movie

What the Hell Did I Just Watch: Dark Shadows Film Review

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Last night I reeeeeeally didn’t want to cook. Whenever I don’t want to cook on a week day I use it as an excuse to go to the Alamo Drafthouse. In Austin, and now numerous other cities, to go to the Alamo means getting dinner and a movie all at once for a reasonable price without having to put up with other peoples’ crappy, crappy children.

There are a number of movies coming out this summer that I’m very excited about.

MIB III. Oh, fuck yeah, I’m gonna see this!…at some point.

Moonrise Kingdom. Can. Not. Wait. I’m currently stalking tickets for this because, even though today is its opening, it is no where to be found in the Austin area.

Prometheus. I don’t have to explain this.

Frankenstein starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Johnny Lee Miller. This is only available on June 6th and 7th. I’m still searching for a theater that will feature this incredible piece.

And those are just the movies coming out between today and June 8th.

Yeah, I mean, the MIB III is a little shameful, but everything else I am truly excited for. Which is why I allowed myself of seeing Dark Shadows last night: to promote Tim Burton’s career. This is a review of said film.

Photo Credit SomeLikeItRetro

Dark Shadows is the tale of Victoria Winters and the Collins family set in the small sea side town of Collinsport, Maine. Once a wealthy shipping and canning family, the Collins have fallen from their former glory in the eighteenth century to the town outcasts in the 1970’s. The very few remaining Collins still reside in the original mansion of two hundred rooms though only Elizabeth Collins Stockard, the matriarch without husband, her dishonest, slimey brother Roger Collins, Elizabeth’s daughter Carolyn, and Roger’s son David are all of the Collins name that remain. Also living in the home are two caretakers who provide minimal comic relief and Dr. Julia Hoffman, a psychiatrist hired to aid David work through the tragic death of his mother whom he believes is still living. Victoria Winters, an assumed name she adapted in an effort to forget her horrifying past and build a new future, is drawn to the Collins family through outside powers to accept a governess position for David. The story is entertaining, though flawed, and blatantly left open-ended; a sequel, however, is highly doubtful.

In usual Burton form, Dark Shadows is visually appealing, colorful, feeds your inner child. Johnny Depp, coming into his own as a deeply true character actor, transforms into a creepy, bloodthirsty, and honest Barnabus Collins with an excellent post-Britain/New Colonies accent that never falters. Just as well done was Johnny Lee Miller, perfect as the philandering, sleazy uncle, Helena Bonham Carter, playing a psychiatrist and her hangovers as an art form, Bella Heathcote acting both the delicate and beautiful Victoria Winters and Josette, and Eva Green perfectly portraying the vengeful Angelique, and all flawlessly hiding their own native accents from England, Australia, and France.

Photo Credit INeedMyFix.com

With the exception of Chloe Moretz (something I never thought I’d have to say about her) the acting was fantastic and, in fact, my favorite was Michelle Pfieffer – her acting through looks alone could kill. I always expect Johnny Depp’s characters to become how he personally portrays them, the way Santa Claus has become what Coca Cola has dictated, something done so well that it is that which is committed to memory above any prior notions. Eva Green is evil, vengeful, and immensely seductive as the witch Angelique, the scorned lover of Barabus, who is hell bent on ruin all Collins family members until the end of time. Gulliver McGrath as David Collins was fleetingly wonderful, simply not in the film enough, where as Moretz’s overly dramatic and poorly timed teenage angst was rubbed in our faces far too much. In fact, without revealing any spoilers, I will go so far to say that her entire character could have been scratched from the script without having any impact on the story.

The story starts off at a rapid pace. We learn quickly that Barnabus is easily swayed by pretty flesh though his heart is not. Once in the ’70’s, the roles of those living in the Collins Manor are played so thickly that their actions become a bit predictable all too soon. Some bits are over played (we get it, an eighteenth century vampire attempting to reconcile disco is super silly, the sex scene is hysterical, but does it have to go on for so long?), but other characters that have depth and mystery about them, such as Victoria and David are barely touched upon. The actors did the best they could with the script they were given, with the exception of Moretz, who, again, wasn’t really necessary to the story at all.

Photo credit BlogOfDarkShadows.com

Unfortunately, good acting is not enough, nor is a performance by Alice Cooper and excellent costuming. Dark Shadows does not need to be seen in theaters. It simply doesn’t. It’s entertaining if you’re a fan of Buton’s work and worth seeing at home once it’s streaming through Netflix, but it lacks the heart breaking beauty of Sweeney Todd or the larger than life characters of Beetlejuice or Peewee’s Big Adventure that are simply art in a theater. The laughs are primarily small chuckles and some characters that are very interesting are barely seen making the veiwer come away wanting more, but not in the form of a sequel. That being said, I am deeply interested in his Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, also due out this year, and will not hesitate to see it when it arrives at my local Alamo Drafthouse.

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Pop fo’ Yo’ Mutha – Prometheus & Moonrise Kingdom clips + More!

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Let’s do this.

* I love the accepted awkwardness that is Zach Gallifianakis. Here he is talking with one of my favorite women in the world, Tina Fey. Open your heart, be one with the Uncomfortable.

*There are never enough Geek periphinalia shops!…Okay, maybe there are, but The Novo Geek strives to make useful geek toolsAs they state, “..no mugs with faces on them!” Need a journal? How about one from the Galactica, with weird corners and all? Going out and need some fancy new accouterments? How about a discrete and classy Star Trek tie? I wouldn’t recommend a red one, though… They only take on a few creative products a month, good design and excellent userability. It’s a fantastic concept and something that I hope continues successfully.

* Cover Browser is a relatively new (to me) site that allows you to flip through over 450,000 comic book covers. May I recommend not doing this at work. It will suck up the rest of your afternoon with awesomeness and totes get you in trouble with the boss.

* Speaking of Comic Books, Comic Book Resources has a list of the highest grossing comic book movies of all time. Good for these movies to make millions upon millions upon millions of dollars!…next to not a single cent of which actually went to the creators of these characters or their families. You make me fucking sick, Hollywood. No, I haven’t seen the Avengers. Thanks for asking.

* Even in the future, people get sick. Fantasy always maintains a bit of reality in the terms of health needs and Blastr has compiled a list of the top nurses that have gotten us all hot and bothered throughout time. Me? Well, Rory Williams can give me a sponge bath any day he wants. [Blastr]

* Artist Agan Harahap has created a photo series imagining what it would have been like if Spiderman was a participant in World War II. Well, obviously it would have ended a lot sooner saving millions of lives, and Hitler would have been captured alive rather than committing suicide like a coward in an underground bunker.  It also would have probably been known as World War Awesome. [Flickr]

* What’s awesome? Star Wars! What’s delicious? Pancakes! What’s deliciously awesome?! STAR WARS PANCAKES!

Photo Credit WalYou

* Simply cannot wait for Wes Anderson’s newest flick, Moonrise Kingdom. An new Making-Of featurette has been released to wet our appetites even more. This will be a great year for movies.

* While we’re doing featurettes, let’s talk the newest release from Prometheus, shall we? Their newest gift to fans shows what’s believed to be the origins of life. Prepared to be surprised. Let’s watch! [Blastr]

Today I turn 30 and – OH MY GOD STAR TREK NEWS!!!

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I was going to do this post about life and crap, and maybe I still will later, but for now…

SPOILER ALERT! If you don’t want to hear about Star Trek 2 RIGHT NOW, then go away.

Okay?

Good. It’s about to get real.

BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH IS KHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAN!

I mean, we knew that. You knew it, I knew it, we all felt it. Like falling in love with someone you shouldn’t. People deny it, tell you it’s wrong, but you wake up in the morning and there it is:

Cumberbatch is Khan.

Awesome.

A big thank you to Sarah B. for making my morning a little more exciting.

What Does a Critic Owe Its Audience?

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I love research. I love knowing what was, what didn’t work, what changed, and watching it all disappear as the future charges on.

I like knowing the whole story, which is why I read a book prior to seeing the tale depicted on the big screen.

I do not <any longer> huff and puff during a movie when aspects I loved in the story were changed or omitted all together. Having a spouse who does not read broke me of that seriously annoying habit long ago. But when I read film reviews – which I rarely do – I immediately know when the critic has or has not read the book that inspired the movie.

But do they have to? Do they have to know the whole story?

Photo credit hungergameswtc.net

When I read the Rollingstone review of The Hunger Games I got the very distinct impression that the author did not read the books, that their complaints with the film were not relative to what the actual problems were. But then I thought “Why would the critic have to read the books?” After all, their review is of the movie and not the story.

I want more, though. Isn’t that always my problem? I want my reviewer to be knowledgable, to not just say “I like X, Y, Z, and disliked A.” I want something comprehensive, something worth arguing intelligently…but then maybe I’m just expecting too much from the critics. To ask that they look at something truly critically is apparently asking too much. I often say “If I can dothat [i.e. the work produced by another], then they’re not trying; it’s not art; it’s a poor writing.” And that’s why I so rarely read reviews: I don’t care nor do I think there’s enough information.

Which brings me back to the beginning: How knowledgeable does a critic have to be to write a truly comprehensive piece? What do they owe their readers? I guess I just expect more  (no surprise there). I’m not the brightest crayon in the box. When it comes to faith in information, when it comes to trusting another person to give us information, though, shouldn’t we have somewhat high expectations for them?

Perhaps, by biggest problem is that simplifying things means that we’re dumbing down our society, that we’re making it okay to operate on less. And knowledge is free, if we’re operating on less of anything it should be gasoline and electricity. It should be less caloric intake, and less anger. But we should never, ever sacrifice education due to laziness.

How did I get here from a disappointing movie review? Add that to one of my many problems.

*Side note for Hunger Games and X-Men: First Class fans: Due to the filming schedule of Jennifer Lawrence on the Hunger Games set, she will be unable to film X-Men: Second (?) Class until January of 2013. Yep, they’re going to hold up filming the entire movie just for Lawrence, who, ironically, never has to work again if she doesn’t want to. [Blastr]

Let’s Pretend This Never Happened

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What do you mean “Where have [I] been?!”

I’m right here! Let’s just move on, shall we?

The Best Thing You’re Not Utilizing Right Now: Adonit’s Jot Flip. This little beauty clips to your shirt or can be tossed in your lady-purse like any pen, BUT it also doubles as an incognito stylus for your iPad/iPhone. It’s so much more, though – Forget about feeling like you chubby fingers are too inadequate to play DrawSomething (they are, get on a treadmill for craps sake), you can now blow away your competition on the hit app, scribe notes in cursive, teach your kids to write on apps, draw with better precision on any tablet – it’s simply bad ass. This thing is crazy awesome and it comes in a ton of colors so I don’t have to ‘customize’ mine with Star Wars stickers, which is a nice change of pace for all the other mobile accessories I buy. Best of all, Adonit will play one game a week – Starting Tomorrow, Thursday April 5th, and feature their favorite DrawSomething artwork on their blog. We’re talking Artist Recognition for DrawSomething. It’ll be the next internet meme. Just make sure you have the right tools to compete. [Adonit, Werd]

* What’s a day without a Star Wars reference? Why it’s no day at all, my good fellow. Flavorwire has put together a list of 9 Star Wars references you never noticed before…but, yes you did, ’cause you’re as bad as me when it comes to an Empirical obsession. [Flavorwire]

* It’s Wednesday, also known as Humpday. If that’s not good enough and you need a lil’ extra boost for your day, Buzzfeed has inspired posts you can put around your claustrophobic cubicle to remind you you’re human even if your boss is not. [Buzzfeed]

* Kevin Bacon decided to play 6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon  and found out he’s distantly related to his own wife. [Inquistr]

* Rufus Wainwright has a new music video out starring Helena Bonham Carter. This is the first thing she’s done since Fight Club that wasn’t directed by someone she’s sleeping with and that doesn’t also start Johnny Depp. [PasteMagazine]

3 Clips + a Trailer: The Simpsons, Hunger Games, John Carter, & MIB III

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I am not a Josh Brolin fan. He’s not attractive. He’s never done anything that really intrigued me. I hear he was good in No Country for Old Men, but I didn’t even like him in Goonies. So here we are, at the newest full trailer for Men in Black III. And there he is. BUT he seems to be playing a pretty good ‘young Tommy Lee Jones’. Not necessarily ‘Ewan-McGregor-playing-a-young-Alec-Guiness’ good, but good. Now, to be fair, I’m not a super Will Smith fan, either. No, I watch the Men in Black franchise because I love Tommy Lee Jones and adorable talking alien pugs. Yes, I will probably see Men in Black III in the theaters, but, really, what are movies right now except ways to kill time until The Hobbit comes out? My friend just asked “Did I see MIB 2?”, to which I responded “You tell me: it’s the one when the little pug gets his own black tie and suit – SQUEEEEEE!” See the new trailer for MIB 3 below.

Well, isn’t everyone just hopping on that Game of Thrones bandwagon. Yes, even The Simpsons have taken a turn in a GoT tribute/spinoff with an opening sequence based on the TV sensation that’s based on the books…which I still have to read. Speaking of the television version, however, the first season of Game of Thrones hit stores on DVD today. Take a gander below of The Simpsons opening before Fox removes it from every last corner of the internet.

No, I’m not reading Game of Thrones right now, but know what I am reading? A Princess of Mars, which is, of course, the first book in the John Carter of Mars series. The movie version of this will be hitting theaters on Friday, March 9th, since Hollywood is completely out of original ideas. A new 10 minute clip of John Carter has been released, because Disney has the whole concept of building up hype down to a science. Watch the clip below.

And, finally, if you’re really desperate you can see Lenny Kravitz as Cinna in a new clip from today’s episode of Ellen. Unfortunately, this clip is mere hours old, so it’s hard to find in any decent format, but it can still be watched. Check out Crushable.com for the clip and see Lenny speaking with Ellen about the Hunger Games film below.

For added suspense, check out The Muppets/Hunger Games trailer spoof.

The Pop is the Word: Masterpeice PBS, Spider-Man, & the Avengers in the House.

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It’s trailer madness Wednesday! Let’s dive right in, shall we?

*Time has the new trailer for Masterpiece: Great Expectations. Between Downton Abbey to NOVA and Ming Tsai, PBS has never been so popular and magical, nor has it ever received such rave reviews. In this particular adaptation in honor of Dickens’ 200th birthday Gillian Anderson will be taking on the role of Miss Havisham. [Time]

* The Fantastic Flying Books of Morris Lessmore is an animated short that is up for an Academy Award. Like so many of Oscar worthy shorts, this is both beautifully done and heartwarming. Watch it below.

*Speaking of the Academy Awards, here’s a cynical, cranky chef making their Oscar picks. Wait…I don’t remember making this list. Oh! It’s Anthony Bourdain. I get it. We so similar in our cranky personalities that I got confused there for a minute. As usual, his responses to the questions are witty, comical, and make for a very enjoyable read. [NYT]

*The Amazing Spider-Man trailer is out. It’s all very teenage angsty, but Emma Stone was so good in SNL, maybe she’ll be awesome as Gwen Stacy in this, too. [MoviesWithButter]

* In light of MIA behaving like a child, BBC News has posted an article on the history of the middle finger. I love things like this. There’s nothing I enjoy more than studying the rude and crude of history. I’m not kidding. [BBCNews]

* And, finally, The Avengers trailer hit on Sunday night during the Super Fun Time Sports Dish thing there. Captain America looked downright plastic in it, and Scarlet Johannson looked pretty blase compared to the rest of the crew. Also, this is the third person to play the hulk since – what? – 2002 or whatever, so I’m not even sure which actor is portraying him this time. But, hey, I’m sure plenty of people will see it. And then want their money back. The extended addition trailer is below.