Monday, December 28, 2015

Screens & Scenes: October-December 2015

I'm not all that surprised that I decided to go back and watch so many old favorites, as it's pretty much in proportion to how much rereading old book favorites has become second nature. I had a couple of days off in September, which was a lovely excuse to binge some of my favorite movie series with my best friend Danica. And on Halloween, I had an impromptu movie day with my friends! And then there was all the TV series binging I did... All in all, I've consumed a healthy amount of media over the past three months, and you're about to encounter a really, really, really long post. (P.S. - Screens and Scenes is getting a makeover in terms of content & presentation come January, so watch out for that! I'm really looking forward to tweaking this and making it even better.)

MOVIES


Star Wars, Episode IV: A New Hope (trailer) | I've watched this one twice already this year, and will probably watch it one more time in December before the new Star Wars flick is out in theaters. I definitely think it's a classic science fiction film, with excellent characters and an interesting story. It's also a really great introduction to this world, the characters and the overall plot arc of the early Star Wars trilogy.

Star Wars, Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (trailer)  | As the second film in the original trilogy, it is no surprise that things get very intense. There's a lot of battle and strategy, new revelations, and also, the same signature charm and humor that's laced through the first film. I love how the story really progresses here!

Star Wars, Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (trailer) | I just love that there is so much action, and so much heart in this series ender! Because viewers will, by now, have grown to love the characters, so finding out how it all goes down for them is what makes up this film's biggest draw. And it concludes so well, you guys. I love it. I really do. (And I can't wait to see how the story continues in the upcoming film!)


The Fellowship of the Ring (trailer) | Of all the Lord of the Rings films, this is the one I happened to remember best (even though the novel is my least favorite, at least, based on the first and only time I read it). I was pretty confident about all the details I remembered, so it was really fun to just relive the beginning of Frodo's adventure. The film really gets readers well-acquainted with the world, the lore, the characters, and I love that!

The Two Towers (trailer) | As I said about the second Star Wars film above, this one is where things get very intense. The battles and the strategy, the allies and the enemies, the twists - there is a lot that goes down in this film! I didn't remember it all that well, if I'm being honest, so it felt like I was watching it for the first time. I love the amount of attention to detail, and I can honestly say this is the film where I really fell for the characters.

The Return of the King (trailer) | The conclusion to the Lord of the Rings trilogy is perfection. I thought that when I read the novel, and I thought that after seeing the film. It just really wraps up everyone's stories in the best way! I felt so tense throughout most of it, since the stakes are so high and there is so much carnage and risk and sacrifice. But it just swells into the most epic climax and conclusion, and I honestly love it.


The Swan Princess (trailer) | While I will always and forever harbor affection for this film, I'm not blind to its inconsistencies, lack of build-up and entirely too convenient characters or plot points. There's still something charming and magical about this tale though, and I always respond to that. (Plus, watching the film was excellent #NaNoWriMo research!) 

Show 'Em What You're Made Of (trailer) | I got my genuine love of the Backstreet Boys from my parents, who were constantly playing their CDs in the car when I was a child. I really do love their songs (and will always queue them up during a karaoke session), and I definitely consider myself a fan. But after watching this documentary, I just love them more than ever. Such a great look into their lives, as individuals and as a group!

Jessabelle (trailer) | I'm surprised to admit that I did enjoy this! Even though it has many typical horror film tropes laced into it (the camera angles, certain scenes, eerie noises), it was still pretty cool to try and unravel just what was happening in this film. It's certainly not the best I've seen, but it is quite clever.


The Gift (trailer) | I'm not much for psychological thrillers, and since that's what this film is, it just wasn't my cup of tea. It was very creepy. It was very odd. It made my nerves tingle with apprehension. It was a good film, all things said and done, but definitely not something I would have chosen to watch on my own.

Rumor Has It (trailer) | Oh, this movie. It was cute, and Jennifer Aniston was gorgeous in it. But it isn't one of those romance/comedy films that really hit the mark for me! I was amused by it, but for the most part I was frustrated by what was going on.

Listen To Your Heart (trailer) | The first time I watched this movie, I cried. This, the second time I've seen it, I still cried. It's a pretty decent indie film about a guy who wants to be a musician, and a deaf girl that he falls in love with. While I can't speak to the accuracy of the portrayal of someone deaf, I can tell you that the story is charming, and the overall message is pretty great.


Love Actually (trailer) | Whenever I need to watch something that's guaranteed to make me feel good, I turn to this film. While I don't necessarily love all the stories, there is just enough charm and humor to make up for it. It's one of the better ensemble films out there, and I highly recommend watching it, particularly during the holiday season.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 (trailer) | This film marks the end of an era, in a way. I really was impressed with the storytelling in the novels, and the translation into film has been pretty darn great from start to finish. While this is probably my least favorite film of the movie franchise, I still loved it deeply for all it represented: the complexity of human nature, the fine line of morality, the variety of relationships, the character growth. (Also, Jennifer Lawrence was stunning as Katniss, and Josh Hutcherson was wonderful as Peeta.)

Mad Max: Fury Road (trailer) | I don't know what I was expecting when I settled down to watch this, but I walked away feeling unsettled. I don't think the visual style of this film was for me, personally, but I did like the story. The simplicity of the goal, the interesting + strong female characters, the portrayal of the setting - it was all quite engaging for me, as I do like stories. It might not necessarily be up everyone's alley, but it worked out okay for me.


Thumbelina (trailer) | I'll always have a soft spot for this film, just because it was one of those magical movies from my childhood. But I've got to say that I'm totally not impressed with it as an adult, particularly because the insta-love is terrible and the slightly racist undertones are a bit disturbing. It's one of those cases where I probably should have just clung to the memory. (On the other hand, at least now I'm inspired to rewrite the story into something that's more sensible.)

After Earth (trailer) | I honestly think that this film is a lot better than I expected it to be. It's not an action piece. It's a character piece, and seeing as how I really love connecting to characters, I'm not surprised I wound up at least liking this one. While it's not a perfect film by any means, it's definitely an interesting one in terms of character growth and introspection.

Star Wars, Episode VII: The Force Awakens (trailer) | I really, really enjoyed the latest installment in the Star Wars series! There's just something about the way this film breathes fresh air into this world with a story that has a similar feel but entirely brand new characters to fall in love with. I definitely think it's a solid addition to what is already an epic saga, and I certainly look forward to spending more time with Rey, Finn and the Resistance. (P.S. The flight scenes were fantastic! The score was brilliant! And all the nods to the old films? Perfection.)

TV SHOWS


Doctor Who (S3) (promo) | I really, really enjoyed this season! It's a change from the first two, since we have a new companion along for adventures with the Doctor, Miss Martha Jones. They go on some pretty fun trips, but also find themselves in some pretty serious situations. Martha is certainly different from Rose; she's smart and strong and a total survivor, and I loved watching her transformation from the beginning of the season till the end. The last two episodes of this season nearly did me in with feels, but it was so, so worth it.

Doctor Who (S4) (promo) | As Macky would say, this is the season that features my Doctor Who "brOTP" - the Doctor and Donna. Their season was a hoot, mostly because Donna is frank and funny and can dish out commentary like no one's business. I loved coming along for their adventures, enjoying how Donna constantly challenged the Doctor, and fought to do what she believed was right. It's a really great season from start to finish!

Doctor Who (S5) (promo) | It might be because I'm binge watching these earlier seasons, but I can really sense the difference in tone and style with this latest season of Doctor Who that I've finished. There's a different sort of polish laid on Matt Smith's debut season as the Doctor, a change that I'm honestly not opposed to. And Matt Smith's Doctor is still the Doctor we love, but with a slightly more self-contained personality! His adventures with Amy Pond are nothing short of fantastical (and terrifying at turns), and I really like the season's overall arc as well.


Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (S1-S3) (promo / promo / promo) | There is honestly nothing I can say that I don't love about this show! The characters are brilliant, especially the main team, because their complexity is so well done, because we learn about their strengths and their flaws. Their relationships with one another are equally interesting, and I love the moments when they get explored or developed. The story is really fun, with all the alien/inhuman encounters and the unexpected twists. I never know what's in store when I'm watching an episode, and I think that's a big part of its appeal! (P.S. The mid-season finale though - I don't even know what to say.)


Supergirl (S1) (promo) | This show is 100% my sort of show! We've got an adorable, awkward girl who yearns to be a real hero and help other people. We've got fun, if slightly stereotypical, secondary characters, who add charm and humor and intensity. And man, I love Melissa Benoist's wardrobe in this show! I honestly just love it for how fun and light it is, and I hope it manages to keep that charm as it continues to air.

Flesh and Bone (S1) (promo) | There are three words that come to mind when it comes to this show: disturbing, creepy and compelling. This show is not for the faint of heart, since it tackles things like prostitution, sex (and rape), and incest without holding back. Claire (the lead character, and I have to say that the actress who plays her does it brilliantly) has a life that's intense, emotional, raw and crazy. Even though you'll feel uncomfortable, even though you occasionally want to scream in frustration or fear or anger, I found a morbid fascination to staying tuned and seeing what happened next. Plus, there are some really amazing dance scenes sprinkled throughout the narrative!

Jessica Jones (S1) (promo) | This is yet another show that leans towards the darker side of the spectrum. It focuses on Jessica Jones, a badass gal with super strength who happens to be dealing with PTSD after psychological and physical abuse. She's definitely the anti-hero, but finds herself taking on the role of hero anyway as she fights to end her abuser's reign of terror. It's shocking and violent, creepy and utterly disturbing, raw and emotional - and I lapped up every second of it. Krysten Ritter is an excellent choice for Ms. Jones, as she fills the role with the vibrancy and vulnerability it requires; David Tennant smashes it out of the park as Kilgrave, a charming man with the ability to control other people's thoughts and actions. I really think this is one of the best shows in the MCU.

Once Upon a Time (S5) (promo) | I will always have a soft spot for this show, just because I think it's interesting to see how the fairy tale characters and plots will be integrated into it. The first part of this season integrated Camelot and the lore behind the Dark One, both of which I thought was really interesting. And it was fun to see Emma as a Dark One! Even though it fell into a predictable plot (again) by the mid-season finale, I'm still going to wind up watching it because... well, because I'm a sucker.

BROADWAY, BALLET + LIVE SHOWS


Jason Robert Brown @ Subculture (2 shows) | If you ever get the chance to see Jason Robert Brown perform, you should definitely take it. He's a brilliant songwriter, and an excellent composer, and to witness the magic happening onstage is a true pleasure. I really loved the intimacy of the venue, the surprise guests and just the way that the night was casual and fun.

The Book of Mormon (promo) | I'm not quite sure what to say about this show! It was funny and irreverent, as promised, and I did enjoy it, particularly in the second act when things picked up a little bit. But I don't think it's necessarily a show that everyone is going to love, particularly because of the topic and how it's approached! While it was definitely worth seeing for the price I paid, I doubt I could easily recommend this to most people.

The Nutcracker (promo) | It was wonderful to go and see a ballet that holds so much nostalgia for me. The first act was dazzling and quick, and I particularly loved seeing the snowflakes dance at the very end of it. But the second act was my favorite! I loved the festivity, the variety of dances and just the way that listening to the music brought back some beautiful memories for me. It's definitely a Christmas tradition I want to share with my own children one day!

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