Sunday, January 2, 2011

What Emily's Been Watching, December Edition

Let's just jump right in shall we?

EMMA (1972) [NR]: romance. Watching this movie was the result of the unsatisfactory selection of movies found at my local library. After trying to find something at all interesting while constantly being prodded by a 5 year old, I figured a version of Emma that I've never seen wouldn't hurt. I must confess-- it hurt a little. I am not one to balk at an old movie, but when I got home and looked closer at this movie, I must say I put a wall up in my brain when I discovered it was made in the early 70's. I was further scandalized upon my first glimpse to see it was filmed and acted very much like a play. The hits just kept coming when all the characters I had come to know from the 1996 version showed up here about 15 years older then I thought they should be. The character of Emma was acted in such a strange manner, I don't know if I will be able to express the problems. I will do my best- whenever she talked, it was like she was forcing this mass amount of jovial energy through her face, contorting it into a sort of scary grimace. There. That's a pretty good description (if I may say so). Hopefully I will be able to find at least a small clip of this to show you all. After forcing myself not to just turn it off and to keep an open mind, I started thinking, "how cool would it be, if after watching the 240 minutes of this show I end up totally in love with it". I liked that idea and watched it over the span of about a week. Well, here is the deal: I got over the play like atmosphere and the ages I even if not "got over" at least got used to, Emma's scary excited grimace however continued to perplex and distress me. I kind of liked having an extended version since I have never read the book. Ok, that is quite enough words and space devoted to this miniseries. Emily really does not recommend this version of the movie. The Gwenyth Paltrow version is watchable, but really- just watch Clueless for the best version of the Emma story I think is out there.

Yay I found it online (the whole thing in parts is on youtube!) Please don't feel like you need to watch more then a fraction of this..... after probing youtube, I found out there is a version done last year in miniseries format. I am intrigued. Anyone seen it?

THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO (2009) [R]: mystery-thriller. Some people really like this movie, some (mostly ones that have read the book) give it a big eh. I (having never read it) give it somewhere in between the two. It is the story of a reporter trying to solve a 50 year old crime. He enlists the services of a hacker with a giant dragon tattoo on her back. The mystery story is excellent. The execution of the plot is real good. It's a decent movie, but I think I may try the book and stick with that for the rest of the series (there are more books and more movies although I don't know how many). Saying that makes it sound like I didn't like it, but this isn't the case, but I really am a book person before I am a movie person. From all I hear, the books are better, and I don't have a giant desire to read this book now since I know how the mystery ends. So perhaps I will decide to read the books someday and then after reading the books decide that I want to see the movie too. Who knows. Emily can recommend this movie to mystery lovers out there. If you are squeamish about such things (and I think most people are -or should be- I am going to warn you that there is a rape scene and while it isn't totally graphic, you definitely know what is happening.) Oh also it is Danish, so- subtitles.

ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT, SEASONS 2 & 3 (2004-2006) [NR]: comedy. I blasted through the last two seasons of this series this month thanks to two things: Netflix streaming and my addiction to the Webkinz game "Atlantiles". I spent many late nights with a split computer screen watching and playing and laughing and Scout is reaping the benefits of a giant stash of Kinzcash. You already got my feelings about this tv series (I had missed until now) a few months ago when I watched season one, so that is all the time I am going to devote to the review. Emily totally recommends this series and is now excited for the movie slated to come out in 2012.

LOVE ACTUALLY (2003) [R]: romantic comedy. Yeah, I watched this movie (no it wasn't my first time) BUT it was my first time watching my own copy of it. Matt and B gave me some birthday money (impromptu party) and I decided a great thing to do with it would be to buy me a copy of this movie since it is a Emily/B favorite (though we've never seen it together). This movie comes from the mind of Richard Curtis and involves some of his regular players such as Hugh Grant and Billy Nighy. But that isn't all- there are about 20 people that star in this movie because it is a romantic comedy of epic proportions. In fact it possibly crosses the line in that area (love), but you still find yourself loving it dearly (even if romantic comedy isn't your favorite genre). It is the story of at least 7 couples finding love (or not) in one way or another, and they all kind of are tied together in one way or another. You got Liam Neeson, Emma Thompson, Alan Rickman [ :) ], Hugh Grant, Colin Firth, Keira Knightly, Laura Linney, Martin Freeman, Andrew Lincoln, and Billy Bob Thornton even makes a cameo as a slimy American President. In great British fashion, the characters are so witty in that nonchalant way, and even the sappier love stories I find totally palatable. This is a great rainy day movie. It's biggest flaw to me is the Martin Freeman love story. B and I have discussed this. The movie is quite clean in all the other ways (there is some language and various other such things-), but that one love story makes me a bit squirmy. Basically, they play stand ins for a movie that is if not pornographic, at least raunchy by European standards. They are the sweetest most innocent couple of the bunch (which is what makes it funny -if you are familiar with Martin Freeman (British Office) then this will make sense to you- he plays your basic Martin Freeman character) they are these shy people in their everyday lives, but have to basically mimic these scenes from movies that are movies I never care to see, and they chit chat the whole time. It is an idea that is very funny on paper, but to actually watch it, like I said, makes me squirmy. It's too bad cause I think besides that this would be a movie many people I know would like. Perhaps they can find a cleaned up version of it somewhere cause it's worth it if you do. So look for that. For those that have seen it- tell me: which is your favorite love story? Which is your least favorite? Let's discuss. Emily recommends this movie very much. If you absolutely hate all romantic comedies then you have my permission to skip it, but other then that- I think you'll enjoy it and have some laughs.

This trailer was obviously catered to Hugh Grant fans. Sheesh.

BLEAK HOUSE, DISCS 2 &3 (2005) [NR]: drama. I finally got to finish this series thanks to Netflix. It ended up being fantastic. I really enjoyed everything about this. The story is stellar (good job Dickens), the actors are great and the filming was great. Triple threat right here. Get yourself a copy of this one- you'll love it. For more on my thoughts you can read my first review here.
Once again.......

(Bleak House had no chicken montage)

127 HOURS (2010) [R]: drama-adventure. I saw this as my Christmas movie this year (I like going to the theater as a Christmas expedition). I saw it with my dad, brother Matt and husband while my mom, B, Scout and Elinor went to see Tangled. I have long been fascinated with the story of Aron Ralston and was pleased to see that Danny Boyle was going to make a movie about it. I enjoyed it a lot as many of you know- I am a HUGE fan of survival stories. What this guy survived and ended up doing- is quite the story and Boyle made a rock star, Mountain Dew commercial version of it like only he could do. He kept it interesting and James Franco did an excellent job with his role I thought. Everyone know the story? Well, no one must have told it to the guy sitting behind me cause the second it was over he goes to the girl next to him, "an entire movie about a dude being stuck in a rock- I want a refund" DUDE! What did you expect???? His voice had that nerd/superior twinge to it, so I suspect he was trying to impress the girl. Do you know what I am talking about? It is that voice that you often hear such phrases issuing from it such as, "um, excuse me- but Captain Kirk's line in episode #231 was 'may the force be with you' not 'the force is with you'. " Alright all you nerds, fix that sentence for me (in your best superior nerd voice). Emily recommends this movie to pretty much anyone. Good survival story, well acted, interesting camera angles. I can only imagine it is R for a little language and of course the gore Aron is forced to execute at the end there.

Hey! Funeral. Nice.

PERSUASION (1971) [NR]: romance. Apparently I didn't learn my lesson with Emma. That lesson is checking the backs better when I get dvd's at the library. Again I didn't notice that this was another 70's gem done EXACTLY THE SAME WAY as Emma was. I have never seen or read Persuasion. I thought I would try it.
While I found the story enjoyable, I was not a fan of this version. Old people and play again. This time the heroine annoyed me in different ways then the Emma one did. She sucked so bad! Perhaps it wasn't her fault (in fact, I can see myself liking her in something else), but I just found her unlikeable in this part. First of all, they made the people up in some sort of Victorian/70's hybrid that detracted me. Second of all, Anne (the heroine) was not as aloof as I thought an Austin heroine should be and she would say something to herself after the person she was talking to would leave. Allow me to demonstrate: Someone would say to her, "that would be enjoyable" and she would say, "yes" to them, they'd walk away and in an almost evil villain-like manner would say knowingly to herself, "very enjoyable indeed". ARG! It wasn't just her though, I didn't care for any of the acting here and it's only redeeming quality is the story, which I found promising. Why doesn't anyone ever talk about this book? I look forward to watching a decent version of this. Anyone know of one?
Emily does not recommend this movie. Run, run away.

This clip showcases the Victorian/70's hybrid I spoke of quite well.

EXIT THROUGH THE GIFT SHOP (2010) [R]: Documentary. Ok, I am cheating a little with this movie, cause I just watched it tonight and it is officially January. But I was so crazy about this movie, I wanted to talk about it right away instead of waiting until next month when it had faded from my memory. I want it fresh for this review. So- this was so enjoyable on so many levels. I don't want to share too much about the plot cause I didn't know much about it and it took me on a ride of twists and turns. I didn't know a documentary could do that to you until I experienced this. This is what I am willing to share about it: It's about this French guy living in LA that video tapes everything. He stumbles into the street art scene in Paris and becomes obsessed with it. He eventually meets the grand daddy of all street artists "Banksy" (who is reputed to have made this documentary). He is distorted while on camera in voice and face to protect his anonymity. Given the subject matter (in a word: vandals) there is a lot of secrecy surrounding the images captured. Anyway, it went places I wasn't expecting, and had a mysterious plot two things I really don't expect while watching a documentary. The art was fantastic. I've been a fan of the whole idea of street art for a long time, so this was a natural interest for me. I also am a fan of site-specific art such as The Gates that was done in Central Park (if you aren't familiar it is an art movement that takes a common, everyday place and the artist does something to it temporarily or adds something to it to make it a little different for a short amount of time. For The Gates, an artist put up these sheets of orange fabric along the main pathway. Anyway, I am perhaps not the best person to explain this (I am clumsy in my explanation) but I just like the idea of it. I look at street art the same way. I also really liked the people in this film. I liked them so much I had a very strong wish that I knew them. They just seem like interesting people I would like to hang out with. Emily really really recommends this movie! It is on Netflix streaming right now- so if you have that, you have no excuses! I also would like to give my brother Matt a personal plea to see this. There are a few reasons I thought it was almost custom made for you- get watching bro, you'll thank me. (Gee I hope I haven't over sold it but I can't imagine doing so).

Ummmm, not my favorite trailer of the year. Don't let this discourage you- the film is possibly my favorite of the year.


B said...

Sweeet!!! Matt and I will have to watch Exit through the gift shop this week. And I am very happy that you validated my thoughts that Clueless is great, and a much more fun version of Emma than the Gwyneth Paltrow one.

I'm so glad you bought Love Actually!!! That's a great way to spend birthday money. I've been wanting to watch it so bad lately... on the plane ride to Mexico, there was a guy a couple of rows ahead of me watching it on an iPod touch, and I watched most of it that way, but... it wasn't the same. I agree that that Martin Freeman part is the worst of the movie (my moms personal favorite, arg), and the movie would be a lot better without that. Maybe I can get Matt to edit us a couple of copies... I've finally talked Matt into watching it with me after agreeing to see There Will Be Blood with him.

My favorite love story... hmm. I love the Colin Firth one because it is just so great how they can't communicate, but fall in love anyways. I like the Keira Knightley/Andrew Lincoln and Laura Linney stories, even though they're both very bittersweet. Also, the Hugh Grant story ties with the Colin Firth one for my favorite. He sticks up for her from the beginning, and is just such a personable prime minister.

My least favorite... I am so mad at Alan Rickman during the entire film, especially for doing his hair like he does. I also have a love/hate relationship with Laura Linney's romance. You root so hard for her to have ANYTHING normal, and then you'd hope that Karl would understand (is it just me, or is Karl lightyears out of her league?), but it doesn't work out. Argh!

Sam is one of the cutest kids EVER!!!

Amy said...

I have read Persuasion and enjoyed it. I bought a bargain bin version (thank goodness it wasn't this horrible 70's version---are you kidding me with that hairstyle?) but my movie version wasn't too great either. I'm adding Bleak House to my que. And Clueless. Can you believe I've never seen it?!

Emily said...

I really like Clueless. In fact- I think it will live on for a long time as a great window into a certain time and generation. Some movies just capture an era so well, they stand out and survive and are referenced for a long time- this one does that I think. I can kind of believe you've never seen it Aim-- it came out when you had a house of little ones (I think) and I can totally see a movie like that not falling on your radar. Let me know what you think. They really did do a clever job morphing Emma into 1990's Beverly Hills.

Love Actually-
Favorite: Hard to pick, but I really think it is the Colin Firth one. I love their bilingual conversations! It's so cute and funny. A close second would be the Hugh Grant one. I LOVE Natalie. She is such a doll. (He said, "no one would fancy a girl with thighs the size of tree trunks" not a nice guy really.) I love how these things just fly out of her mouth and I also get a kick out of the fact that her being "fat" is referenced by everyone, and it perplexing David (Oooooooo....would we call her chubby?) CRACKS ME UP I tell you.
I think the one between Alan Rickman and Emma Thompson is really good and perhaps the most interesting. What is the matter with his hair?? You can just tell they make a great couple and I HATE that little skank that likes him. Bleh! Emma's character is so smart and funny (Now days the only clothes I can get into were once owned by Pavarotti). Those two have so many good lines between them. They are like the perfect English couple to me.
Yes Karl is light years out of her league, but perhaps he just likes how much she loves him and usually only dates gorgeous shallow girls or something. This relationship makes me a wee bit mad. I am touched by how good she is to her brother, but it seems manipulative enough that I think she needs to just turn her phone off sometimes and he needs to be able to live with that from time to time. But at the same time I respect that fact that she doesn't. I wonder though if it is a mechanism she uses as a crutch to not have to live her own life. We really don't know what would happen to him if she doesn't pick the phone up one day, so it is hard to judge her and her position.
I love the Keira/Andrew one too. I love how he leaves his apartment after she sees the wedding tape, and he keeps changing his mind.
I love them all. Liam Neeson and Sam have a really cute relationship. Yes, Sam is the cutest little boy ever.

B said...

Exit through the gift shop was soo awesome. That was one wild ride.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, Exit was crazy. I've never seen a documentary do that before. Wow.


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