Category Archives: Review

From “Easy Rider” to “The Terminator”: The Hottest Motorcycle Actors

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Motorcycles remain the quintessential sign of the rebellious spirit — although they’re nowhere near their level of Hollywood glory from the 1960s and ’70s. However, a comeback just might be on the horizon! Fueled by films in which cool-talking dudes ride snazzy bikes while wearing sweet motorcycle helmets, the return to the motorcycle age offers excitement for enthusiasts of all ages. It also means a renewed interest in such classics as “The Great Escape” and “Easy Rider” — films perfect for inspiring and fostering that enduring motorcycle spirit.

Steve McQueen in “The Great Escape”

Steve McQueen’s motorcycle stint in “The Great Escape” is arguably the most iconic motorcycle jump in cinema history. First, the 1961 Triumph TR6 Trophy Bird had to undergo significant changes before it became an integral part of the film. Set in World War II Germany, the film would not have worked with a 1961 motorcycle. Instead, set designers painted it an unobtrusive gray to hide the anachronism — not that such efforts stopped McQueen’s biking antics from stealing the show! To be fair, McQueen didn’t actually take part in the iconic fence jump for which “The Great Escape” is still remembered. A stuntman stepped in for those honors, leaving McQueen the enviable task of riding a sweet bike in all the ‘easy’ scenes.

Arnold Schwarzenegger in “The Terminator”

Say what you want about Arnold Schwarzenegger, or rather, “Ah-nold,” you must admit he looks pretty snazzy on a motorcycle. In “The Terminator,” the beefcake movie star brought Austrian appeal to his Honda 750, with which he chased the adorable (but surprisingly effective) Honda Scooter carrying Linda Hamilton’s Sarah Connor. Later films included equally impressive bikes, such as the Indian Motorcycle from “Terminator 3.” According to USA Today, Schwarzenegger reunited with the beloved Indian Motorcycle during a 2010 visit to Simi Valley.

Marlon Brando in “The Wild One”

Bad boy Marlon Brando captured the hearts of millions of teens with his 1953 appearance in “The Wild One.” Although not necessarily his best film, photo stills from the movie continue to elicit female interest — both from Brando’s Triumph Thunderbird motorcycle and his soulful eyes. Enthusiasts at the Daily Mail claim that Marlon Brando and his Triumph Thunderbird are in the midst of a revival, posting record sales of 49,000 bikes in 2009 alone.

Peter Fonda in “Easy Rider”

No list of the hottest motorcycle stars is complete without Peter Fonda and his Captain America Harley-Davidson from the classic rebel film “Easy Rider.” Considered the ultimate motorcycle movie, “Easy Rider” set the standard for all later biker films. Although Jack Nicholson and Dennis Hopper also offered their acting expertise (and sweet bikes) to the effort, Peter Fonda proved most successful in raising heart rates. Sadly, according to KVUE ABC News, a 2010 fire destroyed Fonda’s iconic “Easy Rider” bike, along with a whole host of other vintage automobiles and motorcycles. Fortunately, Peter Fonda did not suffer the same fate.

This guest post was written by William Martin.

William Martin knows a thing or two about video marketing. Chances are, you’ve seen the work he’s done for his clients on YouTube ads.

Great Movies that Started as Books or Plays

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You’ve probably never thought of Disney as a giant recycling company, but it’s one of the best in the entertainment business at taking old classic tales such as “Cinderella,” or books such as “101 Dalmatians,” and turning them into feature films. Its popular movies are then spun into television shows, Disney books and ice skating shows. A few, including “Beauty and the Beast,” “The Lion King,” and now “Aladdin,” have also been recreated as Broadway musicals Continue reading

DVD Review: Yours Mine & Ours (1968)

Time for home movies

In the 1960s, big Catholic families weren’t uncommon. Nor were big navy families. But a family of 22 was remarkable. A true story of a navy widower, Frank Beardsley, with 10 children and a navy widow, Helen North, with 8 children, who fall in love and end up with two more children inspired this 1968 film. A 2005 remake starring Rene Russo and Dennis Quaid took the basic premise but adapted it heavily to make it more relatable for a modern audience. We’re focusing on the original film, which stars the legendary Lucille Ball and Henry Fonda. Continue reading

Set Design Secrets from “The Great Gatsby”

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Baz Luhrmann’s “The Great Gatsby” is a sumptuous visual feast for the moviegoer this summer. With a $104 million dollar budget, Luhrmann and his wife, Oscar-winning set designer Catherine Martin, have created a visually unique movie. A daring mix of old and new, this interpretation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel has created quite a buzz offering a new look at the Roaring Twenties. Continue reading

Hemlock Grove Is Just A Teen Drama With Better Effects and More Boobs – Review

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Honestly, I was SO excited about this show before it premiered on Netflix (Also let me know I LOVE the idea of premiering a whole series on Netflix). It was supposed to be gristly, horrifying and all together creepy. I was honestly picturing something along the lines of “American Horror Story.” Not to mention it was adapted by Eli Roth a horror movie man himself. But damn, was I disappointed in the long run.

“Hemlock Grove” follows the small Pennsylvania town after several murders of young high school girls. Two young men decide to find the killer themselves but find themselves in something much deeper and much bigger. The series is based on the  Horror/Thriller novel of the same name written by Brian McGreevy. It was initially released on March 27, 2012. The show premiered all 13 episodes on Netflix on April 19, 2013.

Continue reading

Drink Like A Westerosi With Stark Raving Wine: The Perfect Game of Thrones Wine Pairing – Review

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If you watch even just one episode of HBO’s “Game of Thrones” you will notice at least one thing. LOTS and lots of wine. A staple among the characters of George R.R. Martin’s world, wine seems to seep through every scene. Now, fans (21 years old or over, of course) can drink like their favorite characters with Stark Raving wines.

I watch “Game of Thrones” pretty religiously every week and was excited to get the chance to try out a new wine that would fit perfectly with my Sunday night tradition. The Stark Raving wine line comes in four different and unique wines. A white, a red, a Cabernet, and a malbec. Superficially, I absolutely LOVE the bottle design for these wines. They each feature a vintage steampunk-eaque design that looks cool and enticing. Seeing this at a wine store, I would immediately be interested.

The White Wine

Like Sansa Stark, the white wine is sweet yet bold. It has a fruity and juicy taste that reminds you of those warm summer nights. The white wine is a blend of chardonnay, muscat, malvasia bianco. Like Sansa, the white may seem like a one dimensionally sweet, however, with each sip, the complexity reveals itself more.

This one was my favorite of the Stark Raving wines. I loved the relaxed mixture and overall fruit-infused taste. It is recommended to this wine chilled which gives it an even sweeter and refreshing taste.

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The Red Wine

Like Arya Stark, the red wine is filled with a big and bold personality. If there is anything we know about Arya, it is that she is both strong and fearless and this wine perfectly encapsulates her never giving up attitude. This dark red wine is rich in flavor being a blend of  jammy fruit like dark bing cherries and ripe plums along with  tannat, zin, merlot, cab sauv, and petit sirah.

I personally really enjoyed this wine as the after taste of each sip of filled with a sweet fruit flavor that made me want to go back for more.

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The Cab

This Cabernet Sauvignon is the perfect pairing for the Robb Stark of the family. It is both extremely forward and little spicy. It is a mix of ripe berries balanced by medium tannins giving it one of the boldest tastes of all. Whether he is on his quest to conquer the North or dealing with those who oppose him and his new wife, Robb would find a perfect wine companion in this Cabernet.

I found the Cabernet to be one of the strongest of the four wines. It has a very distinct taste and is great for the seasoned wine drinkers like the Lannisters.

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The Malbec

Similarly to Catelyn Stark, the malbec wine is both dark and spicy. While Catelyn is not afraid to do or say what she thinks is right, even when it lands her in jail at the request of her own son. Her feisty personality and dark character flaws finds a natural partnership with the malbec of Stark Raving wines. The medium bodied wine is a mixture of  Dark cherries and smoky bacon creating a unique taste fit for the Starks of Winterfell. There is not doubt that if Ned was alive, he would be enjoying this wine next to the hearth or at dinner with Catelyn.

The malbec has one of the more interesting tastes of all four wines. It took a few sips before I decided I liked it and from there it grew on me. This wine would be perfect for those relaxing evenings watching “Game of Thrones,” with friends or solo.

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Stark Raving Wines is the perfect pairing for “Game of Thrones.” It can bring you closer to the world of Westeros and Essos as you drink alongside your favorite characters, not to mention would make a great addition to any party with friends and family.

“They generously spill wine throughout the show – so it seems natural to join them in celebration as viewers wind down from their weekends on Sunday nights.”

You can learn about where to buy your own bottle of Stark Raving wine by visiting their official website.

*Note: Items were received in partner with the publication of this review. 

John Dies At The End Is Ridiculous, Hilarious, Suspenseful, and All Together Weird – Review

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Directed by Don Coscarelli

I’ve been wanting to see this movie since I first heard of it online and saw the trailer. Plus Paul Giamatti is in it and he is golden is almost every film he has been in. When I found out it was based on a book I decided to read it first then watch it. The novel was written by David Wong (which is actually a pen name of the editor in chief of Cracked, which should give you a hint to the humor you can expect). It follows David and his best friend John and their life/adventures after taking a mysterious drug named Soy Sauce.

What first attracted me to the novel was its “plot description” which was incredibly enigmatic and well, weird.

STOP.

You should not have touched this book with your bare hands.

NO, don’t put it down. It’s too late.

They’re watching you.

My name is David Wong. My best friend is John. Those names are fake. You might want to change yours.

You may not want to know about the things you’ll read on these pages, about the sauce, about Korrok, about the invasion, and the future. But it’s too late. You touched the book. You’re in the game. You’re under the eye.

The only defense is knowledge. You need to read this book, to the end. Even the part with the bratwurst. Why? You just have to trust me.

The important thing is this:

The drug is called Soy Sauce and it gives users a window into another dimension.

John and I never had the chance to say no.

You still do.

Unfortunately for us, if you make the right choice, we’ll have a much harder time explaining how to fight off the otherworldly invasion currently threatening to enslave humanity. I’m sorry to have involved you in this, I really am. But as you read about these terrible events and the very dark epoch the world is about to enter as a result, it is crucial you keep one thing in mind:

None of this is was my fault.

The book itself is relatively long at a little under 500 pages and is written as if someone is literally sitting in front of you telling you a story. That is because the story starts out with the  narrator, David, telling his story to Arnie, a reporter and therefore the audience. It is often incoherent, David gets distracted during the storytelling, is proven to be an unreliable narrator and lacks traditional prose. However, it is VERY enticing albeit a little tedious at times. The book itself is broken up into three major incidents titled as separate books all together in the binding of this novel. With the framing device of David recounting the story to a reporter who wants to write a feature about David and John.

10/10 would read again.

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The film adaptation started out promising in terms of following the novel. It was dead on for the first 20 minutes or so. The first deviation readers will notice is that several major characters have been dropped in order to streamline the plot. Also they combined the three major incidents in the novel to create one story in the movie. At first I was a little bummed when I realized they had done this but you can’t expect to much when adapting such a long novel. Other fans may be a bit peeved at first as well, but continuing the movie, the director made a great effort to keep the tone of the novel consistent despite cutting stuff out. Also, all but a few of the major parts of the novel were there and that alone would please any fan.

I had never heard or seen the two main actors in the film, Chase Williamson as David Wong, and Rob Mayes as John Cheese. But I was optimistic after I saw the trailer. Williamson perfectly delivers the deadpan wit and ambivalence that David  exudes through every inner dialogue and interaction with John. Mayes picked up the adventurous and eccentric slacker act of John without missing a beat and pulled off a flawless foil for David. Through their interactions, even without reading the book, you can see why the two characters are best friends. 

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The character of Amy was more one-dimensional than I would have liked. In the novel, she is a shy timid girl, with bright red hair, that is prone to vomiting. Her weird behavior is mostly explained as being side effects of the drugs for her missing hand. She is smart and bright and just as adventurous as John and Dave. However, in the movie, she was just another character with few lines, no characterization and she didn’t even have red hair.  I feel like they missed a mark with her and a chance to bring a more dynamic tone to the trio.

Paul Giamatti OWNED his character of Arnie Blondestone. From the moment he sits down with David, he pulls off the skepticism yet interested nature of a journalist covering a supernatural tale. Once his fate is revealed at the end, you can feel the fear in his eyes, in his tone, and in his actions. Giamatti knows how to take a secondary character and make it more believable and more realistic than the writing presents. He is also the only “big name” celebrity in the flick and would be the biggest draw for anyone looking to watch this independent film.

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Overall, given the small budget and independent nature of this film, it looked amazing. The effects were good enough to not be distracting, the acting was superb, and the overall look of the film felt like it was a wide release film. The film utilized one of my favorite techniques of color changing in the scenes which helps propel the story forward without leaving the audience behind emotionally. The restaurant aka “present day” is all oranges/yellows with very saturated colors which gives off a comforting albeit a bit unsettling feeling. The lighting during the storytelling parts are often subdued with de-saturated colors, or bleak with dark shadows giving the audience a sense of foreboding or that danger is always around the corner.

If you like ridiculous, hilarious, suspenseful, and all together weird horror movies that will seriously make you laugh, John Dies At The End is the perfect film for you. It’s great as a standalone movie or as a companion to the novel. Take a moment to enjoy it, you won’t regret it but more likely it will make you want to read the novels and continue the story of John and Dave.

Spoiler Alert: John doesn’t actually die at the end.

The Best Animated Movies for Kids

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Through moving illustrations and computer-generated images, animators create movie magic that stirs the heart and soul. Animation surpasses the limits of live action film and offers an integral function in galvanizing a child’s imagination. Here are some of the most creative and innovative animated movies of recent memory.

Cars

A tale of anthropomorphic automotives, Pixar’s “Cars” tells the story of rookie racer Lightning McQueen and his efforts to travel to California to win a tiebreaker race. When McQueen takes an unintentional detour into the antiquated town of Radiator Springs, his chance to win the gold cup seems to have disappeared in a puff of exhaust fumes. Fortunately for the determined race car, he meets an eclectic crew of vehicles to help him arrive at his destination. The film is an animated love letter to cars and features animated equivalents to the Plymouth Superbird, Hudson Hornet and Porsche 911 Carrera among others. The race cars of the Piston Cup are all equipped with new Goodyear tires, or “Lightyear” tires as they’re called in the film.

WALL-E

Centuries into the future, Earth has been transformed into a planetary landfill. Robots, like WALL-E, are left to sort out the worldwide mess, while humanity becomes morbidly obese after flocking to space. WALL-E is soon joined by EVE who is searching for sparse signs of vegetation, and a story of robotic romance ensues. For two lead mechanical characters that communicate wordlessly, they are both astonishingly relatable and human-like. This animated film is no mere children’s movie, but an undeniable science-fiction masterpiece displaying the dangers of rampant consumerism, over reliance on technology and environmental apathy.

Shrek

Everyone’s favorite Scottish ogre challenged animation powerhouse Disney with the release of “Shrek” in 2001. When Shrek’s swamp home is overrun by fairytale creatures, the not-so-jolly green giant and a garrulous donkey must stop the lord who is responsible for their displacement. The film successfully parodies fairy tale classics, and places Shrek in the unlikely shoes of a charming hero archetype to save the beautiful princess—who coincidentally plans to marry the villainous lord.

Fantastic Mr. Fox

Wes Anderson brilliantly adapts Roald Dahl’s classic children’s book into a stop-motion spectacle. Unable to control his larcenous nature, the dashing Mr. Fox brews up a plan to rob the nefarious farming trio of Boggis, Bunce and Bean which places his fellow animal kingdom in peril. The comic caper features impressive animation, an A-list cast of voice actors and is steeped in Anderson’s characteristic charm and quirkiness.

Toy Story

“Toy Story” is the film that launched CGI-animated movies and placed Pixar firmly on the map. You should know the story by now: a group of toys inconspicuously live out their lives under their child owner Andy’s nose. Cowboy Woody’s status as “number one toy” is threatened when space-age action figure, Buzz Lightyear, arrives at Andy’s birthday. When a sadistic toy torturing neighbor jeopardizes Andy’s toys, Buzz and Woody must overcome their rivalry and live to be played another day.

This guest post was written by Tiffany Smith.

Tiffany is a writer, editor and artist from San Franscisco.

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Beautiful Creatures Might Make You Grumpy As It Fails To Exceed Expectations – Review

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Directed by Richard LaGravenese

Adapted from the novel by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Why are you interested in this adaptation?

Elena-

Oh, man, so many reasons. Probably mostly because it looks like it will be epic to make fun of, and Rachel and I have been stymied on all attempts to find anything to truly laugh at since Twilight Part Call Me, Lee Pace.  So here we finally find the same genre (young adult paranormal romance) and questionable effects just from the previews (though at least no one sparkles) and the same sort of overblown life or death or end of the world! theme except, oh wait, it’s just a shitty small town no one gives a shit about where nothing ever happens.  Beyond the mockery fodder, I can’t lie, it looks like it might be sort of interesting to the teenage Elena who still comes out sometimes. I mean, it’s Southern Gothic, about some kid who hates living in a small town and wants to leave. I can totally relate to that!  And Emma Thompson is in it. She can be relied upon to either lend appropriate gravitas or be the best part of the wackiness.  The only actress I’d be more excited about seeing in an adult role here is Helena Bonham Carter.

So, if I’m being honest, I expect this to be terrible but in a way that actually kind of appeals to me.  There. I said it. I’d rather watch Southern Gothic witch drama this month than zombie romance.

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I’m coming at this from a different place. I actually sat through the Beautiful Creatures panel at NYCC last fall and let me tell you, it was a train wreck. Sandwiched between a bunch of horror panels and before The Walking Dead, the audience was not into it. (Except for this one guy who yelled out, “I LOVE YOU EMMY!” every 2 minutes. We all hated him.) The cast was pretty lackluster in their answers. They didn’t seem very chummy or excited about the film they had made. Only Emmy Rossum seemed to have read all the books. But I had a friend with me who had read the books and said I should read them before judging the film. I figured it would probably be best to read the book because the trailer had already established this as a film full of one of my biggest pet peeves – totally inaccurate southern accents.

And that is what I have tried to do, dear readers. I read the damn book. It was awful. IT WAS SO AWFUL. Full disclosure – I am also coming at this film from the perspective of a girl who went to high school in South Carolina. I can’t even begin to eviscerate the novel for all the stereotypes it reinforces. I think it fancies itself some kind of To Kill a Mockingbird homage, except that’s like calling a dump I took an homage to Moby Dick.

I am interested in this movie because I want to know why that guy from NYCC loves Emmy Rossum so much.

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Ooh, ooh, I can answer that one! Emmy Rossum is slowly revealing herself as an actual nerd with a string of well-chosen (er…mostly well-chosen) roles in SF/Fantasy movies. You don’t take roles in multiple adaptations of time-travel stories without being somewhat of a genre fan.

What will make it suck?

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Uh…if the effects in the commercial weren’t just whipped up before post-production to advertise, and are actually what the film looks like.  If there are terrible Southern accents everywhere.  If it presents a totally false sense of how important the events are in the scheme of the world. If what drives someone in this family to the dark side is as lame as what Lucas tried to tell us drove Anakin.

Basically…if it moves.  I mean, come on.  You’ve seen the trailer, right?  How can it not?

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I think my eyes looking at it will make it suck. You guys, the accents alone should be a red alert for you. But I know that there are lots of book fans excited about this film, and so I will try to approach the film with that in mind.

It will suck if they leave out Boo Radley the dog. Or Ethan’s weirdo aunts. Or all the obviously unresolved issues Ethan has with his mother.

What will make it awesome?

Elena

This movie might actually be awesome if it captures the sort of over-dramatic gothy impossible love story well.  I am a sucker for a good forbidden love, and I don’t necessarily mind intentionally overblown plot elements if the whole is something that resonates with me and looks good en totale.  I mean…it’s witches in a swamp who tromp around in ball gowns and too much eyeliner.  I am not sure I need to explain further why it has potential.

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Despite the accents the movie COULD get HS in SC right. It has a chance of resonating with me since I, too, was the weird new girl once. I hope they go for some quip-y humor and not take itself as seriously as the book. We’re dealing with really dramatic, obvious storylines and super powers and pretty much every witch cliché you’ve seen on the Vampire Diaries plus some voodoo. It could be cray.

Additional thoughts on casting/production?

Elena-

Honestly?  The adults here are what really made me want to see this movie. I’m not sure that Jeremy Irons, Emma Thompson, and Viola Davis can make something truly awful even if they try.

I don’t recognize any of the teenagers, which is probably a good thing.

I know it was filmed in Louisiana, in part around New Orleans, so that always offers me a fun game of Name That Plantation.

I have not read the book yet, though I did download a Kindle copy to read.  I thought about starting it (or finishing it) before going to see the movie, but then I thought…no.  I’m going to see what the movie does on its own two feet, and save the book to read after to see if it is (1) any better as a story than what the movie presents to me and (2) see if it explains things better than the movie does, if I am left with questions after I walk out of the theater.  Unless, of course, I hate everything about the movie, in which case, I dunno, maybe I will return it with a “did not mean to purchase” excuse.

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WHY are all these people in this film? Jeremy Irons? Emma Thompson? Viola Davis? I don’t…? Why would…? Huh? Did they lose a bet? Did they sign papers while drunk at the Golden Globes? DOES ANYONE KNOW? Even Emmy Rossum in a relatively bit part doesn’t make any freaking sense to me!

Reaction to film?

Elena:

Pretty much exactly what I expected.  The teenagers cleaning up the theater as I walked out asked me if I liked it, and that was what I said.  “Did you read the book?”  “Nope.”  They were in the midst of exclaiming how retarded it is to see the movie without reading the book first when I went through the doors.  Well, kids, it’s like this…when you get older, and your life is a little busier, sometimes you prefer to get a sense of the material with only two hours of your life wasted as opposed to the six or eight (or twenty, if it’s GRRM) it would take to read the book.  Also, sometimes you just want to take the film as its own entity.  You know, like film critics do.

So, checklist:  Effects – obvious CG.  Filming – not creative.  Editing – nothing to notice, therefore shitty by way of being merely serviceable in a film whose cinematography is merely serviceable.  Storyboarding – inefficient. How the F was the movie 3 hours? (Was it 3? Or did it just feel like it?)  Setting – not a bad depiction of the South, although it felt more like Louisiana than SC….  Acting – way better than Twilight, so that might count as a positive.  Concept – as engaging as I expected, which is to say, I was hooked. I just wish the overall experience lived up to it. Story – kind of confusing and unexplained and full of coincidences that made all of it feel sort of half-cocked.

That said, nuts and bolts.

Can we get this out of the way first:  What. The. Fuck. Was. Up. With. The. Accents.  Oh my God.  Rachel told me she didn’t hear an authentic SC swamp drawl among them.  Was…there an authentic Southern accent among them?  I did enjoy Jeremy Irons pronouncing Lena like it was a shortening of my name, with the long A; that felt…legit.  At the very least it was a truly unexpected affectation, and his character was such a creature of affectation that it worked for me.  Otherwise, it felt like they were all over the map with every character having a different sound, which maybe made sense for Lena’s family but not really for the townfolk.  The main guy?  Jesus Christ.  He sounded like he was half-retarded.

Also am I the only one who didn’t find him all that cute?  Like…I sort of think I know what they were going for, that young Johnny Depp broody cheekbone look, but it didn’t work for me.  His friend was 10x hotter and cooler and funnier.  So it was either really terrible casting decision or really brilliant casting.  I mean, does the weird Goth chick who moves into town *actually* go for that guy as he was cast if it’s not destiny?

And by the way…why was every person in their class good-looking?  Y’all.  Have ya been to the rural South?  NEVER HAPPENS.

Speaking of the townfolk…HAVE EITHER OF THE PEOPLE WHO WROTE THIS BOOK (OR MAYBE JUST THIS SCRIPT) EVER BEEN TO THE RURAL SOUTH?  This felt soooooooooooooooo coastal projection of what they think small Southern towns are like.  The depiction here felt beyond over the top.  Like the town and everyone in it was a plot device, not an actual peek into what a town like that really is.  (If you want one, by the way, go watch Bernie.)  Although this set-up DID feel remarkably similar to what Rachel said happened to her when she moved south of the MD. IS THIS HOW IT HAPPENED, RACHEL?  IS THERE SOMETHING YOU NEED TO TELL ME?

Okay, story.  So she and the boy are fated to meet and fall in love?  Why then was his mother BFF’s with her black-magic uncle?  And his mother’s BFF just happens to be the librarian for the witches?  I mean, I guess those family connections explain his ability to just take that kind of discovery in stride, but unless the connection between her uncle and his mother had something to do with why she and he were so drawn to each other, it’s kind of an uncomfortable coincidence.

It was also a total cop-out on the part of the authors for her to not be claimed for one side or the other after that being set up as a fundamental rule of the world.  Unless the curse itself was why the family members got claimed for one side or the other, but if that was the case that causation was really poorly drawn.  But for her to just be like “oh, hey, yeah, I’m not gonna do that” is kind of ridiculous.  Don’t we think other family members have tried that?  Don’t we think every person has a measure of both light and dark in their hearts, such that very few people could ever be claimed for one side or the other?  I can’t believe everyone in her family was so polarized that she was the first who fought a claim.  Also, her uncle proved that dark doesn’t mean evil, since he was obviously principled and loving and spent his time hanging out with the light side of the family.

I also didn’t get much sense of the actual natures of the light and dark here.  I kind of got the impression that “dark” was more chaos than evil?  It seemed like when she was going “dark” it was letting her anger rule her (cough * Star Wars * cough) and acting on it, but, come on.  Anger is not intrinsically evil.  You can have a righteous anger.  I would have liked a better explanation about what was actually involved in being light or being dark.  All I got was that light meant throwing boring dinner parties and dark meant killing cops running speed traps.  (And the problem is…?)

Speaking of Star Wars – “Lena, I am your mother” = bahahahahahaha.

Speaking of cop-outs…all that had to happen to break the curse was someone she loved had to die?  I…am not sure that’s really how magic and curses work.  Seems more like it would need to be a mortal lover who died and didn’t get resurrected in order to complete that loop, you know?

Overall this movie just kind of made me grumpy.  I was engaged by the set-up against my will (damn those Romeo & Juliet stories), once I got over the hero’s speech impediment and the shitty effects, so I really hoped the story would make up for those deficiencies.  I wanted it to Exceed Expectations.  This movie (and the story) did not achieve an E.  It didn’t even get an O.  Such a missed opportunity.  But at least there were no vampires. Or zombies.

Rachel-

Confession. I watched this movie hammered.

I brought some good ol’ South Carolina Firefly sweet tea vodka.

Elena-

OMG that shit’s the bessssssssssst

Rachel-

Right?

Figured I would drink whenever I had the urge to roll my eyes out of my head. I was done with that halfway through the film.

Bless my drunk little heart.

For one –  WHY did Ethan sound like Forrest Gump? WHY? It. Was. Distracting. Is that the best southern accent that poor boy could do? Not to mention every other cast member was doing their best (but sadly terrible) Texan or Alabama drawl. Not even a Georgia accent was heard! Emma Thompson might have come closest (and I, too, appreciated Jeremy Iron’s, “Leeeyyna”) but dayuuum. Not a person involved with the dialect coaching (ok, fess up. There wasn’t a dialect coach) even bothered to Google the Accent tags on Youtube for Christ’s sake!

When I wasn’t twitching at all the terrible accents, I was bothered by the way this whole Confederate/Civil War/ Black people in service positions shit was going down. I had a huge issue with this in the novel, as well. Pretty much the only “educated” black person in the novel is a character that they cut out of the movie (and merged with Amma the housekeeper). But even that character was a woman without much power of her own who was bound to serve anyone who asked (she was the librarian and research partner of Ethan’s mother. Who despite being described as dressing like a Professor spent all her time alone, being crazy at the Gatlin Library).

Elena-

Correction.  She is not the only educated black person; she is the only black person in town other than Ammie. At least the movie tried to put more in at school.  Again…have you been to the South?….

Rachel-

Then there’s this total appropriation of the Gullah people in the character of Amma, who raised all the Wate boys, cooked their breakfasts, did their laundry and sometimes performed voodoo rituals in the swamp with no shirt on while old crusty white plantation owners yelled at them.

ARE. YOU. FUCKING. KIDDING. ME.???????

Yes. There are people that do Civil War reenactments. Yes, there are plantation tours. Yes, there are even white people who still have black nannies. But the responsible way of using these details in your YA paranormal romance novel is to not just relegate issues of social justice, slavery and the highly contentious subject of the Civil War as tropes to further your sad, special snowflake characters towards their inevitable (or not) copulation.

Or whatever.

ARGH.

I’m just…argh. There are A LOT of things about the South that I hated (thus my current residence of NYC), but there are some great things. The hypocrisy and duality of the Confederate South is the most interesting part. These authors, whose educations should frankly have prevented them from participating in such rank cliché, have done nothing to give the place that their story lives in any character at all. If you can’t make a place a pivotal character in your story…you should start over. The filmmakers tried. Oh, did they try. They used New Orleans as the best swampy, Savannah-like recreation of a town outside Charleston that they could, but I think there was more character in the inaccurate as hell flashbacks.

What an exercise is self-torture was reading this book and then watching the movie. Sorry guys, I tried. But that there… that was crap.

And now the part wherein Elena and Rachel talk themselves out of liking it even a little bit in a series of chats:

On Setting:

Rachel: what am i doing?

Elena: existentially? or literally

Rachel: Gatlin sucks. lets burn it down

Elena: yes. Please. the sign fire accidentally took out the whole town of implausibly restored mansions. oops

BURN IT OFF THE MAP

MY ENEMIES LIE IN ASHES

Rachel: Team Sherman

Elena: also i love how they thought plantations were like, right next to each other

Rachel: omg that is so annoying. Like houses in the suburbs!

Elena: some of them where long and narrow but most of the time, the neighbor’s a mile or two away. there is no running from house to house watching them all burn!

Rachel: It’s like they forgot about the plantation part they think it’s just a style of house

Elena: especially not in fucking hoop skirts

Rachel super small town SC is hell. and it certainly doesnt have any freaking colonial mansions and an unused library and a halfway decent school and a population rich enough to do elaborate town wide battle recreations for tourists. blegh.

On the voodoo thing:

Elena: the more i think about the voodoo thing, the more i think THEY think it’s like…a folklore thing. like it doesn’t really exist and maybe never really did.

Rachel: Oh yes. That shit was just.. insulting to voodoo in general. And Gullah people in particular. am i being a weird white person about all the voodoo service characters and their deeply held love for their oppressors/employers?

Elena: i too am really bothered by the voodoo thing. mostly bc any self-respecting Voudon priestess has way better things to do than clean up after idiot white people.

On Plot:

Elena: i kind of want to go off on a rant about how giving your kids ALL the information is the best way to keep them from doing stupid shit that you otherwise have to kill yourself to keep from being a disaster. like, kids aren’t stupid. give them info and expect them to be responsible, and most of em will be. those that aren’t, well, that’s what the darwin awards are for.

Rachel: i was super annoyed pretty much all the time while reading the book. all the characters were.. actively passive? they knew shit was stupid and lame but they just let it happen… for no discernible reason other than the authors wanted it that way.

Elena: what did we learn from mythology? prophecies only become fulfilled when you try to hide them. oedipus would never have done what he did if his foster father was like “son, you aren’t my real son. there’s some crazy prophecy about you killing your father and marrying your own mother, so why don’t we do this: set you up with a nice younger woman whose birth age we can verify, and you just kick it here with us and take over my throne when i die of natural causes. Deal?” Aaand the prophecy is thusly avoided.

Rachel: oh yea. the whole “we didnt tell you all this incredibly relevant information for your own good” shit is NEVER GOOD. its always just evidence of a bad book. look at buffy (perfect example that she is). giles keeps the whole “the master will kill you” prophecy from her. shit.. does not get done. she finds out. is emotionally scarred and hurt and betrayed. but hey.. ya know what else that KNOWLEDGE helps her do? KILL THE FUCKING MASTER.

Team Eve, bitches. Adam can go die. 

On comparing the book to the film:

Rachel: im thinking the film ending.. was dumb?

Elena: um, god. in comparison to the book the whole erasing his memory made no sense. it was all about making her more likeable as a character

Rachel: it made all this nonsense about the claiming make even less sense than it did in the book

Elena: bc in the book, her angsty teen “even though this totally cost my greatx3 mother her soul it will work for me!” was retarded. it was a little more clear in the book that the no-choice claiming was because of the curse which i am not sure they really lifted?

so i can’t see how the movie sequels (if there are any) don’t diverge wildly

Rachel: yea my friend that has read the entire series said that the film ending basically makes it impossible to continue the series. which i assume revolves around the curse and ethan’s mother’s involvement with these casters. and what happened to seraphine

Rachel: they really sat down and wrote cheasy YA tropes down on pieces of paper

me: yes

Rachel: and drew them from a hat whenever they got bored

me: over lunch, no less. i guess they took the same farland course stephenie meyer did, about how to write the best selling YA book ever

impossible love!

whiny self absorbed heroine!

abercrombie model hero!

did we say impossible? we meant you die if you have sex

bahahhahaha

facepalm

Rachel: as for the movie – i keep picturing emma thompson flouncing around in her ruffles doing that weirdly young sounding american accent. FREAAAAK. love her. she was drunk, right?

Safety Not Guaranteed – One of the Best Movies On Time Travel You Will Ever See

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I know this movie is a bit of a stretch for this niche website. However, I think I can make it work. Check it: Safety Not Guaranteed is based on a classified ad that was run in a 1997 issue of “Backwoods Home Magazine.” Yes, the ad was initially a joke meant to fill the extra space, but it was printed and intrigued thousands of people. So it works, right? It’s settled.

Safety Not Guaranteed is not just a sci-fi film or just an indie film. It is a romance film, a science fiction film, and indie film, a comedy, and a drama all rolled into one beautiful package that I want to watch a million more times (and possibly have the scene where they are camping on loop, amiright?)

Initially, what first intrigued me to see this movie when it was announced last year was the actual ad it is based on.

The ad that is the basis for the film (which you can see below), reads,

“Wanted: Somebody to go back in time with me. This is not a joke. P.O. Box 91 Ocean View, WA 99393. You’ll get paid after we get back. Must bring your own weapons. Safety not guaranteed. I have only done this once before.”

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I mean who doesn’t love a good time travel movie? The ad is fascinating but doesn’t give away anything about the film. For a brief (spoiler free) synopsis we have two interns and a writer from a magazine in Seattle investigating the ad. Darius (played by Plaza) connects with the young man claiming time travel as they finish the machine and plan out their first mission together.

But what really sealed the deal for me was the cast. The film sports an indie cast that you can’t help but fall in love with. We have a main character played by Aubrey Plaza (“Parks and Recreation”), her colleague Jake Johnson (“New Girl”) and the self-proclaimed time traveller played Mark Duplass (“The League”).  If you haven’t watched these actor’s televisions shows, you are missing out. Each actor has their own personality that they infuse into the character without losing the essence of their character. Not once during the film was I seeing April from “Parks and Rec” or Nick from “New Girl.” Even Duplass was able to separate his Pete character from his role in this film.

safety not guaranteed trust

The time travel aspect of this film is approached perfectly. The film is mostly about the characters and their relationships with each other with this time machine concept sitting in the background. The science behind it is barely elaborated on (something with lasers and a boat is about all we get) while most of the movie is spent watching our two travellers prepare for their mission.

I also want to note that the film is gorgeous. The director, Colin Trevorrow, knew exactly what he wanted so the film was shot on the Sony F3 using old Panavision lenses, which gave the film a desired “Hal Ashby look.” The result is that the film utilizing a lot of flat colors and pale  tones that somehow add to the characters disillusioned state of mind.

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:::: Spoilers Ahead ::::

Safety Not Guaranteed is one of those rare films that is able to capture that feeling that most of us just miss. The pain and isolation that comes with growing up, with evolving, with the always-scary idea of change. For Darius the isolation is self-imposed. After the death of her mother, which she believes was her fault, she is unable to connect with anyone, to let anyone in, or even let herself be happy. For Jeff we see him becoming disillusioned with love and relationships. Arnau, on the other hand, yearns for relationships with people but is so introversive that he can barely talk to anyone openly. All of us can identify with one of the three main characters. What is wonderful though, is that we get to see these characters move forward after so long of being stagnant in their lives. Darius finally opens up and Kenneth see the real her and even lets him in romantically. This fact is only intensified by the knowledge that she has never had a boyfriend or been with someone in such a way. Jeff attempts to find what he is missing in his life by revisiting his past, but not by time traveling. Instead he tracks down an old girlfriend in a misguided attempt to feel like young and innocent love he once experienced with her. Once she rejects him he realizes that he can never go back to being young again but he can also feel real love again. Arnau, with a little pushing from Jeff, is able to overcome his shyness to actually have a relationship with a woman (albeit is a one night stand, but it remains a huge step for the character.)

It is arguable that Kenneth is the only one who truly open and honest with himself even when others think he is weird or crazy. He is probably the most mentally healthy character in the film. Though his relationship with Belinda and the truth behind her is debatable and up to the viewer to decide.

Possibly the best part of the entire film is the ending. The whole movie you have this feeling of something building. Something small at first. You think it is the romantic feelings between Darius and Kenneth (which let’s face it, was fucking adorable and I just want to hug both of them). However, the moment comes when she finally boards the boat/time machine, this exact moment is what the entire film was leading. It is the moment Darius boards the machine and in an instant they are gone. It is such a powerful and astonishing moment that for a second you are left staring at the screen, speechless.

As one of my friends said when we were talking about the film, “I still get chills thinking of the ending.” Don’t we all…