Friday, January 25, 2008

As Real as a Doll Can Get

Lars and the Real Girl
Year: 2007
Starring: Ryan Gosling, Emily Mortimer
and Patrica Clarkson.

Before I review Lars, let me say this:

Even though this movie may not be too new, it came out last year, so why review it now? It's not in theaters, the only thing buzzed about it is its ONE nomination. But I still can't get this movie off of my mind. It's killing me, I feel if I don't give this movie the phrase it deserves, then who will?
Lars, which if you read a synopsis may sound like the new Judd Apatow movie. Guy falls in love with a sex doll. Hilarious, right? And yes, it's very funny in places, but that's not the part about it I'll remember. What gets me, what really has brought me to review this movie is that it is a moving fable. Sure, it's not the greatest indie movie of the season, but still it's a movie that did not really come across to many audiences. It was well reviewed, but people seemed to avoid this one. I was lucky to manage to see it at my local movie theater and was able to watch such a uniquely beautiful movie.

What Lars does is show life through our main character's eyes, how what he sees is normal, while his brother sees this as him going insane. Lars never really had a mother, she died shortly after childbirth, so it was him, his father and brother, Gus. Eventually, getting sick of being surrounded by depression, Gus split and left Lars with their melancholy father. Gus constantly feels he is to blame for his brother's irregular behavior and his obsession with this doll. So to him, this doll is a normal girlfriend. What also keeps this movie great is the fact that it can have a character that is a life sized sex doll, steal the scene. What makes scenes involving Bianca, the name of the doll as picked by Lars, so funny is that she says nothing but since Lars has her alive in his mind, she is technically real.

An important point the movie brings up is what you are supposed to do with such an oddball like Lars? You could react like the following: a) Treat him like a mental patient or b) Treat his new "girlfriend" like Lars does.

So enough about the points it brings up, here's the fully story behind Lars:

When we meet Lars, he is a socially awkward boy in the body of a young man. He hasn't really grown up, he is afraid to be touched by others, he will occasionally walk away whenever his comfort level is jeopardized and he also strays away from achieving a social life. But as soon as a guy at work(More like Perverted Cubicle buddy) tells him about this Real Doll site, Lars(Played with extraordinary emotion by Ryan Gosling) soon after orders a doll. As mentioned by another reviewer, part of the story is odd because he orders the doll himself, so he kind of knows what he's in for. But still, it doesn't affect the movie at all.

As I mentioned before, his brother, Gus(Paul Schneider) and his pregnant wife, Karin(A wonderful Emily Mortimer, despite a couple slip ups with her British Accent) react differently. At first, they are completely dumbfounded. You can see it in their faces that they are disturbed not only by the fact that Lars has befriended a doll, but while sitting in her whorish clothes, Lars claims she is a missionary.

The two both come to an agreement, they send Lars to the local doctor because they want to help him become detached to this inanimate object, but they tell Lars it is because Bianca looks ill and needs to be checked up on. Through the many visits, Dr. Dagmar(One of my favorite actresses Patrica Clarkson) Lars starts to mature and grow a bit. He is less awkward, he allows people to be closer to him, he even takes up an invite to bowl with the cute girl from his office who has a mad crush on him, Margo.(An irresistible Kelli Garner) But as the movie goes on, Bianca's health worsens, but her connection with the town grows stronger. The many people who participate in loving Bianca really care for Lars, so they show this by helping Bianca get accustomed to their town and gain a social life. Who knew a doll could be elected on the School board?

What struck me the most was the final act of the movie, where Lars grows up and decides to leave his childish things behind. It's sad and ultimately hard for a man to say goodbye to a doll you spent the beginning of the movie growing fond of. The sweetest part for me was how the town loved him and stuck by him and his doll. So you can't help but feel an ounce of remorse for the central character.

The script, written by Nancy Oliver who wrote for "Six Feet Under" (My Favorite Show) is full of love and emotion and the actors show their 3-dimensionality in their behavior and their actions. Only Oliver could take a story such as this and turn it into an aching work of brilliance, how something that could be played one way goes in the opposite direction.

The scene I love most is when Margo finds one of her stuffed bears hung with cable cord by Lars' cubicle mate after his action figures were stolen by Margo. To help her, Lars begins to resuscitate and bring the bear back to life. Not because he thinks its real, but because he wants Margo to laugh. In a few minutes we learn that Lars knows what is real and what is not, and he has matured from the beginning of the movie. Now, he is growing up, and is able to both leave things behind and keeps others close to his heart. And that is what I walked away with.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


Heath Ledger 1979-2008

You will be missed.

Blogging For Choice

Blog for Choice Day
Today, instead of ranting about something or blogging about Oscar nominations(that will come tomorrow) I have decided to do my duty and talk about one of the most revolutionary court cases of all time. Roe V. Wade.
What makes Roe V. Wade so important was the fact that is changed the world as well as legalize abortion. And even though you may not feel this to be too important, think about it.
I will admit, being a male means that I don't really have much say in the matter to some, but I feel that everyone who cares about legal rights and keeping abortion legal matters. I'm a male, but I'm a feminist. I will never get pregnant, but I do know that it shouldn't stop me from doing the right thing and being pro choice.
I am pro choice because I want women to feel safe, I want women to receive the rights they deserve and not die because they get an abortion. My grandfather, a doctor can recall women coming to his office beaten and bloody because they got an abortion. Women do not deserve that horrible treatment, everybody makes mistakes, and we should respect that.
So, it's thirty five years and look how far we've come since Roe V. Wade and I'm proud to say that women no longer have to live in fear because they got an abortion. So everyone, men, women, take the time to think how lucky we are and how advanced society has become in 35 years and together, we can stop such a horrible and unsafe future from happening again.
I know that when it comes time to vote, if there is a general election involving this matter, I know I will vote pro choice and I will remember today. How people like me have gotten their voices heard and spoke up about abortion and why it is so important. And I will remember that I was there and I made a difference.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

The Kids are Alright: Movies for kids who Aren't blockheads.

These days, it's hard to find a decent movie for kids. Which is a bummer, seeing as when I was a young one, movies for kids were both good and bad. I'm not going to glorify my generation, we did spawn Pokemon and other crap that rots kids minds. But you know what, who doesn't grow up watching crap for kids movies. I loved many movies that nowadays haunt my dreams and try to steal my childhood. And for some odd reason, tonight, I feel gracious and returning to my childhood or movies that have helped shape it. So, feast in the glory of what I think are movies mandatory for kids who aren't afraid to be moved and maybe changed. Entertained and educated.

Pixar Movies
The thing that is so lucky for kids is that they have the ability to watch Pixar movies, which are also great for people older then six, because Pixar is the greatest company these days for entertainment for both kids and adults. While some might not be as great gems as others(A Bug's Life, Cars, meh.) It doesn't mean that they are horrible movies, every Pixar movie is a gem in its own way. From Toy Story, it's first to Finding Nemo, my favorite, to Ratatouille, their latest and most advanced film. So watch a Pixar movie and I'm sure you'll love it.

Beauty and the Beast
When growing up, this movie was constantly in and out of my VCR, I'd watch it, recite the lines and sing along. First of all, I loved how Belle was a book lover, smart, independent and didn't fall head over heels in love with the beast and was in no rush to get married. It's a tale about looking past people's differences and accepting them for who they are. Which, as the years go by has meant a lot to me. I feel even more emotion for the characters, and the odd thing is when the beast is ready to 'die' I lose it, so sue me. But yeah, I'm still not afraid to express my love for this movie.

The Wizard of OZ
In my humble opinion, it's movies like these that truly make me appreciate life and everything about it. This movie not only has a great song, but also fun characters, amazing scenery and sets and it just is near perfect. From the Sepia beginning to its famous heel clicking climax, this movie has it all. Singing scarecrows, lions afraid of their own shadows and men of tin in need of a heart. Plus a nasty witch who uncannily resembles Ann Coulter(Am I Right?) And the film's message sticks with me, "If I ever go looking for my heart's desire, I'll look no further then my own backyard." Oh, and there is no munchkin suicide, deal with it! Pink Floyd is only heard by people on LSD, it's not intentional, god!

The Lion King
If you think about it, this movie is pretty much Hamlet with hyenas. Or as it was called by the producers, Bamlet. You cannot go wrong with this movie, it's a spectacular movie, both visually and story wise. It is also the first Disney movie that shows an on screen death of one of its characters. So whoa, it's intense. Plus, you cannot go wrong with the phrase "Hakuna Matata" it's the ultimate slacker saying, but the film is most certainly not a slacker film.
P.S I will not deny that the letters S E and X are in the dust, that's just creepy beyond all belief.

To Kill a Mockingbird
It may be a bit intense for some kids, due to its subject matter surrounding rape, but nonetheless it is a movie that unites everyone. Both sweet and heartbreaking, loving and realistic, this is most definitely one of the best movies about growing up. Who wouldn't want a father like Atticus Finch? A man who stands up for what's right and isn't afraid to lose. It's just as important as it is incredible. Hits many cords and also changes you a bit.
And to people who haven't seen it, prepare yourself to lose it when you finally meet Boo Radley, the town boogyman. It goes down as one of the most moving scenes in movie

Stand by Me
Well, technically, this is the only R rated movie that fits in the category of personal favorite films, but still its a movie that is all about growing up and coming of age. Like Mockingbird, Stand by Me portrays life as a kid the way life as a kid is. Hard, and sometimes unfair, but also fun and full of adventure. We have the boy who is convinced that he will never receive the love his older brother who was killed got, one who is trying to prove that he isn't a bad kid, he just comes from a bad background as well as the movie's two other kids, kids who see the youthful side of life. It has the moving message of friendship, something that is important to children. So do not miss this one.
Oh, and a side note: When you watch Y Tu Mama Tambien, it's pretty much Stand by Me, only with sex, drugs and jerking off beside the pool. But hey, it's a coming of age movie about friendship!

A Christmas Story

Ok, I need to move onto a comedy or else I'll cry hysterically at my keyboard. Which no blogger likes, trust me. If you haven't seen this Christmas gem, then you must live in a cave or have a damn good explanation for why you haven't seen such a funny movie. And believe me, it is freaking Hilarious. From the boyhood obsession with a toy gun to the bully with yellow eyes(I swear!) to the most erotic household item. Ever. It's Christmas, the way it actually is.

The Nightmare Before Christmas

I will say that this movie scared the crap out of me when it came out, but now it has become an amazing movie that just brings out the kid in me. I can watch it and love it no matter what holiday, Christmas or Halloween it works either way. And trust me, you'll stare in wonder at the magnificent clay mation and the visual effects that truly make this one a classic Gothic kids movie.

Spirited Away
And finally, one of my more recent favorite movies, Spirited Away simply blows me away every time I see it. From its lush visuals to its breathtaking story about witches, spirits a
nd all things mystical and magical. Plus, it has an incredible story that is both reminiscent to Oz and Alice in Wonderland. It's not only a fine piece of animation, but also a film that just blows you away. I'm positive it will be a movie I show to my kids when I do marry and have them. It'll just astound them and it is destined to be a classic.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Reality TV Bites

Ok, so here is my situation:
Last Saturday, while watching my sister, who gets bored fast, I flipped on the TV in hopes of finding something half decent on. To my surprise(Scratch that, As I predicted) there was nothing to watch on TV. Finding something decent in this chaotic mess of writers on strike and channels fighting to keep their shows on the air. And how do we pay them back?
By creating annoying and fake reality shows.
The reality show was a revolutionary idea, which was given birth during the first writer's strike. However, when it comes down to class, reality TV must have been the result of a drunken one night stand in the backseat of a cheap, nacho cheese smelling car. And nine months later, once given birth to, reality TV seemed like a promising child. a child that would show human behavior at its finest, it would mirror life as we know it. The first, if you can remember or have read about, was The Real World, a show involving diverse people put into a house, living together. Needless to say, such a show appealed to a wide audience. In fact, season 2 involved one young man, Pedro, a gay, HIV+ guy who died not long after or before the season ended. and if Pedro had lived, he might just be appalled at the horrific sight of reality TV, as well as The Real World as a whole. The Real World now has become a racist, trashy show about totally uncharismatic people who you could smack upside the head without having to be asked.
And that's not all.
One of reality TV's most popular ideas has been the reality dating show. Blind Date, The Bachelor, Joe Millionaire, to name a few. And then there are others that are forgotten like a loud night and mass portions of alcohol(I'm looking at you, reality TV's mother), like The Littlest Groom, which appealed to...nobody.
Reality TV also is trying to be edgy when coming up with new bland material, so what is edgier then a show involving real live, actual gay men?! Gay men pretending to be straight to confuse the woman on the show, or vice versa, is quite an interesting concept. If by interesting you mean pointless and somewhat homophobic. Playing it Straight, is the only one that comes to mind. That and Boy Meets Boy. But I mean, let's face it, if you are going to create a reality show with gay men, they have to be Liza Minnelli worshiping, lisping fashionistas, or else, how can you tell they're gay? Hey, don't criticize me, this is what the networks are thinking. It kind of breaks my heart.
But gay men and my heart aside(But don't shove that too far I'll return to it), all of the reality shows I've mentioned so far cannot even hold a candle to what show was on that very night I just so happened to flip through channels.
A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila.
If you are like any sensible person, you probably have no idea who the hell Tila Tequila is, and it won't help or hinder your life if you do or not. The point is she has her own reality show, and you don't. Only her show is different because she likes both guys...and girls! Whoa! And because of that, what better way to exploit your bisexuality then to star on a reality show?!
Seriously, watching this reduce my brains to cheese whiz. How vein and vapid do you have to be to get a reality show now? Tila isn't particularly attractive, she can't sing, she isn't an actress or a veteran of some TV show from the 80's-90's, so why is she famous enough to have a dating show? Just because she has a huge number of friends on Myspace? Really, is that it?! I'm missing Pushing Daisies for this?!
However, while watching this circus of missing dignity, I did manage to cop an enormous feel for these people. A feeling of pity, of sheer sorrow, and hate for that annoying Starletard Tila Tequila. Here she is talking people who have lives beyond the realm of complete stupidity, and then giving lap dances to their grandmothers. One girl had a family of mentally challenged people who like her were adopted by a caring young couple who love every creature and thinks everyone's special. And while it was schlocky, Tila was pretty much using the girl, and they were on a dating show. The girl who really loved Tila was booted off the next episode. Classy?
But what really gets my goat is the fact that when on a reality TV show, being Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Trans gendered, Etc, that sole aspect about yourself makes you popular. Your sexuality is exploited to the point where you kind of feel ashamed for yourself and your personality. There is more to it then just faux lesbian tonsil hockey, and if people who subject themselves can't see it, then maybe they do deserve to watch such utter tripe if all they will do is look at people different then them as animals or creatures. Their brains have melted into oblivion already, why turn back now? What's the use?
On VH1, the other channel that has found their niche market in stupidity in lieu of actual music, was showing another reality show, of which everyone on it was unlikable and pathetic. And I apologize if you don't know/care about who the hell these people are, I just rant and report what I see, nothing I can do about it.
I Love New York.
For those same people who have lives, I will explain who New York is. New York,(Tiffany is her real name) was a contestant on Flavor of Love both seasons, where Flavor Flav rose back into/out of carrier suicide(Depends on who you ask) and looked for love. He is both annoying, and stupid, and ultimately embarrassing himself when going on dates with girls plucked fresh like chickens out of Trailer Homes. And Tiffany is remembered for the sole purpose of being annoying bitch who was a loud mouth drama queen that you both couldn't stand and couldn't help but notice her resemblance to Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction. And if you haven't seen the show, believe me, she is catty. Plus, she has more make up on then a Joan Crawford impersonator and looks like a Muppet.
So here I am, looking at these annoying women and thinking to myself, "Can you honestly look at yourself in the mirror without feeling the slightest ounce of shame? Here you are, acting like a gaudy annoyance while people are living lives they've earned. Doctors are saving lives, curing diseases, and here you are, gyrating on a pole at a Fire House, or spitting on another contestant or having an unintelligible screaming match full of beeps and hollers. Do you honestly want to be remembered as that one person who was booted off of that one show and made to look like an ass for people's entertainment? For being a has-been looking for a comeback?"
So, until this writer's strike is settled, I'll be crying in a corner, pondering the final moments of the last Pushing Daisies episode and hoping that when the hurly burly is done that I come out a better man, a man who doesn't pity himself or feel degraded in any way. But until then, I'll just have to witness such monstrous people controlling TV and wait and wonder when it'll end.
Not soon enough.