Saturday, November 22, 2014

CWE: "Little Miss Sunshine" (2006)

Summary: A family takes a road trip so that their 7-year-old daughter can compete in the Little Miss Sunshine beauty pageant.

OK, it's been a while! I've been busy and I know that the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy is next after this one, so I think that's been slowing me down. Also, my cat died. That's the last post before this one and now I'm sad. Sigh.

  • I try to write the summaries from memory, but sometimes I have to cheat a little.
  • Also, I think I've been spending my Saturdays trying to keep up with Mark's videos, which ate up a lot of my time. Now that "Farscape" is done and "In the Flesh" is only 9 episodes, I'll have more time. Not doing the videos for "The Sarah Connor Chronicles," since the videos aren't anywhere that's easily available. I watched the show back in the day, so hopefully I'll remember at least the big stuff when I read the reviews.
  • Was this Steve Carell's first serious-ish role? OK, he did a Woody Allen film the year before, and, of course, "The 40-Year Old Virgin." I guess it was a part of that sudden proliferation of Carell movies. Playing a suicidal gay man was a little bit of a different track, though.
  • OK, now I want chicken.
  • I do like all of the actors in this movie. Steve Carell is very, very good. But I'm always a sucker for the conflicted gay character.
  • I also like that Frank really doesn't like Richard. Because Richard is kind of an ass.
  • And Grandpa, Frank and Dwayne are kinda awesome.
  • Frank and Sheryl have nice sibling chemistry.
  • Josh is a little ... obvious. Frank can do better.
  • Also, it makes me deeply uncomfortable that no one in that van is wearing a seat belt.
  • Reading the costuming recaps for "Mad Men" has made me notice everything. The bedspread, curtains, and Sheryl and Richard's shirts are all busy patterns that are in conflict with each other, visually representing the conflict within their relationship. Also, I really want to go back and re-read all those articles.
  • Bryan Cranston!
  • Richard in shorts on a tiny scooter.
  • ... and goodnight, Grandpa.
  • Frank just kinda goes along with it all, from pushing the van to stealing a body. I can't help but think all the pushing outside the limits of what's acceptable or "normal" is revitalizing for a man who feels lost and completely disconnected from his life.
  • The porn distracts the cop from the dead body in the trunk.
  • Is the cop Hank? OMG. It is. It's like a "Breaking Bad" reunion in (in tiny roles) this movie.
  • I remember doing tests for color blindness when I was a kid. Would it really take until someone was 15 before it was discovered?
  • I love Beth Grant. She always plays the most horrible people.
  • "Is there anything else?" "Yeah, is there a funeral home around here?"
  • Oh, pageant kids. Scary.
  • It's really sad that Grandpa spends 1/2 the movie wrapped in a sheet in the back of the van, but getting Olive to the pageant basically became everyone's top goal.
  • So. Interesting. These girls are *obviously* pageant girls. They have the hair and the fake smiles and the ridiculous makeup. Do they know that this is, in a lot of ways, a complete condemnation of their lives? I'm gonna say not.
  • OK, it's half a strip show, but I giggle through Olive's talent demonstration.
  • And all the guys dancing with her.
  • Still like it.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Sunday, September 14, 2014

CWE: "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" (2005)

Skipped: "The Kids In The Hall" seasons 1 and 2

Summary: A thief, a private eye and an actress are brought together by a murder mystery. That's kind of a weak description...

  • Awesome music and noir credits.
  • I also love the on-screen titles.
  • Yay for Robert Downey Jr.!
  • Why are they casting a movie in the middle of the night?
  • Also, great use of voice over. Full of personality and flashbacks.
  • Me: the little girl version of Harmony is great. Oh, look, she's now Alex on "Modern Family"
  • Lots of bras sticking out of Harmony's tiny tops. Never a fan of that look.
  • Deeply scuzzy guy. And then he beats up RDJ, which is entertainingly unexpected.
  • Val Kilmer makes me smile in this movie.
  • I also like how Harry just walks into places -- no waiting in line, no bribing the door man ... just walks in.
  • Sign of a good movie: I keep just watching, not typing.
  • While I could do without the paternalistic attitude, I do appreciate that Harry directly states -- in more than one scene -- that it is never appropriate for a man to touch a woman without her permission.
  • The repeated abuse of the corpse should probably bother me more than it does.
  • I also wish that the movie didn't go to the "eww, gay" place so often, even if Perry is one of the most competent people in the movie by far.
  • "Did I just cut off your finger?" I knew it was coming and covered my eyes in time.
  • Those have to be scenes from "LA Law" right?
  • Oh, his finger again.
  • Man, that apartment. I love love love the mid-century LA look. And the colored circle room divider things are amazing.
  • Oh, god, the dog and the finger. Ack.
  • Also, OK, you've wiped your fingerprints off of things but you're bleeding from the missing finger. I gotta imagine there's DNA there. Although the police might not be looking for blood that doesn't match.
  • And Harry makes sure that Harmony's hand doesn't get caught in the door.
  • I don't like Harry's attitude about Harmony's sexual history.
  • You might want to check if he's breathing before doing mouth-to-mouth.
  • These cell phones are so outdated -- first thing to make a movie look old.
  • Don't hit Perry!
  • The gun thing while hanging off an overpass while holding onto the hand of a corpse is kinda amazing. Also, he was horrified when he shot the first guy, but doesn't seem that bothered by the rest.
  • Hee hee and all the dead people are back. Well, no, but funny.
  • Aww, Perry went back to Indiana with them (to threaten Harmony's father...)
  • I know it's never meant to be, but I would have loved a series of movies about Perry and Harry, solving crimes in LA.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

CWE: "Just One of the Guys" (1985)

Summary: After losing a newspaper internship contest, Terry dresses as a guy and starts attending another school in order to apply again and prove that it was sexism that caused her first rejection.

This movie must have been on cable 1,000 times when I was young and I must have watched in 900 of those times. Before my current interest in movies with interesting gay characters, I clearly had an interest in movies about girls who dress up as boys. Put this one with "Dragonslayer" as one of my favorites when I was a kid.

I'm writing some of these notes before I actually start watching the movie -- I'm catching up on last week's "Days of Our Lives" first -- and trying to decide how I feel about it. I more or less remember it as a slightly atypical '80s teen sex comedy (only without most of the sex). But I'm thinking about it and it actually has a relatively strong feminist slant, at least in some aspects. There are a lot of not so great elements of it, I'm sure, but Terry starts out as pretty privileged and learns not that she has to work harder because she's a woman, but that she needs to work harder to be a better writer generally. She gets a wake up call that her frat boy college boyfriend likes her for who he wants her to be, not who she wants to be, and he has no real interest in her career aspirations. She finds friendship in people who she routinely ignored in her own life, and while Terry was never really a bully, she sees how she regularly dismissed it when her old friends/boyfriend bullied others. In the end, of course, she falls for the nerdy guy (who's not really so nerdy under those glasses -- trope switch alert that still manages to completely uphold the trope!).
  • Wow, Terry's long hair is kinda awful. But I have to remember -- 1985.
  • I knew very few girls in high school who wore tight skirts and high heels to school regularly, so I'm always a little annoyed when I see all the outfits in high school movies, but then ... I did know some people who did. And a lot of the side/background players are wearing jeans and t-shirts, so it's actually probably not that bad.
  • Joyce Hyser is an interested choice to play Terry. She needs to be pretty and sexy enough to be considered the "hot girl," but not so much that she can't successfully pull off pretending to be a guy. They put her in lots of revealing clothes to emphasize the sexy.
  • The way they regularly ignore Buddy's horrible sexism is so icky. Although Terry does sorta call him on it.
  • She should be a model? Again, Joyce Hyser is very pretty but I can't quite see that. She doesn't have the height, for one.
  • I could do without the lesson on how to scratch your balls. And the terrible walking lessons.
  • William Zabka! The traditional 1980s movie high school villain.
  • Oh, wait, Rick the nerdy guy doesn't actually have glasses. I thought that he did. He just has what today would be considered a very hipster sense of style.
  • Terry also needs to stop talking to people. It's an interesting look at male/female social response, actually -- she constantly feels the need to be friendly, to explain, to be part of the social group. I'm not saying that all women feel this way, of course, but a girl like Terry, who has been popular and who has probably had those traditional social behaviors drilled into her, finds herself instinctively behaving in the expected way.
  • I also appreciate that they aren't ignoring the reality of her trying to pass as a boy -- going into the men's room and finding urinals and no stalls on the doors, trying to figure out how to get dressed in the locker room (although they have WAY too much time in there. Classes are usually like an hour, right? Just the locker room stuff takes forever). Yeah, it's largely played for laughs, but I'm glad it's not ignored.
  • Also, why is that kid wearing a crop top in gym class?
  • There's a "guys have struggles too" message here.
  • I always remember Terry's suggestion to replace a missing earring back with a pencil eraser. I may have actually done that once.
  • I have a very hard time believing that any school would let a student carry live animals -- of any kind, let alone a snake -- around.
  • The gay slurs can also stop, although they feel real for a 1980's high school experience.
  • Took a break to get dressed and go grocery shopping. And I'm dying my hair, so we will be interrupted again.
  • At least they introduce the idea that Terry going on a date with Sandy is unkind. Jill being in 6th grade is deeply creepy.
  • Interestingly, I noticed that the patio doors were not closed all the way in an earlier scene, and now that's how Terry gets back in the house.
  • Although Terry's boyfriend is a bit of a jerk, I feel kinda bad for him -- why can't Terry just tell him? Or, at least, tell him that she's working on a project and will be out of touch for a week or so.
  • Look! Rick was pretty all along
  • It's interesting to see Deborah make the same excuses for her boyfriend that Terry typically makes for hers.
  • Rick's new look is so painfully 1985. Popped collar!
  • Also, Rick is starting to think that Terry likes him.
  • The days when random people could just wander into a school...
  • Someone needs to teach Buddy about personal space.
  • Wow, that extra's shorts are really short.
  • Also, Deborah needs a bra.
  • "Kevin really likes this outfit." The skirt is cute, but the top is not good.
  • Yeah, calling journalism a hobby is not the way to your girlfriend's heart.
  • Isn't hitting on a girl at her prom while she's dancing with another guy at least a little skeezy?
  • What's with all the fingerless gloves?
  • I think Terry sounds her girliest when she screams.
  • "Where did you people learn to fight?"
  • Naturally, Rick is a good fighter too.
  • The gay panic isn't appreciated, but at least Rick isn't a complete jerk about it.
  • The only actual topless scene - Terry flashing Rick.
  • I guess kissing a guy in front of your boyfriend is a pretty clear sign that you're breaking up.
  • Maybe it's just me, but I rarely sit around writing in my underwear.
  • Electric typewriter! Hi 1985!
  • So I guess it's just OK that Terry missed a few weeks of school?
  • "Wait a minute. I'm the guy here. Let me just try this, huh?" I could do without the emphasis that Rick is the man in this relationship now.
  • Saturday, August 16, 2014

    CWE: "Juno" (2007)

    Summary: After having sex with her best friend, high school student Juno finds herself pregnant. She decides to give the baby to Mark and Vanessa in a private adoption.

    I don't think I'm going to do my usual bullet point this for this one. I know that this movie has its detractors, but I like it a lot. Yes, the dialogue tries way too hard, especially at the start, and there's a solid dose of quirk for quirk's sake, but I really like Ellen Page. Her face breaks my heart. And pretty much all of the actors in the movie are great, although to be honest, I've never really loved Jennifer Garner -- although she works very well here. I like that, although Mark seems like the cool one and Vanessa like the uptight bad guy, Mark is actually a weak, sketchy guy who doesn't want to grow up while Vanessa is an actual adult. Also: random Daniel Clark (from early Degrassi)! And no cell phones is weird. And J.K. Simmons is awesome.

    Sunday, August 10, 2014

    CWE: "The Journey of Natty Gann" (1985)

    Summary: After her father leaves for a job in Washington state, promising to send for her once he earns enough money, Depression-era teen Natty sets out by herself from Chicago to find him.

    • Quite possibly the most family-friendly DVD that I own! It's Disney, no less.
    • Also, I have loved this movie since I was a kid. It's also probably the source of my lingering affection for John Cusack.
    • This is clearly not any kind of remastered video. I'm watching the DVD and it's still kinda jittery over the opening credits. Also, I can't imagine opening credits like this today -- just light yellow text on a black screen. And, like, a ton of credits too, not just title and stars.
    • Ray Wise is *so young*.
    • Meredith Salenger was only 15 when she made this, not much older than the character's age. John Cusack was 19.
    • Oh, it's 1985. Let's clarify that Mr. Gann is *not* a Communist, despite being a union leader.
    • Someone put this on a list of "worst movies of all time." Not even close, even if it wasn't a favorite of mine. They put "Mad Max" on that list too, so I'm inclined to think them an idiot.
    • Oh, it looks like Natty doesn't just up and leave; the woman who's supposed to be watching her decides that she's too much trouble and reports her as abandoned.
    • Jumping to get on the train seems like a good way to get hurt.
    • Oh, yes, the wolf.
    • Train crash!
    • Aw, the wolf brought her a dead bunny. I appreciate that she knew that she needed to clean and skin it, but obviously had no idea what she was doing.
    • Sadly, my cat will not let me use him as a pillow like that.
    • Somewhat kindly farmers. Well, kind wife and not very nice husband.
    • Foxes in the henhouse!
    • And reports of the train crash get back to Natty's father, who assumes that she's dead.
    • Given that this is a G-rated Disney movie, I don't expect it to deal too much with the fact that she's a 12-year-old girl on her own with a lot of older men. There are a few subtle nods to reality, though, like with Parker trying to put his arm around her.
    • Lucky she picked the right car trunk to hide in or her escape from the orphanage place would have been very brief.
    • See, that's what you get when you expect the rough-looking blacksmith to be a bad guy. He goes and saves your wolf.
    • Ah. "You're a pretty thing, you know that?" There it is.
    • I know it's a dummy, but pretty effective shot of the guy falling with the tree.
    • I've been trying to track Natty's journey on a map. They mentioned the town where she was, but I got distracted and forgot the name. The train crash was in Colorado and she's heading to Seattle, so I'm guessing Wyoming or Idaho at this point. Maybe even Oregon.
    • Look! Harry (Cusack) is back.
    • I rewound. River Bend. which is in ... yeah, I'm not sure.
    • The friendship drifting toward romance between Natty and Harry is kinda sweet and kinda creepy. She is 12 and he's probably supposed to be around 18. But it's also pretty innocent.
    • Oh, the pan and scan/cropped image has never been more noticeable than in this scene, with her talking to him off camera
    • I'd like to think that Natty goes to find Harry at some point in the future, you know, when she's not 12.
    • Jed is a pretty dog (or, you know, malamute-wolf mix). Died in 1995.
    • I'm not entirely sure why they are blowing up trees now. And, apparently, doing their best to kill the workers.
    • Also, I get why she's upset that her father apparently passed by without seeing her, but isn't he just headed toward the base camp? And can't she find him there? The woman there knows that she's looking for him, so I'd think that he'd wait for her.
    • Sweet ending reunion.

    Saturday, August 09, 2014

    CWE: "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back" (2001)

    Summary: After learning that the "Bluntman and Chronic" comics that Banky and Holden drew based on them are being turned into a movie, Jay and Silent Bob go to Hollywood to either get the compensation they deserve or prevent the movie from being made.

    I warn you up front, I'm so not in the mood for this one. And I'll probably only pay about 1/100th of my attention to it. But I've reached a bottleneck and need to push through!
    • We start at the Clerks convenience store.
    • And now Brodie from Mallrats. The comments about every studio buying up comic books to turn them into movies is even more relevant now than it was in 2001.
    • Holden! With meta commentary about the juvenile humor in the movies that Kevin Smith kept making... and about Ben Affleck.
    • Mooby's. Was trying to remember where this one fell in sequence with "Clerks II" -- despite Dante and Randal being in the Quick Stop at the beginning.
    • I do like the guys trying to get comfortable standing in front of a different convenience store.
    • I have a lot less patience for the gay jokes and the aggressive objectification of women than I used to, I guess.
    • And far too many glances at the camera.
    • Hee hee hee. Cyril! (aka Scott William Winters)
    • Also, I really love Jason Lee's smile. And yes, Banky is gay.