Monday, March 21, 2016

Goofball island. Population you.

Now for a more light hearted entry after that very sombre "end of the world" tone from my last blog post! When Disney's Inside Out quotes Riley as having a "goofball island" I'd like to think we all have a bit of goofball in us. Some of us lose part of it as adults, but for most of us, that silly spark remains with us at heart :) I'd like to dedicate this post to some of my favourite goofball TV shows and movies that I recommend to anyone wanting a giggle and a laugh, guaranteed to pick you up out of your blues, make you cringe and in general just give you a good giggle. The 80's was a particular favourite of mine with the likes of Chevy Chase, Eddie Murphy, Steve Martin, Bill Murray, John Candy and Dan Akroyd.

National Lampoons Vacation - 1983 (Warner Bros)

The cast of National Lampoons
Clark Griswold and the family set off on a cross country adventure from Chicago to California to experience "Wally World" (America's favourite theme park) and along the way everything that could possibly go wrong does. Yappy loud teenager kids Rusty and Audrey, pouty wife Ellen and their trusty wagon almost don't survive the epic adventure their goofball father sets out for them, with a stop at their hillbilly cousins house half way, their crazy aunt adds to the already cringe worthy family mix. True 80's style, the naff fashions and mishaps will have you covering your eyes and shaking your head. Chevy Chase is at his most supreme dork and sadly I think this was the peak of Beverly DeAngelo's career. Anthony Michael Hall goes on from this role to star in other 80's teen flicks which will make the "teenage heart throb" blog post list. Add this one to the list for your cheesy movie night... it's a classic!

Coming to America - 1988 (Paramount Pictures)

Happy endings - Coming to America
Dubbed a "romantic classic" of the 80's, this one also in my opinion falls under best goofball movie of the 80's too. Murphy who plays Akeem - the prince of an African dynasty Zamunda, goes on a quest to find his Queen after being presented with total flops by his parents (King of Zamunda played by James Earl Jones). He decides that America's glory will present him with a fine selection of bride material and he and Semmi (Arseno Hall) take to America but to hide his wealth, Akeem goes under cover as a poor guy (much to Semmi's disgrace) living in Queens NYC. He meets Lisa McDowell (Shari Headly) when he applies to work in her fathers rip off McDonalds restaurant "McDowells" in Queens. This is one of my all time favourite goofball movies because Eddie plays the eloquent goofball so well. There are a list of one liners which you'll keep in your heart forever. "Sexual Chocolate!" comes to mind (in the 80's Murphy had a knack of dressing as alternate characters) such in this film where he actually plays all the different gents in the barber shop - from the barber himself to all the clients, and then the lead singer of the band playing at a's a hilarious part of his breakthrough movie comedy niche which was largely unique too. 

Revenge of the Nerds - 1984 (20th Century Fox)

The Nerds in action
No goofball comedy night is complete without a viewing of the movie which put nerds on the map. I think any modern day nerd could watch this film and instantly relate to it. When 4 buddies enrol in college to study computer science, they are faced with the fraternity onslaught and college woes to fit in. Main star is Robert Carradine and by the looks of his extensive movie role list, he stuck to the goofball genre quite heavily through out his career. Just like National Lampoons, this film will get your cringe factor going and perhaps take you way back to your college days. Thank god for these guys though social media and the internet as we know it wasn't around during all the embarrassment.

Ghostbusters - 1984 (Columbia Films)

Who ya gonna call? 
Hailed as one of the best comedy cult flicks of the last 30 years, Ghostbusters has an all star cast with king of the goofballs Bill Murray, there to serve the classic one liners. Along side him Dan Akroyd and Rick Moranis. Sigourney Weaver plays a very more seductive role (worlds apart from her Alien character!) and the only one liners you will ever need to remember for the rest of your life will be "Are you a god?" No. "Then diiiiiie!" and "You are the key master and I am the gate keeper". Along with your awesome 80's computer generated gouls ghosts and such, this is one of my all time favourite which I could happily watch on repeat a kid, I think I actually did! 

Sunday, March 13, 2016

They put the "e" back in humane

There have been a small handful of shows and movies in my time which I've watched that have left a profound mark in my heart. I'm going to dedicate this blog post to 2 stand out TV series and a movie which really put into perspective our humanity, mortality and which make you ponder what a tiny speck we all are in this huge universe that is our existence.

The Leftovers (HBO)

The Leftovers - Season 2 

I had a friend back home recommend The Leftovers to me in the lull of waiting for a few of our other favourites to re-appear after their season and mid-season breaks, I thought I'd give it a whirl. The first episode sets the precedent for the rest of the series and really plants that eternal question which remains the mystery of all 2 (and soon 3) seasons - how did the 140 million people "depart" our planet earth (or as those effected in the show call it - Sudden Departure). Justin Theroux leads the cast as Kevin Garvey, a small town sheriff who is directly effected by the occurrence and its after shocks, yet is one of the lucky ones whose family is left untouched. Sadly his wife (Amy Brenneman) Louise, walks out on him to join the even more mysterious cult: The Guilty Remnant, which forms shortly after the departure who hold a hefty part of the main story line as the cult members ensure they place themselves in the way of the every day town folk to never let them "forget" where their loved ones disappeared to and what happened on the day the departed left the planet. Kevin's emo daughter Jill is left in his care while his son Tommy drops out of college and takes refuge with a departed guru called Holy Wayne. Liv Tyler is introduced as Meagan, a married woman who decides to leave her husband and join The Guilt Remnant but for much of the first season struggles to understand the cult's purpose. It's later in season 2 where you will see Liv's character come to fruition as one of the main villains.

I could write on and on about just the first season of this show as the plot and sub plots are so intricate OR I could just recommend you watch it for yourself as I truly believe it is one of those thought provoking shows that needs to be seen with ones own eyes to draw ones own conclusions. It may not be for everyone as some of the themes can be quite confronting (such as the scene where Nora re-lives the day her husband and children departed) and I enjoyed the sub stories where you learn more about each character prior to the Sudden Departure too. It gives a well rounded history into the character development to understand where their heads are at, in the present. When season 1 finishes, it paves a whole new direction and chapter for the remaining characters (trying not to post spoilers!) along with a host of new characters in season 2. With the commencement of the second season, the setting changes to a little town called Jarden in texas, otherwise known as 'Miracle' where none of the population were taken on the day of the Sudden Departure. Meagan (Liv Tyler) develops into a very sinister character and immerses herself into the cult, which is in fact a takeover from the previous cult "leader" Patti of whose demise you witness in season 1.

This show for me personally made me question everything I know as mortality. How long do we actually have left on our beautiful planet? How do we know that something so similar could effect any one of us (ok...maybe by not being sucked off the face of the planet by an unknown force) but natural disasters come to mind. Will this actually happen? It also forces the viewer to think of moments such as...what would be the last thing you'd want to say to your husband or kiddies or ones you love, if a day such as the Sudden Departure ever occurred? The Leftovers taps into a forbidden emotional and spiritual place, questioning faith and beliefs. It's perplexing, but also leaves us thinking about our very existence and beyond, long after we've watched the show. I'm very much looking forward to Season 3. It will air on HBO later in the year.

Six Feet Under (HBO)

I regard this drama series as one of my all time favourites. I didn't begin watching it until around 2005 when it was in it's last season but it soon became a staple which I would happily re-visit again. Based around the Fishers, a family who own and operate an independant funeral home, each episode begins with a death, and each death is unique in it's own way, which sets the tone and theme for that particular episode and it's characters. 

As dysfunctional as a family the Fishers were, myself as a viewer could somehow relate to what drama was happening to the characters in their storylines, whether it be feuding with siblings or being deceived by parents or lovers, the loss of family or offspring, this series happened to touch so many in different ways whilst tying in those under tones of the afterlife and life's meaning and purpose. The stand out performance for me was from Rachel Griffiths playing the role of Brenda Chenowith. She plays Nate's love interest in the show and all 5 seasons span the web of love, life and death with the Fishers, Chenowith's and Sibleys. It's been a while since viewing it so I am certainly going to give it another go before the end of the year is through. After 3 Golden Globe awards, I can surely see why this is one of the best drama series of the last 20 years. 

The Road (Dimension films)

Based on the 2006 novel of the same title by Cormac McCarthy, Australian director Alan Hillcoat adapted the book in 2009 to translate into what I regard as one of the most thrilling apocalyptic movies of our time. For those who know me, I am really not into "end of the world" scenarios as the very thought really scares me, maybe because I feel threatened when faced with the very realisation that our very extinction is unknown. After reading a bit about the release of this film, I was disappointed it didn't receive the coverage or notoriety which was deserved of it. With a 25 million dollar budget, it sadly only took in 1.5 million in it's opening weekend. Perhaps the story of the world ending so darkly didn't sit well with viewers at the time. I certainly know it took a lot of courage for me to watch this film.
The Road (2009)
The main story is about a father and his son, survivors of the apocalypse in America, who begin their journey on the long road to the coast to try and find food water and refuge with safe groups of people. All wild life, animals and plant matter has been completley destroyed (of which you actually never find out how or why which adds more mystery to the current state) and this paves the story for the physical and emotional hardships this father and son face on their journey. The screen play, backdrops, grittiness and intensity of their situation really plays a huge part in placing you there in that moment with them. The under tones of what humanity is actually doing or in the film's case, had done to the earth us a stark reminder of where we are headed if we don't take life on this planet seriously enough to protect and nourish it. The plot moves through father and son discovering other humans, kept as food for cannibals in a houses basement and they move to rescue them. In the scenes where you see the cannibals, it really shows man's desperation to remain alive, where all sense of normality is lost and where mankind returns to its grass roots as one of the animals hunting the hunted. The sheer desperation of the father wanting his son to survive is enough to make any parents hairs on the back of their neck stand on end through out the film.

I came across this article on why every school should have a read of this book. One of the interesting points made is McCarthy's writing style where the characters are simply named and at any one given time you aren't sure who is actually narrating. I can see why this article suggests this, as being a novel written in the millennium about a real threat to our very existence would make for an interesting and in-depth analysis into the human psyche in times of sheer survival and desperation, a topic that surely does need to be addressed with future generations about our planet's longevity. For most, this film will stay with you for days and weeks after you watch it. I still think about it now and even though it makes me sad, it gives me hope to teach our children the true value in life, the environment and their self worth.

Monday, March 7, 2016

When is it time to call it a day? One season too many...

Note: There may be some "spoilers" for those who have not yet watched the most recent seasons and episodes of the TV shows mentioned below (GIRLS and Pretty Little Liars.)
If this is you, please refrain from reading on! 

Have you ever gotten to the 5th or 6th season of a TV show and thought to yourself "I think it's time they call it a day"? Recently I've had these thoughts about 2 of my "girlie" shows. There are probably more like this, but I'll stick to 2 for the time being.


c/o -

When Hannah (Dunham) first graced the screen in GIRLS season 1 with her awkward tom boy vintage frump, I thought "wow....she's unusually cool. Finally a character many can relate to". Hannah: fresh out of college, living in a small but modest Manhattan apartment, had a close knit group of quirky friends who were all whacky in their own way and she had hooked up with the weird and wonderfully odd Adam after the short remit of us seeing her past relationship with Elijah. The first 3 seasons of GIRLS were my utmost favourite and I recall saying to my husband at the end of every episode, that I was always wishing the episodes went for half and hour longer. I'm unsure where my love of this show unravelled. The odd love hate relationship between Adam and Hannah couldn't go on forever and I like how Dunham initiates their demise (by putting Hannah on a bus to Iowa while Adam is busy with his Broadway debut).

When I think back now, it was around mid season 4 when Hannah realises her struggles to keep herself occupied during her writing studies and the awkwardness with her fellow classmates made for cringe worthy TV (something I am sure Apatow had a hand in initiating as he seems to be the master of crafting the awkward character). There were some really awkward relationships forming around the mid season 4 mark too, the Marnie / Desi relationship drama which unfolded was a little predictable. And then there was Shoshona and her employment struggle while meeting Scott, with Jessa in the background just being all plain and crazy Jessa. Adam's new relationship with Mimi-Rose threw a bit of drama in there until Hannah's return from Iowa where she decides to start her teaching career, meets Fran (fellow teacher) then crashes Adams new girlfriends art show. Again, the uncomfortable tone creeps in with confrontations from both Adam and Hannah and them addressing their past. And so it goes on. With season 4 ending with Hannah and Fran holding hands. So why do I say "time to call it a day?"

GIRLS would have been awesomely finished with Hannah and Fran happily smooching. Talk about a high note. Jessa...well she seemed out of the picture mid S4, Shoshona and her Japan adventure or non adventure (didn't weigh much during the last few eps of season 4 anyhow), you just assume that Marnie is happily engaged to Desi (fin! end?) and Adam...well, he's an uncle now and kind of forgotten now Hannah has her new beau. Oh...what was with the Jessa / Adam thing? Maybe that is part of the reason for the continuation into Season 5. So WHY season 5? I feel that we didn't need to see Marnie and her prep for her wedding, and in episode 2, the struggle of Hannah's dads homosexuality and naiveness, the weird friendship "we're not going to cross the line" vibe going on with Adam and Jessa even though their friends have moved on. Yes people, thats right. They've moved ON. And thus I feel the show now has moved on from what it was initially intended from it's greatness. The kids from Manhattan have now grown up. They no longer seem "hip". They're no longer "GIRLS" but now women on their solo paths.

Pretty Little Liars (ABC family / Freeform)

PLL - 2016

The 6th season of Pretty Little Liars begins with "5 years later..." and it seems as though the producers are really trying to milk this show for what they can. I first started watching PLL the year my baby girl was due (that was around 2013). I happened to stumble across the first seasons on Netflix whilst on maternity leave and got hooked in this teen crime thriller / drama.

After a quick historical review of the show, I had no idea that the first episodes aired in 2010!
The inseparable clique of Aria, Hanna, Spencer and Emily and their quest to find out who the haunting "A" was and where their leader Alison had disappeared to, all came to a head in season 5 when it was revealed Alison had a brother (Charles) turned sister (Cee Cee) who was in fact the stalker of the gang and jealous of their bond. Once this is revealed, you would have thought the producers would have finished it there. Instead, they fast forward into the future to deliver more sultry and mysterious versions of Rosewoods female gang. When Season 5 concluded, felt the series had a nice rounded ending and you could go away feeling that the ladies were going to be alright and they could now find closure with the torture they endured over the 2yr period and go away to college. Cee Cee was put into a mental facility, locked away so as to not cause any more havoc. 

Finding out they were hashing a sixth season just seemed now, beyond ridiculous to me. After everything these poor teens had been through we now sit through one final (?) season cringing at all the thrilling things A put to these girls during the first 5 seasons. Sure, they are now adults, finished college, are more mature, but I really feel that the producers on this one have let the series down by forcing on it's continuation. I'm unsure what they are wanting to achieve with making the PLL gang go through the rounds of torture and stalker-dom again, even though Cee Cee is killed off in the first episode of the season, it now turns to "who killed Cee Cee". I guess only time will tell but for now, I save this show for my "watch when bored" pile. PLL airs on the Free Form network (previously Family) on Xfinity and Comcast networks USA.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Hands up who loves TV?

Since as far back as I can remember, I was brought up with a TV in the house and parents who from a young age gave me free reign to watch whatever movies and TV shows I liked in my spare time (well...back in the 80's it was Astro Boy, Sesame Street and hit movies like The Goonies btw: all time favourite movie EVER, Honey I shrunk the Kids, The Karate Kid, Never ending Story...then in the 90's it was Alf, The X-Files, Twin Peaks...just to name a few).

It's no wonder now as an adult, I still have that same appreciation for movies and TV shows. The last few years have seemed like a "golden era" in top quality TV shows with the likes of HBO, AMC, Netflix and other huge TV networks assisting in funding these series. I can't recall a time before then where serious TV drama touched on so many different genre's. Maybe I was too young to remember. Aside from raising our daughter and recently relocating to the land of the free.... (yep America) in the quiet evenings when Stella goes to bed, my husband and I do spend a lot of time catching up on all the TV series we have on the go. And then it dawned on me! What better way to I guess "record" or notate or for a better word, transcript, my thoughts, opinions and reviews on some of the stand out movies and TV series I have watched over the last 4-5 years. It may actually also give me an excuse to re-watch a few favourites too. So hands up to loves TV? (am I seeing many hands? I hope so hehe)

Many of my friends seem to be in the same boat. They have young children, the kids hit bedtime early and the parents then sit for a bit to relax and catch up on their favourite TV shows or watch a movie. So with this short introduction to why I have created this blog, I hope I have some followers who can read my thoughts, can then add to the discussion or tell me a bit about what they thought of that show or movie too.

I'll also aim to add a few links to the sites we use to preview movie ratings and scores of flicks we haven't yet watched. It's always handy to have a read and see what the consensus is from the general public. I've found this handy when starting a new TV series or wanting to download a movie.
Thanks for reading!