Sunday, September 28, 2008

Recap: 28 September 2008

My suspicion that Eagle Eye would take the audience away from Lakeview Terrace turned out to be unfounded. The big surprise this weekend was Christian drama Fireproof, starring Kirk Cameron, which has already made 13 times its budget. I think we can chalk this one up to a pretty brilliant marketing strategy.

This week's Top 10
  1. Eagle Eye ($29.2 million)
  2. Nights in Rodanthe ($13.6 million)
  3. Lakeview Terrace ($7 million)
  4. Fireproof ($6.5 million)
  5. Burn After Reading ($6.2 million)
  6. Igor ($5.5 million)
  7. Righteous Kill ($3.803 million)
  8. My Best Friend’s Girl ($3.8 million)
  9. Miracle at St. Anna ($3.5 million)
  10. Tyler Perry’s the Family That Preys ($3.2 million)
What I Watched
  • The Great McGinty (3 stars): See full review here.
  • Cinema Paradiso (3 stars): Netflix sent me the 170-minute director's cut of this 1988 Oscar-winner for Best Foreign Language film, and I think this is the exception to the rule that director's cuts are better than theatrical releases. Having not seen the theatrical, I obviously can't compare, but this movie seemed to go on forever. That being said, it was a sweet story, well-acted and all that jazz, but I was expecting more.
  • Eagle Eye (2 ½ stars): I always have trouble rating movies that are obviously not very good but during which I still had a good time. This movie falls into that category. There are huge plot holes, and the script could have used more humor, but I was still entertained. Shia LaBoeuf was better than I expected; I'd anticipated feeling like he was miscast, but he pulled off the character well enough. Still, I miss the days of Louis Stevens when he got to showcase his talent for comedy.
  • Then She Found Me (3 ½ stars): Helen Hunt's directorial debut, this movie explores a woman's life as she deals with divorce, meeting her birth mother, a new relationship, and her desire to get pregnant at age 39. The cast as a whole is equal parts funny and touching, but Colin Firth is, as usual, rather brilliant. Bette Midler also shines as Helen Hunt's birth mother. The story suffers a little because of its insistence on tackling so many issues, but all in all it's a solid little movie that deserved better distribution than it got.
  • Citizen Kane (3 ½ stars): See full review here.

Netflix Project: Citizen Kane (1941)

Spoilers ahead. Beware.

The default favorite movie of critics everywhere, Citizen Kane stars Orson Welles in the title role as a famous newspaper baron. When he utters a single word, "Rosebud..." with his dying breath, a reporter is assigned the task of finding out what the heck he meant.

What follows is a stunningly filmed, wonderfully acted journey through the life of Kane. The use of light and silhouette is striking, the sets are gorgeous, and the make-up is fantastic. It's easy to see why Citizen Kane is hailed as such a technical pioneer in the industry.

That being said, I wasn't blown away by the story. I was impressed by just about everything except it, in fact. The script, penned by Welles and Herman J. Mankiewicz, is greatly aided by Welles' direction. It's not bad; it's not even weak. It's perfectly solid. But it's just not... well, spectacular. When the most remembered line from your movie is a single word, it seems perhaps an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay might be a win in the wrong category. Amazingly, it lost out in the eight other categories in which it was nominated, including Best Actor, Best Film and Best Cinematography (Black & White).

Nonetheless, it's certainly a film worth watching for anyone interested in film, even if your only motivation is to have an opinion on it when it inevitably comes up in movie buff conversation.

Favorite line: "Rosebud. Dead or Alive. It'll probably turn out to be a very simple thing."

EDIT: I forgot to mention that my first knowledge of the whole Rosebud legend came from this episode of The Real Ghostbusters. I'm equally amused and annoyed by this. On one hand, I appreciate the somewhat clever tribute. On the other, I've known since the age of 8 or 9 that Rosebud is simply a sled, which kind of ruins the mystique.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Box Office Predictions: 26 September 2008

Opening today, we have thriller Eagle Eye, Spike Lee's war drama Miracle at St. Anna, and sapfest Nights in Rodanthe.

Eagle Eye should have no problem taking the top spot. Miracle at St. Anna is only playing in 1,100 theatres, so it's doubtful it'll break the Top 3.

Official Predictions
1. Eagle Eye
2. Nights in Rodanthe
3. Burn After Reading

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Netflix Project: The Great McGinty (1940)

Spoilers ahead. Beware.

Penned and directed by Preston Sturges, The Great McGinty tells the story of a man who, after impressing a mob boss with his audacity and charm, is set up as a puppet mayor. All goes well until he falls in love with his politically-arranged wife, who encourages him to be a better man.

Let's start with the bad.

The story is framed by scenes in which McGinty, now a bartender, tells his story to a drunk patron and a dancer. Whether or not this enhances or takes away from the story is open to interpretation. Personally, I was a fan of the technique but not the execution. When done well, it can enhance the poignancy of a story. Unfortunately, all it seemed to do here was give away the ending.

Overall, I was left unsatisfied because McGinty's arc didn't stick. We see him start as a bum, move to a bum in a suit, and finally (via the love and encouragement of his wife) become a man who deserves to wear that suit. Right as he's finally become the man he should be, he's carted off to prison for prior nefarious deeds. He escapes with the mob boss, moves to a foreign country, and does more or less nothing with his life despite this transformation he supposedly had. The last scene was humorous, but it was also hollow.

And now for the good. The movie had a surprisingly modern feel to it. Most classic films I've seen feel classic. They meander, and the dialog feels sluggish somehow. This didn't seem to be the case with McGinty. I can't quite put my finger on what exactly the difference is. Without actually taking out a stopwatch and doing some comparison, I'd venture that the typical dialog length in McGinty was shorter than the average film in the '30s and '40s. There was more back-and-forth than soliloquy, and I think that must have added to the modern feel.

There was also a particularly defined shift in the tone of McGinty's dialog from the beginning to the middle and to the end. In the beginning, McGinty as the bum speaks with a lot of slang and a slight drawl. He strikes a happy medium between educated and down on his luck.

As the puppet mayor, his drawl increases and his speech becomes less concerned with appearing educated, which, of course, is kind of the opposite of what you'd expect for a man going from bum to mayor. At first it bothered me. But when I gave it some thought, what it really represented is McGinty shutting off a part of himself that cared what other people thought of him. To do what he was doing (which was making money for the wrong people and ignoring the plight of his constituents), he had to shut off a part of himself that cared about anything. His lack of careful speech represents this.

Once he falls in love with Catherine, the woman he married for purely political reasons, he starts to care again. Before he's carted off to prison, he's carrying himself like a governor should. He speaks carefully, with obvious thought behind what he's saying. When we see him as bartender, he's reverted back to his original happy medium.

The shift was clever, though whether via the writing or the delivery, at times it was overdone. Nonetheless, it gives me food for thought when watching my own characters go through an arc.

Overall, I wasn't blown away, but it was a solid film. There aren't many films of that era where I think a remake would improve the material, but I think this story is ripe for an update.

Favorite line: "Do you want to go upstairs and have your fortune told?"

Netflix Project: Oscar Winners for Best Original Screenplay

Despite (because of) the lack of suggestions for a Netflix movie project, I've come up with one of my own. I've decided to work my way through the list of Oscar winners for Best Original Screenplay since 1940.

Why 1940? Mostly because that's where the Wikipedia entry starts. The history of the award is a little muddled, with name changes, combinations and divisions with other awards, etc. I needed a logical starting point, and Wikipedia chose for me, so there you have it.

In case you're curious, here's the list from which I'm working:
1940: The Great McGinty (Preston Sturges)
1941: Citizen Kane (Herman Mankiewicz, Orson Welles)
1942: Woman of the Year (Michael Kanin, Ring Lardner, Jr.)
1943: Princess O'Rourke (Norman Krasna)
1944: Wilson (Lamar Trotti)
1945: Marie-Louise (Richard Schweizer)
1946: The Seventh Veil (Muriel Box, Sydney Box)
1947: The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer (Sydney Sheldon)
1949: Battleground (Robert Pirosh)
1950: Sunset Boulevard (Charles Brackett, D.M. Marshman, Jr., Billy Wilder)
1951: An American in Paris (Alan Jay Lerner)
1952: The Lavender Hill Mob (T.E.B. Clarke)
1953: Titanic (Charles Brackett, Richard Breen, Walter Reisch)
1954: On the Waterfront (Budd Schulberg)
1955: Interrupted Melody (Sonya Levien, William Ludwig)
1956: The Red Balloon (Albert Lamorisse)
1957: Designing Woman (George Wells)
1958: The Defiant Ones (Nathan E. Douglas, Harold Jacob Smith)
1959: Pillow Talk (Clarence Greene, Maurice Richlin, Russell Rouse, Stanley Shapiro)
1960: The Apartment (I.A.L. Diamond, Billy Wilder)
1961: Splendor in the Grass (William Inge)
1962: Divorce, Italian Style (Ennio de Concini, Pietro Germi, Alfredo Giannetti)
1963: How the West Was Won (James Webb)
1964: Father Goose (Peter Stone, Frank Tarloff)
1965: Darling (Frederic Raphael)
1966: A Man and a Woman (Claude Lelouch [story]; Claude Lelouch, Pierre Uytterhoeven [screenplay])
1967: Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (William Rose)
1968: The Producers (Mel Brooks)
1969: Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid (William Goldman)
1970: Patton (Francis Ford Coppola, Edmund H. North)
1971: The Hospital (Paddy Chayefsky)
1972: The Candidate (Jerry Larner)
1973: The Sting (David S. Ward)
1974: Chinatown (Robert Towne)
1975: Dog Day Afternoon (Frank Pierson)
1976: Network (Paddy Chayefsky)
1977: Annie Hall (Woody Allen, Marshall Brickman)
1978: Coming Home (Robert C. Jones, Waldo Salt [screenplay]; Nancy Dowd [story])
1979: Breaking Away (Steve Tesich)
1980: Melvin and Howard (Bo Goldman)
1981: Chariots of Fire (Colin Welland)
1982: Gandhi (John Briley)
1983: Tender Mercies (Horton Foote)
1984: Places in the Heart (Robert Benton)
1985: Witness (William Kelley, Earl Wallace [screenplay]; William Kelley, Pamela Wallace, Earl Wallace [story])
1986: Hannah and Her Sisters (Woody Allen)
1987: Moonstruck (John Patrick Shanley)
1988: Rain Man (Ronald Bass, Barry Morrow)
1989: Dead Poets Society (Tom Schulman)
1990: Ghost (Bruce Joel Rubin)
1991: Thelma and Louise (Callie Khouri)
1992: The Crying Game (Neil Jordan)
1993: The Piano (Jane Campion)
1994: Pulp Fiction (Quentin Tarantino [story and screenplay] and Roger Avary [story])
1995: The Usual Suspects (Christopher McQuarrie)
1996: Fargo (Ethan and Joel Coen)
1997: Good Will Hunting (Ben Affleck, Matt Damon)
1998: Shakespeare in Love (Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard)
1999: American Beauty (Alan Ball)
2000: Almost Famous (Cameron Crowe)
2001: Gosford Park (Julian Fellowes)
2002: Talk to Her/Habla con Ella (Pedro Almodóvar)
2003: Lost in Translation (Sofia Coppola)
2004: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Charlie Kaufman, Michel Gondry, and Pierre Bismuth)
2005: Crash (Paul Haggis and Bobby Moresco)
2006: Little Miss Sunshine (Michael Arndt)
2007: Juno (Diablo Cody)

I'm going to try to get through at least one of these a week, and I'm also going to try to post some sort of analysis of each film. I figure this will force me to actively analyze these movies as opposed to just sitting back and watching them without any critical thought. Should be a good academic experience, and hopefully I'll be able to use some of what I learn to improve my own writing.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Recap: 22 September 2008

Well, I wasn't too horribly far off. I pegged the top 3, just not in the right order.
  1. Lakeview Terrace ($15.6 million)
  2. Burn After Reading ($11.3 million)
  3. My Best Friend's Girl ($8.3 million)
  4. Igor ($8.0 million)
  5. Righteous Kill ($7.7 million)
  6. The Family That Preys ($7.5 million)
  7. The Women ($5.3 million)
  8. Ghost Town ($5.2 million)
  9. The Dark Knight ($3.0 million)
  10. The House Bunny ($2.8 million)
What I Watched:
  • Ghost Town (3 stars): The first act of the movie was pretty slow. We get it: Ricky Gervais' character is unlikeable. Let's move on. The real fun comes when he has to start actually interacting with people instead of just avoiding them.
  • Amélie (4 stars): I saw this several years ago and was unimpressed, which leads me to believe I've become increasingly quirky over the years. Amélie is delightfully whimsical.
  • Hedwig & the Angry Inch (4 stars): I feel well-versed in the world of rock movies now that I've seen Almost Famous, Spinal Tap and Hedwig. Hedwig might be the most well-rounded of the three in the way it blends sentiment and satire. And it had the best music, too.
In Other News
  • I finished what I'm calling my gamma draft of MUTE this weekend. Cheers to me.
  • I'm in the midst of planning my 2008 NaNoWriMo novel, nicknamed Fairytale Redux. I attended my first pre-NaNo KC write-in last night. I think my level of planning might be slightly anal-retentive compared to the other WriMos there. Which, if I'm being honest, is really no surprise.
  • Speaking of NaNoWriMo, the site is getting a makeover for its 10th anniversary. When it relaunches on Oct. 1, my campaign to ensnare new participants will intensify. Be prepared.
  • I'm taking suggestions for a Netflix project, in which I explore the filmography of a screenwriter, director or actor. So, suggest away.
  • I'm going to start doing this with all my Netflix flaps (thank you, Lifehacker).

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Box Office Predictions: 19 September 2008

We've got four more wide releases this week: Lakeview Terrace (a thriller starring Samuel L. Jackson), rom-com My Best Friend's Girl, animated flick Igor, and finally Ghost Town, starring the always hilariously acerbic Ricky Gervais.

Lakeview Terrace has the magical PG-13 rating, but My Best Friend's Girl is opening in more theatres. They also have to compete with last week's No. 1, Burn After Reading. Ghost Town is rated 78 percent fresh as I write this, but it's only opening in 1400 theatres, so it's doubtful it'll crack the Top 3. And finally, I think Igor would have done better with an October release. It's a tough week, but here goes.

Official Predictions
1. My Best Friend's Girl
2. Lakeview Terrace
3. Burn After Reading

Something tells me I might miss horribly this week... Oh well.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Recap: 14 September 2008

I want you all to know that it took every ounce of my will power not to start this post off by saying the Coens "burned up the box office" this weekend. Here's the top 10:
  1. Burn After Reading ($19.4 million)
  2. Tyler Perry’s The Family that Preys ($18.0 million)
  3. Righteous Kill ($16.5 million)
  4. The Women ($10.1 million)
  5. The House Bunny ($4.3 million)
  6. Tropic Thunder ($4.2 million)
  7. The Dark Knight ($4.0 million)
  8. Bangkok Dangerous ($2.4 million)
  9. Traitor ($2.1 million)
  10. Death Race ($2.0 million)
What I Watched:
  • Burn After Reading (3½ stars): Unapologetically and hilariously pointless. If you like the Coen Brothers, it's definitely worth checking out.
  • Angel-A (3½ stars): A French-language film from Luc Besson, this film is one of the most aesthetically striking I've seen in a while. It's shot completely in black & white with Paris as its backdrop, if that says anything at all. It's a touching story: funny, poignant and sweet. Its ending takes away from the impact of the story a bit, but all in all, it's a solid and beautiful piece of work.
  • Meet Bill (3½ stars): Any synopsis I've run through my head comes out sounding like some sort of after-school special, which doesn't do the movie justice. Yes, it's a coming of age story; yes, there's a middle-aged schlub mentoring a wild-child prep school teen; yes, they change each other for the better. BUT this movie is better than that. It's not sappy, and it's not even necessarily heart-warming so much as it simply affirms the fact that life is what you make of it even if you don't know what the hell you're doing.

What I Read:
I fulfilled my sisterly duties by finishing Peter Pan this week. I didn't necessarily agree with its themes, but I appreciated the story nonetheless. While the story is essentially the same as the Disney-fied versions I've seen over the years, the tone is entirely different. I'd almost peg it as cynical much of the time.

Having finished that, I felt the need to return to something whimsical, so I've picked back up my Chronicles of Narnia tome to read The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.

What I Wrote:
This weekend I've been working feverishly on MUTE in an attempt to finish my gamma draft by Tuesday in time for discussion at a write-in. I spent Saturday ripping apart some scenes, and I spent Sunday putting them back together. I'm about halfway through, so hopefully tomorrow will prove similarly productive.

Additionally, I'm spending more and more time planning Fairytale Redux for NaNoWriMo 2008, which is probably why I felt the need to move onto some more whimsical reading material. I was recently introduced to a character who might knock MUTE's Sieg off his pedestal as my favorite character I've written. But we'll see. The story's turning out to be fairly epic, but I'm trying to hold off on feeling overwhelmed until November when I'll have thousands of other writers with whom to commiserate.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Box Office Predictions: 12 September 2008

We've made it through the doldrums, folks. This weekend brings four wide releases with Righteous Kill (reteaming DeNiro and Pacino), Tyler Perry's The Family That Preys, token chick-flick The Women, and the Coen brothers' Burn After Reading.

I think it'll be a pretty tight race this weekend. I've seen more marketing for Burn After Reading, though, so I think it'll just barely edge out Righteous Kill for the No. 1 spot. The No. 3 spot similarly could go to either The Women or The Family That Preys. Tough calls, but it's a good problem to have after the past three or four weekends.

Official Predictions
1. Burn After Reading
2. Righteous Kill
3. The Women

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

My Life in Snapshots

Came across a fun meme-ish type thing today over at Janet's blog and thought I'd join in. Above is my life in keyword-defined pictures according to the questions below. Here's the how-to:

The Concept
1. Type your answer to each of the questions below into Flickr Search.
2. Using only the first page of results, and pick one image.
3. Copy and paste each of the URLs for the images into Big Huge Lab’s Mosaic Maker to create a mosaic of the picture answers.

The Questions
1. What is your first name?
2. What is your favorite food? right now?
3. What high school did you go to?
4. What is your favorite color?
5. Who is your celebrity crush?
6. What is your favorite drink?
7. What is your dream vacation?
8. What is your favorite dessert?
9. What do you want to be when you grow up?
10. What do you love most in life?
11. What is one word that describes you?
12. What is your flickr name?

It's a fun way to spend 15 minutes, and it yields something pretty, which is never a bad thing. Have fun!

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Two Types of Research

A post from a fellow writer on research got me to thinking about, well, research. Since I promised more content this week, I truncated the huge comment I was writing on her blog and figured I'd do my own post about it.

What I've come to conclude is that there are two types of research: fact-based and what I've decided to call knowledge-based.

Fact-based research is something you can look up with a Google or Wikipedia search. To use an example from my current project, which is more common: a tequila shot plus lime or a tequila shot plus lemon?¹ The most research of this kind I ever had to do was for Tea. And boy did I do a ton of it. One of my friends who was kind enough to read that script is now terrified to accept any sort of beverage from me because of it, in fact. This sort of research is nearly always project-specific.

Knowledge-based research requires study. It's not just a collection of facts but a synthesis of ideas. It's "I need to study Greek mythology" instead of "What were the twelve labors of Hercules?"² The key difference here is that, while often initiated by a specific project, this research is not necessarily project-specific. Knowledge-based research often teaches us how to think in a new way. It allows us to make connections we might not have been able to see before. It provides depth to our work that mere facts cannot.

It's very easy to get caught up in fact-based research. It's a great way to procrastinate while still feeling productive. With all of the research I did for Tea, I probably only used a quarter of it in the actual screenplay. Attention to detail is important, but we also get the benefit of a little dramatic license most of the time. There are some exceptions to this rule, but generally don't be afraid to cut yourself a little slack on naming that part of the castle just right.³ Sometimes it's easier just to describe what you're trying to talk about rather than spending six hours finding the correct name for it. Chances are the description will mean more to your audience than the word will anyway.

As for knowledge-based research, I'm not sure a person can do enough of this. One of the first pieces of advice given to most writers is to read, read and read some more. Any time you read a book or watch a movie (or even read news articles and commentary), you're increasing your knowledge on how to tell a story. Any time you tackle a subject beyond just the mere facts, you're changing how your brain synthesizes material. And that will help you on your current, past and future projects. Beyond that, there's a good chance it'll help you outside of your writing life as well.

So, while fact-based research is obviously necessary and important, knowledge-based research has a much farther-reaching effect. Make sure you're making time for both.

¹ Google says lemon.

² Wiki says, "Slay the lion, slay the hydra, capture the stag, capture the boar, clean the stables, slay the birds, capture the bull, steal the mares, obtain the girdle, obtain the cattle, steal the apples, and capture Cerberus."

³ Glossary of Castle & Church Terms

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Blogging and Other Failures (aka Recap: 7 September 2008)

So, I've kind of been slacking on blogging lately. It's not like my content here is ever all that amazing, but still, I try to keep up with it usually. I have three excuses.

1. August and early Sept. movies sucked for the most part (as evidenced by the fact that this past weekend was the slowest movie weekend in five years). Sure, there were a few bright spots (Tropic Thunder; Bottle Shock, which only made it to limited release; some might argue Pineapple Express, though I would not), but all in all it's been a pretty dismal five or six weeks.

2. I have been swamped at work. Horribly, soul-suckingly, terrifyingly swamped. On Friday, I worked 11.5 hours and ended in the same place I started, if that's any indication. Sadly, the swamp does not include scanning projects at the moment, which means no movie-watching for me. So, on top of seeing next to nothing at the theatre, I hardly watched anything on DVD either. I've had the same three Netflix DVDs for an embarrasingly long time because I just haven't had the energy post-work to commit to two hours of concentration. I usually sneak in blog posts while I'm at work, too, but the workload simply hasn't allowed that recently.

3. I haven't been writing. I seem to blog more when I'm in the midst of a writing project, and I'm currently awaiting feedback on my beta draft of MUTE. I should be getting back into editing on that this week, but I don't have another writing project scheduled until Nov. 1. However, once I've finished up MUTE, I'll be able to focus completely on planning my 2008 NaNo novel, which will hopefully breed some ideas for blog posts.

So those are my excuses. Not good ones, really, but that's life. That being said, I did get my Netflix queue moving again this weekend, though, with my viewing of The Last King of Scotland (4 stars) and Children of Men (4 stars). Both lived up to the hype and were excellent. I'd been fearing LAST KING would be rather boring, but it actually zipped along quite well, and James McAvoy had me glued to the screen. How did he not get nominated for an Oscar for his performance? Crazy Academy. I mean, Forest Whitaker was great and his Oscar was deserved, but McAvoy really carried the film in my opinion.

Oh, and in case you're curious how the worst movie weekend in five years was divided up, here you go.
  1. Bangkok Dangerous ($7.8 million)
  2. Tropic Thunder ($7.5 million)
  3. The House Bunny ($5.9 million)
  4. The Dark Knight ($5.7 million)
  5. Traitor ($4.7 million)
  6. Babylon A.D. ($4 million)
  7. Death Race ($3.6 million)
  8. Disaster Movie ($3.3 million)
  9. Mamma Mia ($2.7 million)
  10. Pineapple Express ($2.4 million)
To put that in perspective, The Dark Knight made $155.3 million on its opening weekend. This weekend's Top 10 made a combined $47.6 million, which is about 30.6 percent of TDK's take. Ouch.

Monday, September 01, 2008

My Top Seven of 2008: January through August

The summer movie season is officially over. Soon, the studios will begin rolling out the Oscar bait, which will hopefully lift us out of the doldrums of the past few weeks (and the next couple, come to think of it). It seems an appropriate time to look back at the movies I've enjoyed most in the first half of the year.

Now, I want to note that these may not be the best movies, critically speaking, but they were the ones I recall the most fondly, which perhaps means more in the long run. Here are my Top 7.

The Dark Knight
This one kind of had to go on by default. Honestly, I often have trouble remembering exactly what it was that I loved so much about this movie, but I do remember what went through my mind as the credits began to roll: "That was f***ing amazing."



I'm a sucker for fairy tales, and this is about as whimsical as they come. It's always refreshing to see something slightly outside the norm in theatres, and this fit the bill quite nicely.


Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day

This slipped under most people's radars it seems, which is surprising considering it stars the always-impressive Frances McDormand and always-delightful Amy Adams. Nonetheless, it's a truly charming story, refreshing for its takes on female friendship, beauty, the importance of history, and—of course—love.


The X-Files: I Want to Believe
I think I've waxed poetic enough about my love for The X-Files, so I'll spare a further rehash. Despite the fact that the second feature outing was far from perfect, I still enjoyed the characters and the themes immensely.


Mamma Mia!

I must admit, I've changed my tune (har, har) pretty dramatically on this one. I still hold that my original opinion was valid, but I just don't care anymore. The movie and the music won me over. So much so that my sister and I (me, notoriously shy when it comes to singing in front of an audience) happily belted out every single song loudly and with vim at the sing-along showing this past Friday.



Wonderful, wonderful movie. My only 5-star rating so far this year. As much as people raved about The Dark Knight, it doesn't hold a candle to Wall-E when it comes to heart.


The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian

I'm not sure why this movie struck such a chord with me. Some out there might suspect it has something to do with Mr. Barnes, but, while I certainly enjoyed that aspect of the movie, it takes a lot more to trigger such a strong reaction. Perhaps it's that I've been hankering for a good epic fantasy film in the vein of The Lord of The Rings for a while. And while Caspian doesn't measure up to LOTR in scale or depth, the story had an earnestness and, to use the term again, heart that I didn't see very often in other summer fare. And that was enough to get me to the theatre of my own accord three times as well as to cement it as my No. 1 pick so far this year.