Monday, April 30, 2012

Darling Companion (Looks Awful and Good)

Darling Companion Movie Poster
I few weeks back I saw my first preview for Darling Companion staring Diane Keaton and Kevin Kline.

Within the same preview, I had the thought that

  1. This looks absolutely awful - low budget, Diane Keaton's batting average has to be one of the worst recently, and how many clips in the preview will show Kevin Kline looking for a lost dog.
  2. This looks like something I would really like - It looks like a simple human story, the longer I watch this preview, the more I can see how it might have a touching appeal, and did they just say "Lawrence Kasdan?" because for all the reasons this movie looks awful, it reminds me of Grand Canyon which for some reason I think is a great film, despite it's trite moments.
Honestly, there's no need to even watch the preview. I think what I've captured here all comes out in the poster. And if you need a little more to capture my thoughts, the summary on at this moment really captures the preview as well: "The story of a woman who loves her dog more than her husband. And then her husband loses the dog."

Somehow I think that 2012 will look less favorably on this film than his has Kasdan's previous critical successes because it certainly seems to hark back to a style of The Big Chill and Grand Canyon, both successes in their respective decades (the eighties and nineties), and while I find this film a refreshing addition to the film calendar, I have a feeling based on some early festival reviews that most critics opt for a less than awe-struck review.

But a story about people (even a family pet) instead of super heroes, vigilantes, or a lorax seems like something that at a minimum is worth the dollar at a red box. 

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Another Reason Not To See "The Five-Year Engagement"

The Judd Apatow produced film The Five-Year Engagement will likely have a less-than-expected first weekend run, compared to some of Apatow's previous gross-out film comedies.

Reviews seem mixed so far. I can see it lacking the box office appeal when you think about the girls out there who this scenario represents their worst nightmare, and guys who  don't want their girl friend to bring up engagements.

It's hard to tell how the pendulum will swing, but I feel like one of the least fortunate sociological changes we've seen in the decade or so past is the continual extension of the male-female courtship. When I watch old films (or talk to my grandparents or their friends) it's amazing how the time period between meeting to dating was often more like weeks. Today, it seems like the time period is years.

My wife and I dated just over five months prior to engagement, followed by an eight or so month engagement. Even this timetable sometimes get's a "shock response."

 Yet, I think that there has been little value added to the lengthening of the courtship period. Sure, I can accept some changes (such as the fact that weddings become huge events that take a little more planning than years past when the court and the minister and whoever was around made the event less "wedding plan-ish."). But the addition of steps in the dating process like we see in real life, films, and movies such as giving a significant other a key, moving in, etc. seems less than profitable to relationships.

My wife and I's dating period is probably "very traditional" (or "old school") to many, including living in separate places through dating, waiting until marriage to have sex, and so forth. But beyond the values we share that led us to make those decisions, I think the pragmatism mixed with selfishness ends up being more destructive than redeeming. And despite whatever "wrap it up" messages that this film has regarding love, marriage, and dating, anything I've seen in a preview seems to capture what I would deem destructive to my hopes that someday the pendulum would swing back and people would do dating differently.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Things Aren't Homemade Anymore, They're Handcrafted

Homemade Observation

If you say something's homemade you better be planning on taking that to either a craft fair or the county fair.

It seems to me like the phrase homemade is passé.

It seems to me that the most common change in this language substitutes the word "Hand" for "Home" and "Crafted" for "Made," with variations when appropriate.

I've seen signs for "Hand Cut Fries" or "Hand Spun Milkshakes."

Or perhaps if you're buying a home decor item, if it's not hand crafted you might be in the market for something "Locally Crafted."

Homemade Arnold Palmer

The other night at a friends house when available beverages were offered Arnold Palmer (lemonade and ice tea mixed) was offered, and when clarification was requested on the brand, it was mentioned that it was "homemade" although it struck me that this term didn't match modern terminology.

So I brought up this observation raised above, but we were stuck because "Handmade Lemonade" or any beverage product of the like sounded sort of unsanitary. But somehow "Handcrafted Lemonade" some how seems appropriate, and it can only be the ever changing culture of language.

Perhaps, there still is a place for "homemade" foods, but somehow it seems this phrase has developed a granny phrase to it. Although, if I had been offered a "handcrafted Arnold Palmer" I think I would have had ridiculously high expectations for the lofty language so maybe in some cases the better substitute for "homemade" would simply be to say "we made it ourselves."

Friday, April 20, 2012

Not Anticipating: Cosmopolis

Cosmopolis film poster
I thought it was pretty witty in 2001 when the Broadcast Film Critics Awards gave out a special award for "Best Inanimate Object" to Wilson the Volleyball in the Movie Cast Away.

A few years back, I read the book Cosmopolis: A Novel by Don DeLillo, and at the time, was very unimpressed with the story, especially knowing that it would be made into a movie.

I bring up Wilson the Volleyball here because in the same way an inanimate object steals the show, in many ways, I felt like the white limo in this story was really the main character, although far less interesting the Tom Hank's volleyball campaign in Cast Away. (Don't forget Hanks and Wilson also won a teen choice award for "Choice Movie Chemistry" that year as well).

In the book Cosmopolis, the main character Eric Parker (played by Robert Pattinson) spends the day riding around a limo in New York to get a haircut, losing money as he bets against the yen. Along the way Parker finds himself experiencing a number of unexpected delays, chance meetings, and destructive events.

And it's not that I'm against the "day in the life" story. In fact, early on this story reminded me of Ian McEwan's Saturday. Yet in Saturday, the themes that come out in this one day in London are themes about family, fear, terrorism, activism, aging, rationalism and adjusting to a changing world.

Cosmopolis on the other hand is not written so intelligently, and while Cronenberg has a gripping visual style that I imagine he will be able to find in this opulence of this film's young protagonist, I think walking away from the film, like the book, viewers will ask...what was the point of all that?

Parker spends much of the day pondering things like "Why do they call them sky scrapers" and the day is almost too full, ending up being just a character study of Parker, with his limo as a symbol for nothing more than Parker himself, and his attempt to make the world more or less his cork-lined oyster.

This film will not be on tops of my list, and I'm sure if it makes any sort of splash on the film season it will be the polarizing type of film that surprsingly wins top spots on some people's list while being bashed by others. And not all films like that are bad, but for me, I'm weary of this film due to it's uninspiring source material.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Edward Norton & Groupon's VERY Young Earth Theory

Yes - that's that text:

It's Earth Day -- the Earth's Birthday!
The Earth is celebrating its 400th birthday -- Groupon and Edward Norton want to help it reach it's 401st by promoting green living and eco-themed products.

This has to be one of the most puzzling e-mails I have ever received, and whoever edited that copy must have had the worst history and science teachers, because this just makes no sense.

Is the idea that the earth was 1612 AD was really the first year the earth existed?

And if I don't buy a reusable sandwich bag and earth friendly carpet cleaning will the world end in less than 365 days...especially if I don't get a good deal?

And what does Edward Norton have to do with any of this? I know he was in American History X, but I'm starting to wonder if his American History has something to do with the creation of the earth? Maybe that's the X.

Happy Earth day. Enjoy the little infographic of the earth with dentures eating a cupcake with his buddy the moldy moon.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Disappearing Biopics...

In doing the Reel People series over the past half a decade (see:2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008 and 2007), I have found it helpful to keep a list of upcoming biopics when I hear about them. The reel people post doesn't come out until the film is well on it's way to release (including an image of the performer in character) prior to a post being crafted and published.

That being said, as I have prepared this years real people series, a number of the post I imagined writing this year appear to be no goes at this time, and in many cases a film that previously seemed to be in pre-production has fallen off any sort of production calendar.

Here are some reel people post you will not see this year, because the film although at one time seemed to be on track, doesn't even exist.

I think one quick glance and you'll see there is no way I could make up this type of detail.

Reel People Post I Do Not Intend On Writing This Year Because The Film Does Not Exist or are project indefinitly on hold

Die Blutgräfin, with Tilda Swinton as Elizabeth Báthory
Number 13, with Dan Fogler as Alfred Hitchcock
Down and Dirty Pictures, with Vincent D'Onfrio as Harvey Weinstein
Indian Summer, with Cate Blanchett as Lady Mountbatten (Joe Wright directing)
Save Us, Joe Lewis, with Terrance Howard as Joe Lewis
Piece of My Heart, with Renee Zellwegger as Janis Joplin
The Ventian, Matt Damon as Marco Polo

Is there any of these you wish were back on track? At this time, it looks like we will never see any of these, especially not in the next couple of years.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

The 2012 Receipt Survey/Feedback Experiment

I can't remember the first time I went to a store and they printed me out a yard and a half of receipts, and told me to take the survey to win a prize/coupon.

But what was once an oddity seems like the world's most normal thing in the world.

I don't know about you but I have never taken one of these "short surveys."

The other day at the local grocery store I frequent, they had a list of the first names of the monthly 100 dollar gift card drawing, and I thought...if I took that survey every time I went to the grocery store, I bet I would win eventually. That still left me wondering if $100 for survey after survey was worth it, but who knows?

So I decided, for 30 days I would take every receipt survey I received, and see what this world has to offer.

Today seems like the day to start. My wife and grabbed a casual dinner at Buffalo Wild Wings (the receipt only gives me the chance to leave feedback -- no survey), and then headed to the mall where we did some kids clothing shopping. And all four places we shopped (Gap, Children's Place, JC Penny, and Janie and Jack) gave receipts encouraging feedback for either coupons or prizes. we go. I'll let you know how the survey experiment goes (not to mention, readers will probably get a minor glimpse in part to my spending habits).

LOL Movie Poster - Reactions Knowing Nothing

Today I caught a glimpse of this AWFUL poster for LOL staring Miley Cyrus and Demi Moore (based off the poster).

I know NOTHING about this movie, so ahead of doing a quick like premise research, I though I would share the premise that I ascertain from this poster alone.

Feel free to play along as well.

First - Miley Cyrus looks sort of trashy (but the wealthy brand of trashy) on her Alpaca fur rug, and for a movie that presumably stands for "laughing out loud" it doesn't look like she's been doing a lot of laughing.

I can't tell if a horrible Internet killer is about to come after her after pretending he was a sixteen year old boy in love with her, or if she's being a gossip girl and her college roommate is about to commit suicide because of something horrid she's posted on Facebook.

I'm guessing Demi Moore is the mom who also doesn't do a lot of laughing out loud herself, but maybe she's an acquaintance with the guy who's going to try to kill Miley, or has to deal with Miley's post attack pain. Or if it's the suicide story, Demi could even be the counsel helping everyone cope with their online bully problems.

In the end Hanana Montana (I mean Miley Cyrus) probably learns a lesson and spends less time on her phone. Maybe she even learns how to really LOL herself, and gets off the ugly rug.

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Peeps Decor

Peeps aren't just for eating (as barely edible treats that they are).

But they're striking image and colors can be used for more than Easter Basket filler (or even the Peeps cake my wife & I made in 2010).

Here are two ideas (with links to their source, with step-by-step instructions) for making your own Peeps wreath or topiary.

Friday, April 06, 2012

Bullying of the Bully Documentary

About a month ago I posted about Weinstein & Co.'s attempt to get their R rated documentary "Bully" to be rated PG-13 Motion Picture Association of America, but did not intend on doing any edits.

In my post, I pointed out that I thought despite signatures and a public campaign for a re-rating I thought the ball rested in the movie producers re-edit the movie to meet the rating standards, or you leave it.

Well, the film will be released next weekend as a PG-13 film, and when I heard that snip-it, the first thing I was interested in was their a re-edit.

I knew that the film had flirted with an unrated release - but it seemed that unrated could potentially be far more deadly than "R." So for me, I suppose, I wanted to see the MPAA win.

If the film wasn't re-edited not only would I credit the Weinstein Co. for being marketing geniuses, I would also credit them as the Bully of the MPAA. But it looks like a compromise has been made, which allows for a partial re-edit.

As is not surprising, the rating didn't come down to "thematic material" necessarily, but profanity. Steven Zeitchik of the LA Times reports that the rating is a compromise. In at least three spots, the volume is dropped to essentially "bleep" out the F-word. But, in untypical fashion, the MPAA is allowing a scene that does contain three F-words. Which breaks the mold of their standard ratings.

The MPAA, Weinsteins, etc. celebrate this as an opportunity for schools, boyscout and girlscout groups, etc. to bring kids without parents.

I understand the importance of the topic, but to me this seems more about group sales, not bully topical exposure. I think there will be teens who see this film and are challenged.

But if there is topical material, not just (but including) language, that might mean students shouldn't be seeing this without parental approval, then isn't that what the ratings are for?

There has been other "R-rated" films that people thought important and important enough to not change the rating, but for children to see. I specifically think of Schindler's List or The Passion of the Christ. Many under 17 year-olds saw these films, but appropriately with the approval of an adult.

I am sure you, like me, have mixed feelings about how films are rated, and can think of examples where films should have tilted up or down from their actual rating. The objectiveness is clear, but it seems that in this situation, the rating of the film was a choice, largely based on how the documentary was edited, and the Weinstein's made a choice and created a ruckus campaign that has promoted Lee Hirsch's documentary in a way that documentary's rarely get publicized.