Pitch Perfect

Pitch PerfectI saw Pitch Perfect in theaters when it came out, much like I just saw the sequel in theaters, the difference of course was that I didn’t really know what the hell Pitch Perfect was going to be about so the projectile vomit in the first few minutes was a strange choice on the movie’s part. Elizabeth Banks produced and stared in this movie and she, alongside John Michael Higgins play Gail and John, two commentators who bring you to the brink of laughing in tears every time they’re on screen. But neither of them are our main character, that honor belongs to Anna Kendrick’s Beca. Considering Twilight is a billion dollar industry in and of itself I can only presume a vast majority of you know her from there but others may know her from Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. Wherever you know her from, Pitch Perfect is where Anna Kendrick truly proved herself ready for the big leagues (And I’m so damn happy I followed her career!!).

Our other leading Bella’s are Anna Camp’s Aubrey Posen (True Blood’s Sarah Newlin), Brittany Snow’s Chloe (John Tucker Must Die’s Kate), Rebel Wilson’s Fat Amy (up and comer!), and a few other one-note characters there to fill out the ranks, like Ester Dean, Alexis Knapp, Hana Mae Lee, Kelly Jakle, Shelly Regner, and Wanetah Walmsley. Other cast members include our resident love interest Jesse Swanson played by Skler Astin, his roommate Benji Applebaum playd by Ben Platt, Bumper the leader of the Treblemakers who is played by Adam DeVine, and the hot guy played by Freddie Stroma who is literally only here to be hot!

This movie, seemingly filled with caricatures of people (the one note characters) actually spends a bit of time giving them a few traits that make them memorable, funny, and lovable which is why they stand out despite clearly being one-dimensional characters. It takes a great actor to make a one-dimensional character stand out from the cardboard cutouts we call extras. One thing I believe that helped this happen, though, was the fact that this is a musical and because it is almost impossible for a voice to be a carbon copy of another voice, it adds an extra level of individuality to the characters.

This film is a musical at its core, but unlike most musicals based on plays, this one is an original film (granted it’s based on a book but how many of you actually knew that?) and only features a few original songs with the remainder being covers and mashups of music. Because music is the draw of a musical, we tend to overlook the other aspects of a musical; the characters, plot, relationships, and conflict unless it directly relates to music (I’m looking at Swan Song from Glee!). They decided against that for this film, though. While music is still the draw, and likely pulled you in faster than Channing Tatum’s abs in Magic… Okay maybe not as fast as that, but still we came for the music. Who knew we would stay for the relationships that these young women build over the course of the movie in their attempt to prove themselves capable?

You’ve probably seen it, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t see it again!

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The Boy Next Door

The Boy Next DoorThere is a stigma, almost always appropriate, against teachers dating students. It’s horrific for elementary students through high school students and simply frowned upon by faculty when professors/instructors date college students. However, this stigma is entirely dependent on the ick factor that is all but certainly biologically ingrained in our DNA to protect children (remember when twelve was the marrying age? Neither do I). This may seem like a rant, and in some cases it is, because while I completely against pedophilia I found the basic inciting incident of The Boy Next Door to be unbelievable at best and laughable at worst. It is blatantly pointed out that Ryan Guzman’s character (Noah) is nineteen when he goes to the high school where Jennifer Lopez (Clair) teaches English. Suddenly the stigma is cast aside because, while we are looking at a high school student having an affair with his teacher, he is well above the age of consent and almost to the age of majority (depending on which state you live in because they may or may not be the same thing!).

I totally understand what goes through our minds when we think of older women sleeping with younger men (for some reason it’s never the same things for when and older, and often uglier, man is sleeping with a younger woman *cough, cough*Hugh Hefner*cough, cough*), but he’s an adult and so is she. Thus I couldn’t really get behind her logic of it being wrong outside of her just being a teacher and him being a student… So by the time it was revealed he was a psychopath I was really thinking… REALLY?!

Now that we’ve gotten past that I have to say I’m really digging Ryan Guzman as of late, he’s really starting to come up in the world of acting from Pretty Little Liars (SQUEE!) to two of the Step Up sequels, he’s going places. Jennifer Lopez, in my not so humble opinion, is always a gem even in the strangest of movies I find her in. Now then, I must admit I was surprised to find Kristin Chenoweth in this movie, but it was really refreshing to see her do something (Last time I saw her was on Glee and before that it was Good Christian Bitches, God rest it’s soul). This is clearly Ian Nelson’s first big role, seeing as how a cursory scan of the rest of his work gave only minimal mention of his efforts in his other work, but he played the child of impending (actual?) divorce quite well. John Corbett (From Sex and the City) is also just as good, only he’s playing the philandering father trying to get back with his wife because…. Whatever the reason he did it quite well.

Even though I tore the inciting incident of this film to shreds I really, REALLY loved it. Give it a try and you may be pleasantly surprised, too.

Woman in Gold

Woman in Gold showed me that movie theaters still can fill up with people, considering for the past several months I’ve found myself in theaters with only a smattering of people. It’s funny, but it happens. Woman in Gold, though, was a movie that deserved to be experienced by everyone. It was a touching film on a difficult subject; restitution.

Woman in GoldThere are people to this day that still refuse to believe that the holocaust never happened and while that is a problem in and of itself, that countries… states with more power than the richest people in the whole world now refuse to return precious items to those who suffered the most is absolutely unforgivable. Woman in Gold is the true story, regardless of how “true” it is, of a woman whose goal was to get back what was hers, and nothing more.

Maria Altmann (played by the talented Helen Mirren) lived in Austria during World War II and was one of those who were most affected by the invasion by Nazi Germany. Her families possessions were stripped, catalogued, and stolen by those who would continue to oppress the Jewish people for decades to come. This film takes place decades after the war, but it features frequent flash backs to this time so you can see, feel, and understand the pain she went through. The majority of the film takes place in the nineties as Maria and her lawyer, Randol (Randy) Schoenberg (played by Ryan Reynolds) continue to fight against the Austrian government to retrieve prized familial possessions which have now become State Treasures.

Seeing a government abuse its power simply so it can erase years and decades of crimes is bad enough when you only have the cliff notes, but seeing it unfold over time makes that pain tenfold. The trials, depositions, deals, and so on become tiring the longer they go on as the Austrian government seems to do everything in its power to further beat down Maria because to Austria they see a priceless antique painting and to Maria she sees her aunt. In my opinion Maria should be able to use the painting as a dining room table and it shouldn’t make a damn difference to anyone. It isn’t priceless because of what it’s been through to the state of Austria, it’s priceless because of the horrors it saw throughout decades of separation from its rightful owner.

Maria was never in it for the millions that she would be owed, she truly only wanted the painting of her aunt back.

This movie was powerful and it is one of those where a review simply cannot ever do it justice. The power of a movie isn’t always based in the dialogue or the acting, sometimes it’s simply based in the message that is being told.