Thanks!! And Calling Movie Lovers for the Next Blog Salon…

Thank you so much to our blog salon writers for sharing their thoughts of their favorite “sequential listening” albums!

The blog had 2,700 unique visits and 3,358 page loads during the period of the salon.

Please help me thank our wonderful writers again:

Collin Kelley

Lee Houck

George Scarlett

Tyler Gobble

Shavawn Berry

Matthew Hittinger

Julie E. Bloemeke

Bill Beverly

David Dombrosky

Kelly Cockerham

Jory Mickelson

Andrew Demcak

Jessica Burnquist

Michelle J. Martinez

Pamela Murray Winters

Sean Singer

Ruby Classen

It was such a great success, let’s do it again:

There’s no shortage of awful films in the world, right?

So, why can’t we help loving them?

The next blog salon will run in November. The topic:

A Colossally Bad Film I Love

The films in question should be universally reviled either by critics OR by the general public (or both!). The cultier the better. But even shlocky, standard Hollywood fare is welcome too–whatever you love (and know you shouldn’t).

The form of the essays is still open to your interpretation: memoir, critical writing, narrative or non-narrative, it all works here.

Start thinking and send me your posts (with a bio and photo) by October 20, 2011!



Quickster movie review

Over the weekend, I went to see Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief. I actually went to see The Young Victoria, but for some reason the 7:05 showing was sold out 45 minutes in advance in Bethesda. Only in Bethesda are people clamoring to see a two-month-old movie during the dinner hour, I guess.

Plan B was Percy. The title, to me, sounds like a great band name and first album title. (“Climbing up the charts this week are Percy Jackson and the Olympians with their debut release The Lightning Thief.”) I was very turned off by the fact that this was a Chris Columbus film, but in the end, the combination of my curiosity about why Catherine Keener decided to make this movie and my preemptive excitement for the new Clash of the Titans won out. As did my companion’s reluctance to see anything remotely suspenseful.

The movie was actually full of famous people: Pierce Brosnan, Uma Thurman, Rosario Dawson, Joe Pantoliano, the hot English dude who was on Journeyman and who’s on Gray’s Anatomy now, the weird looking English dude with the bad hair, and the menacingly sexy English dude who always plays German terrorists.

Dawson was, like, the best Persephone ever.

The lead kid is cute, and he has really pretty blue eyes, so when he’s brooding about everything going on, it works. The daughter of Athena was pretty good, but kind of wooden at times. And the story was fun. It was almost a little too major for a full-on kids’ movie, but is comparable to some of the later Potter films in terms of its darkness factor.

Sequel? Likely. Is this based on a series of books? It felt that way. Now that the public’s appetite for kids’ movie series has been whetted by Potter, I’d expect this is a move to cash in and keep us hungry.

I Know What You Did Last Semester

First, the good news: Sorority Row, while gross and formulaic, was actually an enjoyable horror film.

I’m glad horror films have started to up their production values. Sorority Row is filmed with your typical handheld-shaky camera work (think Blair Witch with slightly more stability) combined with some very slick sets, lighting, and steadycam work. The opening was like a very long tracking shot through a wild and crazy party, the camera moving from room to room as we finally see one of the Theta Pis running upstairs for a special party shot leading up to the film’s premise-spurring prank. The shots and lighting are particularly strong here.

You get your usual archetypes: the sexy girl, the brainy girl, the bitchy girl, the Lindsay Lohan, the sanctimonious girl, and the vengeful girl. Something they plan goes horribly wrong and then…flash forward to graduation when someone comes along (or back?) to extract revenge.

Sorority Row plays up the suspense more than the gore, for which I was grateful. The actual killings are brief, but the film, like the killer, plays with its prey, taunting it. The plot was so obvious it felt like Braille at times, but with movies, as in with life, I find the lower I keep my expectations, the more often I am proved right–or pleasantly surprised.

One thing I have to say about the actresses in the film is that they really commit to their roles. The performances were believable–even Audrina Patridge of The Hills, who surprised me by sounding more like a human being than she does when she’s on TV. And I didn’t see one instance of rolly doe eyes when she was on screen. Good job, Audrina!

And yes, I kind of like Rumer Willis, too. Although one of the other stars sounded just like Demi Moore in St. Elmo’s Fire and I kept thinking how weird it would be to star in a movie with someone who talks like your mom.

Push/The Uninvited

First, the good news: Dakota Fanning.

The other good news is that there isn’t too much bad news about Push. Chris Evans (somewhat robotically, but, okay, expected) plays a telekinetic man pursued by a shadowy government agency called “Division” who want to experiment on him and others like him: watchers, who can see the future; bleeders, whose screeches can cause death; shadows, who can hid things or people from watchers; sniffers, who can track just about anything; and pushers, who can implant thoughts into the minds of others.

Visually, this movie is fantastic. Set in Hong Kong, the vibrant colors and MTV-style camerawork suit the locale and act as a sort of tribute to the bright neon and hazy glow evoked by the city. Like Blade Runner, Push owes a lot to noir, plugging in a femme fatale, a good woman, and man haunted by his past as the three main characters.

Dakota Fanning is actually the standout here, playing a precocious 13-year-old watcher who serves as Evans’s moral compass and guide.

My main complaint about almost every movie I see lately is that it’s just “a little long.” I think Push would have benefitted from some editing here and there, but overall it was enjoyable and interesting and fun.

Also, I had very low expectations going into this, so I was not disappointed.

The Uninvited is a different story. Moody, internal, and evasive, it tries to be more clever than its audience but, with one unforeseeable exception it keeps hidden until the end, it’s just not smarter than most moviegoers. Elizabeth Banks delights as a campily creepy nurse-cum-stepmother, while David Strathairn practically chews his own arm off as the tortured father trying to move on.

The two teenage actresses do good work here–As Anna, the emotionally haunted daughter who can’t get past her mother’s death, the actress masters the big round eyes and pouty shock of being constantly haunted by ghosts. The actress who plays Alex outdoes everyone in the film a little bit by mastering that specific brand of adolescent insolence most teenage girls possess.

Unfortunately, the end of this movie sounded a lot like a whoopee cushion.

Add to that the fact that there was more talking in this theatre than on NPR’s Morning Edition and it was nearly unbearable. The gay couple sitting behind us kept shushing us any time we whispered, and then proceeded to eat food so loudly it sounded like they were unwrapping Christmas presents for 45 minutes–and one of them guffawed several times when it was totally stupid to do so. It was frustrating. Also, someone in the audience had a laser pointer–FUN!–and added their own postmodern commentary to the film by zapping it at random times throughout the show.

Push: A-
The Uninvited: C-