Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween 2010

I wanted to wish all my readers a very Happy Halloween. I'm not usually a horror movie sort of person, but I encourage everyone to go pop in their favorite scary movie on this very spooky day (personally, I'm thinking either Shaun of the Dead or Hitchcock's Rope).

For those of you still not sure what to do for Halloween, I have a few photos from a recent Halloween party (thanks to my friend Kevan hosting) that are movie-themed to get you in the spirit.

The first costumes come from my friends Joe and Ryan (two of the masterminds behind RvBTO) as they take inspiration from South Park the Movie (I count it as the movie because they kept quoting and singing songs from the film throughout the night).

Did I mention Joe and Ryan are Canadian?
What's great about their costumes is that in the few hours I got to spend with them before the party, I saw the creation of the costumes from inception to finish. The jaws on string were an inspired touch. So bravo, guys.

Next comes my boyfriend Mike, who dressed as another character from a movie/TV show. For all you Browncoats out there:



Big thanks to my darling friend Krista (aka QueenSpammy) for knitting Jayne's hat. Krista, you're adorable and awesome. Mike's costume wouldn't have been complete without your help.

Finally, we have my costume. You might recognize this fickle blue-haired delivery girl from a certain comic series/movie.




+2 against girls
For the record, yes, my hair is blue. And if you're wondering where I got that spot-on bag, you can commision one at www.totertot.com and let her know I sent you! Warning: bag may or may not have subspace capabilities. You're going to have to buy one to find out.

Again, have a happy and safe Halloween! Feel free to link your own costumes in the comments!
 

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Some Exciting News for your Favorite Blogger

No, I don't mean Wil Wheaton.

You might have noticed a few guest reviews I did for cliqueclack.com. Well, as of this week, I am officially writing for CliqueClack. Unlike Just Plain Something, CliqueClack focuses on all thing TV. It's a very exciting time for me and I want to thank all my readers for supporting me here on JPS. I couldn't have done it without you.

Don't worry, I'll still be just as active over here, but I look forward to the new challenge. I encourage you to check out my articles over at CliqueClack and hopefully you'll check it out as much as you check JPS.

Monday, October 25, 2010

PotterWatch #21

PotterWatch is a special group of posts on Just Plain Something dedicated to a certain film franchise about a certain teenage wizard.

The last PotterWatch was about the new theatrical trailer for Deathly Hallows Pt. 1. Well, we've just got a new batch of TV commercials and they might be shorter, but the new footage is worth taking a look.



Mad Eye being a smart ass is something we didn't get to see too much of in the movies, so the polyjuice potion line was great. Too bad we won't get to see much of him. The real notable part of this trailer is maybe a little disturbing. No matter how you try, you will never EVER get this image out of your brain.

You know it's Fleur because Bill looks ill.

By the way, did anyone else notice Dobby used a first-person pronoun? Anyway, here is the 2nd new commercial.



This was by far the better commercial. First of all, the Ron "Please don't tell Hermoine I actually complimented her" line killed me. But the real beauty in this trailer comes in the last clip. Ginny might still seem pretty stiff, but that last shot before the title had me almost falling off the chair laughing. When you're kissing your girl for maybe the last time, the last thing you want to see in the room is her brother who just went through head trauma:

"Yeah, don't mind me. I just lost my ear to save your Chosen one ass, but you just keep sucking on my sister's face."

Deathly Hallows Pt. 1 opens on November 19th.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Martin Freeman is Bilbo in The Hobbit

For those of you who have been following the development (and the drama) of The Hobbit pre-production, this will come to no surprise to you. Heck, when I first heard his name pop up, I thought, "This has to happen. I can't think of anyone better for the role." This week, it's been officially announced: Martin Freeman has been cast as Bilbo for The Hobbit.

This prequel to the Lord of the Rings trilogy (although The Hobbit was actually published first) tells the story of Frodo's uncle Bilbo (played previously in LoTR by the older Ian Holm) as Gandalf sends him and a crap-ton of dwarves on a quest to stop the evil and treasure-hoarding dragon Smaug. It's in The Hobbit that Bilbo finds the one Ring, which eventually spawns the events of the latter three books.

There are a few reasons Martin Freeman is a great Bilbo in my eyes:

1) He has hobbit-like features. Round face, kind of short and maybe even slightly on the husky side (although I'm sure he'll either gain some weight for the role or they'll pad him up). He also has very Samwise Gamgee hair.

2) He plays polite and inviting pretty well. Plus, he was Tim (aka British Jim) on the original Office series and he was adorable.

3) He plays exasperated even better. Look at Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (which I loved even though many Adams purists weren't as thrilled). His character Dent, Arthur Dent (as in the the late Dentarthurdent... it's sort of a threat, you see and... sorry, fangirl moment) just wants to have a comfortable breakfast, but instead goes on an adventure after the Earth is demolished. In The Hobbit, Bilbo just wants to have a comfortable breakfast, second breakfast, elevenses, luncheon, afternoon tea, dinner and supper, but instead goes on an adventure because, well, Gandalf is making him and the dwarves are only going to leave his house when he does.

Actually, compared to Arthur in the Hitchhiker books, Freeman's Arthur is actually more likable (less bitchy) but didn't feel like he was betraying the original literary version. Considering Bilbo is perhaps the most passive aggressive character in Tolkien's world, maybe Freeman's Bilbo will be a little bit easier to swallow (which helps you if you're an orc).

Most of the dwarves have been cast (although I didn't recognize any of the actors), but Ian McKellen returning as Gandalf isn't official yet. We're also not entirely sure who the director will be. LoTR director and Hobbit producer Peter Jackson is reportedly going to have to take the reins if only to keep the project stable, but I would have liked to see what Guillermo Del Toro would have done with the film (something tells me his Smaug would have been quite a fearsome sight to behold).

Image provided by Geoffrey Chandler.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Beyond Stars: Bringing Up Baby

Beyond Stars is a special set of reviews focusing on the movies nearest and dearest to my heart. To rate them with stars would be just plain redundant.

Now it isn't that I don't like you, Susan, because, after all, in moments of quiet, I'm strangely drawn toward you, but - well, there haven't been any quiet moments.

When I first watch a comedy, I can't help but compare them to certain films that set my standards for great comedies. I can't think of a better film to start Beyond Stars with than the 1938 classic Bringing Up Baby.

Dr. David Huxley (Cary Grant) needs to do three things: finish his brontosaurus, win a $1,000,000 grant and marry his quiet and no-nonsense colleague Ms. Swan. In the course of a few days, his world and plans are turned upside down by the happy-go-lucky Susan (Katherine Hepburn), her aunt's terrier and a tamed leopard named Baby. While she both intentionally and unintentionally delays him from making it to his own wedding, David gets the adventure of a lifetime with a fireball of a woman.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Spidey and Superman Reboots: Who's in?

Spiderman
The last few months have seen new details about the possibly-too-soon Spiderman Reboot. We already know 500 Days of Summer director Marc Webb is up to direct the reboot. We also found out the adorable Andrew Garfield (who can be found as the cofounder of Facebook in The Social Network) has been cast as underdog teen Peter Parker (and of course Spiderman himself). So, now we have some more casting news.

First of all, Emma Stone has been cast as Peter's love interest. When I first heard Stone was going to be in the film, I thought, "Aw man! She was great in Zombieland. Mary Jane is going to be awesome!" Then I found out she isn't playing Mary Jane Watson; she's playing Gwen Stacy, Peter's traditionally first love who dies when Spidey's attempt to save her snaps her neck.

Because my Spideman education is mostly from the 90s morning cartoon, which Gwen was almost completely absent from (I looked it up and I think she was in a flashback in the last episode). The two major girlfriends Peter has in the cartoon were firey Mary Jane and cool blonde Felicia Hardy, who is actually Black Cat. The only time I've really seen Gwen is in Spiderman 3 (and we are not going to get into everything that was wrong in that movie). I'm interested in seeing how Stone can make Gwen Stacy an intriguing love interest for the young web-slinger. I'm also interested in seeing if movie Gwen will meet the same demise as her comic counterpart.

Superman
Coincidentally enough, Marvel isn't the only one doing a reboot. DC is bringing Superman back after the less-than-successful reboot of 2006. They've already decided 300 and Watchmen's Zach Snyder is directing (which I know has already gotten fans a little worried), but Christopher "I totally made the best Batman movie ever*" Nolan is also on as a creative consultant.

As far as casting roles goes, nothing is in stone yet. I will say, a part of me wanted Brandon Routh to come back. His performance in Superman Returns was one of the shining parts of an otherwise dull movie. Plus, I adored him as dimwitted yet cruel vegan Todd Ingram in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. I think it would have been interesting to bring him back. But from what I've heard, Routh is out of the running.

The other potential Superman I am all for is Jon Hamm, who plays the dashing and dark Don Draper (try saying that five times fast) on Mad Men. One, he has the look you think of when you're talking Superman. Honestly, they could just bring in his entire wardrobe from the show and that would work for the Clark wardrobe. Hamm also has that great voice and the confidence to pull off the Man of Steel.

Courtesy of John Bollwit

The other great thing about Hamm is that he is genuinely funny. I stopped watching SNL years ago, but I caught of few of his skits for the two times he has hosted and he's hilarious. You can also see his comedy skills in this Superman-inspired Funny or Die video:



The way I look at it, whoever plays Superman has to be a little like Cary Grant: extremely sexy, but with a distinct comedic timing (Christopher Reeves himself said he looked at Grant's performance in Bringing up Baby when working on his own Clark Kent). Of course, Hamm hasn't gotten the role yet, but if the internet has anything to do with it....

Which movie do you want to see more? And what do you think about the casting and the potential casting?

*arguably

Sunday, October 10, 2010

PotterWatch #20

PotterWatch is a special group of posts on Just Plain Something dedicated to a certain film franchise about a certain teenage wizard.

It's fitting that this is the 20th PotterWatch, since I'm going deep into what I consider the most interesting footage we've seen of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows yet. So, here's the thing; this trailer came out a couple weeks ago. I think I actually watched it the day it hit the internet. I completely meant to write about this first thing, but a few things happened... 1) Life, and special posts like the Guest Review and my book review got in the way (by the way, I'm now officially done with culinary school. So who wants to pay me money to write food reviews?) and 2) There are a lot of great direct-from-book moments to find in this trailer. So... I made a crap ton of screenshots. So, let's watch the trailer first, shall we?


So, pretty awesome, right? Here are the important screenshots, placed in a semi-random order.


Friday, October 8, 2010

Book Review: The Ice Cream Theory by Steff Deschenes


About a month and a half ago, a mutual friend of Steff Deschenes and mine sent me an email. He told me Steff's book was finally coming out and suggested I read it and possibly review it. I was perhaps a tad hesitant 1) because it would be my first dip into book reviews for Just Plain Something (new is always a little scary) and 2) because reviewing the work of someone you know even just casually is a slippery slope in itself. Never the less, I have a great love for books and thought, "Hey, why not?" So this is that review.

The Ice Cream Theory is based on a hypothesis that has been in Deschenes' conscientiousness for the majority of her life: namely, every relationship she has can be represented through a particular ice cream flavor. Every chapter focuses on a flavor, a person in her life and how the first is personified in the latter.

Deschenes makes sure to explain that the book is not there to provide a chart of ice cream flavors and what they mean. These are the themes from her life, but they are not cookie-cut for everyone. What a flavor means to one reader is probably very different from what it means to her or any other person. For example, she hates vanilla and connects it to someone bland and boring. But that doesn't means vanilla represents boring to everyone. It is less a self-help book than a memoir that happens to have a theory on life as its heartbeat.

About a third of the book is an exploration into ice cream in the most literal sense. Deschenes explores a variety of flavors (some she loves, some she fell out of love with and some she never liked at all). Her close-to-obsession for the treat is woven throughout all the stories and you get the feeling all the people she writes about have heard her talking about her ice cream addiction. Even when I completely disagreed with her on her favorite and least favorite flavors (she doesn't like nuts in her ice cream, which I find to be a minor crime against humanity), her enthusiasm is infectious and any foodie will love this aspect of the book.

A majority of the book is about her experiences throughout life and I must give her props on her unyielding honesty. Even sensitive issues (like her parents' divorce and her struggles to be close to others) are explored in the pages of The Ice Cream Theory. Many chapters (especially toward the end) deal with her romances and she is especially candid in these parts. You have to admire a woman who not only tells you when a relationship's decline was her fault, but tells you about multiple situations where it was her fault. She owns her mistakes, a trait rarely found in authors. These moments of humility and vulnerability were when I felt most engaged with the book.

If there is any fault to the book, it's the abundance of flowery language. To use Steff's own approach, it reminded me of double chocolate chip fudge ice cream. It definitely has a ton of flavor and is certainly enjoyable, but can overpower your taste buds if you take in too much at a time. Still, with such a intimate point of view, bombarding and overwhelming is still better than matter-of-fact and dry.

While the chapters can be considered small vignettes, I would highly suggest reading them in order. Each story adds to the other and when you get to Chapter 21 (not the last, but easily the most engrossing and emotional), the whole theory itself comes together in a really beautiful way.

Something very important to understand about The Ice Cream Theory is that it doesn't promise (or even suggest) that this will work for everyone. While reading, I started to see if I could link ice cream to people and struggled. I started realizing that I don't eat too much variety in my ice cream and that made it hard to pair people with flavors. I go for the basics (vanilla and chocolate), and I have a few fancier favorites (i.e. Cherry Garcia, Butter Pecan and Mint Chocolate Chip). While I'll try almost any kind offered to me, if I am choosing, I don't deviate very often from about 8 or so flavors. I then realized that I do the same thing to people. If introduced to someone, I will be very social and engaging, but when it comes to making close friends (and keeping them), I shut myself away a little more than I like to admit. I stick to what is safe and, like the flavors I've passed on, have probably lost opportunities for wonderful relationships. I might not have applied her theory directly, but in the process of writing this review, I sure did learn something about myself.

I'm guessing you will, too.

The Ice Cream Theory can be purchased through Amazon. For more information, check out www.theicecreamtheory.com and www.steffdeschenes.com.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Guest Review: The Social Network

This is the first in a series of guest reviews by fellow writers and film lovers. Steff Deschenes is an author whose new book, The Ice Cream Theory, is not only available on Amazon right at this moment, but might just have a review of its own on a certain site soon. Until then, here is Steff's take on The Social Network.

The older and busier I get, the less tolerance I have for sitting through an entire movie. It’s not that my attention span has shortened; it’s that my personal expectations for the quality of my life have expanded. I don’t want to waste any valuable time on bad music, terrible art, or awful movies.

As a result, I tend to not go to the movies – the potential of paying ten bucks to lose two hours of my life to something uninspired and uninspiring is frightening to me. I’m quite content with my Netflix subscription, where for the same ten bucks I can watch the first fifteen minutes of all the movies I want before I find something decent or give up and go to bed disappointed with the entertainment business.

That being said, once in a great while, a movie comes out and I know beyond reasonable doubt that I must see it immediately. It tends to happen with films that aren’t all that impressive on the big screen, but my inner artistic soul feels compelled to see it.

This happened recently with The Social Network.

I’ve been in marketing for close to five years now, and I think social media is an incredible, invaluable tool. It is the great equalizer between multibillion dollar corporations and artists or companies just beginning to define their brand. And it has influenced our society in unparalleled ways.

While I wouldn’t necessarily sit through a movie about the creation of the internet, watching the evolution of Facebook from concept to execution, and the fall-out from it for both the people directly involved and the world it manipulated as a result, told in an intimate and witty way seemed both fascinating and entertaining.

It absolutely was worth the ten bucks and two hours.

If you are at all interested in marketing, technology, social media, or are one of the millions of people like myself addicted to Facebook this is absolutely worth seeing. If anything, you’ll walk away from the film completely amazed by the things most people probably didn’t know about Facebook. For example, I had no idea the creator of Facebook – Mark Zuckerberg (played by Jesse Eisenberg) – was a twenty-something, only a year older than myself and the youngest billionaire in history. I had no idea he was sued by two different parties for the equivalent of hundreds of millions of dollars. And I had no idea that Sean Parker, creator of Napster, (played by Justin Timberlake) was at one point involved (as a matter of fact, he still owns 7% of the company), encouraging Zuckerberg to change it from TheFacebook to just Facebook.

One of the most enjoyable parts of the film was watching when Zuckerberg was first inspired by a seemingly inconsequential life moment which helped create things like the “Relationship Status” field, the “Poke Button,” and even the inclusion of “Status Updates” which essentially fleshed out and became the back bone of Facebook.com.

On a personal note, I loved the movie because I remember how incensed I was by the initial exclusivity that Facebook was known for. The platform came out in 2004, which was the same year I quit college as a sophomore. When I heard of Facebook I tried to sign-up but couldn’t, because I didn’t have a college email account. Zuckerberg and co-creator Eduardo Saverin (played by Andrew Garfield) achieved what they originally had wanted to: to create an online party that was by invite only that would make other people feel like they were missing out on something.

The only real con of the film was the language. While I consider myself a fairly intelligent girl, I’ll admit that there were times when the conversations happening in the movie were beyond me. Lengthy technical explanations were used in a rapid-fire conversational tone that left my head spinning and feeling like I was not a part of some inside joke. My tip: focus on the bigger picture and don’t get distracted or overwhelmed by the computer jargon.

Within seconds of leaving the theater both my significant other and myself were on our phones, updating our Facebook statuses about, well . . . Facebook. And I know we aren’t alone; I’ve seen dozens and dozens of statuses about it, which only further proves the importance and dependence we have of social networking.

The Social Network excellently recreates the story of what might be the number one company of the internet age, and further demonstrates the value of Facebook as medium to stay interconnected with one another and how impactful it’s been on us as individuals and as a society.

4 Ice Cream Cones out of 5

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

THE FIRST JUST PLAIN CONTEST!

So, a few months ago, I tinkered around with the idea of making a survey to learn more about my readers. Then I realized it would be a lot more fun if I also rewarded my readers for being my readers. So who likes winning stuff?

The Deal:
-Go to THIS SURVEY and answer all the questions.

-After the survey closes on NOVEMBER 5, I'll draw three names out of a hat and send those lucky readers some great prizes (and yes, I am willing to ship overseas for my international readers).

Prizes:
I won't give away what is going to which place, but I found some awesome prizes that just might include movie-themed fridge magnets, Pixar plushes, a movie-themed purse (for the record, if a guy gets the purse, tough luck), your choice of the next JPS review and more.

A special request: One of the last questions on the survey asks you to name at least 5 of your favorite films. In many ways, this is the most important question in the whole survey. Please answer as earnestly as you can. I'm looking for as many of your must-watch-before-you-die movies as you can think of/put in the text box.

Thanks everyone and good luck!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Shawn of the Dead Wrote a Book

In case you haven't heard, Simon Pegg is kind of awesome. Shawn of the Dead was the perfect mix of zombie flick and Brit-com, the latter which I'm sure helped me stomach the gorier parts (yes, it's a pun, get over it). Hot Fuzz (dare I say it) one-upped it's sister film by being crazily funny and gorey and found a way to surprise the audience while still being a parody of cliched action and slasher movies. And then he was Scotty in Star Trek and my heart leapt. If my little website is half as funny as Pegg on an off-day, I am very happy.

Well, Mr. Pegg has written a book about his early life and his life as an adult (go figure). If that didn't sell you yet, watch his plug.


Come on, he's adorable. Go get that darn book when it comes out November 23. You in the UK are lucky jerks; it comes out October 14 for you (fine, 14 October, are you happy?).

Added bonus: Watch Pegg and some of the best actors in the United Kingdom record for the upcoming Fable 3 game.


How awesome is it to hear such profound actors (comedic and dramatic alike) sound so enthusiastic about video game characters. Pegg himself has some great points about the necessity of excellent writing and characters in video games. And Ben Kingsley approving of video game acting? Yeah, suck on that, Ebert.

The photo at the top is from Wikipedia.

Friday, October 1, 2010

RIP Tony Curtis

On Wednesday, Tony Curtis passed away. When Katherine Hepburn died seven years ago, it was like a part of film history and our collective culture died with her and I felt the same on Wednesday.

Granted, his filmography is a list of hits and misses, including The Bad News Bears Go to Japan (although I give him props for playing a caricature of himself on a Flintstones episode in 1965). That being said, there are two films that are easily his best work and are two of the funniest films ever.

The first is Operation Petticoat, a war comedy about a US sub commander (played by Cary Grant) in WWII who has to deal with a new recruit (Curtis) and his less-than-legal ways of getting things done. Grant was so suave in so many movies, it is great fun to see him stiff with Curtis ruffling his feathers. It's a great, silly film and just a little bit raunchy (at least for the time).

The second is Some Like it Hot, arguably one of the greatest comedies of all time. With Jack Lemmon (another amazing comedic actor), Curtis played a jazz musician running from the mob who is forced to join a women's big band by pretending to be a woman. It's over-the-top and silly, but it's so much fun. His character also ends up seducing Marylin Monroe's character by hilariously portraying a meek millionaire; ironically, he parodied Cary Grant's distinctive accent for the part. It is another great film and has one of the funniest and most memorable ending moments in all of film (if you don't know what it is, go rent the movie. I refuse to ruin it for you).

Just by these two movies alone, Tony Curtis made his mark on cinema. Just in the last couple days, other movie buffs have praised some of his other films. Apparently, The Sweet Smell of Success is another great work. In any case, rest in peace, Mr. Curtis.

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