Thursday, January 15, 2009

Some Random Thoughts

First off, I leave today to go out of the country. I am excited and terrified. I am not sure how it will affect my blog-posting. I'll let you know once I get there and find out what kind of internet connection I have.

Next up, East of Eden. Hollywood has decided to do another remake. For starters, let me say that East of Eden is one of my favorite all-time books. I know most people prefer Steinbeck's bleak Grapes of Wrath, but pitiful Cal wins my affection every time. The story is heartbreaking, and I guess I just can't resist it. But is a remake necessary? Will they ruin it? Can someone possibly step into the shoes of James Dean as Cal? The person writing the screenplay (Christopher Hampton) is the same guy that adapted Atonement, so there is a check in the "positives" column. And having read the book, there is a lot more that could be put into a movie nowadays that would have been censored out in the 1950's. We'll have to see. I will await casting before I cast any further judgment.

Speaking of remakes, there will now be a remake of The Karate Kid. Ugh... Jackie Chan will be Mr. Miyagi. I probably could have called that. But why oh why does Jaden Smith have to play the title character? And does it seem to anyone else that this all just seems like a bad (and annoying) idea?

Arrested Development, The Movie is put on hold, again. It seems the writers want to wait and see if they can get Michael Cera to sign on before they write the screenplay. I say, pay him what he wants because the Bluth family isn't complete without our sweet innocent George Michael.

I just got the Slumdog Millionaire soundtrack. It is great so far. More to come on that later!

Monday, January 05, 2009

Why I Am Watching The Bachelor Tonight

I haven't watched The Bachelor for several seasons, but I'll be watching tonight. Turns out I know one of the girls. She is an friend of my sister's from middle and high school. I knew her when she had braces. I'll let you know who after tonight's premiere!

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Book: Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris

I'd never read anything by David Sedaris but his books of kooky memoirs had been recommended to me several times. I picked up Me Talk Pretty One Day at the library on a whim and flew right through it. To call it amusing is an understatement. It is no wonder Sedaris felt the need to write multiple books about his life. The things that have happened to him are so ridiculous that one wonders if he made some of them up. But the knowledge that they did indeed happen just makes the book all the more enjoyable.

Me Talk Pretty One Day
tells stories mainly about the author growing up in an strange (to say the least) family, working odd jobs here and there, and acclimating to a new place and new language after relocating to France. While in and of themselves these things aren't entertaining, Sedaris' story-telling makes for great laughs. I read full chapters to my husband while lying in bed, both of us laughing ourselves to tears.

I can't really think of what else to say about this book. If you like funny and bizarre, check it out.

Friday, January 02, 2009

A Very Brady Christmas

Christmas was made complete by the pleasure of watching A Very Brady Christmas with Sean and my sister and her husband (both of whom had watched it the night before and wanted to watch it again). The AMAZING-ness of this made-for-TV movie is something that can not be explained. I should just tell you to watch it. But instead, I will make some pointed comments, and perhaps post a photo or a youtube video, so that you can enjoy this with me.

For starters, let's talk about the actors. Carol was exactly the same as she was in the series. Mike, however, had since come out of the closet and embraced his more flamboyant tendencies. This allowed for some rather awkward moments where the high level of discomfort during kissing scenes with Carol were very obvious. Greg, Peter, Marcia and Jan were pretty much what you would expect. Cindy was not the original actress (and, therefore, according to my sister, the only semi-good acting talent int he whole show). Bobby was back with reddish blond hair (which apparently is his natural color and it was dyed brown during the series), but he was looking a little worse for wear. Alice was back in all her annoying glory, but they brought in a new actor to play Sam.

Now to the story. First, we spend 20 minutes where Mike and Carol both decide to surprise the other with a big trip over Christmas. They are both planning it, realize that they are double-booking, and cancel the trips, only to decide that they would like to spend the money to bring all the children back home for Christmas.

OK, so let's focus for a moment on the fact that every one of the children has some life problem they are dealing with: Greg's wife wouldn't come home for Christmas because she wanted to be with her family, so he alone with their son; Peter is in a relationship with a woman who is his superior at work, and therefore has a hard time committing to her; Bobby wants to quit business school and become a race car driver instead, but will the family approve?; Marcia's husband got laid off from his job right before Christmas, and they decide to conceal it from the family; Jan and her husband Phillip are on the outs and ready to divorce, but they haven't told the family, so he comes along for Christmas anyway; Cindy realizes that her family still treats her like a child, and they don't ask her what she wants to do, but they tell her what to do. Alice comes back to the Brady household after Sam has left her for a younger woman who wants his help with her "rump roast" (because every joke about Sam has to be about his job as a butcher).

Shockingly, all of these issues are resolved over the course of about 10 minutes of air time over Christmas dinner. Greg's wife shows up because she missed him and the son; Peter and the girlfriend propose simultaneously; Bobby fesses up to his love for racing and the parents agree that he can try it out; Marcia's husband admits to losing his job, but Mike has already figured it out and helped him to get a new one; Jan and Phillip realize they want to be together after she covered him with a blanket in the middle of the night; Cindy confesses her anger about being treated like a child, and Sam shows up to apologize to Alice and ask her to come back, to which a stern finger-pointing and a "don't do that again" suffice for his cheating on her... Hmmm...

So that is good, right? Well, the story gets even more ridiculous and convoluted. I forgot to mention that earlier in the movie, Mike loses an architecture job because he is more concerned with safety and the client wants to go the cheap route. So during Christmas dinner, the phone rings. The former client has had a cave in at his work site. So who do you call in such emergencies? The former architect, of course! Mike goes into the building, which subsequently caves in. The two trapped security guards walk out unarmed, and thank goodness the extras given the job to act as EMTs know how to take a pulse. Because really, they take a pulse on the guys walking out and that is it. But wait! Oh no! Mike is stuck under a beam for hours. No emergency teams go into save him. The family just waits outside the yellow police tape. But let's remember back to an episode where Carol sang O Come All Ye Faithful at church one Christmas. So she stands and sings it at the police tape, and the crowd of onlookers all join in. Miraculously, Mike then walks out of the building. The singing saved him and gave him the strength (I guess...) to life the beam and come out. And Merry Christmas to all!!

Oh, I forgot to mention a couple of odd "grown up" Brady moments. Jan and Phillip and Marcia and Wally both have really awkward make-out sessions. I guess the grown-up Bradys have grown up moments, both good and bad.

I know I am really making fun of this movie, and it really deserves it. But I can't think of another movie in recent memory that is this bad and this good at the same time. I mean, look how much I wrote about it! I couldn't find a lot of pictures, so just watch this video to make up for it. About minute 6 is where it gets good!

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Movie: Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

I don't think I have babbled on much about Paul Newman on this blog. I love him. LOVE him. I was sad when he passed away this year, but not too sad as he lived a long and fulfilling life, was known for being a family man, and was an amazing actor. My mom bought me a collection of Tennessee Williams plays (he is one of my favorite playwrights) for Christmas. This jogged my memory that I really enjoyed Cat on a Hot Tin Roof when I watched it a while back, so I picked it up at the library to give it a good re-watching. Newman and Liz Taylor are breathtakingly gorgeous and the story itself breaks my heart. Let's review:

Brick (Paul Newman) and his wife Maggie (Elizabeth Taylor) are home at Brick's parents house, awaiting health news of his father (Big Daddy, played by Burl Ives) and preparing to celebrate his 65th birthday that evening. We soon discover that Brick and Maggie have a cold and unloving relationship. She is manipulative and he is an alcoholic. Through the course of the evening, it is revealed that Big Daddy is dying of cancer. Much time is spent arguing between Maggie and sister-in-law Mae about who will inherit the thousands of acres of successful cotton farm and the $10 million that Big Daddy is worth. In the meantime, Big Daddy and Brick have it out about why he is an alcoholic and why he won't sleep with his wife Maggie. Amazingly, all problems are resolved through a good bit of yelling and crying.

Brick - Apparently, Paul Newman (and Liz Taylor) were on the brink of super-stardom at the time they shot this film. This film was the vehicle that catapulted them both forward. It was a very mature role for Newman to be playing. He was amazing. His anger and bitterness and shame weren't enough to hide how beautiful he is to look at, but it was enough to believe it anyway.

Maggie - This kind of acting doesn't really exist anymore. Women don't do this over the top Southern thing like they used to (see Vivien Leigh...), but at the time it was considered top notch acting. And I am pretty sure Elizabeth Taylor nailed it (but I can't properly judge since I don't see it enough to know). Even though she is rather manipulative, both with Brick and with Big Daddy (for his money), you just feel sorry for her. She has a horrible marriage, she is poor and lonely.

I discovered after this second viewing that Tennessee Williams was very unhappy with this production and that it veered wildly from the original play (some parts were censored, and some just changed). So I sat down with my new book to see the difference. I have to say it was quite different. In the movie, Brick blames himself for the death of a close friend, Skipper, who he incorrectly believes to have had an affair with Maggie. The truth comes out that she was faithful and Brick was able to realize he had taken out his grief on her, when he was really disgusted with himself for the suicide. Conversely, in the book, while Brick does blame himself for Skipper's death, there is a whole gay layer to the relationship. It is quite clear that Skipper was in love with Brick, so he does sleep with Maggie to prove he is not in love with Brick. When this doesn't work, he kills himself. The question is whether Brick felt the same, and it seems he did but wouldn't admit it.

In the movie, things are tied up nice and neat. Brick lets Big Daddy have it by telling him he never loved any of his children or his wife. So Big Daddy acts nice to everyone, like he learned his lesson. Big Daddy asks alcoholic Brick if he wants and drink, and he says no. Maggie lies to the family and says she is pregnant (which can not be since they sleep separately), so Brick decides he is done with the deceit and moves to the bed, where things are all patched up. It was a nice ending, but certainly not how Williams wrote it. He wrote stuff that was more real and human than that.

The play ends with more manipulating, lying and deceiving. Big Daddy isn't any nicer to anyone, Maggie seduces Brick, but mainly because he is so pumped full of alcohol he doesn't have a choice.

OK I am clearly analyzing this stuff a lot. But I just spent 3 days watching the movie and reading the book. I am kind of saturated with it. If you don't mind (or care) that the movie deviates so much from the play, then watch it. The acting is great (some of the characters are extremely annoying: Mae, Big Mama, the children, but that is how they are written). Did I mention that Paul Newman is gorgeous??

Happy New Year!!

So it is officially 2009! I don't have any resolutions this year. I don't usually make them, so why start now? Maybe I should make a resolution to make more resolutions? Nah... What to you hope to accomplish this year?