Thursday, February 14, 2013

Nicholas Sparks: Who Dies? Safe Haven edition.

 Disclaimer: It goes without saying, you shouldn't read this post if you haven't seen the movie and knowing the deceased party will ruin it for you.  Also, you probably shouldn't read it if you think The Notebook is one the most romantic books/ movies ever.    

There's a new Nicholas Sparks movie out just in time in Valentine's Day!.  So those of you in happy coupledom get to endure two hours of beaches, kissing in the rain, shirtless Josh Duhamel, and emotional manipulation! But lest you decide to break up with your significant other so you don't have see Safe Haven, this Nicholas Sparks movie has a twist! It's a thriller-- well a Sparksian-take on a thriller anyway.  It's like The Notebook as written by M. Night Shamymalan.

Premise:  Katie (Julianne Hough) flees Boston to a sunny, coastal town in North Carolina (of course) after she maybe killed a guy (or at least hurt him).  But hey, she totally had her reasons, okay?  However, a meanie Boston police detective (David Lyons) just won't let sleeping dogs lie and is trying to track down Katie.  Once in North Carolina, Katie immediately finds work as a waitress and rents a shabby chic cabin in the woods.  Even though she's trying her best to avoid all human connection (smart girl), she quickly becomes friends with her neighbor Jo (Cobie Smothers aka. Robin from How I Met Your Mother), whom no one else in the town talks to or knows about.  Katie soon finds herself falling for a handsome store owner Alex (Josh Duhamel), who lost his wife to cancer and has two cute kids.  However, because of Katie's dark past, she's not sure if entering into a relationship with Alex is a good idea.

Who dies?:  Alex does.  Katie kills him because she's really a crazy murderess. No, just kidding.  The truth is wayyyyy weirder.  So, it turns out the detective isn't interested in finding Katie just because she's a (possible) murderer on the lam.  It's really because he's her abusive ex-husband, whom she stabbed but didn't kill. Predictably, he catches up with her in NC and a messy fight ensues.  Alex's store starts ablaze and the evil ex dies in the scuffle.  Everybody else makes it out okay, though most of Alex's store is destroyed.

But that's not even the craziest twist!  Cue the theremin, because Jo is really Alex's dead wife. SHE'S REALLY DEAD! I know that sounds like I'm making that up.  But that actually happens!  She just wanted to make sure Alex chose the right replacement.  Now that he's happily ever after with Katie, Jo can cross over.

For more Nicholas Sparks spoilers, check out my earlier posts.   Or if I haven't totally ruined it, you can check out the book!

*Seriously though, you definitely should break up with them.  Unless you want to have to see every Nicholas Sparks adaptation for the rest of your life.  Doesn't dying alone sound more pleasant?

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

What we're listening to: Master of My Make-Believe by Santigold

I'm still catching up on music from last year, so I'm just now listening to Santigold's album Master of My Make-Believe, which was released last spring.

Drawing obvious comparisons to M.I.A., Santigold is less aggressive in her style and delivery, but still has something to say. Her influences are abundant and eclectic. Karen O. and Nick Zinner of the Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs, were quite involved in this record, from Karen O.'s vocal and writing contributions to Nick's handling of guitar work on several tracks. Diplo, Switch, Q-Tip, and Dave Sitek from TV on the Radio, among others, all produced at least one track. She also mentioned in an interview that she gains visual inspiration for her live shows from artists such as David Byrne and Bjork, but I would go as far to say that she is influenced by them musically because those two artists come to mind when I hear Santigold's record-- it has that worldly and genre-bending vibe to it.

Two tracks in particular stand out to me: "Disparate Youth" and "This Isn't Our Parade." They're nothing alike. The former is more straightforward and perhaps her more representative sound, the latter is laid-back and as close to a ballad as she gets. Track 9, "The Keepers," has a bouncy beat, but damning lyrics. It's all about the contrast. A great record for repeated listens because different elements come forward each time. This disc would be perfect for parties.

Side note: "Disparate Youth" is featured in the current Honda commercial.

Monday, February 4, 2013

The 2013 Dundees: Our Alternative Oscars

Below are our winners for our alternative Oscars, the Dundees, where I pick out my favorite performances in film and TV of the last year.  Since Ryan Gosling and Michael Fassbender were pretty much absent this year in film, I don't have a whole lot of complaints about this year's Oscar snubs.  That being said, I was disappointed to see that the Academy somehow had more love for Les Misérables than P.T. Anderson's fabulous The Master.   Personally,  I'd rather watch grass grow than Les Miz, at least that wouldn't involve Russell Crowe trying to sing!

This has been a big year for comebacks, with everyone from Matthew McConaughey to Bradley Cooper turning in refreshingly good performances.  In this vein, I was thrilled to see Joaquin Phoenix nominated for his fantastic performance in The Master.  Sure, he'll probably lose out to Daniel Day-Lewis, but it's nice to see him back!

Without further ado, here are the winners:

Best ComedyMoonrise Kingdom.
This movie has a tinge of bittersweet, as all Wes Anderson movies do, but it is also one of the funniest movies of the year.  For a more in-depth look at the movie, check out this great post by fellow Media Corner blogger Danielle. 

Runner Up:  Damsels in Distress. It took me about a half hour or so to adjust to the offbeat-ness of this movie, but its over the top strangeness eventually won me over.  It's sort of like an upside down 80s college comedy.

Best (Anti-) Romantic ComedyCeleste and Jesse Forever.  This movie doesn't really count as a rom-com in the traditional sense, since it's about two people getting divorced. It does manage to be the right mix of funny and moody, and has an incredible cast including Rashida Jones, Andy Samberg and Chris Messina.  It's a great sleeper movie.

Most Enviable Wardrobe, Female Performance:  Megan Draper (Jessica Paré) on Mad Men.  I was so disappointed when she quit her job at Sterling Cooper Draper Price, because we'd no longer get to see her incredible 60s office chic outfits!