Sunday, December 15, 2013

R.I.P. Peter O'Toole

Peter O'Toole passed away today at the age of 81. I was fortunate enough to see "Lawrence of Arabia" on the big screen years ago in a theatrical re-release. It was easy to see what all the fuss was about. He was indeed a great actor and stunningly beautiful. My favorite O'Toole movie however, has always been, "My Favorite Year." For some reason, this movie has sort of faded away. If you've never seen this film, give
yourself a treat. It's a wonderful comedy with a lot of heart. Come back and tell me what you think.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Oscars 2013

Well, some time ago I wrote that I was back and as you can see, I was jumping the gun a bit. I’m getting better each day, but I still can’t push my luck. Lately, I’ve been busier than usual at work, so I’m still searching for the right balance.

What’s hard is, this is my favorite time of year…OSCARS!

Yes folks, this is my Superbowl. Sunday is my day, I do not make plans, I do not make dinner, it’s all Oscars, all day. Since movie watching doesn’t hurt my arms or neck, I did manage to see all nine Best Picture nominated films. My goal was to take the nine days leading up to The Oscars and write a review for each. Since the telecast has started, that’s obviously never going to happen. Maybe the best way to get back into the swing of these is to give my reviews in a nutshell, sit back, enjoy the show and then let’s try to get back to regular posting soon.

I saw Beasts of the Southern Wild in the summertime. I heard great buzz about this film and its young star Quvenzhane Wallis. While this film was visually stunning and the young star certainly earned her Best Actress nomination, this is the type of film that is somewhat wasted on a simple moviegoer like me. Much like last year’s, Tree of Life, I appreciate the artistry and effort to do something different, but I can’t help but feel a little dumb when I see these kinds of films. Some of the content really does go over my head. I often have foreign and independent films high on my watch list, but a film like Beasts of the Southern Wild is best appreciated by those with a more sophisticated film palate than mine.

Les Miserables was a film I had hesitation about. I have a long love/hate relationship with musicals. Films like The Wizard of Oz and West Side Story are some of my all-time favorite films, but then films like Moulin Rouge, I can’t make it past 5 minutes! Les Miz was a risk for me because I don’t mind when characters sing an actual song, I despise sing songy lines of simple conversation and actions. This film had to work hard to win me over and it did. The opening scene blew me away visually. This is a film that should be seen in the theater. Not only are the visuals best enjoyed on the big screen, it’s a favor to yourself to be in a sequestered setting. This movie is long and it feels long, but since you’re in the theater, you have no choice but to give yourself over completely. As far as the knocks the actors received for their singing ability, I will say this. I felt the point of this project was to hire actors who could sing, not the other way around. I respect this decision that this was being adapted into a movie not simply filming a stage production. Everyone who signed on to this took such a chance and singing live and in the moment had to be so scary for all involved. So, do I wish Russell Crowe had a more commanding voice? Sure I do, but it took a lot of guts to do what he did. As for Anne Hathaway, she continues to “bring it” in roles people think she won’t be able to pull off. I think she’ll win tonight and all I can say for those who felt she desecrated “I Dreamed A Dream” with all her crying, it worked on me. It was gut-wrenchingly emotional and I felt completely destroyed when she was done. I wanted reach into the screen and save her.

I remember seeing a trailer for Silver Linings Playbook and thinking that Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence will probably want this film to be quickly forgotten. Honestly, these days you’re not even guaranteed a movie is good because Robert DeNiro is in it, that man makes a lot of crap! So what a pleasant surprise it was to get a film with strong writing and acting performances. Once in while a feel good movie works. This one does because of the pull no punches character development which is beautifully executed by superb acting performances. It’s no surprise that this is the only nominated film that snagged nods in all the acting categories. I think Lawrence really has a shot here and I don’t think her Golden Globe exclamation of, “I beat Meryl!” will hurt her one bit.

To be perfectly honest, the only reason I saw Amour is because it was one of the Best Picture nominees. I have nothing against subtitles or foreign films, however this subject matter was depressing. If making you feel completely deflated and hopeless is what the director was trying to achieve, then mission accomplished. Now, I will say this film was brave it how it dealt with aging and illness. This was, arguably, the most vividly honest film to deal with challenges of growing old and caring for those we love. That is why this film is nominated, but what a downer!

I’m a fan of Quentin Tarantino and Pulp Fiction is one of my all-time favorite films. My level of excitement was already pretty high for Django Unchained and boy did it deliver! I’m not a fan of gore, yet Tarantino always delivers a huge bloodfest and I love every minute of it! Jamie Foxx was made for the role of Django and he brought the maximum level of cool needed to pull off Taratino’s outrageous storylines. The real gem here though is Christoph Waltz. He was so complex, funny and badass cool. If he manages to wrangle the win away from Tommy Lee Jones, it will be my loudest yell of the evening.

You can yell at me but even though I write a movie blog, I never saw The Hurt Locker, okay smack my hand. I just never felt in the right mood to sit with that subject matter for two hours. I did break down though and see Zero Dark Thirty. Riveting and emotional for sure, but I feel as if something was missing because of our lack of knowledge. Jessica Chastain turned in a wonderful performance, as she always does, but she was so limited in what she could do with her character because we are not allowed to know these people as real people. As much as a liked this film, I felt a distance from it.

This was not the case with the wonderful Argo. This shows the different time can make. Whereas the subject of Zero Dark Thirty may still have been too fresh for a film adaptation, the de-classified records for Argo seemed to scream to be made into a film. Ben Affleck really knows his way around as a director not to mention how many fine character actors he peppered this film with. You can’t imagine how great it was for me to see Bryan Cranston and Philip Baker Hall in the same scene. As a Seinfeld maniac I couldn’t even hear what they were saying because I was thinking, “Oh my God, Bookman, The Library Cop and Tim Whatley, DDS are in the same room!” This movie was so intense, yet fun. To know this was a true story really added to the enjoyment. It was great to know what some people will put on the line to do what’s right. I think Lincoln is a lock for Best Picture, but I have to say, I would not be shocked to see this one pull it out of left field.

Life of Pi was a pleasant surprise. So many films this year proved how important it is to still see movies in the theater. Life of Pi was a visual treat and lent itself great to the revived and trendy 3-D format. When it seems like so many films are in 3-D just because they can be, for this film, it actually added a special quality. To feel as if you too where trapped on the boat with the Bengal tiger really helped you buy into the film. I loved the overall message and I have to say Ang Lee did have one of the toughest director challenges this year.

Lastly, Lincoln was a collaboration of A-listers: Spielberg, Day-Lewis, Field, Jones and the most wonderful movie music maker of all time, John Williams. Why this movie garnered the most nominations is because it accomplished the task of taking someone who is an iconic legend and making him a very real, relatable person. My honey since the 80’s, Daniel Day-Lewis deserves the Oscar for bringing Abraham Lincoln to life. This movie really has no action and may be boring to those not interested in this part of history, however you would do yourself a disservice to miss this wonderfully executed biopic. I started crying in the opening scene. There were so many beautiful tiny moments that you felt to your core. I think this will walk away with the Best Picture award. Although some may think it’s because it’s tailor made for awards, not true. This is an example of the wonderful magic movies can give us. Taking us back to the Civil War Era and making us feel everything that was on the line was a monumental feet and it delivered.

This is going out a bit late. It was quite a task when I haven’t posted in so long, but hey everyone….enjoy the Oscars!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Where Have I Been?

Wow! It’s hard to believe my last blog post was October 5th of last year. Where have I been and what have I been doing? Well, I’m still watching movies and catching up on favorite TV shows. I’m still reading great books and blasting my favorite music. I’m doing almost everything the same except blogging.

For the past few years, I have suffered from neck pain. My doctor said it was normal wear and tear associated with my age. I felt this was a load of crap, but there’s not much I could do. I pushed on and would have bouts of pain that would lay me up briefly. I learned to manage the pain and would back-off whenever I felt things were escalating.

Recently, the pain has increased. My left arm has been painful from the shoulder all the way down to my fingers. It was tender to the touch and my hand was almost entirely numb causing me to drop almost everything I picked up. After two appointments complaining of pain, my doctor finally ordered an MIR.

Well I have a bone spur in one part of my neck and severe nerve pinching in two other parts. It’s actually affecting both of my arms, but the pain on my left side far outweighs anything on my right. I’m now on nerve medication and I started acupuncture which immediately banished the numbness in my hand!

This week I start a beginning yoga class and I’m going to give meditation a try. What does all this mean for Colleenie’s Couch? Well, I had to force myself to take a break. I have a full-time job that keeps me on the computer for most of the day. By the time I get home, I physically could not bang on these keys no matter how much I wanted to. I have hated not writing about the things I love and not reading everyone’s wonderful blogs, but I had no choice.

Now, I would like to try to come back. I think if I pace myself properly and continue to try new methods, I might be able to do it all. I would love your feedback. What helps you? Have you experienced any of these pain issues? I’m thinking about purchasing Dragon Naturally Speaking Software and I’d love to know if any of you have tried it.

So, for now I’m back. I’ve missed all of you and I’m going to try to get things back in flow once again. I’m very behind with my reviews so some of my posts may be “old news.”

Wish me luck!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Colleenie Ghoulie Rises from the Grave!

Hello my fiends! Regulars to Colleenie’s Couch know that October is a special month. Not only is it my birthday month, but I love all things Halloween. This is my third year devoted each Friday in October to wonderful Halloween goodness.

The last two years I focused on truly scary films. This year however, I’m inspired by the release of Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie, so I decided to focus on some great family-friendly Halloween flicks.

First up, 2006’s Monster House. This film may have slipped by you in its original release. Movie studios churn out so much crap for kids, it can be difficult to find films that are entertaining and have a great story. Monster House fits the bill perfectly. Even if you don’t have children, Monster House is funny, scary and has such a touching story that really got to me.

I hope you’ll check this one out and let me know what you think. Remember to come back each Friday for more Ghoulie fun. Throughout October, I’ll be talking about all kinds of scary fare. Next weekend is The Walking Dead and American Horror Story is close behind.

I will also be providing links to some past creepy stuff so I hope you’ll be around a lot. Right now though the sun is really bothering me, I better slip back into my coffin until nightfall.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Song of the Week - Oh Love/Green Day

It doesn't get much better than new Green Day, right? I can't wait for the new album.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Words - Movie Review

Hollywood loves to make movies about writers. Since watching someone write is only slightly more exciting than watching paint dry, it’s amazing how many films show people sitting at a desk, struggling to bring words to life.

The new Bradley Cooper film, The Words, deals not only with the struggles of writing, but moral dilemmas. If you had a hard time making it big in the literally world and you stumbled onto to an old manuscript that was brilliant, would you pass it off as your own? We all know that once an author has one wildly successful book, publishers will often release older works that never made it into print. So could this manuscript serve as a gateway and would the ends justify the means?

Cooper plays, Rory Jansen, a struggling young author trying to live in New York and be a literary genius to his new wife (Zoe Saldana). However, this is simply a story being read to an audience by an older established author, Clay Hammond (Dennis Quaid). This is where The Words runs into some problems.

The trailer gives the impression that the film is about Bradley Copper’s character, and it is, but when you realize in the opening that Quaid is reading from his new fictional novel, something is immediately lost. Of course most fiction is derived from real life and questioning Quaid as to whether he’s telling a story, or writing a cathartic autobiography is pivotal to the film. Still, a lack of connection exists for the viewer.

We have two stories now and yet we will be told a third by Old Man (Jeremy Irons), the author of the lost manuscript. His story is told with heart and you feel the passion he has for love, family and art. The film is only 97 minutes though, so it’s a lot of people to cram into one cohesive story and you don’t get to be with anyone long enough to get too emotional attached.

I saw this movie with my daughter and it just didn’t work for her. Myself, being a constant struggling writer, I was able to feel the pain and betrayal these characters felt. It did all come together for me in the end and I could see how Quaid’s successful author was necessary to the storytelling. I thought the film portrayed the act of writing and writers better than most films and I really did like the story and the moral dilemmas it presented. If this is subject matter you enjoy, I think you will feel very satisfied with this film.

Of course my critical eye had some problems that I couldn’t let go of. How could Rory (Bradley Copper) and Dora(Zoe Saldana) afford to go to Paris for their honeymoon? Seriously, we keep hearing about how broke they are and how much they’re struggling and they go to Paris and they have money to buy stuff? Even my 19 year old daughter leaned over and said to me, “How could they afford to go to Paris?” Take a moment to say it was a wedding gift from the parents or something because that was just too unbelievable.

Secondly, even non-writers know that publishing houses are suffering. It is next too impossible for an unknown author to be traditionally published these days. What actual writers know is that all writers have day jobs to pay the bills. That’s one of the reasons writing is so hard! So, to think Rory would be writing full-time after college, live in New York City and think that’s going to work out for him, makes him unbelievable about the current state of writing these days. Heck, this guy doesn’t even have an agent! Wasn’t this type if thing discussed in his classes? All of his professors are writers AND they are teaching!

It sounds like I didn’t like this film, but I actual did. The acting was great and the emotions from all three main characters, Quaid, Copper and Irons felt very real. It had a great jumping off point and I wanted it to be better. I’m glad I saw it though and I would probably watch it again on DVD, I only wish I could have extracted a bit more from it.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Song of the Week - Tuesday Morning/Melissa Etheridge

I heard this on my local radio station this morning in rememberance of 9/11. What a beautiful song and tribute. I've never heard this song before. When Etheridge sings a song she really puts her soul in it.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Song of the Week - Littlest Things/Lily Allen

Yesterday I saw Celeste and Jesse Forever. It had a killer soundtrack, which I don't seem to be able to find anywhere. At least you can count on the internet to provide people's personal lists of songs. I found out that the song Rashida Jones and Andy Samberg sing in the car is this great song by Lily Allen. I hope my iPod is ready to play this one over and over again.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Labor Day Roundup!

Labor Day officially marks the end of the summer movie season. I saw a lot of the movies this summer. I reviewed a great number of them, I'm behind on writing up a few, and some I missed altogether. I about a million times I planned to see The Dark Knight Rises, but it never seemed to materialize. I ended the season with seeing, Celeste and Jesse Forever. I'll try to review that this week. Here's a list of what I did see. What were your favorites of the summer? What were the duds? Let me know.

The Amazing Spiderman
The Avengers
Magic Mike
Moonrise Kingdom
The Odd Life of Timothy Green
Ruby Sparks
Safety Not Guaranteed

**I'm working on my review of Beasts of the Southern Wild, Your Sister's Sister and Celeste and Jesse Forever, look for those later this week. My favorite surprise gem of the summer was Safety Not Guaranteed. I actually went and saw it a second time. Now on to the serious Fall Flicks!