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Good but not Great 7/10
I can't help but feel slightly disappointed with Once Upon a Time in Wonderland. I have only seen the first two episodes, and maybe there will be hope for the rest of the season, but right now I'm not too pleased.
The thing about this show is that it's actually pretty good as far as the actors go, and visually it's nice. I like the fact that everything in Wonderland looks pretty unreal, as if you've jumped into a hallucination. Sophie Lowe as Alice was a perfect choice, and her genie is very attractive. The writing is interesting, and I think it's awesome that they were able to weave in the parent show as well.
So if everything else is fabulous, what could be wrong with the show?
Well, in my opinion, it makes too much sense.
I know, that sounds weird, but think about it...Lewis Carrol's Wonderland is supposed to be a world occupied by insane, head-strong, eccentric, and often obnoxious characters. There is no madness in this story, and the characters are all quite logical and perfectly sane. It's just NOT Wonderland.
I don't think that movies/shows inspired by or based on books have to be carbon copies of the source material. That just wouldn't be realistic, of course, and I have no problem with a sequel/spin-off, just like I had no problem with Tim Burton's film. In fact, I loved his adaptation, because he captured the real essence of Wonderland, not the squeaky- clean Disney cartoon of the 1950s. And all the characters were a bit mad and rude.
But this version of Wonderland isn't really Wonderland. Again, I'm no stickler, but is it too much to ask that Wonderland is a world of madness? That's the most basic element of book, and the fact that this ABC version hasn't showcased that at all is a bit annoying.
Beautiful Creatures (2013)
Much Better Than I Was Expecting
When I first heard that Beautiful Creatures (the novel) was going to be adapted into a movie, I was hesitant to see it, due to the fact that the trailers were absolutely horrible. I'm just glad that the movie focused on a lot more than a supernatural romance, because that's only one of many interesting and complicated plot lines.
Despite the fact that the LA Times and the NY Times gave the flick great reviews, a bunch of lesser-known critics were much harsher on it. After reading some of these reviews, I was shocked to see how biased and silly some of the comments were. It was clear that these were people that walked in to the theater expecting Twilight and were too self-conscious about praising a teen movie to say that it wasn't.
Twilight is all about the romance. Beautiful Creatures has a big Romeo and Juliet thing going on, but at the same time, there's mysteries, prophesies, hypocrisy, Southern politics, Civil War history, religion, death, evil forces, and all sorts of madness making for quite an interesting story (with some very witty and sarcastic dialogue to put a cherry on top).
Other people that read the book were likewise upset, because they thought it strayed too much from the source material. The only MAJOR change made was about 3/4 of the way through the movie, and the end result was still the same as the book. The reason why the writer did this was for the sake of TIME. If he hadn't made that change, the movie would have dragged on for three hours as oppose to rapping itself up nicely at two.
I thought the acting was good as well, and Alden Ehrenreich and Alice Englert had nice chemistry as Ethan and Lena. Of course, Jeremy Irons, Emma Thompson, and Viola Davis gave great performances, but that comes as no surprise. Emmy Rossum as the wicked siren, Ridley, was fabulous, and Thomas Mann was hilarious as Link.
I especially loved Thompson's twisted character-she played a crazy Republican fundamentalist named Mrs. Lincoln, who gets possessed by Sarafine Duchannes, the most powerful Dark Caster alive. As Sarafine, her performance was definitely "Dark", bridging on psychotic. Not what I was expecting, but I liked it.
However, I thought some of the other actors, like the girls that played the Barbie cheerleaders, were horrible. There is a way to portray phony people and there is a way to pull off a satire while still keeping it believable.
Besides plot and acting, I loved the costumes and set. They were very beautifully done and really captured the gorgeous yet creepy atmosphere of the story. In addition, the effects were cool-nothing to die over, but they served their purpose.
Lastly, I thought the soundtrack was awesome and very different. The mix of classical, blues, country, and alternative music worked great with the film.
Overall, I think the movie is an 8 out of 10. It's not amazing, but it is entertaining, interesting, and something I recommend seeing.
Almost Famous (2000)
The Best Rock Movie I've Ever Seen
I absolutely loved this film. I just recently saw it and I am now completely obsessed. Taking place in the 1970's, this film was able to do something that most rock movies struggle to do-maintain a level of sincerity that balances out with the glamorous stories of rock stars.
The film is about a boy named William Miller that is soon to graduate high school at the age of fifteen, and dreams of becoming a music journalist. After a piece he wrote for an underground magazine catches the attention of Rolling Stone magazine, he is sent on a trip to travel with one of the next big rock bands, Stillwater (a fictional band created for the purposes of the movie). William is plunged into a world of sex, drugs, and of course, some of the best music in history.
I think the reason why this film did an incredible job of not seeming totally contrived was because this is actually based off of a true story. The film is the semi-autobiography of the writer/director, Cameron Crowe. Also, the actors were phenomenal, especially Kate Hudson as groupie Penny Layne and Patrick Fugit as William.
And of course, the soundtrack was perfection, comprised of songs by The Who, Led Zeppelin, Elton John, and other great 70's rock bands.
I thought Cameron Crowe did an excellent job with this film and I know this will remain one of my favorites.
Tessa: The New Jesus of Suburbia
This show may not be perfect, but it is funny. Also, it's very relatable, especially to a kid growing up in an obnoxiously fake suburb like the one on the show.
The actors are funny, sweet, quirky, and bring good-natured comedy to the screen. Tessa, Dalia, and Dallas are my favorites on the show. Tessa is witty and clever, a jaded foil to the naive and plastic Dalia and over-the-top yet lovable Dallas.
Also, the script is, for the most part, well written and the situations that Tessa finds herself in are hilarious.
As every sitcom, it's not perfect, and not all the jokes are funny, but for the most part, I am enjoying it and I'm looking forward to next season.
Why This Is The Next Best Comedy
After watching the Pilot of Don't Trust the B---- In Apartment 23, I was hooked. This show is funny, sassy, and extremely entertaining. In addition, it received mostly positive reviews from critics.
Some people (critics as well as people I know) have said that it is a bad show because it "lacks in taste" and the heroine is "a bad person and a con artist". But here's the thing: this is NOT a show for little children. There's no need to make the main characters perfect do-gooders. I think that adults and young adults shouldn't have a hard time distinguishing a good person from a bad person, but I guess there are still people out there that can't seem to do so.
This show is honest, raw, and hilarious. The casting is great and there's a fun group of characters.
Chloe is the B in Apartment 23. The actress that plays her, Krysten Ritter, has excellent comedic timing and seems to know her character inside and out. Chloe is a con artist that puts advertisements asking for roommates on the web, but once they move in, she leaves them paying for the rent and makes sure they leave within a month by being the worst roommate ever.
And then there's June. June Colburn, played by Dreama Walker, is the smart, small-town girl that comes to NYC after being hired to work for a major mortgage company that comes with a huge apartment. But when the company is shut down by the government, June loses her apartment and ends up moving in with Chloe.
At first, Chloe tries to get June to move out, but June proves to be too clever to be out-smarted by the B in Apartment 23, and ends up living there as the two girls become good friends.
The cast is complete with Chloe's best friend, an actor playing a fictional version of himself (James Van Der Beek), a neighbor obsessed with Chloe (Liza Lapira as Robin), and June's boss (until she can get a new job), the manager of a coffee shop (Eric Andre as Mark Reynolds).
Another thing unique to this show is the amount of twists and turns, a plot element typically reserved for mysteries and dramas. An example of this is when Chloe sets June up on a date with a man that seems perfect for June, but little does June know that that man is Chloe's father! And if that weren't enough, when Chloe tells June her parents are separated, implying divorce, it turns out they were taking a temporary split for 3 days! And once again, if THAT wasn't enough, Chloe's mom is in a wheelchair.
Lastly, the set is great and the vibe of the city is perfectly matched with the spunky and quirky cast.
If you still don't like this show after knowing all this, well...to each his own.
This Means War (2012)
It's Just Another Rom-Com
Let me just begin saying that I love spy movies. I think they're exciting, action-packed, and tend to have great plots. But every once and a while, a movie like This Means War comes out, and you know it's not going to be that great.
The reason for this is entirely the plot. The plot was dull and silly and all-around average.
The acting was great though, and I especially loved Chelsea Handler's character.
But other than that, this movie is just like Killers-a romantic comedy with a little bit of spy action, but completely lacking in the twisted, complex plot that a good spy movie needs.
I guess this is one of those films that are fun to see once, but you won't want to see it again after.
Marie Antoinette (2006)
Let them eat cake!
I am absolutely obsessed with this film. Sofia Coppola brilliantly captures Marie Antoinette's true spirit: not as an evil queen, but as a naive and young ruler that doesn't fully know the circumstance her people are in outside the walls of Versailles.
Critics seem to have either loved or hated the film, but before you listen to those snubbing the biopic because it "didn't capture the dark reality of the French Revolution" or "Kirsten Dunst was too nice when playing Antoinette", keep in mind that these are people that really need to study up on their history.
First of all, Marie Antoinette never actually said "let them eat cake". In Rousseau's book, Confessions, he writes: "Finally I recalled the stopgap solution of a great princess who was told that the peasants had no bread, and who responded: 'Let them eat brioche.'" But this was written years before Antoinette even arrived in France. I think that Kirsten Dunst really captured Antoinette's sweet, care-free, bohemian spirit, and she was perfectly cast in the role.
Second, this film is NOT about the French Revolution. It's about the life of Marie Antoinette. Was the revolution dark, bloody, and horrific? Absolutely. But Antoinette was never exposed to the harsh world of the rebellion until the very end of her life.
This is essentially the entire point of the film-to show that Antoinette was not evil, just misunderstood. She wasn't really aware of the poverty in France and when critics say that the film was too fluffy and not dark enough, they should know that that's exactly what her life was like.
With that said, this film was also amazing not just because of the great script but for several other reasons:
1) The acting was perfect. As an actress, I found the honesty in each actor's performance to be real and thoughtful, and Dunst truly "ruled" as the title role. Other favorites of mine include Rose Byrne, who played the Duchesse de Polignac, the silly, outgoing, and often tipsy friend of Antoinette. She was funny and charming. I also enjoyed the performance of Jamie Dornan as Count Axel Fersen, Marie Antoinette's love interest. Overall, the casting was great.
2) DON'T EVEN GET ME STARTED ON THOSE COSTUMES. One word=gorgeous. Go to Google Images and you'll know what I mean.
3) The music was flawless. I loved that Coppola chose to include not only Baroque pieces but also songs from post-punk, New Wave bands from the 80's, as well as some indie thrown in for good measure. My favorite songs in the movie include "Natural's Not In It" by Gang of Four, "What Ever Happened?" by The Strokes, and "Kings of the Wild Frontier" by Adam and the Ants.
The only critique I have for the film is that the romance between Marie Antoinette and Count Fersen should have had a bigger part in the film than it did. I would have loved to see more of them together. In addition, the pregnancy conflict (I don't want to write any spoilers so I won't go in depth about this) shouldn't be as long as it was.
Other than that, this movie is a must-see. I've seen it at least 10 times and I'll probably be seeing it more.
Ocean's Eleven (2001)
One of my favorite heist movies ever
Ocean's Eleven is a spectacular film. It's played out perfectly and it's everything you'd want in a heist movie.
The movie moves at a fast pace, keeping you constantly at the edge of your seat as you watch Danny and the crew steal from three casinos belonging to Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia) for the prize of over $150 million. There's tons of twists, surprising you as the heist is carried out and nothing is as you'd expect it to be. Overall, it is an awesome movie.
The Vegas setting is vibrant and cool, and it is filmed in a way to make you feel like you're in the heist with the actors.
The casting is great. George Clooney was perfect for the role of Danny Ocean and plays the mastermind in a beautifully confident manner. Brad Pitt is sexy as always and super cool as Rusty Ryan in the flick. Matt Damon is the sneaky pickpocket Linus Caldwell, mixing the perfect amount of innocence to the world of high-stakes theft yet with a maturity as well.
Julia Roberts is stunning as always as Tess Ocean and Andy Garcia makes the perfect villain in his role of the billionaire casino owner Terry Benedict. Bernie Mac is extremely charismatic as Frank Catton (the inside man), Carl Reiner is the old timer-Saul Bloom, and Don Cheadle is hilarious as Basher, the explosives genius.
Other stars, including Casey Affleck and Scott Caan as wheelmen Virgil and Turk Malloy, Eddie Jemison as Livingston Dell the computer genius, and Shaobo Qin as greaseman Yen are wonderful in their roles.
And last but most certainly not least, Elliot Gould as Reuben Tishkoff, the man funding the heist and the lovely, charismatic casino owner is perfect. Gould steals every single scene he's in.
So as you can tell, this movie is a must see and a perfect ten. This is one you don't want to miss.
PS- The sequels, Ocean's Twelve and Ocean's Thirteen, are amazing as well. I highly recommend you see all three.
Gossip Girl (2007)
Don't Listen to the Haters That Watched One Episode!!!
Gossip Girl..... How do I even begin to explain this show?
For one thing, it is completely addicting. Once you start watching the show you realize that you can't stop because it is the definition of a guilty pleasure.
Second, it is at least 50 times better than the books. Why? Because: -- The characters actually have layers on the show. Serena Van Der Woodsen, for example, is not just the lucky, pretty rich girl that seems to get what she wants like she was in the books. On the show, she proves to seem this way on the inside, but as the show develops, you learn more about her insecurities, faults, troubled past, screwy family life, etc. All these things make her real. Every character on this show has a stereotypical exterior and a real, dark interior, which makes the show so interesting and complex. -- The plot is GOOD. Unlike the books, where there are some petty problems now and then, this show grows and twists. People are betrayed, shot, impersonated, stolen from, deceived, and kidnapped. Every once in a while, a plot idea may run for too long, which is why I gave the show an 8 out of 10 instead of a 10 out of 10. -- The language is witty and clever, and the writers are, no offense to Cecily Von Ziegesar, good.
Third, the fashion in this show is STUNNING. The different stylistic developments of each character are unique and gorgeous in every way. Take Blair Waldorf. Everything she wears is sassy and elegant, embellished with glittering hair pieces and accessories.
Fourth, the actors on this show are great and the casting is impeccable.
Fifth and finally, those developing the show are very, very smart. Gossip Girl has controversial elements that popularize it, such as the use of drugs, alcohol, and sex. There are reviewers that prudishly proclaimed this to be a bad show because of those things, so the creators decided to take those bad reviews and put them on posters to advertise the show, such as the poster of Blake Lively that reads, "Every parent's NIGHTMARE!" above the show's title. This I found to be smart and funny.
So as you can see, the people that proclaimed this show to be tacky and obscene most likely have only seen one or two episodes, and therefore have NO IDEA how great the show is. Don't listen to the haters! This show, unlike the terrible novels, is worth a chance.