From the First to the Last - Time to Say Goodbye

Celebrating our one-year anniversary seemed like a good place to revisit our commitment to writing this blog and we decided the time has come to say goodbye.  We wanted to stop before it became something we no longer wanted to do, and the changes that have happened in our lives in the last year or so have just been great - but which leave little time for either watching movies or writing about them.

So, some thank yous and winners:
Wednesdays movie mashups - thanks so much to everyone who participated for the past few years - I have done 131 movie mashups, some good, some less so, and I so appreciate the people who would guess each week, but I'll declare Ryan from The Matinee the winner. So go check out his site and see what a smart guy he is.

Saturdays Triple Feature - we've had a lot of participants in the past year, and you're all better at it than I am - I mostly guessed wrong when I did know it.  But Nick did a great job playing, even from Korea!

And for bringing us into a great blogging group of people and introducing us to so many terrific bloggers, I want to thank Dylan, formerly from Blog Cabins but now running Man, I love Films, was the founder of the Lamb, and Rachel and I were among the first 50 members (now over 1000).

We won't stop watching movies, and hopefully we'll have a little more time to read what you all think of the movies, so keep looking for us on your site and on twitter (@in_entertain and @mrsthuro) and Letterboxd for some reviews of what we might have seen on occasion.  Thank you so much to everyone who has read this blog, listened to the podcast or commented on anything, we so appreciate your support from the beginning.

Finally, thank you to Rachel for being a friend and partner through this process - from the first tentative episode of Reel Insight podcast back in 2010, through 100 episodes (though we just got back to the same actor, funny).  I couldn't have asked for a funnier, more motivated, extraordinary writer to do so much of the work.  Thank you.   

A List of Cinematic Firsts

I get a little sentimental this time of year. More on that later. Here is a list of film related firsts throughout my life.

1. First Film in a Theater
Or at least the first film I remember seeing in the theater. 1987. The Princess Bride. My aunt took me. We saw it at the mall. The ROUSs scared the crap out of me. Awesome. [Edit: After speaking to my mother this morning, I've learned that she took me to two films prior to this: Star Trek III: The Search for Spock in 1984, because she couldn't find a sitter, and The Care Bears Movie in 1985, of which I have a very vague memory. See more below.]

2. First VHS Tape
We really dug Hayley Mills' films when I was a kid. At least three of them. In Search of the Castaways was one of those three. I can't tell you exactly when we got our first VCR and a tape to play with it, but I do know we watched this a lot once we did. Now I barely remember a thing about it. [Edit: My mom also said she thinks the first VHS tape she bought was White Nights, but this was probably the first kid appropriate one she bought.]

3. First DVD(s)
The day after Christmas in 2002, I left for a two week trip to London. For Christmas I got a portable DVD player, which blew my mind because they were so expensive, and because I didn't even have a regular one yet. To accompany me and my new toy (which was the envy of all my travel companions) I also got two of my favorite teen comedies, Clueless and 10 Things I Hate About You (plus the first season of "24"). At least the long flight was made easier for a few hours.

4. First Blu-ray
Our first Blu-ray player wasn't the best. My husband actually installed one on his computer and hooked it up to our t.v., but unsurprisingly it wasn't the high definition I was expecting. I had to test it out on something and a random purchase of Mr. Stark's first outing was it. Later I bought a proper Blu-ray player and finally saw what all the fuss was about.

5. First Movie Review
The reason I get all gooey this time of year is that 6 years ago I started blogging about movies, just to keep track for my own sake and to pass the time. I never imagined it would escalate into everything it has become, but I'm thankful for all I've learned and the friends I've made around the world. Read it here, at your own risk.

DVD Review: Rock of Ages

Music can be a terrific way to help tell a story.  It can set the tone better than a 1000 words.  The best part of Rock of Ages is being able to revisit some of the best music of my childhood.  I was too young in the 1980s and not enough of a audiophile since to really know the music, but even I couldn't stop the words that just come to your lips automatically with most of these songs.  There is a very thin plot that the music supports - A young girl, Sherrie (Julianne Hough) arrives in Los Angeles from Oklahoma to pursue her dreams of being a singer.  She meets Drew (Diego Boneta), a bartender at The Bourbon, a famous club owned by Dennis Dupree (Alec Baldwin) and Lonny (Russell Brand) that is playing the final performance of Arsenal, before its lead, Stacee Jaxx (Tom Cruise) goes on for a solo career.  Dennis is relying on this to save the club, which is in danger of being shut down by the new mayor (Bryan Cranston) and his wife (Catherine Zeta-Jones) for immoral behavior.
You can't beat the music in this - they use it well, if contrived, to really support the story.  Tom Cruise is surprisingly believable as a cracked metal band singer that has been overwhelmed by his career.  Thankfully, he's not the focus of the story, but rather the anchor around which the others revolve.  The main focus is Sherrie and her lack of career - she ends up dancing on a pole at Mary J. Blige's club - and Drew and his need to be famous for anything.  He had wanted to follow in the footsteps of the hair metal bands, but times were changing and he has to become Drew Z, part of a boy band, thanks to his manager Paul (Paul Giamatti).   Their story is just strong enough with the music to stay interesting, and then thrown in are the parts with Stacee Jaxx and a reporter (Malin Ackerman) from Rolling Stone that he has an affair with.

There's a moment when the whole thing threatens to go off the rails, but the music keeps it together - you know that the scene will change and develop by the time to song or mashup is over, so that's one of the nice things about having the music drive the story, quick turnover and a fast enough pace.  Yes, the story sometimes stops while they sing, but the songs they choose usually drive the story - "Hit me with your best shot" sung by Zeta-Jones and the other church ladies when fighting with The Bourbon and its fans.  Overall, I enjoyed it, but it's awkwardly put together and not exactly a logical story.  Still a nice chance to revisit a lot of music I couldn't have told you I liked, but knew all the words.  Sometimes that's enough.

The Lunchtime Poll #26

Moderately it would seem.

This week Heather and Veronica want to know:

Which is your favorite portrayal of Jesus?

Happy Easter!

Triple Feature #22

Keith was the only guesser last week, getting the first two, but nobody chimed in to get Legends of the Fall for the screenshot. Boo!

Poster Scramble: I've scrambled the pieces of a movie poster, some pieces are even flipped around or upside down.

Title Swap: I've replaced the main words of a film title with synonyms.

Understudy: I've replaced the actors' heads in a screenshot with our avatars.

New Releases: 3/29/13

Wait...Danny Boyle made a movie and put James McAvoy in it? Oh hell yes! Other than that, the plot looks entertaining, but could be paint-by-numbers. I'll find out eventually.

GI Joe: Retaliation
Nope. No way. Not gonna happen. Never. I said good day!

I've never watched a Tyler Perry movie and the trailer for this didn't tempt me (*groan*) to start. At least he doesn't just do outlandish comedies. And I just finished watching all of Friday Night Lights and I now recognize the star Jurnee Smollett-Bell, who was awesome in the last two seasons. Still, no thanks.

The Host
Stephenie Meyer blah blah blah [insert bad joke] blah blah blah [insert overused Twilight reference] blah blah blah. [Mention not reading the book though it's been on my shelf for years.] Blah blah blah Saoirse Ronan can do better blah blah. [Make random mention of Andrew Niccol, like I care.] Blah blah blah. [Though I'd definitely see it before GI Joe: Retaliation.] PASS!

DVD Review: Compliance

During the first moments of Compliance, the words "Inspired By True Events" appear on screen. Probably because no one would ever believe a screenwriter could make up characters so despicable. But knowing this in advance doesn't help.

The film takes place on a busy Friday night at a fast food restaurant. Tensions run high as the manager, Sandra (Ann Dowd), scrambles around, short-staffed and under-stocked on inventory, when she receives a call from a man identifying himself as a police officer. The caller (Pat Healy) informs her he has a customer of the restaurant at the police station, claiming one of the cashiers took money from the customer's purse. After a vague description, Sandra assumes it must be young Becky (Dreama Walker). Sandra remains on the phone with the caller who smoothly convinces her she must interrogate Becky and then strip search her to find the missing money, which is only the beginning for the caller's demands and the irreversible damage inflicted on all involved.

Compliance is certainly a good film. Writer/Director Craig Zobel tells a tough story, but tells it well. He immediately hooks the audience with a mystery and reveals the truth early, but by then the film demands you watch all the events play, no matter how dirty you feel while doing so. Despite all this, it's difficult not to feel outraged at the stupidity of the characters, but even angrier at the fact that we're told on the front end that this really happened, and these people, or some version of them, exists within our world. Therefore I found myself quite distracted as I mentally yelled at ALL of them while watching them become worse as the events unfolded.

The hardest part to accept about Compliance isn't just that it's based on a true story, but it really shines an ugly light on our society, leaving lots of room for discussion on the characters and their actions. If you can get through it the film in the first place.