Tuesday, July 28, 2015

J-Lo's had 'Enough' and she's not going to take it anymore!

Enough
Director: Michael Apted
Cast: Jennifer Lopez, Billy Campbell, Juliette Lewis, Dan Futterman, Fred Ward
Released: May 24, 2002
Viewed in theaters: June 2, 2002


This movie. OMG, this movie. It could have been so good if it had a better screenplay, if it weren't so damned rushed and made more sense! It was like this movie just couldn't wait to the part where J-Lo lays the smackdown on her husband (or we he her ex by this time? IDK...tells how much I was paying attention to it!) Yes, this is the movie where J-Lo beats up her abusive husband and you are rooting for her to do it because he just smacks her around (and even pushes their five year old daughter off of him when she jumps on him when he's beating up her mom and that really pisses off J-Lo). Apparently it's based on a book by Anna Quindlen called "Black and Blue. " (I can't remember if you italicize, underline, or put book titles in quotation marks, so I did all three!) I have a feeling it's very loosely based on that book.

The way Slim (Lopez - and who the hell is named "Slim"? Sounds like it should have been one of her aliases instead of her real name!) and Mitch, the abusive husband (Billy Campbell) meet doesn't make any sense. Slim is a waitress at a diner in L.A. along with her best friend, Ginny (Juliette Lewis) and one afternoon this guy, I don't know his name, but we'll just call him Carter since he's played by Noah Wyle, so Carter is sitting in a booth reading a book being waited on by Sim and he's flirting with her and Ginny tells Slim to ask him out so she goes back and starts flirting with him and they make plans for a date and as this is going on, I'm thinking, I don't remember Carter being the abusive husband in this, but then the camera pans farther back so we see a guy get up in the booth behind Carter and tell him he's a jerk because he overheard Carter making a bet with a friend that he could get Slim to sleep with him and this makes Slim angry and tells Carter to get out. The guy who had defended her is Mitch and she is very thankful for what he did and they end up dating and get married and have a daughter. And everything is fine as they are the picture of a happy family until one day, Slim finds out her husband is cheating on her. By now their daughter is about five, so everything has been going pretty smoothly for at least five years. When Slim confronts him about this, he smacks her and tells her some bs about he has needs that she can't fulfill.

We also later found out that he's friends with Carter (who didn't see that coming?) and they had planned this little trick along. I don't know why he ended up marrying Slim if she wasn't satisfying him and why he wanted to stay married to her, but he gets really possessive of her and it was really weird how they were happy for at least five years and then he snaps and starts acting like a total jerk to her. Oh, and the time it takes from when they meet to the first time he hits her? Seven minutes. I'm pretty sure that's what it was. It was really rushed! And remember, this is in a span of at least five years! WTF?

So Slim keeps getting smacked around and she tries everything she can to escape but this guy has thought of everything and she can't get past him. Even when she escapes with her daughter to stay with a friend, Joe (Dan Futterman) in Seattle, Mitch and his cronies suspect that she might be there and threaten Joe so Slim leaves because she doesn't want to put anyone she cares about in danger.

With the help of Ginny, Slim and her daughter do managed to escape for quite a while without being detected by Mitch. She has cut her hair really short and changed her name to Erin. She is able to get money from her rich estranged father, Jupiter (Fred Ward) so she doesn't have to worry about her finances. They're there for a few months before Carter finds them (I forget how he tracked them down) and he tries to run her car off the road which results in a long car chase until she drives under a structure which his huge SUV can't fit under and he gets stuck.

The time has finally come for the attack! Slim has had one training session with a buff black dude (okay, it was probably more than one session, but the way it was filmed, it looked like she learned all this stuff in one day) and she is ready to kick Mitch's ass. She sneaks into his house at night and while he goes to work the next day, she accesses the place and moves his guns so he won't be able to find them, learns how to cut off and turn back on the power, moves the furniture around so she won't get tripped up on it when she's fighting Mitch. He comes home later that night and we get the big show down between the two of them and I do love the scene where Slim smacks Mitch and he says he doesn't want to fight and she goes, "Oh, so now you can't hit back? You didn't have trouble hitting me when I was defenseless." It doesn't take long before he is pissed off and starts hitting back. There's a moment where she has an opportunity when he is (seemingly) conscious, but she can't  do it, so she calls her friend, but while on the phone, she gets attacked and knocked out by him. But she's not totally knocked out that she can't kick him in the groin and send him flying off the balcony to his death. Or something like that. I can't remember exactly how it went. She ends up reunited with her daughter (who she sent on a vacation with her friend and her children) and ends up with Joe. Yay.

I seriously felt like I was getting whiplash from this movie.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Dreaming Of You

Selena
Director: Gregory Nava
Cast: Jennifer Lopez, Edward James Olmos, Jon Seda, Jackie Guerra
Released: March 21, 1997



Late at night when all the world is sleeping...
I stay up and think of you...
and I still can't believe 
that you came up to me
and said, "I love you."
....I love you too!

That's my favorite line from my favorite Selena song. To be fair, I only know two of her songs: "Dreaming of You" and "I Could Fall in Love", both of which are featured in this movie, to nobody's surprise. This is a biopic about Selena Quintanilla (yes, she did have a last name!), a Mexican- American  growing up in Texas who started singing with her brother and sister when she was around 12 in a band her father created, then started branching out as a solo singer when she became a teenager. Even though she knew English (I believe it was her first language), she sung in Spanish so she was very popular with the Spanish-speaking population of America, and Mexico, of course. In fact, I just checked Wiki and it said her father had to teach her how to say the words phonetically, so she did not know Spanish. I guess he thought it would be an easier market than the English-speaking one! She was nominated for Best Mexican/American album (I had no idea that was even a category!) at the Grammys in 1994 and won which propelled her status with the rest of the world and was invited to make her first English-speaking album which came out the next year.

Now none of this really warrants a movie about someone's life. It's great to see someone slowly become more successful, but there were really no struggles that she had to go through (well, that's not totally true...she did have a couple, but we'll get to those later). But it's not like she was Tina Turner who literally came from nothing to make something of herself, only to have to endure with an abusive spouse. The reason that there is a biopic about Selena is because she was murdered at the very young age of 23. We'll get to who murdered her, and why and how and all that later. She was murdered in 1995 and this movie came out two years later (in fact, almost to the date as she was killed on March 31). It does seem like they were trying to capitalize on her death by having the movie released only a couple years later...you know they probably made it only a year after she died. But if they got the family's permission (which I believe they did), then that's all that matters.

Before she was
"J-Lo"
Jennifer Lopez plays Selena. At the time, she wasn't J-Lo as we all know and love her. (Or not if you're not a J-Lo fan!) This was her first starring role. She was 28 and plays Selena from ages 17-23. She looks young enough that it's not an issue and when she plays teenaged Selena they do a good job with giving her a short haircut with bangs and dress her in denim shorts and clothes a teen would wear. Her hair was really dark...even more dark than when you see Lopez with dark hair, like it was almost black. When she had bangs, I could see "Selena" and forget that Jennifer Lopez was there...except when she talked because Jennifer Lopez always sounds like, well, Jennifer Lopez! But when she had her hair back and didn't have bangs, oh man, all I saw was Jennifer Lopez. Especially in this one scene where she's wearing a leather newsboy cap that totally screams J-Lo. All I could see was a young Jennifer Lopez. It was a little distracting. Of course, I'm seeing this movie all these years later after Jennifer Lopez has become a huge name in the business, so of course it's going to be distracting. At the time this movie was released, she had been in a few things, but hadn't become what she is now. But I think she did very well for her first starring role. When she sang, they used Selena's tracks over the song so you would hear her voice, which thank God, because Selena was a much better singer than J-Lo is! Plus it would be weird hearing J-Lo's voice singing Selena's songs!  Here is a photo of the real Selena next to Jennifer Lopez: 


The most interesting part of the movie and the thing she struggles with most is her relationship with her band's guitarist, Chris Perez (Jon Seda). Chris comes from a rough and tumble background that her father and manager (Edward James Olmos) does not approve of, but he plays one hell of a guitar which is why he got the gig. Her father is very strict with her. He does not like her wearing her studded brasiers, even though she would wear them with pants so it wasn't like she showing that much skin! Actually, the worst outfit she wears in the entire movie is what (appeared to be) was her final performance. She was wearing this purple jumpsuit and it was open at the stomach so you could see skin there...which was just really weird. Plus J-Lo and her Kim Kardishan-sized butt looked ridiculous in it. Maybe the real Selena pulled it off better, although she would still have that weird stomach baring circle of non-fabric. Her best outfit was the dress she wore at the Grammys. But I'm getting off topic...after her father discovered they were in a relationship, he yelled at both of them, accused Chris of only wanting to be with his daughter for her money,
fired Chris, yelled at Selena some more, she cried, he held his ground. Selena and Chris secretly stayed together, she would find time to sneak out to be with him. They eloped in 1992 and by this time she was a well-known figure within the Mexican-American community and her wedding was leaked on the radio right away, forcing Selena to tell her father. She had planned to tell him anyway...but wanted to give it a day or two before she did. He told her that at first he was angry, but then understood why she did it and he was proud of her and welcomed Chris to the family. I don't know if it went that smoothly in real life! Probably not!

Sometimes this movie played like a really bad episode of Ugly Betty, you know the hijinks of a Mexican-American family. But even Ugly Betty was never as bad as this movie got sometimes. For instance, there's a scene when a young-and-upcoming Selena is driving somewhere in a van with her brother and sister and it breaks down so they have to pull over by the side of the road. The brother tries to wave some cars down, but they pass, and Selena says, "Let me show you how it's done" and of course she gets the first car to pull over because she's beautiful and wearing skimpy clothes and there are two young guys in the car who pull over to help them. They get really excited when they realize the hot chick they're going to help is Selena and say in these really thick accents, "Ooh, eeet's Seeeleeeenaaaaa!" But that wasn't the worst part. No, the worse part is when they're about to call their dad to let them know that the van broke down and Selena says, "I can just see it now" and then she mocks her dad says, "You guys did what!?!?!?" Then cut to their father on the phone exclaiming, "You guys did what?!?!?" Oh my God, it was SO bad! So terrible! So cringeworthy. So awful. That was the worst example, but it was little things like that which didn't elevate the movie any higher.

There was another scene which I'm 150 percent sure never happened in real life and was only thrown in to the movie for comedic relief or the director was a huge fan of Pretty Woman. Selena has just been nominated for her first Grammy and takes her entourage to Los Angeles to go shopping.  When you think of Grammys and buying a dress for the event, where is the first place you would go? Probably NOT the mall....but that is where she and her sister (or a friend...I can't remember who was with her) go. What the hell? The freakin' mall? To buy a dress for the Grammys? Ridiculous. They do find a higher-end store because when Selena is looking at a dress, a saleswoman passes by and she says, "Excuse me, how much for this dress?" and the saleswoman sniffs and says, "More than you can afford. It's $700." Obviously she was being racist to this young Latino woman. Well, being that this is Los Angeles and Selena is popular with Mexican-Americans and L.A. is full of them (imagine that!), a Hispanic custodian sees Selena go into the dressing room and he starts passing the word on and soon all the Hispanic people who work at the mall are coming to that store and crowding into. The white, 40-ish saleswoman is really confused and has no idea what's going on. Selena has a very Vivian Ward moment where she tells the saleswoman, "I won't be needing that dress...but thanks." In the end, she chose a beautiful dress for the Grammys that did NOT look like it came from the damn mall!

For anyone watching this who wasn't familiar with Selena or her story, they would get very confused by her death scene. They don't actually show it, which I understand, probably out of respect for the family as it had only been two years since her death. But even I was like, "What the hell just happened?" even though I know that Selena was murdered by the woman who ran her fan club. She was appointed the job in 1994. In early 1995, Selena's father began receiving calls from people who never got their stuff. I would always see information about fan clubs in my CD booklets, but I never joined any so I have no idea what it all entailed. Do fan clubs still exist even? I honestly have no idea. He did an investigation and discovered that she had embezzled more than $60,000 from the money fans were sending in to join the fan club and from the fashion line Selena had. Holy crap. I forgot where Mr. Q found her, but didn't they do a background check on this woman? When Selena goes to confront her, this is when she was killed. I guess the woman was scared and she didn't want Selena to blab and go to the police....so shooting someone will make it all better. If you think you're going to get some time for embezzling, I'm pretty sure you're gonna get some hard time for murder! Idiot. Hope she's enjoying her time in prison! And it's just really sad being that Selena was only 23 and had a bright future ahead of her as a rising star with her first English-language album just being released a few months later after her death. I remember "Dreaming Of You" and "I Could Fall in Love" being played all over the radio during that time.

In the movie, they show a bunch of cop cars at the motel where Selena went to talk to her murderer. Then you see her death being announced on TV and her family at the hospital looking very crushed and devastated. She was still alive after she was shot and was rushed to the hospital, but they couldn't save her. The part that made me really tear up was the end when they played "Dreaming of You" (of course!) and showed images of the real Selena from her various moments in life and footage of people mourning her death and placing flowers and cards as memorials.

And because the text doesn't do it any justice, here's the audio form of my favorite line from my favorite Selena song. Beautiful!
video

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Maid to Order!

Maid in Manhattan
Director: Wayne Wang
Cast: Jennifer Lopez, Ralph Fiennes, Natasha Richardson, Stanley Tucci, Bob Hoskins
Released: December 13, 2002
Viewed in theaters: December 16, 2002


This movie is like a PG-rated version of Pretty Woman, only replace a prostitute with a hotel maid. As for as romantic comedies go, this one is meh. It's not great, but it's not horrible. Jennifer Lopez and Ralph Fiennes are fine in their roles, except they really don't have any chemistry with each other. Lopez is Marissa, a single mother of a ten year old boy, Ty. She works as a maid for a fancy New York Hotel where they receive many important guests. This includes Senator Chris (Fiennes) who is staying there with his assistant (Tucci) and dog. All I can tell you about Chris is that he's a Republican...I really don't remember anything else about his politics. Either because it was boring or because there really was nothing else.

The late, great Natasha Richardson plays socialite Caroline who is also staying at the hotel the same time as Chris. She is a bit demanding of Marisa, asking her to do this and do that. This includes taking back a designer outfit to the store that she doesn't want. In one of the stupidest scenes of the movie, while Marissa and a fellow maid friend are in the room with Marissa gathering the garment, her friend eggs her on to try on the outfit. It's white pants, a white sleeveless turtleneck, and a white coat. (Duh, it's the outfit in the above photo!) Marissa says no, she can't do that, but her friend says it's her size and it's going back to the store anyway so it doesn't belong to Caroline so what's the problem? Uh, because you shouldn't try on other people's clothes, you dolt!

Meanwhile, Ty is at the hotel because his dad couldn't pick him up for a trip they were suppose to take so Marissa has to watch him. I don't know why she didn't leave him with her mother, but instead brings him to work. He sneaks off from doing homework and runs into Chris and his assistant and dog in an elevator. Ty knows who he is and Chris is impressed with his knowledge of politics. We had already seen a scene earlier of Ty giving a speech on Richard Nixon, so you'd think the movie was establishing he was into politics, right? No, wrong! He did the speech on Nixon because he's obsessed with the '70s as J-Lo later tells Fiennes. WTF? What kind of kid from 2002 likes the '70s? Nobody likes the '70s! Horrible music, horrible fashion, horrible home furnishings! It's the decade that gave us The Brady Bunch for god's sake! I mean, c'mon!

So Chris tells Ty that he is taking his dog for a walk and Ty asks if he can come and Chris says sure why not. Okay, yeah, just go for a walk with Voldemort! But seriously, it's a little weird that Chris is letting a young boy take a walk with him. Like that's not going to be suspicious to people who see that in the paper. He tells Ty to get permission from his mom so he takes them all up to Caroline's suite (I guess she told him where she would be) and Marisa is wearing the all-white ensemble (and quickly hides the tag). She gives a "be quiet" motion to her son not to blow her cover and pretends to be the Caroline who is staying in the suite. She goes out for a walk with Chris in Central Park wearing that all white outfit. You think something is going to happen, like a rip or a stain, and while there is a moment of horror when a magazine gets stuck to her butt (don't ask), everything is fine and she is able to return the outfit to the closet (she never had time to return it to the store) safe and sound. And not only do they walk around Central Park, but they also go to the zoo. So you're outside for a couple hours and don't even get one little stain on all that white fabric? Uh huh.

Chris is very taken with "Caroline" and wants to meet her again. However, when he sends a note to the suite asking Caroline to meet him for lunch, the note gets to the real Caroline and she is giddy because she had met Chris before once and knew they had "shared a moment". Marisa and the head butler (Bob Hoskins) are there to help out (I don't know why they need two people to help serve two people eating lunch...) and Marissa has to hide herself so Chris doesn't see her. Remember, he doesn't know she's a maid and thinks she's a rich socialite! When Chris sees a white blond woman enter, he is very confused and asks where that hot Latina woman is. Okay, he didn't say that! He actually referred to her as "Mediterranean." Butler Hoskins realizes that it's Marissa he's referring to and lets her leave so she can quit hiding behind flower vases and tea pots.

While driving somewhere, Chris sees Marissa and Ty walking and pulls over to talk to them. He tells them he's going to the Bronx to...I don't remember....and Marissa says "Blah, blah, you can't learn everything from just visiting there once. You didn't grow up there like I did or live there like I do." You think that this is going to be a political movement that will bring them closer together. Maybe Marissa will point out some issues that need to be addressed within her home district and he will bring awareness to it, but no, it never goes there.

He invites her to some ball, and Marissa still keeping up the charade, gets all dolled up in her Cinderella moment. There she runs into Caroline who recognizes her and outs her in front of Chris and everybody and accuses her of wearing her clothes. Somehow she found out about that...I forgot how. Marissa is fired and Chris is angry she lied to her. Who really cares. They only spent a day walking in a park and then had a one night stand after the Cinderella dance. But then Ty brings them back together and they become one of New York's most high profiled couple! GROAN!

Oh, I forgot to mention another really stupid scene: Marissa needs something, so she goes down to the hotel's gift shop (I'm assuming) and the woman at the register is talking on the phone and it's obvious she's talking with a friend and not helping out a customer and she's just blowing off Marissa and the other people behind her until Marissa finally yells at her and tells her to do her damn job. This scene is only in here to establish that Marissa would make a fine good manager, a job that her friend has applied her for. I have never seen somebody in customer service blatantly ignoring a customer while talking to a friend on the phone. You would have to be PRETTY STUPID to do that!

The more I think about it, the more stupid this movie is!


Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Simply the Best

What's Love Got To Do With It?
Director: Brian Gibson
Cast: Angela Bassett, Laurence Fishburne, Jennifer Lewis, Vanessa Bell Calloway, Khandi Alexander, Chi McBride
Released: June 25, 1993

Oscar nominations:
Best Actress - Angela Bassett (lost to Holly Hunter for The Piano)
Best Actor - Laurence Fishburne (lost to Tom Hanks for Philadelphia)


I was a big fan of Tina Turner's music before I saw this movie and knew about her past with the abusive Ike Turner, but after watching this, I had a whole new appreciation for the struggles she went through and how she became a superstar recording artist. This is probably one of the better music biopics I've seen. It's based on an autobiography Tina Turner wrote called I, Tina. The movie mainly focuses on her meeting Ike Turner and how she became a recording artist. We do get a few scenes of her as a little girl, then named Anna Mae Bullock (while I did know that Tina Turner wasn't her given name, I couldn't have told you her birth name prior to seeing this film) growing up in Nutbush, Tennessee. Now that song "Nutbush City Limits" makes a lot of sense! "They call it Nutbush! Oh, Nutbush! Nutbush city limits! Nutbush city!" On the Nutbush, TN Wiki page, it says that "Nutbush is best known as the home of Tina Turner." Who would have thought? That's probably the only thing they're known for (it's a town with a population of a little over a thousand people).  You have to admit that's a pretty impressive thing to be known for. What are the odds that a town with such a small population would have produced one of the world's most successful singers? And I'm sure you'll find many signs like this if you drive through it:

The movie establishes her love of singing as we see her as a young girl singing (very loudly) in the church choir. She is so disruptive and obnoxious that the choir director kicks her out! As a teenager, she relocates to St. Louis where she sees Ike Turner (Laurence Fishburne), the bandleader of a band called Kings of Rhythm, perform at a bar. The ladies think Ike is very smooth and charismatic and every time his band plays "Darlin', You Know I Love You" (a song I was not aware of prior to seeing this film), he lets one of his many admirers try her hand at singing, but will take the mic away is she gets booed for being awful. Anna Mae and her sister go back to the club and when the song is played, her sister convinces her to take the mic and sing. Anna Mae had been practicing the song and is embarrassed when her sister and mother catch her singing it into the bathroom mirror. This is the scene where Anna Mae catches Ike's eye (and ear!)

Obviously Angela Bassett is lip-synching with Tina Turner's voice dubbed in. I believe Tina provided all the vocal tracks for the film. Which you kind of need because she has such a distinctive singing voice. It's hard to imagine anyone else but Angela Bassett in the iconic role because she is so great in it, but there were other big names up for the part including Whitney Houston. That would have been really weird to see a really popular singer play a....really popular singer. I know they would have made her up to look like Tina and any signs of Whitney Houston would have vanished, but it still would be weird. Plus, let's be honest, while Whitney was a great singer, she really wasn't that great in the acting department. Okay, at best. Everyone knows that Angela Bassett can act circles around her. There's really no contest.

Anna Mae becomes ones of Ike's back up singers, known as the Ikettes. She is clearly the best singer and becomes Ike's favorite. This is where the movie starts to move fairly fast. Anna Mae moves in with Ike, gets pregnant, they get married in Mexico, they have a baby boy. We get a very quick scene where Ike tells Anna Mae that new name is Tina Turner. There's no explanation on why 'Tina" was chosen. Perhaps he likes alliteration?

Soon Ike and Tina Turner become a sensational duo and are writing and recording hits and making lots of money and are soon able to afford a nice house with a pool and furnished with nice stuff. Ike is angry at Tina for buying so much stuff and tells her she needs to sing the songs he's writing for her better and she offends him by saying all his songs are starting to sound the same. This results in the first time we see Ike get physically abusive towards her and it's pretty harrowing to watch. He is slapping her, dragging her, punching her, cussing at her in front of their children (their biological son and Ike's two sons from a previous marriage whose ex-wife (Khandi Alexander) had dropped off at their house one day and both adults are arguing RIGHT IN FRONT OF THE CHILDREN. Real nice!)

At one point, Tina tries to escape when she leaves the house in the middle of the night and takes the children with her to her mother's. They take a bus and while at a pit stop, she has her son, but is trying to find her step-sons and finds them by Ike's car. He had found them and threatens for Tina to get into the car with him and the children.

While performing some of their latest hits on an American Bandstand-type show (maybe that was the show),  Tina and Ike are approached by Phil Spector who wants to record a song with Tina. Ike mistakes this and thinks this means BOTH of them, but no, he only wants Tina. The song is "River Deep, Mountain High" and this was the first song played in the movie that I was familiar with. This was around 1965 and this is where Tina starts becoming much more popular than Ike which makes him jealous and makes him more irate which only results in more beatings for Tina. He even rapes her in their home recording booth after beating her up and getting angry at her for the way she's singing a song.

Of course we get a scene of Ike and Tina singing what is their most well-known song, "Proud Mary". In fact, this song is so synonymous  with them, that I always thought they were the original writers/singers of the song and all the covers came after them, but it was first recorded by the band, Creedence Clearwater Revival. But ask anybody who sings that song and I'll guarantee you they'll say, "Tina Turner".

At one point, Ike beats Tina so bad that she ends up in the hospital and she is visited by one of the former, Ikettes, Jackie (Vanessa Bell Calloway), one of Tina's closest friends. She has always pleaded for Tina to leave Ike. She turns Tina onto Buddhism which helps her calm herself and gather her thoughts. It gives her confidence and tt's the turning point for her when she and Ike are staying in a swanky hotel while on tour and Ike beats Tina so bad that she has blood all over her face. She runs out of the room and out of the hotel, crosses a busy street with cars honking everywhere and goes to a cheaper hotel where she asks to speak to the manager and says, "My name is Tina Turner and I need a room. I only have 32 cents in my pocket but I promise I will pay you back." Of course they accommodate her.

That incident was the final straw and soon Ike and Tina are in court. Tina says that Ike can have all the rights to their songs and keep all their material possessions and pretty much everything else. The only thing she wants to keep is her name. She is so confident in her ability to build herself up with her name and talent that she doesn't care if she looses everything she's earned along the way. This makes Ike angry (what else is new?) and says that was the name he gave her and that she should be stripped of it if she is leaving him, but the judge lets her keep her famous household name.

Obviously we know who the real winner is. Tina Turner went on to become one of the most famous recording artists in the world and is worth millions of dollars. After breaking up with Ike in 1978, she began working on her solo career and in 1984 released an album with all the songs I'm most familiar with like "What's Love Got To Do With It?" and "Private Dancer." Just as I did with Michael Jackson Madonna, and Whitney Houston, she is one of the artists I grew up with so of course I'm mostly familiar with her '80s music. (Although of course I knew "Proud Mary" as a child). She went on to record many popular hits. She's won eight Grammys.  I know she now resides in Switzerland. I remember she was living in the south of France at one time (I think it was Nice?) and about ten years ago InStyle magazine did an article (complete with gorgeous photos) of her estate. Tina Turner's life is just fine. Ike, on the other hand, became known as being a wife abuser and never really elevated to any fame besides being the ex-husband (and abuser) of Tina Turner. He's only known for being a bad guy, really. He spent some time in jail for drug-related charges, continued his drug habit with cocaine and died in 2007. His life did not turn out so well.

The movie ends with Tina singing her new hit single (at the time), "What's Love Got To Do With It?" because you couldn't NOT have that song in this movie! It's kind of cool because you see Angela Bassett in the famous Tina Turner shag wig sing it and then it shows the real Tina Turner singing the song at a huge stadium. While Angela and Tina have completely different shaped faces and facial features, their bodies are very physically similar and Angela emulates Tina's stage mannerisms so well. You know that she did her homework with studying Tina during her performances.

Highly recommended; I might even go so far as to say that this is my favorite music movie biopic.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

What a Feeling

Inside Out
Directors: Pete Doctor and Ronald Del Carmen
Voice Talent: Amy Poehler, Mindy Kaling, Bill Hader, Phyllis Smith, Lewis Black, Richard Kind, Diane Lane, Kyle McLachlan, Kaitlyn Dias
Released: June 19, 2015
Viewed in theaters: June 22, 2015


Congratulations, Pixar, you've done it again! You've managed to make me cry like a baby while watching one of your films. This is the first Pixar movie I've seen in the theater since Toy Story 3 in 2010 and the first new Pixar movie I've watched since seeing Brave on DVD in early 2013, but the wait was worth it. I loved it. It's really hard for Pixar to do any wrong. And this one ranks on the higher end of their list. I made sure to attend the 9 pm show to make sure there weren't any kids around. I have had made the mistake of seeing Pixar movies in the middle of the afternoon with tons of screaming kids and no, I will not ever make that mistake again and I never did. Ironically, I saw Jurassic World at 9 pm and there were kids everywhere! Including a few younger than the age of five! WTF? The youngest people at my Inside Out viewing were teenagers. 

Spoilers ahoy! (See this movie!)

They take an interesting approach with this movie as the emotions in an eleven year old girl's heads are the characters and take the "controls" for whenever Riley (the young girl) is feeling a certain emotion. 

Anger, Disgust, Joy, Fear, and Sadness

The emotions are Joy (Amy Poehler), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Anger (Lewis Black), Fear (Bill Hader), and Disgust (Mindy Kaling). There is a memory vault of the emotions that Riley acquires and each memory is represented by its emotion's corresponding color. Joy is represented by yellow and therefore most of Riley's emotions are yellow. (You can see in the above pictures the colored orbs behind the characters...those are the memories). Joy is very proud that the majority of Riley's memories have been happy and takes great pride in that. Riley loves her life in Minnesota. She has many friends, loves to play hockey, and joke around with her mom and dad (voiced by Diane Lane and Kyle McLachlan). Joy couldn't ask for anything better and thinks nothing will ever go wrong until the family moves to San Francisco causing all the emotions panic. 

Nothing goes right with the move. Riley doesn't like her new house and the moving van has gotten lost along the way. She has trouble making friends at her new school and misses Minnesota. (And I loved how it was always "Minnesota" - because nobody knows any cities in that state!) As Joy explains to us, part of Riley's mind is creating Personality Islands. These help define Riley and make her who she is. These include Friendship Island, Family Island, Hockey Island, etc. However, these start to crumble as Riley loses interest in hockey because it's not the same to her anymore or getting angry at her best friend back home.

Riley's mother tells her she knows that moving has been tough on her and that she wants her to stay strong and be her "happy girl" as Riley is known for being positive most of the time. Riley tries to do that for her parents, but it's gotten to be too much for her. This rings very true for me and I'm sure many others as sometimes you feel like you need to be happy/positive for the sake of others, but inside you are anything but.

Meanwhile, inside her head, Joy is trying to keep Riley happy while also making sure Sadness doesn't get anywhere near the controls or turn one of Riley's memories into a sad one. She draws a circle for Sadness to stand in and keep all the sadness in that small circle. Joy doesn't want Sadness to be an overwhelming emotion for Riley.

Somehow, Joy and Sadness get sucked out of "headquarters" and end up in Riley's subconscious where, in order to get back to the control room, they have to get through Long term Memory while hitching a ride on the Train of Thought and along the way they enter Imagination Land and Dream Productions. They even go through a section which was Abstract Thought. I'm pretty sure that one flew over all the kiddies' heads! 

Joy's and Sadness's trek to get back to Headquarters is a journey and meanwhile, Anger, Disgust, and Fear have become the main emotions for Riley which results in her back talking and yelling at her parents. There was one scene where we saw her parents' own emotions inside their heads and it made me cringe a little because it was very stereotypical: the wife's emotions are nagging at the husband because he isn't paying attention and doesn't notice that their daughter is unhappy and the husband's emotions aren't paying attention because they are thinking of the game and don't know why the wife is wanting his attention. It's the only part of the movie that's just really stupid and we've seen this joke a thousand times. 

Along the way, Joy and Sadness meet Bing Bong (Richard Kind), Riley's imaginary friend from her younger days who is part elephant, part cat, and part dolphin. He agrees to take the two of them back to HQ. I loved the scene where they garbage-man type characters who are sucking up some of Riley's memories and protests this until one of them tells her that Riley doesn't need to know all the name of all the Pretty Princess Ponies (I forget exactly what it was...but it was something to that effect). I loved this because I actually do remember most of the names of my My Little Ponies. I actually have a lot of useless and stupid information stored in my brain! They also erase all her memories of the piano pieces she's learned except for "Heart and Soul" and "Chopsticks". But of course! 

All throughout the movie, Joy has been very dismissive of Sadness, not having any time for her depression. And I know this is going to sound weird, but Sadness made me laugh so much. Just her delivery and Debbie Downer-ness was great. "I'm too sad to walk." She was really kind of a pathetic little thing. But she has a very nice moment with Bing Bong when he cries about Riley forgetting about him and listens to him and lets him cry it out. When Joy and Sadness finally get back (and not without tears from me as their journey is not without trials and tribulations!), Joy pushes Sadness to the controls and Riley, who has decided to run away and has become emotion-less at this point the other emotions have gotten the control boards jammed, just becomes overwhelmed with sadness and she returns homes to her parents who are relieved to see her and she is just crying and telling them all the feelings she's been holding in. Then her parents start crying, I start crying, I'm sure everyone else in my theater was crying! It was so sad!  All along you knew that Sadness was going to play a major role and she does. This movie points out that it's OKAY to be sad and it's perfectly natural emotion. 

It's kind of hard to explain this movie, but once you see it, it makes a lot more sense. It's very clever filmmaking and the story is great and heartwarming. It made me laugh and cry so it definitely got all my emotions in overdrive!  Highly recommended.

I loved the end because they showed different minor characters and their emotions at work. We see Riley bump into a boy her age and all his emotions are freaking out and yelling, "GIRL, GIRL, GIRL!" We even see the emotions of a dog and a cat. The cat made me laugh so much because it's so true. Its emotions are just wandering around and not paying attention and doing whatever they want.

The emotions notice a new button has popped up among the controls and pronounce the word as "Pooo-bore-tee". Hehe. Is a sequel in the works?

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Welcome to

Jurassic World
Director: Colin Trevorrow
Cast: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Vincent D'Onofrio, Ty Simpkins, Nick Robinson, Jake Johnson, BD Wong
Released: June 12, 2015
Viewed in theaters: June 16, 2015





If you remember, a few years back I posted my top ten most memorable movie experiences and, of course, Jurassic Park made the cut.  After my brother had seen it with his friends and  hearing him rave about it, I didn't want to be left out and wanted to see it too so my mom took me. The movie scared me so much....and so did my mom as she kept grabbing me every time something scary happened and that scared me more sometimes! But I loved seeing those movie dinosaurs come to life and had a lot of fun watching it, that I didn't mind I almost had a heart attack a couple times during the duration of the film!

The last time I saw Jurassic Park was July 2007 so I would like to revisit it and write a review. I don't have any plans on re-watching its two god-awful sequels (both last seen in August 2007) so don't expect anything on those. Remember that scene where Malcolm's daughter does a gymnastics trick to take out one of the velociraptors? Yeah...so bad. Not surprisingly, Jurassic World is heaps better than the sequels...not that that's hard to do! It would have to be a terrible, crappy movie to be worse than those films! However, nothing can top the magic that is the original. And this movie knows it and pays homage to it.

Let me first start off by saying I really enjoyed this movie and had a lot of fun watching it. I did jump several times, said "Oh, shit" aloud a couple times (even though there was a toddler sitting in front of my friend and me...yes a toddler...I don't think she was paying attention or could hear me since the movie was so loud), and even did the put-my-hands-to-my-face-in-shock-and-horror move once (which I also did a lot when I watched Breaking Bad!) It definitely got a reaction out of me. So before I go into spoiler territory, I highly recommend it and think everyone should go and watch it, especially if they were a fan of the original, because they have lots of hidden (well, not so hidden as they're overtly out in the open!) gems throughout.

Spoilers ahoy! Don't read any further if you don't want any surprises! And if you're going to continue to read, go ahead and play the Jurassic Park theme song...I know you have it on your iTunes!



Okay, so it's been 22 years since the events of the first park happened (and 22 years since Jurassic Park played in theaters, coincidentally!) and even though that didn't go so well, the new and improved Jurassic World has been operating for ten (? - I didn't quite catch how many) years without a hitch. You will also have to keep in mind that the movie is smart to pretend the two sequels never happened, so there was never a T-Rex running around in San Francisco or wherever the hell it got lose in the second movie (*faceplam*). They treat the events of the first park as a 9/11-type event. One of the operators wears a vintage Jurassic Park t-shirt and is admonished by his supervisor because wearing it is in poor taste of what happened 22 years ago. Shouldn't they at least be happy that all the main characters survived that horrific event?

Bryce Dallas Howard plays Claire, the operating manager of the park. I have to tell you a (somewhat) funny story. When I first saw the trailer, I just assumed the redheaded woman was Jessica Chastain and I was listening to a podcast about upcoming summer movies and this one was naturally brought up and one of the hosts said it starred Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard and the other one says, "Wait, that's not Jessica Chastain?" which made them both laugh. I was just as surprised as he was because that's who I thought it was all along until I heard that! Anyway, so Claire is very business-like and buttoned up and takes her job seriously and is always looking for ways to keep the park ratings up and get money from sponsors for new and exciting exhibits. This includes introducing a new species of dinosaur that they genetically created called the Indominus Rex, which will be the film's Big Bad. It is the size of a T-Rex (but with longer arms!) with the smarts of a raptor. It has also been genetically given other useful traits from other reptiles and amphibians which helps it be as evil as it wants. Claire mentions that they want to give a new and exciting dinosaur to the public and that viewing the same dinosaurs has the same effect as viewing an elephant at a zoo and that's why they need something new to entice their audience.

Okay, movie. Time out. TIME OUT! WTF? No, just no. That is the sorriest excuse I've ever heard. Yes, the park has been opened for at least ten years, but there's only one place in the world you can go to see real-life dinosaurs: a little island off the coast of Costa Rica called Isla Nublar.  You know the entrance fee's got to be steep, plus you gotta pay for airfare and a place to stay. Most people will probably not have the opportunity to go to this magnificent park, so maybe it's just the same rich people and their families going every year and that's why their spoiled and whiny kids are getting so bored looking at a triceratops or a stegosaurus. "Wah, wah, I'm bored looking at these magnificent animals that have been extinct millions upon millions of years and were only brought back in the span of my lifetime by the wonder of science but I have never known a world without dinosaurs so I don't give a shit and I want to see something new..wah, wah, wah!" That's what it felt like to me, anyway! If John Hammond were still alive, he would never have agreed to such a monstrosity!

Chris Pratt plays Owen, a guy who lives in a shack on the island and works and communicates with the raptors. Now all the raptors from the first movie were killed off, correct? So who thought it would be a good idea to create new raptors? They're only the park's most vicious animal! They didn't make that chirping dinosaur with the clown collar that spit poison into Newman's eyes! (According to Wikipedia, that was a dilophosaurus). So why did they think it was a good idea to give life to more raptors? Okay, yeah, I know a Jurassic Park movie just wouldn't be the same without its raptors! I was a little worried because the previews showed Pratt's character riding his motorcycle among the raptors and another scene had him enclosed with the raptors and it looks like he's in control of them. He appeared to be the Raptor Whisperer and the thought of the raptors becoming pets just made me roll my eyes. While Owen is somewhat of a Raptor Whisperer as he does build a relationship (built on trust) with them, it's not exactly that they're his loyal pets. We find out he is only in the enclosure with them because a new guy who works there has fallen in (and that was the first time I said, "Oh, shit!" aloud - I thought for sure that guy was a goner!) and Owen runs in and has the guy slowly back away as he tries to calm the raptors while telling the other guys not to shoot or otherwise the raptors will never trust him again.

There are four raptors. Their names are Blue, Charlie, Delta, and Echo. Blue is the Beta. Do you see a pattern? "Who is the Alpha?" Tim Murphy 2.0 asks Owen. "You're looking at him," Owen replies. If you didn't already know, Owen is a basically a badass. Although I would probably argue that the raptors would disagree with who the alpha is!

Tim 2.0 is Gray (Ty Simpkins) a kid who is visiting Jurassic World with his older brother, Zach (Nick Robinson). Their aunt is Claire, but she is too busy too show them around, so she has her assistant, Zara, chaperone them. They get bored at the dino petting zoo and ditch her. The dino petting zoo was the cutest thing ever! Little kids could ride baby triceratops and baby stegosauruses. One kid hugged a baby brontosaurus and it was just so stickin' cute! They see a water show attraction of the mosasaurus, this aquatic dinosaur that appears to be 100 times bigger than a great white shark as it eats a shark and it looks like a guppy in comparison! You have to wonder how much it costs to feed this thing (not to mention all the other huge animals that are in the park...I am surprised they aren't bankrupt!)

Claire wants Owen to inspect the exhibit for the Indominus Rex to make sure it is safe before they unveil her to the public. It's not exactly safe yet as she has already tried to break the glass! Here is where we get a scene where everybody but the dinosaur acts like morons. Instead of cameras, they use thermal sensors to find the dino, but it is not showing anything anywhere. Owen notices some claw marks on a wall and it appears as though the I-Rex has escaped. Instead of Claire calling the control center to have them pinpoint where the I-Rex is IMMEDIATELY (all the dinos have tracking devices),  she decides to wait until she is in her car and driving back to headquarters and Owen has already gone into the enclosure with the guard (who is overweight and you immediately know he is gonna be dino-chow!) and some other worker (who is also a tasty meal) to assess the wall. Claire is told that the dinosaur is still in its habitat and she screams and tells them to get everyone out of there. Uh...why wasn't this the first thing they did? If they had just checked to make sure where it was before they started opening doors and letting huge-ass dinosaurs out, this would have never happened! Also, I would like to point out that there were construction workers who were making the walls higher so if they noticed that they were all gone due to being eaten, then yes, maybe they should have been concerned, but didn't they think to check on the workers and ask them if they had seen anything suspicious? We later find out the I-Rex has attained a gene where it can hide from thermal sensors AND it can also camouflage itself which is pretty cool.
Little Foot and Cera!

The boys are the last ones to get on the Gyroscope ride before it is ordered to close down due to a "technical difficulty". This ride is the most ridiculous thing ever. Instead of it being on a track, you can just roam around anywhere you please. True, they were only in the "vegetarian" dinosaurs' land, but some of those dinosaurs are HUGE and could easily stomp on that glass ball and some of them have horns and could ram into them. Even though Jimmy Fallon tells them they are very safe, we soon learn they are not when Zach wants them to go off roads into a restricted area. There they come across the I-Rex and there's a scene very similar to the one in the first movie when Lex and Tim are in the Jeep being attacked by the T-Rex.  The boys manage to run away and jump off a cliff into a lake. The I-Rex just sorts of looks down at the water like, "Where did my snacks go?" This dinosaur is freaking 50 feet tall....jumping off a cliff probably wouldn't be a big deal for it, but she just turns and walks away.

Then we come to the part of the movie which I call the Nostalgia Scene. The kids come across the old building of the first movie and we see the banner that reads "When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth" and the bones of the dinosaur skeleton that the T-Rex knocked down when it was attacking the raptors. We also see the night vision goggles that Tim wore and the '92 Jeep they rode in. It would have been so cool if they had gone into the kitchen...didn't Sam Neil trap a raptor in a freezer? I really need to watch that movie again! And, of course, while they are discovering the remains of the old Jurassic Park, the theme song is playing. It is just awesome and I loved it. I loved my Jurassic Park shoutouts! Speaking of shoutouts, I guess someone is seen reading Ian Malcolm's book, but I didn't catch that. I did, however, see Mr. DNA (that cartoon DNA thread) make a small cameo. I always loved how he pronounced "Dyno-saaaahs!"

The Indominus Rex is four miles from any attraction and has only killed two employees and the entire tac team they send to take it down. So far the civilians (well, except for Gray and Zach) have been out of harm from it. It is only when the I-Rex breaks into the aviary where chaos ensues. Scores of pteranodons and pterodactyls are released and fly to the center square where they start attacking everyone. This makes me wonder how the aviary worked. Was there a net between the animals and the public? This is where Claire and Owen reunite with the boys and Owen and others are shooting down the flying reptiles. This is also the scene where we get the most gruesome death, not just from this movie, but probably from ANY of the Jurassic movies. Remember Zara? Claire's assistant whose only crime was not watching the two boys because she was too busy talking on her phone? She gets a very horrific and gruesome death that is usually reserved for the really bad people in these movies; you know, the ones who really deserve it. But because the bad guy of this movie will be killed by a raptor (and we'll get to that later), they really didn't have anyone else to spare for this death so I guess Zara was the chosen one. She is picked up by a pteranodon (or maybe it was the other one...), then dropped in mid air before she is scooped up by another, then she is dropped into the lagoon, but the two birds fly in to get her and she is tossed around for awhile, before, finally, the mosasaurus eats both her and the pteranodon. It just went on and on! These were nasty birds! They were even trying to pick up a baby triceratops by its saddle which made me very upset! Luckily it was too heavy for it and wasn't carried off!

So the bad guy I mentioned before is played by Vincent D'Onofrio and he likes how Owen can "train" the raptors and think they should weaponize them and have them trained in combat so they can seek out and kill the enemy. It's pretty much the stupidest idea ever. He's a very slimy character and the raptors snarl at him whenever he gets close to their cage and you just know he is going to get killed by one. And he does. Who didn't see that one coming? He puts his arm out to try to calm the raptor like he's seen Owen do before, but the raptor just bites his hand off. Chomp! But before he goes, he wants Owen and a team of his men to follow the raptors to the I-Rex so the raptors can help take it down. But it turns out the I-Rex is part raptor and can communicate with them and Owen is no longer the Alpha! D'Onofrio and his team are all killed within minutes, but Owen, Claire, and the boys manage to escape with the raptors chasing them. One raptor was killed back when they were hunting the I-Rex, but the other three have the four humans cornered, but Owen somehow manages to calm them down and have them be on his side, so when the I-Rex appears again, she is attacked by the raptors, but really, what can they do? They may be smart, quick, and vicious, and very good at killing people, but they are small compared to the I-Rex and their attempts at attacking her are noble, but not working. Claire notices this and goes to the paddock where the T-Rex is and has her let out. Before this, we had only seen a snippet of the T-Rex when the brothers go to view her. Now it is its time to shine! Claire is wearing high heels and waits until the T-Rex is only a half foot behind her before she starts running. Take off your damn shoes so you don't fall and break your ankle! When she reaches the I-Rex, the T-Rex starts attacking it and Claire collapses right behind one of the T-Rex's foot and in front of the tail. Um, why don't you move so you're out of the way? Good Lord! But she and the others manage to escape to safety while they watch the two dinosaurs fight.

By this time there is only one raptor left. I'm assuming it's Blue as she's the one who seems to be Owen's favorite. I remember seeing two other raptors getting killed, but I don't know how the third one died. There's a slow motion scene where Blue runs at and attacks the I-Rex. It's a very heroic scene, but it just cracked me up how it was done. Remember how the T-Rex was the hero in the first movie? Well, in this movie the hero is the mosasaurus because while the T-Rex and I-Rex are fighting right by the lagoon, it leaps up and grabs the I-Rex by the neck and takes it into the water. Damn, how hungry is this giant crocodile? It's already had a great white shark, a pteranodon, a human, and now a huge-ass dinosaur! And all in one day!

Blue and the T-Rex acknowledge each other and go on their merry way. Everyone has been evacuated safely off the island and the boys are greeted by their tearful parents. Claire and Owen have already kissed, but they share a moment. The T-rex climbs to the top of a mountain. RAWWWWWWWRRRRRR!

A very fun and entertaining movie, but lots of little things that didn't quite make sense.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Great Scott!

Back to the Future
Director: Robert Zemeckis
Cast: Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson, Crispin Glover, Thomas F. Wilson
Released: July 3, 1985

Oscar nominations:
Best Sound Effects Editing - won
Best Song - "The Power of Love" (lost to "Say You, Say Me" from White Nights)
Best Original Screenplay - Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale (lost to a bunch of people who wrote Witness)
Best Sound (lost to Out of Africa)


Back to the Future Part II
Director: Robert Zemeckis
Cast: Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson, Thomas F. Wilson, Elisabeth Shue
Released: November 22, 1989

Oscar nominations:
Best Visual Effects (lost to The Abyss)


Back to the Future Part III
Director: Robert Zemeckis
Cast: Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Mary Steenburgen, Thomas F. Wilson
Released: May 25, 1990


Now how could I NOT do a review of the Back to the Future trilogy in 2015? Everybody from my generation has seen these movies. At least, that's what I like to think! Everybody knows exactly what you are talking about if you utter "Marty McFly", "DeLorean" or "Hover Board." I was too young to see the first movie in theaters, but I do remember seeing the second and third ones in the theater with my dad and brother. I can't even imagine how people even coped without this movie being around before 1985! It's just so ingrained in my film history that I can't ever imagine a time when Back to the Future didn't exist! Luckily I wasn't born yet/too young when those years occurred! 

Unless you've lived under a rock, or are a tween or younger, then you know everything there is to know about these movies....at least I would assume so! You know that Michael J. Fox was the first choice for Marty McFly but because of his schedule with Family Ties he couldn't do it, so they got Eric Stoltz and even shot some scenes with him, but they were not happy and eventually persuaded Fox to be in the movie so he pretty much alternated between playing Marty McFly and Alex P. Keaton every day as he was filming both movie and TV show at the same time. You know that Crispin Glover wasn't in the other two movies because he wanted more money. You know that the actress who played Jennifer in the first movie (her name is Claudia Wells; you probably don't know who she is) was replaced by Elisabeth Shue (you probably have heard of her!) in the other movies because Wells quit acting when they made the other two (hence the reason why you probably don't recognize her name). You know you always think of the movie whenever you hear Huey Lewis singing "Power of Love" on the radio. You know that this was one of the first movie to use the "same actor playing two people in a scene at the same time" trick. You know how you were anxiously waiting for it to be 2015 so you could get your hands on a cool Hover board! (Gee, thanks a lot, Back to the Future 2!) You know that there was never intended to be a sequel and that the ending of the first movie was a joke, but since the movie was so popular they did end up making two more movies. You know the meaning of 88 mph. You know that Back to the Future was the biggest movie of 1985, hence the highest-grossing movie of that year. And if you've never seen this movie, then what are you waiting for? 
While I do enjoy all three movies, the first movie is by far the best and most iconic. I have seen it more than its sequels, but I wouldn't be able to tell you how many times I've seen it as I've lost track! However, on my last rewatch, there was something that didn't quite add up. Of course we all know the scene where Marty, his slacker brother, and dowdy sister are sitting around the kitchen table while their mother, Lorraine (a 23-year-old Lea Thompson made up to look like a haggard 47-year-old) tells them the story of how she met their father, George (Crispin Glover) is just exposition because this scene is very important later on when Marty is in the past. Lorraine has told Marty that she doesn't approve of his girlfriend, Jennifer and that when she was his age, she never called a boy or "parked" with a boy and the way she met George was a fluke because her father hit him with a car when he fell out of a tree from "bird watching".

However, when Marty goes back to 1955, we see that his mother was popular and boy crazy as a17-year-old. In the very scene Lorraine was talking about when she and George met, Marty is instead hit by the car his grandfather was driving and is brought into the house where Lorraine is very aggressive towards him. Marty is shocked that his mother is very attractive and nothing at all like he probably imagined her (though I have to wonder, had he never seen photos of her?) Even in the original timeline, this is still the same Lorraine that met and married George. It doesn't make any sense for them to ever get together. The beautiful and popular Lorraine Baines seemed a little too shallow to fall for the quirky and meek loner George McFly. She was not the type of girl who would look twice at him, but attended the Enchantment Under the Sea dance because he looked so helpless after being hit by the car and she felt sorry for him. I can maybe believe that, but them ending up getting married? I'm sorry, I just don't buy it. It makes way more sense for them ending up together when Marty intervenes in the timeline because he helps George build his confidence and because of that, George saves Lorraine from being raped by the scumbag bully, Biff (Thomas F. Wilson).  Lorraine sees him in a different light and they truly fall in love and remain that way as is evident when we return to the altered 1985 after Marty has returned from being in the past.
Despite that little detail, I still love the movie. It cracks me up when Marty is eating dinner with his 17 year old mother and her family and her mother says to him, "Marty, you look so familiar. Do I know your mother?"  and Marty glances at Lorraine and says, "I think so." 

The scene where Marty is at the 1955 diner and asks for a Tab is hilarious only for the fact that the guy didn't know what he was talking about and people watching the movie nowadays wouldn't get the joke unless they're old enough to remember what Tab is. I've heard of it, but I've never had it (not to my knowledge anyway). 

The scene where Marty runs into a young busboy in the '55 diner (who Marty recognizes as the guy who will be mayor of Hill Valley in 1985) reminded me of episodes of "Quantum Leap" where Sam Becket is the one who inspires a young Stephen King to be a horror writer or gives a song idea to a young Buddy Holly (Sidenote: Why haven't they done a reboot of that series yet? It would be the perfect reboot series!) because it is Marty who gives him the idea to become a mayor and he goes, "Yeah, mayor! That's a good idea!"

Was anyone else confused when Marty goes to visit Doc (Christopher Llody) in 1955 (who looks exactly the same age as 1985 Doc, but apparently he's wearing old age make up which I've never noticed before) and he shows Doc the video Doc recorded when they were using the DeLorean in 1985 by connecting the camcorder to the TV. How is this even possible? I'm pretty sure camcorders didn't even exist back then! I guess the only explanation that makes sense is that Doc invented something for that to be possible...who knows? 

The DeLorean, our heroes' time machine, is a very big and important (inanimate!) character in these movies. Okay, so I had no idea (until maybe a few years ago) that DeLorean is actually the name of this make of car. I thought that was just what Doc called the time machine because he though it sounded cool or something. I don't know about you, when I think of "DeLorean" I think of time machine, I don't think of a make of car...unless that car is a time machine. I think it was brilliant for them to use a DeLorean as the time machine because it looks so different and has a futuristic aspect than any other car. It also makes me wonder, did people actually drive these cars back in the '80s? They are the most impractical car I have ever seen. You would only be able to parallel park because if you parked between cars in a parking lot, you wouldn't be able to open the doors!

Back to the Future 2, which came out 4 years later, deals with alternative timelines. And technically, the future part still takes place in the future as it is October 21, 2015 when they go into the future. So I guess there is still time for there to be Hover Boards, automatic-drying jackets, and flying cars! I really dislike the scenes that take place in 2015 and not just because they got everything so, so wrong! (Remember, the '90s hadn't even occurred when they filmed this!) Why does Hollywood think we're going to have flying cars in the future? We already have flying cars! They're called airplanes. Seriously, do you know how dangerous it would be if cars were flying too? It's ridiculous! I love time travel movies, but I hate it when people go in the future...it's so much better and interesting when they go in the past.

By this time Jennifer is played by Elisabeth Shue. They reshot the ending of the first movie with her. If you remember, that ending had Doc taking them to the future and declaring, "Roads? Where we're going, we don't need roads!" There is no need at all for Jennifer to even be in the other two movies (remember, there was never supposed to be any sequels, so the ending was just a throwaway gag), but because they already had her in the DeLorean at the end of the first movie, I guess the writers felt cornered and had to have her go since she was already there.

Doc wants Marty and Jennifer to go to the future with him because their son is going to have some trouble with Biff's grandkid and land in jail or something....IDK, but why do you need to go to the future to stop that? Can't you just tell them, "Hey, make sure you keep an eye on your kid on this day in 2015." Wouldn't that be so much easier than going into the future? That just seems like so much more of a hassle! Oh, well, without them going into the future, then old Biff would never be able to take the thinnest book of sport stats from the last 50 years of the 20th century back in the past to become super rich and alternate the timeline. Although, how Biff knew how to use the DeLorean is beyond me. He was never there for the tutorial of having to get up to 88 mph to be able to go to your desired time.

When Marty is reading the newspaper in 2015, there's a little blur that says "Queen Diana visits United States." Uh.....well, how were they supposed to know?

We see the house of Marty and Jennifer (and Michael J. Fox plays their son and daughter) and they sort of got it right because it could definitely be defined as a "smart house". They say things aloud like "Turn on light" or "turn on TV". And while Skype wasn't invented yet (uh, from the 1989 perspective!), they did have Marty talking to someone via a screen.

One thing I thought that was really smart was when Doc gave Marty a briefcase of money for when he went back to 1955 for the second time because that is very important! You can't use money that was minted in the '80s if you're in the '50s! So I was glad to see that scene. He also gave him '50s clothes.

I thought it was hilarious when 2nd 1955 timeline Marty is at the Enchanted Under the Sea dance and sees 1st 1955 timeline Marty on the stage when he's playing the guitar to the Chuck Barry song before it was released (so does that mean Marty gets credit for the song?) and he's enjoying the music and thinks it sounds pretty good and takes a moment to appreciate it.

I love Cafe '80s and I would go to one all the time if they existed!

Just like the first movie, the second ends with a cliffhanger, the only difference being they knew for sure there was going to be a third one. Marty gets a note from Doc saying he has decided to go to the year 1885. And this is where we being the third movie....Marty finds out that Doc is killed by an ancestor of Biff (who else?) named Mad Dog so he takes the DeLorean to 1885 to save Doc. Why he didn't just go the day before Doc
left for 1885 and warn him then is beyond me. That seems like it would have been easier and saved a lot more time, though I know, I know, there wouldn't have been any movie! This movie is okay, but I'm not a fan of Westerns so I can take it or leave it. This time Mary Steenburgen joins the cast as a love interest for Doc. Oh, and speaking of love interests, I should mention that when Marty and Doc returned back to the altered 1985 in the previous movie with an unconscious Jennifer, they left her on her front stoop and we don't see her until the end of this movie. So ridiculous to even have her in the last two movies!

Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson, and Thomas F. Wilson are in all three movies. I don't think it was necessary for Thompson to be in the third movie. She plays Marty's great-great-grandmother (Fox, doing double duty again, plays Marty's great-great grandfather). This absolutely makes no sense because WHY WOULD MARTY'S PATERNAL GREAT GREAT GRANDMOTHER LOOK LIKE HIS MOTHER? THIS IS HIS FATHER'S SIDE OF THE FAMILY! LEA THOMPSON PLAYS A BAINES WHO MARRIED INTO THE MCFLY FAMILY SO WHY THE HELL DOES MARTY'S DAD'S GREAT GRANDMOTHER LOOK LIKE HIS WIFE? WTF, MOVIE? UGH!!!!! This is something I've noticed FOREVER and it always drives me crazy. I know they wanted to give Thompson a role but they sure gave her the wrong one! And really, Marty's great-great grandparents aren't even needed in this movie.

 In the end, Doc is saved from being killed by Mad Dog and he stays in 1885 with his new love and Marty returns to 1985 (and finally his girlfriend!) and the DeLorean has been destroyed. However, Doc has somehow managed to find everything he needs to build another time machine (this time a steam engine) in 1885 and come visit Marty and Jennifer with his new family.

So it's been 30 years since the release of the original movie and I, as I'm sure many other people, have mused, What if they did a reboot of the movie where a 17 year old in 2015 goes back to 1985 where he runs into his teenage parents? What would that be like? I don't think it would work quite as well. There is WAY more of a cultural shock for an' 80s kid to go back to the '50s than for a, uh, wait, what do we even call this decade? Obviously there would be plenty of jokes about the differences in technology and fashion between 2015 and 1985, but I really don't think the cultural shock would be that different. Everyone in the '50s just seemed so innocent and had a "Gosh-Golly-Gee!" attitude (okay, to be fair, I wasn't around in the '50s, but this is just my opinion of how it's been portrayed by Hollywood!) while I feel like teens today and in the '80s have more of an edge to them and are more cool. That being said, would I watch a reboot of Back to the Future? Of course I would! Would I bitch about it? Of course I would! Why? Because nothing will ever top the original, not even its two sequels. 

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Drummer Boy

Whiplash
Director: Damien Chazelle
Cast: Miles Teller, J.K. Simmons, Paul Reiser, Melissa Benoist
Released: October 10, 2014

Oscar nominations:
Best Picture (lost to Birdman)
Best Supporting Actor - J.K. Simmons (won)
Best Adapted Screenplay - Damien Chazelle (lost to Graham Moore for The Imitation Game)
Best Film Editing (won)
Best Sound Mixing (won)




Think of the music teacher in Mr. Holland's Opus (whose name was Mr. Holland, coincidently!) and just take the complete antithesis of him and you have Terrance Fletcher, the music teacher in Whiplash. Played by J.K. Simmons (who won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar this year), Fletcher is the intense conductor of a jazz band at the competitive music school, Shaffer Conservatory, where nineteen-year-old Andrew (Miles Teller) is a first-year student. Fletcher sees Andrew drumming one night for practice and invites him to his class the next morning. Andrew knows who Terrance Fletcher is and is very excited and honored at the prospect of getting to work with him, although when he first sits in during his class, I'm sure he has a change of tune...pun intended! While observing the class, Andrew quickly realizes Fletcher is a huge jerk. Someone's instrument was out of tune and he told them that this person better speak up so they can stop wasting everyone's time, but nobody says anything. He starts attacking this overweight, timid student and makes snarky comments about his weight and asks him if his instrument is out of tune to which the student says yes and Fletcher makes him leave the class. Just as I suspected, that student did not have the out of tune instrument but Fletcher said it makes it worse that he didn't even know.

He is brutal to Andrew when it's his turn to show Fletcher what he's got. He is either too slow or too fast for Fletcher's liking and never seems to get the exact beat he is looking for. I gained a lot of respect for drummers after watching this movie - apparently, it's a lot more difficult than I thought! I thought Andrew was doing a good job, but since Fletcher picks up a chair and throws it at him, I guess not! I did laugh when he asks Andrew, "Do you know why I just threw a chair at you?" Sheesh, somebody needs to watch Mr. Holland's Opus to learn how to be a music teacher! But let's be honest, this movie was way more entertaining than that one!

Andrew eventually gets the rhythm right and he is invited to join in at a local jazz competition, but only as an alternate in case the other drummer can't do it which is what happens when Andrew loses the sheet music (Fletcher gets mad at the other boy who gave it to Andrew as it was his responsibility to make sure nothing happened to it) and has to play since the other boy doesn't know the music by heart and Andrew informs Fletcher that he has Whiplash, the name of the piece, memorized and can fill in. Even though Andrew saved the day and even though their jazz band won first prize, Andrew does not become the core drummer like he thought he would and instead Fletcher invites the redheaded kid from Andrew's entry-level class (who I thought was one of the Scavo twins from Desperate Housewives, but he's not) to try out and he is given the spot of core drummer. Andrew is outraged by this and Fletcher agrees to let him be the core drummer at the next competition after both boys have auditioned for hours well into the early hours of the morning. However, on the day of the competition, his bus braking down and Andrew having to rent a car. He forgets his drum sticks at the rent a car place and is rushing to get back to the auditorium because he only has a few minutes left and his car is hit by a truck and flips over! Who didn't see that coming? Even though he should have been dead, or at the very least, critically injured, he runs across the lawn with blood pouring down his head and makes it with seconds to spare. Needless to say, the performance does not go well and he is suspended from the class.

To be able to concentrate more on becoming the best drummer of his generation, he breaks up with his girlfriend, Nicole (played by Melissa Benoist who played Marley on Glee) who he had recently met and asked out. Needless to say Nicole is pretty angry about this and even though when Andrew realizes he may have made a huge mistake and later invites her to attend one of his shows, she says she might be busy with her boyfriend. Ooh, burn. But good for her for moving on. Andrew was a total jerk to her.

The movie ends with Fletcher trying to get back at Andrew and humiliate him in a crowd of people when he is fired from his job after a student has made a report on what an abusive and horrible teacher Fletcher was, but it turns out Andrew gains his respect with a drum solo that goes on forever. I mean, it was really REALY impressive, but if I had been in that audience, I would have been like, damn, is this kid ever going to stop drumming? Great movie; I highly recommend it.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Cougar Town

How Stella Got Her Groove Back
Director: Kevin Rodney Sullivan
Cast: Angela Bassett, Taye Diggs, Whoopi Goldberg, Regina King
Released: August 14, 1998



I had not read the novel by Terry McMillan or seen the movie until now, but I was pretty sure I knew how the plot went: Stella is a forty year old woman who's had a bit of a bump in her life. Perhaps she's just lost her job, perhaps she's just gotten divorced....I don't know, just something where she needs to get her groove back! So she goes to Jamaica for a little pick-me-up where she meets a younger guy (not any younger than 26 though!), has a fling with him and comes back home as a more confident woman and meets a businessman her age and they fall in love and get married. We-ell, that's not exactly what happened! 

Stella (Angela Bassett) is a 40-year-old successful stockbroker in San Francisco raising a ten-year-old son. Her ex-husband is Chief Weber from Grey's Anatomy (James Pickens Jr.) and her sister has set her up on a date with a perfectly fine and respectable judge (played by Carl Lumbly who you probably know as Dixon from Alias). Speaking of Alias, Victor Garber (Spy Daddy!) plays her boss. You know, Angela Bassett had a recurring guest role on the last season of Alias. Do you think Victor Garber told J.J. Abrams, "Hey, you know who you should get for this role? Angela Bassett. We've been really good friends since our days on the Stella set." Probably not, they probably got her because she's a big name. And I'm pretty sure Abrams had all his attention on Lost by this point. Anyway, I'm getting completely off topic as you can see I didn't care for this movie!

Stella has two sisters: Vanessa (Regina King) and Angela (Suzanne Douglas, who I wasn't familiar with). That had to be confusing on the set with an actress named Angela and a character named Angela!

Angela's best friend, Delilah (Whoopi Goldberg) lives in New York and after Angela calls her spur of the moment after seeing a tourism commercial for Jamaica and suggests they go there, she agrees to the idea. The two friends meet up on the island for two weeks of fun and relaxing. Before Stella has even checked in, Dee has already met two obnoxious ex-football players who have really let themselves go. If I went on vacation with a friend and she met two unappealing guys and wanted us to hook up with them....ewww! I would be so mad! And, of course, Stella is not thrilled with this. Her "man" is especially unappealing when he whips off his shirt...and pants and all he is wearing is a speedo. Dear God, nobody needed to see that!

Even though Stella is (the ancient age of!) 40, girlfriend looks hot. She works out and she is buff and toned. She catches the eye of a younger man when they're eating breakfast outside the hotel one morning. He sits next to her and they start chatting. He is Winston Shakespeare (stupidest fake name ever!) and he is 20 years old. He was literally only a teenager one year prior. I  knew this was about an "older" woman having an affair with a younger man, but I had no idea he was only 20! I thought he was no younger than 25 or 26. Taye Diggs was 26 or 27 when he made the movie, so he's not as young as his character. Obviously, being a model, he's a very good looking guy. Did you know he's 44? I think he looks better now than he did back then. Of course, I can't take him seriously in this movie because he wears all these bright red and yellow boardshorts and t-shirts and has a ridiculous Jamaican accent and this was his first major role and he's acting opposite Angela Bassett. He serves his role well as the man candy, but he's definitely gotten better with the acting as he's aged.

Stella tells him several times she's old enough to be his mother after he invites her to a dance party (which was the weirdest party ever as everybody took off their tops so all the ladies were dancing with their breasts hanging out...it was like some freaky orgy!) Once she gets over the weirdness of the age difference, they start having a fling...which is what I thought it was just going to be, but no. Not exactly. They start having a relationship. She flies back to Jamaica with her son and niece (I'm not sure why her niece came with them...I'm not even sure which sister her niece belonged to!) so Winston can meet her son. There's a really awkward scene where Winston "surprises" (more like pisses her off!) Stella when he takes her to his parents' house for lunch. His mother is only a year older than her. Awkward!

When Dee dies from cancer (and that just seemed like a total after thought that they randomly threw in there because they thought the movie needed something sad...I'm guessing this plot line is a lot more flushed out in the novel!), Winston flies to  the U.S. to be with Stella and attend the funeral. He ends up moving there and moves in with Stella.

Okay, I'm sorry, but there is no way in hell any self-respecting, successful and attractive woman like Stella would have a relationship with a freaking TWENTY year old. He may not be a baby like Stella informs Winston's mom, but it's still pretty damn young. I don't care how good-looking the guy is. There's a scene where Stella loses her job because of....something....and I know they just did put that in the script because they didn't want anyone thinking Winston was after Stella for a Sugar Mama...because that's what I was thinking! But Stella begins to find out pretty soon they barely have anything in common. Duh, you think? They go to the movies and see a juvenile comedy and run into her sister and brother-in-law and another couple which includes the good-looking (and age appropriate!) judge Stella could have been set up with who had just come from seeing a more serious movie. Stella and Winston get into a fight after he wants to pay for dinner and says that she always does and he wants to contribute to and she goes, "Well, why don't you help with the mortgage?" Ooh, snap! Then she bitches that he never does anything when she asks him to do it and I'm thinking, OMG, it's like you're talking to your child! So they bitch and fight for a few days, then have hot shower sex and then Winston tells her he's moving back to Jamaica because he wants to go to school to be a doctor, but she beats him to the airport and tells him he should go to Berkeley and then he proposes and....omg, it is so bad! There's no way in hell that relationship is going to last!

And can we just address one last thing? Stella never needed to get her groove back in the first place! She was already pretty badass.