The All-Avengers Nativity Play

Preface: Even nerdy good Catholic girls need to have fun sometimes. Also, I love The Best Christmas Pageant Ever a bit too much.

Mary: Sharon Carter; she’s Steve’s love interest and therefore an automatic shoe-in for the spouse of St. Joseph-and the Mother of our Lord.  Also, she gives off that good, wholesome girl vibe that is crucial to all Christmas play Marys-except for the Best One Ever.

Joseph: Steve “Captain America” Rogers; he’s the All-American boy. What other role could the all-American boy play? Quarterback, St. Joseph in the church pageant, Rescuer of Kittens in Trees…the All-American Boy does it all.

The Archangel Gabriel: Vision because that makes sense. He is named Vision; he has an Infinity Stone in his forehead. He is perfect. He probably won’t agree to wear feathery wings, but we’ll live as long as he wears the white robe.

Shepherd #1: Cliff “Hawkeye” Barton; he’ll be wearing his own bathrobe and grumbling like the grumpy old soul that he is.

Shepherd #2: Maria Hill; she demands a proper costume. She will NOT wear Clint’s old bathrobe. (Trust me; he offered.) Mercifully, Sharon Carter will find something for her in Peggy Carter’s old things.

Shepherd #4: Thor Odinson; he will love every moment of it-while wearing Clint’s old bathrobe. It will be too short for him, and Steve will tactfully loan him a pair of plaid pajama pants.

The Innkeeper: Natasha “Black Widow” Romanov; she’ll end up with some red in her ledger from this role but that will hopefully lead to a later reformation.

Caspar: Bruce “Hulk” Banner; he’s there for the comfy costume and to support the “Keep Tony Calm” movement. He doesn’t really care about the gold that he’s offering. He does, however, enjoy the chance to borrow Thor’s cape for the role.

Balthasar: James “Rhodey” Rhodes; he comes to both bring myrrh and try to control Tony Stark.

Melchior: Tony “Iron Man” Stark; sure, he’ll complain endlessly about giving “This Kid” incense when that stuff reeks and we should be giving him robots or something, but he’ll also bring a certain level of gravitas to the role.

The Angel Who Warned Joseph in a Dream: Nick Fury-because that’s obvious.

Herod: Loki; he will enjoy all of the villainy. He also enjoys getting to wear a crown. In fact, he puts himself in charge of obtaining crowns to ensure that his crown is bigger and better than anything worn by the Magi. They are puny kings; he is the best king.

Special Notes: The baby Jesus doll is a mint-condition doll from Peggy Carter’s personal collection that Sharon Carter graciously loaned to the production. The doll was from Peggy’s childhood in England, but it was never used as Peggy never had much use for dolls.

We would also like to take a moment to thank Mrs. Laura Barton (wife of Clint) for all of her assistance in providing costuming and to thank Steve Rogers for all of his work in designing and constructing the scenery. Mr. Rogers would like to thank Bucky Barnes for all of his assistance in constructing the set.

We hope you enjoy tonight’s performance, and we look forward to having you join us for cookies and punch in the church hall after tonight’s performance.

Thank you for all of your love and support! Merry Christmas!

Pepper Potts and Wanda Maximova, Co-Directors

(All promotional considerations provided by Stark Industries.)

Movie Review: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

So we’re all clear on this: I really like Harry Potter. I’ve read the books. I’ve seen the movies. I listen to the soundtracks. I’d seriously consider naming a daughter Hermione. Do we all understand that?

Okay, good…that said, it shouldn’t surprise you that I would go to an opening night showing of the new addition to that universe: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. After all, it is a Harry Potter film (!!!) set in New York (!) in the 1920s (!!). I was going to learn more about the American Wizarding World. (!!!!!!!!!!) How could this go wrong?

via comingsoon.net

via comingsoon.net

Honestly, there are many ways that it could have gone wrong, but for the most part, this movie stayed the course. It carried on the themes that I love from the books and the original movies. It helped that J.K. Rowling wrote the film and David Yates who directed four of the eight HP movies directed it. That provided the film with stability and continuity.

The film introduces us to Newt Scamander who we only previously knew as the author a Hogwarts textbook-Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them-and as the grandfather of Luna Lovegood’s husband Rolf Scamander. Through the original series, I’d always thought of Newt as an old man, but meeting him in the movie (as played by Eddie Redmayne) was a delightful surprise. Newt is adorable, nerdy, socially awkward, and curious. He’s incredibly passionate about the magical beasts that he cares for. Redmayne brings a level of clear Hufflepuff generosity to the role. (It probably helps that both he and his character are from the Badger house.) Redmayne brings a level of endearing awkwardness to his character that helped me to understand why he could be likable to some of his contemporaries and irritating to others.

The supporting cast was good. Colin Farrell makes a brilliantly complex Percival Graves. Katherine Waterston plays Tina Goldstein as a strong woman who is determined to do what is right regardless of what her authority figures tell her. Tina makes a good role model for young girls. Dan Fogler is delightful as Jacob Kowalski, the No-Maj who serves as our representative as we explore the Wizarding World of New York and Newt’s magical beasts. Fogler was bumblingly endearing and did a great job of conveying the wonder, delight, and confusion of encountering such a colorful and unusual new world. Eza Miller’s turn as the complicated Credence Barebone was haunting and intriguing.

Rowling did a great job of creating intriguing characters. I wanted to know more about Scamander’s life. How did he get those beasts? Why was he expelled from Hogwarts? What is his relationship to Albus Dumbledore? I’m hoping that the future movies will answer some of these questions.

Farrell kept me guessing throughout the film, and I loved it. I knew he was a complex character. I didn’t necessarily like him, but I was curious. The script kept me guessing. It was fun to wonder what his actual motivations were.

The script wasn’t brilliant. It was good, but it wasn’t great. The plot was relatively easy to follow. It kept me engaged. It appealed to my love of the Harry Potter universe. I loved the references to what I already knew. However, it didn’t strike me as the greatest movie of the year. It left me with questions that probably won’t be answered in future movies.  I felt like some things were just thrown into the movie to appease me as a fan. (Did I really need that twenty-second Hogwarts vs. Ilvermorny argument? No, because I don’t know enough about Ilvermoney yet? What houses were Tina and Queenie? Don’t let me with unresolved threads like that.) I felt like some characters needed more development. I wanted a better explanation of need for secrecy in the American Wizarding World. Why did it have to be so hidden from the No-Majs? (I’m guessing it comes from things like the Salem Witch Trials, but I’d like that explained to me.) I also wonder if that’s what life was like in Britain during the 1920s or were relationships between wizards and muggles more open in Britain at the point? Was muggle-wizard intermarriage banned in Britain too?

So what did I love? The colors/cinematography, the music, and the CGI…this movie was aesthetically beautiful. The settings, the costumes, the beasts-they were all gorgeous. I loved looking at the colors that the artists used to create the beasts. The CGI artists did an amazing job of bringing the beasts to life. It was easy to believe that they were real. The costuming was also gorgeous. The colors, the textures-it was all beautiful. I loved the visual feast.

And the music…I love the music from the original soundtracks, so I was thrilled that James Newton Howard was taking on the soundtrack. It was gorgeous. It helped guide the mood and draw me into the film. I don’t think that it deserves an Oscar, but it was delightful.

Overall, I give it four out of five. It was good but not great. I enjoyed it, and I’ll probably see it again. I’ll probably buy the DVD. I’ll definitely see the next movie. I can’t wait to see where this goes from here. Hopefully, the plot will be stronger, and the movie will be even better than this one.

 

(Now I want a Quidditch Through the Ages movie.)

Holy (Bleep)!

On a recent revisit to The Grand Budapest Hotel, I found myself thinking about my love of Wes Anderson films as well as my friends who also enjoy those same films. I was looking at that particular demographic within my friends. The Wes Anderson fans tend to be humanities majors. Many of us would be defined by most of society as “good kids.” Most of us are practicing Christians. I can think of many reasons why we enjoy his films-color scheme, script/dialogue, characters, music, actors, lighting…the list could go on for a while. There are many things to love these movies. I mean…I’d totally let Wes Anderson plan my wedding.

image from Wikipedia

The movies are pretty brilliant. They’re intelligent, eccentric, witty, and at least a little crass. It’s that mix that got me thinking. In Grand Budapest, M. Gustave (skillfully portrayed by Ralph Fiennes) goes from poetic dialogue that is not common in modern cinema to crass conversations or swearing. As I listened to Fiennes go seamlessly from reciting poetry to swearing, I wondered why this particular group of individuals enjoys this brand of cinema. I have plenty of good friends who wouldn’t enjoy the crass language. So why do other friends and I enjoy Anderson’s portrayal of the human experience? We don’t all have some crazy mustard yellow fixation, do we?

Image from Wikipedia

Then I posed this question to my roommate who also enjoys these films. She provided me with an answer that resonated with me. Wes Anderson’s film reminds us that we belong to both heaven and earth. In other words, these movies show us a vivid and all-too real depiction of the fallen condition of humanity. Life is not a fairy tale. We are not yet perfect. We aspire to the skies, but we fall short far too many times. We want to perfectly crafted sentences that use elegant language, but life falls short. We fall short. And in our more base moments, we fall back on crass language.

Image from Rotten Tomatoes

That crass language is far easier to use than those elegant phrases. Many times, it feels far more appropriate to swear than to use poetic language. There is a certain impact to “fuck” that “‘Twas first light, when I saw her face upon the heath, and hence did I return, day by day, entranced, though vinegar did brine my heart, never w…” just doesn’t have. Poetry is beautiful, but it often lacks a certain level of baseness that is so intrinsic to our human condition. There is something utterly satisfying about swearing or speaking in crass terms. Both swearing and poetry fit the human condition; they simply fall into different moments of life. These movies acknowledge both the baseness (earth) and elegance (heaven) of the human condition.

Beyond just the language, the films present a world that is flawed. These characters aren’t perfect. Their lives are far from perfect. These are not the stories to which we necessarily aspire. (Okay, certain parts of them definitely look appealing.) But there is something charming and endearing about these stories. The flaws and the charm resonate with us. Many of us have dysfunctional families. Many of us want to do something dramatic or exciting. Adventure appeals to us. Some of us wish that we looked good in mustard yellow. We realize that life doesn’t always give us happily-ever-afters. Anderson acknowledges that, but he also helps us to acknowledge the humor in the dark moments. Life is filled with elegance, with humor, and with profanity. Somehow, Anderson blends these elements together and makes them thoroughly delightful.

Also, there is Courtesan au Chocolat.

The Thoughts You Have on Watching The Road to El Dorado as an Adult

Prior to this evening, neither Joy nor I had ever seen The Road to El Dorado. We had seen the below gif on the webs, but we’d never seen the original movie.
But the movie is on Netflix, and we wanted a quiet Saturday night so we could go to bed at reasonable hour given that this is the worst Saturday of the year.
Naturally, because I’m a jerk, we had to write a ridiculous blog post while watching the film. So, here goes nothing…
Why is everyone speaking English?

That guy is clearly from Hawaii.  How did someone from Hawaii get to Arizona?
He doesn’t believe they’re gods.  He’s going to spend the whole movie trying to prove they aren’t.

We’re the monkeys.  People say we monkey around…

She can hear them!  She can tell what they’re saying.

Her out fit does not look comfortable.

Also, she has really big hips and thighs for someone with that small of a waist.

There’s a lot of inconsistencies in this movie.

Do you ever wonder if the animators were on drugs?

Why on earth would you think that?

Right then they definitely were.

No, I think they were just drunk.

I’m sorry, how long are footprints going to stay on the beach?

Dude, you’re not making friends.

It’s Godzilla, Joy!

My life is worse for having watched this movie. It’s not substantially worse or anything. But my life was better before I saw this movie.

Movie Review: Brooklyn

A few weeks ago, a friend texted me and asked if I wanted to go see the new Tina Fey movie with her. I said yes, and she said, “Great! Brooklyn is showing at 3:45 tomorrow.”

Well, if you know anything about the movie Brooklyn, you’ll know that Tina Fey isn’t in it. Also, we didn’t end up seeing any movie that day because something came up. However, as we were making plans, I had looked into Brooklyn, and I really wanted to see it. So, I had a snow day today, but the weather wasn’t bad near my home. (One of the perks of living a bit of a drive from where I work) The roads were clear, so I took myself to the movies.

Now, I had a suspicion that I would like this movie. It looked like a heartwarming story that would have requisite sad bits alongside a quality plot and good acting. It didn’t look groundbreaking or life-changing. But it looked like a good, positive movie.

What I got was a genuinely heartwarming story with excellent acting. The story, which is an adaptation of a book I’ve not yet read, was beautiful. I did cry a bit here and there. I laughed. I really laughed at this adorable little eight-year-old Italian-American boy; he was hilarious. Mostly, I was just enchanted. I fell in love with the characters. I wanted them to be happy and have genuinely good lives.

The movie tells the story of Eilis Lacey, a young Irish woman who moves to America in 1951 to make a better life for herself. She is smart, and that’s one of her greatest strengths. Homesickness is her greatest foe. The story is primarily a story of her transition to adulthood and her gradual adjustment from life in a small town in Ireland to life in a large city in America.

The writing is good. The story is compelling and believable. The characters feel real. Their goals and motivations make sense both in the real world and the world of the film. Eilis does a thing or two that I don’t necessarily like, but I’m not sure that I would have behaved differently in her shoes. The soundtrack is gorgeous; it supported the movie well and helped convey the emotions that the director wanted the viewer to feel.

The acting was wonderful. Saoirse Ronan moves beautifully from a slightly fearful immigrant to a strong woman who can think and act for herself. Emory Cohen, despite not actually being Italian-American, plays Eilis’s Italian-American love interest. He nicely portrays a sweet, honest, and enthusiastic young man who wants to make the most out of his life. Domhnall Gleeson is delightful as a young man Eilis comes to know upon her return to Ireland. He’s more reserved than Cohen’s Tony, but there is a quiet strength to him that I found utterly endearing. The supporting cast is also brilliant. I really enjoyed Jim Broadbent as the priest who sponsored Eilis’s immigration and Julie Walters as her landlady in Brooklyn. (It was also fun to see three Harry Potter veterans in the same film even if Gleeson, Walters, and Broadbent were never onscreen together.) Eilis’s housemates in Mrs. Keogh’s boardinghouse were believable and enjoyable.

Overall, I really liked this movie, and I’d encourage anyone who likes enjoyable things to see it.

My rating is an A-. Yes, I had one or two unanswered questions at the end of the film, but overall, I enjoyed it.


 

Disclaimers:

I never did see that Tina Fey movie. Maybe I should see it someday?

I have a soft spot for Domhnall Gleeson because we both have names that coffeeshop baristas seem to be incapable of spelling. Someday, I want to hang out with him and compare misspellings of our names. (Also, I don’t think that he’s ugly.)

Movie Review: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

It is a truth universally acknowledged that I love Jane Austen. Most people who know me are well aware that Pride and Prejudice is my second or third favorite Austen novel-depending on my mood and my attitude towards Captain Wentworth that day. It is also a truth nearly universally acknowledged that I do love a good parody. I dearly love to laugh, after all.

From BBC America

Therefore, it was with great delight that I read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies back in 2009. I took flack from some friends for enjoying a “rip-off” of Austen, but I didn’t mind. I liked the book. I thought that it continued the original novel’s themes well. I felt that zombification could be used as an analogy for the marriage market that Austen is so carefully criticizing in her original work. I immediately began hoping for a movie adaptation, but that was a bit slow in coming. It appears that many people were interested in such a project, but it took a while to get all of the ducks in order. And then, about about six months ago, it became apparent that all of the ducks were finally in order.

The movie came out yesterday, and naturally, I had to see it on opening night. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I don’t know when the last time a movie (that wasn’t made by Mel Brooks) made me laugh so hard. It was a bit violent, but overall, it was enjoyable. The acting was good. I really enjoyed Lily James as Elizabeth Bennet; I thought she brought the right level of independence and sweetness to the role. I felt that Sam Riley was delightfully gruff. Charles Dance was a pleasant surprise as a Mr. Bennet who would far rather see his daughter alive and in full possession of their mental capacities than happily married to men who would see them leave their zombie-fighting days behind them. Lena Headey was a divine Lady Catherine de Bourgh who reminded me of Madame Kovarian from Doctor Who, and I liked that about her.

pride-prejudice-zombies-characters-1However, my one gripe with the film is that while it contained the spirit of Seth Grahame-Smith’s novel, it was not terribly faithful to the novel. It was a true representation of the spirit of the novel, but it left many events out of the film. Now, I understand that this had to be done for the sake of time, but I’d really been looking forward to watching Lily James fight ninjas. Yes, it gave me a strong-willed Elizabeth Bennet. Yes, it gave me many moments of strong, independent women taking care of themselves. I had many pleasant moments of saying internally, “Yes! Sisters be doin’ it for themselves!” But there were no ninjas.

Admittedly, the loss of the ninjas was not the only change. The role of Wickham was changed, but I didn’t mind that too terribly. I felt the changes functioned well in the context of the film. A few things about Charlotte’s relationship with Mr. “Eleventh Doctor” Collins were changed, but that helped with the time management of the piece. Also, Matt Smith did an excellent job of playing an absurd Mr. Collins. But it would have been nice to see a showdown between Elizabeth and Lady Catherine’s ninjas.

Overall, it was enjoyable. I laughed a good deal, and that was definitely worth it. I would recommend it to people who like both Jane Austen and Monty Python. If you don’t like both of those things, you probably won’t like it. The script isn’t the greatest thing ever written, but that’s okay. I wasn’t expecting it to be brilliantly written. I have my Colin Firth-Jennifer Ehle P&P for that.

My official rating of it is a B. I would have given it an A if there had been ninjas, but no ninjas, no A.

Love Actually is The Holiday

Last night, my roommate and I had a Christmas rom-com double feature. We started out the evening with Love Actually and then moved on to The Holiday. While we were watching the movie, my roommate typed up our reactions to the movie so that we could share them with the blog.

(NB: A good alternate title for this post would be “A Good Catholic Girl watches rom-coms, gets frustrated with modern morality, and swears a lot.”)

Enjoy!

Who the fuck says “I know” to Colin Firth?  Moreover, who says “Get OUT, loser!” to him?!  What the actual fuck.

How many lobsters WERE present at the birth of Jesus?

How do you actually get a job doing [what Jack and Judy do]?  How much do you get paid to do this job?

Natalie swears:  shit, shit, fuck, piss it, fuck, fucking,

How do you hide that many people in your church?  And their instruments!  Unless…do they know all these people?

WHO cheats on Colin Firth with THAT guy?

/who cheats on Colin Firth?!

What do you do when your friend acts like…..  Colin Frissell

what prompts Harry to ask Sarah about her love life, exactly.
WHAT is Harry’s deal?  He cheats on his wife…

What made Colin think that Wisconsin was a fantastic place?

whooo says stuff like that to a married man?  if I was drunk, I MIGHT say that to [this single bloke I know]

what is she wearing?

Who labels their launderette?

Thomas Brodie-Sangster was 13 years old, playing an 11-year-old who looked about 7.  Six?   (“9” according to Cecilia)

“No one’s in love when they’re eleven!  No one!”

What does Harry/Sarah/Karl’s business actually do?

How come we don’t ALL have Prime Minister Hugh Grant around when we go through a breakup?

Does Daniel have nothing better to do with his life than worry about an 11-year-old’s love life?  I mean, come on!

Who cares what language you speak?  He’s Colin Fucking Firth!  Just snuggle!

Who would elect Billy Bob Thornton president of anything?!

(Well, who would elect Hugh Grant prime minister of anything?)

Why is she wearing that suit?  That suit is weird.
I would love to know what his Aunt Mildred looks like.

Why are you a douche-canoe?

Her dress is weird.

Why are you talking?!  Your personal life is not politics.

What is Colin Firth’s sweater?

How is Billy Bob Thornton afraid of antique furniture?  How is anyone afraid of antique furniture?

How do you sit?

You are fucking 11 years old. She is not the love of your life.
Who watches Titanic?
What’s all the garlic for?
How do you treat Emma Thompson like that?
The 270-pound necklace would, in 2015, cost $613.31.
Seriously, how do you treat Emma Thompson like that?
Why were they eating ice cream on Christmas Eve?  Isn’t it a bit cold for that, and also, bad for throats that are about to sing in a nativity play?
Does he think she doesn’t know?
How can you hate Uncle Jaimie?
His whole family just congregated SO fast.
Prime Minister – dancing, providing reassurance after breakups, going door-to-door “caroling” / etc.
“Eight is a lot of legs, David.”
Everyone should steal their lines from Colin Firth.
Can we talk about how many things are wrong with this Christmas pageant?
She already gave them ice cream!  Why do they need treats?
How can Colin Firth find Aurelia’s exact house while the Prime Minister has no idea where to find Natalie?
Do they have Dunkin Donuts in Portugal?
HE IS ELEVEN YEARS OLD.  YOU DO NOT FIND THE LOVE OF YOUR LIFE WHEN YOU’RE ELEVEN YEARS OLD
People talking like house-elves to each other is adorable.
Can I just point out that the PM does not fly into Heathrow and come out a commercial terminal?

~~~~~~~~~

Don’t kiss Jude Law when you want to kiss a cat!
why is this an explanation for irrational urges?  Look at your life, look at your choices!!  Shut the fuck up, if you want to make out with him, then make out with him; don’t sit here and try to rationalize your behavior.
Shut.  up.
Why does his six-year-old have a mobile?
Never promise you won’t fall in love with someone.

HANG UP.
“So he’s a schmuck!”

This is one of the movies that gives me unrealistic expectations about love.
It makes me feel like – love is only for beautiful people in beautiful clothes by beautiful houses in beautiful landscaping.

Don’t have sex just because you want to. NO.
Be honorable.  Be respectable.  Be respectful.

You couldn’t pay me to marry Jude Law’s character in this movie.  Actually, you couldn’t pay me to marry Jude Law ever.

I vote that New Year’s Eve, we drink wine and get takeout.

She’s here for, what, a week?  How do we have any evidence that this relationship will be successful?  They’re getting awfully serious after a date and two shags.

These poor girls are going to end up…
…with a wicked stepmother?
You shouldn’t introduce your daughters to your girlfriend after 2 dates!  You’re sitting there playing happy families…
You are who you are!  Own who you are – name it and own it.
What’s wrong with hot chocolate spilled on your jeans?

VIDEO SHOP.  IT’S BLOCKBUSTER.

“I only used the good notes.”  ❤
Sex and love are not the same thing.  Love is a verb, not a feeling.

To sum up:  The Holiday is suffering through the unlikeliness of a psychotic Cameron Diaz and a horny, impulsive Jude Law for the sake of watching Kate Winslet, Jack Black, and Eli Wallach being heartbroken people who sweetly help support each other.