Thursday, July 28

lately in entertainment.

lately in entertainment - summer 2016

Finding DoryOne of my former students invited me and two of her other favorite teachers for a movie date, and we had a great time at Finding Dory. If you've seen the trailer, you know it's about Dory's search for the parents she barely remembers - and the closer she gets to them, the clearer her memories become. The flashbacks with baby Dory are pretty much the cutest thing ever. The teacher in me really loved that Dory's parents are portrayed as being supportive of their daughter's desire for independence and find accomodations for her short-term memory loss. This sequel features some of the best characters from the first movie, like Crush the turtle and Mr. Ray, and introduces new characters like grumpy octopus Hank, voiced by Ed O'Neill, and Dory's childhood friend Destiny the whale. Parts of the movie seemed like they would be very intensely scary or sad for children, and there was real suspense about whether Dory's quest would be successful. Just like the first movie, the animation was gorgeous and colorful. We all enjoyed Finding Dory, laughed out loud a lot (especially at the crazy ending), and our resident science teacher approved of the marine biology elements!

Ghostbusters - Both Mr. Q and I were really excited about this one - the original Ghostbusters movies are some of his all-time favorites, and I was pumped about some of my favorite female comedians (and my favorite Hemsworth) being in the cast. We were also both really dismayed to see all the hate that was directed toward the movie online before it even came out, despite that fact that Dan Aykroyd was an executive producer, original Ghostbusters director Ivan Reitman was also a producer, and the original cast and new cast have made numerous appearances together talking about how much they love both the original and new movies! At first, I was curious about the new Ghostbusters being a reboot instead of a sequel, but I liked that the female team aren't carbon copies of the original male characters and that the story was unique. Kristen Wiig is Erin, the uptight nerd who has given up her paranormal interests to pursue her dream of being a physics professor. Erin loses her chance at tenure when her department finds out that she wrote a book about ghosts with her best friend, Abby (Melissa McCarthy). She tracks down Abby, who's working at a for-profit college that has forgotten she exists, alongside nuclear engineer Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon). When they help subway worker Patty (Leslie Jones) track down a ghost in her line, she decides to join their team and lend her knowledge of New York City's history.

The plot of Ghostbusters does have some weak points: the villain is basically Syndrome from The Incredibles and there's no sense that he won't be defeated, I thought Erin and Abby's friendship should have had some tension after Erin had turned away for so many years, and most of the best jokes really were given away in the trailer. In some of the reviews I've read, the reviewers have complained that Kate McKinnon's Holtzmann is over-the-top or distracting, and/or that Leslie Jones' Patty is stereotypical. I think it all comes down to whether or not you've watched these ladies on SNL - Mr. Q and I love these actresses and felt like their characters and performances were in keeping with their styles of comedy. If you saw the trailer, you saw the scene where Holtzmann licks her proton gun. Right after that, she runs into battle with ghosts - and I realized that I was tearing up a little because I was getting to see a woman in a movie be: a.) a scientist  b.) an action hero  c.) not in any kind of romantic entanglement. I thought of all the men who say the female Ghostbusters "ruined their childhood," and how in my childhood I never got to see someone of my gender be those three things at the same time on a movie screen. Then I thought of the whole van-load of little boys in the row behind me and how much they were loving the movie. I really loved the cameos from the original Ghostbusters cast, which were a reminder that this movie was a tribute to our childhood favorite, not a replacement. For anyone interested in seeing this one, I recommend staying until after the credits roll.


Me Before You by Jojo Moyes - I wanted to read this novel after seeing the previews for the film version, added myself to the waiting list for my library's ebook copy, and read the book in one sitting when it finally became mine. Three things: 1. It's beautifully written.  2. The main characters are adorable and complex.  3. It broke my heart into a million tiny pieces. The main character, Louisa, has low expectations for herself and is content with the safety and routine of living with her parents and single-mom sister in the town she grew up in. When she loses her comfortable cafe job, she becomes a caretaker for a paralyzed man named Will, who is bitter and angry because he has lost his active, jet-setting life. While Lou is determined is to help Will find reasons to want to live, he surprises her by encouraging her to examine whether she is fulfilled in her own life.


Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt - I was so, so happy when Kimmy came back for a second season! Tina Fey, Robert Carlock, and the rest of the writing team are really on point creating ridiculous characters that are still sympathetic. This season, we had Jacqueline visiting her parents and trying to reclaim her Native American culture, Titus falling in love, Lillian fighting gentrification. Guest stars included Anna Camp as Jacqueline's super-competitive WASP rival (basically her character from Pitch Perfect cranked to eleven), and Tina Fey as Kimmy's drunk Uber fare turned therapist. There were jokes about AirBnB, Uber, ADHD medication, Columbia House, the Washington Redskins, creepy show tunes. I just think of the phrase "stoop crone" and start laughing now.

Chelsea - I'm enjoying Chelsea Handler's new late night talk show for Netflix. She says in the first episode that she's getting to do the kind of show she's always wanted to, and it's interesting to see Chelsea and the stars she interviews discuss actual important issues instead of regular celebrity gossip, and she brings less well-known people involved with the issues onto the show as well - it reminds me more of The Daily Show than Chelsea Lately. It's a refreshing change of pace. 

Orange is the New Black - I didn't even try to pace myself with this season of OitNB - I binged! This season picks up right where Season 3 left off, and begins with the fallout of all the new inmates that have come to live at Litchfield now that it's a for-profit prison, including celebrity chef Judy King (when the real Piper Chapman was in prison, the inmates hoped Martha Stewart would spend her time at their facility). The racial hierarchy and tenuous relationships take center stage this season: Cindy distrusts her new roommate, who is Muslim; the Dominican women face off against Piper's underground business and the power-tripping prison guards; Brook makes completely off-base assumptions about Poussey's background; Piper almost-accidentally allies herself with white supremacists. Piper herself is less of a focus this season, which was fine by me - she had become such a horrible human being by the end of Season 3 that as a viewer I needed the time away! For me, the most compelling moments of this season featured supporting characters - Sophia and Nicky in maximum security, and Lolly and Blanca's background stories. When the tension that had been building all season finally broke in the last two episodes, it was heartbreaking - and the seemingly inevitable cliffhanger ending leaves me waiting impatiently for Season 5.

1 comment:

  1. Nice reviews! Ghostbusters was so much fun. As a fan of the original, I didn't realize how much the reboot would mean to me as a female movie goer seeing women who smart, funny, kick-ass and not involved in romantic relationships. I even felt like Abby and Erin's relationship at the end had a Frozen-esque quality to it. Yeah, it was pretty awesome even if the villain quite weak.