Monday, February 16, 2009

Friday the 13th

This past weekend was Valentine’s Day. That wasn’t until Saturday. I have nothing to celebrate for Valentine’s Day, but I’m not the type to sit around and mope about being single, or have an “F Valentine’s Day Party.” Not that there’s anything wrong with that, any excuse to have a party is okay by me. This weekend for me was Friday the 13th weekend. There are actually three this year (the most there can be in a calendar year), but this one was extra special because it brought us the remake of the deranged mother of modern slasher films: Friday the 13th. I wasn’t even given any pity Valentines this year. On Facebook, I received a Victims of Jason Voorhees gift.

Unlike the original Friday, Jason is the silent stalker in this film, not his vengeful mommy. Her part of the story is covered during the credits as she faces off with the only survivor from the first massacre. Inexplicably back from the dead, Jason witnesses Pamela Voorhees get decapitated. Even though out of the 11 films in the series (including the Freddy crossover) Mrs. Voorhees only appears in the original, the character deserves a little more attention. Jason has constantly been tricked and influenced by imitations or mentions of his mother. The heroine of Friday the 13th Part II wore her years-old blood stained sweater to convince Jason to stop. Freddy used her to essentially reduce Jason to the scared 10 year old boy he really is. Even in the remake, one of the characters looks like Jason’s mom and it may save her life. Given this acknowledgment, and the fact that the hundreds of people Jason has killed or will kill are all for his mother, she should have been given a prologue, not clips during the credits.

For the most part, this is a remake of the original four Fridays, ending with "The Final Chapter." Part I is covered during the credits, and II, III, and IV (which in the original series supposedly took place over one weekend) cover the rest of the film. Plotlines and references from these films do make it into the remake, which made this horror junky happy. Jason wears the white hood for his first attacks, until he finds his iconic hockey mask in a barn. Jared Padelecki plays Clay, who is looking for his missing sister Whitney, just as Rob was in "The Final Chapter." At least in this film the plot makes more sense, as Whitney has been missing for a month, not two days. Of course, there are teenagers camping and on the quest for sex in-tents sex (see what I did there?) and wild marijuana, and another group of teens in a beautiful lake house. No tents for them. And they already have the weed. The good thing about this is, the body count is high at 13.

There are promising elements in this remake. Some of the first deaths involve a bear trap and a girl stuck inside a sleeping bag, which Jason has hung from a tree over a campfire. I thought, and possibly whispered, “This Jason is sick!” It makes sense that a deranged, deformed, reanimated orphan who lives alone in the woods would make intricate traps and long, painful deaths for his victims. We also see Jason’s underground lair, where he stockpiles random items (being a packrat is his first hobby before murder), and even has a bell connected to trip wires so he knows when someone is on his turf. His lair could have been much scarier, and it would have been interesting to see a few shots of Jason spending time in there.

The rest of the film has a few funny moments and does build up the suspense more than the older movies. The big item in the minus column is that the deaths themselves are pretty standard- ax to the back, arrow through the head (and there is a bug zapper that could have played in so nicely and is left unused). Of course, a few people are dispatched with the machete, but that’s a classic and you can’t take that away from Jason. Even if you did, he would get it back and lop your head off. The new Jason of the first few minutes- twisted, vengeful, clever- spends the middle of the film boring the audience to death until the final showdown. The showdown is not the greatest fight for our favorite pissed off goalie, or the beautiful teenagers we’ve grown to hope don’t get murdered, but it does keep you guessing what’s going to happen. One character I thought would make it to the end bites it with 10 minutes to go, so I award bonus points for shock value. I don’t think I am ruining anything when I say it has the standard could-have-a-sequel horror movie ending. With Jason, who has been burned, hanged, buried, hacked with a machete, drowned, cryogenically frozen, blown into hundreds of flesh bits, and impersonated by an angry local, there could always be a sequel. Overall, it doesn’t reinvent, explain, or improve much so it is just unnecessary. For the die-hard horror fans, I would say go see this because it is still entertaining.

Rating: 5 out 0f 7

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Valentine's Day: Surprisingly Not So Bad

I’m not one of those girls who wears black around Valentine’s Day (in fact, I am currently sporting a red t-shirt that says, fittingly, ‘I’m with Cupid,' essentially the best play on words in t-shirt form of all time in the history of time) or curses the ‘man’ for creating such a hallmark holiday that preys on the fragile emotions of 20 plus single people who live alone, sans cats might I add.

No, I didn’t have any real plans, but I am not bitter. I spent it doing everything every single girl ever pictured in a movie would have done had a day in their chick-flick-world been Valentine’s. I stayed in and watched not one, but two movies that involved loved ones with Leukemia. I cried my eyes out while junking on potato chips, sour patch kids, and cookie dough. Add to that Vodka and Chaka Khan and you’ve got the first scene of Bridget Jones. You can call this my diary.

Truth is, in a secretly sadistic way, I love Valentine’s Day. It’s the one day I can wallow in self pity on being single/having no one who loves me and no one stops me. I can wear red and pink with a purpose. I can admit to ridiculous fantasies that my secret admirer (I have one, don’t even deny it, he’s just shy) is going to show up on my doorstep with a single red rose (or better, a bouquet of tulips, my favorite) and take me out on the most romantic night of my life. When that doesn’t happen, I can just eat more cookie dough.

It turns out- the day most single people groan about, dread, contemplate curling up under a rock during, isn’t so bad after all. I got through it, I survived. I do have one gripe, however. That the word 'Valentimes' which refers to the ‘Times’ you had on ‘Valentine’s Day’ never gets used around me again. I will punch anyone who says to me, “How were your Valentimes?” Don’t test me.

Saturday, February 14, 2009


"Jesus was Jewish."
"Yeah, until he started believing in himself."

Sunday, February 8, 2009

He's Just Not That Into You

When I first saw previews for He’s Just Not That Into You, I wondered: why are so many big name actors in this so-so looking movie? I thought maybe, just maybe, it could be a not-quite-as-good Love, Actually. It wasn’t.

The movie opens with a scene in which a mother consoles her daughter who has just been yelled at and pushed by a boy at the playground, by telling her he did it because he likes you. Soon follows a montage of women in bars, in sororities, in a military boot camp, and even in a small African village telling their friends the many reasons men don’t call back is that they are either insecure, intimidated, or perhaps lost their “hut number.” Or is it, as the title proposes that He’s Just Not That Into You?

The story focuses on four women at different stages of the game. Mary (Drew Barrymore) is dating in the technological age when she can find time- on Myspace, through texting, and getting messages on her cell phone and her work phone. Her storyline could seem overly cutesy, but her role is small and it’s genuinely funny when she complains about how exhausting it is to be rejected through all these media.

Gigi (Ginnifer Goodwin) is doing everything the old fashioned way- yes she cyber stalks, but she mainly stalks in person, and does “drive-bys” to bars where she might run into certain men. Even with a cell phone and internet access, Gigi waits around her apartment on weekends wondering why her pink, corded house-phone (I didn’t know anyone still had house phones besides my parents and grandparents) isn’t ringing after a guy said he would call. Maybe because he said “It was nice to meet you” at the end of the date. While she may not be techno-savvy, she does gain some insight on men from Alex (Justin Long), even if she is misreading the signs he sends her.

Beth (Jennifer Aniston) is waiting for Neil (Ben Affleck) to propose marriage after 7 years of dating and living together. When he tells her that is never going to happen, she dumps him. I found Beth to be the most likeable character in the movie because she is the only one not screwing anyone over or being screwed over. Beth spends the majority of the movie getting insults and sympathy from her family and taking care of her father after he has a heart attack. The closest thing she has to a date is getting hit on by a male Wiccan at her sister’s wedding, so it’s no surprise that she ends up back with Neil.

Janine (Jennifer Connelly) and Ben (Bradley Cooper) are a married couple in the middle of a house renovation. This renovation is the latest distraction in a failing marriage, which is based on Janine giving Ben an ultimatum- we get married, or we break up. Janine has given up on sex in her marriage and admits she is not as fun as she was at the beginning of the relationship. Janine learns late in the game that her husband is not that into her, and has to start all over again. Connelly has one of the best scenes in the movie as Janine finally makes a decision, and starts throwing Ben’s stuff out of the finished house and smashes a mirror to pieces. Her obsessive-compulsive side kicks in, and she immediately begins sweeping up the mess and leaves her husband’s belongings in a neat pile on the staircase.

The last “couple” are Conor (Kevin Connolly) and Anna (Scarlett Johansson), who are friends with benefits, only they’re not really friends, and there aren’t really benefits. This is the case where she is not into him. Conor never returns Gigi’s calls because he is too busy trying to get something more out of Anna. Meanwhile, Anna is chasing after a career by way of a married man, Ben.

This role-reversal points out what this movie could have used- a little more diversity in the storyline and cast. The movie features four white women with different views and approaches on dating, sex, and love and their white, male love interests. That has been done on “Sex and the City” (yes, I know the movie is based on the book from a line of an episode of SATC). When a black coworker of Alex’s says “Day-amn,” followed by nothing, I can’t help but think of Malik in Not Another Teen Movie saying “I am the token black guy. I'm just supposed to smile and stay out of the conversation and say things like: ‘Damn,’ ‘Shit,’ and ‘That is whack.’”

There are also gay characters, but they are there to comment on their own erections at the office and to teach Mary that Myspace is the new booty call. Conor, while trying to woo the gay crowd for his real estate business, learns that gay signals are different from straight signals: a three second stare means “I want to sleep with you,” anything less than that means “I’m not interested.” Because, gay people are all about one thing and none of them have complex relationships and dating problems?

Overall, this movie is watch-able, but not at all memorable. The actors all do a fine job, but no one stands out. There is some funny dialogue, but no great one-liners. I give it a 4 out of 7. I would give it 5, but…I’m just not that into it.

Rating: 4 out of 7

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Beard-off continues...

The beard off was established at work a couple weeks back, between a coworker and I. Our beards are now noticeable enough that people are asking “What’s with the beard?” Or, “I like the beard!”, or “The beard is not bad. You don’t look like a bum is what I’m trying to say.” This is the longest either of us has ever allowed our facial hair to be.

Rules of the beard off
1. The first person to shave loses.
2. The bet on the first week is $20.
3. At the end of each week, the bet increases by $5.
4. Beards may be maintained and shaped, but not shortened (razors are allowed, beard trimmers are not).
5. Mustaches may be trimmed, if they are growing past the top lip (for clean appearance. Also, I am concerned about the hair going in my mouth. And getting food in it).
6. Beards can be “Just for Men”-ed. I recently dyed my hair from dirty blonde to brown. With the random redness of my beard, I asked that this rule be added in case looking extra weird might lead to my demise.

Now that more than the original handful of people is in the know, people at first seem quickly intrigued and just as quickly disinterested. “Who is winning?” they will ask. The thing is, no one wins until someone loses. The bet is on who will keep the beard, even if it reaches Gaff status (named for a coworker with a great, bushy, phenomenal beard). Gaff can rock a beard much better than either of us can.

Until the loss, there is nobody in the lead, and no way to determine who is doing better. That really seemed to bother people. Then something happened this week, as both beards took off in different directions. Chris made the decision to grow the beard lower on his chin and neck, with a little separation from the mustache. Mine is trimmed at the jaw line (which has been described as “All American”) and is more of a classic beard.

Now that the beards became legitimate enough upon which to form opinions, sides are starting to form. A leader could be determined before a winner is determined. Perhaps most maddening to the spectators is the fact that the contestants don’t seem to be too concerned with the actual competition yet.

“You should be trash talking each other and psyching the other guy out!”
“Oh, Chris I meant to tell you the other night that you look really good with a beard.”
“Thanks! Your beard is starting to look really nice. It’s filling in.”
“Thank you! I’ll see you at the finish line.”
“I hope you win!”