Wednesday, January 7, 2009

TV, Movies and Books

TV, movies and books. These three things help me pass the time. I've decided to keep a list (on the right side of my blog) of the books I read this year, as well as the movies I see for the first time. In my livejournal, I often comment on the things I've been watching or the books I've been reading, but I decided to add a weekly or bi-weekly review of these things here at Resolution Road.

I generally watch my movies at home via Netflix or on TV. My husband and I also enjoy date nights at the drive-ins, but it's not often we go out to an actual theater. This Christmas we got a handful of movie passes, so I'll get to see more movies on the big screen this year.

Bedtime Stories (on the big screen)

When I first saw a preview for
Bedtime Stories while watching The Secret Life of Bees in the theater, I knew I would love this movie. I'm a huge Adam Sandler fan and the combination of one of my favorite actors in a movie where bedtime stories come to life and it rains gumballs, all done with Disney special effects, just seemed like a home run to me. Then, like I often do, I started reading the critic's reviews for the film. They weren't very good. I lowered my expectations for the film, but still knew I wanted to see it on the big screen. I was disappointed with Don't Mess with the Zohan and I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, so I was preparing myself, just in case.

The critics got it wrong with
Bedtime Stories. Sure, the plot is tracing-paper thin, but who goes into an Adam Sandler flick expecting a great saga? I don't. Bedtime Stories is laugh-out-loud funny, and the kind of film kids and adults alike can enjoy. The basic premise is that Skeeter, played by Sandler, has been raised in the hotel business and knows everything there is to know about hotels. His problem is that he's a lowly maintenance man and his boss fails to see his potential until one day Skeeter gives the boss some helpful advice, and then Skeeter has a chance to manage a new hotel, but he must compete against the stuck-up, preppy boy who's dating the boss's daughter, a Paris Hilton type.

While Skeeter tries to come up with a great idea for a new hotel, he is stuck watching his niece and nephew while their mom, played by
Courtney Cox, tries to find a new job because the school she works at is being shut down. To get the munchkids to bed early, Skeeter tells them bedtime stories, which start coming true. Skeeter tries to manipulate the stories to control the future, but of course, there's always a twist in the real-life version. Keri Russel plays a forgettable role as the kid's "aunt" and eventually, the predictable love interest of Sandler. Russell Brand plays Skeeter's best friend and he's as kooky and funny in this film as he is in Forgetting Sarah Marshall (just on a smaller scale). It's a Disney movie, so you can probably predict the happy ending.

What I liked about this film was that it's funny. It had the whole theater laughing and the special effects are Disney-great. The kids have been raised on wheatgrass and make "Save our School" signs for fun. Uncle Skeeter introduces them into all things junk food and TV with the help of Brand's character. It's very amusing. The two kids are pretty cute, too. The bug-eyed guinea pig aptly named "Bugsy" also adds laughs. There's a giant, gross booger monster and Skeeter loses the ability to talk coherent English. It's silly and childish, but it made me laugh and that's all I wanted from this film. With
Bedtime Stories, Sandler proves he can make us laugh without being crass, even in a PG Disney Film.

Rendition (via Netflix at home)

Rendition is the story of an Egyptian-born chemist, Anwar El-Ibrahimi (Omar Metwally), who's on his way home to America, where he's lived since he was 17, but finds himself being flown to some anonymous country to be "interrogated" because he's suspected of being a terrorist who has aided in the making of more sophisticated suicide bombs. This is the practice known as rendition. The United States reserves the right to fly any suspected terrorist anywhere outside the U.S. to keep him or her for interrogation, sidestepping the American judicial process. No Miranda Rights, no lawyer, no phone call, but lots of torture.

Anwar is linked to the terrorist attacks because his cell phone received calls that may or may not have come from a known terrorist.
Reese Witherspoon plays the man's wife and mother of his children who is desperately seeking answers as to what's happened to her husband. Jake Gyllenhaal is the straight-laced CIA guy overseeing the interrogation. It's his first torture because the man who was supposed to oversee it was killed by the suicide bomb that Anwar is suspected of helping make. Meryll Streep plays the head of U.S. Intelligence. She's safe in the United States, far away from the actual torture. All she cares about is American safety. She has no sympathy for Anwar or his desperate, and also very pregnant, wife.

This is a movie with a story within a story. The target of the bomb was the powerful Abisi, the man who's in charge of Anwar's torture. Abisi's daughter can't stand living with her family, so she runs away to live with her boyfriend, a militant Islamic, but the daughter doesn't know her boyfriend's militant side or what he plans to do...

The movie follows both stories simultaneously, and also very slowly. The movie can lose you if you're not dedicated to seeing it through to the end. The movie is a bit of a mess at first, but it starts to come together in the middle, and I felt the twist at the end and the conclusion made it worth my time. Rendition will leave you haunted, and it will give you something to talk about.

Television Viewing

I am ashamed to admit I was excited for the return of the horribly cheesy
The Secret Life of the American Teenager. I know I should hate this show. It's by the same lady who did 7th Heaven, and it's very much in the same vein. It came on during the summer when nothing else was on, and since it was advertised non-stop, I watched the first episode. And then the next...and the next... Some of the acting is way over the top and very bad, but the main character, the pregnant Amy played by Shailene Woodley, is well-acted. Amy gets pregnant her "first time," by the school's playboy, while at band-camp, no less. She hides her pregnancy from everyone and then finally admits it to her friends, but is too scared to tell her parents, including her mother played by 80s brat-pack teen-queen, Molly Ringwald.

Finally the news comes out, and spreads quickly. It's one of those small towns. But Amy has a boyfriend (not the child's father) who loves her and wants to marry her, never mind that they're like 15. Her friends are the school gossips. There's the goody-two shoes Christian girl Grace who is very naive, but has a good heart. Of course there's the "bad girl" Adrian who sleeps around, but is very smart, just has some self-esteem issues, probably because she never had a daddy to love her and her mom acts more like a best friend than a mother. Oh, gosh, it's predictable and ridiculous, and I'm hooked. It returned Monday night with all the main teenage characters getting fake I.D.'s so they could attend Amy's secret wedding to her boyfriend Ben. It was stupid and so far from reality, and I can't wait until next week! Monday nights before
Heroes, you know what I'll be watching.

Another one of my guilty pleasure shows has been
Rock of Love Charm School where the Bret Michaels rejects get lessons on becoming proper ladies from no other than Sharon Osbourne. The show had it's much buzzed about reunion on Sunday and it was every bit as delicious as I'd hoped. BitchyMcB***B*** Megan is noticeably drunk, says some not-so-nice words about Ozzy to Sharon and all heck breaks loose. Sharon pours a red liquid all over the scantily bikini-clad bimbo, and according to police reports and a hospital photo, also tore out part of the reality-whore's weave and scratched her up. Megan is hauled off stage by security and the Charm School girls gather round Sharon to thank her and applaud her. It was trashy reality show drama at it's best.

Scrubs came back on the air last night on its new network, ABC. It almost seemed like it was trying too hard, but it was still funny. Glad to see it back. Law & Order SVU returned from its brief break with a complex, twisting case of a kidnapped sex slave. Sweet.


I also just finished reading
1984 by George Orwell. I think most people have already read this book, and since this blog is review-heavy already, so I'll just say I enjoyed it, and I could not put the book down once the capture took place.

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