Sunday, June 27, 2010

Glee - DVD Roulette

Glee has had such a weird and interesting first season. A show that featured football players dancing to "Single Ladies," a pregnant cheerleader singing "A Man's World," a refreshing portrayal of homosexuality, and I haven't even begun to talk about anyone who's ever won a Tony Award making guest appearances.

A very like-able sugary series with a very sordid home video release. Originally, Glee was 13 episodes. Those 13 episodes were planned to be released on DVD as Glee Season 1. When Fox decided that Glee was making them a helluva lot of money, they made more episodes, causing the DVD release to be retitled Glee Season 1 Volume 1 - Road to Regionals.

This left fans with the expectation that a Volume 2 was going to be released. They were wrong. Instead Fox was going to release Glee Complete Season 1. It would include everything in the Road to Regionals release and the extra episodes produced afterward. No Volume 2. Those sad fans who bought Volume 1 now had to buy a whole box set that already had the majority of episodes they already purchased.

Of course, customers complained, and of course they complained to the wrong people: the stores. I mean come on, the stores just sell the products, they have no say in how they're released. I got that a lot when I worked in Fry's Electronics. My response to them was always the same: "Write a letter to the studios."

Luckily, Fox listened to the demands of those purchasers and have decided to release a Season 1 Volume 2 set to go alone with the DVD and Blu Ray release of Glee Complete Season 1. Life is good again :-) Power to the people. Look for it in stores September 14.

Aeon Flux - More than Just an MTV Action Film

When Charlize Theron starred as sympathetic serial killer Aileen Wuornos in Monster, I decided to myself that this actor can do ANYTHING! When she got cast as Aeon Flux in the live action adaptation of the MTV animated series of the same name, I was more than ecstatic. I had no doubt that this actor could do this character justice and play her believably and realistically.

 Upon viewing the film, I was right. Theron's Aeon sounds and acts just like the animated version; the movie looks and feels just like the animated series, right down to the weird camera angles and all; and the storyline is multi layered and up for personal interpretation as well. Just like the animated series.

All involved obviously had a huge love for the series, but also made sure the movie stood on it's own. The movie could easily be seen as an episode of the series, as well as a stand alone feature.

As usual, Aeon is trying to kill Trevor and as usual, she can't because she loves him. The movie includes one other character from the series - Sithandra, who has two hands where her two feet should be - and introduces Aeon's sister - Una Flux - who becomes a central plot point in the movie.

 What sets the movie apart from other action movies is that the action is secondary. The plot is central and really does drive the actions of the characters. While there is plenty of action scenes, they are usually set against really beautiful backdrops: a cherry tree garden, a secret minimalist room, the city of Bregna itself.

Creator Peter Chung was a little more displeased with this product, but that's expected, especially considering he had little to no involvement with this piece. Director Karyn Kusama, who also directed Girlfight, really strives for the look and feel of Peter Chung's creation. While there is talk of extra scenes that were exercised out of the film, the finished product feels like a classic all on it's own. A real treat for fans of the series, fans of action films and those looking to watch a movie that makes them think.

But a note to creater Peter Chung. How about making your own Aeon Flux film? Animated and all?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Persepolis - A Look Into The Culture of Iran, Animation Style

Animation is a medium used to tell a story. I'm pretty sure I've mentioned this elsewhere on my blog.
Americans seem to have put this stigma on animation that it's only for children's entertainment. That's very limited thinking for a medium that is endless when it comes to creating imagery with movement.
Persepolis is an autobiographical, Academy Award nominated film based off of the graphic novel series that uses animation to tell it's story.
90 percent of the film is in black and white and told in flashback with narration, emulating the style in the graphic novel, but never becoming an audio book.
The film, and it's graphic novel, centers on the life of author and artist Marjane Satrapi and her experiences in and out of Iran. I understand that upon it's initial release, Persepolis was quite controversial. I don't really understand though. Iran is a country that I only know about through images of war and women in black veils. Persepolis humanizes the people of Iran and helped widen my view of the world in general.
The movie is so personal that it almost feels like a treat. It's quirky animation style is very striking and inviting. Never alienating the audience, the film really opens up the viewer to relate to our main character and her struggles in a war torn country and later on outside into the world. She meets many, MANY people and has many, MANY adventures. With all of this going on, the film keeps a steady pace and never loses it's focus.
I hope that Persepolis shows more audiences not only the humanity in the Iranian People, but also the reality that could be found in animated features.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Julie and Julia: Apetizing?

Julia Child has always been a funny lady to me. I mean, she's built like a football player and sounds like.. like.. well... like Julia Child. Just click on the link below.

Here's a video from youtube with Julia Child. Watch it, she's hilarious.

And her cooking... just writing this is making me hungry, as did viewing the movie "Julie and Julia." In the opening scene, Meryl Streep as Julia Child eats this fish dish in a restaurant and I just wanted to dive in my HDTV set and steal it from her. Yay for the clarity of Blu Ray huh?

Amy Adams plays the Julie character who is based off of the author of the book in which the movie is based on. Wow, that's a lot.

So, so far we've got a movie where Meryl Streep plays the unique and original Julia Child and also stars Amy Adams, who was so amazing in Enchanted as Giselle.

Just look at her. She is hella adorable and talented.

Produced by Nora Ephron, (aka The Romantic Comedy GODDESSS) the movie juggles two storylines with ease. One is the story of Julia Child and the other is the story of Julie Powell who writes a Julia Child cooking blog in 2002. It's like two movies in one. Doesn't it make you want to watch The Hours? That's like three movies in one.

While each storyline is handled with ease I was starting to grow tired of Julie constantly saying "What would Julia Child do?" or "Julia Child wouldn't do that." Once or twice in the course of the movie would've been good enough. After awhile I was like: Okay, I get it, you're obsessed.

Meryl Streep plays Julia Child flawlessly. Did anyone really doubt she would? I mean, she's not Jennifer Love Hewitt as Audrey Hepburn. That's another issue altogether. Meryl Streep as Julia is funny because the character is written as funny. It's never mocking.

Just imagine if it was like this:

I went into the movie with reservations and thoroughly enjoyed myself. It was a nice double biography with a nice blending of drama and comedy.

Eat before watching this one. Trust me.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Toy Story 3 - Pixar's Brave Little Toys

I didn't like the first Toy Story. Despite being penned by Buffy's Joss Whedon, I thought the film borrowed heavily from the long forgotten Raggedy Ann and Andy Musical Adventure movie and Jim Henson's The Christmas Story. Toy Story 2 I thought was a billion times better with a unique story and characters that you could really care for. Try to not cry when Jessie has her flashback. Just try. When Toy Story 3 was announced, one couldn't help but be sceptical.

Toy Story 3 appears to borrow heavily from the animated film The Brave Little Toaster: Animated inanimate objects and their owner who's going off to college. What's going to happen?

Andy is all grown up and has to decide what to do with his childhood toys. Or at least the ones he still has. Fan favorites like RV, Etch and Bo Peep (sad face) are absent from this movie aside from cameos in the opening credits.

By mistake, the toys are sent to a daycare center where they meet many new characters. This movie has a lot of characters, but it never gets confusing and the characters are always charming and intriguing. One of my favorites is the appearance of a Totoro Doll among some of the new friends of our core cast.

One thing I found lacking in the first two movies is strong female representation. I loved the character of Bo Peep, but she was never really part of the main action. Jessie didn't really have room to grow in Toy Story 2 and Mrs. Potato Head and Barbie were merely cameos. 

In Toy Story 3 I was surprised to find how well written Mrs. Potato Head was. She actually outshines her male counterpart in this movie. There is a sequence with Mr. Potato Head and a tortilla that got the biggest laughs in the theater, but one can clearly see that Mrs. Potato Head is the top spud. Barbie is surprisingly very empowered in this film and her story arc becomes one of the most interesting among our characters, aside from Woody of course. 

Where Toy Story 3's strength really lies in of course is the story itself. In this one film we have a very multi-layered story about letting go that never loses it's focus or beats you over the head with it's lesson. It doesn't just tell it's story, it's shows it's story, and that's really what film is all about.

A highly recommended movie that will no doubt be dissected and discussed.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Sex and the City 2 - More than a Sequel

Sex and the City is back - again - with a second movie. Following the events of the first movie, which in return followed the events of the six season series, Sex and the City 2 is a much stronger film that could really stand on it's own, more so than the first theatrical venture.
With all of the main characters married, except for promiscuous Samantha of course, I was starting to worry that the ladies would start to resemble Desperate Housewives. Our lead, Carrie, has finally married Mr. Big (the main plot of the first movie) and Miranda and Charlotte are married with children. As much as I love my Desperate Housewives, I didn't want these Sex and the City girls to lose sight of who they are. Luckily that's the main point of this film. The movie takes these all too familiar characters and pushes them forward. In movies, things move, that's why they're called movies.
Carrie's marriage to Big has some bumps to smooth out. Charlotte is starting to fall under a new kind of stress with two daughters. Samantha, being the oldest in the group, is fearing menopause. And then there's Miranda.
Miranda's character growth in this movie was the most fun to watch. Career oriented Miranda leaves her job and gets to spend some time not worrying about anything (gasp). Miranda really gets to be there for her friends and family in this movie because now she doesn't have a stressful job to worry about and it was fun seeing this strong woman find that she doesn't need a powerful job to be that strong woman. Kudos to actor Cynthia Nixon.
The movie features lots of gratuitous body shots. We get a pair of breasts under a white wet t-shirt (not from any the main women), speedo crotch shots, and shots of men's behinds. It is called "Sex" and the City, and don't you forget it. Remember the awesome nudeness and crotch shot from the first one? Still plenty of that in this film too, and then some.
Cameos from Liza Minelli, Penelope Cruz (I heart her), Miley Cyrus, and fan favorite John Corbett feel right at home. These girls live in a big world (New York, and later on vakay at Abu Dhabi) and a big world is presented here. The karaoke bar they visit (in Abu Dhabi) looks more like a Las Vegas stage than anything I've ever sung in. And trust me, I know my karaoke.
Here's me singing on Myspace Karaoke.
An awesome movie with an awesome message about women and married life. I recommend you watch this one. If you want you can also watch the first movie or the series, but it's not necassary. Just sit back and let the world of Carrie and friends engulf you in this one film.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Daria: Is it Fall Yet - A Movie Worth More than A Special Feature on a DVD Boxset

One of my most loved possessions is my DVD boxset of the Daria TV series. The official one released from MTV, not a bootleg full of TV-Rips of Noggin edited episodes that have been circulating the Convention circuits.
I love the boxset. The episodes are like little nuggets of knowledge. Part of the DVD Box is the inclusion of the made for TV feature "Is it Fall Yet?," A Daria movie that takes place in between seasons 4 and 5. The movie is noteworthy for allowing the main characters in Daria to progress and age unlike most animated characters that are never allowed to age.
The Simpsons anyone? Bart's been in 4th grade forever. And don't get me started on Maggie. And while we're on it, The Archies? Archie and his friends must be the oldest High Schoolers.

The plot deals with Daria's first boyfriend, Tom, who is also her best friend Jane's ex-boyfriend. It picks up at the butt end of a love triangle storyline between the three that is masterfully handled, especially for an animated series at the time.
So much happens in this one movie. Aside from Daria dealing with her new boyfriend and trying to maintain a friendship with her best friend Jane who is also his ex, Jane herself is at an Art Colony where she sees the ugly reality of the art world as well as question her own sexuality thanks to the help of characters voiced by Dave Grohl and Bif Naked. Quinn, Daria's usually shallow little sister, gets a chance to grow as she works with a tutor (voiced Carson Daly) to help get her grades up.

With so many plotlines to deal with, I didn't even mention Daria's job at a sensitivity camp, you'd think that the movie would be a jumbled mess, but the storylines do tie in together with the exception of two separate storylines dealing with co-stars Jodie, Mack, Britney and Kevin and their summertime jobs.
The movie in it's initial DVD release did work as a stand-alone feature, especially since it included the two episodes - "Fire!" and "Dye Dye My Darling" - that set-up the movie's main storyline of Daria dealing with the love triangle. Sadly, the only way to see the movie now is as a special feature on the DVD boxset, which also includes the series finale feature "Is it College Yet?"
The movie really does deserve a seperate release on it's own, or maybe as a double pack with the uncut version of "Is it College Yet." Sadly I'm pretty sure it won't happen. But how about we all write to MTV about a Blu Ray release :-) It worked for Aeon Flux.