Monday, March 28, 2011

Movies 141: Sucker Punch

I've been waiting ages to see this film. To start with, such a great cast to help conjure a fanboy's dream. Emily Browning as Babydoll, Abby Cornish and Jena Malone as sisters that Babydoll meets at the asylum. Along with Vanessa Hudgens and Jamie Chung as Blondie and Amber. Which gives you the vibe of girl power mayhem.

Unfortunately, its a very tragic story and a critic's nightmare. You can either sit back and enjoy the ride, or try to decipher all the angles of it.

Babydoll knows her time is limited, and I won't give you any spoilers here. She's also at the hands of Blue (played amazingly by Oscar Issac) the orderly, who also secretly pawns the girls off as prostitutes at his little inside night club.

But Babydoll deals with it. We never actually see the dance she does. Its up to you to decide on the truth of the dance. On one level its possibly a very bad thing. To us we get inside her head to see an action pack adventure with Samurais, Nazis zombies and fierce dragons.

Of course, you might find yourself questioning Snyder's story. Such a visual movie and the music keeps the story pulsing. ARMY OF ME is amazing by Bjork. Emily Browning even gets a chance in the opening with her version of SWEET DREAMS. I have to admit I adored Emiliana Torrini's WHITE RABBIT.

This is a movie that will have you talking with friends for quite awhile, wanting to view it again, perhaps. Some, will be disappointed and will hope the director's cut will clear everything up. Truly, you will find your own ending to this movie. Perhaps its best not to dwell on what really happened in the asylum, but to sit back and enjoy the show.

Some remarkable performances by Glen Scott and Carla Gugino. If only there would have been more scenes with Jon Hamm.

STORYLINE: A young girl (Baby Doll) is locked away in a mental asylum by her wicked stepfather where she will undergo a lobotomy in 5 days time. Faced with unimaginable odds, she retreats to fantastical world in her imagination where she and four other female inmates at the asylum plot to escape the facility. The lines between reality and fantasy blur as Baby Doll and her companions battle various creatures and enemies to retrieve the 5 items they need that will allow them to break free from their captors before it's too late.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Books 140: Fight Club

The first rule about Fight Club is you don't talk about Fight Club.
The second rule about Fight Club is you don't talk about Fight Club.
The third rule about Fight Club is two men per fight.
The fourth rule about Fight Club is one fight at a time.
The fifth rule of Fight Club is no shoes, no shirts in the fight.
The sixth rule about Fight Club is the fights go on as long as they have to.

Many people seem to be surprised to learn that the rather popular movie Fight Club starring Brad Pitt, Edward Norton, and Helena Bonham Carter was actually based off of the book by Chuck Palahniuk.

As I am running out of time to write this, here's a quick summary by David Loftus:

"The narrator, an insurance investigator prone to depression and insomnia, finds temporary joy and distraction by attending various support groups. But he keeps running into another support group fraud named Marla, which spoils his fun. Meanwhile, he also meets a free-lance projectionist named Tyler Durden, who splices frames from porn movies into mainstream features and suggests they undermine capitalist society with dangerous pranks and the Fight Club -- a group devoted to bare knuckles, all-out battles between similarly confused and frustrated young males. Someone bombs the narrator's apartment, and he has to move into an abandoned house with Tyler. Eventually clandestine fight clubs spring up all over the country, and our hero finds himself uncomfortably stuck within a passionate triangle between Tyler and Marla. Something's gotta give, but what? Palahniuk's strange, offbeat 1996 debut novel came to a deservedly wider audience when it was made into a movie starring Edward Norton, Brad Pitt, and Helena Bonham Carter."

This is one of those cases where I find it really hard to say whether I liked the book or the movie. better. The two are very alike in some aspects, but also differ quite a bit in others, especially the ending. Well, at least the way I interpreted the ending... I'd say it's one of those times where you really just have to see for yourself, honestly.

If anyone else has both read the book and seen the movie, what are your thoughts on this? Did you like one better than the other?

Happy weekend!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Poetry 139: Emily Dickinson


by Emily Dickinson

Because I could not stop for Death,
He kindly stopped for me;
The carriage held but just ourselves
And Immortality.

We slowly drove, he knew no haste,
And I had put away
My labor, and my leisure too,
For his civility.

We passed the school, where children strove
At recess, in the ring;
We passed the fields of gazing grain,
We passed the setting sun.

Or rather, he passed us;
The dews grew quivering and chill,
For only gossamer my gown,
My tippet only tulle.

We paused before a house that seemed
A swelling of the ground;
The roof was scarcely visible,
The cornice but a mound.

Since then 'tis centuries, and yet each
Feels shorter than the day
I first surmised the horses' heads
Were toward eternity.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Music 139: The Temper Trap

More than likely you've heard this band before. Not only has The Temper Trap's song Sweet Disposition been featured in numerous Coca Cola commercials and they've also been featured in movies such as: (500) Days of Summer, I Am Number Four, The Roommate, and No Strings Attached. Their music has also been featured in many shows such as: Chuck, One Tree Hill, 90210, The Vampire Diaries, Pretty Little Liars, Skins (UK) and many more. I guess you can say this band has been featured in a lot of things since their forming in 2005. I guess you could say they've made their rounds internationally too because they are getting quite huge in the US and the UK. The Temper Trap are quite busy themselves right now working on their sophomore album which should be out soon.

The Temper Trap consists of Dougy Mandagi, Jonathon Aherne, Lorenzo Sillitto, Toby Dundas, and Joseph Greer. They hail from Melbourne, Australia when they met at Wesley College. Their music would be described as indie rock but in my opinion, their songs contain a plethora of many different styles. Nothing too crazy in their music but there is a song for every mood.

Honestly there isn't much to say about this band because I feel they speak for themselves when it comes to music. They don't need a huge introduction or anything comparisons to big artists to sell a record. So here are some songs I think you all will enjoy very much.

1) Sweet Disposition (in case you haven't heard it yet.)

2) Fader (a song that can make anyone smile).

3) Soldier On (such a sweet and simple song.)

*You can buy their album Conditions here.*

So what do you guys think?

Monday, March 14, 2011

Movies 139: Red Riding Hood

I have to say I dreaded the thought of going to this movie after I read all the critics' reviews on this film. Well, a month a go, I could hardly wait. I was so eager to see this film. It has Amanda Seyfried in it, who has to be my favorite actress at the moment. And might I add Max Irons, as well, (Jeremy Iron's son).

I'm glad I didn't let the critics stop me from seeing it. Seriously, the director, Catherine Hardwicke put a lot of effort into this film. She created a world, long forgotten, not just an old tale. The setting is beautiful. The costumes so genuine. And she brought in Gary Oldman as the priestly, Were-Wolf hunter. Also there is the village, and there are twisted stories among them as you'd find in any time period. After all, we are only human. One of my favorite performances was Lukas Haas' as the village priest. He might be the only sensible one in the bunch.

Of course, you have eye-candy. This is a chick-flick. Girlfriends, young and old are given something to savor. There is the beautiful and charmingly earnest Max Irons as Henry, the one Valerie (Seyfried) is suppose to marry. Except, Peter (Shiloh Fernandez) has always been the one in Valerie's heart since she was a child. Julie Christie plays the grandmother so eloquent. Virgina Madesen is Valerie's mother who is lovely, but keeping her own secrets, as well. Billy Burke plays Valerie's father who is given a chance to shine in this movie, too.

The movie is honestly a million times better than TWILIGHT. In spite of cheesy lines, girls doing sultry dances together, and an angry black wolf that likes to use telepathy. Oh, and those moments when you just wish they'd kiss already, in spite of waiting for the camera to get a longing shot of their face. It does have its flaws. Some are not happy about the Three Little Pigs innuendos, either.

And yes, I am a Henry fan. (Max Irons who is dating Emily Browning).

The music was quaint and never boring from Brian Reitzell and Alex Heffes along with Fever Ray. Although, during the odd 'wolf festival which had the 3 pigs involved', the song choice did sound just a little too modern gothic. But still, it had a pagan feel to it, and it made one wonder about church and paganism from a historical point of view. As we see, the story turns into quite a witch hunt. They even capture the most innocent in the village, Claude (Cole Heppell) the village idiot, even so, they just know he's studying the dark arts.

The film might not be perfect, but it is enjoyable. One might even want to watch it, again.

STORYLINE: Valerie (Seyfried) is a beautiful young woman torn between two men. She is in love with a brooding outsider, Peter (Fernandez), but her parents have arranged for her to marry the wealthy Henry (Irons). Unwilling to lose each other, Valerie and Peter are planning to run away together when they learn that Valerie's older sister has been killed by the werewolf that prowls the dark forest surrounding their village. For years, the people have maintained an uneasy truce with the beast, offering the creature a monthly animal sacrifice. But under a blood red moon, the wolf has upped the stakes by taking a human life. Hungry for revenge, the people call on famed werewolf hunter, Father Solomon (Oldman), to help them kill the wolf. But Solomon's arrival brings unintended consequences as he warns that the wolf, who takes human form by day, could be any one of them. As the death toll rises with each moon...


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Friday, March 11, 2011

Poetry 138: Selecting A Reader

Selecting A Reader

By Ted Kooser

First, I would like her to be beautiful,
and walking carefully up on my poetry
at the loneliest moment of an afternoon,
her hair still damp at the neck
from washing it. She should be wearing
a raincoat, an old one, dirty
from not having enough money for the cleaners,
She will take out her glasses, and there
in the bookstore, she will thumb
over my poems, then put the book back
up on its shelf. She will say to herself,
“For that kind of money, I can get
my raincoat cleaned.” And she will.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Movies 138: Beastly

From the moment it starts, this movie has a certain modern rhythm to it. After all, it is an old tale a bit more twisted than usual. And it starts out sleek with one of NYC's best schools for success.

The movie takes the 'beast' point of view. We've heard what Belle went through from Disney's Beauty and the Beast. Plunged into the main character's life is Kyle played by that wonderfully arrogant Alex Pettyfer (who you might have seen previously in I AM NUMBER FOUR) as the rich popular guy who would love to rule the school. And of course, only wants to be with the beautiful people. He's even running to be president of something he knows nothing about. He doesn't have to. But some people just won't take his rudeness nor his thunder. Kendra(a very cool Mary-Kate Olsen) is the bewitching magical shadow who soon makes him realize what he has can be taken away when he ditches her and makes fun of her at one his big party events. However, he shows a glimmer of hope of a real human being when he makes contact with Lindy (Vanessa Hudgens) who has been practically by his side all this time but he never noticed.

So it isn't long until Kyle goes through his transformation of ugliness and Kendra gives him the ultimatum. If he can't find one to love him in a year (true love), he'll be tattooed this way for life. Of course, rather predictable. Right?

Thankfully, he has the help of wonderful Neil Patrick-Harris as his blind tutor. With just a little bit of clever dialogue Harris' character is a scene stealer. Really, he gives a terrific performance. Lisa Gay Hamilton as Zola the housekeeper is remarkable in her role too.

With great writing and a wonderful cast, this is a movie worth your while. I love the soundtrack. So many beautiful songs from Lady Gaga, Regina Spektor to Death Cab for Cutie. The music kept the story going. Although, I'm not a big Vanessa Hudgens fan, I think Alex has that ability to make her sweet and sincerity bankable. I really thought he brought the character to life. There is that grownup on the outside, yet a little boy on the inside trying to figure out how to make love and life work. Pettyfer succeeded in that.

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Also you learn in Kyle's homelife that the apple doesn't fall very far from the tree when you meet his father Rob (Peter Krause from NBC's Parenthood). His Dad is quite a me person too.

STORYLINE: A modern-day take on the "Beauty and the Beast" tale where a New York teen is transformed into a hideous monster in order to find true love. Based on a book written by Alex Finn. Screenplay written by Daniel Barnz who also directed the film.


Friday, March 4, 2011

Poetry 127: I Go Back to May 1937

I Go Back to May 1937

By Sharon Olds

I see them standing at the formal gates of their colleges,
I see my father strolling out
under the ochre sandstone arch, the
red tiles glinting like bent
plates of blood behind his head, I
see my mother with a few light books at her hip
standing at the pillar made of tiny bricks with the
wrought-iron gate still open behind her, its
sword-tips black in the May air,
they are about to graduate, they are about to get married,
they are kids, they are dumb, all they know is they are
innocent, they would never hurt anybody.
I want to go up to them and say Stop,
don’t do it—she’s the wrong woman,
he’s the wrong man, you are going to do things
you cannot imagine you would ever do,
you are going to do bad things to children,
you are going to suffer in ways you never heard of,
you are going to want to die. I want to go
up to them there in the late May sunlight and say it,
her hungry pretty blank face turning to me,
her pitiful beautiful untouched body,
his arrogant handsome blind face turning to me,
his pitiful beautiful untouched body,
but I don’t do it. I want to live. I
take them up like the male and female
paper dolls and bang them together
at the hips like chips of flint as if to
strike sparks from them, I say
Do what you are going to do, and I will tell about it.


Happy weekend!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Music 137: Florence + The Machine

So you might know singer Florence Welch from her cover performance of 'If I Rise' from 127 Hours at the 83rd Annual Academy Awards this weekend...or you might know this singer from her song 'Dog Days Are Over' which was the theme for the 2010 film Eat Pray Love. It's funny when you think of it, her two most popular appearances were songs for movies James Franco is in.

Florence Welch was born August 28th, 1986 in London to Nick and Evelyn Welch. As a child, Welch was often getting in trouble for impromptu singing at school. Welch studied at Camberwell College of Arts. She later dropped out to work on her music career. Who would've guessed she would be where she is now?

Now, Florence Welch and her band Florence and the Machine (consisting also of: Robert Ackroyd, Christopher Lloyd Hayden , Isabella Summers, Tom Monger, and Mark Saunders) are making their rounds in the music business with their popular album: Lungs. This year they will be releasing another album (the title of it to be announced later on).

Welch doesn't have the bright and sunny life that her songs suggest though. Welch has been diagnosed with dyslexia and dysmetria and may also suffer from insomnia. In some of her songs, Welch has an interesting side of her shown. It turns out Welch has a fascination with terror and doom which was intensified by the death of her grandparents. When Welch was 10 she witnessed her grandfather's deterioration; when Welch was 14 her maternal grandmother committed suicide. At 13 years old she and her mother moved in with their next door neighbour and his three teenage children. Welch says of her old housemates: "We get on brilliantly now, but it was a nightmare then. I just used to stay in my room and dance around.

There is no question that Florence Welch has gone through a lot, she just channels it with her music. Here are a few a songs that showcase her talent:

1) Cosmic Love (this is such an interesting song that will make you fall head over heels in love with this band.)

2) Kiss with a Fist (just a fun and catchy song that will be sure to get you pumped up.)

3) Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up) (my current obsession, the chorus is pure gold.)

I was going to show you guys Dog Days Are Over but all of you should already know that song. So what do you think?