Friday, April 18, 2008

The Office Continues

One of my friends has to write a paper on a pop culture staple, and she mentioned doing her paper on The Office.  That got me seriously thinking about the show and its impact on our television and everyday life.  Some peoples Thursday's revolve around the latest episode of The Office.

The show was born from the British version of a show I believe of the same name.  BBC has produced some of the best humorous television, which the Brits know best.  It's amazing how quick the show rose in popularity.  No one on the show was really well known when the show first aired, the only actor I had heard of was Steve Carell.  Now, however, the stars have branched out into movies and elsewhere.  John Krasinski is perhaps the most famous from the show.  However, Rainn Wilson and Jenna Fischer are quickly gaining fame.

On the latest episode, it was mentioned that an engagement is coming up.  The relationship of Jim and Pam has been a cliffhanger since the premier episode of the show.  Every viewer knows they belong together, and it has been a constant roller coaster.  The episode that it came out that they were dating was an amazing step for the show, and now to know that a ring has come into the picture is brilliant.  The writers can drag it on for as long as they want. 

I think this show is here to least for a while.  The show has become such a television icon and so quickly.  Everything about is funny, and it is something that can easily stay funny.  The characters are great and the actors are so talented.  The best part though is the writing.  Nothing gets better than the ridiculous situations and witty lines that the writers come up with.  

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Office is Back

Some people may be confused, but it is still the middle of the fourth season of The Office.  The first episode post- screenwriters strike aired last Thursday.  

The episode was very surprising to me.  It wasn't very typical for the show.  First, the episode mainly took place in Michael's home not at Dunder Mifflin.  Because of the set change, much of the cast was not included in the majority of the story.  The only characters were Michael and Jan, Jim and Pam, Andy and Angela, and later Dwight.  These are the main characters, however a lot of the humor comes from the minor characters.  It is surprising that they were cut out of the show's return.  

The plot was surprising as well.  It is not that it wasn't funny, just very unexpected from the characters.  Much of the plot focused on Michael and Jan's tension at home.  They were both out of character.  Michael wasn't trying to be funny and failing at it.  He actually spent most of his time mad at Jan.  Jan acted the same way towards Michael.  They were both blatantly disrespectful of each other, where as they usually try to remain calm in public.  

I think the plot was a good one, but I think it made it difficult in that it premiered the last half of the fourth season.  I feel like it could have been written all along, and there just happened to be a long break in the season.  I think everyone was expecting to be reunited with their favorite characters and then spent the half hour in Michael's house with Jan.

Friday, April 11, 2008


Apparently, 21 has remained at the top of the list for the past two weeks.  I am not really sure why.  I enjoyed the movie, but I didn't think it was well put together.

My only qualm is the sluggish plot.  The story progressed so slowly, I found it hard to stay interested.  It isn't that the story wasn't worth documenting, its just I feel like a lot of screen time was wasted with cards and numbers.  

The "big names" Kevin Spacey and Laurence Fishburne didn't really help the story move any faster.  The students were well casted, however.  The two main roles: Ben and Jill were perfect.  Jim Sturgess is a favorite and Kate Bosworth has proved herself.  The background players and Ben's best friends were great.  

The movie is only bearable when you realize that its based on a true story.  Yes, the idea is a good one, but it is only interesting to watch because you know it really happened.  I enjoyed unfolding the story and figuring out how these students beat Las Vegas.

Sunday, April 6, 2008


I feel like Penelope is a modern day fairytale.  It would work so well in a storybook.  The "ugly duckling" story line makes the film appealing for the younger generations.  Maybe this type of story has been told a million times before, but the fresh takes are usually a smart move.  The girl with the pig nose is definitely a new kind of hero.  Penelope works on so many levels and for so many ages. 

I guess her parents did what they thought was best.  I mean, their child did have a pig nose.  However, hiding her away was not the best for Penelope.  All she had to live with was her nose.  Penelope had to leave her family to find her life.  It is interesting that the news assumed the world would take the news of a pig-nosed girl as a horror story wasn't accurate at all.  The world loved Penelope and her parents fears for their child were entirely untrue.

The morals make the film acceptable for all ages.  I am glad that she gets a normal nose in the end.  After what she went through, she totally deserved it.  It would have been a bummer if Penelope didn't lose her nose and stayed with the guy.  It would be very similar to Shrek in that Fiona won her man but had to stay an ogre.  I guess there wouldn't have been any sequels then, but that could have been a good thing.  

The humor works for the older audience.  There are moments of suggestive material that probably wouldn't have been in the storybook.  It was interesting to go see the film with a guy.  He couldn't say he liked it, but he also couldn't say he didn't.  The basic facts of the story are attractive. It obviously had some appeal to a college age male.  However, it could have been Reese Witherspoon.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Into the Wild (spoiler!)

Into the Wild.  The book has been around for a long time. Everyone said it was great.  Sean Penn couldn't leave it alone, however he produced a decent book-to-screen adaptation.  Nominated for two Academy Awards, the film better be good: best Supporting Actor for Hal Holbrook and Best Editing.

Penn made some really good decisions.  The cast was wonderful, maybe even predictable.  Penn chose previous costars like Marcia Gay Harden, old classics such as Hal Holbrook, and newcomers like Emile Hirsch.  Penn also had a good idea with the flashbacks.  It was a smart move dynamic wise for the evolution of Chris McCandless into Alexander Supertramp.  

The truly amazing thing about the film is Hirsch's performance.  I'm not sure anyone knew that Emile Hirsch could handle such a substantial role.  Alexander Supertramp transforms .  Emile Hirsch sacrificed a lot for the role.  He physical ability and training skyrocketed.  He loses a substantial amount of weight by the end of the film.  He is truly skilled at protraying the tranformation of Chris.  The reality of Supertramp's situation is not apparent until the end of the film.  Sorry for the spoiler, but the point where he eats the poisonous plant leads to his subsequent death.  He has never been thiner, sicker, and more pathetic than at this point in his life.  He has accomplished his goal, only to be too weak to find food.  His success is in his death.

I have been to Alaska and hiked up to a glacier, however after watching the film, it doesn't seem like much of a feat anymore.  It is a beautiful as depicted on screen;  it made me miss the open spaces.  The real beauty of the film is in the landscape.  The story means so much more when you feel a part of the atmosphere.  It is hard to comprehend the enormity of Chris's decision except in the context of the vastness of Alaska.

Monday, March 31, 2008

No Country for Old Men

I am still trying to figure this one out.  One, what is the story really about?  Two, how did this film win Oscars?  Oscars as in four total:  Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay, and Best Supporting Actor (Javier Bardem).  The Coen brothers have another hit.  It just may not be obvious to most.

There are several things the film has going for it.  The cast is definitely a good one.  Tommy Lee Jones is a justified skilled actor.  Woody Harrelson shows his serious side (which is actually good) in this film.  Even the younger generation, namely Josh Brolin and Kelly Macdonald, are fantastic.  

Comparing No Country for Old Men to the other nominees for the Oscars, I am not sure that the film deserved the clout it received.  Best Picture and Best Screenplay obvious go in one package.  A film doesn't earn one without the other and usually Best Director goes with it as well.  The Coen brothers have no doubt produced some amazing successful films.  Raising Arizona is one of my favorite films ever, and Fargo is also a good one.  Also, O Brother Where Art Thou? and The Ladykillers, both by the Coen brothers, were filmed in Mississippi.  No doubt they are talented, but this movie seems over analyzed by the Academy.  They expect the best from these two, and it is hard to believe that they might not have produced the best film.

However, the film does deserve some recognition for the brilliant performance by Javier Bardem.  The Coens' talent really shows in their casting.  Where they found this man, I have no idea.  He has mostly been in Spanish films, but his beginning in American film was Collateral.  This is definitely his best performance yet.  He is the perfect blend of blunt seriousness and horror.  As the serial killer, everything about him is creepy.  He absolutely deserved the Oscar.

The problem for me was that I did not understand the point of the movie.  It granted no satisfaction.  When it ended, I felt drained for nothing.  I sat through two hours of nonstop suspense and violence only to be confused to the point of frustration.  

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Darjeeling Limited

Quite possibly my favorite movie this year is The Darjeeling Limited, written and directed by Wes Anderson.  Wes Anderson has always been my favorite director ever, and this film could be his best yet.  Although he has been around a while, this is only his fourth film.  He writes and directs every one himself, so he covers every detail.

Anderson's films are not very mainstream.  They tend to portray quirky family stories with complex characters.  They all pay very close attention to detail, whether it be sets and costumes or lines and character traits.  The Darjeeling Limited follows the three Whitman brothers on their spiritual journey through India on none other that the train the Darjeeling Limited.

The one quirk about Anderson is his tendency to use the same actors in all his films.  Jason Schwartzman was in his first film Rushmore and stars in The Darjeeling Limited as Jack Whitman.  Owen Wilson has been in The Royal Tenenbaums and The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, and he stars as the oldest Whitman brother Francis.  Angelica Huston and Bill Murray were also in Anderson's last two films.  The newcomer in The Darjeeling Limited is Adrian Brody.  His awkward stature is perfect for the unusual look Anderson goes for.  He is my favorite in this film as Peter Whitman.

What's interesting about this film is the collaboration with Jason Schwartzman.  He helped Anderson write the script but also a short film that prefaces The Darjeeling Limited.  Hotel Chevalier tells the story of Jack Whitman before he goes on the trip with his brothers.  It focuses on his relationship with his girlfriend.  It comes up often in The Darjeeling Limited with several references to his girlfriend and Jack's common practice of wearing his Hotel Chevalier bathrobe on the train.