Monday, January 30, 2012

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Oskar Schell (Thomas Horn), a grieving 11-year-old boy in the unsettling, whimsy-glutted remember-9/11-at-the-holidays dramaExtremely Loud & Incredibly Close, refers to when his father died only as ''the Worst Day.'' The designation is much more to the point than ''the day the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center were destroyed by terrorists, killing everyone inside, including Oskar's nice Dad, generously played by Tom Hanks.'' A year after the Worst Day, while his sad Mom (an earnest Sandra Bullock) is at work, Oskar discovers a key hidden among his dead dad's belongings. Convinced that the key will open something important, something that will reveal a message — father and son used to play at elaborate clue-filled ''reconnaissance expeditions'' — the boy begins scouring the city for the key's owner. For a time, he is accompanied by a mute old man known only as the Renter (Max von Sydow, giving a great acting lesson in wordless physical action) because he rents a room from Oskar's grandma (Zoe Caldwell). The Renter communicates by writing in a little notebook. For convenience, he also keeps YES inked on his left palm and NO on his right, and he flashes his hands, when appropriate, like a mime. Among those who can't help Oskar — as an extra challenge, the boy could reasonably be diagnosed on the autism spectrum — are an unhappy couple played by Viola Davis and Jeffrey Wright.
A polarizing load of quirkiness in Extremely Loud gunks up (at least for this hometown mourner; your results may vary) what is at heart a piercing story: Here's a tale that compacts the grief of an entire world, country, city, and thousands of loved ones left behind into the pain of one vulnerable, fictional boy. The gunk is not, in itself, the movie's fault. Those narrative curlicues are embedded in Jonathan Safran Foer's 2005 novel of the same name. (There, a reader can find a photo of palms marked YES and NO.) Indeed, the cinematic translation provided by Stephen Daldry (a pro at directing boys after Billy Elliot) is about as 9/11-respectful and eager to please as one can want with such a sugared premise. It will never get any easier, nor should it, to see images of the towers 
 in flames, or of human beings falling to their deaths; at least Daldry is prudent in his use of sacred footage.
Thankfully, Extremely Loud (based on Jonathan Safran Foer's novel) is no pat yarn about how Oskar comes to terms with death. It’s not that easy – the kid is the quintessential walking wounded. But the point is, he’s still walking. 

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Man on a Ledge

Man on a Ledge is a heist film with a great hook, a fast pace, and a  letdown of an ending. For about 80 minutes, it crackles along at a breakneck pace, building suspense and tension, switching back and forth between three destined-to-converge plotlines.

The premise borrows a little from two of the Die Hardfilms  In this case, the distraction is the suicide watch for the title character, ex-cop and escaped convict Nick Cassidy (Sam Worthington), who opens the window to his 21st floor hotel room and wanders out onto a catwalk. This results in the arrival of two NYPD officers, Lydia Mercer (Elizabeth Banks) and Jack Dougherty (Edward Burns), trying to talk him down while a massive crowd gathers below. Meanwhile, across the street, Nick's brother, Joey (Jamie Bell), and Joey's girlfriend, Angie (Genesis Rodriguez), are breaking into the ultra-secure inner sanctum of diamond merchant David Englander (Ed Harris). Their goal: find the evidence that Englander set Nick up to take the fall for a multi-million dollar robbery that sent the former police officer to Sing Sing.

There's a lot to like about Man on a Ledge, not the least of which is the no-nonsense, rapid-fire manner in which Asger Leth makes his feature debut. There's not a lot of fat here - every scene either advances the plot or gives us a white-knuckle moment. Leth also injects a fair amount of humor into what could be a grim tale - this comes primarily through the occasionally comedic byplay between amateur heist artists Joey and Angie as they execute their convoluted plan to make it through Englander's security system. It's also refreshing to encounter characters like these in a film of this sort - smart but not experienced. They have a lot of good ideas but don't always execute them to perfection.

Sam Worthington has a thankless job, doing little more than standing on a ledge 200 feet above a New York intersection while trying to convince Lydia that he's an innocent man. Worthington is fine in the role, with a performance that's more solid than his variable American accent. Meanwhile, Banks starts out the movie with a more interesting character than she concludes it with. As the villain, Ed Harris is lackluster, but that could be the result of limited screen time. He sneers a lot but doesn't have much else to do.

For a January movie - a time of the year when the studios dump productions they don't feel have the cache to survive during warmer and/or more competitive seasons - Man on a Ledge is respectable. It almost delivers - or, more appropriately, it does deliver, albeit not for the entire running length. 

Monday, January 23, 2012

Its just not Fair-PTO

Okay. If you know me at all I am a bit obsessed with Musical Theater. There is no rational explanation or good reason for it, but it is what it is. I was so ecstatic when Phantom of the Opera came out during my High School years. It is an amazing story and it has incredible music. I have to admit Andrew Lloyd Webber is pretty talented. So When I bought my special edition DVD of Phantom it came with the second disk of extra features. One of the features was a behind the scenes type deal called The Making of the Phantom of the Opera. One segment of  this video talks about casting the movie. When I watched this for the first time I came across this gem of Patrick Wilson. I'm not exactly sure, but he is either rehearsing or doing a screen test or something. But it was one of those moments that make you hate people like Patrick Wilson. If you skip ahead to 3:29 of the video you will see what I mean. Patrick Wilson has a ball cap on, leaning against the piano, flipping through the pages of some book, not paying attention, all while effortlessly belting out Prima Donna. You can just imagine what he's thinking when he finishes. "So, are we done here?" Its just hilarious. I had to share.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Movies I'm looking Forward To

Man on a Ledge-Jan 27th

The Raven-March 9

Hunger Games-March 23

Men in Black III-May 25th (because it comes out on my Birthday)

Snow White and the Huntsman-June 1

Dark Knight Rises-July 20th

The Bourne Legacy-August 3rd

Breaking Dawn Part II (I can finally be rid of the Twilight Movies)-Nov 16

Les Miserables-Dec 7

The Great Gatsby-Dec 25th

Lincoln-Dec TBA

What are you looking forward to watching?

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Car Show

I got to go to the Auto Show at the SouthTowne Expo Center. Here were the Highlights.

Cadillac CTS
Nissan 370z

Jeep Liberty

And my Personal Favorite
Audi R8

Going to the show was a bit of a surprise. I wish I had brought my camera I could have put up actual pictures. Cest La Vie. It was still a blast!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Les Mis-Where's Kanye When You Need Him

Well its time for me to rant about something very petty and unimportant. I thought my biggest problem I would have with the new Les Miserables movie that is coming out this year was that Anne Hathaway was going to be in it. I am not an Anne Hathaway fan as some of you may know, but I don't hate her. I've come to peace with her playing Fantine and have moved on. She might do a decent job. She does have a sort of pleasant voice in the right range. Fantine is an alto so she might be able to pull it off.
So just a recap here are the roles that have been cast.

Then this week. They announced that Amanda Seyfried will be playing Cosette. I actually like Amanda depending on the character she's playing. She has a pretty good voice. I thought she did well playing Sophie in Mama Mia. Cosette is a challenging soprano part.  Amanda might be able to pull it off if she works hard.
It was also announced that Taylor Swift will be cast as Eponine. What!?  The Post reported that Scarlett Johansson, Lea Michele and Evan Rachel Wood were all auditioning for the role as the daughter of the Mr. and Mrs. Thernardier. And yet Taylor Swift won out and beat them all.  I am so excited about most of the cast but But TAYLOR SWIFT?!? I can't even. At no point during the musical does Eponine have to stand there with her mouth open pretending to be surprised. Except maybe when she is shot. I just cannot understand how they possibly chose her for the cast.

First of all, this show requires extremely gifted actors. It's a musical, but it's an emotion drama too, and director Tom Hopper certainly knows that by the pedigree of the rest of the cast he's picked out: Hugh Jackman, Russel Crowe, Sasha Baron Cohen, Anne hathaway, and just announed Amanda Seyfried, who will be playing the role of Cosette. Not all of these people are Oscar winners, but they're all fairly respected actors who have previously done impressive work in their field. Taylor Swift had a small cameo role in Valentine's Day. Now let me be clear. I am not a Taylor Swift hater.  I am actually quite a fan. But I just have to wonder if she really wowed the director and whoever else was at the audition, or if this is a ploy to make even more money. Swift doesn’t necessarily bring the proven acting chops to the table of, say, Crowe or Bonham Carter. What she does bring is a massive, highly committed fan base. But will it pay off?

Secondly, much of the singing will be filmed live on set. Yes, Swift is obviously a singer-one of the most successful singers the music industry has right now-but being able to sing country-pop songs you've written specifically for your voice is a lot different than being able to pull off beloved Broadway standards that require extreme belting. Taylor Swift is a very talented song writer and performer. But she has an okay voice with a limited range. Case in point-

Besides the vocal range and underdeveloped acting the other big problem is that the character just dones' fit her or anything close to the roles Taylor should be playing. Eponine's type is something a little bit closer to an ethnicity of some sort and she is a girl who has had serious issues that need to be dealt with in a very real, true, way. . She is NOT a blonde white happy-go-lucky country girl. just look at the women who have played her on Broadway.  It’s a type that Taylor, even though I am a Huge fan of hers, just does not fit.
I really hope she works hard and proves me wrong and just blows my mind. Who knows she might just have it in her to pull it off.
Now that you’ve listened to Taylor try to sing a Broadway song, I thought I’d post Lea Michele singing Tonight, the way it was supposed to sound, and On My Own from Les Miserables. I can’t believe they passed her over. If she is not cast in the movie version of Wicked I might just have to give up going to the movies.  Gasp!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

New Years.

2011 Has Been A Very Interesting Year.
I celebrated my 4 year mark at the bank. I can't believe it.
We finally got to meet baby Henry. How delicious.
I saw Rascal Flatts  in Concert.
I got to got to the Stadium of Fire with Brad Paisley and
I have been inspired by Meg Johnson-what a great lady.
My child ended with the movie Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. 
I have been able to watch Isabel and Olivia compete in their dancing.
I have been to Jake's German recital and I was able to see him fence.

I have also had tough year. I won't say its been full of failure or disappointment but opportunities for redirection. So I had my interview for graduate school at BYU. I really had my heart set on continuing my education in Provo. But I got a flat out no. Rejection.  I also applied to the programs at the U of U and USU. I was put on the wait list for both schools. After waiting for months to hear, I got the good word that all the spots have been filled. I didn't make the cut. I wasn't too phased. Rejection happens so I moved on and started job hunting at different school districts. I got more doors closed in my face. We're not hiring speech technicians. This might be a better opportunity, why don't you contact this district. Call us back when you have your masters degree. And my one glimmer of hope with Alpine School District ended in a thank you for applying, but we've filled the position. 

But I have faith that if I move forward and fill my life with good worthwhile activities, I will end up where the Lord wants me to be.  The plan i had for myself for the next 2-5 years was not exactly meant to be I guess. Things happen for a reason. I just haven't quite figured out the reason for this roller coaster yet. But I have learned to Wait Upon the Lord. As Robert D Hales taught- We may not know when or how the Lord's answers will be given, but in His time and in His way, I testify His answers will come. He knows your sacrifices and sorrows. he hears your prayers. His peace and rest will be yours as you continue to wait upon Him in Faith. So I have decided to move forward and redirect my goals. I am getting my teaching degree at UVU. I am finishing 2 prerequisites this coming semester and starting the program in the Fall. I am very excited.

I have learned so much about forgiveness and gratitude and love this year. I have such a great family. They are a force of good, not only to me but to everyone they interact with. I've realized how blessed I am and what great people have shaped my thoughts and taught me right and wrong. I have made a resolution this year to look for God's hand in my life. Its there everyday and I just haven't been looking.

Things I am looking forward to in 2012.

Baby Hugh is joining the family the end of March or beginning of April
Blessings in a Basket 5K
I am going through the temple with my whole family!
1st annual McCrookerelyboehmitchell Refunion. 
Rereading the Book of Mormon
Lady Antebellum Concert in February (I hope)
Wicked is coming to Salt Lake. 
Hunger Games, Les Miserables and The Great Gatsby all coming out this year.
I am going to smile more and be more optimistic.
Studying and brushing up on ASL
I should probably work on getting a boyfriend this year (ha ha that's a good one)