Friday, July 29, 2011

Spotlight On: Winona Ryder

This week's spotlight is on an actress that I have loved since I was a kid. I grew up watching Beetlejuice, Mermaids, Dracula, and Edward Scissorhands a million or so times, and now that I am older I still love all of those movies, along with several others of hers. Here are my favorites in chronological order...


In Beetlejuice, Ryder plays goth girl Lydia Deetz, the only member of her family who can see the ghosts living in her attic. This was one of her very first movie roles, and is probably the one that helped start out her career. I have seen this movie a million or so times, so I could probably quote the whole thing. Here are some of my favorite parts...

Ryder also starred in my all-time favorite teen movie. (You can find the whole list HERE) She plays Veronica, a girl who hangs out with a clique of bitchy girls called the Heathers. Veronica and her boyfriend start a little killing spree, and make all of the deaths look like suicides. As you can see, this movie is very dark, but also absolutely hilarious and is one of my favorite movies.

Edward Scissorhands
This was her second film that she did with Tim Burton, and is another one of my favorite movies. She plays Kim, a suburban girl who ends up falling for a guy with scissors for hands. Here is one of the best (and sweetest and saddest) moments in the film...

This is another movie that I watched a million times growing up. She stars along with Cher and Christina Ricci (another actress that I loved growing up.) She plays Charlotte Flax, a girl who wants to be a nun (even though she's Jewish) and ends up crushing on an older guy.

In Dracula Winona plays Mina, a girl who Dracula falls for because she looks an awful lot like his dead wife Elizabeta (also played by Ryder.) While she doesn't have the best British accent in the world, I still really love this movie, and I think that she looks great in her period costumes.

Little Women
Louisa May Alcott's Little Women is on my list of books that I want to read, and a big majority of that reason is because of how much I like this movie. I think that Ryder is great as Jo, and my favorite scenes were all of the ones with her and Christian Bale.

Girl, Interrupted
Although this film is usually remembered for Angelina Jolie's performance as Lisa Roe, it also features a great performance by Winona Ryder as Susanna Kayson, the film's protagonist. She plays a girl who is sent to a mental institution and is diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. She becomes friends with the other inmates, forming a close bond with a sociopath named Lisa Roe who she finds out is even more messed up than she thought...

Mr. Deeds
While I think that overall this movie is pretty stupid, it is worth watching just for one clip of Winona Ryder. Its in the video at about 2:06. It always makes me laugh...

Black Swan
In my favorite film of 2010, Ryder plays an aging ballerina who becomes jealous of Natalie Portman's character and gets really depressed.

Upcoming: She will next be lending her voice to Tim Burton's Frankenweenie, and will also star in a film called The Stare.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Movie I Want To See: A Dangerous Method

I finally saw the trailer for this today and it looks amazing! The fact that it is a Cronenberg film alone is enough to make me want to see it, but it is also filled with actors that I just love! Michael Fassbender, Keira Knightley, Viggo Mortensen, AND Vincent Cassel!! Brilliant! Also, who would have thought that a movie about Sigmund Freud would look so sexy?!?

Photo of James Howson as Heathcliff!!!

I don't know why Andrea Arnold is being all secretive with this movie. It is supposed to come out in theatres at the end of September (well, in the UK anyways...) and there isn't a trailer and there haven't been any production stills. Well, now we get a look at James Howson, who is playing Heathcliff. I am super excited for this movie for several reasons. First, Wuthering Heights is one of my favorite stories. Second, I like the director Andrea Arnold. (Coincidentally, I just got my Criterion Collection DVD of Fish Tank in the mail today.) And lastly, Howson is the first black actor ever to play Heathcliff. Can't wait!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Just Finished Reading: Madame Bovary

Even thought the main character of the novel is Emma Bovary, the character that I ended up sympathizing with was her husband Charles. She cheats on him with two different guys, spends all his money, and puts him in debt and he is completely oblivious to it all because he is so much in love with her. Even at the end when he finds the letter from Rodolphe, he still doesn't think bad of her, and thinks that the letter was about "platonic love." It isn't until he opens her desk that he finds out what she was really doing, and he doesn't even think ill of her then. I think that he is really foolish, but still really sweet.

Character of the Week: Brigitte Fitzgerald

This week's character of the week is Brigitte Fitzgerald, one of the main characters from the werewolf film Ginger Snaps. She and her sister are death obsessed teens who have to deal with the fact that one of them is turning into a werewolf. Brigitte is the younger of the two and realizes what her sister is becoming even before she is. So, she seeks the help of a drug dealer to help her find a cure for her sister's lycanthropy, which gets worse every day. She has a very dependent relationship with her sister and even skipped a grade to be in the same class as her. They do everything together, and Brigitte even makes the stupid choice to allow herself to get infected in order to try to save her sister.

Monday, July 25, 2011

My Review: Captain America: The First Avenger

OMG OMG OMG OMG The Avengers is going to be so cool!!!!! I read online that there was something after the credits after this movie, so of course I had to stay to see what it was. It was the teaser trailer for The Avengers!!!! Now I am super super excited! There are tons of really cool movies coming out next year. Why can't it be 2012 now? Okay, so now that I've got geeking out about The Avengers out of my system, I'll get on to Captain America. It is about this little 90 lb guy named Steve Rogers who keeps getting rejected by army recruiters. A German scientist guy appreciates his motiviation for getting into the army, so he picks him for an experiment which turns him into tall buff Captain America. I read online that they didn't use a body double to make Chris Evans look small, but instead used special effects to shrink him. Even if you had no idea that Chris Evans wasn't that small, you would still be able to tell that it was a special effect, especially around his jawline region. Even though it was noticable, it wasn't so noticable that it was distracting. I think that it would have been better to use a body double, though, and just superimpose his face on there. They did that for the Winklevoss twins in The Social Network, and I had no idea that they were not twins. Anyways, this movie was actually really good. Even though he was already The Human Torch, I think that Chris Evans was a great choice for Captain America. I really loved Hugo Weaving as Red Skull. Red Skull's face could have looked totally cheesy, but the excellent make-up combined with Weaving's performance made it really really cool. Tommy Lee Jones was also great as the head army guy. He was sort of to this movie what Michael Caine is to the Christopher Nolan Batman movies, which is a sort of wise voice-meets-comic relief character. This movie combined really cool action sequences with humor, which is what makes a good superhero film. Even the super serious Batman movies have their humorous elements. A part that I thought was really funny was right after he was finished with the procedure and was all buff and tall. He has to go chasing after a bad guy and is still getting used to his new body so he gets a little carried away with running, and ends up running himself into a store window. Of all of the pre-Avengers superhero films to come out, this one was my favorite, so I guess they saved the best for last. My rating: 9/10

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Photos from Snow White and the Huntsman

One thing that rules about Comic Con is that tons of cool movie stuff gets revealed. One of the coolest things I saw online (since unfortunately I am to poor and too far away to actually go to Comic Con...) were some promotional pictures from Snow White and the Huntsman. Even though I have said that I thought the Lily Collins Snow White movie looked better, I have not decided that, even though it has Kristen Stewart, it still looks pretty neat.
For starters, you can see that Snow White will not be your typical fairy tale princess. She has sort of a Joan of Arc look about her with her silver armor. I suppose that's a good thing, because I couldn't really see Stewart pulling off princess anyway. The pictures that I was really excited to see was Charlize Theron as the wicked queen.

How cool does she look? I really want to see what Julia Roberts looks like in her wicked queen costume so that I can compare the two of them. Even though I was disappointed that Viggo Mortensen dropped out of this film, I was pleased to see that Chris Hemsworth signed on as the part of the Huntsman.

I have never heard of the guy who plays the prince before, but he also has a cool picture...

Friday, July 22, 2011

Spotlight On: Alfred Hitchcock

This week's spotlight is on the master of suspense himself, Mr. Alfred Hitchcock. He is one of my favorite directors, and I have liked all of the movies of his that I have seen. He has directed some of my favorite actors including Laurence Olivier, James Stewart, Ingrid Bergman, and Cary Grant, and directed one of my all time favorite horror films, Psycho. What is really odd is that he has directed tons of brilliant films, and yet he has never won an Oscar for best director. How messed up is that? Anyways, here are my favorite Hitchcock films in chronological order.

This is the only one of Hitchcock's films to win best picture at the Oscars, and it is also in my top five favorites of his. It is about a woman who works as a companion to an old rich lady who falls in love and marries a rich man. While it seems like a fairy tale, she soon discovers that his mansion is haunted by the memory his ex-wife. One of the most chilling scenes is when Ms. Danvers is trying to convince the new wife to kill herself.

I am a huge Ingrid Bergman fan, so I really liked this one. It is about a therapist played by Bergman who is trying to help Gregory Peck get back his memory so that he can figure out if he killed someone or not. The most interesting parts of this film are the dream sequences, which were designed by Salvador Dali.

I adore this film! It features three actors that I really love: Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman, and Claude Rains. It is also probably Hitchcock's most romantic film. I love that it shows how sneaky he was when it came to the Production Code. It was a rule that kisses couldn't be longer than three seconds, so instead of having Grant and Bergman do one long kiss, they did a bunch of little kisses instead.

What makes this movie really interesting is that the whole movie seems like one long take because it is only one set, and there is very little editing. It is about these two guys who kill their friend, put him in a chest, then throw a party for their friends with the dead body still in the room. One of them is calm and collected, but Farley Granger is very nervous the whole time. James Stewart plays their former teacher who ends up getting very suspicious of them.

Strangers on a Train
Another film dealing with murder, this one is about two complete strangers who meet on a train and decide that their lives would be easier if they each killed someone for each other. While Farley Granger is nervous about the whole thing, and doesn't really want to kill anyone, the other man goes through with his end of the bargain, and makes Granger's character's life hell.

Rear Window
Another film with the great James Stewart, this is a suspense film that I would definitely call "heart-pounding." I mean the scene towards the end where he looks through his binoculars and sees the murderer looking back at him literally made me gasp, and I was going "oh shit, oh shit, oh shit, oh shit" from that moment until the end of the movie.

The Man Who Knew Too Much
This is actually a remake of one of Hitchcock's own films that starred Peter Lorre. I've never seen that one, but I did like this version with James Stewart and Doris Day. It is about a family who travels to Morocco, and the husband ends up finding out about an assassination plot. Then their son gets kidnapped and they have to find him and stop the assassination. The best scene in the movie is when the mother attempts to find her son by having him overhear her sing.

The Wrong Man
I was actually getting really frustrated while watching this movie. Its about a man who gets mistaken for a different man who robbed a bank and a few stores. What's worse is that he is a super nice guy who doesn't want any trouble and is just worrying about calling his wife the whole time. I was really pissed off at those stupid bank tellers during this whole movie because they just destroyed this guys life and made his wife go crazy,  and then when they find the real guy at the end it doesn't even look like Henry Fonda!!!

Hitchcock + James Stewart = Brilliance! This was actually the first Hitchcock movie that I had seen. While it is filled with tons of great scenes, my favorite was always the bell tower scene.

North By Northwest
Here Hitchcock does another film about mistaken identity. Except instead of being mistaken for a criminal, criminals mistake him for a government agent. This film is probably best known for the crop duster scene which you can find HERE. Some of my favorite scenes are the drunk driving scene, and pretty much all scenes with Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint together.

Now onto my favorite Hitchcock film, Psycho. I love Anthony Perkins' performance as nice guy/ momma's boy/ serial killer Norman Bates. I just love how even though he is a serial killer, a part of you still doesn't want him to get caught. The best known scene is definitely the shower scene, and the ending is also brilliant.

The Birds
"They're coming!" Before I saw this movie, I thought that the concept was somewhat rediculous, but I ended up really liking this movie. There are actually parts that are pretty scary, like when Jessica Tandy finds the guy with his eyes pecked out. Yeesh!

Another film he did with Tippi Hendren, Marnie is about a psychologically disturbed girl (who is also a thief) who marries a guy who wants to help her. What is interesting about Sean Connery's character is that even though he seems like a good guy, he also has his bad side. I love the ending of this movie, but I couldn't find it anywhere on Youtube. This is the only scene that I could find, but it's a good one because it shows Connery's flawed character.

Here is a really neat video that I found of Hitchcock speaking.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Wuthering Heights in Film

Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights is one of my all-time favorite love stories. I love it because it is not your typical romance. It features deeply flawed and somewhat unlikable characters, has revenge as a major plot point, and has an unhappy ending. Despite of this, or maybe even because of this, Wuthering Heights is a very beloved novel and has been adapted for the screen over a dozen times. While I haven't seen every version, these are the versions that I have seen.

This was the first version I had seen, and was the film that made me fall in love with this story. It gets a lot of criticism because it only covers half of the book, but I really don't care. If it did cover the whole book it would have either been twice as long, or it would have had to cut out a lot of stuff and I wouldn't change a thing about this film. Merle Oberon is great as Cathy. When I first saw this movie I thought that she was a total bitch, and that is basically what Cathy is. She is completely selfish, and I think that Oberon does a great job portraying her that way. Geraldine Fitzgerald is also great as Isabella. I love how you see her go through such a transformation. She goes from foolish lovesick girl, to broken and sad, and thinking that it would benefit her if Cathy dies. The reason why this film is so great, however, is because of Laurence Olivier as Heathcliff. He plays the different sides of Heathcliff perfectly, both the heartbroken side and the vengeful side. The shot of him looking down when he overhears Cathy say that it would degrade her to marry him was enough to break my heart and make me burst into tears. So, even though this isn't the most accurate adaptation of the novel, it will always be my favorite.

If you're looking for a movie to entertain you, this probably isn't the best version to choose. It is very dated and the film quality isn't that great. This is the version that is closest to the novel, however, so I guess this is the one to watch if you're too lazy to read the book for a class or something. Probably the biggest difference was pushing the entire frame story to the very end. I was getting quite annoyed with Cathy in the first part of this, but Cathy is supposed to be a brat. I thought that Ian McShane's portrayal of Heathcliff was a bit odd until he came back after getting his riches. He was much better as rich Heathcliff than stableboy Heathcliff. This version also has both generations, which is cool. They have the same woman play Cathy and Catherine (also done in the 1992 version), which I suppose they did to give they actress more screen time even though Catherine isn't supposed to look like her mom. It took me a while to get into this one, but I did end up liking it.

This is another version that covers only the first half of the book. While I do like Timothy Dalton (he has that great deep voice), he is really not my favorite Heathcliff. I suppose its more the screenwriter's fault, but basically all he does in this movie is cry or not say anything. He also does this thing where he pushes Cathy whenever they start to have a tender moment. Like their faces will get close, so you think that they're going to kiss, and then he pushes her against a wall, or pushes her on the ground. It's somewhat odd. There was one part in this movie that didn't really shock me, but surprised the hell out of me, because I really wasn't expecting it. It's the part when Heathcliff is kissing Isabella and I forget what word he used but he basically asks her to have sex with him. I was like "whaaaaaat???!?" It was out of nowhere... One thing that really bugged me about his was that they didn't really have the two big speeches from the novel. Both the "I am Heathcliff" and the "I cannot live without my life" speeches were really cut short, and the latter wasn't really said at all. Lame. It also doesn't have the frame story at all. No "let me in!" Hmm...

This one really plays up Heathcliff's grumpy side. Yes, Heathcliff treats Isabella like shit, but in this one he smacks her around and is a really big shithead. I do think that Ralph Fiennes makes a great Heathcliff though, and does his brooding side justice. This movie crams both generation stories into a two hour film, so it does leave out a lot, and Nelly is pretty unimportant in this film. What I love about this movie is that even though Juliette Binoche is all giggly and that is kind of annoying, she does say the entire "I am Heathcliff speech."

This is my least favorite (normal) version that I have seen. A part of me thinks that it has something to do with me being shallow because this version has the worst looking Heathcliff, but I also just didn't care for this movie in general. Even though Robert Cavanagh is around the same age as several other actors who have played Heathcliff, he just seems way too old. I also didn't really care for the fact that he shouted the beginning of the "I cannot live without my life" speech. Probably the best thing about this movie was Matthew Macfadyen as Hareton.

This was an odd one to see. It's MTV's modern day sort-of musical version of Wuthering Heights. It wasn't as terrible as I thought it was going to be, but it is still not that great. They've updated all the names so Heathcliff becomes Heath, Edgar becomes Edward, Hindley becomes Hendrix (wtf?), and so on. This movie was just really corny, and the songs were not good at all, and pretty much the only plus side is that Mike Vogel is really nice looking. It is a good think that they didn't update both generations because at the end they have Cathy's/ Kate's baby daddy be Heath instead of Edward. So Heath would be trying to set up half-siblings instead of cousins. Eeeeeew. There is only one part that has any hint of writing from Emily Bronte, and that is when Kate says "I am Heath." While there have been good modern-day versions of classic literature like Clueless and 10 Things I Hate About You, the MTV version of Wuthering Heights does not make that list.

Even though I do have a lot of criticisms of this version, it is my second favorite adaptation. Tom Hardy is awesome as Heathcliff, and it also features Andrew Lincoln as my favorite Edgar from any Wuthering Heights film. He is so handsome and sweet, and makes you almost understand why she would leave Heathcliff and marry him. My one major criticism of this movie is that they make Cathy too nice!!! Cathy is supposed to be a selfish brat, and she doesn't come across that way at all in this movie. They even change one of the most important parts to make her feel more sympathetic. Instead of Heathcliff overhearing her tell Nelly that Edgar asked her to marry him, they have her tell him instead. Then, when she is telling Nelly about it, she seems all bummed out about it as if she is being forced to marry Edgar, which just doesn't make sense at all. Other than that though, I do really like this version. It has my favorite cast for the second generation of characters, and I like it enough to forgive that it excludes the frame story.

This movie is supposed to be released in the UK in September, and yet I have not found a trailer or even a production still from this movie. It is directed by Andrea Arnold, who directed a movie I really liked called Fish Tank, and stars a bunch of actors that I have never heard before. The cast has actually changed quite a bit since it first started being made. The first I heard about it was when it was supposed to star Ed Westwick and Gemma Arterton, which would have been great! Even better would have been Michael Fassbender and Abbie Cornish who were set to star even before that. Natalie Portman was even in talks to play Cathy Earnshaw at one point. What makes this version so intriguing is that Heathcliff is going to be played by a black actor named James Howson. In the book, Heathcliff is described as dark skinned, but that is because he is a gyspy, not because he is black. Regardless of this, I do think it is cool to have a not-white actor in a film like this because you rarely ever see that. Hopefully there will be a trailer for this movie sometime in the near future because I am super anxious to see it!

Photo of Lily Collins as Snow White

Super cute!!!! Heres a looksie at Lily Collins as the famous fairy tale princess. She looks absolutely adorable and I am super excited to see this movie. I'm bummed that it doesn't come out til March.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Just Finished Reading: At the Mountains of Madness

While I think that the concept is very interesting, I really didn't care for this book. I wanted to like it, but I thought it was pretty boring. I had to reread parts because I kept getting distracted, and if someone asked me what it was about I probably wouldn't give them a very good answer. There are three other H.P. Lovecraft stories in the edition that I have, but after reading At the Mountains of Madness, I really just want to move on to a different author.

The Dark Knight Rises Teaser Trailer

OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OGM OGM OGM OGM OMG OMG!!!!!! Finally there is a teaser trailer for The Dark Knight Rises. I read about it on twitter a few days ago and I rushed to my computer to watch it on the The Dark Knight Rises Facebook page. I am somewhat disappointed that we don't see Catwoman at all, we do get a few glimpses at Bane. This movie is going to be so cool!!! Why can't it be July 2012 now???

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

My 16 Favorite Teen Movies

This is my list of my favorite movies centered around teenagers. In order to prevent this list from being rediculously long, I have excluded horror movies and musicals, so this is basically a list of my favorite teen comedies. Here goes...

16. Ferris Bueller's Day Off

"Ferris Bueller, you're my hero."

15. She's All That
I watched this movie dozens of times in my preteen years and, along with basically every other girl in the country, I had a huge crush on Freddie Prinze Jr. Weird artsy girl Laney Boggs gets made over by cool guy Prinze Jr. so that he can win a bet by making her prom queen. So, he falls in love with her (of course) and she eventually finds out and blah blah blah...happy ending.

14. Bring It On
Another movie that I watched a billion times, Bring It On was HUGE when it first came out. I remember that tons of girl at my school used to quote this movie all the time, and made girls want to be cheerleaders even though my school never really had any (and still doesn't.)

13. Weird Science
Not only did I love this movie when I was a kid, but I actually used to watch the TV show that was based on this movie as well. While I do think the whole Frankenstein-esque storyline is great, the main reason to watch this movie is for the scenes with Chet.

12. All I Wanna Do
"Up your ziggy with a wa-wa brush!" This is a movie that I would watch whenever it was on TV. I actually haven't seen it in forever, but I really want to now because I remember that this used to be one of my favorite movies. I loved all of the girls in the cast, and it actually made me wish that I went to an all girls school.

11. Jawbreaker
Looking back, this is kind of an odd movie for an elementary school age girl to love, but this was one of my favorites back in the day. Rose McGowan as Courtney Shane was always my favorite.

10. Say Anything...
Such a cute movie!!! I love John Cusack as Lloyd Dobler and Ione Skye as Diane Court, the girl of his dreams. I also really love Lili Taylor as his songwriter friend. "Joe LIES...when he cries..." What this movie is best known for is definitely the boombox scene.

9. Juno
I love the movie Hard Candy, and I also read Diablo Cody's book, so I was already a fan of Cody and Ellen Page before I saw this movie. I remember being really excited for this to come out, and I was not disappointed. I loved the cast and the soundtrack, and I remember laughing really hard when I saw this in theatres.

8. Pretty In Pink
Growing up in my house, I saw a lot of John Hughes movies. One that I always loved was Pretty In Pink. Even though I think that Molly Ringwald is a total whiny whiner in this movie, I always loved Annie Potts as her punker friend, and Jon Cryer as Duckie.

7. Superbad
Apparently the script for this movie was written by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg when they were only thirteen years old. I never would have guessed that because this is one of the funniest movies to come out in the new millenium. This movie is actually really funny to listen to with the commentary, especially when they start talking about this one bad review that someone have the movie.

6. 10 Things I Hate About You
This modern day version of Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew was my favorite movie after it first came out. I LOVED Julia Stiles as Catarina Stratford, as well as Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Cameron, and Heath Ledger as Patrick Verona. I even had the soundtrack to this movie, and I listened to it all the time.

5. The Breakfast Club
The Breakfast Club is my favorite of the John Hughes/ Brat Pack movies. It is basically just a movie about five people stuck in a room together, but it is, in my opinion, one of the best movies from the 80s.

4. Mean Girls
"That's so fetch!" Even though I have never been a big Lindsay Lohan fan, I love this movie! Tina Fey's script is great, and this movie has some of the best dialogue! Its also the movie that helped make stars out of Rachel McAdams and Amanda Seyfried.

3. Ghost World
This movie is based on my favorite graphic novel Ghost World by Daniel Clowes. I love Enid and Rebecca's somewhat codependant friendship, and this movie shows how friends can grow apart after high school.

2. Clueless
I've probably seen this movie a million times, and it just keeps getting better. I knew that this was a modern adaptation of Jane Austen's Emma, but I didn't realize how close it was to the actual story until I read the book. It's actually a pretty faithful adaptation considering that it is set in Beverly Hills in the 90s.

1. Heathers
"Lick it up, baby. Lick. It. Up." Heathers is my all-time favorite teen movie. It features Winona Ryder, who I have always been a huge fan of, as Veronica, girl who hangs out with the Heathers. They are pretty much like the Plastics from Mean Girls except a lot bitchier. This movie is both dark and hilarious, and is a lot different from most teen comedies.