Friday, February 28, 2014

Admission (2013)

“You all want to know the secret formula for getting in. To do your job well, an admissions officer must be on the receiving end of an entire nation's application panic, endure the frustration of all the parents who just realized there isn't room for every organically-fed, well-tutored offspring. Of course everyone thinks we're sadists, that we like saying no. We are in this job for one reason, to say yes.”

            When I was applying for college nine years ago (damn I just made myself feel really old!) I did not go into panic mode like some of my friends. I wanted go my community college (which was voted one of the top five community colleges in the country) for two years then transfer to a university. I mostly wanted to go to community college first because I could have cared less about scoring high on the SATs. Plus, I was not ready to leave home. Then seven years ago I applied for Montclair State University and fortunately without a problem I got into that school. Even graduate school I got into the school I wanted without issue. I never went nuts applying for schools. Well, I will say I was little nervous that my application was light because I was bum I did not do any extracurricular activities or any sports but apparently that does not matter to any of the schools I went/go to.
            In the movie Admission thousands of students apply to get into Princeton University. Princeton is an Ivy League school and all the smartest kids in the nation apply every year. It is up to the admissions office to go through every application and choose exceptional students that will add to Princeton’s legacy and reputation. Working in the admissions office is Portia Nathan (Tina Fey). She has been at Princeton as an employee for sixteen years. She does her job well and seems to enjoy it. She even has a boyfriend who is a professor on campus.
            One day the Dean of Admissions announces that he is retiring and that Portia is one of the people in the running for his job. In order to get more admissions applications Portia travels to a new school called Quest that is run by a man named John Pressman (Paul Rudd). The school is like an alternative high school where the students are not kept in an actual classroom and are encouraged to think and speak freely. After her presentation John tells Portia he knows her from when they were at Dartmouth together and needs to talk to her about something but she keeps brushing him off.
            The visit to the school and meeting John and his brightest and unconventional student Jeremiah, Portia’s life is thrown for a complete loop both personally and professionally. John tells her he thinks that Jeremiah is her son she had in college and gave up. Portia does everything she can to make sure that Jeremiah gets into Princeton like he wants even though he was not a stellar student.
            I loved Tina Fey and Paul Rudd in this movie together. They made an interesting couple. When I think of them I think of their comedies, I think of Liz Lemon and I think of Rudd being in Our Idiot Brother as a stoner. I believe that their comedy helped them to be somewhat serious in this movie because you can see they are both a bit awkward being dramatic (or at least it looked like they were awkward to me). I give Tina Fey a lot of credit because she always does silly comedies and then to do a somewhat serious role where she has to show emotion she did fantastic. I wish she would make more movies like this. Paul Rudd is just awesome he gets better and better every movie I see him in.
            Lily Tomlin plays Portia’s feminist mother. She is hilarious from her first scene to the last. I would not mind seeing her play Fey’s mother in something else.
            One of my grad school teachers works at Princeton in the archives. He told the class that when Admission was filming on the campus Tina Fey would take a break from filming and say hello to the people waiting and sign some autographs. One of his friends brought his young son and the son met Tina Fey. After that the son said he wants to go to Princeton and the father told him “You know Tina Fey isn’t always here” and the son paused then said again “I want to go to Princeton”. Ha ha.

            Admission is a very good movie. The story is sort of predictable and sort of not. You think you know where some of the plot is going and then it goes somewhere else. The acting is very good and the story is different. Highly suggest seeing Admission, especially if you are currently applying to colleges.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Ghostbusters II (1989)

“So, you're saying that the supernatural is your exclusive province?”
“Kitten, I think what I'm saying, is that sometimes, shit happens, someone has to deal with it, and who ya gonna call?”

            So, continuing on a Ghostbusters kick here is the second movie.

            Five years after the Ghostbusters saved New York City from utter paranormal destruction they are all barely making ends meet and rarely see each other due to being run out of business by the very city they saved. Ray (Dan Aykroyd) runs a paranormal book store and dons the Ghostbusters gear on occasion with Winston to do birthday parties. Peter (Bill Murray) runs a cheap and silly psychic show on local cable. Egon (Harold Ramis) is the only one to have a legitimate job as a scientist.
            Peter unfortunately did not end up with Dana Barrett (Sigourney Weaver). She wound up marrying someone else and having a baby named Oscar. The movie begins with Dana walking Oscar in his carriage. The carriage glides over some pink goo that bubbles up out of the sidewalk. As Dana picks up her groceries the carriage takes off with the baby in it dodging people, bikes and cars before it stops just as a bus comes speeding past. Dana visits Egon at work to ask him to look into what could have happened since the carriage just took off by itself. She also asks Egon not to let Peter know what they are up to. Egon and Ray take the job for Dana and of course Peter winds up finding out.
            Dana has been working as a conservator in an art museum. She works under a foreign man named Janosz. A large painting of a creepy looking medieval guy is brought up from storage for an exhibit. The painting is of a guy named Vigo the Carpathian. Dana is not thrilled with the painting it is very unsettling. That night as Janosz is working on the painting, Vigo comes to life in a way and zaps Janosz into doing his bidding. Vigo needs a baby so he can come back to life and rule the world. Guess the baby Janosz goes after?!
            Egon, Winston, Peter, and Ray find slim underneath the city streets running through an old New York City subway line. They get arrested and the slim put into evidence in court. As the judge starts yelling, the slim starts bubbling and two ghosts pop up. The judge throws out the case if they can get rid of the ghosts. After this the Ghostbusters are back in business.
            One night while Dana is giving Oscar a bath the pink slim comes in through the spout instead of water and tries to grab Oscar. Dana takes the baby over to Peter’s. Egon, Winston, and Ray investigate the subway line with the slim. Winston gets dragged into the slim so Egon and Ray jump in after. All three come out in front of the museum where the painting of Vigo is.
            Eventually the Ghostbusters figure out that Vigo is behind the slim and they have to stop the weird Carpathian bad guy from getting to Oscar.
            Again the cast was awesome. They were all crazier than the first one. I find it funny when I watch movies over and over as I get older because I notice more things. I notice some hilarious dirty or sly lines or funny looks. Egon’s sarcastic faces were even better and so was his line delivery. I realized how annoying Bill Murray is as Peter in some scenes. It is as if he was trying to steal all the scenes away from the other actors and characters. But I still love Venkman for some reason, he will always be one of my favorite movie characters. I was totally not crazy with the whole Lewis/Janine being in love with each other. That was silly and really not necessary but the cartoon was really popular and they had to come back. Oh, and I had no idea until this viewing that Max Von Sydow did the voice for Vigo. Sydow plays the Knight in Ingmar Bergman’s The Seventh Seal which is one of my all time favorite movies. Thought that was pretty cool.

            For some reason when I was young I used to watch Ghostbusters II all the time. The movie is so cheesy and silly to me now! It is like to the point of campy almost but dear god do I love this movie with all my being! I love the scene where the goo kind of takes hold of the city and there is mass chaos. I always laugh when the police get a call from the docks that the Titanic has just arrived and the guy at the dock says “Better late than never.” When the Statue of Liberty walks the streets of New York City still makes me totally excited it is awesome! Again, I have fond memories of watching this with my cousin. At twenty-six (me) and thirty (him) we still love these movies maybe even more than we did when we were little. I will also repeat that if you have not seen Ghostbusters II you are un-American and should be ashamed of yourself and your childhood must have been depressing. 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Ghostbusters (1984)

“There's something very important I forgot to tell you.”
 “Don't cross the streams.”

            When I read of Harold Ramis’s passing yesterday it was very sad. My cousin told me it is as if part of his childhood died. Ramis played Egon Spangler the super nerdy scientist in Ghostbusters. There was something about Spangler that always amused me. Maybe because he was nerdy and totally into what he was passionate about and that was science (I am no way into science whatsoever but I appreciate and love his passion). Ramis was a comedic genius. So many of America’s greatest classic comedies were either written or directed by him. I believe it should be mandatory for all Americans to watch Caddy Shack at least once their life. So in honor of Harold Ramis for this day’s post I have decided to watch Ghostbusters one of my all time favorite movies and the movie I know Ramis best from.
            When I think back to my childhood what sticks out in my mind are the movies I used to watch. There were some that I would watch over and over again. I used to watch the Ninja Turtles movie all the time and still know at least the first one by heart. There are several Disney movies I cherish and adore from when I little, but who does not have a Disney memory from when they were little. My fondest memory of a movie I have is watching Ghostbusters. This is so because I used to watch both movies with my older cousin all the time. Of course since he was older than me I adored him and wanted to do whatever he did and he used to watch Ghostbusters all the time. Even the cartoons we loved together (to this day I still have the firehouse and figures from the cartoon!). The Ghostbusters movies are cherished in my house. No matter how many times we have all seen them we always laugh hysterically.
            If you do not know the plot to Ghostbusters then there is something wrong with and means you have been a sheltered person all your life since you have never seen it. But for those sheltered individuals here is a summary.
            Doctors Peter Venkman (Bill Murray), Egon Spangler, and Ray Stantz (Dan Aykroyd) are parapsychologists. They were working at a university until they were let go when the college dropped their funding. They decide to go into the business of catching ghosts. Their first client comes from a hotel where a green ghost is causing havoc in the dining. After this they are inundated with calls for help with the paranormal.
            One day a woman named Dana Barrett (Sigourney Weaver) comes into their office seeking help. The day before she came home to her apartment after grocery shopping and the eggs she just bought jumped out of the carton and were frying. When she opened her refrigerator there was this nasty looking dog and she heard the name Zuul. Peter takes the case thinking he has a chance with Dana.
            Pretty soon the Ghostbusters figure out that Dana’s apartment is a paranormal portal that had been built by worshipers of the ancient god Gozer. And of course they wind up saving Dana and the entire city of New York.
            The more I watch Ghostbusters the more I love the characters. I love how Venkman is a bit of a jerk and seems to just be along for the ride. Ray is like an oblivious little kid. Spangler is nerdy as hell but totally funny with his dryness. Lewis Tully played by Rick Moranis is probably one of the best and under appreciated characters in all of movie history. I die laughing when he becomes the Key Master and he is brought to Ghostbuster headquarters. Janine, played perfectly by Annie Potts, asks Lewis if he wants coffee, Lewis looks at Spangler and Spangler says “Yes, have some” and Lewis repeats what Spangler said.
            The dialogue is genius. There are so many good lines it is hard to pick which line is my favorite. So much of the dialogue, especially Bill Murray’s, was adlibbed. This is one of my favorite lines: “We've been going about this all wrong. This Mr. Stay Puft's okay! He's a sailor, he's in New York; we get this guy laid, we won't have any trouble!”
               Rewatching this I love the library scene because I am currently working in one. I will admit I am a nerd because when I first went into the New York Public Library I was hoping I would see the Gray Lady that caused the trouble there, ha ha. I cringed seeing the card catalogs fly all over the place, I would not want to be the person who has to pick them up and order them again. Thank God everything is all computerized now! 
            Ghostbusters is just a genius movie all around. This is the only movie where I become a jerk and cannot even speak to anyone who has never seen it to me it is unfathomable to believe. It seems un-American to me if you have never seen this. Ghosbusters is nerdy, hysterical, wonderful, perfect, and enduring. It is a timeless movie that has become a great staple in my life. 

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Silent Sundays: The Winning of Barbara Worth (1926)

“So you are in love with Barbara Worth?”
“Yes sir- I love her more than anything else in the world.”

            The Winning of Barbara Worth begins in the early 1900s when parts of the West were still being settled. Jefferson Worth and his men were looking for land in the desert suitable enough to settle in and eventually bring water to that region. A huge sandstorm kicks up. A mother and her young daughter were riding through the desert heading West as well. The storm demolishes her wagon in seconds. When the storm is over Jefferson finds the girl alive covered by the cloth from around the wagon. Her poor mother did not make it. Jefferson raises the little girl named Barbara himself.
            Fifteen years later Jefferson’s plan to bring water to the region is near. He is working with two men named Willard Holmes (Ronald Coleman) and Greenfield to finance the Gateway a dam to bring part of the Colorado River their way. Holmes and Greenfield are out in the desert coming into the town with their car. Surveyor Abe Lee (Gary Cooper) and his father are out in the desert as well. They see Barbara (Vilma Banky) riding on her horse. Her horse suddenly goes wild and throws her. Both Willard and Abe rush out her. Abe has to go back to his father and Willard stays with Barbara.
            That night at a party Willard dances with Barbara and Abe is jealous seeing her dance with someone else. Willard confesses to her that he loves her. She tells him he will have to do more than say that that he loves her he has to prove it.
            Soon water is found and the entire town moves to a new town christened Kingston. Greenfield soon becomes greedy and sneaky. He fires Jefferson and his crew from working on the dam because, as he says, they are spreading rumors that the dam is weak and will eventually burst onto the town. Abe thinks Willard is on the scheme with Greenfield. The whole town is mad at Willard. Barbara leaves with Jefferson and Abe to start their own town. Their new town of Barba is happy if only for a little while. Greenfield has been hindering everything from Barba including the payroll to pay the men. Willard is no longer working with Greenfield after he drove out so many people and is messing with Barba. He goes to a financer from New York for help for the new town. Jefferson goes to the same man and is able to get backing and the payroll with some help from Willard. Abe went along with Jefferson and is sent along ahead to take the payroll money back to town. Willard goes with Abe for protection as well as to get back to Barbara.
            Along the way home Greenfield sent men to stop Abe and Willard in Devil’s Canyon. Both men are shot but are able to get away. Abe was shot in the leg and cannot continue the journey in time so he gives the money to Willard to take back. Willard gets the money to the people just in time before they were to burn the town down.
            News comes that the dam is about to burst onto Kingston. Willard wrangles together the men from the town to go warn the inhabitants of the other town. The town is turned into chaos with people running all over and driving furiously in their wagons for their lives.
            But all is a happy ending with Barba prospering into a paradise in the middle of the desert and Barbara winds up with Willard.          

            The Winning of Barbara Worth was alright. It tried to be a love triangle between Ronald Coleman, Vilma Banky and Gary Cooper but I figured Coleman was going to get the girl because Cooper was not even billed on the poster. This was before Gary Cooper became Gary Cooper the big Hollywood heartthrob he would become in the 1930s. The scenes of the flood were a little too long for my liking they could have ended sooner. The story was only so-so I was not crazy about it. I only suggest watching The Winning of Barbara Worth if you are a fan of any of the three cast members or like western which, to me, this is somewhat one.