Movies: Top 11 Films of 2011*.

Scream 4. For my money, which I forked out happily, Scream 4 was not only one of the best films of the year (for me, Bridesmaids was number one, followed closely by the fourth installment of the Woodsboro saga), but the best chapter of the franchise.

Bridesmaids. My other favourite movie of the year. While I’m happy that the rest of the world cottoned on to the brilliance of Bridesmaids, my only regret is that it’s not just my little secret.

Black Swan. It was the buzz of the 2011 Oscars for its lesbian scenes, portrayal of mental illness and the controversial partnership between choreographer Benjamin Millipied and star Natalie Portman.

The Lion King 3D. Who could resist the 3D reboot of one of Disney’s best loved animations? It also harkens back to the hand-drawn animation era, being one of the last before computer animated films like Toy Story and Finding Nemo took over.

The Muppets. Probably one of the most anticipated films of the year (in my household, at least!), I was lucky enough to see it in a preview screening early in December. Technically, it’s released in Australia later in January, however it was a Thanksgiving film in the U.S., so I’m sticking by that. A must see for any child at heart.

The Help. The Help really took me by surprise. In August, I saw a preview screening of the film advertised, and it piqued my interest. A few days later, I realised it was based on a book, and before I even had a chance to express interest in reading Kathryn Stockett’s novel, the movie was out in cinemas. I’m glad I didn’t read the book, because the movie was it for me. And for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, apparently!

Breaking Dawn. Breaking Yawn, more like it. While I was sorely disappointed by the first installment of the big screen adaptation of the final book in the Twilight Saga, it was one of the most highly anticipated and grossing films of the year.

X-Men: First Class. I’m not an X-Men fan, so I’m handing it over to my housemate, Eddie, who is:

“For a northern summer blockbuster, it asks a lot of questions about morality of the viewer: should you change or should society change? Is change through force acceptable? Throw in some incredible acting from Michael Fassbender and one of the greatest cameos of all time from Hugh Jackman and you have yourself a very smart popcorn film.”

New Years Eve. In the vein of He’s Just Not That Into You and Valentine’s Day, I’m a sucker for a celebrity-packed movie. While there’s not much of a story, and it’s more of an excuse to perve on the alleged chemistry between Lea Michele and Ashton Kutcher, it’s the perfect mind-numbing holiday movie.

Super 8. As the latest issue of Time magazine (review to come) notes, Super 8 was one of the more hyped movies of the year. While I quite enjoyed it, sadly, Super 8 didn’t live up to its expectations.

Green Lantern. It was the year of green. Kermit’s return in The Muppets, and Ryan Reynolds’ turn as Hal Jordan. Looking back, the film was a bit of a flop in my eyes, but it did set the scene for one of the most talked about hookups of the year: Reynolds and Blake Lively.

What were your top films of 2011?

*Blanket spoiler alert.

Related: Scream 4 Review.

Bridesmaids Review.

The Help Review.

Breaking Dawn: Sex is Bad, Okay? And You Will Be Punished for Having it with a Life-Sucking Vampire Foetus. Sorry, Life-Sucking Vampire BABY!

Super 8 Review.

Green Lantern Review.

Magazines: Scarlett Johansson on THOSE Photos.

 

I haven’t had a chance to pick up the new Vanity Fair yet, but after reading Scarlett Johansson’s comments on the nude photos of her that have surfaced in recent months, I can’t wait to see what else she’s got to say on sexting and slut-shaming (sext-shaming?):

“‘I know my best angles,’ she says with her trademark insouciance. ‘They were sent to my husband,’ now ex Ryan Reynolds. ‘There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s not like I was shooting a porno.’ She adds saucily, ‘Although there’s nothing wrong with that either.’”

Jezebel goes on to say:

“We appreciate Scarlett reminding the world that the only person who did something wrong in this situation is the guy who violated her privacy, not the adult woman who sent sexy photos to her partner.”

Amen to that!

Elsewhere: [Jezebel] Scarlett Johansson Would Like That Nude Pic Slut-Shaming to End.

Image via Daily Stab.

Movies: The Change-Up Does Nothing to Change Stereotypes.

 

Remember when Katherine Heigl bit the hand that fed her and criticised Knocked-Up for being sexist and perpetuating women/wives-as-shrews stereotypes? Where was Leslie Mann, who played Heigl’s sister in the movie, and is director Judd Apatow’s wife, during all this?

Certainly she didn’t take Heigl’s valid-but-ill-received criticisms of the 2007 runaway hit to heart, as she is basically playing the exact same character in The Change-Up: shrewish, run-off-her-feet with three children and a seemingly successful job (she discusses something in the vein of building planning, so perhaps she’s an architect? What does it matter, right?), and stuck in an unhappy marriage in which her husband doesn’t find her attractive.

And what about Jason Bateman and Ryan Reynolds’ characters? Reynolds, playing man-child Mitch Planko, is a loser stoner who only peels himself off the couch to score 9-months-pregnant women, a job in a soft-core porno, and weed.

Bateman’s Dave Lockwood, on the other hand, is a successful lawyer who’s been with the same woman for 18 years and no matter how much he accumulates, he’s never happy.

The only other woman in the film with more than a few lines and a tit-shot is Sabrina, played by Olivia Wilde. If Mann’s Jamie is the overworked and undersexed Madonna, Sabrina is the work-hard, play-hard whore. She espouses clichés like “I prefer to be sexually harassed in my private life,” or something to that effect. Way to stand up for women’s rights there!

There was one redeeming quality to the film, if you look really hard. Jamie makes an astute observation about women and marriage, and is somewhat representative of a lot of women in long-term relationships or marriages who no longer feel loved or desired by their husbands, who are taken for granted and who are run off their feet with 2.5 kids and a job (although Dave helps to break the stereotype of absentee father who doesn’t engage with his kids). But this also does a disservice to other kinds of wives and mothers and families, who don’t have rich husbands and live in a mansion, by all accounts.

Oh, and the unrealistically pert breasts of a breastfeeding mother of three and the ass of a 17-year-old on a lady pushing 40 don’t do much to help real women, either.

Related: The Taboos of Sexual Harassment.

Elsewhere: [MamaMia] These Are the Un-Retouched, Un-Fake Breasts of a 33-Year Woman Who Has Breastfed Two Babies.

Image via YouTube.

Movie Review: Green Lantern*.

 

When I met my brand new roommate Eddie about a year ago, we bonded over Green Lantern, amongst other things.

I’m not a huge fan of the comic book series, other than the fact that Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively are in the big screen adaptation, released last Thursday in Australia to the similar lacklustre reviews it received in the States. My only exposure to the superhero before I met Eddie was that he was professional wrestler Gregory “The Hurricane” Helms’ favourite superhero, revealed by his Green Lantern symbol tattoo and the t-shirt he gave Stone Cold Steve Austin during his “appreciation night” storyline back in 2001.

Even though I wasn’t super keen on the latest version, especially after seeing the previews (why must every movie be about aliens?! Super 8, Thor, Green Lantern, Cowboys and Aliens… Perhaps some fodder for a potential blog post…?), we’d bonded over it.

Going into films with low expectations usually winds up with me enjoying it much more than I thought I would, and this was true with Green Lantern.

As the comic book nerd to rule all comic book nerds, Eddie pointed out some holes in the plotline and amalgamations made especially for the movie that don’t exist in the comics, like Reynolds’ Hal Jordan’s nemesis Hector Hammond being able to read minds by physical contact after contracting the powers of Paralax.

As a non-comic book nerd, I thought some parts of the movie weren’t resolved, like Jordan getting beat up in a parking lot behind a bar he was having drinks with Lively’s Carol Ferris at, but nothing coming of it (Carol coming to his rescue, the cops arriving, any arrests being made) apart from being the catalyst for Hal to use his willpower, the energy that the Green Lantern Corps use to fight space crime and whatnot.

I was initially excited about Lively’s role in the film, but she’s as boringly saccharine in this as she is in Gossip Girl. The only part of the movie where I see a glimmer of potential in her acting abilities is when she is approached by Hal, in his Green Lantern costume, and exclaims, “You think I wouldn’t recognise you because I can’t see your cheekbones?!” It was both funny (perhaps the funniest part of the movie, which isn’t saying much) and the closest Lively’s ever going to get to an Oscar nomination any time soon.

Considering Green Lantern was one of the most anticipated premieres of the year, it failed to live up to the hype. Not only was its release date almost two months behind the U.S., which is unheard of these days, Reynolds was supposed to attend the Melbourne and Sydney premieres, but pulled out at the last minute. (We were going to stalk him at Jam Factory!)

A sequel has been greenlit (get it?), which is promising, as the Green Lantern saga has a lot more to offer. Three more human Lanterns, a black Superhero, a heel turn (sorry, wrestling speak; good guy turns into a bad guy) from one of the main characters, the scene that sparked the Women in Refrigerators feminist movement. Let’s hope the second instalment brings some of this to the table.

*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.

Related: Super 8 Review.

Thor Review.

The Problem with Serena van der Woodsen.

Elsewhere: [Women in Refrigerators] Homepage.

Image via IMDb.

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.

Gay Chicken: Latent Homophobia in “Who Would You Go Gay For?”.

What is it with guys refusing to reveal who’d they’d go gay for?

In my experience, girls have no problem admitting who they’d turn for. Personally, I have several: Megan Fox, Christina Aguilera and Lindsay Lohan. Though the last one is probably the Mother Theresa-complex kicking in, I do love a buxom bombshell.

But when I surveyed several of my guy friends, they absolutely, point blank refused to give me a name. With the exception of my friend and soon-to-be housemate Eddie, who couldn’t choose between Hugh Jackman and Ryan Reynolds (fair call!), they all said they’d rather die than go gay.

This is a typically masculine trait, but the underlying homophobia—the fact that a straight man would rather have his life ended than simply choose someone of the same sex they would go for in a hypothetical situation—is worrisome.

Now, Eddie is one of the straightest guys I know, and he’s obviously secure enough in his manhood and accepting of homosexuals to engage in this harmless truth or dare-esque scenario. (Suck up? Me? Never!) Funnily enough, some of my less-secure male friends are the ones who refuse to partake.

What is it they say? There are no winners in gay chicken?

Image via Fanpop.

Magazine Review: ZINm, Issue Six.

 

With issue six released a couple of weeks ago, independent zine, ZINm, by Melbournian Marc Bonnici, is really hitting its stride.

The “Teen, Pop, Gossip, Trash” issue takes a page out of Famous’s book mag, with a snarky, funny and pop-culturally heavy tone.

On the “From the Editor” page (p. 5), Bonnici ponders the first world problems of “Britney VS. Katy: product placement in their new music videos” and “what colour scarf shall I wear to go check the mail…?”

The issues features a spread of Selena Gomez’s ever-changing hairdo (p. 6), how to correctly apply make-up (p. 9), Kellan Lutz’s obsession with exercise and long sports socks (p. 10–11), a “dear Christina Aguilera/Metro trains/couples walking in the city” letter in regular feature “Burn Book” (p. 18), and a Dolly Doctor-esque sexual advice column entitled “Doctor Chorizo” (p. 21).

Melissa George, Ryan Reynolds and Emma Roberts also make appearances.

It’s a good thing this issue comes with a “may contain possibly false information” disclaimer, ’cause the truly riotous celeb scandals in this issue couldn’t possibly be true!

The newsstand glossies should take heed: goodness knows a lot of their material is based on possibly false info!

Related: George Michael Paper Dolls in Independent Zine ZINm.

Independent Zine ZINm Preview.

First World Problems.

Elsewhere: [Marc Bonnici] Homepage.