Monday, May 11, 2009
Wow. I miss these shows. Today kids have to watch shows like Wizards of Waverly Place, Cory in the House, Hannah Montana, and Sonny with a Chance. I do not care for any of these shows. All of them have the the same stale storylines, only with different characters, and all of them have laugh tracks that laugh when nothing’s funny. Most of the girls are bratty, selfish, and impeccably dressed. The boys are usually clueless, messing things up and hitting a stroke of luck near the end and everything turns out okay.
But let’s ignore these and talk about the good shows.
First off: Brotherly Love.
If the cute guys or the bad 90’s clothes aren’t enough to keep your interest, there’s the quirky characters themselves. Joe is the oldest brother, a mechanic, who decides to move back in with his stepmom and stepbrothers after their dad dies when he realizes his brothers need a male role model in the house. Matt is the worried teenage brother who tries to create as much drama as he can, to the annoyance of Joe. Andy is the 5-year-old who likes dressing up in costumes, doing hilarious impressions, and having an imaginary friend named Sid Jacobson, an Italian, who is 62 years old and works in a deli (that's just the tip of the iceberg on his weirdness). Then, there’s Lou, the girl mechanic in the garage the family owns. She’s sarcastic, pretty, artistic, and knows a lot about cars. Some of the good chemistry on the show is due to the fact that the three main guys are brothers in real life.
Even Stevens. Before he was famous, Shia LaBeauf was Louis Stevens, the misfit in his perfect family. His mom is a senator, his dad is a prestigious lawyer, Ren (his sister) is the perfect student, and Donnie (his brother) is the perfect athlete. Then, there’s Twitty, Louis’ airhead of a best friend, and Tawny, Louis’ environmentally aware crush. And then Bernard Arangaren (Beans), the annoying neighbor boy who loved bacon. And who could forget that gym teacher, Coach Tugnut? Or the episode where Louis dresses up as a penguin jockey? Or the one where he and Twitty buy popular shoes on the underground market by using the alias ‘Lars Honeytoast’? This show was hilarious, maybe even more so because it didn’t have a laugh track, so you didn’t feel like you had to laugh at certain points.
Another show I liked was Kim Possible. This is one of the only shows where the main girl on the show kicks butt. Yeah, her pal Ron Stoppable helps on occasion, but it’s really all about Kim. I think what I really liked about Kim Possible was the villains. Dr. Drakken’s plans were always farfetched in the most extreme sense (like the episode where he made mind control shampoo called “Lather, Rinse, and OBEY!”) and his comebacks were so stupid they were funny (“You think you’re all that…but you’re not!”). Of course, he had Shego, the brawn to what he thinks is his brains, who is actually smarter than him but doesn’t really care as long as she gets paid.
What do you think about Disney Channel today and in the past? Did you have or do you have a favorite show on this channel?
Sunday, May 3, 2009
You remember this girl, right? No? Well, she was the Meg Ryan of the 80’s, only Molly Ringwald specialized in teen romance movies, instead of romance movies opposite Tom Hanks. Ringwald was Claire “The Princess” from The Breakfast Club, Andy from Pretty in Pink, and Samantha Baker from Sixteen Candles. After that…well, that’s basically it. I can’t say that I’m a particular fan of hers, since I only liked one of the most popular three movies she’s been in:
First off, this movie is not about breakfast at all. It’s about five kids: The Athlete, The Princess, The Hoodlum, The Geek, and The Basket Case. All five of them end up in Saturday detention together without anything in common, but by the end of the day, they have bared their souls to each other.
This is one of my favorite movies. It has humor, drama, and hilarious dialogue (Does Barry Manilow know you raid his wardrobe?). It does have its weird moments, though. To this day, I can’t figure out why all the kids decided to smoke marijuana in the library. ALL of them (except The Basket Case)! Even Brian, the quiet, nerdy boy and the intense wrestler, who should be watching what he puts into his body! The clouds of marijuana smoke are filling entire rooms and the kids all get high. It’s like the lesson is: Unless you are a basket case, you should be smoking marijuana. Even nerds and dedicated wrestlers do it!
Yeah, I guess the filmmakers did this to symbolize how everyone was opening up and relating to each other (and a lot of teenagers experiment with drugs like this), but the whole thing was just strange.
Another part I find strange is the part is the teacher, who is supposed to be watching the kids and is a pretty standard authority figure until this point in the movie, is practically begging the hoodlum to hit him, telling him that he wants him to do it and that he’ll get him kicked out once and for all. All he needed was a strike of lightning in the background and a cat to stroke to become the complete embodiment of evil.
In fact, all the adults in this movie are “evil”. They demand the impossible with either grades or athletics, put their kids in the middle of their messy divorce, ignore their kids, or burn them with cigarettes and physically and emotionally abuse them. In fact, in this movie, one of the kids says “When you grow up, you die.”
And the other part of the movie I find strange is the ending. Yeah, it’s a nice fairy tale ending and everything, but it was just weird. Almost everyone ends up with someone. The Hoodlum and The Princess make out on her dad (the King’s?) car (while it’s occupied by her father), she gives him one of her diamond earrings, then lets him walk home alone. The Athlete and The Basket Case kiss, too, but The Athlete only began to notice her after The Basket Case is given a makeover by The Princess. I always felt bad for The Nerd, who had to drive away with his family without kissing anybody. Couldn’t the filmmakers just have added another girl for him to smooch at the end? I mean, he’s nicer than the Hoodlum kid, shouldn’t he get a kiss?
This movie shows us that even though those kids were labeled as only one thing, they were more complex than that. At least that’s what they discovered when they actually talked to each other.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I hear a ruckus in the other room.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Look, there! Up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No, it’s SUPERMAN!!
Since I am doing Hollywood icons, I have to make sure I get in one of the biggest icons of all; the man who is recognized everywhere by merely his logo, the man who needs no introduction.
Ah, what the heck, I’ll give him one anyway.
Superman is originally from the planet Krypton, but was sent to earth by his father. He grew up as Clark Kent on a farm in Kansas with his adopted parents. His special powers include: flying, superstrength, laser eyes, X-ray vision (he can see through everything but lead), and running at the speed of light, to name a few. He is also a Scorpio who enjoys pina coladas and long walks on the beach. Basically, he is perfect in every way, shape, and form.
Superman is awesome, don’t get me wrong. But the fact that you know he’s going to win every single fight makes it a little boring. Plane about to crash? No problem. A missile is about to hit the city? Piece of cake. Stupid kid falling into Niagara Falls? No job is too small for Superman! It’s like he doesn’t even struggle to do the right thing, he makes it look so easy. Even when he has to choose between stopping two missiles in the first Superman film, he stops one, then flies around the earth so fast he spins it backwards and goes back in time to stop the other (How does that work?).
I think of it this way: Superman is the best original superhero, and I'll always love him, but you graduate to more complex characters like Spiderman and Batman. Spidey (a nerdy young man) and the Dark Knight (orphaned billionaire playboy) don’t win every fight and make mistakes. But both of those heroes use their powers for good and overcome their inner demons, giving us hope that, we too, can overcome our troubles.
One thing that always bugged me about the Superman movies was the fact that his only disguise are those glasses. That is, apparently, the only reason that no one recognizes him. No wonder he always had to save Metropolis from some evil scheme. Residents who are too stupid to realize that a famous reporter at the Daily Planet looks exactly like Superman obviously can’t take care of themselves. I mean, the people who work with him at the paper haven’t figured it out yet? They look at pictures of Superman all day, and Clark’s right there…put two and two together, people! There’s even a point in the second Superman movie where Lois (co-worker and possibly more(wink,wink)) takes Clark’s glasses off at Niagara Falls to wipe them off, leaving him totally exposed! She knows both Clark and Superman, how can she not notice?
But all in all, the Superman franchise is just good fun. He’s a good guy who just wants to help all the people he can, and does just that. He is an excellent role model for children, and they love him (I have never gone one Halloween without seeing one kid as a Superman).
So, cue that epic John Williams theme music and roll the credits, but don’t worry, Superman will fly again tomorrow.
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
I’m going to take you through one of my favorite television shows, Supernatural, that has gone from basically “God-absent” to a very present God in nearly every episode.
Supernatural centers around the Winchester brothers, whose mother was killed by a demon when they were children. Their father swears that he will destroy the demon that killed his wife, dragging his boys across the country throughout their childhoods. Because their dad is so obsessed, they never had a home and stayed in one hotel room after another, changing schools just as often. Their father was never really there for his boys, and this caused the oldest son, Dean, to become a sort of father figure to his little brother, Sam. As the boys’ father constantly tells Dean, “It is your responsibility to look after Sammy. Protect him at all costs.” On the rare occasions when their father is around, he teaches his sons everything they need to know about hunting demons, shapeshifters, Grim Reapers, werewolves, wendigos (mutated flesh eating humans), Tricksters, and the souls of vengeful ghosts. Their father expects them both to go into the “family business”, but when the booksmart Sam graduates high school, he defiantly takes his full ride to Stanford to practice Pre-Law. Four years later, the Winchester boys’ father goes missing, and the boys team up and spend the rest of the first season finding him.
Although this series deals with very evil things such as demonic spirits, and the boys use crucifixes and holy water to ward off spirits, there is only one episode in the first season that mentions God. It centered around a “faith healer”, who was a pastor at a church. Dean was dying, so the boys went to visit him, hoping that he could be cured. However, the man ended up being a sham, although he really did think he was working through the power of God. A Grim Reaper was the one taking the ailments and transferring them onto another person.
In season two, there was only one episode that had a God centered theme. It was about the soul of a priest who may or may not be killing “sinful” people, and this caused the Winchester brothers to confront their feelings about religion and faith. Dean remained adamant that there was no God who would allow such horrible things to happen to people. Sam followed up with his ideas on faith. “There is a God. How can you not believe after all we see?” Dean says something snarky about Sam praying about them solving the case, to which Sam says, “I do pray. Every day.”
Season three is about Dean trading his soul for Sam’s life (long story), and the process of him going to Hell. But it’s in season four where things really pick up in the “God” department. An angel (Castiel) drags Dean out of Hell (yes, they couldn’t get him out of the deal), and says that God has a special plan for Dean. Whoa. This came out of the blue. They want the guy that has firmly said that he doesn’t believe in God to work for the Man Upstsairs? In the rest of the season, the angels are constantly there, guiding Dean and Sam, the latter of whom, in a twist of irony, seems to be headed on a darker path.
Some other shows that have religious references are Kings (sort of a reimagining of David and Goliath) and Heroes (last week had a main character had a whole conversation with Jesus on the cross in a church). What do you think about shows having religious references? Are they not respectful enough? Too respectful? Should they have more or less religious references?
I will leave you with this clip from Supernatural: Dean vs. Cat
Sunday, April 5, 2009
It’s the longest running movie franchise in history, running from 1962 to 2008 and beyond. The main character has been played by six different actors to date, another one taking over when the present one becomes too old. But no matter who he is played by, he gets his bad guy and his girl (or several girls). I think I’ll let him introduce himself:
Bond. James Bond.
I’m going to say right off the bat that I have not seen all the films; I am not a crazy Bond fan. The action is pretty awesome, but all the movies are what I like to call “Blicks” (Boy flicks, the opposite of a Chick Flick). A blick can be defined with the following criteria:
1) The main character is male and impossibly cool. They are usually employed as a cop, a detective, a secret agent, an athlete, or any other kind of loner.
2) Something explodes within the first 10 minutes of the movie
3) There is no female character development. They are there for eye candy and are strictly two-dimensional.
4) The plot line is forgettable.
5) The moral of the story often is: the government isn’t going to do anything about it, so you better do it yourself.
Don’t get me wrong. I like blicks on occasion. I love the Die Hard movies, Lethal Weapon, and even the oldie blicks with Humphrey Bogart. The thing that bugs me most about blicks is the lack of awesome female characters. I mean, they give the girls names like Pussy Galore , Plenty O’Toole, Octopussy and Dr. Holly Goodhead (No, I’m not making this up). Way to not objectify the ladies, Hollywood.
I might not like the James Bond movies because I didn’t grow up watching them. I tried watching Goldfinger this summer, but stopped when Pussy Galore flew in with her plane posse and proudly declared her name for all to hear. Even Sean Connery didn't believe it ("I must be dreaming"). With all the implied sex scenes and deaths by bowling hat, I kept checking the ratings with disbelief (This is PG?!) I finally just assumed that Bond did not die, since he has a gazillion sequels, and stopped watching. And James Bond got over the deaths of his precious Bond girls quite easily. I mean, is this guy even human? He just stares in disbelief at his brightly rainbow colored (dead) girls and then moves on with life, hunky dory. (Oh, did I forget to mention that the Bond girls are usually killed by dipping them in oil or gold or something like that? Do all these completely different villains get together and just decide to kill the girls like this just to screw with James and make things emotionally traumatic for him? I don’t think it’s working, it doesn’t affect him that much) . Also, in the beginning of Goldfinger, why don’t the intruders in Bond’s hotel room just kill him? Why bother knocking him out?
These movies present many ample opportunities for James Bond to die, why don’t the filmmakers just go with it? (Oh yeah, because the Bond movies have grossed nearly $5 billion worldwide. Bond = $$$).
All this Bond talk has made me thirsty. I’m going to go make a martini, shaken, not stirred.
Sunday, March 29, 2009
This week, I am going to talk about one of the most elegant women to grace to screen, Audrey Hepburn. Even though Hepburn was the very epitome of elegance in Hollywood during her reign on screen, her early life was very difficult and not the least bit glamorous. Her parents divorced and her father abandoned the family. After the divorce, Hepburn’s mother moved Audrey and her brother to Arnhem in the Netherlands, thinking they would be safe from Nazi occupation there. However, the Nazi’s invaded the Netherlands in 1940 and life became very hard for Audrey. She was a first hand witness to part of the Holocaust, seeing people rounded up onto trains to go to concentration camps. Hepburn's uncle and her mother's cousin were shot in front of Hepburn for being part of the Resistance. Suffering from malnutrition, Hepburn developed acute anemia, respiratory problems, and oedema.
Although she wanted to be a ballerina, Audrey Hepburn decided to pursue acting. Her first starring role in an American film was opposite Gregory Peck in Roman Holiday, for which Hepburn won an Oscar. She then went on to film Sabrina, with Humphrey Bogart and William Holden, and Funny Face, with dancing legend Fred Astaire, and of course, My Fair Lady, with Rex Harrison.
One thing I have noticed about Hepburn’s films is that she is commonly cast with an older man as her love interest (Humphrey Bogart, Cary Grant, Fred Astaire, Rex Harrison, William Holden, to name a few…). Another thing that I’ve noticed is that her way of speaking and acting is always very refined, and very unique. I haven’t seen anyone speak quite like Audrey in the movies. This raises another question: Would Audrey Hepburn make it in Hollywood today? Would she have the opportunity to become her well known icons of Holly Golightly or Princess Ann, or would she be reduced to character acting in supporting parts (which isn’t a bad thing, but probably a step down from “Audrey Hepburn-ness”). What do you think?
Sunday, March 15, 2009
The Academy Awards took place in the end of February. There were some obvious winners that everyone knew would take home the little gold guy, but there were also some surprises...for instance, the winner of the award to end all awards: Best Picture.
I'd never even heard of this movie until I looked at the nominees for the Academy Awards. I was a little mad that this movie from Bollywood, that almost didn't even make it to theatres, had taken away a Best Picture slot from The Dark Knight. In my opinion, The Dark Knight had made the most impact on the culture for the past year, and deserved to at least get nominated. But I decided not to completely write off Slumdog, and went to go see it today.
And I have to say...it impressed me, even though I went in with high standards. The movie is basically what the title says. Jamal, an 18-year-old slumdog from India, enters as a contestant on the Indian version of “Who Wants to Be A Millionaire?”, hoping that his true love, Latika, will see him and come find him. Jamal gets all the answers, despite the fact that he is uneducated. And of course, they think he is cheating. Turns out, he’s not. Jamal knew all the answers because of different life experiences he’s had, and he begins to recall them all as he is tortured and interrogated.
I have not agreed with the past few years of the Oscar winners for Best Picture. For the first time in a while, I am okay with the one they chose. It was refreshing to have a “hero” in a movie that actually had a moral code. Jamal was a good guy. It was nice to have a main character that didn’t look like he’d just stepped out of a Hollister ad, one that stuttered when he talked, one that quietly defended his honor as others mocked him, one that, though he had seen many terrible things, was still apalled every time the human race did something violent. And, he also had a pure, chaste childhood love that he’d do anything to be with and protect. That gets me every time.
Slumdog is pretty violent, but not unnessessarily. And unlike most Best Pictures, this one has a happy ending; Jamal and Latika find each other and suddenly break out into an energetic Indian techno dance, with the help of random extras in the background. I definitely didn’t see that one coming.
It's amazing how the movie Slumdog Millionaire parallels its own success in Hollywood.