Wednesday, December 28, 2011

My new career

For all of those who know me, I am on the career path of being a journalist. That dream is over my friends, I have a completely new one after watching the documentary When Harry Left Hogwarts. I want to make documentaries. Not just any kind but documentaries about films. This was the greatest thing I've ever seen because it made me that much sadder about the series ending. The actors, the set, the production crew all of it was incredible. The amount of work it takes to put on a movie, especially a movie like Harry Potter, even more so THE last Harry Potter was incredible to watch. I still can't believe it is finally all over but it made me decide I'm going into to the business of making movies.

I don't care what I do, the documentary actually made me want to do anything. I could start with a person who holds the umbrella for the actors on set, someone who gets them food or maybe an assistants director keep the schedule organized, or maybe even an assistants assistant. Basically if I could just be on a movie set I'd do the crap job just to be on the set of the movie. Can you imagine being on a set. I mean I of course have always wanted to do that, especially after watching the special features of the Lord of the Rings films, but all of the sudden I want to just drop out of school and move out to LA.

This of course is impractical, my parents would kill me. Maybe I can blame it on the fact that I am scared of the future and don't want to think about growing up. But mixing in the film Hugo and this documentary and then all the special features I watched of the last two Harry Potter films in the last two days made me just want to help make movies. They are simply one of the most fantastic things in the world. Of course it also made me want to write a brilliant, world renowned book, but that seems a little more unrealistic.

I suppose what I'm saying is even the person who has to hold the umbrella has a cool job. Films are so magical though. While watching the special features you see all the flaws, the green screen, the wired attached to objects or people and the CIG. Nonetheless a set has this movie power. Can you imagine being on a set of a bad movie and all it takes to create it. Just watching the Harry Potter things was unbelievable, of course this is a large scale movie, but still all the things they have to do is crazy. Getting the actors organized, getting the extras organized, making sure everyone knows what is going on, the stunt men, the production team. How difficult it must be do that. But then I think, they are all working toward the same cause, to create a fantastic movie. I wonder what it was like filming a movie like... gosh I can't even think of an awful movie right now. How about New Years Eve, think about all those stuck up actors and all the schedules to deal with, and not even for a good product. I wonder what those people were thinking, "we're making an awful movie but at least I'm getting paid a lot."

That was not the case I found while watching the Harry Potter documentary. Every single person seemed to care about what was actually going on and the work that it required. That is what makes a good film. That is what I now (and I think always have) want to be apart of so badly. I feel like anyone would love to do that. If only I was talented in acting, directing, producing, art, makeup, special effects. Man it would be so cool to be on the set of a movie. Of course, that is not the career path I am on, but oh, how I wish it was.

Here are some lovely movie side notes.
1. MI-4 is one of many films on my list to see and it isn't even going to be up for an Oscar (well maybe technical stuff). However, it won the Box Office this big Christmas weekend and is certainly on my list of must sees this break. Not to mention it has received great reviews from critics.
2. Well these photos got me excited for the new Spider-Man film. Not just because Emma Stone (wow, almost wrote Emma Watson, clearly Harry Potter is still on my mind) is in it but because I think it has a lot of promise. It is one of my most anticipated film of 2012.
3. I watched the Kennedy Center Honors Tuesday night and finally Meryl Streep was honored for her incredible career in films. Can you believe 16 Oscar nominations? How crazy is that. And it is sure to be 17 this season with her role in Iron Lady, and possibly her third win (she won Best Actress for Sophie's Choice and Supporting Actress in Kramer vs. Kramer). She was the most entertaining part of the program and a truly classy lady.

With that I say... Live long and prosper.

Friday, December 23, 2011

How to make a successful season finale

Folks, I don't know how they did it but some how the writers of Dexter erased a mediocre (and probably the worst) season of the show with one single scene. If you watch the Showtime thriller, you know the sixth season didn't quite live up to expectations but it nonetheless ended on a bang, and if you watch the show you know exactly what I'm talking about. I don't want to ruin it for people who haven't seen it or are in the process this winter break to catch up but it was fantastic. Not to mention Showtime's new thriller Homeland had a game changer of a season finale with killings and big decisions by major characters. Both finales got me thinking of what makes a good season finale because there have been many poor ones in the past (every season of Glee, most of How I Met Your Mother). I'd say premium television knows how to do it best (Dexter, True Blood, Sopranos - except for the series finale) but there are some network shows that do it right.

If there is one show still on TV that can do a season finale correct, it's Grey's Anatomy. I can tell you the big thing that happened in all Grey's finales (Addison shows up, Denny dies, Christina left at the altar, Meredith in the house of candles, George dies, shooting at the hospital and Meredith screws up her career - that literally took me two seconds). Now I would say all but the last season (the seventh season), there was  a crushing ending and a huge game changer in the finale (seven is easily the weakest finale). It is easy to say dramas usually make a bigger bang than sitcoms, especially because they have more time, but Parks and Recreation in its young life has had pretty good ones that people should take note of (Leslie running for office and the Tammy's return is one of the best). The important aspect of a finale is getting your audience to want more and totally setting up things for the next season (Dexter does this all too well, not necessarily ending all story lines in one season).

One show I really remember that was pretty bad at finales was Desperate Housewives, it got too complicated and too unrealistic (probably the reason I stopped watching after the third season). You have to remember to answer some of the audiences questions but you have to open new ones to bring them back. Lost was another master (maybe THE master) of the season finale. It was pretty much a guarantee that any Lost finale would be epic. If you have never seen this show, I don't know what you're doing here, they're all on Netflix and I know you're on break (if you didn't know Lost is my favorite thing that has ever aired on television - well maybe a toss up with Tina). Speaking of Tina, one of the best finales I've seen is 30 Rock's season four finale. Two parters are always a win and that's what 30 Rock did, Grey's had a couple of those as well. It's also a good call and gives you some more time to work with, but of course you have to be a successful show to get one of those.

You have to remember however, that the finale is not extremely important but the return of a show is just as important. If you can't bring back some things from the previous season, audiences get bored. That is what I am probably the most anxious for right now as far as Dexter and Homeland is concerned. When a show has me thinking of all the possibilities a week after it aired, that is a success. When I can't stop thinking about what just happened, that is a success. The things that change shows however, is finales that have watchers jaw drop to the floor (see: Dexter season 4 finale, Grey's season 3 and 6 finale, Lost season 3 finale). That is why a show always needs to know where it is going because it is so, so important to set up for the next season so people are automatically asking questions the moment the credits roll.

With that I give you some side notes.
1. We have about three weeks till 30 Rock returns to television which makes January 12 the best day of 2012 so far. Watch a sneak peek of the episode here and an interview with Tina about the season here.
2. Well, I can't lie. Even though Glee has been pretty disappointing this season, I am pretty darn excited for this Grease episode. I have a feeling it will involve Mercedes and Sam's relationship and so does pictures are getting me even more excited.
3. Even though it's not my Tina play Sarah, I can't deny that Julianne Moore looks pretty darn convincing in the role of Sarah Palin in HBO's original movie. Check out this teaser trailer for the film and from the snippet it sounds Moore has that specific voice nailed down pretty well.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

This movie was directed by who?!

Sorry for the delay folks, I know I came back but then finals started up again and if I want to remain in school I had to actually be productive. But it's time for winter break, which means I am back in action! This break also means lots of movie seeing, television watching and college football bowl season. However, this blog is going to be dedicated to a movie I saw during finals week (a break I surely needed during my studying) and a film that totally hit the spot.

Hugo is a surprising film and I mean that in every good way possible. First it's directed by Martin Scorsese. That's right, Scorsese made a kids movie. The director of movies like The Departed, Goodfellas, Gangs of New York, Raging Bull and any other movie opposite a kids movie you can think of. That's correct, Hugo is a fantastic, beautiful, well-written film, with superb acting and an overall cinematic masterpiece. It is a hats-off to old film making, something Scorsese has made clear he is in love with. I got lost in this movie, totally and utterly disappeared into this world and it was mostly due to the way Scorsese directed the film. The first I say six minutes before the title comes on is just awesome.

For those of you who don't know what the film is about I would tell you but I in fact didn't know much about it. The trailer doesn't explain much and I didn't read much before seeing it. And the fact that I did that helped immensely in the way I saw this movie and how much I enjoyed this movie. So, instead of giving you a plot summary I'm just going to tell you to go see it. The cinematography is absolutely fantastic (the movie is based in Paris). The acting is great, especially by the two children who are going to do great things. The title character is portrayed by actor Asa Butterfield (yes, that is his real name) who has done good things already staring in Nanny McPhee Returns and Boy in the Striped Pajamas. The main girl, Chole Moretz is a little more well-known, as the main girl in Kick-Ass and the sister in 500 Days of Summer. Both were fantastic and effortlessly carried this film.

The older actors also did a fabulous job. Another reason I may have liked this movie so much is it had three Harry Potter actors in it. Richard Griffiths who plays Vernon Dursley, Helen McCrory who plays Narcissa Malfoy (she has the biggest part in Hugo and is absolutely brilliant) and then Frances de la Tour who plays Madame Maxime in Harry Potter. Not to mention Jude Law, Christopher Lee, and Ben Kingsley who is also a main character. All these actors play their small part in this great movie that I believe kids will find fun, adults will fond over and people my age will purely enjoy.

Essentially what I'm saying is see this movie. It's a great family film that you can take anyone to and it is one everyone will enjoy. I don't know how a man who makes gangster movies was capable of grabbing my attention for two hours and take everything going on in my life (especially the stress of finals) and make me forget it all. Then again, he is Martin Scorsese.

With that here are some lovely movie side notes.
1. Despite it's not-so-great reviews, the second Sherlock Holmes film took first place in the box office, but definitely did not receive the numbers it was looking for. Nonetheless, it's a movie I surely want to see. Get ready for the next couple weeks though, some fantastic films are coming.
2. Finally! The first real trailer for Dark Knight Rises has been released and may I say it looks just fantastic. I have not seen the eight minute beginning that was released in front of the new Mission Impossible movie in IMAX, but the trailer was enough excitement for me. Should be a summer filled with blockbusters.
3. I was going to talk about the Golden Globe nominations but I was too in love with Hugo to not talk about it. So here are my brief thoughts: Sad about Harry not getting a nod, look at Ryan Gosling in both the drama and comedy categories, dang the Artist with six nods, I've gotta see the Descendants, no Melissa McCarthy for Bridesmaids which is crap, there is no dominant animation movie, The Help rocks out with so many deserving nominations.

With that I say... Live long and prosper.

Friday, December 2, 2011

One amazing comeback

Ann: What is your ideal man?
Leslie: He has the brains of George Clooney in the body of Joe Biden.
That my friends was the brilliant writing of my favorite comedy on television right now (of course, 30 Rock isn't on right now). Now this line is way better when you get the delivery by the incredible Amy Poehler (who, fun fact I would want to be for a day. The main reason is because then I could be best friends with Tina Fey, but also because she's super funny and on a super funny show). Although, I must say, Parks and Recreation hasn't always been funny. That is why I'm declaring them the comeback kid.

Now, after season 1, this show finally found its rhythm, of course no one noticed, including me. I watched one episode during its first season and I decided, oh this is just another Office-type show. This is still true in my opinion in regards to the first season, because the first five episodes are very much like The Office. But then in the last episode of the first season I feel like the writers finally figured out what they wanted to create. So, here comes season 2, which is very funny and enjoyable to watch. Still, no one was watching and NBC moved the third season to mid-season January 2011. During winter break last year, one of my friends said I should give the show another chance and that I'd really like it.

I watched the first season and was a little bored, but stayed through it because what else am I going to do on winter break. And then I finished two and was wanting more. Then season 3 started and insert hilarious writing, an amazing additions to the cast and ridiculous funny story telling. They had finally hit their stride and people took notice. The show received its first emmy nomination this past fall. The most memorable episode, for me, is that flu episode. This is where Leslie has a big presentation to make but is extremely sick. She does the presentation, which doesn't look like she can do, brilliantly. Now, this episode and for the whole show for that matter would not work without Amy Poehler. Not just because she is the lead, but because she is one of a few actresses who can pull of this character. She's funny, a little annoying but mostly just hilarious. Not to mention, there is something about the way she delivers certain lines that just makes the writing that much better.

The show, however, would also fail if it didn't have its supporting cast of characters. Tom and his amazing one liners (plus treat yo self). Ron and his pyramid of success, not to mention his history with the Tammys. Ann and her relationship with Andy and Chris is priceless. Andy and April's relationship, which is one of the best on television. Ben and his quirky personality, plus you can't help to love him and Leslie together. This show is certainly in its prime and honestly, only getting better. When January hits, 7-8 p.m. Thursday's are going to be the best hour of television because 30 Rock and Parks will be on. I can't wait to see the day when Amy and Tina are on each others shows, but for now I think both are doing pretty darn well for themselves.

With that, some television side notes for you all.
1. So this was shocking but sounds like a really, really cool episode. Check it out if you want to see what Grey's has in store for next second half of this season and it involves bringing back some series regulars, like Kate Walsh (Addison). Here's the link.
2. Speaking of Grey's Anatomy, it looks like the show is in talks to convince Ellen Pompeo and Patrick Dempsey to come back for a ninth season. Not sure what's going to happen. Like I said, I kind of want this season to be the last so it can end on a good note. If they can't both of them to come back, I'm not sure the show can carry on (and if they only get Meredith, I don't know if I see her without Derek). Should be interesting nonetheless.
3. It looks like even though Dexter got a two-season pickup that season 8 might be its last. Showtime president said they are planning an end for Dexter and it will start with the remaining three episodes of this season (which just got real, real good).

With that I say... Live long and prosper.