Wiendish Fitch

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  1. I maintain the Stephanie Plum books would have made a better TV series than movie. I was thinking about the 2011 movie Like Crazy, which starred a then unknown (or barely known) Felicity Jones, the late Anton Yelchin (sniff), and super-recent Oscar nominee Jennifer Lawrence. While Jones was more established (she has been acting since 13), some critics griped about how this "nobody" was billed above bright, shiny newcomer Lawrence. Then Lawrence was in The Hunger Games and Silver Linings Playbook, and she shot to the top of the A-List, while Jones just played big parts in small movies, or small parts in big movies. Skip ahead to now, poor J-Law is suffering a bit of backlash due to overexposure and Passengers (looking back, I agree she was terribly overhyped, but I refuse to blame her for that or Passengers), while Jones not only got a well-deserved Oscar nod for The Theory of Everything, but starred in a certain, beloved franchise that easily leaves The Hunger Games in the dust. My point is, you never know what the trajectory of someone's career will be, and sometimes it's foolish to try to predict.
  2. I'll be just fine with Elle King sticking around. I'm so glad she didn't inherit her dad's lack of charm and talent!
  3. Agreed. Aaron Paul was convincing as mid-20s Jesse in the first season of Breaking Bad, despite pushing 30, but towards the end, his actual age became more obvious (to be fair, dealing with any of these people would age someone before their time). Paul's now almost 40 (damn, time flies), and he would just look like an idiot trying to pass himself off as young Jesse. I'd suggest getting a young stunt double, filming him from behind, and have Paul do a voiceover, but most people hate that stunt, so I got nothin'. Damn, I would just love to lock Chuck in a narrow little closet filled with old school boomboxes and active vibrators, wouldn't you?
  4. My favorite westerns are technically anti-westerns: The Big Country, High Noon, and the 2010 True Grit. I also like them because they have interesting female characters.
  5. Right? And why curse poor Chip and the dog?! What did they do to deserve it?! Dammit, by expanding her reasons for cursing them, you make her seem worse, not better! I can't believe the writers thought they could "improve" Belle and make her stronger; they not only fail at that, all they do is make her weaker and less interesting. So they made Belle the inventor. Does it play into the plot in any other significant way than that one unremarkable scene? Is it a Chekhov's gun that comes up later? Or maybe she further wins the Beast's heart by inventing something that helps him or the palace inhabitants out? Nope! It's completely, utterly pointless! Also, in the climactic scene where she and her father are escaping from the prison wagon, does she cunningly plan the escape in such an astonishingly clever way that Steve McQueen would weep with envy? Nope! She just hands her dad a damn hairpin to pick the lock! Belle's usefulness is officially on the same level as Golden Age Lois Lane or Sweet Polly Purebred from the old Underdog show! Belle finds out that her mom died from plague, does this inform or shape her character in any way, shape or form? NEEE-YOPE! It's just there! Cause, I guess, it bothers people that we don't know why Belle's mom's dead (show of hands: how many of you guys actually care?). Funny, when I first watched the original as a kid, I just figured, "eh, mom probably died in childbirth or something. Ah, well."
  6. I realize I’m a month late posting this. I wasn’t sure anyone cared about my opinion, and I honestly feel a little foolish for anticipating this movie. But I had to get this off my chest. I plan to be long-winded, so read on at your peril. Disclaimers: I’m in no mood to dredge up the “Belle has Stockholm Syndrome” debate. I’m so bored with this wheezy argument I could scream. I adore the original film, but I’m not blind to its flaws. Honestly, there are plot and logic holes that will have you scratching your head until it bleeds if you think about them too long. The “gay character” thing bothers me... but not for the reasons you think. Don’t worry, I’ll get to that. One of the reasons I was hesitant to post was that a lot of people like this movie. I’m tired of hiding my opinion, but I also don’t want to be a contrarian monster. If you liked this movie, more power to you, this is just my opinion. I will try my best not to be too much of a jerk (but I can't promise anything). Last but not least... SPOILERS!!!! The movie’s been out for a month now, so I’m not going to spoiler-mark anything. Again, read at your peril. True confession time: For starters, Beauty and the Beast has long been in my top ten, if not five, favorite movies of all time. I always say my inner child loves the Disney version, and my outer adult loves the 1946 Cocteau version. Belle is not just my favorite Disney princess, she's one of my favorite movie characters of all time. Secondly, I was never against the idea of a live-action Beauty and the Beast. Nope, never. I love the animated version, I love the Broadway version, and you know what? This was the next logical step. I always wondered what a live action Beauty and the Beast would look like, so when this was first announced, I manically swung between “cautious” and “optimistic”. I knew-I knew!-going in that it would never top the original. Good sport that I am, I kept my expectations reasonable and leveled. I even played it safe and thought, "Y'know? Maybe it'll be like 2015’s Cinderella: not exactly a masterpiece, but with so much good stuff that it will more than stand on its own." So on March 16, the husband and I attended a late night show. Clad in my prized Beauty and the Beast hooded sweatshirt, I was high on Starbucks coffee and anticipation, but managed to keep my excitement under control. Then the Disney logo with the Prince’s castle appeared, and I settled in to Alan Menken's familiar opening chords... All right, enough with the mincing preamble, I hated this. HATED. Good lord, 2017’s Beauty and the Beast is frequently criticized as "pointless", but that’s the least of its problems; pointless I can live with (hell, Cinderella and Maleficent were pointless, and I liked ‘em fine), but this? Misused actors, characterizations that are either dull or off-putting, aborted and/or superfluous character arcs, a plot-hole device that had me grinding my teeth in frustration, choreography that was dutiful but lifeless, a screenplay where every first draft or half-assed idea was used and never punched up, ZERO concept of tension, set-ups and payoffs, loads of telling, very little showing, I could go on and on. For the love of Walt, it’s Beauty and the Beast! How can you screw it up? Here are the biggest offenses to me... Belle and the Beast have no chemistry. None, nada, zip-a-roony. They seem to make good study buddies, but a couple? I just didn’t see it at all. Even in the iconic ballroom sequence, they dance nicely, but there’s no arc, no emotion, they don’t even smile. Mind you, Astaire and Rogers rarely smiled in their romantic duets, but the chemistry was more than evident. Dan Stevens and Emma Watson’s, on the other hand, is entirely absent. Speaking of which.... Emma Watson as Belle: I'm no actress, never was, never will be, and I'm not going to sit here and say it's easy to be Belle... but, damn it all, it should NOT be this difficult! Watson has none of the spirit, restlessness, and charm that make Belle a great character. Every single scene is just "dull surprise", left and right. A giant beast? Dull surprise! Talking objects? Dull surprise!. A big-ass library? Dull surprise (God, I love “MST3K”). In the original, Belle is indeed chafing under small town life, but she still finds joy in the little things, most notably her books. Here, Belle's bored with her small town, but she's only bored (which is NOT fun to watch). She reads, but you never get the sense that she truly loves it, or that it strikes her imagination, or even if she gets anything at all out of it (she never geeks out, not even once). Instead of feeling empathy, I was just reminded of Betty Draper’s classic admonition: “Only boring people get bored!” There's no awe and wonder during "Be Our Guest", Belle's just mildly amused, as if seeing LOL Cats for the first time. Remember those old commercials where unsuspecting people had their usual coffee replaced with Folgers? They showed a wider range of emotion in a minute than Watson could muster in 2 hours! The animated Belle has been criticized for being “too perfect”, but I have to disagree. I like that Belle was human enough to be bothered by people talking smack about her, sad over losing her freedom, and resentful but also afraid of the Beast. Here? The most passionate emotion Belle displays is being slightly miffed. When the Beast catches her in the west wing, she doesn’t run away in fear so much as storm off in a huff (I kept waiting for her to say “Well, I never!”). I think they were trying to make her stronger, but instead they achieved the opposite. And then there’s Watson’s singing. To Emmy Rossum of The Phantom of the Opera, I can only say this: I'm sorry. I'm sorry I dismissed you as a bland, vacant-eyed, slack-jawed little twerp who could merely carry a tune. Yes, your acting in the aforementioned film was weak (but with Joel Schumacher at the helm, you can easily be forgiven), but you know what? At least you could sing. Watson’s voice, on the other hand, is blatantly amateurish, has no feeling or lyricism, and is auto-tuned within an inch of its life. I realize that it’s unfair to complain about Watson’s singing, considering that Belle has been played by the likes of Paige O’Hara, Susan Egan, Andrea McArdle, Toni Braxton, and Annelise Van der Pol, but the casting directors let star quality override vocal quality, so that’s on them. Hermione Granger be damned, Emma Watson is now on my crap list of unforgivably dull actors, right up there with Mia Wasikowska. I’m through being brainwashed into thinking cute li’l ingenues are more talented than they really are. Wasikowska and Watson are boring, and Jennifer Lawrence is good, but, as I’ve recently realized, far from great. Yeah, I said it. Belle learns early on about the curse. Because who needs tension?! A finale crammed with mood killers, most notably head-stabbingly awful “take my wife, please!” joke. While the original ended with a one-liner, it was meant to be cute and didn’t ruin the mood. The exchange between Belle and the Prince was the absolute worst moment killer I've ever seen; not only did it obliterate the tone, but it brought to mind the final scene in Young Frankenstein. Hey, I love Mel Brooks as much as I love Disney, but the two don’t go together. At. All. It’s like combining a frozen hot chocolate with a pint of Guinness: it’s a gross, horrid idea that will just hurt your head and tummy. Both the revelation about Belle's mom and the moronic plot hole device (or MPHD), that magical book thingy that transports you places... or maybe it doesn't... no wait, it does, because Belle picks that stupid plague-tainted pen.... GAAAAHHHHH! Was nothing thought through?!?! First off, who cares that Belle's mom died from the Plague? Why is this relevant? How does it move the narrative forward? How does it inform Belle's character? And why didn't the Beast give Belle the MPHD? He said himself he had no use for it! Do you have any idea how beneficial during the climax had the characters had the foresight to use it?!?!? Instead, it’s introduced, never used again, and serves no purpose except to show that the central characters I normally love don’t have the good sense that God gave pudding! The climax looks for all the world like a cut scene from a video game, and is astonishingly unexciting. Also, Belle spends the climax in her underwear. No use parsing words, she’s in her underwear. Goddammit, Disney, are you trying to attract the Apatow crowd? The Enchantress plays a much bigger part than in the original... to the irreparable detriment to the narrative. By expanding her role, the mysterious, morally ambiguous specter from the original now comes off as way more villainous and horrible than she should, while at the same time less interesting. This also ruins the overall tension of the story and what should have been the most heartbreaking part of the climax, because it gives the impression that she was just screwing with everyone. The rose, the crucial ticking clock... doesn't matter. She can just waive the conditions of the curse on her own?! Lady, innocent people suffered because of you! I hate to say it, but you're the real monster here!! Terrible use of the cast, including... Josh Gad as Lefou: A cinch of casting on paper; after all, Gad’s stout, quirky looking, has Disney street cred thanks to Frozen, can be hammy and silly without being too irritating... so why does he go throughout the movie acting as though he has gun in his back? What I always appreciated about the original Lefou was that he was ostensibly the dopey sidekick, until it’s revealed that, bumbling goofiness aside, he’s every bit the destructive, reprehensible bastard Gaston is. Here? He’s a creepy, bland, effete weirdo with an out-of-nowhere character arc that makes no earthly sense. He’s also the one they made gay, and it’s just stupid. I don’t like the implication that Lefou’s motivations are driven by romantic frustration, and that gay men are inherently clingy creepers. Ian McKellan as Cogsworth: Only this movie could make Sir Ian utterly unmemorable as Cogsworth. That was the casting choice I was most excited for, because it seemed so perfect, having McKellan’s trademark gruff yet pompous voice coming out of a clock. Instead, they give him way too little to do, and I can recall about 1 or 2 funny lines he had. I personally thought it would have been funnier to make Cogsworth gay instead of Lefou, because think how nice it would have been if Cogsworth had been reunited with his boyfriend at the end, and we could have been spared the horrible “take my wife, please!” gag at the end. Sorry to keep harping on about that, but it really, REALLY bothered me. Ewan McGregor as Lumiere: Eh, he was all right, I guess. Kind of hard to mess up Lumiere. My philosophy is that as long as McGregor doesn’t do an American accent, I like him fine. Not that anyone cares, but I will miss Jerry Orbach for the rest of my days. Kevin Kline as Maurice: Wow, Maurice is boring and redundant in this. It doesn’t help that you never feel the connection between father and daughter at all. His song is also cheesy and dull. Luke Evans as Gaston: An awful Gaston, just appalling. He lacks the charisma, bravado, and necessary menace to pull off the role. I didn’t believe for one millisecond that this guy had every woman (or dude) in the village swooning over him, or that he could drive the entire village to riot and storm the Beast’s castle. When Donny flippin’ Osmond is a better Gaston than you, something is very, very wrong. Emma Thompson as Mrs. Potts: Look, I love Emma Thompson, love her to bits, she’s practically a goddess to me. But all I could think was, “Bitch, sit down, shut up, and let Audra McDonald sing ‘Beauty and the Beast’!” Speaking of which... Audra Macdonald as the hideous, nightmarish singing wardrobe whose name I don’t care to remember: Why would you cast this Broadway icon, who has a voice that could shame the angels, and not only fail to cast her as Mrs. Potts, you don’t have the presence of mind to give her a whole song to sing?! For shame, Disney. For shame. Stanley Tucci as Whathisfaceohwhocares: I like Tucci a lot, he’s a chameleon of an actor, but he’s getting way too self-indulgent in his portrayal of physically repulsive characters (this lends itself to another plot hole that would take too long to gripe about). Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Plumette: She’s the French maid and Lumiere’s love interest. That’s it, really. Why can’t this poor, lovely, talented woman catch a real break?! The aborted and/or pointless character arcs: Cogsworth promises he’ll stand up to the Beast, and is teased for his subservient ways. Is this resolved? Nope. The freakish, nightmarish wardrobe apparently suffers from narcolepsy. Why? Who knows. Is this mentioned again? Nope. Did I care? Take a guess. Maurice is allegedly an overprotective father because Belle’s mom died from plague (um, sad, but who cares?) and he had to leave their former home. Yeah, Maurice sure is overprotective, letting Belle wander the village unescorted, leaving her alone for long stretches of time and entrusting the care of the farm to her, nurturing her love for reading, supporting her individuality, and not pressuring her to get married. Jeez, Maurice, cut the damn apron strings. Also, there’s nothing heroic or even that admirable about doing the only sensible thing. I wouldn’t praise someone who remembered to feed their kids or pay their taxes on time, so what’s so great about Maurice getting his infant daughter the hell out of a plague infested house? To quote Chris Rock: "You're supposed to, ya dumb motherf***er!" We’re supposed to cheer for Lefou turning against Gaston... even though it’s less seeing the error of his ways and more “why doesn’t Gaston like me? I’m a nice guy!” Now, lest you think I'm just a big ol' Negative Nancy, here is a quick list of things I liked about the movie: Dan Stevens as the Beast: Matthew Crawley, who knew?! Stevens was the absolute highlight for me. He is the only actor who knows what movie he's in, the only one having any real fun, and the only one who breathes some heart and soul in this mess. He's an absolute joy from beginning to end. I didn't even mind the Beast "man-splaining" to Belle how overrated "Romeo and Juliet" is, because, well, it is. I'll grudgingly admit I like the opening scene (Stevens is clearly having the time of his life as a loathsome popinjay). I also like that they expand on the spell, so that there is an international memory wipe of the prince, the castle, and its inhabitants, that it's always winter but never Christmas... oh, no, wait, that's Narnia. Chip's introduction is super cute, reminiscent of a Looney Tunes episode. The scene where Belle calms her horse so the Beast can pet him is really sweet. It's a direct ripoff of a scene from Robin McKinley's Beauty, but I needed to be reminded of something good at that point, so I'll let it slide. I genuinely liked the character design for the servants. I always wondered how or if they could pull it off, and at least they did that much. The new songs are forgettable... except for "Evermore". Now this was a return to form, absolutely lovely, and one of the rare Disney songs that capture how simultaneously wonderful and painful love can be. I don't regret buying the single, because Josh Groban sings the hell out of it, and I love the familiar motif that plays throughout.
  7. I feel like such a crappy feminist for not liking A League of Their Own. It's not just that I find the screenplay sloppy (Lori Petty's presence also doesn't help), but I loathe baseball. Loathe. No one can make it entertaining for me. I don't watch baseball for real, I'm sure as hell not going to watch it in a movie. Rudy's all right, I guess, but considering what the real life Rudy's been up to in recent years... kinda takes the shine off it. Look, I just don't like sports or most sports movies, okay? I found Hoosiers corny and obnoxiously inaccurate, and I have never seen a single Mighty Ducks movie (yeah, I'm a 90s kids, so what?). I think the only sports movies I really like are Horsefeathers, Seabiscuit, and Pat and Mike. Emma Watson's looks didn't bother me, but her acting and singing sure did. She was so drab and lifeless, totally Mia Wasikowska'd her way through the role. As for her singing, all that auto-tuning, that's the best they could come up with?! All I can say is I'll never make fun of Katy Perry again. Luke Evans was an awful Gaston: no bravado, no charisma, no necessary menace (he seemed, dare I say, too reasonable at times), and, I hate to say it, nowhere near good-looking enough. How bad is he? Donny friggin' Osmond is a better Gaston. I'm not even kidding, look up clips, he outclasses Evans effortlessly.
  8. Colorado Territory isn't perfect (Joel McCrea bores me cross-eyed, and I never thought Virginia Mayo was anything special), but I think it's a vast improvement over High Sierra, because the "Velma" character here (played by Dorothy Malone) genuinely deserves our contempt because she's a greedy, exploitative traitor. Compare that to Joan Leslie, whose great crime was not wanting to marry this decades older ex-con she's known for less than a month. Sorry, but I take serious umbrage with that plot line in High Sierra; I appreciate what it was going for, but I think it fails miserably.
  9. My cousin, an otherwise lovely and sensible woman, dressed her 2-year-old son as Heath Ledger's Joker last Halloween. Okay, parents, a little advice: if you're going for a DC themed Halloween, do not dress your toddler son up as Heath Ledger's Joker (or Jared Leto, or Jack Nicholson)! It's just creepy and horrible! If you must go with the Joker, dress him up instead as Caesar Romero's paunchy, unthreatening Joker from the goofy 1960s TV series!
  10. I don't find Mike on Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul all that interesting. It's very lonely, feeling this way.
  11. I may be alone in this, but in X-Men: Apocalypse (yes, it's a dumb movie, humor me), when Raven drops by the Xavier mansion (because she wants to help Erik, the man who tried to kill her twice, 'cause...reasons). Charles warmly says "Welcome home," and what does Raven who, in this universe, grew up as Charles's foster sister and they once shared a close bond before their conflicting ideologies tore them apart, say to this? "This isn't my home. I just lived here." Wow. Just... fucking, wow. The depth, breadth, height, and scope of Raven's ingratitude steals my breath. Where the hell do you get off, Misty Blue?!?! Charles is far from perfect and, yes, he did say some less than admirable things in X-Men: First Class, but you know what? He took you in when you were little, hungry and alone, was a brother, protector, and best friend (and, when you think about, her only real friend), forgave you when you left him bleeding and crippled on the beach, saved you from screwing up history assassinating Bolivar Trask, didn't rub it in your face that it took you 20 damn years to pay him a damn visit at his home, and this is what you say to him?! You're little better than Erik, you ungrateful, short-sighted, joyless loser! The Xavier mansion was your home, and probably the only home you ever had, or ever will have! Yeah, forget Charles, why don't you get back together with the man who tried to kill you twice?!
  12. I've recently developed a complex relationship with Lili; my feminist head really hates how awful Mel Ferrer is to Leslie Caron, but my foolish heart loves, loves, loves the final dream ballet. I treat the latter scene and ending like a movie unto itself, because it's just so damn good: the camera work is impeccable, the choreography simple yet so romantic and intimate (Caron was a dancer, Ferrer only kinda sorta), and holy shit, the chemistry! Ferrer looks at her with such loving, tender protectiveness, and Caron is just lost in a daze. I also love that when they kiss, it's not your typical, perfectly choreographed Hollywood kiss, but so heedless and messy. I think I mostly like Lili for what it could have been: the story is intriguing, Caron is splendid, as is the rest of the cast (yup, even Zsa Zsa Gabor), but I just wish there hadn't been so many scenes where Ferrer is such a dickhead. Gruff, indifferent, and Mr. Darcy-like I can live with, but tormenting her during the puppet show (why was he even doing that, anyway?! His rival was leaving, he should have been thrilled!) and slapping her just... well, I try not to let my modern sensibilities get in the way, but I can't help it sometimes. It would have been nice if there had been just one scene where Paul was able to connect with Lili sans the puppets, but I guess it would have messed up the narrative flow. Like I said, ours is a complicated relationship. Oh, and not that anyone cares, but I used to fantasize about Lili being remade, with Michael Fassbender as Paul. It of course will never happen (and after the shit pile they made of Beauty and the Beast, I'm now more wary of remakes than I used to be), but I still think he would be ludicrously perfect.
  13. God, me too! Even little Natalie eventually accepted that Daniel and Miranda weren't happy together, and that divorce was the only solution. They also genuinely liked Pierce Brosnan's character (and who wouldn't) and were okay with him dating their mom. Holy crap, is Mrs. Doubtfire actually better than I gave it credit for?! Well-played, Chris Columbus, well-played! Have y'all read You Look Like That Girl by Lisa Jakub? She gave up acting at a young age, but has fond memories of Mrs. Doubtfire and speaks very positively of the experience.
  14. I agree, they had a refreshingly nice dynamic, especially Lydia and Natalie. I also appreciate that they not only look like they could be siblings, they at least bear a passing resemblance to their parents; Lisa Jakub and Mara Wilson are both extremely brunette, like Sally Field, and while the brother is played by blonde Matthew Lawrence, it's not at all uncommon for blonde hair to darken to brown as kids grow up (wouldn't surprise me if Robin Williams was blonde as a kid). I realize I'm being weird, but it's a pet peeve of mine when casting directors don't even try to cast kids who look like each other or their parents.
  15. I could get not get into The OA, I found it ponderous drivel. The protagonist was irritating and creepy, like a cult leader (she genuinely reminds me of one).