Hey Google, where’s the Gosling number?

Amirite?

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The Dark Knight’s Score Rises

1. Ryan Gosling in Crazy, Stupid, Love. (2011) with Steve Carell
2. Steve Carell in Get Smart (2008) with Anne Hathaway
3. Anne Hathaway in The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

A lot could be said about The Dark Knight Rises, but I don’t think anyone could say that it isn’t ambitious. Wrapping up one of the most successful trilogies ever, Christopher Nolan creates a third installment filled with action, social commentary and a multitude of storylines. Though the movie is sometimes muddled, by the end of the 164 minute running time, Nolan somehow sticks the landing.

I’m not going to mention Christian Bale‘s performance or Bane’s voice here because I feel like those topics are tired by now, but I wanted to mention the aspects that stood out to me. Newcomers to the franchise Anne Hathaway and Joseph Gordon-Levitt really breathe new life into the story, in particular Hathaway. Her “Catwoman” (though she is never referred to as Catwoman) is sleek, smart and one of the most engaging parts of the movie. Everyone had concerns when Hathaway was cast, but Nolan & Co. really got this casting right. Really right.

Many kudos go to Nolan for completing the trilogy his way, but at times I wished he would’ve gone a different route. The story hits a lot of the same notes as The Dark Knight (cool villain “heist” opening, and by the end of the movie the people of Gotham have to make a choice to save themselves or each other). Then we get what seems like an hour of the movie devoted to Bruce Wayne in prison and a confusing war-like Gotham City scenario, and in general it left me scratching my head.

I guess I wanted a more straightforward final chapter, but by the last 10 minutes of the movie, I didn’t really care. Everything wraps up nicely in the best possible way, with Nolan literally “passing the torch” of the franchise onto the next person. And when the music rises along with a certain character in the final shot, it truly is special. And chill-inducing. So I’ll stop complaining.

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Awkward. The Show.

1. Ryan Gosling in Blue Valentine (2010) with Michelle Williams
2. Michelle Williams in Brokeback Mountain (2005) with Kate Mara
3. Kate Mara in American Horror Story (2011) with Ashley Rickards
4. Ashley Rickards in Awkward. (2011-present)

In case you didn’t know, MTV has been on a roll lately with its original shows. With Teen Wolf, Awkward. and Skins all breaking TV ratings and amassing intense fans who blog about them on Tumblr, MTV is on its way to becoming a destination for exciting, young programming. Okay, maybe not so much with Skins. But before you judge shows like Awkward., maybe you should check out an episode first (plus, the entire first season is on MTV.com).

The show starts out as a weird situational comedy and takes a few episodes to find its footing. In the first episode, Jenna breaks her arm and in a horrible string of misunderstandings, everyone thinks she tried to commit suicide. The set up is zany, and thankfully the show becomes more of a clever high school romp (with actors who actually look like high schoolers) and a fun love triangle dramedy. And who doesn’t love a good love triangle?

Ashley Rickards, who plays Jenna (the girl between the letterman jacket and the abs above) really carries the show, and in a better world, she would get an Emmy nomination for Comedy Actress when the nominations are announced tomorrow. Or at least a Teen Choice Award? Or something? She refuses to play Jenna as mopey, as other, less intuitive young actresses might.

If you equated this show with something like Zoey 101 before this blog entry, I hope I have convinced you to give it a chance. Because it’s a truly intelligent show that refuses to go for the easy, cliche crisis-of-the-week structure. Liking this show isn’t awkward at all; in fact, it’s easy.

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The Amazing Reboot

1. Ryan Gosling in The Ides of March (2011) with Max Minghella
2. Max Minghella in The Social Network (2010) with Andrew Garfield
3. Andrew Garfield in The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)

Avoiding the obvious Emma Stone connection(s) here.

A funny thing happened while I was watching The Amazing Spider-Man this weekend: I lost all sense of time. Usually during movies I nervously check the time so I can gauge what point of the movie I’m in, but the 136 min. running time of the new Spider-Man movie felt like no time at all. The bottom line is that director Marc Webb (known for (500) Days of Summer and some Green Day music videos) creates a flat-out fun blockbuster movie. And it’s that sense of fun that the Sam Raimi films from a few years ago lacked.

Don’t get me wrong: Spider-Man 2 is one of my favorite movies. But the throw-away lines and forced humor in the earlier trilogy rang false to me. The Amazing Spider-Man has a great sense of fun that (I can only assume) evokes the comics themselves, while at the same time fleshing out the characters people love into real people. Which is hard to pull off.

The strongest point of this movie is actually its weakest as well. The webslinger’s origin story is re-told in the movie, and it takes about an hour to complete the transformation. It’s a bit sloggish, but the origin of this movie is actually more interesting than the earlier movies. And it’s the first half of the movie in which we are treated to watching the characters (and the amazing actors on display here) just interacting. It’s the scenes between Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone that are the strongest (one rooftop scene in particular), but Sally Field, Martin Sheen and Denis Leary are also a treat here.

Garfield pulls off something that Tobey Maguire never could: he makes Spider-Man another character. When Peter puts on the suit, he truly becomes another person, adding a whole new layer of complexity to the story.

I really hope this movie makes enough $$$ to warrant a sequel for Sony (I’m guessing it will), just because I can’t wait to revisit these characters and the cast. Peter Parker / Spider-Man are names that will always remain relevant, and it’s great to see Spidey on the big screen again.

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Nostromo or Prometheus?

The Alien “prequel” Prometheus just came out last weekend, but I feel like it’s already been talked to death by literally everyone online. Instead of offering up my boring take on it, let’s just connect the dots instead!

P.S. I liked it.

1. Ryan Gosling in Crazy, Stupid, Love. (2011) with Emma Stone
2. Emma Stone in Easy A (2010) with Cam Gigandet
3. Cam Gigandet in The O.C. (2005) with Logan Marshall-Green
4. Logan Marshall-Green in Prometheus (2012)

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The CW Complex

1. Ryan Gosling in Remember the Titans (2000) with Denzel Washington
2. Denzel Washington in American Gangster (2007) with Chiwetel Ejiofor
3. Chiwetel Ejiofor in Serenity (2007) with Jewel Staite
4. Jewel Staite in The L.A. Complex (2012)

My second TV discussion! And my first post from the city of Los Angeles (how appropriate).

The angsty-young-person-dramedy genre isn’t the same that it used to be. With Degrassi, The O.C., 90210, One Tree Hill, Gossip Girl and many more diluting the genre in recent years, it’s not really a surprise that The L.A. Complex debuted to the worst TV ratings ever in the U.S. this April. It doesn’t help that The CW did nothing to promote the show. Which is sad because it’s a smart, witty and entertaining new show.

Originally conceived as a Degrassi spin-off for actress Cassie Steele, the show went through several changes before its present form. The Canadian drama premiered on MuchMusic in Canada this January and follows an aspiring actress, music producer, dancer and comedian. (It really covers all of its bases in the entertainment industry.) An initial, six-episode run on The CW wrapped May 29.

Instead of devolving into a show where everyone hooks up with everyone, creator Martin Gero (who produced the hilarious YPF a few years ago) takes time to actually develop these characters’ personalities and motivations. And yeah, some of them hook up, too.

If you, like me, yearn for stories about pretty yuppies during the summer months, I have a feeling you’ll enjoy The L.A. Complex. Or just watch it to support Firefly and Serenity vet Jewel Staite. Plus – good news! The show returns (miraculously) with new episodes on The CW July 17.

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Damsels in Dance-tress

1. Ryan Gosling in The Ides of March (2011) with George Clooney
2. George Clooney in Ocean’s Eleven (2001) with Brad Pitt
3. Brad Pitt in Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005) with Adam Brody
4. Adam Brody in Damsels in Distress (2012)

 damsels

I’m not really sure if I liked the soap-filled, dance-filled Damsels in Distress, but I enjoyed the hell of out it.

Given that I haven’t seen any of director Whit Stillman‘s previous films, I am probably the least qualified person to attempt to review this thing. But I appreciate Greta Gerwig, and I wanted to see a former star of The O.C. dance, so I paid my $8.50 to see it.

Greta Gerwig is deliciously awful (in a good way) here. And I’m so excited that’s she’s poised for a breakout year, with Lola Versus and To Rome with Love on the way later in 2012. She truly dominates the film in every way. If Regina George from Mean Girls had a psychotic breakdown, she would be Violet from Damsels in Distress.

The first 30 minutes or so were a real home run for me, but then the movie goes to weird places (some good and some bad), and it devolves into a series of odd sketches and dance numbers. But it isn’t afraid to go to those places, which I guess I appreciate.

I’ll be honest: you probably won’t like this movie. You’re going to think it’s weird. But the dialogue is full of idiosyncrasies that will make you uncomfortable and chuckle in a way you’ve never felt before. At least that’s what it was for me.

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Teen Woof

1. Ryan Gosling in Crazy, Stupid, Love. (2011) with Julianne Moore
2. Julianne Moore in Next (2007) with Jessica Biel
3. Jessica Biel in 7th Heaven (1996-2006) with Tyler Hoechlin
4. Tyler Hoechlin in Teen Wolf (2011)

Welcome to my first post about a TV show!

So I’ve been busy with finals and graduation and stuff like that lately, but I somehow still found time to watch the entire first season of MTV’s “edgy” new reboot of Teen Wolf last week. The show aired last summer, and I heard it was campy and fun, so why not?

Though the writing is clunky and the special effects have the same quality as those on a Disney Channel sitcom, there are actually a lot of elements to enjoy here. The lead character, Scott (Tyler Posey), is bland and uninteresting, but several supporting characters are truly engaging. I’m speaking mostly about the hot-nerd character Lydia (Holland Roden) and jock (and posssible werewolf?) Jackson (Colton Haynes). I wish those supporting characters had more screen time.

The main problem with Teen Wolf is that it isn’t quite campy enough. Hopefully the writers will realize that this is what people want from a show like this and up the camp factor next season. Speaking of season two, which will bow June 3 after the MTV Movie Awards, it’s been given a bigger budget for special effects, so my fingers are crossed for more werewolf (non-laughable) CGI action this season.

If you’re looking for a fun summer show, you could do a lot worse than this MTV reboot. Woof.

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The Immune Avengers

1. Ryan Gosling in Crazy, Stupid, Love. (2011) with Marisa Tomei
2. Marisa Tomei in In the Bedroom (2001) with Tom Wilkinson
3. Tom Wilkinson in Batman Begins (2005) with Cillian Murphy
4. Cillian Murphy in Sunshine (2007) with Chris Evans
5. Chris Evans in The Avengers (2012)

I’m actually quite proud of this one.

I mean, I’m not a professional movie critic or anything, but I think The Avengers just might be the hardest movie to review… ever. Movies like Twilight and Saw VI or whatever number they’re on now have been called “immune to reviews” in the past, but I think Marvel’s superhero epic is truly the first movie to be completely immune to reviews. It’s going to make bank no matter what. (And it did.) But good news: it’s actually a good movie!

I’m not here to extol the virtues of Joss Whedon again, because that’s been done to death. And all the actors here (Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., The Older Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, etc.) fit into their roles with extreme ease. But why shouldn’t they? For example, Downey Jr. is playing Iron Man for the third time.

The movie is surprisingly talky, in a good way (for me, at least). I think the superhero crew spends at least an hour aboard a floating aircraft carrier (yeah, I know) fighting about what to do next. The most memorable scene for me is one where Tony Stark and Bruce Banner (ya know, Iron Man and The Hulk) are just talking at each other. Whedon‘s dialogue shines here, and Stark and Banner discuss the human condition in a really unexpected way.

Many kiddos seeing The Avengers at a matinee could get restless during some of these scenes, but don’t worry: the entire movie builds up to a climatic 30-minute battle in the streets of New York. And it’s worth it. The battle scene is also one of the best-coreographed battles captured on film, mostly for the fact that I knew exactly where everyone was and what was going on throughout the entire battle.

Because we’ve already seen Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger (presumably), Whedon and company don’t have to drag their feet through any origin stories. Instead, Whedon seems to enjoy dropping these familiar in one room and watching what happens next.

Who wants to get some shawarma?

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The Five-Year-Old Donut

1. Ryan Gosling in The Ides of March (2011) with George Clooney
2. George Clooney in Ocean’s Eleven (2001) with Brad Pitt
3. Brad Pitt in Moneyball (2011) with Chris Pratt
4. Chris Pratt in The Five-Year Engagement (2012)

Ides is like my old crutch! (Warning: mild spoilers ahead)

The Five-Year Engagement is a love story about Tom (Jason Segel) and Violet (Emily Blunt). Toward the end of the movie, Violet’s sister Suzie (Alison Brie) is trying to convince Violet to get back together with Tom. But instead of the typical “wise sister” confrontation scene, the characters have a fight in the voices of Elmo and Cookie Monster. The scene sounds outrageous, but it is actually sweet and reveals a lot about the characters that a more conventional scene could not have. It is a scene about the bond that the two sisters share, but also about the relationship that Violet might be losing. Other scenes involve characters getting shot with crossbows and drinking out of cups compared to a “Chewbacca penis.” Engagement is outrageous yet heartfelt, and always explores romantic comedy clichés in a strange and over-the-top way.

Not to mention that the cast is in fine form here. It’s really great to see Emily Blunt return to comedy, because she has true talent when it comes to comedic timing. Plus, I’ll always have a soft spot for her performance in The Devil Wears Prada. Jason Segel and Chris Pratt are charming as schlubs, and I’m actually really excited to see where Chris Pratt‘s career goes from here. He kills it on Parks and Recreation every week, but then he goes and does strange dramatic turns like the troubled baseball player in Moneyball. But the true standout here is Alison Brie (Community and Mad Men), who I’m pretty sure is not British in real life, right? Right? She’s a real scene-stealer.

Tom and Violet encounter many obstacles in their relationship (spoiler: it’s a five-year engagement), but one of the lingering questions that the audience is left with is whether or not these two characters actually belong together. At one point in the movie, Violet designs a psychological experiment for her job as a teaching assistant. In the experiment, old donuts are left on the table with the promise of fresh donuts in 20 minutes. Will the test subjects eat the old donuts or wait it out for the new ones? The donut experiment becomes a metaphor for Tom and Violet’s relationship throughout the course of the movie. Tom is the more simple, realistic person in the relationship and represents the old donuts. Violet is focused on academia and success and represents the new donuts. Do these two donuts actually belong together? That is the question that is asked over and over.

There’s a lot of great moments in the movie, but unfortunately a lot of the scenes play out like an uncut DVD version. The zaniness gets out of hand and every gag seems to go on for a little too long (as many Judd Apatow-produced movies do). The first hour or so is strong enough to make the movie worthwhile, though, and the cast is obviously having fun. And if they’re having fun, why can’t we, too?

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