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Archive for June 2010

The Princess and the Frog (2009)

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Will people start throwing rocks at me if I say I’m not a… what’s the word… die hard Disney fan?  I mean, don’t get me wrong – Disney has its place in the world.  Sleeping Beauty is beautiful, and Aladdin has fun songs but, with the exceptions of Beauty and the Beast and Mulan, I feel like I’ve grown out of that stage.  And it’s not animation – I feel completely different about Pixar.  I could watch Ratatouille, Toy Story, and The Incredibles of my own choosing, but I haven’t seen Cinderella since I was six.

Anyway – in a great year for animation, P&F holds its own as a charming story about a spunky girl named Tiana (voiced by Anika Noni Rose) who has a dream of owning her own restaurant in New Orleans.  When Prince Naveen (voiced by Bruno Campos) comes to town, the whole community goes berserk, including her silly and spoiled friend Charlotte (voiced by Jennifer Cody – and this character’s a lot of fun).  Naveen strikes a shady deal with The Shadow Man (voiced by Keith David) and turns into –  you guessed it – a frog.  And then what happens – you guessed it – Tiana kisses the frog.  But Tiana is not a princess, so she turns into a frog too.  Bummer.

I never thought I’d hear “voodoo witch doctor” and “Disney” spoken in the same sentence.  There are some fun musical numbers (Randy Newman!), clever dialogue, and colorful characters (Louis the gator being my favorite).  I must admit that though our prince is suave and funny, and our princess is down to earth, hard working, and likeable – their connection felt superficial to me.  It didn’t have that same magic that Belle and the Beast had or other such examples.  But this is a minor flaw.

I laughed out loud, the animation is refreshing, it’s charming and worth the watch.  Though I doubt I’ll be buying it on DVD. 7/10

Written by laurenthejukebox17

June 30, 2010 at 7:01 pm

Stage Fright (1950)

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Here be spoilers.  Yes, I did take that from IMDb.

As another lesser known Hitchcock, this movie is less suspense and more mystery.  We know that there’s something missing but we don’t know what.  Aspiring actress Eve Gill (Jane Wyman) is hopelessly in love with the undeserving Jon Cooper (Richard Todd), who is hopelessly in love with Charlotte Inwood, (Marlene Dietrich).  The movie opens with Eve driving Jon in what appears to be a “getaway car.”  Jon then gives Eve the lowdown, and the audience views his flashback.  Long story short, Charlotte killed her husband.  She comes to Jon for help with blood on her dress.  Jon is now the police’s lead suspect.  Eve brings Jon to her father’s house to hide out for the time being.  Her father suspects foul play on Charlotte’s part, insisting that the blood was deliberately placed on her dress (Jon still had it with him).  Eve decides to investigate.

For the sake of brevity, I’ll speed up the pace here.  Eve worms her way into working as Charlotte’s temporary maid hoping to squeeze a confession out of her to clear Jon’s name.  She becomes confused when she begins to have feelings for Investigator Wilfred “Ordinary” Smith (Michael Wilding).  There are some entertaining middle scenes, but Marlene Dietrich is the selling point.  The word that comes to mind when thinking of Dietrich is presence.  You could be in a room full of hundreds of people and Marlene Dietrich would stand out like red on white.  The instant she comes on screen the mood shifts – it’s all about her now.  She commands your attention without saying a word.

I can’t write this review without spoilers.  It’s nothing but an ordinary Hitch until the end.  You could say it’s an atypical Hitch because we don’t know the end… until the end!  For its time it’s fantastic.  Flashbacks are supposed to be gospel!  He cheated!  I have to admit, even I was surprised the first time.  Turns out the Jon did indeed kill Charlotte’s husband… what we saw was a lie.  Many were upset by this at its release, but I think it’s awesome.  What started as nothing more than a good story with good acting turned into something unique.  Hitchcock has no boundaries, and I love it.

The other elements of this movie pale in comparison to its twist ending, but they are commendable nonetheless.  The entire cast gives good performances.  The dialogue is entertaining, and Hitchcock’s staple humor adds fun color to the mystery.  I have to laugh at Patricia Hitchcock’s cameo – who would place their daughter in their film and name her “Chubby?”  Sad, sad days…

Much like I Confess, this lesser known should get more attention. 8/10

Written by laurenthejukebox17

June 29, 2010 at 6:04 pm

quote of the week #2

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I base most of my fashion taste on what doesn’t itch.

~Gilda Radner

I loved watching the first seasons of SNL just for her.  She was a great comedienne, Baba Wawa and all.

Written by laurenthejukebox17

June 29, 2010 at 1:39 pm

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i’m totally mental and i totally know it

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Will I ever stop thinking about Lost? Probably not.  So there was this post on EW about the top reads for Lost fans.  Whilst reminiscing my brain started to whirl and twirl like it does when thinking of my beloved TV show.  Seriously, it just doesn’t get better than that show.  So.. since it was on my mind…

The-really-overused-and-generic-top-ten-characters-from-Lost-list!!!

You know you’re excited.

10. Sun + Jin Kwon (Yunjin Kim and Daniel Dae Kim) – What’s this?  I’m cheating already?  Sun and Jin count as one, because there is no one without the other.  But MAN it took forever to just get some shared screen time!  Two whole seasons basically.  Anyway, I always cheer for the married couples.  Jin had some things to learn (like English, and not being a control nutso) and Sun had her own married-life issues pre-island, but they found each other and truly loved one another.  Their story was one of the most touching on Lost.

9. Kate Austen (Evangeline Lilly) – There are many things to dislike about Kate.  She’s extremely indecisive when it comes to men (yeah, extremely).  Her flash back/forward/sideways stories were never the best of the bunch.  But I’m not a Kate-hater.  I like Freckles for many reasons too.  She was a no-nonsense tough chick for one thing, something I (as a tomboy) always admire.  She could be a great comfort to those who needed it on the island.  Evangeline Lilly also had some terrific acting moments in the series – with subtle gazes and lines that were very human.

8. Jack Shephard (Matthew Fox) – Here’s another tricky one.  I have really reeeeaaly loved Jack at some parts.  Like, in Season 1, he was the shiz, and a great leader.  He was also good in Season 6.  But there have also been some times where I’ve really reeeeally hated Jack.  Jack the whiner, the bearded pill-poppin’ Jack… etc.  But, he gave us one of the quintessential Lost quotes: “WE HAVE TO GO BACK!”

7. Richard Alpert (Nester Carbonell) – The eyeliner man will always be one of Lost‘s greatest mysterious characters.  Ever since his introduction we’ve been asking ourselves “What’s his deal?” “Why doesn’t he age?”  He was definitely awesome – and his first gray hair in the finale was genius.

6. Desmond Hume (Henry  Ian Cusick) – The button-pushing romantic, Desmond is one likeable brotha.

5. Juliet Burke (Elizabeth Mitchell) – Juliet was always the wild card.  For seasons no one knew whether her motives were legit or not.  Her raised eyebrow and calculating eyes always casted doubt, but in the end Juliet was good through and through – not to mention the best thing that ever happened to Sawyer.

4. Benjamin Linus (Michael Emerson) – Seriously, you can’t get much greater than Ben, formerly known as Henry Gale.  That was the best decision the producers ever made, to keep him on.  He lied, killed, wept, stared, creeped us all out, possibly had a heart, and later became the greatest “number 2.”

3. John Locke (Terry O’Quinn) – This dude right here is, IMO, the heart of the show.  He embraced the island experience and adapted better than any other character. (miracles tend to do that).  He was full of faith, but could be a bad-A with a knife when called upon.  His story was probably my favorite of the Losties – serious daddy issues, and many “DON’T TELL ME WHAT I CAN’T DOs!”  I love Locke.

2. James “Sawyer” Ford (Josh Holloway) – Ah Sawyer, how I love you… Sawyer’s never ending supply of nicknames and one-liners kept us laughing even at the dreariest of times.  (Freckles, Lardo, Yoda, Doc, Boar Expert, Mr. Miyagi) I love how he reads and likes books: “Hell of a book, it’s about bunnies!” he says about Watership Down.  He was a great Dharma security guy, a definite bad-A, uttered many a “sonofa”, and was pretty loveable.

1. Hugo “Hurley” Reyes (Jorge Garcia) – Many may wonder why Sawyer isn’t my numero uno.  See, while I love Sawyer, there were moments where I was pissed off at him.  And with Hurley – I could NEVER be pissed at Hurley.  Everybody loves Hugo.  He’s, like, the guy everybody wants to know.  Hurley was fat, hilarious, and more loveable than a teddybear.  He also had many great lines “Dude, you’ve got some.. Arzt… on you.”  and even more hilarious situations – rewriting the Empire Strikes Back, trying to understand time travel with Miles, driving the Dharma van, and many more.  I’d love to see a TV movie or something about his many adventures as leader of the island with Ben.  Hurley is and always will be one cool dude.

I miss Lost.

post edit:  An honorable mention to Sayid (Naveen Andrews).  You were a good character too, but I couldn’t omit the previous ten.

84 Charing Cross Road (1987)

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Anthony Hopkins and Anne Bancroft star in a quiet and charming movie about the letters corresponded between single New York gal Helen Hanff (Bancroft) and the employees of a London bookstore found at 84 Charing Cross Road.  The film is not long, nor is it exciting.  The plot ventures no further than small character insights and the letters we are privileged to listen in on.  It feels like we are glimpsing in on some real life, as if the director’s goal was not to entertain us with some fantastic story, but more to give us a taste of people you see everyday.

As a book lover and adoring all things London – this was my cup of tea.  Even without my endorsement, though, it’s a movie without fault.  The script is excellent – insightful, moving, delicate, and clever.  The pace may be slower than your average flick, but its scenery and style interestingly highlight the passing time between the late forties to late sixties.  The cast is perfect: Anne Bancroft plays a no-nonsense, confident, energetic, and intelligent woman who loves books and cigarettes.  Anthony Hopkins is superb as the bookstore owner Frank Doel giving a reserved yet complex performance.  Also featured in this film is the ever-so-wonderful Judi Dench as Frank’s wife – she’s young, and she’s different but she’s great. (surprised, aren’t you…)

This film is not for everyone but is a gem nonetheless. 9/10

Written by laurenthejukebox17

June 28, 2010 at 5:36 pm

Bright Star (2009)

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What to say, what to say…  Acclaimed English poet John Keats falls in love with Fanny Brawne, and then he dies.  The end.

Okay, okay.  There was something of a story there in the middle.  Recognizing my minority status, I hesitate to criticize this film at the risk of sounding immature and one-sided.  But frankly, I didn’t like it.  I didn’t really get into it, and once I did it was difficult to see where the story was headed.  I understand this film’s beauty and love its scenery and poetic themes.  Keats (Ben Whishaw), I must admit, was excellent – if only he were in it more.  The supporting performances were, for the most part, solid – particularly Fanny’s younger sister, Toots.

In my humble opinion, the greatest weakness was Abbie Cornish (Fanny).  It’s like Twilight for adults.  Call me crazy, but I have this firm belief in a woman’s independence and stability to never ruin their lives over a man.  Just as I can’t stand Bella – I’m not such a fan of Fanny either.  She was annoying and overdramatic.  I found nothing to really like about her, even her looks.  Afterall, Keats is the one everybody knows… I learned nothing much of his work, nor much about the man himself other than his strange obsession for Fanny.

The screenplay was far from exceptional – written and directed by Jane Campion (The Piano), it never really explores outside of its Fanny/Keats bubble.

I give it a 4/10 for its beauty and Ben Whishaw, though I still wish I knew more about Keats.  Give me Sense and Sensibility over this any day.

Written by laurenthejukebox17

June 26, 2010 at 10:20 am

RIP king of pop

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Happy Deathday Michael Jackson.  I still think you’re awesome.

Yeah, I’m boring.  I’ve got a lot of running around to do today, so this won’t be a very lengthy or deep post.  So here comes one really original top ten list honoring the King of Pop!

Top VIDEOS:

15. Earth Song – It’s big and it’s got power but frankly I prefer when he dances.

14. Scream – Unique, crazy, expensive, but impressive.

13. Rock With You – One of my favorite MJ songs, his sequins charmed the world in this clip.

12. Liberian Girl Freak, how many celebs are IN that vid?

11. Don’t Stop ‘Till You Get Enough – He’s so dang cute, and sounds and looks so joyful.

10. Leave Me Alone – Michael Jackson IS an amusement park.

9. Man in the Mirror An inspirational song and video, with hardly an appearance from the man himself.

8. The Way You Make Me Feel Heck, I just like to watch him walk down the street!  I also like the guy that gives him a thumbs up. 🙂

7. Billie JeanGreat song, everything he touches lights up just as his audience did.

6. Black & White – Face morphing, Macaulay Culkin, controversial final 2 minutes… This video rocks.

5. We Are the World (USA for Africa) – Let’s face it, Michael Jackson is the best part of this humanitarian video.

4. Smooth Criminal In his white suit and with the innovative anti-gravity move, this slick night-club vid is legit.

3. Bad – Directed by Martin Scorsese and all, it doesn’t get much better than this one.

2. Thriller – This 14-minute segment is the quintessential Jackson.  Rad dancing, great song, great Michael, and Vincent Price.  There are so many moments where I just have to smile… it’s so well done.

1. Beat It – With a West Side Story feel, this is the greatest MJ video.  The dancing doesn’t get better, the Eddie Van Halen guitar riff stands out, and the song just ROCKS hard core.

Okay, ironically enough, the Beat It video is “no longer available in my country” so this MJ-vid-a-thon just came to an abrupt halt.  I’m kind of pissed off, but whatever – I’ll look for a video to embed later.

Honorable mentions: Dirty Diana, You Rock My World, and Remember the Time

You’ll always be remembered MJ!


Written by laurenthejukebox17

June 25, 2010 at 10:51 am

Vantage Point (2008)

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I consider myself to be a “film person.”  I mean, more so than TV.  I never watched much TV growing up and there few shows that I watch regularly.  My heart lies with movies.  But I will say this: if the series is good, I’m there, and I’m there to stay.  Some of my favorite TV shows include Lost, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Monk, The Office, The West Wing, and ER. There’s something about spending that many hours with the same characters (we all know I’m a character person).  I feel so attached to Mary Richards, Mark Greene, President Bartlet, and Monk.  They’re my friends.  So, you see, my small but firm attachment to TV improves my film experience.  If ER‘s Juliana Margulies is in anything – I’m there.  Same goes for John Krasinski, Ed Asner, Rob Lowe, and certainly George Clooney.  So, even though I’d heard mixed reviews for Vantage Point – I was totally going to see it because of Matthew Fox, our lead Lostie.

And you know, I liked it!  To a point, that is.  Essentially, it’s nothing more than a glorified 23 minute assassination.  We figure out the whodunnit and whole story by viewing multiple vantage points of the various characters.  It’s like putting a puzzle together – with each “rewind” more pieces come together.  It’s a great concept with mediocre execution, though it is stylish.  The story itself is extremely implausible (and I mean extreme), but a lot of fun.

It’s got a good cast – William Hurt, Dennis Quaid, Forrest Whittaker, Sigourney Weaver, and Fox.  Two thumbs up for the short running time.  Great action sequences.  I’m not sure what the moral is nor what *certain characters* motives were.  Also, the ending felt abrupt – as if the big build up throughout the movie led to no where.  And, frankly, this is not Dennis Quaid’s best movie ever.

So really, the more I intelligently think about it the worse it gets – I no longer fear being hit by a car since, obviously, I will never die nor be injured despite being smooshed by a semi.  I’m also now pretty confident that I can single-handedly take out the secret service and waltz into the residence to kidnap the President. …But I can’t deny that I was pretty into it.  Suspending my disbelief is rarely this fun. 6/10

please, don’t shoot me

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Should you happen to read this post and the thought crosses your mind that someone who has not seen these movies is obviously under-qualified to write a movie blog… keep in mind that I’m only 18-years-old.  I’ve still got time.  This whole list thing is all very embarrassing, so give me kudos for admitting my shortcomings to the world.  It goes something like this:

Movies I haven’t seen (but should have)

30. Alien (1979)

This would be higher on the list, but I have seen a LOT of this movie.  The problem being, I can’t remember if it was Alien or Aliens… all I remember is Sigourney Weaver, violence, and aliens.  Which is basically common knowledge.  So I just need to sit down and watch the whole thing.

29. Bonnie & Clyde (1967)

A bank robbing couple?  I’m there!  Why haven’t I seen this movie again?

 

 

28. The Usual Suspects (1995)

Despite my interest in Kevin Spacey, no dice.  I haven’t seen this one either.  Though, I must add, my interest in this film grew after I moved to Tahiti, so I haven’t really had a chance to see it.  See, now I’m making you feel pity, rather than disgust.

27. Harvey (1950)

I’ve seen….. roughly 80% of James Stewart’s movies.  Just not this one.  Ironically enough, I became more interested in seeing this after watching Donnie Darko.  You know, giant rabbits?

 

26. His Girl Friday (1940)

Basically the same thing as above.  I’m a hard core Cary Grant fan since birth, but I’ve never seen this one.

25. L.A. Confidential (1997)

Kevin Spacey.  Russell Crowe.  Guy Pearce.   David Straithairn.  Why haven’t I seen this yet?

 

 

24. The Big Lebowski (1998)

I really haven’t seen that many Jeff Bridges movies, to be honest (and embarrass myself further) so I’m not sure why I’m choosing this one as the “one to see” but I’ve always had this off-hand interest in “The Dude.”

23. Shadowlands (1993)

Despite my love for C.S. Lewis and Anthony Hopkins…

 

 

22. Waiting for Guffman (1996)

Oh have I heard so much about this movie.  It’s Christopher Guest, after all, that can mean nothing but good.  It’s my kind of movie, and seems like my kind of humor.  I can’t wait to see it one of these days.

21. Capote (2005)

I’ve been dying to see this movie ever since it was released.  We even rented it, but for some reason I wasn’t able to watch, so my mom saw it by herself.  She raves about it, and I’m still dying to see it.

 

20. Twelve O’Clock High (1949)

Gregory Peck, how I love you.  I can’t believe I haven’t seen this movie of yours.

19. Spirited Away (2001)

I remember watching  the Oscars when Spirited Away won Best Animated feature.  I thought, (being  eleven) what the heck IS that?   Since then, I’ve heard nothing but critical acclaim and  I am now very anxious to cross this off my list.

 

 

18. The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)

Obi-Wan Kenobi’s Best Actor win (classic film fans will hate me for saying that, ha) plus Director, Picture, and Screenplay wins… I should probably see this movie one of these days.  It’s a favorite of my parents.

17. The Hustler (1961)

Ever since I saw Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid for the first time I’ve been in love with Paul Newman.  I’m pretty far behind on his filmography and this is the first on my list to see.  Plus I dig the poster.

 

 

16. The Great Dictator (1940)

I grew up with Charlie Chaplin, and Modern Times is one of my all-time favs.  I’ve yet to see this classic, though.

15. The Deer Hunter (1948)

These are getting kind of repetetive aren’t they?  Christopher Walken’s Oscar winning performance, Meryl Streep’s first nomination and Best Picture winner deserves (more likely than not) SEVERAL viewings, and I haven’t even seen it once? WTF?

 

 

14. The African Queen (1951)

My mom has raved about this movie, and I love me some Bogart.  Since its recent DVD release, hopefully I can check it off soon.

13. Schindler’s List (1993)

Yeah… like I said.  Don’t shoot me.  I know this is an excellent movie, I’ve seen several scenes in fact.  I know I should see this movie pronto.

 

 

12. Dr. Strangelove (1964)

Honestly, I may have heard of this movie ages ago but I didn’t REALLY know about it until just a few years ago.  My interest piqued when I went through my Stanley Kubrick obsession phase and read absolutely anything I could get my hands on about him.

11. Out of Africa (1985)

Meryl Streep.  Robert Redford.  In the same movie.  I promise, I’ve seen SOME movies.

 

10. Annie Hall (1977)

The ultimate Woody Allen.  Ranked #4 in AFI’s 100 Laughs series.  Won the Oscar for Best Picture, Director, Actress, and Screenplay. This is a bad caption.

9. Sophie’s Choice (1982)

In case I haven’t made this clear, Meryl Streep is my favorite modern actress.  Someday I’ll do a post especially for her because I just love her so (and I’m still pulling for another Oscar!)  Sophie’s Choice won Meryl her Best Actress Academy Award and is, perhaps, her best film to date.  Or so I’m told.

 

 

8. Die Hard (1988)

Seriously?  I haven’t seen DIE HARD? Yeah, I know.  I suck.  I lurve Alan Rickman too, so it’s really a shame I haven’t seen it.

7. The Graduate (1967)

“Mrs. Robinson you’re trying to seduce me… aren’t you?”  Basically I already love this movie.  And I knoow I love Dustin Hoffman.  But, all I really know of it is Anne  Bancroft’s sexy legs.

 

6. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)

Jack Nicholson in a mental institution?  1 of 3 movies to take home the big five Oscars?  Man, I gotta get me some of this action.

5. Edward Scissorhands (1990)

One of Johnny Depp’s billions with Tim Burton.  Yeah, I can’t believe I haven’t seen this one either.  It’s totally my kind of movie.

 

4. The French Connection (1971)

The most famous chase scene of all-time.  One of my favorite actors, Gene Hackman.  Best Picture, Director, Screenplay, and Actor winner.  I cannot describe the anticipation I have to one day see this movie.

3. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

Another Hopkins.  And (like Cuckoo) 1 of 3 to win the big five Oscars.  (In case you’re wondering, the other is It Happened One Night. I’ve seen that one!)

 

2. Citizen Kane (1941)

Wow, this is really getting embarrassing now.  I’m pretty sure I’ve previously lied to people about this one.  See, my family and I were going through the AFI 100 movies list and we just… didn’t make it that high!   I’ve sort of had this two year hiatus of serious movie-watching through this whole Tahiti excursion, and seeing as I don’t have as much access to what I want, this one has had to wait.

1. The Godfather (1971)

It’s a sin, I know, not to have seen this movie.  Forgive me.  I want nothing more than to repent, and quickly.

Yeah.  I know I suck.  There are many more great movies I haven’t seen (I won’t name them, however, or NO ONE will read this blog!)  but these are just the ones that I, personally, can’t believe I haven’t seen.  Now go ahead.  You may mock me all you want.

those boots weren’t made for walking

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“Lady Gaga falls off her shoes”

That headline just made my day.

Written by laurenthejukebox17

June 23, 2010 at 12:08 pm

Posted in music, random

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