Monday, August 1, 2011

What Emily's Been Watching, July Edition

I just would like to point out that it is Aug 1st. Also, I saw a respectable amount of movies this month. I think I've been feeling deprived the last few months and had to make up a little. Plus it's summer which is a good time to watch movies and shows. I also made some great choices (hold off your judgments past the first movie I watched this month please).

THE 'BURBS (1989) [PG] Comedy. The Burbs. This is a classic in my family and so when we got together this month for 4th of July festivities, this was on the docket one of those "let's start a movie at 1 am". All I feel compelled to say about this movie is that I know it is stupid as H, but it contains some of my very favorite Tom Hank's comedic moments ever.

(500) DAYS OF SUMMER (2009) [PG-13] Romantic comedy. This is a movie that was recommended to me a million times when it came out, it made it to my Netflix queue and got bumped a few times and then I cancelled Netflix, then I reinstated my account after around 2 years and it was still in my queue and made it to the top again and I decided I might as well see it. All I have to say is: WOW was everyone right! I loved this movie. Now this is a romantic comedy I can get on board with. It was smart, interesting, well acted, well scripted, funny, sad, kind of the whole package. It was also the director Marc Webb's first movie- I am totally impressed and will definitely look out for his projects. I loved how they formatted the movie (documenting a relationship that lasted 500 days and showing the days in random order -if you by chance haven't seen this, the girl's name is Summer- also, I liked the narration). That format opened the film to a whole host of interesting possibilities, and they utilized it well. I loved the surprise "dance number" it was so funny and surprising and stylized awesome. I really liked Joseph Gorden-Levitt as the lead and I am a Zooey Deschanel fan (she had me at that Frasier episode she appeared in many years ago as Roz's niece). Anyway, the movie wasn't flawless, but I am not in the mood to nitpick, cause it is fully forgiven. Emily absolutely recommends this movie to anyone out there that happened to miss it the first time around as I did. Totally worth a watch. I kept it around the house until Rob and I had a chance to watch it together cause it seemed like a movie Rob would also appreciate. He did. Dear Hollywood, more romantic comedies like this please. Thanks, Emily.

SHERLOCK: SEASON 1 (2010) Drama. This was another fine recommendation from my good friend Ami. Her recommendation came on the heels of a few other people mentioning it and loving it. I decided to not waste any time this time and I got right on it (it helps considerably that it is on Netflix Instant). This is a TV show done by the BBC, it had it's first season last year and the second season will air this fall.
So, before you give a little sigh that Sherlock Holmes has shown up again and reworked, let me tell you that this time it is different. First of all, it is set in modern London. Therefore, Holmes and Watson call each other by their first names, Sherlock seems to have a touch of asperger's, really likes texting, and uses GPS in fantastic ways to solve his cases. Oh, and pipe replaced with multiple nicotine patches. John (Watson) is a veteran of the Iraq war, and well, is basically Watson in every way. Funny thing about Watson- I heard he was played by Martin Freeman and my first thought was- really? I don't see it. For whatever reason, it didn't fit to me and even though I am a fan of the guy, I was dubious of their casting choice. That lasted about 4 minutes into the first episode. I immediately turned around and thought he was brilliant and the absolute perfect choice and wondered why I didn't see it in the first place. The guy that plays Sherlock is great too (Benedict Cumberbatch), if not a tad off putting. His skin color combined with the color of his eyes and lips, juxtaposed with the overall lens wash effect the show is given, distracts me a little. But that aside (and doesn't matter much in the first place), he makes a great Sherlock and I am totally on board. I really really like the filming style, camera angles and story lines (the two main actors have great chemistry too). I knew things were going to be good with this series during the climax of the first episode. I thought for a few moments I was going to find out what the sentence is that makes the guy lay down in the street in Radiohead's "Just" music video, but it turned out to be more "Princess Bride" in nature (if you got both of those references, then well- you are just the coolest person on the planet). There were only 3 episodes and it looks like there will only be three episodes this year also. This disappointment is soothed by the fact that each episode is over an hour and a half long, so it is like three movies- which is good. The character's are fun, the mysteries are compelling, and it is just all around well done. It has that great Sherlock Holmes vibe to it and I really like seeing these stories done in modern times. BRILLIANT.

Sorry- did some extra gushing because I think I know a lot of people that would like this and it might not be on their radar. Oh, I have to add one more thing: the season finale was mind blowingly fantastic. The puzzle Holmes had to figure out throughout it was superb and the last 10 minutes had me gasping and squeaking in shock and horror several times (ask Rob- he was sitting next to me while I watched it on the laptop with headphones on). Emily says check it out FOR SURE! I think this one is for practically anyone and everyone. Game: afoot!

official trailer

This is a little montage of the first episode and gives you a much better taste of the feel of the show and how it is filmed. (Contains some images that could be called spoilers though, so if you don't want that- skip this one.)

WASTE LAND (2010) [NR] Documentary. This was a movie revolving around this Brazilian Artist Vic Muniz. He has been very successful in America and decided he wanted to use his powers for good in his own country. So, Rio de Janeiro has the largest landfill in the world and there is a whole society that lives out there and picks through the garbage to find recyclable materials for money. He decides that this is his project, he is going to make some works of art with that garbage and donate the proceeds to the society to improve it. Before going, he talks about the place and pretty much paints the people there as THE roughest and worse society has to offer. Just an entire city full of crazy, thieving, crack heads. Instead, I think he was generally surprised at the humanity of these people. The doc mostly focused on a young leader trying to improve the town and society by forming a union of sorts, a nice old lady that cooks for anyone around that needs a meal (out of edible garbage), and a few young women that chose working there and make an honest living instead of the other choice of work opportunity for them- prostitution. (I am sure the crack heads are there too, but this film doesn't focus on them.)
I really liked this film. It was really uplifting and good. It was also very inspiring for the cause of recycling, which I was not expecting. The art was really interesting, and the stories of the people were so sad and inspiring. I like stories where people find themselves in a bad situation and instead of making excuses and rolling over, they roll up their sleeves and better themselves.
I am going to leave you guys with some words of wisdom said by the happiest old man in the world that has picked through garbage his whole life and has received virtually no education, named Valter:

"It's not bad to be poor. It's bad to be rich at the height of fame with your morals a dirty shame"
"People sometimes say "But one single can?" One single can IS of great importance. Because 99 is not 100, and that single one will make the difference."
I like that. I think that quote will stay with me a long time and be thought of often. Emily can totally recommend this movie too. I already went over the finer points, but it also really gave me a bug to visit Rio someday (probably not the garbage dump though). Geez I'm a jerk. Did I learn nothing from the film?

HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS, PARTS 1 & 2 (2010-11) [PG-13] Drama/Adventure. It is no secret to my blog readers that I am a Harry Potter nerd. I LOVE the books, the movies however, I am not a huge fan of. They are fun and pretty well done, but the books are TOTALLY where it's at. However, I have to say- these two movies were fantastic. I really enjoyed the last installment (I am going to just lump them together for that since they really were like one continuous movie split into two parts). The final movie contained probably 8 out of the top 10 coolest scenes from all 8 movies. #1 being Snape's exit from Hogwarts. Holy crap! Geek me out that was awesome. Yes, I cried more then once and more then I am comfortable admitting. There are just some themes and scenes in that last story that really get me and you know what? I am not going to apologize for it. I was fairly hesitant to read the series (I came in to it after book 4 had come out -Ami again (and her husband and his friends)-) and by the end of book three, I was in with both feet. I think Rowling is truly a tremendously talented writer.
Back to the movie, I had to wait a week to see it (I waited to see it with B), and in the mean time I listened to all the movie podcasts I listen to and they ALL reviewed it to my delight. Now, all these guys have pretty much made fun of all the films so far to date (except 3- the Alfonso Cuaron one- they all seem to respect that one, which besides the absolute beautiful film set he created, it was my most disappointing story wise. But I understand his contribution to the movie series and really, he created a gorgeous world. I was pretty disappointed with it as a lover of the actual story.) Anyway, the demographic of the average movie reviewer with a podcast is: male, single, and late 20's to early 30's. There seem to be very few exceptions to this list. Anyway, this is NOT the demographic that the Harry Potter series is aimed at, so very very few have read the books and it just isn't their thing. My point to this tangent is that every single one of these reviews I listened to loved this movie. It seems to be an actual legit movie that is enjoyable and well made. Good job guys, you went out on a high note, and I personally, only had a couple gripes. Emily recommends this one (obviously), but I have one thing: if you haven't read the books but like the movies- just read the dang books. They still are far superior to the movies and I can't stand the thought of someone learning how the series ends by the movie instead of the book. That sucks. But maybe that's just me.

STEPHEN TOBOLOWSKY'S BIRTHDAY PARTY (2005) [NR] Documentary. As a few of you may know, I have pretty recently gotten into a podcast called "The Tobolowsky Files". It is basically a series of stories told by Stephen Tobolowsky about his life experiences. Who is that you say? Why he is a character actor in Hollywood that has been in like 200+ movies. You probably know him best as Ned Ryerston from Groundhog Day. Who knew that guy is like the most interesting storyteller on the planet? (and I am a girl that LOVES a well told story). In some ways he is a total nerd (but in a loveable way), but in other ways, he challenges your image of a nerd. This dude has led an interesting life and has a very compelling and smart mind, he is an excellent writer and a totally captivating story teller. How does all this relate to the movie I am reviewing? (besides the fact that his name is in the title) Well, one of the gentlemen I spoke of in my review of HP, saw this movie (Stephen Tobolowsky's Birthday Party) enjoyed it so much, he figured that this dude had to have more stories in there somewhere, got in touch with him, and they created a podcast based on the theme of this movie. Which is basically Mr. Tobolowsky throwing a party for his birthday and telling stories to the camera and his guests. And that's the movie. The movie was totally enjoyable of course, but pretty much was just like the podcast, only you get to see his facial expressions and gestures (which where very entertaining) but really, I am just as happy listening to him on my ipod. Give this movie a shot, it is different, but if you too like a good story told by a master, you'll like this. Oh! Also- it's available right now on Hulu. And for goodness sake, check out The Tobolowsky Files. I can't recommend that podcast enough. It will totally captivate you, make you laugh, make you cry and make you think a lot. It is a must listen for everyone that likes to hear funny and interesting life stories kind of in the David Sedaris camp (funny, autobiographical stories of growing up, etc.). They focus a lot on the acting world, so it would probably be particularly interesting for actors (but I am not that nor have I ever been interested in that) it is just as interesting to people that like movies and behind the scene movie stuff. But it is also full of just good old life lessons and ponderings. This podcast would make a great accompaniment to a road trip I think.

The best advice for a trailer on this movie I can give you, is to go here and click the middle clip.

I've also been watching: I've revisted a few seasons of The Office this month and have stayed up too late too many times this month. I hadn't seen season 6, so I watched that and then noticed that I have only seen all the episodes one time each, so I thought they were worth a rewatch. It's been very fun.

So yeah, I did see a lot of movies this month. A lot of good movies! I think this might be my best list of movies to date. Lots of good ones- I really challenge you guys to see some of these and let me know what you think of them.
I have been thinking about exploring my "Wall of Shame" lately and think I will do something with that for the next while. A Wall of Shame is a term used by (I THINK) the IFC podcast (RIP), which is a list of very famous movies that you just have never gotten around to seeing (like Raging Bull or Lawrence of Arabia or other such films -one of those I have seen and the other I haven't). So, I am going to pick one from my wall a month and watch it.



Long Island Girl said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ajmah said...

I'm glad I had a part in some of these movies. It brings me happiness to know I have some influence.

I'm still holding out for you to watch The Painted Veil and Lagaan. I really think you'll like them both.

Good list!

Emily said...

Oh yeah, I do need to see those. I can't think of a time that you've steered me wrong.... Are they going to air the new season of Sherlock on PBS? Or are they going to have it on their website? I can't stand the thought of waiting until they are on DVD. I really liked that show.


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