Tag: entertainment

Saturday’s Warrior Review

I normally don’t review movies on this blog very often but since Saturday’s Warrior is an LDS film I felt like it belonged here more.  It was interesting because I saw Everybody Wants Some, the new film from Richard Linklater today along with Saturday’s Warrior.  Both films are set in the late 70s and both are heavily nostalgic and both rely on music to tell their stories.  It’s funny because on the surface they couldn’t be more different but seeing them back to back I saw some similarities. To read my review for Everybody Wants Some go here.

Anyway, let’s talk about Saturday’s Warrior.  Based on the popular stage play written by Lex de Azevedo, Saturday’s Warrior is a musical focused on a Mormon family in the 1970s.

It starts in the premortal spirit life where the family is gathered to say goodbye as each of them leave to join their earthly family.  The oldest Jimmy and Pam promise the youngest Emily that they will make sure their parents don’t get tired of having kids before they can have her, the 8th child.

Then Julie, the second daughter, sings to her love Tod that they will find each other on earth. The last group is Wally Kestler who is desperate to go on a mission and convert the world.

saturdays warriorOnce they get to earth things get more complicated with the appeal of that darn old rock and roll music (gets you every time!) and Jimmy gets dragged into a band that is up to no good.  They even start singing a song literally called ‘Zero Population’ criticizing his big family and threatening the birth of little Emily.

Meanwhile Tod hasn’t been born with the gospel and is an artist and poor Elder Kestler doesn’t have much luck on his mission (until he meets Tod…spoiler alert).

The main appeal to this movie is the songs.  If you have nostalgia for the songs than you will probably enjoy it.  There is no attempt to lessen the camp at all and this is true for the songs.  Aside from having popular Mormon singers like Alex Boye involved they feel like they are straight from the 1970s.

saturdays warrior2I guess you either go with that kind of vintage feel or you don’t.  There’s also no attempt to update the production either.  It might as well have been shot on the Brady Bunch set how low budget 1970s it looks.  That has some appeal but wears thin after a while.

One thing that was weird is the camerawork seemed off the entire time. I am wondering if there was something wrong at my screening.  It felt like everything was chopped off.  You’d have characters talking and their foreheads would be chopped off of the shot.  It was very weird but when I watch the trailer I don’t see that happening.

saturdays warrior3The acting feels low budget and it is a religious film where the Mormon way is the right way and the other is the way of the devil.  Not a whole lot of in between.  If you are looking for a subtle movie about faith this is not the film for you. It’s very cheesy but I knew that going into it.  No surprises there!

Unfortunately the acting isn’t very good and it all feels like a Mormon episode of Saved by the Bell.

If you are a big fan of the music than you will probably enjoy it.  I had fun with it on that level but I can’t really recommend it.  It’s not a good movie but not the worse thing I’ve seen either so take that for what you will.

Overall Grade- D+ (2/5 stars)

My youtube review- If you like this review I would really appreciate subscribing to my channel or giving it a thumbs up.  Thanks!

Best TV on DVD

Hey guys I did a fun post today on my favorite tv on dvd box sets. This is not necessarily my favorite shows, just the one’s that I think are the best on dvd or bluray.

Sometimes these sets have great commentary features, special episodes and some are great to watch in one big binge.Other shows like The Big Bang Theory are great but their dvd sets are lame.

I have also found that comedy is typically better from television than in the movies.  It has been so long since I’ve seen a comedy I’ve liked at the theater.  The last one I can think of was Pitch Perfect but there are a lot of television shows that make me laugh (and some that don’t.  Remember the horror of Mixology!)

What tv on dvd do you like?  Sometimes the advantage to TV on DVD is you can get entertainment in 22 minutes instead of a 2 hour movie; however, you can also enjoy hours at a time if you feel like it.  Like I said in the video some shows like 24 and Downton Abbey are actually better on DVD (I hate cliffhangers!)

I also like TV on DVD to workout too.  There is something about 2 22 minute episodes or one 48 minute episode that is perfect for an exercise bike or treadmill.  It was one of the first ways that I started exercising.

Just out of curiosity what posts would you guys like to see on this blog? I know I’ve been heavy on the movies lately but its just been on my mind a lot.

I’ve honestly been feeling very happy lately. Life is good and I’m really excited about 2014.  I have a feeling that good things are on the way.  🙂

Favorite Simpsons Episodes

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For some reason people are nearly always surprised when they find out I love The Simpsons.  Even now in its 25th season it makes me laugh (and is visually stunning these days).  We didn’t have TV for spurts while I was growing up but when I was in high school my sister, brother and I watched The Simpsons every week.

I think my parents allowed it because they recognized how smart it was. The writing encourages thinking, pondering and in the end it is about a family that truly love each other.  Honestly, I would have no problem with my teenage children watching it either. In fact, I look forward to it one of these days.

Just for fun I was thinking about my favorite episodes and a lot of them are in seasons 7-10 because that is when I was in high school and watching it the most regularly.  While the Simpsons can follow standard sitcom formulas (for instance, how many times can they go to a new foreign country and leave bedlam?) it is also clever and mixes all types of comedy from satire to slapstick.

Anyway, what separated the good from the great is when a layer of social commentary and/or tenderness lies underneath the silly plot.

What the Simpsons does that is so brilliant is they make fun of everyone, all the time.  Nobody is kept from skewering and that makes us laugh at ourselves, which is usually the best kind of humor.  I couldn’t find video clips on a lot of them but I have a photo, summary and explanation of why it’s my favorite.  Rent them from your library or pay on amazon prime (or borrow from me).

My Favorite Simpsons Episodes

1. Homer’s Enemy- This is perhaps an odd choice for my list but this episode is so surreal it is funny.  We start off with a heroic 20/20 like piece on Frank Grimes, a man who fought back all his life and struggled to see any benefit to all that work.  Mr Burns see’s the piece and decides to hire him at the nuclear plant, working alongside Homer.

Frank (or Grimey as Homer says) can’t believe Homer’s laziness and it starts to eat at him. For the first time we as viewers see someone that is jealous of Homer and there is a character that treats Homer probably the way we would  in the same situation.

If you like What About Bob you will like this episode.  Just as Bob is completely oblivious to his irritating behavior, so Homer is unaware he could be seen by anyone as anything but loveable and sweet.  Season 8 Episode 23

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2. King-sized Homer- You might be surprised to see this one on the list because on it’s surface it is a bunch of fat jokes but there’ s more to it.  Homer decides to gain weight so he can go on workman’s comp.  This requires a complete change in his already bad diet and a fitness regime of nothing to match.

The reason I think this episode is so funny is that it is really a skewering of the diet industry.  Every bad life changing advice Homer gets to ‘gain weight’ is basically what is told to you to lose weight but in reverse.  Instead of eating whole grain bread Homer is told to use poptarts.  That’s funny.

It also has a lot of humor about the work world and how most of us would do just about anything to get out of going to the office everyday.

Plus we have a classic appearance from Lionel Hutz voiced by the great Phil Hartman. And I think the first appearance by Dr. Nick.

Season 7 episode 7

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3. Marge vs Monorail-  This is probably the most universally loved episodes in Simpsons history.  In it we have 2 appearances from Phil Hartman characters, a song and a lot of laughs.

This episode is about a con-man who swindles the town into building a cheap, shoddy monorail and he does it with a song similar to 76 trombones from Music Man.  Leonard Nimoy makes an appearance on this one.  It is just funny.

Season 4 episode 12

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4. Lisa Gets an A-  This is one of the best Lisa-centric episodes.  Lisa is such an earnest character that it is hard to not root for her.   At the beginning of the episode she is feeling sick and stays home from school.  Meaning to study her homework, she accidentally gets involved with a video game and forgets about the test.

Not wanting to let her A+ streak go she decides to cheat, and get the answers to the test from the local bully, Nelson.  The plan seemingly works but she is riddled with guilt.   This episode has lots of jokes about the public education system, bureaucracy, and our cheating-accepting culture.

Also it is a great performance by Yeardley Smith.  I love Lisa/Bart bonding episodes and Lisa/Homer episodes and this one has moments of both

Season 10 Episode 7

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5. Homer the Great- Homer discovers a secret society called The Stonecutters and decides to join.  Unfortunately on his first day he ruins the Stonecutters sacred scroll and is forced to walk abound the town naked carrying behind a giant boulder.  However, one of the men notice a birthmark that Homer has and they realize he is the ‘chosen one’ and begin to worship him.

This is great comedy skewering our need for both collectivism and feeling special.  A group like this makes Homer feel important, and I think that’s an emotion we can all relate to.  Nearly every joke works and it has one of the best Simpsons songs in years.  It also takes a few jabs at religions but I can laugh at myself and thought they were funny.

Season 6 Episode 12

stonecutters

6. Secret World of Lisa Simpson-  This one is maybe a surprise because it’s a little bit less well known, but I love it because it is a Lisa/Bart episode, and I love when those characters connect.  Bart pulls off a massive prank at the beginning of the episode and is sent to military school against his will.

When the family drops him off Lisa see’s the higher quality of education and asks to attend as well.  Both Bart and Lisa get homesick and there is a sweet scene where Marge sings to her ‘special little boy’ on a tape and it is emotional.

Lisa loves the learning but has a hard time fitting in as the only girl cadet.  She makes it a goal to endure the same hazing and physical challenges as the boys and with Bart’s help gets in shape and ready to go.  It is a sweet tender episode with enough laughs to make it work as a Simpsons episode.

Season 8 Episode 25

simpsons military school

7. Treehouse of Horror V- The Simpsons is famous for their annual Halloween of horror episode but while always visually beautiful some of the jokes are lost on me because I don’t watch many horror movies.  However, in the 6th season episode 5 they take on the Shining. which is a horror movie I have seen and my favorite.

As in the movie The Simpsons go to a mysterious inn in the middle of nowhere.  As they stay, the father (or in this case Homer) start seeing strange images, growing more and more paranoid by the minute.

In the movie Jack Nicholson plays the father and he begins chanting and writing “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”.  While Homer says, ‘No TV or beer makes Homer crazy”.  There are a lot of other illusions to the movie and it is also very funny.

homer shining

The other 2 bits are also funny.  They have Homer discovering his toaster is a time machine but every time he changes so does the world around him (one time they are all lizards, other times lizard tongues and Homer says ‘close enough’)

The final bit has dolphins taking over the world.  It is a very funny mock up of disaster movies like Jurassic Park that were so popular at the time.

8. Homer vs. the Eighteenth Amendment- This episode is funny because it takes on every drinking cliche in show business flawlessly.  After a rowdy St Patricks Day the town decides to start having prohibition.  As last resort Homer starts a bathtub distillery in his basement and becomes something of a kingpin.  It manages to make fun of everything from the Christian right to mafia movies such as The Godfather.

Season 8 Episode 18

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9. The Cartridge Family-  Starting out with a hilarious bit on how Americans view soccer, a riot starts in the stadium and Marge asks Homer to get a security system.  Finding out they are $500 Homer gets a gun instead which infuriates Marge.

She comes as close to leaving Homer as I think ever happens on the show but somehow it still manages to be really funny.  The meeting of the NRA is hilarious and the creative ways Homer uses the gun are funny. The writing is great especially when Mayor Quimby declares mob rule. And it is not a hate piece on the NRA or guns.  In fact, the ending kind of reinforces why they might be a good idea.  Leaves it open to you to decide while laughing at both sides.

Season 9 episode 5

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10. Homer and Apu- There are so many great side characters on The Simpsons and they all have their moment but Apu is one of my favorites.  In this episode Apu is fired from the Kwik-E-Mart because the actor James Woods wants to do some acting research (very funny guest voice).  Without his store Apu feels miserable but the Simpsons try to cheer him up, and that makes for one of the best Simpsons songs.

apuApu and Homer end up traveling to India to see the head of the Kwik-E-Mart about getting Apu’s job back.  That part is less funny but still a great episode.

Season 5 Episode 13. Another great Apu episode is Eight Misbehaving when Apu has octuplets.

11. Bart Gets an F-  One of the more emotional episodes Bart finds out he is going to be held back a grade because of his low test scores.  He bunkers down and really tries to study only to get another F.  He begins to cry and it’s a very tender moment.  Haven’t we all been in that spot where nothing seems to go our way despite our best effort?  Most media tells you if you work hard you will succeed but that isn’t always the case and I love how this episode shows that.

This episode was also the first episode of the second season so you can see the voices coming together and the animation getting crisper. Terrific voice performances and music

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12. When Flanders Failed- In this episode Flanders decides to quit his job and open up a store for left handed people- the leftorium.  When hearing about it Homer makes a wish on a wishbone that it will fail because he is irritated by his neighbor.

Things begin to go badly for Flanders from the start.  Eventually they are ready to repossess his store and house.  Homer grows more guilt ridden by the second,  and finally decides to help out Flanders, making the business a success.

It’s a really touching episode for both Flanders and Homer but also very funny.  Things get bad for Flanders.  He is living out of car and his bubbly personality is practically destroyed (causing humor and tenderness).  Love it.

Season 3 episode 3

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13. Bart on the Road- If I had to pick one this may be my favorite.  There are so many good gags.  Just the opening take your child to work day with Bart at the DMV with Patty and Selma is hilarious. “Some days we don’t let the line move at all.  We call those days weekdays”… Hilarious.

Bart, Nelson, Millhouse, and Martin decide to use a fake ID to rent a car and drive to Knoxville World’s Fair.  On their way they get a hilarious Al Gore doll “You are hearing me talk” and go to a Andy Williams concert “I didn’t think he’d do Moon River and then double encore”

There is also a funny bit with the kids picking up a peddler and him wondering if he is still on drugs seeing the kids driving.  It’s just full of funny laughs.  It is also another one where Lisa and Bart have to work together and I always like those moments in the show.

14. Bart the Mother- This episode has the greatest laugh of any season.  It starts out with Marge warning Bart to not play with Nelson because he is a bad influence.  Bart lies to her and goes to Nelson’s anyway and while they are playing he kills a mother bird with his BB gun.  Marge see’s it and is horrified.  Feeling guilty Bart takes the eggs and decides to take care of them until they hatch.   Great line:

MARGE
What do you think he’s doing up there?

HOMER
I don’t know. Drug lab?

MARGE
Drug lab?!

HOMER
Or reading comic books, what am I, Kreskin? You tell me what he’s doing.

To learn about caring for birds Bart watches a film strip narrated by Troy McClure in what is the final appearance of Phil Hartman on the show.  It is a hilarious film strip and I only wish I could find it somewhere for you to see it but find the dvd and watch.   There is also a great gag about introducing new species into an environment.

SKINNER
Well, I was wrong. The lizards are a godsend.

LISA
But isn’t that a bit short-sighted? What happens when we’re overrun by lizards?

SKINNER
No problem. We simply unleash wave after wave of Chinese needle snakes. They’ll wipe out the lizards.

LISA
But aren’t the snakes even worse?

SKINNER
Yes, but we’re prepared for that. We’ve lined up a fabulous type of gorilla that thrives on snake meat.

LISA
But then we’re stuck with gorillas!

SKINNER
No, that’s the beautiful part. When wintertime rolls around, the gorillas simply freeze to death

Season 10 Episode 3

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So those are my favorites.  What are some of your favorites?  Do you have a fondness for the Simpsons or hate them?

Oh and the music is some of the best on TV (theme by Danny Elfman and other music by Alf Clausen)

Entertainment

Any teen of the 90’s can sing this refrain:

With the lights out, it’s less dangerous
Here we are now, entertain us
I feel stupid and contagious
Here we are now, entertain us…

If you were living under a rock you might not know this is the chorus of Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana.  With the song Kurt Cobain welcomed in the age of grunge and commented on the general laziness of Generation X and the desire to be entertained instead of creating entertainment.

This is something I have thought about a lot in my life as I love to be entertained.  I can’t think of anything that excites me more than a great movie with spectacular visuals like Gravity or wonderful writing like Midnight in Paris.  I also have a fondness for television, music, books, theater, concerts, dance, games, and the list could go on.

In addition to merely experiencing the media I love commenting and discussing it.  I love the art of criticism and one thing that makes a movie like Inception special is the joy of talking about it with my friends.  I think that’s what I enjoy the most about book club is talking about characters, stories and ideas that are usually near and dear to my heart (as I have for the most part picked the book or suggested them).

Entertainment that handles the big questions or is boldly different such as Defending Your Life (film), The Book Thief (book) or Viva La Vida (music) is easy to talk about but so is less challenging work like While You Were Sleeping or Twilight (yes, I’ve had many a great discussion back and forth with girls on the merits or lack there of on twilight).

Even an experience that is a stinker can provide for great conversation.  Some of my favorite reviews to listen or read are the bad one’s.  In that sense the criticism and discussion becomes part of the entertainment value. Most of the time, thankfully, the only exposure I have to the bad product is the review and yet a good writer/pundit can be wildly entertaining with what he or she likes and dislikes.

I’ve also had the experience of being challenged by both general public opinion and critics.  For example, there may be a movie that everyone else seemingly loves that I didn’t care for (Dark Knight, Godfather, The Graduate) and on the other hand one’s that I like that most dislike (Drop Dead Diva, Hallmark movies, Miss Congeniality, The Blind Side).  Last year some of my favorite film critics hated Les Miserables and I examined my own thoughts on the film while listening to theirs and I still loved it. Not all parts but really liked it.   Critics panned the comedy Super Fun Night but I have really enjoyed it- very funny.

I also got very excited about a movie that others were favorable towards but not effusive about- Holes, Perks of Being a Wallflower, Source Code, all come to mind.

Anyway, there are two things that made me think about this topic.  The first was a twitter discussion today with friends about Gone with the Wind.  I had watched The American Masters piece on Margaret Mitchell and commented that the idealistic depictions of slave era south and the black characters in the film are hard for me to stomach.  Then followed a fun back and forth with friends on the merits of the movie (I like many things about the movie especially Clark Gable)

I guess I’ve kept thinking about the piece I saw last week about Catcher in the Rye author JD Salinger.  That book didn’t move me.  I didn’t enjoy it and it fascinates me that some love it so much they literally stalked Salinger’s home for days to get the recluse to impart some wisdom to them.  It’s fascinating to me that humans can experience things so differently?

This sort of brings me back to the Nirvana song.  Are we becoming less participatory in our entertainment choices?  Less open to debate and conversation?  Sometimes I feel a real resistance from peers when talking about such things beyond a base rudimentary level.

It’s interesting because I was raised to talk about things, to discuss my  opinions and not just absorb entertainment.  I don’t think my parents did this as a conscientious parenting choice but it is just part of their nature as question askers and ponderers.  It bothers me sometime that people can watch a movie like The Smurfs and not be annoyed at all of the Sony product placement or the lack of an original idea.  This is the kind of thing I was taught to notice and discuss from an early age.

When I was in college I remember going to see the movie Chocolat which is about a woman who makes tempting chocolates designed to arouse the simple townspeople away from their observance of the fasting period of lent.  To me, the Reverend of the town was portrayed as bumbling and the religious people as repressed.  This annoyed me.  I brought up my feelings to my friends and they were very annoyed with me and one said ‘why can’t you just enjoy the movie?’.  Well, to me the discussion is part of that enjoyment.

Growing up one of the few things my older brother and I had in common is we both loved The Simpsons.  I couldn’t even tell you how many cheerful conversations have started with ‘remember that episode’…I think I partly still watch it every Sunday because just the opening theme brings back great memories with my family. You’d be amazed how many political, religious and ethical discussions have begun with or included a reference to the Simpsons.  25 years of entertainment. 25 years!

On the other hand, my parents make very little time for entertainment in their lives.  Most people I know have some type of music, movie, tv show that they are passionate about.  My Mother is a great reader and plays the piano and my Dad enjoys theater, opera and symphony but I think those things are more of a tertiary pleasure and not something that takes a lot of their time, which admittedly they don’t have much of, especially my Dad.  I think they’d agree that participating in entertainment is not a priority for them and doesn’t excite them like it does for their kids.

It is certainly true that movies and television are not a source of entertainment for my parents.  Neither of them follow any TV shows regularly and go to a movie or two a year. I think this is partly due to the fact that entertainment is so much more available now than it was when my parents were young.  It wasn’t that long ago that you went to a movie once, maybe twice if it was re-released in the theater.  Movies could also be expensive- certainly more so than reading a book from the library or playing with friends.

Now we have so many ways to view entertainment it’s kind of nuts.  Just my house I have dvr, cable, movie theater, amazon prime, hulu, youtube, dvds, cds, mp3s, ebooks, regular books and the list goes on.  On the other hand, there are also so many ways to comment on entertainment , so in some ways the whole experience has become richer and more interesting.

It used to be that aside from personal conversations only newspaper columnists like Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert (who I love by the way) could share their feelings on movies, art, music etc.  Now anyone can make a youtube channel, write a blog, tweet, podcast for free or at very low costs, and believe me nothing gets people talking more than a blog on movies (nearly 100 comments on my overrated movie blog!).  https://smilingldsgirl.com/2013/06/17/10-most-overrated-movies/

Kids can also create their own entertainment so easily. Things like digital photography and video have made it possible for basically anyone to try their hand at photography and movie-making but on the flip side ebooks are rapidly making the once universally available book a technological status symbol.

Creative, independently minded content is easier to produce than ever before and yet we have seemingly endless sequels, prequels and remakes.  Sometimes I feel frustrated at the language and violence in modern entertainment and yet there is clearly an amazing amount that comes out I can and do see, listen to or read.  Plus there is an unending number of things to entertain us from the past. It seems every day I hear of a movie or tv show that I just have to check out, a classic that is new to me!

Clearly I go back and forth.  What do you think?  Was Kurt Cobain right?  Are we just standing back and seeking to be entertained or are we more active in analyzing, discussing entertainment than in the past?  Are we absorbers of entertainment or creators?  Do you enjoy reading, viewing criticism?  Are you nostalgic about entertainment and feel the best has already happened and we’ll never have another Mozart, Kathrine Hepburn or the Beatles? I am at times and then I am not.

I would love to hear what you think about my ramblings.  Have a great week everyone!

that's entertainment