Archive for December, 2009

It’s a New Smiley Face Flight—Comedic Nugget

December 30, 2009

With the latest terrorist scare, they’re taking more precautions at the airport. Personally, with no boyfriend in years and a female gynecologist, I’m hoping for real extensive, thorough body searches. This could be the closest I get to a sexual encounter in years. And will we go back to not being able to carry on board the essentials like hair gels, lip gloss, deodorant and toothpaste? Yuck…that will make for one foul flight. My solution?  Airline Wal-Mart. Think about it. Isn’t really about time for them to take over one of the airlines? Wouldn’t it be more fun to be greeted by a big smiley face than some flight attendant who probably hates her job? And instead of food they can pass out makeup and all sorts of toiletries and give us reward coupons for drugs.

Sherlock Holmes—Movie

December 30, 2009

Sherlock Holmes, directed by Guy Ritchie, and starring Robert Downey, Jr. as Holmes and Jude Law as Watson, is a huge disappointment. A truly re-imagined Sherlock Holmes is an interesting idea and I really wish this new movie was that. The previews lead one to believe that this is vintage Guy Ritchie…action, quips, bold, booming and quickly paced. This movie is emphatically not that. What it is is hugely boring. It is full of quips, but quips do not a movie make. The chemistry between the two leads is palpable, but chemistry does not a script make nor does it make for good acting. I love Robert Downey, Jr., but he is horrible. His accent is abysmal and he mumbles most of his lines, perhaps to hide the fact that he surprisingly cannot maintain an English accent.  Jude Law as Watson is fine, but…not that it matters…when did he lose his looks?  Save your money and rent Ritchie’s Snatch or Downey’s Tropical Thunder instead.

1 nugget out of 4

A Single Man—Movie

December 28, 2009

What to make of A Single Man? Based on a novel by Christopher Isherwood, screenplay by designer Tom Ford and David Scearce and directed by Ford, this movie is extremely well-acted by Colin Firth and Julianne Moore, but ultimately falls short.  Firth plays a professor in the early 60s mourning the unexpected death of his longtime lover (Matthew Goode). Most of the “action” takes place in one very long day, as the Firth character contemplates whether or not his life is worth living without romantic, intense love in it. He goes through the motions of his day, including an emotional scene with his long-time, now platonic friend, Charley, brilliantly played by Moore, but suicide is always in the back of his mind. The movie is beautifully shot as one might expect from first-time director Ford, but basically that is all one has…one beautiful shot after another. Firth, a completely underrated actor, does a masterful job in conveying grief, longing, desperation and ambivalence, but he is done in by the screenplay…a screenplay missing something. You’re left with “This is it? This is what this is all about?” feeling and that’s not a good way to leave a movie theater.

2 ½ nuggets out of 4

Up in the Air—Movie

December 28, 2009

Up in the Air, co-written, directed and produced by Jason Reitman, is one of the year’s finest, and stars George Clooney (Ryan Bingham) at his absolute best. Bingham works for a firm hired by companies to fire employees rather than doing it themselves. These “terminators” do exist and take it from one who knows whereof she speaks, even if this job isn’t outsourced, the tactics employed are the same. For anyone who is unemployed or knows someone who’s been laid off, this movie hits very close to home. That said, somehow Up in the Air is highly entertaining and that is due to the screenplay and the actors.   As a man more comfortable in airports, hotels and airplanes, and lives for the number of frequent-flyer rewards he’s accumulated, George Clooney is sensational. It’s hard to imagine any other living actor who could handle this role. The part calls for an actor who can be sharp, sarcastic, hard-hearted, charming and ultimately sympathetic and Clooney pulls it off 1000 percent.  The two lead actresses are also terrific. Vera Farmiga (Alex) plays Ryan’s newly found soul mate, seemingly as carefree as he and equally obsessed with her credit and mileage cards. Anna Kendrick (Natalie) portrays the too smart for her own good rookie recently hired by Ryan’s company by suggesting that more money could be saved if the firings were done over Internet video-conferencing, rather than in person.  While not exactly a feel-good movie, Up in the Air is still a must-see.

3 ½ nuggets out of 4

Working Out the Kinks—Comedic Nugget

December 23, 2009

My firm just moved into a brand new building.  They’re still working out all the kinks.  Like having the elevator door open where the floor actually meets it.  I heard rumors about layoffs, but this seems like a pretty cruel way to go about them. And don’t get me started on the restrooms. I tried to leave the ladies’ room and was left holding the door handle. I was trapped in there for days with a sister…not a nun, but a sistah…and a Scientologist. We pounded on the door…nothing. We flushed in Morse code…psh…phsh…psh…no help. I got so bored, I made a sari out of toilet paper. The sistah made dookie braids out of my eyebrows. And the Scientologist signed me up for silent birth…and I’m not pregnant. And when I finally got out…I was fired for taking leave without notice.

Snow Class—Comedic Nugget

December 20, 2009

My apartment building is located in what many would characterize as a well-to-do neighborhood—fairly close to the Washington Cathedral. But I guess even high-end neighborhoods have a class system that rears its ugly head in snow storms. At the low rung are the people who can afford just their home…period. There is no extra money for a snow shovel or salt to clean their sidewalk. One rung up in class are the homeowners who scraped together just enough money to buy a small shovel that  allows them to shovel only a portion of their sidewalk so that neighbors have to walk single-file down the street. Top of the heap? Best in class? The homeowner who has managed somehow to save up enough money during the course of the year to buy a shovel large enough to clean the entire sidewalk.

Mean Drivers—Comedic Nugget

December 20, 2009

Why do bus drivers hate their passengers? Why do bus drivers have such heavy feet? These thoughts run through my mind when I’m hanging on for dear life as my bus driver does his best to hurl me into space. I have a morning driver who’s a real head case. He takes sadistic pleasure in jamming the brakes and watching the passengers fly. I finally decided that two can play this game. I don’t normally eat in the morning because I get car sick, but I decided to make the ultimate sacrifice and take one for the team. I ate two bowls of cheerios. I ran to the bus and jumped on. I stood right next to the driver and waited for him to make his move. He did…and so did I. With minimum effort I upchucked all over him. Want to bet that tomorrow he thinks twice about those breaks…and I’ll get a seat.

I Should Take More Time—Comedic Nugget

December 17, 2009

I’ m usually in a rush on a Sunday to get my grocery shopping done. I’ve got my dirty hair in a scrungee, pajamas covered by a trench coat, torn sneakers… I literally grab my grocery cart and I’m out the door. This Sunday I pass one of those faux Trolley buses on Wisconsin Avenue, near the Cathedral. Those idiot tourists are pointing at me like I’m a gorilla in the zoo. Maybe in Nebraska, people don’t’ actually walk to the store. Some guy throws out a dollar and yells, “Hey sweetheart…go get yourself a cup of coffee!” I scream back, “I have an MBA! What do you think I am…some bag lady?” Then I feel a tap on my shoulder. I turn around and it’s the neighborhood bag lady. She says ever so sweetly, “It’s your hair.”I try to give her the dollar, but she refuses saying, “Honey, keep it – buy yourself a comb.”

Pirate Radio—Movie Review

December 15, 2009

If you love music from the mid to late ‘60s, this film is for you. Based on truth, this is the story of a group of ragtag disc jockeys playing rock and roll 24 hours a day to half the British population from a small boat in the middle of the North Sea . The film features a great English cast (many from Love, Actually) led by America’s fabulous Phillip Seymour Hoffman. My audience erupted in applause at the movie’s end. Just a good, fun time at the movies.

3 nuggets out of 4

Brothers—Movie Review

December 15, 2009

Directed by Jim Sheridan (My Left Foot) and based on the Danish film of the same name, Brothers is the story of two siblings. The older brother (Toby Maguire) is a U.S. Marine who’s declared missing and presumed dead in Afghanistan. The younger brother (Jake Gyllenhaal), recently released from prison, is considered the blacksheep of the family and develops a strong bond with his sister-in-law (Natalie Portman) and her two young daughters, following his brother’s “death.”

The movie is very intense and for the most part very well acted. Portman and Gyllenhaal give outstanding performances and the work of the two young girls is extremely good. But Toby Maguire? I always thought Toby Maguire and Jake Gyllenhaal were interchangeable and could pass for brothers, but seeing them on the screen together showed me I completely underestimated Gyllenhaal.  He is a far better actor than Maguire. Golden Globe aside, Maguire is awful, completely over the top. You could see he was nuts as soon as he returned from Afghanistan.

2 ½ nuggets out of 4

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