Thursday, August 25, 2011

Thursday Top Threes: Apocalypse

J: Top three apocalyptic or post-apocalyptic movies, TV shows, novels, etc!

I might be interpreting this loosely, but...
1. The Hunger Games trilogy -- I feel like the world portrayed in this trilogy represents a post-apocalyptic-type world. Such a fantastic read; it had been a long time since I'd been so excited about something I read!
2. I'd be remiss not to include Buffy the Vampire Slayer on this list. It was one of the earlier shows Jenn and I really bonded over and c'mon, Buffy saved the world from apocalypse quite a few times!
3. Wall-E -- I usually am panning this movie, mostly because I fell asleep during the first 45 minutes when the only "dialogue" was robot sounds and Wall-E saying "Eva" and Eva saying "Wall-E." But really, it was quite an incredible movie that was definitely very thought-provoking. The innate lazy and self-obsessed nature of humans was quite depressing to watch, but it was so incredibly on the mark on what could happen to our world if we continue with our lives of pure indulgence and waste.

1. Y: the Last Man. I'm not a huge comic reader but I was a big fan of this series. It's about Yorick, a young man who finds himself as literally the last man on Earth after a plague of some kind wipes out every other male (human and animal).
2. Children of Men. More dystopic than post-apocalyptic I guess but a genetic defect causing all women on Earth to become infertile is kind of like a slow apocalypse? Best known for a couple of amazing single-shot action sequences but the story and writing are really moving. And having Clive Owen in it doesn't hurt!
3. The Road. Both the novel by Cormac McCarthy and the film. Very spare and haunting, with no explanation for what happened to destroy civilization. Could have been a candidate for most depressing movie last week but it ends on a somewhat hopeful note.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Thursday Top Threes: Too Old!

M: Top 3 TV shows/movies/books you know you're too old to enjoy but cannot help but LOVE anyway.

1. iCarly. I've mentioned this before and yeah, I'm still a fan of this show. The characters are now in high school but it's still very much a tween show with really cheesy, dumb humor and physical comedy and increasingly ridiculous characters but I somehow find it all really really funny.
2. The Alice series, by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor. I read plenty of young adult books (especially this year thanks to the fabulous blog Forever Young Adult) and generally don't feel like I'm too old for them. But this series? I really should be over it. I actually started reading it when it was still age-appropriate but the main character, Alice, is aging so slowly (the books come out yearly but each only covers a few months of her life) that I'm now 10 years older than her. And the last couple of books have just not been very good...probably a result of the author trying to write contemporary teenagers when she's pushing 80. There are only two more planned books in the series though, so I want to know where these characters end up.
3. Degrassi the Next Generation. Similar to the above, I watch plenty of teen shows, but this one makes me feel really really old because the actors are actually playing their ages and look so young. I'm a season or two behind now (they started doing this thing where they air a new episode every frickin' weekday) and I'm unsure of whether I have the time or energy to catch up but every once in awhile I feel the urge to check wikipedia and see what's happening!

1. ABC Family, The Disney Channel: I know this is not a specific book/movie/tv show, but my go to channel for TV are these two channels where I get to watch silly, but really entertaining TV such as Witches of Waverly Place, original movies, and whatever else is on. Makes me wish I were a kid actor and could be having as much fun. If Lizzie Maguire were still on, I'd be watching it.
2. Sarah Dessen's books. These books are like the current kid/tween/teen generation's Cynthia Voigt or something. Stories mostly, or perhaps only, about girls who are on the outskirts of mainstream who try to discover who they are through odd relationships with other people... Really there is very little value added to anyone who is way past that point in their lives and yet I can't help but go and reserve more books written by her at the library as soon as I finish reading one.
3. None of my answers are specific book/movies/tv shows, so why start now? But anyway, I find myself embarrassingly obsessed with celebrity gossip about the teen heartthrobs -- the Jonas brothers, Bieber and Selena Gomez, Demi Levato, Miley Cyrus, Taylor Swift, Zac Efron, Vanessa Hudgens... It's sad, I know. But it comes in very handy at trivia... Oh, along with this embarrassing obsession, I also find myself interested in any tv show/movie/song they're involved in.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

White Collar, The Show That Had Me Conned

sorry to drop in on the ladies' blog unannounced like this, but i have an important update to the post i did about the summer season on the TNT and USA networks.  in that post, i mentioned as an afterthought that the USA show White Collar was returning for its third season.  it was a show i had never seen because i thought it was about wall street crime.  i decided to give a shot this summer, though, and i'm so glad i did.  it became one of my favorite shows on TV.

it's not about wall street crime.  it's about art crimes and cons.  i love art crimes and cons!  you know why?  because they're sophisticated crimes that are based on being more clever than your adversary rather than using guns or being mean.  i can relate to that kind of crime!

the premise is that Neal Caffrey (matt bomer) was a notorious art thief and con man that FBI agent Peter Burke (tim dekay) finally captures.  neal agrees to be a criminal consultant for peter (with a tracking device on his ankle) in exchange for serving time in prison.  in order to help solve these crimes, he often has to resort to his old tactics (including a fondness for wearing fedoras), often with the aid of his nebbish/nerdy underworld partner Mozzie (willie garson).

the cons are cool, but what really makes the show great is the relationship between neal and peter.  they genuinely like, admire, and respect each other and become friends, even trusting each other with their lives on occasion.  however, they still neither one completely trusts the other, and it turns out that they both have reason not to do so.  you really root for both in this show.  the other great relationship in this show is that of peter with his wife Elizabeth (tiffani thiessen).  now that Friday Night Lights is over, the Burkes may be the best married couple on TV.  she's not as big a part of the show as Tami Taylor was on FNL, but her scenes really help flesh out peter's character.

So You Think You Can Dance Season 8 Wrap-up

Mira did a pretty comprehensive post on the season earlier this week but I thought I'd just put in my two cents and offer up some thoughts on the finale. I, too, was a little bit less invested in this season than in previous years for not particularly clear reasons. Maybe the choreography has a bit a little lackluster, maybe there hasn't been as much diversity in the dance styles, maybe all the contemporary/jazz dancers are wearing on me...I don't think it's any one thing.

But I did like quite a lot of the contestants this year, and I'm wholly satisfied with the finalists and the winner. Melanie's not my favorite contemporary girl ever (Kathryn and Katee still vie for that title) but she was one of the most consistent dancers throughout the summer. I think I may have been pulling a little bit more for Sasha because she's a bit different from the norm but she did have some rough routines in the performance finale (the Broadway with Marko and the cha cha with Tadd). Marko was definitely my top guy and Tadd I couldn't help liking despite his obvious weaknesses. So anyway, congratulations to Melanie!

Some stray observations from the last week:
- Even more confirmation that Katie Holmes just...SUCKS. She kept saying the same generic crap all night.
- The Sonya routine with Sasha and shirtless Mark was pretty dang fierce. Both Stacey Tookey routines were great her!
- But yay for inviting Jesse Tyler Ferguson back! He was definitely my favorite of the celebrity guest judges this season.
- All season I've been kind of surprised seeing how short Tadd is compared to everyone. Confirmed: he's only 5'4"!
- Loved Marko and Tadd asking Harry Shum, Jr if there was room for more Asians on Glee. (On a side note, it's becoming really weird how I'm interested in most things Glee except actually watching the show...)
- The tap routine with Nick and Jess and the SYTYCD UK winner was amazing. Seeing Nick in this and also in the top 10 guys routine made me really really sad that he went home so early. He had so much potential.
- Alexander bleached his hair? I was wondering who the heck that was.
- Seeing the Travis Wall statue routine with Melanie and Marko really made me wish Travis had been more available this season. He has this formula that just kind of works...I always love the fast synchronized section at the climax of the piece.
- Cat Deeley still rules. That is all.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Thursday Top Threes: What a downer

J: Top three most depressing movies.

1. The Notebook: I hate Nicholas Sparks. He's most definitely a man who makes money off of writing stupidly sappy love stories aimed at making women cry. And then he gets credit for being so sensitive and in-touch with his emotional core or whatever. I hate him for being a man who makes a LOT of money by making women cry. I hate him even more for having written The Notebook, for me somewhat liking the book, for me somewhat loving the movie, and for making me cry A LOT everytime I watch the movie. EVEN THOUGH I KNOW IT'S COMING. Yeah, he sucks. (BTW, I really do mean it when I say that I hate Nicholas Sparks.)
2. P.S. I Love You: Apparently I missed the memo where the movie was about a widow whose late husband sends her letters posthumously. Yeah, I don't know what I thought the movie was about but I thought it was going to be a romcom, not a tearjerker.
3. Waitress: The movie itself is really cute and everything, but the circumstances that precede the movie's release with the director (and supporting actress) having been found murdered shortly before the movie's release. Seeing her in the film and being reminded of that horrible murder is really depressing. :(

Jennifer: All my picks are actually really good but I can probably never bring myself to watch them ever again because they're so depressing!
1. Dancer in the Dark: A very odd film overall (I don't think it could be anything else considering it's a musical starring Bj√∂rk), very different and affecting but man, I don't even like thinking about it and how it all ended up.
2. Requiem for a Dream: Should probably be like required anti-drug viewing for teenagers...just flat out miserable. Great soundtrack though!
3. Sophie's Choice: Meryl Streep is just devastating in this.

Monday, August 08, 2011

oh yeah, it's SYTYCD season...

So you may/may not have noticed a significant drop in interest for SYTYCD by me this season... Previous seasons have had me blogging obsessively each week, but this season has only yielded a couple of posts. That is mostly due to the fact that I have not been watching as obsessively as I had previously. As of this week I am FIVE weeks behind! And it's the FINALE, so, it's definitely time for me to catch up. Plus, well, my DVR is full. Sigh.

In any case, I can't say why the show is less appealing to me than previously but maybe it's just that I'm not as excited about any of the new dancers. Or maybe it's because performance show is the same night as trivia. Or maybe it's because I don't like any of the newer choreographers, and there were a lot of those. (They're just not as awesome as Sonya, Travis, Stacey Tookey were when they started!) Hmm, I really have no clue. I'm not going to be able to see the tour this year (I've been to every tour since Season 3!) and I'm not too heartbroken. In any case, in catching up, I will reflect on the reasons why I still really like SYTYCD, even if I'm not obsessively watching it...

The format changes brought this year:
- I'm a fan of the return of a Top 20 AND a return of the All-Stars for the Top 10. Best of both worlds!
- I'm kind of glad Mary Murphy is back and especially glad that Mia is not a perma-judge. (I like Adam but I am glad that he, too, is not a perma-judge this season!)
- Only a couple weeks of auditions: I'm so glad they didn't dwell too much on the audition rounds. Especially because I hate growing attached to certain dancers only to find out that they never made it and that they don't return in the future.

The dancers are talented definitely; they really are! I have a few favorite dancers and a few dances that I've really enjoyed... To highlight them from the episodes I hadn't blogged about:
- Top 14: Caitlynn & Mitchell in "To Love You More" (contemporary) and Ryan & Ricky in "Fashion" (jazz) [I was sad to see Ryan & Ricky in the bottom 3. But not sad to see Ashley leave.]
- Top 12: Clarice & Jess in "Just the Way You Are" (hip hop) and Melanie & Marko in "Skin & Bones" (contemporary) [Sad to see the female bottom 3, but not sad to see Alexander leave.]
- Top 10: Jess & Kathryn in "The Lonely" (contemporary) and Melanie & Pasha in "Everybody Hurts" (Viennese waltz)
- Top 8: Melanie & Neil in "Total Eclipse of the Heart" (contemporary) and Tadd & Lauren F. in "Another One Bites the Dust" (jazz) and Marko & Allison in "I Know It's Over" (contemporary) [Big Mandy Moore night! There were tons of numbers I liked in this episode. Definitely my favorite episode of the season!]
- Top 6: Marko & Caitlynn in "Heavy in Your Arms" (jazz)

Final Four: Marko, Tadd, Melanie, Sasha (Jenn called it! Her early favorites ended up being the late season favorites, too!)

I'm disappointed with how Ryan ended up performing on the show. I'm sad that Caitlynn didn't make it to the final four (but her solos were noticeably weaker than the other girls). I'm happy with the final two guys. I wish there were more diversity in the genre of dancers -- where are the ballroom people?!?! We need a new Anya/Dmitri/Pasha/Benji-type! We definitely need more Chelsie Hightower! :)

A final note: I'm thrilled that Cat Deeley was finally recognized with an Emmy nomination for best Reality TV Show Host! She deserves the nomination AND the win! (I'm so glad that Jesse Tyler Ferguson brought it up during his guest judging episode, too. He was such a fan boy of the show, it was adorable. Many of the guest judges were huge fans of the show; I love it!)

Saturday, August 06, 2011

my short list

Because I'm still inspired, I'm going to post one more entry. Coming out of Crazy, Stupid, Love, I was reminded of how much I really like certain actors/actresses. In particular, there are three that are currently on my short list of people I adore and would watch in anything. I currently hypothesize that there are two reasons they have made it onto my short list: 1) Their acting alone was able to make a movie I otherwise may not have enjoyed at all a movie I really enjoyed every minute of; and 2) They maintained the track record of awesomeness in performance in multiple movies.

1) Emma Stone:
Easy A was a movie that I would have expected myself to watch since I love silly high school movie adaptations of literature and Shakespeare. But definitely with any other actress, it would have pretty much sucked. The supporting cast was nothing worth remembering (even Aly whatever her name is from Hellcats). But Emma Stone was FABULOUS. She was so great. I wanted to be as cool as she is. I still do.
In Crazy, Stupid, Love, she is one of many characters in the movie, but I looked forward to every minute she was on the screen. I was enthralled by every scene she was in, and I still want to be as cool as she is.
She's currently my number one pick to be anyone in any movie. I love that she can make ugly faces and be completely goofy, but still incredibly perfect for it. I look forward to the new Spiderman movie solely because she's in it. (I'm a little over the Spidey movies, really.) And I'm actually kinda interested in seeing The Help, too, and that's definitely a movie that would never fall onto my radar otherwise. Additionally, Burkie knows this, but I really think that Emma Stone would be the perfect actress to play the Pioneer Woman in the movie about her.

2) Ellen Page:
She completely won me over in Juno. I even wanted to be Juno, and she was a teenage girl who got pregnant!! But she has such a casual ease about her and is, well, just plain cool. She doesn't overact anything and comes off extremely real, relatable, and fun.
The movie I wouldn't have expected to enjoy so much was Whip It; I mean, really, this was a movie about roller derby. The movie explained how roller derby worked and I *still* didn't get it. Yet somehow I ended up really enjoying it and yes, it only improved upon my opinion of Ellen Page.

3) Carey Mulligan:
For a while all I knew of her was that she was the girl who used to date Shia LaBoeuf and had been nominated for an Academy Award and Golden Globe for An Education. Then one day, I happened across The Greatest, which was an incredibly sappy and depressing movie... There was so much WRONG with the movie (like the fact that it was set up to make me cry over something I should not have cared all that much about), but Carey really stood out to me. I realized I had seen her before in the Keira Knightley movie version of Pride and Prejudice, but that didn't really count because Kitty barely exists in that movie. In any case, The Greatest piqued my interest in watching An Education.
An Education is a movie that would have never caught my attention because truthfully, it looked boring. But the movie was so far from boring and the storyline really captured my attention -- so much so that I was googling/and wikapediaing the details of the real life story the movie was based upon afterward! But as fantastic as I thought the movie was, Carey Mulligan was the center of everything that made me enjoy the movie so much. Simply put, she's perfect and deserves to be on my short list of actresses (I guess there are no actors on this list!) that I would watch in anything.
The best thing ever, though: she's going to be Daisy Buchanan in The Great Gatsby! I cannot wait!!!

recommendations continued: crazy, stupid, love.

It has been a really long time since I've seen/read/heard something that inspired me to blog about it right away. I just got home from watching Crazy, Stupid, Love in the theater and... wow. All I could think as the credits were rolling was, 'I can't wait for this to come out on DVD!' It was *that* good. At least, I really, really, really enjoyed it.

A great cast; one of my current favorite actresses is in it; one of my favorite actors to look at (when he's all cleaned up) is in it; it has "ships" to root for; it made me laugh, tear, want to applaud; it made me excited with anticipation and nervous about what was going to happen next... I enjoyed every minute of it, and I think you will, too. So if you get the opportunity to see it, in theater or DVD, don't turn it down!

I absolutely cannot wait to watch it again. (Resolution 2011: check, check!)

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Thursday Top Threes: recommendations

M: 3 recommendations you would like to give to Jenn and/or Mira!

(Was originally going to separate this out into categories: book recommendations, movie recommendations, tv recommendations, song recommendations -- but realized Jenn has been reading/watching/listening wayyyy more than I have! For our 2-3 readers out there, if you find you have way more than 3 overall recommendations and want to make recommendations in specific categories, please feel free to do so!)

Mira: Jenn, here are my recommendations for you! For some reason this was REALLY hard for me!

1. "Inventing Shadows," by Dia Frampton: Since I know Jenn did not watch The Voice, I'm going to go out on a limb and guess she hasn't heard this song either? It might be too pop-y for your taste, but I do like it and she has a very interesting singing style and voice. Her rendition of "Losing My Religion" was pretty great, too!

2. The Born In... trilogy by Nora Roberts: Haha, I definitely know Jenn has not read any Nora Roberts books but this was a fun, throwaway-type of read that I recently was reminiscing over with a friend. Definitely makes me want to visit Ireland one day. And I like the completeness that trilogies seem to have about them, even silly ones written by Nora Roberts!

3. Glee Project: Sort of already made Jenn watch an episode of this, but I want her to watch it with me so I have someone with whom I can talk about it! I know Jenn gave up Glee, but as mentioned in my previous post -- it's got a lot of the best elements of the show without all the contrived story. It's been a fun summer show and it's surprising it's got virtually no buzz going for it.

Jennifer: I, on the other hand have way too many recommendations for Mira! So I'm way overachieving and doing three categories with multiple recs!

1. Young adult books!
I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith. For some reason this was out of print for a really long time which is why I'd never heard of even though it's more of a classic. It was written in the the 1940s and set in the 30s, about a teenage girl and her eccentric family living in a rundown English castle whose lives get upended by the appearance of two American brothers. The movie adaptation is pretty good too!
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart. Really fun book about a secret society at a boarding school.
Dash and Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan. Same authors as Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist! Super cute book about two Manhattan teens who meet and communicate through a notebook.

2. TV shows. I've mentioned these already, but Mira really needs to watch season 4 of The OC and I also think she'd really like the Canadian show Being Erica.

3. Music. I know Mira is more on the pop side of things when it comes to music so I think she'd like Freelance Whales, which is really happy and kinda Postal Service-like. Try "Hannah" and "Generator ^ Second Floor". Also I think she should try out Zooey Deschanel's band She & Him ("Sentimental Heart" and "Thieves"). It's kinda folk-y and almost retro sounding. She's so talented it's almost unfair!

M: Now, the challenge is for us to watch/read/listen to the recommendations (from each other AND our "audience") and blog about that! Jenn is definitely more likely to follow through than I, but I will make a concerted effort, I promise!