Frivolous Friday: The Town

Sunday night, Dan and I went to see The Town. We thought Sunday night would be a quieter night at the movie theater, but it was packed. We both really enjoyed the movie. Ben Affleck directed and starred in this movie, and I thought he did a really good job of both. If you haven’t seen the trailer, The Town is about a bank robbery that ends up in a hostage situation with the bank manager, played by Rebecca Hall. She doesn’t realize that Ben Affleck’s character was one of the men who held her hostage and they start a relationship. No one in The Town is completely good or bad. It explores the grey area we all inhabit, and that made it much more realistic and interesting.

The part of the movie I thought was really well done was the very beginning when the bank is being robbed, and the manager is opening the vault for the robbers. The tension of this situation was conveyed in a way that made the audience feel it as well. I especially felt the tension because I used to work in a bank, and a bank employee’s worst fear is being held at gunpoint. It does really irritate me that there is always one stupid employee in movies who tries to outsmart the robber. You are told over and over as a bank employee that you do whatever the robber tells you to do with no exceptions. It’s not like it’s your money anyway so why risk your life?

I was really surprised at Blake Lively’s performance. She plays a coked-out single mother, and she did a great job. The accent wasn’t exactly spot on, but she played the character well. I see her as her character in Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants so this was quite a turnaround!

Two thumbs up to The Town!

Oh, and a big two thumbs down to the couple who talked through the entire movie, causing me to get up and move to a seat where I couldn’t hear them. People like that are the reason I see most movies via Netflix at home.

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Frivolous Friday: 2010 Summer Animated Movies

I am starting a new weekly feature here called Frivolous Friday. Since Fridays are fun days, I thought I’d post something movie, TV, or video game related every Friday. Sometimes, it may be very loosely related, such as pop culture. Today will be a round-up of the animated movies I saw this summer.

We are all big kids at heart, right? All three of these came out in 3D, but we saw them in 2D. These are probably not in any first-run theaters at this point, but you can always go to Red Box or add them to your Netflix Queue when the DVDs come out.


Shrek Forever After

Dan and I have enjoyed most of the Shrek movies so it was a no-brainer to go see this final installment in the franchise. I thought it was a lot of fun and definitely better than Shrek the Third but not quite as good as Shrek and Shrek 2. Rumpelstiltskin tricks Shrek into signing a contract without reading the fine print. Shrek ends up having to fight for his existence very similarly to Scrooge in A Christmas Carol. The final chapter in this series brought back the aspect of the series that appeals to adults: funny and charming characters and family dynamics rather than stock jokes and gimmicks (except for the 3D thing of course).


Toy Story 3

If you are in the target audience for this movie, I probably don’t have to tell you to see it. As was expected, Toy Story 3 was heartwarming, funny, and sad all at the same time. Surprisingly, I did not cry like everyone else did. I usually cry really easily in movies so I’m not sure why I didn’t in this one. There were some very sweet scenes at the end that I saw other people tearing up over in the theater. I thought all the different toys at the day care center and the hierarchy of toys were both really well done. Barbie and Ken were absolutely hilarious. Pixar can’t seem to make a bad movie.


Despicable Me

Oh man, I just loved this movie! Steve Carell is the voice of Igor, a super-villain who is trying to get his evil mojo back. He ends up taking in three little girls as part of a plot against his rival. Of course you know what will happen in this completely predictable story, but the writing, voice acting, and animation for this title are fantastic. I’m one of the few who rate this movie right up there with Toy Story 3. It was fun to watch for children and adults, and isn’t that what kids movies are all about? Whoever came up with the idea and appearance of the minions is a genius. I really want a few for myself. I’d also like a freeze ray. That would be very handy at the library.

Movie Reviews – Netflix Instant Version

I’m going to post a few movie review posts so I thought I’d do one with some good things I’ve seen via Netflix Instant Watching. Their website could be easier to browse in my opinion so I always appreciate hearing about things people have found worth watching. These were all viewed in one marathon queue-busting session on Saturday while knitting socks and painting fingernails.

Zach Galifianakis: Live at the Purple Onion

If you enjoy Galifianakis’s particular brand of humor, you’ll laugh at this routine. It was a bit different from the usual DVD routines that comedians put out in that it didn’t feel quite finished. Not every joke was a hit, but it did feel more like you were getting a typical performance, and not just the “best of” from his most recent tour. My favorite parts were the interview scenes with Zach’s “twin brother” and Brian Unger. These were genius, and Unger was fantastic as the straight man to Zach’s crazy brother. Also, any time when Zach was improvising with the audience was golden. Of course there is some very non-PC and adult humor so be careful if you have kids.

Timer

I heard about Timer on the Behind the Screened Door podcast. It’s a quirky independent film with an interesting premise. There are stores (that look a lot like Apple stores) where you can go and get a timer implanted in your wrist that will display a countdown to the day that you will meet your soul mate. When you meet them, both timers will beep and zero out. The main character’s timer is still blank because her soul mate has not gotten his timer yet.

The movie was really interesting in that it questioned how you would approach your love life if you could find out unequivocally who your soul mate was. You could fall in love with someone and know for sure that they were not “the one.” I really loved this movie, but I was just a bit disappointed with the ending. If you see it, please let me know what you think of the ending because Dan and I both agreed that it was not what we wanted. It’s a great “what if” movie, and it’s great for men and women because it has romance and a cool scifi element.

The September Issue

This movie has been in my queue for a while, and I’m not sure why. It’s exactly the kind of thing I love: an unprecedented glimpse into the fashion industry. It follows the process of putting together the September issue of Vogue magazine, which is the most important month of the year for any fashion magazine, let alone the fasion bible that is Vogue. I loved getting a look behind the cool public facade of Anna Wintour. She definitely isn’t the ice queen she is made out to be, she just knows exactly what she wants and doesn’t pull any punches with her staff. A man wouldn’t be criticized for this.

The surprising star of the documentary is Grace Coddington, a stylist for photo shoots. She has an amazing eye for the composition of a photograph, and I quite agreed with her frustration when Wintour took some of her most beautiful shots out of the magazine. They were just breathtaking. Her life story is really interesting as well.

There were portions of the documentary that showed the preparation for the cover shoot with Sienna Miller. They were really funny because you don’t think about how it must be to work with celebrities who are not as acquiescing as fashion models (not that they should be). I loved one staffer saying, “And of course she won’t think of cutting her hair,” as if Sienna’s sole concern is how she will look on the cover of Vogue.

I should also note that the physical DVD of this has a lot of extra footage. I just looked it up in my library’s catalog, and it might be worth putting in your DVD queue if you watch the instant watching version and would like to see more. I can’t wait for a copy to come in on hold for me at the library.

Mixed Bag

1.  A few weeks ago, I shared Fed Up With Lunch: The School Lunch Project, a blog about a teacher eating school lunch every day to try to make people aware of what kids are eating (and it ain’t pretty).  A few days ago, she had a guest blogger who is notable because she is a high school student interested in improving school lunch.  The frustrating story of her efforts to simply get the list of ingredients from Aramark is here and her own personal blog is School Lunch: Subtract the Additives.

2.  Harvard University now has an iTunes U channel with lectures and lab demos (via Resource Shelf).  These might be interesting.  I’ve listened to a few iTunes U lectures before.

3.  On the AMC website, Science Fiction author, John Scalzi, describes the pros and cons of living in several popular fictional universes.  I would choose life on the Enterprise for access to the Holodeck alone.

4. I giggled about this xkcd comic for a while the other night.  Click the image to go to xkcd.com to see it bigger.  It has to be tiny to fit in a post.

5. “Is IMAX the Next New Coke?” – NPR’s Monkey See blog points to this article about how IMAX is branding smaller screens as IMAX screens, and customers will not know what size the screen will be until they’ve already paid for the ticket.  Scroll down to see the difference between a traditional IMAX screen and one of the newer ones.  That’s definitely not worth the extra money.  Buyer beware.

This and that and running, of course.

I promise I have not abandoned my dear WordPress blog.  Lately, I haven’t been plowing through as many books as usual so I don’t have reviews to post.  I’m currently reading three books, which is probably why I haven’t finished one: What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, Marathoning for Mortals, and The Girl Who Stopped Swimming.

To say that I’m slightly obsessed with running would be an understatement.  Luckily, my husband is supportive and listens to me prattle on about it without complaint.  Last night, we watched Spirit of the Marathon on Netflix Instant Watching, and it was really inspirational.  It’s a documentary about a group of very different people preparing to run the Chicago Marathon.  I really enjoyed seeing how people of all different abilities prepare for marathons.  There were two elite runners they followed, a couple that wanted to qualify for Boston, and some folks like me who just wanted to finish.  If the half-marathon doesn’t kill me, I might do a marathon one day.  The movie is available to watch free on Hulu as well if you’re interested and don’t have Netflix.

So far I’m up to 6.3 miles.  I have the Turkey Trot 10K on Thursday, and I’m so excited!  If you tried to tell me a few months ago that I would be excited about running 6.2 miles, I would have asked you what you were smoking.  Getting into running has been a really positive change in my life, and I love having races as goals.  After the Turkey Trot, I’m running the Virginia is for Lovers 14K and the Shamrock half-marathon.

I have several knitty things I’d love to share, but I can’t until after Christmas.  I can show the Ravenclaw scarf whenever I get around to taking a picture since Dan has known about it all along.

Bright Star

bright_star_poster-350x520Somehow the existence of Bright Star – a movie about Keats’s three year romance with Fanny Brawne – escaped me until one of my knitty friends suggested we go see it at the Naro, an independent movie theater in Norfolk, VA.

It was such a beautiful movie!  Now I want to go out and pick up a collection of poetry by Keats.  There’s just something about unrequited love that makes for a good movie.  I’m really excited that the soundtrack includes recitations of poetry by the lead actor.  I am going to use an iTunes gift card from my brother to buy it. 

3:10 to Yuma

We just got back from seeing the late show of 3:10 to Yuma tonight.  I have never been a fan of westerns, but this movie was incredible.  There were parts of the movie that seemed implausible, and they changed the short story it was based on, but that's Hollywood for you. 

Crowe and Bale are fantastic in this movie.  They played off each other very well.  Every review I've read notes that they are two of the best actors of our time, and that's absolutely true.  Crowe plays the charming criminal, Ben Wade, to perfection, and I found him quite sexy even though he's not typically my cup of tea.  Bale was great as the family man who is trying to save his family from starving and losing their land to the railroads.  Of course my feelings about his sex appeal are no secret to my Vox hood.

The rest of the cast was great as well.  Ben Foster was so good as Charlie Prince that I didn't even realize who he was.  I had to look him up on IMDB, and I thought, "Oh, it was THAT guy?!"  Alan Tudyk was great as the kind hearted Doc Potter.

The scenery was beautiful as expected.  That is one thing I've always liked about westerns.  My suggestion is to go see this movie even if you're not sure about it.  It actually makes me want to check out more of the genre.  I see Unforgiven in my near future.

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