The Greatest Showman Movie Review

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Hugh Jackman stars in The Greatest Showman as P.T. Barnum, the man who starts the circus now known as the Ringling Bros Barnum and Bailey Circus.

As Barnum sets up his circus he must contend with bigotry and family drama that threatens to upset his career and his marriage.

The plot of the movie is fairly predictable for a musical and even more so given the source material. It comes as no surprise that Barnum’s circus is successful.

The weak plot leaves the enjoyment of the movie not in the story but in the storytelling. How good are the songs, the dances, the costumes, and the acting?

Simple answer, marvelous! I loved The Greatest Showman! Continue reading

Beauty and the Beast Movie Review

Beauty and the Beast

Disney’s latest live-action remake, Beauty and the Beast, is out and I’ve seen it.

The movie is very much a remake of the 1991 animated movie. The plot, the songs, the characters, all pretty much the same.

For those who aren’t familiar with the story (really though?) Beauty and the Beast tells the story of a cruel prince who is cursed by an enchantress. Continue reading

La La Land Movie Review

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I’d heard a decent amount of buzz before going to see La La Land. Critics gave it good scores, my friends and family were raving about it, and it even won a bunch of Golden Globe awards.

A lot of hype to live up to and while it was a very good movie it ultimately did not meet my inflated expectations.

I went into the movie only knowing it was a romance staring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone. Stone plays an aspiring actress/barista in Hollywood. Gosling plays her love interest

Continue reading

We Are Your Friends Movie Review

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My wife and I went to see We Are Your Friends last weekend. The movie title was often abbreviated as WAYF in the trailers.

My wife and I were excited to see WAYF for two reasons. 1. We’ve been fans of Zac Efron since High School Musical 3 came out because the movie parallels our lives. Zac Efron plays, Cole, the lead in WAYF. 2. My wife and I watch the TV show, Catfish. The deuteragonist of Catfish, Max Joseph, directed WAYF. Going into the theater we already had two big names pulling us in.

The trailers for the movie don’t tell you much about the plot, so I’ll have to fill you in.

Cole is an aspiring DJ who lives in San Fernando Valley, just outside of LA. He and his poor friends want to make it big, but they’re clueless on how to do that.

Cole meets James Reed at a club. James is a DJ who made it big. He takes Cole on as an apprentice.

Cole becomes attracted to James’s assistant, Sophie, whom James is sleeping with. Drama ensues and that’s the movie.

My overall impression of the movie was very good.

The music is decent. It’s not the genre of music I’m usually into so I can’t be a good judge of it.

The directing/acting was amazing. The characters do start to feel like real people with real reactions to their situations.

The cinematography is stellar. Every shot has a purpose in the movie and either looks beautiful or looks distorted due to some of the drugs that Cole has taken.

Which brings me to the large amount of drugs, tobacco, and alcohol the characters use in practically every scene. The only times they aren’t using something is when they’re hungover.

This may be an accurate portrayal of the characters’ life styles, but it was so far removed from my own that I didn’t really sympathize with the main characters.

The movie also had some cool animation sequences to go along with the drugs. Those parts were “trippy” as expected.

The crowd for the movie was interesting as well. We got there on opening night and only about fifteen people were in the theater. I’d expected way more!

The crowd was pleased when Cole said he’d gotten an scholarship to UC Davis for running track, but he hadn’t taken it. Woohoo! Davis!

Anyways, the movie is good drama in my mind, but judging by the crowds (and other reviews I’ve read), other people might not think so. I’d recommend it for anybody looking for a good stressful drama movie. Or if you want to know what taking PCP might look like. Either way is fine.

-GoCorral

Pitch Perfect 2

We saw Pitch Perfect 2 and sadly it suffered from sequelitis.

That’s when the sequel to a movie just isn’t as good as the original and probably wouldn’t have been made if it didn’t already have an established fanbase.

It’s still a decent movie and if you enjoyed the first movie you’ll most likely enjoy the second, but I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone who hasn’t seen the first Pitch Perfect.

So what was weaker in this movie than the first? Gosh… Where to start?

The two announcer characters got a lot more racy and offensive. They were already a little bad in the first movie, but it was cringeworthy in the second.

I listened to a few interviews of the production staff as well and apparently most of the announcer scenes were adlibbed. I don’t know if that makes the racy parts better or worse, but they’re there.

The romantic plot between Beca and Jesse is essentially absent in the second movie. Their relationship is stable and off-camera. Their romantic sub-plot is replaced with Fat Amy and Benji’s two love interests. While those sub-plots are interesting they don’t really compare to the entertainment provided by Jesse cracking open Beca’s shell in the first movie.

The other thing that’s absent is Beca’s dad. I really liked his role in the first movie.

It makes some sense to phase out parental figures as the characters get older. And the whole sub-plot of Beca getting over her parents’ divorce is absent in Pitch Perfect 2 means that her dad doesn’t have much to do. I still missed his presence though. He’s somewhat replaced by the mother of a new freshman member of the Bellas, but the new relationship isn’t nearly as interesting as the old.

The villains in the second movie, Das Sound Machine, aren’t nearly as likeable as the Treblemakers.

Now why would you want to like your villains? Well I just wrote about that in a previous post. Go read that one and come back if you need an answer to this question.

Das Sound Machine are portrayed as just evil which makes them a little boring.

The movie also portrays them as hyper competent. While that’s definitely true, their performances are still a little boring. Their first performance is Uprising by Muse, one of my favorite songs. They do a great job, probably as good as they could do, but the song just sounds awful in acapella. I could barely understand the lyrics over the background music imitations.

The musical performances do really suffer compared to the original movie.

There are good reasons for this. The Bellas as a whole suffer some sort of identity crisis that comes out in their performances not being as good, but that also means that the first half of the movie has unsatisfying performances by the Bellas.

The first movie had this as well, but it covered it with humor. Aubrey throwing up pulls you into the hilarity of the movie right away. Aubrey’s tongue lashing after the poor performance at the fraternity party is great character development for her.

How does the Bellas excess use of props enhance the other plots in the movie?

It doesn’t.

I felt the songs picked for numbers were in general worse than the original as well. I didn’t know as many this time around and that hampered my enjoyment.

And there’s just a few other things that the second movie just missed. Lily’s little whispers aren’t as terrifying as the first movie. Beca’s odd sexual attraction to Das Sound Machine’s leader isn’t explored further by having Jesse find out. The inclusion of the new freshman in the Bellas felt like an excuse to have an original song in the moive so they could sell something with fewer royalties attached. If the international competition is for college groups, why are people out of college allowed to compete?

Just tons of small stuff like that.

Like I said, its not a good movie for people who haven’t seen the original. For those who enjoyed the original, there’s still plenty of stuff like it in the new movie. The songs are still catchy and Fat Amy is still hilarious.

-GoCorral

Real New Year’s Eve

My D&D group celebrates Fake New Year’s Eve because we usually have other things we want to do on actual New Year’s Eve. Here’s what I did this year!

I went up to Chico to visit some friends and go to a club.

My wife has kept in touch with one of her best friends from college. She’s moved to Chico where her fiance is going to college.

We’ve visited them before and its a lot of fun. Even more this time because we went clubbing on New Year’s! My wife and I are far too insular to usually go clubbing even though we like it a lot.

We got to their apartment around noon and we did not immediately go to the club. We instead immediately went to lunch at a Chinese restaurant.

After that we went on a walk downtown to a comic and game shop, but didn’t get anything (They didn’t have what we wanted). We did look at all the Munchkin sets they had though. I learned that my wife’s friend’s fiance plays Munchkin, but just like me, can’t find people to play with him!

We got back to the house and the girls went to go gossip while the fiance showed me the popular game, Binding of Isaac. I’d heard about it before and always get excited about it because my name is Isaac too.

I knew it was a old school style game, kind of like Zelda. There are rooms in a dungeon and each room has its own set of monsters. You have bombs and ranged weapons and special items and all sorts of stuff.

I never really understood the plot of the game before. There isn’t much, but basically Isaac’s mom wants to sacrifice him to the Devil. This causes Isaac to cry (his tears are his weapons) and he fights back to escape her clutches and those of the Devil.

We watched the awesome Disney movie, Brother Bear, sometime before dinner, which was pasta and garlic bread.

Then we went out to the Beach!

The Beach is a pretty typical club. Cover fee to get in, tons of drinks to choose from if you want to wait forever in line, and a dance floor that hardly anyone was dancing in when we got there at 10:40. My wife and I were some of the first people to get on the dance floor and we pretty much stayed there until midnight.

The party heated up around 11:00 as more people got on the dance floor. The DJ didn’t seem to understand how slow songs fit into his mix, but was pretty good otherwise. Never lingered too long on a song, so if you liked it you got enough of it, but if you didn’t it was gone quickly.

My wife wore a sparkly gold sequin shirt that other girl’s occasionally got their hair caught in. There was a roudy guy that jumped all over the floor that the fiance and I both got to shove away from our group.

At midnight my wife and I got to kiss and a bunch of balloons dropped on the floor. The sound of popping balloons filled the air and we left the club because we were pretty tired.

The four block walk to the car was hard for my wife because she only had the heels (uncomfortable) and didn’t bring a jacket for the freezing weather. We made it and she got under the blanket we’d thought to bring ahead of time.

We fell asleep back at the apartment and left in the morning after a nice breakfast of tater tots and waffles. All in all a great start to the New Year!

-Mister Ed

Game of Thrones Spoilers

One of my friends hasn’t read the latest Game of Thrones books yet.

So whenever we try and talk about the books he’ll shout out, “No spoilers!” and then cover his ears.

I’ve heard about this sort of thing happening more and more since the TV show became popular.

People watch the show, but don’t read the books.

So you could be talking with someone about Game of Thrones stuff and then casually mention something from Dance with Dragons. The book came out three years ago right? You can’t say spoilers in response to a three year old plot twist can you?

Apparently you can.

I guess I’m a little surprised by that.

When I was reading Harry Potter this sort of thing didn’t happen.

If you were interested in talking about the series it was assumed that you’d read all of the books that were published.

The movies came out afterwards, but from my own experience very few people watched the movies that didn’t also read the books.

Why is Game of Thrones different?

At first I thought maybe book size, but both Harry Potter and Game of Thrones books are massive.

Adult content might be it, but why?

The TV show has more sexual content and violence than the book. That’s also the main reason why I don’t watch the show.

I already know what’s going to happen, so there’s no plot mystery.

But the added sexual content just makes me uncomfortable.

My opinion on sex in TV shows and movies comes from an early filmmaker named Ernst Lubitsch.

Sex couldn’t be shown on screen and you couldn’t show someone in their underwear either.

Lubitsch represented sex by holding the camera on a closed door.

That was all.

And it worked! People knew exactly what was happening on the other side of the door, but you didn’t need to show it.

Game of Thrones goes way too far on this for my taste. Many of the scenes seem like they’d fit in a porn movie better than a high fantasy TV show.

But maybe that’s what’s attracting people to the show, but not the books.

The show has more sex scenes and they’re obviously more visual than those in the book ever will be.

So maybe more people watch the Game of Thrones show than read the books because its a guilt free way to get some softcore porn.

Or maybe its some other reason, but I’ve run out of space.

-Mister Ed

Father’s Day 2014

I went home last weekend for Father’s Day.

Unfortunately for you, my dad and I are not into taking pictures of ourselves that much.

Instead you get a picture of what I gave my dad.

My dad and I spend a lot of our time together watching movies.

One of the first types of movies we watched together were Japanese samurai movies (Chanbara movies in Japanese).

I don’t think I got much out of the samurai movies when I was a kid because they were subtitled and in black and white.

Now I really appreciate the genre. A ton of my favorite movies are samurai movies.

Some greats to check out include: Rashomon, Hidden Fortress, Seven Samurai, Yojimbo, Sanjuro, Harakiri, Throne of Blood, and Chushingura.

One interesting thing about samurai movies is that they are often adapted for Western audiences as… well, westerns.

Yojimbo and Sanjuro were turned into A Fistful of Dollars and A Few Dollars MoreSeven Samurai became The Magnificent SevenChushingura was made into an action movie called 47 Ronin instead of a western. Throne of Blood is actually a Japanese adaption of Macbeth. Finally, Hidden Fortress inspired George Lucas to create Star Wars.

What’s my point with all this? Well, because my dad and I like samurai movies we also like westerns.

I recently started listening to a lot of western themed songs.

The songs are like little mini western movies. Marty Robbins is a singer who basically only writes within that small genre.

I got my dad a mix CD of these cowboy songs along with a pair of movies that inspired two of the songs, High Noon and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance is an iconic song of the genre. Here’s a link if you’d like to listen to it and get a taste of the genre.

Happy Father’s Day Dad!

-Mister Ed

Sacramento Music Festival 2014

I went to the Sacramento Music Festival for a vacation this Memorial Day weekend with my wife and my parents-in-law. Here are some pictures of all the stuff that was going on there.

Here’s what our hotel was like.

The Governor's Inn where we stayed had birds named after the Reagans.
The Governor’s Inn where we stayed had birds named after the Reagans.
First time I got room service with my wife!
First time I got room service with my wife!

We went on a walk along the river by our hotel.

Here's a bridge in Sacramento by our hotel.
Here’s a bridge in Sacramento by our hotel.
There was this weird water thing in the river.
There was this weird water thing in the river.
An abandoned boat out in the river by our hotel.
An abandoned boat out in the river by our hotel.
The abandoned boat was an anomaly. Most of the boats were sailing around like this one.
The abandoned boat was an anomaly. Most of the boats were sailing around like this one.
The Rusty Duck Restaurant is quite rusty as it has been abandoned for awhile.
The Rusty Duck Restaurant is quite rusty as it has been abandoned for awhile.
An abandoned PG&E block building.
An abandoned PG&E block building.

And we went to the festival where my father-in-law was playing.

We were stuck in line for one of the music sets, but there was a polevaulting event outside to watch!
We were stuck in line for one of the music sets, but there was a polevaulting event outside to watch!
Here the girl is going over the bar.
Here the girl is going over the bar.
The girl did not make it over the bar.
The girl didn’t quite make it over the bar. She hit it on the way down.
A bunch of Hawaiian kids played some covers on the street to earn money for college.
A bunch of Hawaiian kids played some covers on the street to earn money for college.

The College Fund band that we saw on the street has a Facebook page. Here’s the link.

My father-in-law's band playing some 20's jazz.
My father-in-law’s band playing some 20’s jazz.

My father-in-law’s band is called the Royal Society Jazz Orchestra (RSJO). You can check out their website here.

And that was my weekend! Lots of music and lots of fun!

-Mister Ed

Current Library Book

The collection of fantasy short stories I got from the library.
The collection of fantasy short stories I got from the library.

Since my wife and I moved in together in Davis we’ve been going to the library a lot more.

I used to go to the library all the time when I was a kid.

I stopped going when my family moved.

Getting a library card in the new city was silently frustrating for me.

I think I got a new library card in my new hometown three different times.

Each time I’d get it, rent one thing, return it, then forget about the library for several years.

When I went back my card had expired, so I’d need to get a new one. And the process repeated itself.

My wife goes a lot more because she wants  specific children’s book for one of her lessons or a movie to watch or something like that.

I’ve been going with her and renting out one thing at a time to read or listen to (I like audiobooks).

I have Legends II rented out right now.

It’s a collection of short stories by notable fantasy authors put together by Robert Silverberg.

I liked most of the stories in this book and the previous one, Legends.

The only exception is strangely Robert Silverberg himself. I don’t like his writing style.

I originally got the book because it contains a short story by George R.R. Martin, author of the Game of Thrones series.

Martin has a short story series set in the same fictional world as Game of Thrones, but taking place one hundred years before the events of his novels.

The short story series is called The Adventures of Dunk and Egg.

Dunk is a seven foot tall knight and Egg is his squire with a shaved head.

I read the Dunk and Egg story first in Legends and in Legends II.

The other stories are also really great. Legends II has some ghost stories I’ve really enjoyed along with an Alvin Maker story.

Alvin Maker is the main character in a series of the same name written by Orson Scott Card, the same man who wrote the Ender’s Game series.

Alvin Maker is a traveling wizard in the pre-Civil War period of the USA.

The dialogue, setting, and topics in the Alvin Maker books are a lot like Mark Twain’s books. I’ve probably enjoyed the Alvin Maker stories the most out of all the short stories in the two Legends books.

That’s all for now!

-Mister Ed