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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