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Summer Movie Recap

This season’s blockbusters were little more than big budget popcorn flicks. Even though that is a summer tradition there is generally a little more substance or at least one noteworthy superhero flick to fall back on. This summer was void of anything that could compete with 2008’s  “Ironman”, “Dark Knight” or “Wall-e”.

A select films made an impact this summer but I would argue they lack a sort of timelessness. The highlights for me this summer included District 9, Pixar’s UP! and Inglorious Basterds.

David Bloomer/TriStar Pictures

David Bloomer/TriStar Pictures

District 9 the sci fi thriller with a twist was filmed in the shake cam, documentary style first showcased in megaplexes in 2008’s “Cloverfield”. They style is under control better and had less movie patrons running from the theatre towards to nearest toliet. It still gave me a massive headache though. As NPR reviewer Jeannette Catsoulis, pointed out the story is strong and has strong parallels to apartheid it still remains original. Wikus Van Der Merwe (Sharlto Copley), is a unexpectedly strong in the lead.

UP! I am sure this is not as uncommon as I think. I went to see UP! 3D in a theatre and during on of the sadder moments, where I was sweetly daydreaming about my life and spending the rest of my days with my fiance when a man in the back row started loudly sobbing. While it ruined the moment it actually didn’t ruin the movie.   It was partially excusable but of what a tear jerker this turned out to be. It was kind of disheartening that all of this bitter sweet emotion was packed into a movie meant for kids. I am a big supporter of the fact that kids can handle things and understand them better than most adults give them credit for I am not sure how I could have handled it a few years ago.

Inglorious Basterds revisits Tarantino’s lust for bloody, humor. It parallels to the Kill Bill series in the ways that is totally over the top. Brad Pitt is cast perfectly. I have argued with numerous people that he does much better when he isn’t the leading man. He is cast as the comic relief and excels most when the pressure is off and he can roll with his character acting.  As Tarantino, evolves it is wonderful to see his creativity. He seems to be getting crazier though. Watching him in interviews you can tell how intelligent yet ADD he is. This random interview from 2009 Comic Con presents my case well.

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Remembering IKE

Okay one year ago this month I lost my apartment all my stuff in the aftermath of IKE that hit the Midwest and made it out by wading to safety.

I have been wanting to write a personal update about this since before the anniversary (Sept. 14) but have been slacking.

Here is more information on that incident as I wrote in a note to friends on Sept. 15, 2008:

I think Floyd already sent out a version of the events of Sept 14th. I woke up that morning and was preparing to get to work. I was about out the door when I went back to our room to wake up Floyd. A little after 9:30 we heard this giant boom that came from outside, what I thought at the time was our basement, maybe a pipe bursting. I had noticed earlier that morning that there was more water than normal from the storm.

We both freaked upon hearing the noise and looked out the window to see the flood wall right outside our apartment had burst and water was rushing towards us. We both attempted to open the front door but were unsuccessful due the immense amount of water pressure. Floyd (my valiant prince) ran toward the window, slid it open and punched out the screen. We jumped into waist high water and waded to the retaining wall near our pool, which was not yet flooded.

I hear that my most amazing feat was jumping that wall. Floyd and I were looking around at that point and both sides near us still had the flood doors closed. After we got to safety Floyd managed help a nearby neighbor get her cats to safety.

I want to thank everyone for their generosity and warm thoughts. -Within 6 hour we had prospects of clothes, a new car, furniture (for a future non existant apartment), a place to stay and food.

But we are fine and made it out with only insignificant cuts and bruises.

After all of this I remember a lot of the small details: after the “boom” dust came cascading down from our ceiling, the water rolling in to the living room from our bedroom and seeing our carpet rise up and “wave”.

During the flood

The pool, when we escaped it was above the water level

The pool, when we escaped it was above the water level

A submerged SUV originally parked in the office lot next store to our old place

A submerged SUV parked in the office lot next door

Aftermath/Clean-up

How the f did that happen?

How the f*** did that happen?

Me next to a gapping hole that was my living room

Me next to a gapping hole that was my living room

The only real update I have is that I am alive and well. As part of this venture down memory lane I returned to the old place. Our old building has been condemned and there is not much word on what is to become of it. They closed the flood walls that had originally surrounded it and worked much like a death trap that day because we were surrounded on all sides and had little place to go. Being a snoop I trepassed by the pool just to have a look over but could only glimpse the walkway. It was overgrown with grass and shrubs. There was a still a tree next to the pool uprooted from that day. The buildings I could kind of see in seemed to be striped, most still had walls but one just had the wood skeleton.

The only information I have found about what is going to happen from the city of Brentwood website: “The City has passed a Resolution, which supports the city’s FEMA grant application for flood buyout properties in the city”. According to the Webster-Kirkwood Times, residents were still waiting around for this buyout to occur as of April. I am not sure if that applies to my building or just abandoned/condemned homes. There have been no major changes to Deer Creek. This June in a report by the Webster-Kirkwood Times most of that area experienced flooding again, but it was not as severe.

A new apartment and a new edition, PZ Meowers.

A new apartment and a new addition, PZ Meowers.

I am still with the same rental company. They placed me in another complex in a few weeks after. I have been too busy with school and work to consider moving again. Floyd and I are at square one, with a well furnished apartment, clothes, etc thanks to family, friends and FEMA.

I know all my family and friends know my status but I think it is important in part to not get too comfortable. I still don’t want to forget. I remember being comfortable and happy in my old place. There is a slight sentimental feeling being my first proper experience living on my own physically and financially.

As a journalism/communications student, I was very interested in how the event was covered. The day of the flood was all over the news both local and national (CNN). After that besides the Webster-Kirkwood Times, updates were non-existent. Over the summer Brentwood had its application from FEMA approved to buyout some of those properties. No changes have occurred to really fix the problem either with the sewage or Deer Creek.

I returned to Brentshire two weeks ago. The building has long since been condemned. I am not sure if it is part of the cities proposed buyout or whether that plan involves businesses or residents. The building was closed off for the most part. All of the flood gates surrounding the complex were locked. I snuck around to the pool to catch a glimpse. It was over grown with grass and shrubs. There was still an uprooted tree that blocked most of the view of the walkway. I really couldn’t see inside buildings but they seemed empty and I swear one of them had the walls stripped. I don’t really have an excuse for going. I will never have to live there again. I just felt a connection to the place being my first pot and paid for apartment.

There is an odd revelation. A professor of mine, Don Corrigan who also owns the Kirkwood-Webster Times is writing a book and briefly mentioned I was in there. I am sure it is nothing but it is kind of something strange to hear as an off the cuff comment from someone. I don’t know what the focus of this book is going to be. He already released one book, Show Me…Natural Wonders, in 2007. He also hosts an environmental news blog: Getting Into Nature.

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It takes a lot to get me to have any interest in any television program that I haven’t been a long time fan. -But I was stuck in a car and indluging in my obession with NPR.  There was a very interesting interview with creator Ryan Murphy, who is best know for his series Nip Tuck. 

I noticed the show’s premiere episode was available on Hulu. It seemed like fate. Coming in expecting very little, I am sorry to say overall I was disappointed. The problem I have with the show is a fairly common: the characters are blantant stereotypes of their subculture.  I can’t really blame the series for that because nearly every show does that. But none of the characters seemed really interesting enough to continue following.

The two lead students Finn Hudson (Cory Monteith) and Rachel Berry (Lea Michele) have tremedous singing talent. I specify “singing” because the show flauters elsewhere. The acting was a little over the top which definitely should not phase those willing to stick around after American Idol.

I am willing to give it a second chance but part of me is wishing the show could be condensed into a ten minute preview of the casts’ singing, not that this world needs another American Idol. 

Jason Segel is giving the Muppets a proper resurrection. The Muppets have been virtually ignored since bought by the Disney Company except some merchandising. Segel announced this week he has completed a script for the movie rumored for release in 2010. 

As a die-hard Muppet fan myself, Segel is not be my first choice to take the reigns of the discarded franschise but it could be worse. Segel has made a career being a loveable, quirky geek who doesn’t mind standing naked for a few laughs.  In addition to having some qualities that resemble charm, he seems to have a genuine love of puppets. He insisted that Judd Apatow include a scene from a play for puppets he had written entitled “Dracula’s Lament”.

The muppet movie will feature a recyled plot: think The Muppets take Manhattan meets Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo. The old beloved Muppet theatre is under threat of destruction by an evil oil moonger. The focus will be on the traditional (aka pre Disney) characters like Kermit, Miss Piggy, Gonzo and Fozzie. 

As a lifelong devotee to all things Muppets and Jim Henson reltaed everything sound good right now but I have plenty of reason to worry. Rumors of a revival have been a long time coming. -But Disney and Segel are trying to rewrite 50+ year old characters for a generation that never grew up with them. Muppets also have had a series of made for TV/straight to DVD flops: Muppet Christmas: Letters to Santa, Muppet Wizard of Oz, etc. 

Jason Segel_Sarah Marshall

Segel has to make up for a decade of bad desicions by the Disney Company. 

<- I do think if you had a way to tell Jim Henson Disney is putting this man in charge of the Muppets next movie he would spin in his grave.

It may be scary but I realize he is the Muppets best hope for a revival.

Nothing is off limits in Tropic Thunder: gays, mentally handicap, actors, blacks, etc. The movie has seen its fair share of disgruntled guests marching out. Most of the humor comes from pushing the buttons of the overtly “Politically Correct” crowd. Does this film go to far? Does it succeed because it realizes that things like black face aren’t funny in and of itself, but looking at characters who accept these things as the norm is humorous because it is so outrageous?

This film plays off some stereotypes that really haven’t been covered before like Downey’s portrayal of an insane method actor. I am in love with Robert Downey Jr.’s performance. He stole the stage as Kirk Lazarus, an extreme method actor, who changes his appearance to play African American Sgt. Osiris. He plays the part so straight it is a bit eerie.

Stiller and Downey’s characters stayed in the limelight. I am convinced that the other characters including Alpa Chino (Brandon T. Jackson) and Kevin Sandusky (Jay Baruchel) deserved more screen time, their characters were the heart of the humor. While Jeff Portnoy (Jack Black) had his moments the role had the same problem as his storyline, he was just an excuse for some crude humor and flatulence.

The major subplot of the movie revolves around Tugg Speedman (Stiller) trying to escape being typecast as the “action guy”. He is ready to prove himself as a real actor and get some recognition from the Academy. His first attempt at a serious role, Simple Jack, went too far. As Lazarus explains that you never go “full retard” on a movie.

The promotion site for the Simple Jack movie has been removed because advocate groups protested the film’s use of the word “retard”.

That being said there is one fake film from Tropic Thunder I would pay to see, Satan’s Alley. Go see the trailer.

One side note: Tom Cruise made a smart career movie; he was actually funny in a film. He played producer Les Grossman. -But he still has a long way to go before he convinces me, and many others that he is not bat *hit insane.

Superman didn’t make the cut this summer for a good reason. Right now superheroes all have something all in common, they are not perfect, not even close.

The summer box office started off being dominated by the womanizing, boozer and weapons distributor Tony Stark (the perfect role for Robert Downey Jr’s comeback). He was cruel and sarcastic but like most nerds I could sit around watching Mr. Downey fly around in that suit for hours.

The end of the Iron Man movie does have a special scene at the end of the credits. The versions on YouTube are horrible quality. I must warn you if you are not a fan of the comics it is best to go and save yourself those six minutes of credits. -To sum it up Marvel is trying something different, they are working on melding all their movies to fit into the Marvel universe a.k.a. a lot more superhero movies are in the works and they all will be interconnected. It should be interesting.

The Incredible Hulk promises to make up for the 2003 edition “Hulk”. I saw that version twice and lived to tell about but I promise it wasn’t pretty. I don’t wish that on my worse enemy. Ang Lee was scrapped and the franchise got a fresh start and a whole new cast. Edward Norton plays the emotionally unstable Eric Banner on the run from the military. I don’t want people to write off Hulk or Marvel because the past installment; I promise this one will repair some of those broken hearts and settle the queasy stomachs.

Shrek?

Hulk Smash

See the difference!? Trust me, it’s worth it!

Everyday I walk into the movies and Dark Knight is not in theaters it kills me a little bit inside. I keep telling myself that there is only a month to go but that day never will come soon enough.

This video clip will over excite movie nerds who have been (un)patiently awaiting for the moment of truth, the pinnacle of our movie viewing existence, The Dark Knight movie: The Two Face Teaser I know all the buzz surrounding this movie have been about the Joker and Heath Ledger’s last completed film. His role promises to be very twisted and brings Joker back to his roots as a homocide maniac as oppossed to well, a joke.

As an avid lover (and loser) of poker, viewing the trailer for 21 it seemed that the movie was produced with me in mind. I was willing to ignore while viewing that Kate Bosworth needs to eat a bagel or something. The fast paced blackjack tribute had its flaws but retained enough of the original story, a preview is available on freepress, to be entertaining.

The Boston Globe and Boston Magazine both outed the book and the movie for including bogus information. Publishers are now owning up to their original mistake of running it as nonfiction as more of the involved parties come out and confess the embellishments are way off their mark, and most scenes never occurred.

This movie has received some negative reviews because it replaced the smart and nerdy characters with beautiful people. I definitely see their point. There has to be some steps missing in the middle. I am not saying it is negative to think people with a 4.3 GPA and near perfect scores on the SAT can’t be attractive. I just can not ever imagine anyone picking on Kate Bosworth for being a geek.

When did Hollywood go from this:

To this:

369445131.jpgbdf_horton-hears-a-who.jpg

Horton Hears A Who can be considered an instant classic with superb performances from Jim Carey and Steve Carell. The movie has an uplifting message for kids and some subtle jokes to keep parents’ attention.

The Dr. Seuss adaptation holds true to the book. -And is by far the best conversion, horton_hears_a_who_.jpgbeating The Grinch and the appalling Cat in the Hat.

Since the beginning of kids movies, every one could be boiled down to a simplistic moral. Horton seems to focus on diversity, “A person is a person no matter how small”. It stressed the importance of honesty and the freedom to use your imagination. -No one here is complaining about the content of Horton.

It is probably not just a current phenomenon but many recent movies (Golden Compass and the extremely liberal Happy Feet) can cause parents to be up in arms about what their children view. It is impossible to say that media is the only moral defining agent for children but some cases show the effect can not be ignored.

For years Disney has been at the forefront. Are these movies merely teaching children the power of imagination, dreams and determination? -I am not simply talking about the supposed hidden innuendos. I have no intention to spread more fanatical fear but movies subtly instill messages about the role of women, race and culture.

It is hard to paint Disney or any other production company as the bad guy because movies are generally based on other fairy tales or books. Is it the responsibility of animators and companies like Disney to remove details that would seem offensive after deep (maybe too in depth) analysis?

It is hard to escape cultural commentary whether it is the uplifting messages from Dr. Seuss or another writer. Who has to act as the moral reviewer an individual, a critic or MPAA and their rating system?

Since there is no measure of how a film can affect a child how much moderation is needed? It varies, children can grow up watching slasher movies or be banned from Harry Potter and Golden Compass and they all can turn out alright.

Pit PonyEllen Page breaks free from the mainstream with the roles she choses. He role in Juno snagged her the nomination for a best actress Oscar for 2007.

Page has been acting since she was ten. She got her start in the Canadian television drama and movie “Pit Pony”, about the families of coal miners in the early nineteenth century. She told Barbara Walters that it was not her intention to be a big movie star but she happened to be “short have brown hair [she looked] like a poor kid from the turn of the century”.

Page made her American debut when she landed the role of Halley in the dark film, Hard Candy. The story pits a fourteen year old girl against pedophile Jeff played by Patrick Wilson. Page stated in and interview with IGN that fell quickly in love with the script, “I found it just incredibly engrossing and obviously original. And then on top of that to read a role written for a teenage girl with so much passion and intelligence, that was extremely refreshing”.

Hard Candy

Hard Candy had a lot of controversy surrounding it. The film showed the dark side of the Internet, presented Jeff (Wilson) as a somewhat charming predator who endures torture by Halley.

Ellen Page was one of three actresses to play teen Kitty Pryde in the X-Men trilogy. Pryde is a mutant capable of phasing through walls. The actresses playing pride changed for every film first, X1 had Sumela Kay and Katie Stuart was in X2. The role of Kitty was notKitty Pride really substantial to the plot until three. Kitty came close to breaking up the relationship between Rogue and boyfriend Iceman. She also played a pivotal role in protecting Leech from Juggernaut. Page was excited about the project abd described the role for About.com, “Kitty’s involved more and has a bit of a subplot with a certain other mutant and we’ll see. It’s all fun. I get to fight in the end.” There is no word whether Page will reprise this role in X-men Origins: Wolverine. Most likely not considering this film is set before Wolverine connects with the X-men. Kitty was probably still in diapers according to this time line.

Juno garnered Page a lot of media attention. She played the cynical and witty, Juno, a pregnant teen with plans to adopt her baby to yuppie suburbanites. The film won 37 awards including Best Original Screenplay and tallied 21 nominations.

Page has completed two projects since the release of Juno. Page filmed Smart People with actor Dennis Quad about a widowed professor who finds love and gets an unexpected visit from his brother. Smart People will be in theaters in early April. The Snow Angel follows the dramatic life of an unconventional woman, Hagar Shipley. The film is set to be released in May.

LookoutThe Bank Job, starring Jason  Statham, is based on the true story of a 1971 heist in London. The tag “based on a true story” should lead fans to be weary. Details can be changed to fit a filmmakers conceptions and fill in the blanks. I guess I will do the gracious thing and say if you plan on seeing the movie, I have included a bunch of spoilers.

The story of the “walkie talkie” robbers is actually pretty much on the money, at least according to one of an interview with on ex-gang member. The tunneling took three weeks. Digging was only done Friday through Monday morning to avoid complaints from the bank and restaurant next door. Reports distinguished about four or five males and one woman over the radio.

The robbery bared some connections to the Sherlock Holmes tale, “The Red Headed League“. The robbery took place near the legendary office of Holmes, on the corner of Baker Street and Marylebone Road. The robbers realized the connection and left the Jason Smessage, “Let Sherlock Holmes try to solve this” spray-painted on the inside of the vault.

A lot of the conversations between the robbers and the lookout were verbatim. Ham radio owner Robert Rowlands caught the messages while trying to contact a friend in Australia. The cops ignored it as a hoax but Rowlands managed to enlist the help of Scotland Yard. Authorities taped and kept transcripts of some of the conversations. They were unable to trace the robbers before they went off the air.

The plot of the movie centers around the idea that this entire robbery was setup by the British government. That detail according to my research this claim has no proof. The interview from The Mirror with the unidentified gang member seems go against this. It was a bunch of guys in this for jewels and cash.

The robber admitted they found some incriminating photos, though he could not discuss who was in them, or confirm if any were of Princess Margaret. The robbers also Princess Margaretstumbled upon some child pornography, disgusted, they left the pictures for the authorities to trace back to the owners.

I looked into the back story of Princess Margaret because although I could guess part of it, I didn’t know any details. She was Queen Elizabeth’s sister and third in line for the throne. She lived extravagantly and there were rumors about her partying nature. Margaret wanted to originally marry Captain Peter Townsend, a previously divorced man. This was a huge scandal at the time, though it may seem insignificant by today’s standards.

She married and divorced Antony Armstong-Jones. She was later connected with Roddy Llewellyn, she was 17 years his senior. The pair met at her villa in the Caribbean where the scandalous pictures mentioned in the movie were supposedly taken.

Michael XThe pictures were believed to be held in the safe deposit box of radical Michael X. Michael X, or Abdul Malik, was hung for the murder of Gale Ann Benson. The film portrayed Gale as a spy which was not true. Malik’s follower, Edward Chadee reported, “[Gale was] causing Hakim some mental strain, so we have to get rid of her.” They dug Gale a grave and accomplice Marvin Dean, stabbed her.

While the story is close enough to reality it is interesting to take note of the actual history. In the end the robbers did not get away. Four men were arrested though their sentences and names were never released to the media.

I think it is important for audiences to take films as entertainment and learn history through research. I have been doing fact checking on movies since I was a kid watching Pocahontas.