Asta 2

It's Been A Long Time Coming

I meant to update sooner, but the weekend turned out busier than expected and then this week kind of blew at times which made me not want to do much of anything. So now I have a huge ass backlog of stuff to ramble on about. To make order out of chaos, I shall break it down by categories.

Movies

Order of the Phoenix - I enjoyed it, but I get the impression that's because, for one, I went in looking forward to the performances of Gary Oldman and Imelda Staunton who did not disappoint and, for two, I haven't read any of the books. ;) From my Flist and from the people I saw the film with who have read the books there seemed to be a letdown. Even me, the non-expert, felt as if stuff was missing. It was hard to put my finger on what until someone at work explained to me what was cut from the book and why he felt (and I agreed) it shouldn't have been. Plus, it seemed odd that OotP is the longest book (I believe) and the shortest film.

Hairpsray - It's a joyful, bouncy, fun film, yet it also manages to subtly (how rare is that in films today?) convey a message about acceptance, both of others and oneself. James Marsden finally found the perfect role for himself and proved to be a more than capable singer. I've had issues with James since the 'X-Men' films, but that was largely due to him being horribly miscast (and, well, a little whining about Hugh Jackman becoming the star), but he showed a gift for musical comedy here. My favorite line was "Page thirty, paragraph five, asterix". It's funny in context, really. My main concern with the film though was John Travolta being cast as Edna. I'm neither a huge fan nor a detractor of John's, but I didn't think he'd be able to pull this transformation off. The guy proved he could dance and carry a tune in 'Grease', but playing a shy, insecure, obese woman? Well, I'll eat crow on this one because he was good. Actually, there were times I forgot I was watching John Travolta. I know Harvey Fierstein played Edna over the top in the Broadway adaption, and while that works on stage, it wouldn't have played well on the big screen. John and the director chose a more traditional, humanistic, and identifiable take on Edna and it worked great.

The one thing I really applaud the film for is shredding any vestige of staginess. The Producers failed miserably because everyone involved seem to think they could just transfer the stage production to the screen. It kept the audience confined to small spaces and forced us to endure Matthew Broderick's mugging and exaggerated behavior. Even Chicago and Dream Girls, two films I enjoyed, felt the need to make us aware we were watching a Broadway show, as if to remind us they started off somewhere better. Hairspray chose to embrace the film medium and it's possibilities. We were given a look at what all of what Baltimore would have been like in the 60's. And characters, as they transitioned from one setting to the next, smoothly and believably break out into song.

Oh, yeah, I also want to be Michelle Pfeiffer when I'm 50. Not only is she drop dead gorgeous, she nailed the role.

Television

I don't know if it's just me and the mood I've been in or if I fell victim to critic over-hyping, but neither of the new series that premiered this week wowed me.

Saving Grace - Holly Hunter was great (though, Holly, please keep your clothes on, I don't need to see your bony back ever again) and the show handled the spiritual aspect better than the incomprehensible John from Cincinnati, but the supporting cast seemed like cliches at worst, two dimensional characters at best. Also, I'm not sure if introducing the Oklahoma City bombing into the mix was a good idea.

Damages - I don't feel it is as good as everyone says it is or, perhaps more precisely, wants it to be. Glenn Close was, as usual, very good, but this is a cake walk role for her. Ted Dansen, however, got to show more range and depth than he has in years. Rose Byrne I liked, but she faltered as Ellen. No supposedly brilliant law school graduate who is being courted by the top law firms in New York is going to be that naive.

I thought it was the fiance's sister that was dead, but was actually happy to discover it was the fiance. Man, they couldn't find anyone with more charisma or chemistry with Rose/Ellen? And was I the only one who thought they completely ripped off Alias with the fiance finding out the truth, being violently murdered and discovered in the bath tub?

I'm unsure how the series can continue beyond one season. Assuming Ellen buys herself a clue and learns the the full truth, could she really continue to work for Patty? If so, is this going to be another striking similarity to Alias with Ellen and Patty being the next Syd and Arvin?

The show went too far, imo, graying up Patty. I don't fault the writers for depicting Patty as being focused on winning the case rather than giving a damn about the people involved (hey, I work for lawyers ;), but having a dog slaughtered? Firing employees then secretly having them work for you? I was starting to feel sympathetic to Arthur who I thought was suppose to be the 'villian', but pyscho Patty may be.

I saw several people say that Anastasia Griffith (Katie) looks like her brother (Jamie Bamber for those not as well versed in Jamie Bamber trivia :), but, other than the striking blue eyes, I didn't think they looked at all alike. And she needs a few tips from her bro about burying the English accent. ;)

Rescue Me - I'm debating on whether to continue watching. The show has always been dark, but the gallows humor and the anger and cruelty always had an underlying reason. I might not have always like what I was seeing, such as the now infamous was it or wasn't it rape scene from last season, but I got, on some level, how the characters got to that point. Now, it's as if I'm just watching random bits of craziness and insensitivity strung together and I have no clue what it's suppose to be building towards. Janet is supposedly suffering from post partum depression (I wish I cared, but I hate Janet), yet all we have to go on is her hitting the bottle and staring at the TV in the past couple eps. Mike is still dealing with the loss of his mother, Sean burns down his house, and then ends up laughing with the guys about it. Geez guys, put yourself in Mike's place for a minute. And let's not forget the ongoing bizarro baby storyline. First off, if you don't give a baby a name within a certain amount of time, the state will do it for you. Second, the state also frowns on giving babies away, especially without both parents permission. I don't care how bad things seem, Tommy contemplating giving the child to Sheila is insane.

Burn Notice - Ok, this series I am really enjoying, more so each week. I was leery about them introducing Michael's brother Nate so early into the series last week, but in his second appearance I'm now hoping he'll be a frequent guest star if not a regular. I like the situation the writers have created - the highly trained spy having to work with his, for lack of a better term, loser brother because, hey, he's the one bringing him work. And Nate and Michael are very much the same person. Nate discovers while searching for the will that it's Michael with the longer record, but Michael ran away and started a new life while Nate chose to stay behind and do what he could for the family. It's the real reason Michael wants to stay away from his mother and brother, they're reminders of what might have been.

I do have two quibbles. They could lose the frozen images accompanied by the writing on the screen. I know Nate's the brother, thanks. My other annoyance is either Michael needs to start making more money on these jobs or they have to scale back on how much money he's fronting. Car rentals, fake explosives, and $300 bottles of wine on a job he's only going to be making $500 off of?

Balancing out the quibbles, Jeffrey Donovan in a suit, enjoying a good wine or walking away from an explosion, makes me think American James Bond. :)

Links!

I ended up at Nathan Fillion's MySpace page today. His latest entry confirms his (brief) return to One Life to Live and why he was thrilled to be part of the show again. I'm happy for actors (the good ones) who are able to move beyond soaps (I enjoy them, but they are limiting creatively), but I hate it when those same actors refuse to talk about where they started out. So reading Nathan refer to the OLtL people as "family" and expressing his joy at being able to act with them again brought a smile to my face. He's a class act.

. Karen Allen back is back! As soon as the rumors (still unconfirmed) started that Shia LaBeouf was playing Indy's son I assumed Marion was his mother. Looks like I'm right. :) Check out the aint-it-cool recap with pictures of the live announcement. I have to say Karen looks great and if her casting spares us seeing Kate Capshaw as Willie I'm thrilled.

Moonlight is giving me a headache and it won't premiere for months. David Greenwalt has left the series. I wonder if the soundstage has a revolving door?
  • Current Mood: accomplished accomplished
hello! here via friendsfriends... just had to squee about the new Indiana Jones and Marion returning! That link made my day :)
I recognize you. :) I haven't been overly excited about Indy 4 just because it's been a long time and, well, there is Lucas's tinkering to worry about, but seeing Karen, in costume, on the set, has me looking forward to this now. Sure they are milking bucks out of the franchise, but I also think they want a sense of closure for these characters.
It's good to see you! I hope things start going better, starting now, and that you have a restful weekend.

Thanks for all your reviews. I haven't seen Hairspray yet, but your review, and all the others I've read are very encouraging. As for The Order of the Phoenix, we've had similar experiences. I haven't read the books yet and Cindy has, and while we both enjoyed the film, I felt there were some scenes that could have been longer, and Cindy was a bit disappointed that some things were left out. Still, I enjoyed it, but The Prisoner of Azkaban is still by favorite Harry Potter movie.

I've been wanting to ask you something about Rescue Me - did Jerry commit suicide? I saw a brief quote from Jack McGee, and it seemed he wasn't happy about not being told something would be happening until he read the script. The rest just sounds crazy. It's a shame, because at the beginning I really liked the show.

As for Karen Allen being in the new Indiana Jones movie, can I say YAY?!!!!!! If things go as you think, at least Harrison Ford will finally have a leading lady who is close to him in age. Aside from that I'm just thrilled to see Karen, because she was the best leading lady in all the films.
Definitely check out Hairspray. I think you and Cindy will love it.

Jerry did commit suicide and I still don't feel that it was in character for him to do that. Yes, he was put on desk duty after his heart attack and he was still struggling with his son being gay, but he was really trying to rebuild the relationship with him. So I didn't see that they gave us enough to make us believe that he would shoot himself. Jack McGee claims that Denis Leary had issues with him, that he had no idea why and that Denis wanted him gone. I don't know if that's true because Denis won't talk about it.

at least Harrison Ford will finally have a leading lady who is close to him in age.

You are not the first person to make that comment. When I heard Cate Blanchett was to be in the film, I worried. I mean, I love her as an actress and it was great they were looking to hire actors not just pretty faces, but she's young enough to be his daughter - by many years. So to see Karen back makes me very, very happy.
I have to say Karen looks great and if her casting spares us seeing Kate Capshaw as Willie I'm thrilled.

Word. I knew that she had been cast via some pretty convincing rumors posted at IMDB, but I am so so so glad they are going back to Raiders with this one.

With OotP, I was very disappointed in the lack of Snape and Sirius, obviously. However, the major letdown overall, for me, was the ending. They dulled it down substantially and put in that "but I have friends and you don't Voldy!" bit. Cheapened the whole thing. And the Dumbledore's Army bit was really rushed. You never felt the urgency and the need behind the formation of the DA like you did in the book. The book had a very desperate feel to it. The Ministry has went crazy and Umbridge was, IMO, the worst villain of the series by far. And by worst, I mean - she's the one you REALLY grew to hate. Reading the book, I felt such burning hatred for her. While she was definitely a character that filled you with hate while she was on screen, I've got to say: the movie didn't even make me feel half of the hate that I should have. In the book, I wanted to pluck her eyes out and watch her bleed profusely. In my opinion, Voldemort had NOTHING on that woman. She could have spanked his ass and called him Charlie and he would have cried like a baby.

That being said, I think OotP was probably the best of the Potter films. A lot of people say PoA, but I think that Mentos commercial finale on that one ruined the whole thing for me.

The worst, by far, was Goblet of Fire. That one was like someone puked the book on the screen and tried to smear it around to make it look right. Sorry for the visual there. I've heard the term "highlight reel" applied to that one, but I think that's far too complimentary. In OotP, they at least fixed that horrid fire/floo effect. I had always imagined it as flames, not talking wood. *eyeroll* Glad to see they finally got it right.

The thing that really amazed me about OotP though was how much the movie looked like the pictures in my head. Grimmauld Place and the Ministry were pretty much exactly as I had seen them in my head. With Grimmauld Place - even the floorplan matched up.

I don't know who's directing HBP and TDH, but whoever it is better be good or they will majorly screw up all the events that lead to the series finale. They're the most emotional books in the series and they need to be done by a director who can do it right. I honestly don't think they've found that director yet.
Side note: David Yates is doing HBP, too. Oy.

Well, at least OotP was better than those other movies, at least.
With OotP, I was very disappointed in the lack of Snape and Sirius, obviously.

I would have liked more Sirius, especially since his final scene - popping in, telling Harry to run, then dying - was incredibly rushed. And Snape was too much on the sidelines. And why did Emma Thompson even bother coming back?

I don't know if I have ever seen all of GoF. I didn't see it in the theatre and when I would catch it on TV it wouldn't hold my interest and would end up cleaning the bathroom or something. ;)
Imelda Staunton rocked as Umbridge. Her little "ahem, ahem"'s were straight out of the book, and perfectly hateful. But yeah, there's so much left out from the book that I wondered if the plot is even coherent to someone who hasn't read OotP.

"Joyful" is the perfect word for Hairspray, which I think is my favorite movie of the summer so far (although I saw The Simpsons Movie last night and I loved it too.)

The one thing I really applaud the film for is shredding any vestige of staginess.

Exactly. I didn't see The Producers, but Chicago and Dreamgirls, for all that I liked about them, felt sort of stuffy and self-important. Hairspray felt wide-open and energetic.

Moonlight is giving me a headache and it won't premiere for months. David Greenwalt has left the series

Meh. That pretty much relieves me of any obligation I felt to at least check it out.

Karen Allen looks awesome, and I'm thrilled that Spielberg is bringing Marion back! I'll admit, I'm starting to get a little bit excited for this movie.
But yeah, there's so much left out from the book that I wondered if the plot is even coherent to someone who hasn't read OotP.

It was coherent enough. I wasn't confused or lost, but I just felt as if there were some key moments missing. It's kind of like watching a soap opera and you miss a couple episodes. You can still follow the plot, but you feel as if you may have missed some important character building scenes.

That pretty much relieves me of any obligation I felt to at least check it out.

Even with Greenwalt taking over as show runner I still had my doubts about Moonlight being a success, but I did have a tiny bit of hope. Now? Not so much. Maybe it will get cancelled before it even airs and up on CBS.com. ;)

I'll admit, I'm starting to get a little bit excited for this movie.

Me too! Who would have thought I'd have Karen Allen to thank?
Hi Stranger! Good to see you! :)

I loved OotP but, as many have said, wished they had included some things that were missing. Still, Yates did a great job so I'm glad he's coming back for HBP.

I watched "Saving Grace" the other night and quite enjoyed it. Definitely agree with you re: Holly Hunter's bony back. LOL! Also, Laura San Giacomo (who I normally like very much) seemed to be struggling with her accent. I see what you mean about the cliche'd characters. But I'm still curious to see where/how this will go.

Karen Allen is great! Of course, even though she is memorable in Indy, in my mind she will forever be "Katie" from "Animal House." ;)
Another thing that bugged me about Laura San Giacomo's character is how quickly she believed Grace's story of God contacting her. Yes, Grace needs someone to talk to about this and to have faith in her, but shouldn't it take more than thirty seconds and a cow's spots to do that?
Yeah, I know. And the writers chose to explain her quick acceptance of the "miracle" by having Grace mention that she (LSG) is Catholic and goes to mass every week. Well, guess what? That doesn't really translate into immediate acceptance of a wacked-out story. ::shrugs:: I'll give it a few more episodes before I make my final decision. :)
Order of the Phoenix - I enjoyed it, but I get the impression that's because, for one, I went in looking forward to the performances of Gary Oldman and Imelda Staunton who did not disappoint and, for two, I haven't read any of the books.

Very interesting! With two reservations, I really loved the film; I haven't decided yet if it's going to be my favourite of the lot, but it just might. But I'd been wondering how much of it would make sense at all to someone who hadn't read the book.
It made sense (much more so that 'At World's End' ;), but I felt as if there were some important character moments missing. Come to think of it, the film felt rather cold emotionally to me. I was introduced to the basic plot points of the book, but I really didn't care about what happened to these people.
Hairspray really surprised me. I thought I'd enjoy it, because I am in general a fan of musicals, but I had no idea I would love it that much. It is energetic and thoughtful and much more Grease than Chicago in the way it was shot. I thought John Travolta was excellent-- well, let me amend that a bit. As I was watching it I thought he was excellent but the accent sounded like he was channeling Mike Myers' Dr. Evil which put me off just a little. I've read since that it was a Baltimore accent (which, okay I guess). The EW review panned the Travolta/Walden song, which was actually one of my favorite parts, so what do I know :) The movie succeeded, from the first note, in keeping my eyes glued to the screen. They did a great job casting Tracy and I adored Amanda Bynes as well.
I can't think of a single poor casting choice in the film. And I commend them for balancing names like Pfeiffer and Travolta to get our attention with B listers (though talented) and unknowns. Travolta's speaking voice didn't bother me, but his singing wasn't the best. I can't really fault him though since I don't know how it's possible, as a man, to sing like a woman. Ultimately he chose to talk-sing the part which is probably the only thing he could do to minimize the problem.

I ended up seeing the movie with my mom who is a huge musical theatre fan. While neither of us were moved to see this on stage when we've been in New York (and still aren't) we thought it was one of the best musical films we had ever seen.

I'm sorry you had a crummy week. I can sympathise; haven't update my journal for similar reasons! But it's the weekend now!

I really loved Imelda Staunton as Umbridge - usually I feel that the films are nice and all but really don't capture a lot of the smaller humour and continuity of the books and make some truly bizarre decisions with regards to plot-cutting (Prisoner of Azkaban, I'm looking at you!) though that's probably not noticable to someone who's not read the books. But Staunton as Umbridge made me really understand the character better.

I think that the longest book translated into the shortest film because a LOT of the book is...well filler. Which is kind of the point of it; it's like one big, slow train wreck full of lots of slow backstory filler that didn't make it into the film.

I loved the visual casting of Helena Bonham-Carter as Bellatrix LeStrange, but I wasn't sure what was going on with her pseudo-cockney accent...

Re: Hairpsray - I completely agree with everything you said! I really enjoyed that film. It was so...joyful. And there wasn't a single person who I thought was a bad actor. Plus John Travolta - like you, at times I forgot it was a) him and b) a him!
I can sympathise; haven't update my journal for similar reasons!

Awwwww. I saw that you were quiet on the LJ front too. And there was no awesome spoilage to cheer us up! :(

I loved the visual casting of Helena Bonham-Carter as Bellatrix LeStrange, but I wasn't sure what was going on with her pseudo-cockney accent...

Cockney's are all crazy and it's an easy shortcut to convey insanity? Kidding!
Re Hairspray not obviously showing its origins as a Broadway show -- I might be telling you something you already know, but like The Producers, it actually started as a film first. Ricki Lake, Divine as Edna, etc. Maybe this remake just did better at remembering its original origins as a film than The Producers did.
Yes, I knew it originated as a film, one I have to admit I haven't seen. It's possible the filmmakers here did look back at the original source material. And I love that John Waters and Ricki Lake were given cameos in the film. :)