An Idiot Abroad, aka Crystal Fairy and the Magical Cactus (2013)

4 Jul

crystal fairy magical cactusSorry to disappoint you if you were hoping for a review on the Ricky Gervais-produced TV show, but honestly I have found that show rather boring. I’ll try not to judge too harshly, since the movie I am about to review here might be boring to many of you: Crystal Fairy and the Magical Cactus.

hoffmannJamie (Michael Cera) takes you on an anxiety-ridden and socially awkward journey through Chile, as he searches for a coveted San Pedro cactus to make into a nauseating soup which will lead him to trip balls on a Chilean beach for a day. Joining him is the ever-dramatic and wonderful Gaby Hoffman (whom you may recognize as Adam’s sister in HBO’s Girls or as the best friend character in the new abortion rom-com, Obvious Child). A group of Chilean locals bring these two through their adventure, though how they met up with Jamie in the first place is never quite addressed. One thing is clear, you will get annoyed with Jamie first, then you’ll notice the Chileans follow suit. Crystal Fairy is somewhat irritating in her own right, but she means well.

I am the queen of slow-paced movies, but my viewing companion had a tough time with the way this movie progressed. You know what they say though, it’s all about the journey not the destination. It can be hard to be patient with their quest for the San Pedro for about half of the movie, especially because Jamie is also so high strung and anxious during the hunt, you can’t help but have it rub off on you. While viewing this movie several thoughts will cross your mind repeatedly: Are they ever going to find the San Pedro? They’re never going to find the San Pedro. Is something bad going to happen? I think something bad is going to happen. I won’t spoil it by giving you the answers because I do want you to watch this movie. It didn’t quite reach critical acclaim, but I’d give Crystal Fairy and the Magical Cactus an A.

 

Broad City- The Show We Have All Been Waiting for (2014)

16 Jun

BFFs, blaze buddies and daily Skype companions Abbi and Ilana star in the most wonderful show I have seen in years. Take the Broad_City_Logocrass and straightforward humor of Inside Amy Schumer, add a more connected and ongoing plot line with two best friends living in NYC (á la Flight of the Concords), plus stoner humor around every turn, and you can begin to have an idea of what this show is about.

Started by some UCB alums, and with a slew of amazing funny lady guest stars- they had me at Amy Sedaris, but Amy Poehler, Rachel Dratch, and Janine Garafalo also show up in an episode or two- Broad City is the feminist answer to Workaholics. This is the show that I have been waiting for and I think that many of you will agree that this refreshing take on a female-led comedy show has been a long time coming.

Ilana and Abbi

Ilana and Abbi

And don’t worry, it has been man tested and man approved. It took me three days to burn through the first (and only) season. When the boyfriend caught the last episode with me, he found that he loved it too, and I watched the entire season over again with him. Now I’m fiending for the next season, which has been greenlighted for 2015.

While the first season has already been aired, I bet Comedy Central shows reruns if you have cable, and it’s also available on Hulu Plus. I’ve been binge-watching the show on projectfree.tv.

Going back to the grading scale, I definitely give this show an A+

Check a clip below from “Hurricane Wanda!” Namaste, gracias.

 

Shows to Watch Online While You Slowly Freeze to Death

13 Feb

Hey guys! Thanks for stopping by my second snowpocalypse edition of Media to Put in your Eye Holes While You’re Snowed In. If you’re like me, you have fashioned a sort of nest of blankets, pillows, scarfs and hoodies; you have invited your canine companion onto your couch; and you are taking full advantage of the way the South does winter, y’all. Though in all reality, I have been slaving away at a Spanish paper on contemporary poetry and its imagery, and I could really use the catharsis of writing in English about some garbage. So let’s hop to it!

I have recently gained access to Amazon Prime Instant Video via super secret spy methods involving hidden cameras in Sochi showers. And boy have I been taking advantage of this quality programming:

1. The Layover w/ Anthony Bourdain (Amazon Prime)

tony with a bone

Used to be the background on my computer

I love every single thing about Anthony Bourdain and I will follow him to the end of the earth in whatever pursuit he may choose. So how did I fail to notice that he had a new show? For all I know, it has been cancelled by now. But if it’s as new to you as it is to me, you can catch the entire first season (series?) on Amazon Prime. The premise here is not much unlike his No Reservations series, only this time he is in each city for a very limited time (like 24 hours). He schleps around with some fellow-cook friends, and tries out local foods and activities. So enjoy another series where you watch the episodes of the places that you have been to first so you can revel in the fact that Tony has been there, too.

2. Alpha House (Amazon Prime)

I love John Goodman and I already feel bad enough for betting on him to be the next  to die in my high school celebrity death poll. In Alpha House, he acts as the ex-NC-basketball-coach-turned-politician that you could learn to love. Also must be taking some of his character acting tips from his part in Todd Solondz’s Storytelling.

Workaholics-blake-anderson-adam-devine-anders-holm-600x4603. Workaholics (Amazon Prime)

The fine folks at Netflix took it away, but you can still get your share of Ders, Blake, and Adam (and don’t forget Jillian!) on Amazon Prime. Fantastic mindless comedic viewing to zone out and burn to (IF you live in Colorado or Washington ONLY!)

4. Inside Amy Schumer (Amazon Prime) inside-amy-schumer2

I am always happy to see a righteous chick catch a little spotlight in the world of standup and sketch comedy. She is just as crass as I often feel, so this show makes me happy to feel that I am not alone. Even you dudes will like it, seriously.

5. Key and Peele (Amazon Prime)

If the online stylings of such videos as “Substitute Teacher” tickled your fancy, how do you feel about a full show of Key and Peele antics? Sketch comedy at it’s finest, and I love any show that can tackle race, (albeit no one has come forward with the fire that is Dave Chapelle, but I’m holding out).

6. David Chang: Mind of a Chef (Netflix)mind-of-a-chef-pbs-anthony-bourdain

Did I mention I love Anthony Bourdain? He narrates this show, for some reason, which is what drew me to it in the first place. I must admit, I kind of hate the way the show is organized. In one episode, David Chang, famous chef of Momofuku, will be in various countries speaking with famous chefs about, say, the egg. In the next episode, he will be at several of the same international places, but this time discussing the merits of freeze-dried foods. But all-in-all, it’s a good show that will make you hungry. The icing on the cake was the day I watched an episode in which David Chang goes golfing with Dan the Automator. Go figure!

louis-ck7. Louie (Netflix)

Louis CK is, hands down, my favorite standup comedian. And I love him as much for his masturbation jokes as the bigol’ thinkin’ brain those jokes come out of. Those who only like him for his crass antics, however, beware. The show that he writes, produces, edits, and stars in, is a little bit more off the beaten path. He tackles some intense issues regarding mental health, fatherhood, community, work, life, everything. But it’s not as heartwarming as that sounds, either, it can get quite twisted.

8. Twin Peaks (Netflix)Twin-peaks

While the ending leaves much to be desired, it is still worth getting into this cult David Lynch classic. Pretty much a prerequisite to being my BFF, Twin Peaks has quirk and style and mystery and a certain man in a denim outfit who haunts my waking and sleeping nightmares. If you have been watching True Detective on HBO (see #9), I prescribe you this show to watch while you’re biting your nails between episodes. The owls are not what they seem, and you can always get an, excuse me, DAMN fine cup of coffee in Twin Peaks.

true detective9. True Detective (HBO, hbogo.com)

True Detective reminds me a bit of Twin Peaks, maybe mixed with Breaking Bad. That’s really enough for me. A mysterious cultish murder rocks a small Lousiana town, and who do we have around to solve it? An emaciated Matthew McConaughey and a machista Woody Harrelson (whose character I loathe more than any other of his). It’s just getting really juicy, and watching this on hbogo.com makes me remember what it’s like to have to wait for the next episode of a show again.

10. Girls (HBO, hbogo.com)Girls-HBO-image-girls-hbo-36197318-647-960

Duh. I love it, I love Lena Dunham and in my dreams we are best friends. Watching this show is how we catch up. As buds.

Netflix Documentaries for Your Snow Day(s)

6 Jan

So from what the internet is telling me, it looks like the whole world is having a snow/ice/coldness holiday today. Even many of you who are not in the education field are enjoying a day off that usually only happens if a bomb threat is called into your work (which is what I have always referred to as Adult Snow Days).

Now that you have an extra day to remain snuggled in your pajamas with your pet or your loved one(s), don’t you think it’s time to fire up your Netflix and participate in some informational movie film viewing on your new flat screen? Luckily my three-day NYE hangover has afforded me the opportunity to preview and review many of Netflix’s old and new docs for you. Here are some recommendations, in no particular order.

1. Blackfish (2013) Blackfish

You have been putting it off, or perhaps you didn’t even know it was available on Netflix streaming, but it is time to sit down and punish yourself for all the carefree hours (or days) you spent at SeaWorld in your childhood. Blackfish uncovers SeaWorld’s reckless policies when it comes to the capture and handling of orcas, and focuses in particular on Tilikum, an orca that really lives up to the killer whale nomenclature.

Somm2. Somm (2012)

I love wine, yet all I know about it is that you should drink white wine cold, it’s not technically champagne unless it comes from the Champagne region of France, and if you want to get the best Malbec, you should ensure that it originated in the Southern Cone (Argentina/Chile). I thought I was doing pretty well on my wine knowledge until I saw Somm, a documentary about some of the elite few sommeliers who put their lives on the back burner for years in order to study for, and often fail, the Master Sommelier exam. It is absolutely insane what these people have to know in order to pass. I hope this can lead to more wine parties in my future, as we attempt to recreate the “blind taste” part of the exam. “This wine tastes like a freshly opened can of tennis balls, freshly cut hose.” And for those of you who think wine is a drink that is just for women, you will be surprised at what a boys club it tends to be. Which leads me to my next recommendation…

3. Bronies: The Extremely Unexpected Adult Fans of My Little Pony (2012)Bronies

Apparently I am late to the party, but until I saw this documentary, I had no idea that people flock, in the thousands, to My Little Pony conventions all over the world to join in

Abe Simpson

fellowship with Brony bretheren. This isn’t your MLP of the 80′s or 90′s, however. The (mostly) male followers of the new age of My Little Pony love it for its animation, music, and above all, the overall message of friendship and love in the show. I must admit, I still don’t really get it, but maybe I’m just getting too old. I really do appreciate the message and the vibe of these Bronies, however, and I think it’s a world worth gawking at through this doc.

ROOOS_70_M1V1.indd4. Room 237 (2012)

If you love Stanley Kubrick and/or The Shining, you’ll enjoy this documentary about the many (conspiracy?) theories that surround this masterpiece of cinema from 1980. Some of the theories presented in the documentary are downright frustrating, and remind me that I am in wayyyy over my head if I really wanted to be a film critic/analyst. It took me back to the days of high school English classes in which every little literary symbol is beaten to death as a possible reference to a Freudian nightmare. But overall, even my frustration came from a place of entertainment, and some of the theories I found quite enjoyable. My favorite one claims that the original moon landing shown on TV was actually a fake, directed by Stanley Kubrick himself. It refers to several instances in The Shining that support this conclusion. While some are far-fetched, I want to believe!

5. Kumaré (2011) Kumare

We all spend at least part of our lives pondering the existential questions of “who am I really? Why am I here? What is my purpose? Why is there suffering?” etc. Some of us even seek the answers from others, often a guru, or a spiritual teacher/guide/healer. Kumaré tells the story of a “false prophet,” a man who creates his own philosophy, teachings, and spiritual practices, and then gains followers to see how far he can take it. As a viewer, I often found myself wincing at how blindly these people accepted him as a guru and prophet. Yet at the same time, he did have a virtuous message underlying this whole project, and I think that those who came out of the project without hating him for his betrayal actually learned more about themselves, life and enlightenment than many who never see the veil of their guru lifted.

Keep warm, my friends! And stay tuned for my next wintery installment of Netflix streaming and Hulu TV shows to keep you warm until the first thaw.

Is Trophy Wife Destined to Be Better than its Name Implies?

2 Oct

When I heard that one of my favorite funny women, Sarah Haskins, was about to start a new sitcom series on ABC, I jumped for joy. Sarah Haskins was one of the many pleasures that came from watching infoMania on the sadly now-defunct CurrentTV. When infoMania would feature her segment, Target Women, it was going to be a good week for me. She picked up on the, “Why do women love yogurt so much?” hypothesis wayyy before it had reached mainstream consciousness:

I see Sarah Haskins as a feminist, a woman who sees the ways gender and sexuality manipulate, and are manipulated by society. But say what now? Her new show is called Trophy Wife? Hmmm…my applause meter dipped, just slightly, until I listened to Neda Ulaby’s NPR interview on NPR with Ms. Haskins about her personal inspiration for the series. As it turns out, Sarah Haskins is a trophy wife, too! But not in the conventional sense, I suppose. This interview piqued my interest once again.

By name, this series seems like another dumb reality show. Unfortunately, this will detract from an intelligent audience that I think a Haskins project is capable of pulling. However, it might capture more idiots, and maybe they’ll like it just the same. It is nice to see that this series (so far) is not really what it appears on the surface level due to this name. If you listen to the interview, you’ll learn a little more about it, but in a nut shell, this show is about how when you marry a divorcé, you marry his ex-wife -or in this case, ex-wives- too. So far in the series, the husband, Pete, is the least interesting character of the bunch, which begs the question: Why did all these women marry him in the first place? Kate, the trophy wife, is a close second in the not-as-interesting race.

So far, I’m still on the fence about this new series. But I will continue to watch, because sometimes these things take time. So far it appears to be a little less edgy than Target Women was, but I can always supplement this more family-friendly show with the Target Women clips on Youtube. Either way, I want Trophy Wife to be a success, if only because I want to support Sarah Haskins. I’m going to keep watching.

The first two episodes are available to watch streaming on Hulu or the ABC website. See the Trophy Wife Pilot here

By: Melissa Myers

Lunarcy! (2012) Moon Dreamers Gotta Dream

11 Aug

lunarcyLunarcy! is a quirky documentary that zooms in on the lives of a handful of individuals whose lives revolve around the moon in different ways. These men run the gamut from Alan Bean, an astronaut-turned-artist, to Dennis Hope, a man who claims ownership to the moon (and makes a living off of selling plots on it). But by far the most interesting “character” of the documentary- for me- is Christopher Carson. This young, nerdy hopeful wants to start the first colony on the moon. He seeks to travel to that giant, grey, orbiting rock never to return to earth again. Check out his organization dedicated to this dream, called The Luna Project. After several testimonial-style interviews with Carson and his mother, you start to paint a small picture of why he is so obsessed with this dream. As she says, “He needs  a society where people like him are valued…He needs a society that accepts him. It may be that he feels that one of the ways to do that is to gather like-minded individuals and…isn’t that what we all wanna do?”

Former astronaut, Alan Bean, paints images such as this one, First Men, using actual moon dust he collected from his NASA uniform.

Former astronaut, Alan Bean, paints images such as this one, First Men, using actual moon dust he collected from his NASA uniform.

While this film is reminiscent of docs such as King of Kong: Fistful of Quarters because of its voyeurism into a sort of “nerd culture,” it doesn’t poke as much fun at its subjects. Well….maybe a little. But this movie also shows a certain amount of respect for those who have dedicated their every moment to the moon in some way or another.

Emily Kell

Emily Kell’s painting, Flowering, evokes the divine feminine at play with the moon. http://emilykell.com/

The one thing that puzzles me after watching this documentary is that it only focuses on men who are so focused on the moon. It makes me wonder where the women are who are just as fascinated in the moon; they must exist, right?  This is especially interesting to me because of the feminine associations that many cultures make with the moon. Perhaps it is the feminine allure of la luna that is subliminally driving these men to their obsession. Just a thought. It would have been an interesting reflection for the movie to make considering it also touches upon issues of autism, the defunding of the NASA space program, and the commodification of space.

And for good measure: We’re earthlings! Let’s blow up Earth things!

John Dies at the End (2012)

15 May

John DiesSpace and time are fluid, our lives are constantly filled with existential crises, it might be the slightly-clueless-yet-lovable-20-something who saves the day or the world, zombies are a thing, and so on. Does this sound familiar? Have you noticed a trend in this type of movie lately?  John Dies at the End fits this 2010′s indie/alternative  formula to a T. It evoked recollections of movies such as Enter the Void (2009), The Immaculate Conception of Little Dizzle (2009), maybe even a little I Heart Huckabees (2004). It’s a Kevin Smith movie that read a Kurt Vonnegut bestseller and got knocked up by a zombie movie while watching Alien, thus producing a nerdy, somewhat disturbed film baby.

John Dies at the End takes us on a non-linear journey through Dave’s experiences with a strange drug that leads him to explore the definitions of  life and death, waking and sleeping reality, space and time, other dimensions. No, John-who-dies-at-the-end is not even the main character. And although the description above may render it as a serious movie, I assure you that it is as serious as its goofy title. Although it is based on a novel -written by David Wong, same name as the protagonist- it felt more like it was based on a comic book.

Dave (left) and John...who dies at the end.

Dave (left) and John…who dies at the end.

This movie brought with it a somewhat bi-polar movie experience. I would become engrossed in the plot, and think that the movie was genius and I couldn’t wait to see where they would go with it. Within five minutes my opinion would shift drastically as I realized how tacky it was getting. The “Jamaican” in the movie was a particularly hard character to swallow. Poorly-acted and grossly stereotyped, I tried not to dwell on his shortcomings too much. Before I could commit to shutting it off, it would take back off like a roller coaster, and I would become engaged once again.

So why not give it a shot? It’s a short, one and a half hour, weird space-time-continuum romp; it doesn’t take itself too seriously, and neither should you; and for real, John does die at the “end.” I hope I didn’t ruin it for you.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 133 other followers