Monday, January 31, 2011

Review: Repo! The Genetic Opera

Directed by: Darren Lynn Bousman
Starring: Alexa Vega, Anthony Stewart Head, Paul Sorvino, Sarah Brightman, Paris Hilton

Ok, the first thing you're thinking, I'm sure, is why would you ever watch a movie with Paris Hilton in it? (again... hmm... House of Wax...). Well, rest assured that she actually does decently in this and besides, only has a few scenes. This is a horror movie, as you might have guessed from that poster. But it's also... a musical? And it's funny, in a black humor sort of way.

It's the not-so-distant future, and due to a crisis of organ failures there is now a company that can replace all your organs. But if you fail to pay, they can also repossess them. Enter the Repo Man, played by Anthony Stewart Head, who was basically blackmailed into the job so that he could raise his daughter (Alexa Vega), who has a rare blood disease, instead of going to jail. One day his daughter goes out to her mother's tomb and begins to suspect all is not what it seems.

This movie is pretty gory, in kind of an absurd, unrealistic way. The fact that it's a musical makes it rather surreal and delightful. I already knew Anthony Stewart Head could sing, due to Buffy, and I liked him in this as well. It is a fun watch if you don't mind a lot of blood and violence. Bizarrely, there's a cameo by Joan Jett. The plot kept me guessing.

Grade: B

On an unrelated note, when I Google-image-searched 'Repo!', this came up:

Fabulous Five, a reading list-a-ma-jig

I have swiped this from my friend and former creative writing club/anthropology club pal, Shelly Holder.

Five Books Read Recently:
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Season 8): The Long Way Home by Joss Whedon
- Real Murders (Aurora Teagarden #1) by Charlaine Harris
- The Gun Seller by Hugh Laurie
- Kraken by China Mieville
- Lost Girls by Alan Moore

Five Books I'm Reading:
- A Fool and His Honey (Aurora Teagarden #6)
- Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King
- Stories, edited by Neil Gaiman
- The Mental Floss History of the United States by Erik Sass
- The Pacific by Hugh Ambrose

Five Favorite Books (not definitive)
- Perdido Street Station by China Mieville
- The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
- Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
- Three Bags Full by Leonie Swann
- Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

Five Least Favorite Books
- The Awakening by Kate Chopin
- The Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner
- The Sound and The Fury by William Faulkner
- The Wind-up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami
- Emma by Jane Austen

Five Notable Book-to-Film Adaptions
- the Scott Pilgrim comics by Bryan Lee O'Malley - the movie captures the mood pretty well, and of course the first bit is spot on (perhaps too much?)
- No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy - Despite the difficulty of translating the internal monologues that are a large part of the book to film, the Coen Brothers treated this very well, and added layers to the story visually in a manner that made me really happy.
- The Shawshank Redemption (based on the short story by Stephen King) - such a fabulous movie, along with The Green Mile, another King adaptation
- The Vampire Diaries novels by LJ Smith - The show is completely different from the books, and I like parts of the books better, but I still like the show. Sigh, guilty pleasure, and not a film.
- Thank You For Smoking by Christopher Buckley - Ok, that's totally cheating because I haven't read the book. But I couldn't think of any more.

This has served to remind me I need to see the movie of Never Let Me Go. Especially since Carey Mulligan's in it! I leave you with a picture of her gorgeousness.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Review: Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Warning! Possible spoilers!

Starring: Sarah Michelle Gellar, Nicholas Brendon, Alyson Hannigan, Anthony Stewart Head, Charisma Carpenter, David Boreanaz, Seth Green, James Marsters, Marc Blucas, Emma Caulfield, Michelle Trachtenberg, Amber Benson
Created by: Joss Whedon

A couple of my friends in college were obsessed with Buffy and one of them owned all of it. She was on my freshman hall and I caught a couple of episodes in the lounge with her. They were alright, but I knew watching Buffy was going to be a huge time suck so I didn't get into it.

Well, it was nice to know I was right at least - watching Buffy was a huge time suck. I was watching it for a few months. But, on the other hand, I watched it in a few months. This is a 7 season show we're talking about, with each season having about 22 episodes. Without commercials each episode is about 43 minutes long. That's roughly 110.4 hours, or 4.6 entire days of my life spent watching Buffy. So that tells you how absorbed I was in watching it - it didn't really take me that long.

Indeed, I can now count myself in the Buffy-obsessed. It is a fabulous, wonderful show. It drew me in within a few episodes with its campy humor, teenage drama, and bad special effects. Trust me, it's awesome. It goes interesting places and deals with a lot of issues: death (of course), the burden of fate, various relationships, etc etc. It does gray moral issues very, very well. Every character in Buffy spends some time being evil. All the main characters are well fleshed out and rounded.

Different seasons are differently good. Seasons one and two have Angel (David Boreanaz), the brooding vampire with a soul, and the main characters are in high school. Season three sees Angel gone but a new slayer, Faith (Eliza Dushku), in the mix. Season 4 finds the gang in college and a new guy interest, Riley (Marc Blucas). Season 5 introduces Dawn (Michelle Trachtenberg), Buffy's sister. Season 6 brings Buffy back from the dead and into a sexual relationship with the vampire Spike (James Marsters), and Season 7 has Spike get a soul and the gang is up against probably the toughest evil they've yet faced.

While not every episode was amazing, and I sometimes didn't like certain characters (though there were few if any that I didn't at least like some of the time). It was consistently good and I never wanted to stop watching it (I still don't, sigh). I think it is my favorite show - yes, I believe I am saying I like it more than Doctor Who.

This is not, by the way, your typical vampire show. It's way more complex than that. I recommend it to anyone. I'm realizing I'm not going to be able to go into great depth here - perhaps I'll follow with a few more posts. For now - go watch Buffy. I recommend starting at the beginning, or you can watch "Once More with Feeling," the musical episode, which is top notch.

What is this graphic? Whatever, I love it.

Grade: A++++

...And I leave you with the following:
An Angel vs. Spike montage. SPIKE ALL THE WAY!!!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Atlanta: or, the Land of Not Walking

I had an opportunity to go to Atlanta with such perks as a free hotel and mostly free food (thanks, the government, for sending my boyfriend on business trips), so of course I seized it (after all, the flight was only around $200).

My boyfriend got there on Sunday. I arrived Tuesday morning, exhausted from getting up at 4 am and driving, bleary-eyed, to Baltimore (damn you, cheaper but further airports!). I zombie-walked to the MARTA station, and pressed some sort of random buttons on the ticket machine (and ended up spending twice as much as I should have, thanks to sleep deprivation). The hotel was thankfully easy to find. Luckily, Jeff was able to leave a key for me at the desk. I grabbed it, went to the room, and slept until lunch. Jeff and I met up for lunch at a place called Think Sushi, which was good until we saw a roach on the table.

After that I looked up some stuff on my nook then wandered around in random circles. I found Atlanta Underground but didn't go in. I turned back from finding a cupcake place because I got intimidated by the large groups of men smoking and staring at me. Then I went back to the hotel to wait for Jeff to be done with work. Once he was, we went to the World of Coca-Cola. We tried lots of cool flavors!

Then we talked to Jeff's old co-intern Ian. He picked us up and took us to the Midtown Vortex Burger, which he lives right next to. I had wanted to go there, and it was quite tasty! He drove us back to our hotel, where we watched some TV and went to bed.

The next day I got up and went to Reuben's deli for lunch (delicious) then headed to the Georgia Aquarium. It is amazing. Expensive, but worth it. There's the biggest aquarium tank in the world there! It has 4 whale sharks and 4 manta rays. There was a crawl tube in the penguin tank that let you get face to face with the penguins! And the beluga whales were awesome. They're adding dolphins this summer (sad to miss that!). There are touch tanks as well.

That evening we went to Rare, a soul food tapas place. It was tasty and tapas are fun. We went to the Publix grocery store across the street to find dessert. Didn't find any, but found a guy being wheeled away on a stretcher... We didn't do much else that evening.

Thursday I got up and went to the Arts Center station. I got lunch at Carolyn's Gourmet Cafe, which was pretty crappy. Then I went to the Center for Puppetry Arts to see the museum which is free on Thursdays from 1-3. The Jim Henson stuff was neat, and otherwise the museum was a little creepy since it was just me and the puppets, basically. After that I walked across a bridge to Atlantic Station, which is basically a larger version of New Town in Williamsburg. I tried on some clothes and some purses, to kill time. They had a shuttle to the metro, and at the metro there were Travel Channel people promoting the show 'The Wild Within' and they gave me some trail mix.

Dinner that night was at Dogwood, a fancy southern place. It was absolutely wonderful. We had pimento grits, apple/bacon fritters, salad, and I had fried chicken with mac and cheese and green beans. It was the best service I've ever gotten at a restaurant, and the best grits I've ever had. Mmm!

The next day was my last in Atlanta. We got up and trekked over to Little Five Points, a neighborhood where people supposedly actually walked around. We ate lunch at Savage Pizza, which was great, and then went into a bunch of novelty shops, thrift stores, and comic book stores. It was quite a cool neighborhood, definitely the best we found in Atlanta. After that we went to The Varsity for dinner, a big drive-in that is famous in Atlanta. It is greasy. Very greasy. But pretty good.

I then gathered my stuff and went to the airport, where I had a very smooth process of getting through security (5 minutes) then getting a bagel and coming to my gate to find I could get right on (they had started boarding early). The flight was short and I drove back home uneventfully.

It was a good trip, but I didn't really like Atlanta. Nobody seems to walk anywhere (unless they are a creepy loiterer or a homeless person). We were asked for money more than we are in DC, but in a generally more polite way. Atlanta is pretty sprawling, so the amount of driving makes sense. It's like LA in that way. But the reason I like cities is the fact that you can walk around or take public transportation, and Atlanta was not as accessible in those ways. Some of Jeff's coworkers for the week asked if he felt safe on the MARTA, so I guess it sort of has a reputation or something. I was interested in going to the Natural History Museum, but it wasn't really accessible at all by public transportation. So I'd say I wouldn't want to live there at all, and it ranks near LA in my least favorite cities.