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Thursday, June 23, 2011


A week ago, J.K. Rowling started teasing us all via the internet and dropping clues about a new project she has completed. Coordinates led to letters that spelled “Pottermore.” If you went to the pottermore site it has a drawing of an owl and writing that said “coming soon.” An announcement was promised. Now, that announcement is here. But we still don’t know much about it.

We know that it will be a web site that includes e-books and more information about the Harry Potter world. We read that it will “combine social networking elements with an immersive game-like world.” We really hope that this turns out epic, rather than childish, simple, and lame. Rowling needs to be aware that many of her biggest fans are in their 20s. We want a World of Warcraft level universe online, not a few piddly games. (Ok, one of us does. One of us thinks that WoW and such games are beyond nerdy and a complete waste of time.)

The full site will open in October, but a million people will gain early entry if they “follow the owl” and complete a challenge that begins on July 31. We read that profits will go to charity. We really want more information. What we really want is for this woman to write another book, but we will take what we can get.

Watch J.K. Rowling’s short announcement video for yourself.

For more info and some pictures of the site, go here:

Four Decent Movies (with Good Acting) That Will Bum You Out + Thoughts on the Netflix Queue

It’s time to start digging into our Netflix queues. They’ve gotten too long, and need to be trimmed down into submission. The thing about a Netflix queue is that it inevitably has a bunch of crap that you never really wanted to watch on it (especially the instant queue). People recommend stuff and you just stick it in there, because why not? A Netflix queue is also full of stuff you didn’t want to see in theaters or admit to other people that you wanted to see.

It’s the place of Transformers movies, cliché romantic comedies, and really messed-up indie films. Stuff like The Human Centipede is available on there for your instant enjoyment. Sometimes we add movies just because there's a hot guy in them. We know the movie is going to suck, but at least there will be eye candy, right? An Instant Netflix queue is a weird place. Of course, Netflix is great for TV. Lots of decent shows stream instantly. Scrubs, Ugly Betty, 24, the first season of Prison Break, Grey’s Anatomy, the British version of Skins and much more. That’s not even including what’s available by mail. Netflix is seriously the best ten bucks a month we’ve ever spent.

Yesterday, Tsotsi and Blue Valentine came in the mail for one of us, so that’s what one blogger will be doing this weekend. Recently, we watched four movies that are out on DVD. They are all at least a little dark. We wouldn’t say any of them are feel-good movies. That’s why we didn’t see them in theaters. None of our friends want to go out in a group to get thoroughly shat upon, emotionally.

1. The Kids Are All Right - Pure Oscar bait, because it’s about a family with two lesbian moms and two kids brought about by a sperm donor. The kids decide to meet the sperm donor and the family gets shaken up. This is one of the most overrated movies we’ve ever seen. If it were about a straight couple that used a sperm donor, the movie would have passed largely unnoticed by anyone. It’s pretty good, and the acting is great. It has positive portrayals of family, honesty, and forgiveness.

The main reason to see this would be to see Josh Hutcherson, future Peeta in The Hunger Games, in case you are curious as to whether he will be good enough or cute enough in that role. Our verdict? He will be just fine. The family in this movie is strong and you will care about them. The movie makes it clear who is a part of the family and who isn’t. But some of the scenes are just so sad and awkward. It isn’t awkward because of the sex or lesbianism, but because of the fact that you just want everyone to get along and they often do not. It’s like watching the fighting in Revolutionary Road. It wears you out. This is not to suggest that this movie is anywhere near as depressing as Revolutionary Road, because what is?

Movie grade: B
Instant Netflix? No, normal Netflix only.

2. Fish Tank - We got this movie due to the refreshing of our Michael Fassbender obsession. We readily admit most of our obsessions on this blog and this is no exception. The dude can seriously act. It’s almost enough to make us watch that stupid 300 movie again. (It was fun at the time, but once is enough). We don’t know how it’s possible, but he was better in Fish Tank than he was in X-Men: First Class. The girl playing the main character, Mia, was also good, even though she was not a professional actress. She was discovered fighting with her boyfriend at a train station and was offered the part. Too bad a pregnancy derailed her budding acting career. We hope she gets back into it. This movie is about a girl living in a poor area with a mom who takes no interest in her life or dreams. Then her mom starts dating Michael Fassbender’s irresponsible, oddly likable character and the 15-year-old develops quite the little crush on him, because he’s actually nice to her.

This movie has been called the British version of Precious, but we think it’s more entertaining. It’s not a redemption story either. It’s a coming-of-age story. Mia has a bad temper and a slick mouth. She’s not an angel like Precious, but you still feel for Mia just as much, if not more. Because if you have a bully for a mother, you are not going to be a nice, well-adjusted person as a teen. It’s not as melodramatic either. Sure, there is a lot of drama, but it feels more realistic. There are some funny bits too. Some people don't like sex in their movies, so if that sounds like you, steer clear. There is sex. The main warning for this movie is that it’s gut-wrenching. You may get depressed. Whether you do or not, this is a movie that sticks with you. No one gets AIDS though, so that’s good. That makes it happier than Precious. We’re rating this high, because we like movies that you still think about days later.

Movie grade: A
Instant Netflix? Yes. Stream this mofo.

3. Rabbit Hole - This is a movie about a couple dealing with the loss of their four-year-old son. You know if you want to watch a movie about that. One thing we found interesting was the determination of the writers to completely secularize the grief experience. The wife was not interested in any “God stuff” and wrote him off as abusive for letting bad things happen. This is understandable. The movie decided that there needed to be some hope, or it would be too bleak, so it briefly entertained the idea of parallel universes (the go-to concept for atheist spirituality beyond this world). It's as if the writers knew that no flirtation with spiritual concepts in a movie like this would render the whole thing bleak.

The movie wanted to explore grief devoid of easy fixes like, “It’s just a part of God’s plan and God needed another angel.” Which is awesome, but the spiritual side can be explored in a deeper way than what we see most of the time on-screen. Most of the time with movie spirituality, you see a miracle, an angel visiting earth to have sex with the main female character, some canned line, a simple message from a Hallmark card, or a gospel song. With the number of religious people in the world, this would have been a great opportunity for contrast and exploration of spirituality and grief. The husband, for example, could have used the idea of God to help him while the wife rejected it. It would have added more, we think. Any spiritual person who has ever lost someone can tell you what a powerful, changing time that can be in someone's life.

The husband and wife dealt with their grief differently and separately. The marriage was at risk throughout the movie. And speaking of awkward fights, there are some bad ones here. Mostly good acting though, with a Sandra Oh character nothing like Cristina Yang, and a good ending. We liked that the characters were often unsympathetic here too. We kind of wanted to see some sex in this movie, because it felt like it was needed for the marriage.

Movie grade: B
Instant Netflix? No, but it's not good enough to get by mail. Wait for streaming.

4. Dogtooth - Is your sense of humor darker than dark? Do you want a dead-serious, thoughtful, smart movie that will also make you laugh your twisted pants off? Then look no further. One of us has a cousin who brought this over. We will give you the premise: A really controlling father has kept his children on his property all their lives, keeping their childlike minds intact up to adulthood. He says that they are allowed to leave when their dogtooth falls out (either of their canines), which will obviously never happen.

The main warning about this movie is that it features lots of sex. It’s a Greek film, so there are subtitles. Watch it with people with similarly dark senses of humor and tough minds, and you will sure to have inside jokes for years to come. With a different ending, this would have been an A. Not that the ending is terrible; it’s good. It just might have been better. This is the most recommendable movie on this list, if this sounds like your kind of thing and you don't mind sex and nudity.

Movie Grade: A-
Instant Netflix? Yes.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


Now that we have seen the first two episodes of The Nine Lives of Chloe King, we’re going to weigh in on it. It’s not bad. One of us thinks it's one of the best things on that channel. It’s summertime, so there is a relative TV drought. However, this is not as good as Buffy, Pretty Little Liars, The Vampire Diaries, or other teen shows up this alley. Heck, it's not even as good as Make It or Break It.

Frankly, we’ve got other stuff to watch. We’re sure you’ve noticed that our schedules are full. We aren’t hurting for things to watch. In fact, we doubt that we will ever be caught up on things we want to watch. Forget TV, you should see the size of our Netflix queues. We are going to be picky with new shows, because we just can’t be adding substandard stuff to our schedules.

The good things about the show: The main girl, Chloe, is cute and likeable. There are a few cute guys. It’s not boring. Chloe’s mom is cool. One of Chloe’s best friends is funny. There is some mystery already. It’s adequate entertainment for teens. It’s not going to become your next obsession, even if you are a teenager, but it’s something teens will probably watch if it’s on.

The bad things about the show: Chloe is a little stupid and irrational. Her emotions cause her to feel guilty for things that aren’t her fault and put herself in danger. Also, they keep her from going to the people with answers, getting a plan, and facing up to her new powers. We have enough female heroines like this. Also, Leeard thinks her laugh is annoying. The characters don’t act like real people. Chloe’s friends don’t react to her plight like teenagers would. The show failed to suck us in. So what if Chloe is special and that means someone wants to kill her? When WE sometimes want to kill her, that cuts down the tension significantly. Add that to the fact that you have to kill her nine times and she's pretty tough. That's not a risk. It’s not really original or funny either. And it's kind of dumb.

Bottom Line: It’s not terrible. It’s just not good enough for us to spend the time on.

Episode one grade: B-
Episode two grade: C-
Overall grade: C

Also, how photoshopped is that promo photo they put out? It doesn't even look like that girl.

Glee Season Three News

As much as we don't believe anything Ryan Murphy says after he said that Rachel and Finn would be together for all of season two, these statements about season three gave us pause.

1) He said that there will be fewer songs per episode.

This is such a mistake. We are hopping mad. It's hard enough to get our favorite singers doing enough songs already when they are split up between everyone on the show. Why does Ryan Murphy think we watch Glee? It's not for the plot or the characters. It's for the music. And sometimes the one-liners.

2) He said that there will be no guest stars except for one tribute episode that he's been working on getting for a while.

Ok, we will accept that. Getting rid of the flashy guest star episodes can only help the show.

3) He said that the seniors on the show will graduate. Unless they are pulling straight Fs, like Brittany. There will be lots of new kid characters to ease us in.

Good luck getting us to buy those soundtracks if Rachel leaves the school .... When asked if they could graduate but stay on the show, he said, "I don't think I like that idea."

The United States of Tara ends

We feel like we have really wasted our lives with this show. Maybe the writers didn’t know that it was going to be cancelled in season three, but with their numbers, they had to know that it was a possibility. They couldn’t film an ending scene or two to use for closure’s sake? And just use an alternate ending in the event that there was a season four?

The series finale ended just before the series would have gotten interesting. Why? Because Kate is settled down with a boyfriend who loves her, Marshall is just going to finish school and film stuff, and, best of all, Charmaine is marrying Neil and possibly moving to Texas. It would be a lot harder for the show to waste our lives with these characters.

Tara headed off to Boston with her husband to see a really good specialist. This is where we would have started loving this show like we did in season one. We want to see that therapy. We want to see her get better, merge the alters, eliminate some alters, get some new ones, and bum around with other mentally ill people. But alas. That would have been a lot harder to write. They might have had to pick up a psych book or two to get some material.

Season two was uneven and boring. We would recommend only season one, but there is even less closure there. With the way this show ended and the lackluster episodes that did not focus on Tara, we wouldn’t recommend this show to any newcomers renting DVDs. Toni Collette acted well in it and it was a great concept, but, in the end, this is just a bunch of wasted opportunity.

While the ending we were given was hopeful, ambiguous, and realistic, this isn't the sort of show that we wanted to end on uncertainty. We are left to imagine a real ending ourselves. Tara kills herself? Tara leaves Max and the family to live her own life and stop bothering them? Tara’s evil alter kills Charmaine and does us all a favor? Tara gets better? Tara gets rid of all of the alters except Alice, because she cleans? Buck takes over the body and goes back to that very confused woman in the bar? We will never know. And we’ve stopped caring.

Season one grade: A-
Season two grade: D+
Season three grade: C+

Pretty Little Liars - The Goodbye Look review. Plus, news about when A will be revealed

So, we just read that A will not be revealed this season. In fact, A will probably stay a mystery until the series finale. While the books had multiple As, so far, the creator is thinking of just having one A on the show. We’re bummed, but as long as there is another mystery sometime, we will be fine with it. Maybe give us a different murder to solve after the Alison thing is wrapped up?

In this episode, Jason DiLaurentis came back. Sort of. He’s played by a different actor. He is probably going to play another love interest for Aria, so he has to look younger, right? He’s back to find out what happened with his old friend Ian and to be mean to dogs. He’s no fan of Alison’s, because she stole some of his stuff, apparently. He’s acting weird and suspicious, which is quite a change for a character on this show. He’s hiding something. That’s why he’s building a fence, duh. The girls wonder if he is trying to keep people out or keep someone in. We hope it’s the second thing, because that sounds more fun.

The girls aren’t allowed to hang out anymore, due to their shrink’s advice. A is happy about that, texting “Look at you, all alone in a crowd. I win!” When they reveal the identity of A, we are going to need to know why A hates the girls so much. They seem pretty harmless. However, we'd like to point out that they spent the entire episode talking to each other about how they weren't allowed to see each other anymore. Obviously it's working out well. We found out that Alison like to steal and hoard things and then bury them in her yard or hide them throughout the house. She was such a lovely girl. One wishes she were alive to cause live drama. But alas, we have only the memory of this modern-day bad seed.

Toby got a construction job and is working toward a GED. As soon as he saves up money, he can escape his house and not have to live with rapist Jenna anymore, right? Wrong. He got fired on his first day because of his bad reputation. We like Toby, but one of us doesn't think he’s good enough for Spencer. Also, we think he is going to snap soon.

Emily had a date with Samara and found a way to stay in Rosewood. She is probably going to forge a letter from a college recruiter saying that Emily will get a sports scholarship if she continues to train in town. Hanna’s dad is back and trying to be helpful. We are glad that she forgave Mona, but there is a CALEB she needs to forgive soon.

Ezra and Aria were fighting again because Aria is insecure. Also, Aria’s forehead is annoyingly tiny. But she has great hair. But her shoes are ridiculous. You remember the ones she stepped on the broken glass with? Yeah, those ones.

Someone broke into Spencer’s house and pushed Aria on their way out. The girls think it was Ian. It seems he was looking for Spencer, possibly to try to kill her again. Someone has been stealing camping gear and erased the liars’ computer data too. Melissa has been sneaking out to show Ian her ultrasound results. None of this was explicitly confirmed as being Ian, but it’s more likely than not.

The best thing ever happened: Aria broke up with Ezra! Via note! Because he stood her up for a meeting to talk about their future in order to meet with the board of his college. Ezra’s secret goodbye speech to Aria in front of the class was really sweet, but those kids are idiots for not realizing it was a romantic one. Aria running into Ezra’s empty classroom to the sound of dramatic music was lame. Then she ran out into the school parking lot as he was leaving. They kissed a lot and it was very boring and all kinds of cliché. The camera turned in circles and went close up to their faces. There was loud ballad music. And no one saw them. On school property. Making out. These are the luckiest pervs in the land. Does that mean the break-up is off? Nooooooooooo. Jackie Molina! We need you, girl. When we see more of you, you had better be the slut of our dreams.

This episode felt a little meandering to one of us. At least we found out that A likes dogs! The other blogger thinks a lot happened. This episode featured “Can’t Go Back Now” by The Weepies, which is a song we like, but also a song that was used in the Life Unexpected season one finale in a very big moment for that show. We think that if a show uses a song in a memorable way, another show should step off of it, because it’s just going to remind us of the other show. That’s how we feel when a movie uses “Let Go” by Frou Frou. That song belongs to Garden State. And "Afternoon Delight" is the property of Arrested Development, not Glee. Step off.

Leeard’s grade: A
Ern’s Grade: B

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Brightest Day, Blackest Night. It's Fine to Let This Movie Escape Your Sight (wow, this is a lame title)

The Green Lantern did not get a lot of love either at the box office or with the critics. What’s bad about this movie? Well, it had a huge budget, so it decided that a good script wasn’t necessary as long as the movie had big, loud things for us to look at. It's pretty sad when you think about how X-Men could have used that budget… There was an amazing unintentionally funny moment while the main character's girlfriend was giving him a pep talk on courage. The script sounded like it had been written by a nine-year-old who had seen too many comic book movies and read too many of his grandmother’s sweet little email forwards.

Also, it must be mentioned that the comic books had good stories that the movie just decided to ignore in favor of the same story we’ve seen 1,000 times in any other (not good) movie. We don’t know much about the Green Lantern, but we have it on good authority that he was supposed to be the honorable sort.

The movie decided to cast cool, young Ryan Reynolds and slap Tony Stark’s personality on the main character. Ignoring good material and completely changing the character is a little insulting to Green Lantern fans. If the result had been good, we wouldn’t complain. But it looks like the studio just wanted something that would resonate with a young, dumb audience, so they made it shallow and lame.

This movie was all about the visuals. If you go, we recommend the 3-D version. The filmmakers put a lot of thought into what things looked like and ignored everything else. Leading lady Blake Lively was asked to try out 14 different shades of brown in her hair before they settled on the final product, and it looked like she had dropped about 15 pounds since we last saw her in Gossip Girl, where she was already tiny. What is it about Hollywood that wants to make people think that a normal, pretty woman looks like that? It takes devoting your entire life, every day, to exercise and diet to look like that. Unless you just have a sickness.

There were some funny moments and you did root for the main character sometimes. It was an uncomplicated story, so you didn’t have to try hard watching it. Parts of it felt a little slow, but it was entertaining, overall. Ryan Reynolds did a good job with what he was given. The movie had good messages about courage and commitment. The movie is not nearly as bad as most reviews would have you believe. One of our friends enjoyed himself. Toward the end, as everything was wrapping up, we heard him mutter, “F*** everyone; I liked this movie.” He admits that the script was hideous though.

We WILL give some credit where credit is due: It had a better monster than Super 8. It looked like a deuce someone dropped, only with a face, but still. It was scary and weird. It will haunt the nightmares of little kids who went to see this movie.

If you want to see it, we won’t dissuade you. The critics might be overreacting because Green Lantern had to follow both Thor and X-Men: First Class, two movies where the writers actually tried. If you don’t want to see Green Lantern, for the love of God, stay away.

Movie Grade: C-. We’re feeling generous.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Game of Thrones Finale and Season One

We are ready to say the thing you should never say but is sometimes true: It was better than the book.

By better, we mean more entertaining, easier to get through, and still quality storytelling. Season one covered book one’s material, and there were plenty of memorable moments. The melting crown, the big twist in the penultimate episode, the twincest. The first season started out slow for some people, but believe us, the book was slower. Season two is only going to amp everything up and this series will improve.

The finale set up a huge feud for the throne and Sansa even got cooler. Also, how hilarious is Jaime? We know the first episode might make him hard to forgive, but you might end up liking him. Coming onto Ned's wife was classic. We can’t wait for Tyrion to get to King’s Landing and take over as hand of the king. We saw him with Joffrey earlier, and we like what he did with all the slapping. More slapping of Joffrey, we say. The finale showed us that there are several characters left for whom we can root.

And finally, some magic is coming. The little dragons were great. Now is the time to catch up on this show in a marathon to be ready for season two. HBO did this story the best they could. We liked the actors, scenery, costumes, music, screenplay, and just about everything else. We have very few complaints.

This season misses getting an A because of pacing, but we think that will be resolved next season because season two will have a better story. The slow days ended weeks ago and it's only going to speed up from here. We're really grateful that HBO took a risk with this show and put its heart into it. HBO didn't do this halfway, and this season was a good start to what's going to be a great series.

Episode Grade: A-
Season Grade: B+