Tag Archives: kristen bell

SXSW: The Disaster Artist

Before we talk about this movie, we have to talk about another: The Room. Not Room, the Brie Larson kidnap drama, but The Room, the worst movie ever made. Even better: the BEST bad tumblr_megxu99K4x1ry10fwo1_500movie ever made, the Citizen Kane of bad movies, a movie so bad it’s achieved cult status. Tommy Wiseau was obsessed with movies and had enough cash to get one made, so he did. And he did it with such earnestness and such a complete lack of talent that people love to watch it. Ottawa’s own Mayfair Theatre, one of Canada’s oldest surviving independent movie houses, an official heritage building in our fair city, champion of 35mm film, screener of indies and classics, has been showing it for 92 consecutive months now. Each midnight screening is a riot; this cult film draws fans that know the drill. Matt wrote a great review of it a while back, almost nothing about the movie itself, which defies reviewing, but about the experience of seeing, the rituals that go along with it, the things you yell at the screen, hell, the things you chuck at the screen, it’s all a wild ball of fun.

Greg Sestero, co-star in The Room and Tommy Wiseau BFF wrote a book about making this weird movie with its even weirder director. It’s called The Disaster Artist. Ever a sucker for a great Hollywood story, James Franco read this book one day and immediately got a boner. He brought the script to Seth Rogen on the set of their ill-fated movie The Interview, and the rest is history. Well, future history. I saw the one and only screening of The Disaster Artist at SXSW where it was still billed as a “work in progress.” Tommy Wiseau was in the house, and also seeing it for the first time. Big gulp.

Two things struck me about The Disaster Artist: 1. This film was made with love. It could easily mock The Room, as many have, but it doesn’t. This is a loving ode to The Room, and to the friendship that gave birth to it. 2. This film is fucking hilarious.

Even having never seen The Room, The Disaster Artist is still accessible and relevant. Tommy Wiseau is a goddamned character and James Franco is just the man to play him (although Wiseau pushed for Johnny Depp). Franco got into the part so deeply that he directed while in character too. He was in deep enough to fool Seth Rogen’s grandmother when she visited the set, and in more than deep enough to constantly annoy his little brother “Davey” who co-stars MV5BMjA4ZDZkNjEtNTFkZi00YjhjLWFjZTctNDZlOWVmYzZmZjhhXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMTM2Mzg4MA@@._V1_with him.  James and Seth debuted Sausage Party at SXSW last year, and for me it was a disappointment. The Disaster Artist, however, gave me continuous giggles. They’ve amassed an impressive cast, some with just bitty walk-on parts, which only proves the love Hollywood has for underdog Tommy Wiseau. Or perhaps for James “I’ll try anything once” Franco. Or maybe James Franco as Tommy Wiseau. In any case, I laughed until I cried, and then I slammed some Diet Pepsi just so I could cry-laugh some more. And I did! This movie will make you rabid for The Room but it stands on its own, a complete movie that probably benefits from NOT being written by Franco or Rogen. It’s an affectionate behind the scenes look at Hollywood gone wrong, but it’s also a kind of heart-warming tale about outsiders who can’t break in so they plow their own field, and even if it’s bad, at least they have potatoes. Know what I’m saying? Oh, hi Mark.




p.s. Check out the comments section for a delightful Q&A with James, Dave & Seth.

Forgetting Sarah Marshall

Heartbroken over a breakup with his TV star girlfriend, Peter takes his tears on vacation to Hawaii only to find that his ex is there too – with her new boyfriend!

You’ll find a theme here over the next 2 weeks: Hawaii. And that’s because Sean and I are Hawaiing it up ourselves. I made up that word, but I couldn’t have made up the great state of Hawaii because it’s just too beautiful and magical for normal people to process. That’s why they put it way out in the middle of nowhere, so that you’d have to really want it, you’d have to earn it in the getting there. The travel is so arduous that by the time you debark, you’re in deep need of a vacation, and as luck would have it, you’re in paradise.

forgetting-sarah-marshallForgetting Sarah Marshall was filmed on Oahu, which is the island we happen to be flying into today, and from which we will embark on our cruise in a few days (near the beach where the plane’s fuselage from Lost was filmed, which I like to believe is not an omen).

It’s a romantic comedy for guys. Peter (Jason Segel) is messed up and fsm-pinavbewildered, but why not be bewildered with an orchid in your hair, right? Segel wrote the movie based on many of his real-life breakups, like from his own TV-star (ex)girlfriend, Linda Cardellini (they starred in Freaks and Geeks together). He wrote the part of Aldous Snow with  his Undeclared costar, Charlie Hunnam, in mind but it was Russell Brand who brought Aldous to life and then kept the character alive in Get Him To the Greek.

I wonder if the movie theatre on our ship will be playing Hawaiian selections. I also wonder if, on one of our multi-island destinations, we’ll find out whether or not the rumour Sarah Marshall shares is true: is one of them really filled with lepers? Stay tuned to find out!


Bad Moms

Maybe it’s because I’m tired of hearing Moms complain. Motherhood is a choice and, apparently, a blessing, but an alien life form perusing Facebook and Mommy blogs would never guess it. Every single day my news feeds are clogged with “open letters” from Moms who cry and complain about never having enough time to “do it all” – and yet, they’ve always got the time to let us know about it. Here’s a secret: nobody gets to do it all. Every single person struggles with work-life balance. Everyone! imagesJ7LLG4KCBut the craziest thing is not that mothers believe themselves to be uniquely challenged (you and every other breeder on the planet anyway) but that the #1 thing they complain about is judgement from other Moms. Which is crazy. Motherhood IS tough. And there’s no one right way to do it. But if you have time to be peeping into someone else’s minivan, then I guess maybe it’s not as all-consuming as you thought. Here’s another secret: nobody gives a fuck. Everyone’s pretty busy living their own lives. Just live yours. If you have guilt, deal with it. Don’t project it into someone else’s judgement.

I’m super glad to say that most of the Moms I know don’t need a self-congratulatory shit-shows like Bad Moms to make themselves feel better. This movie feels like the opposite of feminism. It implies that women aren’t very good at multi-tasking and are susceptible to nervous break downs if they have more than one thing on the go at once. How many mothers do I know who have literally eaten spaghetti while driving? None. It’s dangerous and stupid. The mothers I know all have tiny portions of dry cereal handy to keep kids entertained and fed in the car, and backseats that smell like sour milk, but they don’t twirl pasta and drive.

Most if not all of the mothers I know work full-time or go to school, or both.  The reality is that mothers need to be caregivers and providers both. Sometimes even exclusively. Yes, it’s hard to leave the kids. Almost 2016-05-04T12-34-47-833Z--1280x720_today-inline-vid-featured-desktopeveryone can think of something they’d rather be doing than going to work. But if you’re lucky enough in this economy to only work part-time, or from home, or not at all, have the good grace not to complain about it. And if the hours you have with your kids are few, make the most of them. Kids remember quality time, not quantity. Maybe don’t spend that time writing passive-aggressive tweets about how tough your life is.

I think the worst thing Bad Moms does is that it infantalizes women. Motherhood is reduced to a competition, and all the Moms start acting like middle school girls. They openly bully each other. They form cliques. They ostracize and criticize the ones who aren’t like them. Bad Moms feels like middle-aged Mean Girls, only not as funny, not as mordant. When the screenwriter, who is a man by the way, decides to indulge the mothers in “letting loose”, what they do is throw a tantrum and make a mess in a grocery store. Like their toddlers. He doesn’t seem to think much of mothers, and I find that insulting.

It’s 2016. Women can handle their shit. But if they don’t like the kind of lifestyle that comes with having kids, here’s another secret: you don’t have to have them. Ladies have options! Living childfree is one of them. But if you do have kids, embrace it. You don’t have to love it all the time and good god, you don’t have to be with them all the time. I think mothers need to gift themselves with time apart way more often. Happy mothers are better mothers. Stop with the guilt. And stop with movies like this, that only exacerbate guilt and perpetuate the very concept of “good moms” and “bad moms” that it nominally pokes fun at. Children’s Aid can assess the bad moms. The rest are just moms doing their best, and that’s good enough.

Veronica Mars

It’s taken me a long while to review this film because Sean hadn’t seen the show and so we windingly made our way through the series first, and finished with this cherry of a movie.

When the series was cancelled because there weren’t enough people willing to watch a smart show, Rob Thomas deliberately left us with an anti-finale. Everything was up in the air. Who veronica-mars-movie-2would Veronica end up with? Would her dad go to jail? Would she? What was she doing with her life? Thomas tried to convince the network to move Veronica from child detective to newbie FBI, but they didn’t go for it. Years later, when diehard fans were still clamouring for closure, the cast and crew decided to take it Kickstarter, where they asked for movie and boy did they get it. In fact, they set records, the fastest project to ever reach a million dollars, and then the fastest to reach two. Large donors won roles in the movie but most were much humbler, just regular folk like my baby sister, who helped set another Kickstarter record – for most individual backers. Veronica viewers (called Marshmallows) believed.

And so the little show that couldn’t became the movie that could. We find Veronica on the verge of becoming a big-time lawyer in NYC with sweetie-pie boyfriend Piz by her side, having left her crime-solving days behind in Neptune. But as usual, she gets pulled back in when a certain veronica-mars-movie-rob-thomassomeone calls her up after 9 years of silence. It’s Logan, her on-again-off-again, star-crossed bad boy in Navy whites. And she can’t resist. He’s been accused of murder (again! How many times can that really happen to a person before we start to doubt their innocence) and so she drops everything to save the day. But does she? Well, yes. That’s not a spoiler, that’s simply how every episode ended, and so she must. But not before fans are gratified with glimpses of all our (and her) old friends – Mac, Wallace, Weevil and yes, even Dick.

Of course this movie was made to appease the fans who felt abondonned, and to reward the many contributors. But the good news is, you don’t have to be part of the cult following to hero_VeronicaMars-2014-1appreciate the movie. It probably plays like a super-sized episode, but Kristen Bell is charming as ever and always fun to watch. She was always too good for TV and she’s got a successful film career to prove it, but she’s humble enough not to deny her roots. Veronica was a sassy girl and is clearly a woman full of zing. She’s a fully-realized female character who is smart, secure, and relatable to both men and women. She must be fun to play, and watching Bell around all her old castmates is like watching a really fun (if slightly homicidal) family reunion.

Frozen – reviewed by the last man on earth to see it.

I saw Frozen for the first time last night. Jay knew I hadn’t seen it and since all our nieces and nephews want Elsa dolls for Christmas, it seemed the time was right. I generally enjoy animated movies (or cartoons as I will probably always call them) and Wreck-It Ralph is one of my recent favourites. Since Frozen is Disney’s follow up to Wreck-It Ralph (at least chronologically) I thought Frozen might be quite enjoyable. As it turned out, there was a little bit of truth to that but not as much as I would have hoped.

The problem for me was that Frozen is basically another princess movie geared toward selling new dolls and dresses and direct-to-video sequels. And clearly it has been a massive success on that front, but it struck me as a very hollow movie. I think there were a few good choices made in its creation, mainly that Elsa did not become the bad guy (which Jay tells me was originally going to happen until they realized they were going to have a huge hit in “Let it Go”) and that the guy with the reindeer did not really end up saving our two princesses.

I shouldn’t complain too much. I don’t want to be unfairly critical or hard on Frozen. After all, it is a cartoon and a princess movie at heart and on those levels I can understand why it is beloved by all my little relatives. It’s just a big step down from Wreck-It Ralph, which really lived up to Pixar’s legacy as a movie that was designed for people my age as much as it was for kids (see Up, Toy Story, the Incredibles, etc.). It’s a high standard and a tough mark to hit but there have been some great animated movies produced in the last ten years (some not even by Pixar) and I hope most people making movies, animated or otherwise, are aiming to match or beat what has come before. Frozen had a few moments where something new and exciting seemed like it might materialize but I think it just ended up being too easy for them to stick to the tried and true princess formula instead of really making something original and memorable.

Hopefully Big Hero 6 will be a stronger continuation of Pixar’s best efforts, or at least be more exciting. That’s probably a safe bet because it seems to be about robots and superheroes so there should be very few princess cliches involved. And for whatever reason, robot and superhero cliches do not bother me at all; I will happily watch the same basic plot over and over if Batman is involved, but if you put a singing princess (or two) in the starring role and tell a generic story then I’ll call your movie unoriginal. So don’t be surprised to see my Guardians of the Galaxy review assign a final score of 21 out of ten space guns (or something equally clever) but in the meantime I am not ashamed at all to give Frozen a rating of six talking snowmen out of ten.

(Check out the comments for Jay’s rant on Frozen’s supposed feminism.)