Comedy


Fright Night 2011 PosterAs a huge fan of the original campy horror movie that came out in 1985 I knew I had to see it.  Then I learned David Tennant from Doctor Who was taking the role of Peter Vincent it was a done deal.

It seems like either you love or hate 3D and I have to say that I loved it for Fright Night‘s new remake  — or rather I loved it after I told the theater workers to fix the projection since it was off during the previews.  I firmly believe 3D is best served when used in horror movies.
That said, it isn’t the kind of movie you can only watch in 3D.

The basic plot is the same as the original.  Charley Brewster (Anton Yelchin) believes his neighbor Jerry (Colin Farrell) is a vampire.  He seeks out the help of a supposed vampire expert, Peter Vincent, to kill said neighbor.  The humor fell flat for the most part, but I did giggle some (not nearly as much as the original).  That said as funnier as the original was I loved the new direction of this film and was glad they went darker.  It was a heart-pounding adrenaline rush.  I am glad I didn’t watch the trailer for the film.  Do yourself a favor and skip the trailer.

Colin FarrellSeeing Colin Farrell was a happy surprise for me as I didn’t look into the film that much before going.  He could have made or broke this film, but he blew me away.  Having someone that good-looking in the film also a nice change from the original.  Instead of it being campy or cliched Farrell gave one of the best performances of someone truly disturbing that I have ever seen.  He was not so much a vampire as much as he was a serial killer that happened to be a vampire, a thing far more terrifying than any creature alone could be.  Jerry is insanely attractive and charming so knowing what he is doing and that he can still pull off being attractive is frightening in and of itself.

Tony Collette was also amazing as the single mom.  She gave a bit more depth to the story that added a level of terror just due to the believability of her performance.

As always David Tennant was fantastic and brought range to what could have been a pretty static character.  Peter Vincent in the 2011 version is a bit of a Chris-Angel-esk Vegas act.  Tennant brought some humor to what could have been an unfunny movie (although that Ebay line was horrible and forced, I think we all can admit that) and was able to manage to make this role his own.

All in all, I would recommend this movie as long as you expect it to be darker than the original.  While it wasn’t as funny as Zombieland, if you were a fan of that film you should check this out.  And if you haven’t seen the original Fright Night just don’t expect it to actually be frightening…at all.

Fright Night (2011): Official Website

Fright Night (1985): Get it at Your Library!

And just because I like you weird librarians so much, here are a few more clips from “Portlandia.”  This one is called “Hide and Seek.” Enjoy.  And if you want more go to the Portlandia website.  I highly recommend for librarians “Technology Loop.”  Brilliantly funny.

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Enjoy this clip from IFC’s new show Portlandia starring Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein.  Did you read????

IFC's "Portlandia"

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Storm Trooper + Lesbian Aerobics Instructor = Halloween Party Librarian Style

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After a long day of shooting video at the library and wishing I was sleeping, I’m finally home and drinking a cup of tea and watching some of my favorite Halloween DVDs.  The Halloween Video Countdown continues! Now it is only 4 Days to Halloween! Today is all about Halloween episodes on television series. It is like candy corn for the soul.

Supernatural

Supernatural is my current television addiction.  The show is about two brothers, Sam and Dean Winchester, that travel across the country in a 1967 Chevy Impala (to a classic rock soundtrack) hunting demons.  Could it be any better?  Did I mention they are really sexy?  For those already hooked on the show, don’t forget season 4, episode 3, in which the boys roll into a classic horror movie!

Buffy the Vampire Slayer
**SPOILER ALERT– Don’t watch this video unless you’ve already seen these episodes**

Like Supernatural, clearly watching just about any Buffy episode is going to be good times for Halloween (or any time, hello!).  However there are two episodes you need to watch for Halloween. The first is season 2, episode 6, in which Buffy and the Scoobies turn into their costumes.  It also should be noted that we get a bit of Oz noticing Willow!  Eep! The next must see episode for Halloween comes in season 4, episode 4, (“Fear Itself”) in which the gang gets locked up in a real house of horrors.  Now, if you are going for creepy, watch the critically acclaimed “Hush” (season 4, episode 10).

The Adventures of Pete and Pete: Season 2, Episode 7, “Halloweenie”
**In addition to Halloweenie, watch this Pete and Pete short**

Halloween is when “the ghouls and goblins of our souls are set free to roam the night and scarf candy.” So, what is Big Pete’s damage? He thinks Halloween is for Halloweenies. The Pumpkin Eaters, “the dark knights of Halloween,” are looking to recruit Big Pete to smash pumpkins and ruin Halloween for everyone.  Can Little Pete help his brother find his Halloween spirit or will it be destroyed forever?

The Muppet Show: Monster Laughs with Vincent Price (VHS) or Best of the Muppet Show – Alice Cooper/Vincent Price/Marty Feldman (DVD)

Now on this one I’m old school.  I have the VHS, but it appears that the same Halloween themed episode is available on DVD now under a new name.  At any rate, this time Kermit holds auditions to be in a Halloween skit and spooky favorite Vincent Price shows up!  Rocker Alice Cooper gets into the mix, too!  The Muppets are amazing and Halloween is amazing so clearly you need to watch this.  I mean, come on…what could be better than Alice Cooper singing “Welcome to my Nightmare” with Muppets!

Looking for the Slutty Pumpkin

Looking for the Slutty Pumpkin

How I Met Your Mother: Season 1, Episode 6, “The Slutty Pumpkin”

In classic Ted fashion, young Mr. Mosby is attempting to find the love of his life.  He is convinced that he needs to find a girl he met years ago at a Halloween party.  She was dressed as a slutty pumpkin.  He was dressed as a hanging chad.  So, despite the seriously dated costume, he wears it year after year in hopes that one year he will once again find his slutty pumpkin. Meanwhile, Barney tries costume after costume in an attempt to get a hot girl to come home with him.

My So-Called Life: Season 1, Episode 9, “Halloween”

It certainly isn’t the best thing ever, but it is free and is kind of a kick to rewatch it many years removed. You can watch all the teenage angst on Hulu. Actually, the entire series is online, but since it is Halloween…what better than the Halloween episode. It is really strange to watch after so many years.  Angela dresses up in some horned rimmed glasses and a cardigan.  She has the book of Nicky Driskal, a boy that supposedly died in the school.  The kids get themselves locked up in the school after hours.  Ghosty craziness ensues, meanwhile, the parents get wrapped up in their costumes.  Oh, the melodrama of it all!

Tomorrow: 3 Days to Halloween, Halloween through the eyes of Tim Burton

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Molly Ringwald, 80's It Girl, as Andie Walsh

Molly Ringwald as Andie Walsh in "Pretty in Pink"

John Hughes defined the teen movie in the 1980’s, and no more so than in one of my favorite John Hughes films “Pretty in Pink” (written by Hughes, produced by Lauren Shuler, and directed by Howard Deutch).  Even today, the characters and the story works.  It is pretty impressive that I still care if Andie chooses Duckie or Blane in the end.

“Pretty in Pink” has all the qualities that a good 80’s movie should.  First and foremost, it stars 80’s It Girl Molly Ringwald.  Ringwald is cast here as a fashion forward high school senior that makes up for lack of wealth with the smarts to get a scholarship to a preppy school.  Andie (Ringwald) is so cute and fun and completely out of place that it is easy to identify with her. The role literally was written for Ringwald, but shockingly they were considering “prettier” actresses.  Ridiculous! This part was not just meant for her, but she actually was the age of the character which helps the realism of the film.  Molly Ringwald is Andie Walsh.

Andie’s mom left, a fact that Andie and her father, Jack Walsh (Harry Dean Stanton), deal with over the course of the film.  He clearly was devastated by the abandonment and Andie has become a caretaker to her father.  Andie and Jack’s relationship is a highlight of the movie.  But the real story here is one of young love.  It seems that a “richie” (a rich kid), Blane, is crushing on Andie just as much as she is on him.

Andrew McCarthy (Blane) with Ringwald

Blane (Andrew McCarthy) making eyes at Andie

Blane is just the kind of kid a girl like Andie would like, passionate/awkward kissing and all.  Apparently, they originally wanted a “hunk” instead.  The men involved in the film wanted the classic jock type, but Ringwald threw her 2 cents in for Andrew McCarthy.  She knew that McCarthy was more the type than Andie would fall for.

Blane is sweet and someone I can see Andie with, but I for one fell in love with Jon Cryer in this film and I would prefer Duckie any day (although I understand her crush on Blane). How could I not love The Duck Man?!  Duckie is Andie’s bestfriend and not-at-all-secret admirer.  As much as I love Andie and her budding romance with Blane, Duckie steals the show and I can’t help but to pull for him to get the girl.  Throughout the film his unrequited love for Andie is hilarious and heartbreaking and you really want Duckie to get some lovin.’

Jon Cryer (Duckie) looking fantastic with Andie

Duckie (Jon Cryer) looking fantastic with Andie

Some of the most memorable lines from the film are lines Cryer came up with himself (“candy machine” and “Blane!?  It’s not a name, it’s a major appliance!”).  And don’t even get me started on his dancing to Otis Redding.  Fantastic.  Can’t forget that he made Iona’s “thighs go up in flames!”

Speaking of Iona, Annie Potts gives a wonderful performance as Andie’s quirky and hip boss that owns a New Wave record store in Chicago’s Chinatown.  She fills the role of friend and mentor in the absence of Andie’s mother.  She is like a big sister, worldly in the ways of men and “wishful makeuping.”

And what movie would complete without a villain.  Steff is the perfect rich jerk to counter Blane’s sweetness and gentle-pushover attitude.  James Spader plays a jerk so well it is hard to imagine hating anyone more.  He is rude to Andie and is a horrible bestfriend to Blane.  As much as the snotty rich girls are annoying, it is Steff that really works to screw things up.  The fight scene is fantastic.  I’ll say it again.  He plays a jerk perfectly.

Steff harassing Andie

Steff (James Spader) harassing Andie (Molly Ringwald) for a "date"

I haven’t even mentioned yet the awesome music, a score composed by Michael Gore.  It probably is part nostalgia, but the 1986 music is such a huge part of the film that I can’t write this without mentioning it.  Of course the soundtrack features “Pretty in Pink” by the Psychedelic Furs.  “Wouldn’t it Be Good” by Danny Hutton Hitters  is almost as iconic for fans of the film when you listen to it. The prom song, “If You Leave” by Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark  brings a rush of emotions and seriously who can forget the high drama of Duckie on his bike with “Shellshock” by New Order playing?  He isn’t going to ride by her house anymore.

Pretty in Pink: Everything's Duckie Edition

Pretty in Pink: Everything's Duckie Edition

I would highly recommend the “Everything’s Duckie Edition” of the film.  “Zoids and Richies” is a look back at the casting of the film with interviews.  “Volcanic Ensembles” is about the work of costume designer Marilyn Vance.  There is even a lengthy discussion about the original ending of the film.  Even though it is a disappointing to only see grainy shots and you don’t actually see the original cut, it still was interesting to hear that in the original cut she ends up with the other guy and their reasons for changing it.  That said, it is a wonderful film and as far as DVD extras go, this DVD is mostly entertaining and fun.  Other extras included are the making of “Pretty in Pink,” a feature all about Molly, prom stories, favorite scenes, commentary by the director, a wrap-up, and a photo gallery.

Rest in peace, John Hughes.  You made some pretty fantastic films.

*Note*  Last week there was no posting because I was finishing my degree at UIUC.  Congratulations to all my fellow graduates!

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Pushing Daisies: Ned and Chuck

Pushing Daisies: Ned and Chuck

A bitter-sweet moment came in the mail for many “Pushing Daisies” fans as their pre-ordered copies of the second, and final, season of the Emmy award winning television series arrived this past week.  I certainly hope that a movie comes along, since there is much more to be said in the world of “Daisies.”  There may be graphic novels in the fall, but as much as I would treasure those, it is not the right format for this truly cinematic show.  The fast and literary dialog has a special quality when performed by the cast and the look of the show can’t be captured in another medium.

The world of “Daisies” is a fantasy about a pie-maker, but it is more that that.  It is a contemporary fairytale that, not surprisingly, reminds one of films such as the French film “Amelie,” that use vivid and highly saturated colors and creative camera and editing techniques.  The shot construction often mirrors classic Hollywood (including many references to Alfred Hitchcock and even “The Sound of Music”).  It is a fantastic hard-boiled murder mystery combined with the film “Big Fish” on the small screen…and then some.  The sets and props are brilliant examples of pure imagination explosion.  When Brian Fuller (creator and executive producer) and his crew put something together they go all out.

Pushing Daisies cast in The Pie Hole

Pushing Daisies cast in The Pie Hole

The facts are these…
“Pushing Daisies” is the story of a pie-maker named Ned (Lee Pace) who owns a pie shop (The Piehole).  Ned can wake the dead with his touch, but only for a minute.  If he doesn’t touch the dead thing (or person) again in that minute another must die in its place.  He may never touch a once dead thing a second time or they will die for good.  Ned has teamed up with private investigator Emerson Cod (Chi McBride), “a man named for a poet and a fish,” (ep. 6, s. 2) to solve the murders of the dead by waking them up and asking who killed them.  Then everything changes when lonely tourist Charlotte Charles (Anna Friel) is the victim.  Charlotte (or “Chuck”) is Ned’s childhood sweetheart so he hasn’t the heart to redead her.  But the lovebirds can’t touch or she will die, this time forever.  Toss into the mix Olive Snook (Kristen Chenoweth), a feisty waitress at The Piehole and you have a bizarre love triangle.  In addition to these colorful characters add Chuck’s aunts Lily Charles (Swoosie Kurtz) and Vivian Charles (Ellen Greene), the former synchronized sister swimming act, The Darling Mermaid Darlings.  And let us not forget Digby, the once dead dog, and later the pig — aptly named Pigby.

Pushing Daisies: from episode "Dummy" about Dandelion Car Company

Pushing Daisies: from the episode Dummy about the Dandelion Car Company

Every episode features bizarre and hilarious deaths and scenarios.  Season one features such gems as windmills and a bird with a Bedazzled wing (ep. 4), a scratch and sniff book that kills (ep. 7), and (possibly my favorite) the Dandelion Car Company (ep. 2).  Season two offers up more fun with a friend-renting service (episode introduces David Arquette as a taxidermist and love interest, ep. 4), widows making death dioramas (with glitter, ep. 9), and a deep fried murder of chef Colonel Likkin (ep. 8).

Also, the series has a great soundtrack.  Olive (Kristen Chenoweth) breaks into song a few times in the series, adding another special layer of surrealism to the show (Ellen Greene who plays aunt Vivian also gets in on the fun a couple times).  Sadly the soundtrack, which came out prior to season two, does not include Chenoweth’s ballad from Comfort Food which is hilarious (ep. 8, s. 2).  However, it does include the three songs sung in season one and the fantastic score composed by James Dooley.

Episodes are narrated by Jim Dale (a voice recognizable to fans of “Harry Potter”) which gives an extra special touch, like a story being read aloud.  Episodes flashback to the characters’ childhoods.  Ned is a lonely boy left at boarding school.  Chuck keeps bees as a hobby.  Emerson Cod is, as always, a modern day Marlow (the kid cast for Emerson is especially spot on). Olive is kidnapped as a child. And Lily and Vivian become the Darling Mermaid Darlings, forever strengthening their sisterly bond.

While the season finale wraps up the story as well as it could, it also says that it is not the end, but rather a beginning.  As a huge fan of “Daisies” I sure hope that is true.  I know that there is a lot more story to tell.  However, as much as I look forward to the rumored comics, this story is meant to be told on screen.

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