Sunday, March 11, 2012

What Emily's Been Watching, February Edition

A little late yes, but not too egregious.   I have been a bit distracted lately and then I've been sick.  You might think that laying around and writing a blog on your laptop when you're sick is a no brainer- but in actuality, doing such things seems like too much energy (physically and mentally).
 I'm enough on the upswing now to catch up a little.  Plus, I've had this post started for a week, it just needed to be finished.

HOT FUZZ (2007) [R]  action/comedy.  I've seen and enjoyed some other collaborations done by the Simon Pegg/Nick Frost/Edgar Wright team, but knew I have been missing out with not seeing this one, so I finally checked it out.  It was everything it promised to be:  funny and clever.  Filmspotting recently did a poll on who is the better team:  this group or the Judd Apatow group.  The Edgar Wright team won with the readers, but the hosts chose the Apatow crowd and I was scandalized.  I just like these guys waaay better, despite my love of Freaks and Geeks.  I think the Apatow group's downfall for me can be narrowed down by three things:    my disinterest in raunchy comedies, my annoyance of people/movies that are too obsessed with pot and Seth Rogan's laugh. 
Anyway, Hot Fuzz is about a London cop (Pegg) who gets transferred to a small town in the country because he was showing all the other cops up.  The town he moves to is what you might call "lax" on law enforcement.  He is paired up with the chief's son (Frost) who plays a dopey yet well meaning guy who loves cop movies.  Pegg starts thinking that something is going on that is more then meets the eye with some accidents in the town and the two work together to figure out what is really going on.  It was super funny and had some really hilarious moments.  I think the one that made me laugh the hardest was early in the film, an eager Frost is asking a bored Pegg a series of "have you ever" questions that were obviously inspired by the many cop movies he has watched such as "have you ever shot two guns at the same time while jumping through the air?".  There is a payoff at the end, when you see the two doing just that.  I loved it.  Emily recommends this movie if you liked Shaun of the Dead.  If you haven't seen that one either- well you should.  Some language, plenty of the funny, gratuitous kind of gore. 
Haha! This trailer features the question I mentioned (and the payoff).

SHERLOCK SEASON 2 (2012) [NR] mystery/crime drama.  Sherlock has officially reserved a spot in Emily's top 5 favorite TV shows of all time.  That is how much I love this series.  There have been two seasons so far, three episodes each (granted, each episode is movie length- about an hour and a half) and seriously- it just doesn't get much better then this folks.  The acting, the writing, the filming, the production, it is all top notch.  The team of Cumberbatch and Freeman are far and away the best paired Holms and Watson ever- their chemistry is amazing.  I absolutely adore those two so much.  The guy they have playing Moriarty is equally awesome.  He totally kicks my butt.  I also love love love Mycroft (who also happens to be the creator of the series).  The middle episode of the first series is easily the weakest of the lot, but it is made up for by the next two episodes, the first episode of the second series wins my number one best episode.  Freaking fantastic, and I need to cut myself off right now, or I'll gush all day.  I explained this series already some months back when I reviewed season 1, so if you want to know a little more about it, you can read my first review hereUm, I think you all know my stand here.  
The first season is on or it's app, it's also on Netflix instant and I also own it on DVD and will loan it to you.  The second season is not quite out yet in the states, but can be located on those dodgy websites that play stuff you can't actually find easily.  "Easily" see: legally.  Yeah, I pirated it, but I don't feel bad about it.  I had to be very tenacious and it was not without many frustrations, but was it worth it??  YES!  It was awesome.  It was sooo good.  If you don't want to become a pirate, you do have the option of waiting until May, when it will premier on Masterpiece Theater, here in the states.  ps. I don't feel bad, because it will be offered on a public tv station shortly and I will most definitely be purchasing the DVD of this season too, when it's available. Arrrrrrrrrrrr.

DOWNTON ABBEY SEASON 1 AND 2 (2011-2012) [NR] drama.  This is a BBC original series that has become something of a head scratcher to me.  Basically, it is a drama, set in the early 1900's in England.  Which is a time period where old English traditions and lifestyles (ie how Jane Austin characters acted and lived) was changing and becoming more modern.   The story is about one aristocratic household-  (the main family has a title), the story equally follows the servants of the house too.  The whole thing can be summed up as a period piece soap opera.  It has many faults, but despite this, I liked it a lot and was very interested in the story and the characters and was well addicted to it.  Some flaws are very very hard to overlook and forgive, but as a whole, the good stuff wins out, but only as a the ultimate guilty pleasure.  It is riveting and well acted, if not always well written.  Being well acted can go a long way, and make lame writing choices bearable.  (When you have bad acting combined with bad writing you get CSI: Miami.)  This show is a good example of how some top notch acting can save a show that could be totally and utterly laughable.  As it is, it is just laughable a few times.  The set of Downton Abbey and the costumes are also really great.  Some of the dresses are amazing. 
The head scratching part for me is the major buzz from all walks of life this show was getting for a while.  I am talking, this show was watched and buzzed about by the "fan boy" set, mentioned by Conan O'Brien and David Letterman, it was everywhere in pop culture.  I just heard about this show everywhere I turned, so I decided I needed to check it out.  About after the first season, I started wondering what the deal was.  I liked it, but saw nothing about it that explained why all these people I never would peg as someone that would watch such a show were suddenly loving and obsessing over it.  I am explaining it by the fact that I am already on board with these BBC period piece shows.  I see most of them and love them.  So, this seems like really nothing special, but perhaps if you weren't a BBC nerd like me, this WOULD be something special.  I don't know, I can't explain it to my satisfaction.  Despite how this review might read- I really do recommend this show.  It is flawed, but ultimately, a good time, and ultimately worth your time especially if you have the time and inclination to just sit down, veg out, and enjoy a guilty pleasure now and then.  Because for these moments (and these moments are a nice sometimes) this show is perfect (almost).
I am finally cluing in on a theme I've noticed since that Jane Eyre promo I came across once:  British TV promos are not to my taste, a bit dramatic for me.  That is all.

CERTIFIED COPY (2010-France, 2011-USA) [NR]  drama. Another well buzzed about piece of entertainment.  But this time by the art house movie crowd.  This made most critics that I listen to's top or near the top movies of the year.  So, I had to check it out.  Glad I did.  Great movie!  This stars Juliette Binoche, as the lead, she is on this date with a man we know to be a famous author of a book that muses about if copies of art are just as good as originals.  This turns out to be a somewhat meta subject as the story unfolds, but I don't want to go into it really, cause it is fun to watch the ambiguity etc change before your eyes.  Confusing?  Yes, but sorry, I am going to have to keep it that way for your own good.
 If I think about it, the movie is basically two intelligent people talking the whole time, so for that reason, perhaps it isn't for everyone, but I think most people would find it interesting.  Also, for a foreign film, there is a surprising amount of English.  There is also Italian and French spoken, but the bulk is in English.  (She is French, living in Italy, and he is an Englishman that doesn't speak either other language, therefore they converse in English).  Emily highly recommends this movie.  I also recommend it as a good movie to have an interesting discussion about like we did with Another Earth (but this time perhaps it could be less what we liked and hated (more like) about the movie and just a good discussion about a good movie that lends itself to a lot of discussion.  Ok?  Discuss.

BEING ELMO (2011) [PG] documentary.  I have been waiting to see this documentary since it premiered at Sundance last year.  It didn't disappoint.  Inspiring documentary about the man behind Elmo.  Not so much to say about it, but it is really good, pretty short, and worth watching (especially since it is on netflix instant.  Good behind the scenes puppetry which has always interested me and good stuff about the man that started it all, Jim Hensen.  Emily recommends this one for anyone that might be interested.  And if say, a little one that loves muppets happens to be sitting next to you while you watch it, well- they might just enjoy it too and keep leaning towards the screen, trying to give Elmo kisses.

MEETING PEOPLE IS EASY (1998) [15] documentary.  I figured in honor of the goings on this week, (although it was a while ago that I did watch it), it was time to get this little gem out of the dvd collection, dust it off, and give it a watch.  It's been a few years.  After watching a few minutes of it, I wondered if this really is the best choice of movies to watch- a documentary about Radiohead's OK Computer tour where they found themselves after releasing that album, suddenly a super band that just came out with one of the most acclaimed albums of all time, which rocketed their careers and they didn't quite know how to handle it.  They were so bored and disenchanted with Creep and that is still all everyone wanted to hear while in concert.  Thom especially was ill equipped to handle super fame and hated it.  Thom's whole life, he was an outcast and introvert.  He spent the first 7 years of his life with an eye patch, which doesn't lend itself to popularity.  He got his first guitar at 6 or 7, and started writing his first songs.  He spent his school years in the music rooms, because he could sit at the piano alone without anyone around.  All these struggles turned him into the man and genius he is, but he wasn't ready for all the fame that happened to him, especially when OK Computer came out.  So, needless to say, the film is pretty bleak and a little depressing watching him obviously hate the spot light and touring so bad.  BUT, the good news is that he took a few years off, got into rhythms as opposed to melody and came out with Kid A and Amnesiac.  He has also worked most of his issues out and is a much happier tourer these days.  He can call the shots now, and he's earned it. Thom himself has also said that that movie also really focused on the bad and didn't get into all the good times too, so it is probably a bit skewed.  It is still a fine movie and I enjoy watching it now and then.   The hardest scene to watch is when they are in NY, and they are at the doors in a night club and you see them hanging back a little and their manager or someone says, "do you know Radiohead?"  And I can't remember what transpires, but it's quick and they are obviously denied entrance.  So they are walking down the street and someone that heard it happen follows them and heckles them.  He says something about Creep, while they just keep walking, ignoring him.  It is seriously painful to watch.  I can't imagine that ever happened again, but wow, it was crazy.  My favorite moment happens in the first 10 minutes or so.  You see the band obviously in a green room somewhere, preparing to go onstage for a concert.  Then you see them start up this staircase to go on stage and Jonny is behind Thom and he silently and gently places his hand on Thom's shoulder, and without a word or a glance, Thom reaches around and touches Jonny's wrist in response.  I know I'm a Radiohead nerd, but it is such a beautiful moment between the two.  The gestures spoke volumes.  There is also some footage of the making of the video "No Surprises" (the one where Thom's head slowly gets immersed in water while he's singing.) - if you haven't seen that video, go check it out.  A quote I love from the movie, is taken from an interview with Thom, who says, "The freakiest thing about all of this, like you know- any of this at all, is the idea that you would be one of those bands to somebody".  I happen to know that he is "one of those bands" to a lot of somebodies.  Emily recommends this movie to any Radiohead fan.  I mean, you've got to see it- sheesh.

Since the trailer for this movie apparently is footage of a camera going around a train track while Fitter Happier plays, I figured I might as well display this video of clips someone made of some of the depressing moments in the movie.  Enjoy.
 For the record (and how I happen to feel): 
 "If people get it, they wouldn't think it's depressing. When people always say that f*ing annoying thing about how my work's so depressing, well it's not because.. it's just words, and I put the words to music which I think it's an uplifting thing, otherwise there would be no point in doing this at all."
-Thom Yorke
Amen Thom, amen.

Emily's Wall of Shame

THE AFRICAN QUEEN (1951) [NR] adventure/drama/ romance.  My wall of shame this month, happened on the last day of the month, and needed to be on Netflix instant for obvious reasons (and those reasons would be my lack of planning).  I spent a huge chunk of this film amazed at how goofy and cheesy Bogart played this role.  I've seen movie stills and wax reinterpretations of this movie my whole life and never once did I get "goofy and cheesy" from those stills of Bogart.  I've also seen many of his pics and never saw this side.  But, this is the one that scored him an Oscar, so there you go.  Katherine Hepburn was quite a bit stuffier then usual, as is fitting for her character of a christian missionary stuck on a boat in the middle of Africa with a scandalous man.  The story really hooked me as it went on.  I really enjoyed this movie a lot more then I planned on.  Especially after my shock upon meeting "Mr. Allnut".  It was really good and I'm glad I watched it and may even catch it again someday.  Emily recommends this movie if you like them black and white Katherine Hepburn or Humphrey Bogart movies.  Not a typical role for either of them, but it works and tells a good tale.

Oh yeah- did I mention the great rapids effects?  Awesome.

The other stuff:

Buffy:  I only watched 3 episodes or so last month, but one of them almost made up for everything.  LOVED it.  The show has made me dislike many of the characters as it goes on as they morph and change.  But one character is just getting better and better and more interesting.  Wish he was in every episode...

The Wonder Years:  So watching this show as an adult, I have come to a conclusion:  Kevin is a little jerk!  He is a jerk to his friends most of all, but really most people he interacts with. 
Still love it and am enjoying my watching of this series I haven't seen since it was airing, this was just an observation that must not have made much of an impression on me back in the day.

That's it for now- XX


Haley said...

Allison and I watched Being Elmo this morning. Thanks for another great recommendation, movie connoisseur. I actually started crying when they showed Elmo meeting that little girl that was dying and it showed Kevin crying. Such a sweet moment. I had no idea he pretty much created Elmo. Fun to see how he got where he is. I also have ALWAYS wondered what the puppeteers did down below, so fascinating!

Amy said...

When the weddings are over (wheew!) and I have 2 queen-size quilts to quilt and nothing else to do (ha!), I can't wait to start Downtown Abbey and Sherlock. I'm looking forward to both series!

Emily said...

I Cried too Haley! There is something so sweet about the Make A Wish stuff and it's not just about the dying children getting a last wish. I think it's the simple sweet little wishes they come up with. I think mine and most adults would be more elaborate- say, I would chose a trip around the world, staying at cool hotels, etc. Just meeting Elmo was that little girl's wish and to be Kevin Clash and have that knowledge and on your head, and to meet her and her family, would be so bittersweet I would have a very hard time with that. It was sad to me to see her parents and family and her, getting a hug from Elmo. It's just too sad. Tearing up now, in fact. Steve from Blue's Clues told a story on The Moth about this date he went on with this porn star lady and how awful it was and how the reality of her was disgusting to him once he actually met her and went out (the prospect was fairly exciting to him in theory). The next day he had an appointment with a Make a Wish kid and he talks about what that meant to him and what an honor it was and how THAT is what it's all about, and just hearing how the two things were juxtaposed in his life, and how he felt about them made for a great story.

How nice that will be Aim, to have a little break and sit back, quilt, and watch some good tv. You will definitely deserve it! Enjoy. Good choices too.

Emily said...

I actually don't think she was a porn star, but maybe. Definitely an underwear model or the like though.

Sue said...

Hot Fuzz is a great movie. I love those guys, but I love the Apatow crew too, so I was split down the middle on that poll. I love Seth Rogan's laugh, it cracks me up.

I really like your opinion of Downton Abbey. I haven't seen any of it yet, but I like how you were still able to be objective despite all the buzz about it. I don't doubt that it is good and I will watch it, but it is quite amazing all the hype about this show.

Can I borrow the Sherlock DVD's. If so, bring them on the super, fun, happy, giggly, epic trip of greatness.

Do you also have a book to recommend? I've finished the Hunger Games books, so I'll bring them back to you. I'm craving a good book, and I don't think I'll have time to hit the library before we leave tomorrow.

Oh yeah, haven't seen the Elmo movie yet, but have been looking forward to it for a long time now. That Kevin guy was the celebrity guest on Wait Wait Don't Tell Me. He was pretty funny. And of course the panel made him say things in Elmo voice that Elmo wouldn't say on Sesame Street. It was very funny.

Sue said...

AND I listened to that Moth episode with the Blue's Clue's guy. I think she was an underware model or something like that, I don't think she was a porn star. Didn't he surprise a kid's party in his Blue's Clues outfit on that date?

Haley said...

Whoo I excited to see you guys next week! You all are still coming to the wedding, right? That is a cool story about Steve. You will love Sherlock Sue. I just finished reading all the Sherlock Holmes stories. Such fun reads! I really enjoyed them a lot. Have fun on your trip this week and drive safe!

Emily said...

Yeah- Seth Rogan's laugh rubs me the WRONG way for what ever reason. Nothing I can do about it. I haven't seen many of those movies, but I am definitely on the other team. I will think about books, but I have been in movie/tv mode for a while now and haven't been spending too much time with books. Downton Abbey's downfall mostly happens in the second season, and that is pretty universally acknowledged, but by then everyone was so hooked on it, we forgave it as much as we could. Crazy amount of hype though huh? Very weird to me. How come everyone didn't get hooked on the Bleakhouse series? That one was a tv show, addicting, and really well done. Just one of those things I guess.
Yes, Steve did surprise a kid's birthday party on that date- he had just picked her up and they were driving through her neighborhood and saw signs for a birthday party happening right then that had a Blues Clues theme, and he was like- I've got the outfit in my trunk...... She said he should, and that she knew the kid, so they crashed the party to the surprise of everyone. I love that. I like Steve. Especially after I read an article about him, talking about how he played in a punk band with one of the guitarists from The Flaming Lips once. I loved that Moth story- I loved the nerd friends that egged him on to call that girl for the date and how he imagined them throughout the date approving and disapproving his choices he made.

Oh, and there is a little scene in the Elmo movie at the very beginning, where Kevin Clash is rehearsing on Sesame Street, and he breaks character for a minute and Elmo is a little inappropriate chasing after one of the women and it was so funny. You'll love that documentary- it is really good.

Haley said...

That's awesome! How fun for that kid, it probably blew his little mind. So what is Downton Abbey's "downfall." I'm just curious, I never noticed anything too bad but maybe I missed something? I know it's not perfect for sure.

Emily said...

The downfall was nothing specific, just some of the story lines (we discussed most of them) started getting pretty dang soap opera-y (and not in a real great way).

Haley said...

Ahh got it.

Sue said...

Hey Em- I just found out that Benedict Cumberbatch is going to play the villan in the next JJ Abrams Star Trek movie. I am pretty excited about that!


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