Alamo Drafthouse

Ahh, that was a refreshing break!

So: I’ve never been to Austin, or any of Texas for that matter. I am definitely self-selecting my info here, but based on five seasons of Friday Night Lights, the surprising (to me!) diversity of Houston, and here, the awesomeness of the Alamo Drafthouse movie theater in Austin… I may have to reconsider my previously dismissive attitude!

I love the phonetic misspelling guesses the best, because I am totally a bitch about that stuff.

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1L3eeC2lJZs%5D
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Star Trek: Into Darkness

Evan and I did something bad last week. Not, like, cosmically-evil-bad, not even in-any-way-illegal bad. More like the type of thing that you tell little kids about and they all intone “OOOOOOOH!” in unison, but still want to hear about: we played hooky from work for a few hours and snuck off to a movie!

Our regular sitter is gone for a few weeks, and rather than dip into the well of our backup sitters during the start of the busy summer movie season, we reserved a few quiet hours last Friday and suited up (not really, thank god) for a Star Trek matinee. And man alive, am I glad we did! I’d been feeling pretty grumpy about the quality of movies we’d seen recently (42, blah. Iron Man, ugh. Gatsby, gorgeous, but ick.), and while, yes, the latest Star Trek is ridden with more plot holes than a macramé plant holder, it’s also a lot of damn fun.

These don’t hurt:

But for my money, the best part of the whole experience is the sheer scenery-chewing gusto with which Benedict Cumberbatch* embraces every single line he’s given. A sneak peek:


It’s not just his delightful over-enunciation and Rickman-esque bass tones — he’s a truly delightful adversary, one whose magnetism leaves the protagonists’ and our heads spinning just enough that we don’t notice the extent of his evil strategizing (or lack thereof, at times!). He’s definitely the most memorable movie villain I’ve seen in years, and Cumberbatch’s portrayal is enough to recommend the movie, though, for sure, it has plenty of other exhilaratingly enjoyable bits.

All in all, totally recommended, even if you don’t have the added excitement of playing hooky added to your viewing experience!

* As already noted by all who’ve encountered him, Benedict Cumberbatch really is a phenomenal name, made more so by his (largely female) fandom, who of course are known as Cumberbitches. Ha!

(Top photo courtesy of Kellidaisy.com, bottom two courtesy of Tumblr)

VERONICA MARS MOVIE.

I fully realize I’m internet-shouting. I AM REAL LIFE SHOUTING TOO.

The best news of the month: no doubt encouraged by the success of both Netflix’s resurrection of Arrested Development and Amanda Palmer’s Kickstarter-funded album, Rob Thomas and the cast of Veronica Mars have announced a new Kickstarter campaign to fund a Veronica Mars movie.

I adore that this is the weird media landscape we live in now, where a great project that not enough people saw, but those who did grew veeeeeery passionate about, can get a new life due simply to enough willpower and gobsmacked media executives who are all looking for some way to monetize growing internet fanbases. And, oh shit yeah, it works.

I’m giving money towards this, and for those of you who saw and loved this TV show, I’m hoping you will too. If you never got to see it while it was on, please take this as my sincere recommendation to try an episode on Amazon or iTunes. And while you may not agree with everything I love (which is as it should be), please know I love Veronica Mars like I love Friday Night Lights, not like I love Top Model. Translation: this is not my idiosyncratic taste — this is a truly great piece of art, and the world can only be better with more of it.

So please give. You’ll get to see this face!

(Photo from Cinematic-Orchestra’s Tumblr)

Jennifer Lawrence, Oscar winner

I’m hardly alone here; everyone who hears anything about Jennifer Lawrence and her snappy, down-to-earth, bawdy hilariousness loves her. And if you don’t, move right along, I don’t serve your type here.

But what’s so easy to forget in her pro attitude and incredible actressing is that she’s still only 22, and while that may mean she’s been damn close to indefatigable (even with pneumonia!) during what must be an incredibly draining awards season publicity blitz, it also means that for her health and sanity, I’m delighted to say: it’s all over, J.Law! You won, now go home and sleep for a month or two. And delight in the following:

We certainly do!

PS for those who haven’t experienced her unique brand of awesome quite yet, here is Vulture’s recurring series, This Week in Jennifer Lawrence Quotes; her amazing post-Oscars mid-interview meeting with Jack Nicholson (warning: autoplay on that video, ew); and the phenomenal, GIF-laden Best Jennifer Lawrence Quotes of 2012 from Buzzfeed.

PPS That lady in the row behind J.Law is cracking my shit up. I adore a well-placed eyeroll!

(Photo courtesy of E! Online)

(Really) Fake Girlfriends

What would lead a guy to create a fake girlfriend? I can hardly imagine the mindset you would have to be in to think that you could not only fool everyone around you, but truly fool yourself at the same time. But it obviously fascinates other, more artistic sorts who have grappled with portraying the concept. I SMELL A LIST: Continue reading

Miracle on 34th Street

One of the great things about holiday magic (which, shut up, is something that I very seriously believe in) is its ability to elevate the mundane: cheesy made-for-TV movies and classic cartoons are simply better by virtue of their Christmas-y subject matter. So when you take a justifiably engaging and entertaining movie and sprinkle that Christmas magic all over it, you have an instant classic.

So it is with Miracle on 34th Street, released 65 years ago, and my absolute favorite holiday movie ever since I first saw it six years ago. For those who haven’t experienced it, it follows a mother and young daughter who don’t believe in anything they can’t see, including imaginary games, magic, and certainly not Santa Claus. The movie traces their encounter with a department-store Santa who, the movie sincerely posits, is The Real Santa Claus. As they slowly come around to the possibility that this “nice man with a white beard” might be more than they initially thought, they realize they’re not alone. Santa, or Kris Kringle, as he’s officially known in the movie, has spread his charm to every character, be they young children or greedy department store heads.

So the plot has a LOT of cheese-potential, but somehow, in the execution, Miracle on 34th Street manages to underscore the story with enough gravitas and serious, earned heart that there’s not even the whiff of cheap sentiment. And the characters are not just well-written, but perfectly cast: Edmund Gwenn, who plays Kris Kringle, won an Oscar for this role, and it’s so deserved. It’s impossible to watch him and not wish that there really WAS a Santa, and that he decided to just go ahead and let these filmmakers film him just doing his thing. The rest of the cast is spectacular too, especially the adorable, but again, in NO WAY cutesy Natalie Wood as the young girl.

If you need a reminder as to what’s so special about this time of year that could make the craziness worth it (so… all of us), please watch this. You’ll be positively HUMMING with Christmas magic by the last scene!

The perfect, hilarious, original 1947 trailer shows almost NO footage from the movie, but captures its charm and essence perfectly:

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ce_op2qG24%5D

WHY do they not make trailers like this any more???

(Photo courtesy of Modern Times)

Les Miz Trailers, Pt. 2

These actually were released earlier this week, but I haven’t shared them till now because I was too busy watching them each a million times over.

On December 25, I’ll be in Montana — there best be a movie theater with semi-decent sound showing this! Though, sad to say, I don’t think the most exquisite Dolby Surround will make Russell Crowe’s voice sound anything more than passable. And even that’s being kind.

For your belt-along-enjoyment:

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I8WSysB5vKM%5D
[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vHwyCp6ah6U%5D
[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xx7K42uyrts%5D
[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SVFr56GR1mo%5D
[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VvzLZIiD5TU%5D

Les Misérables

I’ve always been obsessed with musicals. My mom took me to see shows from an early age, and I quickly fell in love with it all: the catchy tunes, witty lyrics, and above all, the thrill of pure (melo)drama that’s so strong that, at its best, actually leads you to believe that a character has no other option than to simply burst into song. So it’s no surprise that while I’ve loved many a show over the years, I often return to Les Misérables, one of the most epic, consuming stories ever set to song. I’m not picky about my Les Miz intake either: the stage show is breathtaking, but as some of my college roommates know all too well, I’m even satisfied with constant rewatches of the taped 10th anniversary performance, where the show wasn’t even staged fully, and the actors simply walked up to a microphone and sang their parts. Chills, still.
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