Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Magic's Back!

  I was going to start this post telling you how I felt about the five Oscar Best Picture Nominations I saw Saturday night.  However, as the 2012 Oscar telecast comes to a close I decided to take a different approach.  I'd like to start by saying, "thank you Billy Crystal, thank you!"  You brought back the magic of the Oscars!

  Why do we watch movies?  What's the appeal of going to the theatre and spending two and a half to three hours in a dark room when you could be doing something more productive?  The answer in my opinion is simple, we like to get swept away by an incredible story.  A story that can not only move us to tears and laughter, but can inspire us.  That was the point of this years Oscar's.  To bring us back to the basics and remind us of the golden days of cinema.  Like Gil (Owen Wilson)  in the movie "Midnight in Paris" we all yearn to return to a time when things seemed simpler and life was an ongoing party.

  "The Artist" brought us back to a time when movies were simple.  Black and White, no sound and well there were no special effects.  I truly believed I was watching an old silent film and it did a great job embodying classic cinema, however this movie was lost on me.  I would love to say it moved me and had me wanting more, but I can't I was glad when it ended.  Maybe I'm just not artsy enough to love this movie.  I can see why the Academy nominated and awarded this film Best Picture, Director and Actor.  This was a truly "Artsy" film.  But was I moved, did I feel a connection to the characters, no.  I just felt like I wanted it to end and I wanted to see a move in color with sound.

  Like I said in the beginning I am not going to go on and on about what I liked and didn't like.  Because to be completely honest, I could have done without most of the Best Picture nominees this year.  But the show was spectacular.  Billy Crystal did a wonderful job.  He along with a sloo of celebrities told us why they like movies and why we are moved to tears and laughter!  And regardless of how I felt about all nine Best Picture nominees I cannot deny they all had one thing in common.  They reminded us why we go to the movies and why we will continue to go to the movies.

  We are all looking for an escape even for those short two and half to three hours. And even if we get it once a week or once a month we are all expecting the same end result, to be entertained.  I might not have been completely entertained by the movies this year, but I was very entertained by the Oscar's.  I can only hope Billy returns next year and the magic continues.  And for all those film makers and film lovers out there, lets remember the past and hope we can continue to embrace the new while infusing it with the old.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

It's the whimsical world of fairy tales!

Who doesn't love a good fairy tale?  They are wonderful stories that not only take us away from the harsh reality of life, but can also offer us hours of mindless entertainment.  

As we all know Hollywood has always embraced the wonderful world of fairy tales, I mean HELLO Disney has made millions off of these fun stories.  And now we not only get one new live action Snow White movie but two, "Mirror Mirror" staring Julie Roberts coming out March 30th and "Snow White and the Huntsman" staring Kristen Stewart and Charlize Theron coming out June 1st. But for those of us who love this type of fantasy entertainment and have watched "Buffy" and "Angel" over and over to the point you can quote the episodes in your sleep, we now have "Grimm" and "Once Upon A Time."

So lets get to the point of this post, which one really shines when it comes to entertainment.  Both shows are great in their own right, but I think "Grimm" out shines "Once Upon A Time."  I find "Grimm's" premise to be much more original than "Once Upon A Time."  It simply asked the question: what if the Grimm Brothers were not just writing down stories to teach us morality lessons, but what if, in fact they were taking a detail inventory of all the evils in the world and how to kill them? The show focus around Detective Nick Burkhardt (David Giuntoli).  Nick works for the Portland Police Department solving what are normal everyday cases until his aunt comes to visit.  She tells him she's dying and needs to tell him about his past and what really happen to his parents.  However, before Nick and his aunt can have a  heart to heart chat she's attacked and ends up in the hospital.  While fighting off his aunt's attacker Nick notices his face changes and a monster is revealed.  Nick is able to get some information out of his aunt before she dies, most importantly that he is a Grimm and is the last in the Grimm bloodline.  It is now his job to help fight off the evils of the world and keep humanity safe.  Nothing like having the weight of the world on your shoulders and no one to help you out!  Luckily Nick's aunt left him her trailer filled with all the resources a Grimm might need, oh and his best friend happens to be a Bluebod or a Big Bad Wolf.  Now what those normal everyday cases are anything but, and the world of "Grimm" is crossing over into the "real" world.  It's up to Nick to make it right.

"Once Upon A Time" takes a look at what happens when an Evil Queen cast a spell transporting all the fairy tale characters to our world! Here's the problem no one remembers who they are.  They only know the life they have been living in our world, however, most of them seem to lack a strong understanding of their past.  So now Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin) is a teacher, her daughter is a bounty hunter, Prince Charming is a coma patient and the Evil Queen, well she just happens to be the Mayor is this lovely town they all live in, a place ironically called Storybrooke!  We meet Henry (Jared Gilmore) who happens to be the biological son of Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison). Henry explains to Swan that she is his mother and he needs her help to free the resident of Storybrooke from the prison they are unknowingly living in! Swan has a hard time dealing with the fact her son has just shown up seeing she asked for a closed adoption, but she take pity on the boy and lets him tell her the whole story.  Henry explains that Emma is Snow White and Prince Charming's daughter and she is the only one who can save these characters from this evil curse.  We soon find out that Henry's adopted mother is none other than the Mayor of Storybrooke and he truly believes she is the Evil Queen!  As the show continues Emma stays in Storybrooke becoming the Sheriff.  Show by show more is revealed about each character blending flashbacks between the fairy tale world and our world.

Both shows have their strong points.  Clearly "Once Upon A Time" is more light hearted and whimsical.  Also the flashbacks revealing who each character was in the fairy world is a neat aspect of the show.  I think that's my favorite part of the hour long show,  the fantasy angle.  I would classify "Once Upon A Time" as a show the whole family can enjoy.  "Grimm" is much darker, usually focused around a strange murder somehow intertwined with a fairy tale.  For those who are "Buffy" and "Angel" fans this show might just be up your alley. The show is written by "Buffy" and "Angel" producer David Greenwalt.  Sean Hayes of "Will and Grace" fame is also an Executive Producer.  And although the cast may not have as many famous names attached to it as "Once Upon A Time" it's cast can hold it's own without a list of famous names to help it in the ratings race!

Luckily for those who might find both show intriguing you don't have to pick one over the other.  "Grimm" is on Friday night on NBC 8 o'clock cst. "Once Upon A Time" is on Sunday night on ABC 7 o'clock cst.  So why not watch both and decide for yourself which one is better!


Saturday, February 18, 2012

The Secret World of Arrietty

Tonight I decided since I was going to be watching a friends nine year old daughter I would take the opportunity to see a movie that was more kid geared. So upon the request of said nine year old we adventured out to see a 7:35 showing of "The Secret World of Arrietty." Now let me be very clear when it comes to watching children's movies I really do prefer seeing them after they have come out on DVD or weeks after the release in order to avoid the small children who can't sit still or stop talking, so this was a big gamble for me. However, I was rather intrigued to see another movie by director Hiromasa Yonebayashi and writer Hayao Miyazaki. I rather enjoyed both "Howl's Moving Castle" and "Spirited Away."
So after going through the normal riga ma-roll of taking a nine year old to the movies, popcorn with just the right amount of butter and salt the extra napkins and a quick run to the bathroom we found our seats in a semi packed theatre. It wasn't one of the biggest theaters in the place but for it's size it was filling up nicely.
Shortly after about 7:38 the movie began and I settled in with the nine year old munching on her popcorn and waiting wide eyed for this fun movie. Now as I mentioned before I am a fan of Hiromasa Yonebayashi and Hayao Miyazaki, they were the reason I wanted to see this movie (besides it being a request from a friend), but I really did not know anything about this movie except it seemed very close to the 1997 John Goodman movie "The Borrowers." Upon looking into this movie I realized in fact the 1997 movie and this movie was based on the same story. I did not however, know this move and the one in '97 was based on the "Borrowers" book series by Mary Norton. I did not read this series so I am not going to even try to compare them. I did however see "The Borrowers" and I was never a fan.
This time around I have to say I honestly enjoyed this movie. Now I am not saying it was the greatest movie this director and writer have ever done but it was rather enjoyable. The story focuses around a family of borrowers who are about 4 inches tall maybe less and live under the floor boards of a house. We meet Shawn (David Henrie) who is going to stay with is Aunt at her house out in the country to get some rest and relaxation. Upon his arrival he notices something or rather someone in the bushes. As Arrietty (Bridget Mendler) rushes off back to her house the adventure begins. Arrietty's journey begins that evening as she heads out with her father Pod (Will Arnett) for her first Borrower experience, it's there she meets Shawn for the first time face to face. This interaction leads Shawn to seek out the little people living under the floor and forces Arrietty and her family to make tough decisions about their future.
When I walked out of the theatre there were a few things that hit me. One, the music in this movie was one of the best parts. It was beautiful and helped move the movie along. I thought to myself "I wouldn't mind downloading this soundtrack it would be great relaxation music." Second I was extremely impressed with the drawing and painting in every scene. As my little nine year old friend said, "Every scene looks like a portrait." I could not have agreed more with that statement! It was truly brilliantly illustrated, not that I'd expect anything less from Miyazaki and Yonebayashi. And the third thing that crossed my mind was wow for a kids movie that was rather long and it kind of felt long too.
So if you're a parent looking to take your kids to see this movie I suggest taking the older kids. Even my nine year old friend had issues towards the end, squirming in here seat. It is, however, a very family friendly movie and can be enjoyed by all. The shinning star award goes to Amy Poehler who voiced Arrietty's mother Homily. Her vocal expression and inflections were spot on. She made a cartoon very likable and relatable. In my opinion she truly stole the movie!

"The Secret World of Arrietty"
Run time: 1 hr. 35 min

Will Arnett
Bridget Mendler
David Henrie
Amy Peohler
Carol Burnett

In theaters everywhere, check your local listings for show times.