Sunday, February 28, 2010

Seeing The Nominees

I love movies. I love them so much, my Netflix queue hovers around the 400 mark (I'm hoping to either win the lottery or get mono so I can have time to watch all those films). Since I've learned many theater chains offer incentives to frequent watchers, I've ventured out more often. It certainly makes those award shows more interesting! When the Academy Awards announced it would nominate ten films for best picture, I thought that was crazy. Then, when AMC said it would show all ten nominees in two weekends, I thought I jumped at the chance to see them. I had seen four of the ten before Saturday. Here's the first lineup:
The day started at 10:45AM and ended around 10:30PM. Long day, but I had seen "Up" and "Precious," so I skipped out on those. Now, here's what I thought about this lineup. WARNING: POSSIBLE SPOILERS FOLLOW!

First, a few things you should know about me: I don't love science fiction, aliens or fantasy lands. I also don't love James Cameron. That "Titanic" movie? Meh. So the idea that he was doing a movie that was supposed to have better effects than that multi-million dollar sinking ship movie wasn't exactly baiting me. Still, I showed up. I put on the 3D glasses. I decided to give the movie a chance. I have to say, I actually liked the story. I totally get why people say it's a political movie. To go to war over something that has nothing to do with freeing the oppressed (um, hello oil in Iraq) and to send innocent people scrambling from their homes is not a pretty topic - even if they are extra large blue people who worship colorful plant and animal life. But seeing the people who were duped into making the invasion possible switch sides... well, that's a story I can dig! Knowing Cameron spent 500 years (slight exaggeration) working on this movie, I thought I'd be blown away. I was. Kind of. I mean, the world of the Na'vi was beautiful. And it seemed real. But I felt like the 3D effects were an after thought. I expected poisoned arrows to come flying my way. Instead, I was distracted by plants in the foreground during incredibly fast action scenes. I do give Cameron credit for his ability to sneak a love story into a sci-fi/action flick. One question: did this have to be nearly 2 and a half hours long?

I'll be honest: what lured me to this movie was the talking dog, Dug. I mean, I have always wondered what my pets would sound like if they could talk! The beginning of this movie is very adult: boy meets girl, boy falls in love with girl, couple grows up, couple gets married, couple can't have kids, couple gets old, woman gets sick and dies. Yes. Twenty minutes into a cartoon, I was crying. Carl, the old guy, meets a scout-type kid named Russell. Russell is quite eager. Carl is quite cranky. He decides to tie balloons to his house to honor his wife by going to the place they had always planned to go. Russell winds up tagging along and the adventure begins! This movie was sweet and funny. It may have the happiest ending of all the ten films (I have three more to see, so I reserve the right to take back that statement).

A Serious Man:
I had no idea what this was about. I only knew it was done by the Coen Brothers. This movie starts with a man telling his wife he had invited another man to their home. She says the man is dead. I thought they had started the wrong movie. I didn't think it was a horror film! But then, the movie goes on to the real serious man - the guy seen here on the roof. There is not one person in this movie who is not miserable. I mean, I wished the theater I was in served alcohol. It would have made me a little mopey so I could relate to these characters. A dysfunctional family at its worst. And just when you think they're turning things around and headed toward (mostly) happily ever after, BAM! The end! Only you're left to assume what happens to the characters. One more thing about me: I am not a fan of that. I want a real ending. I don't want to use my imagination. If I wanted to do that, I'd write a screenplay definitively wrapping up all the story lines.

This might be one of the most tragic films I've ever watched. With all the horrible things that happen to this girl who goes by the name "Precious," I couldn't help but wonder if kids who go through them would see that they, too, could survive. Precious doesn't just survive. With the help of a teacher and a social worker (played by a dark-haired, makeup-less and mustached Mariah Carey), Precious sees a way out. She sets off to make her life better than what her abusive mother had in mind. For a second, I wanted to be a teacher (the only thing stopping me: I'd likely be one of those caught duct-taping a child's mouth shut). Instead, I have rooted for Gabourey Sibide and Mo'Nique to take home every award possible as a message to all the little Precious kids out there that good things can come from darkness (will you look at that? I'm optimistic!).

District 9:
The only thing I knew about this movie was that it involved aliens. So when it started, I had a hard time getting past the documentary-style shooting and bad hair cuts (you mean to tell me everyone in South Africa has bad hair?). Once I saw the giant aliens picking through trash and eating cat food, I was grossed out. I thought life from other planets was supposed to be smarter than us! Why were they eating animal parts rejected by humans? Then, I realized this, too, was a political film. The MNU decides it will relocate the aliens, who have been there for 20 years, to a tent city (where have I seen this before???). Also, the aliens understand English, but speak their own language - and the Africans understand alien, but speak English. The guy in charge of the relocation gets infected and starts to become an alien and is (shocker) alienated from his family. One alien who he tried to evict says he can undo the alienism (for lack of a better word), so he decides to help him and his super cute alien son. But this unleashes one heck of a fire fight. The documentary style includes "news coverage," the likes of which made me wonder on what planet this was really happening (no news chopper would hover above a shootout with weapons that shoot lasers and blow people into tiny bits). Still, I rooted for the aliens. That, my friends, is a sentence I never thought I'd write. This was entertaining, but my least favorite of all the day's offerings. I'm not sure how this movie made Oscar's ten list, but it has. I feel confident in saying it will not win.

Next Saturday, I'll see the remaining roster. I'll let you know what I think of those five films and which one I think will win Best Picture.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Week in Pop Culture

If you're wondering why I'm doing this, it's because I find these stories and many of you never see them. So, as a public service, I gather the week's silly celebrity news and share it here. You're welcome. Cash tips are appreciated.

Jennifer Lopez is apparently without a record label and her new album may not be released. The lesson: you can make horrible movies and songs and you'll STILL get to host SNL. (Is this why my beloved Betty White is still waiting for her turn to host?)

In case you're wondering what to get me for my birthday, this is the opposite of what I want. Here's the picture proof.

So, Lindsay Lohan was a cokehead. That sounds about right.

Christmas wishes be damned! There will probably be another Kardashian baby.

I would love Whitney Houston to make a real come back. And by real, I mean capable of singing, not TALKING her way through her hits. I mean, I could talk my way through "I Will Always Love You" and sound this good:

Charlie Sheen is back in familiar territory.

"Two And A Half Men" must be cursed! Why else would Duckie's wife want to kill him?

What happened to Antonio Banderas?

George Lopez will voice Speedy Gonzales in a CGI version of the old cartoon. I'm gonna go ahead and call it the racist film of whatever year it rolls out.

Wow. The Jacksons should all seriously consider finding a plastic surgeon who will be honest, not just take their money.

I really hope Kelly Ripa's new tattoo doesn't bring bad luck on her marriage!

Mariah Carey is the bomb. I mean it. Look. She might pop right out of her clothes.

That "you're" in "You're So Vain" has been revealed by Carly Simon. Weird.

Any crush I had on Johnny Depp has been squashed.

Finally, R.I.P., Boner.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Week in Pop Culture

Wait just a second - there's a Boy George film in the works?!?!

Ladies who love Robert Pattinson should take note: keep your lady bits away from him!

I totally believe those romances on reality TV shows are made to last...especially Heidi & Spencer's.

It appears Paris Hilton cannot promote beer and stand at the same time.

Charlie Sheen's wife is addicted to crack? Of COURSE she is!

I'd like to see more Christina Hendricks, less stick-thin cover girls, please.

OMG! Something is wrong with Angelina Jolie's face. SPOILER ALERT: Botox.

Pamela Anderson really wants you to look at her.

My "sister" Tina Fey will host SNL in April and she might bring out her Palin again.

This song is stuck in my head. Sharing the gift.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

I'm At War!!

I love having a house! Really! I love not having neighbors stomping on my ceiling or blasting music so loud I can hear it through my floor. I love not having to hunt for a parking space. I love not having to haul my groceries through a parking lot.

One thing I love most is having a yard. Mine is small, but my little dog doesn't seem to mind. In fact, it's all his. He's marked every bit of it over the three years we've lived here. But something else loves my yard.

Last summer's extreme temperatures and lack of rain really did a number on my yard. In fact, there were few patches of grass that actually survived that. Then, over the last few weeks, I've begun to see green.
Those spots aren't grass (thankfully, as I'm hoping to avoid restarting my lawn service for at least another month). But they are weeds. And they are plentiful!
A few weeks ago, I peppered my yard with a combination of weed killer/fertilizer. That hasn't done much. I was a little disappointed when my mom said that stuff just keeps more weeds from popping up - I'll have to kill the weeds that are growing.
I was going to do that this afternoon (while telling my cold it could suck it), but then the winds came and I believe it's yet another cold front marching in. I'll tackle those jerky weeds another day. I'll win this war if it means the back-breaking task of bending to pull or poison those suckers!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Week In Pop Culture

What break up? It seems Brad can't keep his hands off of Angelina!

So, crazy Megan Fox needed a hand double for her Super Bowl ad. Everything else - ALL HER.

Jennifer Aniston is 41. And in a bikini. With Gerard Butler.

Two more examples of the lack of unoriginal ideas in Hollywood: "Gunsmoke" The Movie and "Laverne & Shirley."

SCANDAL: Anne Hathaway's armpit may have been airbrushed out of a magazine cover.

However, I am CERTAIN there was absolutely NO airbrushing on the new SI Swimsuit models.

Jimmy Kimmel may know funny, but he apparently does not know how to tell a lady what she needs to hear.

I wasn't planning on seeing that "Valentine's Day" movie, so you can pretty much bet that I won't see the sequel.

Someone needs to teach Bradley Cooper how to apply self tanner.

It appears magazines just ask Lindsay Lohan to pose because she'll pretty much do anything for a paycheck.

Alec Baldwin may have attempted suicide in front of his teenage daughter.

John Mayer should stick to singing songs and stop doing interviews.

Sad about the loss of Captain Phil. At least there will be one more chance to see him in all his glory.

I'm beginning to worry about Suri Cruise.

See? Beyonce is not perfect!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Why Bank of America Sucks

More than three years ago, when I started looking for a house, I decided to get a mortgage with Bank of America (I had a checking and savings account with them at the time). If I had to do it all over again, I would have chosen someone else.

When I signed all those mortgage papers, I said I wanted to make bi-weekly payments. That should have been a done deal. Instead, in October, I received a letter saying I'd have to re-enlist in that program. At first, I thought it must be a mistake. Then, after a phone call (during which I waited on hold for 20 minutes), I was told I would, in fact, have to sign up for the program all over again. I told the person on the phone that was really a dumb thing to do. They should let the customer opt out of the program. Then, I realized the way I was paying my mortgage meant I could pay it down faster (and we all know, banks want you to keep paying them for as long as possible).

Imagine my surprise when I look at my statement and see that I was charged for that call. I was also being charged a monthly service fee that was supposed to be waived since I had my mortgage through them (despite my attempts to correct that, it never happened). So, I decided to close my checking and savings accounts at Bank of America. When I called to tell them I needed to change the account information to pay my mortgage, guess what? I was charged for that call, too.

When I walked into the nearest Bank of America to close my account, I was met by the nicest banker. When I told her about the lack of attention I received during my phone calls, her response was, "Well, you could have come into the bank for service." Yeah. That's exactly what I wanted to do every time I had an issue with them. As I closed out the account, a teller said, "Oh, you weren't supposed to be charged this fee because you have a mortgage with us." I said, "Yeah. Want to refund nearly three years of those charges?" She said, "I can't do that." I said, "Give me my money. NOW."

I had to make a mortgage payment by phone in November, then pay by mail in December because they couldn't get the auto draft of my other bank account straightened out. Each time I was assured they would get the payment right the next month. Imagine my surprise when they don't draft a single payment the entire month of January. I call Bank of America February first. I wait on hold for half an hour. I finally get an operator who, after looking up my account while I wait on hold, cannot explain why my mortgage payment was never drafted. This is when I get REALLY angry.

"What do you mean you don't know why it didn't draft? How can you people fuck up an auto draft?"


"I mean, you're a BANK! Collecting payments is what you do, right?"


"If you can't get your shit together, tell me now. I'll find another lender."

Operator finally says, "Ma'am, I'm making a notation in your file to make sure we auto draft the payment Friday."

I sigh. "Listen, I know it's not your fault. But I am making this promise to you right now: the next time I call you, it's to close this final account with you people. You have shitty customer service. You can't seem to figure out a fucking auto draft? My God! That's the one thing you people are supposed to do!"

She apologizes. Then, I ask for a supervisor. I want to make sure that I am heard loud and clear. BTW, I understand there's a very good chance there is no supervisor taking these calls. It's most likely some other under-paid call taker sitting in a cold, dark room.

My payment went through Friday. I am still giving serious thought to finding another mortgage lender.

I am also considering writing to every one of my lawmakers to let them know that the next time Bank of America comes to them with their hands out saying they're "too big to fail," to just let them fail. If that's how a big bank behaves with my money (and my house) in its hands, it deserves to be smacked down. I do feel bad for how I spoke to the operator last week. I know it's not her fault. But someone there has to know it is bad business to not figure out an auto draft. It's especially bad business to keep customers on hold for half an hour. That's a sure way to fail. And they have no one to blame but themselves.

Friday, February 5, 2010

My Inner Drag Queen

That's me. A drag queen. Oh, I know there's a LOT going on there. But it was fun!

Queen yourself here. Let me know what you look like!

Week In Pop Culture

The next few weeks may be a challenge for Matthew McConaughey.

Every time I see this girl dressed up, her top is so tight it makes MY boobs hurt!

Britney Spears went to the Grammy's and forgot her dress.

If this doesn't make a good case for not cramming your toes into pointed shoes I don't know what will.

I have recently announced my desire to adopt Betty White. Here's one more reason why I love her.

Ugh. Now I hate Gisele Bundchen.

Yet I don't hate Lauren Hutton. She rocks!

After seeing this, I think the folks at A&E should give Lindsay Lohan a call. Their "Hoarders" and "Intervention" shows could dedicate an entire week to her issues!

Confession: I am not a fan of the Olympic games (go ahead, call me un-American). So, this news made me a little sad. I mean, a few weeks without "The Middle" & "Modern Family?" BOO!

Can someone call California's Child Protective Services on the Cyrus parents?

Tiger Woods is apparently out of sex rehab. So, girls, do him a favor and keep your ladybits away.