Month Recap: Amazing Entertainment

Yes, yes. I am overseas helping orphans. And yet here I am, giving you a June media synopsis. Chalk it up to the amazing power of scheduling blog entries. Or the universality of the internet. Which one is it? You may never know…

Nothing going on this month much with Benevolent. I have won a second honorable mention for an international book competition, which is exciting and barely noticeable, unfortunately. Just hanging around waiting for Gwyneth Paltrow to plug it, and writing on The Family Elephant’s Jewels.

So to the movies and TV for the month of June.

AMAZING GRACEAmazing Grace (2006). We saw this movie right at the start of June, in someone else’s home. Despite some other strong standings, I would say Amazing Grace took the cake this month. It was a wonderful movie. You sort of wonder why it wasn’t more popular, and then you kind of understand. In some ways, it was similar to Amadeus in it’s historical scope. But then it is religious, at heart. I also happened to be reading a book at the time (Disraeli’s Sybil) that covered roughly the same time period and much of the same material (Wilberforce was even mentioned in the book), so I was extra intrigued. But just plain good acting and good story and lots to take away.

MMODERN FAMILYodern Family (TV series, 2009-). I have to admit that I loosely follow Modern Family, and spent the beginning of this month catching up, a bit. I will not defend myself from any naysayers, except to say that it is such a hilarious portrayal of modern, middle-to-upper-class suburban life in America, PG13, and with lots of heart. The laugh-per-minute meter is way up there with this one.

New Girl (TV series, 2011-). I tried this one out because I like Zooey Deschanel. Actually, I had tried it out once before, had not been impressed, but then saw that it had fairly good ratings and was experiencing some longevity, so I gave it a second shot. Still not impressed. Of course, Jessie’s character is cute and you want the guy to get the girl and all that, but I don’t find it very funny and I very much find it typical and depraved, in the run-of-the-mill sense.

SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOKSilver Linings Playbook (2012). We were anxious to see this film, because we know what it’s like to live with bipolar disorder, around here. I was personally dubious, since the characters are both struggling with mental illness of some sort (which seems to beg for disaster, from where I stand). In fact, the writer of this screenplay might find fault with my even regarding it as an illness, since the movie really concentrates on the positive side of the bipolar personality. But that might not be fair, because the father in the movie was more ill than any of the other characters, and his portrayal as an OCD was truly convincing. As was Bradley Cooper’s portrayal as struggling with a mild case of bipolar. Straight off from the beginning, he was dead-on with his is-this-normal-or-is-something-amiss. Seriously. If you know someone with bipolar, and know them well, you can identify with this almost imperceptible idiosyncrasy. The movie is very sweet in the end, obviously. But despite all its plaudits, I thought the whole silver linings thing was about as delusional as anything. In other words, the movie ended up unfulfilling, for me, even though enjoyable.

DjDJANGOango Unchained (2012). Well, if you like Kill Bill, you will probably like this (just minus the kung fu, plus the western). It’s a solid movie, alright, but man is it chock-full of stylized gore and violence.  Like the director, like the movie. There is blood just splashing everywhere.

LOOPERLooper (2012). Kevin is always a sucker for a time travel movie. He’s been wanting to see this for ages (or since last year), so he just popped home with it one day and said that’s what we were doing after kid-down. I was distressed to find a whole lot of violence and sex, but the premise was really creative and the execution even better. Great story, seamless acting, and a fun exploration of time travel (just don’t think too hard). And something else about this movie that you never hear from me: it had me guessing till the end.

Oz the Great and Powerful (2013). In some senses, this movie was just what it should be: full of saturated color, crazy characters, and good versus evil with some in-between. I didn’t find James Franco’s acting as horrifying as some complained of (I thought the China Girl was more mediocre). What I did find distracting was 1) the slightly outdated CG and 2) the pacing. There were scenes that seemed so slow to me. I even found both Oz’s and Glinda’s talking to be slow. The promise of the beginning credits just didn’t flower into a wonderful movie.

MONSTERS UNIVERSITYMonsters University (2013). We saw this movie at a cheap theater, in the almost-last row, on a stormy night. Also, the seats in the theater squeaked quite a bit. However, it was a terrific movie. I really mean it. You laughed, you cringed, you were surprised, and everything all fit together in a wonderfully organic way. But that’s not the best part. The CG was amazing! What Sully did for animation hair the first time around, this movie will do for wacky characters walking around in what is unidentifiable as a fictional world. How could that be an imaginary bus? A computer-generated college green? Crazy.

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