Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman

Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman, though a quality show, was a bit too sciencey for me (though my use of the word “sciencey” is a good indicator of my scientific aptitude). His show, which premiered about a year ago on the Science Channel, explores scientific questions seemingly without answers. This review is of the show’s first episode: “Is there a Creator?”

Freeman doesn’t pull any punches, jumping right in with a question that could easily stir up some controversy; after all, religion and science are often thought of as opposites. The show, with narration by Freeman of course, alternates between interviews with scientists and scientific explanation (complete with animated diagrams, like those movies we’d watch in science class). Though the scientists interviewed don’t come out with anything conclusive (can you imagine the headlines: “Science TV show proves the existence of God” or, conversely “‘There is no God!’ shouts Freeman”), both sides seemed to be equally represented.

Unfortunately, I was never really drawn into the show. Maybe it was because I watched it at the end of a long day and didn’t really feel like exercising my mind anymore. Maybe it was because I couldn’t consider the idea that the creator is a computer programmer and we’re in a virtual world like the Sims. Maybe it was because I was distracted by Freeman pronouncing the last syllable of creator as “tore” rather than “ter.” However, those are all personal issues with the show. As I watched it, even though I wasn’t too interested, I continually thought about how much my dad and my grandpa (Papa, I’m talking about you!) would have enjoyed it. I’m just not the ideal audience.

Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman gets a 3/5.

Watch Jon Stewart's Interview with Morgan Freeman

Buy the Season 1 DVD

Monday, August 8, 2011

Blue Valentine

I had a suspicion watching Blue Valentine was not going to be all new books and Heath Bars (you mean that's not happiness for everyone?), but I didn't think it could be that bad. I mean, all of the quotes from critics on the back of the DVD talked about what a great love story it was. Love stories have happy parts, right? Not this one. After watching Blue Valentine, I felt like I would never be happy again. I thought, "Oh my gosh, this is awful" multiple times throughout the movie. I would have turned it off if I didn't have to watch it for the Shill. I can step back and objectively see that it was a very good movie, but I will never see it again.

Cindy (Michelle Williams) and Dean’s (Ryan Gosling) marriage is falling apart. Cindy is frustrated with Dean’s childishness and his lack of initiative despite his talent. Dean wants to do all he can to make the marriage work, but his progress is often set back by his alcoholism and extreme jealousy. All of these issues are further complicated because the two have a daughter: the incredibly adorable Frankie (Faith Wladyka). Dean’s last-ditch effort to save the marriage by taking Cindy to a motel (and leaving Frankie with her grandfather) is intersperced with events from the past that brought the two together in the first place.

Cindy and Dean are both three-dimensional characters—neither fit a complete stereotype, and both of their points of view are understandable. Gosling and Williams’ performances are spot-on; their emotions and actions are raw and believable. I cared for both of them and wanted for them both to somehow get what they were hoping for, making it all the more heartbreaking when I realized (early on) that it was impossible.

There’s no question that Blue Valentine was a well-made movie, but the experience of watching it was not worth it—at least not for me. Still, it gets a 4/5.

Monday, August 1, 2011

How Do You Know

I love Paul Rudd. I love Paul Rudd so much that during my junior and senior years of college, my roommates and I had a “Rudd-a-thon” where we watched as many of his movies as possible. I love Paul Rudd so much that my top three celebrity crushes, from biggest crush to slightly less big, are Jason Segal, Paul Rudd, Jon Stewart. Yes, he edges out Jon Stewart. But despite all that Rudd love, I wasn’t particularly excited about watching How Do You Know. It just looked bad. And guess what, it was!

How Do You Know chronicles the troubles of Lisa (Reese Witherspoon) and George (Rudd) and how they are eventually brought together. Lisa, a professional softball player, has just been cut from the team, and, as a way to cope, has started dating Matty (Owen Wilson) a clueless man-whore of a professional baseball player. George, meanwhile, is in the process of being indicted by his father’s company and, consequently, finds himself without a job. Oh, and also without a girlfriend, since his chose to leave him just as his life was going bad.

I realized about 15 minutes into the movie (about the time that the lesbian softball player caricatures showed up) that I should have done another stream-of-consciousness blog, but I wasn’t going to go back and watch the beginning again. Instead, you just get a few complaints from me.

What bothered me most about How Do You Know, was how unlikeable and unrelatable the characters were. Lisa was whiney and frustrating and someone I wouldn’t want to be friends with. George was nervous and neurotic and the not-cute kind of awkward (where was the Rudd charm?). Matty, who I should have hated because of his playboy tendancies, was the only one who won me over; he just reminded me of a dumb puppy. In a chick-flick (which I think is what this movie was supposed to be), I should fall for the romantic interest (in a good one, I should fall for both guys in the love triangle). Instead, I didn’t like anyone and counted down to the movie’s end.

How Do You Know gets a 1/5. I would have rather watched this SNL sketch, this Romeo + Juliet trailer (look for Rudd at the 23-30 second point. He's the dancing astronaut), and this scene from Sesame Street 100 times (and I probably did over the course of the Rudd-a-Thon).

Watch Jon Stewart’s interview with Paul Rudd