Monday, December 31, 2012

Guest Review: "The Breakfast Club"

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It would be difficult to say whether detention changed Claire, Brian, Allison, Andy, and John. The first thing we are force-fed through the costuming as well as the script is that these students represent different strata in their high school's social order, sort of a microcosm of the real world. The nerd looked like a nerd, the jock looked like a football player, and the prep looked like a prep. It mystifies me that this was a film of wide acclaim and furthermore, that it has survived several decades.

This was an early movie for Emilio Estevez (who played Andy) and we got to see how many different expressive faces he could pull off. We also saw the start of his tradition of playing characters that are leaders. Andy was interested in what the others were "in for" and insisted they all get along.

Molly Ringwald, who played Claire, was so bored that she did a makeover with Goth girl Allison. Goth girl Allison consented and both girls were wildly excited about the outcome. I was convinced that Allison looked better, but not so convinced that Claire would've been so happy to play second fiddle to the weird girl...especially since Allison expressed interest in Andy the jock.

John Bender, the criminal dude, had no redeeming qualities at all. He was just throwing away his life and blaming everyone but himself for his problems. True, the deck was stacked against him, but the nerd and all the others had issues to overcome too.

The nerd Brian was the opposite of his father Carl the school janitor. Brian was ashamed of his father's occupation, but Carl seemed content with it.

The characters find themselves in detention together for an all-day Saturday "retreat." They are asked by Principal Vernon to write an essay on who they think they are. Between dancing, singing, pranks, and lunch, there wasn't much time to do the essay.

Andy and Allison had the most bizarre lunches. Andy had a full grocery sack and seemingly ate most of the contents. Allison's weirdness emerged in the form of a white bread, Pixie Stix, and Captain Crunch sandwich. Her discarded, gently tossed bologna landed on a statue the library was decorated with. The others ate in a somewhat normal fashion.

Lunch was where this diverse group started to come together. By afternoon's end, the group of high school students, diverse as they are, have drawn us into the age-old trap: "We'd all get along so much better if we would just get to know each other and give love a chance."

The Breakfast Club is cheesy, predictable, and saved by that talented guy Emilio Estevez. He rises above the less-than-inspired script and pulls the whole cast up with him. I didn't appreciate Emilio's talent or his position as a comeback-kid until I saw The Breakfast Club. Then I knew this guy is more brilliant than anyone has given him credit for. If he can take us there, he can take us anywhere.

Monday, December 24, 2012

2 Days 'Til Christmas: Most Memorable Gifts

I know it's better to give than to receive, but I have so many great memories from Christmases past. Some of these are heartwarming; others are just downright funny. Listed them as best as I can remember.

  • Being 3 was an interesting year. About half my gifts had something to do with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and the other half were Beauty & the Beast. What can I say? I've always had eclectic taste. This Christmas is on home video and upon opening every package, I cried, "Just what I've always wanted!" For months afterward, my favorite place to hang out was my play tent that looked like the castle from Beauty & the Beast. It's a miracle I didn't wear out the VHS of Ninja Turtle episodes I got.
  • My late grandmother, God rest her soul, always loved to watch figure skating on TV. Her absolute favorite female skater of all time was Michelle Kwan. When I was 4, she got me a pair of white figure skates, maybe thinking I'd be twirling out on the ice one day.
    While Mom and her visiting best friend went to post-Christmas sales, Dad babysat me along with his youngest brother (who was dating my mom's best friend at the time). They saw no problem with letting me stay up to watch ER with them. At some point in the episode, a 5-year-old girl with blond hair and blue eyes was brought to the hospital screaming in pain; her parents explained she fell down ice skating and broke her arm.
    I fit the little girl's description and was traumatized, figuring the same fate would await me. I mysteriously felt bad whenever Mom wanted to take me to the rink and the little white skates were eventually given to Goodwill. I didn't tell Mom about the ER episode until about 10 years later and I remained so terrified of ice skating that I never tried it until I was 20.
  • My mom's best friend and her boyfriend used to visit for a few days after Christmas. They were into motorcycles and my Christmas gifts from them always included Harley-Davidson T-shirts. When I was about 12, I decided I needed something to wear over them: a tough-looking black leather jacket. My grandma combed all the department stores looking for one small enough. (I was a runty kid and now a very small adult). On Christmas morning at Grandma's, I found a giant, heavy box under the tree. I shrieked with excitement when I saw my dream jacket inside. The best part is it's been 10 years and that leather jacket still fits.
  • Some of the best memories I have of Granny involved us bonding over TV shows, like when I stayed over at her house just so we could watch the wedding episode of Walker, Texas Ranger together. My preteen self thought Gage was dreamy and that Chuck was pretty kick-ass for an old guy. I was also in love with Walker's hat. When I was 10 or so, Granny gave me a black cowboy hat with a silver-studded hatband.
  • When I was a senior in high school, I helped build the choir's Homecoming float. It was themed after the carnival scene from Grease and won the prize for Best Club Float. I was so proud and for Christmas that year, my mom got me a musical ornament that plays the Olivia Newtown-John version of "Look At Me, I'm Sandra Dee."
  • Freshman year of college, I reunited with my 2 best friends from high school for an annual Christmas party. We're all obsessed with Johnny Depp. It wasn't planned out, but we all ended up getting copies of his newest-to-DVD movie Public Enemies. 
  • My aunt and I share the same dark, twisted sense of humor, love of obscure/purposely bad movies, and TV crime shows. She also knows of my weakness for firemen. She doesn't have a lot of extra money, but managed to give me DVDs of Justified's latest season, Analyze This, Analyze That, Summer School with Mark Harmon, and FDNY's charity calendar last year.
  • I have a little (okay, big) obsession with movies. I've lost count of how many DVDs I own, to the point where I ran out of room on the family shelf. Last Christmas, my mom and stepdad put together a  bookshelf just for my movies, which I thought was really sweet.

3 Days 'Til Christmas: Guest Review--"Dead Bang"

Author's Note: Yes, these next 2 posts are a little late, but I've had a lot of last-minute prepping to do.

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Don Johnson stars as a Los Angeles County homicide detective named Jerry Beck. The movie opens with a shot of a seedy bachelor pad replete with a stack of unpaid bills. Jerry also has the unexpected Christmas gift of a restraining order to stay away from his kids' school, courtesy of his ex-wife.

That night, a black convenience store clerk is shot during a robbery. As he lays dying, he manages to give a description of the person who did it. A few blocks away, an L.A. County deputy stops a young man walking down the street because he fits the profile. The young man is pleasant at first, but then ends up gunning down the deputy in cold blood. Jerry is assigned the case.

Jerry soon comes to believe that whoever killed the store clerk also killed his homicide victim (the deputy). He does a computer search for people who have recently been paroled for armed robbery that fit the now-dead clerk's description. Bobby Burns, a known white supremacist, becomes the prey of this sleep-deprived, depressed detective.

Jerry tries to drown his sorrows about not being able to see his kids at a Christmas Eve party thrown by the sheriff's department. There, he meets Linda. He beds her. Later in the movie, Jerry learns that Linda is married to the murdered police officer, though the two have been separated for several months. Linda claims that she slept with Jerry to get him to hunt down and kill whoever murdered her estranged husband.

It becomes apparent early on that Jerry has anger issues and a drinking problem. After spending the night with an equally drunk Linda, Jerry goes into work hungover on Christmas Day. He breaks his telephone and scrambles up the office after he calls his ex-wife Gloria and she denies him permission to come over to give their kids the Christmas presents he bought them.

Jerry has been in touch with Bobby's parole officer, Webley, because he can't search Bobby's belongings for evidence without a parole officer being present. He drags P.O. Webley to a Hell's Angels hangout where Bobby is staying with his mother. Bobby isn't there, just his brother John who's home from New Mexico State University on Christmas break. One fight scene later, Jerry has chased down and puked all over a fleeing suspect who doesn't match the photo of Bobby.

The Coyote, a Mexican bar in Cottonwood, Arizona, is the next stop for Jerry. Bobby and his Klansman-eqsue buddies had tried to rob the place, but only found a gun and some pesos. They shot all the customers and the staff. There's a shootout.

After only just cheating death by automatic weapon, Jerry ends up in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Because white supremacy literature was found in both Los Angeles and Arizona, an FBI agent named Kressler joins Jerry. They both think Bobby is their prime suspect. They were led to Oklahoma by maps and notes found in Arizona. The local police chief is entirely unhelpful with severe leanings in favor of the Aryan Nation Church of Christ, which Bobby also belongs to.

Jerry comes close to getting thrown off the case after parole officer Webley, Kressler, and others complain about his anger issues, etc. Jerry ends up threatening the psychiatrist he is sent to. After throttling the shrink, he is free to go after Bobby Burns again.

Kressler and Jerry follow the clues to a small town in Montana, where the Aryan Nation Church has set up a compound in the woods. They're about to stage a huge meeting with other white supremacist groups in order to unite and form a single power structure. This is an idea that Kressler has been scoffing at all through the movie.

Jerry and Kressler are joined by black policemen and they raid KKK Ranch. They have a great big underground firefight and kill all the Klansmen. The FBI agent and the homicide detective hope to find Bobby. They do. After Jerry is forced to shoot him, he learns that Bobby's brother John actually killed the convenience store clerk and the sheriff's deputy. FBI agent Kressler gets the credit for busting the big Klan operation. Jerry Beck presumably returns to his life of drunken obscurity in Burbank.

The highlight of the movie (or low point, depending on your perspective) was a scene that shows a hungover Jerry barfing on a suspect following a lengthy foot chase. It was splendidly disgusting!

Friday, December 21, 2012

4 Days 'Til Christmas: Christmas Film Festival

It's the most wonderful time of the year! Time to finish shopping, wrapping the gifts, and getting the house ready to entertain friends and/or relatives. I've compiled this list of movies and TV specials to help get your guests into the holiday spirit.

  • It's Christmastime Again, Charlie Brown! This one can be a little hard to find, but it's worth the effort. There are multiple plotlines in the special: Sally is cast as an angel in the Christmas pageant and worries that she'll forget her lines; she's also busy writing to Santa Claus. In the same pageant, Peppermint Patty is cast as sheep and jealous that Marcy gets to play Mary. Charlie Brown is in search of the perfect gift for the little redheaded girl.
  • A Muppet Christmas Carol. Watching this movie on Christmas Eve has been a family tradition since I was a very little girl. It's still great to watch as an adult. The Muppets' wit, charm, and signature musical numbers put a fun spin on Charles Dickens' classic tale. Michael Caine absolutely steals the show with his portrayal of Scrooge.
  • "Santa's Village of the Damned." This was the first Christmas-themed episode of Two and a Half Men. Alan is dating a charming woman with Martha Stewart-esque cooking and decorating abilities. Charlie tries to warn Alan that she's too clingy, but Alan doesn't listen. Next thing you know, Alan's girlfriend has moved into Charlie's house and buried the interior in Christmas figurines.
  • Home Alone. No Child Left Behind...unless you're the McCallisters. They accidentally leave their youngest son, 8-year-old Kevin, in Chicago when they leave for a Christmas vacation in Paris. Little do the parents know, the neighborhood is being targeted by a pair of burglars known as the Wet Bandits. Now it's up to Kevin to defend his home. It's not quite Christmas Eve if my family and I don't watch this one.
  • Home Alone 2: Lost in New York. It's rare for a sequel to top the original, but this one does. Due to a mix-up at the airport, Kevin boards a plane to New York City while the rest of his family is on a flight to Florida. But don't be too worried. Kevin is resourceful and finds a way to make the best of the situation. I love this movie even more since I've seen the splendor of New York City's Christmas decorations with my own eyes.
  • How the Grinch Stole Christmas. The 1960's animated version, not the live-action atrocity with Jim Carrey. It narrates Dr. Seuss's classic story with a few songs thrown in. Fun Fact: Thurl Ravenscroft, who sings "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch", also was the original voice of Frosted Flakes mascot Tony the Tiger. 
  • Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Again, I refer to the 1960's version. Yes, the technology is primitive by today's standards and I admit that some of the critters are a little freaky looking. But when  all is said and done, Rudolph is all about being proud of who you are and not letting teasing stop you from reaching your full potential. It's like a Christmas version of The Karate Kid. 
  • Lethal Weapon. I know this isn't technically a Christmas movie, but try telling my local TV stations that. One of them has been showing it in constant rotation all month. I think the station should throw in Don Johnson's Dead-Bang and the original Die Hard while they're at it for a Christmas action movie trifecta.
  • National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. If you think your family's Christmases are disastrous, you'll feel a lot better after seeing what happens to the Griswolds. The Christmas tree is too big for the living room. Cousin Eddie shows up and so does senile Aunt Bethany.
  • The Ref. A cat burglar played by Denis Leary is on the run from the law after breaking into a house on Christmas Eve. To escape detection, he kidnaps married couple Caroline and Lloyd and ends up holding them hostage in their home. Little does he know, Lloyd and Caroline have just left their marriage counselor's office and are on the verge of divorce. Hilarity ensues as he tries to maintain his sanity. This is my favorite black comedy. Warning: Do not watch with anyone under the age of 14.

5 Days 'Til Christmas: "All Alone on Christmas" by Darlene Love & The E Street Band

Apologies for not publishing this yesterday.

5 years ago, I had the pleasure of visiting New York City and admiring the city's famous Christmas decorations. (Sadly, the Rockefeller Center's tree had not been put up yet). I've always loved this song from the Home Alone 2: Lost in New York soundtrack. Now that I've seen most of the mentioned landmarks in person, it holds an even more special place in my heart.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

6 Days 'Til Christmas: "You Better Watch Out"

Last night, I gathered around the TV with my family to watch the annual NCIS Christmas special, which has become an anticipated family tradition. As was the case last year, the murder-of-the-week plot was overshadowed (at least for me) by all the holiday shenanigans.

This year's hijinks took the form of Tony DiNozzo Senior, who arrived in town to spend Christmas with his son. We get the sense there's some tension between the two by the fact that Tony always refers to his father as "Senior." When Senior arrives, he declines his son's offer of a hotel suite; he wants to stay in Tony's apartment. Tony's protests that the place is a one-bedroom "the size of a Habitrail" fall on deaf ears. Turns out Tony actually has a pretty nice place. He kindly agrees to sleep on the couch and let Senior stay in his bedroom.

By the time Tony gets home from work the next day, Senior has decked the halls, complete with a large pine tree. Tony goes all OCD because Senior moved his piano to put up the tree. He isn't even placated by Senior's homemade snickerdoodles (Tony's favorite Christmas cookie).

When Senior's efforts to get his son in the holiday spirit, he decides to give himself a little Christmas present by (SPOILER ALERT) sleeping with the older lady across the hall IN TONY'S BED! Tony is understandably angry.

Part of the reason Tony is so upset by his dad coming from Christmas, it turns out, is because of a present he didn't get. The DiNizzos hand down a signet ring from father to son on the son's 21st Christmas. Tony never got the ring for reasons unknown.

Christmas Eve rolls around and the crew, including Ziva, gathers to watch It's a Wonderful Life. Tony opens a box he found under his Christmas tree, which of course, turns out to be the ring. No explanation is given as to why he's finally getting it about 20 years too late. Abby brings Senior in and father and son reconcile.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

1 Week 'Til Christmas: Rudolph Re-Dubs

Like most children in America, I grew up watching the stop-motion Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer special from the '60s. It still holds a special place in my heart even though I'm now an adult. When I was a sophomore in college, my best friend, a Marine, sent me the following video and I couldn't stop laughing.

Watching Hermie and the gang spew profanity from Full Metal Jacket amuses me more than it probably should. I recently discovered a Rudolph video that pays tribute to one of my all-time favorite movies: Goodfellas.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

"Payphone (Mark Sanchez Style)"

About a week ago, I ran across this Jets-themed parody of Maroon 5's hit song "Payphone." I think it's grossly unfair to be picking on Tebow. He's barely seen any playing time since the preseason, so quite honestly, he's the least of the team's problems at this point. Mark Sanchez has been an absolute embarrassment, especially since his infamous Thanksgiving Day "butt fumble" against the Patriots.

I was inspired to rework the parody's lyrics. Please be aware that I take absolutely no credit at all for the original version by Maroon 5 or the parody video above.

"I'm just a Jets fan
Watching Mark Sanchez
Hoping that he gets pulled from the game
Where has the ball gone?
He's playing all wrong
I sit on my couch cursing his name

Yeah, I-I know that we all remember
The Jets big controversy
It's getting real hard to figure
Why Sanchez is starting QB
He calls himself the "San-chise"
Why does Ryan still try?
And 'cause of the games that he wasted
Playoff hopes are about to die

Tim is benched on game nights
Mark's under the lights
And I'm paralyzed
Just waiting for him to mess up again
And swear loudly when I am right

I'm just a Jets fan
Watching Mark Sanchez
Hoping that he gets pulled from the game
Where has the ball gone?
He's playing all wrong
I sit on my couch cursing his name

If justice in football did exist
Ryan would be benching #6
Tebow haters are so full of it
One more interception, I'll be sick

It's gotten really depressing
Sanchez keeps blowing games
They give him the ball to run with
But Mark just gives points away
You can't expect me to be fine
Why doesn't Rex seem to care?
15 is glued to the bench now
Why won't they just let poor Timmy play?

Tim is benched on game nights
Mark's under the lights
And I'm paralyzed
Just waiting for him to mess up again
And swear loudly when I am right

I'm just a Jets fan
Watching Mark Sanchez
Hoping that he gets pulled from the game
Where has the ball gone?
He's playing all wrong
I sit on my couch cursing his name

If justice in football did exist
Ryan would be benching #6
Tebow haters are so full of it
One more interception, I'll be sick"

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Name That Quote #1 Answers

I'm slightly disappointed that no one really responded to this feature. However, I'll keep my word and post the answers to last week's questions.

  1. "Oorah, Class 5506!"-The Guardian
  2. "Average foot speed over uneven ground, barring injury, is 4 miles per hour. That gives us a radius of 6 miles. What I want from each and every one of you is a hard-target search of every gas station, residence, warehouse, farmhouse, henhouse, doghouse, and outhouse in that area."-The Fugitive
  3. "I'm the thing what lives beneath the stairs."-The Devil's Own
  4. "These people aren't a ragtag buncha yahoos that drink beer and run around in sheets on Saturday night. They've got money behind 'em. They've got strong pockets of community support."-Dead Bang
  5. "Sarge, you got any advice on how to stay alive in Vietnam?"
    "Yes, I do, Private. Don't go."-Tigerland
  6. "What are you doing? You've burned all the food, the shade, the rum!"-Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl
  7. "You throw me idol, I throw you whip."-Raiders of the Lost Ark 
  8. "Ladies, this is supposed to be history class, you know. Not sex education."-Kidz in the Wood
  9. Character 1: "So you guys usually pick up girls in the supermarket for fun?"
    Character 2: "Usually, I throw 'em over my shoulder and carry 'em down a ladder."-Ladder 49
  10. "Sonny and my father always said when I got older, I'd understand. Well, I finally did. I learned something from those two men. I learned how to get love and give love unconditionally. You just have to accept people for what they are. I learned the greatest gift of all. The saddest thing in life is wasted talent and the choices you make will shape your life forever."-A Bronx Tale
  11. "Any thug can kill. I need you to take your ego out of the equation."-Casino Royale (Daniel Craig version)
  12. "Do not kill, do not rape, do not steal. These are principles which every man of every faith can embrace."-The Boondock Saints
  13. "I love the smell of napalm in the morning."-Apocalypse Now
  14. "Strike first, strike hard, no mercy, sir!"-The Karate Kid (1984 version)
  15. "Look at my driver's license. Expires 1987. Look at my birthdate for cryin' out loud. I haven't even been born yet."-Back to the Future
  16. "Come on! We're men; we're not pinatas. And we're really hungover."-Shanghai Noon
  17. "I can't stand him. He gets an idea in his head, he can't get rid of it. If I stay with him much longer, I'm gonna be a stiff in a photograph. The only chance I have is to get hellbent for leather now."-Young Guns
  18. "Water is for cowards. Water makes you weak. Water is for washin' blood off that uniform and you don't get no blood on my uniform. Boy, you must be outside yo' mind!"-Remember the Titans
  19. Bill: "What the hell did we do to deserve this?"
    Chris: "Maybe it was that stripper we sent the captain on his birthday."
    Bill: "I told ya we shoulda sent the woman!"-Stakeout
  20. "If she screws it up, she can always fix your hair so your ears don't show."-Grease