rosenberg aka my favorite TV character in one of my all-time favorite TV shows. Really, I love her.

Hannigan also played the one girl, who did that thing at band camp that one time, in the American Pie films and more recently have been starring in CBS' How I Met Your Mother which just aired its penultimate episode tonight. After nine years, her show is ending next week, so she's going to have lots of free time. I think she's already attached to a pilot possibly for next season, but I wouldn't blame her if she took a little break to just enjoy life with her husband, fellow Whedonverse alum Alexis Denisof, and their two adorable children together.

Happy Birthday Alyson! P.S. Your stepmother is an alien!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind Turns 10

Joel: I can't see anything that I don't like about you.
Clementine: But you will! But you will. You know, you will think of things. And I'll get bored with you and feel trapped because that's what happens with me.
Joel: Okay.
Clementine: Okay.

Happy 10th Anniversary to Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, one of my favorite movies of all time! I vaguely remember it was the tail end of my Spring Break when the movie came out and I definitely remember wanting to see it on opening weekend. Unfortunately, it wasn't playing anywhere near me so I opted in seeing Dawn of the Dead with my brother. Good times. In any case, I did eventually see it and I've loved it ever since.

I've actually only seen the movie three times, with my third time happening this week in preparation for writing yesterday's post and before that forever ago. But now that I have, I need to revisit it again sooner rather than later.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

I want to know you...

This post is part of Nathaniel's "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" series in which the participants must post a single image from a movie he or she deems as the "best shot" for any particular reason.

When Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind was chosen to lead off the fifth season of this series, I was ecstatic not only because it's one of my all-time favorite films, but also because I knew it meant I would be re-watching the film for the first time in years. Celebrating its 10th year anniversary in a few days and fresh off star Kate Winslet finally getting her star in the Hollywood Walk of Fame, it's quite timely then to revisit this modern classic.

The film, directed by Michel Gondry and written by the incomparable Charlie Kaufman, is your not-so-classic boy meets girl who erases boy from her memories in turn making him erase her from his memories until they meet again. Boy is Joel Barrish played by Jim Carrey while Girl is Clementine Kruczynski played by Winslet. Both actors played against type and did so remarkably well garnering expected acclaim and a decade-long admiration from this guy. It's a film that explores the notions of love, regret, memory, relationships, and identity and even after all these years, the film still packed an emotional wallop.

For my best shots, the one with them laying down on the ice is an iconic choice and is the image the marketing team seems to have rightly gone with to represent the movie. I also love the one with them in the woods kissing, both of their faces obscured, and Kate's brilliant red hair just dominating that entire sequence. But I kept circling back to a couple of shots featuring a mug.

The first shot is part of a sequence where Joel remembers his first day of brain mapping wherein they register various objects that remind him of Clementine. This extreme closeup of Clementine's picture on a mug with Mark Ruffalo's bespectacled character blurry in the background caught my eye the first time I saw the film and it's an image, like the frozen lake, that I always associate with the film.

My Best Shot

The next shot is my pick for my favorite shot. It's one of Joel's memory of him and Clementine in bed and fighting. This time it's about his inability to communicate and share his passions and thoughts with her and his insistence that she shares too much. "Constantly talking isn't necessarily communicating." She retorts with "I don't do that. I want to know you." And yeah, there's just so much to love about this shot. How it's just so lived-in, like their relationship, but you also see the cracks in it. There are also the little details like the cup and the cloud-filled pillow that make me happy and sad at the same time, just like the movie always seem to do.

Monday, March 17, 2014

A Couple of Patricks

Celebrating St. Patrick's Day with a couple of TV Patricks. Meet Patrick Murray, a video game designer who lives in San Francisco with his friend, and Patrick Osbourne, an erstwhile artist who just discovered his birth mom is one of the richest and most powerful woman in the Hamptons. The first Patrick is played by the adorable Jonathan Groff in HBO's Looking and while the second is played by the hunky Justin Hartley in ABC's Revenge.

They both look good in reddish pullovers.

They look even better without those pullovers.

But apart from their looks, it's always nice having gay characters on TV especially when they're making out with cute men like Russell Tovey and Gabriel Mann. And yes, I realize I turned a St. Patrick's Day post to ogle at two TV gay characters. And?