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Category Archives: Movies

Sometimes a movie makes you cry. Sometimes it makes you laugh. You leave the theater or hit the stop button, teary-eyed, with your side split from laughter or infuriated by the two hours you’ve wasted. But it’s not very often I’m left thinking, racking my brain, putting myself in the place of the protagonist thinking for hours, “What would I have done?”

But I did when I watched TiMER.

Timer movie poster

Props to Jessi for putting me on to this movie.

Here’s the premise:

Oona is a thirty-something dentist who lives with her stepsister Steph who’s around the same age. Oona is looking for love and Steph is waiting for love, but not in the way you might expect.

At a certain point, the quest for love is sometimes driven by a deadline. You want to get married before you have kids. You want to be financially stable to get married. You need a job to be financially stable (whatever that meas these days). And you need a degree to get a job. But what if the timeline is not so strategic, not so practical, but proven science?

TiMER is set in present-day, but a present-day in where when you reach adolescence, you can get a timer implanted on your wrist.

TiMER

When you do this, one of two things can happen:

  • Your timer begins a countdown, be it 5 days or in the case of Oona’s stepsister Steph, 5262 days 14 hours 56 min 2 seconds. These are the days until you meet your soul mate.
  • Or, you can get your timer and when it is implanted, it could be blank. This means that your soul mate has not gotten their timer yet. This is what has happened to the protagonist, Oona.

No more guesswork. The phrase “You’ll just know,” is a little more tangible. How will you know? When your timer counts down to the final day, you have 24 hours in which you will find your soul mate. When you make eye contact with him/her, your timer and theirs starts beeping like crazy, and there you have it. True love, your life partner, happily ever after, etc.

(It’s not a sci-fi flick at all really. No hovering cars or drastically rigid asymmetrical haircuts. It’s just a world like this one, but with timers.)

Oona lives by this gadget, the timer. She believes in it and makes decisions by it. She dates men without timers and after a couple dates, she takes them to get a timer in hopes that hers will turn on and they will be soulmates. It’s become something of a hobby.

She shows little interest in these men, but dating anyone with a timer already, to her, is a “moot point.” But then, the meet-cute. She meets a younger, unsuccessful guy with messy roommates. But the worst part: He already has a timer, which means they can’t be soul mates.

Of course there are many plot twists but it brings up some situations that make you wonder:

  • Would you get a timer if it’s 100% proven?
  • Would you date someone with a timer who you know isn’t your soul mate? Or would it just be a moot point?
  • In the movie, timers have only been around for a decade or so, so what if you were already married? Would you get one and risk knowing that you are not married to your soul mate?
  • What if you fall in love with someone who you know isn’t your soul mate?
  • Is it fate? Is it destiny? Is it just a self-fulfilling prophecy?
  • Is a guarantee really what you need to put  a restless mind at ease?
  • What if you are to find your soul mate when you are barely at age to date?

I can say that I wouldn’t get one, but I would certainly be tempted. I mean, a couple bad dates and then you just think, “Skrew it. I’ll just go get a timer.”

It’s along the lines of that witch’s eyeball in Big Fish.

Big Fish witch

If you could look in the eyeball of an old woman and see your death, would you want to? On one hand, if you see yourself dying old, you would be able to take risks your whole life, knowing that you would survive them. On the other hand, if you find you die young, well, that’s a little discouraging.

In both scenarios, witch’s eyeball or timer, I think ignorance is bliss. Life is guesswork and mistakes.While there would be a reassurance in knowing, the freedom of not knowing would be altogether more spontaneous and less frigid and formulated. Oona’s love interest Mikey says it best:

“You’re sweating your future right? It’s a shame because you could have a more exciting present if you really wanted.”

There are no big names besides Buffy the Vampire Slayer‘s Emma Caulfield as Oona. In a refreshing way, you can go into the movie with no expectations beyond my humble suggestion. It’s kind of new to DVD and it’s on the “Instant” section of Netflix right now. There are a couple unanswered questions in the plot, but still, I highly suggest it.

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This summer the movie theater queue will feature what seem to be some big blockbusters. To name  a few Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, The A-Team and The Last Airbender.

But you can have your Jake Gyllenhaal, your Dev Patel and your Bradley Cooper. I will take Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon Levitt and Ellen Paige in a movie about dreams. But not just dreams…

The teaser trailer had me excited for months, but now with the full trailer, I can’t wait. Yes, I have a particular affinity for the actors , but, really, it looks ground-breaking.

I will tell you what I hope it’s not. I hope it’s not Wanted. Matrix effects here and there with some explosions and some grand idea of thinking outside the box of society. Wanted was Fight Club meets Matrix with a rat explosions. Ew.

With the way they’re publicizing this movie, I hope it’s  as much of a surprise as they’re implying. I haven’t seen a really great movie in a while, and hopefully, on July16, this will break the spell.

Here’s the IMDB synopsis:

Acclaimed filmmaker Christopher Nolan directs an international cast in an original sci-fi actioner that travels around the globe and into the intimate and infinite world of dreams. Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a skilled thief, the absolute best in the dangerous art of extraction, stealing valuable secrets from deep within the subconscious during the dream state, when the mind is at its most vulnerable. Cobb’s rare ability has made him a coveted player in this treacherous new world of corporate espionage, but it has also made him an international fugitive and cost him everything he has ever loved.

Now Cobb is being offered a chance at redemption. One last job could give him his life back but only if he can accomplish the impossible inception. Instead of the perfect heist, Cobb and his team of specialists have to pull off the reverse: their task is not to steal an idea but to plant one. If they succeed, it could be the perfect crime. But no amount of careful planning or expertise can prepare the team for the dangerous enemy that seems to predict their every move. An enemy that only Cobb could have seen coming. This summer, your mind is the scene of the crime.

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On Sunday, I drove all the way out (30 or so minutes) to Blufton, SC to the closest theater showing “Babies.” I was curious about it, but turns out, the title is not a metaphor or anything; it’s just a movie about babies.

Why did I go see it? The preview is  all these glimpses of babies and at the end of the trailer, the words flash on the screen, “THE BABIES ARE COMING.” So, I had to go see it, right?

Bayar from Mongolia. My favorite of the four babies in the movie.

I mean, I like babies. OK, I love babies. Most people find babies’ feet the most adorable thing, or when they say “Mama,” or the first time they lift their head or something. Yeah, OK, but I think I think when babies cry it’s adorable. Not just a normal cry, the gasping-for-air hiccup cry, and then they stop. Just like that. Brilliant actors babies are.

But did they need  a whole movie? Probably not. I thought there was going to be some angle. It’s a documentary by Focus Features made by a French production company. Sounds fancy. Where’s the dramatic story line? Where’s the trial and tribulation? Oh, yeah. Maybe it’s when the baby from Mongolia has plays with a goat. Wait, no that’s not it.

The movie documents the lives of four babies around the world, but it’s just a glorified international Mommies Day Out. And I don’t want to hear the “If you were a mom…” argument. Yes, moms probably like it more than I do. No, I’ve never birthed a child with whom I have that indescribable cosmic connection. But I bought a ticket to your “Babies” movie (admittedly, to write a review), and other than the nicely-shot footage and the adorable baby in Mongolia, there were too many times when I was bored.

And you’d be surprised (or at least I was) at how often the American woman is naked with her child. Lady, your skin and rotund shape are not as forgiving as your newborn’s.

My full review is on District, but here’s my final evaluation:

“From the clip of the umbilical cord to the first triumphant step, this movie makes a big deal of the little deals. If you’re a mother (or soon-to-be), this movie might be worth the matinee price. If you just love the YouTube videos of babies laughing, get ready to be on cute overload. If you don’t think babies are even real people until they can walk, talk and use a toilet, then this movie will be a reassuring contraceptive.”

This post is a little lengthy and it’s a step away from what I usually talk about, but stick with me. I’m really fired up about this one.

Newsweek ran an article in the May issue of Newsweek by Ramin Setoodeh called “Straight Jackets: Heterosexual actors play gay all the time. Why doesn’t it ever work in reverse?” It’s a bit of a heated argument as you can imagine, but on May 8, Tony-winning actress Kristen Chenoweth’s response to the article really got the fire going.

Setoodeh’s article starts with a review of the Broadway musical Promises Promises in which Sean Hayes (Jack from Will & Grace) plays a straight man opposite his on-stage love interest Kristen Chenoweth. His complaint: “Is it funny because of all the ’60s-era one-liners, or because the woman is so drunk (and clueless) that she agrees to go home with a guy we all know is gay?


While some of his accusations seem a bit hasty and I haven’t seen the show, I agree with him on a couple points. One being: “Most actors would tell you that the biographical details of their lives are beside the point. Except when they’re not. As viewers, we are molded by a society obsessed with dissecting sexuality, starting with the locker-room torture in junior high school.”

When you know an actor is gay, and he/she is playing straight, try as you might not, when Hayes giggles or flips his hand, you’re going to think it’s a slip. Or if Portia de Rossi on Arrested Development, I don’t know, wears a loose-fitting button down shirt, you might think that she isn’t upholding her character. Truth of the matter is, background (of the actor and the audience) is a bias.

I will say, yes, sometimes Cynthia Nixon seemed less believable sleeping with various men on Sex in the City after I found out she is gay. (It might have been the lesbian cliches: short hair cut and power suits.) But when I found out T.R. Knight (George on Grey’s Anatomy) is gay, I was astounded and impressed because there were no giveaways. Then I got angry when he started sleeping with all the girls on the show.

Was his character overcompensating? Should these actors have to make up for their life off-screen when playing a straight character? I don’t think so. While I do think some of Chenoweth’s response veered a little too far on the opposition considering her personal ties to the subject, I will take a line from her rebuttal, “We’re actors first, whether we’re playing prostitutes, baseball players, or the Lion King. Audiences come to theater to go on a journey. It’s a character and it’s called acting.”

The bias of an audience is theirs alone. It’s up to them to judge performances on what they are without the headlines on tabloids. It’s a “what if” question that’s nearly impossible to answer: If I didn’t know ______ was gay, would I see their performance as a straight character differently?

This could hold true for most actors. When Adam Sandler starts talking in a movie, on SNL or in an interview, you expect to laugh. You might even laugh when something isn’t funny because Adam Sandler is saying it. But when Spanglish, Click and Funny People came out, viewers didn’t respond as well because it seemed more false than familiar.

Just like Hayes played the flamboyant Jack and is gay off-camera, Adam Sandler is a comedic icon we recognize from classics like Happy Gilmore and Billy Madison and off-camera he is still the funny Jewish guy who sings the Hanukkah song. So in Spanglish, when he’s a middle-aged guy hating his life and in love with his pretty Latina housekeeper it’s a little harder to sell.

I couldn’t find a consistent statistic on a percentage of people who are homosexual, but we’re dealing in minorities here, people. What is a gay man’s opinion on Gyllenhaal and Ledger’s performances in Brokeback Mountain? I think the public is reacting to their performances from the standpoint of “Wow, look at these fetching straight actors making out on this breathtaking mountain. How did they muster up the courage to do that?” rather than “Are they actually pulling it off?”

It’s much easier for a heterosexual public (which we very much are), to say “He’s not acting straight enough,” than to say “He’s not acting gay enough.”

This “straight jacket” Setoodeh has invented seems to be just that, a figment of his own imagination in the case of Jonathan Groff (Spring Awakening, Glee) and Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother). But if anything, his article brought to my attention my own bias in believing actors on screen. Whether it’s laughing too hysterically at Adam Sandler’s occasional mediocre joke or pulling out the fine tooth comb on all things straight when watching Neil Patrick Harris, actors can only do so much on screen to convince a close-minded audience of their character.

It’s called suspension of disbelief. Yes, it was impossible for Will Smith to erase your memory with a blinking stick in1997 as Agent J. No, there is not really a teenage boy with spidey powers. But for 90 minutes, we let those things go–we believed it. Also believe that an actor can have sex with anyone they want off camera/stage and really sell it on stage–if you give them a chance.

If you’re interested, Setoodeh did respond to Chenoweth.

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This post is a little lengthy and it’s a step away from what I usually talk about, but stick with me. I’m really fired up about this one.

Newsweek ran an article in the May issue of Newsweek by Ramin Setoodeh called “Straight Jackets: Heterosexual actors play gay all the time. Why doesn’t it ever work in reverse?” It’s a bit of a heated argument as you can imagine, but on May 8, Tony-winning actress Kristen Chenoweth’s response to the article really got the fire going.

Setoodeh’s article starts with a review of the Broadway musical Promises Promises in which Sean Hayes (Jack from Will & Grace) plays a straight man opposite his on-stage love interest Kristen Chenoweth. His complaint: “Is it funny because of all the ’60s-era one-liners, or because the woman is so drunk (and clueless) that she agrees to go home with a guy we all know is gay?


While some of his accusations seem a bit hasty and I haven’t seen the show, I agree with him on a couple points. One being: “Most actors would tell you that the biographical details of their lives are beside the point. Except when they’re not. As viewers, we are molded by a society obsessed with dissecting sexuality, starting with the locker-room torture in junior high school.”

When you know an actor is gay, and he/she is playing straight, try as you might not, when Hayes giggles or flips his hand, you’re going to think it’s a slip. Or if Portia de Rossi on Arrested Development, I don’t know, wears a loose-fitting button down shirt, you might think that she isn’t upholding her character. Truth of the matter is, background (of the actor and the audience) is a bias.

I will say, yes, sometimes Cynthia Nixon seemed less believable sleeping with various men on Sex in the City after I found out she is gay. (It might have been the lesbian cliches: short hair cut and power suits.) But when I found out T.R. Knight (George on Grey’s Anatomy) is gay, I was astounded and impressed because there were no giveaways. Then I got angry when he started sleeping with all the girls on the show.

Was his character overcompensating? Should these actors have to make up for their life off-screen when playing a straight character? I don’t think so. While I do think some of Chenoweth’s response veered a little too far on the opposition considering her personal ties to the subject, I will take a line from her rebuttal, “We’re actors first, whether we’re playing prostitutes, baseball players, or the Lion King. Audiences come to theater to go on a journey. It’s a character and it’s called acting.”

The bias of an audience is theirs alone. It’s up to them to judge performances on what they are without the headlines on tabloids. It’s a “what if” question that’s nearly impossible to answer: If I didn’t know ______ was gay, would I see their performance as a straight character differently?

This could hold true for most actors. When Adam Sandler starts talking in a movie, on SNL or in an interview, you expect to laugh. You might even laugh when something isn’t funny because Adam Sandler is saying it. But when Spanglish, Click and Funny People came out, viewers didn’t respond as well because it seemed more false than familiar.

Just like Hayes played the flamboyant Jack and is gay off-camera, Adam Sandler is a comedic icon we recognize from classics like Happy Gilmore and Billy Madison and off-camera he is still the funny Jewish guy who sings the Hanukkah song. So in Spanglish, when he’s a middle-aged guy hating his life and in love with his pretty Latina housekeeper it’s a little harder to sell.

I couldn’t find a consistent statistic on a percentage of people who are homosexual, but we’re dealing in minorities here, people. What is a gay man’s opinion on Gyllenhaal and Ledger’s performances in Brokeback Mountain? I think the public is reacting to their performances from the standpoint of “Wow, look at these fetching straight actors making out on this breathtaking mountain. How did they muster up the courage to do that?” rather than “Are they actually pulling it off?”

It’s much easier for a heterosexual public (which we very much are), to say “He’s not acting straight enough,” than to say “He’s not acting gay enough.”

This “straight jacket” Setoodeh has invented seems to be just that, a figment of his own imagination in the case of Jonathan Groff (Spring Awakening, Glee) and Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother). But if anything, his article brought to my attention my own bias in believing actors on screen. Whether it’s laughing too hysterically at Adam Sandler’s occasional mediocre joke or pulling out the fine tooth comb on all things straight when watching Neil Patrick Harris, actors can only do so much on screen to convince a close-minded audience of their character.

It’s called suspension of disbelief. Yes, it was impossible for Will Smith to erase your memory with a blinking stick in1997 as Agent J. No, there is not really a teenage boy with spidey powers. But for 90 minutes, we let those things go–we believed it. Also believe that an actor can have sex with anyone they want off camera/stage and really sell it on stage–if you give them a chance.

If you’re interested, Setoodeh did respond to Chenoweth.

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The other day, I came home to my roommate watching World’s Greatest Dad. This movie came out after a string of flops from Robin Williams. Case in point: RV, Man of the Year, License to Wed and Everyone’s Hero (?). So last year, when Robin Williams played the World’s Greatest Dad, I was all but enthused. I mean, look at the cover.

Honestly, I can’t say I even enjoyed the movie while watching it. The kid from Spy Kids is masturbating and Robin Williams is making out with a really tall, annoying younger woman. Seeing all this in the first half of the movie, I’m saying, “Say what?”

Robin Williams’ son (the kid from Spy Kids) is an ignorant, bratty pervert (hence what I mentioned earlier). Robin Williams teaches poetry at said son’s high school. No one likes his class, he’s trying to write a book with no success and since his wife died, he’s started sleeping with another young, pretty teacher at the school. And yes, there is a sex scene with Robin Williams. All the while, I’m not sure if I’m supposed to be laughing or crying at the pathetic lives of this guy and his son.

Here comes a SPOILER ALERT: (which I don’t feel to bad about because it’s in the Netflix summary) The kid accidentally choked to death while…pleasuring himself. So what does Dad do? He forges his kid’s suicide note, and gets famous as the father of a kid with a hidden talent.

Sometimes a movie is supposed to make you feel uneasy or awkward, like Lars and the Real Girl, this just made me feel disgusted. So why did I like it? I was totally caught off-guard. I expected first-class cheesiness with Robin Williams and Spy Kids kid in some struggle of a broken family overcoming a dead mother. Some laughs, some coming-to-Jesus talks, and a touching moral.

But when it was over, I felt a little enlightened. I’m not sure I will feel the need to watch it again, but I found it strangely fascinating, morbidly cooky and I might even say, enlightening. Although I do hope no kid who’s a die-hard fan of Spy Kids went to see their favorite actor in this movie. He definitely is not fighting any bad guys.

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If you don’t know, I love GQ magazine. Yes I know it’s a men’s magazine. Yes I know I’m not a man nor do I want to be. I’m not a tomboy, I’m straight and I like girly things, I just also like GQ. Here’s why:

  • It’s well-designed.
  • There are good articles.
  • There are great photos
  • There are hot men on the covers.
  • I LOVE the letters from the editor.

Also, most women’s magazines have at least one headline on the cover advertising a crash diet or making yourself look younger or your hair shinier, which I find distracting and depressing. Also, the celebrity articles tend to be written from the angle of paparazzi instead of a  journalist.

Anyway, I want to share some blurbs from one  of my favorite things I’ve read in the magazine. It’s an open letter that snuck in on the last page. It’s called “Dear (Possibly Doomed) Class 2010.”

We’re all on our way to graduation, and people are suggesting to stay in school because the job market sucks. If you want more schooling, fine, but if you’re trying to avoid facing the cutthroat world of classifieds, it seems like you’re just delaying the inevitable and racking up more student debt in the process. That’s where I stand and here’s where GQ stands (It’s quite a bit of text, but trust me, it’s worth it):

“Well, you finally made it. You graduated! You spent four years (or eight, or ten–no judgments!) and eleventy billion dollars of your parents’ money, and now you’re a bunch of learned-ass adults. Or maybe you just spent five minutes on the University of Phoenix Web site, clicked ‘print diploma’ and went downstairs to do a couple of pre-Family Guy bong rips, because hangin’ out on the quad with a bunch of losers doesn’t fit into your life-plan right this second.

………..

“Now for the bad news. You’re joining the workforce in the middle of a jobless recovery, which is basically the O’Doul’s of economic rallies. It’s  no picnic out here. Or, okay, it’s a picnic, but it’s a Cormac McCarthy The Road type of picnic, there’s not enough canned peaches in the shopping cart, and everybody’s calling dibs on the one bullet. And also there are fire ants.

Mighty institutions people once took for granted–banks, newspapers, American Idol–are crumbling, and while most of them deserve to, the problem with a world without mighty institutions is that mighty institutions used to employ a lot of people. You could always get The Man to finance your lifestyle. No more. That unpaid internship you’ve got your eye on? Be prepared to flight somebody for it. Possibly your dad.

………..

“Frankly we’re wondering if you guys are going to be able to handle Malaise 2.0. Most of you were born in 1988, which means you were 3 years old when Nevermind came out (which makes us 826). You’ve never known hardship. ..You’ve also never lives in a world without Intenet, which means you’ve grown up with an exaggerated sense of your own self-importance…you posted ‘response’ videos on YouTube; poured out your every typeable thought on a  glittering, blinking MySpace page.

You had access to all the machinery of self-promotion before you really had a self. You thought of fame as a birthright.  And now you’ve been booted into a world that will LOL at your sense of awesome-life-entitlement, then offer to ‘hire’ you to blog for free.

………..

“We know how we sound, Oh-Tenners. We sounds old. Carson Daly old. Eddie Vedder old. And jealous. We did not, after all, actually graduate from college. We went, and then we went less often, and then we decided we were finished…But once we made that decision, we set about starting a life, secure in the knowledge that–because we’d never actually done anything–no one gave a crap about us or our burning conviction that we were too good to make some dude’s latte.

We advise you to proceed under the same assumption, graduates. Having a thousand Facebook friends means about as much in 2010 as a personalized-license-plate key chain meant in 1990. We live in a moment when anybody can make a name for themselves; the game you’re suiting up for is about making  that name matter.”


There have been many disputes about the entitlement generation with our iPhones and our constant Googling. Well here’s the long and short of it: Every generation will attempt to make information, transportation and communication more instantaneous and accessible. Whether with the invention of the iPhone, the Internet, the mobile phone, the car, even the written word, we’re all trying to move things along, and why shouldn’t we?

Do we feel entitled? To a certain extent, yes. But are we apathetic? Are we lazy? Do we have a superiority complex? I think not. When we feel we are entitled to certain technology, certain information, or (in the art world) certain design that isn’t available, we think, “How can we make it better?” “How can we make the things we want and need?” And that’s the start of progress.

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