The Hobbit: Satisfaction Guaranteed

TheHobbit-Bilbo1Sht-Dom-RGB-1600x2366-jpg_183208I was totally stoked when I heard Peter Jackson planned to make The Hobbit! Now, almost a year later, the prequel to the beloved Lord of the Rings trilogy has finally arrived. It’s the first of another trilogy that follows young hobbit Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) as he leaves his comfortable home in The Shire for a dwarf and danger filled adventure to the Lonely Mountain. According to a recent trailer, critics already call it a “visually stunning” “movie of the year.”

Any LOTR fan knows it requires a solid commitment between backside and chair to finish one of the three-hour installments. The Hobbit is no different. I’ll confess right away, The Hobbit was noticeably three hours (or darn near three hours). Some moments called for dramatic shifting in my seat or cramming ropes of red licorice in my mouth to keep alert. Despite this, the commitment is worth the while. The acting was strong, the score beautiful, the cinematography dazzling, and the script pleasantly peppered with humor. Continue reading “The Hobbit: Satisfaction Guaranteed”

Les Misérables: A Miserable Failure

imagesTo say I’ve been excited to see the movie version of Les Misérables is an understatement. Ever since I saw the trailer about a year ago, I’ve been giddy with anticipation. As a choir nerd from elementary school to college I sang tons of Les Mis medleys, and I finally saw it live at Seattle’s 5th Avenue Theatre over the summer. So I was ready to revel in its cinematic glory.

Well, with disappointment after disappointment, where do I even start? Director Tom Hooper decided to record vocals live instead of prerecording them, giving the actors freedom to match their singing to the spontaneity of their acting. Apparently, “freedom” meant freedom to rewrite the music. Between the flat and nasally notes, croaking, choking, and slurring of words it was hard to recognize the profound beauty of Claude-Michel Schönberg’s original score. Of course, all this was done in the name of “authenticity” and “raw” emotion. The thing is, the music itself conveys such depth of emotion all it needs is the proper musicality to deliver it. Instead, the film left me floundering in a sea of unnecessary overacting. Continue reading “Les Misérables: A Miserable Failure”

Does Hope Spring or Fall Flat?

Hope-Springs_2012_Couples-PosterMeryl Streep did it again. She garnered yet another Golden Globe Award nomination for her role in the David Frankel directed film Hope Springs. Trailers never sparked my interest, but I gave the flick a shot when I heard of Streep’s nomination.

Kay (Meryl Streep) and Arnold (Tommy Lee Jones) are trapped in a monotonous, tired, and unaffectionate marriage, so Kay decides to make a change. She signs them both up for an intensive week of counseling with Dr. Feld (Steve Carell).

To start, the characters fail to charm. I’m well aware that a good movie doesn’t depend on likeable characters that live happily ever after. Just the same, something about them has to capture me. Kay is mousy, submissive, and just plain pathetic while Arnold is narrow-minded, disrespectful and controlling. I was relieved when Steve Carell entered the picture—he’ll add some much needed humor and charm, I thought. But a surprisingly straight-faced and uninteresting Carell only asks the couple a series of awkward questions, making the film all the more unbearable. Continue reading “Does Hope Spring or Fall Flat?”

Fighting for a Whole New World

dettoldisney.wordpress.comLike a splash of cold water, 1992’s Aladdin presented a new kind of Disney Princess—one who was ethnic and wore pants! Before we get too excited, let’s remember: she’s dressed like a belly dancer with a twig-like waist, at one point she’s literally bound in chains, and she’s only a supporting character because (get this) Aladdin is actually about Aladdin. In many ways, Jasmine is a blatant example of an objectified, ignorant “little woman” whose value depends on marriage. But before we condemn her as the worst Disney Princess role-model yet, let’s look again. Actually, no princess fights against her “supporting role” more. Perhaps if we fought against the media’s unrealistic standards of beauty and other social injustices with the consistency and passion of Jasmine we might witness more progress. Continue reading “Fighting for a Whole New World”

Lincoln: Somewhere Between Brilliant and Boring

uxaCVThe story of America’s (currently) favorite President has finally arrived. Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln gives an intimate view of “honest Abe” as the fate of the thirteenth Amendment (to abolish slavery) and his re-election approaches.

I wanted to love it. I entered the theatre with words like “spectacular” in my head. Nothing beats a spectacular civil war movie (my favorite is Gone with the Wind). Despite the consistently witty script by Tony Kushner, other elements like the acting and score didn’t catch up to its merit for about  forty-five minutes. Continue reading “Lincoln: Somewhere Between Brilliant and Boring”

Belle: The People’s Princess

Belle-Wallpaper-disney-princess-28960238-1280-800The day I met Belle, I became a princess. Beauty and the Beast introduced a different kind of heroine. Unlike her predecessors, Belle didn’t have talking animal companions, didn’t grow up in a castle, didn’t have fairies to help her, and she wasn’t a mythical creature. No, Belle came from a small town, lived with a loving parent, and was quirky, sassy, and smart. Suddenly every average Jane (or Megan) with her nose in a book, who didn’t fit in, and who felt she was meant for something more had a Disney princess that represented her. What’s more, she inspired every girl to look beyond the surface to see true inner beauty. Did Disney finally create the perfect princess? Continue reading “Belle: The People’s Princess”