Movie Review: Bridesmaids*.

 

*It has come to my attention that I give away too much in my movie reviews, so the asterisk will now serve as a blanket *spoiler alert* from now on.

Diarrhea, vomit, the c-word, (Judd) Apatovian-esque.

Those are the plot points, along with Maya Rudolph’s character, Lillian, getting married, as her best friend, Annie, played by writer Kristen Wiig, struggles to come to terms with it, that have been floating around in the lead-up to the most anticipated “chick flick” of the year.

Let me say, straight off the bat, that I hate Judd Apatow movies. I find them crass and full of sophomoric toilet humour. Knocked Up was the worst movie I saw in 2007, and that was also the year of the first Transformers and License to Wed, so that’s really saying something!

So I was a bit apprehensive that the film was being compared to Apatow’s The 40-Year-Old Virgin and The Hangover. So if Bridesmaids was just going to be equating the feeling of sandbags to breasts and and showing crowning from a female’s point of view, you could count me out.

I’d been hearing about the hype surrounding the film for a few months on Jezebel and, in turn, the Australian media as its June release date came closer and closer.

I’m here to tell you that it does live up to said hype.

Bridesmaids deals with besties Annie and Lillian, and how their friendship begins to change—not for the better, in Annie’s mind—once Lillian gets engaged and fellow bridesmaid Helen comes on the scene.

Helen is played by Rose Byrne, who I’m not biggest fan of, but after seeing her in this, I have to acknowledge her acting chops. Byrne made my blood boil with her portrayal of Helen, an entitled Stepford wife who takes over the planning of Lillian’s hens weekend, bridal shower and—eventually—her wedding, too.

I audibly grunted every time she was on screen, each time more infuriating than the last, making her a contender for villain of the year, in my book.

Wiig was so endearing as Annie; someone you would want as your own best friend. Until she starts to let Helen get to her, subsequently ruining Lillian’s hens weekend with her drunken airplane shenanigans, and trashing her French-themed bridal shower, the idea for which Helen stole from Annie and claimed as her own… with take-home Labrador puppies as party favours! Animal cruelty, much?!

It is very easy to empathise with Annie. She dates a jerk who puts her down all the time and won’t commit, but is drop dead gorgeous (Jon Hamm, please stand up), so doesn’t realise it when an actual good guy comes into her life and is encouraging and supportive. She “opened a bakery in a recession” and went bankrupt thereafter, so she really can’t afford weekend getaways to Las Vegas or $800 (“on sale!” as Helen exclaims) bridesmaids dresses. She gets fired from her job in a jewellery store for calling a teen customer a c*nt, evicted from her shitty, housing-commission-esque apartment she shares with British brother-and-sister odd-couple, played by Little Britain’s Matt Lucas, and Australia’s own Rebel Wilson, and eventually ends up moving in with her mum. All of this on top of the end of her friendship with Lillian because of Helen’s interference. Or so Annie thinks, and whiles away her unemployed days watching Castaway and feeling sorry for herself.

The movie is worth it for the aeroplane scene alone, in which the funniest joke of the movie resides. I won’t give it away as I’m pretty confident most everyone—men and women alike—will go to see it. It’s like the Hangover for girls, don’t you know?

Not all chick flicks have to suck!

Images via IMDb.

TV: Witch Trial—Burning at the Stake on Charmed.

 

2009: The year Michael Jackson died, 173 people perished on Black Saturday, and America’s first black president, Barack Obama, took office.

However, in Charmed’s imagining of a futuristic 2009, 1999’s flashforward episode “Morality Bites”, witches have been exposed and are now being burned at the stake.

Phoebe is set to burn for taking justice into her own hands and using her powers to avenge a friend’s death, “seeking to defy human nature with her way of life”.

Fastforward two years to 2011, and it’s not such a different place.

Uganda tried to push through the Kill the Gays bill, women still have to march in (Slut)walks to exert freedom of sexuality and reject blame for sexual assault, and Australia is still floundering over a carbon tax.

I’ve written on this here blog before that sometimes I get the feeling the world is regressing, especially in terms of the environment and reproductive rights.

We still vilify those who dare to lead a lifestyle outside the norm, whether it is viewed as a “choice” or not. In Charmed’s fictional world, witches could be seen as a metaphor for the “other”: people of colour, the gays, people with disabilities and, most pertinently in 2011, transpeople.

The episode could also be a metaphor for the death penalty.

When Phoebe kills baseballer Cal Greene for killing her friend, she takes the law into her own hands, and is therefore sentenced to death. An eye for an eye.

Before Phoebe accepts her fate and submits to burning alive, she tells her executioner, Nathaniel Pratt, that while she’s paying for her crime, there will come a day when he’ll have to pay for his, too. While the death penalty isn’t an issue in Australia (if it were I’d be—controversially, perhaps—for it. However, there seems to be something sickly satisfying for victims and their families to see a perpetrator rot in prison for life… Jaycee Duggard’s abductors, anyone?), the question of who decides if a person dies and who administers the lethal injection (or in this case, “gathers the kindling”) remains. And how can a person live with that on their conscience.

Charmed may be all fluff, unrealistic demon-fighting outfits and “nipple fats”, as my friend Eddie noted, but every now and then it does deal with the big issues, consciously or not.

Related: Ain’t Nothin’ Gonna Break My Slutty Stride.

Rihanna’s “Man Down”: Revenge is a Dish Best Served in Cold Blood.

Images via Wikia, Gamespot, PPP The Power of 3, Hopeless Obsession.

Battle of the Friday Anthems: Rebecca Black VS. Katy Perry.

Black’s preternatural “Friday” has been removed from YouTube due to copyright reasons, so it looks like we’ll just have to get our fix of the so-bad-she’s-good teenager in “Last Friday Night (TGIF)”, in which she makes a cameo, along with Glee’s Darren Criss and Kevin McHale, Kenny G as Uncle Kenny, the Hanson brothers, and Corey Feldman and Debbie Gibson as Kathy Beth Terry’s parents!

So it turns out it’s not a battle of the Fridays, but a joining of the day before the weekend that everybody’s looking forward to (or however the ditty goes!) forces!

TGIF!

Related: Who’s the Copycat Now, Katy Perry?

Whipped Cream Feminism: The Underlying Message in Katy Perry’s “California Gurls” Video.

Katy P. VS. Lady G.

Images via YouTube.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

The disturbing, tragic life of Hustler’s Larry Flynt.

Dubai isn’t the pink-buildinged, “Middle-Eastern Shangri-La” of materialistic Sex & the City movies it’s made out to be.

“All Work, (Almost) No Pay” for the Washington Redskins Cheerleaders. Fascinating stuff.

The cult of Oprah.

The case for women to serve in combat roles in the armed forces.

Hypocrisy and “male narcissism” in “political sex scandals”.

Got a problem with SlutWalk? Finally, some solutions to make it better.

Also, for all you anti-SlutWalkers out there, This is What Slut-Shaming Looks Like”:

“1. Was I suppose to just take it in stride that random pervs found out where my little sister went to high school and speculated about whether she, too, would become a ‘whore’? An anonymous asshole emailed her last fall asking her that. Don’t tell me that’s normal criticism.

“2. What about the manufactured ‘scandal’ that Internet vigilantes began in hopes of getting my boyfriend kicked out of his Ph.D program? They decided to email the entire sociology faculty list. I was a junior at the time in the same department. Do you have any idea how incredibly difficult it is to force yourself to graduate when your professors have all read about how you’re supposedly being ‘raped’ on a regular basis? That is not criticism.

“3. Is trying to get me fired also normal? In 2009, when I was working for an education non-profit during my time off from Harvard, someone wrote a fake article about how my employer was so embarrassed to have hired a ‘porn blogger’. There were made-up quotes from ‘company reps’. They disseminated it online, not realizing that I actually told my boss about my blog during my initial interview. (He emailed me the article and totally had my back. It was one of the most touching things I’ve ever experienced from an employer, no joke.)”

I originally blew off Roseanne Barr’s New York Magazine take on sexism in Hollywood. But I read it this week and couldn’t recommend it enough. Great writing.

The Smurfette principle:

“Little girls learn to split their consciousness, filtering their dreams and ambitions through boy characters while admiring the clothes of the princess. The more privileged and daring can dream of becoming exceptional women in a man’s world—Smurfettes. The others are being taught to accept the more usual fate, which is to be a passenger car drawn through life by a masculine train engine. Boys, who are rarely confronted with stories in which males play only minor roles, learn a simpler lesson: girls just don’t matter much.”

This article on the sexual misconduct of AFL players from 2008 is just as pertinent today.

“In Defence of Prudes.”

“Women are pieces of art, men aren’t”?

What is the average Australian’s yearly income?

Sarah Ayoub-Christie writes her final post for Wordsmith Lane.

Why Psychology Today hates women.

How the celeb sex tape ruined America (NSFW).

Movie Review: Super 8.

 

E.T. meets Tomorrow, When the War Began meets Signs meets The Goonies. That’s how I would describe Super 8.

Going into it on Tuesday night, I didn’t have much of a clue what the Steven Spielberg-produced, J. J. Abrams-written-and-directed effort, named for the type of film used in the late 1970s, was about. I saw a review in Who that looked promising, and I was intrigued by the almost all-kid cast.

The alien aspect, which is introduced when the kids are filming a zombie movie over the summer and they witness a purposeful train derailment, is neither here nor there to the actual story, which is a “coming of age” tale of Joe Lamb, whose mother died in a workplace accident a few months prior.

Joe’s dad, the town deputy, is struggling to deal with the death of his wife and being a more present father to Joe than before the accident. He holds a grudge against the man whose shift his wife took the day of her death, who just so happens to be Joe’s friend Alice’s drunk father. Joe and Alice are forbidden from seeing each other, but that doesn’t stop them from working together on their friend Charles’ Super 8 film about zombies, the full version of which can be seen in the credits.

After the train derailment, which is caught on film by the kids, they seek out the truck that caused the accident, driven by their biology teacher, Dr. Woodward. He tells the kids not to mention a word of the accident to anyone or risk death.

Strange things start happening in the town, like abductions, lost dogs and power lines disappearing into thin air. My friend Eddie had the theory that the “alien aspect” had something to do with the Soviet space dogs used in experiments in the 1950s and ’60s. Personally, I liked this notion very much, but it wasn’t to be.

I’m not a big fan of supernatural films, especially those with aliens, and some parts of the movie were scarier than I expected. In all honesty, the movie could have done better to not be centered around aliens.

The kids and Deputy Lamb independently piece together the mystery as the Air Force arrives in the town for the clean-up. Dr. Woodward has been killed by Colonel Nelec, the man in charge of the investigation, when he didn’t offer up the information they wanted.

The kids break into the school to access Woodward’s files, which reveal him as a researcher with the Air Force in 1958, when an extraterrestrial crashed on Earth. The government captured and tortured the creature in an effort to understand more about it. Woodward was empathetic to the alien’s plight, and wanted to set it free so it could return to its home planet. That’s what he was doing on the train tracks that night.

The E.T. parts of the film got a bit convoluted at times, and my friend Sallie commented on aspects of the storyline that didn’t add up.

But the inclusion of the endearing troupe of kids and their adventures made up for any inconsistencies. Think Stand By Me, but with aliens.

Related: Who Speculates About Domestic Violence in the Affleck/Garner Household.

Tomorrow, When the War Began by John Marsden Review.

Images via IMDb.

TV: Glee Season 2 Final in Pictures.

 

In last night’s Glee final, New Directions make it to New York! (New York! I love New York!)

They eat designer sandwiches on the steps of some landmark that escapes me at the present moment, reminiscent of Blair, Jenny et al. having lunch on the steps in Gossip Girl.

From here, they sing a mash-up of “I Love New York” and “New York, New York” in Central Park while Santana gets her flirt on with a cop.

Finn is inspired by the group’s songwriting efforts (that they’ve come to the Big Apple with nary a song to sing at Nationals only days before the competition speaks volumes about the laissez-faire attitude of both the New Directions and their leader, Mr. Shuester), and asks Rachel out on a date now that he and Quinn are toast. He takes her to Sardi’s, where they run into Patti LuPone, who Rachel accosts, telling Patty she’s one of her idols. Patty tells Rachel to never give up (or something), and that Finn is cute. Sage advice there!

Meanwhile, the other man in Rachel’s life (no, not Jesse St. James Douche), Kurt, wakes Rachel up to go have Breakfast at Tiffany’s, followed by a Wicked duet at the musical’s home theatre, the Gershwin, of “For Good”, harkening back to their season one sing-off of “Defying Gravity”. It was a teary rendition for me!

Mr. Shue also has his Broadway moment, singing a song from April Rhodes’ musical, CrossRhodes, which can conveniently be found on Matthew Morrison’s debut album! He later chooses to shun his New York dreams in favour of staying on at McKinley.

Cut to Nationals, where the New Directions perform their two hastily composed original songs, “Pretending” and “Light Up the World”. During the former, Rachel and Finn share an impromptu kiss in the heat of the moment, which the whole club berates and blames them for losing the competition.

Oh, Sunshine also makes an appearance. No doubt to segue into a cameo or recurring role in season three.

Back in Lima, Kurt and Blaine are having coffee when they encounter Mercedes and Sam, who claim they “ran into each other in the parking lot”. When they think Kurt and Blaine are out of ear- and eyeshot, they hold hands whilst waiting to be served. New couple alert!

In the hallway of McKinley High, Will and Emma marvel at the banner erected to congratulate them on their twelfth placing in the competition, and Mr. Shue presents the class with a trophy for their (dismal) efforts. Until next year’s Nationals…

Related: Glee Gets Down on Friday at the Prom.

The Underlying Message in Glee’s “Born This Way” Episode.

The Underlying Message in Glee’s “Original Song” Episode.

Gwyneth Paltrow Addresses Tabloid Culture & Her Haters.

Glee “Sexy” Review.

The Underlying Message in Glee’s “Blame it on the Alcohol” Episode.

How to Make a Woman Fall in Love With You, Glee Style.

Glee “Silly Love Songs” Review.

The Underlying Message in Glee’s “Furt” Episode.

The (Belated) Underlying Message in Glee’s “Never Been Kissed” Episode.

The Underlying Message in Glee’s “The Rocky Horror Glee Show” Episode.

The Underlying Message in Glee’s “Duets” Episode.

The Underlying Message in Glee’s “Grilled Cheesus” Episode.

The Underlying Message in Glee’s “Britney/Brittany” Episode.

Elsewhere: [Jezebel] Glee: Can’t Make it There, Can’t Make it Anywhere.

Images via MegaVideo.

TV: The Problem with Serena van der Woodsen.

 

She’s got the clothes, the hair, and she’s mighty fine to look at. But that’s about all Gossip Girl’s Serena van der Woodsen boils down to.

I really liked Serena in season one of the show. I could relate to her because everyone thought she was this spoiled, vapid princess, but she showed her true self to her first love Dan Humphrey.

By the end of season two, she’d stopped evolving, though, and it turns out she was just a spoiled, vapid princess, intent on upstaging Blair Waldorf at every opportunity, stringing a multitude of guys along, and having her antics and dirty laundry on the cover of all the tabloids.

Like in the Cecily von Ziegesar (she made an appearance in last night’s final, telling Serena she’d “read a lot about her”) novels of the same name, Serena is the central protagonist of Gossip Girl. But unlike the books, the show has run with Blair and Chuck Bass in the driver’s seat; characters who have grown, changed and become more likeable as a result. Serena, along with her male counterpart Nate Archibald, followed closely by Dan, has remained a stagnant shell of a human being, like the kinds you overhear on the tram and thank God you don’t know them or, worse, aren’t like them.

There have been many a fan disappointed in and perturbed by Serena’s lack of development. Why has she languished in and regressed to the mindset of a highschooler, albeit with better clothes, more freedom and a more active sex life? Is she just “coasting on cuteness”? Most of her storylines seem to revolve around her busting her bust out in an evening gown or standing around looking bored and Amazonian-like. Just because she looks the way she does, doesn’t mean she shouldn’t be as well written as Gossip Girl’s other characters. In real life, how many of this type of woman do you know? Personally, I don’t associate myself with people with no personalities, who’ll turn on their besties for a taste of the spotlight, and who have no opinions save for what outfit they’re going to wear that day, so I don’t know anyone with the personality of a napkin Serena van der Woodsen.

But, let’s face it, Gossip Girl isn’t exactly a realistic interpretation of life. 20-year-olds don’t flit around the city unemployed, never wearing the same outfit twice, depending on Mummy and Daddy’s trust funds. And if they do, then that’s a reality I’m glad I’m not a part of.

This unreality and lack of character development makes the audience not care about Serena’s storylines. Personally, I loved the Juliet/Ben/Serena storyline, but it was because of the mystery surrounding who Juliet and Ben actually were and what their connection to Serena was, not because of Serena. And the latest development in the character’s tumultuous yet über-boring life leads me to make comparisons to the actress who portrays her, Blake Lively’s, life.

I remember when Gossip Girl first came out, Lively said in an interview that she was very low-key, didn’t like to go out to events and preferred to stay home and work on her Martha Stewart skills.

Flashforward four years and Lively’s oft-papped lifestyle is far from the one she naively spoke about. She’s Karl Lagerfeld and Anna Wintour’s muse, flitting from one European country to the next to attend fashion shows and sun herself on yachts. Not to mention her latest nude photo scandal.

While her acting’s not anything to write home about, Lively still has much more to offer than naked pics and Chanel ads. I just hope that it isn’t a case of life imitating art when it comes to Blake Lively and Serena van der Woodsen.

Related: The Beautiful & Damned: Serena Settles for Second Best.

Who Speculates About Domestic Violence in the Affleck/Garner Household.

Picture Perfect.

So Misunderstood.

Breaking the Mould.

Elsewhere: [Jezebel] Is Kate Hudson Coasting on Cuteness?

Images via Gossip Girl Fashion, Link Random, Fashion Under 100.

TV: The Beautiful & Damned—Serena Settles for Second Best.

 

Blake Lively’s had no problem keeping herself in the news since Gossip Girl finished for the year.

She’s allegedly dating Leonardo DiCaprio, her apparent naked body is all over the tabloids, and her biggest movie to date, The Green Lantern with Ryan Reynolds, is pending release.

She met DiCaprio through Baz Luhrmann, who’s directing the Titanic star in his adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, a movie for which Lively was in the running to play Daisy Buchanan, a role that went to English rose Carey Mulligan.

In the season final of Gossip Girl Lively’s character, Serena van der Woodsen, is told by her former high school headmistress that she’s disappointed Serena didn’t leave New York City to go to college, and find her identity away from the pull of the city. This prompts her to finally make a choice between Dan and Nate, which was one of the cliffhangers of last season’s final.

Serena ends up choosing herself, which is commendable for a character who can never be alone and always needs the spotlight on her. But it seems like choosing herself is her second third best option, as both Dan and Nate have moved on from Serena.

Much like Serena’s apparent screenwriting job for the latest movie adaptation of The Beautiful & Damned in the final is second choice to Lively’s Great Gatsby aspirations.

As Fitzgerald writes in his most famous work:

“… All the time something within her was crying for a decision. She wanted her life shaped now, immediately…”

Maybe Lively isn’t such a bad choice to play Daisy after all…

Related: Gossip Girl Season 4 Final.

Who Speculates About Domestic Violence in the Affleck/Garner Household.

Pretty But Dumb: Serena’s Tertiary Education Predicament.

Surfing the Third Wave: Second Wave VS. Third Wave Feminism on Gossip Girl.

Images via MegaVideo.

TV: Gossip Girl Season 4 Final.

Last week’s episode, where Russell Thorpe lured Blair to the roof of Chuck’s hotel in a payback attempt at Chuck, was a better storyline than the finale’s with Chuck saving Blair, them sleeping together, Blair trying to tell her prince of Monaco fiancé that she can’t be with him because she still loves Chuck, and Chuck butting in to tell Louis that he and Blair have his blessing, as he realises Blair’s a better person with Louis.

Or Charlie faking a psychotic break, attempting to jump from the top floor window of the GG brat pack’s former “stomping ground” in Serena’s cotillion dress, being talked down by Serena, who says it’s not as easy being her as people think, Georgina accosting Charlie, whom she believes isn’t really on medication for a psychological disorder, and giving Charlie her phone number to use if she’s ever back in the city. Turns out Georgina was right, and Charlie is actually revealed to be Ivy, who posed as Serena’s cousin to extort money from her trust fund, at the request of Lily’s sister, Carol.

Or Vanessa stumbling across Dan’s manuscript, which she thinks is the best exposé “on the Upper East Side since Bonfire of the Vanities”. When Dan tells her to leave his stuff alone and get out of his life, I’m not sure he meant for Vanessa to steal the manuscript, pitch it to a publishing house, and hightail it to Barcelona.

Or Darota cleaning Blair and Serena’s adjoining bathroom, in which a positive pregnancy test has been discarded.

Now the latter three story arcs are intriguing, I’ll give them that, but the writers did a piss-poor job in making the audience actually care about them. The Charlie thing was really hard to follow, and the fact that her character is almost as infuriating as Vanessa’s doesn’t lend itself to viewer satisfaction.

It’s pretty easy to see that Charlie/Ivy’s going to return to the Upper East Side to wreak havoc with fellow bad girl Georgina. Blair’s the one who’s pregnant, probably to Chuck. And so their relationship is dragged on for another season. Dan will flail around while Vanessa milks him for all he’s worth and Serena will give up her potential screenwriting job (more on that later) on the West Coast to return to the city where she left her heart. Or something.

Related: The Devil Works at W: Gossip Girl “Damien Darko” Review.

Come Together Right Now… Over Gossip Girl: “Gaslit” Review.

Let Them Eat Cake… And Wear Headbands.

Gossip Girl Proves There’s No Such Thing as Wonder Woman.

Sexual Healing: Gossip Girl Takes a Page Out of John Irving’s Book.

Pretty But Dumb: Serena’s Tertiary Education Predicament.

Surfing the Third Wave: Second Wave VS. Third Wave Feminism on Gossip Girl.

The Last Tango… For the Season: Gossip Girl Season 3 Final.

Images via MegaVideo.

Magazines: Who Speculates About Domestic Violence in the Affleck/Garner Household.

 

While garnishing the article with a “Rumour Patrol” disclaimer softens the blow a little (both puns intended!), I’m not sure Who’s doing anyone any favours by insinuating that Jennfer Garner may have given Ben Affleck the black eye he’s sporting in this paparazzi pic of the family in the wake of the “Blake Lively” nude photo scandal.

Feel free to speculate, as Who has surely done…

Related: Picture Perfect.