Monday, April 30, 2012

Birthday Girl: Kirsten Dunst


Our favorite young vampire-head cheerleader-French queen-pageant contestant-tennis professional-comic book character turns 30 today. Even at such a young age, Kirsten Dunst has already done so much and just last year won the Best Actress award at the Cannes Film Festival for her great work in Lars Von Trier's Melancholia. She got plenty of critical notices for that role. With that said, despite working tirelessly for nearly two decades already, you'd have to go as far back as 1994's Interview with a Vampire for similar kinds of critical buzz. Sometimes I still can't believe she hasn't gotten nominated for an Academy Award or at least get her second Golden Globe nomination after her nomination for Interview with a Vampire. It's only a matter of time though. She's plenty young, is well liked, and more importantly has paid her dues.

As for my favorite films of hers, it's not that straightforward. While technically I would rank Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind above any of her films, I do have a special place in my heart for Bring It On. Plus that film is more a "Dunst film" than the Jim Carrey-Kate Winslet drama anyways. I've also been a big fan of her early comedic satire work especially in Drop Dead Gorgeous and Dick. I'm upset at Hollywood for not giving her more roles such as these or at least reuniting her with Michelle Williams. In terms of slight guilty pleasures I have to cite her work in Wimbledon, Elizabethtown, and Marie Antoinette which are all flawed in their own way but contained things I love aka tennis, Orlando Bloom, and French royalty respectively. Finally, I can't forget to mention her serviceable role as Mary Jane in the Spider-Man flicks which I liked, LOVED, and disliked respectively.

I'm hoping she does a few more films like Melancholia and Dick to keep challenging herself. But then again with the career she's already had, what hasn't she done? Of course if I had the money to bankroll any film for her to do, I'd probably waste it on a Bring It On sequel... so what do I know?

Sunday, April 29, 2012

TV Report Catch Up: Sundays

April has just been an insane month and unfortunately May looks to even be worse! So to make sure I post about TV, I'm going to try and catch up all this week by posting my thoughts on the past two weeks of shows in a day-by-day basis. As for the upcoming few weeks, there's a chance I may take a needed blogging hiatus. Stay tuned!

The Good Wife

It's not a surprise that the past two episodes of The Good Wife has done a lot of setting up new foes and challenges for Alicia as well as putting things back into place. The season finale is after all tonight and so all of that were to be expected. In terms of new challenges, we get Jackie and Mike playing different, but still frustrating psychological games with Alicia pushing her curiously to her Peter's side as he commits to running for governor. This move brought Eli back into the political side of things which is just one reset the show has done the past couple weeks. Another is bringing back Cary into the fold of Lockhart & Gardner with a "clean slate" from Will and a new equal partnership with Alicia. But of course the biggest reset is the one fans has been waiting for since last season and that was Alicia offering a seat at the bar to Kalinda. Soulmates reunited! Of course this is probably just what Kalinda needed as she may have finally bitten off more than she can chew with Lana putting her into Lemond Bishop's crosshairs. Suffice it to say, I'm nervous about tonight's finale mostly due to this.

Game of Thrones

Kind of difficult to talk about this show since every episode is just so dense and jam-packed with plot development. Doing it for two episodes also means that many more characters and time that have passed. So instead I'm just going to say how much I've been loving this season. Renly is hilariously sarcastic especially in his dealings with the female Tyrell who is his queen (who more than holds her own against him) and his brother who has Melisandre at his side. Speaking of Melisandre, let's get the final scene last week over with since I still don't exactly know what happened. Did she give birth to the Smoke Monster from Lost? Is this the God of Light? In better news, Tyrion is still kicking ass and taking names first first rooting out Cersei's spy and then saving Sansa from the humiliation Joffrey inflicts upon her. Joffrey is as vile as ever taking his sadistic streak to a whole new level making me long for the day one of the direwolves eats his face (not a spoiler, just me hoping). Dany and her baby dragons finally find a potential home in Qarth but not before she stands up to them like the Khaleesi that she is. And finally, Arya and Gendry are making me uncomfortable in their awesomeness together because the actors have such a big age difference. But this is fiction right? It's ok?

Mad Men

Two great episodes the past two weeks. I don't even know where to begin. In the first, Lane and Pete gets into an actual fist fight which was the highlight of the episode. Both were taking out frustrations of their lives--Lane feels his professional life isn't what he planned and Pete feeling emasculated in many areas of his life. The latter especially seems to be turning into Don circa a few years ago when Don was unhappy with his personal life and bedding many women. Last week's episode was even trippier... literally... as Roger, Peggy, and Don all take unforgettable trips in the episode. Roger went to an LSD party with Jane complete with the hallucinations and the sudden realization that he and Jane are not meant to be. Peggy meanwhile capped off a terrible day of losing it in the Heinz pitch by going to a movie, getting high, and giving a guy a handjob. Finally, Don took Megan upstate to look at Howard Johnsons only to get into a fight with her that led to him worrying about and looking for her overnight. When he did find her back in their NYC apartment, the dangerous and angry Don we saw briefly in his feverish dream came out as he chased Megan around the apartment. While I missed a lot of the other characters during this episode, it was quite a tour-de-force for all involved and hope that we get to see how they all will move on from this.

Once Upon A Time

Just the one episode, but it was a great one featuring the ensembles most talented actor Robert Carlyle. As Regina and the rest of Storybrooke reel from the sudden return of Kathryn, it's Mr. Gold's fairytale flashback that takes center stage as we see more of his life with his son Baelfire after he became Rumpelstiltskin. The tragic separation of father and son that we see really informs Eli's personality in such an organic way (compare to the lame backstory of why Regina hates Snow) that it really is one of my favorite flashbacks. In the present, however, Eli and the audience are led to belive that August is the long-lost son only to find it the end that he's just someone looking for a little magic. I hope we do find out who he is as well as at least a clue as to where Eli's son may be. Perhaps next episode?

Magneto's Rainy Past

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

With anticipation for The Avengers reaching feverishly high levels just a few days before its stateside premiere, I thought it would be fitting for this particular blogathon to go back more than a decade, the year 2000 to be exact, and highlight a brilliant rainy scene that opened the film that revived the superhero film genre.

As a huge fan of the X-Men TV series as a kid, I greeted Bryan Singer's X-Men film adaptation back then with the same excitement and appreciation as fanboys today would greet the next Christopher Nolan film. Its opening scene, showing a young boy being separated from his parents en route to a Nazi concentration camp in 1944 Poland, was and still is one of its most memorable scenes. It was certainly a very risky and brave choice by Singer and writer David Hayter to open up this rock-em-sock-em summer superhero film with something so serious and dark. And it worked in so many levels. It at once introduces us to our main antagonist, Magneto (born Erik Lensherr), his past, his powers of magnetism, and his reasons for his distrust of humanity. All of this, I think was encapsulated by the wonderful shot at the end of this powerful sequence of the barbed-wire metal gate crushed and distorted after Erik did his damage:


This opening also frames the film as something to be taken a bit more seriously than just a film about a bunch of people wearing costumes and saving the world with their superpowers. It immediately made parallel the plight of the mutants to the horrific plight of the Jews during World War II. This is a film about how these outcasts deal with this level of discrimination. With this said, I heartily applaud Matthew Vaughn's decision to not only bring back this opening in last year's X-Men: First Class, but to actually use it as the opening of the film as well. Many things are different, of course, namely the actors and the color tone of the scene, but Vaughn definitely made a very concerted effort to replicate the older scene as much as he could...


He even went as far as using actual scenes from that first film, like the soldiers closing the gate or the people through the barbed-wire...


Storytelling-wise this scene achieves pretty much the same thing in this more recent film as the earlier film with the introduction to Magneto, his powers, his past as well as highlighting yet again the very human plight of mutants against discrimination (see also all of the anvil-like references of them being "born this way" throughout the film). More practically, I'm sure Vaugh also wanted to re-capture the magic the first film weaved with its audience after the series hit a new low with X-Men: The Last Stand. What's a better way to do that than to copy this magnificent opener? It also made his prequel seem less like a reboot and more as an homage to the first film, which is quite a smart move. You can see the scene from that first film here.

Friday, April 27, 2012

A Thousand and One Nights

It's been that kind of month where my blogging slows down to a crawl. My mind is too occupied with "real life" things that even my usual TV-loving self is finding it difficult to watch shows at full attention. Hopefully I can do a catch-up TV Report post this weekend to cover the last two weeks, but just in case I forget to highlight this particular what-the-fuckery* I present to you now the much-talked about "Bollywood" number from this week's Smash that really needs to be seen to believe:



I am of two minds on this number. On the one hand, it's pretty damn racist conflating Indian, Arabian, and other cultures in one over-the-top performance. It also reeks a bit of desperation for a show that really has fallen off the deep end and is now struggling to figure out how to stay afloat. On the other hand, the song is ridiculously catchy and I couldn't helped but be enthralled by the colorful costumes and fun choreography and yes it's over-the-top-ness. I actually hope the show keeps doing more of this kind of campy, outlandish numbers involving the entire cast. Just make it a little less racist next time. And improve on the non-singing/dancing parts of the show!

*It's pretty funny I chose to highlight this particular TV moment in a TV week that included a group of folks taking an LSD trip, a woman giving birth to a smoke monster, a Whitney Houston tribute, a Law & Order spoof, and a live TV episode. Looks like I'm not the only one experience a crazy week it seems.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Looking Forward To...


The Avengers
Release: May 4, 2012
Distributor: Buena Vista
Director: Joss Whedon
Starring: Chris Evans, Samuel L. Jackson, Scarlett Johansson, Chris Hemsworth, Jeremy Renner, Tom Hiddleston, Cobie Smulders, Mark Ruffalo, Clark Gregg, Stellan Skarsgård, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Robert Downey Jr.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Birthday Girl: Kelly Clarkson


To celebrate Kelly Clarkson's 30th birthday, I had planned on posting an epic list of 30 of my favorite performances of hers complete with video clips. Unfortunately, real life got in the way and so instead I just wanted to give the very first American Idol winner a quick birthday shout out by taking a quick look at the great few months she's been having.

She released her fifth studio album Stronger back in October and the title track, the second single, reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for three weeks. She performed the National Anthem at this years Super Bowl to rave reviews and most recently picked up two ACM Awards for her duet with Jason Aldean on country hit "Don't You Wanna Stay" which also garnered her a sixth Grammy Awards nomination. Clarkson appeared as a mentor on The Voice and will repeat that role later this summer on Duets. She recently wrapped up a concert tour to promote the new album as well as to celebrate her 10-year anniversary in the business. She will go on tour again later this year with The Fray.

Once again, Happy Birthday Kelly!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Avengers Assembling

It's been a very Joss Whedon-heavy past few days for me. There was my re-watch of Serenity for Hit Me With Your Best Shot last week as well as my viewing of the surprisingly delightful Cabin in the Woods this past weekend. Even my last Netflix film, Miss Austen Regrets, which at first glance has nothing to do with Whedon, stars Olivia Williams (Adelle in Dollhouse) and Tom Hiddleston (Loki in The Avengers).

Speaking of The Avengers, I've been keeping a sharp eye on the reviews that have been trickling and they have been good to great. Even the rare "negative" reviews have had very good things to say about the film. I'm genuinely excited. It doesn't help that the superbly photogenic cast has been out and about promoting the film non-stop. Below are photo calls in Moscow and the UK premiere respectively.



Obviously missing is Captain America (Chris Evans) and Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) though both of them did make the red carpet at the LA premiere two weeks ago.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Birthday Boy: Jack Nicholson


Three-time Oscar winner Jack Nicholson celebrates his 75th birthday today. He holds the male acting record of being nominated for the most Oscars with 12 nominations. Of those 12 nominations, I peculiarly have only seen three films, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, As Good as It Gets and A Few Good Men. The latter is probably one of my favorite films from the 90s.

Perusing his IMDb credits, however, confirms that I haven't seen nearly enough of his films as warranted by his reputation in cinema. Other than the films above I've also seen him in The Shining, The Witches of Eastwick, Batman, Anger Management, and The Departed. Seeing all of those films together in one list just makes me realized that all of the films I've seen with Jack Nicholson have ranged from very good to excellent. But then oops, I seemed to have conveniently forgotten about that dreadful film How Do You Know which is regretfully also his most recent film. Let's hope he takes a break from watching all that basketball and makes a comeback in a film worthy of his talents.

What Jack Nicholson films should I immediately check out? Ironweed? Chinatown? Broadcast News?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A leaf on the wind...

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.

Before I begin, I would like to come right out in the open and declare myself a Whedon fanboy. I think Buffy the Vampire Slayer is the greatest show of all time and curse FOX daily for the cancellation of Firefly. The big screen sequel to Firefly, Serenity, not shockingly ended up being my favorite film of that year and I have since seen it countless of times. With all of that said, you might guess how pleased I was that Serenity was the film chosen this week. I also went into panic mode after I re-watched last night knowing it would be way too difficult to actually pick a favorite shot. Even before I re-watched, however, there were already four shots that came immediately to mind...


Apart from being so obviously aesthetically pleasing, I love the emotions and feelings evoked by the images--the unsettling threat of the Operative's visit, the dangerous mystery of the planet Miranda, the anticipation of the epic battle sequence, and the somber mood of the funeral ceremony. Plus the colors... Inara's red dress against the green-blue mountains, Zoe's silhouette against the stark white background, the contrast of the planet with Alliance ships and the dark of space with the Reavers, and finally the gorgeous rocky sunset... just divine. So all of those shots would have made worthy candidates, but then my mind started to wander more to Serenity, or more specifically, the ship that bears that name...

"She's torn up plenty, but she'll fly true."

I still remember my reaction when the title of the film appeared in the beginning and the ship slowly came into view. It was absolute joy. That feeling would replicate itself half a dozen times whenever the ship would appear on screen either landing on a planet with its side turbines or blasting into space with its glowing rear. Of course I also remember feeling sick to my stomach when they had to desecrate the ship so it could pass through Reaver space and almost crying when it got smashed and destroyed towards the end. It's a testament to Whedon and company that crafted this ship that it literally becomes another character that you root for. This Firefly-class rickety junkyard of a ship may not be much (the film ends with a piece falling off yet again), but it is their home.


Finally, I decided to pick a singular image that was just too great to not highlight (in fact it's my wallpaper right now). It's River's dress billowing in the wind as the crew makes their first foray into Miranda. I love this shot for many reasons like all of the shades of blue present, but also because it features one of Whedon's love... feet. Plus that blue dress becomes just a work of art in the wind conjuring to mind one of the film's most quoted lines "I'm a leaf on the wind. Watch how I soar." Indeed.

Addendum: I forgot to mention the amazing post-title sequence which technically was one shot (well two shots seamlessly stitched together). It's one of my favorite title sequence ever and definitely should be someone's best shot.

Head on over to Nathaniel's website for his take as well as a list of links from others who watched Serenity and picked their best shots.

Looking Forward To...


The Five-Year Engagement
Release: April 27, 2012
Distributor: Universal
Director: Nick Stoller
Starring: Emily Blunt, Jason Segel, Alison Brie, Mimi Kennedy, Rhys Ifans, Mindy Kaling, Chris Pratt, and Jackie Weaver

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

TV Report: Week of 4/8

There are many reasons why I didn't post my TV Report a couple days ago as I try to do, but I won't go into it. Instead in an effort to catch up, just brief snippets on those shows I got to see last week. Note that these don't include any new episodes I've seen since Sunday. Hopefully will get to those this upcoming weekend. Onwards...

Game of Thrones - Not as flawless as the premiere, but still a wonderful episode where we got a lot more of Arya and Gendry than the earlier episode. Plus we also got more Tyrion and Cersei scenes and lord knows I could watch a whole hour of those two just sniping at each other.

Mad Men - Apart from Don's feverish dream where he commits murder, the episode really revolved around Peggy and Joan being awesome and that's all right by me since they are my favorites. Peggy had two great scenes conning Roger and hanging out with Dawn while Joan finally kicked Greg out of the apartment!

How I Met Your Mother - I don't think it's an insta-classic, but it was pretty damn close. Love all of the flashback/flashforward stuff with the guys reflecting on their lives every three years or so. I especially loved Cobie Smulders rocking the wigs and costumes this episode. Plus Ted with the baby made me smile.

2 Broke Girls - Nothing much to say about this episode where the girls had to do drug testing for money. It's a show I watch because it's after HIMYM. I enjoy the leads, but the show itself isn't good. Moving on.

Smash - Toning down Ivy's histrionics and giving Karen the understudy role were all good-ish or at least relatively compared to everything else. But I really didn't like how Eileen treated her potential investor, Dev's work problems, or anything to do with Julia's crisis at home (though Messing's performance is very good). So more bad than good I'm afraid. And the last-second Uma reveal is... yawn.

Glee - Matt Bomer was in this episode. That's pretty much where my interests began and ended and even then I cringed at even some of his scenes, because oh god why? My love affair with Blaine is rapidly declining though that gratuitous shower scene was much appreciated. I just feel sorry for every actor in this show to be honest.

New Girl - Other than wanting to know exactly how True American is played, this episode didn't really hold my attention. I do like Jess/Russell together, but this episode wasn't one of their better ones. Winston's B-plot was also a bit mediocre except for the ending as he tried to get his babysitting job back.

Suburgatory - While not everything worked, a lot of it did that it made the episode worthwhile. Don't really buy Lisa/Malik, but the actors had so much fun with their gross PDAs. Ryan's feelings for Jane were also not exactly organic, but I dig it. Plus we got tons of Yakult/Dalia which is a rivalry for the ages.

Modern Family - Was I the only one who didn't enjoy that episode? I mean I really can't point to a single reason why I did, but nothing really clicked for me. The worst was probably Cam/Mitchell getting into trouble yet again by being overly judgmental.

Community - What was not to like? The Dean gets lots of screen-time to steal scenes, Jeff/Shirley gets to hang out, Britta gets to Britta herself, and Troy's feelings for Britta resurfaces. Cool, cool, cool, cool.

30 Rock - Good to see Elaine Stritch back as Jack's mom as she's always good for a zinger or two plus Krakowski is still doing good work this season this time checking off a couple of items in her sexual walkabout checklist. The best scene, however, was Liz dancing as dollar bills rained down on her via Tracy and his son.

The Office - Not sure what to think of this episode. On the one hand, we get more development on Nellie and Andy/Erin, but for the most part it all felt just a tad bit awkward for everyone involved. I supposed this show's motto is making awkward, well, funny, but I think this time around the execution fell short a bit.

Awake - I get so depressed talking about this show knowing it'll get cancelled due to its anemic ratings, but I tell myself to just enjoy the ride and whatever episodes do air. This week's episode wasn't as perfect as the week prior, but it still gave us little clues as to the nature of Britten's accident. Need more! Of it all!

Fringe - What's the point of reviewing this episode when all I want to do is give every cast member an Emmy at this point? Anna Torv and John Noble especially showed off why it's ridiculous they haven't been showered with all of the award this past week's episode and Seth Gabel two weeks ago did the same when one of his characters died. For me, it's these performances that make it worthwhile. The cool sci-fi plots are just bonuses really.

Finally, I have checked out the first episodes of Scandal and Don't Trust the B- in Apt. 23 and will check out the pilot for HBO's Girls very soon. I'll do a quick post on all three when I can!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Remembering the Titanic


Today is the 100th Anniversary of the RMS Titanic sinking in the North Atlantic taking the lives of around 1500 people. There are many tributes, commemorations, and exhibits around the world to mark this somber anniversary. The billion-dollar grossing (closing in on $2 billion) film that came out 15 years ago giving the tragedy more attention also recently came out in theaters again this month.

I saw this new 3D version of the film last week with some friends and the majesty of the ship and of the film itself have not diminished with time. I do have to say that while the 3D conversion didn't really add anything of worth, seeing the film again on the big screens and remembering the very first time I laid my eyes of Kate Winslet were all worth it. Who could ever forget her breathtaking entrance (one of the best in all of cinema) with her face appearing beneath that massive hat? Tears started flowing for me right then and there.


Bringing it back to the real-life tragedy of the RMS Titanic, I think James Cameron and company adequately portrayed those harrowing moments after the ship hit the iceberg--from the mad dash to get to the lifeboats to the gut-wrenching music played by the ship's band. Despite seeing the film more than a few times already, my face still got plenty wet during those scenes and then some. So while the film may have spawned hater culture at large, its impact has been indelible as has the events it sought to feature.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Looking Forward To...


The Cabin in the Woods
Release: April 13, 2012
Distributor: Lionsgate
Director: Drew Goddard
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Fran Kranz, Anna Hutchison, Richard Jenkins, Amy Acker, Tom Lenk, Bradley Whitford, Kristen Connolly, and Jesse Williams

This film has been in development for years and was actually supposed to come out nearly two years ago so it's been crazy to have this film be released finally and on Friday the 13th no less. Written by Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard, it's a film about five friends who spend some time in a remote cabin in the woods and I'm assuming that's where all of the horror and hilarity will ensue. I honestly don't know anything else about the film than that and that is just the way I like it. Now as it is a horror film, I'm probably going to check it out when it comes out on DVD and not in theaters, but I still wanted to highlight the film because of Whedon's involvement and the great cast he and Goddard have compiled.


I've also got to give credit to the beautiful posters used to market the film. The big one at the top of this post is my favorite. It's obviously an homage to Escher, but I love its woodsy-vintage-comic-book hybrid feel. I especially like the subtle honeycomb pattern towards the bottom with the title treatment. I also liked the first poster of a Picasso-like cabin floating on air up against a foreboding background of the woods. The second one pretty much copies the first, but amusingly populates the cabin with the good reviews the film has been getting. Speaking of, as I write this, its Rotten Tomatoes rating is a very fresh 89%. Hm... maybe I will end up seeing this if only to fill up on my Whedon quota until The Avengers come out!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Seize the Day! Newsies Turns 20!


Today is the 20th Anniversary of Newsies which as it turns out was also my very first Christian Bale movie. It may have also been one of my very first musicals. Of course a musical starring a bunch of boys set in New York City would be my first musical. How typical. In any case, the film revolves around the newsboys strike of 1899 that actually took place. There's a lot of caps, vests, newspapers, and really exaggerated New York accents. But you should watch it just to see Bale sing and dance like, for example, in the film's most popular number "Seize the Day" which you can see below...



Now perhaps because they wanted to take advantage of the 20th Anniversary or just coincidence, there's a new Broadway musical version based on the film starring Jeremy Jordan. I have yet to see it, but I'm going to do my best to check it out before it goes away later this summer. See the trailer for the Broadway show after the jump...

Sunday, April 8, 2012

TV Report: Week of 4/1

Looking back on this past week of TV, it seems I skipped watching as many shows as I actually did find the time to watch. The list of shows I didn't get to see included Castle, Ringer, Big Bang Theory, Grey's Anatomy, and Fringe as well as the season/series premieres of The Killing and Scandal. In any case, onwards to those shows I actually saw...


Game of Thrones


As I had already mentioned briefly elsewhere, I loved the season premiere. Unlike the premiere last year when I had no idea who anyone was or where anything was, this episode felt like coming back home and seeing old friends. We do get caught up on the lives of most everyone in Westeros from Jon Snow traveling beyond the Wall to Dany traversing the great desert. We spend lots of time in King's Landing seeing how that rat bastard Joffrey is liking being the king. We actually begin and end the episode seeing just how far Joffrey would go to fulfill his blood lust. More entertaining are his mom Cersei and his uncle Tyrion by his side especially with both of them getting the best scenes of the episode. Rather than the episode feeling disjointed and schizophrenic, it actually flowed quite well together and a lot of the scenes were held together by the red comet in the sky signaling dragons. We do meet new people and see new places, but for the most part it was more of the same from the first season only so much better. If anything this show is just tempting me more and more to pick up the books they are adapted from.

Once Upon A Time

This was a big episode for the series since it presumably explained just exactly why Regina hates Mary Margaret so much. It turned out Regina had an Evil Mother herself when she was much younger who was even more overbearing and magically powerful than her and so deliciously played by Barbara Hershey. Regina's mother wants her to marry the King aka Snow White's father, but Regina has already fallen in love with their stable boy. Young Snow White, played by Bailee Madison (who really was cast perfectly to play a young Ginnifer Goodwin), finds out about Regina and the stable boy and while sad for her father was actually okay keeping Regina's secret to run away with the stable boy because of True Love. Of course Snow was manipulated by Regina's mother and that was all she wrote. Stable boy dies, Regina's heart turns dark, and young Snow's mistake may mean the end to Mary Margaret's life in the real world. As a showcase for Hershey and Madison, this was a great episode. As an actual explanation to the Evil Queen's evilness? I still don't buy it. Yes, having your True Love die because of your mother will mess you up, but to that extent and to blame a little girl? Katherine showing up at the end will hopefully mean things are moving forward with that interminable storyline.

Mad Men

It's very easy to not like, or even straight-up, hate Betty. She is pretty pathetic and the writers on this show seems to relish on this as evident by the weight gain the character went through to signal how depressed and unfulfilled she has been. In truth they were just trying to deal with January Jones real-life pregnancy, but the fat suit and make-up were still a touch comical even as it signified something deeper. I wished more people appreciated Jones' performance though. Her phone call with Don or the very last scene with her eating Sally's ice cream were just so well done. Also I'm a bit jealous of her new gothic house. Elsewhere i.e. inside the offices of SCDP everyone is aware of a change in the air. Don has a new (and black) secretary hilariously named Dawn. Peggy hires an obnoxious, but very talented new copywriter. And Roger plays into Pete's hand over the Mohawk Airline account. A slightly less successful episode than the 2-hr premiere, but still a good solid hour.

Shameless

We say goodbye to the Gallaghers yet again and at least this time they all seem to be in a roughly good spot. I'm actually surprised we ended on such a happy note after a season full of setbacks and drama that I really thought SOMETHING horrible was going to happen in those last few seconds. Yes, Frank is still his miserable self and he is drunk outside in the snow with no one to give a crap about him, but it's quite difficult to feel sorry for him after all of the stunts he pulled this past season. Okay, my heart went out to him a little bit after Monica left him especially since he has been the most human around her these last couple of episodes. But Fiona and Jimmy (not Steve anymore!) are together, Lip is back home where he belongs, and Ian has a new sugar daddy who is... SHOCKING TWIST... Jimmy's father. As soapy and insade as that development was I still give them kudos for going there. It also means we will hopefully get more of Jimmy's whole crazy clan next season. Karen, like Frank, is off into the cold by herself after leaving home when her mom (and Jody) picked her baby over her. Sheila really grew into herself this season and at the end finally stood up for herself and for what she wanted. That's a big as step for her as it was leaving the house last season. And finally, Emmy Rossum. There's nothing to say really. She's just wonderful here as she had been every damn episode of this show. Stay warm, Gallaghers.

Happy Endings

Gay wedding season finale episode as the gang gets together for yet another wedding this time for their friend Derrick's wedding with his partner Eric (so are they Derric or Erick?). Plus the Year of Penny ends with her feelings for Dave almost out in the open if it weren't for her now maybe boyfriend in the shape of Brian Austin Green. Her single status was a joke throughout but it really paid off when she had to dance with a laptop. I'm okay with them dipping into the Dave/Alex well again. There have been small (and big) moments this season regarding them and Alex in general has blossomed into a great character that I see them working even if it isn't endgame. As for Brad/Jane, they're always a hoot as they have been all season. Brad freaking out about being laid off and Jane taking the wedding into her own hands were great. Plus Jane's replicating Jolie's Oscar leg right after the show coined "Dujardin" as "being dressed sharply" was my favorite part of the night. Or was it Max's performance of "Like a Prayer" with the band Mandonna? I don't know! I love this show.

Community

This show has delivered out of the box episodes before and have done them well such as the paintball episodes and the documentary episodes. So an episode that mixes the best parts of those episodes has got to be amazing right? In this case, yes it was. "Pillows and Blankets" had the look and feel of Ken Burns-narrated war documentary. I almost don't have the words to express what an amazing episode it was. It's TV storytelling at its best. Yes, it was super weird, but it also had a lot of heart. When Troy and Abed were hurling insults at each other or Jeff had the realization that he'd do anything for his friends, it all felt sincere, earned, and affective. But it was damn funny too like Britta's terrible photography, Annie's and Jeff's texts, or the Dean's apt question of "Do people go to classes?" Brilliant. Poignant. Nuts. Pretty much this show in a nutshell.

Awake

Despite its low ratings which pretty much guarantee its cancellation, it's episodes like this past week that keeps watching until the bitter end as Britten gets more than he can handle as he is forced to negotiate with a mental patient just as he starts experience hallucinations himself (that penguin was hilarious). All the while he is trying to convince everyone, both his therapists especially, that he is okay even as he's starting to realize that he is probably lying to himself. It's a twisty episodes with lots of turns which gives the episode some needed suspense and differentiating it enough from episodes prior, but the heart of the episode, Britten's relationship with his wife in one world and his son in another is intact. Again, the show will get cancelled with the ratings it's been getting, but if anyone wants my opinion on whether or not to still watch the show then my answer would be YES.

Miscellaneous Thoughts

The title of this week's Smash episode was "Hell on Earth" and really the jokes write themselves... I'm very glad that the Cece/Schmidt relationship on New Girl is now out and I quite liked how the show handled it... It's been years since I've seen an episode of One Tree Hill but I wanted to give it a quick shout-out for its series finale this past week... I laughed way too hard at seeing Jenna as a Smurf on 30 Rock this week... Touch had an above average episode but I'm still pretty lukewarm to the series... And finally Sofia Vergara on SNL was good though it all depended on the skits with half of them close to brilliant while the other half absolutely horrible.

Day by Day: Broadway's Godspell

Happy Easter to anyone who celebrates it! Other than accompanying my dad to church this morning, I didn't really do anything special. Gone are the days of dressing up for Church then rushing over to someone's house to color and hunt for some eggs. But I'd like to take this opportunity to highlight Broadway's newest revival musical Godspell.


Before this year, whenever I heard people talk about Godspell, my mind would immediately think about the 1973 film starring Victor Garber as Jesus. As a product of Catholic education, I had the opportunity to see the film a few times. With its blend of holy Scriptures (based mostly from the teachings of Jesus Christ) and "modern" pop-rock songs, it was definitely one of the more fun ways my old teachers got us to learn our lessons. I also highly enjoyed the film's used of New York City locations as well as the cast's diversity and free-spiritedness. It was only this year, however, that I found out Godspell was actually a musical stage production first and that this new version starring Hunter Parrish as Jesus will be a Broadway revival. I was stoked.

Victor Garber and the current cast of the Broadway revival w/ Hunter Parrish

Luckily I have been able to see this show now twice and absolutely loved. Parrish as Jesus was perfectly cast not only because of his superbly underrated voice, but also because of his infectious madcap energy (which he was also able to tone down for the more somber parts of the musical). The rest of the ensemble are as diverse and free-spirited as their movie counterparts and all-around excellent. They were so great that the first time I saw the show with half the ensemble replaced by their understudies, you really couldn't tell that who you were watching were last-minute replacements. They were all that good. The theater-in-the-round aspect took some getting used to as well as sitting on pillows right up against the stage, but all of that just added to the engrossing experience. The stage itself reminded me of Mary Poppin's bag with water, trampolines, and many props coming forth from its depth at various points. While the songs remain mostly the same, the script is of course tailored specifically for our times and our situation. There are references to Occupy Wall Street, Lindsay Lohan, the GOP race, and Britney Spears among others. See the brief trailer/montage of the show below:



After the jump, listen to a clip of Hunter Parrish singing one of the show's songs "Beautiful City."

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Looking Forward To... April Showers

I had planned on posting this last week, but life got in the way. In any case, the first two shows already had their season premiere, but in the age of DVRs and online viewing it really doesn't matter, right? In any case, here are the deluge premieres and returns I'm looking forward to this upcoming month...


The Killing
(April 1st, AMC 8pm)
- SEASON PREMIERE. Maybe it was because I saw the last half of the season over one weekend AFTER all of the drama that centered around the lack of resolution its end had, but I was totally fine with it. It's a fine enough drama, albeit a tad bleak, and I'm looking forward to seeing the rest of the story. With that said, I'm going to probably need to figure out when exactly I have time to fit in this 2-hr premiere.

Game of Thrones (April 1st, HBO 9pm) - SEASON PREMIERE. Never mind the fact that I already saw the premiere and absolutely LOVED it, but even if the premiere somehow failed to live up to the gloriousness that they displayed in season one, it still would've been my most anticipated season premiere of this month. It was after all my favorite new show last year.

Scandal (April 5th, ABC 10pm) - SERIES PREMIERE. I'm doing into this relatively blind. I mean I know it's about the insider lives of Washington and it stars the awesome Kerry Washington and so far that's all I need to know to at least check it out. Yes, it's by Shonda Rhimes but even with her faults, she does know how to craft a viable ensemble show. Plus she's a huge Buffy/Joss Whedon fan.

Glee (April 10, FOX 8pm) - I don't know about you but I certainly didn't miss this show while it was gone for the past few weeks. The only reason why I'm tuning in now is because I'm clearly masochistic, I still love seeing people sing and dance in a scripted TV show, and well Matthew Bomer. 'Nuf said.

Don't Trust the B- in Apt. 23 (April 11, ABC 10pm) - SERIES PREMIERE. I had a chance to see this in advanced a couple of days ago and I quite liked it. There's some things that need ironing out, but I found myself enjoying the cast especially James Van Der Beek playing himself. Think of it as 2 Broke Girls without all the misogynistic/racist humor.

Revenge (April 18th, ABC 10pm) - And my favorite new show last year on broadcast TV makes a comeback after being gone for nearly two months! Can't believe we had to wait that long without the scheming! Good news though is that we'll be getting the last 6 episodes straight through. I'm hoping for a cliffhanger!

Parks and Recreation (April 19, NBC 9:30pm) - This will have been off-the-air just a little over a month when it returns and TV will be a better place when it returns. This newly awarded Peabody winner will air its last four episodes straight through. Paul Rudd will probably return as Leslie's campaign reaches its conclusion.

There are a handful of season finales in store for this month. For a couple of those shows I've pretty much stopped watching them recently, but for the rest it'll be the usual bittersweet moment of having a great episode to tide us over for the summer months (or more in some cases). The dates are below:
  • Shameless - 4/1
  • Happy Endings - 4/4
  • Up All night - 4/12
  • Being Human - 4/14
  • Ringer - 4/17
  • Raising Hope - 4/17
  • The Good Wife - 4/29

TV|Line has a more complete list of April's season/series premieres and finales so better make sure you check it out.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Birthday Girl: Cobie Smulders


Meet Cobie Smulders. She was born in Canada 30 years ago and that is her gorgeous IMDb picture above. Kind of not fair right? Anyways, you can catch her weekly on How I Met Your Mother or in the big screens in a month as S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Maria Hill in Joss Whedon's The Avengers.

She sings too! Well, at least her TV alter-ego used to as Robin Sparkles. Watch her hilarious retro-rific music video to the incredibly catchy "Let's Go to the Mall" below.


If that wasn't enough, after the jump is another music video featuring James Van Der Beek and Alan Thicke and totally outclasses anything by Rebecca Black.

Miami Wins for Djokovic and Radwanska

Clay season is upon us and will be with us for the next few months leading up to the French Open in June. This past weekend in Miami though was the last major-ish hardcourt tournament before said clay season and it was... interesting. Both Indian Wells champions Roger Federer and Victoria Azarenka failed to reach the semifinals snapping their opening season streaks. Other notable players who didn't reach that far include both Williams sisters, Kim Clijsters, and Juan Martin Del Potro. Last year's losing finalist Rafael Nadal technically reached the last four, but with an injured knee, was forced to withdraw.


But hey who cares about these losers am I right? I'm joking of course since those are some of my favorite players. But their relatively early exits did make the Miami Masters less fun for me to watch. Granted, tennis is still tennis, but with no one to really root for, it just doesn't have the same appeal. With that said only hearty congratulations for the eventual champions Novak Djokovic and Agnieszka Radwanska who had to face tough opponents in Andy Murray and Maria Sharapova to take the title. For world no. 1 Djokovic, it was his second title of the year and his first since winning the Australian Open. It was also Radwanska's second title of the year and her first WTA Premier Mandatory title thereby making it the biggest win of her career. She impressively did it without dropping a set.


In doubles, Maria Kirilenko and Nadia Petrova beat Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci 10-4 in the third set while 7th seeds Leander Paes and Radek Stepanek upset 2nd seeds Max Mirnyi and Daniel Nestor for the men's title. Bring on the red dirt...

Monday, April 2, 2012

Birthday Boy: Michael Fassbender


Insert penis joke here. No seriously doesn't it seem like that's what people first think of when you say Michael Fassbender's name nowadays? Luckily he's a talented enough actor that it'llall probably blow over. Pun intended. Maybe.

Anyways, he turned 35 today coming off a breakout year where he appeared in the rest of the films that Jessica Chastain and Ryan Gosling weren't in. Joking aside, 2011 really was an incredible year for him playing roles from Rochester to Magneto and working with directors such as David Cronenberg and Steve McQueen. A few, like me, first saw him briefly in Quentin Tarantino's 2009 film Inglourious Basterds or perhaps even his work across the pond like Fish Tank and Hunger, but now that he's practically a household name (or at least his genitalia is) he's definitely here to stay. All I can say is... yes, please.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

TV Report: Week of 3/25

Before I talk about a few of the TV shows I saw this past week, just wanted to remind everyone about the season premieres of both Game of Thrones and The Killing tonight as well as the season finale of Shameless. As always, there's just way too many things on tonight.


Mad Men Finally Returns


They're back! Don, Peggy, Joan, Pete, Lane, and the whole gang! Even Cooper is back without an explanation after he stormed off last season. One main character that didn't make an appearance though was Betty which probably had more to do with Jones' pregnancy than anything. With that said, the two-hour premiere really was great giving us updates on what all of them have been up to while moving the needle ever forward. Don is now married to Megan, Pete lives in Connecticut with Trudy, Joan is a new mother, and Peggy is still with her beatnik journalist boyfriend. With actors as good as these, the plot is almost immaterial and yet we get that great party at the Drapers where Megan single-handedly put the song "Zou Bisou Bisou" in the cultural awareness as well as that hilarious and smartly structured scene with Joan bringing her baby into the office. The episode began and ended with a hint of the civil rights movement making its way into SCDP. Can't wait to see what this season has in store for all of them!

The Good Wife Takes Center Stage

Didn't it feel like this episode was tailor-made to be Julianna Margulies Emmy episode? Alicia took center stage starting and putting out fires one after another. She was tasked by Diane to represent her in a prestigious Blue Ribbon Panel head up by Mike Kresteva played by the deliciously scheming Matthew Perry while also helping Kalinda with her IRS and FBI problem. Oh yeah and she's trying to figure out how to buy her old house back (cue the flashbacks) as well as deal with the surprise twist regarding Jackie. And fight!

Once Upon A Time Goes Mad

I have to say I've been impressed with this show the past few weeks MOSTLY because I've enjoyed the focus of the supporting fairy tale characters like Grumpy, Red Riding Hood, and last week's Mad Hatter. Sebastian Stan as the Hatter was great casting and the fact that his character is one of the few who "knows" about the Curse adds another layer. Hope we see more of him soon. With all of this said, I'm still generally ambivalent over the whole Mary Margaret-David-Regina case even with the "shocking" discovery that Mr. Gold is playing both sides.

It's All Lies for Happy Endings

The fact that last week's episode was the penultimate one this season made me sad a little since it just means I only have one more week to enjoy these people's company until possibly next fall! Unlike last week's episode which largely fell flat for me, I absolutely loved this week's lie-a-thon. How the lies kept building and building until the predictably horrifying and hilarious end was pretty damn good TV. Plus Alex as Ellen DeGeneres impression just confirms why she's this season most improved character... in all of TV. Boom, I said it.

Freaky Fringe Gives All the Feelings

I'm glad that even though we got a touching scene between Broyles and Olivia at the end with Broyles reinstating Olivia to the Fringe team, we still got a whole episode showing the consequences to Olivia's decision last episode regarding the memory replacement she's experiencing. It's also good we're seeing both sides of the emotional divide over this. While Peter and Walter are obviously ecstatic, not ignoring Lincoln and Nina's feelings makes it all the more real. Revisiting an old case was nice for those of us who has stuck with the show this long and I'm happy we're inching ever closer to the endgame of Jones. All of mutant monsters in the end gave me nightmares.

Miscellaneous Thoughts on Other TV

The less said about this week's episode of Smash the better because other than 1-2 scenes it truly was horrible... The will-they-won't-they in Castle is heating up but my patience is honestly getting thinner every week... Don't remember much about this week's New Girl except for Wilson singing songs from Wicked... There's something completely annoying me about Touch but I'm not at all sure how to articulate it... I didn't really LOVE this past week's Awake episode (still really liked it) but that ending blew my mind moreso than I expected and gave me chills... I don't know how to feel over this war between Troy and Abed on Community but everyone has to keep watching... Leonard Nimoy's Big Bang Theory cameo wasn't really worth all the hype... And finally Being Human ended its controversial 4th season in the UK last week. I'll try to form coherent thoughts on it once it airs all of its episode in the US.