Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Movie Meme: Day 31

"31 Day Movie Meme"


Day 31 | Scene that made you stand up and cheer


I came to America when I was eight years old and so it was awhile since I saw my very first movie in American theaters. That movie was 1994 inspirational sports fantasy movie Angels in the Outfield (1994). If you haven't seen the film, it's about a dreadfully awful baseball team (California Angels) getting some divine help from actual angels after a boy (a very young Joseph Gordon-Levitt) prays to them.

It's as saccharine and cheesy as it sounds, but as a 9-year-old it was the best thing ever. The scene I picked for my "stand up and cheer" moment occurs near the end of the movie with the California Angels in the championships. Their aging star pitcher (Tony Danza) needs to throw just one more strike to win, but he is just utterly defeated. The coach (Danny Glover) gives him some encouraging words and Joseph Gordon-Levitt then comes out of the dugout and start flapping his arms, the sign he's used all season to tell them angels were out in the field to help them. Of course this time, there are no angels in the field since they are unable to help during championship games (because cheating is only good sometimes, don't you know?). The whole team then stands up and flaps their arms, then the whole fucking stadium does it, too. At that point, I'd be surprised if the whole theater didn't start flapping their arms. It was honestly a very touching moment.

The pitcher, with renewed confidence, throws a pitch only for the hitter to make contact, but as luck would have it, the pitcher is able to dive and catch the ball for an out to win the whole enchilada! Everyone then starts cheering, jumping, and celebrating! Yes, this scene is like every other last scene of every other sports underdog movie, but again as the first film I saw in movie theaters, it'll always be just a little extra special. Check out the scene here:



And with that ends the 31 Day Movie Meme. Would like to thank Bunny and Andrew for doing this along with me as well as everyone who commented on my entries. Just gald I got through it! I really thought it was going to be much more difficult that what it ended up being. Plus it helped me to revisit many old (and recent) favorites. With that said, I'm pretty much meme'd out and my mind is a bit taken up with tennis right now, so I'm a bit relieved this is finally over.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Movie Meme: Day 30

"31 Day Movie Meme"


Day 30 | Saddest death scene


It's kind of random that the two saddest death scenes I could think of are Hilary Swank-related. There's her grueling death by getting shot and stabbed as Brandon Teena in Boys Don't Cry and then there's her heartbreaking and quiet death scene being euthanized by her mentor (played by Clint Eastwood) in Million Dollar Baby.

It's pretty difficult to pick one death scene over another because they are so different. The Boys Don't Cry death is the gorier death scene as we see blood splattered on the wall as Brandon is shot through the neck. The whole thing is just super intense. In the end, I'll probably give the edge to Million Dollar Baby, especially with Eastwood's heartfelt and tear-jerking monologue:

All right. I'm gonna disconnect your air machine, then you're gonna go to sleep. Then I'll give you a shot, and you'll... stay asleep. Mo cuishle means "My darling, my blood."

His last line telling her the meaning of the name he has used for her throughout the movie is probably the moment where everyone's hearts should be breaking. I certainly felt that way. Still do.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Emmys: The Winners

For the most part, I was pretty happy with the show. Obviously the way they structured it with giving away most of the Comedy/Drama awards in the beginning, the show effectively slowed down a bit (and that's being generous). With that said, the show DID start off with a bang with a spirit group performances starring some of the Glee kids, Jimmy Fallon, Tina Fey, Joel McHale, Jane Lynch, Nina Dobrev, and Jon Hamm.

Most of the winners were also quite good. Sure there were a few repeat winners, but there were a ton of first-time winners and some upsets to keep the night interesting. Congratulations to all of the winners below!

DRAMA
SERIES: Mad Men (AMC)
ACTOR: Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad (AMC)
ACTRESS: Kyra Sedgwick, The Closer (TNT)
SUPP. ACTOR: Aaron Paul, Breaking Bad (AMC)
SUPP. ACTRESS: Archie Panjabi, The Good Wife (CBS)
DIRECTING: Steve Shill, Dexter (Showtime)
WRITING: Matthew Weiner & Erin Levy, Mad Men (AMC)
GUEST ACTOR: John Lithgow, Dexter (Showtime)
GUEST ACTRESS: Ann-Margret, Law and Order: SVU (NBC)

COMEDY
SERIES: Modern Family (ABC)
ACTOR: Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory (CBS)
ACTRESS: Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie (HBO)
SUPP. ACTOR: Eric Stonestreet, Modern Family (ABC)
SUPP. ACTRESS: Jane Lynch, Glee (FOX)
DIRECTING: Ryan Murphy, Glee (FOX)
WRITING: Steve Levitan & Christopher Lloyd, Modern Family (ABC)
GUEST ACTOR: Neil Patrick Harris, Glee (FOX)
GUEST ACTRESS: Betty White, Saturday Night Live (NBC)

MINISERIES, MOVIE OR DRAMATIC SPECIALS
MINISERIES: The Pacific (HBO)
MADE FOR TELEVISION MOVIE: Temple Grandin (HBO)
ACTOR: Al Pacino, You Don't Know Jack (HBO)
ACTRESS: Claire Danes, Temple Grandin (HBO)
SUPP. ACTOR: David Strathairn, Temple Grandin (HBO)
SUPP. ACTRESS: Julia Ormond, Temple Grandin (HBO)
DIRECTING: Mick Jackson, Temple Grandin (HBO)
WRITING: Adam Mazer, You Don't Know Jack (HBO)

VARIETY, MUSIC OR COMEDY PROGRAM
SERIES: The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (Comedy Central)
DIRECTING: Saturday Night Live (NBC)
WRITING: The Colbert Report (Comedy Central)

REALITY
COMPETITION PROGRAM: Top Chef (Bravo)
PROGRAM: Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution (ABC)
HOST: Jeff Probst, Survivor (CBS)

As for my predictions, I went 6 for 10 getting all of the Drama acting categories completely and utterly wrong. But I predicted the two top prizes and kicked ass predicting the Comedy acting categories!

Movie Meme: Day 29

"31 Day Movie Meme"


Day 29 | Movie you have watched more than ten times


This is going to be a quick one since it's Emmy night and all. With that said, the film is Dirty Dancing and the why? I honestly don't know. I remember recording it on VHS from a TV broadcast one year and I just kept rewatching it. I eventually lost the VHS tape recording, maybe because I recorded something over it (how quaint!), but I still found myself watching the film every year during its encore showings on TBS or USA Network or one of those kinds of networks.

Maybe it was the whole "wanting to rebel against one's parents" by doing something you love and if that something is dancing with a hot guy, practicing until both of you work up a sweat in the studio until you have to go to the lake and cool off, then who couldn't relate to THAT? Plus that final scene with the last performance, that iconic lift, and everyone dancing and having fun just leaves you with such a great feeling that you'd want to revisit over and over again. Oddly enough, it's probably been about 2-3 years since I saw this film. This must be corrected very soon.

US Open: Women's Preview


In only her third tournament last year after her comeback, Kim Clijsters won her 2nd US Open title sweeter this time because she had daughter Jada with her. This year she's seeded second and will ride a 14-match win streak at Flushing to get her third major title. She has a great quarter with Marion Bartoli or Jie Zheng as possible fourth round opponents then either French Open finalist and 5th seed Samantha Stosur or last year's US Open series champion Elena Dementieva at the quarterfinals. Unranked Ana Ivanovic is in this section as well as last year's top seed Dinara Safina who has a tough first round match with Daniela Hantuchova.

With Serena Williams out of the tournament recovering from injury, sister Venus Williams will have to hold down the fort. The 2-time US Open winner is going into this year's open cold, not playing since her quarterfinal lost at Wimbledon this year. With that said, her quarter is pretty open containing French Open champion Francesca Schiavone, 10th seed Victoria Azarenka, and last year's US Open quartefinalist Melanie Oudin. Venus would meet them all in the quarterfinals if she reaches that far since on paper she should get through to the second week. But as I said, she hasn't played tennis in a few weeks. Who knows?

In the top half of the draw, US Open series champion and last year's finalist, Caroline Wozniacki is the top seed of a major tournament for the first time in her career. She won two titles last week and has played very well this summer. The issue now is if she is fresh and rested to take on her stacked draw. She could face 2006 US Open champion Maria Sharapova in the fourth round then could face another former US Open champion, 2004 winner Svetlana Kuznetsova, in the quarterfinals. Kuznetsova meanwhile has a must-see first round match against Kimiko Date Krumm. Also lurking in this section is 8th seed and last year's quarterfinalist Na Li.

Finally, former finalist and third seed Jelena Jankovic look to get her maiden major title. She had discouraging results this summer, but she likes the big lights of the big city. On paper, the first trouble she could face is Yanina Wickmayer in the fourth round. Possible quarterfinalist opponents include 7th seed Vera Zvonareva, 9th seed Agnieszka Radwanska, and Nadia Petrova. I'm thinking one of these three will make it through this part of the section if Jankovic is not 100% this year.

Quarterfinals:
Caroline Wozniacki d. Svetlana Kuznetsova
Agnieszka Radwanska d. Yanina Wickmayer
Victoria Azarenka d. Venus Williams
Kim Clijsters d. Elena Dementieva

Semifinals:
Caroline Wozniacki d. Agnieszka Radwanska
Kim Clijsters d. Victoria Azarenka

Finals:
Kim Clijsters d. Caroline Wozniacki

US Open: Men's Preview


Last year's champion Juan Martin Del Potro is unfortunately not in the draw this year as he is still recovering from surgery earlier this year. But the man he beat, the 5-time US Open champion and 2nd seed Roger Federer is here and he is yet again the man to beat having great results this summer on hard courts. He has possible third round match with 2001 US Open champion Lleyton Hewitt, but should be able to reach at least the quarterfinals with little problem. There though he could face Fernando Gonzalez, Marin Cilic, or most likely 5th seed Robin Soderling. Soderling snapped Federer's semifinal streak at majors during this year's French Open.

Third seed and former US Open finalist Novak Djokovic is in the bottom half of the draw with Federer. He has a tricky first round match with fellow Serbian Victor Troiki, but if the New York heat doesn't get to him (which it very well could), he should at least reach the fourth round. He'll face the winner of Marcos Baghdatis-Mardy Fish who both had phenomenal results this summer leading to the US Open. Waiting in the quarterfinals for the winner of that fourth round match could be 6th seed Nikolay Davydenko or most likely 9th seed and 2003 US Open champion Andy Roddick.

Top seed and last year's semifinalist Rafael Nadal lead the men in the top half of the draw. He is looking to win the only major tournament missing from his already storied career. He should be able to get through the early rounds without too much drama, though his 2nd round match with Denis Istomin may be of note since Istomin seriously challenged Nadal at this year's Queen's event on grass. It's likely Nadal could face a couple of fellow top Spaniards in the second week with Feliciano Lopez lurking in the fourth round and either 10th seed David Ferrer or 8th seed Fernando Verdasco in the quarterfinals. Verdasco will first have to worry about in-form David Nalbandian as a possible fourth round opponent.

Finally, US Open series champion and fourth seed Andy Murray is on the same side as Nadal. With his solid results this summer, he's probably the second favorite to win after Federer. He has a possibly interesting third round match with another Swiss, Stan Wawrinka. Doesn't get any easier after that with Sam Querrey waiting in the fourth round. His most likely quarterfinal opponent is either John Isner or 7th seed Tomas Berdych who both had phenomenal results at the last major tournament, Wimbledon, with Isner winning the longest tennis match in history and Berdych reaching his first major final beating Federer on the way.

Quarterfinals:
Rafael Nadal d. David Nalbandian
Andy Murray d. Tomas Berdych
Andy Roddick d. Mardy Fish
Roger Federer d. Robin Soderling

Semifinals:
Andy Murray d. Rafael Nadal
Roger Federer d. Andy Roddick

Finals:
Roger Federer d. Andy Murray

Arthur Ashe Kids Day

Arthur Ashe Kids Day at the US Open is now a 15-year annual tradition where the grounds of the USTA Billie Jean King Center are opened to families and kids for a day of music and tennis. Held during the weekend before the last major tennis tournament of the year, the day honors and remembers Arthur Ashe's legacy as well as introduces many kids to the world of tennis.

Demi Lovato, the Jonas Brothers, Shontelle, and David Archuleta took to the stage this year while Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Kim Clijsters, Melanie Oudin, Andy Roddick, and Novak Djokovic took to the courts. The latter, Djokovic, had double duty as he also rapped/performed with the Bryan brothers.

Some pictures of this year's fun event below:




CBS is currently (right now East coast people!) showing television coverage of the event today until 1:30pm.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Movie Meme: Day 28

"31 Day Movie Meme"


Day 28 | Most over-hyped movie


Almost wanted to skip this one because I just couldn't wrap my head around it. I mean over-hyped according to who? I mean I guess over-hyped according to me, but I tend to have such a laissez-faire reaction to many things, so this was ultimately hard for me to really express.

But then I thought... Star Wars! And not just the new films that were more or less criticized and still made boatloads of money, but the original trilogy as well.

I'm probably the only self-identified geek I know that never really got into Star Wars, even the original trilogy. In fact, I have not seen ANY of the Star Wars films all the way through. I, of course, respect what they did for Hollywood, technology, fandom, and sci-fi genre in general, but unlike many people I don't hold them up in some reverential light. And apart from the main stories and some of the characters, I would most likely fail at even the most basic Star Wars trivia game.

Does this mean I have zero geek cred now? Am I permanently shunned from cons? I still obsess over Doctor Who! Shouldn't that count? I mean it actually debut earlier and has lasted longer! So there.

Make sure to check out Bunny's blog for her pick. She chose a really good one. All I can say is AMEN! Also, die in a fire!

Emmy Nominations and Predictions

I'm not dreading the Emmy awards as much as I tend to the past couple of years. Maybe it's because there were many good things to celebrate or maybe because a few people I like have already won an Emmy this year, but I feel oddly optimistic about this weekend, which of course means I'm ripe for a letdown, right? Oh well. Let's run down the big categories, shall we?


BEST DRAMA SERIES

Breaking Bad
Dexter
The Good Wife
Lost
Mad Men
True Blood

I honestly think that all of these shows, other than True Blood, have a very good chance at winning. Of course the front-runner, Mad Men, is still the one to beat winning the top prize few years straight now. But don't count out Lost and the possible sentimental votes it might receive to honor it for its final season. For me, I love all of the shows here that I watch (I haven't seen Breaking Bad), but I do want Lost to win.

Prediction: Mad Men

BEST ACTOR, DRAMA
Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad
Michael C. Hall, Dexter
Kyle Chandler, Friday Night Lights
Hugh Laurie, House
Matthew Fox, Lost
Jon Hamm, Mad Men

One of three men will get this award and I will be shocked if the results were any different. Last year's champion Bryan Cranston is the odds-on favorite, but the buzz for Michael C. Hall's performance as the affable serial killer has only grown louder especially with his recent real-life bout with cancer. And yet people are shocked, SHOCKED that Jon Hamm still doesn't have an Emmy for playing Don Draper. One of these days, he will. Will it be this year?

Prediction: Michael C. Hall

BEST ACTRESS, DRAMA
Kyra Sedgwick, The Closer
Glenn Close, Damages
Connie Britton, Friday Night Lights
Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife
Mariska Hargitay, Law & Order: SVU
January Jones, Mad Men

Just give the award to Julianna Marguilies and stop pretending any of the others even have a chance. Okay, that's probably a little too hyperbolic, but she's very popular and her show has been a big hit this season. Of course Glenn Close and possibly Kyra Sedwick are still stiff competition, but the award will go to the good wife.

Prediction: Julianna Marguilies

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR, DRAMA
Aaron Paul, Breaking Bad
Martin Short, Damages
Terry O'Quinn, Lost
Michael Emerson, Lost
John Slattery, Mad Men
Andre Braugher, Men of a Certain Age

I've only seen about three of the performances here so I'm not really sure who is the front-runner and whatnot. If I had to guess, this is where the Academy will see fit to award Lost's final season and the slight edge is probably to Terry O'Quinn who had to juggle different versions of Locke. And yet, I'm just not sure. I hear buzz for Aaron Paul certainly, but just have a gut feeling for O'Quinn.

Prediction: Terry O'Quinn

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS, DRAMA
Sharon Gless, Burn Notice
Rose Byrne, Damages
Archie Panjani, The Good Wife
Christine Baranski, The Good Wife
Christina Hendricks, Mad Men
Elisabeth Moss, Mad Men

The ladies of Mad Men will fight for the prize here. If you'd ask me a couple of weeks ago, I'd said Elisabeth Moss had this in the bag, but recently there's just been SO MUCH attention for Christina Hendricks that she may squeak out the win. Of course this is no slam-dunk especially with two Emmy veterans, Sharon Gless and Christine Baranksi, in the mix.

Prediction: Christina Hendricks


BEST COMEDY SERIES
Curb Your Enthusiasm
Glee
Modern Family
Nurse Jackie
The Office
30 Rock

Will 30 Rock finally be knocked off its thrown? This year, with these nominees, I think that's a safe bet. Everyone will be looking for the new breakout hits of the season, Glee and Modern Family. I will be shocked (and honestly confused) if neither one wins this award. I'd give the slight edge to Modern Family, but Glee is the "cool kid" on the block that everyone's talking about so... we'll see.

Prediction: Modern Family

BEST ACTOR, COMEDY
Jim Parsons, Big Bang Theory
Larry David, Curb Your Enthusiasm
Matthew Morrison, Glee
Tony Shalhoub, Monk
Steve Carell, The Office
Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock

While there may be some sentimental votes for Tony Shaloub, I think the rest is between Alec Baldwin and Jim Parsons. I said the same thing last year and I don't see any difference. Last year, Baldwin won, but I think Parsons may take it this year. Granted his show is not exactly loved by the Emmys as much as 30 Rock, but they must be tired giving it to Baldwin by now, right?

Prediction: Jim Parsons

BEST ACTRESS, COMEDY
Lea Michele, Glee
Julia-Louis Dreyfus, New Adventures of Old Christine
Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie
Amy Poehler, Parks and Recreation
Tina Fey, 30 Rock
Toni Collette, United States of Tara

Last year Toni Collette won and she could very well repeat, but this is a tough field this year. For one, Emmy favorite Edie Falco is on the ballot as well as former-SNL funny ladies Amy Poehler and Tina Fey. Also don't underestimate the "cool new sexy kid on the block" aka Lea Michele.

Prediction: Edie Falco

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR, COMEDY
Chris Colfer, Glee
Neil Patrick Harris, How I Met Your Mother
Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Modern Family
Eric Stonestreet, Modern Family
Ty Burrell, Modern Family
Jon Cryer, Two and a Half Men

This is what you call a STACKED category. Other than Jon Cryer, I find it extremely distressing picking amongst the men nominated. Last year, I thought Neil Patrick Harris had the award locked up and he still ended up losing. This year, I don't believe he'll win, which is fine since he won his first two Emmy awards last week anyways. No, it will be between Chris Colfer and the men of Modern Family or more specifically Eric Stonestreet. If they want drama and headlines, they'll pick Colfer, but if they deem him too "new and young" Stonestreet. Of course if they do end up picking Cryer, it wouldn't surprise me one bit also. Lame ass voters.

Prediction: Eric Stonestreet

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS, COMEDY
Jane Lynch, Glee
Julie Bowen, Modern Family
Sofia Vergara, Modern Family
Kristin Wiig, Saturday Night Live
Jane Krakowsky, 30 Rock
Holland Taylor, Two and a Half Men

Is there really a more locked winner this year in any category, because even if you don't watch Glee, you know Jane Lynch as Sue Sylvester is probably THE breakout character of the past season. It would be a HUGE SHOCKER if she doesn't end the night with the trophy.

Prediction: Jane Lynch

I don't really follow the lead-up to the Emmys as closely as I do the Academy Awards so these predictions have very little to do with much of anything except for what I said above. For all I know I could go 0 for 10 not I wouldn't bat an eye. Okay, maybe I'll be a little shocked since Jane Lynch is golden... GOLDEN (hope I didn't just jinx her!). And of course I'm sure the one year I don't predict Neil Patrick Harris, he'll certainly go 3 for 3 this year. Well, the best part is anticipation. One more day left until these predictions are either confirmed or denied.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Movie Meme: Day 27

"31 Day Movie Meme"


Day 27 | Best Villain


Many know her as Buffy Summers, the little blonde who fights vampires and saves the world. But Sarah Michelle Gellar's second most popular role is the polar opposite of that heroic character and that role is the deliciously heartless Kathryn Merteuil in Cruel Intentions.

Of course the film is based on the classic novel Les Liaisons Dangereuses which has had many film versions made of it, more notably the wonderful 1998 Dangerous Liaisons with Glenn Close in the role that Sarah Michelle Gellar is playing a version of in this more modern retelling of the story. Like other versions, Kathryn Merteuil is a master manipulator and will do anything and everything to get what she wants.

Whether she's enticing and teasing her step-brother Valmont (Ryan Phillippe) or making fun of Cecile (Selma Blair) behind her back, or plotting against Annette (Reese Witherspoon), Kathryn does it with such glee that you are almost rooting for her at the same time that you're disgusted with her. Man, now I want SMG to play more villains.

BTW check out Andrew's post on Glenn Close as Marquise de Merteuil which he picked for today's meme. Great minds sort of think alike...

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Storylines at the US Open

The US Open is only a couple of days away and for some, it has already started with the qualifying tournament currently underway. The draws for the big show were held today and aired live on ESPN2. Defending champion Kim Clijsters was on hand to help out. Haven't had time to pore over them myself, but I'll do a more extensive analysis on how the draws fell this weekend. For now let's look at some of the storylines to watch out for.

- Can Clijsters continue her unbeaten run in Flushing Meadows? Clijsters is riding a 14-match win streak at the US Open, winning in 2005 and not playing until last year which she also won. Her current form got her a title in Cincinnati and through to the quarterfinals in Montreal, but she's slightly injured. Still New York is a special place for her and she is definitely the favorite.

- Will we get the first Federer-Nadal final at the US Open? Well, they are in opposite ends of the draw for the bazillionth time so if they are going to meet, it will be in the finals. Top seed Rafael Nadal has never done particularly well here, but he has reached the semifinals two years in a row including last year where he obviously had physical issues. His showing in Cincinnati and Toronto these past few weeks were okay, but not great. After winning the French Open this year, he told reporters "See you in New York," so he wants this bad to complete a career Grand Slam. Last year's finalist and this year's second seed, Roger Federer wants it bad, too. Very strong showing at Cincinnati (champion) and Toronto (finalist) indicate he's the man to beat yet again.

- Can the Andys step it up? It seems every year, every Grand Slam tournament not played on a clay court, someone is touting Andy Murray's chances. And why not? He is probably the best hardcourt player in the men's game right now and while he went on a post-Australian Open funk, he is still one of the favorites. And speaking of favorites, this is the home of Andy Roddick's one and only Slam. Other than Wimbledon, this is the place to recapture that glory.

- Other than Clijsters, who is the woman to watch? With Serena Williams withdrawing due to a foot laceration, everyoneis feeling just a little bit better about possibly winning this year. Top seed and US Open Series winner Caroline Wozniacki was last year's finalist and if she's not winded from playing so much tennis, she's a real danger. Others who have done well during the US Open Series include former champions Svetlana Kuznetsova and Maria Sharapova, Victoria Azarenka, and Vera Zvonareva. Even though she hasn't played since Wimbledon, you could also never discount former champion and third seed Venus Williams.

- And what about the men? Dangerous floaters include Mardy Fish, Marcos Baghdatis, and David Nalbandian who had great showings at the US Open Series. It's also hard to discount former finalist Novak Djokovic (if the weather cooperates), hard-hitting Robin Soderling, and Wimbledon finalist Tomas Berdych. Sadly, defending champion Juan Martin Del Potro is not in the draw as he is still recovering from an injury he sustained earlier in the year.

- Will there be any upsets and/or crazy results at the US Open? It's New York. Most definitely.

Movie Meme: Day 26

"31 Day Movie Meme"


Day 26 | Freakishly weird movie ending


I remember seeing Donnie Darko the first time and just staring at the screen after it ended. For some reason it took me a long time to figure out what "happened" and even then (or now) I'm still going, wait, was that what happened? Of course it wasn't really that "complicated" per se. There's time travel and wormholes involved and the end is just the beginning of the film except the main character (Jake Gyllenhaal) ends up dying.

Maybe the real reason I picked this film, other than because it was just the first "freakishly weird" film I thought of, was because I had always found something off about Gretchen (Jena Malone) waving to Donnie's mom, Rose Darko (Mary McDonnell) in the end there...


Clearly, she's up to no good...

I immediately fabricated this whole other movie where Gretchen controlled time and space and made this happen somehow. Yeah, sometimes I think I'm crazy, too.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Wait a minute, people cheering cheerleaders?

With Bring It On Day almost coming to a close, I noticed I didn't really fully express the beauty of the film. So...


Yeah, had to be done. Jesse Bradford has those puppy dog eyes, full pouty lips, and crooked smile. What's not to like? I recently saw him in the totally awful I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell. To his credit, he was the best part of the film. Including that film, I've seen six films since his Cliff Pantone days and all have been good to great with the exception of the most recent flick. Wish he'd re-team with Eliza Dushku or Kirsten Dunst though. There really should be more teen comedy reunions happening.

Movie Meme: Day 25

"31 Day Movie Meme"

Day 25 | A movie you plan on watching



Easy A
Release: September 17, 2010
Distributor: Sony/Screen Gems
Director: Will Gluck
Starring: Lisa Kudrow, Penn Badgley, Stanley Tucci, Thomas Hayden Church, Alyson Michalka, Cam Gigandet, Patricia Clarkson, Amanda Bynes, Malcolm McDowell, Dan Byrd, and Emma Stone

Prepare for total domination...

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.

The pre-determined movie for today's "Best Shot" is appropriately Bring It On, which, as I mentioned this morning, is celebrating its 10-year anniversary. It was a bit difficult to choose just one single shot that I liked, which is partially why my first entry this morning were chock full of "rejected" shots. Ultimately I chose one that features one of the, if not the most, memorable character from the film, or at least a part of him...


The legs wearing these fierce back-lace boots belong to one Sparky Polastri, he who put "Spirit Fingers" in the pop-cultural lexicon. I was actually debating whether or not to instead pick an image of him mad-eyed with his hands and fingers outstretched, but ultimately I chose this shot because frankly it's far more interesting.

At this point of the film, the kids and audience have no idea what to expect from Sparky. When he finally gets going, who could've known the torture and amount of crazy he would put the kids through? And how about his colorful way of expressing himself?

"Good general tone and musculature. Report those compliments to your ass before it gets so big it forms its own website."

"I am a choreographer. That's what I do. You are cheerleaders. Cheerleaders are dancers who have gone retarded."

"Follow me or perish, sweater monkeys."

"In cheerleading, we throw people in the air and fat people don't go as high."

But back to the shot, I am a huge fan of its composition with the boots in the foreground, dominating and foreboding, while the kids are blurred and uncertain in the background. This is also the third time we are introduced to a character via their footwear, which I like to think wasn't random. Our first glimpses of Cliff and Isis (see below) were also of their shoes. Of course I'm not sure if there's a bigger implication to these character introductions, but I thought I'd just point it out.


So here's to Sparky Polastri, his boots, and his spirit fingers! His entire scene was a little more than four minutes, but he definitely made his impact. And just for that, here he is in all of his Tom-Cruise-crazy glory with bonus spirit fingers:

THESE are spirit fingers. And these? Are gold.

I'm major. I roar. I swear I'm not a whore.


Today marks the 10th anniversary of high school comedy Bring It On and wow that just makes me feel old. The film looks into the world of competitive cheerleading through the experiences of two high school teams in California, one of which is the defending national champions (the Toros) while the other is a talented, but financially strapped team (the Clovers).

Kirsten Dunst plays Torrance, the newly-appointed captain of the Toros, while Eliza Dushku plays Missy, the tough new girl who reluctantly signed up for cheerleading because the school didn't have a gymnastic team. Jesse Bradford plays Cliff, Missy's brother and Torrance's maybe-love interest. Gabrielle Union plays Isis, the captain for the Clovers. The rest of the cast are mostly comprised of similarly young up-and-comer actors.

One of my favorite things about this film is its focus on cheerleading, which back then didn't get a lot of play. That's not true now, what with all of the lame sequels that inevitably made following this movie, but neither here nor there. In the production notes on the DVD, we learn that director Peyton Reed was drawn to the script because "it's not just another teen film about guys wanting to get laid, or who's going to be asked to the prom." There's still typical high school drama and such, but the main conflict is all rooted in cheerleading.

With its focus on cheerleading, the routines are obvious stand-outs. The film even opens with a wonderful routine that effectively introduces the audience to not only the characters but to this high-energy and irreverent world. Just note the sassy lyrics to the opening cheer:


I'm sexy. I'm cute. I'm popular to boot. I'm bitchin', great hair. The boys all love to stare. I'm wanted. I'm hot. I'm everything you're not. I'm pretty. I'm cool. I dominate this school. Who am I? Just guess. Guys wanna touch my chest. I'm rockin'. I smile. And many think I'm vile. I'm flyin', I jump. You can look, but don't you hump. Whoo! I'm major. I roar. I swear I'm not a whore. We cheer and we lead. We act like we're on speed. Hate us 'cause we're beautiful. Well we don't like you either! We're cheerleaders. We are cheerleaders. Roll call!

Most of the other routines in the film aren't as lyrics-oriented. Instead they rely on kick-ass choreography and a great backing soundtrack. Or at the very least, a well executed robot sequence:


This film, however, is more than just the routines, even if there's fabulous. The dialogue is chock full of cheer-related bon mots such as cheer-ocracy, cheer-tator, and cheer-sex. As well as oft-repeated phrases such as "she puts the itch in bitch" or "whore in horrifying." Funnily enough most of these are uttered by the two "mean girls" before Mean Girls even came into being, Courtney and Whitney:

Boo, you whore.

They definitely amped the bitchiness to max, but without them the movie would not have had most of its bite. Speaking of bite, how about Gabrielle Union's Isis ? First time we see her she's leading her team with the "Brr, it's cold in here" routine. And this is how she looked:

Worship me or die!

It's as if she's some kind of warrior goddess, or something. Another screenshot of her that I love is when she makes eye contact to a member of the Toros during regionals:

If looks could kill...

There's so much more I could say about the film, but instead I want to call out just one more thing. During my recent re-watch I was a little caught at the casual use of "fag" and "dyke" though not all instances were negative. Of course there's the two football players, who I imagine were most likely closeted boyfriends, who kept name-calling the male cheerleaders and bitchy Courtney calling Missy an "uber dyke" and a "big dykey loser." Then of course this great exchange happen on their way to the team's first football game of the season:


Missy: What is your sexuality?
Les: Well, Jan's straight, and I'm... controversial.
Missy: Are you trying to tell me you speak fag?
Les: Oh, fluently.

Missy:
And Courtney and Whitney... dyke-a-delic?
Everyone: No. Are you kidding? I don't think so.

Gotta love it. There's one character I purposely didn't talk about in this post, but there's a reason for that. For now, I'll leave you guys with Eliza Dushku simultaneously sticking out her tongue and giving a middle finger, just because it's an awesome shot:

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Movie Meme: Day 24

"31 Day Movie Meme"


Day 24 | Quote you use most often


"There is no life I know to compare with pure imagination. Living there, you'll be free if you truly wish to be." - Willy Wonka

The meme today is tricky since it specifically asked for movie quotes I use most often and not necessarily my favorite movie quotes, of which there are many. One example of those is the quote from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. But then are there really movie quotes that I actually use in casual conversations?

Sure, of course. The most recent example is probably the use of "lesbian" for "love" as in "I am in lesbian with you" from Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. I've been using that since I saw the film and until someone finds it offensive (is it really?), I'll continue using it.

I've also used "What's your damage?" which is apparently from the 1989 film Heathers, though I'm sure I picked it up via Cordelia Chase in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

I often tell my friends that they're "harshing my mellow" which apparently originated from The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen which I've never seen. Other sources say it came from Encino Man which I did see, but that would be awfully random if I got it from there. Most likely, like the previous quote, I picked it up from TV.

A similar phrase I find myself saying is "damaging my calm" ala "She is starting to damage my calm" from Serenity. Of course there are the various sayings from that film/TV show such as "Shiny!" and "Gorram!"

Who doesn't find themselves in situations where an ironic "You complete me," a cheesy "You had me at hello" or an enthusiastic "Show me the money!" wouldn't work? Also, who knew Jerry Maguire was so damn quotable?

A few more phrases from films I find myself saying a lot include "Boo, you whore" from Mean Girls, "Why so serious?" from The Dark Knight, and "Fuck yeah!" from Team America. Though that last one is probably less because of the movie and more because I just like to curse. Speaking of, does anyone know if "Bitch, please" is from a movie, because I say that way too much.

Top Ten Performers of 2010 (So Far)

For most of the year, it felt as if I've slacked off watching movies*, but at this point last year I saw 23 films, and guess how many I've seen this year so far? Yup, 23. Granted, a bulk of that is due to summer movie season and all the earlier movies now being available on Netflix, but at least compared to last year I'm on par.

With that said, at around the same time last year, I listed down the Top Ten Performers of the Year So Far, so why not do the same for the performances I've seen so far this year?


1. Olivia Williams as Ruth Lang
(The Ghost Writer) - It's an almost thankless role especially with the camera focused on McGregor or the hammy Brosnan, but Williams makes it work and is definitely the best part of the film as the great woman behind the great man. Her scenes with McGregor are especially wonderful.

2. The entire cast of Inception - This is a bit of a cop-out I know, but at this point in time I honestly can't pick a best-in-show from that great ensemble. DiCaprio held the movie together well, Cotillard and her convincing performance gave the movie its heart, Gordon-Levitt's straight man routine to Hardy's sly coolness made a great combination, and on and on and on.


3. Tahar Rahim as Malik El Djebena
(Un Prophet) - It's a testament to Rahim that this 2.5-hour epic film about prison life didn't feel at all long. His transformation from petty criminal to something bigger was a joy to watch.

4. Dakota Fanning as Cherie Currie (The Runaways) - Maybe for the first minute I thought "oh wow that's Dakota Fanning!" After that, I completely forgot who she was and got sucked into the character she was playing. I actually don't know much about Currie, but Fanning sold me her version of Currie 100%.

5. Kieran Culkin as Wallace Wells (Scott Pilgrim vs. the World) - As Wallace, Culkin portrays one of the more fascinating and wonderful gay characters of our time. He handles it all with aplomb whether he's making out with some guy or knocking some sense into his best friend.

6. Leonardo DiCaprio as Teddy Daniels (Shutter Island) - Already appearing twice on this list, DiCaprio has done phenomenal work this year. The paranoia, intensity, sadness, and all of the other emotions he was called upon to portray in this film were pitch perfect. Loved the ambiguous delivery of his final line!

7. Sharlto Copley as Captain H.M. Murdock (The A-Team) - In only his second acting role, Copley once again steals the show. He is most definitely the most engaging character in the film and the movie lags noticeably when he's not on screen saying or doing something crazy.


8 & 9. Annette Bening
and Julianne Moore as Nic & Jules (The Kids Are All Right) - Individually they work, but together they have a chemistry that feels quite sincere and grounded. Whether it's Jules' freewheeling personality or Nic's more subdued hardline personality, they played off each other (and the rest of the talented ensemble) very well.

10. Johnny Simmons as Ryan Brewer (The Greatest) - It's a testament to his skills as an actor that not only does he hold his own against the likes of Sarandon, Brosnan, and Mulligan, but he actually delivered a more poignant performance as the grieving brother still living under the shadows of his dead older brother.

Honorable Mentions: Tina Fey and Steve Carrell in Date Night, Amanda Seyfried in Chloe, Angelina Jolie in Salt, Julia Roberts and Anne Hathaway in Valentine's Day, and Chloe Moretz in Kick-Ass.

*I watch tons of movies, but these movies in particular are those that theatrically came out in 2010.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Movie Meme: Day 23

"31 Day Movie Meme"


Day 23 | Best explosion or action scene


Going to go with Quentin Tarantino here, more specifically, that massive fight scene in Kill Bill: Volume 1 where Uma Thurman maims, kills, and injures a crap-load of bad guys.

It's totally gory and totally ridiculous, but it's still loads of fun to watch. Apparently in the international DVD version of the film, the whole sequence is in color, but I like the original theatrical version where some parts were in black and white. I guess it was probably due to the MPAA being squeamish about all of the blood, but I quite like the contrast of the artsy black and white with the highly comical and violent fight scene happening on screen.

I can say more, but why not just see it for yourself? The video below is the international version so it's not my preferred version, but you could still check out the gore-tastic sequence:



My second choice probably would've been the Battle at Helms Deep from Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. Luckily, Andrew picked that for his entry. Meanwhile, Bunny picked the nicely choreograph and totally sexy battle in Mr. & Mrs. Smith between Brad and Angelina.

Federer Defends Title; Wozniacki Wins

With the US Open set to begin in a week's time, the top men and women (at least those not injured) took to the courts of Cincinnati and Montreal for the last big tournament before the last Grand Slam of the year.


The men were on deck in Cincinnati which saw the top four men reach the quarterfinals. Unlike last year though when the top four made it to the semifinals, only third seed Roger Federer made it this year. Joining him were Marcos Baghdatis, Andy Roddick, and Mardy Fish. The latter two contested an all-American semifinal match that saw Fish overcoming being down a set and a break with Roddick serving for the match.

Meeting Fish in the finals was defending champion Federer. Both men split the first two sets which went to tiebreaks with both players not being broken once. The third set remained just as tight until Federer converted the one and only break point of the match during the ninth game. Federer them served out the match capturing only his second title of the year, 63rd overall tying him in fifth place with Bjorn Borg in the all-time list.


The women were in Montreal, but with the withdrawal of Venus Williams and Maria Sharapova and the early losses of top seeds Jelena Jankovic and Elena Dementieva, the star wattage seemed muted for this premier event. Even so, Grand Slam champions Kim Clijsters and Svetlana Kuznetsova as well as second seed Caroline Wozniacki made it through the quarterfinals. The latter two made it through the semifinals along with Victoria Azarenka and Vera Zvonareva.

Then the rain came. And came. And came. The semifinal matches, scheduled for Saturday, were delayed until Monday morning with Wozniacki and Zvonareva eventually reaching the finals. Wozniacki overpowered Zvonareva for a quick 6-3 6-2 victory for her third title of the year. She is only the second player to win three titles this year, the second being Clijsters. Interestingly enough, both met each other at last year's US Open finals and will be seeded 1 and 2 at this year's event.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Movie Meme: Day 22

"31 Day Movie Meme"


Day 22 | Favorite final scene/line

"Roads? Where we're going, we don't need roads."

That's the classic final line from the first Back to the Future film and not only did it serve as the perfect capper to the first film, but it also got everyone excited for the sequel. Then to see the famous Delorean fly into the air, well it was a pretty pitch perfect ending.

For the second film, they actually recreated this scene for the beginning of the movie. And yet that line lost none of its effect. See a clip that put the two scenes side by side:

Creative Arts Emmy Wnners


A couple of early Emmy trophies were handed out last night at the Creative Arts Emmys ceremony.

Locked and loaded winners Betty White and John Lithgow won Best Guest Actress in a Comedy and Guest Actor in a Drama respectively even with the latter achieving it through some blatant category fraud (he was in every single episode of Dexter this past season). Guest Actor in a Comedy went to Neil Patrick Harris who ended up getting his first and second Emmy awards last night, also winning for his hosting job at last year's Tony Awards. A few think he robbed fellow Glee guest star Mike O'Malley, but not me. I never did like mostly dramatic performances edging out funnier performances in a COMEDY category. Ann-Margret won Guest Actress in a Drama besting out my personal winner Elizabeth Mitchell from Lost.

Best Casting awards went to Mad Men, Modern Family, and The Pacific which may or may not bode well for their chances to grab top awards next weekend. The Pacific certainly will look to dominate the movie/mini-series categories picking up a total of five Emmy awards last night.

Anne Hathaway can cross out the Emmys from her EGOT checklist as she won for her voice performance for The Simpsons. While Seth Green lost in that category, he won his first Emmys when Robot Chicken won Best Short Form Animated Program of which he is the executive producer. Jeff Probst picked up his third straight Emmys for Best Reality Host (Phil Keoghan was robbed!) while Mia Michaels got her second Emmy win for Best Choreography.

Other noteworthy wins include "The Man Your Man Could Smell Lie" commercial for Old Spice Body Wash winning Best Commercial, The Colbert Report getting Best Variety Writing, and Lost getting Best Picture Editing. Modern Family and Temple Grandin also received Editing wins.

Some confusing/infuriating results include the much-maligned FlashForward receiving an Emmy for Best Stunt Coordination, CSI beating out four sci-fi/fantasy entries for Best Visual Effects and Sean P. Callery winning Best Score for his work on 24 over Michael Giacchino and his tear-jerking music in the Lost finale episode.

Click here to see the complete list of winners from last night.

Two Guys, A Girl, and the Rain

This post is part of Andrew's "Wet Blogathon" in which the participants must post a picture of their favorite rainy scene from a film.

As soon as I posted my Enchanted entry for the blogathon, I thought of the rainy scene I SHOULD have picked instead. For some reason I just completely forgot about it even though (a) the scene is gorgeously shot, (b) memorable enough in a movie that is chock full of pretty shots, and (c) is pretty much the heart of the story.

And since this scene is so great, I was very much inclined to post 10 or so images, but I decided to pick two so as not to overwhelm everyone:


These two scenes are from Academy Award Best Picture winner Slumdog Millionaire (also my favorite film of that year). The scene happens early in the film when the three kids manage to escape a violent raid that left them all essentially homeless and orphaned. Brothers Jamal and Salim take refuge from the rain as Latika shivers outside waiting for the brothers to invite her in.

The scene continues with the older brother Salim refusing to welcome her and Jamal later disobeying his older brother's wishes by telling her to join them. The scene hammers into us again the differences between Jamal and Salim while also being the setting for the beginning of Jamal and Latika's relationship. Plus, as I've mentioned before, this whole sequence is shot amazingly with the silhouettes and the light illuminating the rain.

I tried to find a video of this scene online, but it's nowhere to be found. In any case, if you haven't seen this film, you must. And not just for this beautiful scene either.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Enchanted Rain

This post is part of Andrew's "Wet Blogathon" in which the participants must post a picture of their favorite rainy scene from a film.

Immediately my mind went to the notorious upside-down kiss in Spider-Man 2 between Kirsten Dunst and Tobey Maguire. Then I thought of that wonderful scene from Garden State when the three friends scream into the abyss. But then just a few days ago, I re-watched Enchanted and two rainy scenes in particular caught my eye:


THE SCENE: Giselle has been newly expelled from her Disney fairytale land of Andalasia to the harsh reality of New York City. She's shell shocked and so of course it starts to rain. She looks like a wet wreck, but then finds hope with the bright billboard for a "palace" casino.


THE SCENE: Near the end of the film, Giselle, with sword in hand, climbs outside the Woolworth Building in hopes of rescuing her man. The expression she gives off here is fear, but also determination as she more or less saves the day.

I already loved the film, because I was always amazed that in all the years Disney has been making films, has there really been no one who has pitched the "Disney princess unleashed in the real world" idea? I'd like to think someone had and they just waited for the right actress (and script) to come along. But I also loved the film because while it pokes fun of the concept of Disney princesses that Disney itself has cultivated over the years, it also turns it around its ear....

These two rainy scenes display this duality with the first showing how helpless and in need of rescue she is while the second showing how she is more than capable to be doing the rescue. The rain just adds to both scenes making her more hopeless or more heroic. Plus it's Amy Adams... wet in the rain. I don't see a down side to this, do you?

Click to read my blogathon entry on Slumdog Millionaire.