Sunday, April 29, 2012

Ringer Marathon

Back in September, 2011, the CW netlet premiered a new series starring Buffy the Vampire Slayer herself, Sarah Michelle Gellar. I watched the first episode because it is my policy to sample everything done by people connected to Buffy, Angel, Firefly and Dollhouse, you know, everything in the Whedonverse.

I liked Ringer immediately. A suspenseful show about a druggie who takes over her twin sister's Park Avenue life after the sister offs herself. What's not to like? I liked it so much that I did two things. I started pronouncing the G as a J, like Ranger only with an I, and I started to save up a few episodes so I could watch several at a time. I thought it might be 3-4 episodes before I starting watching the show in earnest but instead it was 22. That's right, I found myself with entire season sitting on my DVR, so Friday night, I started a Rin-jer marathon.

It was a wonderful weekend.

The show is wonderful. Dark, suspenseful and most importantly, never cheap or cheesy. Watching all 22 episodes at once was a great way to follow the details of the dense plot. Oh, it is dense, in a way that you rarely see on television. SMG plays Bridget and Siobhan - the name Siobhan itself entertains me far more than is reasonable - and lies a lot. Bridget was a fugitive and decided that hiding in plain sight was the most appealing option, but it's tough to lie to everyone when you start to care.

I was worried that Ringer would drift into prime-time soap territory, but it never did. Everything was played straight and the issues were always matters of life and death. Literally as several people, not always the bad guys, met their demise. There was one plot thread, the teenage step-daughter getting raped by a teacher, that made me roll my eyes (also literally) as the topic, serious in real life but overdone on TV, became much more than a soap plot. All in all, a well done series and well cast.

The teenage step-daughter was played by Zoey Deutch, whom IMDB tells me is the daughter of Lea Thompson. The real-life mother-daughter don't really look anything alike but when you know what to look for, you can see Lea's mannerisms all over her daughter's face. Zoey also came off as a real teenager instead of a TV teenager. A welcome treat.

Oddly, Ringer was joined in the life swap genre this year by a series called The Lying Game on ABC Family. I also watched The Lying Game but hardly for the same reasons. In TLG, twins separated at birth meet up and share one life. It's played as a soap, complete with over-the-top plots and silly issues. As I said, I enjoyed TLG, but more for the eye candy than its quality. Between the two, I wouldn't mind a second season of The Lying Game, but I REALLY, REALLY, REALLY want a second season of Ringer. I'll even pronounce it correctly if that will help.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Mirror, Mirror

As Mirror, Mirror is based on the Snow White fairy tale, I will present my comments in chapter form, like a book.

Chapter One

Lily Collins is the fairest in all the land.

Chapter Two

I generally avoid Julia Roberts movies as she's one of those larger-than-life people who never disappears into her characters. That's fine for many Movie Stars, but for Ms Roberts, I've seen enough interviews with her where I get a sense of her real personality and that personality seems to be a nut job. Nonetheless, I went to Mirror, Mirror not expecting much and I was rewarded with something more. The character of the evil queen called for an over-the-top performance and Julia's chewing of the scenery - literally in one scene - fit perfectly into the movie. Kudos.

Chapter Three

The overall tone of Mirror, Mirror was tongue-in-cheek but not campy. The movie pulled off the difficult task of maintaining tone throughout, but they did not live happily ever after...

Chapter Four

If you can, leave the theater or turn off the movie right as Snow deals with the apple at her wedding. The movie closes with a musical number over the credits, like many movies do, but this one sucks. Whereas many movies reward you with a fun number, such as "Build Me Up Buttercup" from There's Something About Mary, "Don't Go Breaking My Heart" in the fairy tale themed Ella Enchanted, or any of the Shrek movies, Mirror, Mirror punishes you with a Bollywood number that is a voluminously violent assault on the ears and a bit on the eyes, as well. It doesn't fit into the movie at all. It uses Indian instruments and was sung in the Indian style, which is fine if you appreciate that style or you're watching a movie set in India. I noticed that Mirror, Mirror was directed by a guy with an Indian-sounding name so maybe he's a Bollywood guy and was rewarding himself on finishing an American movie, but the closing number was a punishment to the very movie-goers the director had just spent 95 minutes successfully entertaining. Seriously, turn off the movie when you see the apple or at least hit mute.

Chapter Five

What is with all the Snow White shows lately? We have her in ABC's Once Upon a Time every Sunday, this movie, and this Summer, Snow White and the Huntsman, with Kristen Stewart and Charlize Theron. Are there no other stories out there worth telling?

Chapter Six

Lily Collins is the fairest in all the land.


Titanic 3D

I just returned from watching Titanic. I won't bother with a review - anyone and everyone knows all about it. This was the first time I've seen Titanic in a theater since May, 1998, and I've never watched it in its entirety on home video, although I did watch a significant chunk with my niece circa the turn of the last century, so today was much like watching it for the first time.

It's still an impressive movie, although I could not avoid noticing it was also very long - three hours and change tests the limits of my sleep deprivation, ADD, and bladder. I'm happy to report I didn't nap, start fidgeting or wet myself today, so we'll call this a win.

The 3D is another story. I don't like 3D and find that it detracts from the movie-going experience more than it adds. As Titanic was not shot in 3D, they had to synthesize the effects, layering elements in each shot in front or behind each other. It wasn't all that impressive overall and some of the effects shots - and there are a lot of effects shots in Titanic - looked a bit cheap, or at least they stood out as effects more than I remember.

Not liking to wear those icky 3D glasses over my prescription lenses, I spent just under $20 on clip-ons designed for 3D TVs. This was the first movie I used them on and it was better. The 3D glasses never quite fit over the regular glasses and always slip off if I move my head too much. The clip-ons allowed full head movement and have the added benefit of not being heavily tinted, unlike the glasses, which are dark enough to wear as sunglasses outdoors. I'll give you a full report of the clip-ons after I've used them for a few more movies.

All-in all, spending three hours with Rose and Jack was a pleasant stroll down memory lane. Is anyone planning on watching Titanic in the theater on April 15, 2012? It's a once in a lifetime anniversary.