Tag Archives: Maya Rudolph

Binky International Film Festival: Day Four

Hello and welcome to Day Four of the first ever “Binky International Film Festival”! In the last three days, we have revisited quite a few 2011 movies from three different genres: “Big Budget Awesomeness”, “Sundance Darlings” and “Chick Flicks”. And now in Day Four, we are going to take a look at the movies that are doing well and reaping nominations this award season. As I have mentioned in the Introduction post, I don’t live in the United States so there are a few critically acclaimed and award nominated movies that I haven’t gotten a chance to see, so obviously this list is incomplete. But even so, we have quite a few movies to get through today, so let’s get straight to it!

Note: Even though I have seen We Need To Talk About Kevin and Tilda Swinton is nominated both for SAG and Golden Globes for that movie, I’ve decided not to put the movie in this category and instead it’ll be in the “Depression-Inducing” category on Day 6.

“Award Worthy”

The Help

Opening Weekend: August 10, 2011
Approx. Running Time: 146 min
Director & Screenwriter(s): Tate Taylor
Stars: Emma Stone, Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, Bryce Dallas Howard, Jessica Chastain, etc
Nominations: Black Reel Awards, Critics Choice Awards, People’s Choice Awards, Satellite Awards, Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards, Golden Globes Awards, etc

I read the book before I watched the movie, so I was a little worried that they were going to ruin my love for the book when I decided to give this movie a watch, and I’m glad to report that this adaptation pretty much stick close to the book, sure they made little changes here and there but they weren’t too detrimental to the plot, and they didn’t bother me too much. And Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer and Bryce Dallas Howard truly rocked my world in this movie, so much so that I didn’t even pay that much attention to Emma Stone’s performance. Those three women plus Jessica Chastain gave such incredible performances that you want to cry, laugh and set that bitch Hilly (played perfectly by Howard) on fire for some of the things she said. The only actor I had a problem with is Chris Lowell, who I feel is a little miscast here, but then again he only appeared a total of 10 minutes in the movie so it didn’t bother me that much.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

50/50

Opening Weekend: September 30, 2011
Approx. Running Time: 100 min
Director & Screenwriter(s): Jonathan Levine & Will Reiser
Stars: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Gordon, Anna Kendrick, Bryce Dallas Howard, etc
Nominations: Independent Spirit Awards, Golden Globes Awards, Hollywood Film Festival, National Board of Reviews, etc

Cancer is no laughing matter. But in the case of this brilliantly-written and wonderfully-acted movie, cancer doesn’t have to be all sad and depressing. Sometimes you can always find comedy in the shittiest situation, even if that shitty situation is cancer. Screenwriter Will Reiser wrote this movie as a fictionalized account of his own battle with cancer, and the result is a poignant movie both sad and funny, that will tug on your heartstrings, and make you chuckle through your tears, Joseph Gordon-Levitt is heartbreaking as Adam, the quiet, ordinary guy whose life is suddenly turned upside down, but surprisingly enough, it’s Seth Rogen’s turn as the insensitive best friend that steals the scenes, a role that he had to play in real life as Reiser’s best friend. If you know someone who has cancer, or even if you’re just a regular human being and nothing bad ever happens to you, I would recommend you check out this movie to celebrate life. Yes, it can be shitty. But it’s worth being thankful for.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

The Ides of March

Opening Weekend: October 7, 2011
Approx. Running Time: 110 min
Director & Screenwriter(s): George Clooney & Grant Heslov, Beau Willimon
Stars: George Clooney, Ryan Gosling, Evan Rachel Wood, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Paul Giamatti, etc
Nominations: Critics Choice Awards, Golden Globes Awards, Venice Film Festival, etc

This is the only movie in this list that I watched expecting to be disappointed, mostly because people have told me how much they hated it and how it wasn’t worth my  time. And these are people whose judgment I trust, so I set the bar really low going in, knowing that I might end up thinking the movie sucked. Surprisingly enough, I didn’t hate it. In fact, I quite enjoy the movie, I thought Ryan Gosling once again did a superb job here, and I wasn’t bored the whole time. There are a few reasons why I seem to like this movie, that got panned by critics as well, as much as the Hollywood Foreign Press Associations members did even though the rest of the world hated it: 1. Just like the financial market, my knowledge of politics is something to laugh about. I just don’t care enough to even read the newspaper about anything political. 2. My love and devotion for both George Clooney and Ryan Gosling made me bias, and I couldn’t see the movie for what it was because I was blinded by their combined sexiness. In conclusion, if you’re not into politics and you  love both Clooney and Gosling, I think you need to give this movie a try. Who knows, maybe you’ll enjoy it immensely like I did (and not afraid to admit it).

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Warrior

 Opening Weekend: September 9, 2011
Approx. Running Time: 140 min
Director & Screenwriter(s): Gavin O’Connor & Athony Tambakis, Cliff Dorfman. Story by Gavin O’Connor & Cliff Dorfman
Stars: Tom Hardy, Joel Edgerton, Nick Nolte, Jennifer Morrison
Nominations: Satellite Awards, San Diego Film Critics Society Awards SAG Awards, etc

When I first heard about this movie, I knew I wanted to see it just so I could see Tom Hardy kicking ass. After Inception, you’d be hard press to find a woman on earth who’s not at least a little bit infatuated with this British actor. But when I finally saw the movie, it wasn’t Tom Hardy being a bad-ass that reeled me in. It was Tom Hardy as a broken man, looking for redemption, it was Nick Nolte as his alcoholic, abusive father looking for atonement, it was Joel Edgerton as a beloved teacher and family man just looking for a way to provide for his family – it was a family, all broken apart and coming together in the least likely of events: the mixed martial arts “Sparta” championship. Despite the blood and the fights, you will cry so hard you’ll almost wail (like I did) watching this movie, because it is never about the fights, it’s about love – complicated but redeeming love, the kind that we all crave in this life. And if I could only recommend one movie out of all that I watched in 2011, it’d be this one. Don’t go through life without watching this movie. Trust me.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Moneyball

 Opening Weekend: September 23, 2011
Approx. Running Time: 133 min
Director & Screenwriter(s): Bennett Miller & Steve Zailian, Aaron Sorkin. Story by Stan Chervin & Michael Lewis
Stars: Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Chris Pratt, etc
Nominations: New York Film Critics Circle Awards, People’s Choice Awards, Satellite Awards, SAG Awards, Golden Globes Awards

Also in the list of things I am clueless and can’t give a shit about, aside from the financial market and politics: sports. I don’t do sports, I don’t watch sports, I have never even been attracted to any athlete, no matter how incredibly beautiful they are. David Beckham? Meh. Tom Brady? Yeah, not my type. Derek Jeter? You’ve got to be kidding me, right? However, one of my favorite TV shows of all time is Friday Night Lights, a show centered on football, so I figured after 5 seasons of Friday Night Lights (and actually learning a thing or two about the game), I can watch Moneyball and not be confused by the baseball of it all. And I’m not wrong, but I’m not right either. The premise of the movie doesn’t confuse me, and I think both Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill were good in the movie (though I don’t find Pitt’s performance all that amazing, to be honest. If I had to pick between nominating him or Tom Hardy for Best Actor, I’d go with Hardy), but I don’t find the movie as the most inspiring movie of all time like some reviews said. It’s just a baseball movie. Some guy reinvented the game.. and? At least Warrior at the heart is about love and redemption. Moneyball is just about… some guy who reinvented the game. It’s not a bad movie but it’s not exactly that inspiring either. But, what do I know? I don’t even like baseball.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Bridesmaids

Opening Weekend: May 13, 2011
Approx. Running Time: 125 min
Director & Screenwriter(s): Paul Feig & Kristen Wiig, Annie Mumolo
Stars: Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Rose Byrne, Melissa McCarthy, etc
Nominations: Critics Choice Awards, People’s Choice Awards, SAG Awards, Golden Globes Awards, etc

Those who say that women aren’t funny are just pissed off when women refuse to laugh at their stupid jokes. Because if this movie doesn’t prove to you that a group of women can make you ROTFLMAO – then you’re just bitter and cruel. Bridesmaids, while technically a romantic comedy, is so much more than just a bunch of women obsessing about weddings. It’s about friendship – and the insane (or as Maya Rudolph would say, “Insahn”) things we do in the name of friendship, which sometimes includes getting food poisoning and crapping all over a wedding dress. Bridesmaids is a female comedy that guys can watch and enjoy and these fabulous funny ladies prove that hey, women are funny and we can be funny without having to rag on the men in our lives. Hear that, Adam Sandler?

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Beginners

Opening Weekend: June 3, 2011
Approx. Running Time: 105 min
Director & Screenwriter(s): Mike Mills
Stars: Ewan McGregor, Melanie Laurent, Christopher Plummer
Nominations: Independent Spirits Awards, Satellite Awards, National Board of Review, Hollywood Film Festival, SAG Awards

I didn’t discover this little gem of a movie until earlier this month when it started getting nominated left and right, and also winning a few accolades here and there. But I’m glad I finally did, late though I am, because I would’ve regretted missing this movie. A story about a man coping with the death of his father, who had come out of the closet in his old age and discovered a new leash on life only to have it taken away by cancer a few years later, Beginners may as well be called ‘The History of Sadness and What One Does To Overcome It”. It’s sad, yes, but it’s also hopeful – and Christopher Plummer was truly magnificent here. If you too, like me, have only heard of this movie lately, I suggest you look for the DVD or look out for it on Netflix. It’s definitely worth the watch.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Midnight In Paris

Opening Weekend: June 10, 2011
Approx. Running Time: 94 min
Director & Screenwriter(s): Woody Allen
Stars: Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, Marion Cotillard, Kathy Bates etc
Nominations: independent Spirit Awards, Satellite Awards, SAG Awards, Golden Globes Awards, etc

Since I’m a huge Woody Allen fan, it’s a little hard to praise this movie without sounding bias, but I can tell you, even if you’re not a fan of his work – you have to check out this movie. It’s the best Woody Allen movie since Annie Hall, and I think it’s also Allen’s most successful movie to date. Set in Paris and introduces a new plot element that Allen hasn’t used before (time travel), Midnight In Paris is like taking a vacation with our favorite people on earth, provided those people are Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Pablo Picasso and even Salvador Dali. It’s funny and delightful, it’s hopeful but still neurotic, it’s truly the best of Allen’s European series. And Owen Wilson channeling Woody Allen is really something to watch. I hope this movie wins every award it’s nominated because it truly deserves it.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Carnage

Opening Weekend: December 16, 2011
Approx. Running Time: 79 min
Director & Screenwriter(s): Roman Polanski & Yasmine Reza,
Stars: Jodie Foster, Kate Winslet, John C. Reilly, Christoph Waltz
Nominations: Boston Society of Film Critics Awards, Satellite Awards, Venice Film Festival, Golden Globes Awards, etc

Thanks to my flu, I actually get the chance to see this movie, because I’m forced to just lie in bed and not do anything but watch movies after movies after movies. And I’m glad I did because this movie is fantastic. First of all, I never thought Roman Polanski can do comedy. I mean, he was the director of Rosemary’s Baby and he made Oliver Twist kinda dark… I didn’t expect him to direct something that is just straight up hilarious. But he did. And obviously the actors are all wonderful too – Jodie Foster, Kate Winslet, John C Reilly and my favorite Christoph Waltz – without them, this movie wouldn’t have worked so beautifully. No matter what you feel about Polanski as a person, you should not miss this film. It’s definitely one of his better works.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

And there you have it, Day Four of Binky International Film Festival. Sorry for the delay in posting this, but my flu really got the better of me last night. 🙂 To make up for this, I will still post Day Five and Day 6 on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day so I’ll be able to get everything done before New Years Eve. Thanks for tuning in so far and I’ll see you tomorrow for Day Five: “Across The Pond”. Till then!

Binky Bee

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Pilot Watch, Week 1: What You Should Watch, and What’s Not Worth Your Time

"I'm on TV" By Patrick J. Adams

It’s official, Fall TV 2011 is here! And this time I am sharing with you my thoughts on the new pilots that are premiering from now to October just so you can decide for yourself if they truly are worth your time and a slot in your DVR. Of course, I’m only human and I can’t possibly watch all of them so the pilots I’m reviewing are only the shows I recommended in my 3rd Annual Ten New Shows To Watch This Fall plus a few others that I find interesting. And I’m only reviewing the pilots, which means I’m not responsible for whatever happens next. Some pilots start out strong and yet the season as a whole turns out to be a giant waste of time (e.g AMC’s Rubicon), so keep that in mind while you’re reading this and the subsequent posts.

Having said that, the first week of Fall TV turns out to be pretty busy because of this new strategy from the networks where they release the pilots early on iTunes or web to generate interests, which means I have seen more pilots this week than I did last year around the same time. The shows that have been released early are Fox’s The New Girl, NBC’s Whitney, Showtime’s Homeland and The CW’s The Secret Circle (though the latter’s only released on iTunes a mere days before the actual premiere so it doesn’t really matter). I’m reviewing all of them plus The CW’s Ringer and NBC’s Up All Night in this post, which means we have a lot to go through and we better get started!

1/ Ringer, The CW, Tuesdays 9/8c.

Sarah Michelle Gellar hasn’t been back on television since Buffy wrapped its seventh and final season, so it’s safe to say a lot of people miss her and are glad to see she’s back. Sadly, I wish she had returned in a much stronger show than Ringer. The premise is already a little shaky, about an addict/former stripper who, after being a witness in a murder trial, decides to assume her twin sister’s identity and discovers all too late that her sister’s life is not all it’s cracked up to be, but I let it slide because let’s face it, it’s The CW. However, it’s not just the premise that is shaky in this pilot, everything else is bordering on the ridiculous too. In fact, one thing I can say about this show is that it’s so bad, it’s good. If you want to watch it ironically, of course.

The problem with Ringer is that it tries a little too hard and takes itself way too seriously. There’s almost no humor the entire hour of the pilot, everyone’s so serious, so angry, so sad, so betrayed and at the end so murderous. The mystery behind the woman that is Siobhan Martin, who has an obsession with mirrors and has no qualms about faking her own suicide and hiding out in Paris where she can lounge in a room full of mirrors and smoke (I assume French) cigarettes while being four-weeks pregnant, is way too convoluted and frankly, not that interesting, really. Her twin, Bridget, who assumes her identity, is also not that interesting of a person for us to want to invest our time in getting to know her for 22-episodes. And don’t even get me started on the infamous boat scene, that actor Ryan Devlin tweeted as “Best New Comedy of The Year” for its sheer ridiculousness and appalling production value. The pilot for Buffy had better production value than that!

The only redeeming factor of this show is British actor Ioan Gruffurd, who plays Siobhan Martin’s husband. Not only is he easy on the eyes, he’s enigmatic on screen too. But will the writers be able to give him the material worthy of his talents? Only time will tell.

Verdict: Not Worth Your Time.

2/ Up All Night, NBC, Wednesdays, 10/9c.

Both Christina Applegate and Will Arnett have had their share of failed TV shows. Applegate’s Jessie and Samantha Who? were both canceled way too early and Arnett’s Arrested Development and Running Wilde suffered the same fate. They’re both really talented, really funny people though and I kept hoping they’d land a hit show so I could see them on my TV regularly. Thankfully their new show Up All Night, from SNL writer Emily Spivey and executive producer Lorne Michaels, seems to have all the making of a hit NBC comedy: great script, great actors and it is laugh-out-loud funny.

Up All Night tells the story of married couple Reagan and Chris, who try to find balance as she goes back to work full-time and he stays at home with the baby. This show can easily go the stereotypical working mom/stay-at-home dad route, where the wife is racked with guilt for going back to work and the husband is resentful for having to go on play dates and change diapers all day long, but to the credit of creator Emily Spivey, it chooses not to go down that road. Instead it tells the hilarious journey that both Reagan and Chris have to take as they try to make parenthood work; whether it’s Reagan having to babysit her boss needy Ava (played by the always hilarious Maya Rudolph) at work or Chris having to navigate the confusing aisles of the giant grocery store. They’re both equally hapless and they’re not exactly what you’d call the perfect parents, but they’re trying and anyone who’s ever been a working parent (or really just a parent) can immediately relate.

Up All Night is charming, sweet, fresh and honest. It doesn’t paint an exaggerated picture of a young family trying to make it work but it doesn’t play down the reality of marriage and parenthood either. And with a solid rating for its premier episode, I have a feeling that this time Christina Applegate and Will Arnett have finally found themselves a hit.

Verdict: Watch It or You’ll Regret It.

3/ The Secret Circle, The CW, Thursdays, 9/8c.

Because The Vampire Diaries was such a success, The CW decided to pick up The Secret Circle, a show based on another young adult novel series by LJ Smith and adapted by the same people behind The Vampire Diaries, Kevin Williamson and Julie Plec, which I predict guarantees another hit for the network. And after watching the pilot, I have a feeling my prediction will come true because not only is the show a good match to its lead-in, The Vampire Diaries, it is the kind of show tweens and teens – The CW’s target demo – are crazy about. It’s got the supernatural (witches), attractive people (almost the entire cast), catchy soundtrack, and a season-long mystery that is revealed slowly with a lot of intrigues along the way. For the adults however, this show is not as easy to get into as its lead-in The Vampire Diaries.

First of all, even though us adults don’t mind a show about witches so much (we I watched Charmed, didn’t we I?), the thought of a group of teenagers possessing supernatural powers that let them control nature, is a little disconcerting. Teens, with their raging hormones and questionable judgments, shouldn’t have that much power. Second, the bad girl character in the show tries a little too hard to channel those crazy teen witches in The Craft, which makes her painful to watch. And finally, as Emily Nussbaum of NY Magazine said on her twitter, a show about witches without “wit” tends to bum us out. At least those of us over 25.

However, this show does have Gale Harold and he makes an awesome sexy murderous sociopath (I think a cross-over with The Vampire Diaries needs to happen just so his character can go toe-to-toe with psychotic Damon), and The Vampire Diaries didn’t have a strong pilot yet it keeps getting more and more awesome now that it’s in its third season, so don’t count this show out yet. It may very well surprise us all.

Verdict: Give It At Least Half A Season.

4/ The New Girl, Fox, Tuesdays, 9/8c, (starting Sept 20).

Without a doubt, this pilot got the most buzz and praise during the Upfronts, and apparently it’s so good that Fox decided not to reshoot it despite one of the leads, Damon Wayans Jr, quitting the show because of his commitment to Happy Endings that got picked up for a second season over at ABC. And there’s a good reason for it. It’s one of the funniest, most adorable (though Fox would want you to call it “simply adorkable” Really, Fox?) pilots I have ever seen in a long time. I got as excited about this show as I did with Glee two years ago, and as you all know I became a die-hard Gleek ever since (I even watched The Glee Project, so there).

The New Girl, that tells the story of Jess Day, a socially awkward but kindhearted girl who moves in with three guys after getting dumped by her boyfriend, gets it right because it’s just funny right out of the bat. Not to mention, the friendship between Jess and the guys feels natural. We see why those guys don’t want to get in her pants (she spends all day and night crying and watching Dirty Dancing), and we understand why at the end they truly do care about her. Zooey Deschanel as Jess Day is not only adorable, she’s hilarious too. Sure at first it’s hard to believe someone like her can be that unlucky in love, but she sells it well – with Jess making up a theme song for herself or picking up guys at a bar with a “Howdy, cowboy” pick-up line. And at the end, it feels like these four people are our best friends and we just want to hang out with them every night.

Since this show technically hasn’t premiered yet, I can’t tell if the rating’s going to be stellar but considering that its lead-in is the juggernaut that is Glee, I’m sure it’ll be a success. Those who have seen it on iTunes have been quite chatty on Twitter about how funny it is, so it’s only a matter of time before the rest of America catches on.

Verdict:Watch It or You’ll Regret It.

5/ Homeland, Showtime, Sundays, 10/9c (starting Oct 2).

Ever since 24 ended, domestic terrorism on television starts to lose its popularity. Sure, both ABC and NBC tried to put a sci-fi spin to the genre, with FlashForward and The Event, and both have failed spectacularly. When it comes to domestic terrorism, we somehow prefer it to stay as close to reality as possible for some reason. And with Homeland, the genre is finally resurrected post-24 and from the looks of the pilot, this show is every bit as intriguing and interesting as 24, but better because it’s smarter, deeper and a lot more complex, in a good way.

Homeland tells the story of a CIA analyst (Claire Danes) who becomes convinced that a returning MIA Marine (Damian Lewis) has been turned by Al-Qaeda and is planning an attack on US soil. For much of the pilot, we are left to wonder if Danes’ character is right and the whole thing is not just a figment of her paranoia, mostly because she’s taking anti-psychotics, utterly obsessive and well, acting a little nuts, while Damian Lewis’ character makes good speeches and grills burgers for his family. But the show is smart enough to give hints of Lewis’ deception, mostly through flashbacks, and we remain conflicted on who to believe, until about the last five minutes when we are finally convinced that Danes’ character is brilliant albeit a little nuts, and she’s right. A terror is imminent and Damian Lewis’ character is the key.

One thing that makes Homeland interesting is that the show relies heavily on the characters, and they’re all flawed. An unstable CIA analyst, an emotionally-disturbed and possibly brainwashed “hero”, a conflicted wife who doesn’t know if she still loves her returning husband – they make this show more than just a race against time to stop a terror attack. If you want a smarter, better 24, you might want to give this one a try.

Verdict: Watch It or You’ll Regret It.

6/ Whitney, NBC, Thursdays, 9.30/8.30c (Starting Sept 22).

The Fall 2011 season is definitely a women-friendly season, with so many women-centric shows premiering, and Whitney is one of them. Comedienne Whitney Cummings creates, writes and acts in this new NBC comedy that will debut next Thursday along with the return of NBC’s Thursday Night Comedy. And it’s a little tricky reviewing this show because it’s so Whitney-centric, my dislike can be easily misinterpreted as a dislike to her as a person, and it’s not true at all because I like her just fine and I even follow her on Twitter. Her show however, is just not that funny.

The problem with Whitney is that it feels so… old-fashioned compared to the other Thursday night NBC Comedies. First, it’s a multi-camera sitcom, while Community, Parks and Recreation, The Office and 30 Rock are all single-camera, second, it’s actually taped live in front of a studio audience, which in this day and age feels dated. But I didn’t mind all that if the show is actually really fresh and funny like in the case of How I Met Your Mother or The Big Bang Theory (at least in their earlier seasons). The jokes on Whitney, however, are just as dated as the format. If the show premiered in 1993 pre-Friends, I’d totally get on board, but this is 2011 and it feels a little “been there, Friends has done that”.

It doesn’t mean that Whitney is horrible, it’s actually not. There are some funny, sincere moments that I enjoyed but sadly there aren’t enough of them. Most of the time it just seems like everyone’s trying real hard to get the studio audience to laugh, and it just comes across as sad. There is a possibility that as the season progresses, this show will find its footing and gets better with time, but at this point I’m a little skeptical. With Thursday night being one of the most crowded nights of television, does anyone even have time to give this show a try?

Verdict: Not Worth Your Time.

And that’s all the pilots I’ve watched this past week. I’ll be back next week to review The Playboy Club, Two Broke Girls, Revenge, Person of Interest and maybe even Hart of Dixie (Josh Schwartz tweeted that it’ll be available for early viewing on iTunes starting Sept 22, but we’ll see!).

I shall bid adieu for now and I’ll see you all here next week!

Xoxo

Binky Bee