This ain’t no Jolly Rancher

Hard Candy

If To Catch a Predator and the Kick Ass character Hit Girl were fired off in opposite directions in the Large Hadron Collider and slammed into each other at near light speed it’s a good bet that what you’d end up with is Hard Candy.

Hard Candy is apparently not a movie for the faint of heart; I learned this as I was watching it with my sister, who spent most of the movie convinced I was lying to her about a particular plot point I won’t ruin for you but DID have to reveal to her because she was getting so angry and disgusted with the movie. She didn’t even bother to watch the last five minutes of the movie because she found the whole premise so upsetting.

When a movie starts out with a clearly older man suggestively chatting online with a young teen and asking her to meet up with him, you know the movie is going to make you uncomfortable and probably make you angry. Following this chat that could be straight out of a Perverted Justice sting operation, it only goes downhill as Jeff Kohlver (Patrick Wilson) surprises Hayley Stark (Ellen Page) in the middle of eating a delicious-looking chocolate topped pastry and licks the chocolate off his thumb after wiping it off her lip. A small conversation filled with very complimentary words aimed at her later and they’re soon on their way to his house, at which point I was asking myself why I was watching this movie and picked up the case to read the back again in case I’d missed anything.

I needn’t have worried; soon after they arrive at the house Jeff learns a valuable lesson about mixing his own drinks (that it’s a good idea for everyone) after waking up tied to a chair while Hayley searches his house for… we’ll just say pictures of kids in compromising positions. I’ll leave it there so as not to spoil the the fun, but suffice it to say Jeff doesn’t have a very good time for the rest of the movie.

Patrick Wilson was a good pick for the role of Jeff; he’s good looking and can really pour the charm on. He was also very convincing as a man desperate to get himself out of the trouble he unwittingly brought home with him. It’s almost enough to make you feel sorry for him – until you remember the little chat from the beginning of the film and the fact that he’s brought home a 14-year-old girl. That’s an instant sympathy-killer right there.

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usPre-Juno Ellen Page looks every bit as young as her character Hayley is supposed to be. What I really liked about her is that she went from silly teen trying to sound sophisticated to impress an older guy to cold-blooded, single-minded mastermind in a flash. All Jeff’s considerable charms didn’t stand a chance against the giant wall of ice she had constructed. And I’ll admit, to me, it was a bit fun to watch her break him down and then just keep throwing proverbial haymakers. Could a 14-year-old do something this sophisticated? Probably not. Was it something of a guilty pleasure to suspend belief and watch a pervert receive his just deserts? Oh yeah.

What I didn’t like about the movie was that there was no why. There was no explanation for why she was doing what she was doing (though it may be inferred given her reactions when she finds a certain photograph). I don’t care to delve into the psychological scapegoat for Jeff’s little – ahem – “problem” (which he does end up talking about/making up under some duress), but it bothers me that by the end of the movie there wasn’t any concrete reason laid out for her “extra-curricular activities.”

Verdict: A-. It almost pains me to give this a better score than The Perfect Host because that movie hit my funny bone in all the right places, but this movie was simply better at really nailing both characters down before things went sideways. And while it’s not a movie I’ll be rewatching any time soon, I definitely recommend watching it at least once. Especially if you enjoy revenge fantasy-type movies.

Rated R for disturbing violent and aberrant sexual content involving a teen, and for language.

Much to catch up on

I have been such a terrible blogger. There has been so much I’ve watched and wanted to comment on since the last review I posted but I never seem to find the time to sit down and write something. That being said, I’m getting back into writing so it’s my goal to post at least one review per week.

As you may have noticed, I just recently posted a review for The Perfect Host so I thought it would only be fitting to review Hard Candy next, so be on the lookout next week for the review of what I consider to be a companion movie to The Perfect Host.

The dinner party saves the day!

“You can’t kill me, I’m having a dinner party!”
-Warwick Wilson, The Perfect Host

“You can’t kill me, I’m having a dinner party!”

The Perfect Host

What do you get when you take one part Niles Crane from the long-running series Frasier and combine it with two parts alternate history of Daphne marrying Donny and a complete mental breakdown? The Perfect Host, that’s what.

Just to clear things up before we delve into the meat of the movie, no, this isn’t a movie about a crazy Niles. But it does star David Hyde Pierce in a role that does seem to draw from Niles’ personality – and as you’ll see, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.

The movie starts off with a fairly low-key getaway sequence as John Taylor (Clayne Crawford), a career criminal, executes a surprisingly well thought out series of steps to avoid drawing the cops down on him in a flurry of military hardware. An unplanned injury, however, leads to some big problems that leave John looking to lay low until the heat dies down.

A cheeky drop.Enter Warwick Wilson (Pierce), a well-to-do man in the midst of preparing a posh dinner party for his friends. John uses Warwick’s mail to socially engineer himself right through the front door and into his own personal hell.

The Perfect Host starts off a bit slow as it follows John trying to stay one step ahead of the police and smooth-talk Warwick before picking up steam when his impatience with his chatty host leads to his true identity coming out.

Maybe it’s my own personal bias – I love Frasier and Niles is my favorite character – but Pierce steals the scene whether he’s interacting with his party guests or contributing to what I’d imagine is a growing wish on John’s part that he’d just turned himself in. As Warwick he plays the nice guy so well you find yourself rooting for him to win out over the far more crass and abrasive John, ably played by Crawford as a man desperately grasping at control of a situation he lost control of the minute he rang Warwick’s doorbell.

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usWhat other cast there is consists mostly of Warwick’s party guests (though none of them are really focused on enough to get a sense of who they are – for good reason) and two cops hot on John’s trail (one of whom is played by Joseph Will, who once upon a time had a role as Niles’ cousin in the fifth season Frasier episode “Beware of Greeks”).

It’s hard to talk about the movie without spilling details that would ultimately ruin the experience of watching it for the first time. Suffice it to say, it’s certainly funny and well worth the time you’ll spend watching it, especially if you happen to be a David Hyde Pierce fan with a perverse desire to see a Niles that has gone completely off his rocker. I will say the character of Warwick seemed a little wooden at first and the pacing seems a little off, but once the movie gets moving you’ll find yourself more than just a little amused as you watch him cheerfully abuse John throughout his posh dinner party.

Verdict: B+. The wooden start of Warwick really put a damper in my initial enthusiasm for the movie, but Pierce’s pitch-perfect delivery once we got to see who Warwick really is won me right back.

Rated R for language, some violent content and brief sexual material.

Froyo on myTouch is okay…

I was super excited to get a Froyo upgrade on the T-Mobile myTouch and even though they notified me in Septemberish it might be showing up soon I think I got it just before Thanksgiving.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Actually, it may have been a prophecy on what effect using Froyo on the nearly obsolete myTouch (no headphone jack) would have.  You get sleepy from eating too much turkey on Thanksgiving, so did the myTouch when having too much frozen yogurt.

Don’t get me wrong, I like finally having access to a better OS and I’m not blaming Froyo in the least, I’m blaming the myTouch’s mucho suckiness (which has done much to persuade me to ditch T-Mo completely when my contract is up.  Hello Verizon!)

It’s just that now my phone responds like my family after a big Thanksgiving dinner.  Barely at all.

I’ll list the grievances it brings in no particular order:

1. If your security screen is more complex than one dot, you’ll probably have to enter it a couple of times, because of lag.
2. Random system reboots.
3. Text messaging will become your least favorite program due to slowness and bugginess.
4. Answering calls will occasionally prove difficult.
5. Downloading from the market will occasionally prove difficult.
6. Count on all of your programs running slower.
7. Google Maps now takes 10x as long to open and use.
8. Count on staring at your background sans apps for several seconds if not occasionally a minute while it loads them.
9. Occasionally count on the same problem when you go to your apps section.
10. Hate that you can’t have the speed of 1.6 with the apps of 2.0+

Some Froyo-induced problems (I’m guessing):
1. Alarm clock takes longer to get to.
2. You can no longer use vibrate and silent in the same setting. It’s either set phone to vibrate OR silent. (Before I would just volume down to vibrate or one more notch to silent, convenient.)
3. Voice dialer (or whatever it’s called) only works with a bluetooth, which I have, but not on me 24/7.
4. Browser starts as small as possible on pages that aren’t mobile friendly.
5. USB connectivity will sometimes not appear when you’re plugged into a computer (I usually have to reboot the phone and then it will recognize it’s plugged in via USB, never a problem with 1.6).

The annoying stuff I have to go through with it reminds me of having to constantly buy a whole new Mac computer cuz when you installed OS 10.newest the old computer didn’t like it and ran slower. I guess that’s just technology, or maybe just less good phones.

But I’ve got some work arounds for those of you stuck in a contract you can’t wait to ditch when it comes time.

Auto Task Killer
This free gem is available on the market and let’s you end programs, like it says. Sometimes freeing up memory is like giving the myTouch a little coffee after the turkey dinner.

Text Messaging
*Limit the amount of texts your phone will save so it will delete some, that will speed things up just a hair.
*When I write a completely new message, sometimes when I try and type in the recipient it wigs on me and does the letters all screwy. Instead, leave that box for a second and type out the message first, then add a recipient. Works like a charm every time. Oh, and if your text is sluggish, wait a few more seconds, it’s like the phone has to catch up. I know, waiting sux.
*If you need to get a message out quick, use someone else’s phone. Unless you’ve already been texting the person and have the screen already open it will take longer than you’re used to.

Security Screen Wiggy
*Knowing that your screen is going to freeze or move slow, if it looks like it’s not following your finger anymore, just hold still on the dot your own for a second to let it catch up and then resume. Timing will be tricky on this, but if your phone does it often enough, you’ll get the hang of it.

Lastly, the best solution of all is ditch the myTouch as soon as you can. Get a phone with the latest Android OS on it, since it will have been designed to run at that efficiency.

And get used to counting on things taking forever to open, like an old Dell PC loading up. After all, you’re stuck with this phone, unless you’re cool with 2 more years of T-Mo, then just get a newer, better one–if they’ve got it.

Oh by the way. If you got an upgrade notification, but navigated away from the screen and are thinking, great I’m screwed, well, you’re not. Just go into settings>about phone>system updates. You should be able to continue the download.

Avatar: My Heart Remains Unobtained

Avatar is the story of a tribal indian princess named Pocahontas Naturey Neytiri who meets John Smith Jake Sullivan and has to teach him her tribe’s ways.  The guy she should have mated with, Kokoum Tsu’Tey (the one with the  mohawk), hates John Smith Jake Sullivan and would rather see him dead.  Plus the people John Smith Jake Sullivan works for are looking to obtain some gold unobtanium on the land Pocahontas’ Naturey’s tribe lives on.  Can John Smith Jake Sullivan learn to paint with all the colors of the wind see?

If you loved Avatar, this probably isn’t the review for you.  Just keep your brain turned off and click here to watch the Avatar trailer again to feel good.

There were a lot of things wrong with this movie, and Red Letter Media probably does it best in reviewing it, but I’ll still try and add my two cents if you can’t be bothered watching their review.

I’d forgotten Red Letter Media had already covered the ridiculous term “unobtanium” — probably because I didn’t know what it referred to because I saw the review before the film.  When the corporate bad guy said he was looking for ‘unobtain’ium I already found it difficult to take the movie seriously.

Secondly I found the over-the-top narrative monologues of the main character distracting to say the least.  It sounded like a hack version of Humphrey Bogart films from the 1940s.  The video logs helped to control the damage of this effect, but often it told us information that we already knew, like that Sigourney Weaver’s character was onto him, or just to help advance the plot when James Cameron was too lazy to do it in an original way.

Maybe James Cameron is trying to prove to the world that he’s super green by recycling plots?

Seriously, tell me how this isn’t an almost exactly copy of Pocahontas, Dances With Wolves–even Fern Gully.  Red Letter Media took it one step further and said it’s basically the same movie as Titanic.  I never would have thought about that, but they’re right.

Character A comes from world A, meets less civilized Character B who shows them something about life they never knew–and don’t forget the romance–then the people from world A end up destroying the less civilized people and Character A decides to abandon world A for Character B’s world’s ideals.

I was also insulted that he took the worst line of Titanic and made it the spiritual theme of the movie?  I see you.

I see Cameron mocking us for spending money on the same repackaged garbage.

In the end, I lost several hours of my life I’ll never get back, but I think the lesson has been learned.  If James Cameron is attached to the project, pass it by.  And watch the Red Letter Media review, seriously.  It does it far more justice than I ever could.

The Avatar Challenge

Once upon a time people challenged my dislike for Twilight because I hadn’t read the book.  It took me a while to shove enough of my complete disdain for what I was about to venture into, and still took me a month to read the first book of the Twilight series.  (I read Harry Potter Book 7 in less than 8 hours, so it wasn’t because I was a slow reader).

It was a lot more awful than I had anticipated.  I admit, I was planning to make fun of it in comic style later, but well, when you’re not paid to do it for a living finding the time… etc., etc.

Anyways, the same challenge has been laid before me now with James Cameron’s Avatar.  Hearing from most friends that while it had some pretty pictures, it generally is a boring rehash of Fern Gully, Dances With Wolves, and Titanic elements all in just under three hours.  (A reason I never bothered with King Kong.  I could watch 2 movies in the same amount of time I probably like better.)

I also recently watched a fairly scathing review from Red Letter Media, whom I completely agreed with on the two Star Wars reviews he’s posted, and have little reason to distrust his opinion on Avatar.  (Except he didn’t like the new Star Trek movie, but I suppose Star Trek is more polarizing when it comes to a reboot).

Anyways, I guess I’m going to trudge through Avatar, hopefully in one sitting.  I may take an intermission.  I plan to post the review, whether scathing or pleasantly surprised here.  Then hopefully those of you who don’t want to bother can say, “Hey, Dee thought the movie was going to suck and it did.”  Or grudgingly, “Well, I guess I’ll have to watch it.”

I know, my view of the movie is tainted, but you can thank the tired rantings of the global warming fanatic agenda–and I’ve heard James Cameron is one of the biggest tree huggers around–but I suppose time will tell.