Archive for November, 2008

28 Days Later. . .

November 29, 2008

. . . Meg has just completed her first NaNoWriMo (with 47 hours to spare!).  Yep, that’s right — I just wrote a 50,000 word novel in TWENTY EIGHT DAYS.  And now, it is done and I get to go to bed.  Praise Pete.

Hey, maybe I’ll finally get a gardening blog post written now (hi, Janet!)?  Not to mention reviews for all TEN of the movies I saw this week while on vacation at my parents’ house.  Ooh, and I might actually READ A BOOK next week!  That isn’t a Civil War reference text!

Life is good.  I am thankful.

I’ll be taking the weekend off from all types of writing, but shall return Monday, December 1st with the onslaught of movie reviews and more more more.  In the meantime, here is my official completion badge — read it and weep, NaNo drop-outs!  (And go, Eva, go!)

Nano

Nano

ABC SUX

November 21, 2008

Canceled:  Pushing Daisies and Eli Stone.

ABC = wankers.

New Boyfriend is Up!

November 17, 2008

Jeez, finally.  You know what’s really time-consuming?  Writing a 50,000 word novel in a month.

This week’s newest Boyfriend, though, is super-cute and his show is about to be canceled.  C’mon, team!  Let’s work together to save one from the infamous Meg Wood Curse!

Read the new write-up here, and then come back to this post to leave your comments.  Enjoy!

MOVIE: The Happening (2008)

November 10, 2008

thehappening1I don’t typically bother writing reviews of movies I didn’t finish watching, but man, in this case, I feel it is my responsibility to tell you NOT TO RENT THIS.  Save yourselves!

Of course, it’s my own damn fault — it’s not like I need YOU to tell me that.  I remember when this movie came out and all the critics panned it.  I remember it like it was yesterday, in fact.  But since when do critics and I ever agree on anything (except for Roger Ebert, of course, who has an adorable affection for crap just like I do).  But I continued to hold out hope that they were just M. Night hataz and that it might be bad but still entertaining.  Many of M. Night’s movies ARE bad but still watchable, right?  Signs?  I loved Signs!  All that alien stuff was totally stupid — do not get me started — but it was still FUN.  Maybe this is just Signs starring Marky Mark?  It’s possible, right?

But this one?  IS JUST PLAIN BAD.

The reasons why are too many to list, so I’m going to narrow it down to two to spare you having to partake of a twelve-page rant on a Monday.  The two, in brief, are:  1) the worst casting job of all time, and B) angry plants.

I can barely even bring myself to talk about the angry plants.  Really?  ANGRY PLANTS?  I didn’t watch the whole movie, as I said earlier, so I don’t know the entire story here, but my guess based on Wahlberg’s opening scene (talking to a bunch of students about the mysterious disappearance of bees) plus a scene later where he was trying to calm a plant down so it wouldn’t release the toxin that was driving everyone to kill themselves, is that we humans have done so much damage to our planet that the plants have decided to revolt to save themselves.  Whether this is an active decision on their part, or just a combination of toxins in the air changing the plants’ chemistry into something even more toxic than the original toxins, I have no idea.  I didn’t get that far.  But no matter what, this was just plain stupid.  It didn’t make any scientific sense — it was just an excuse to preach about global warming, and one not well thought-through at all.  Dumb arguments about global warming do more harm than good, if you ask me. It’s not going to work like this, people!

In other words, bite me, M. Night Shymalamadingdong, or however you spell your last name.  Thanks for your contribution (again!) to the world of scientific ignorance.

But honestly?  I could’ve probably stuck around for the entire movie despite the extreme lameness of the overall plot (it’s not like I’m that picky when it comes to plots, after all) had it not been for the absolutely heinously bad casting of this film.  Mark Wahlberg is just ridiculous in his part as a high school science teacher with a troubled marriage (really?  MARKY MARK as a high school science teacher?  When I see him in my head, HE IS STILL ONLY WEARING UNDERPANTS).  Even worse?  The casting of Zooey Deschanel, WHO I LOVE, in her role as his miserable, maudlin, maddeningly-miscast wife.

Zooey Deschanel should not play miserable and maudlin.  That’s just seventeen kinds of wrong right there.  You take one look at her face with those big awesome eyes and you just want her to make you laugh, like she so often does.  Whoever picked her for this movie needs to be kicked in the shins.  HARD.  And then they need to apologize to me.

THIS MOVIE IS TEH HORRIBLE.  Why am I still talking about it?  I’m not!  I’m not talking about it anymore!  I’m done!  Goodbye!

[Don't Netflix Me | Buy Me?!  ARE YOU NUTS? I'm not even giving you the link for this one.]

Genre: Crap
Cast:  Zooey Deschanel, Marky Mark, John Leguizamo, and I don’t give a frak who else.

MOVIE: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)

November 6, 2008

indycrystalThis is another one of the movies I watched with my Mom a couple of weekends ago.  I just hadn’t had time to write about it, and wanted to blog horror for a bit in celebration of Halloween.

But now here I am, ready to tell you all about it.  And here’s what I have to say in a nutshell:  I know what you thought of this movie, and you are all a bunch of jaded stinkos for thinking it.  Yes, I recognize that this is not a brilliant film.  I recognize that Harrison Ford looked old and didn’t act all that well in it.  Yes, I know — ALIEN SKULLS.

But you know what?  I DON’T CARE.

There is absolutely no excuse for not seeing this movie if you’ve seen the other three.  You can’t just NOT SEE IT simply because you know it’s not going to be great.  Because you saw Temple of Doom, and it wasn’t great either (though I do loves me some good monkey brains), and what’s more, you’ve probably seen it at least TWELVE TIMES now.  So get off your high horse and go rent the damn new one.

If nothing else, I think you will enjoy Mutt, who plays Jones’s sidekick in this one — I did, anyway.  When it was over, in fact, I was thinking how much fun it would be to have an Indy Jr. series, where Mutt takes over where IndyDad left off and the adventures continue.

[Um, and here's where I hit "Post" instead of "Save" and published the above without even reading it over first -- whoops!  Guess I'll just leave it like this!]

[Netflix me | Buy me]

Genre: Drama, Adventure
Cast:  Harrison Ford, Karen Allen (still a Hottie McHotterson!), Cate Blanchett, Shia LaBeouf.

Double Feature: The Strangers (2008) and Ils (Them) (2006)

November 5, 2008

Halloween night, I had two movies I was planning to watch as I doled out high fructose corn syrup to the neighborhood kiddies, and oddly and completely unintentionally, the two movies ended up being virtually identical in storyline and theme, only one was in English, and one was in French.  One guess as to which one I ended up thinking was scarier.  Yep, you guessed it.  And please note that just because I liked the French one better than the American one DOES NOT MEAN I AM A TERRORIST.

Both these movies are about a couple who live out in the middle of nowhere in the woods and, one night, become the victims of a group of people who are totally bat-shite crazy.  In The Strangers, it’s James and Kristen (Scott Speedman and Liv Tyler), and they’ve just been to a wedding that has threatened to destroy their own relationship and are spending the night in James’s family’s cabin before, ostensibly, breaking up in the morning.

In Ils/Them, it’s Lucas and Clementine (Monica Bonamy and Michael Cohen), and they are a French couple living in a big huge old house in the middle of nowhere in the woods of Hungary.  Which, as we are about to find out (twice!), is a REALLY bad place to live.  The middle of nowhere in the woods, I mean.  Not Hungary.  I’ve never been to Hungary, so I must reserve judgment on that one.

In both these movies, the couple are relaxing in their respective houses when something odd happens.  In The Strangers, it’s a knock at the door, opened to reveal a young woman standing in the dark (porch light is out).  She asks if Tamara is home.  They said there’s no Tamara living there.  So . . .

She asks if Tamara is home.  Again.

And here’s where I started to perk up, because, seriously?  That’s creepy, if you ask me.  There’s nothing more disconcerting than standing two feet in front of someone who is not acting predictably.  Especially at night.  I hate it when that happens.

In Ils/Them, the couple is drawn to the front door by the sounds of a car stereo playing loudly — in the middle of nowhere in the woods, where there really shouldn’t be any car stereos.  Hey, that’s weird, they say to each other.  And when they go outside to investigate, they discover someone in the process of stealing their car.  Man, I REALLY hate it when THAT happens.

Now, here’s where I’m going to stop with the plot descriptions, because I think the less you know, the more fun you might actually have.  By which I mean: the more terrified you might actually be able to get (and being terrified is good, because actually being SCARED by a scary movie is a rare and wonderful thing that should always be embraced, in my opinion).

Instead, because these movies shared so much in common, and that went double for the unending series of mistakes made by their protagonists, I have once again compiled a list of tips/rules for you guys, lest you one day find yourselves in a similar situation.  Clip and save, yo, because I’m not watching any more of these home invasion horror movies for you — between these two and Funny Games, I’m all tapped out on the “mean people suck” genre.

INSTRUCTIONS for the next time you find yourself the subject of a night of torturous game playing by psychopaths:

1.  If you hear a noise outside your house late at night in the dark in the middle of nowhere in the woods, the best advice I have for you is to ignore it.  If you feel you must investigate, for the LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY, have everyone else in the household put on their shoes too.  I cannot underestimate the importance of shoes in a situation like this.  PUT ON YOUR SHOES.  PUT THEM ON.  Don’t make me tell you this again.

2.  That said, if at some point you decide your next move should be to climb from the bathroom, where you are trapped, into the attic, which might have a window you can shimmy out of but which also has multiple access points throughout the house, REMOVE YOUR SHOES before you go clomping around up there like a knucklehead wearing a neon sign that says, “Hey, bad guys!  I’M IN THE ATTIC NOW!”  This should go without saying, and yet, it so rarely seems to.  When you are being systematically stalked by sociopaths, BEING QUIET is often key to your success.  Almost never does “clomping around” do you any good whatsoever.

3.  When you are running around your house looking for a good room to flee into, do not pick the room draped in enormous sheets of plastic.  That’s just never going to work out in your favor.  Better yet:  do not live in any residence that features such a room.

4.  Don safety goggles before looking through peepholes, especially when you know the bad guys are on the other side of the door.  This too should go without saying, and yet, everybody always looks out the damn peephole!  And gets a screwdriver in the eye!  Protect your brains, people!  You will need them later!

5.  Make no assumptions about numbers of attackers.  You may think there is just one.  But there is NEVER  just one.  Or, if there IS just one, then he is completely indestructible and you’ll be lucky if you make it to the sequel, so you might as well just give up now, final girls.

6.  If there is one piece of advice you follow, let it be this one:  LOOK BEFORE YOU SHOOT.  Seriously, I can’t stress this one enough.

7.  Under no circumstances should you and your partner ever split up.  Unless your partner has recently been stabbed in the thigh, in which case, he’s totally on his own, dude.

8.  When running through the woods in the middle of the night, always look forward, never look back.  The moment you look back is the moment one of three things will happen:  1) you fall into a hole you swear was not there a second ago; 2) you run into a low-hanging branch and knock yourself unconscious; or 3) bear trap.

9.  Take a cue from Darth Vader and wear black.  Especially at night in the middle of nowhere in the woods.  Not that this ever happened to Vader, but you know what I mean.  Wearing a bright white tee-shirt?  YA DON’T BLEND.

10.  Do not fall for obvious trickery, you fool, you fool!  If it seems too good to be true or too easy, IT IS.  And that goes double for when you A) think you’ve killed a bad guy (you haven’t) or B) you come across a conveniently located get-away car conveniently featuring keys in the ignition.  NEVER GET IN THAT CAR.  Good Lord (of the Rings), don’t you watch horror movies?!

So there you go, survival in ten steps.  Read them, learn them, love them.

Now for the verdict:  BOTH of these movies pretty effectively gave me the willies, and Ils practically made me pee my pants at least twice.  There’s something extremely scary to me about humans who enjoy tormenting other humans just to have something to do.  Especially when it’s happening in your own house, a place you are supposed to feel relatively safe from violence in when all your doors and windows are locked.  Home invasion movies involving “normal” human beings (i.e. not aliens, zombies, monsters, people with superhuman strength and nine lives, etc.) are almost always good for a real scare for me.  And these two both did a fairly reasonable job of it (though, again, Ils is way better, for all the usual reasons foreign movies are better than American ones — I’ll spare you that rant for the umpteenth time, though).

That said, both of these movies also committed a sin I absolutely hate, and that is to claim with all seriousness that they are based on true stories.  The Strangers?  Based on the true story that once when the director was a kid, someone came to his house looking for someone who didn’t live there, found out that that someone didn’t live there, and then left.  Ils?  Based on three people killed in some other country of which there is almost nothing known about the crime, including the ages, numbers, methods, and criminal trial outcomes of the killer(s).  Nothing that happens in either of these movies actually happened, as far as the writers/directors/producers know.  It’s all made up.  And you know what?  I’m ALWAYS going to look it up if you tell me your story is based on something that really happened.  And I’m ALWAYS going to be annoyed when I find out you lied to me.  So just stop doing it already.

Nevertheless, if you like actually being scared (or at least nudged from your comfort zone) by scary movies, these two are worth a shot.  And, in fact, I suggest a double-feature for full effect.  Preferably on a sunny Saturday morning, surrounded by large, strong people and a couple of obediently vicious dogs.  And maybe a shotgun.

BUT ONLY IF YOU KNOW HOW TO USE IT, FOR GOD’S SAKE.

[Netflix The Strangers | Netflix Ils/Them | Buy The Strangers | Buy Ils/Them]

Genre: Horror

Cast:
The Strangers — Scott Speedman, Liv Tyler, Gemma Ward, Laura Margolis, Kip Weeks
Ils/Them — Olivia Bonamy, Michael Cohen, Adriana Mocca


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