This is where I left you…

I’m back! I took an extended summer vacation to build slideshows of hot dogs, but I decided to give that a rest and do something more meaningful like talk about a movie I saw yesterday.

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I wanted to see “This is Where I Leave You” for two reasons:

1. I started reading the book, but then I burned it so I never found out what happened (I didn’t join a Bible cult, it was an accident).

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I guess I could have used context clues to guess what happened in the corners of the pages.

2. Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Jane Fonda and the guy from “Girls” sounded like a promising cast. I was wrong.

Since I only read half the book I can’t say whether the movie does it justice, but if it does I’m glad my scented candle took a bite out of it. This movie was BLAND.

The plot is simple: Jason Bateman’s wife cheats on him and his life is falling apart. Then his dad dies and his whole dysfunctional family has to sit Shiva at mom’s house. All their problems come to the surface and they reconnect as siblings, how sweet. It’s simple, but has potential especially with a good cast.

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I don’t know if it’s the director’s fault, or the author’s fault for attempting to write his own screenplay, but it feels like someone had a checklist of “how to make a movie funny and heartfelt.” It was just completely unoriginal – you know those scenes where everyone is arguing and talking over each other until it just becomes noise and then the sound starts to fade away and the main character is left in quiet reflection? That happened like 80 times.

And how do you make Tina Fey unfunny? She was totally annoying, boring and completely unlikable in this movie. In fact, everyone was unfunny; every joke falls flat. The only remotely funny part is Jane Fonda’s massive boobs. (Of course, I should tell that to the woman sitting two rows down from me who clearly does not get out much because she could not contain her laughter….so some people will like this).

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Rose Byrn plays Jason Bateman’s figure-skating love interest, and her character is super weird and makes no sense.

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Some guy who I thought was Eric Camden from Seventh Heaven, but is actually just no one, plays a brain-injured neighbor who Tina Fey used to date – and that’s awkward.

Why do I know this man?

Why do I know this man?

Even Dax Shepard is half sedated the whole movie – although the one time I actually laughed out loud was when he tells Tina Fey she’s too old to rock a middle part. And speaking of, the women in this movie were way too perfectly coiffed for it to be believable that they’re living out of a suitcase at their mom’s house for seven days.

Dad's dead. That's no excuse to leave the curling iron at home.

Despite being annoyed by his giant face and body, the only person I enjoyed in this movie was Adam Driver from “Girls.” He’s the only one who brings something original and plays around with the delivery of his lines (I mean that could just be a result of his weird voice, but still). But even his acting couldn’t save some of his scenes from being forced – like when he drives up to the funeral blasting DMX or something else so obviously inappropriate.

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Basically I walked out of the theater and instantly forgot I just watched a movie. I recommend waiting for it to air on HBO…or read the book and let me know what happens in the inner corners.

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Throwback movie: ‘The Ice Storm’

Recently I’ve been into re-watching movies that I loved as a child – and I’ve come to the realization that I was seriously disturbed (and not because I ever wore orange).

h69C775F2My friends were concerned about me when I insisted Eve’s Bayou – a movie about a little girl who wishes her father death by the power of voodoo because he cheated on her mother and molested her sister – was a great movie when I was a kid. But I was still in denial that I was a normal child.

The Ice Storm

The Ice Storm

When I painstakingly combed through movies filmed in Connecticut, I was reminded of The Ice Storm, another one of my old favorites. It takes place and is filmed in New Canaan, CT and features a super star-studded cast: Christina Ricci, Tobey Maguire, Elijah Wood, Katie Holmes, Kevin Kline, Sigourney Weaver, Allison Janney, the mom from The Notebook, the kid from Jumanji, the elf from The Santa Clause, the list goes on and on.

Anyway, I decided to reminisce and watch it because, again, I LOVED this movie. It made me want to go back in time and shield my baby 10-year-old eyes.

Here are some super kid-friendly moments (and by that I mean the whole plot):

the-ice-storm_l21. Christina Ricci’s dad is having an affair with the Sigourney Weaver. Christina is 14 and she hooking up with Sigourney’s son, Elijah Wood.

526895-icestorm__1_2. While waiting in the house for Sigurney, Christina’s father catches her fondling Elijah and wearing a Nixon mask. Then he tells her he doesn’t really care and carries her home.

SO

SO

BIZARRE

BIZARRE

3. Christina Ricci insists on getting naked with Elijah’s younger brother (so he’s like 12..)

slide_2534_35858_large4. The mom finds out that her husband, Kevin Kline, is having sleeping with Sigourney, yet they go to a swingers party with Sigourney and her husband. Mom ends up having sex with Sigourney’s husband in the car while Kevin Kline is puking in the bathroom.

Ladies, pick your man

Ladies, pick your man

5. Kevin Kline drives home in the ice storm that night and finds Elijah Wood dead in the road after being electrocuted.

ice346. He brings the kid home to the neighbor’s house where his daughter is naked with a small child, his wife is hanging out with his mistress’ husband, and the mistress is asleep upstairs.

7. Meanwhile his son, Tobey Maguire, is in the city taking prescription drugs with Katie Holmes and the elf.

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8. The movie ends with the whole family – mom, dad, Christina and Toby – in the car and Kevin Kline starts crying into the steering wheel.

FIN

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That Awkward Moment…when I decided to see a Zac Efron movie and got lost getting there

that_awk“So…”(nothing good comes after that word according to Zefron in “That Awkward Moment,” but this is actually good – good in a “so bad it’s good” way.) This is how I spent my Sunday… I warn you, this is a really boring story.

My cousin, Lady C, visited from DC this weekend and she wanted to get some knock-off jewelry in China Town, so we decided to take the bus down. In my defense, I never go to China Town or take the bus…but that’s still not really an excuse for how the day progressed. What does this have to do with Zac Efron’s new movie? I’ll get there, but in keeping with the theme of my story, I’ll take a really roundabout way that wastes everyone’s time.

We did not find this

We did not find this

So…we took the bus down to some location in China Town and searched for street vendors. All we really found after an hour of wandering were fish stands and an indoor mall that offered nothing but math tutoring and jade (that’s not a racist joke. That’s literally all they had). So…we decided to head home. Lady C didn’t have a metro card so we got $2.50 in change from the pocket of a very nice Vietnamese woman and waited for the bus.

We did find this

We did find this

We got on bus #1 only to find that it was the express bus and apparently you have to buy your ticket ahead of time (again, I don’t do the bus). The driver took us to the next stop, where we waited in the cold for 15 minutes. Then Lady C. turned to me and asked “how do you know what side of the street to stand on?” I almost died – not only were we waiting on the wrong side of the street, but we had already taken the wrong bus in the wrong direction. We crossed the street and waited another 10 minutes in front of a housing complex where lady C. had once eaten french fries with a foreign boy when she was 18. Bus #2 came. We chased it. It was another “express.” We waited another 10 minutes. Bus #3 came. We chased it. It was another “express.” We couldn’t feel our extremities anymore so we snuck on and rode it for free.

This is how I feel about NYC buses (New York Daily News)

This is how I feel about NYC buses (New York Daily News)

So now the movie? No. We still have another 6 hours until then. Once Lady C. left, it was just Lady A and me, so we thought it would be nice to go get dinner and watch that new Zac Efron movie. We went down to SoHo and had a lovely meal at Cafe Select until it was movie time – “Let’s go see the movie in Kip’s Bay because we always go to Union Square jlo-onthe6-galand it’s right on the 6 anyway.” Idiots.

We started going down into the subway station and realized it was going downtown, so we crossed the street. After a couple stops on train #1, we were at the Brooklyn Bridge, last stop. How did this happen? I don’t know. So…we laughed at ourselves and got off to wait for the train on the other side of the tracks. Train #2 comes. After a few stops we realized we are at Wall Street. HOW did this happen twice? So…we got off at Wall Street, went above ground and paid again to get on the apparently elusive uptown 6. Train #3 comes – it’s the 5 so we take it to Union Square and transfer to the 6 again: train #4. Finally 30 minutes after the move has started we are in the right place. We walk 2 blocks in the wrong direction and then turn around and get to the theater. SOLD OUT.

Determined to see this movie after taking an underground tour of the city, we get back on the downtown 6 (train #5) and go to see it at Union Square. NOW, the movie.

0726-webMANHATTANmap-v4 copyHere are my observations:

1. It’s fine – all that would expect from a Zefron movie.

2. Zefron’s face looks bloated and his hands are puffy.

Why didn't he look like this?

Why didn’t he look like this?

3. They go to Cafe Select twice in the movie – coincidence? Fate. (though the inside of “Cafe Select” in the movie isn’t the real interior).

The real inside

The real inside

4. The main girl in the movie is gross looking.

Imogen Poots is the worst name of all time

Imogen Poots is the worst name of all time

5. But I agree with her that having the key to Gramercy Park is super fancy in a good way.

6. Guys in their 20s are incredibly disgusting.

7. It was not worth $14.50, but I was thoroughly entertained. And at 10:15 on Sunday night, it was really the only kind of movie I could handle.

la_ca_1220_that_awkward_momentSO….the point of this whole thing is not to be a movie review. It’s an ode to NYC public transportation. Thank you for getting me to where I want to go even when I am too stupid to figure out life.

American Hustle: An in-depth look into Amy Adams’ sternum

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I finally saw “American Hustle” (for free thanks to my pirate friend). I went into it with a tainted perspective thanks to a friend telling us how much it sucks (thanks Pat). I, however, did not think it sucked.

I thought it was hilarious, and I was completely entertained the whole time thanks to great acting, 70s music, outrageous outfits and an over-the-top plot line. It’s one of those plot-twist movies that has you trying to figure out the end the whole time, and that’s really what drives the movie.

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You don’t really get to like the characters mostly because they are awful people, but also because we only get a bare-bones look into why they are the way they are. But that kind of doesn’t matter – all that matters is that they are all screwed up, and they spend the movie screwing over un-screwed-up people.

Earlier this week I criticized Jennifer Lawrence for this faux pas:

jennifer-lawrence-the-little-mermaidBut she redeemed herself in my eyes by being the best part of “American Hustle.” She seems like a pretty intelligent person, but she kills it as an idiot.

tumblr_mug9vhqB4f1qabls9o1_250She should really do more comedy. Her shining moments include a long monologue about the smell of her nail polish, setting a “science oven” on fire, and a lip-sync performance of “Live and Let Die” in front of her son while dusting the house that really gave me a glimpse into my future self. I will 100% make my children watch me sing and dance.

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Louis C.K. is underrated as Bradley Cooper’s poor boss who get’s the brunt of Brad’s insanity. And speaking of, I’m a little tired of him playing the crazy card. He’s definitely a good actor, and this movie is no exception (his hair is also awesome/nasty), but we’ve already seen him do this kind of thing in Silver Linings Playbook. And again, speaking of, have Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence signed a friendship pact that they will only do movies together? They have another one coming out about the Depression of something.

american-hustle02Amy Adams and Christian Bale are both equally good as the lead roles, despite how repulsive Christian managed to look.

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In conclusion, great movie. I expect a supporting actress win for Jen (I’m on a first-name basis with all of Hollywood), and maybe a best screen play.

Amy Adams;Jennifer Lawrence

2014 Oscar Nominees

The Wolf.

img6If you don’t know what The Wolf of Wall Street is about, it’s a true story about Jordan Belfort who became a stock market billionaire by the time he was 26 in the 90s. He does a bunch of drugs and wild things, becomes frenemies with Steve Madden and then goes to jail. The end.

Here’s what you need to know about the movie:

wows2Don’t make any future plans because you will be in the movie theater for the rest of your life. It’s long. I’m not complaining; I loved the movie – but to arrive at a theater at 1:45 and leave at 5:45 is a bit much. Some scenes did drag on a little – like one of Leo’s epic speeches, which I actually thought dragged on in the book too. I mean, move it along Jordan. Having read the book, I also knew what was going to happen (obviously) so when 2 hours into the movie they still hadn’t sunk a boat (spoiler?) I got a little antsy. But there are way worse things than spending 3 hours with Leonardo.

quaaludes-hookers-and-penny-stocks-the-wolf-of-wall-street-is-epicSpeaking of my boyfriend, Leo is great as usual. We’ve all learned by now that he can play pretty much any character believably – but he may have been a little ambitious in his role as a 22-year-old Jordan Belfort at the beginning of the movie. They didn’t even try to Benjamin-Button him. But the movie is narrated by Jordan in first-person and has a little bit of a whimsical feel, so maybe it was supposed to be him like inserting his present self into his memories? Or maybe I’m giving Mr. Scorsese and his makeup team too much credit.

This is how he should have looked

This is how he should have looked

Prepare yourself for excessive female nudity, excessive drug use, sexually explicit scenes and Jonah Hill’s penis.

Jonah Hill is hilarious with his fake massive teeth. He is becoming quite the talented sidekick. First alongside Brad Pitt in that baseball movie I had no interest in, and now with Leo. If you can’t be the man of everyone’s dreams, stand next to him and tell jokes. Genius.

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wolf-of-wall-street-dicaprio-hillMatthew Mcconaughey has a 5-minute part. After reading the book and seeing the role he had in the movie, I figured they would extend the part for him. But they didn’t. Judging from his emaciated body, he was clearly still busy shooting Dallas Buyer’s Club (also good), so maybe he just wanted to hang out for a bit. This is really all he does:

a_560x0The girl who is playing the mother on How I Met Your Mother is also in the movie. She plays Jordan’s first and less-attractive wife.

His second wife is that girl with a Kermit voice from Pan Am, and she is a perfect specimen. I’d like to be her. I’d also like to remind her that we were once both at the same Rangers game so we’re basically friends and she should introduce me to Leo.

She's Barbie

She’s Barbie

The real Jordan Belfort makes a cameo. I was like “hey I recognize you from your little face on the back of the book.” This is not surprising since he is obviously an attention whore and probably not that rich anymore.

The real and very tan Jordan Belfort

The real and very tan Jordan Belfort

‘The Way, Way Back’

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I went to see The Way, Way Back this weekend A. because it’s 100 degrees in NYC, so there’s not much else to do, and B. and more importantly, because the movie was shot and is set somewhere very familiar to me.

Lady Erin’s family has beach houses in Duxbury, MA on Green Harbor Beach, where Mr. Steve Carell’s family also has a beach house (how posh, Erin). So, presumably, this is why his new movie is set at this very beach.

Here are some photos of the movie being filmed last year, taken by a real-life Duxbury native and fellow Ryan:

Photo: F. Ryan  Filming the party

Photo: F. Ryan
Filming the party

Photo: F. Ryan Steve Carell

Photo: F. Ryan
Steve Carell

Photo: F. Ryan Allison Janney

Photo: F. Ryan
Allison Janney

Anyway, many a beach party has been held here, so we had to go watch it on the big screen. And, I’m happy to say it would have been worth seeing even if the setting was a stranger. The movie is done by the people who did Little Miss Sunshine and Juno, so it has that quirky indie vibe – and it’s a lot more hilarious than I imagined it would be.

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I missed the very beginning, so I walked in at the scene when Steve Carell is arriving at the beach with his girlfriend, Toni Collette and her son. They are greeted by the outrageous Allison Janney, who basically steals the movie. She manages to be just inappropriate and crazy enough to be totally believable as a real person, yet way more entertaining than most people you know. It helps too that she has a son with an extreme lazy eye that she always makes fun of.

“I don’t know where you’re looking. You have to point!”

The lazy eye actually just makes her kid even more awesome. No 8-year-old I know, let alone one with a crazy wandering eyeball, would show up at an adult party and say “I’m going to go mingle. I’ll circle back.”

The-Way-Way-Back-Review_t614The point of the story is that Steve Carell is a d-bag and makes Toni Collette’s painfully awkward 14-year-old son miserable. When he gets to “spring break for adults,” he is even more miserable so he rides a Barbie bike to Water Wizz, the local water park. Here he ends up bonding with the adult staff, and puts on an embarrassing display of break dancing moves – it becomes a coming of age thing and it’s all very sweet.

www-annasophia-robb-us-AnnaSophia-Robb-for-The-Way-Way-back-Trailer-annasophia-robb-34215474-1200-645He also meets a girl and her bitchy teenage friends who say really accurate things like “I don’t get her face.”

I highly approve of this movie. Go see it.

Erin’s comments on authenticity of the location: “Never have I ever ridden my bike to Water Wizz – because it’s in Plymouth.”

Photos of the place:

The Great Gatsby

The-Great-Gatsby3The Great Gatsby has gotten some bad reviews, and I get some of the things they are saying. But, all in all, I was not disappointed with the movie, and I’ve been excited for it forever.

First off, it’s a visual movie – it’s two and a half hours of looking at really beautiful things and people (Leo). I watched the regular version, but it’s very obviously shot for 3D. I don’t really get why they would make this movie 3D, but whatever. I don’t fault Baz Luhrmann for taking this approach because he needed to find a way to reinterpret the story. Everyone knows the plot, and you can’t touch it. The 1974 version was a very literal screen translation of the text, so that’s been done. What’s left is making it look and sound different, which is what he did with the music and the visuals.

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What-a-fabulous-partypartyThe one thing that wasn’t a huge fan of in terms of this was that it had some whimsical elements that kind of bothered me. Things like letters coming off pages and floating up into the air, and clouds becoming people’s faces. Get real, Baz; that doesn’t happen.

Gatsby’s house is a huge part of the story and it’s described as a grand palace, which is what it looks like in the movie. In fact it looks like a Disney castle. Even though the style is in keeping with some of the massive mansions you find on Long Island, I liked the house in the old movie better. It was more how I pictured it reading the book – slightly more modest and less intimidating – like Gatsby’s personality. But nothing in the movie is modest; that’s the whole the idea.

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Robert Redford – old man crush

Even all the jewelry and some of the props were made by Tiffany’s, and cost thousands of dollars. The production of the movie mirrored the lifestyle it portrayed (they even spent so much money that they ran out and had to move filming to Australia, where Baz is from). But it works because you’re looking at actual excesses of diamonds and pearls and expensive cars and it sucks you in.

733807_529085157133904_602227890_nThe plot was true to the book (but they skipped my favorite line, “her voice is full of money”), except that they have Tobey Maguire narrating the story from a mental institute, and at the end he finishes writing The Great Gatsby, which does not happen in the book. I thought it was a little weird, but I guess it was supposed to darken the story.

tobey-maguire-and-leonardo-dicaprio-the-great-gatsbyLeonardo DiCaprio was perfect as Gatsby, obviously because he’s the best. Carey Mulligan was good as Daisy but I still find her unattractive even drenched in diamonds and designer dresses. Baz just loves pairing Leo with semi-plain looking girls with round noses…

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Talking to you Claire Danes….sorry..

Jay-Z’s influence was also very apparent, not only through his music but by the emphasis put on Black people in the movie. I know Baz (I’m naming my kid Baz) said he wanted a hip-hop influence in the movie, but it was a little odd how there would just be random shots of Black people. Like when a car full of super fancy Black men and women zoom by jamming out to “H to the Izzo.” I think Jay-Z was just like “No, Baz, let me do this. It will be hilarious.” And it was.

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That’s the anthem get’cha damn hands up

The rest of the music worked well in the movie, and I was happy that Lana Del Rey’s song from the soundtrack was sort of the main theme song because it’s my favorite one.

THE GREAT GATSBYAnyway really long story short, I liked it. The book is one of the most-loved American books ever written so it’s a big undertaking to re-imagine it. This version is loud and fantastical in Moulin-Rouge style. Maybe in 30 years the next version will be more to the critics’ liking.