Sunday, January 30, 2011


To be honest, when I first saw the trailer for Exam, I mocked it. I wrote some snarky comment about Exam on my sister's Facebook. Flash-forward several months to last night. I was bored, wanted to watch something that wouldn't require too much thinking, and I remembered seeing Exam on Netflix Instant. Seeing that the reviews were fairly decent and interested in how the movie would play out, I decided that I'd at least give it a try.

And I'm glad I did. It was far from being the best movie ever, but I enjoyed it. There's not a whole lot to the movie. It all, with the exception of a short sequence at the beginning of the movie showing the applicants getting ready, takes place in one small room. Thus, the movie relies largely on character interaction. And, for the most part, that works pretty well. I did think that the character's reactions, especially towards the latter half of the movie, were a little over-dramatic, but that didn't hinder my enjoyment of Exam.

I don't really know the movie's pedigree, but it definitely gave off a slight amateur vibe. But, again, this wasn't really a problem for me. In fact, it was almost a positive thing. It made the movie have a bit of a fresh feel, and although I think a couple of the actors may have had some acting experience, the fact tha all of them were unknowns to me enhanced my viewing experience.

While Exam is classified, I believe, as a thriller, it's not a scary thriller by any means. There's a vague, eerie feeling that pervades the movie, but it's pretty tame. I'll admit there was one scene that had me making faces of horror in anticipation. Luckily, this scene was not followed through on.

I've read that there's a divide in opinion about the movie's ending. Without giving anything away, I'd say that it was a decent ending. The ending could have been a bit clearer, but it was by no means a bad ending. While it wasn't anything amazing, it was satisfying enough for me.

All in all, I'd say the Exam is a pretty good movie that was not deserving of my initial mockery. It's not by any means a must see, but it's a nice little thriller if you want something entertaining to watch.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Glee and Lost: Kitty Style/Black Swan Special Effects

I've just come across these two videos that are the characters of Glee and Lost (both shows I love or love/hate) as portrayed by kittens. They're both really short and really funny for fans of the shows, so give them a watch.

Also, I came across this video demonstrating some of the effects done in The Black Swan. Now, I haven't seen the movie, so I'm not sure how spoilery it is, but it's really interesting to see how much can be done by special effects. I don't know how to embed it, so here's the link:

The O.C.: The Graduates

Today, I'm going to be specifically writing about the last episode of season three of the O.C., but I'm also going to share a little bit of my thoughts on season three as whole. I know this review is probably coming seemingly out of nowhere because The O.C. has been off the air a while, and it's weird for me to start my reviews on it at the end of the third season. But, I've been watching it, albeit slowly, since this past summer. That being said, here it goes.

Season three seems to be widely considered the worst season of the O.C., and I'm not sure I can disagree that it's been the worst of the three seasons I've seen so far. There's been plenty of storylines that were ridiculous and a bit tiresome. For example, Seth lying about not getting into Brown for so long was just far-fetched and a bit tiresome to watch. Also, alternate love interests for Marissa and Ryan arose for about the billionth time. And there are many other negative things I could say about season three, but I feel like they've been said before. So, I'll tell you that it actually wasn't as bad as I expected. Of the first three seasons, I'd have to say that season one, despite a couple of missteps, was probably the most solidly good season. Season two and much moreso season three were, for me, mostly soapy (yes, I know, that the O.C. has always been a "teen soap opera" but season two and three for me were so much more that than season one) with far-fetched storyline and somewhat repetitive drama. But, they were fun to watch and entertaining. I loved three of the four core characters (any guesses as to who I didn't like?", so I enjoyed watching them, even if the plots weren't always the greatest. I'd also have to say that the introduction of Taylor was one of the greatest things about season three because her character is just so fantastically fun.

Given that rambling on season three, I guess I'll talk about the episode I'm actually supposed to be writing about. Despite the fact that season three was greatly flawed as a whole, I loved "The Graduates." Now, I went into the episode knowing that this was the episode that Marissa dies, but that knowledge almost made it better. It added extra poignancy to the nostalgia of the episode. In fact, nostalgia was pretty much the theme of the episode and the reason that I like it so much. In fact, I think (spoiler alert: I'm giving you an outline of this review) I'll focus on those two topics (Marissa's death and nostalgia) in this review.

If you didn't guess it earlier, Marissa is the one character of the core four that I despised. Occasionally, she'd have an episode or moment where she was somewhat likeable, but she was so ridiculously unlikable in the episodes and moments between those that I hated her character. So, call me sadistic if you will, but I was pretty pumped about watching this episode knowing that she was going to die. But, surprisingly, I teared up through about the episode (and may have shed a tear at the end) partially because of that knowledge. It was perfect for the writers to have Marissa going away to work on a boat with her dad because it gave us a chance to see everyone's goodbyes to her. And every thing about her leaving, for example a shot of the "you're now leaving the O.C." sign could also be applied to her death. It was pretty heartbreaking to see Marissa, Ryan, Seth, and Summer reminiscing at the model home, knowing that it was the last time the four of them would be together. When it came to Marissa's death scene, I actually think it could have been filmed a little better, but it was still really sad.

My other topic of discussing is the feeling of nostalgia and finality that filled the episode. This kind of goes with Marissa's death, but even without her death, the episode would have felt that way. Everyone was getting ready to move on to the future and start a new chapter of their lives. That in itself was kind of bittersweet. In particular, I loved the graduation scene. In fact, I've been playing the excellent "Speeding Cars" by Imogen Heap that was used during that scene on repeat since I finished the episode. It was really beautiful filmed, and I loved the inter-splicing shots of Taylor's speech and our favorite Harbor students' getting their diplomas. My only complaint is that it was a little weird for them to wear lei's at their graduation, and I've never heard of guys and girls wearing different colored graduation gowns. The other stand out scene, which I briefly mentioned earlier was the reminiscing at the model home. It was fun to hear the core four reflect on some of the first scenes in which we saw them. It was a great way to bring their friendship full circle, and impressively, it wasn't even completely out of the blue because we saw Marissa visit the home earlier.

So, now I'm ready to watch season four whenever decides to put it up. I'm interested to see where the show's going to go without Marissa, and although I've already heard who replaces her as Ryan's love interest, I'm interested to see how that's going to come about.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Community: "Celebrity Pharmacology"

When it comes to Community second season, it seems that people generally fall into one of two trains of thought. Either they love the plethora of ambitious and special episodes or they feel that it's gimicky and wish for a return to the form of season one. Unfortunately, I must say that I fall more into the latter group of people. I haven't hated this season of Community, but as a whole, it's just felt off to me. The episodes this season have been hit or miss for me. For example, I surprisingly adored the Halloween zombie episodes, but (and I know this is a bit of a controversial statement) I just wasn't feeling the claymation Christmas special. I really do enjoy some of the special episodes, but I enjoy them so much more when they're limited to just a few a season.

Anyway, I said all of that to say that one reason I really enjoyed tonight's episode is that it was a somewhat realistic and normal situation. Sure, in typical Community fashion, they did it in a crazy way, but it was a situation that felt like something that could really happen. This, along with last week's episode, gives me hope that Community could turn back into the show that I first came to love in season one.

But, there were other reasons besides just the fact that it was realistic that I loved "Celebrity Pharmacology."

One reason is that it had an excellent use of Chang. Chang's involvement in the play was completely amazing, and it was such an in character move that I almost felt like I should have seen it coming. Ever since Chang was fired from being the gang's teacher, it has felt like the show doesn't quite know what to do with him. And therefore, some of his jokes (besides the excellent Chang puns of the last episode) have fallen flat for me. But, Chang's role as Drugs 2 was such a good use of his character. While I'm not completely sold the whole "Shirley/Chang baby" storyline, I think it was handled pretty in this episode. He got a chance to show Shirley that he can come through in a pinch while still being his really weird self.

Another character that I think was handled well in this episode is Annie. I'm not quite sure what it is about her, but in season two, Annie has often gotten on my nerves. I'm not sure exactly what it was, but her character in this episode was actually likeable and much more season-one-like. Also, the information we learned about her supporting herself and even seeing where she lives added a nice layer to her character. Also, the bringing up of her drug addiction was some nice continuity.

Speaking of continuity, I also thought it was some nice albeit minor continuity from the episode where we learned of Abed's sport skills that Abed caught the first ball that was thrown at him.

All in all, this was a really solid episode of Community. I enjoyed it much more than I've enjoyed an episode in a while (even though I did think last week's episode was pretty good). It had some really great line, my favorite being the Dean's "Well, that answers my question. Jeff Winger is sexy even in a coffin." It was also really solidly funny. The whole play was pretty much a masterpiece. When Drugs made a return via toilet, I did some serious guffawing. I really hope that Community can keep up the good work because this episode proved to me that I shouldn't lose hope in the show.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

11 Best Performances on Glee and a Few Honorable Mentions

I feel like I post about Glee a whole lot. And that's not going to end tonight. (Wow. This intro is being written terribly. Maybe it will get better.) I felt like making a list post, and as I established in my last post, I'm often really lazy. So, I figured that rounding up my favorite performances from Glee would be fun and easy for me to do. I was going to do a top ten favorite post, but I couldn't bare to make it less than 11, and even then, with honorable mentions. In fact, there's a couple more that I'd love to add, but I used my restraint.

1) Run Joey Run

We got this gem of a performance when Rachel decided to make her own music video. And it was hilariously funny because everything about it was 100% Rachel. The cheesy effects, the melodramatics, and the priceless face that Rachel makes at the end are just a few of the reasons why this number made my list.

2) Hello

I've loved the song, "Hello," ever since I saw Kristen Chenoweth sing it on Pushing Daisies. Both Chenoweth's rendition and the original by Lionel Richie are absolutely wonderful. But that being said, I think Glee's version definitely earned a place in my iTunes library. The song is lovely as a duet, and Lea Michele and Jonathan Groff sound wonderful together. I was a huge fan of Jesse St. James (until Glee screwed up his character by making him turn on Rachel), and this was a great choice for his first song on the show.

3) It's My Life/Confessions

Glee has featured several mash-ups in its season and a half run. This one was one of mash-ups featured in the episode introducing mash-ups into Glee's lineup. While the girls' competing mash-up, "Halo/Walking on Sunshine" was okay, "It's My Life/Confessions," was far superior.

4) Don't Rain on my Parade

It's impossible to deny that Lea Michele shines best in her performances when she's able to utilize her musical theater experience to the fullest. This theatrical, showstopping performance by Rachel in the Glee club's first competition is definitely one the show's finest moments. Lea Michele went all out on this song and absolutely owned it.

5) Marry You

So, this number was Glee's take on the "Forever" wedding dance. We saw it done quite literally on The Office (which worked perfectly for the show), but since this is a show about performers, they had to change it up a little. And Glee a hundred percent pulled this off. I was a little turned off by the way they handled the wedding as whole because it was so annoyingly focused on Kurt, but this was a perfect way to start the wedding. This was one of their cutest performances, and I adored it. I've rewatched this on youtube more than a handful of times.

6) Valerie

While the singing on this song was okay, the reason why it's on this list should come as a shock to no one: Brittany and Mike's dancing. The people of Glee have showed off these two talented dancers several times this season, but their dancing in this scene is wonderful. I know next to nothing about dance, and so I can't really analyze it beyond that it looked really cool. Also, I couldn't find a video with only "Valerie," but it starts at around 2:35.

7) Teenage Dream

The Warblers' first appearance on Glee was certainly memorable. Their a cappella performance of "Teenage Dream" was charming and just sounded really really good. I listened to their version of the song on repeat for about a week after the episode aired.

8) Like a Virgin

Glee has gotten into the bad habit of working the story around certain songs rather than working songs in that actually fit their storylines. This performance was included on the list not because the song was so great but because it fit the story so well. It was worked into the story in a very musical-like manner, and I love it for that. Also, they did a great job in blending the three different couples together in the editing of the performance.

9) Open Your Heart/Borderline

I feel like this performance on Glee was somewhat underrated. It wasn't their splashiest performance or song. But, I loved this mash-up. Not only is it a really cute song, but it made for a really cute performance by Finn and Rachel. I find Finn and Rachel really cute together at times and really horrible together at others. This is one of the moments in which a really bought the idea of them as a couple.

10) Piano Man

I absolutely love Neil Patrick Harris, so it was a no brainer that I'd include a performance by him in this list. Originally, I was going to include Dream On because I thought that it was a really well done duet. But, when looking up Dream On, I saw a link for this song on the side. To be honest, I'd forgotten about this one, but once I saw it I knew that I had to include it. Glee's songs are often incredibly over produced. This short performance, however, was understated and quite lovely.

11) Don't Stop Believing

Okay, so this performance is pretty much a given. All of Glee's pilot was wonderful, but this is the moment that made people take notice and realize that Glee could be something great. I'm only a little embarrassed to admit that this performance gave me chills. It's Glee's signature song for a reason. Also, watching it back after a season and a half of Glee, it's nice to see the Glee club at the beginning when they didn't have all of the fancy sets and costumes that they do now (that they inexplicably are able to afford). 

Honorable Mentions

Forget You

I couldn't bring myself to include this under the best performances because it really wasn't that great. Glee's often criticized as being an adult's Kidz Bop, and honestly, this performance is kind of Adult KidzBopsy. So why would I even include it under honorable mentions? Because they just look like they're having a ton of fun (besides Rachel), and I somehow found myself watching this performance multiple times. So, judge me if you will for putting this under honorable mention, but I stand by that decision.

Emmys Intro

I didn't catch the Emmys this past year, but I saw this Glee-inspired performance afterward. I thought it was a really fun idea, included a bunch of fun celebrities, and was just pretty great. I include it under honorable mentions, however, because it's technically not a performance on Glee.

Okay, so between selecting the songs to include, finding youtube videos to accompany each song, and writing my reasons for each song selection, this was more work than I thought. Still, it was fun and might just inspire me to make a worst performances on Glee list.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Recommended Link Roundup

I haven't updated in about a week or so, I think. Topics kept popping in my head, but my laziness won out. I hate to break it to you, but laziness has won itself another battle. I know a lot of blogs like to round up links to other sites every so often. In the combined spirit of lazinesss and fitting in, I decided to try it.

Play is a short online film about a future littered with virtual reality games. It's about seventeen minutes, but I was so invested in the film that it felt much shorter.

Cracked's lists are almost always amazingly interesting, and "5 Things TV Writers Apparently Believe About Smart People," is certainly no exception. If I continue to make these link roundups, expect more Cracked links because they're awesome.

I finally gave up on SNL earlier this season because it got to the point where there was maybe one sketch per episode that didn't make me cringe. And while they still haven't won me back yet, their Miley Cyrus Show sketches are "pretty cool." Here's the first, second, and third Miley Cyrus show.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Big Fish

Big Fish is a movie featuring a giant, a werewolf, Helena Bonham Carter, and, well, a really big fish as well as many other fantastical people and places. But, considering that Tim Burton was the film's director, none of that should really be very surprising. While I haven't seen all of the movies featuring Tim Burton's direction, I've seen enough to know that his works are often fairytale-like and magical. While Big Fish can certainly fall under these categories, it's also mixed with a sense of realism. It's the juxtaposition of these two things that help to make the film a standout.

The frame story of Big Fish serves as the realistic portion of the film and is really quite simple. Will Bloom hasn't spoken to his father, Edward Bloom, in three years because he's become fed up with his father's penchant for passing off impossible tales as his history. Now that his father is dying, however, Will visits his father, hoping that he'll finally learn the truth of his father's past.

Within this frame story, we have the story of Edward Bloom's past as told by Edward Bloom. This is where the fantasy portion of the movie appears. This story spans from Edward's birth to the day that Will is born and contains many mystical creatures and happenings.

Big Fish is, to put it simply, a really good movie. It's funny, heartwarming, and imaginative. While I laughed several time throughout the movie, but I must admit to tearing up a bit too. Despite the fact that it contains a lot of "mini stories" about Edward's past, it is well-paced, and captured my interest throughout the whole movie. It's somewhat strange at parts but in the best and most charming possible way. 
And if you watch Big Fish, be prepared for a small role played by Miley (then credited as Destiny) Cyrus. It can be a bit jarring if you aren't prepared for it.