Thursday, July 28, 2011

A Dozen Mad Men

12 Angry Men
Director: Sidney Lumet
Cast: Henry Fonda, Martin Balsam, John Fiendler, Lee J. Cobb, E.J. Marshall, Jack Klugman, Edward Binns, Jack Warden, Joseph Sweeney, Ed Begley, George Voskovec, Robert Webber
Released: April 13, 1957

Oscar nominations:
Best Picture (lost to The Bridge on the River Kwai)
Best Director - Sidney Lumet (lost to David Lean for The Bridge on the River Kwai)
Best Adapted Screenplay - Reginald Rose (lost to Pierre Boulle for The Bridge on the River Kwai)

I have a confession to make: I've only seen a handful of movies made before the '70s (and not that many movies from the '70s if I'm being completely honest!) However, if there are more old movies like 12 Angry Men out there, I can't wait to see them. There's a good reason why this is considered a classic.

The only names from the cast I was familiar with were Henry Fonda and Jack Klugman - who's the only surviving cast member - and I've heard of Ed Begley's son!

Except very briefly at the beginning and very briefly at the end, the whole movie takes place in one room where the twelve men, as jurors, are isolated to reach a verdict for an eighteen year old with sad brown puppy dog eyes who has been accused of stabbing his father to death. There is an adjoining bathroom, but for the most part these guys are stuck in this cramped and hot room on what is mentioned as "the hottest day of the year".

The fan isn't working and they all want to get out of there as soon as they can, especially Juror 7 (Jack Warden - the one wearing the hat) who has tickets to a ballgame. They can only leave if they all have the same verdict. When they take a vote, 11 vote guilty and only Juror 8 (Henry Fonda) votes not guilty. He admits he's not sure if the young man is innocent or not, but thinks they should give him the consideration of discussing his case as they will be sending him to face the death penalty if he is found guilty. (Man, they sure were harsh back then!)

Throughout the film they stop discussing the case to conduct another vote. For the first one, Juror 8 tells them he would abstain from voting and if everyone votes guilty, he will also vote the same and that will be that, but another juror votes not guilty and soon the verdict becomes tied as they are persuaded by Juror 8's arguments that the young man is not one hundred percent guilty. Soon it's 11-1, not guilty with Juror 3 as the one who won't budge. He's a cranky old man who thinks kids "these days" don't have any respect for their elders. (Oh, what would he think of today's youth!)

You never learn the names of the men until the very end when Juror 9 and Juror 8 have a small dialogue and tell each other their names. (Which I've already forgotten - ha!)

I've heard the movie is in real-time, but it seemed like they were deliberating for several hours instead of the hour and a half movie runtime, though I guess an hour and a half can seem like a long time when you're in a hot, cramped room.

Very good film and now I want to check out the made-for-TV movie they did in 1997 with Jack Lemmon, Tony Danza, and James Gandolfini among others.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Ranking the Potter films

Now that all the Harry Potter films have been made and I've seen them all, I've decided to rank them from my favorite to not so favorite. I've seen the last three in the last month and the rest I've seen in the last year, so they're all fairly fresh in my mind. I've decided to mesh Deathly Hallows Part 1 and Part 2 as one movie since they both are adapted from the same book. My ranking may surprise you - or not!

1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, 7th movie (Part 1 - 2010, Part 2 - 2011)
Since the last book got the advantage of getting two movies out of it, it's probably the most faithful to the book. Sure, they did leave out the Dumbledore backstory, but for the most part, I believe every scene in the book is in the film. I ranked this as my favorite because by now you've really gotten to know the characters and have become quite attached to them. It also helps immensely that Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint have grown immensely as actors since the first film. There's something extremely satisfying seeing all these character arcs come to a conclusion, Snape's being a good example of this. I'll admit I like Part 2 a little more than Part 1 and if I were ranking them individually, I'd place Part 2 as #1 and Part 1 as #4. I do think of them as one big film (obviously) because if somebody started watched Part 2 without ever seeing Part 1, they'd probably be confused. Come to think of it, if they started watching Deathly Hallows without even watching the previous six movies, they'd probably be confused too! I really love the ending, which at first I was ambivalent to, but now that I've had to think about it, I really love how the camera closes in on Harry, Hermione, and Ron on the train station watching their kids (the next generation!) head to Hogwarts on the Hogwarts Express. They could have skipped the epilogue and just ended with 17-year-old Harry, Hermione, and Ron outside the torn-down castle. You would've known that Voldemort was defeated, but with the added epilogue you know that Hogwarts is still up and running. (Of course it is - they're wizards! All they have to do is point their wands at the rubble and say "Reparo!") And the scenes that made me cry both in the book and film is when we find out that Harry named his son Albus Severus (unfortunate name, but it's sweet they named him after Dumbledore and Snape) and how his son was worried about being sorted into Slytherin and Harry tells him he was named after a Slytherin who was one of the bravest men he knew, and oh my goodness, that gets me every time!

2. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, 4th movie (2005)

I realize this is a hugely unpopular opinion placing this movie so high when it seems like so many people don't like it, although of the eight movies it's the third highest ranked at Rotten Tomatoes. I really enjoy this movie, though. Of all the films, I think it's the most cinematically-friendly (thought Part 2 is probably tied with it in that aspect). This was the first movie where I liked the ending and I've had problems with Ron and Hermione's characters in the previous three films, but they feel more faithful to the book in this one. It's true that Robert "Sparkling Vampire" Pattinson as Cedric has tainted the film a little for me, but hey, now we can watch Voldermort kill Edward Cullen! Kidding aside, it was a sad scene when Harry brings him back and his dad breaks down. This movie certainly has its dark moments as we get to see Voldemort for the first time, but there's also some nice light scenes and comedic moments such as McGonagall teaching the students how to dance for the upcoming Yule Ball and asking Ron to be her partner, Snape slamming Harry and Ron's face into their desks, and I love the way Fred asks Angelina to the dance. And even though I don't think it's in the book and it's a little out of character for him, I always laugh when Harry is being cocky after he's mastered the First Task and is egging (PUN!!!!) the Gryffindor students on whether he should open the egg or not. Hell, I'll even admit that the long hair is kinda cute on him, though I don't know why Ron, Fred, and George have the same hair cut as well - must have been all the rage back then! (It worked better on Harry than on Ron, though). Also liked all the tasks, the Yule Ball, Mad-Eye Moody, Harry and Ron trying (unsuccessfully) to find dates to the Yule Ball, and probably the most unintentionally hilarious conversation in all the Potter films when Harry tells Ron, "Look, I don't know what happened last night and I don't know why, it just did." I had the most fun watching this one when I saw it in the theaters.

3. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, 6th movie (2009)
I probably like this movie a little more than others because I am a H/G and R/Hr shipper, so of course I would like this one! I thought the Harry and Ginny moments were really cute even though none of them were from the book and I did enjoy Ron being jealous of Cormac and Hermione being jealous of Lavender, though I felt bad for Hermione when she saw Ron and Lavender snogging, as they say in Britain. Of course, Hermione ended up with Ron and Lavender ended up....dead. Poor Lavender :-( I really enjoyed Jim Broadbent as Slughorn - he 
was just so gosh darn cute! I believe this was the first movie since GoF where we didn't see Voldemort, we just learned about Tom Riddle's backstory and his quest to learn about Horcruxes which I found very interesting.

Bit of a gap here...

4. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, 2nd movie (2002)
I wasn't sure which one to rank next, but I decided to go with this one, because even though it doesn't hold up as well as other Potter films after the first (or second, or third) viewing, I gotta give the casting people props for casting Jason Isaacs as Lucius Malfoy. I only knew him as Colonel Tavington from The Patriot and I knew he would make a great Mr. Malfoy because, damn, he is EVIL in The Patriot. I mean, anybody who locks a bunch of people in a church and sets it on fire is one big bastard. I admit that I silently cheered whenever he hit Dobby with his cane because Dobby was so annoying in this! (I liked him much better in the 7th movie - too bad they killed him when I was just starting to warm up to him!) The movie is pretty dark with the whole Tom Riddle's diary trying to possess Ginny and I thought it was cute that Harry saved her from the chamber when we all know she's become his girlfriend a few years down the road. Also thought it was cute when Hermione hugged Harry after she was released from the hospital from being petrified, but she and Ron just shook hands. However, this movie probably has the worst ending of all the Potter films. It's so stupid - why is everyone gathered around Hagrid and cheering for him?

5. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, 5th movie (2007)
The main reason I have this so low down on my ranking is because I can barely remember anything about the movie even though I've seen it about three times. I remember certain things like Umbridge (portrayed grandly by Imelda Staunton) and Harry giving encouraging words to his peers in Dumbledore's Army and Fred and George's final goodbye as well as thinking how it was weird that Cho was kissing Harry in front of a photo of her dead boyfriend.  Who died just last year. Who was murdered by Voldemort. Nice, Cho. I guess I remember more than I thought, but the rest I barely remember. I hardly remember seeing it in the theater, though I looked back at my LiveJoural and wrote that I wasn't very fond of it. I didn't like that Cho was the snitch and that the whole class received the same punishment that only Harry got in the book. I don't even remember how this one ends. (I know Sirius died, but that's only because I remember it from the book!)

6. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, 3rd movie (2004)
I know this is a very unpopular opinion because it seems this is the most loved of all the Potter films. I know most film geeks rank this as their number Potter movie because it was directed by Alfonso Cuaron. Now I love Y Tu Mama Tambien and Children of Men, but I can't say that I love this movie. There are certain things I like about it such as the time turner storyline and the subtle touches of magic in the background. However, I hated the characterizations of Ron and especially Hermione. I thought they were both out of character. Go back and read my review of this movie and you'll see why it drives me crazy. Sorry, Cuaron fanboys, but just because he directed this does not make it the Best! Potter! Film! Ever! (Though I blame Steve Kloves for all the things I really hate about this one). But I really hated that shrunken head on the bus which I assume was Cauron's idea.

7. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, 1st movie (2001)
Being this is the first movie, it doesn't hold up as well as the later ones and everytime I watch it, it seems to lose its magic just a little. As cute and adorable Daniel, Emma, and Rupert are as Harry, Hermione, and Ron (I just want to scoop them up and put them in my pocket!), my God, they are just awful in this! Now I understand they were quite young and this was their first really big acting gig for all of them, so I can forgive them, but yeah, I think even they knew they were bad in this. I will give Chris Columbus credit for the casting and setting up the world for Harry Potter. I may rank this as my least favorite Potter film, but I certainly don't hate it - I don't hate any of them; I just like some more than others!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Should've called Triple A!

Director: Jonathan Mostow
Cast: Kurt Russell, J.T. Walsh, Kathleen Quinlan
Released: May 2, 1997

This is one of those films that keeps getting more ridiculous with each passing scene. Jeff and Amy Taylor (Russell and Quinlan) are a married couple who are moving from Massachusetts to California. (The moving van is either already there or is going to meet them later). They're somewhere in the Southwest when their car breaks down after just coming from a gas station. Jeff tried to use his (hilariously outdated) cell phone, but he gets no service. They wave down a semi truck and the driver (Walsh) offers to give them a ride into town, but Jeff doesn't want to leave the car alone and thinks they just need to let if cool down. Amy thinks they should go into town since they're given the opportunity and they agree that she'll ride with the trucker, find somebody to come out and fix the car, and they'll meet later at a diner in the next town. I don't know why they didn't have Amy ride back with the service guy, but it's a moot point anyway.

Time elapses and nobody shows up to the car, so Jeff decides to see if it will start and when it does he drives to the diner where he's supposed to meet his wife. She's not there and the cook tells him he hasn't seen her. He decides there's been a mix up in communication and drives to the next town. As he's driving there, he sees the semi that his wife rode in. (Now if that were me, I wouldn't have even noticed because all semis look the same to me). He stops the trucker who plays dumb and tells him he's never seen him before in his life and has no idea what he's talking about when Jeff demands where his wife is. He stops a police officer who looks like Dr. Phil, but when he inspects the truck, he doesn't find any evidence that his wife was ever there.

So we find out that his wife has been kidnapped and the trucker is working with these other guys who tell Jeff to take $90,000 out of his bank account, but of course he doesn't have that much money. He kills the guy who is supposed to bring him back to the trucker, who is in charge of this whole operation and sneaks onto the trucker's semi while running after it while it's driving away, and hanging onto the bottom of it while it's driving down a highway probably at 75 mph and climbing up into the truck.

The trucker takes him to his home and it turns out he's been hiding Amy in the storage area of the truck and she's wrapped in a white sheet. Now, it's been several hours since she's been missing, so it's a miracle that she's still alive and hasn't been suffocated to death. He watches the bad guys place her in a locked cellar then they disappear back to the house. Jeff grabs a gun from the truck and I'm thinking, Oh, he's going to shoot the lock off the - oh, wait, why is he going into the house? He holds the bad guys up and tells them to open the cellar. Now why didn't he just shoot the lock off the cellar? Now I've only shot a gun once (good ol' Girlscout camp) so I don't know if that would work, but it would be better than having all these bad guys chasing you and your wife and trying to kill you which is exactly what happens when he and Amy manage to escape.

The ending is extremely over the top and ridiculous. Jeff and Amy have been rammed off this really high bridge by the trucker and are pretty much dangling by a thread. Amy is stuck, but Jeff climbs out of his car and into the semi and he and the trucker have a brawl right then and there outside on the semi, which is also dangling over the bridge. The trucker falls splat onto the rocks below him and Jeff climbs back to safety and gets his wife out of the car. They look down and lo and behold the guy freaking moves! That huge fall down to the rocks didn't even kill him! Yeah, okay. So they somehow release the truck and it falls on him. Now I know that guy tried to kill them and all, but that just seems a little cruel. It's not like he was going to get up and start chasing them again.

Entertaining movie, but so ridiculous and over the top. I admitted I laughed several times at scenes that weren't ever supposed to be funny. (That last one is a good example).

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

"I have a wife! And a cat!"

Horrible Bosses
Director: Seth Gordon
Cast: Jason Bateman, Charlie Day, Jason Sudeikis, Kevin Spacey, Jennifer Aniston, Colin Farrell, Jamie Foxx
Released: July 8, 2011
Viewed in theaters: July 14, 2011

If you have not seen Horrible Bosses and plan to, do not, under any circumstance, let anybody spoil it for you. The movie will be all the sweeter if you go in without knowing the outcome. I made a prediction about what I thought would happen and let's just say I was both right and wrong. If you have no interest in seeing this movie, let me just say I highly recommend it and would dare say it's the best comedy of the summer. In fact, it's probably the funniest movie I've seen this year. I swear, I was laughing during every scene.

It seems inconceivable that a movie with such a dark and twisted plot can be hilarious, but that's exactly what it is. Three hapless guys bitch about their bosses one night while out drinking and one of them hypothesize what their jobs, and more importantly, their lives would be without them. Much better, they all agree.

Nick (Jason Bateman) works in an office where his philosophy is if he takes s**t from those higher up, he'll eventually get a promotion. This doesn't happen as his boss (Kevin Spacey) is definitely the boss from Hell. He's not just a jerk at work, but he's a jerk to everyone outside of work, including his wife, who he accuses of cheating on him. (Which he's right about). He offers Nick a drink of whiskey at eight in the morning and Nick only accepts to be polite, but then his boss chastises him for drinking at such an early time and makes Nick drink this full shot glass of whiskey because he doesn't want to pour it back in the bottle. Of the three bosses, I would say he was the worst in terms of nastiness.

Dale (Charlie Day) works as a dental assistant for his boss (Jennifer Aniston) who sexually harasses him to no end. He's engaged to be married and his boss threatens him that if he doesn't sleep with her, then she'll tell his fiance that he did sleep with her. If the gender roles had been reversed and it was a male dentist harassing his female assistant, I doubt they could have gotten away without making it really uncomfortable and funny. This is still uncomfortable, but there are funny moments. Of the three bosses, I found her to be the most unbelievable. There's no way she could do the things she does in this and still have a job. This is a very un-Rachel Green role for Aniston - you should hear the things she says!

Kurt (Jason Sudeikis) works at a chemical plant and he loves his father figure of a boss played by Donald Sutherland. That is until he suffers a fatal heart attack and his son (Colin Farrell) becomes his new boss. While the old boss took care in how and where they dumped their chemicals, his son doesn't and only wants to make lots of money. He gives Kurt an ultimatum: fire the fat woman and "Professor Xavier" (the guy in the wheelchair) because he's discriminate to fat people and disabled people or he fires all three of them.

When the guys are discussing their bosses that night, they're only half-serious when they say they want to kill them, but then something snaps and they decide to do it. The only one who still has reservations about it is Nick. They decide to hire a hitman so a professional can do it. This is when Jamie Foxx comes in and he has some of the funniest moments in the film. First of all, his name is Mother_____ Jones (I'll let you fill in the blank) and when they sit down to discuss the process with him, Nick calls him by his name as if he were calling him "Bob" or "Steve". Funny stuff. There's a great reveal about Foxx's character towards the end. However, he tells them he's not actually going to do the hit, the five grand they paid him is for him to give them advice on how to do it. This leads the three guys sneaking into their bosses homes, spying on them, and learning anything that will be helpful to killing them (such as Kurt's boss being a cokehead and Nick's boss being allergic to peanuts).

Two of the bosses cross paths and it makes me wish that they could have somehow gotten the third one involved as well to tie the story together, but it never happened.

Yes, a sadistic plot, but hilarious, nonetheless. Highly recommended.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Epic Conclusion

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2
Director: David Yates
Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Alan Rickman, Michael Gambon, Ralph Fiennes, Maggie Smith
Released: July 15, 2011
Viewed in theaters: Opening day, of course!

I thought about waiting to see this when the crowds died down a little...yeah, that didn't happen. How could I wait any longer to watch the final movie in the Harry Potter series? I just possibly couldn't! I was SO, SO, SO, excited! This review is going to be filled with exclamation marks!

Right when I walk into the theater I see people wearing their Harry Potter t-shirts. (Nobody dressed as HP characters, though, I guess that only happens at the midnight showings).  Moaning Myrtle is in the bathroom hanging from the ceiling with a black floaty dress and, well, moaning (with the help of a recording). The Hogwarts school song is written on the wall as well as a list of the members of Dumbledore's Army and quotes from the film. There are posters of the characters with a quote from each one from previous films written next to them. Dobby's is "Dobby did not mean to main or kill! Dobby only meant to injure!" Snape's is (rightfully) "Ten points from Gryffindor!" Ron's is "Why is it always 'Follow the spiders?' Why can't it be 'Follow the butterflies'?" Harry's is something about trouble always finding him, but I don't remember which movie that's from or him ever saying it, and Hermione's is my least favorite Hermione line ever uttered by her because it's so un-Hermione: "Is that what my hair looks like from the back?" UGH! Go back and read my Prisoner of Azkaban review and you'll know why I hate that line so much. Any other line they would have chosen would have been so much better! I personally would have gone with "I'm going to bed before either one of you gets us killed. Or worse, expelled!" Alright, I know I sound like a complete nerd. I have to laugh when I imagine anyone who has never read/doesn't care about Harry Potter coming into the theater and seeing all this.

Luckily my audience behaved and
Voldemort didn't have to AK them.
The film picks up right where we left during Part 1. The scenes leading up to when we're back at Hogwarts do seem a litttle rushed, at least compared to the book. We see Hermione becoming Bellatrix to enter her vault at Gringotts to get another Horcrux, we see the Trio escaping from Gringotts on the dragon (hmm...I don't they they ever taught a class training dragons at Hogwarts!), and we see them meeting and talking to Dumbledore's brother. A lot of backstory is cut out of that scene, but I didn't think it was pivotal to the movie, so I was fine with that.

This movie is pretty dark, both tonally and lighting-wise. During the scene with Harry and Dumbledore when the screen became totally white, I had to shield my eyes because it was like walking out into the sunlight. Perhaps it's unfair because he was in more of the films than Richard Harris, but I definitely prefer Michael Gambon as Dumbledore than Harris.

One of my favorite scenes - and a scene I've been waiting for since 2007 when I read it in the book -
the kiss between Ron and Hermione. I read someone point out that the reaction after the kiss where they awkwardly giggle seemed more like Emma and Rupert's than Ron and Hermione's, and yeah, that is a good point and probably true, but it was very cute, nonetheless. Everyone laughed when they were in the Room of Requirements and one of Draco's friends tried to kill Hermione (er, they didn't laugh at that part) and Ron starts to charge at them and says, "That's my girlfriend, you (inaudible here)". That's when they laughed.

When McGonagall steps in front of Harry to protect him from a spell thrown by Snape and starts dueling with him, this young boy in my row whispered really loudly, "McGonagall!" The way he said it was really funny too. His mother told him to "Shhhhh!" 

While I overall really enjoyed the movie, there were a few things that I didn't like/care for. Fred's death didn't have the emotional weight it had in the book. They show a quick scene of him and George talking, then later in the movie Harry walks into the Great Hall and the Weasleys are surrounding his body and crying. If you hadn't even read the book, you wouldn't know which twin had died! And he was killed off screen too! The scene between Molly and Bellatrix was sadly anticlimactic and didn't even get a reaction out of my audience. Lame. I was worried for a moment that Neville wasn't going to kill the snake after Harry attempted to kill it, but failed. But once they showed Ron and Hermione trying to kill it and failing each time, I knew it was going to be Neville, as it should be. I liked that he saved Ron and Hermione's lives at the same time, too. 

The battle was quite epic and they didn't shy away from showing how brutal it was with all the dead bodies lying around the castle and when Harry, Ron, and Hermione were running right through the middle of it, I was sure one of them was going to get killed. (Well, not really since I've read the book and knows who it ends). 

The epilogue was a little cheesy, but sweet. I'm glad they cut out all that unnecessary dialogue that's in the book. Was it me or did it look like Hermione hadn't even aged?  I did like that the last shot was of Harry, Ron, and Hermione and not of their kids on the train because that would have been SO LAME! 

Overall, a very satisfying conclusion to the series. I can't wait till they re-make the whole series in 50 years! (Hey, maybe Daniel Radcliffe can play Dumbledore then!) 

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Hogwarts, Class of '98

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1
Director: David Yates
Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Ralph Fiennes, Helena Bonham Carter, Rhys Ifans, Bill Nighy
Released: November 19, 2010
Viewed in theaters: November 19, 2010

Oscar nominations:
Best Art Direction (lost to Alice in Wonderland)
Best Visual Effects (lost to Inception)
(This movie is waaaay better than both of those!)

The final installment of the Harry Potter films, as everyone knows, was divided into two films. This was probably a smart idea because I don't think they could have crammed all the events that happen in the novel into a nearly three hour movie. They would have had to cut a lot of things. I remember there being talk of splitting Goblet of Fire into two movies as it was the first film where the book was considerably longer than the previous three. Of course, in the end, it was only one film, but a few storylines (like SPEW) were cut.  They had the luxury to cut the subplots from GoF as they weren't that important in the grand scheme of themes, but to cut anything from Deathly Hallows would be doing it a major disservice.

Before I get into the review of the movie, I had to share this with you. Check this out: the Alamo Drafthouse Theater in Austin is having a Harry Potter-a-thon this Thursday. Notice the running time of 680 minutes. That's 14.3 hours. I know because I converted the minutes. FOURTEEN HOURS SITTING IN A THEATER, PEOPLE! I may love Harry Potter, but that just sounds absolutely atrocious to me. They're even starting at 4:30 in the morning. It looks like when you've seen the first seven movies, then it will be midnight and time to see Deathly Hallows Part 2. Personally, I'd be so sick of watching Harry Potter and so sore from sitting for so long, that I wouldn't want to stay for that one! I imagine there's an intermission between each film, but still! No, thank you! However, if a film a day was offered at a theater for a week, then I would consider that.

This is the first time where Harry and his trusty sidekicks and most loyal friends, Ron and Hermione, don't attend Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry for what would be their seventh and final year. Instead the film turns into a bit of a road movie as they search for the Horcruxes that were explained to us in the previous film. (Of course they're explained in much more detail in the books!)
Basically a Horcrux is bad and they gotta destroy them! They're the only way to defeat Voldemort, pretty much.

Ministry Mayhem
Things aren't looking too good in the wizarding world. (Hmm, should that be capitalized?) To make a simple analogy, Voldemort = Hitler, Death Eaters = Nazis, and Muggles and Muggle-born wizards and witches = Jews. As you may have guessed, Voldemort's goal is to extinguish all Muggles. Only Harry and his friends can stop him (well, really only Harry, but Ron and Hermione do help along the way).

There is much tension on their journey due to it being tedious finding the Horcruxes and due to Ron being worried about his family. (Hermione cast a spell on her parents so that they would forget about her - in the novel she sends them to Australia where they'll be safe, but they don't mention if they go there in the film and Harry, as Ron so nicely pointed out, doesn't have any parents because they're dead). But don't be too hard on Ron for saying such a sh***y thing. He was wearing a locket, one of the Horcruxes, when he said this, and the Horcruxes make anyone who is in possession of them become filled with hate and rage. Nevertheless, he decides to leave, feeling that their mission is a lost cause and having become quite jealous of Harry and Hermione's relationship. But we all know who Hermione will end up with.

Awwww. (They're sad because Dobby just died).

One of my favorite scenes was when Hermione read the "Tale of the Three Brothers". I thought the animation was quite gorgeous. A scene that made me giggle when I saw it in the theater, but nobody else laughed at was when Harry was in Umbridge's office in the Ministry (disguised as an employee) and he opens a drawers and sees a book titled, "When Muggles Attack." I mean, c'mon, how can you not find that funny? It was a complete rip-off of those stupid FOX shows.

They learn from the story about the Deathly Hallows, which are the following three items: a wand that gives you all the power you need, an invisibility cloak, and a stone that brings back the dead. Harry already has the invisibility cloak and Voldemort is looking for the Elder Wand

E-e-vil woman!
The climatic scene has our heroes being captured and sent to Malfoy Manor where Hermione is tortured by Bellatrix and Harry and Ron are locked in the basement along with Luna, a wandmaker, and a goblin. They managed to escape safely with the help of Dobby, but unfortunately Dobby had to sacrifice his life to safe them. Well, on second thought, no he didn't. If he didn't talk so dang much and just, you know, got the Trio out of there, then Bellatrix probably wouldn't have had time to throw her dagger at him. But I digress.

The movie ends with Voldemort finding the Elder Wand. Uh-oh! What will happen? Guess you'll have to stay tuned for Part 2. Unless, of course, you've already read the book. Then you already know what happens!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Wily Wizards and Witches

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Director: David Yates
Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Michael Gambon, Jim Broadbent, Alan Rickman, Maggie Smith, Helena Bonham Carter
Released: July 15, 2009
Viewed in theaters: July 15, 2009

Oscar nominations:
Best Cinematography (lost to Avatar)

Since the last chapter in the Harry Potter film franchise will wrap up a week from Friday, I've decided to watch the last two movies so I'm caught up for the final one. First up is Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, the sixth installment in the franchise.

Harry and his friends are sixteen and their hormones have caught up with them. Harry has a crush on Ginny, Ron's younger sister, but she's dating Dean Thomas. Lavendar Brown starts dating Ron (or "Won-Won" as she calls him) and Hermione is jealous. Cormac McLaggen is interested in knowing Hermione on a "first-name basis" and Ron is jealous. Not to mention love potions play a very large part in this role. Unfortunately, for the people who only watch the films and don't read the books (those crazy people!), it doesn't make any sense to them why Harry is suddenly so hung up over Ron's sister because there has been absolutely no build up of a budding romance between the two in the movies. In fact, the only time they ever interacted was way back in movie 2 when Harry saves her from the Chamber of Secrets. While it's true that their relationship didn't start until the sixth book, there was an arc to their relationship in the previous books, so unless you were really blind, you could see it coming. It wasn't as obvious as Ron and Hermione (their imminent relationship was as obvious as an anvil!), but there were clues. But in the context of the movies, it seems to come out of nowhere. It doesn't help either that Bonnie Wright, who plays Ginny, is not a very good actress. Pretty girl, terrible actress. What I can't stand about her acting is that she says all her lines in the exact same tone. No matter if she's trying to convey happiness, fear, sadness, sarcasm, whatever it is, she says it in the same tone. Ugh! So frustrating!

But being this is a Harry Potter film, there is an element of darkness. We learn more about Voldemort's upbringing and when he was a student at Hogwarts, back when he was Tom Riddle. The kid was creepy as young Tom Riddle, but the teenaged Tom Riddle really sent chills down my spine. Am I the only one who finds Tom Riddle creepier than Voldemort? (Yes, I know they're the same person...) Yes, Voldemort is creepy-looking and evil, but there's just something creepier about him when he's still a human (a TEENAGER) and is plotting all this sinister stuff and planning to murder all these people. I find Tom Riddle more fascinating than when he becomes Voldie.

Jim Broadbent plays Professor Slughorn, the newest Professor to teach at Hogwarts (and possible one of my favorites). Dumbledore recruits him because he know he has information that will help Harry hunt down Voldemort. We find that Slughorn, who was one of Tom's professors, told him about how Horcruxes work. Big no-no!

Harry takes Slughorn's Potion class and comes across an old Potions book where the previous owner had written down helpful hints on brewing potions. The back of the books says "Property of the Half-Blood Prince" and it isn't until the end of the film when we learn the true identity of the Half-Blood Prince. (Hint: it's not Tom Riddle).

Gee, do you think they could have given Ron a couple of lines at the end? I understand why he's not standing next to Harry and Hermione on the balcony so he can't hear what Hermione says to Harry about Ron being fine with Harry dating Ginny, but they (the writers) could have given him some dialogue! When I saw the movie in the theater, this young guy in front of me said really loudly, something to the effect of "God-awful ending!" I was snickering as I walked out of the theater and all the way to my car. I don't know if he was a Ron fan and was mad he didn't get any lines or just thought the ending was lame in general, but it certainly made me laugh!

One really trivial thing that always bugs me about the movies is how the bathrooms at Hogwarts look like any bathroom you'd find at a regular school. I will say the bathroom since the first movie has certainly become larger, but they still have the white porcelain sinks attached to the wall. Shouldn't they be floating or something? (If the library has floating books, the bathroom should have floating sinks!) Shouldn't there be House Elves with towels over their arms, ready to dry hands? Maybe they only give all that fancy stuff to the Prefects' bathrooms.

The movie ends with the death of a major character and I teared up at his funeral even though said character was 150 years old.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

9021-OMG it's 1990!

I have watched the first two seasons of Beverly Hills, 90210 and have decided to share my viewing experience with you. (Aren't you lucky?)  

When this showed first aired, I was still in elementary school, so I never watched it as I was obviously too young and also I wasn't aware of it. Of course as I got older, I was aware of the show, but didn't watch it because I had no interest in it. And now that the new version is out, I'm too old to watch it (though I still do, haha). Even though the old one was still on when I was in high school, all the characters had moved on to college...or wherever. Basically I've never been the same as as a West Beverly Hills High alum.

It took me a few episodes to really get into the show, and I'll admit it: at first I thought the new version was better (after all, the clothes and electronics and themes were more updated), but I like the original show much more. The problem with the new version is that the characters aren't very likable and have too much freedom (like Naomi, the seventeen year old who lives alone in this huge mansion - what the hell?) The original was a lot more realistic. Sure, these kids were rich too, but they acted like normal kids for the most part and seemed to be a lot more grounded. They also seem more likable - at least for now. The problems and issues in the first season seem pretty lame compared to those that were in the first season of the new show, but I'm sure the series will get more dramatic as it continues on.

The show is mostly centered around twins Brandon and Brenda Walsh who move to Beverly Hills from Minneapolis with their parents. (Their friends call them the Minnesota Twins - get it?) I joke about it with my brother and his wife because they live in Minneapolis and told them how Brenda proclaimed, "Ever since we moved to Beverly Hills, our life has been so much more complicated than it ever was in Minnesota!" They got a kick out of that. 

I'll give a little synopsis of all the main characters. I should mention they're all sophomores except for David Silver who's a freshman. 
Brandon's storylines mostly centered around his crush of the week including one of the most popular girls at school (who we never saw again after the first episode), the niece of his housekeeper (well it wasn't really her niece, but it's a long story), this senior who has a -GASP- baby, and a bitchy actress from Brenda's favorite TV show who was only trying to make her ex jealous. His other storylines deal with him getting a job at the Peach Pit, throwing a party with his sister when their parents go out of town and getting pissed drunk and thrown into jail when he's driving and hits another car. 

Brenda is your typical teenage girl. She whines about everything and is dramatic over everything, but for the most part she's pretty likeable. (In fact, shockingly, there weren't any characters that I flat out hated). She begins to date Dylan McKay who's the bad boy of the school and also one of Brandon's close friends. They do it on prom night and she tells him that she's "late".  To be continued...

Like I mentioned, Dylan is the bad boy and he's "bad news". But it's okay because he's super cool and sooo dreamy! He lives in a hotel that his parents own, but he never sees them because they're always out of the country. His dad is a drunk and he's had his own problems with alcohol in the past. The best Dylan moment of the first season was when he smashed a flower pot on the ground. My brother and sister-in-law were watching that episode with me and we all just started cracking up. Now if I ever see someone smashing a flower pot, I'll call it "pulling a Dylan McKay". Luke Perry was 25 when the show first started, but he wasn't the oldest of the group! 

Kelly Taylor is the most popular girl in school. She's not quite there yet, but she's almost bordering on bitch territory. There was still a sweetness to her (for the most part) in the first season. Her mom is a CRAZY alcoholic. We're talking crazy.  She used to date Steve Sanders, but now she's single. David Silver is in love with her, but she has a small crush on Brandon. They went to the prom together, but he told her her wasn't interested in her that way. 

Steve is the cool guy, who acts like a fool most of the time. Ian Ziering was 26 during the first season. My brother joked about it and there was this episode where he tries to pick up a guest speaker and pretends to be a teacher, she says, "I can't believe you've been teaching for five years!", my brother says, "I can!" Yeah...he really doesn't look like a 17/18 year old. At the end of the season he finds out he's adopted. 

I thought I would hate Donna, who's played by Tori Spelling, who's only on the show because of nepotism, but surprisingly I found Donna, albeit a little dumb, very likable and felt sorry for her sometimes because we find out she has a "learning disability". She's a very minor character and hardly got her own storyline if ever.

The actress who played Andrea, the smart and nerdy girl who's the editor-in-chief of the school paper was 29 years old when she first started! A 29 playing a 17 year old! I mean, sure, she looks young...but not that young.  Andrea is mostly friends with Brandon because they work on the Blaze together, but does hang out with Brenda and Kelly sometimes, but she's not that close with them. She has a crush on Brandon and when she found out that his family was moving back to Minnesota, proposed that he sleep with her. AWKWARD. They didn't go through with it though, because the Walsh family stayed in BH. (Duh).

And then we have David Silver who's played by Brian Austin Green aka Mr. Megan Fox. His wife was only four years old when the show started! David has a nerdy sidekick, but we don't see much of him (more about him later!) At 17, he was the youngest when he started the show, so he's the closest to his character's age. David has a huge crush on Kelly and wants to hang out with the cool guys like Steve.  He didn't really have any major storylines this season besides getting to be the school DJ and trying to call MC Hammer to see if he could sing at their prom. Oh, the '90s!

The first season dealt with such issues as rape, teen moms, alcoholism, AIDS, sex, gun control (an episode Matthew Perry guest starred!), fitting in, cheating on tests, and shoplifting.

The fashion was hilariously bad, especially the prom dresses. Andrea wore this awful white dress with puffy sleeves. It seemed like all the jeans the females wore made them look fat even though they weren't. There were a lot of teased bangs and Luke Perry had a pompadour. The technology is hilariously out-dated. Nobody carries around a cell phone - it's all pay phones for these rich kids! Though when we do see a cell phone, it's one of those huge ones. The PCs are a thing of the past. Oh, and Pretty Woman was the big movie of that year because there were tons of references to it. Donna tells Brenda and Kelly, "Sometimes I wish I could be a hooker on Hollywood Boulevard just so I can meet Richard Gere!" Oh, Donna. 

Now here's what happened to the characters during their sophomore season when they became juniors:

Brenda: When we last left off, Brenda thought she was pregnant because she was "late". The premier episode has her buying a home pregnancy test. I guess it must have been only a scare because they never bring it up again. She and Dylan decide they're gong too fast and break up, but they get back together in the middle of the season, but then her dad forbids her to see him anymore after she goes to Mexico with Dylan for a day and a half after she's been told she can't go. She gets caught when they're crossing the border and are one of the cars who are pulled over. Brenda doesn't have any form if ID (even though she is clearly an American citizen) and they have to call one of her parents to come vouch for her.

One night while she's at the Peach Pitt after it's closed and waiting for Dylan and Brandon to take out the trash, some guy comes in with a gun and robs the place and she keeps having nightmares about it and has to confront her fears and identify him in a police lineup.
Brandon: - This season ran a little long because they had a special summer series of episode. During this time, Brandon quits his job at the Peach Pit and gets a job as a cabana boy at the Beverly Hills Beach Club because it pays more and he needs the money to buy a car. His boss is Chief Weber from Grey's Anatomy. During the summer he becomes a Big Brother for a young boy who's getting beaten by his mother. His mother gets help and we never hear from either of them again. Brandon also makes friends with a new boy who's hired to take photographs for their paper and his sister who goes to school in her old neighborhood. When one of their other neighbors was telling Mrs. Walsh about these new neighbors with a snooty look on her face I knew they were black, and sure enough they were. The girl's boyfriend is assaulted by the police when he comes by to talk her and this inspires Brandon to write a piece about racial issues in The Blaze. We never see this family again even though the son is the school's photographer and the school goes back to being lilly white. Fun fact: Vivica A. Fox played the daughter.

The biggest storyline for Brandon was his relationship with Emily Valentine.
 She is one psycho bitch and one bad actress. When she first arrives, the girls label her a slut because she goes on a date with Dylan and Brandon. (Separately, of course). Even though this is during their time off period, Brenda is very jealous. Emily ends up dating Brandon and at first everything is all good, but then she slips E4EA (that's euphoria in case you were wondering) into Brandon's drink at an underground party they all attend and they get a ride from one of their friends leaving Brandon's new car which gets stripped of all its parts. This righty infuriates Brandon that Emily slipped him drugs when he specifically told her he didn't want them and tells her he's breaking up with her, but Emily begins to stalk him by calling his home numerous times and hanging up and leaving a cake on his front step and stealing his clothes and sneaking into his room. She even almost burns down a float the gang is building but is stopped by Brenda just after she's poured the gasoline all over it. Finally, she knows she needs help and goes to a mental hospital. Except for a time when Brandon visits her during Christmas, we never see her again.

Brandon has a near-death experience when he and the gang go camping to Yosemite and after spending a miserable rainy night in their cabin, the next morning he and Dylan go hiking and because Brenda forgot to pack his hiking boots (I forget why it was her responsibility), Brandon's not wearing the best shoes for hiking and because it had rained the night before, the trails are a little slick, and because he's an idiot, Brandon is walking on the edge of a cliff and slips off and is hanging onto a rock with one arm until Dylan comes and saves him from falling thousands of feet. Now I've never been to Yosemite, but I would image they would have signs warning people not to go near the edges of cliffs or be careful if the trail is slippery...just a thought.

Brandon does return working at the Peach Pit once summer is over and he finds out that the company his dad is working for wants to tear the Pit down so they can build a mall and he gets mad at his dad for ruining Nat's life. But the deal falls through and the Pit is saved. It's a good thing too because it's a historical landmark! Did you know that Steve McQueen and Marilyn Monroe used to eat there? It's true!

Kelly: Kelly's mother, who was a drunk floozy in the last season has gotten her shit together and is now dating, to Kelly's dismay, David Silver's father. She ends up pregnant (which will end up being Erin Silver who's now in 90210: The New Class) and marries Mr. Silver in the season finale. (Kelly likes him by then).

Kelly wears a revealing witch dress at the Halloween party and nearly gets raped by some perv but is rescued when Donna and Brenda walk in on them and Brenda tells her, "Kelly, I told you something like this would happen." Geeze, Brenda, you don't have to be such a bitch about it. 

Kelly goes out with a guy named Kyle and when the date is a disater he confesses to her that he's gay. She keeps his secret, but I imagine it will come out next season...
Dylan: I already mentioned Dylan's and Brenda's nauseating on again/off again relationship, but I haven't mentioned where Dylan took Brenda for their Valentine's date: to the hospital to donate blood. Really, McKay, really? Like, that's not totally creepy at all and sooo romantic.

We meet Dylan's mom and she is a flaky new-agey type who Dylan can't stand. After that one appearance, we never see her again for the rest of the season.

Even though he had a few bouts with alcoholism, he has managed to stay sober for the rest of the season, but after getting an argument with Brenda's dad about not being able to see Brenda anymore, I fear that he is going to turn for the worst. He's been going to AA meetings and he meets a girl named Sarah that he saved from nearly drowning in the ocean from the first season. Like Emily Valentine, Sarah is also an awful actress and gets mad at him when he turns down her advances.

Last season Dylan threw a flower pot in a fit of angry rage. This season he smashed a bottle of wine in a fit of angry rage. I laughed both times.
Andrea: Technically Andrea shouldn't go to West Beverly Hills High School because she doesn't live in the school district, so she has to use her grandma's address and pretend she lives there. Something happens where she gets an award for the paper and the press is going to come by her house to interview her, but of course they think she lives with her grandma and so she has to pretend she does, but her grandma doesn't want to lie, but in the end, she does lie so Andrea won't get kicked out of the school.

During the summer Andrea takes a drama class with Brenda, Donna, and David and she and Brenda have a crush on their teacher, 24-year-old Mr. Suitor (This was during the time Brenda and Dylan weren't together) and Brenda gets jealous when Mr. Suitor "chooses" Andrea, but when Andrea learns that he's moving to L.A. from Chicago and bringing his girlfriend with him, she kicks him out of her house.

David: David starts dating Donna even though he's a sophomore and the rest of the gang are juniors. What a huge age difference! His big thing is that he's slowly starting to go down the path of being a full-fledged alcoholic.

Now that he's dating Donna and he and Kelly are stepsiblings, David became a part of the gang. He realizes he has nothing in common anymore with his friend, Scott, who spent the summer in Oklahoma. The show must have realized that Scott wasn't an integral part of the show anymore so they killed him off when he's twirling his dad's gun around his finger and tells David to "watch this" and accidently shoots himself in the stomach. Did I mention this happened on his 16th birthday? Ouch. They could have at least given his death a little more weight by making it a suicide instead of having him die in such a stupid and pathetic manner. Scott didn't have many friends, was considered a "loser", and was even having arguments with David in the last days of his life, so the potential for a suicide for this character was definitely there. My favorite part of the episode was after Scott had died and everyone kept coming up to David and asking how he was. When he and Brandon are talking in the room where he does the morning announcements, the mike was on so everyone heard what he said. He said he was sick of people asking him how he was doing and how they felt bad that that they had ignored Scott or how they should've been nicer to him, etc. David says something to the effect of, "It's not how you treat someone after they die; it's how you should treat them when they're alive." Now the writing on this show may not be the strongest, but I will admit, that kind of got to me. Scott is never mentioned again after the episode.
Donna: Like I mentioned, Donna is now dating David and her friends give her grief because she's dating a "younger man". :::rolls eyes:::

Donna's big story doesn't come up until the near the end of the season. When she, David, Kelly, and Brenda sneak into a hotel, she sees her mom there kissing another man who clearly isn't her dad when her mom had told her she would be at a conference. They get into a huge fight, but make up by the end of the show and now Donna's parents are getting a divorce.

Now you may be asking yourself, why were Donna, David, Kelly, and Brenda sneaking into a hotel? Even if you don't care, I'm going to tell you because it's too good not to. They find out that Color Me Badd - yes, you heard me right - Color Me Badd is staying there while on tour. Now you young'uns might be asking, "Who or what is Color Me Badd?" Well, I will answer that to the best of my knowledge. Color Me Badd was a popular group (circa 1991-92) consisting of four really fugly dudes in their early twenties (even though they looked older). There was a white guy, a black guy, a Hispanic guy, and I'm guessing the fourth one was a Jewish guy cuz he had a Jew-fro going on. None of them were even the slightest big attractive. They were skeevy-looking guys who sang skeevy songs like 
I Wanna Sex You Up, their only song I know.

Fun fact: Donna's birthday is on Christmas.
Steve: I found it absolutely hilarious that Steve had these storylines where he was "too young" to acquire something he wanted/needed when Ian Ziering looked more the 27 years he was (if not older) than the 17 year old character he was supposed to be playing. There were a couple episodes where he tried to buy beer, but was refused because he looked "too young". (Yeah, right).

Last season Steve discovered he was adopted. (That seems a little late to tell your kid he's adopted when he's 
26 16 and when he tries to get information about his birth mother from the hospital where he was born in New Mexico, the nurse can't give it to him because he's not old enough. :::snort::: He does eventually learn that his birth mother died in a car accident a few years back, but he does get to meet his biological grandfather. (Who knows if he'll ever come back again).

A few of Steve's storylines include dating a girl who's only using him for his money, getting pressured to use steroids by the other jocks, and having a rivalry with "Chuckie", the guy who used to play his mom's son on her TV show.

Okay, stay tuned for seasons 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10. I'm just as excited as you are! 

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Cryptic Killer

Director: David Fincher
Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Robert Downey Jr., Mark Ruffalo, Chloe Sevigny, Anthony Edwards
Released: March 2, 2007

When most people think of the films of David Fincher, the ones that probably first cross their minds are Fight Club or The Social Network. However, I listen to quite a few movie podcasts and whether the hosts are Fincher fans or not, they all seem to agree that Zodiac is his best movie. It's certainly not a bad movie - far from it, but I think my expectations were so high from hearing all these movie nerds rave about it, that they didn't have anywhere else to go but down. (Personally my favorite Fincher movie remains Panic Room, Kristin Stewart be damned!)

The film is about the Zodiac killer, a serial killer who taunted the police and newspapers in San Francisco with his cryptic messages. To tell you the truth, I was not very familiar with the Zodiac killer who committed his murders in the late '60s and early '70s. The film spans from '69-'79 with a quick time jump to '84, then another one to '91. (And amazingly Gyllenhaal does not age at all from '69 - '84!) After the Zodiac killed his victim or victims, he would send a letter written in a code for the police to decipher.

Gyllenhaal plays Robert Graysmith, a cartoonist at the San Francisco Chronicle who becomes obsessed with finding who the Zodiac really is. Downey Jr. plays a reporter who loses interest in the case after alcohol starts consuming his life, so Robert tries to get all his information and help from Ruffalo's police officer who's also on the case with his partner, played by Edwards, who I did not recognize at all because he has a full head of hair. I must have missed his name in the credits, because I would have recognized it. Whenever he would appear in a scene, I kept thinking how familiar he looked and sounded and I knew I had seen somewhere on TV, but I couldn't place it, so I had to pause the DVD to find out who it was. Once I realized it was Dr. Mark Green, it seemed pretty obvious that I should have placed him a lot sooner. However, I did recognize Minkus from Boys Meets the World the second he appeared on my screen.

Robert becomes so obsessed that his girlfriend (maybe wife by this time) takes their children to her parents' house because since Robert has made it public knowledge that he's trying to catch and identify the Zodiac killer, so she fears for her and the kids' lives and basically tells him that he has to choose between them or his obsession.

They show a few of the Zodiac's killings and because we never learn his true identity until the end of the film (and even then it's iffy), we never fully see him. While not overly graphic, the murders are pretty chilling. One of the worse ones was a woman who thankfully managed to get away. I could not believe how stupid she was - she AND HER BABY were really lucky to make it out alive. (Yes, she had a baby with her!) She was driving at night down a nearly deserted road (tell me if this doesn't already sound like a really bad horror movie) and a car starts honking at her, so like a dolt, she pulls over and the guy tells her that her back tire is loose and he can screw it back in for her, so she agrees and he tinkers with the car, then when she starts driving again, her tire falls off. Imagine that! So the guy comes back and offers to drive her to a service station and she begins to get nervous when they pass one. WHAT A MORON! Who lets some strange, creepy guy work on their car, much less drive them somewhere? Now I know this was before the time of cell phones, but the woman should have ignored his honking or just sped past him when he stopped car and walked towards her car.

If I didn't know David Fincher had directed this movie, I probably wouldn't have guessed because compared to his other movies, this one is more subdued. It definitely takes you back to the '70s with that gritty feel of that decade.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Those Crazy Redheads!

Thelma and Louise
Director: Ridley Scott
Cast: Susan Sarandon, Geena Davis, Harvey Keitel, Brad Pitt
Released: May 24, 1991

Oscar nominations:

Best Director - Ridley Scott (lost to Jonathan Demme for Silence of the Lambs)
Best Actress - Susan Sarandon
Best Actress - Gena Davis (lost to Jodie Foster for Silence of the Lambs)
Best Original Screenplay - Callie Khouri (won)
Best Editing (lost to JFK)
Best Cinematography (lost to JFK)

WARNING: I AM GOING TO GIVE AWAY KEY PLOT POINTS INCLUDING THE ENDING SO IF YOU HAVE NEVER SEEN THIS FILM, MAKE SURE YOU SEE IT BEFORE YOU READ THIS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (And if you haven't seen it (dude, it has been out for twenty years!), you really need to because it's a great movie!)

There's a song called "Friends Forever" on the Center Stage soundtrack and the chorus is as follows:

We'll be, you'll see, friends forever.
We'll be, you'll see, like Thelma and Louise.

I want to ask them, "Uh, you do know what happens to Thelma and Louise, right?" Yes, they were very close friends, but you probably wouldn't want to emulate them! 

I was really shocked when I found out that Ridley Scott had directed this. I probably knew this in the back of my mind, but I must have forgotten. For one thing, this is such a female-driven (no pun intended!) flick that I assumed a female had directed it, and also Scott is known for more "epic" movies like Alien and Gladiator, though Ripley is one of the strongest females in cinematic history, so it kind of makes sense he would direct Thelma and Louise. 

Thelma (Davis) is a subservient housewife married to a misogynist slob and Louise (Sarandon) is a waitress. Both live in a small town in Arkansas and decide to take a weekend road trip to get away from their miserable lives and just have some fun. Thelma doesn't even tell her husband because she knows he'll forbade her to go, so she just leaves him a note while he's at work. The women stop at a bar and have a few drinks. Thelma dances with a guy who hits on them and he later tries to rape her in the parking lot. Louise threatens him with a gun that Thelma brought along for protection and he lets her go, but when he keeps taunting them, Louise shoots and kills him. Realizing that they're now fugitives, they have to figure out what to do.

Kietel plays the officer who's trying to find them and Pitt in one of his first memorable roles play a young hitchhiker whom they give a ride to Oklahoma City. He has a fling with Thelma and if you are female or a gay guy you will appreciate any of the scenes where he appears shirtless! One of the funniest scenes in the movie is when Thelma is acting all giddy the next morning and confesses to Louise what she did. I couldn't remember if Brad was a good guy or a bad guy and I guess he was a little bit of both because even though he was much more likable (and prettier) than the guy who tried to rape Thelma, he did rob them when Thelma left him alone in her room with the envelop of money Louise had her boyfriend wire to them. 

Knowing they need money, Thelma ends up robbing a store and they keep getting in deeper and deeper sh*%. After they're pulled over by a cop for speeding, Thelma holds him at gunpoint and Louise takes his gun. They lock him in the trunk until a bicyclists finds him. They blow up a trucker's semi after he refuses to apologize to them for continually harassing them and making crude gestures to them whenever they drove by.

Their plan is to make it to Mexico, but Louise wants to avoid driving through Texas because something bad happened to her there and she refuses to go through the state even though it's the most obvious and quickest route south of the border. Even though these two women have done some terrible things, you're kind of rooting for them to make it. (After all, that guy did kind of deserve to get shot...even the waitress at the bar said she knew he was going to get it one of these days!) Now I was way too young to see this movie when it first came out in the theaters and by the time I saw it, I already knew what the ending was because I remember seeing a parody of this on The Simpsons. Of course, not having seen the movie at the time, I didn't know it was, until probably my mom mentioned that it was "just like the ending to Thelma and Louise." Thanks, Mom. No, I was still able to enjoy the movie even though I knew the grand finale. You certainly don't want them to commit a suicide pact, but at the same time you'd rather see them, er, ride off into the sunset for a lack of better words than spend the rest of their lives in jail. Even if they could cut a deal with Kietel's cop who really did want to help them, they would still be looking at quite a long time. After all, they committed murder, armed robbery, assaulted a police officer (who potentially could have died if someone hadn't found him), and destroyed public property. That's what? Twenty-five years at least right there? Honestly, I have no idea how much prison time that would accumulate for someone. The point is, these gals knew they didn't have a chance at ever living a normal life again and decided to end it right there right then. You almost have to admire them for doing that.

One thing I really like about this movie is that it's a rare breed of film where females are the lead and they're not planning a wedding, having babies, going shopping, talking about fashion, bitching about men (well, they might do that!) or  any of that  other"chick flick" crap the women in those movies always do. It was kind of refreshing to see two female characters not be reduced to such whiny and superficial female stereotypes. You also don't see that many female-buddy movies (and a road trip female-buddy one at that!) 

A great movie and a must see for everyone!