50 Favorite Romances: 1 - 5

Friends, I love a good romance, but they're so hard to come by and often embarrassing to admit how much you love them. So I'm putting myself out there and giving you the first of several installments of my 50 favorite film romances.

1. Much Ado About Nothing (1993)
 I will be horribly in love with her. 
I love Kenneth Branagh and Emma Thompson in my favorite of their onscreen pairings. Nothing beats a good "I hate you, no wait I love you because we were tricked into liking each other" story, especially when it's Shakespeare. Just ignore the other plotline that deals with the politics of virginity and pay attention to insults slung by Beatrice and Benedick:
Beatrice: I wonder that you will still be talking, Signior Benedick. Nobody marks you.
Benedick: What, my dear Lady Disdain. Are you yet living?
Beatrice: Is't possible Disdain should die whilst she hath such meet food to feed it as Signor Benedick? Courtesy itself must convert to Disdain when you come in her presence.  

2. It Happened One Night (1934)
 Perhaps you're interested in how a man undresses. 
This film is a gem. It's Capra without being overly schmaltzy, it's screwball without getting too slapstick, it's sexy without getting too naked (just Clark Gable's lovely upper chest and some clingy dresses on Ms. Colbert). Still funny and smart almost 80 years later.

3. When Harry Met Sally... (1989)
Someone is staring at you in personal growth.
Back when Rob Reiner directed films with unbeatable banter and comic timing, he made a great film staring Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan that would make male-female friendships with unrequited love even more unbearable because of the false hope created by this movie. At least this story is funny with a choice supporting cast (what's up, Carrie Fisher and Bruno Kirby?). Also, baby fish mouth.

4. A Room With a View (1985)
 A young girl, transfigured by Italy! And why shouldn't she be transfigured? It happened to the Goths.  
My mind's always blown by what a typical set-up this film has: you've got the repressed girl (Helena Bonham Carter), the guy who kisses her in Italy (Julian Sands), and the ridiculous intellectual she engages herself to once she's back in England (Daniel "I can't believe how good he is as a foppish nerd" Day-Lewis). And yet, something about the performances, the inherent humor of societal expectations, and the pretty costumes elevate this film into being pretty awesome.

5. Persuasion (1995)
 I strongly object to the Navy. It brings people of obscure birth into undue distinction and it cuts up a man's youth and vigor most horribly.
This is the lone Jane Austen entry on this list, quite simply because I find most film adaptations of her work don't do the justice a miniseries can. However, Persuasion is simple enough to be effectively cut down to a couple hours in addition to the subtle interactions between characters that flesh out the back story. I adore the familiar, although awkward, interactions between Captain Wentworth (Ciaran Hinds) and Anne (Amanda Root), that feel genuine as these two fall back in love.


Shameless ogling: David Gilmour

I was watching a documentary about the making of Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon and remembered how pretty David Gilmour was back in the day. Let's enjoy pictures of this beautiful musician, and I'll even give you some music (with bonus gawky Roger Waters and handlebar mustached Nick Mason.) 

Aaaand, probably the best of all:


Hit Me With Your Best Shot: The Exorcist (1973)

Part of The Film Experience's Hit Me With Your Best Shot series.

The Exorcist is one of the 70s horror films that might edge more on the "thriller" side of the genre. It doesn't broadcast each move from 10 miles away with creepy music or sound effects and expects us to keep up with the plot with few cues. It slowly burns until things get out of control and crucifixes start getting molested.

For me, the slow burn is the best part, the way the film sneaks the creepiness into the film until you're fully immersed in it. The hospital sequences are where things start to get under my skin. You slowly realize that Chris (Ellen Burstyn) is powerless to help her already powerless daughter Regan (Linda Blair) as Regan undergoes test after test that require her to stay still and withstand pain.

In some ways it's more terrifying than the unknown and supernatural--that's supposed to be unreasonable and chaotic. But these two females have to withstand the guesses and whims of men who put up the pretense that they know better. It's only once they break through these medical professionals that they find a solution (albeit, through some horrific trial and error on the part of clergymen).

So my best shots are taken from scenes in the hospital, about 45 minutes and an hour into the film, respectively.

Regan, helpless and alone, at the mercy of a mustache with glasses and a beard with earrings.
Chris, powerless and cornered in a meeting with doctors.  
Overall, there's something frightening about the idea that for all the knowledge the world keeps gaining, that new knowledge ultimately fails when faced with an ancient enemy.

Let us pray that there's always a Father Karras there to save us.
And keep our clregy fetish alive.


Live commentarying The Voice: Finale 5/8/2012

I'm too lazy to recap anything but performances, so, deal with it.

Oh what was that? A performance over 10 minutes in?

1. Pip, Jamar Rogers, James Missoni, and Jermaine Paul sing the Jackson 5's "I Want You Back." They look good in gold jackets, have I told you that? This is an adorable performance. Why doesn't The Voice do more awesome group performances that blend teams?

2. Juliet Simms helps out Flo Rida sing "Wild Ones." It should go without saying, but the chorus is the best part of this song and Juliet does it well. Flo Rida makes music for jump ropers, essentially, he's so boring and consistent with the beat.

3. Chris Mann, Lindsey Pavao, and Katrina Parker sing "Bittersweet Symphony." Hello, 1999! I really meant to do a blog post talking about Cruel Intentions, the film this song is featured in, after double featuring it with Dangerous Liaisons. This is kind of a weird performance. The melody is out of the girls' range so they're doing weird things to id. Plus, this song is all about the strings, isn't it? WHAT THE HELL IS WITH THE BLUEGRASS SLIDES DONE THRICE AT THE END? That was bizarre.

Y'all, I enjoyed the Blake Shelton/Adam Levine bromance package. Adorbs.

4. Hall and Oates are joined by Jermaine Paul, Chris Mann, and Tony Lucca on background vocals for "Rich Girl." YES. A good, mellow time was had by all.

5. Naia Kete, Sera Hill, Chessa, Kim Yarborough sing "Superstitous." This is kind of delightfully fun and sassy.

Omg, Ron Swanson has a The Voice chair to swivel away from working. Those NBC bastards knew that I would love a Parks and Rec tie-in.

6. Erin Willet, RaeLyn, Jamar Rogers, and Juliet Simms sings "A Little Help From My Friends." Guys, I did not miss RaeLynn and her weird affectations. Erin and Jamar, on the other hand, are solid performers.

7. Lady Antebellum is kind of irresistible. They know their niche (late night car rides thinking about the guy/girl in your life sort of music) and just run with it. I've never heard "Wanted You More," but it's essentially the same, guy side vs. girl side of the story, and harmonize at the chorus.

8. Jordis Unga and Tony Lucca are singing "Go Your Own Way." LOVE this song (to the shock of no one). I also love this pairing--two of my favorites of this season. Long haired guitarist from last night is back, soloing in the middle.

9. Justin Beiber is trying his hardest to be sexy with his new single "Boyfriend." I can't hear him over the sound of obnoxious screaming. Awww, he's so little. Why is he dancing with grown women?

THE MOMENT WE'VE BEEN WAITING FOR ALL SEASON LONG. After having people re-explain what winning would mean to them.

4th Place: Chris Mann. (WHAT HAPPENED TO THE REST OF CHRISTINA'S PANTS? Sorry, taken out of the moment.)
3rd Place: Tony Lucca. (Love you, boo!)
2nd Place: Juliet Simms (Bummer!)
Winner: Jermaine Paul (Well, congratulations to him. He seems like a nice guy.)

And of course Jermaine Paul is singing "I Believe I Can Fly." Hilarious and kind of sweet.



Live commentarying The Voice: 5/7/2012

Last performance episode, y'all. Who's ready for some hyperbole and oversinging?

It was a good night for Josh Groban covers.
1. Team Blake: Jermaine Paul is singing R. Kelly's "I Believe I Can Fly." I think we can all agree that just about any other song from R. Kelly's oeuvre would have been less cringeworthy. This song is "My Heart Will Go On" levels of I can't take it seriously. Jermaine probably sounds the best he has all season because his oversinging really only makes sense in a gospel choir setting.

2. Team Cee Lo: Juliet Simms sings her thank you to Cee Lo by singing "Crazy" from his Gnarls Barkley days. Juliet gives it a good go, but let's be honest, that song was only interesting because Cee Lo's voice is so unique.

3. Team Christina: Chris Mann and Christina Aguilera sing "The Prayer." Damn, it's like 9th grade choir all over again. Guys, I like Christina's voice when she isn't Christina-ing (by which I mean, actually singing the melody and not just belting), and Chris Mann's voice is powerful enough to be a good balance to her powerhouse voice.

4. Team Adam: Tony Lucca is singing "99 Problems" by Jay-Z and more specifically Hugo's cover of it. Let's not pretend this is an original take on the song, no matter how much I love him. Although there is someone playing a washboard on the stage. Also, he's self-censoring by omission and slurring "Bitch". He's pulling it off though. So. There you go.

5. Team Christina: Chris Mann is tributing Christina with "The Voice Within." Such a cheesy song, but it's well written and Chris, as always, is impeccable.

6. Team Cee Lo: Juliet Simms and Cee Lo sing "Born to Be Wild." Honestly, nothing can top the time my friend sang this at a church karaoke activity and ended up writhing on the floor.

7. Team Adam: Tony Lucca and Adam sing the Beatles' "Yesterday." Very pretty harmonies, boys.

8. Team Blake: Jermaine Paul sings Blake's "God Gave Me You." Country music is so precious. Can't lie, this is one of my favorite songs Jermaine has sung this competition.

9. Team Christina: Chris Mann sings Josh Groban's "You Raise Me Up." There's a woman signing the lyrics. HOW IS HE NOT AT A HIGH SCHOOL CHOIR CONCERT CIRCA 2004? OH WAIT, THE CHOIR IS THERE WITH HIM. Solid performance, Chris. This is strangely moving for how cornball/predictable it is.

10. Team Blake: Jermaine Paul and Blake are singing "Soul Man." They are adorably tall together. This may be my fovorite duet of the night. They look like they're having fun, and they pull off each other well.

11. Team Adam: Tony Lucca sings his tribute to Adam, "Harder to Breathe" by Maroon 5. Someone in the studio is rocking an organ, FYI. He recovers from forgetting the lyrics well, and since no one knows the lyrics of this song, it's cool.

12. Team Cee Lo: Juliet Simms sings Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Free Bird." Of course. It seems appropriate that this is the last song of the night. It's an end of set sort of song, and Juliet has the voice to deliver. Also, one of the guitarists in the band gets his shot of glory standing on a smoky wind machine. Juliet is such a delight.

Well friends, it was a good night for everyone, actually. I would love for Juliet or Tony to take the top spot just because I find them to be more interesting performers and fit my preference for earthy singers.

What are you guys hoping for?


Live commentarying The Voice: Eliminations 5/2/2012

ELIMINATIONS! And a butt-ton of performances.
Sometimes I like to remember that Cyndi Lauper had fantastic chemistry with Jeff Goldblume in Vibes. Especially during elimination episodes that are 90% filler.
Last year's Dia Frampton is up first singing dressed like Jess Day. For some reason Kid Cudi is involved with this. That was inoffensive.

Team Christina is up for eliminations first. Chris Mann makes it into the finals. I have to say I'm surprised, but good for him. He's got a great voice. Bye, Lindsey! You were alright.

Vicci Martinez and Cee Lo are a fun combination. Cee Lo overall is a very giving performer. I forgot what a cool voice Vicci has.

Team Adam eliminations next. Tony Lucca gets into the finals! Yay! Katrina, who I think has a really great voice leaves.

Beverly McClellan and Cyndi Lauper (what?) are singing "Money Changes Everything." (Oh hey, I paid enough attention to catch the name of this song.) Boring song.

Last year's winner Javier Colon sings "A Drop in the Ocean." There's nothing like 4 unfamiliar pop songs to make me realize how formulaic pop songs are. Javier's voice is still like honey.

Team Boring Blake is up next. Jermaine Paul makes it into the finals. YAWN. Erin seems like a lovely person, and I'm kind of bummed she's leaving. She at least used dynamics.

Team Cee Lo is last. JULIET SIMMS! I'm so excited. She's a really cool chick with an awesome gritty voice. Jamar, you're a class act.

I'm glad Tony and Juliet made it into the finals. What are your reactions?