The 65th Emmy’s—-that’s a wrap!

There were a lot of beautiful gowns and some poignant moments in last night’s Emmy’s program.  Neil Patrick Harris was a sauve and sweetly sarcastic host and the inclusion of a marvelous dance number to highlight the choreography category was a fabulous addition.  Having a Daft Punk song featured on the the show seemed like a fabulous coup.

The biggest thrill to me was to have so many women up there on stage, particularly the first woman winning as a director for a comedy series, Gail Mancuso–only the 2nd Emmy ever for a woman director and for the female writers receiving awards.

Writing for a comedy series:”30 Rock,” Tina Fey and Tracey Wigfield

Gail Mancuso Picture

Directing for a comedy series:”Modern Family,” Gail Mancuso

Writing for a miniseries, movie or a dramatic special:”The Hour,” Abi Morgan

Not that it wasn’t great to see so many actresses receive awards, and I do love that everyone seemed genuinely complimentary of the other talented people in their category.  Yet so much of publicity around awards shows is all about the fashion!  It’s a lot of talk about who’s wearing whom…so it’s nice to be able to spotlight women’s talents, and not just their chests!  Can someone please ask Sofia (Vergara) to take a note from Sophia (Loren) and add some class to her sass!  Every time the talented Claire Danes was on the stage, I wanted someone to offer her a wrap, a scarf, a cloak!

Is there a reason to have big song numbers on a show that celebrates television?  Is there a category for musical numbers that I missed?  As much as I adore Neil Patrick Harris, his over-long skit about his hosting obsession was too much.  It was amusing when Micheal Douglas thanked Matt Damon in such a sexually-suggestive manner.  So many of the presenters seem to have color-coordinated their outfits: black suit with white dress with black flowers, bright solid color gowns that were complimentary, Will Ferrell in shorts and his kids in sweatpants!

Overall, I’d say it was a fun show.  Some moving tributes, some funny moments and some lovely speeches.  I could do with less singing but I did enjoy the dance sequences and Neil Patrick Harris is a great host.  From someone who doesn’t really watch television, I’d have to say that the Wall Street Journal article calling Netflix the big winner of the evening is right on!  The quality of the shows and the way the audiences access those shows is changing and the awards definitely reflect that.

For a film lover like myself though, nothing beats the joy of a great film seen with an audience in a theater.  I like the way Joe Morgenstern put it: ” …features retain a special place in popular entertainment. They do more than abide, to borrow from “The Big Lebowski,” they beguile and delight. The independent filmmaker Rian Johnson—his most recent movie was the stylish sci-fi action adventure “Looper”—has directed three episodes of “Breaking Bad,” and has nothing but good to say of having done so. Still, his next project is a feature. “It’s not a case of the superiority of one medium over the other,” he said. “The storytelling is just fundamentally different. For me it comes down to endings. TV shows by their nature don’t end until they stop. I love the way a good ending in a film defines the film in a more profound way than serialized storytelling can. It leaves the rest up to you. The characters go on from there in your mind.”

Short Term 12 — but LONG term awesome!

My favorite film of the year so far, Short Term 12 is one of those small independent films that deserves to find a large audience through word of mouth.   This one needs to continue to play in cinemas across the country!  Short Term 12 is a movie that packs a punch!  Written and directed by Destin Cretton, based on his short film, it stars the brilliant young actress, Brie Larson.  She gives a soulful performance as the head of staff for a home for at-risk youth.   Having already garnered awards at Sundance, SXSW and Locarno Film Festival, Short Term 12 is a well-edited film with the perfect running time of 96 minutes and a wonderful ending that makes the emotional investment seem all the more worthwhile.

As the action at the foster care facility goes from a daily dose of crazy to High Alert life-endangerment, Brie Larson’s Grace is forced to reveal a dark past that threatens to destroy her world.  The young actors, particularly Kaitlyn Dever as Jayden, are so believable in their roles as troubled teens, that it’s as if there was a hidden camera and this was a real life unfolding.  When Keith Stanfield performs a heart-breaking rap full of rage and grief, it’s absolutely gut-wrenching.  To reveal any more would be to ruin the joy of experiencing this powerful movie first-hand.  Just go. Run.  And please, tell your friends!

Rating: 5 cups of coffee, the kids are too young to drink alcohol!short-term-12-poster[2]

“The World’s End” vs “This is the End” *if you only see ONE Apocalyptic film this Fall…

The World's End

How does one compare a British spoof of a science fiction film and an American spoof of an Apocalypse film?  Well, let’s start with the cast photo!  Here we see the cast of The World’s End gathered in a pub, all dressed in suits and jackets with only one character, played by Simon Pegg, sporting a scruffy beard.  Everyone is neatly dressed and although they are all very funny in this film, overall, they act like adults.  Only Simon Pegg’s character acts juvenile and yet, he does become a hero of sorts.

Now let’s look at the characters in This Is The End. Here we have a gathering of boy-men, a mainstay of American comedy of late; the men who have the mentality of college frat boys and dress like they don’t work or might be visiting a comic book store.

This is the End

This is the End

Two similarly-titled films; both featuring a small group of men trapped by a “plague” brought on by a “Higher Power”. Now which one is your cup of tea or, in one film’s case; cup of pee?

Re-released to garner a larger audience and reach a domestic box office of over $100 million (when producers and stars often attain their bonus deals), This is the End is a raunchy romp directed by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg. Starring Seth Rogen and friends, this is low-brow humor with a side of mayhem. There is a rape played for laughs, a funny decapitation, long discussions of ejaculation and a festive cannibalism feast. Women are victims and sex-objects: stepped on, ass-slapped and oogled. When Emma Watson’s character seeks asylum with this band of friends, she winds up fighting them off; afraid that they will attempt to rape her! The men are battling the evil forces outside their walls but they must also survive the self-destructive behavior within.
Fortunately, the Boys are played by well-liked American comedians. Not only are they clearly enjoying themselves, they are also mocking their images and the genre. There are a few moments of reflection on friendship and self-sacrifice before the film returns to pot-smoking, babes in bikinis, and a fun Boy Band cameo.

The last in the Cornetto trilogy, The Worlds End has the sweetness of Shaun of the Dead (2004) and the zaniness of Hot Fuzz (2007). All three films were written by Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg and star Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. If only Edgar Wright had focused on the reconciliation of the high school friends and left some of the repetitive fight and chase scenes on the editing floor…
The enjoyment of spending time with this band of British comedians and actors almost makes up for the long exposition that is the Big Showdown.
As more pints are consumed, the pent-up resentment, jealousy and repressed feelings are revealed and the drunkenness and comradery increase. The relationships between the characters feels like a they’ve known each other for a long time, and their increasing states of drunkeness feel very realistic. Rosamunde Pike adds a bright presence in the endless round of pubs and her character helps the blokes focus on what’s important in life. There are some emotional truths revealed in between the bouts of fighting and even some reconciliations.
Even with the too-long running time and many repeated scenes; when the Mint Cornetto wrapper flies by at the end, there’s a bittersweet realization that this series is finished. Silly, yet witty. Crass, but with genuine feeling. Loud and raucous, with quiet emotional interludes. This is one complex ice cream treat!

Rating: This is the End–one martini glass of water
The Worlds End–two pints hastily downed