Tess Jennings

Aspiring writer living one day at a time.

Page 2 of 3

The Great Gatsby

Never had I ever thought I would say this, but I thought The Great Gatsby actually did Fitzgerald’s classic love story justice. For one, Leonardo Dicaprio was spot on as Gatsby and I couldn’t picture anyone else playing the iconic enigma. He perfectly balanced the cool, mysterious party man with the crazed and slightly insane Daisy-phile. Tobey Maguire who played the naïve doe-eyed narrator proved that he could act beyond his Spiderman spandex as Nick Carraway. He was without a doubt casted perfectly, and was exactly how I pictured Nick in the novel. Joel Edgerton as the philandering Tom Buchanan and Elizabeth Debicki as the golfing starlet Jordan Backer were a few of the other standouts.  Carey Mulligan as the charming Daisy Buchanan was disappointing. She was a bit cold in a few of the scenes and wasn’t how I pictured Daisy at all (but everyone has their own version of The Great Gatsby floating in their heads). She did do a good job, but I thought some other actress could’ve fit the role better. Isla Fisher as the siren Myrtle Wilson was also a let down. She just didn’t embody the seductive Myrtle turtle character we all loved to hate.

But besides the characters, the soundtrack was without a doubt the shining green light at the end of the dock (I immediately downloaded the soundtrack after… I saw the commercial). Who doesn’t love a bit of Jay-Z, Florence and the Machine and 20’s swing? Nobody, that’s who! Not to mention the costumes were absolutely fabulous (What I wouldn’t give to try on some of those dresses). And the cars…talk about some beautiful classic automobiles and aggressive driving. Plus Baz Luhrmann’s epic cinematography was worth watching. I would most definitely suggest seeing this one, but make sure to read the novel first. Nothing compares to Fitzgerald’s prose. 

Oblivion

Oh Tom Cruise, you tried so hard to save this one. But I hate to say it, Oblivion just couldn’t be rescued. Cruise (and the special effects) were the only things that made Oblivion’s utterly confusing plot worth watching. Where to begin? Well, the movie opens with Jack Harper (Cruise) living on a post-apocalyptic earth that has been obliterated from the destruction of the moon by an alien race known as the Scavengers or “Scavs” for short. Harper and his partner, Victoria report each day to a Texan named Sally who lives with the rest of the human race on Saturn’s moon, Titan. Their job is to repair the drones that protect these ginormous water pumps that harvest energy for the people on Titan. The Scavs try every which way to destroy the energy pumps and Harper does a stellar job at fighting off the feathered masked aliens. Lost yet? Just wait, it gets better.

Harper keeps having dreams of a woman before the earth was destroyed at the Empire State Building. And what do you know!? Harper just so happens to stumble across the decaying Empire State Building where the Scavs were sending a signal from their planet to the earth. Well, Harper decides to head to a house on a lake in a meadow that he supposedly built where he would love to spend the rest of his days. (Why is everything on earth sand and water and a few miles a way there’s a beautiful, unscathed meadow?) While Harper is at his dream house, he sees a ship crash and goes over to investigate. There he finds…hmm…the woman from his dreams! Gasp! No, it can’t be! He saves her and takes her to the Empire State Building where he discovers that she is his wife.

The happily married couple is ambushed by Scavs…and is that Morgan Freeman? Yes, yes it is. Turns out, the Scavs don’t exist and they’re humans trying to survive drone attacks and rescue their planet and they have to wear masks because…they want to look bad ass. Freeman is the leader of the survivors and is literally on screen for ten minutes (Question: You were able to cast Morgan Freeman for your movie and you only put him on screen for ten minutes? That’s just wrong.) Anyway Harper and his wife are released and are attacked by lone drones. They crash land and discover someone who looks eerily similar to Harper. Oh he’s just a clone. No big deal (just an excuse for Tom Cruise to fight himself). Lost yet? Well, at that point I was, so I hand you over to David Edlestein’s review who seems like he understood it better than me: http://www.npr.org/2013/04/22/178415429/tom-cruises-latest-headed-for-oblivion

Have you seen Oblivion? If you have, tell me what you think of it! And if you haven’t, I would suggest spending your money elsewhere on a movie where your brain can follow what’s happening. Oh, and on a side note, didn’t Cruise just release a movie named Jack Reacher? Smart decision-making on his part, go for the Jack roles…That’s not confusing at all.  

Monday Marathon: Pretty Little Liars

I have a secret…I’m A. (Insert threatening text about how I’m gonna get you…and your little dog to). Just kidding, I’m not A, but at the rate Pretty Little Liars is going I don’t think we’ll ever really know who the anonymous creep is (or who’s on the A-team for that matter). It’s been 4 seasons, and I don’t know how much longer they can keep the whole “who’s A game” going for much longer. Granted I’ve never read the books and those novels must hold the answer to A’s identity, but I seriously suggest that ABC Family needs to speed up that reveal, because the show is losing steam. There’s only so many times those four girls can look stunned at the threatening text they just received while dressed in glamorous outfits that no high school girl realistically wears. Plus, (I was wondering about this during season 4’s finale) who in the world has time to follow around four teenage girls and blackmail them for three years? A, whoever you are, you could be doing so much more with your time.

If you’ve never seen Pretty Little Liars, here’s a quick summary: There are five best friends. The leader of the pack (Ali) is murdered. No on knows who killed her, but the four remaining girls begin to look awfully suspicious. After the shock from Ali’s death wears down, her friends begin to receive threatening text messages and notes from an anonymous individual named A. This masked miscreant somehow knows all the girls’ secrets. Now you might be wondering, “How many secrets could a few high school girls possibly have?” Answer: too many to count. From affairs with teachers to abandoning a police car in a river, you name it, they have a secret about it. How many more lies do these girls have left? It can’t keep going on forever! Pretty Little Liars has a fairly large fandom, so I don’t think it’ll be going anywhere anytime soon, but the writers definitely have to step it up soon, or else… 

Cinema Saturday: Inglorious Basterds

Hands down one of the best Quentin Tarantino movies ever (Plus who doesn’t love some Brad Pitt?). Inglorious Basterds follows an American tribe of Nazi killers during WWII who plot to take down the Third Reich. Pitt is their fearless leader who does a hilarious job at playing a tough talkin’ real American who can speak EYE-talian (one of the best scenes is when Pitt actually thinks that he’s fluent in Italian, when he is far from it). The Basterds hatch a scheme with the British government to kill Hitler at a premiere for a German propaganda screening. Unbeknownst to the Basterds, the owner of the movie theater also has a plan to assassinate Hitler and his henchman. The owner of the theater (Mélanie Laurent) is a young Jewish woman who years ago witnessed the cold-blooded murder of her family by the bloodthirsty “Jew Hunter” (Christoph Wentz). She plans to burn down the theater while Germany’s political leaders are trapped inside. A few dozen murders and some gruesome scenes later, and nothing goes as planned. Yet brief cameos by Michael Fassbender, Mike Meyers and Diane Kruger definitely make it worth watching through the gore. Eventually their plans work and in Tarantino’s alternate universe, Hitler is assassinated (quite brutally I might add).

This is one of my absolute favorites. I’ve never been fond of gory war movies, but this one is most definitely an exception to my rule. Tarentino manages to find the ideal balance of humor and war torn hardship in this fast talking fictional alternative to the end of Nazi Germany. Not to mention that the acting is outstanding. Wentz is the most intriguing character I have ever watched on screen. He is simultaneously a cordial gentleman who offers you a tasty strudel and a Nazi monster who will snap and kill you in seconds if you say something wrong. Hands down the best scene is when Wentz meets Laurent years after he killed her family. You never know if he realizes it’s her when he offers her a delicious strudel and talks to her for what feels like hours about her theater. I can’t imagine how anyone would react in a situation where you are sharing a strudel with the man who murdered your family. Oh Tarentino, you know how to write ‘em! Here’s that delicious strudel scene: 

Monday Marathon: Ugly Betty

Why, oh why, are series finales so sad? Yes, Ugly Betty finished its four-season run back in the olden days of 2010, but I only recently caught on by watching every episode in two weeks (pro procrastinator right here). How had I been missing out on this show for so long? With its ideal balance of Devil Wears Prada meets 30 Rock (just enough comedy, a little soap opera and fabulous fashion), it had everything I love.

The show follows Betty Suarez, played by America Ferrera, who’s a stereotypical nerd and wants nothing more than to be a success in the magazine publishing world. She’s eventually hired as assistant to the Editor-in-Chief (Daniel Meade) of a high-end fashion magazine (Mode) only because he would not be tempted to sleep with her like he has all his other assistants. Initially shunned by the ubber fashionistas for her ponchos and frizzy hair, Betty slowly works her way up the ladder through hard work and determination. With the support of her family, friend/enemies and several love interests; Betty finally comes into her own and loses the braces. After four years she decides to leave Mode for a position at a new magazine in London. Here’s where the bittersweet parts kick in. Betty has to say goodbye to her loving family and friends (I almost cried), but Daniel (her boss) won’t release her from her contract because “he can’t live without her.”Awwwwwww. Well, Betty leaves for London anyway without saying goodbye. After a few months, she just so happens to run into Daniel in London where he informs her that he quit Mode and asks her to dinner. Well folks, that’s where the series ends. Will Daniel and Betty be together? We will never know.

I wish they would have continued the series with Betty in London, but it wouldn’t have been the same without Mode. Now I’m going to have to find a show to replace Ugly Betty…Any suggestions? Let me know who your favorite character on Ugly Betty was!

Monday Marathon: Ugly Betty

Why, oh why, are series finales so sad? Yes, Ugly Betty finished its four-season run back in the olden days of 2010, but I only recently caught on by watching every episode in two weeks (pro procrastinator right here). How had I been missing out on this show for so long? With its ideal balance of Devil Wears Prada meets 30 Rock (just enough comedy, a little soap opera and fabulous fashion), it had everything I love.

The show follows Betty Suarez, played by America Ferrera, who’s a stereotypical nerd and wants nothing more than to be a success in the magazine publishing world. She’s eventually hired as assistant to the Editor-in-Chief (Daniel Meade) of a high-end fashion magazine (Mode) only because he would not be tempted to sleep with her like he has all his other assistants. Initially shunned by the ubber fashionistas for her ponchos and frizzy hair, Betty slowly works her way up the ladder through hard work and determination. With the support of her family, friend/enemies and several love interests; Betty finally comes into her own and loses the braces. After four years she decides to leave Mode for a position at a new magazine in London. Here’s where the bittersweet parts kick in. Betty has to say goodbye to her loving family and friends (I almost cried), but Daniel (her boss) won’t release her from her contract because “he can’t live without her.”Awwwwwww. Well, Betty leaves for London anyway without saying goodbye. After a few months, she just so happens to run into Daniel in London where he informs her that he quit Mode and asks her to dinner. Well folks, that’s where the series ends. Will Daniel and Betty be together? We will never know.

I wish they would have continued the series with Betty in London, but it wouldn’t have been the same without Mode. Now I’m going to have to find a show to replace Ugly Betty…Any suggestions? Let me know who your favorite character on Ugly Betty was!

Cinema Saturday: Les Miserable

Not going to lie, I was worried when I heard that Les Miserable would be hitting the silver screen. Being one of my absolute favorite novels and musicals, I didn’t want my love for Victor Hugo’s work to be crushed after seeing a subpar version grace the theaters. My worry that I would be utterly disappointed only intensified when I heard Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), Cat Woman (Anne Hathaway) and the Gladiator (Russell Crowe) would be playing leading roles. Don’t get me wrong, they’re all fantastic actors (besides Crowe), but I wasn’t so sure if they would be able to do Jean Valjean, Fantine or Javert justice.

I am happy to say that after seeing it three (ten) times in the theatres, I have come to the conclusion that they did do a fantastic job of bringing Les Miserable to life. The singing was wonderful; the cinematography was eye catching and (some) of the acting was terrific. Hugh Jackman was outstanding as prisoner 24601 and he should have won an Oscar for his performance (and that buttery voice). Anne Hathaway did win an Oscar for her role as Fantine, which was most definitely deserved. Her brief performance of 20 minutes on screen and her breathtaking version of “I Dreamed a Dream” was enough to make me cry. As for Crowe….Why? Javert is one of the most complex characters in the story, and yet Crowe made him oh so boring. Not to mention he isn’t even that great of a singer. I’m tellin’ ya, Gerard Butler would have been absolutely perfect as Javert. As for a few of the other casting choices, Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen were perfect as the immoral innkeepers who adopt Cosette. Speaking of Cosette, Amanda Seyfried did not stack up. I couldn’t stand her singing voice and she had no chemistry whatsoever with her love interest, Marius played by the adorable Eddie Redmayne. Samantha Barks who plays the tragically friend-zoned Eponine (who is in love with Marius) was magnificent.

Despite a few of the casting choices, Les Mis was superb. I know that the director, Tom Hooper, got some guff over his decision to have extreme close ups of the actors’ faces, but I though that the technique worked in his favor. It definitely added an extra layer of emotion. The one thing I didn’t care for was the barricade scene. It looked like it was filmed on a set and not in a small village in France like it was supposed to be. Hooper definitely missed out on a chance to astound with some epic scenery. I would highly suggest going to go see Les Mis if you haven’t done so already, and make sure to check out Nick Pitera’s one man medley of every Les Miserable song…he could have played every character! 

Throwback Thursday: Charade

This classic that was deemed “the best Hitchcock movie that Hitchcock never made” is a whodunit thriller that follows Audrey Hepburn after the murder of her husband. Hepburn is called into questioning by a CIA agent who informs her that her husband had stolen a quarter of a million dollars (that must have been millions in the 60s). Hepburn has no idea where the money is, but three of her husband’s old comrades think she knows and threaten to kill her if she doesn’t return the money. In her confused and frightened state, Hepburn meets Cary Grant who promises to help her. After a few run-ins with her pursuers, Hepburn discovers that Grant isn’t who he says he is, but she trusts him anyway (Yeah because that totally makes sense Audrey. Trust the man who randomly finds you after your husband dies and is trying to help you find the money…good thinking).

Anyway, Hepburn finally figures out that she had the money all along (SPOILER ALERT!) on an envelope addressed to her with stamps. The stamps are the money! (I will never look at stamps the same way again). She doesn’t trust Grant now that she knows where the money is and goes back to the CIA agent to return the stolen funds. Turns out that the CIA agent was nothing more than a fraud and another one of her husband’s old cronies. Grant kills him to protect Hepburn and she goes back to the U.S. embassy to return the money. When she enters the office, Grant is sitting behind the desk and informs her that he was the CIA agent all along and wants to marry her (and they lived happily ever after).

I would definitely suggest watching this oldie. The cinematography is exquisite and the plot twists keep you glued to the screen. Plus, Hepburn is so lovable and Grant is a superb double agent. Let me know what you think of it! 

Throwback Thursday: Charade

This classic that was deemed “the best Hitchcock movie that Hitchcock never made” is a whodunit thriller that follows Audrey Hepburn after the murder of her husband. Hepburn is called into questioning by a CIA agent who informs her that her husband had stolen a quarter of a million dollars (that must have been millions in the 60s). Hepburn has no idea where the money is, but three of her husband’s old comrades think she knows and threaten to kill her if she doesn’t return the money. In her confused and frightened state, Hepburn meets Cary Grant who promises to help her. After a few run-ins with her pursuers, Hepburn discovers that Grant isn’t who he says he is, but she trusts him anyway (Yeah because that totally makes sense Audrey. Trust the man who randomly finds you after your husband dies and is trying to help you find the money…good thinking).

Anyway, Hepburn finally figures out that she had the money all along (SPOILER ALERT!) on an envelope addressed to her with stamps. The stamps are the money! (I will never look at stamps the same way again). She doesn’t trust Grant now that she knows where the money is and goes back to the CIA agent to return the stolen funds. Turns out that the CIA agent was nothing more than a fraud and another one of her husband’s old cronies. Grant kills him to protect Hepburn and she goes back to the U.S. embassy to return the money. When she enters the office, Grant is sitting behind the desk and informs her that he was the CIA agent all along and wants to marry her (and they lived happily ever after).

I would definitely suggest watching this oldie. The cinematography is exquisite and the plot twists keep you glued to the screen. Plus, Hepburn is so lovable and Grant is a superb double agent. Let me know what you think of it! 

Marathon Monday: Parenthood

Whenever a new Parenthood pops up on demand, I ask myself: do I want to cry now or watch it later? With out a doubt nearly every episode of Parenthood I have ever watched has made me shed at least one tear…or two. I just can’t help myself from getting attached to the Braverman clan (they just love each other so much), and when everything seems to be going well, the writers cruelly pull the rug from under your feet when one of your favorites is diagnosed with cancer or I don’t know, nearly dies in a car crash.

Parenthood follows the lives of the Braverman family, which includes a host of aunts, uncles, grandparents, daughters, sons and cousins. There are far too many characters to list, but nearly every family member has a storyline that makes you far too emotionally connected. This past season was no stranger to my tears. First off, Haddie (one of the younger Braverman daughters) leaves for her freshman year of college across the country. I must say the writers from Parenthood are either brilliant or telekinetic, because literally the week after I left home for college 3,000 miles away, the episode of Haddie saying goodbye to her family aired. To say the least I was kinda a wreck that night after watching that episode. Besides leaving for college, Haddie’s mother Christina is diagnosed with breast cancer and nearly dies. And to top that off, Christina’s sister-in-law Julia and her husband Joel, adopt an eight-year-old rebellious lad who makes their lives torturous for nearly the entire season. I’ve always been fond of Julia and Joel, but I just couldn’t understand why they decided to adopt a troubled boy when they already had a young daughter who they loved. Not until the final episode of this past season did I understand when their adopted son, Victor, called Julia “mom” for the first time (now if that doesn’t turn on the waterworks, then I don’t know what will).

Although Parenthood has had to fight off a few threats of being cancelled over the years, I’m fairly certain that there will be a season 5. I’m so excited for what the next season has in store and I’m hoping it will have some happier story lines. But with such fantastic writing and lovable characters, I’m going to assume that there will be more tears to shed in the coming season. Until then, let me know who your favorite Braverman is!

Cinema Saturday: Identity Thief

Watch out! Identity Thief won’t just steal your personal information, but the 10 dollars you spend to go see it too. I was so excited to see this one because I’m a fan of Melissa McCarthy, but it was a major disappointment. The jokes weren’t even slightly funny, and I had a tough time rooting for the protagonist played by Jason Bateman because he wasn’t likable at all. I might be a bit bitter that this movie wasn’t as funny as I imagined it would be, but I guess I’ll have to admit that there were some funny moments. I did have a few chuckles here and there when McCarthy tried to run away from Bateman or during the numerous bouts of physical comedy.

The basic premise of Identity Thief is Sandy Patterson, played by Bateman, has his identity stolen by the manipulative and nutty McCarthy where she spends nearly all of his money on miscellaneous items like smart cars and guitars. With the impending threat of losing his job because of his horrible credit, Bateman decides to track down McCarthy in Florida. He doesn’t realize that two drug lords and a bounty hunter are already on her tail, but Bateman reaches her first and convinces her to go to Colorado where she will inform his boss that she stole his identity. After numerous pit stops, a few damaged cars and a run-in with Eric Stonestreet (Cam from Modern Family), they finally make it back to Colorado where McCarthy turns herself in because of her newfound friendship with Bateman and his family.

Identity Thief most definitely had the potential to be a fantastic comedy, but it just fell short. McCarthy and Bateman just did not have comedic chemistry (at all). Probably the funniest scene in the entire movie is in the diner where McCarthy manipulates the waitress into giving her a free meal (see video below). I wouldn’t suggest paying your hard earned cash on going to see this one, but if you want a few laughs (and it’s free), go see it!

Thursday Throwback: Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner

Guess who’s coming to dinner? Sir Sidney Poitier, that’s who! An academy award winner and best known for his roles in To Sir, With Love and In the Heat of the Night, Poitier does not disappoint in this ground breaking film about interracial marriage during the Civil Rights Movement. Acting along side Poitier is Spencer Tracy, Katharine Hepburn and her real-life niece Katherine Houghton. The film follows Houghton, a bright eyed 20-something who returns home to inform her mother and father (Spencer and Hepburn) that she is engaged. Of course her parents are thrilled until they meet the fiancé (Poitier), a well-respected African American doctor. Over the course of 24 hours, Houghton’s parents try to convince her that she is making a terrible mistake. During that time, Houghton persuades Poitier to invite his parents to dinner who wind up being just as shocked that their son wants to marry a white girl. Eventually, after numerous scenes of bickering, both sets of parents are won over by Houghton and Poitier’s love for one another and give them their blessings to be married.

This classic gem really pulls at your heartstrings. Besides the incredible acting, Poitier and Houghton’s love despite societal norms really makes you think about how far society has come in such a short amount of time. It boggles my mind that less than 50 years ago interracial marriage was a substantial issue. I would highly suggest seeing this one, especially since it was the last movie Spencer Tracy ever made. Upon Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner’s release in 1967, Tracy shockingly died eight days later. His final monologue about a father’s love will always bring tears to my eyes no matter how many times I watch it.

Go see Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner! And it’s your lucky day because the entire movie is for free on Youtube! 

« Older posts Newer posts »

© 2020 Tess Jennings

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑

css.php