Bridesmaids – Well Done Kristen Wiig

As some of you may know, I’ve been a bit excited about Bridesmaids coming to theatres.  And let me tell you I was not disappointed, nor were the people I went to see it with (all the people in the theatre, I mean).  Actually I think that I might need to see it again because there are so many great lines that people were laughing through.

And don’t worry everything wasn’t given away in the trailers.  This film did a smart job marketing itself.  They gave us an idea, but not the whole story.  Let me just say that the trailers don’t give away the farm in the way you would think, they just teased us.

Don’t worry this isn’t a chick flick.  There was a pretty even split of guys and girls in the theatre and everyone seemed to enjoy it.  So yes boys, you can go see it without feeling out of place.  It’s definitely not “Sex in the City” or “He’s Just Not That into You“.  We all can get a laugh from our SNL girls Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph.

Bridesmaids kept me smiling and laughing, but also provided a story I could relate too.  I think that many of us can relate to this movie.  A 30-something who isn’t really on the path that she had hoped she would be.  Plus her best friend is leaving her to live this single life alone.  It’s tough to be the last one standing and not to have a bright future, or at least that’s what one might think.  But through all of this there are so many situations to laugh about, while still relating.  Well, maybe I couldn’t relate to all of them.  Dress fitting and food poisoning.  Scamming some boot camp.  And one super odd new “best friend” (or sister-in-law to the best friend).

A real surprise and treat, other than the great comedy of Kristen and Maya, is Melissa McCarthy who plays a character like we’ve never seen before.  She is far from our favourite Sooki (Gilmore Girls) and Molly (Mike and Molly).  In one word she is Fantastic.

I can go on about this all female cast, the great writing, directing (Paul Feig) and thank Judd Apatow for bringing it to us, but I will stop and just say two more things.

Chris O’Dowd you are a biscuit.  Mmmmm!

And just “…hold on for one more day”.  You’ll know what I mean when you go see the film.

Toronto Public Library System is the best!

Sorry that it’s been so long since I’ve posted a blog, but here’s one that I’ve been thinking about for weeks if not months.  First off, I apologize to those that don’t live in Toronto or don’t have access to a great library system like I do.  Hopefully you do where ever you live or will now go and check out if you do.  It never hurts to go and check out your local library.

A few years ago I was reintroduced to the Toronto Public Library (TPL) system.  When I was a kid, I spent so much time at the library.  My parents didn’t spend lots of money on new books for us, as we had this great resource that provided us with new (to us) books each week.  I still remember how great it was to get my library card and take out all kinds of books each week to devour.

It was when a few friends (you know who you are) suggested I check out the library again now as an adult and someone on a very strict budget.  I got myself a library card and it changed my life.  Now, I’m not the library user I was when I was a kid.  Then I could spend hours searching and searching the shelves for books to read or cassettes (yes, I said it), or even records, to listen to.  Many people enjoy doing that in the library, but now I’m more of the person to search for what I want online.  And that’s what’s great about the TPL online system.  I can search for the DVDs, CDs or books all online and then request a hold on them and just wait for them to come in and all I need is a library card to do that.  It doesn’t cost me a penny.

All the books from the best sellers list, all current or classic DVDs and music galore.  Maybe you want a new exercise DVD or want to learn a language or how to cook.  You can find absolutely everything you could imagine or want at the TPL.

I often have visits that I like to refer to as “hitting the library jackpot”.  What I mean by that is when you by chance hit the library and there are all kinds of DVDs (or books) that you’ve been wanting.  Since the library has all the current blockbuster movies, sometimes you can get lucky and get a bunch in one shot or just a favourite here and there.  This is something that truly puts a smile on my face.  I know for my other library users friends, it can be to find that great recording of classical music or a live concert.  And for others it’s that new and amazing recipe or travel book.  It can be anything.  And I forgot to mention all the incredible programs that the library offers.

It’s endless what the TPL has to offer.  And it’s all right there for free for our use and enjoyment.  Thank you Toronto Public Library.  Now everyone, go out and get yourself a card and start enjoying it today.


Easy A and 80s Movie References

80s references, Emma Stone and Stanley Tucci.

All good things in my book.  What am I talking about?  The movie Easy A.

I just saw itand I must say it was enjoyable.   I know I’m just catching up to what others have already enjoyed (or not) as Easy A was in theatres a while ago and has been out on DVD for almost two months, but I just got my hands on it at the library (a great place for DVDs if your not in a hurry – got to love the library).

This isn’t a movie review in it’s regular sense.  It’s really about how much I enjoyed the 80s/John Hughes movie references  made in this film.  First off, it’s interesting that a movie about current 17 year olds would reference 80s movies.  I don’t know many kids born in the 90s that have enjoyed movies of the 80s.  I even have a friend in her mid-20s that I told to watch the John Hughes movies and she was too annoyed with the characters in The Breakfast Club to enjoy the film at all.  WHAT?  This I don’t get.  But I guess this is the same as me not getting the hype about Justin Bieber, I’m not 12 years old after all.  And my friend who didn’t like The Breakfast Club didn’t fall in love with the movie the way I did because that was what we dreamed our lives would be like in the 80s compared to how things changed for the kids of the 90s/00s.

Emma Stone’s (hilarious) character, Olive, is obviously mature beyond her years as she references the great films of the 80s.  Most of them brought to us from the great John Hughes, who understood us better than we did ourselves.  She makes references of how as girl she wants a guy to make a gesture like a Llyod Dobler (John Cusack) in Say Anything or John Bender (Judd Nelson) in The Breakfast Club or a Ronald Miller (Patrick Dempsey – years before McDreamy) in Can’t Buy Me Love.  Or my (and many women out there) all time favourite, Jake Ryan (Michael Schoeffling) in Sixteen Candles.  But, I think that Olive says it best: “I want John Cusack holding a boombox outside my window.  I wanna ride off on a lawnmower with Patrick Dempsey.  I want Jake from Sixteen Candles waiting outside the church for me.  I want Judd Nelson thrusting his fist into the air because he knows he got me.  Just once I want my life to be like an 80’s movie, preferably one with a… really awesome musical number for no apparent reason.  But no, John Hughes did not direct my life.”  Exactly Olive, that’s how we all feel or dream.

There are many of us 80s girls, married or single, who still dream about any of those moments still happening to us today.  That ultimate moment, which I still dream of, when the right guy is there waiting for you with the red Porsche ready to whisk you away to perfection.  Come on girls, we are waiting for our Jake Ryan moment.  Aren’t I right?

Easy A also has some great subtle references to the John Hughes movies, but the one I noticed and really appreciated was a moment between Olive and Todd (the guy she really likes) in the car, as they hugged.  On the radio, was the same song that was playing when Sam and Jake finally kissed in Sixteen Candles.  And there was the obvious moment at the end with reference to events in Can’t Buy Me Love, Say Anything and The Breakfast Club.

I know the movie is about life as a 17 year old in high school, but the 80s references, the sarcastic acting of Emma Stone, the hilarious parents of Stanley Tucci and Patricia Clarkson and the always funny Thomas Haden Church really make this one a good for the children of the 80s.

Just a closing note, when it comes to 80s movies and dreaming of them coming true we only dream, we understand the reality of life.  Our Jake Ryan isn’t out there.  Actually, I  hear that he’s a carpenter in New England now.  It’s fun to dream though.

Great memories of NFB (National Film Board of Canada) Films

The other day a friend of mine posted the “Log Drivers Waltz” on Facebook and it got me thinking about the other NFB films that filled my childhood.  Now if you are wondering what the heck this Log Drivers thing is, you didn’t grow up in Canada in the 70s/80s.  This along with a few others filled our televisions and, more likely, our film projectors in elementary school.  Yes, film projectors.  Not TVs with VCRs or TVs with DVDs.  Film projectors.

There were all kinds of great NFB films that we saw each year.  Some films we would see year after year.  Along with many other films, it was always a treat to walk into your class and see the film projector there.  Time for some great Canadiana entertainment.  Might not of thought like that at the time.  But, now you are reminded by these films of a great time in life.  Or at least I think so.

The Log Drivers Waltz is one that I, along with many, can just hearing the opening and know the words or at least the tune.  Plus, remembering the the story and how it’s told.  Pretty cool how they take film of real log drivers and morph it into a great animated piece.  I don’t any log drivers, nor is it something that I will come across in my life, but this is and will always be entertaining and remind me of my childhood.

The Railrodder was a 1965 film that has always stayed with me.  No I wasn’t around when it was first made, but it was one that played on a film projector in elementary school.  Or was it later in my schooling?  Either way, a great short film about Canada.  At the time, I had not seen more of Canada than parts of Toronto.  So, it was a way to see a view from coast to coast.

For those who don’t have a memory of this one like I do, here’s a summary, “after reading a newspaper advertisement in the London Times about touring Canada, an elderly Englishman decides to do just that. Following his long walk across the Atlantic Ocean, Keaton travels along the Canadian National Railway tracks in a motorized cart, performing a few stunts reminiscent of those in his younger days.”  I think that I only saw it once in school, but loved it.  It was simple film idea, show off this beautiful country.  And boy did it.  Plus put in a famous actor of the time, Buster Keaton.  This one is a bit more of a time commitment, about 24 minutes, but so worth it.  Check it out, for the first time or for a trip down memory lane.

The Sweater.  If you don’t know this film, or at least the story “The Hockey Sweater“, you are definitely not Canadian or at least from Ontario or Quebec .  Every single one of us must have read or seen this short film.  Especially us Leafs or Canadiens fans.  We’ve all tried to mimic the accent in the film and find our inner French self.  Saying things like the “Hockey Sweater” (with a kind of silent H) and “Monsieur Eaton”.  There’s another blast from the past.  Eaton’s, along with Simpsons and The Hudson Bay Company were the department stores of this country.  Either by catalogue or by going to the store, if you lived in the city, it was all that we really knew.  But, it is this story/film that speaks to the rivalries of Hockey in this part of the world.  It’s a fun one.

Hope that you’ve enjoyed my little trip down memory lane with the NFB.  Thanks for great films and memories of my childhood.

The Town – Well Done Ben Affleck

Just saw The Town and I must say well done Ben Affleck.  After some of his earlier work, who would have thought that he could do all of this?  Well, I think I did.  I’ve always enjoyed his work (yes even Jersey Girl and Forces of Nature).  Maybe not all of it.  Ben’s J-Lo era wasn’t your best.  But before and after has been pretty good.  And now with The Town, I must say I’m impressed.  Write, direct and star.  Not bad.  And just and FYI, The Town is based on the book “Prince of Thieves”, by Chuck Hogan.

It’s important to be creative around what you know.  Boston is what Ben Affleck knows and has done well by it with movies like Good Will Hunting, Gone Baby Gone and now The Town.  I even came out of the movie feeling like I should be talking in a Boston accent.  We were made to feel that we were all right there during all the action.  Even today, when I saw a few armoured cars I kept thinking, be careful.

The movie was well cast.  Jeremy Renner plays the part of a pretty messed up man who sees no other options in life than what he knows, crime.  He’s that guy who manipulates his friend, basically brother, Ben Affleck into job after job because of their history.  The rest of the foursome of robbers is rounded out with newcomers, Slaine who we did see in Gone Baby Gone, and finally Owen Burke who we haven’t seen before.  And of course there is our crime fighting FBI agents, Jon Hamm (our favourite Done Draper from Mad Men) and Titus Welliver, who we’ve seen in roles like this before, playing a good or bad cop.  Together they all bring something unique and special to the movie.

It’s these boys from Charlestown, Boston, who know nothing more than crime.  Robbery is the family business for these boys and many, truthfully, in Charlestown.  Handed down from generation to generation.  Their dads did it and now they do.  It is the chance meeting of Ben’s character with one of their robbery victims that gives hope for another, better, life outside of the business.  And with the hope of finding peace with his mother, who he thinks abandon him and this father,  he makes his plan to get out of it all.  But, this life of crime is not easy to leave behind.  Just one more big job has to be done.  It’s that job that will change all of their lives, forever.

If you haven’t seen it yet, I recommend The Town.  If you can’t make it to the theatre to see it, definitely rent it when you can.  It’s worth it.

The Expendables – Definitely worth seeing in theatres

First, let me preface the title of this post.  It’s definitely worth seeing if you like action movies with a lot (I mean a lot) of people get killed (partially blown apart), destruction through explosion and other forms and a tonne of gun fire and knife work (which is faster?).

If you’re still with me and like that stuff, I think you will enjoy this movie.  There’s nothing like getting all the older action heroes together in one movie.  When they’re all in one place, it’s crazy to think that Stallone looks the best of Bruce and Arnie.  Wow, Arnie is looking old.  Politics have definitely aged him.  No more action movies for him.

Sly did a great job putting together an entertaining team of mercenaries.  From Jet Li to Jason Statham, Terry Crews to Randy Couture and Sly’s Rocky nemesis, Dolph Lundgren (who knew he was still around).  Plus the one and only Mickey Rourke (acts like a kind of conscious/therapist) and bad guys Steve Austin (Stone Cold) and Eric Roberts.

Sly is a good screenwriter and director.  This movie was a great mix of action (more than anything), sarcastic humour and even some emotion.   As Sly has said in some interviews, he needed to get this movie made and soon, as all these guys aren’t getting any younger.  The age card is played up a bit also, which is fun.

There is great chemistry between Sly and Jason.  I see more movies together in their future.  The supporting characters of Jet, Dolph, Terry and Randy bring their special something to the table.  Jet has his “small” issues and has to work harder than everyone else because of his size.  Dolph, well he’s just that, Dolph.  A big galoot.  Terry loves the power of a good gun and wow, the gun that he uses is unbelievable.  Wait until he shoots that off.  Blood sure does fly.  Which is a bit disturbing that I found it funny when he did it.  One of Randy’s best scenes is a meeting of the old and new power in fighting entertainment.  Let’s just say it’s the UFC vs the WWE.  Remember Stone Cold Steve Austin is in this movie also.

Now, I know this is no Oscar winning movie, but over the past few weeks I’ve spent some money going to see the new movies, including Eat Pray Love and Scott Pilgrim and I have to say that this is the best money that I’ve spent going to see a movie this summer (not including The A-Team, but that was way back in June).  I came out of it actually smiling, just like I did out of The A-Team.  Maybe I just figured something out about the movies I enjoy in theatres.  Rom-Coms are for DVD and action movies are for the theatre.  I know, I’m just catching up to the obvious.  So check it out if you need a break from the world and just want to see a bunch of older guys blow things up and save the day!

Eat Pray Love – Consider it a rental

I was very excited to see Eat Pray Love, so a friend and I went to the first showing on Friday afternoon.  It was just us and about 10 other people in the theatre.  There’s nothing better than to be able to do that on opening day.  Obviously, I expected there to be mostly women in the audience, but interestingly there were about 3 single guys there.  Maybe Julia fans hoping to seeing a bit more of her.  But this movie is PG, so we really don’t see much.  Would have been interesting to see what the audience make up would have been for the evening shows.  But since The Expendables was playing across the hall, it could have been a date night apart for most couples.  No need to drag someone somewhere they don’t want to be.  But, wait, smart guys would have gone with their girls as it would definitely be a sacrifice you might later benefit from.

It’s just in the past few years that I really got back into reading, thanks mostly due to rediscovering the library and a world of free books.  Eat Pray Love is one of the first books that I’ve read and seen the movie.  I’ve seen lots of movies that are based on books, but once you see the movie there’s no real use in reading the book (wrong attitude to have, I know).   I always enjoy reading a true story about someone’s life experiences, especially if travel is involved.  I loved the part of the book in NYC and Italy, not so much in India and enjoyed Bali.  Seeing the movie, Italy was okay but I felt some important turning points were missing.  India was good, and shorter than the book so much more tolerable.  Finally Bali, which was beautiful and Javier adding a special something to that location.   However, Javier was not really believable as a dad of teenager or the man that Liz actually ends up with in the book.  But, obviously creative license allowed for that.  And really I thank those that made the movie, as I’m still thinking about Javier.

I understand that a book can’t be completely, from cover to cover, be made into a movie.  We would have to move into a theatre for at least a week to see it all come to life.  I guess that’s what an imagination is for.  And again, I didn’t imagine Javier or Julia, but that’s what got me in the theatre.

There were definitely highs and lows.  The locations were beautiful and you did feel like you were experiencing it with the characters.  The acting was also good, but I wouldn’t expect less.  There was just something missing.  I guess it was some of those turning points that were so evident in the book that had to be missed in the movie.

I still say it’s worth a watch if you read or even didn’t read the book.  Maybe wait for it to come out on video or go on cheapy Tuesday (at Cineplex in Canada) to the theatre.  Then you will at least have popcorn and drink to enjoy while watching.