Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Top Eleven Part Deux: This Is Gonna Be REALLY Difficult

No pictures this week - computer's being cray cray. But here's my recap anyway!

I love the footage from last week. I love Casey. Last week's results episode ruled. Casey almost died. American Idol, I'm loving you right now. Please don't change that tonight. ROCK IT, CASEY AND PAUL! DOOOOO ITTTT!

Heather Morris is in the audience! Man, I wish I were on a Fox show so I could go be in the audience and make Paul date me.

I really wish tonight wasn't Elton John night. Lame.

Dominic Monaghan IS young Elton John.

Idol finally has a segment with EW and it's the year Dalton Ross takes over? Michael Slezak FTW!!

I'm ready for songs now.

Scotty McCreery - Country Comfort
He has a natural elegance. Okay. Sure. We'll go with that. The words "One Trick Pony" are used. I agree. WOAH. Scottie plays guitar. Clever girl. Good choice, country boy. Can't be a real country guy if you can't play guitar. Playing the grandma card, are we? As much as Scotty doesn't do it for me, he's hands down the best Country contestant since Carrie Underwood. Great job. Especially with that last note. He knows what the audience wants.
Steven - Something about boots and grandmas. Did it again.
J-Lo - He has amazing instincts about performing and what's right for him. Encourages him to keep grounded and stay right there. Never doubt himself.
Randy - Thought he was at his concert like he was already there, so comfortable, so in the zone. That song could be on his record. Very nicely done.

Does Scotty have a crush on Scar-Jo? Never gonna happen, kid.

Naima - I'm Still Standing
Reggae spin! Okay, I could be into this. Naimia seems to be one of the only ones coming up with her own arrangements. Which I definitely commend her for. Oh she is MADE for this genre. This sounds like it's always been reggae. Pretty badass if I do say so myself. Sounds better and gets more interesting every week. Kind of into it. I'm allowing people in the room to vote for her tonight.
J-Lo - Loves her and her reggae swag. Wasn't sure the song was suited to it, but loved the way she performed. Respects that she took it where she wanted to take it.
Randy - Came off kind of corny, and she isn't corny, she's cool. Didn't quite work for him.
Steven - Boomshakalaka, good for her for picking a song that fits her.

We TOTALLY disagree with the judges. Thought she nailed it. Whatevs. Having never heard the original, I thought that was right on.

My brother just told me Haley and Casey are dating!!! First time in Idol history, right? EPIC! Love it.

Paul - Rocket Man
PAUL! He's so sexy. His band covered this song years ago. DO I HAVE THE SAME SHIRT PAUL IS WEARING IN THE VIDEO? Loving this. Love love love. Best he has sounded yet. SO adorbz. I love him. No back up vocals. YAY!
Randy - Couple pitchy moments. (DISAGREE!) He's here, he's got this, go further, they believe.
Steven - Loves his voice. Always does a little something. When he starts hitting every note, he won't like him anymore, loves his character.
J-Lo - More to his voice that he knows, he just has to go there. Wants him to push push push, especially in the upper register.

DON'T SAY BAD THINGS ABOUT MY PAUL. I thought that was great. He makes me giggly and happy.

More after the jump

See full post

Book Review: Whedonistas! A Celebration of the Worlds of Joss Whedon by the Women Who Love Them

To be truly considered a formidable geek, one has to have experienced a mind altering, bridging on unhealthy, obsessive love for at least one movie and/or television show before reaching an age where one is cognisant enough to understand that it may not be "cool". Something that cemented in one's psyche the idea that loving a piece of fiction is not only valid, but something to be celebrated, something that isn't full of shame, but pride. And fandom doesn't ever come down to one artist or one universe. Fans of all ilks bond because of a mutual understand that loving a property - any property - enough to be compelled to dress up as characters, write fan fiction, own way too many collectibles, watch every episode multiple times, so on and so forth, is totally, 100% acceptable and awesome. It's why I've always loved conventions so much. We're all there because of how much we love a genre property, and whatever that property is, we support each other, sans judgement. If your specific corner of fandom overlaps with someone else's, than hey, even better.

For me growing up, my first loves were the original Star Wars trilogy (a tale of profound obsession that I will save for another time) and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Buffy aired during the exact years I was in middle school and high school and while I took fandom vacations into other things like Xena, The Matrix, Scream and Spiderman, Buffy was my constant. At age 12 I had a life goal to own every piece of Buffy merchandise every created, and between seasons 1 and 2, I think I actually did accomplish that, for a few months at least. Between seasons 2 and 3, I met the whole cast at Comic-Con and wrote a poem about it. I loved Xander, Oz and Spike. I wrote fanfiction. I listened to "Once More With Feeling" until I knew every word to every song. Buffy was always there for me, no matter what I was going through and I'm still grateful to Joss Whedon for giving me characters to look up to, a group of friends who would die for each other (and have) to remind me that just because I didn't have it yet didn't mean I never would, and love stories of all shapes and sizes, all meaningful, whether born out of friendship, initial attraction, hate, respect, common interests or zero common interests, I learned from each one. I wanted to be successful to get the chance to one day be a part of something like Buffy. It was the impetus for so much in my life - *all* positive.

But I don't think about this often. In fact, I hadn't thought hard about Buffy in a while, not since rewatching the first two seasons with my roommates at the time 4 years ago. But last week I got my hands on a copy of a new book, Whedonistas: A Celebration of the Worlds of Joss Whedon by the Women Who Love Them and it awakened something in me. Here is a book filled with essays, an "eclectic and exciting collection of essays that touch on nearly all aspects of the shows, the fandoms and the people to whom they made a difference", written by writers, artists, and fans alike, that flooded me with memory and emotion of my time watching Buffy. And while the pieces on Buffy connected with me the most on the surface, every essay, no matter the subject, felt familiar, like a part of my brain being explained and explored. I haven't even seen all of Firefly, yet I found myself tearing up during Dae S. Low's "The Browncoat Connection", in which Low details finally finding a group of people to connect with in her fellow Portlandian Browncoats.

More after the jump

See full post

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Hunger Games and Jennifer Lawrence: Is This Going To Work?

Commissioned by and crossposted on

On the heels of the announcement that Jennifer Lawrence won the role of Katniss in The Hunger Games has come a lot of discussion as to whether or not the naturally blond, 20 year old actress is right for the role of the 16 year old, olive skinned brunette. Many fans (mostly purists, natch) are complaining that Lawrence is poor casting for these reasons. But how much does it matter that Lawrence is four years older and has the wrong complexion? Is it really warranting all this uproar?

I too was bothered when I first heard the announcement, but not because of Lawrence's hair or hue of skin, the cosmetic aspects aren't a huge deal as far as I'm concerned, they can be altered easily. What did made me uncomfortable was her age. Part of what made The Hunger Games so harrowing for me to read was imagining a 16 year old - a Nicola Peltz, a Hailee Steinfeld, someone who is young enough to still *look* like an actual teen - forced into Katniss' situation. Part of the reason the upcoming Hanna is so effective is because the teen assassin is played by a 16 year old. It's difficult, yet thrilling to watch. Imagining the images coming alive as I read, I feared for Katniss, was amazed with Katniss, wanted to protect Katniss. Casting a 20 year old, even a 20 year old who just played a 17 year old, as Lawrence did in Winter's Bone, immediately does away with all of that. When I imagine Jennifer Lawrence in the part, I am suddenly not concerned for Katniss' safety, I'm not questioning her ability or moved by the fact that someone so young only knows how to do what she can do because of the poverty she was raised in that forced her to grow up so quickly. Instead, I see a woman. A young looking woman, sure, but a woman nonetheless.

However, these were the thoughts I had when I had only read two thirds of The Hunger Games.

A few days after the announcement that Lawrence got the part, I sat down to finish The Hunger Games with only part three of the first book, entitled "The Victor," to go. And boy did that change things. Imagining Lawrence and rumored contender, Hunter Parrish, in the roles of Katniss and Peeta during the last third of the book just about sealed the deal for me that when it comes to casting, The Hunger Games may not in fact be an epic fail. The Jennifer Lawrence and Hunter Parrish in my mind have *amazing* chemistry, you guys. And it made me think of something no dissenters seem to be discussing.

While casting actual teenagers would certainly provide an audience with that unique, frightening feeling of seeing children, more or less, forced into an awful situation like the hunger games, something important would be lost: the relationship between Katniss and Peeta. The sexuality. The romance. The chemistry. The maturity. It's the reason all "teen" shows are cast with twenty somethings. No one wants to watch an actual fifteen year old make out with another fifteen year old. That's when something that should be exciting to see come to fruition becomes sweet at best, child porn at worst. Do you really think there would be however-many-thousand videos dedicated to the kisses of Chuck and Blair if the roles were played by high school juniors? Are you telling me you don't feel even a little dirty watching the younger characters on Skins? How many people are going to watch 90210 if the "hot new sophomore" who sleeps with someone's thirty year old sister is an actual sophomore? Have you seen an actual high school sophomore lately? If sexuality is important for the characters to posses, the casting will skew slightly older, plain and simple.

I didn't realize how important chemistry would be until finishing the first book, but now I can't imagine having anyone younger than eighteen in the role, and even most eighteen year olds look too young for me to want to watch them have chemistry with anyone. Even Logan Lerman, who I think is adorbz town central, has too much of a baby face for me to want to see him in any sort of sexual situation. In a few years, sure, but not right now. And I can safely say I do *not* want The Hunger Games film to shy away from the violence or the romance.

Which brings me to Katniss' counterpart. Obviously if our leading lady is to be played by an actress slightly older than teenage years with a maturity way beyond teenage years, the actor playing Peeta must have a similar sensibility. Lawrence's casting immediately rules out actors too much younger than she is. Aside from Hunter Parrish, Alex Pettyfer is apparently under consideration. But let's nip that in the bud before producers put an offer out, shall we? While Jennifer Lawrence is blond and no longer a teenager, everything else about her is Katniss. We know she can be tough, we know she can be vulnerable, we know she can look like dreck, we know she can look drop dead gorgeous, we know she can skin an animal and we know she can cry. And to hear the way director Gary Ross talks about her audition, you know Lawrence will bring it and subsequently kill it. Still not convinced? Here's an except from author Suzanne Collins' letter on the casting, published in EW (If you've read the first book, read the rest of the spoiler-tastic letter here),

“Jennifer’s just an incredible actress. So powerful, vulnerable, beautiful, unforgiving and brave. I never thought we’d find somebody this amazing for the role. And I can’t wait for everyone to see her play it.”

Which is why I worry about all this Pettyfer talk. The ALREADY notorious jerkface (trying to keep my language clean here), after only TWO studio films, could not be more wrong for the role of Peeta. Pettyfer reads as mean as he is rumored to be, as well as cold, stiff and humorless, the opposite of everything Peeta is supposed to embody. And despite being three years younger than competition Hunter Parrish, he looks about five years older. Let me tell you, the Jennifer Lawrence and Alex Pettyfer in my head have zero chemistry. Zip. And if we're going the route of casting slightly older so the audience is invested in the romance, whether or not this film will work now relies entirely on who gets cast as Peeta.

I like the idea of Parrish so much because of his natural warmth and sweet sexuality. He isn't classically handsome, he's unique, bridging on goofy, but tall, built and good-natured, exuding sort of a "you simultaneously want to make out with me and cuddle me" sort of vibe. I can buy the necessary vulnerability and I can buy the necessary snark. Blandy McDoucherson Alex Pettyfer? Not so much.

With a movie like say, Let the Right One In and its American take, Let Me In, casting actual 12-14 year olds was essential because the film hinged on the vampire trope of an older soul stuck in a pre-adolescent body. At the start of Marvel's Runaways, most of the characters are 15 and while there is a kiss between two of them at one point, sure, the important relationships don't happen until a bit later, so there is some freedom to actually go the young route, to see what it looks like when real teens are fighting super villains and let them grow into young adults with feelings and sexuality and romance over the course of the films a la Harry Potter. But because so much of the first Hunger Games book really does focus on the relationship between Katniss and Peeta, I ultimately am in support of this casting and recommend re-reading the book with them in mind. You may be surprised with how naturally you can imagine them in the roles.

So to answer the question if this going to work, I say if it doesn't, Jennifer Lawrence won't be the reason. Her casting is actually a great sign that despite the fact that The Hunger Games is technically a Young Adult novel, this movie will be leaning more on the side of an adult sensibility than that of kids or tweens. Now we just have to cross our fingers and hope the rest of the casting falls into place. And you know, the script and direction and production design and special effects....But I'm optimistic for now.

What do you think of Jennifer Lawrence at Katniss? Who would be your preference for Peeta? Looking forward to your thoughts, readers. See full post

Sunday, March 27, 2011

In Defense of Sucker Punch

Let’s be clear that this article is not about whether or not Sucker Punch was good. Good and bad are subjective values and -- except for something egregious like The Last Airbender, which failed at filmmaking -- there is no right or wrong answer when people’s opinions come into play.

However, there are more or less right answers when it comes to whether or not something has meaning, which is what this article will argue. And even something that has intended meaning can still fail to convey it to every member of the audience. But just because you glean no meaning from a piece of art doesn’t mean that there isn’t a message being conveyed and that other people aren’t appreciating it.

My problem with the less-than-loving reception of Sucker Punch is not that people don’t like it -- there are plenty of films, books, and pieces of art that I love and others hate that I don’t argue about -- but that the people who hate Sucker Punch are overwhelmingly dismissing other people’s readings and enjoyment of Sucker Punch and ripping the film’s message apart in three unforgivable ways, 1. they are making up info/depictions not in the film, 2. they are picking and choosing the evidence they want and ignoring the presence of contrary evidence, and 3. they are bringing their own expectations into why the film failed, e.g they think that a message can only be expressed in one certain way and so they ignore any other method or mode.

All right, you’ve read this far and I have to go make breafast, so let’s skip to the meat of the manner: the question of feminism in Sucker Punch.

Female Escapism vs. Male Fantasy, or, How I Learned to Fight the Patriarchy While Looking Good

Many arguments about Sucker Punch involve the statement that Sucker Punch and its two dream levels (the brothel to be known as Lvl 2 and the action sequences Lvl 3, henceforth) are the pure embodiment of male fantasy (e.g. hot girls being sex objects in Lvl 2 and hot girls fighting samurai in Lvl 3) and thus cannot be representations of female empowerment.

Let’s get one thing straight, if there is anything explicitly conveyed in Sucker Punch (and boy there is a lot, which rankles my movie-watching nerves at times) it’s that Lvl 2 and Lvl 3 are versions of Babydoll’s mental escape for her more-or-less reality on Lvl 1. (I say “more-or-less” because even Lvl 1 is framed by a curtain rising on the theater, suggesting it too is a metaphor.) So let’s all agree that Lvl 2 and 3 are in Babydoll’s mind as many reviewers have done so and the film even includes the narrator telling us that sometimes we need to retreat to our inner-selves/worlds to triumph. Now the argument brought up by many at this point, is that Babydoll’s fantasy worlds would never be a real girl’s fantasy worlds and that they are instead Zack Snyder’s (and most men’s) own masturbation fantasies come to life, thus invalidating any claims Sucker Punch might make to feminism.

The first problem: Babydoll’s fantasies have been and could be the fantasies of many women, especially given that Lvl 2 and Lvl 3 are fantasies doubling as coping mechanisms for the harsh realities of Lvl 1 that render Babydoll and her friends powerless. Babydoll doesn’t dream of a brothel in Lvl 2 because all girls want to be sexed up or fucked for money, but because it is a more manageable parallel for what is happening in Lvl 1. The girls are clearly being abused and taken advantage of in Lvl 1 (though nothing explicit happens on screen) and so Lvl 2 is the metaphorical level where we recognize that yes, these girls are being used for sex by the chief orderly Blue and many others with a key difference: the girls have more power on Lvl 2. They can walk around, be considered sane, and use their sexuality -- the only value given to them by the patriarchal confines of Lvl 1 and 2 -- to their advantage. In Lvl 1, they can’t even do that as their sexuality is completely out of their hands. But more on that in the next section. For now let’s skip to Lvl 3.

Lvl 3, with its genre mash-ups and hot girls in hot outfits killing things, uh, hotly, is also criticized as being a male fantasy. Well, I hate to shatter your visions of femininity but many women, even as girls, have daydreamed about kicking ass and taking names, and many as they got older have added looking attractive to the mix -- this last bit is arguably a reaction to the pressures of societal norms of attractiveness that girls are subjected to growing up, but let’s be honest that even men have daydreams in which they are irresistible morsels of sexual delight. The point is that Lvl 3 could very well be the daydreams of a girl in a terrible situation. It’s an even more fantastical form of mental escapism where actual power, in the form of weapons and warfare, stand in place of the sexual power given to girls on Lvl 2. In Lvl 3, Babydoll and her crew are equals to any man, taking on faceless hordes and never having to flash so much as a little leg to catch the enemy off guard. Female sexuality is beside the point in Lvl 3.

If the girls look hot in Lvl 3 -- debatable really considering how much more clothed they are there than in Lvl 2 and even when compared to many other action films in which women have but an inch of clothing hiding their frame -- it can be argued that this is for one of two reasons: 1. that the girls in Lvl 3 are as sexual and attractive as they want to be but they control it and it’s only a side factor in their real fantasy of defeating the patriarchy, and/or 2. the sexual nature of their costumes is supposed to subverted by their actions portraying them as real action heroes not to be underestimated by the sexual fetishes (e.g. school girl, hot nurse, fantasy chick, etc.) that are placed upon them by the male gaze. In the case of item one, the explanation is in direct play with the plot and characterizations of the girls, while in item two this is a meta-commentary aimed at undermining expectations in the audience. (Again, I’d like to submit that Lvl 3’s costumes, especially compared to other films like Sucker Punch, are not as sexualized or hot as people are making them out to be.)

At any rate, this brings us to the second section that looks a little bit more at Lvl 2. A place, I admit, whose dialogue and acting pains me but whose importance I won’t dismiss.

Ownership of Sexuality vs. Objectification Thereof, or, Why Being Hot Isn’t a Crime But Being Raped Is

When last I mentioned Lvl 2, it was in setting it up as female escapism informed by the tethers of the male patriarchy found in Lvl 1 and that Lvl 3 is an “even more fantastical form of mental escapism where actual power, in the form of weapons and warfare, stand in place of the sexual power given to girls on Lvl 2.”

This is possibly the most important evidence in arguing that Lvl 2 is escapism from a terrible world, and neither male fantasy nor anti-feminist. Consider, for a moment, the fact that we are never shown the most titillating aspects of female sexuality in Lvl 2. Not only do we never see Babydoll’s purportedly sexually over-the-top dancing, but we never see any of the girls being used for sex, or being raped. Instead, any time Babydoll begins her dance, the movie jumps with Babydoll to Lvl 3, a place where the girls don’t have to use sexuality but instead can use real strength to overcome their enemies. Lvl 3 is not only a coping mechanism for the sexuality Babydoll and the girls have to use in Lvl 2, but it’s also a coping mechanism for the fact that in Lvl 1 it’s likely that the girls are mutely being raped with no way to fight back other than to bide their time while planning their escape and stealing the items they need while their rapists and abusers are occupied.

The latter statement, of course, is an informed opinion based on the metaphorical parallels established in the rulebook of the film, as we never explicitly see rape or abuse in Lvl 1. The point in outlining these differences is to establish that yes, Zack Snyder has created a world in which women are being victimized in Lvl 1 and 2 but that 1. they are being shown fighting back without losing their spirit and hope and 2. the absence of their sexuality being shown on the screen means that their victimization is not there to arouse the viewer but to serve as a narrative point.

The message of the film is not, then, to watch the sexual victimization of women and like it (goodness knows that plenty of other movies and TV shows do that) but to convey that even in a time in which a victim feels they have no agency, they can still overcome their abusers by retreating into the world of how things should be and gaining strength and action from there.

Sucker Punch is clearly a movie following the internal machinations of abused women who feel they have no agency. And contrary to what some say, Babydoll is not ultimately powerless in this equation. Her dreamworld is a metaphor for what Lvl 1 Babydoll is setting out to achieve but in a more candy-coated and manageable way. In Lvl 3, Babydoll learns what she needs to escape Lvl 1. In Lvl 2, Babydoll takes her sexuality away from her oppressors and uses it to ensnare them instead – a classic case of subverting the patriarchy and using the only tool you have left to your advantage. In Lvl 2, after all, none of the women are seen as people but as sex objects. And so Babydoll, the unobtainable sex object as she is being saved for the High Roller, can use the thing they can’t take from her to her advantage.

Eye of the Audience vs. Aim of the Actor, or, Zack Knew Some (Not You) Might Interpret It This Way

For all those watching Sucker Punch and thinking that it’s anti-feminist because attractive girls are fighting things, I submit to you that your reading is entirely too simplistic based on the above evidence and that you are actually having the reading that Zack Snyder thought you might have as conveyed through none other than Blue.

When we first really see the mental asylum in Lvl 1, our introduction is via “The Theater,” a place where the girls go to act out their victimization and cope with it by letting others know about it and showing their pain. Whether or not this is a valid form of therapy is beside the point, as what’s important is what Blue says to Babydoll’s stepfather. He too doesn’t know whether the therapy works but he thinks it’s something damn fun and salacious to watch, even mocking it. Blue’s perception here doubles as the worst reading of Sucker Punch, e.g. “Hot girls trying to fight being raped? That’s kinda hot. More tits!” And it seems that people dismissing Sucker Punch as meaningless and anti-feminist think that Snyder’s point was to garner a reaction like Blue’s. But having such a statement made by Blue himself within the context of the film shows that Snyder anticipated that a small amount of people would feel that way about the movie, and that, as a result, another segment of the audience might accuse Snyder of intending this reaction from the repugnant first group.

Thus, with Blue’s comment, Snyder seems to say, “If you think this movie is here to turn you on, you’re wrong. It’s here to help out girls in situations like this and give them hope. Maybe it won’t work and maybe some people will just see boobs and bangs and go home to wank, but that doesn’t mean it’s not meant to have more meaning than that. And that for the characters in this film and for some of the audience, it does.”

And that’s all I have to say about Sucker Punch here. If you want to read more of my opinions/defenses, you can head to my twitter at

Sidenote: Let me reiterate that I don’t think Sucker Punch is a perfect movie. (It has plenty of problems.) I just think that the movie has more meaning than people give it credit for and I am completely enamored of its storytelling technique. See full post

Friday, March 25, 2011

Brief Sucker Punch Thoughts...

For those of you that are curious, and because I'm one of 12 people who seemed to both not COMPLETELY miss the point AND appreciate the point, here are some of my thoughts that I tweeted last night.

I love the whole idea of her escaping into this fantasy world, where what we see IS what happened in reality, but the way she sees it, the way she is dealing with it. A mental break turning a situation where she is helpless into one where she is ostensibly helpless, but actually in control, makes perfect sense to me. Unfortunately, because she wasn't actually in control, she didn't have the men in the palm of her hand, the fantasy could only take her so far before reality set in and she had to face her fate. Eh, works for me!

I find a more cohesive story in it than many are, it seems. Comes down to a connection to it or not perhaps, pure and simple. The movie is for sure not perfect. The most I'm arguing is that it isn't worthless, it connects/makes more sense to some people than others, and it isn't anti-feminist. Oh and it's really fun to watch if you just let yourself, even if that means laughing at the dumb stuff

I'm kind of sick of man after man writing pieces on why Sucker Punch is anti-feminist or fails as a feminist film. Much more interested in a fellow fangirl's perspective, even if she disagrees with me, than reading unconscious male guilt (also kind of the point of Sucker Punch) translated into not appreciating what Snyder set out to do here. I repeat, this movie is NOT perfect, and I am enjoying all the debate, the 140 character quotes of people who hate it are actually pretty hilarious, but I do take issue with the argument that the film is harmful to women in any way. For whatever inexplicable reason, I did connect to Sucker Punch, I understood the multiple layers she used to escape, I understood that while the story was hers, it was also ours, that sometimes you have to do the best with what you're given, even if the only option is help ONE person to make it out alive, help ONE person to escape, help ONE person make something of herself. Especially when that one person was only trapped in the first place out of a desire to protect her younger sister. Sweet Pea didn't belong there and Babydoll got her out and in the end, even though Babydoll lost her mind completely, she took down both her stepfather and Blue in the process, empowered to the very end.

Was it heavy handed? Yes. Was it at times cheesy? Yes. Was it super far from perfect? Of course. But I loved the conceit, the themes, the action, the costumes, the production design, the soundtrack, most of the performances, really everything but the dialogue/aspects of the script structure (could have done without the final voiceover). Perhaps in more capable hands aka a seasoned screenwriter, the screenplay would have been dynamite, in which case I definitely think everyone would be loving this movie.

With Battle LA, the bad screenplay ruined it for me, but many people I talked to (side note....mostly men....) could acknowledge the script sucked, but loved it anyway. For me, that's kind of the situation with Sucker Punch. I can acknowledge it has problems, but it doesn't really matter. It connected to me on a gut level. I get it. And I love that Snyder, even if he failed, failed so boldly and gloriously.

But seriously, throw me some insightful criticism from a fangirl please. I don't want to read any more pieces by men telling me Sucker Punch is bad for me. I will tomahawk you in stilettos and you'll never see it coming.

Update: Upon seeing the movie again, I began wondering if Baby Doll's purpose is to act as an angel, both for other girls put in unfortunate situations, (both at the asylum in the world of the movie and in the audience, for those watching,) and most specifically, Sweet Pea. Sweet Pea should have never been in there in the first place (a second viewing also makes it very clear that the 2nd level is almost exactly mirroring the 1st level if you take away all references to the location/sex. Everything that happened on the 2nd level is Baby Doll's slightly altered projection of reality, which may also explain the specific role each girl plays and why they may not be "fully fleshed out characters". I believe in the 1st level, Sweet Pea still is only in the asylum out of a desire to protect Rocket and doesn't belong there) and while Baby Doll's grip on reality is loosening, she has fight in her, she has the inner strength the other girls don't, and her arriving at the asylum is equivalent to the arrival of an angel on Earth. With her determination (and realization that her own sacrifice is the final necessary item), she brings down the entire establishment and stepfather in the process, and allows the one girl who had a chance the opportunity to experience real life. What made Baby Doll different was her FIGHT. It's why real-Blue was obsessed with her and ultimately lost his mind and fucked up his own evil doings. The message is even when you are in the worst situation, you already have your weapons, all you have to do is fight, it may save you or it may save someone else, but it's better than the alternative of sitting there not trying, already dead.

PS - Please check out this on-the-money review from Devin Faraci
PPS -  If you would like to read a super positive review, head to First Showing
Other reviews to check out: Mr Beaks, Jack Giroux See full post

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Dragon Age 2: The Mass Effectening

AKA Dragon Age 2: The Consolizationing. Or Dragon Age 2: The Not Quite As Engrossing As Dragon Age: Origins And Not Quite As Cinematic As Mass Effect 2 But Still Quite A Fun Gamening. It has, as you can plainly see, many titles. My personal favorite is Dragon Age 2: Templar Boogaloo.

The non-spoilery rundown is as follows: You play Hawke, the young refugee from Lothering, who travels from Ferelden to the Free Marches city of Kirkwall in search of an ancestral home to reclaim. You play through the next decade of Hawke's life as he or she rises from impoverished nothing to become hailed as the Champion of Kirkwall. You make friends, you make enemies, you make money, you make corpses- typical fair for any adventurer, and in the end, you make some very big choices that have huge ramifications on the lives of the people of the Free Marches and, potentially, the world.

The game bears a passing familiarity if the only Bioware title you've played is Dragon Age: Origins. It kind of looks the same, sort of. It's much prettier- the characters are rendered in better detail and are largely more attractive (Highlite the text for a spoiler: Until you see Alistair in one of his cameos and go WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED?! NOT THE FACE. NOT HIS BEAUTIFUL FACE. The same goes for Zevran. Somehow, the characters from DA:O are not nearly as good looking as they were. It positively boggles the mind.) Their hair sways almost naturally as they talk or fight. It's quite charming. The environments bear a lot of the same structuring as DA:O, but are more lush, are fuller and more detailed, particularly the coasts and mountains. There are far, far fewer locals to visit, however, and this is disappointing. We finally see the world outside Ferelden (not counting the locations visited in the expansions for Origins), and find ourselves contained to one very small part of it. We have only one city to explore, one and sort of a half mountains, and one seaside. When new quests arrive, they only occur in the same recycled hotspots of each map. In terms of scale, DA2 is dwarfed by DA:O.

Despite it's uncanny, permeating and intentional resemblance to Bioware's other franchise, DA2 is similarly anemic in scope when compared to Mass Effect 2, the game on which DA2's conversation and decision-making mechanisms are based. The combat is pulled back enough to allow you to manage your entire group, not as much as in DA:O and is actually much more fun to play on a console than the first installment. In appearance and gameplay, DA2 is a very solid bastardization, taking what ostensibly should have been the best parts of Origins and ME2 and then fundamentally missing the point.

There are many places in which Dragon Age 2 succeeds. The characters are colorful and interesting, the combat is fluid, the decisions are hard, it's just that none of them reach the standard set in the two games that influenced DA2 the most. The character voicing is wonderful: Jo Wyatt moves seamlessly but distinctively through the noble, sarcastic and hard ass options, always managing to sound like the same character despite the extremes in the choices of response. Nicholas Boulton, for all that I'm only four hours into my dude!Hawke playthrough, seems so far similarly adept at managing this balance in the character. He has a nice voice, and unlike ME2, I don't feel obligated to make him a douche bag. Side note: If you haven't played ME2, do so, and play as dude!Shep, and make him as mean as possible, because nothing but hilarity will ensue. Howden, Roth, Emery, Kruger, Newman and Myles all deliver well nuanced performances as your hero's traveling ensemble, and their banter is interesting and human, but the truly stand-out performance of DA2- as Steve Valentine (Alistair) was of DA:O and Michael Beattie (Mordin Solus) was of ME2,  is Brian Bloom as Varric Tethras. Regardless of who you decide to romance in the game, Varric will probably be the one relationship you care about the most. Roguish, charming, mercenary, laconic, sharp- Varric not only has one of the coolest weapons of the game, but is by far the best developed of the companions. He is also your questionably-reliable narrator.

Dragon Age 2 is a story being told. Varric, being interrogated by an operative of the Chantry, is recounting the tale of the Champion's involvement in the plot's main event. This leads to some truly wonderful moments, particularly when Varric lies. It's a device that works tremendously well for the story, and a unique take on linear gameplay, especially when massive time-jumps are involved, that I quite liked and that Bioware really has a knack for (see also: the opening act of ME2).

In so far as Romancing goes, your options are automatically doubled as most of your companions swing both ways. Very cool. I found the lack of interaction opportunities a little vexing, though. There was always something both fun and reassuring in the fact that at any point during our travels, my Grey Warden could turn to any companion and have a conversation. In fact, the player feels encouraged to do so throughout the course of Origins, because initiating random conversations, particularly in conjunction with gift giving, frequently led to fantastically written exchanges that you had no prompting at all to experience. It felt very organic, and was extremely cool. Being instructed by the game to talk to your fellows makes it feel like a mission, and this is mostly because one is usually attached to any chat you may have. I also miss being approached out of the blue by a companion with an issue or a question. Sometimes they'll show up at your house to give you a quest- your home and theirs having replaced a 'camp' where everyone congregates- but not often. The crew in ME2 felt more disparate, and each individual crew member was not so predictable or one-note as the DA2 companions are. This is not a comment on the performances, bear in mind, but the way the characters are written. They are cool and they are interesting, but not as cool or interesting as those in ME2. They are idiosyncratic and they are human, but not half so much as the characters in DA:O.  This seems to be the ultimate trend of Dragon Age 2- the whole is not necessarily greater than the sum of its parts, but every component is somehow lacking when held up against its predecessors.

In ME2, I didn't mourn the random conversations that made DA:O so real and so engrossing. The game works seamlessly, and I didn't find any one part lacking, although during a second playthrough the planet probing aspect was tedious; In DA:O, I didn't mind not having a voiced main character, because the dialogue trees were so extensive and the performances by the companions so complete; and in both games, the mission was so grand, the tasks so epic, the world so vast that at times I felt overwhelmed by possibility, but never impatient- except in combat. Difficult fights in DA:O were messy and repetitive, and this has been vastly improved for console users in DA2, though I hear the PC gamers' experience has been less thrilling. As for everything else, DA2 just doesn't quite hit the mark.

Now, it can be argued that DA2 is a much more personal game. You're following one person's rise and possible fall in one city. Much like I think the Iron Man movies showed, a hero's journey can be personal and the stakes don't have to be world endingly high for the story to be grand and feel important. DA2's sort of doesn't, though, and at the end of the game I was left with the feeling that the choices I had made didn't really affect the outcome that much- everything is very binary in DA2. You are for the mages, or you are for the templars, there is no middle ground. At every major plot point, all the little things you thought you were doing, all the times you tried to be fair and balanced, go out the window and you're left with a black or white decision to make. So what's the point of all the little decisions in between? The overall experience just wasn't as fulfilling. This has nothing to do with any attempt on my part to replace human relationships or success in my career with video games. Shut up.

Overall, the game is very pretty and very fun, but fails to surpass what came before.

Now for the spoilertastic fangirly bits. You can stop reading now, I'll just be over here freaking out.

(More after the jump)

See full post

Is it just me?

For the past couple of days, I've been trying to write two separate reviews for the new Radiohead and Strokes albums. But it's proving to be insanely difficult. And it's not because I'm too busy or that I don't have the desire to discuss their's's hard for me to admit this...I can't bring myself to write less than stellar reviews about my two favorite bands.

Ok, so let me make this clear--it's not that I think The King of Limbs and Angles are bad albums; they're both good (btw, I like Radiohead's album better). It's just that I expect more from both bands. I love them both too much to pretend I don't have mixed feelings and that I'm not a bit disappointed by their new work. But I have to question how it's possible for me to have issues with both these albums. These are two very different albums by two very different bands (who rarely even share the same fan base). Virtually everything both bands have previously released I've loved. So I have to ask: is it just me? Is my individual taste in rock music shifting? Am I just always contradictory and awkward?

To those questions I have to answer: absolutely yes. And while I could get into the subjective theories of music and the listener (which I'll always champion), I don't want to bore you with my personal narrative about how I'm going through some transitional phase. And since I still love both bands, as is evident by the fact that I still regularly listen to their previous albums, I have to look for other explanations as to why I'm not crazy in love with these albums.

Basically, the only practical conclusion I can really come to is this: I blame both lead singers' solo projects for affecting the sound of their bands' new albums. Oh yes, I love Thom Yorke's The Eraser and Julian Casablanca's Phrazes for the Young (btw, I like Julian's album better) but they're not even comparable to Radiohead's In Rainbows and The Strokes' First Impressions of Earth. Those albums are incredible and they measure up to (if not surpass) both bands' previous efforts. So I was hoping, especially from Radiohead who managed to put out such an awesome album (In Rainbows) after Thom's solo album, that both bands would just come out with an evolved sound from their last collective efforts. Instead, I got more solo sounds. Here's the separate, brief breakdown:

The King of Limbs is far superior to The Eraser and has moments of pure blissful, beautiful Radiohead gold. "Lotus Flower" and "Codex" are ridiculously wonderful. But overall it's underwhelming and predictable. There were no alarms and no surprises! Still, it's a really good, cohesive album. Like, let's face it, if any other band put out this album they'd be receiving my accolades nonstop.

The same can be said for Angles; if this wasn't a Strokes album, I'd be talking about how sweet it is. But come on! It's The Strokes and they produced an album that sounds like an erratic version of Phrazes for the Young (which was an awesome album). The first two songs, "Machu Picchu" and "Under Cover of Darkness" are amazing but the rest of the album has yet to truly wow me.

I wanted to instantly fall in love with these albums, like I did with In Rainbows and First Impressions of Earth. I wanted to listen to them on repeat for months (again, like I did with their last albums). But I'm just left feeling a bit unfulfilled. I like The King of Limbs and Angles but I find myself already taking them out of my iPod rotation...

What do you guys think? Have either or both of these albums been a little disappointing? I hope it is just me going through a phase. I hope that at a later date I'll come back to both these albums and love them. See full post

American Idol Top 11 - Okay, Something To Work With! But Stop Overproducing The Songs Please.

It's Motown night! All right, Seacrest, let's do this thing.

What the hell does "Steven Tyler, you're my mom's hall pass" mean? Is that a reference to the film Hall Pass? Was that a Fox film? Does that mean a freebie? Like a sexin freebie? I feel old.

Is this the same Motown clip package they show every year?

If this evening doesn't rule, I'm gonna be pissed. If someone manages to pick a bad song, I will begin to seriously question the functionality of his or her brain space.

NUMBER of hits, Randy. Not "amount." Number.

Casey - Heard It Through The Grapevine by Marvin Gaye
Casey, please return to the you of Awesome yore, if it's not too much trouble. Not loving the arrangement,  but am digging his voice, control, energy and little changes to the song.
Steven - Perfect entertainer
J-Lo - So specific in who he is, such an incredible thing, wondering if there is anyone like him out there right now and doesn't think there is
Randy - Definitely a true original. Takes chances, tells everyone who comes up there to just do them, and Casey can only do him and that him is great. Woah there, Randy, now.

Did Ryan just make some kind of secret bigamy joke?

The guitarist of Aerosmith gets a shout out, but the lead singer of Muse didn't. Still not over it.

More after the jump

See full post

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Celebrity Crush Of The Week

 It's only weird if you let it be weird, okay? See full post

Friday, March 18, 2011

American Idol Song Suggestions Of The Day

Because why not? Take a listen and try to tell me I'm wrong. JUST TRY.

Paul, with nothing but his guitar, connecting to the audience with his cute face and cute everything and cute siiiigh love heart, singing Faithful, by Eric Anderson. Classic folk. Classic Awesome.

As for Haley, who needs to be more focused on blues and rock, I think Linda Ronstadt's Long Long Time would be PERFECT for Haley's pitch perfect, unique, huge voice.

For Pia, her voice definitely suits large ballads best, but so help me if she sings Celine Dion or Whitney Huston ever again. Maybe she could take on Randy Newman's Feels Like Home, most recently and most famously covered by Chantal Kreviazuk? I also would LOVE to hear her sing I Can't Make You Love Me by Bonnie Raitt

Would love Casey to use the fact that he has a great jazz/soul voice when he uses it correctly and plays five instruments to tackle Amos Lee's Soul Suckers

Agree? Disagree? Think I should stop wasting my time thinking about this? Yeah. I agree. I should. See full post

Tropes, Transformations and Terror: Where Will Red Riding Hood Fit In Werewolf Movie History?

 Crossposted on and photos provided by

With Red Riding Hood opening this past weekend, we decided to take a look back at previous werewolf movies in an effort to investigate how Hardwicke's take on the classic tale stacks up against other movies featuring the same monster and if it provides us with anything we haven't seen before. After a week straight of werewolf movie after werewolf movie, I can safely say that pulling one off is no easy feat. Luckily, most of the films I've checked out have been right on the money, but the ones that aren't ... oh boy, the ones that aren't. So which ones should you check out in order to be properly educated pre-Red Riding Hood, and which tropes does the new movie have in common with werewolf movies of yore? Read on to find out.

The Wolfman (1941)
The one that started it all. Sorry, Werewolf of London, made six years earlier and also worth seeing, but you aren't the film constantly referenced or remade. The sweet, harmless Larry Talbot comes home. Larry Talbot gets turned into a werewolf, which means some days of the month he is no longer sweet and harmless.
Protagonist as werewolf? Yes.
Transformation scene? Yup.
Cognizant as werewolf? No.
Type of werewolf: Mostly man, biped, makeup.
Do the characters know what werewolves are? Yes. The gypsies know all about them.
Do people say the murders are being committed by a lunatic? Yes. Everyone else thinks of "lyncanthropy" as a psychological disorder.
Sex scene? No, though there is a love story.
Scare level: Has its moments.
Worth seeing? Is that a real question? The Wolfman is the film most often referenced in the werewolf movies that followed and is considered the definitive film of its kind. Lon Chaney was one of a kind and you definitely feel for him and his plight.

She-Wolf Of London (1946)
When a young woman discovers mud on her shoes after a string of murders begin to take place in the local park, she becomes convinced that the legend of her family's curse is true, and she is a werewolf.
Protagonist as werewolf? Maybe.
Transformation scene? No.
Cognizant as werewolf? As she wakes up every morning not knowing what happened, I'll say no.
Do the characters know what werewolves are? Yes.
Do people say the murders are being committed by a lunatic? Yes, a "mad-woman."
Sex scene? No, though there is a love story or two.
Scare level: Mostly scary through tension and unease.
Worth seeing? Yes, especially for fans of Hitchcock or noir. This film is essentially noir, if werewolves were a real-life entity to be concerned about. I don't want to give too much away, but the film is extremely suspenseful and mostly a whodunit, filled with a good number of red herrings and misdirections. Plus it's only an hour long!

An American Werewolf in LondonAn American Werewolf in London (1981)
Two young American guys go to London. One, David, gets turned into a werewolf; the other gets killed. Werewolf cutie David falls in love with a hot nurse, but when he discovers what he has become, realizes he may not have a future with her. Or anyone. Or anything. 'Cause, you know, he's a werewolf.
Werewolf as protagonist? Yup.
Transformation scene? Two of them. And they're the best.
Cognizant as werewolf? Nope.
Type of werewolf:Giant, quadruped, mostly wolf, not cute, makeup/animatronics.
Do the characters know what werewolves are? So much so that David even references The Wolfman as how he knows what the pentagram symbol on the wall of the Slaughtered Lamb means.
Do people say the murders are being committed by a lunatic? Yes.
Sex scene? Yes.
Scare level: Not constant, but there when it matters.
Worth seeing? YESSSSS. This movie is gold. It's equal parts scary, funny, and sexy. Yup. Sexy. I love this movie. Rick Baker got an Oscar for the makeup, natch (in fact this movie is literally why there is an Oscar for makeup), and the first transformation scene is almost painful to watch in terms of accuracy. Or I mean, what I assume is accuracy. Plus it adds a sense of urgency and a real impetus as to why the werewolf can't simply be locked up when it's a full moon. There is a reason the werewolf must die, which I hadn't seen in a werewolf movie before. Oh, and the ending rules. Just see it.

More after the jump!

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Thursday, March 17, 2011

American Idol Top 12 --- I'm A Little Confused Too

The judges are being bizarrely awkward while trying to raise money for the Red Cross. Or at least Steven was. Not a time for Blue Steel, Tyler.

Seacrest reminds us that Ashthon was a contestant. We lament her getting the wild card while people like Tim didn't even get a chance. Oh well. America, here's your top 12!

I didn't know Pocahontas was competing this year...

Naima - What's Love Got To Do With It by Tina Turner
Her family earns her 10 points. Loving them. Not loving the song right away, but I'll give it a chance. As long as she dances. Dancing! I see dancing! Where's the reggae rap? Not great or even very good, but she's interesting enough for me to want her to stick around.
Steven - You got a sorcerer's grasp for melody.
J-Lo - You bring yours to everything you do. Gave her a pass for the pithiness last week, but now sees she is consistently pitchy and it's hurting her. Makes J-Lo worry about how her performances will hold up, needs her to concentrate and work on that. Flavor is crazy so she needs to bring it together.
Randy - Watching her performance last week thought it wasn't great at all. Vocals are kind of a mess. All over the place.

Paul - I Guess That's Why They Call It The Blues by Elton John
Love his family even more. Oh my god. I love him. NO! HOARSE VOICE! Ohmygod I love him so much. He is making J-Lo sing along! Love it! He sounds great and is absolutely adorbz. I can't stop clapping. I love him.
J-Lo - She feels him. Sounded good, he has so much soul and star quality, he overcame not thinking he was doing his best. He made it happen though.
Randy - Was pitchy sometimes but he really makes it his own and reminds him of Ray LaMontage. Tells him to get the notes right.
Steven - He goes off a little bit. He defines a cool dude in a loose mood. Way cool swagger. He's turning into that guy who you turn on the record and you know who you're listening to.

Paul is the BEST

Thia - Colors of the Wind from Pocahontas
Thia was maybe the cutest toddler. So far at least. Since she was 6 in effing 2001, she could record a studio level track then. Hilarious. OF COURSE she is singing this song. Knew she was dressed as Pocahontas. She can't quite hit the higher notes. Still digging her tone. But...that's it.
Randy - The vocals were okay, but the problem he is having she's been singing ballads every week, felt very boring, like she is at a pageant. Randy tells her to dig a little deeper and I think she should sing that song from The Princess and the Frog
Steven - He thinks she sings beautifully, but asks if she thinks that's who she is. She says she knows ballads aren't her.
J-Lo - Loves her tone and quality, but they need to see her break out and can't tell if the vibratto is nerves or natural. Needs to get out of the box.

More after the jump

See full post

Friday, March 11, 2011

Pipeline Triumphs With Their New Production of Brecht's The Caucasian Chalk Circle

Taking on The Caucasian Chalk Circle would be a challenge for any theater company, even a veteran one. So it is an awe-inspiring surprise to see the fairly young Pipeline Theatre Company tackle one of Brecht’s “epic theatre” pieces. With a refreshing boldness, under the direction of Anya Saffir, Pipeline masterfully rises to the challenge in their production of Brecht’s The Caucasian Chalk Circle.

The Caucasian Chalk Circle is a play within a play that connects two stories both dealing with the right of possession. The play opens with a frame story set in Post-World War II Russia where two agricultural communes are debating over land ownership. While accusations of thievery are thrown around, the communes come to the agreement that the land should go to the commune who will tend to and use it best. To commemorate the reached settlement, the commune that retains the land performs a musical (led by a famous, hired singer and his band) for the conceding commune. What unfolds then is a folkish musical lead by the omniscient narrator-like character, The Singer. The tale of the new play, set against the backdrop of civil war, revolves around Grusha, a maid trying to keep an aristocratic child she saved and raised after it was abandoned by his biological mother. When the mother comes back for her child, a ridiculous but poignant custody battle ensues in the courtroom of the crafty judge Azdak. At the end of the trial and the musical, the message that resonates is the same as the one in the original frame story: “what there is should go to those who are good for it.”

Intertwining drama and music, all on a bare but constantly alive and changing set, The Caucasian Chalk Circle triumphs in style and technique. Every actor plays numerous roles, rotating between the two plays as well as serving as musicians and singers. The entire cast and crew are fantastic as they work seamlessly to bring together this layered, complicated, ensemble-driven play. Cormac Bluestone’s original music manages to be both lush and delicate as it adds to the folklore nature of the play. The songs also help to break the fourth wall. They speak to the audience by renouncing and celebrating the emotional ups and downs of the plot and actions of the characters. But they also carry the plot and action by fluidly connecting scene to scene and the play within a play.

Beyond its aesthetic and entertaining qualities, The Caucasian Chalk Circle also provokes the audience to truly think about Brecht’s themes. The desire for justice and attempts at charity and goodness during the power struggles of war are all manifested through the actions of two of the main characters Grusha and Azdak. Both characters, driven by a strong sense of justice, help others despite knowing the threat of trouble their selflessness and helpfulness attracts. Maura Hooper shines as Grusha. She brings an amazing duality of sensitivity and strength to the character. Thanks to her performance, we admire Grusha; we sympathize with her but never pity her. Gil Zabarsky bolts onto the stage as Azdak, providing us with the play’s main bulk of humor. He brilliantly embodies the character’s cunning and verbose wit. He leads us through the second half of the show with his pitch-perfect comedic timing and commanding presence.

Like Grusha walking off with the baby into the mountains, I walked out of The Caucasian Chalk Circle feeling like I had stolen something from Pipeline...something very special that demands my admiration and respect. It is a show that not only possesses the power to alter the minds of the audience but has successfully transformed Pipeline itself into a theater company to be reckoned with. While discussing epic theatre, Brecht once wrote: “instead of sharing an experience the spectator must come to grips with things. At the same time it would be quiet wrong to try and deny emotion to this kind of theatre.” This seems to be the best way to describe my viewing experience of The Caucasian Chalk Circle. Watching it is an ideal but rare theater-going experience--you will be entertained, emotionally engaged, and you’ll find yourself challenged intellectually and philosophically. The performance will stay with you, urging you to revisit and contemplate its beauty and meaning. Do not miss out on this experience. Go watch The Caucasian Chalk Circle immediately. To not see it, would be a true injustice.

The Caucasian Chalk Circle
By: Bertolt Brecht
Directed by: Anya Saffir
Music by: Cormac Bluestone
Running now through March 19th at the Theater for the New City
For more information, please visit: See full post

Thursday, March 10, 2011

American Idol: Season 10 - IT BEGINS!

We're baaaaack.

The show opens with the Season 10 opening credits, which once again remind us that Lee Dewyze won last season of American Idol. Yay. And by yay I mean UGH.

Ryan asks the crowd who their favorite choice is. The clear winner is Vrrahaay. I mean, that's what I heard. Is there not a contestant named Vrrahaay? Don't start trying my patience this early in the season, Seacrest.

Our top 13 is re-introduced and I am reintroduced to the fact that this season SHOULD be strong. Which means it probably won't be. Oh boy.

Theme: Personal Idols.

To the performances!

Lauren Alaina - Shania Twain - Any Man Of Mine
Wait, Laura Alaina is a county girl? I mean I know she sang country last week, but...really? How did I miss that in the auditions/semi-finals? Laura looks adorbz and has approximately zero fear. And damn. Girl can sing. Not anything particularly new or exciting, but she's cute, confident, country AND has a shit load of talent - she is already the complete Disney package.
Steven - Wished the song was more kick ass, but loves her voice
J-Lo (Yup. Calling her J-Lo) - Always sounds so amazing, wants her to kick it into high gear. Loves her anyway.
Randy - Sang it well, but she needs to show off that she can sing anything and let herself shine beyond belief. Doesn't think she even knows how talented she is herself.

Moar after the jump!

See full post

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Topher Grace: An Ode

Topher Grace is one of those actors that I have a hard believing anyone particularly *loves* or *hates*. He's cute, funny, harmless and is really stellar at playing the unassuming boy that wants the girl. But this safe area tends to breed indifference in movie-goers, and I happen to think Grace deserves a little better than that. I personally am a big fan of the guy and in an effort to get you to love him too, see his movie this weekend, and make it a success so he can star in more movies, I'm gonna tell you exactly why.

There Aren't Enough Nerdy Leading Men

We have plenty of clinical dorks and slobs and losers and jerk types getting the leads out there, but not enough adorable nerds. In fact, I'm fairly certain there's a grand total of 3 - Grace, Michael Cera & Jesse Eisenberg. Except make that two, cause I'm not attracted to Michael Cera in the slightest. (Note: From what I've been hearing, I expect Anton Yelchin to enter this group after Sundance hit Like Crazy is released and Andrew Garfield to be the king of this type after The Amazing Spiderman.) And I don't much like it when uber undeniably hot men are trying to pretend they are sweet, sensitive and socially awkward like Grace's That 70s Show co-star Ashton Kutcher most recently attempted to pull off in No Strings Attached. Believe it or not, we all buy it a lot more if the sweet nerd is played by someone who ::gasp:: actually looks like one. Grace has pulled this off with younger women (Scarlett Johansson) older women (Laura Linney), similarly aged women (Kate Bosworth) and me, in my dreams/fantasies/fan-fiction. Plus, following in the massive footsteps of folks like early Lemmon, Stewart and Hanks, Grace is extremely likable yet non threatening, a rare, but coveted quality in a leading man. Why Hollywood doesn't seem to be taking more advantage of this fact is beyond me.

He Makes Nerdy-Sexy Work in Any Decade

Typically on a TV show, I tend to have a crush on the nerd, not the "hot" one. On Buffy I loved Xander, not Angel and on That 70s Show, I loved Eric, not Kelso. And as much as I loved the bell bottoms and floppy hair, I crushed just as hard on Grace in Win a Date with Tad Hamilton (which I've obviously seen MANY times) and In Good Company, and if the Take Me Home Tonight Atomic Tom music video is any indication, I will love him just as much decked out in 80s garb. Not every actor can seamlessly pull of his distinctive type in multiple decades, but apparently the clever wirey guy who loves the girl from afar has always existed. At least in the past 40 years. Ooooh. I just decided I really want to see Topher Grace bring his awkward hotness to a period piece. Ooooh, that would be so weird. Oooooh, someone make that happen. Ooooh.

He Was The Best Part Of Valentine's Day

He was the only part of Valentine's Day. Seriously. I tuned everything else out. I have no idea what happened in that movie.

He Has An Obstacle To Overcome

Coming from a series like That 70s Show has challenges right away. Much like coming from a CW show or the Disney channel, the odds are stacked against you from the start - you have something to prove when entering the world of film. And the results have been varied. On the one hand, you have Mila Kunis, who requires no explanation other than WIN, and on the other hand, you have Wilmer Valderrama who for all I know could be raising bunnies in Nepal, in between dating women with a penchant for rehab. Ashton Kutcher is like, okay, as an actor, sure, Laura Prepon is...working and Danny Masterson opened up a restaurant or a fashion line or a restaurant/fashion line, but whatever it is, it's not acting. Long story short, the post-show careers are a mixed bag, and Grace could go either way at this point. I vote for supporting him in his efforts towards Kunis-dom in every way possible.

He Can Kick Some Ass

He has used his nerdly powers to fight Spiderman AND predators. Well, in Spiderman 3 it was mostly CG Venom doing the fighting and in Predators, Grace did more wearing glasses and whining than actually fighting anyone or anything. But, you know, in theory.

He Makes Dead Eyes Look Gooooood

Don't act like you haven't noticed his dead eyes. And don't act like they don't turn you on a little bit. Shhh, it's okay, I'm not judging.

He's A Triple Threat

Well, "triple" "threat". In that besides being an actor, he wrote the story & executive produced Take Me Home Tonight. Granted, those jobs aren't quite as daunting as writing a screenplay or actually producing a movie, but hey, it's something. It shows initiative. creativity, and if the story is any good, an entirely different kind of talent.

Not convinced? Watch this and try telling me you don't want to make out with him. I won't believe you. Okay, so upon further consideration, the entire thrust of my argument here is that I like nerds and thus think Topher Grace is really sexy and further thus want everyone to see his movie. I am totally fine with this. See full post