Happy Friday! Have some music…

I haven’t done one of these posts in awhile. So here are some songs I discovered or (rediscovered) in the last few months:

Up in Missippi Tonight – Mudcrutch

Tom Petty’s pre-Heartbreaker band that I was completely unaware of until they played this on TBTL awhile back. It’s really catchy, and sort of ricidulously Tom-Petty-y.

Love Me Again – John Newman

I think I heard this one on The Voice – maybe? I’ve been meaning to put this list up for a long time…

We Belong To the Night – Pat Benatar

I sort of actually want those earrings…

New Lover – Josh Ritter

Thank you Pandora.

Global Concepts – Robert DeLong

Down With the Shine – The Avett Brothers

I just love everything about this so much that I can’t even articulate it.

You & Me (But Mostly Me) from The Book of Mormon

Makes me giggle, also Andrew Rannells can belt so well…

Colder Weather/Sweet Baby James – Zac Brown Band & James Taylor

Somehow this video had existed for years without me knowing about it. It’s so many of my favorite things coming together. Just watch it, even if you think you can’t stand country music.

Follow Your Arrow – Kacey Musgraves

Oh is this the second time this week I’ve posted this song? Whatever it’s like the 5,000,000th time I’ve listened to it since the Grammy’s. I cannot get it out of my head. Also I really want to get a job as her background singer – just on this song to do the “heys” and “yeps.”

To Be With You – Mr. Big

I have no idea why I love this song as much as I do, but something about the group singing and the 80s hair gets to me everytime.

Have a good weekend everyone!

We Literally Just Had This Conversation: Girls Episode 4

I take back what I said last week, maybe this show is just supposed to be how supremely unlikable Lena can make Hannah and Jessa while keeping any viewers? This episode revolves around death – specifically the death of Hannah’s editor, whom I will be mourning because 1 – I adore John Cameron Mitchell and 2 – someone needs to.

Hannah’s response is to worry about the fate of her e-book, and to worry a lot about what it means about her that she doesn’t seem to feel anything. In some ways this was a refreshing take on this plot twist, as a person (to paraphrase Hannah) isn’t always a “strong feeling” person, I can understand the ambivalence of waiting for an expected emotional reaction that doesn’t seem to be coming, but there is a difference between not being in step with expectations and having no compassion of any other human being.

You can probably tell that I am very frustrated with Hannah right now, appropriately so are Ray and Adam. I’m glad there were some people speaking up for the value of human decency, but it’s sort of bothering me that Lena seems to be relying on the male characters to be the voice of moral reason this season. Though I’m glad whenever we get to see Adam’s emotional side (that speech about how “the world would blur” if Hannah died was very powerful) it’s important to me that he not become some ideal, he is a crazy person too.

Speaking of crazy people, I unreservedly loved the other main plot this week, where Jessa finds out that her friend had staged her own death to get away from her horrible influence. Although I have grown weary of other people telling Jessa she’s awful without any character development on her end – this particular iteration of that trope was so over the top and yet believable that it totally charmed me. Plus the friend’s husband trying to decide if he had to keep up the charade was a delightful bit of subtle comedy.

Shosh and Marnie were also in the episode: Shosh loves her bandanas and Marnie is still a mess.

 

Award Show Round Up: Grammy’s 2014

I don’t usually watch the Grammy’s, they are really long and I don’t tend to know how to judge who the voters are, and (most importantly since I started this blog a couple of years ago) they tend to be on the same night at the BAFTAs. But since the Oscars are really late this year and the BAFTAs are pushed out til February…I got to watch the Grammy’s, which is cool because there were a couple of moments I would have been sad to have missed:

Lorde being her strange wonderful self (and winning 2 Grammys!) As I said last night, this girl is basically my role model, which is awkward because she is 7 years younger than me…

Taylor Swift did an excellent Carole King/Carly Simon performance. (I mean that as a high compliment)

Which was great, because then later Carole King was there and she sang with Sara Bareilles and it was amazing

Kacey Musgraves was crazy country in the best way:

(Which set the stage well for this)

The most remarkable thing though was the mass wedding led by Mackelmore (& silent Ryan Lewis), Mary Lambert, Madonna, and Queen Latifah – that sounds like a joke – but it was actually beautifully emotional:

Even Daft Punk’s elfin collaborator and Paul McCartney approved (I’m pretty sure everyone approved, but still I just liked this speech):

Anyway – dresses! (and because this is the Grammy’s that means Glitter!)

Taylor Swift in Gucci Premiere (Photo Credit: Christopher Polk/Getty Images)

Rita Ora in Lanvin

Wiz Khalifa in YSL and Amber Rose in Naeem Kahn

Beyonce in Michael Costello

Ciara in Pucci (Photo Credit: Getty)

Queen Latifah in Carmen Marc Volo

I Cherish You on An Interpersonal Level: Girls Episode 3

Before this season had begun airing, a critic on Slate, wrote a piece about how the girls of Girls are unlikable and that’s the point. As much as I agree with the underpinning of her thesis, that Lena responds to her critics by giving them exactly what they complained was missing, winking at the press while remaining true to her original plan, I think this episode preemptively answers Willa Paskin’s take on our central characters with a crazy-sister-sized challenge. You think Hannah and Jessa are awkward and out of control? I give you Gaby Hoffman standing half naked while crushing a glass in her hand. (Also – though obviously less important, what was with the mouth-kissing Hannah’s father?)

As much as a big part of me will always wish that Ray ended up with Shoshanna, I loved his “I’m not a loser” speech. Especially because then it was followed up with being such a hot mess. I really love Alex Karpovsky, and I think this combined with his “I’m not ready to be a boss” scene with Colin Quinn showed really great range this week.

In this week’s “Inside the Episode” Lena said that part of this episode was to show Hannah realizing that adults are crazy sometimes. That having a steady job, and making a name for yourself doesn’t mean that you have it all together, and John Cameron Mitchell’s slow motion drunken train wreak was delightfully entertaining way to depict that.

Speaking of train wrecks, I love RENT as much as the next girl who went to high school theater camp, but wow that performance was hard to watch. Marnie’s character, as seriously obnoxious as she can be, is definitely the most interesting to me right now. I laughed at her this week (I mean that ridiculous music video was wonderfully embarrassing.) But I also can totally see her desperation to get back to a time where things made sense for her, when she knew her role as Hannah’s best friend who knew what was best. But we really shouldn’t be doing the same things on our 25th birthdays as we are at our 21st, especially if our 21st included publicly singing this song:

Also – Katelin texted me this on Sunday night “If a boy gets me what Adam gets Hannah for my body I’m out” – I had not yet seen the episode, and I have to say I agree, but it sort of creepily works for the two of them. (But future boys for Katelin – keep your baby teeth on chains…)

Award Show Round Up: SAG Awards 2014

Sorry about the delay in getting this up, but I went to the movies yesterday rather than blogging so…

Anyway I always love the SAG Awards, they are short and sweet and always bring out someone’s crazy. And Saturday was no exception.

I’ve always loved the awkward “I’m an actor” opening – and Steve Coogan totally killed it this year…

(Which means of course that I can’t find a clip of it – here’s the lovely Kaley Cuoco Sweeting instead):

The winners were pretty predictable, except come on – even Helen Mirren knows that best actress in actress in a mini-series should have gone to Elisabeth Moss:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ts1YUhTb9ms

I think Holly Hunter split the Top of the Lake vote.

Though I think Sandra Bullock should be winning Best Actress over Cate Blanchett, but this speech – calling out Matthew McConaughey’s completely crazy speech was one of the best things to happen this awards season.

(Also notice how the voiceover guys called it Lord of Rings…he did that kind of thing all night.)

Rita. Moreno. That’s all. She is everything:

I have been saying this for years, but we for real need to stop giving awards to “Modern Family” okay. But Ty Burrell does give a good acceptance speech.

As does Julia Louis-Dreyfuss:

And now onto dresses:

Jennifer Lawrence in Christian Dior (Photo Credit: Getty)

Amy Adams in Antonio Berardi (Photo Credit: Getty/Mark Davis)

 

Rita Moreno (who is 82!!) (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

 

Lupita Nyong’o in Gucci (Photo Credit: Matt Sayles/Invision/AP)

Matthew McConaughey in Dolce & Gabbana & Camila Alves in Vintage Donna Karan Atelier (Photo Credit: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

 

Anna Gunn in Monique Lhuillier (Photo Credit: AP/Invision)

It Wasn’t Always Fun Was It?: Girls Season 3 Premiere (both episodes)

You guys remember back in season 1 when Girls was a comedy? You know before all of the rapey scenes that go unremarked upon and horrific OCD-related Q-Tip incidents? Well if these two episodes have anything to do with the rest of the season, then that show we (or at least I) fell in love with. I actually laughed out loud at these episodes guys! (And cringed of course – I related way too much to Hannah’s interpretation of hiking, which included lying down in some leaves while listening to This American Life on her phone.)

So checking in with all our girls to start off the season: Hannah is living in co-dependent ‘bliss’ with Adam, and continues to think she is more grown up than she is. As mixed as my feeling continue to be about Adam it is interesting to have him so incorporated into the central group. He so clearly doesn’t belong there, but he gives such an interesting (if harsh) view on female friendship.

Speaking of – I love that Shoshana tagged along on the “rescue Jessa from rehab” trip and showed off her signature blend of inanity and accidental wisdom. Also Zosia Mamet and Adam Driver have a wonderful comic chemistry, is this the first time we’ve seen them together on-screen? That should happen more.

I don’t have a ton to say about Marnie except that Rita Wilson as the mother “putting the work in” on self-improvement is hilarious. I’m excited that Marnie seems to be accepting her inner bitch, it should be funny to watch.

I have a lot of feelings about Jessa, I always have as you know. I can’t say I’m surprised by her willful manipulation of literally everyone at her rehab facility, but I really do wish that one of these days one of the “you need to stop hurting everyone around you for fun” speeches characters are constantly delivering to her will seep in. But then I guess where would the show go?

 

FYI – you can watch the first 2 Episodes for free on YouTube right now

Award Show Round Up: Golden Globes 2014

So we’re all agreed that Amy Poehler, Tina Fey and Neil Patrick Harris should just host all award shows from now on right? Good. They were wonderful, and despite a super trigger happy play off music cue the show was pretty great as well. I loved Cate Blanchett pointing out why they were all nervous, because all of the winner last night seemed really nervous…anyway

1. The opening monologue (what do we call it when a monologue is delivered by two people?) was as amazing as you’d expect:

2. The second award of the evening went to Jacqueline Bisset – who is a legend – and is crazy – and her speech went on forever so everything else felt rushed the whole night

3. Amy Poehler is adorable

This moment almost makes me want to forgive Bono for winning last night…almost.

4. Matthew McConaughey is just as strange as impressions of him, which I always forget

5. I reiterate that I would like to be Emma Thompson when I grow up:

And now…dresses!!

Reese Witherspoon in Calvin Klein (Photo Credit: Getty)

Julianna Margulies in Andrew Gn (Photo Credit: Getty/Jason Merrit)

 

Lena Dunham in Zac Posen (Photo Credit: Jason Merrit/Getty Images)

Emma Roberts in Lanvin (Photo Credit: Getty/Jason Merrit)

Kate Beckinsale in Zuhair Murad (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

Helen Mirren in Jenny Packham (Photo Credit: Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

 

Taylor Swift in Carolina Herrera (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

And the Nominees Are 2014: Round 5

Don’t worry, I’ll be getting a post up about the Golden Globes later today, but I didn’t get a chance to post this yesterday and I have a lot of movies planned this week and didn’t want the next nominee post to be 10 pages long. Last week was a very European one for me (which I guess is appropriate given that the BAFTA noms were announced last Wednesday…)

The Great Beauty (La Grande Bellezza)

Italy is beautiful, and this movie revels in that, it’s very visually alluring, and Toni Servillo saunters his way through that beautiful land in a charming way. But I seriously thought I had been sitting in the theater for four hours when it ended (it’s actually only a little over two hours long.) Towards the end of the film I started counting the number of times I thought “this has to be the last shot.” I got to 10 before I was right.

This may have been because I was tired, or maybe I just don’t get Italian movies. I had a very similar reaction to the much raved about I Am Love (Io sono l’amore) a few years ago. In fact my thoughts about that film – visually interesting and concerned with questions about identity and love and creation but had me checking my non-existent watch – are pretty much identical to how I felt about The Great Beauty. (Though I will say that it’s critique of conceptual art was pretty on point. And it managed to film debauchery filled parties without making me ill.)

Before Midnight

I have been meaning to watch this whole trilogy (Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, Before Midnight) a collaboration between director Richard Linklater (whom I love), Julie Delpy (whom I idolize), and Ethan Hawke (whom I have no problem with) for years, but then my expectations were so high that I got scared that it couldn’t have been anything other than a disappointment.

Well I shouldn’t have worried. These movies are close to perfect. They are essentially one long conversation separated by ten years each. This should be dry I guess, but it isn’t Delpy and Hawke are so connected that watching them come together/fracture/mend/laugh/cry/scream is nothing but a joy. All three of these are filmed in gorgeous European locales, but it doesn’t even matter I would watch these two people talk to each other in a nondescript hotel room for hours.

I got so emotionally involved in their relationship that at one point in this new installment when I thought for a moment it would end badly I protested out loud that “Celine and Jesse are not allowed to break up.” And I stand by that statement.

I’ve loved Delpy since my sorority sister and I make everyone watch 2 Days in Paris so I’m glad she got a much deserved Golden Globe nod.

Luther

I don’t understand how this can be categorized as a mini-series, when we are on season 3…but whatever, I only watched the first one, because it was streaming on Netflix. It’s terrifying. I literally had to cover my eyes and hum so I couldn’t hear the screams of the victims in a few episodes. But I kept watching for two reasons: 1-Ruth Wilson as the psychopath in obsessed with Luther is the most perfectly cast woman of this award season, and  2-Idris Elba is so crazy compelling and this character is so wonderfully complicated and perfect for him. But seriously I’ll be having nightmares about this one for a while.

The Hunt (Jagten)

So this movie sat on my nightstand for over a week before I could bring myself to watch it, but the premise – a male kindergarten teacher, played by Mads Mikkelsen, is wrongly accused of pedophilia and his life is ruined – is off-putting.

From a purely artistic point of view this movie is very well done, and the atmosphere of the woods and this town’s isolation were established beautifully. And Mikkelsen’s face is fascinating to watch even when he isn’t doing anything, but I couldn’t figure out what this film was trying to say. Taking on an issue like this isn’t done lightly; so I’m sure that the director was trying to make a point here but I can’t figure out what it is. My best guess is something as confused as “we should trust children, but only sometimes and we shouldn’t lead them into saying things but then not trust them later when they deny what we told them happened happened?” I have no idea.

Saving Mr. Banks

And now for something completely different.

I really love Mary Poppins and every single actor in Saving Mr. Banks. Especially Colin Farrell, I’ve loved him for a long time and he is his at the height of his boyish charm with a dark side here. And I want to grow up to be Emma Thompson. (And to have the costume designer from this film make all my clothes.)

But that’s it. That’s all I have to say about this. It’s a lovely piece of Disney fluff. (Though I really enjoyed the snippet of archival tape at the end of the credits…that was pretty cool.)

And the Nominees Are 2014: Round 4

It’s been a weird week for me. Fittingly I’ve seen some strange ones this week…

Frances Ha

I have a very low tolerance for awkwardness so watching Frances (Great Gerwig) have absolutely no self awareness while still somehow being hindered by self-consciousness was physically uncomfortable. I mean I almost had to skip ahead through the dinner party scene (and a couple of others). This is admittedly my issue not the film’s, but I love Gerwig and I really wanted this to be my favorite movie and instead it was something I could appreciate rather than love.

Gerwig is wonderful though, she plays the lost girl so well. This is her movie unquestionably, but I loved the casting for the supporting cast. (Oh hi again Adam Driver.) And who is Mickey Summer? She plays Frances’ best friend/co-dependent non-sexual partner – I’d never seen her in anything before and she’s amazing.

What’s great about this is it’s a story – incredibly close friendships that take over your life and how hard it can be to forge an independent identity in general – that happens in life and so rarely gets depicted on film. But it was also too real at points, I think I can only handle this level of introspection in thirty minute Girls episode length chunks.

Her

So if you’ve seen the trailer for this one you probably thought that the premise – man falls in love with his artificially intelligent operating system – is incredibly strange. And you are right. This is an incredibly strange movie and even now, several days after watching it I am still processing my reaction. That being said, Joaquin Phoenix is wonderful, as striking as the color of his eyes in the movie poster. Speaking of color Spike Jonze has created a completely believable melancholic future that is filled with over saturated colors that really drew me in for reasons I’m not really able to articulate.

This movie is a really thought-provoking exploration of the ways that we isolate ourselves in an endless search to connect. It’s sad that Theodore has to turn to a computer, but it’s also sadly believable. I thought including his really genuine friendship with Amy Adams’ character was an important and lovely touch, because the rest of this movie left me pretty cold.

The Wolf of Wall Street

At one point in this three-hour long epic of debauchery Rob Reiner turns to Leonardo Dicaprio and says that the amount of money he has is obscene, or he might be telling him the amount of money he spends specifically on prostitutes is obscene I can’t remember the context, either way it’s a good word for this whole film. The people it depicts are obscene, the culture it is either railing against or glorifying depending on your preexisting opinion on drug addicted misogynist assholes running the economy is in my opinion obscene, the near constant shots of sexualized images of naked female bodies is obscene. The fact that this movie is three hours long is obscene.

All of that being said, this movie has two of my favorite music cues of this awards season (the ship sinking into the “Gloria” rescue and the use of “Mrs. Robinson”) and the cast, particularly Jonah Hill really inhabit their despicable characters. Also this made me laugh out loud more than any of the other nominated comedies this year (also while I’m briefly on this topic Her = not a comedy.)

Or as Katelin summed this one up: “boobs cocaine yelling boobs cocaine yelling”

Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom

It’s really hard to criticize a movie about Nelson Mandela, especially right now, because obviously I have noting but respect for the man and his legacy, but this movie didn’t really teach me anything I didn’t already know. To it’s credit it isn’t a hagiography, this Mandela is a man with all of those human complications I love. This is a movie about a remarkable person  in harrowing circumstances not an inspirational quote machine. On the flip side of that though I feel like they painted Winnie (the gorgeous Naomie Harris) in a much simpler light. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that they villianized her, but there were times where the judgement of her continued radicalism made me uncomfortable. (I mean what was the deal with that fatigue jumpsuit in the break up scene? It looked like a Halloween costume…Winne Mandela is a lot of things, but a joke is not one of them.)

So far all this has been nominated for is Idris Elba’s performance (and U2’s song which…whatever) and he is certainly powerful in this role, and switches between the various stages of Mandela’s life ably, but overall I wasn’t astounded by his work here (especially in contrast to Luther which I’m working my way through right now – stay tuned for more thoughts next week…) Although the riot, protests, and crowd scenes in general were stirring this movie never really rose above “typical biopic” level for me. But it did make me want to read Mandela’s book, so that’s something…

Five Star Book: Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter

“We live in a world of banal miracles.”

I’ve realized, in the review rush that this blog becomes this time or year, how often I praise something for the “humanness” of its characters. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what I mean by that, because it’s not as simple as the fact that I like life affirming art where people are good to each other (though I totally do and wish people would make more of it) because there are plenty of stories that I appreciate and even (though often begrudgingly love) where the people involved are petty, spiteful, and cruel to each other. I guess what I’m trying to get at by overusing the word “human” as a compliment is the fact is how refreshing it is to see characters that are recognizable, not from other movies or books but from life; they are wonderful in the way real people are wonderful and terrible in those ways too. It goes beyond believability.

Which brings me to Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter, this book is not a believable story. Set alternately in a small town nestled in a cliff face in Italy in the 1960s and Hollywood simply “recently” there are coincidences and tabloid twists that defy logic and require a lot of disbelief suspending. But this is a story filled with humans, even the cartoon villain Hollywood exec Michael Deane is more than just comic relief, he feels guilt (though not much – and certainly not shame) and his motivations are understandable (if not honorable.)

This is a lot of rambling on about humanity, which is unfair to Walter, because his book is mostly just a really fun read. It’s filled with great overlapping storylines that unfold into a really satisfying ending, and gives a really fun glimpse into how movies were made in the old days, and how they are (mostly not) made today. You should read it, it’s fun and you’ll be done with it in a day.