Friday, October 5, 2012

2012 Movie Round Up

Hey all,

SUPER long time since I've posted.  Lame-o.  I moved and whatnot, so I feel like that was a part of my delinquency.  Anyway.  I've seen bunches o' movies and listened to bunches o'songs since then.  I've decided to review those Twitter style.  Aka I literally opened Twitter and restricted my comments for each review to 140 characters (except for the stars--sorry, only human).  This will be interested (read: boring).  Starting with movies, music to follow...


Beasts of the Southern Wild

Beauty of a film.  Wallis is a superstar.  Lots of crabs (Not the sex kind).  Definitely see twice to appreciate.  Craving alligator now?

Rating: 5/5 stars

Pitch Perfect

Rebel Wilson is my hero.  Great one liners, but will it be funny in a second viewing?  Debatable.  Crazy vomit scene, tho.  Plus in my book.

Rating: 3/5 stars

Safety Not Guaranteed  

Stars April from Parks&Rec.  'Nuff said.  But I still have lots of characters left, which are now wasted instead of used to praise this gem.

4.5/5 stars



Rating: 5/5 stars

For a Good Time Call...

Cute (in a super sexually explicit way).  Expected more bite and humor, but I felt ok.  Ari Graynor is my new favorite ever.

Rating: 2.5/5 stars


Not cute (in a sexually explicit way) but bitingly funny--almost uncomfortably.  Rebel Wilson is a plus.  Not enough James Marsden nudity.

Rating: 2.5/5 stars

The Dark Knight Rises

Hathaway steals the show.  Issues with ending stop a higher rating, but still awesome.  Action is sweet.  Worst Cotillard performance ever.

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

The Avengers

The other huge superhero movie of the summer.  Joss Whedon is a God--pulling this off so well.  Tony Stark was the most entertaining, IMO

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Perks of Being a Wallflower

Ezra Miller has the greenlight.  The butt greenlight.  Moved--but more by subject matter than movie craftsmanship?  Either way, great.

Rating: 4/5 stars

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Movie Review: Friends with Kids

Do you know someone who is desperate to get you to like him or her (or gender neutral pronoun, who knows)? This movie is sort of like that friend--charming at moments, and lord knows this friend has a checklist of all of your favorite things (aka Maya Rudolph, Kristen Wiig, etc). Yet, the desperation to win you over is ultimately off putting. That's how I would describe Friends with Kids.

Sure, there are profane jokes--poop jokes included, which I love. Sure, there's dirty sex talk--even floppy vagina jokes, which I love! And sure, it features a third of the cast of Bridesmaids--which I love! But this movies tries to throw too much, too fast and never really packs the punch it could. I'm not saying it's a bad movie--far from it. But it could have been great.

To save time, I'm going to boil this review in to a Pros/Cons list


1. Poop jokes
2. Floppy vagina jokes
3. Casting
4. A sizable amount of humor


1. For a movie trying to say something different, the ending was kinda cliched
2. Never really found anyone too believable, which made it hard for me to care about the characters
3. Could have been more poop jokes
4. Can Jennifer Westfeldt's face move?

Anyway, it was a pleasant enough way to pass two hours, but isn't going to shake up the world like Bridesmaids did.

Rating: 2.5/5 stars.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Top 10 Movies of 2011

Yes, I know it's this is kinda overdue. But I wanted to catch enough good 2011 movies so that my list was coming from the 25 movies I saw last year, as opposed to previous years when I make a top 10 list from 13 movies seen. Holler.

Anywho, there were a bunch of movies I didn't see this year that were critically acclaimed, so if one of your favorites isn't on this list, there's a good chance I didn't catch it. Or I did and didn't love it. Deal.


10. Melancholia

Best Actress snubee Kirsten Dunst pulls out all the stops, but for me, it's the unraveling Charlotte Gainsburg that steals the show. Never has the end of the world felt so simultaneously bleak and exhilarating.

9. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Note that I didn't read the book first, nor have I seen the Sweedish version. So I went in fresh and I was blown away. The move is 2.5 hours long, but is so tightly edited that it never drags. Mara is a revelation as Lisbeth, but with a role so complicated, you'd hope so. I would have never guessed that anal rape could be portrayed as less depressing than tossing a leather jacket in a dumpster.

8. Bridesmaids

Someday the Academy will be cool enough to recognize the difficulty of comedy and give an Oscar to a performance like Melissa McCarthy's. Until then, I'll be content rewatching this comedic masterpiece--specifically the volcanic diarrhea scene. Please don't make a sequel unless it is mind blowing.

7. The Descendants

Where was fucking Robert Forster's Oscar nomination? I think I cried about four times during this movie. Some of my friends are really apathetic about this, but I don't really care. It's my list.

6. The Artist

Although The Artist was never my first choice for Best Picture, Best Director, or Best Actor, I'm damn happy that I really enjoyed a Best Picture winner for the first time since 2008 (and clearly the alpha Best Picture winner of the 2010s. Eat a dick, King's Speech). And even though Jean Dujardin wasn't my vote for actor, he sure charms the pants off of me. Feel free to take that previous statement to a dirty place.

5. Drive

Super cool. Super violent. Just super all over. Gosling underplays the lead brilliantly. Albert Brooks should have been a contenda (for the Oscar). Poor Christina Hendricks. That elevator scene is a work of genius. This is a super disjointed commentary.

4. Tinker Tailor Solider Spy

Ah. Now enter my actual vote for Best Actor: Gary Oldman. Incredible. I think my advice to anyone going to see this movie is that you better be prepared to pay attention to every g-damn detail. But it's worth it. Also, the movie really effectively uses the guy who plays Lupin in the Harry Potter movies.

3. Hugo

Ugh. I really love this movie. Probably the 2nd most rewatchable of the list, after Bridesmaids. I wish Ben Kingsley had been an Oscar contender (opting not to go for the Marlon Brando reference this time). Anyway, get over your aversion to 3D and go see this movie right away. It's delightful.

2. The Tree of Life

Admittedly, this movie is a little hard to watch at times. But I can't think of a single film more lovingly crafted. Every shot is a thing of beauty and it pains me that the cinematography Oscar went elsewhere. Both Brad Pitt and Jessica Chastain got Oscar noms for other movies, but my gut is saying they gave better performances here. Really stunningly shot and has a lot of emotionally profound moments. Definitely something special

1. A Separation

I cannot, for the life of me, think of another movie where literally every scene, shot, line of dialogue--everything--comes together in such a brilliant way. Honestly, this movie was so well planned and executed that it blew me away. There are so many layers of meaning in this film, and it starts in such a simple way. To me, this movie really raises the bar for other films because not a single moment is wasted--but you don't realize how important everything is until the film wraps up. I wish I could say more, but spoiling even one little detail of this movie would do it a huge disservice. Just see it.

That's it. I've had a cold for two whole weeks, so if I don't sleep now my throat might quit on me. Blergh. NIGHT NIGHT.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Whitney Houston--Riha's Top 10 Songs

Hey all,
I don't want to write a long post here, but I felt compelled to say a little something about Whitney Houston in light of her passing.
As a Whitney fan, I've gone through my ups and downs with the diva--from utter faith in her ability to regain her stardom to extreme disappointment in her downfall. I suppose all of that seems moot now, since I'll never know what could have come her way. She meant a lot to me musically--a rare voice that couldn't be touched in its heyday. From 1985-1994 her power was undeniable. Perhaps Mariah/Celine/other divas have held onto their voices for longer, but nobody could touch Whitney in her prime. I will miss her.I was actually in the process of reworking my Top 10 Whitney songs before she died, so now finishing seems appropriate. She had a lot of great songs and I agonized over this for a while.

10. I Look to You

Her last CD, I Look to You, may not have performed to expectations, but it was a solid effort. This song was a glimmer that old Whitney could still emerge someday. Although her live performances at this point were hit or miss, this one suggested she was on the road to recovery:

9. How Will I Know

Her first dance hit, of like four total dance hits (note--this is mathematically inaccurate). I'd post my favorite live performance (don't worry, this will become a trend soon), but since the music video is such a hoot I'll post that:

8. All the Man That I Need

Oddly, this song isn't regarded as one of her biggest hits, even though it's her fourth most successful song on the Billboard charts. WELL I'M BRINGING IT BACK. This video is of her rehearsing before her first ever appearance on SNL:

7. I Have Nothing

As much as American Idol contestants try, they'll never top the original. Hell, even Natalie Cole tried to sing this at the Oscars and couldn't hold a candle to the original Here's a stuning performance at the Billboard Music Awards:<

6. I Believe in You and Me

Granted, this might be getting a small boost because of its lyrical content in the wake of her death...but it's still amazing. I consider this her last really great vocal before things deteriorated. This live performance shows a few signs of cracks in the republic, but she's still totally killing it circa 1997 AND sits in a chair the whole time:

5. Saving All My Love for You

I love this song, despite its surprisingly salacious (well, salacious for Whitney) content. I'd be remiss if I didn't link to her singing this at the 1986 Grammy Awards...largely because she won a freaking Emmy for this live performance:

4. One Moment in Time

I don't care that it's kinda cheesy because the lyrics really hit home for me. Thinking of a struggling closeted Riha years ago, this song was one I listened to and made me feel like the intense sadness I was feeling would go away. This is my favorite live performance she's ever done:

3. My Love is Your Love

A surprisingly low key number, but I think her death has given the lyrics new emotional weight. I wanted to pick a good vocal of this I went with her Letterman appearance. Sadly, Bobbi Kristina didn't cameo, but she does so YouTube that business:

2. I Will Always Love You

Classic. Powerful. Undeniable greatness. There's an embarrassment of riches with live performances of this one, so I just picked a classic:

1. I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)

I love this song. Always have, always will. It's never ceased to be my favorite Whitney and I think it's how I would most like to remember her--happy, upbeat, and at the top of her vocal form:

And a few more live gems that aren't technically "Whitney" songs, but are worth watching...

Obviously her Star Spangled Banner:

BUT! If you want an extra dose of patriotism, check out her Battle Hymm of the Republic:

I know I posted I Have Nothing earlier, but here's a killer medley of Porgy and Bess/Dreamgirls (And I Am Telling You!!!)/The Bodyguard:

And although this was an album cut for Whitney, in my heart this is a duet (hence it not making my list). Here's When You Believe at the Oscars:

I feel like I could go on all night. But I'm going to leave it here.

Goodbye, Whitney.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Predicting the Oscar Nominations

It's Oscar season. Naturally this means I'm watching movies than usual (a clever front to justify more popcorn than usual). As in the past, I'm going to offer my predictions in the majors categories. If you end up winning a lot of money off of these predictions, please at least promise to spend it on some shallow, materials goods. That would be the best way to thank me.

Anyway, let's do this. I'm going to focus on Picture, Director, and Acting categories. I don't really care about much else except Original Score, which I doubt any of you care about so there's no need to write about it. Whee.

Let's work backwards.

Best Supporting Actor

The five I predict are...

Christopher Plummer, Beginners
Kenneth Branagh, My Week with Marilyn
Jonah Hill, Moneyball
Nick Nolte, Warrior
Albert Brooks, Drive

Anticipated snubs that bum me out...

Ben Kinglsey, Hugo
Robert Forster, The Descendants
Patton Oswalt, Young Adult
Brad Pitt, The Tree of Life

So, this category is one that I don't feel super sure about. I mean, the safe bets are Plummer and Branagh. Technically Hill is a safe bet also, but he's so bland in Moneyball it almost shocks me he's a sure thing. But he has precursor attention, so I guess that's that. Look for Viggo Mortensen (yum), Armie Hammer (yum), and Max von Sydow (OLD) to be possible spoilers come Tuesday. With my snub list, you can see who I wish would be nominated. They're probably pipe dreams, but a small part of me is holding out for Kingsley (and in a just world, Oswalt would get the "comedian playing against type" nom over Hill).

Best Supporting Actress

The five I predict are...

Octavia Spencer, The Help
Jessica Chastain, The Help
Melissa McCarthy, Bridesmaids
Berenice Bejo, The Artist
Janet McTeer, Albert Nobbs

Anticipated snubs that bum me out...

Charlotte Gainsbourg, Melancholia
Pretty much any lady, Bridesmaids (In particular, Maya Rudolph and Rose Byrne)
Shailene Woodley, The Descendants
Marion Cotillard, Midnight in Paris

So, Woodley could very well be nominated (hooray!) in what seems to be a very tight category. I don't really anticipate anyone sneaking that will horrify me (a la Penelope Cruz getting a nom for Nine). The one trick is Bejo, who could easily be placed in the lead category. If category confusion causes a Bejo snub (or Bejo in lead), then Woodley will likely take her place. However, I think that the nature of The Artist makes it seem that most voters are going to do what Harvey Weinstein tells them to do and put her supporting. It's a real shame Gainsbourg has no chance here.

Best Actor

The five I predict are...

George Clooney, The Descendants
Brad Pitt, Moneyball
Jean Dujardin, The Artist
Michael Fassbender, Shame
Gary Oldman, Tinker Tailor Solider Spy (commas removed to avoid confusion, yo)

Ok, if you're really trying to win money off of this, you'd be smart to replace Oldman with Leonoardo DiCaprio for J.Edgar. He has more precursor love here in America. But I'm not smart and feel like going off of a hunch that Tinker is poised for a last minute surge due to release date and BAFTA noms. So I'm taking a risk here I hope will pay off. This is a very good category, though and I can't really think of any lead male performances I preferred to these five. I suppose Oldman, if snubbed, would be the one I think should be here. I will say that if DiCaprio does make it over Oldman, then this category is a wonderful idea for a gangbang.

Best Actress

The five I predict are...

Viola Davis, The Help
Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady
Michelle Williams, My Week with Marilyn
Tilda Swinton (what will she wear next?!?), We Need to Talk About Kevin
Glenn Close, Albert Nobbs

Anticipated snubs that bum me out...

Charlize Theron, Young Adult
Rooney Mara, Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Kirsten Dunst, Melancholia
Kristen Wiig, Bridesmaids

It's safe to say that if it were up to me, I'd take my snub list, add Viola Davis, and call it a day. Alas, I don't have that power. This category seems all sewn up. The only possible surprises would come from Bejo or Mara sneaking in, but I think that seems unlikely at this point. Close and Swinton are the only ones that are vulnerable, but given how things have gone thus far I think they're still the most likely choices.

Best Director

The five I predict are...

Michael Hazanavicius, The Artist
Martin Scorsese, Hugo
Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris
Alexander Payne, The Descendants
David Fincher, Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Anticipated snubs that bum me out...

Terrrence Malick, The Tree of Life
The Nazi Lover, Melancholia
Someone I've never heard of (but nice job), Tinker Tailor Solider Spy

Of the predicted five, only Fincher seems vulnerable. If he doesn't make it, I'd guess either Tate Taylor (The Help) or Steven Spielberg (War Horse). Neither of them deserve it over Fincher, so here's to hoping the Academy does the right thing. It blows my mind that Malick has no chance because he created the most visionary movie of the year. If my predictions hold up, a very good category.

Best Picture

Ok, this requires some explanation. I am going to rank my top 10 choices (in order) for Best Picture. Because anywhere from five to ten movies could be nominated, I'm ranking to determine the appropriate cut off point to gauge my success. In other words, if seven movies receive nominations on Tuesday, I will look at my top seven movies here and see how I do. Make sense?

1. The Artist
2. The Descendants
3. Hugo
4. Midnight in Paris
5. The Help
6. Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
7. Moneyball
8. War Horse.
9. Bridesmaids
10. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Anticipated snubs that bum me out...

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows 2
How to Train Your Dragon (it should be a write in from last year)

Yeah, I don't have much to say. We'll see what happens. I feel super crappy about my choices. Yippee. I think it's safe to say were all in this for the classy fashion choices we'll see on the red carpet.

I'm pretty sure this last dress isn't from the Oscars, but any excuse to continually punish her for Sex and the City 2.