Who Thought This Was a Good Idea? – Awkward Movie Romances

A big, and somewhat belated, happy Thanksgiving to all those who celebrated it this week. As for myself, I went to 3 Thanksgiving meals and feel as if I will never eat again. At one of these great feasts, the people there were watching Star Wars: Episode III- Revenge of the Sith. While being submitted to this torture I began to think of other on-screen “romances” that were as painfully awkward to watch as this one was and I came up with a few.

Kristen Stewart & Robert Pattinson: “Twilight”
     – This duo was painful to watch from the get go and did not get any less awkward over the span of 5 movies. They say practice makes perfect, but that was definitely not the case with this on-screen couple. The constipated looks on their faces as they were supposed to be having a romantic moment resulted in a pathetic lack of chemistry. When I found out that the two were actually a couple in real life, and were still not able to generate any believable romance on screen, I felt bad for their relationship.

Ben Affleck & Jennifer Lopez: “Gigli”
     – This movie was a complete flop and nearly ruined the film career of Ben Affleck. One of the many reasons for the films utter failure was the complete lack of”gumption” between Affleck and Lopez. During the love scenes, the two would make weird animal noises, which was far more comical than sexy, and their supposed romance in the film was awkward and stiff. Again, as with the “Twilight” couple these two were dating in real life during the filming of this movie. How is it that people who are actually dating can’t seem to generate a realistic seeming relationship on-screen?

Natalie Portman & Hayden Christensen: “Star Wars-Clone Wars & Revenge of the Sith”
     – As I alluded to earlier, this movie romance is one of the worst, and most awkward, things I have seen in a long time. Not only do both actors deliver their supposed heartfelt lines in a choppy monotone, but they are also stiff and uncomfortable looking when they are supposed to be irresistible to each other. Also I can’t help but point out the fairly pedifilic nature of this romance as she is easily supposed to be twice his age and met him when she was an adult and he was a child.

Katie Holmes & Christian Bale: “Batman Begins”
     – As a film overall I really liked this movie, but the love story was the weak point in an otherwise solid film. There was no one instance I would point to specifically to illustrate my point, I guess my only defense is that Katie Holmes is just somewhat awkward in her scenes with Bale. Perhaps I am the only one with this opinion, and if that is the case then I am sorry. However, I just think Holmes was not able to shake her uncomfortable demeanor when she was supposed to be smitten with Batman.

And lastly for a person in his own category—-
Keanu Reeves: “Any Movie He is in Where There is Romance Involved”
     – Whenever he is the romantic interest in a movie it is bound to be awkward and uncomfortable, no matter what actress is on the other end.

Take a Breath, It’s Just a Movie

So I figured I would be a negligent entertainment blogger if I did not cover the huge releases, which at the moment is the new “Hunger Games: Catching Fire” movie. My history with these movies/ books is important to detail as it carries some weight with how I review the movie. I read the first book and watched the first movie around two years ago. I thought they were both pretty entertaining, but I was not freaking out about them. So in fact, I think I am fairly qualified to review this movie without having a bias either way.
I went to go see this film last night, having not read the second book, so I was completely unaware of how the story would unfold.

Catching Fire:
To not ruin anything for those who have not seen it I will give a brief (non-spoiler) assessment of the basic plot. Jennifer Lawrence’s character, Katniss, has survived the games and has returned home to district 12 where she and Peeta have moved into nice housing set aside for the victors and their families. They are about to embark on a victory tour of all the districts and are told that a rebellion has begun that was inspired by Katniss and if she wants to not be killed by the Capital, then she will play the doting girlfriend of Peeta, and stick to the script written for her, while they are touring the different districts. The president of the Capital cannot stop the rebellion so he decides to kill off as many of the “Hunger Games” victors as he can in an “acceptable” way. He decides that for the upcoming “Hunger Games” the competitors will be chosen within each district from the previous victors. In this way he can try and assure Katniss’ demise and squash the symbol and hope of the rebellion. So Katniss and Peeta again are chosen and sent to the Capital to participate in the 75 “Hunger Games.” What ensues is mayhem and a few surprises.

     – So What?
           This movie has a pretty good balance of action and dialogue. Catching Fire is better balanced than the first film and has more of a story line, rather than mostly just senseless violence. I also thought this movie did a better job at not rushing the storyline. Though things did move quickly and there was not a boring moment, it did not feel like it was at such a break-neck speed as the first film. I appreciated the somewhat slower pace as it allowed me to actually understand and pick up everything that was going on. Another improvement on this film is the acting of Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson. I thought they did a fine job in the first film, but they really stepped up their game, and showed off their matured ability, in the second. Overall, in the end, I thought it was a well done film that I was entertained by. There was enough humor to keep moments light, enough dialogue to keep me paying attention, and enough action to keep me entertained.

The only thing that people need to remember is that if you haven’t read the first book, or seen the first movie, do not go and see this one! I know this seems like common knowledge but I have already talked to people who saw the second one without seeing the first. Morons. In this second movie, they do not waste any time doing a recap of the previous film, so don’t see it if you haven’t seen or read the first, do that before seeing the second. This is not a stand alone movie. Also, a heads-up to all the viewers out there, expect a cliffhanger ending.  

Murder, Anarchy and History; The Discarded Entertainment

So far in this blog I have written about every form of entertainment except one. Movies, music, sports and television have been covered, but I have yet to discuss any books. Yes people, actual books are still in existence. Even though less and less people are reading books these days, it is still one of my favorite forms of entertainment. I know that at this point most people are going to stop reading this, because yes, reading takes actual time and effort, but it is well worth it because a great book can inflame the imagination and scare, enchant, sadden or liven its reader in a way that a movie never seems to be able to do.
In this post I am going to discuss two books that I have read recently. These two books were so captivating
that I read them in record time and I honestly believe that they could win over the most wary critic.

The Historian
The title of this book is deceiving, I promise! Although The Historian is somewhat lengthy it is well worth the read, the author had me hooked within the very first chapter. The Historian is about Dracula, but not in the same way that Bram Stokers “Dracula” is (which is boring), nor is it a stupid teenage love story where the vampires are shiny. The Historian is set in late 1970’s and follows the story of a professor and his daughter as very bad things, and death, begin happening to them, and around them, as they start to research the folklore legend of Dracula. This book is not technically in the “Horror” genre but it is super eerie and creepy in the best possible way! I am not going to lie, when I first started reading this book, I got so freaked out by it that I ended up sitting in the middle of the living room with all the lights turned on. The point of all of this preamble is- read this book! It is so well written, highly addictive, entertaining as hell and creepy!

The Devil in the White City
 I am going to start out by saying that this book can be found in the Non-Fiction section. After I read it, that
fact was pretty damn disturbing. There are two parallel stories going on simultaneously during this book. The first is the real story of America in 1893, after the Eiffel tower was built to be shown off at France’s world fair. America decided to try and out shine France, and announced their intention to do so, to the French people and the world. What they came up with was definitely different. — Every other chapter tells the different, (true) story of a man, Dr. H. H. Holmes, who moved to Chicago during this exact time of the planning for the world fair. During the mayhem and stress of planning something that could show off America to the world, Holmes flew under the radar. This serial killer lured many victims to their deaths with an elaborate ruse, becoming more infamous than Jack the Ripper. The book is so well written that I had no idea it was non-fiction. If you don’t want to read the chapters about the planning of the world fair, just skip them, its every other that deals with the, apparently true, murder stories. But if you are up for it, the juxtaposition of the two stories is really well set up.

Did You Know?!
Before he broke up fights on a daytime talk show, Jerry Springer was the mayor of Cincinnati. 

Drug Addict to Iron Man: Top 10 Comeback Performances

This has been the first week in quite some time that there has been no new release movie that I have wanted to see. Although this is good for my personal funds, especially considering that I am broke, it bums me out because I am somewhat of a movie junkie.
                                         Top 10 Comeback (Career Saving) Performances

No one loves you when you are down and out, but everyone enjoys a good comeback. In this list I have chosen actors whose careers had stalled for one reason or another but who managed to win back all the audience love with one standout performance. (This is just my OPINION, I am sure there are many others out there who could be, and should be, considered but this is who I came up with.)
10. Alec Baldwin
“30 Rock” (2006-2013)
     – Baldwin’s career peaked with 1990’s “The Hunt for Red October.” Sure, he continued working but he
fell out of favor with fans thanks to a certain threatening voicemail he left for his daughter. And he lost his definable screen identity. Tina Fey and “30 Rock” changed all of that. His character in the show managed to be both manipulative and caring, being slick without being oily. For this character Baldwin received 2 Emmy’s, audience goodwill and a reinvigorated career.
9. David Caruso
 “CSI Miami” (2002-2012)
     – Caruso got red hot overnight from “NYPD Blue” but got ice cold even faster when he walked away
from the hit series. No one expected much, when years later, he was cast as the star of “CSI Miami”. To be truthful I am not sure why he was so successful on this show, delivering half baked lines while putting on his sunglasses mid sentence, but it seemed to worked for audiences.

8. Jason Bateman
“Arrested Development” (2003-2006)
     -Teen idol Jason Bateman drifted from job to job after “The Hogan Family” was cancelled. When he suddenly popped up as the star of the comedy show “Arrested Development”. Bateman was able to show off his incredible comic chops as the straight man in a family of very diverse personalities. His resurgence continued with hit movies like “Horrible Bosses” and “Identity Thief.”
7.  Kiefer Sutherland
“24” (2001-2010)
     – His panache for hell raising earned unwelcome headlines and sent Sutherland’s career into a nose dive in the late 90’s. By the time he showed up on the Fox series “24” he demonstrated an impressive range and skill. More importantly he brought a commanding presence to the part of Jack Bauer that brought in record breaking television ratings.
6. Neil Patrick Harris
“How I Met Your Mother” (2005-2014)
     – After the teen doctor sitcom “Doogie Howser, M.D.” the talented Neil Patrick Harris couldn’t find a proper vehicle. But it is “How I Met Your Mother’s” Barney Stinson that made Harris hot again. From the first day he “suited up” Harris took over the sitcom and his self centered, sex driven Barney became legen (I hope you’re not lactose intolerant) dairy.  
5. Ben Affleck
“The Town” (2010)
     – The horrific movie “Gigli” dealt Affleck’s career a near fatal blow. It
didn’t help that the stars simultaneous affair with Jennifer Lopez had turned him into a tabloid laughing stock. It took 7 years and lots of hard work, but Affleck’s great performance in “The Town,” which he also directed, made audiences take notice again.
4. Mickey Rourke
“The Wrestler” (2008)
     – His reputation as a picky pain in the ass, combined with his laughable film choices sent Mickey Rourke’s career down the tubes. After spending years without being seen in a movie, Rourke finally got his second wind with his knockout performance in “The Wrestler.” He seemed almost to be living the part rather than acting it, as the movie’s story closely followed his own real life experiences. For this film he got an Oscar nomination and a career resurgence.
3. Marlon Brando
“The Godfather” (1972)
     – A gigantic ego and a lengthy number of flops made this legend a “has been” by the 70’s. Luckily the director of the “Godfather” insisted on Brando as his star and the result was one of the most iconic performances in film history. Brando dominates the film even when he is off the screen.

2. John Travolta
“Pulp Fiction” (1994)
     – “Saturday Night Fever” and “Grease” made Travolta a box office king but films such as “Moment By Moment” and “Staying Alive” made him a joke.But his revelatory performance in “Pulp Fiction” turned that reputation around. Darkly comic and shifting sublimely from subtle to over the top at the drop of a hat. Travolta’s comeback performance led to a series of incredible hits.

1. Robert Downey Jr.
“Iron Man” “Tropic Thunder” (2008)
     –  High profile arrests and drug problems derailed Downey’s promising career early. He was even bounced from his acclaimed role on “Ally McBeal.” But Downey got his act together and the one-two punch of “Iron Man” and “Tropic Thunder” put him back on top. He anchored the smash superhero flick with a galvanizing performance and showed true Oscar nominated comic brilliance in “Tropic Thunder.” He’s been everywhere ever since.
I wouldn’t recommend his method to anyone else, but it seemed to work for him. New career and family?! Bravo Mr. Downey Jr.

Who Knew There Were so Many Ways to Destroy the World?!

Apart from my followers and audience from America, my second highest is from Ukraine… who knew?! So a big shout out to all my peeps who are probably much colder than I am at this moment. I love 80 degree winters.
            In keeping up with what I have done with this blog thus far, I went to see a movie last night because I am a movie addict and see too many. So I decided to review the film on here for the benefit of anyone who cares to read it. Last night I went to see Thor: The Dark World.
            Random Thought Moment: Has anyone noticed that high action movies recently are very focused around darkness? There is this one, Thor the Dark World, when just a few months ago there was Star Trek Into Darkness. We as a society must be serious scaredy cats about the dark!
Now, before I get into the review of the actual movie itself I have somewhat of a disclaimer because it will color all of my opinions. This film is another Marvel action movie. It is high action with little substance. If you are looking for deep and meaningful then this is not the movie for you. So if you do not like these action hero movies then you won’t like this one either because it follows the same formula as the Iron Man’s, Avengers and Captain America films. Alright, with that said, here we go-
The universe is in danger of annihilation again… how does this keep happening? Thor has to save everyone, including his girlfriend, and needs his imprisoned brother, Loki’s, help to do so. Mayhem ensues and against all odds and extreme opposition, Thor saves the day. Whew! I did not see that coming, I was pretty sure that THIS time… the super hero would fail. Oh well.
Even though the above description is very sarcastic, I quite enjoyed the movie. It accomplishes its purpose to entertain its viewers. This second Thor film is quite funny, far more so than the first Thor. The mischievous younger brother Loki is an extremely likeable and funny “baddie.” Loki is easily the most fun, and my favorite, character in the movie. Plus later on in the film, the audience is beguiled with a butt naked Stellan Skarsgard (bootstrap Bill Turner from Pirates of the Caribbean).

Overall the movie is fun, fast paced, full of action and has several good twists to keep it interesting. If you like action films I would definitely recommend this movie. Side Note- as most people know, these action films have scenes after the credits but this film has two! One of the post film scenes happens part way through the credits, the other happens after all the credits have rolled. Stay for both!! Most people in my theater left after the first one, don’t be deceived.    

Did You Know…
Sylvester Stallone’s first movie was a porn called Party at Kitty and Stud’s

It’s Hard Work Being Witty

Why is thinking up a title for a blog post the hardest part of writing one of these things? Trying to convince people that I am clever, pithy, relatable or original in a blog title is taking too much brain power today.
So, a few days ago I wrote a movie review for 12 Years a Slave, if you haven’t checked it out yet you should. If you are technologically un-inclined (like my mom), all you have to do is click on the bold title of the movie typed above, and it will take you to the review. Anyway, for the past week or so a friend of mine has been badgering me to review Katy Perry’s new album “Prism” on my blog. I am going to give into her and do it, though I do not think she will necessarily like what I have to say.
I had to be considerably talked into listening to this album in its entirety for several reasons. One of my bigger motivations for staying away was that I was positive that if I heard “Roar” one more time I would go Vincent Van Gogh on myself (that is cutting off my own ear for you young ones in the audience). This is not because I did not originally like the song, but because in the past month or so I have heard it so many times that it has a bad effect on me (mainly just violently changing the radio station). Well, in the end I listened to the album and I thought it was good. I didn’t think it was amazing, but it was good. “Prism” is a solid hip hop album with decent lyrics and good music. It is a very safe album, something Katy Perry can produce in her sleep, and all themes she presents on this album, we’ve heard from her before. But I thought it was good. It is easy listening and will make any hip hop fan happy.     
Notable Sports:
Since this is an entertainment blog it covers sports as well so my readers will see this section from time to time. The goal is just to quickly point out big upsets or surprises that has happened in the sports world.
– As I am sure most people have heard by now, the football player Richie Incognito who plays for the Miami Dolphins as been suspended indefinitely for being a racist bully. Good riddance to bad rubbish.
– On a happier and much lighter note, I wanted to shed some light on a very classy thing that happened this week when everyone was so focused on the bad. The newly crowned world series champions, the Boston Red Sox took out a full page ad in the St. Louis’ paper yesterday to acknowledge their respect for the defeated foe. This is some of what the ad said — “Thank you St. Louis for the warm welcome you extended to our team and our fans during this year’s hard- fought world series, it is truly appreciated. Your region, its people, and the entire Cardinals organization represent everything that’s great about baseball.”
I love to see stuff like this because it so rarely happens, way to keep it classy Boston and St. Louis!  
Did You Know?
Alright, before I actually write out the “Did you know” section for this week I just want to make something very clear. Recently a friend of mine asked me if the things I write about in this section are true. The answer to this is, yes. Everything that I post in this section is completely true, I am not making this up. That is why I love doing this section, and why I do it at all. Because it is random and cool!
15-year-old Nolan Gould (the boy who plays the dumb brother “Luke” on Modern Family) is a member of  the high IQ society called “Mensa.” What does this mean? This means that this 15 year old, who plays such a good idiot on T.V, is a genius. Far more intelligent than you or I could ever hope to be.

Not For the Faint of Heart

12 Years A Slave:

I just returned home from seeing this movie and I am still somewhat in shock from it. This film is possibly one of the more incredibly well done movies that I have seen in recent memory. (While I am writing this I turned on Anchorman in the background to try and lift my spirits a bit. This was one heavy movie!)
I would never say that I enjoyed this movie, because it is not meant to be an enjoyable experience, but it is fantastic (does that make sense?) Though I do find it somewhat ironic that most (not all, don’t get your panties in a bunch and tell me i’m wrong) of the main characters in this movie are British, even the man playing the lead role whose sold into slavery.
This movie is based on the true story of an educated black man from New York who was kidnapped and sold into slavery in the south, held captive for 12 years (hence the title). The movie doesn’t pull any punches, starting out with dramatic scenes of his enslavement, then rewinding to show how he was kidnapped and sold.

I do not want to give away too much of the story line so as to not ruin it for those who are going to go see it (which I think every mature adult should) but I will say that anyone who see’s this movie should not eat Taco Bell directly before going in because the “food” probably wouldn’t stay down long. This film does not sugar coat the situation of slaves. And when I say that, I am not being dramatic, or emphatic enough. In most other films that deals with slavery, the brutal side is usually not actually shown. The viewer probably hears the scream and see’s the whip, but never more than that. In this movie, they get up close and personal, showing gruesome, degrading and horrifying realities that this man, and many others, faced. The ick factor isn’t over the top like Django (a somewhat similar movie that comes to mind) this films situational gore feels more real, making it that much more sickening. There was more than one time when watching this movie when I legitimately felt nauseous, a feat not easily done. I did not cry, it was more than that.

I do not mean to scare anyone away from seeing this film, in fact I would encourage people to spend the time, it is well worth it. But it is far too much for children or teens. The material is too heavy for kids of that age. I would recommend this movie without hesitation.