Oh man, there’s just so much I don’t even know where to begin (and probably won’t even begin to cover everything that happened here). This week was exhausting, frightening, exhausting, crazy, exhausting, overwhelming, and did I mention exhausting? It’s bad (I think) when you’re numb to waking up so early and working through so long just within the first week of school.
I got to the school everyday between 7:15-7:25 or so, and I often stayed anywhere from 4:15-4:50 (that latest was Friday, though). But then I’d have to go home and start prepping for later, not to mention work on other stuff, like my online class. I now know why they only allow one extra class if needed and recommend not working and all that other stuff while student teaching. It’s insane.
Now let me see if I can remember all week (my brain has rather melted, so it’s all kind of blending together). Monday, all I really did was observe my mentor teacher all day. There was only really one major classroom management problem, but my mentor teacher had what she likes to call a “coming to Jesus meeting” with the guy on Tuesday, and he hasn’t been a problem since. Wednesday I started with taking roll call and going around to pick up signed/filled-out forms and such from the students who hadn’t yet turned them in. Thursday I went from doing roll call and picking up forms to doing both of those, as well as going over the warm-up vocabulary word the “regular English 3” kids have to write down at the beginning of class. I also went over vocabulary with the sixth period creative writing class.
However, there was a pretty big classroom management problem with that class (even for my mentor teacher), and it didn’t bode very well with me. Everybody was loud and talking, even when I was trying to teach, and almost nobody really got the part of the assignment done that we were going over in class. So I told my mentor teacher that I felt like I pretty much sucked, so she had a big talk with me about being more authoritative with the class and about how I needed to just sit down and have this discussion on how to act with all of them. So I had to start planning that out for the next day (Friday), as well as preparing for becoming more authoritative with the other kids so they’d get their warm-ups done easier (and help them get into the right pattern). So Friday I was more authoritative with the regular English 3 kids, and a few of them actually helped me quiet the others so I could get them working. And then, at the beginning of the creative writing class, I gave my little speech on when/how loud to talk and how to act in the classroom (which I practiced in one form or another all day during my down time). So when we went to finish up the vocabulary work, they were all working quieter than usual, and if they got too loud, one or two of the students would work with me to help quiet the others down a bit (of their own will, too). And when we went over the vocabulary, everybody was practically done and ready with their answers, unlike the previous day, which made it a really big step for me.
Other than all of that, I did a lot of paper-work involved things (taking papers, filing stuff, making an insane amount of copies, etc.). I’ve become very friendly with the copy machine. I’ve also had to start reading yet another book that I’ll have to help teach later on. One thing that’s a bit awkward is when a student asks me a question if my mentor teacher is busy, and I don’t know the answer (because it’s usually a procedural question, not a content question). But I’m starting to pick up easier on those. I also found that I’ve become friendlier with both the students and the teachers as the week has gone on. When we started, I was a bit quiet and shy, just off to the side or whatnot. By Friday, I was already joking, laughing, and having full-on conversations with the students and teachers both.
I know there’s like a million other things I’m not listing here, from actual classroom experiences with students (and there’s just so many of them!) to things I’ve been a part of/participated in (like in meetings, in re-arranging the classroom, or in helping to create answer keys for a pre-test). It’s also kinda funny that I found both my mentor teacher and myself labeling classes by association with one student. For instance, ‘second period is the one with so-and-so, third person is the one with him/her,’ etc. And speaking of that, remembering all these names is tough. I’ve got the majority of them down, but there’s still a small handful that I’m trying to remember. But I think remembering the majority of around 120 students throughout the day is pretty good.
Oh, and one interesting story to share… there was a rat that died inside the coke machine in the downstairs teacher’s lounge (the English teacher’s lounge, basically). And not only did it die in the machine, but it died right near part of the machine that was basically cooking the thing in there, and also right next to a fan in the machine that was blowing the smell all around the place. The downstairs of the building stank really bad all week. They coca-cola people finally came and took the machine away Friday, but it’s still lingering.
I know I’m just kind of rambling now, but there’s so much that’s happened, and I don’t even think I’ve begun to break the surface on everything, because there’s just been way too much. I guess I’ll stop there for now. Next week will be even more interesting, because I’m actually gonna be taking over the creative writing class completely (my own lessons and everything). So that’ll be an interesting experience.
And one last thing… it’s way weird, and it’s gonna take me quite a while to get used to, being called ‘Mr. my-last-name’. Okay, I think that’s it for now.
Both reviews this time are movies that deal, in some form or fashion, with music. The first is a documentary about a specific type of music that’s been exploding into popularity around the world, while the second is a musical that’s been pretty popular for years now (and I’m assuming pretty much everybody has seen it by now, so there are some pretty obvious spoilers). So let’s get to it.
The Wizard Rockumentary.
The Wizard Rockumentary is a documentary about the rise and evolution, popularity, and overall purpose of Wizard Rock (AKA Wrock) through the course of seven years. For those that don’t know, Wizard Rock is when a band or soloist—whether good or bad, it doesn’t matter—writes and performs songs about the Harry Potter books. The documentary details a huge, uncountable amount of Wrock bands, but keeps its focus on (or at least keeps coming back to most often) a specific four: The Switchblade Kittens, who were an actual mainstream band that evolved into a Wrock band and actually created the first Wrock song; Harry and the Potters, who were the first actual (and most popular/famous) Wrock band; Draco and the Malfoys, whose music is like the antithesis of Harry and the Potters (obviously); and The Remus Lupins, which is just one guy, but does very well.
As I said, the purpose of the film is to detail the rise and evolution, popularity, and purpose of Wrock. It begins back in 2000 and spans from then up to 2007 when the final Harry Potter book is released. What the movie does well is in telling the purpose of having a Wrock band, which isn’t to make money (and if you do, it pretty much goes to charity) or to be the best band in the world, but to make songs about books, to get other people to read books and make songs about them, and to just have fun while you’re doing it. It’s all about the fun, and you really see how much fun these people are having while doing this. And there’s a huge range of ages in this—which is another point, as it doesn’t matter what age you are, you can Wrock—from 7 up to even the 40s (maybe 50s). And there’s a whole bunch of different styles of music, too. There’s the more feel-good music of Harry and the Potters, the downright nasty (though hilarious) lyrics of Draco and the Malfoys, the more adult-themed music of The Whomping Willows… it just goes on and on, and some of them are really good and very funny. And most of them are typically through the perspective of the band name (for instance, Harry and the Potters write songs through Harry’s perspective, The Hermione Crookshanks Experience goes through Hermione’s perspective, The Whomping Willows through the tree’s perspective, etc.). Any way you look at it, it’s awesome.
The only downfall of the film, really, was the band of the two kids (the one being 7… the other having to be around 4 or so). Calling themselves The Hungarian Horntails, these two boys dubbed their music Dragon Rock and was mostly a bunch of screaming instead of actual music or lyrics. And their purpose contradicts that of actual Wizard Rock, as they clearly state they’re doing this to become famous and make money (I know they’re just little kids, but still). And I know the purpose of putting them in the documentary was to show that even little kids can Wrock, but it just felt a bit out of place. Though there are a few good lines given by Harry and the Potters about them, which almost made up for their inclusion, so that did make it a bit better.
Otherwise, the movie was done well. It’s interesting how most documentaries will follow one specific person (or a select group) or company or event and detail it/them, sometimes even giving the documentary a conflict or story arch (such as with The King of Kong). However, this film doesn’t do that. Instead of documenting something physically specific, it’s documenting an idea, a theme, and that almost makes the film a bit more powerful in doing so. It shows that these people aren’t a bunch of crazy, no-life losers, but normal people just like everybody else who just want to read books, make music, and have a blast—it doesn’t matter if you’re the best singer or the best musician. And to me, that says quite a bit. So I recommend the film to those of you who are either Harry Potter fans or music fans, or even those of you who could be interested in either (like King of Kong did with video games, I don’t necessarily think you need to be a big fan of Harry Potter to understand what this film is saying/doing). Unfortunately, though, it can’t be found in stores; instead, it can be found at www.wizardrockumentary.com. And one last thing… I totally love the tagline of the film—“A Movie About Rocking and Rowling.” I just thought that was totally clever. So yeah… Read. Rock. Love. Peace out!
A Keanu 'Whoa'
The Nightmare Before Christmas.
A movie in which Tim Burton gets all the credit, but he didn’t even direct! Still good, though. Jack Skellington (Chris Sarandon/Danny Elfman) is the Pumpkin King, the scariest in all of
I don’t have too terribly much to say about the film, so I’ll split it into two bits: the positive and the negative.
The positive: The animation/claymation style of the movie is done very nicely, and there are some really beautiful shots, even, all throughout the film. I really loved anything where the moon is in the background, or anytime the film played with shadows (such as with Oogie Boogie in the first half of the film). The music is very good and catchy, and I really like pretty much every song in the film.
The negative: It seems as if there’s just something missing, like the movie needs to be a bit longer. Everything just moves so quickly. And besides Jack and Sally, every character is pretty flat and one-dimensional. Oogie Boogie isn’t really mentioned as a character until about halfway through the film (though you see hints of him at the beginning), and you see him toward the end, though the final confrontation isn’t really built up, and then when it happens, it goes by in about a minute and then it’s all over. So not only is the villain barely set up (to the point where you don’t really dislike him because he’s there so little), but he’s overtaken very quickly and easily, making for a rather boring and tense-less climax. It’s fun to look at, but there was no thrill. There’s also a bit toward the end that makes a connection that’s like “wait, what?” Jack is questioning Sally as to why she tried to help him (the most famous and likable person in
But besides that, the movie was fun. As I said, the music and visuals were good, and the movie is an all-around good time. I’m a big fan of musicals, and I think this is a pretty good one for all intents and purposes. I just think it could have been a bit longer to help with the character development.
A Keanu 'Whoa'
To start off with the good, the visuals, both special effects and cinematography, were amazing. The grittiness of
However, one negative aspect to the visual style was the fight scenes, though only those wherein there was physical fist-fighting. It was slightly annoying in that it would constantly cut out just before the moment of impact to where you would never actually see the hit. And with both Vin Diesel and Michelle Yeoh fighting, that's pretty lame. The other action-type sequences, however, were done very nicely.
Another negative issue, and this won't really come as a shock to most, was the acting. I mean, the acting was pretty bad. And I don't just mean from Vin, but from pretty much every actor/actress in the film. And part of that might have had to do with some of the dialogue they were given, but some of it was just... eh.
The story, on the other hand, was good. The movie started off a bit slow. It doesn't really start to pick up until after the first 30 or so minutes. But after then, it gets pretty good. The movie almost comes off as more of a mystery with action than an action movie with mystery. The whole movie is about figuring out what the heck is actually going on with this girl he's transporting (even though the trailer pretty much spoils it if you pay attention closely enough). But you don't really find out until the end. And speaking of the ending, this is where the movie starts to get a bit shaky. It's interesting, but it all starts to go in an awkward direction and gets a bit choppy. And then the very end (the final scene)... I'm not sure what it was about it, but it just really bugged me. I couldn't put my finger on it in the theater, and I still can't now, but I just knew that the quick final scene was, frankly, silly and poorly done.
Otherwise, the movie was entertaining. The acting, ending, and fight scenes bring it down a bit, but the (at the very least) intriguing story and amazing visuals shoot it up a bit, as well. And I enjoyed the bit of social commentary that flowed throughout the film, whether directly or subtly. And that's really all about I have to say on it.
I Am McLovin!
(P.S. For clarification, this movie is by no means a great piece of film... I just enjoyed it in the guilty pleasure kind of way (and, again, because I really did love the visuals)).
Title: Disaster Movie.
Pre-Thoughts: Ha....hahahahaha.... hahahahahaha..... No. (And I can see all the 'clever puns' already. I won't associate myself with them. I refuse!).
She's Gone From Suck to Blow!
Title: Babylon A.D.
Pre-Thoughts: Oh man, I don't care if it's Vin Diesel. The man's acting doesn't bug me. I'm totally psyched for this movie. I'm probably gonna see it tomorrow, maybe (if I don't go to this other thing I was thinking about going to). It looks so awesome. Though I have read some early reviews that made the movie sound less than average... but they were from awhile back when it was still in the editing process (like... test screenings), so it could have been fixed by now. So who knows.
A Keanu 'Whoa'
Title: Hamlet 2.
Pre-Thoughts: Reviews for this are all over the place... and I don't mean in where you can find them (because it had only been released in like... 100 theaters last week). A lot of reviews are pretty negative, and a handful argue otherwise. I'm not sure. I just know that as a literary kinda guy (and a guy who loves quirky comedies and theology), I think anything that mixes Hamlet and Jesus (with a musical number of 'Rock Me Sexy Jesus') has to be awesome. And it IS coming here, so that's cool. I might check it out some time.
I Am McLovin!
Pre-Thoughts: Again, a movie with mixed reviews. Some say it's a boggle of good and bad. Some say it's an epic in a hollywood shell. Some say one part is good and the other not-so-much (kinda in the same way Hancock was described). But I thought the trailers made it look pretty good. And I'm not usually into political thrillers, either, so that's saying something. I might give this a look at some point, too. If not in theater, then definitely a rental. I do wanna see it eventually.
I Am McLovin!
Pre-Thoughts: Drake Bell and... a couple other guys... who are still in high school end up going to check out college campuses and getting mixed up in some crazy stuff... huh. At most, it'd be interesting to see Drake Bell in a lead role in something other than a Nickelodeon show or a TV commercial. And there are parts of the trailer that look kinda funny. But I don't know if I'll check this one out in theater. I'll probably see it eventually. I just don't think I'd wanna use my precious time and money (and they are precious) on it in theater.
Stop Saying Okay! Okay.
- Vin Diesel recently announced that he and David Twohy are still planning on making the two last Riddick films! This has me so excited, because I didn't think they were gonna make any more. The last one left off at such a cliffhanger, and it really needed more to fill out/continue the story. Plus, that just means more Riddick, one of the coolest sci-fi anti-heroes ever.
- On and even more nerdy side, the trailer for Dragonball will be coming out mid-October! I know I'm one of the few really looking forward to this movie, but whatever. If it has to be a guilty pleasure, so be it. I can't wait.
- So I recently saw the trailer for the Max Payne movie. Good God, that movie looks awesome. But my question is... for such a huge blockbuster-esque movie as this looks to be, why on Earth have they not advertised this more? It's coming out in October (it's the movie the Dragonball trailer is coming out with), and yet I didn't see the trailer until I went to see Mirrors. Huh...
Brief Synopsis: Classic Claymation Musical About Halloween Finding Christmas!
Comments: For the longest time, I looked and looked for this movie on DVD with no avail. And now it's finally hitting DVD with a special edition release. I'm so there.
Viewing Option: Buy.
Brief Synopsis: Season Two Of Great Superhero TV Show.
Comments: I want to get this, because I love this show, but I have neither the money to spend on it nor the time to watch it at the moment. And it's also seen as an inferior season to the incredibly amazing first season... but what show's second season didn't suck? Plus, Volume 3: Villains looks orgasmic.
Viewing Option: Eventual Buy (Otherwise TV).
Brief Synopsis: Ashton Kutcher And Cameron Diaz Get Drunk-Married In Vegas And Stuff Happens After That.
Comments: Didn't care too much about this one in theater, but a lot of people I've talked to said it's really funny... and it did stay in theater for ages. I might check it out at some point. But I'm in no hurry.
Viewing Option: Rent or TV.
Brief Synopsis: A Movie About A Conflicted Martial Arts Instructor.
Comments: It didn't come out here, but I heard pretty mixed reviews of it when it did first come out to theater. I'm not bursting at the seams to see this, even though the lead actor in it (guy with hard to say/spell name) is pretty good.
Viewing Option: Rent or TV.
Brief Synopsis: The Story Of Ariel's Mother (Or Something Like That)... A Prequel To The Original.
Comments: Eh... the first was a classic, but this probably won't be for me. No thanks.
Viewing Option: Skip.
The movie is about down-and-out Jack Bau… erm… Ben Carson (Keifer Sutherland), who was forced to resign from his detective duties after he accidentally killed another cop. His marriage with his supernaturally hot wife, Amy (Paula Patton), is also failing, though he’ll do anything to be with his two kids. So he’s living with his sister, Angela (Amy Smart), and trying to get his life back in order by getting addicted to pills that help get over alcoholism and getting a job as a security officer to help get over killing a cop. So what is he security for? Well… something that really doesn’t need guarding. It’s a big Mayflower store that got burned down, so he has to guard all the crap inside that wasn’t destroyed by smoke or fire (at least I think so… if it was really explained at all, I missed it), including some really big mirrors. But then it turns out that something is inside the mirrors and is both haunting and attacking him and his loved ones. So Ben is forced to figure out what the mirrors want and act all detective-like in order to save his family.
You can tell that the plot and everything about it is based on a foreign movie, because it’s similar to pretty much every other
The music was good, though I think the movie relied too heavily on it. It was almost overpowering in its use. And I know the director has the ability to be creepy or scary without the intense music. Nevertheless, it was still a pretty decent soundtrack.
And speaking of the director, if there’s one thing that Alexandre Aja knows how to do, it’s setting the atmosphere. When I saw the remake of The Hills Have Eyes, I could almost feel the heat of the desert along with the characters, and I could feel their isolation and terror. Similarly, the way this movie was shot, I could feel the paranoia and tension brought on by any reflective surface. And mirrors have always been a scare-tactic in horror movies, but to widen the range to any reflective surface and have any of these reflective surfaces be the cause of death increases the tension of almost every minute of the movie, because you’re always waiting for that next scare, not knowing if it’ll come or not.
The acting was a bit mediocre, but it only bothered me a couple of times. Seriously, by the time the end of the movie starts to kick into gear and Paula Patton is soaking wet in a white tank-top, I couldn’t care less about acting. I mean, some of it was good, but most of it… not so much. And I couldn’t tell if it was because of the actors or because of the script they were given, as some of the characters came off wrong. There was one scene that really bugged me, toward the beginning (and I think this was more of a writing issue). But Keifer and Paula are arguing, Paula having started it, and out of nowhere Paula yells at him. She just goes off. And then Keifer tries to keep it cool, but eventually yells back. And then, I kid you not, Paula’s character is like (and I’m paraphrasing here) “See? That’s what I mean. I never know how you’re going to act,” or, in other words, “why the hell are you yelling at me? It’s not like I just bit your head off first and then acted all innocent and hypocritical in the situation. Oh whatever, let’s make out.” And then they proceed to forget everything and do so. Oh, and one last thing about the writing that bugged me. How coincidental can you get when everything you need to solve the case is right at your fingertips? For instance, Ben was a former detective, so he had a couple connections in getting old hospital files and such. Or how his wife was a mortician, and he needed to urgently see a corpse that had recently been added to the morgue, so she was able to get him in. Just stuff like that was too cliché and too simplistic.
Overall, the movie wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be. The CGI was a bit too fake at times, and the plot turned pretty sketchy every now and then. But there was a good balance between tension and gore. The visual style, I think, was the best part about the movie, with constant showings of reflections in different objects. The very end of the movie didn’t make much sense, though. I mean, I understand what happened, but I just don’t know how it happened. Though I did have to smirk at a comment somebody made as I was leaving the theater, which really fit in with how
Indeed, movie-goer. Indeed.
Stop Saying Okay! Okay.
As I have to write these 'blog posts' for my student teacher seminar, I figured I might as well post them up here, as well (this blog is 'random ramblings', after all). For those who don't already know, I am a student teacher this semester. The seminar class that goes with the student teaching requires us to write up weekly 'blogs' over what happened that week during student teaching. As such, see the first sentence I typed above. I'll be putting them here so as to chronicle my path (at least as far as student teaching goes) to graduation in December. I figured that I should keep y'all updated, as y'all will probably get fewer reviews/articles or whatnot due to this student teaching thing, so I should at least keep y'all updated on the stuff that's keeping me away. Also, I know that one of my readers has decided to become a teacher (albeit an elementary one), so this might be of at least some service to him. That having been said, interesting or not, here you are.
For Thursday and Friday (August 21 and 22), I went to
On Thursday, I met up with my mentor teacher at . We discussed a few minor things while she got some stuff ready on her computer. I then discovered that her room is like the central hub of activity with a lot of the teachers gravitating there for one reason or another (usually to comment or ask a question). So a lot of this happened over the course of both days.
Not too long after I got there, she took me around and introduced me to a lot of the other English teachers before heading over to the next building and introducing me to Vice Principals, the Principal’s secretary, the councilors, and others. I was also shown where the teacher mailboxes were located. We then headed to one of the IT buildings where she had to talk to somebody about getting me an ID tag.
After the walk-about, we went back to her room where I helped scan and save documents to her computer. She also showed me the online grade book and attendance sheets, etc. Other minor things occurred throughout the morning that have really slipped my mind.
But after lunch, around , the entire English department (including the Special Ed teachers) got together for a department meeting. A lot of information was discussed to the point of overwhelming. But one of the big things they’re instating this year is called “The Power of ‘I’.” What this means is that no student will fail anything, including the class. If the students refuse to do work or just miss work, instead of getting a 0, they’ll get an I (incomplete). And if they have any incompletes, they can’t have an overall average, which means they can’t get credit, whether passing or failing, for the class. This pretty much forces the students to do their assignments (and if they fail the assignments or don’t seem to get the gist of the work, they’re made to redo them). My mentor teacher also got an idea to re-instate homework to students (as it seems to be the ‘forbidden word’). But her idea was a really good one, which I suppose is why the department head made it mandatory for all English teachers to at least attempt in the first 9 weeks. She got the idea from an elementary school, in fact. There’s a lot of short stories that we won’t be able to get to in class, so she has the students do a weekly homework assignment (due every Thursday), where they read a short story and fill out these two handouts that include things like plot, setting, and character up to a specific literary device, defining it and finding an example of it, and even locating specific vocab words. And we also discussed a list she had made up for alternative novels/short stories for repeat students or students who have already read these works.
After the department meeting, all the AP-level teachers met briefly, though most of their conversation/meeting I wasn’t able to follow. By the time everything was done, it was about or so. The one thing I did like about the meetings was that everybody was relatively laid-back, and there was quite a bit of joking and laughing. Though, it was somewhat easy to pick out some of the more disgruntled teachers of the group.
After that, my mentor teacher let me go home for the day. However, I had to be back again the next morning, which I was, at about 7:45-8 AM.
It was a bit different than the day before. My mentor teacher was a bit hectic when I got there, trying to get everything in order. I also tossed out an idea that I had to her which I thought about all the previous night and had trouble falling to sleep due to it. It was an idea about a lesson/project for later in the semester (we’re going to be teaching rhetoric and discussing pathos/ethos/logos/fallacies and using The Crucible to do so; I suggested that we have the students perform a Mock Witch Trial, having each of them take a part of the process—whether it be the accused, a lawyer, a witness, or a jury member—which would take all this information they’ve learned and have them both apply it and analyze it, using some higher order thinking skills. She really liked the idea, so I’ll be working on that later on. She told me it would be something to invite my supervisor, my principal, and even the department head to come check out at some point over the course of the days it’ll occur).
Anyway, she then had me do some hole-punching and paper-clipping of documents that would be given to some of the other teachers for the upcoming grade-level meeting. The grade-level meeting (with all the 11th grade English teachers, plus me) started at about . Interestingly enough, there’s a first-year teacher that’s starting up there, as well, so it’ll be interesting to see how things go with her. Immediately after the grade-level meeting, in which they discussed unit-information, grading, and other important things, there was a grade-level AP teacher meeting. By the time both meetings were finished, it was a little after , so we left for lunch. I came back about 1, and my mentor teacher had me do a bit of copying (and had to tell me how to work the copier). So I waited in line and made a load of copies. I finished about or thereabouts, and my mentor teacher let me leave after that.
Overall, it was a highly interesting experience. I knew that teachers did a lot, but this was an overwhelming amount (and I just got a small piece of it… and not only that, but just a fly-on-the-wall’s view of it. I didn’t actually have to work on a lot of things they’ve had to do. Though my mentor teacher did tell me that I’m going to be working with the first-year teacher in creating a full Unit for toward the end of the semester). And it wasn’t just meetings and prep work. There was also—already—a fair share of drama between some of the teachers. They were very careful not to name names most times (though sometimes they had to if there were any direct complaints). But it was interesting that school hasn’t even started yet and there’s already a bit of tension/drama. And a lot of the teachers are already feeling exhausted just from prepping for the year. But alas—the life of a teacher!
Title: The House Bunny.
Pre-Thoughts: Poor... poor Anna Faris. She has so much potential and keeps wasting it on poor comedies. And whatsername... the red head chick from Superbad... she has two movies coming out this week, and neither of them look remotely close to being as good as Superbad. Even with all the eye candy, I can't see myself going to see this in theater.
Stop Saying Okay! Okay.
Title: Death Race.
Pre-Thoughts: Poor... poor Jason Statham. This will probably be the movie of the weekend for me. I don't think it looks particularly awesome, so to speak, and it seems everything is given away in the trailer alone, but who knows (as I haven't seen the original). It could be fun entertainment at the very least. It could also be a more grounded, grittier version of Speed Racer, which was awesome. But then again... I highly doubt it.
I Am McLovin!
Title: The Longshots.
Pre-Thoughts: Poor... poor... well, everybody. Oh look, yet another football movie. I think this sub-genre should have ended with any one of Friday Night Lights, Remember the Titans, or Varsity Blues. Though it does look like to be somewhat of a redemption for Ice Cube after his string of terrible.
Stop Saying Okay! Okay.
Title: The Rocker.
Pre-Thoughts: Poor... poor Rainn Wilson. The lead seems to have been written for Jack Black. They were forced to take Rainn Wilson. The one kid seems to have been written for Jonah Hill. They were forced to take... some unknown kid and make him act, look, and speak just like Jonah Hill instead. And to top it off, they threw in that red head chick from Superbad and gave her awkward dialogue with Jonah Hill-kid... just like in Superbad. Though, unlike Superbad, and much like The House Bunny, I doubt this will be funny.
Feed Me, Seymour!
This film is based on Beatrix Potter, famous for writing and illustrating the children’s story The Tale of Peter Rabbit. But the movie, really, isn’t about that. However, it’s hard to pinpoint what the movie is about. It really isn’t a story about her rise from nothing to fame, because she starts off rich and gets published in the first scene of the movie and then begins to gain fame within the first 30 minutes. It’s more of a love story between Beatrix (Renee Zellweger) and her publisher, Norman (Ewan McGregor), as well as her friendship with
Obviously one of the major faults of the movie, to me, is that it has no clear purpose. The movie moves as an almost breakneck speed, leaving no room for plot, character development, or chemistry. It moves from scene to scene adding more tidbits on the life of Beatrix Potter without really extending on any given moment besides its importance on the surface level. There was no real chemistry between Zellweger and McGregor. There was only a marginal bit of chemistry between Zellweger and Watson. But none of the characters really grew. They all stayed exactly the same, including Beatrix. Sure, she moves on with life and eventually stands up for herself… but she did that numerous times in other different ways as shown in the movie. There needed to be a lot more to the movie, especially on the character of William Heelis, who has all of 4 or 5 scenes in the entire movie, but turns out to be highly important in Beatrix’s life. His complete lack of screen time gives the audience no ability to attach to him or actually care about what the heck happens (much like with any character in the movie). And then within the last 15-20 minutes of the movie, it continues to go in a completely unimportant direction before abruptly ending. There’s no real conflict or climax to the movie. It’s just like “moments in the life of Beatrix Potter.”
As for acting, I felt Ewan McGregor and Emily Watson did the best job. Renee Zellweger, though I’m not sure why, got on my nerves. Something about the way she acted the part was just irritating. Not to mention she came off as clinically insane for most of the movie. It was interesting, at the least, how her pictures kept coming to life via her imagination, but they really didn’t make too much use of the idea (except in one scene to show a mental breakdown, though, as I said, she was arguably already mentally unstable anyway).
I usually talk about a movie more than this, but I honestly don’t know what else to say about it. The movie was at least somewhat entertaining for the most part, though it had a lot of flaws to me, and the last 20 minutes or so was pointless and needed a lot more meat to it. The best visual is toward the beginning when the young Beatrix is picturing her parents getting into a pumpkin-carriage being led by giant rabbits (and driven by a mouse, if I remember correctly). I really didn’t care for Renee’s acting in the part, and the movie could have just used more of a plot in general. That’s about all I can say on that.
Feed Me, Seymour!
How is it that this movie only won a single Oscar again (and only for Original Score, at that)? J.M. Barrie (Johnny Depp) is a failing playwright, much to the chagrin of his producer (Dustin Hoffman), with a failing marriage with his wife, Mary (Radha Mitchell). But when he happens across a family headed by widow Sylvia Davies (Kate Winslet), with four boys including the much-troubled Peter (Freddie Highmore), both his life and his imagination find a sudden spark. Even against the wishes of Sylvia’s strict mother (Julie Christie), and through all the slanderous rumors against
There’s so many wonderful things about this movie. The acting is magnificent, from Johnny Depp all the way down to Freddie Highmore (I would argue that this and August Rush are his two best films). Johnny Depp is great and diverse as usual, as well. The only slight buggy bit was when he kind of dropped the accent to do a pirate accent at one point, which made it more reminiscent of Captain Jack than of a proper Scotsman. The actress that catches my attention the most, though, is Radha Mitchell, who really seems to be one heck of a diverse actress. I mean, she’s played a troubled, badass ship pilot in the Sci-Fi/Horror flick Pitch Black, she’s played the worried mother in the Horror film Silent Hill, and now here she is playing the snotty English woman. It’s just fun to see the range she can take and still do well in (we all know Johnny Depp is pretty much the same, but I’m talking in the terms of actresses here. There aren’t many actresses out there who can do these vastly different roles and pull them all off well).
The sense of imagination/magical realism in the film is handled very nicely, as well. It isn’t played up like J.M. Barrie is insane or whatnot, but simply opening his imagination and inviting everybody else to join him in doing so. My favorite bit, which really shows the contrast between characters, is when Barrie and his wife are going to bed in their separate rooms. Mary opens her door, which is just to a dark bedroom, while J.M. opens his door to a bright, flowery meadow. There’s quite a bit of symbolism between reality and the imagination imagery, which is handled nicely (especially toward the end when Kate Winslet ‘Finds Neverland’, so to speak).
The music was beautiful, obviously, since it won an Oscar for it. This is really a short review, as well, because there’s not much more to talk about. The movie was handled very well on all fronts, and it’s a shame that it was relatively ignored. It’s just a beautiful film overall.
Royale With Cheese
Brief Synopsis: Slasher Flick Based At A Prom.
Comments: If I wanted to pay to see this, I would have seen it in theater... but I didn't, so I'm not.
Viewing Option: T.V. or Skip.
Brief Synopsis: Um... I Think The Title Couldn't Be More Specific If It Were Snakes On A Plane.
Comments: No thanks.
Viewing Option: Skip.
Brief Synopsis: Clumsy Woman Out Of Work Becomes Glamour Queen's Nanny.
Comments: It seems at least somewhat enjoyable.
Viewing Option: Rent or T.V.
Brief Synopsis: Movie Version Of Florida's Screw-Up In 2000 Presidential Election.
Comments: It got a lot of acclaim, from what I heard, but I really don't care to re-live the moment Bush cheated himself into office.
Viewing Option: Skip.
Brief Synopsis: Keanu Reeves Is A Crooked Cop... And Other Stuff Happens, Too.
Comments: Most reviews for this were mixed, but I'm sure I'll check it out at some point anyway.
Viewing Option: Rent or T.V.
Brief Synopsis: Prequel To The Scorpion King... Which Was, In Itself, A Prequel.
Comments: And on that note... did there really need to be a Scorpion King 1?
Viewing Option: Skip.
Brief Synopsis: Well... It's About Richard Nixon.
Comments: Again... it's about Richard Nixon. See 'Recount'.
Viewing Option: Skip.
Brief Synopsis: Season One Of T.V. Show That Occurs After Terminator 2.
Comments: I loved the season and can't wait for season 2 to begin. However, I rarely buy television shows on DVD, and only do so when I'm head-over-heals for whatever it is, and I just need it.
Viewing Option: T.V. or Skip.
Brief Synopsis: Both Fletch Movies... One Price!
Comments: Okay, so I'm only putting this here because of my homeboy Fletch over at Blog Cabins. I've never seen either Fletch movie (though I have heard of them, even prior to frequenting the Cabins). I'll check them out at some point, I'm sure.
Viewing Option: Rent or T.V.
Premise: A bunch of film students that are filming a horror movie get caught up in the beginning of the zombie apocalypse and decide to film all that they can.
Starring: Nobody known.
My Reaction: The acting was horrible. The writing and dialogue was horrible. The narration was horrible. The characters were horrible (and no Texan from San Antonio speaks like that). The use of first-person camera and everything about it was horrible. Practically everything in the movie was horrible, if you haven't gathered that yet. And Romero was trying way too hard on adding a relevant social commentary to it. Way too obvious and in-your-face (to the point of annoying). There were one or two cool, though brief, shots in the entire movie, such as a bunch of zombies in a swimming pool. Otherwise, the movie was awful, and it really isn't worth seeing even for those one or two good shots, as they're only one or two seconds long at most. Shame on you, Romero. Shame.
She's Gone From Suck to Blow!
The beginning was a little slow, though there were quite a few laughs. The big thing with this movie is the high number of cameo appearances, including the much-talked-about Tom Cruise. Sometimes they’re more than small appearances, sometimes they’re only brief. But all of them are funny.
The acting in the movie was done really well, I thought, all around. Ben Stiller and Robert Downey Jr., though, were the obvious leads of the film. The majority of the movie concentrated on those two actors’ characters. Jack Black’s character isn’t really the typical Jack Black, in my opinion (musically obsessed, hardcore spaz). But then again, Black wasn’t at the forefront of the movie, either. Brandon Jackson is pretty much like you’d figure him to be from the movie trailer. But the surprise of the group was Jay Baruchel, who really held his own against these other guys. You’d probably only recognize the guy from Knocked Up (the scrawny friend with the bad haircut). But his character here, though he’s not one of the top billings, played a bigger role than arguably even Jack Black’s. And his character was much better, too. Of course the stand-out was Robert Downey Jr. Anytime he was off-screen, I waited for it to go back to him (even though you could barely ever tell it was him). Oh, and Tom Cruise’s character is hilarious. He was very good, too. As for Nick Nolte? Well, he was Nick Nolte (intense and kinda creepy).
The cinematography was another thing done quite well. There were a lot of great scenery shots, as well as fun action shots. And on the subject of action, there was a lot, and it was all excellent. The only bad visual I really noticed in the whole movie was toward the end, when there’s this kid stabbing one of the characters… and the whole sequence with the kid (from the stabbing to what happened right after) looked really fake. Otherwise, it was great.
So we have the action down; what about the comedy? For an action-comedy, it’s half the equation. And it really worked. I was laughing, my theater was laughing, and it was hilarious in its absurdity. And the humor ranged all around the board: from just verbal humor, situational humor, gross-out humor, action-related humor… well, the movie was just really funny. I can’t say much more than that.
And I really don’t think I can say much more than that. The acting was done well. The visuals (in both cinematography and action) were done great. The humor was great. The cameos were great. All around, the movie was highly entertaining (except for a few slow spots toward the beginning), and I left the theater smiling. What more can you ask than that?
A Keanu 'Whoa'
If you caught my note on my foul mood in my just-posted P.E.S.T., this is why.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, after such a delay with the teaser trailer, after finally releasing said teaser trailer with both 'THIS YEAR' and 'NOVEMBER' pasted at the end of it, and after sending out confirmations of international release dates for the movie, Warner Bros. has decided to push back HP6 from November 21, 2008 to JULY 2009!
WHAT. THE. FUCK.
And they don't even bother to come up with a good excuse, either. They basically, in so many words, came out and said "we're doing it for the money." Like Harry-fuckin-Potter needs to be in the summer time to make money, especially after the last one did so well. Seriously, out of the last 5 movies, 3 of them have been in November, and they've all done amazingly well. In fact, the one that made the least amount of money, Prisoner of Azkaban, was the first one to be released in July. They're already into post-production, so there's nothing extra they need to do... all they're doing is sitting on it until next summer.
Warner Bros. is about to get the biggest backlash of their lives.
Title: Star Wars: The Clone Wars.
Pre-Thoughts: Not gonna bother. Just Lucas trying to make more money and using horrible, Playstation One graphics for the computer animation.
Feed Me, Seymour!
Title: Tropic Thunder.
Pre-Thoughts: I think this will be more of the big movie than the previous. In short, I think it'll be great, and I can't wait to see Robert Downey Jr. as a black guy.
I Am McLovin!
Pre-Thoughts: Yet another Asian horror remake. However, it was helmed by Alexandre Aja, who I personally thing did a great job with the remake of The Hills Have Eyes. But I dunno... I'll have to ponder whether or not I wanna see it, seeing that it'll probably just be all the same predictable Asian horror stuff.
Feed Me, Seymour!
Title: Vicky Cristina Barcelona.
Pre-Thoughts: I've had bad experiences with Woody Allen's work (specifically Match Point, which it seems a lot of critics are saying this is a lot like in how "great" it is... so, yeah, not even the brief make-out session between Scarlett Johansson and Penelope Cruz can get me to see this in theater. That, and, well... it's not coming here (as far as I'm aware).
Feed Me, Seymour!
Title: Henry Poole Is Here.
Pre-Thoughts: I feel kinda bad for this movie, because it's gotten almost no advertisement, it's coming out against all these hugely advertised movies, and it actually looks really good. I don't think it's coming out here, unfortunately, but I'd love to check it out at some point.
I Am McLovin!
Title: Fly Me To The Moon.
Pre-Thoughts: Remember how good Space Chimps was? Oh, you didn't see it? Yeah, neither did anybody else.
The Zed Word
I haven’t done one of these in forever. And, funnily enough, I’ve also done a completely separate type of post (though just one) based around guilty pleasure movies. But good ol’ Jason at Invasion of the B-Movies is running a Blog-A-Thon about guilty pleasure movies and has asked all those willing to write up our top 10 guilty pleasure movies.
But I wanted to do this a little bit differently, to give it a little more personality. First, let us define a guilty pleasure movie. Typically, these movies are either really bad, but you can’t help to love them, or they’re entertaining, but you’d never admit to owning them out of embarrassment. There are numerous reasons a movie can be seen as bad or embarrassing, but I wanted to focus on just one of those traits in this top 10: specific actors or actresses. How many times have you talked to a friend or co-worker about a movie you enjoy or a movie coming out, and their response is along the lines of “Oh… doesn’t that have Jessica Alba/Ben Affleck/whoever in it? Eff that.” Specific actors or actresses can immediately turn somebody away from even fathoming the film… but there are some rare instances where said actors/actresses can pull off a really good film (at least in your own eyes). However, you’re too embarrassed to even bring up the film because it has this or that person in it. Well, this top 10 list is a tribute to those kinds of guilty pleasures… by listing my top 10 of said types.
10. The Guyver.
Faulty Actor: Mark Hamill.
Reason of Love: Has anybody really seen any of Mark Hamill’s movies outside of Star Wars? Now… has anybody who actually has actually enjoyed them (outside his wonderful cameo appearance in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back)? The Guyver was a cheesy live-action version of an anime where Mark Hamill was the biggest name in the movie (and wasn’t the lead). It had an off-the-wall story (as most anime does). It had bad acting. It had monsters as men in suits—done the wrong way. I haven’t seen this movie in ages, but I remember always enjoying it (even though I knew it was terrible). Its tone is actually pretty dark if you can get over its cheesiness, so that’s something…
9. The Transporter
Faulty Actor: Jason Statham.
Reason of Love: If you ask anybody their favorite films of all time, I bet the majority of the people will not list one movie with Jason Statham (at least not a movie in which he was the lead). He’s a cool dude, and his action is always awesome, which is why I love this movie. It’s brainless in its story, and its action is over-the-top, but that’s what makes it so darned awesome. How can you not love the oil-slick fight? Plus, the movie was written and produced by my favorite writer/director, Luc Besson.
8. School for Scoundrels.
Faulty Actor: Jon Heder.
Reason of Love: School for Scoundrels… AKA Jon Heder going from dork to badass. Wait… did I just use Jon Heder (you know, Napoleon Dynamite) and badass in the same sentence? I believe I did. Well, I don’t know about that, but he can pull off equal amounts of jerk and nice guy to make the movie believable. I enjoyed the story (both the normal story and the love story/triangle), as well as the seemingly triple-twist thing there at the end. The two guys (Heder and Thornton) were continually messing with and conning each other that by the end of the movie, you didn’t know who was telling the truth anymore. Overall, though, I thought the movie was funny in its little ways, bringing out good performances all around.
Faulty Actor: Ben Affleck.
Reason of Love: Yet another actor who everybody loves to hate on… but this movie, based on a selection from the almost never-ending pot of Philip K. Dick stories, is done really well, and co-stars the vastly underrated actor, Paul Giamatti (as well as recently made more-famous Aaron Eckhart). I love movies based on Philip K. Dick stories anyway, but this one just had a really cool idea. A guy who reverse engineers things and then has his memory of it erased finds himself on a hit list, then discovers that he left himself miniscule objects as clues and helpful artifacts to stay alive and figure out what exactly he just finished building.
Faulty Actor: Keanu Reeves.
Reason of Love: Whoa! Even without its highly improbable moments (bus jumping huge gap), a movie that takes place primarily on a bus has a ton of action and is adrenaline pumped. There’s really not much more to say about the movie, really. I mean, who hasn’t seen it by now?
5. Pitch Black.
Faulty Actor: Vin Diesel.
Reason of Love: Quite similar to Jason Statham, we have a bald action hero who typically makes so-so movies. But Pitch Black is one of his earlier ventures, before he became a huge name (AKA before The Fast and the Furious), and it has one of his coolest characters ever, Richard B. Riddick. He’s one of my favorite sci-fi anti-heroes ever. The movie has a very suspending-the-disbelief story (crash landing on an alien planet that has dangerous nocturnal alien monsters hours before a super-long total eclipse with a man who has eyes that allows him to see in the dark)… but it’s just so cool. Unfortunately, its sequel, Chronicles of Riddick, took the story in an entirely new direction and tone, ending with a cliffhanger and set-up for a couple more movies that most likely aren’t going to be made.
4. Idle Hands.
Faulty Actor: Jessica Alba.
Reason of Love: Okay, so she’s not the main character, but his love interest. Still, I’ve actually had somebody refuse to watch the movie simply because she was associated to it. I think that’s reason enough to add this to the list. Add on the immensely popular Seth Green, the vastly underrated Elden Henson, the sexy Vivica A. Fox, and one of the biggest could-have-been-but-wasn’t actors out there, Devon Sawa, then you’ve got… well, one bizarre cast. It’s a horror-comedy about a guy whose hand gets possessed by the devil (and thus has an occultist bounty hunter-type woman after him), and he kills his two best friends, who then come back from the dead to just hang out and party. It’s weird, but it’s fun. And who doesn’t like the scene at the end with Jessica Alba getting her dress accidentally ripped off while she’s tied down to the top of a car?
Faulty Actor: Ben Stiller.
Reason of Love: It’s a well-known fact that Ben Stiller is running out of steam as of late, and not a lot of people are really enjoying his work much anymore (Tropic Thunder is hopefully going to rejuvenate his career). But back in the day, he made some pretty fun movies, and this was one of them. He’s the villain of the movie, a workout-a-holic who takes over a fun fat camp and makes everybody feel like losers, then proceeds to starve, humiliate, and destroy them (not physically…). It’s campy (no pun intended), and not a whole lot of people probably remember it, but it will always have a place in my heart!
2. Good Burger.
Faulty Actor: Sinbad (or Kenan or Kel).
Reason of Love: Um… it’s Good Burger, one of the greatest things to come out of Nickelodeon (or All That) in a long time. That’s really all there is to it. I’m a dude, he’s a dude, she’s a dude, we’re all dudes, hey!
1. Surf Ninjas.
Faulty Actor: Rob Schneider (or Tone Loc).
Reason of Love: It’s so over-the-top that it basically makes fun of itself for you. But to spare myself typing it all up again, this was the movie I’ve already discussed as a guilty pleasure movie in the past. The post can be found here.
Runners-up (not all of them fall under the faulty actor thing… just guilty pleasure movies in general): Step Up 2 The Streets, Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, Face/Off, Newsies, The Hills Have Eyes (remake), The Faculty, My Boyfriend’s Back, Any Disney Animated Musical. And the one movie that NEARLY made this Top 10 was The Butterfly Effect, but I think too many people really like that movie for it to be considered a guilty pleasure.
The plot of the movie is actually pretty good in its own bizarre kind of way. The biggest problem with this action-comedy, though, was the comedy. The first 30 minutes or so was very slow and the jokes just didn’t seem to work for me. They were the same, old, boring stoner jokes that would probably only make pot-heads (or at least people who have been high before) laugh. I only laughed a couple times in this beginning portion of the movie. It wasn’t until the action finally kicked into gear that I really got into the movie. And it wasn’t just because it was action, but that in the action was the true comedy. It wasn’t over-the-top by any means (well, mostly), and it was both entertaining and funny in its presentation. But the attempted comedy that wasn’t involved in the action often failed for me (some hit, but it usually failed).
As for acting, Seth Rogen was Seth Rogen. The highlight of the movie, I think, was James Franco. His acting was done rather well, and his character was both funny and easy to feel for (just because he’s such a nice, laid-back guy). The hitmen were also unique, in a way. They weren’t Jules and Vincent, but they had their own quirks. The one character that was kind of off was Red. Though it wasn’t as much the character as it was his standing in the story. After all the stuff that happens to the guy, he shouldn’t have been up and walking as well as he was at the various parts of the movie. The other bit of the story that was kinda weird was the fact that Seth Rogen, who looks like he’s almost 40, is dating a high school girl that looks 16. Though I do admit that the scene where he goes to the high school toward the beginning of the movie was pretty funny (one of the funnier parts of the first 30 minutes).
Now, I’ve seen another movie that portrayed a collaboration between this same director and director of photography, George Washington, and I often felt the same about this as I did about that (though more positive about this one). Some of the camera work/visuals were really good. Other times… not so much. Sometimes occurances in the movie were great… sometimes they were just weird. The one thing I did get kinda tired of was the constant camera zoom-in on important objects (as if to tell the audience “Hey! I’m gonna be important in a couple seconds!”).
Overall, the action was good, and the comedy within the action was good. The other attempted comedy could have been better, in my opinion, but the latter half of the movie really kind of overshadows the former half. There were some too-ridiculous moments where some worked and some didn’t. So, yeah, that’s about it. It was really good, though it could have been a bit better. It was entertaining enough once the movie got going.
I Am McLovin!
Title: Pineapple Express.
Pre-Thoughts: Obviously the big movie of the week. It's the much-anticipated Judd Apatow-vehical starring Seth Rogen and James Franco. I'll be honest: I've only seen one or two trailers for this, though I've heard all the hype, and I knew about the movie before there even was hype. However, I do plan on seeing it. So far, reviews seem to be on one side or the other (either you love it or you hate it). I think action should be good, and the comedy should be good. Like I said, I'm not sure what to expect going into it, so it'll be a surprise. Though, I am being rather hopeful and hoping it'll be a good surprise.
A Keanu 'Whoa'
Title: Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2.
Pre-Thoughts: Only two things could even remotely get me near this movie... Alexis Bledel and the quite elusive Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince teaser trailer. However, since I was scarred with The Mummy 3 and no trailer, I shall take no chances here, regardless of Miss Bledel. I don't think it'll be an awful movie, by any means. I just didn't see the first one, and I've already been accused of being a 15-year-old girl for certain other reasonings (don't ask). Honestly, the movie(s) probably wouldn't even bother me. It's just... nobody can be taken seriously, especially somebody like me (who has trouble being taken seriously at the best of times), going to a public forum to see a movie entitled Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 (and the 2 makes everybody assume the viewer had already seen the first one, which just adds to it).
Stop Saying Okay! Okay.