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Anne of Green Gables (1934)
Watchable, but not enough material used.
Didn't know this version existed until catching it on TCM last night. I read the book first in elementary (my 2nd grade teacher had cassette tapes and we read along with our own books) and have read it many times since then. I remember when the Megan Follows version used to air during the WETA telethons and I used to watch it over and over. Although I wasn't as dramatic as Anne as a child, I could relate to her awkwardness, insecurities, etc. That's just an indication of how great of a writer Montgomery was.
Fast forward to this afternoon (day after Thanksgiving laying about), I watched the Dawn O'Day/Anne Shirley version. I thought I recognized the actress, so when I looked her up, I recognized her from 'Stella Dallas' with Barbara Stanwyck. I had assumed that the name Anne Shirley was a coincidence, but she actually changed her name after playing Anne. I guess the role had a major impact on her. Anyway, she's competent as Anne. As in 'Stella Dallas,'she plays drama queen quite well, but it's a very in-your-face style. I would say Megan Follows was much more nuanced in her performance whereas I could tell Anne Shirley was acting.
The adaptation is just average. I wouldn't consider myself a purist, but I was disappointed that many key parts of the book were left out. In this version, Mrs. Lynde is now Mrs. Barry and Diana's mother. They left in the scene where Anne gets cross with Mrs. Barry/Lynde, but they took out the Diana getting drunk story as well as many other charming bits. The raspberry cordial scene and the aftermath is highly identifiable and I was shocked it was missing. The movie runs about 90 minutes, so I guess they couldn't get a lot of stuff in, but honestly, the missing parts make me glad I that I've seen it, but less likely to watch again. Don't get me wrong, it's not a completely different story, but it is a severe cliff's notes version.
I usually go for original versions, but in this case, the TV version is far superior, so I would recommend this movie if you have time to kill or are interested in other adaptations.
Sandra's Money Saving Meals (2009)
The show is generally OK.
I would like to acknowledge however that the concept of this show is in direct conflict with her Semi-Homemade show. On Semi-Homemade, Sandra's philosophy was to save time with store-bought ingredients. This usually meant canned, pre-packaged, processed goods. Frankly, sometimes the recipes were a turnoff b/c of all of the processed goods loaded into the dishes. This includes special holiday dishes! On Money-Saving Meals, it's pretty much the polar opposite. I just watched the Thanksgiving episode, and if I remember correctly, everything was fresh with the exception of spice. Her Round 2 recipes (the second half of the show) using leftovers from the 1st dishes only contained pre-shredded cheese as a previously processed item.
She also does a per serving breakdown for each dish to show how much money you are spending/saving, which is fine, but those bits aren't as relevant to me b/c we all have our own tastes and preferred brands, so it may not be as cheap as her dishes.
She still makes cocktails, so that part hasn't changed, but it's difficult to reconcile this show with the Semi-Homemade one b/c her reasoning is completely different.
Common Law (2012)
I like it
Don't plan to include spoilers, but I always check the box just in case.
For anyone who's familiar with USA shows, let me first say that these guys are NOT like Shawn and Gus. I've seen that comparison, and the dynamics are way different. Yes, it's a buddy detective show, but that's it.
Anyway, we're three episodes in, and while the cases aren't all that spectacular, they haven't been super-predictable either. The cases aren't really the point. The relationship btwn Wes and Travis is. Also, the extended dynamics btwn Wes and his ex-wife Alex, and Travis and his many exes. Ealy and Kole work really well together, and I thoroughly enjoy the therapy scenes (and all the familiar faces in them!)
I look forward to this show on Fridays.
Blue Valentine (2010)
Ryan Gosling and Jen from Dawson's Creek
Watching this movie for the first time, and truly not seeing what the hype is about. I'm sure I'll get rated down by a bunch of folks who "get it." I have seen movies about the destruction of relationships, and they can be quite insightful and real. Blue Valentine felt very empty for me. The pacing was slow and the movie could have been shorter. At one point, I felt it had dragged on so much that I paused it and saw that I had 78 more minutes left.
As for the performances, I have watched Gosling grow over the years, and even if I don't know the plot of a movie, if I see his name, chances are I'll watch. Even with his drunkenness and immaturity, I felt his character. In Michelle Williams, sorry, but I still see the sourpuss- faced Jen from Dawson's Creek. I felt nothing for Cindy, and even from the first scene where Dean and Frankie wake her up, I knew she would be the unpleasant one. I would argue that she never loved Dean; he offered her a way out of single-motherhood. Nothing we saw showed her trying to fix her family. Dean, for all of his faults, wanted his wife to talk to him, wanted to show he loved her, wanted to work on the marriage.
I think one of the issues for me was that I read up on the movie, so I noticed/paid attention to things I might not have otherwise. For example, I read that the director threw out the script and had Gosling and Williams improvise. Painfully obvious. It seemed like Ryan was better at it than Michelle. For the characters, I never got the impression that Dean's personality was stronger than Cindy's, but with the improvisation, you could clearly see that Ryan: A.controlled the scenes, and B.was connected to his character enough to know what to say. I got tired of hearing Michelle say things like "I don't know what to say" or "I'm sorry." Another thing was that for a film that took 12 years to make (presumably, it's the director's baby), it lacked soul. I'm a big believer in marriage and hate to see them fall apart. I just knew that this movie would invoke emotions in me related to that. Nothing.
For me, it's a forgettable film. Though it's not really the same thing, rent Kramer vs. Kramer. I recommend this in that even though Meryl Streep's character left to find herself and neglected her child, the performance was great enough for you to empathize. Not so here. Oh, better yet, go rent Days of Wine and Roses with Jack Lemmon.
Happy Endings (2011)
Love it! A successor to 'Friends'
This show is hilarious. I just got caught up on the first season and am now watching the 2nd. This show is right up my alley. I am a huge fan of ensemble shows (i.e. Friends, Frasier, etc) and Happy Endings has that 90s-vibe. I'm around the same age as the actors so that helps me relate as well. The humor is great w/o being repugnant or over-the-top vulgar, and I've found myself liking all of the characters. They seem to have a great natural chemistry going, as did the casts of Friends and Frasier. There was a show on ABC Family called 'Roomates,' that tried to duplicate those classic shows, but if the actors have no chemistry with each other. Brad and Max are probably my favorites. Damon Wayans, Jr looks exactly like his father and his style of humor is Wayans through and through. Max is so funny, and I like that his homosexuality is not shoved down our throats to the point where he's a cartoon. It's refreshing to see a non-camp gay on TV. Penny is a little extreme, but I guess without her antics, the group would be missing a high-strung dynamic. Dave and Alex are less defined characters, so far, but I think they are slowly developing them. Maybe Dave more so than Alex.
This show also reminds me of 'My Boys' which used to air on TBS. I hope ABC keeps this one.
Black Swan (2010)
What's the fuss about? Possible spoilers
I finally caught this today, and I really don't see the fuss. As full disclosure, I didn't see any of the other Best Actress movies, so I cannot say who deserved to win, but I was incredibly underwhelmed by NP's performance. Natalie's expressions were Stressed and More Stressed. Oh, and Paranoid. Not a lot of range in this. With all the accolades, I was expecting to be blown away. I felt like I was watching NP play an obsessed (and mentally-ill) ballerina. Portman came off as very aware of this being an Oscar-bait role, and thus the performance never seemed organic. As note: MAJOR props to the special effects team. I enjoyed Nina's visual transformation near the climax from the White Swan features to the Black Swan.
As for the story, I expected more. It was dark, but based on reviews, I expected something more disturbing and maybe unusual? I did turn away from certain parts, such as the breaking legs and bloody feet scenes as things like that make me queasy. Based on my one viewing, it seemed to be a study on mental illness. Shades of Fight Club and Memento(both are superior), but without soul and genuine intrigue. I don't mind a movie left to the viewer's interpretation, but this movie made sure everything was up in the air. This movie asked for a lot of assumptions. We never saw Beth (Winona Ryder) dance. So it's unclear why (aside from being the prima) Nina idolizes her. We never see the other ladies audition, so Nina winning the part could really be a result of the director's creepy fixation on her than of talent. We don't see what makes Thomas' "visceral" Swan Lake so unique, in terms of how much of the actual performance we see. All we're watching is Nina's descent into further madness, which is fine, but I expected the climax to consume more of the run-time. I don't need anything spelled out, but the way the movie left things felt obnoxious and lazy. On the other hand, could all the light/dark/black/white have been more obvious? I've never seen Swan Lake, but based on what I've read, this was a perverted interpretation. The gratuitous sex scenes were cheap (Monster's Ball cheap) and did not move the plot. Even Portman commented on how the scene w/Kunis was how you get people in the theater. The old train pervert served no purpose.I was hoping the movie would show appreciation for ballet, but it didn't, and I'm not a dancer. 127 Hours showed both the wonders and the dangers of nature, for example. The dream sequence in Oklahoma was a better tribute to ballet. Then again, two characters did talk us through the storyline of Swan Lake, so I guess that should have been a clue that we wouldn't "see" it.
Another thing that bothered me was we're to believe that Nina is obsessed about being the Swan, but she doesn't seem obsessive about anything else. Not asking for much, but something as simple as having to brush her hair w/100 strokes every night or some OCD-type habit. Don't think the vomiting applies b/c I think that was stress- related. I guess self-mutilation would work, as stated earlier, anything with blood or if I felt blood/peeling skin/etc coming, I looked away. Plus, this was not done in the open, so I feel they could have added something that other characters saw. The couple of "mean girl" ballerinas in the beginning of the film seemed like perfect candidates to hone in on some quirk of Nina's that would point to her problem. How is it that her obsessiveness is so contained? If gratuitous sex could be added, then surely, Aronofsky could have developed Nina more.
Mila Kunis' character wasn't as fleshed out as I expected which leads me to believe that Nina imagined her. I believe the movie was about Nina's disturbed psyche brought on by her repressed childhood/adulthood and it culminated into her killing herself. She had a mom that was trying to live through her and she had that internal struggle of not being good enough in a highly competitive profession.
Another review pointed it out, but what in the world was with the mother's drawings? It was weird seeing them the first time, but when we see them again, they're animated? Unless I blinked, Nina never brought them up to her mother. Are we to believe that with at least 40 drawings in that room, Nina has never seen them? Really?
As a superficial observation, Natalie Portman is only 30, but looked a lot older. I get the reasons for her weight loss, but visually, it did her no favors and she came across quite harsh on screen. NOT attacking Natalie, but she looked no younger than Winona which made it somewhat unbelievable that Nina's supposedly this great dancer, but has yet to have a leading role at her age. I can't remember if they said how old she was, but anything other than 29/30 is not believable. Certainly not at a peak age which I hear is early 20s.
The ending was a letdown. When Nina said "I felt it...It was perfect...That was perfect." (complete with a smile), my ears actually heard " All right, Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my close-up." So cheesy. Probably won't watch again as it didn't live up to the hype. Mulholland Drive might be a better movie. In fact, Summer Glau as a tortured ballerina dancing 'Giselle' ('Waiting in the Wings' episode of Angel) exhibited more emotion, intrigue, and coherency.
Green Lantern (2011)
I fell asleep.
I saw two horrible movies this weekend, one being Green Lantern and the other being Super 8 (I'll be reviewing that next). I was trying to decide which movie to see after work btwn this and X-Men. I checked out the time length and that really should have been a clue. How much of an origin story can be told in 90 minutes? As a disclosure, I have never read a GL comic, but I am a huge fan of the superhero movies. I was fully prepared to like it so much that I would buy an anthology of comics. The patheticness of this movie makes me want to check out the comics to see what the real story is about, but forget about ever adding this movie to my collection.
I had a few problems with this movie. As much as I love Reynolds as an actor, I did not see him as this character. I felt like I was watching Ryan. Keeping it in genre, RDJ IS Iron Man, HJ IS Wolverine, CB IS Batman, Christopher Reeves (RIP) IS Superman. It's as though I was always conscious of him. As for Blake Lively, I am a casual viewer of Gossip Girl, so I know who she is. But in this movie, she felt like a gimmick. As though the producers said, "which hot young starlet should be in this movie?" Again to compare w/in genre, in both the Hulk and in Iron Man, neither Liv Tyler nor Gwenyth Paltrow can be classified as the next IT girl (they've had that moment), but they WORKED. They had chemistry with the hero that was very organic. I felt that Ryan and Blake had no chemistry. Some people, IMO, just don't fit this genre (cough cough Katie Holmes cough cough). Their kiss at the end made me cringe. In the beginning, when she was in pilot mode, I was surprised and thinking "oh OK, so she's gonna be different from all the other distressed damsels" (again, I've never read the comics). So I was disappointed when she ended up in the super tight dresses and heels. I am not a feminist at all, but just found it to be a cliché when I thought the movie had other plans.
I mentioned in my title that I dozed off. Well, the last scene I recall was Peter Saarsgard in pain in his bed, and then I woke up and Green Lantern had formed some race track or something. I have NO clue what I missed and only just now figured it out based on the plot summary.
Lots of wasted familiar faces here: Tim Robbins, Angela Bassett (total surprise) and Mark Strong. The battle scene with Parallax was over so quick. And I'm no scientist, but how did Hal get so close to the sun w/o getting singed?
I could keep typing, but other posters have given some other good criticism. I fully expect this movie to be shunned in a way similar to the Eric Bana version of the 'Hulk." Although this movie does seem to be given a bit more credit than that one, it will always be overshadowed by the incredible superhero flicks we've had since about 2005.
I never listen to critics when deciding which movies to see. I prefer the opinions of either friends/family or regular IMDb posters. I really wish I had looked at these reviews first.
A Summer Place (1959)
A bit of a letdown
The things I've heard about this movie made me expect so much more than I got. I was expect a soap obviously, but a good one. Something along the lines of Written On The Wind or Peyton Place. Now that was pure drama as well as fabulous acting. I didn't get it with A Summer Place. The story somewhat plodded on and I fast-forwarded a couple times.
The performances were OK. No one was a standout. Neither of the "teens" was believable as that age group. Sandra Dee looked more like a teen in Imitation of Life. I didn't find that any of the characters had any particular chemistry with each other. When there's a forbidden romance in a story, it usually helps if the audience feels like the characters would die w/o each other. With the two adults, they kept saying it, but I never believed it. As a personal thing, I always have a problem rooting for adulterers. The parents (the scandalous pair) seemed to come out of this rather unscathed. Meanwhile, the other set likely drank himself to death and the other ended up alone. Based on the description I read, I was expecting their actions to have consequences, but I guess that wasn't the point of the story.
Another thing that had me curious was that they never really dealt with the fact that the "teens" were now step-siblings. I don't know if it was b/c of time constraints or the time period, but it seems like that was worth a mention?
I wish I could recommend this film, but I can't unless you have time to kill. I had been waiting to see it for a long time. Utterly disappointing.
Accidentally in Love (2011)
I liked it!
I guess 8/10 seems high, but I think it's a cute B-rated movie, not "C." Anyway, full disclosure: I'm a sucker for these Hallmark movies. I look forward to them. After a grueling work week plus after-work life activities, I like coming home to relax and watch these predictable/cheesy (sometimes) movies. Accidentally in Love is one of the better movies done by Hallmark in the last several months.
It's predictable, of course, but don't let that deter you. When predictability is a given, for me, it's all about the execution. The actors did great. They were funny, charming, and they played their parts well. As a fan of BH90210, but not a 'Kelly Taylor' fan, Jennie Garth was endearing as the character Annie. The guy who played Eddie was both jerky and charming in one package. Both of the kids were adorable. I just enjoyed the movie. Nothing that occurred seemed out of the realm of possibility (a problem w/some of Hallmark's latest). I'd recommend checking this out.
It's no 'Gaslight'
It's pretty clear that this movie is inspired by 'Gaslight,' only unlike that movie, there's no suspense here. As soon as the mom explained that the blonde was not biologically-related to any of them, I knew she would be involved. I wanted to like this movie. I am generally not a fan of Lifetime (too many sex,murder, and man-hating movies...I'm a woman, btw). But I like Shiri as an actress, so I tuned in. I was sooo hoping that Lifetime would pull a 'Suspicion' and not a 'Gaslight.' But they let me down. It was too predictable. Nothing more to say than that. Everything that you think this movie will do, it does.