Month: December 2007

Spice Curls: Review for "Hairspray"

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First Hairspray was a cult movie by oddball director, John Waters, famous for some of the most offensive cult films. Then it became a Broadway smash, winning 8 Tony Awards, including Best Musical. Now, it is a movie, based on the musical. It’s Hairspray! Young Tracy Turnblad (brilliant newcomer, Nikki Blonsky) has high hopes on getting on the local dance show, The Corny Collins Show. She is, however, different. She’s rather plump, but that doesn’t stop her. She also has a crush on the most popular guy in school, Elvis like, and star of The Corny Collins Show, Link Larson (Zac Efron, High School Musical). Her best friend, Penny (Amanda Bynes) is intent on getting Tracy on the show. Tracy is open minded and free spirited, which means trouble when you’re in 1962. She’s “all for intergration. It’s the new frontier!” Velma von Tussel (Michelle Pfeifer), conservative, racist manager of the show, spits back, “Not in Baltimore it isn’t!” The interesting thing in all the versions of the film is that it fights racism and gets your attention while entertaining you. The song, “I Know Where I’ve Been” is very powerful, and Queen Latifah crooning it makes it ten times more so. She was excellent in Chicago, and she’s great here. Nikki has a good voice, considering this is her first time on film and singing songs like “Good Morning Baltimore”. One annoying thing however about yyoung Blonsky is that in almost every song, she tries to sound too professional, making (or trying) asound that sounds way too weird, like a strange thrusting noise. She has a good voice already, but does she have to exaggerate it. Corny Collins (James Marsden) is the host and wants Negro day eliminated…he wants his show to be intergrated, as oposed to a once a month thing. One thing unbelievable about this film however is when the show is finally mixed at the end, there are no protesters or people gawking and getting all mad. Sure, some do indeed gape, but none really make moves to do some of the people responsible in. John Travolta takes a turn as Edna Turnblad, and he’s perfect. His Edna is perky and cute and worried about her daughter and her weight in a realistic fashion. It’s very endearing to see John and Christopher Walken waltz to “You’re Timeless to Me”. Though there isn’t as much chemistry as some actors may have done, it’s a nice substitute anyways. It’s a very cute song. But another thing unbelievable that worries me a little is a teenage heart throb or popular girl falling in love with a plump nery kid. I don’t really think that would happen in schools today, with so much jealousy going around, but it makes a nice story. It’s a great musical.
Grade: A-
Blonsky: B+

Sheer Genius: Review for "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street"

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Sweeney Todd is the story of a barber (Johnny Depp, in his best role) seeking vengeance on the judge (Alan Rickman) who sent him to prison for 15 years on false charges. He gets help from his pie making landlord Mrs. Lovett (Helena Bonham Carter) and opens up his old barber shop again to slit throats. Mrs. Lovett takes the bodies and puts them into her “World Famous Meat Pies”. Contrary to Mrs. Lovett’s ditty, “The Worst Pies in London”, this is the best musical in years. Johnny Depp is excellent, and you can feel the tension in his voice. His voice is impressive, though not perfect. The rocky sound gives more emotion to the character. This man, who’s real name is Benjamin Barker, is a sad sap: his wife was stolen, he was sent to jail for something he didn’t do, the judge took his daughter from him, no wonder he looks like a corpse. Helena Bohnam Carter is wonderful as Mrs. Lovett. Her voice is wispy, but okay. Borat star Sacha Baron Cohen plays an Italian barber who is Sweeney’s rival. He plays him quite flamboyently. Burton is a genius: any filmmaker who can combine blood (enough of it) and emotional drama is a great artist. The scene in which Lucy (Laura Michelle Kelly), Todd’s wife, goes to the ball at the judge’s house is very interesting. Everyone is dressed as a different animal, which can be interpreted as a carnalistic world where the real animals in us rule. The original history is very interesting: it was originally a serial tale by the name of The String of Pearls. In the 1960’s, Christopher G. Bond turned the simple story into a heartfelt tragedy. Then it was made into an awards winning Stephen Sondheim musical, which this is based on. Depp and Carter look as if they had recently been in Corpse Bride, though Depp’s make up really reminds me of Edward Scissorhands.This adaptation of Stephen Sondheim’s musical of a madman is exquisite! The end packs and unexpected punch! The film is extremely dark, and (I will admit) has an excessive amount of blood. The musical performances are eloquent (“Johanna”), heart renching (“Not While I’m Around), hysterical (“By the Sea”, “A Little Priest”), and clever (“Epiphany”). Tim Burton thankfully doesn’t just add the music for music’s sake, but keeps Sondheim’s pulse pounding score and films the scenes to the music, rather than while the music is playing. Sondheim’s score brings the emotion to the film, where it was originally in the play. This film is a work of genius. This film is Bloody Brilliant!
Grade: A
For more on the real Todd, click here

Worst Movies of the Year

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It’s been an interesting year. There have been some great films and some real bombs. Here’s my list of the worst films this year.

3. Wild Hogs
This film was a very sad attempt on the midlife crisis film. Tim Allen was okay, but this film’s real LVP goes to William H. Macy. He’s a great actor, but this role just isn’t him. Grade: C-

2. Saw IV
If I had given a title to the less-gore-less-chills sequel, it would be How To Make a Bad Franchise Four Times Worse. The ending doesn’t make sense, there’s very little blood (gore hounds will be left wanting more. Waaaay more) The lessons are cruel and not as preachy. Horrible acting and Shawnee Smith (who plays Amanda) has almost no screen time. Grade: D-

1. License to Wed
Robin Williams needed more room. Mostly for improv. This is a hapless mess. Don’t bother with it. Grade: F

Strike and You’re Out!: News About Writer’s Strike

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The Writer’s Guild of America have gone on strike. Why? Because of, what else, but money. The writers last striked in 1988 because of the sucsess of VHS video tapes. They only got $.04 for each tape, while the producers rolled in cash. They walked out on November 5.This time, it’s streaming and downloading videos on the Internet. While you can watch CSI: for free on the CBS website, the producers are getting ad revenue for the banners on the page. The writers are getting…nada!! You can download streaming video while writers are working hard to create these shows and movies. So they’ve had enough and they want some of the profit. Right now, writers earn less than $100 thousand while producers earn about $20 million. No one knows how to get rich on the Internet right now, but the writers want to be prepared when someone really rakes in the cash. Who’s side are you on: the Writers’, the Executives and producers, don’t know, or don’t care? Please leave a comment and give your thoughts on the strike.

Royal Pain: Review for Camelot

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The grand story of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table was transformed into a musical on Broadway that lasted a short time. In 1967, the musical was made into a movie starring the original Arthur, Richard Harris. This film is not regal in any way. The songs are really stupid. The lyrics are terrible and make very little sense. The cast starts singing at the most trivial moments. The songs have a tune that you will undoubtedly hate, but will stick in your head. In most songs, they do not sing, but talk in a tune, which is extremely annoying. No one can carry a tune for more that 0.3 seconds. The story focuses too much on Launcelot and Guenevere’s romance and not enough on Arthur. Launcelot has a very fake accent, Guenevere isn’t innocent enough, and Arthur keeps singing love songs. Even if you enjoy musicals, you not enjoy this one. There are too many close ups on people. The camera rarely moves through the whole film. And the end of the film is cornier than Tostitos and salsa. Grade: D