Eclaire Fare

Enjoying Pop Culture, One Bite at a Time

Double Feature: Cloverfield and Only You June 27, 2008

Filed under: Movies — Emily @ 2:28 pm
Tags: , , , , , , ,

What do Cloverfield and Only You have in common? Not much. But I did watch them practically back to back last weekend. While they are very different movies, I enjoyed both of them. Read on for my spoiler free take on both of them.

Cloverfield

Cloverfield (2008 )

Let’s start with Cloverfield. Just knowing that J.J. Abrams produced it made me like this movie. I’ve enjoyed everything that he’s ever made – Felicity, Alias, Lost, Mission Impossible III, etc. Generally speaking, I’m not a fan of creature features, but this movie manipulates the genre in surprising and creative ways.

The handheld camera vantage point lends an air of believability to the scenario. Viewing the events on a home video, filmed by one of the main characters, makes the action much more realistic, and even disturbing. My guess is that if they had gone the traditional route, this movie would have been critically panned as another cheesy monster movie. Instead, we are given some backstory on the central characters in the opening scenes of a going away party. Normal activity on a normal night… which makes the sudden shift in tone that occurs all the more frightening.

The cast does a great job of portraying fear, disbelief, resolve, and other emotions that people in an unexpected disaster might experience. I didn’t even recognize Lizzy Caplan (I know her best from Mean Girls) as Marlena, she was so into character. Jessica Lucas, who most recently was a new CSI on CSI, played Lily. Both actresses came across as tough and generous, rather than some of the stereotypical weak-hearted and self-centered girls in other movies. The only other person I recognized was Michael Stahl-David, whose character, Rob, was pivotal in getting the plot moving. Stahl-David played Sean Donnelly on the short-lived tv show The Black Donnellys.

The real star of this movie, however, is the special effects. I don’t want to give anything away, so I’ll just say that the chaos and destruction that New York City and its residents undergo in the movie looks very realistic. You’ve probably seen the clip that shows the Statue of Liberty’s head landing on a street. That’s only the beginning of an impressive, scary, intense, and fun movie. Not recommended for the timid moviegoer.

Only You

Only You (1994)

This is, in my opinion, one of the better romantic comedies of the past 20 years. There have been a lot of them – many not so good. Only You has a lot going for it – a great cast, a few twists and turns in the plot, beautiful scenery in Italy, and a great soundtrack. Marisa Tomei stars as Faith, a woman who goes to Rome in search of her soul mate. All she has to go on is a name – Damon Bradley – that was revealed to her by a Ouija board and a gypsy when she was a teenager. Joining her on her date with destiny is her best friend Kate (the always funny Bonnie Hunt). Along the way they run into a host of memorable characters, including two of my favorites from the 90s (Robert Downey, Jr. and Billy Zane).

Rewatching this movie reminded me that Marisa Tomei is good at playing likable, charming, idealistic women. Where has she been? Well, she actually has a few new movies coming out within the next year, and she has been in several movies in the past few years that aren’t mainstream. She also appeared on tv’s Rescue Me in 2006.

I also wondered whatever happened to Billy Zane. According to his filmography at IMDB, it looks like the 2000s haven’t been very kind to him. Perhaps playing the villain in Titanic wasn’t such a smart career move. But, I will always look back fondly on his work in Sniper, Memphis Belle, Posse, etc.

Robert Downey, Jr. is really the only actor from this movie who has continued a commercially successful film career, and that despite his drug problems. Most recently, he was in Iron Man, and while I thought it was strange for him to play a super hero, I hear he does a good job. I thought he was great in Zodiac, which is an all around great, if also disturbing movie.

But, about Only You, it is a movie I could watch again and again. This is partly because it takes me back to my high school days (so does Clueless), but also because I love Italy, and it shows some beautiful scenery of Rome, Venice, and Orvieto. And compared to today’s romantic comedies, which are mostly ridiculous, it is a classic.

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So You Think You Can Dance: The Top 16 Perform June 25, 2008

Filed under: So You Think You Can Dance,Television — Emily @ 11:13 pm
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Well, the judges and I didn’t see eye to eye tonight, but they were certainly in a spunky mood. They praised some of the dances that I thought were mediocre. I even disagreed with guest judge Adam Shankman’s opinion of Cat. He thought she looked “cat-tastic”, but I thought she looked more like she would be in Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride than her usual, beautiful glowing self. Her face looked pale and washed out, and she was wearing a white lace dress. But let’s face it. Cat would look amazing in just about anything she wears. On to tonight’s performances…

1. Kherington and Twitch – Hip Hop (Tabitha and Napoleon) – “Don’t Touch Me” by Busta Rimes

This is described as a prison break. Could this be a plug for the past it’s prime Fox show? For me, this routine wasn’t tough enough. It was too cutesy, Kherington was way to smiley for a prisoner trying to escape, and it looked pretty easy – not a lot of complex movements. But, Twitch did well, and it was fun that Kherington has shown solidarity with her partner by also wearing the goofy fake glasses.

  • Nigel: He tried to be cute by “starting with the positives.” He called them “brilliant,” said they have “a spirit and an energy that go beyond dancing.” Surprise! He couldn’t think of any negatives.
  • Mary: “It was hard hitting… Kherington you stepped up to the plate… Twitch you just killed it.” Then the loud screaming…
  • Adam: After he kissed Mary, he said it was awesome. He did give them some technical suggestions. Nice to hear some practical advice, even if it doesn’t mean much to the non-dance savvy public.

2. Courtney and Gev – Rumba (Tony and Melanie) – “Wishing on a Star” by Rose Royce

Wow! What a dress Courtney was wearing, or at least half of a dress. She looked great. Unfortunately, this pair lacks chemistry. Although they had convincing body language individually, I felt like they were just going through the motions with their partnering. This was nowhere near as good as Dominic and Sabra’s Rumba from last season.

  • Nigel: “I am very, very happy with that routine.” He thinks they make a fabulous couple and felt their passion tonight. There is some silly talk about grabbing passion, and a wardrobe budget only being able to afford half a dress.
  • Mary: “I thought it was great. I really did.” She said there could have been “more melting from one step to another.” Maybe that’s where I sensed the going through the motions.
  • Adam: “I think that Mary looks like a really pretty disco ball.” He loved it. “Gev, you are a strong dude.” He made a few constructive suggestions to them. It annoyed me that Nigel and Mary faked going to sleep when he continued his useful comments. There’s a lack of them on the show, so let him go for it!

3. Comfort and Chris – African Jazz (Tyce Diorio) – “Beautiful People” by Marilyn Manson

Interesting routine, and I thought they did a pretty good job. I liked them better doing this than the previous two weeks’ dances. I didn’t like the song selection – it didn’t seem to fit the routine very well. Things broke down a bit at the end and felt awkward, but overall I’d have to say this was one of my favorite routines of the night. I didn’t see the need for animalistic emotion that the judges called for.

  • Nigel: He complained that they didn’t use the capes more since they were focused on in the intro film. Um, that’s not their fault. “I was disappointed a little bit with the power that you were putting behind the routine.” He thought Chris was a little too soft.
  • Mary: She thinks it should have been “more animalistic, more wild, just CRAZY up there.” After the opening, “it just started to fall for me.”
  • Adam: He thought sometimes they were there, and sometimes they weren’t, when it came to the performance. “I didn’t see it in your face” – referring to the aggression of the piece.

4. Jessica and Will – Disco (Doriana Sanchez) – “Heaven Must Have Sent You” by Bonnie Pointer

You know, I just think that disco should have stayed buried in the 70s. I never enjoy the disco numbers on this show. Super cheesy. The best part of this performance was the series of swinging drops (don’t know the official name.) Will was able to do some fancy flipping, but he didn’t stick the landing at the end. I’m sure this was a difficult routine. I’m just not sure it’s worth the effort.

  • Nigel: He thinks Doriana is an expert at making disco not cheesy. I disagree. It still looks cheesy! I don’t think there’s any way around it. “I thought you danced it very, very well.”
  • Mary: “Absolutely, they carried it off.” “The first few lifts that you did, I think they were effortless.” “You owned that routine up there, yes you did.” She though they were “lean, mean disco machines.”
  • Adam: He thought it was fantastic. “Jessica, you are so beautiful it’s scary.” He thinks she’s falling down in not believing in herself as a dancer. He gave her some sweet words of encouragement. “Will, you are scary. You are so, so great.”

5. Kourtni and Matt – Contemporary (Sonya Tayeh – first time guest choreographer) – “Wrestlers” by Hot Chip

This routine is supposed to be about two comic book characters chasing and fighting with each other. I didn’t get it. I didn’t see much fighting going on. Kourtni could have been a comic book character, but Matt didn’t look very comic bookish to me, in terms of their outfits.

  • Nigel: “This is so quirky, it’s a different flavor of contemporary.” He thinks the public won’t understand it. I think he’s right. He wants Matt to relax a little more.
  • Mary: “There was something weird for sale, and I’m buying it!!!” She thinks it showcased both of their talent. I agree with her that their synchronized leaps were impressive.
  • Adam: He agreed with me that the costumes was not right for the routine.

6. Chelsea and Thayne – The quickstep (Heather Smith) – “You Can’t Hurry Love” by Phil Collins

I’m not a fan of the quick step – it is a bizarre, jerky looking genre. The quick step parts made me think of horses trotting around. During the other parts the pair sometimes looked graceful, and other times just plain awkward. It must have been difficult for Chelsea to do all those moves in those high heels! Nicely done on their last big dip. I do like this couple, but this one won’t win them many votes.

  • Nigel: “It was a little too bouncy for me in places.” “It looked like somebody put Band-Aids over you and drew on teeth.” To translate, he wanted them to show more personality. He thinks they need to get their solos ready.
  • Mary: “It was okay, which is pretty good in these kind of standards.” He thinks they fell short of previous contestants who tackled the quick step. She thought Thayne did a better job than Chelsea in terms of technique.
  • Adam: “You don’t look comfortable, you don’t look in your element. Even if you’re not, you have to make it work.” Good advice.

7. Chelsie and Mark – Hip Hop (Tabitha and Napoleon) – “Bleeding Love” by Leona Lewis

This is about a workaholic whose girl doesn’t want him to leave. It had good emotion, intensity, chemistry. Sharp moves. Good synchronization. My favorite of the night so far! They are a fun and talented couple.

  • Nigel: He’s loving Tabitha and Napoleon this year – I am too! He’s in love with these two as well. He “absolutely, truly believed” Chelsea’s passion. He also believed Mark’s workaholic character.
  • Mary: She agrees with Nigel. “I truly believed the struggle that was going on up there on stage.” I did, too.
  • Adam: He stood up and yelled “Yeah!! That’s what I’m talkin’ about!” He’s excited about how beautiful lyrical hip hop has become. He called them “the couple to beat.”

8. Joshua and Katee – Samba (Tony and Melanie) – “Baila, Baila” by Angela Via

Very cute intro – I like their interaction. Spicy routine! Katee looked great, and confident. Not so sure about Joshua’s tight pants, but they had great chemistry as usual, and just the right amount of personality. Nice footwork. They pulled it off.

  • Nigel: “I’m so pleased you found the other half of Courtney’s dress.” He thought Katee was great because she doesn’t over exaggerate. She’s just sexy. He thinks Joshua has “a really natural samba rhythm.” Inquiring about the pants, “Did you get those buns from your daddy?” (He was in the audience.) “You two have so much wonderful chemistry.” He names it one of the four outstanding routines of the night.
  • Mary: “The number was hot!” “Animated… spirited… energetic.” She thought their technique was great, too. They made it onto the hot tamale train – “two first class tickets.”
  • Adam: “That was competing. That was some serious competing.” He tells Katee she’s “smokin’.”

My Favorites of the NIght

  • Chelsie and Mark’s hip hop
  • Katee and Joshua samba
  • Comfort and Chris’ African jazz (maybe I’m in the minority here, but I really liked it better than many of the other routines tonight, which were just so so.)

Predicting the Bottom Three Couples

  • Chelsea and Thayne
  • Kourtni and Matt
  • Jessica and Will

I won’t even guess who’s going home. I’ll let their solos speak for them first.

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Coldplay’s Viva la Vida: Live Life to the Fullest June 23, 2008

Filed under: Music — Emily @ 2:23 pm

My first reaction to Coldplay’s latest album, Viva la Vida, was a vision of myself running through a field of wildflowers. That’s how listening to it made me feel. Adjectives I could use to describe the tone of the album: freeing, invigorating, comfortable, settled. Whereas their previous albums felt less certain (more about searching, trying to find a place and a purpose), this one resonates with me as someone who is comfortable in his or her own skin.

I just turned 30, and I recently became a mother. I feel more settled and comfortable with who I am now than I did when I was in my 20s. The twenties are a decade where you are trying to figure out your place in the world, learning how to be a “grown up,” etc. Not that there’s a magic switch that turns on when you turn 30, but there’s something about starting a family and getting established in a career and a home, that calms you down, and gives you a new perspective on life.

I can’t be sure since I don’t know him personally, but I am guessing that this is the mindset from which Chris Martin approached this album. He is 31, married, has two children, and has an established music career, so he is a different person from the man who released his previous albums. Specifically, having a child opens up a whole new world of emotions that you never knew you had, and I hear those emotions in the lyrics and music on Coldplay’s new album.

That’s not to say that you can only enjoy this album if you are 30-something and have kids. Everyone approaches music from his or her unique place in the world, so everyone takes something different out of it. I do, however, think that the tone of this album may be well suited for people in the stage of life I mentioned above.

So, here is my very subjective look at the songs on this album.

1. Life in Technicolor – This is the song that made me think of running through a field of wildflowers. The music is very liberating, while at the same time nostalgic. I don’t mind that it’s an instrumental – that allows me to add my own thoughts to it. The music transports me back to where I’ve been, this journey that I’ve been on for the past 30 years, and also makes me look forward, expectantly, to what’s to come. The song title makes me think of photographs and home videos, which is probably why I see glimpses of my life. While it lacks the punch of previous album openers like “Politik” and “Square One,” it sets an appropriate tone for this album.

2. Cemeteries of London – This song is reminiscent of the ballads of English literature. It tells a story of people walking through London in the quiet early morning, searching for something. It turns modern day London into a mysterious, old world place. I love the haunting melody and chorus of “la la’s” in this song.

3. Lost! – I love the opening of this song, the odd meshing of hand claps, drums, and organ chords. And this song reflects the mindset I explained above, of being comfortable with who you are, and not worrying as much about what’s what: “Just because I’m losing / Doesn’t mean I’m lost / Doesn’t mean I’ll stop.” I interpret it as a song about persevering, accepting whatever comes your way. That’s an attitude that comes from previous experiences of failure and success, and a healthy dose of cynicism.

4. 42 – Another great song opening – Chris Martin’s beautiful voice and simple piano chords with pleasant chord progression. This is really like three songs in one, since it goes from slow and soft at the beginning, to upbeat and guitar driven in the middle, to almost frantic and poppish at the end. Personally, I would like it better if it stuck to the tone of the first part. What does the song mean? I have no clue. Something about people living on in our memories of them? According to Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, the number 42 is the answer to “Life, the Universe, and Everything.” So, I guess this is a song about searching for meaning and purpose in life and death. That’s a pretty broad subject, open to varied interpretation. I’ll have to listen to this song several more times to develop my own understanding of the lyrics, but for now I’ll just enjoy the music.

5. Lovers in Japan / Reign of Love – Another song about persevering, specifically when times get tough in relationships. In this two part song, I like the second one, “Reign of Love,” better. More of the relaxing piano and guitar that are what I love best about Coldplay. And the lyrics speak of the power of love, and its control over us. Not sure what locusts have to do with anything: “Locusts will lift me up,” “Locusts will let us stop.” But when have Coldplay lyrics ever made complete sense?

6. Yes – This may be my least favorite song on the album. It sounds too low for Chris Martin’s tenor voice. It’s a song about the struggle with temptation – the music reflects the frustration of such a situation, resulting in less pleasant musicality than most Coldplay songs. This song also features yet another shift in tone. I can’t make out what the lyrics are in the second part, which is also frustrating. Maybe that’s the point.

7. Viva la Vida – Great song, and classic Coldplay sound, with an added symphonic background. The historical context of the song may be from the event depicted on the album cover, which is Delacroix’s “Liberty Leading the People.” This painting commemorates The French Revolution of 1830, which overthrew Charles X. This song does bring to mind the saying “Oh, how the mighty have fallen.” In general, it can be taken as a song about the temporal nature of life, and how things can change quickly.

8. Violet Hill – This may be the catchiest song on the album. Like “Cemeteries of London,” it is reminiscent of an English ballad, telling a story of love, war, power, and death.

9. Strawberry Swing – I’ve read some reviews of this album that say it sounds more like Paul Simon than Coldplay. I could see that on this song, with the world music sound of the guitar and drums. It’s a sweet song about spending time with the one you love, and how integral that person can be to your world, to the point that when they aren’t around everything else is dull.

10. Death and All His Friends – The opening melody of this song reminds me of a song from the movie musical Once. Whatever it sounds like, this is a great song. I always love a chorus of men singing, and I get that here: “No, I don’t want to battle from beginning to end / I don’t want a cycle of recycled revenge / I don’t wanna follow Death and all of his friends.” This is another song about persevering and striving for vibrant relationships, a vibrant life, free from petty problems and grudges. I think the message is to hold on to the things that are important to you, and fight for them, because time is short.

This seems to be the theme of the entire album. Through good times and bad, be thankful for what you have, reflect on the triumphs and trials you’ve been through so far, and breathe deeply as you experience success, failures, and hardship, because they are what life is made of. So, I give two thumbs up to Viva la Vida. Another job well done by my favorite British band!

 

Cheesiest Movie Premise Ever? June 22, 2008

Filed under: Movies,Television — Emily @ 5:24 pm

I recently upgraded to an HD compatible television, and I am still getting to know my HD channels. We enjoy watching Discovery HD, HD Theater, HD Music, etc. One channel that I try to avoid is Lifetime Movie Network HD. I thought that one Lifetime Network was too many, yet it’s not surprising that enough “Moment of Truth” and “The (Insert Woman’s Name Here) Story” movies have been made to devote an entire channel to. Try as I may to avoid it, sometimes the remote decides to rebel and takes me there against my will. It was on such an occasion yesterday that I was introduced to what I think has to be in the Top 10 cheesiest movie premises of all time.

The title: Wide Awake

The premise: A narcoleptic lab researcher is part of a team that discovers a drug that can cure her condition… She uncovers a conspiracy that endangers her life and sends her on the run. She manages to stay one step ahead of her pursuers while desperately trying to stay awake. She must figure out who is behind the sabotage and why, while fighting off increasing hallucinations.

My two cents: I understand that narcolepsy is a real disorder that people suffer from, so I am not making light of that. What I find comical is the concept of a woman trying to run for her life who keeps falling asleep – that would kind of make it hard to get away from your pursuers. Plus, the movie just looked really bad – as most of these Lifetime movies do. In one scene (I watched for about 15 minutes), she was on what looked like a rooftop, holding onto a briefcase that presumably held the wonder drug. The bad guys had caught up with her, and it looked like there was no escape. Think again! She jumped off the side of the building and landed in a water slide. Apparently it wasn’t a rooftop, but rather the top of a water ride at a water park. She proceeded all the way down the twisting and turning slide, all while holding onto the briefcase. Now I’m not sure if that was really happening, or if this was one of her hallucinations, but either way, it was very bad – in the cheesiest way.

So what are some other bad movie premises? Snakes on a Plane received a lot of bad press when it first came out. If nothing else, it’s a ridiculously simple plot: snakes get loose on a plane and chaos ensues. Any other prime examples that you can think of?

 

“Dance” Top 18 Results Show June 19, 2008

Filed under: So You Think You Can Dance,Television — Emily @ 10:33 pm

Quick thoughts on the Top 18 results show:

  • Loved the opening Shane Sparks group routine! It gave all the hip hoppers a chance to show off and was very entertaining.
  • I wasn’t as crazy about the flamenco dancer or the hip hop performer
  • I was fine with the bottom three couples: Chelsea and Thayne, Susie and Marquis, Comfort and Chris
  • It seems that the solos don’t really mean much. It’s called “dance for your life,” but so far this season the judges have based their choice of who to send home on factors other than the solos. Tonight they chose to keep Comfort because of how she performed during the opening Shane Sparks routine. I think she also had the best solo, so I was thrilled for them to keep her, but it just seemed odd that they didn’t even comment on her solo.
  • So we said goodbye to Susie and Marquis. We never got to know Marquis very well, and I didn’t like Susie’s style very much, so since someone had to go, I’m glad it was them.
  • After this week, my favorite couples are Joshua and Katee, and Mark and Chelsie. But that will probably change next week, when we see a whole new batch of performances…
 

Chelsie and Mark’s Electrifying Tango

Filed under: So You Think You Can Dance,Television,Videos — Emily @ 10:26 am

This dance from the Top 18 episode gave Chelsie a chance to show off her great legs and Mark an opportunity to reveal his intense, sexy side. Their outfits were perfect, the music was great, and they totally pulled off the choreography.

[redlasso id=”86ac4930-58f3-4cca-a0e2-2e9da87314bb”]

 

Joshua and Katee’s Hip Hop Routine

Filed under: So You Think You Can Dance,Television,Videos — Emily @ 10:18 am

Better late than never. This was my favorite performance from the So You Think You Can Dance Top 20 episode. I just love everything about Joshua, from his personality to his technique. And Katee surprised me on this one. I didn’t know much about her beforehand, and now I want to!