humor

Morning Glory

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Morning Glory

I don’t read other reviews of movies I am reviewing for fear of coloring my writing, or miserably trying to reinvent a perfect turn of phrase after someone else managed to perfectly encapsulate my feelings. Morning Glory is no exception — but yet I feel like I know that I am alone in having enjoyed it as much as I did. Perhaps I was merely won over by Rachel McAdams’ unflagging energy and sparkle. She applies herself almost desperately to the work that she does on morning television, waking up at 3am, being a cheerleader, peacemaker, decision-pusher, and editorial authority, all the while giving 110% while everyone else phones it in.

Perhaps in the moment in time that I was watching her, dimpled and well-pressed, struggle to prop up a show that is staggering in the ratings, perhaps I connected with her all-consuming fire because of my own recent all-consuming project (the one that’s kept me so quiet lately). I derived great joy and fulfillment from what I was focusing on, even without a Patrick Wilson at home being all delicious and supportive, and it was heartening to watch someone who outwardly looks the way my insides felt while doing it. I didn’t face nearly the challenges she did — and I never once looked as impossibly fit or well-dressed. Still, perhaps the easy laughs and gruff predictability of Diane Keaton and Harrison Ford weren’t really as fun or pleasurable as they seemed to be to me in that bubble of experience. But if I enjoyed myself, doesn’t it follow that the movie is enjoyable? Yet I feel wrong about liking it as much as I did.

Maybe the emotional vulnerabilities or lack thereof reflected in everyone’s wardrobe were easy enough for a sartorial Neandertal such as myself to understand. Maybe Bradley Whitford just makes everything seem 15% better automatically, and he pushed the film over the threshold from amiable to lovely. Perhaps my unrelenting, decades-long crush on Jeff Goldblum clouded my judgment. Maybe Matt Malloy needs more great parts like Ernie. I also liked Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip — maybe I just secretly want to work in television.

Whatever the reasons, I simply enjoyed the hell out of Morning Glory — like a bouquet of daisies or a mug of hot chocolate, it was just what I needed to see when I saw it. McAdams has come a long way from her Mean Girls days. Were it not for her aggressive youthfulness, you’d never think she lagged behind Keaton and Ford in experience by about 30 years. She commands the screen and our attention like she finally commands the ship of their show, Daybreak. Her heart is on her sleeve, even when it is in the shadow of her dazzling, “I AM CONFIDENT!” smile. Give Morning Glory a shot.

MPAA Rating PG-13
Release date 11/10/10
Time in minutes 102
Director Roger Michell
Studio Paramount Pictures

Due Date

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Due Date

Due Date

Matinee

I’m not so much of a Zach Galifianakis fan, but the idea of Robert Downey Jr. going on a road trip with him appeals to me, as it will take no acting effort on Downey’s part to convey the annoyance of traveling with Galifianakis. This means Downey can focus his formidable skills on being extra awesome. And really, anything featuring Downey is going to be watchable. Win win. What I didn’t bet on was Zach also pulling out some genuine, not-being-weird-for-weirdness’-sake acting choices, and also a high-energy supporting cast. O Happy day!

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Japan really knows how to sell a game

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Japan really knows how to sell a game

Oh Japan.  Is there no end to your cuteness, awesomeness, randomness, and, of course, weirdness? In this Japanese commercial, you’ll see young Japanese teenagers playing Sonic Free Riders for the Kinect. The commercial shows how COOOOOOOOL and AMAZING this game is! It also shows how big and clear a room needs to be to play the game.

Enjoy the stereotypical ad past the break.

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Red

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Red

Red

Matinee with Snacks

At the Comic-Con panel for Red, Dame Helen Mirren came out on stage in her Harvey Pekar t-shirt and saluted the heretofore unknown (for her) world of graphic novels. Yes, that Helen Mirren. She spoke of learning to fire big guns as if they didn’t faze her, and playing with her more rough and tumble co-stars (Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich), and I thought, “This woman had a real gas working on this movie. This is sincere. I need to see this now.” The previews didn’t hurt either — and I was not disappointed.

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Gap’s newest logo becomes the art community’s newest joke

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Gap’s newest logo becomes the art community’s newest joke

It’s kind of sad when a newly created logo for a very recognized brand becomes the butt of a joke.  Last week, Gap unveiled their new logo for their brand.  With a company that big, usually a new logo is seen and given a huge round of applause. But, instead, Gap received many boos and hisses from the art community.

To re-brand a brand, usually logos go through extensive research, concepts and versions that are done by a team of creative personnel. What Gap did seems to be the work of one marketing guy who just learned that Helvetica is an awesome font. But, then again, I’ve never rebranded a logo for that big of a company. So, what do I know.

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Easy A

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Easy A

Emma Stone finally gets the lead in a movie, as she has clearly deserved since she appeared in Superbad. Lucky her, this movie is a tremendous vehicle for her. How can one teen girl be so impossibly cool, sexy, erudite, and funny? Any child of the on-screen union of Stanley Tucci and Patricia Clarkson would be — and thus any “she’s too prodigal” complaint goes right out the window.

The premise is simple — a sweet but invisible girl gets caught up in society’s terrible Puritanical double standard about women and sex when she lies about having had sex, and soon her life and reputation is in tatters. The very folks who pressured her to be cool and Do It now vilify her (and/or try and engage her services) for doing so.

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Piranha 3-D

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Piranha 3-D

Matinee Price

When I saw the first Piranha movie in 1978, I was totally traumatized. I would not take a bath, never mind swim, for some time. I just knew those piranha would come up through the drain and eat me up. When I saw Jaws in the same year, I thought, “no way am I swimming in the ocean now,” and I was haunted by the lone swimmer’s fate in the opening sequence. All this history is just to say that I have a fondness for the effectiveness of Death from the Deep movies. Deep Rising: total hoot. Lake Placid: big fun. Piranha 3D: schlocktacular.  Check out more after the break!

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FragDude. ‘Nuff Said

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FragDude. ‘Nuff Said

So, because you cannot un-see what you have seen, and misery loves company, I’m passing this on like a bad case of the Herp.

But really, this is absolutely hilarious, check it out!

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Props to the FragDolls for being good sports, props to Sexy McSexerstein for his nasty ripped six-pack, and props to Handel for the Hallelujah Chorus. Yeeeeeah, Handel is sexy.

The Switch

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The Switch

Thankfully I saw this film before I saw any terrible spoilerific previews — enough of the film is embarrassingly predictable that ruining any of the pleasurable surprises of the story is a crime. That said, even the things you see coming are pretty enjoyable — so give yourself as much of a head start on making room for discovery as possible.

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The Extra Man

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There are some actors who excel at playing a wide range of eclectic roles, high or low status, mighty or feeble, comic or tragic. There are some few of these who can do so and yet still can shape a character into a thing that could only have been played by themselves. Kevin Kline is that later sort. This is not to say that every character he plays is himself, or is the same. Rather, Klein’s Henry Harrison (a nod to Henry Higgins by Rex Harrison?) becomes a creature even greater than could possibly have been on the page because he was played by Kline. It has been too long since we’ve enjoyed him on the big screen (2008’s Definitely Maybe was too little to count). His Harrison is why you would go see The Extra Man, for the rest of the film struggles to keep up with him. Directors Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini build a microcosmos of character, rather than fussing about the world at large.

Louis Ives (Paul Dano) is a timid academic with a mild budding fetish, and who was born about 80-90 years too late. He finds himself Harrison’s roommate and eventual protégé in the business of being an “extra man,” a sort of sexless escort for rich people for whom sycophancy and the balance of the dinner table is more important than sincerity or friendship. Harrison is maddeningly opaque and calculatingly eccentric — a charge that could have been levied against this movie had it not been peopled with actors of such sincerity. Louis is almost embarrassingly naïve and repressed, but Dano makes it charming. Harrison is beyond sexist, flighty, and unsustainably cavalier, but Kline makes it charming and even appealing. Their dynamic could feel forced — it almost does when their inexplicably falsetto neighbor John C. Reilly joins the scene — and yet by some miracle they keep it grounded and keep it real and sweet. One scene in particular recalls many such “lovable eccentric” moments in other films, but never devolved into preciousness. I consider that a great triumph.

The art of being an Extra Man does not contribute much to the narrative, but it does enable us to have a couple of lovely scenes with The Billionairess, played by Tony darling Marian Seldes. A fun piece of trivia about La Seldes: she was entered into the Guinness Book of World Records for appearing in “Deathtrap” from 1978 until late in 1982 without ever missing a single performance. Even though her part is small in this movie, she makes a terrific, bewigged impact. Louis’ crush on his unavailable, uninterested, and uninteresting coworker Mary (Katie Holmes, enunciating like she’s in a madcap 1920’s film) has nowhere to go either, but it provides us with the chance to see Louis grow elsewhere. Writing this now, it seems like none of the things that happen in this film have a point, and maybe they don’t need to. Harrison’s life is a quest only for pleasure, and Kline and Dano definitely provide it, even if their arc is short and shallow. See it for Kevin.

MPAA Rating R-some sexual content (?)

Release date 8/13/10

Time in minutes 105

Director Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini

Studio Magnolia Pictures