Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Daytime Emmy Predictions

Yep, with only four shows on traditional networks now (One Life to Live is still eligible) the Daytime Emmy nominations are happening tomorrow, here is how I think they will go:

Best Drama
The Bold and the Beautiful
General Hospital
The Young and the Restless

Tough call, B&B was snubbed last year after a series of wins.  This year they said goodbye to Stephanie, which created some good television.  General Hospital has the most wins (ever) it will score a nomination.  The third and last spot is between Y&R, OLTL, and DOOL.  I personally think DOOL gets in, they had their second nomination after many years of never being nominated.  Yet DOOL had some creative bumps in the road.  OLTL has been off the air for a while, but is back (may be off people's mind too much.  I think the safe bet is another perenial favorite over Y&R.

Best Actor in a Drama
Peter Bergman-The Young and the Restless
Maurice Bernard-General Hospital
Doug Davidson-The Young and the Restless
John McCook-The Bold and the Beautiful
Jason Thompson-General Hospital

I think four of these men are locks, Bergman's spot is the wild card, which could go to Howarth for GH, or another younger Y&R guy Michael Muhney, but I think Bergman is a safe bet.

Best Actress in a Drama
Susan Flannery-The Bold and the Beautiful
Finoula Hughes-General Hospital
Peggy McCay-Days of Our Lives
Heather Tom-The Bold and the Beautiful
Laura Wright-General Hospital

The only limb I am going out on is for McCay, her story was incredible, and she has never been nominated, and I think this is something voters go for, and I would like to see her on this list.  Jeanne Cooper being sick could help with a sentimental vote.  I think she is the spoiler

Best Supporting Actor in a Drama
Bradford Anderson-General Hospital
Scott Clifton-The Bold and the Beautiful
Billy Miller-The Young and the Restless
James Reynolds-Days of Our Lives
Greg Rikaart-The Young and the Restless

Best Supporting Actress in a Drama
Julie Marie Berman-General Hospital
Melissa Claire Egan-The Young and the Restless
Nancy Lee Grahn-General Hospital
Rebecca Herbst-General Hospital
Katherine Kelly Lange-The Bold and the Beautiful

Best Younger Actor in a Drama Series
Chad Duell-General Hospital
Max Ehrich-The Young and the Restless
Bryton James-The Young and the Restless
Chandler Massey-Days of Our Lives

Best Younger Actress in a Drama Series
Kristin Alderson-General Hospital
Kim Matula-The Bold and the Beautiful
Haley Pullos-General Hospital
Jacqueline Macinnes Wood-The Bold and the Beautiful

Best Directing
The Bold and the Beautiful
Days of Our Lives
General Hospital

Best Writing
The Bold and the Beautiful
General Hospital
One Life to Live

The Magic of Steven Spielberg

Back in June 2011 (almost two years ago now) I wrote a post entitled "Does Produced by Steven Spielberg Mean Anything Anymore?"  I stand by my thoughts within this that Spielberg is losing his producer mojo, but there is also something impressive and magical about his legacy.

Last night I finally saw Jurassic Park 3-D, and as my friends and I were walking to the theatre two of us realized we never saw Jurassic Park the first time it was released.  Getting to see this film in the theatres was one of most fun experiences, from the intensity of the T-Rex stomp, to the velociraptor cornering the two children in the kitchen.  Even though I had seen this film a couple of times the score combined with that Spielberg brilliance made reminded me that even though this man is respected his genius is often taken for granted.

Spielberg has brought so many great films (and some duds Hook, Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, 1941, War Horse, War of the Worlds) but beyond these rare miss steps he has created some of the best and most memorable film experiences of the last almost 40 years.  From needing a bigger boat in Jaws (1975) to alien encounters with Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) and E.T. the Extra Terrestrial (1982).  Spielberg has shared numerous adventures with Indiana Jones, but nothing more magical than Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981).  Spielberg has also focused on the more serious and historical like Schindler's List (1993), stormed the beach of Normandy in Saving Private Ryan (1998), and gave a glimpse into the final months of President Lincoln in well Lincoln (2012).

After listening to Sasha Stone's podcast on the 1975 Oscars and Jaws, and watching Jurassic Park last evening I have to agree with her that there is something incredible about a Spielberg film.  Spielberg makes you love the movie experience, and knows how to capture lightening in a bottle for the consumption of all movie goers.  From film snobs to average attendees who go for the escape, or the various combinations.  From the moments you hear the John Williams score, you instantly become sucked into a different world.  Spielberg has done a lot to advance film making, and if you look at his directing legacy (so far) you have to sit back and ponder just how one man created so many classic films.

Kinky Boots (13 nominations) and Matilda (12 nominations) Lead the Tony Award Nominations

In what could be described as a bit of a lackluster year, no musicals or plays making too much of a tremendous splash, there is still some which step out, and have become seen as the best of the year.  In the musical category the two stand out (new) musicals of the season were Matilda, and Kinky Boots.  Both will probably do well, considering the weaker revival line-up with Pippin and surprisingly Roger's and Hammerstein's Cinderella getting the most in the revival category.  Annie was expected to get more, but only scored one nomination.  From what I have seen, and heard of the shows I would like to see Kinky Boots, and Pippin win.

Tom Hanks is on his way to that EGOT; he has the E, and the O, and I think this is where he adds the T.  Hanks is starring in the play Lucky Guy, which received the most nominations for a new play, along with Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike.  These two are the front runners for this prize.  I would love to see Lucky Guy win as a tribute to the great work of the late Nora Ephron.  Golden Boy leads the nominations in the revival category with 8, but look out for Virginia Woolf, this revival is the one to beat!

So obviously the next question is who was snubbed?  Sigourney Weaver was the biggest snub of the day in my book, I was shocked not to hear her name called.  Motown: The Musical, also missed out, and after a last minute box office surge right before the Tony Awards.  I swore it would have knocked out Bring it On or A Christmas Story, but Motown lost out to these two.  The curse of Macbeth continues, Alan Cumming was snubbed.  Annie only receiving one one nomination was also very surprising, and no Anthony Warlow too.

Best Play
The Assembled Parties
Lucky Guy
The Testament of Mary
Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike

Best Revival of a Play
Golden Boy

The Trip to the Bountiful
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Best Musical 
Bring it On: The Musical
A Christmas Story
Kinky Boots

Best Revival of a Musical 
The Myster of Edwin Drood
Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella

Best Actor in a Play 
Tom Hanks, Lucky Guy
Nathan Lane, The Nance
Tracy Letts, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
David Hyde Pierce, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
Tom Sturridge, Orphans

Best Actress in a Play 
Laurie Metcalf, The Other Place
Amy Morton, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Kristine Nielsen, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
Holland Taylor, Ann
Cicely Tyson, The Trip to Bountiful

Best Featured Actor in a Play 
Danny Burstein, Golden Boy
Richard Kind, The Big Knife
Billy Magnussen, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
Tony Shalhoub, Golden Boy
Courtney B. Vance, Lucky Guy

Best Featured Actress in a Play 
Carrie Coon, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Shalita Grant, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
Judith Ivey, The Heiress
Judith Light, The Assembled Parties
Condola Rashad, The Trip to Bountiful

Best Actor in a Musical 
Bertie Carvel, Matilda The Musical
Santino Fontana, Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella
Rob McClure, Chaplin
Billy Porter, Kinky Boots
Stark Sands, Kinky Boots

Best Actress in a Musical 
Stephanie J. Block, The Mystery of Edwin Drood
Carolee Carmello, Scandalous
Valisia LeKae, Motown The Musical
Patina Miller, Pippin
Laura Osnes, Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella

Best Featured Actor in a Musical 
Charl Brown, Motown The Musical
Keith Carradine, Hands on a Hardbody
Will Chase, The Mystery of Edwin Drood
Gabriel Ebert, Matilda The Musical
Terrence Mann, Pippin

Best Featured Actress in a Musical 
Annaleigh Ashford, Kinky Boots
Victoria Clark, Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella
Andrea Martin, Pippin
Keala Settle, Hands on a Hardbody
Lauren Ward, Matilda The Musical

Best Direction of a Play 
Pam MacKinnon, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Nicholas Martin, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
Bartlett Sher, Golden Boy
George C. Wolfe, Lucky Guy

Best Direction of a Musical 
Scott Ellis, The Mystery of Edwin Drood
Jerry Mitchell, Kinky Boots
Diane Paulus, Pippin
Matthew Warchus, Matilda The Musical

Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for Theatre

A Christmas Story, The MusicalMusic and Lyrics: Benj Pasek and Justin Paul
Hands on a HardbodyMusic: Trey Anastasio and Amanda Green
Lyrics: Amanda Green
Kinky BootsMusic & Lyrics: Cyndi Lauper
Matilda The MusicalMusic & Lyrics: Tim Minchin
Best Book of a Musical 
A Christmas Story, The MusicalJoseph Robinette
Kinky BootsHarvey Fierstein
Matilda The MusicalDennis Kelly
Rodgers + Hammerstein’s CinderellaDouglas Carter Beane

Full nomination tally:
“Kinky Boots” – 13
“Matilda The Musical” – 12
“Pippin” – 10
“Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella” – 9
“Golden Boy” – 8
“Lucky Guy” – 6
“Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” – 6
“The Mystery of Edwin Drood” – 5
“The Nance” – 5
“Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” – 5
“Motown The Musical” – 4
“The Trip to Bountiful” – 4
“The Assembled Parties” – 3
“A Christmas Story, The Musical” – 3
“Hands on a Hardbody” – 3
“The Testament of Mary”- 3
“Bring It On: The Musical” – 2
“The Heiress” – 2
“Orphans “- 2
“Ann” – 1
“Annie” – 1
“The Big Knife” – 1
“Chaplin” – 1
“Cyrano de Bergerac” – 1
“The Other Place” – 1
“Scandalous” – 1

Monday, April 29, 2013

Tony Nomination Predictions

It makes me sad that I have not seen a brand new Broadway Play or Musical in over a year (I need to change that).  With that said I always pay attention to the shows of the season.  Tomorrow the Broadway community will have Sutton Foster (Thoroughly Modern Millie, Shrek, Anything Goes), and Jesse Tyler Ferguson (Modern Family) announce the nominees.  Who will make the cut?

Best Play 
"Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike"
"Lucky Guy"
"The Assembled Parties"
"The Nance"

Best Play Revival
"Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf"
"The Trip to Bountiful"
"Golden Boy"
"Glengarry Glen Ross"

Best Actor in a Play 
Tom Hanks, "Lucky Guy"
David Hyde-Pierce, "Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike"
Nathan Lane, "The Nance"
Alan Cumming, "Macbeth"
Tracy Letts, "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf"

Best Actress in a Play 
Cicely Tyson, "A Trip to Bountiful"
Bette Midler, "I'll Eat You Last"
Laurie Metcalf, "The Other Place"
Sigourney Weaver, "Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike"
Holland Taylor, "Ann"

Best Musical 
"Kinky Boots"
"A Christmas Story"

Best Musical Revival
"The Mystery of Edwin Drood"

Best Actor in a Muscial 
Billy Porter, "Kinky Boots"
Bertie Carvel, "Matilda"
Brandon Victor Dixon, "Motown"
Anthony Warlow, "Annie"
Rob McClure, "Chaplin"

Best Actress in a Musical
Patina Miller, "Pippin"
Lilla Crawford, "Annie"
Laura Osnes, "Cinderella"
Stephanie J. Block, "Edwin Drood"
Carolee Carmello, "Scandalous"

All My Children (AMC) and One Life to Live (OLTL) are Back!

As Petey walks into Opal's home the line "Everyone's watching TV online now" made me chuckle with glee. There is an obvious insider joke that All My Children known to fans as AMC, and One Life to Live or OLTL getting saved by Prospect Park and Hulu is the direction television is moving toward.

When we last left Pine Valley, JR was about to burst into the Chandler Mansion with a gun, and shoot folks. The opening sequence showed David (Vincent Irizarry) struggling with JR and shots ring out.  AMC reincarnation picks up five years after the sad incident.

I have missed these characters, returning to Pine Valley we have the incomparable Jesse (Darnell Williams) and Angie (Debbie Morgan) Dixie (Cady McClain), Opal (Jill Larson), Adam (David Canary) Brooke (Julia Barr), and Zach (Thorstyn Kaye), and of course a whole slew of the next Generation from Adam JR, Miranda, and a whole slew of guest stars on heading into town from Alicia Minshew's Kendall to Eden Riegel's Bianca.  The cast is smaller, there are lots new folks, and no Erica Kane or la Lucci as Regis calls her, but watching the show felt like coming home.

I fell in love with All My Children when my grandmother used to watch me, my grandpa would go in the other room (to finish the Young and the Restless) and I would watch AMC with my grandma.  I was sad when this show was cancelled, but I am excited to see who comes back, and where the new characters will take this reborn series.  David out of jail for manslaughter, watching the loving Angie and Jesse, and damn is Petey sexy!  I just hope Erica comes back to spar with Brooke, those fights have been some of my favorite over the years.

Leaving Pine Valley, and on Llanview. Returning to our computer screens there's Victoria Lord (Erika Slezak), Jerry verDorn (Clint Buchanan)Tuck Watkins (David Vickers), Dorian Lord (Robin Strasser), Natalie Buchanan (Melissa Archer) Tea Delgado (Florencia Lozano) Dannielle Manning (Kelley Misal), Bo Buchanan (Robert S. Woods) Nora Buchanan (Hillary B. Smith), Kassie DePaiva (Blair Manning), Roger Howarth (Todd Manning) and some recasts.

When OLTL left the air there were some cross over stories which brought Todd, Blair, Tea, Star, and John McBain to Port Charles. With these stars characters contractually obligated to to return to Prospect Parks version I am curious to see how all of this plays out.  At the moment the rumor is that many of the characters will return to Port Charles again,  but now as different characters. I have to say, don't do this!

More on the residents of Llanview and their own drama.  The show picks up, not far in the future with brand new club opening now known as Shelter, Dorian in a political scandal, Todd returning home, Vicki and Clint engaged, and masked men with a symbol on their arms wrestling and fighting.  Matthew and Destiny have been recast, and I have to say I am not as big of a fan of the new Destiny, I like that they had a heavier actress on the air, and this recast proves to be an interesting change of direction.

I started watching One Life to Live much later, and not as attached to this show as much as All My Children.  When I watched AMC I got chills for the return of these characters, and OLTL provided some excitement, just not the same level.  Over the last years of both shows One Life to Live was just a much better show, and more consistent.  When both were cancelled my heart sank a bit, ABC did a poor job by cancelling them both rather than investing in their long running programming.

Both AMC and OLTL come back on an equal playing field with this rebirth.  There were of course some pieces missing in both, from characters who should be there to some bad dialogue alluding too much to new technology, too much music blaring over dialogue, and some over acting but that's a Soap!  I am excited to see the direction these shows go because with the online market through Hulu they can be a huge success once again, bringing old and newer viewers back to these shows.  Watching Blair and Todd's fiery passion, or the long lasting Angie and Jesse, and seeing the new young ones is a blast.  Welcome back All My Children and One Life to Live!

Friday, April 26, 2013

A Tribute to Great Film: Carrie (1976)

I have to start by saying I am not a huge fan of the horror genre, but the original Carrie is not a horror film, but rather more of a thriller.  The film centers around Carrie White an outcast in high school, who is not only abused by her peers, but her mother is abusive as well.  Throughout the film Carrie discovers she has telekinesis, and with determination she can move things with her mind.  After a prank gone wrong Carrie's peers are punished, but they decide to get back at her, but Carrie's powers take things to a different level.

Carrie the film is a blending of two great minds, the author of the book Stephen King, and the director of the film Brian DePalma.  While versions are similar King's book deals more with the telekinesis as it relates to the horror genre, there are a few more survivors, and the aftermath is major part of the book warning against bullying.  In today's society more children should read this book, as a testament to the power of their actions.

DePalma's film version is one of those classic under rated films.  In a time and place and genre which can be sorely overlooked.  Horror/thrillers often are not taken seriously enough.  DePalma's work is a stroke of the visual manipulating the situation to be a simple story, that becomes so much more.  DePalma knows how to bring the visuals and technical aspects of his films to life, but Carrie may be his crowning achievement.  The cinematography and score always stand out.  Mario Tosi's cinematography captures color, and shading brilliantly highlighting the dark, and shadows well.  From the moment the pigs blood is dropped and the screen splits in that concluding scene the power of the cinematography takes over.  The cinematography is not the only thing, but the score from Pino Donnagio sets one of the haunting and ominous tones.  In a thriller the score is one of the most important elements, and Donnagio lets gives this film one creepy vibe.

Two of the other important pieces of this film are Carrie played superbly by Sissy Spacek and her mother Margaret White the genius Piper Laurie.  In lesser hands Carrie could have been this angst ridden teenager, but Spacek is so subtle and brilliant, while also being frightening that she nails ever level of this performance.  Laurie Margaret who was a religious zealot is scary on a different level; she terrifies you, yet makes you feel sad for her and her past.  Laurie is a talented actress, and while there are times I think the performance is a little over dramatic, but then I see people like her in the news, and realize she hit this character out of the park.  Carrie only had two Oscar nominations, for both tese ladies, but Spacek actually won the Best Actress prize at the National Society of Film Critics.

Carrie has had a lasting impact, the film was made into a Broadway musical in 1989, there was a sequel The Rage: Carrie 2 (only Amy Irving returned), and now there is a remake on its way this year with Chloe Grace Moretz (Kick-Ass) and Julianne Moore, the respective mother daughter roles.  While the film release this year has potential nothing can ever reach the quality of the original, or be as lasting of an image in the thriller genre as this film.

The Way Way Back is a Heartfelt Coming-of-Age Journey to Understanding Adulthood, filled with great Laughs

The Way Way Back (4 out of 5 Stars)
Directed and Written by: Nat Faxon, and Jim Rash (wrote The Descendants)
Starring: Steve Carell, Liam James, Toni Collette, Sam Rockwell, and Allison Janney

Films of this nature are highly scrutinized, and the poster and advertising set the stage for this.  The poster on the The Way Way Back say from the studio who bought you Little Miss Sunshine and Juno.  This film is like both of these movies, and even stars some of the same people, yet in this Steve Carell is a bit of a dick and married to the person who played his sister in Little Miss Sunshine, and Allison Janney doesn't love dogs she just is too involved in everyone's business, and sexually repressed. 

People are going to cal this film this years "insert indie dramedy" or compare it to Adventurland and there is problem that takes away from the spirit of the creativity of this actual film. I could go on and on forever about the comparison of film, but and while Back has those similar threads its film with a fun unique feel.  The film once again like this years Oblivion has similar tropes to the "Little Miss Sunshine" film, but is also a great film in its own right.

Back centers around Duncan (James) who is heading to a Summer vacation home with his mother Pam (Collette), her new boyfriend Trent (Carell), and Trent's daughter Steph (Zoe Levin).  As soon as this foursome get out of their car they are greeted by Trent's neigh Pam, who gets too close too soon, possibly because she is recently divorced, but she also spits out truth about her sons lazy eye, her gay ex husband and much more within the first five minutes of meeting her.  As the Summer progresses Duncan can't help but feel out of place; he does not feel comfortable surrounded by all these people especially Trent who he feels mistreats him, and his mother.  

Duncan eventually meets and is befriended by Owen who owns a water park called Water Wizz.  After the two meet over Pac Man there is an instant mentor friend relationship which develops as Duncan taks on a job at the water park, and realizes that people care about him.  Duncan is lost and finds solace in the world of misfits who go to, and and work at the water park, including the films writer director pair, Faxon and Rash who are incredibly funny.  As much as the film explores Duncan's development, the film is about maturation of adulthood, and relationships from all levels.

One thing I respect about this movie is the way Faxon and Rash as first time directors, and now more experience screen writers crafted this world.  One of the interesting things about the film, is that as you sit through the film you wonder if this was meant to be set in the 80s with the music (REO Speedwagon), the fact that it centers around a water park, the station wagon, and much more.  Yet the great thing about this film is that themes of divorce, isolation, and friendship transcend the concept of decades.

Faxon and Rash who co-wrote (and each won Oscars) with Alexander Payne for The Descendants, created something less melodramatic, and more earnest.  This script hits the write notes, never feeling heavy handed or shoving the emotional journey down your throat.  The moments they created within their script then directed within the big screen felt natural, free flowing, and never out place.  Their script may fit a bit of a formula, but their direction along with the wistful emotions they evoke of nostalgia negate any lazy aspect of the film.

One of the key things to highlight within the film is the truly great ensemble assembled within this film, Carell, Collette, Janney, Maya Rudolph, Rockwell, Rash, Faxon, Amanda Peet, Rob Corddry, AnnaSophia Robb, and Liam James.  The young actors who play the water park regulars also add some entertainment.  On paper this cast is a dream comedy cast, and they flex their dramatic muscles of course too.

In a Freaky Friday world Steve Carell plays a dick, and Sam Rockwell plays the good guy.  For those familiar with both of their work their pattern has been the exact opposite for most of their careers.  Do they pull it off?  Rockwell steals the film channeling some great Bill Murray (from his own mouth in interviews).  Rockwell is fantastic in this film as Owen who has a bit of Peter Pan syndrome, never wanting to grow up as he works at Water Wizz, but meeting Duncan helps him to realize he's the adult and he becomes a pseudo father figure to him.  Carell's Trent is simply put a dick, and Carell steps out of the "nice guy" roles and makes you hate him more than ever before, pulling off a solid transformation.

While Rockwell gives the best overall adult performance in the film, the scene-stealer is of course Allison Janney, her one liners are some of the funniest in the film.  Pam's character recovering from her divorce is just willing to say things how they are, but as you learn her veneer is a mask for loneliness you feel the character has fully formed, and you see this land many of the "adults" have made is a mask to hide from the real world.

At the center of all of this is Duncan, and Liam James starts this character from scratch; he is quiet, and watches as the world around him forms.  As he starts to run away from these adults who do not have their stuff together (but think they do); he runs to a world of adults who find solace in one another, and soon Duncan begins to grow on his own.  Susanna states "This is Spring Break for adults."  James is a solid younger actor, he gives the good as he begins to grow up himself, yet wanting his mother she does not need to settle for happiness.

Back was sold for the most money ever at Sundance, 10 million dollars, and the film had a production budget of only four million.  That's pretty impressive.  While the film does not reinvent the wheel, there is something special and fun about the story told here.  You can feel the personal touch from both Rash and Faxon, which make this movie beyond like able.  To me this is the combination of an homage/passion project, which make some of the best films.  Combined with these elements the cast is one of the best I have seen in a long time, making this one of the most enjoyable films of the year.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

This is the End is a Hilarious Tale of 'Real' Celebrities Dealing with the End of Days

This is the End (4 out of 5 Stars)
Directed by: Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg
Written by: Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg (Pineapple Express)
Starring: Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel, James Franco, Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson, and Danny McBride

Imagine the world is coming to world coming to an end, and you are at a party at James Franco's new stylish pad, and go.  That is the basic premise to the the film This is the End (set to be released June 12).  Apocalyptic movies often have dark/ominous tones, but why not have some laughs as the world falls out from under your feet? Literally!

End starts as its centers around Seth Rogen and Jay Baruchel two best friends from their Canada days playing themselves.  Everyone plays a version of them self in this movie, although Michael Cera's representation may be a bit exaggerated, and if not that's even funnier.  Jay is not an "L.A. guy" and is in town visiting Seth.  Seth and Jay end up going to a party at James Franco's house, insert a lot of amazing cameos from some of the funniest people working today, and you have one hell of a sequence.  After some pot and a need to get out of the party Jay drags Seth away from the fake Hollywood types only to have things go bat shit crazy.

I do not want to give any of the jokes from this film away, because they are far too funny.  Nor do I want to hype this movie the way people do with films like The Hangover or Bridesmaids, but its safe to say this may be the funniest film of the summer.  The cameos are endless, from Paul Rudd, Jason Segal, Kevin Hart, Mindy Kailing, Aziz Ansari, Emma Watson and many more.  There is one cameo towards the end which stole the show for me, but I will let you discover that masked man on your own.  

I think one of the best parts about this film is the clever way the script uses a version of reality to make fun of the situation, along with the actors and their true selves.  From the fact that Jonah Hill is a nice guy and now that he has an Oscar nomination he has to step up his game, or the gay jokes/rumors about James Franco, to the way the film pokes fun at films they have done like Seth Rogen in The Green Hornet.  Rogen knows his pals, and co-screenwriter (who has worked with all of these people before) knows how to stick the knife and jab with true comedic wit.  The script obviously has it flaws, the duo tend to sometimes let gags run on too long, and for those not in "the know" some of the gags may not make much sense.  Yet, the jokes were some of the funniest I have heard in a long time, especially anything that makes fun of Spider-Man 3.

This film is clever and a step ahead of both Superbad, and Pineapple Express (which came from the the same creative team.)  I have heard Seth Rogen talk about this project, and it was clearly something he was passionate about.  This film took a lot to get financed, and to find a production company, but when all was said and done the end result is something that will be remembered.  I like the direction from Rogen and Goldberg, they are taking comedy to a new level with this film.  While their previous collaborations have been funny, this film is both smart, and funny, which sets it apart from many films within its genre or type.  This is the End, is a not just a great comedy, but an laugh out loud enjoyable film.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Season (Series) Finale Schedule and Wishful Analysis

Get your DVRs ready folks the Broadcast networks are preparing to end the traditional television season, which what has most commonly been referred to as May sweeps.  In an interesting twist many shows actually ended in April or will be ending this week.

NBC shows The New Normal, which had a wedding and baby ended on April 2nd,  Go On ended April 11th, with a few episodes on Thursday nights further confusing fans and proving NBC has no idea how to put together a solid schedule.

Unlike NBC, the other "major networks are only ending one show each during this time, the CW had The Carrie Diaries (a midseason replacement) end on April 11th, ABC had Suburgatory end on 17th (another scheduling challenged network).

CBS will say end The Good Wife next Sunday on April 28th with a gubernatorial election for Peter and Alicia sucking face with Will.  I also think Alicia will join Carrie and they may both potentially leave Lockheart/Gardener.  The Good Wife traditionally leaves the air in April. FOX will also be ending Bones on April 29th, I do not watch so my comments are of course limited.

There are obviously cable and pay cable finales, but these never fit within that traditional September to May calendar season, but Shameless, Project Runway, Dallas, Spartacus, and Cougar Town have either ended this month or will be ending this week.

I guess I have to apologize in advance but I do not watch much CBS, so there is not much on here about that network.

One the main or may events!

May 1

The Americans (F/X) While this show did not strike my fancy I have heard good things, and I think it's great to see F/X doing so well!


Parks and Recreation (NBC) This year's finale does not have the same build up as last year, but that's alright!  Parks and Recreation has been knocking it out of the park.  Their development of all their characters and their growth is fantastic with keeping the core intact.

May 9th

Glee (FOX) While I have not faithfully watched this season, the show is a roller coaster of emotions, no not the story lines per say, but the back forth of I hate the the new folks, I love New York, no i like the new folks, why are they even in New York?  This show just got two more seasons, time pack it in!

Community (NBC) In what will very likely be the shows series finale (I wish last year's episode was) this show should use the cliche dream sequence because this year has just been bad, and I am going to pretend this season did not happen.  I miss you Dan Harmon!

May 12th

Once Upon a Time (ABC) The scene Regina versus Snow, who is this Tamara chick, and will Rumple go after his own grandson?  Once has not been as good as last year, but hopefully they tie things up rather than unravel too much.

Revenge (ABC) ABC has ADD with their shows they start with all this promise and the POOF nothing.  This is the case with the should have only been one season Revenge.  This season has been a big who cares!  Something will happen with initiative, Emily is getting engaged to Daniel again, come on folks lets get to more crossing people out with sharpies.

May 13th

How I Met Your Mother  (CBS) The wedding better happen, and I better get a glimpse of the mother, that's all I have to say!

May 14th

New Girl (FOX) There is no way CeeCee is going to make it down the alter, is she?  Schmidt and CeeCee belong together.  Excited to see more exploration of Jess and Nick, their first date was hilarious.

May 15th

Arrow (CW) One of the most entertaining first year shows of the 2012-2013 television season.  Interested to see how the will leave this show hanging.

May 16th 

American Idol (FOX) Spoiler alert, a woman will win.  Oh wait there are only women left.  Time to put this show out to pasture, who cares about any of these judges.

The Office (NBC) I am getting misty that this show is going to be ending forever this year.  I need the Pam and Jim fighting to end, I would like to see Michael back even if briefly.

Grey's Anatomy (ABC) What will Shonda do does she have something shocking planned?  I think after last year's ending this one will be way calmer.  My hope is good news for Meredith and her baby.

Scandal (ABC) I am intrigued to see where Olivia and the President will go next, I like the way Shonda amps up the drama.  Will Olivia be bested by Scott Foley's character, with her team not likely but who is working with the terrorist and why?

The Vampire Diaries (CW) So who is left on this show?  With a spin off and the end of high school on the horizon I am intrigued where this show is heading next.

May 19th

The Cleveland Show  (FOX) Goodbye Cleveland, this is a series finale, will he head back to Family Guy with his family, or is this the end of the permanency of this character?

May 22nd

Modern Family (ABC) Modern Family unlike most shows is more conventional and never has a major end of the year event, although last year they announce Gloria's pregnancy, I would like to see a Cam and Mitch wedding.  

May 25th 

Smash (NBC) I hope this is not the series finale, but maybe it's better for this show to go out on top, and with achieving its purpose.  I like the direction this show has moved toward.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Performer to Watch : Anna Camp

After watching Pitch Perfect for maybe the 10th time (or more) I was struck by someone other than "bigger stars" Rebel Wilson, Anna Kendrick, and Brittany Snow, the person who has stood out to me tonight was Anna Camp.

The first time I saw Camp was in the second season of True Blood as Sarah Newlin.  As Jason explored his hate for vampires with religious zealots he met the Newlins.  Jason wanted to do right by Steve, but the sexual tension between Ryan Kwanton (Jason) and Sarah Newlin (Camp) could be cut with a knife.  Camp was under rated performer in the show, and I am excited for her return this season, even though I think True Blood should have already ended.

Like many of the past performers to watch Camp started out in scene stealing roles in television series along with her role of True Blood, Camp had a long arc of the CBS drama The Good Wife, which helped set out the competitive nature within Alicia.  Camp was was also criminally under used in The Mindy Project this past season, how this show could not properly use her talent is beyond me, and shows the weakness within this television show.

Along with True Blood, Camp has had guest roles in the television series Glee, Mad Men, Love Bites, Vegas, and House of Lies.  Camp's first recognizable film role was a small part in The Help as one of the women was part of Hilly's circle named Jolene.  Pitch Perfect is Camp's largest film role to date, and  her vomiting scene made a mark!

Camp is going to be heavily courted for numerous television shows, watch she may be a part of the fall line up, but at the moment her main projects coming up this year are two films entitled Goodbye to All That, and Autumn Wanderer.  Camp is a performer to watch on the big and small screen, and she deserves it!

Oblivion is a Sleek Throwback to the Old School Sci-Fi, the Story may not be Original, but the End Result is Solid

Oblivion (3 1/2 out of 5 Stars)
Directed by Joseph Kosinski (Tron: Legacy)
Written by Joseph Kosinski, Karl Gajdusek (Tresspass), Michael Arndt (Little Miss Sunshine)
Starring: Tom Cruise, Olga Kurylenko, Andrea Riseborough, Melissa Leo, and Morgan Freeman

I think the the most common complaint I have heard with regard to this film is "been there done that."  Some of the most common themes throughout this film have been seen before, a desolate New York City landscape (Planet of the Apes), a bright glowing red light alien (2001: A Space Odyssey), robots mining the ground for safety which is similar to themes from Wall-E, and many more.  Over the years many themes throughout sci-fi have been shower rinsed and repeated, and while this film has many of repeated, but this film is still well made and is harkens back to classic sci fi films.

Oblivion centers around Jack (Cruise) in 2077 who is sent on daily missions to extract resources, and fix drones who protect the Earth from aliens, Scavs who attacked Earth.  Earth is in a desolate state and Jack along with his partner Victoria (Riseborough) carry out the tasks from Sally (Leo) on the space ship, which hovers above Earth, and holds the some of the people who made it out safely from the attack. While on the missions Jack sees glimpses of his past, scenes of him on the Empire State Building with an unknown woman, something he can'e help shake.  After a ship crashes Jack saves a woman who is almost killed by a drone, and the pieces of this peaceful missions start to fall a part,  and the glimpses of the memories he once had start to unfold.

Joseph Kosinski whose first feature film was Tron: Legacy steps up his directorial game.  While Tron was a bloated mess Kosinski has found this incredible balance which create great action packed drama, while never shoving the intense action packed world down our throats.  There is one scene where Jack is involved with a chase in his cruiser (do not want to give out any spoilers), and the direction blew me away, one solid action sequence that had me on the edge of my seat.  One of the other key pieces is the land he creates within this film, Kosinski has an architectural background, and this leads to creating some of the most beautifully designed areas, from the base where Jack and Victoria live to the destroyed New York Public Library.  

Kosinski was also the architect for the original graphic novel, which this film was based.  The film went through numerous re-writes, and while the writing is not bad, the strength of the film is not within the script.  The script was originally co-written by William Monahan, but Karl Gajdusek stepped in (and is credited) and Universal had Michael Arndt do a final overhaul on the script.  While the writers did a good job of making the complicated story, well less complicated there were moments when the love story fell flat, or they held on too long to a concept or an idea, like what the radiation zone actually was.

The thing which makes this film beautiful is the visual effects combined with the imagery captured bye Life of Pi cinematographer Claudio Miranda.  These two elements create a film, which has some of the most haunting moments that leave you wanting to be able to reach out and touch this world.  Miranda's shot of Jack and Victoria swimming, and under water were beautiful along with the dark and desolate dessert mixed with the hope of the life growing in the forrest.  Together these elements created a visual mind field of greatness.  Combine that with the perfect futuristic sounding score from M83 and the technical aspects make the film what it is!

In the end I have to give credit to Tom Cruise, while many dislike this man for his personal beliefs you can't hold against him that he is, and has continued to be one of the strongest leading men for a long time.  Cruise has the charisma you long for on the screen, and his believability within this role, helps you connect to his own journey as Jack reaches (great pun right-Jack Reacher-I digress) for a something which feels real in an artificial setting.  

Oblivion is much better than expected, and never say "this has been done before" because if you used that as excuse to say a movie is sloppy or bad, you would be saying that about most films.  This film is by no means perfect, but separates itself from most tent-pole action films with heart and determination.

Apocalypse Now? Film and Television's Obsession with the Apocalypse

Last night I saw the film Oblivion (review to come), and as I was sitting in the film I realized something, film and television have started to use the trope of the end of the world, more than ever before.  There have of course been numerous films about a post apocalyptic earth in both film and television ranging from The Planet of the Apes series (original 1968), to both versions of the television series Battlestar Gallactica (1978, 2004) to the Mad Max series (original 1979), 12 Monkeys (1995), The Road (2009), and so many more.  The end of world has always been on our mind, and whether its at the hand of apes, a cancer treatment drug, laziness, zombies, or aliens it appears to be on the mind of people more than ever.

NBC's Revolution may have been at the start of the most recent upswing.  The television series follows Earth as though the a big giant plug was pulled somewhere, and all the electronics we have come to rely upon have all but disappeared.  Like with most post-apocalyptic films or television series, a small group of tough as nails survivors battle against a group or people who will prevent the Earth from returning to its former glory.

Glory and empire status seem to be one of the trends which flow through these types of films.  As you you look at America specifically, America became a dominant power toppling the once great English empire in the Revolutionary War.

Martin Scorsese is quoted as saying "I love studying Ancient History and seeing how empires rise and fall, sowing the seeds of their own destruction."

Throughout time a cliche American phrase or quote has arisen "all great empires fall."  Which relates back to Scorsese's quote, and the recent trend within these apocalyptic films.  Film makers and television auteurs use these acts of destruction and rebirth to show the vulnerability and fragility within a people.

One of the few clever parts of the Oblivion screenplay is is the fact that Cruise's character picks up Thomas Babbington Macaulay's Lays of Ancient Rome, the passage specifically states:

“To every man upon this earth
Death cometh soon or late.
And how can man die better
Than facing fearful odds,
For the ashes of his fathers,
And the temples of his gods?"

This quote relates beautifully to the the theme of Oblivion, but the book and the reference to the Roman Empire is what has started the inspiration for what I will refer to as the "end of days" films and television series.  As Scorsese stated studying the rise and fall of empires is fascinating, and many Americans believe the end is near or has essentially happened for America, so the jingoism is gone, and bring on the onslaught of films which not only show the end of one empire, but an end to everything.

Beyond this year's Oblivion and Revolution which started in the fall of 2012, there are numerous films about the "end of days" being released this year.  June kicks off with another film, entitled, After Earth which stars Will Smith, son Jaden, and directed by "I see dead people" M. Night Shyamalan.  Earth looks similar to Oblivion, in feel, but explores more of the father son dynamic as opposed to a love story in Oblivion.  World War Z looks more in the vein of I am Legend, and 28 Days Later.  Z follows the concept of a zombie like apocalypse, and a race for a cure to save the world.  Neil Blonkamp's August release Elysium is an apocalyptic world creating a division between the haves and have nots.

While Earth, Z, and Elysium follow the dramatics of an apocalyptic world, there are also numerous films which will explore the humorous side of the end of the Earth.  It's a Disaster is a comedy which follows two couples who are trying to escape a terrorist attack after brunch in New York City.  This is the End from Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg (release date June 12th) is another comedy much like It's a Disaster (unnamed at the moment, which sets a set of celebrities basically playing versions of themselves fighting an apocalyptic situation. Craig Robinson (The Office's Darryl) stars in This is the End, and has his own June Comedy "end of days" film entitle Rapture-Palooza, which is also a comedy.  Who knew the end of earth or society was as funny, but I am intrigued by this different take on the genre.

If you look at all films and television series recently there is one clear trend, the fear and fascination of our crumbling world.  Whether through the lens of laughter, tears, or an action packed sci-fi world, all of these films are trending at the moment the way in which vampires did the last few years.  Will we move on with the obsession, or is "this the end of world as we know it."

Monday, April 15, 2013

A Tribute to Boston and it's Great Relevance in History and Popular Culture

I am not one to manipulate to emotional capacity of one event, but as a resident of Boston it is hard to
ignore how much of an impact today's event had on me, my friends, the residents of of Boston, marathon runners, and many many more.  Today something happened in Boston, which has yet to be defined, but more specifically two bombs went off, people have passed away, and come out injured.  Yet the thing to remember is the beauty and resilience of this city.

I have never been a huge fan of Boston, partially because I am a New Yorker at heart, and it always feels as though the New Yorker in me battles it out with being a Bostonian.  Most of these rivalries come from the Yankees versus Red Sox, Celtics versus Knicks, Patriots versus Jets type rivalries.  Yet beyond the realm of sports rivalries and differences Boston is one great city with loads of spirit, and is a force to reckoned with maybe second to New York City.

Boston has such great relevance in the history of our country.  From the birth of many fore fathers, to the beginning of the fight of "no taxation without representation," the Boston Tea Part, all the way to Fenway Park, the Prudential Center, and of course Patriots Day/Marathon Monday.  The city of Boston represents the birthplace of the spirit with which this country has been founded.

Then of course as related to this blog there are great television shows, and films which have been set in this city like Cheers, The Practice, Fringe, St. Elsewhere, Good Will Hunting, The Town, The Departed, The Social Network and many more.  There are also numerous celebrities and famous folks born within this city ranging from the historical like John Adams, John Quincy Adams, Samuel Adams,  Calvin Coolidge, to the celebrities like Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Mindy Kailing, and so many more.

Boston is home to lots of famous events, and famous people past and present, but the most important part is the people who make up the city, and the way they interact to make this such a special place.  Boston is an amazing place, and it will rise above the latest tragedy, and remain strong as we come together as one.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

MTV Movie Award Winner Predictions

In order to predict these awards I have to think like a tween, so here it goes!

Best Film
The Avengers
Django Unchained
The Dark Knight Rises
Silver Linings Playbook

In a year without Twilight, like a year without a Santa Clause MTV will finally pick a "good" film to win this award.  Odds are that the biggest hit of the year Avengers will probably win here, but look out this is anyone's game!  I think the two films, which should not be under estimated are Ted and Django. Dark Knight was not beloved, Playbook appeals more to women (probably the larger voting block) so that could change things here.

My Prediction: The Avengers
Spoilers: Ted and Silver Linings Playbook

Best Male Performance
Ben Affleck-Argo
Daniel Day-Lewis-Lincoln
Bradley Cooper-Silver Linings Playbook
Jaimee Foxx-Django Unchained
Channing Tatum-Magic Mike

Sorry Ben the kids do not care you did not get a Best Director nomination.  This is an award based on sex appeal, namely a battle between Cooper and Tatum.  I think Tatum has a bigger younger female fan base, thus sealing his win.

My Prediction: Channing Tatum-Magic Mike
Spoiler: Bradley Cooper-Silver Linings Playbook

Best Female Performance
Anne Hathaway-Les Miserables
Mila Kunis-Ted
Jennifer Lawrence-Silver Linings Playbook
Emma Watson-Perks of Being a Wallflower
Rebel Wilson-Pitch Perfect

J-Law wins by a landslide! Watson's Hermione past and strong fan base could help her win, but doubtful.

My Predictions: Jennifer Lawrence-Silver Linings Playbook

Best Breakthrough Performance
Ezra Miller-Perks of Being a Wallflower
Eddie Redmayne-Les Miserables
Suraj Sharma-Life of Pi
Quvenzhane Wallis-Beasts of the Southern Wild
Rebel Wilson-Pitch Perfect

Wilson has three nominations technically, is the host and the most famous of these five at the moment, I think this is easily hers to win.

Will Win: Rebel Wilson

Other Categories
Best Fight: Seth MacFarlene versus Mark Wahlberg-Ted
Best Kiss: Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence-Silver Linings Playbook
Best Villain-Leonardo DiCaprio-Django Unchained
Musical Moment-Pitch Perfect
Scared as Shit Performance-Jennifer Lawrence-House at the End of the Street
On Screen Duo-Seth MacFarlene and Mark Wahlberg
Shirtless Performance-Channing Tatum-Magic Mike
WTF Moment-Pitch Perfect