AMV Of The Day: Brand New Day (Ace Attorney)


Hi, everyone!

My sister and I just returned from spending a wonderful weekend up at Lake Texoma.  I had a great time.  Honestly, you never know how stressed you are until you take a little vacation from it all and suddenly discover that you can actually breathe again.

Anyway, I wanted our latest AMV of the Day to somehow be connected to a wonderful weekend at a beautiful lake but I couldn’t find one.  However, I did find the next best thing!

This AMV combines footage from Ace Attorney with Neil Patrick Harris singing Brand New Day from Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog.  It all comes together surprisingly well.

Anime: Ace Attorney

Song: Brand New Day, performed by Neil Patrick Harris

CreatorLittleFlyingAnimationMV’s

Past AMVs of the Day

My Extremely Late Review of The 87th Oscars


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This did not happen at the Oscars last night.

I really don’t know what’s wrong with me.

As I’ve made it clear many times in the past, I basically build my year around the Oscars.   I always get together with my friends and family and I force them to watch the entire ceremony with me.  Wherever I’ve lived, the Oscars have always been a national holiday.

As with any holiday, there are traditions.  To cite just one example, every year there comes the moment when I suddenly realize that Meryl Streep looks exactly like this stuck-up rich woman from Highland Park who, back in 2oo1, was so rude to my mom that she made her cry and that’s why I’ve never liked Meryl as much as some of my fellow movie bloggers.  And, of course, once I realize that, I have to tell the story to everyone else in the room.  Part of the tradition is to continue telling the story even after everyone says, “We’ve heard this story a million times, Lisa.”

Another part of the tradition is to start out with hope that something unexpected will happen.  “Oh my God,” I’ll say at some point, “maybe such-and-such movie is going to pull an upset!”  Then, an hour later, comes the tradition of realizing that there aren’t going to be any upsets and everything’s going to play out the exact way that everyone said it would.

One of the newer traditions is that, after every Oscar ceremony, I write a review and I post it here on Through the Shattered Lens. But, somehow, this year, I nearly forgot about that tradition.  Perhaps it’s because we got hit by a lot of sleet and ice last night and, as a result, I could neither go to work nor go dancing tonight.  And, don’t get me wrong,  I’ve had a lot of fun hanging around the house and being lazy today.  But it was still a pretty big change from my usual routine.  It threw me off and perhaps that’s why I’m only now getting around to reviewing the Oscar ceremony.

Then again, it could just be that last night’s ceremony was not that interesting.  I thought that Neil Patrick Harris was a good host but, in retrospect, that has more to do with his own natural charisma of a performer than with anything he actually did.  I liked his little bit about getting Octavia Spencer to keep an eye on his predictions but that was mostly because Octavia herself is such a good performer.  (Octavia is also an Oscar winner who has the talent to do a lot more than just playing a supporting role on a TV show.)

I loved Margot Robbie’s dress.  But I have to say that it really bothered me that there weren’t any true fashion disasters to be seen last night.  That’s part of the fun of the Oscars, spotting the celebs that can’t dress themselves.  When everyone looks good, the show’s a lot less interesting.

As far as the acceptance speeches were concerned, some of them were good.  But I have to admit that I always cringe a little when I see a celeb at an awards show give a politically charged speech because, as committed as they may be, they never seem to be quite sincere.  Instead, they come across as if they’re just playing another role.  What I really wish is that, instead of Bustle and Jezebel posting a hundred articles about how much Meryl Streep loved Patricia Arquette’s speech on incoming inequality, those same media outlets would actually give as much attention to the women who actually have to deal with the issue on a daily basis.  My mom had to raise four headstrong daughters on her own.  She knew more about the sad reality of income inequality than Meryl Streep ever will.  But nobody’s ever going to illustrate a story on income inequality with an animated gif of a woman, like my mom, working hard at multiple jobs, getting paid less than her male coworkers, coming home exhausted, and still managing to be there for her daughters.  Instead, we’ll just get a hundred memes of Meryl shouting “Yes,” all used to illustrate stories that insist it was a “perfect” moment.

(Because what better symbol for the fight against wage inequality than a rich white woman at an awards show?)

My question to Hollywood political activists is this: Are you actually going to try to change things or are you just going to pat yourself on the back for giving a speech at an awards show?  Because you people have given a lot of speeches and made a lot of politically-themed movies but the problems are still here.

As far as the awards themselves — I have to admit that I was not as big a fan of Birdman as some people were.  For a few minutes, I was excited because I thought that Whiplash might pull an upset.  But no, in the end, Birdman won.  I liked Alejandro Inarritu’s previous Oscar-nominated film, Babel.  But, beyond respecting it as a technical achievement, Birdman just didn’t do much for me and neither did Inarritu’s acceptance speech.

But you know who really didn’t do anything for me?

Sean Penn.

First off, if you’re going to be presenting best picture, try to take a shower before you go out on stage.  Don’t show up looking like you’re covered in a week’s worth of grime.  Looking at Sean Penn last night, I could only imagine that he probably reeked of stale cigarettes and strong body odor.  Seriously, if the Academy needed someone unwashed to hand out the biggest award of the night, they could have followed the lead of the Golden Globes and called Johnny Depp.

And then, when Penn opened the envelope, he couldn’t just announce that Birdman had won.  Instead, he had to make a joke about Inarritu’s green card.  Inarritu is the first Mexican to direct a best picture winner and Sean Penn, a man who considers himself to be enough of an expert on South America that he actually think he has the right to tell the people of Venezuela how to vote, just had to make that green card joke.  My mom was half-Spanish and had to endure her share of green card jokes (despite being a native-born American citizen).  I know the pain that jokes like that caused her and, when Sean Penn made that joke, it was a slap in the face to Latinos everywhere.  Shame on you, Sean Penn.

As far as pendejos like Sean Penn are concerned — ¡Estoy hasta el coño!

As far as Lady Gaga’s Sound of Music tribute was concerned … well, let’s just be honest.  Lady Gaga was great but The Sound of Music is probably one of the most undeserving best picture winners ever.  The Oscar should have gone to either Darling or Doctor Zhivago.

But, on a happier note, these Oscars also allowed me to make my E! debut!  Check out this screen shot:

B-e7UMLIUAA9a7VSo, the 87th Academy Awards are over with.  Here’s hoping the 88th Academy Awards are a bit more fun!

Finally — Some Oscar News!


Finally, I have some concrete, nonspeculative, 100% verified Oscar news to share with y’all!

Yesterday, it was announced that the host of next year’s ceremony will be …. Neil Patrick Harris!

Now, that news isn’t really shocking or surprising.  Neil Patrick Harris has been hosting everything lately.  He’s hosted the Tonys.  He’s hosted the Emmys.  It’s about time that he got a chance to host the Oscars.

I have to admit that I think it’s a little bit silly the amount of importance that some commentators put on who exactly is going to host the ceremony.  Usually, it really doesn’t make that much of a difference.  Seth McFarlane was criticized when he hosted.  Ellen DeGeneres was acclaimed.  But ultimately, did either one of them really make a difference?  It all comes down to what the winners are wearing, what they say in their speeches, and whether or not there are any surprises or upsets.  The host is just kind of there.

(I mean, Ellen did a good job and all but oh my God, did I ever get sick of every group on the planet trying to do their own version of the Oscar selfie….)

I know some of my friends were hoping that Tina Fey and Amy Poehler would host the Oscars.  Honestly, though, both Tina and Amy have lately started to remind me of the type of girls in high school who would judge you for wearing a short skirt.  There’s a certain tyranny of thought right now that says we have to love everything that Tina and Amy do but I personally think I’ll be much happier with Neil Patrick Harris.

And who knows?  Gone Girl could be an Oscar contender this year and, depending on how much the Academy actually embraces it, Harris could be both the host and a nominee, an accomplishment most recently achieved by James Franco.

Anyway, the main reason I’m happy about this news is because it means that Oscar season is here!  Soon, all of the Oscar films will have been seen and reviewed.  The critics groups will be voting.  The campaigns will be starting.

And it will officially be a good time to be alive…

"Take me to the Oscars!"

“Take me to the Oscars!”

 

Quick Review: Gone Girl (dir. by David Fincher)


gone-girl-posterI stumbled onto the novel for Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl in a mall. It sat near the front of the store with the rest of her books, emblazoned with one of those “soon to be a major motion picture” stickers and a “#1 New York Times Bestseller” label on top. I figured I try it, unaware that David Fincher was involved on the project. During that read, I ran to the Barnes & Noble in Union Square to pick up Flynn’s other books, Sharp Objects and Dark Places. After a co-worker and I finished these (I haven’t read Sharp Objects yet), we agreed that we enjoyed them, overall.

Of Gone Girl the Motion Picture, Flynn herself handles the screenwriting duties and she presents an adaptation so close to her novel that I wouldn’t be shocked if the film receives the same response as the first Harry Potter film. I only spotted 2 distinct changes, and these don’t damage the film in any way. They just may make you say..”Oh, crap, she didn’t keep that.”, If anything.

“But Lenny..” You might say, after hearing me tell you this over pizza and soda. “You’re losing me again, you’re talking too much. I never read Gone Girl. I could care less about the book, I just want to know about the movie because tickets are expensive, dammit! Wrap it up. Is it worth seeing or not?”

In a word, yes. Flynn’s story and Fincher’s direction are like Wine and Cheese here. Flynn’s machine gun writing and Fincher’s pacing method could make them as hot a duo as True Detective’s Nic Pizzolatto and Cary Joji Fukunaga. If actress / producer Reese Witherspoon was involved in getting these two together, she may have another gem under her belt to put next to her film Penelope.

Gone Girl is the story of Nick and Amy Dunne, a happily married Missouri couple on the verge of their 5th Anniversary. When Nick suddenly discovers his wife is missing, the investigation into her disappearance seems to lead back to him, presenting the question of whether our hero may or may not be involved. Just as with the novel, the audience is given glimpses into Amy’s story through flashbacks of their life together. The movie dances from chapter to chapter (or scene to scene, I should say) in this fashion and does so pretty well. You’ve a love story wrapped in a mystery.

The casting is spot on. There’s not a single person in this film that seemed like they didn’t fit their part. Both Ben Affleck (Argo) and Rosamund Pike (Jack Reacher, The World’s End) are magnetic when theyre not dealing with each other and if the movie manages to stumble into Awards season, their names could get thrown into the hat.

The supporting cast in Gone Girl is somewhat strong. Carrie Coon does a fine job as Nick’s sister Margo, which was definitely a good choice. It’s Kim Dickens (Hollow Man, Treme), Neil Patrick Harris and Tyler Perry who have the best screen time of any one outside of the leads. Every one of them help to pick up the story when you think it might waver a bit.

“Great!” you may say, getting up to leave. “I’ll check it out. Thanks for letting me know.”, To which I’d ask..”Don’t you want to know about the direction? Cinematography?” You might sit back down, sigh and roll your eyes, as if to say…”Sure, not like you’d let me leave without telling me anyway, right?”

At this point, everything is technical.

Fincher’s direction is straightforward. Working with Jeff Chernoweth, his cinematographer from Fight Club & The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, the lighting is what you come to expect from the two. Colors in the present are muted, muddied and almost clinical. By contrast, Amy’s flashbacks appear bright and colorful, but the audience may notice this changing as the story progresses. You could almost say it’s the Zodiac color scheme layered on a different story. Gone Girl doesn’t feel like a “Fincher” movie in the way The Shining was Kubrick’s. It’s more of a Flynn story that would look really good if Fincher put it on screen. I’m not sure if there’s a better way to describe it, actually.

Gone Girl falters in the dialog at times. I had a few moments where scenes that felt fine in the novel fell flat in the film, particularly in some of the flashbacks. Have you ever had a moment where you watch a film, see two people talk to one another and say to yourself (or the person next to you), “Who says that, really?” The relationship of Nick and Amy was a hard, abbreviated sell for me, probably because of the time constraints. You know they’re together, and love is implied (and sexually displayed, I might add), but I can’t say that I recognized a big chemistry between Pike and Affleck. When acting around everyone else they’re great, but between each other, they lost me a little in the beginning. If it were a Blu Ray, I’d be tempted to tap that Chapter Forward button. Mind you, this is coming from a book to movie comparison, so a viewer that hasn’t read the book may respond differently to what’s on screen.

I will say that separately, Rosamund Pike and Ben Affleck are wonderful in this as Nick & Amy. I hope that this gets Pike some more lead dramatic roles, as she was more than memorable here.

Both Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross handled the scoring duties for Gone Girl. In their 3rd go around with Fincher, the sounds are similar to The Social Network, though a bit more subdued. They have a few standout tracks, and their music blends well in Gone Girl, though.

Overall, Gone Girl makes for a interesting night at the cinema, but it’s best viewed if you can manage to avoid the hype and catch it just to sate a curious mind.

Gone Girl – The 2nd Trailer


The 2nd trailer for Gone Girl was released recently. David Fincher’s and Gillian Flynn’s film adaptation of Flynn’s popular novel focuses on a writer dealing with the disappearance of his wife. While the trailer expands things a bit compared to the teaser (as any trailer would), there’s the strangest set of casting choices for this film. What I’m most excited about is Flynn handling her own screenplay. Movies are always different from books, but I’m hoping it works out. One fills in the blanks as they go through the story, and I read this before finding out anything concrete about the film. Additionally, I’m also curious about what Trent Reznor  and Atticus Ross are doing for the soundtrack, which also comes out around the same time.

Gone Girl premieres in cinemas on October 3rd.

Lisa’s Homestate Reviews: New Mexico and A Million Ways To Die In The West


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My family lived in Carlsbad, New Mexico from January of 1991 to July of 1992.  I was only 5 years old when we arrived and 6 when we left so I really can’t say that I remember that much about Carlsbad, beyond the fact that my mom was always worried about rattlesnakes, I was excited about going to kindergarten and that, when my Dad announced that we were moving to Oklahoma, I cried and cried because, even at that age, I knew that meant I’d never get to see my friends again.

So yeah, some of my memories of New Mexico are a little traumatic.  But are they as traumatic as watching Seth McFarlane’s A Million Ways To Die In The West, a film that was shot in New Mexico and which is an early front-runner for claiming the title of worst of 2014?

Written by, produced by, directed by, and starring Seth McFarlane, A Million Ways To Die In The West tells the story of a sheep farmer named Albert (played by Seth McFarlane) who basically spends the entire movie whining about how much he hates living in the old west.  His girlfriend leaves him for … well, look, the plot is stupid.  You knew the plot was going to be stupid when you first saw the trailer earlier this year.  You probably even knew the film wasn’t going to be that good.  However, as bad as you might think the film is, it’s nothing compared to how bad the movie actually is.  And the blame pretty much rests with Seth McFarlane.

Seth McFarlane has got cold, dead eyes and a curiously unlined face that, when taken along with his ever-present smirk, tends to make him look like one of those horror movie mannequins that comes to life once the store closes and murders horny teenagers.  I understand that it’s always been a part of McFarlane’s act to present himself as being an asshole with a heart of gold but, for the most part, that works best when you only have to deal with his voice.  The minute that you see his smug face, which is as immobile as his voice is expressive, the heart of gold part disappears.  All your left with is an asshole who insists on telling the same joke over and over again.  As both a comedic writer and director, McFarlane’s technique is to basically beat the audience into submission, dragging jokes out to such an interminable length that you eventually laugh because you simply cannot believe that you’re wasting so much time watching this crap.  Some people have mistaken that technique for genius.  Those people should be forced to watch A Million Ways To Die In The West in much the same way that Malcolm McDowell was forced to watch violent movies in A Clockwork Orange.

(And I write all of that as perhaps the only woman in the world who was not offended by Seth McFarlane singing The Boob Song at the Academy Awards, if just because the joke was clearly meant to be at the expense of McFarlane and the overage frat boys who seem to make up his fan base.)

A Million Ways to Die In The West is full of familiar faces.  Liam Neeson goes totally overboard as the film’s villain.  Neil Patrick Harris, as usual, is fun to watch, or at least he is until he’s forced to take part in one of McFarlane’s trademark endless musical numbers.  Eventually, Harris’s character gets slipped a laxative and it’s just as disgusting as it sounds.  Giovanni Ribisi plays McFarlane’s best friend and his joke is that he’s a Christian (yes, Seth takes on Christianity — what a rebel!) and that his girlfriend (Sarah Silverman, who deserves better) is a prostitute who is willing to have sex with everyone but him.  Amanda Seyfried has the thankless task of playing McFarlane’s girlfriend while Charlize Theron plays the enigmatic woman who teaches Seth how to shoot a gun.  (Theron gives a far better performance than this movie deserves and it was hard not to wish that the entire film had just been about her character.)  There are also several celebrity cameos — Ryan Reynolds, Christopher Lloyd, and even Jamie Foxx show up.

But, ultimately, the entire film is about Seth McFarlane.  He wrote it, he directed it, and he stars in it.  Seth McFarlane dominates this film and that’s the problem.  What might be slightly amusing in a 22-minute cartoon is not going to be funny enough to sustain a nearly two-hour film.  For a rambling and often aimless film like A Million Way To Die In The West to succeed, it needs a star who is both skilled at comedy and likable enough that he’ll be able to anchor the mayhem.  (Seth Rogen, for instance.)  Instead, we’re given a smirking Seth McFarlane and the end result is a film that somehow manages to be both forgettable and a disaster.

Now, you may be wondering how I ended up watching this film.  Well, originally I wasn’t planning on ever seeing it but then I started to read reviews about how terrible it was and I was like, “This is a film that I definitely need to see for myself, so that I can see if the film is actually a misunderstood masterpiece or if it’s a film that I’m going to have to keep in mind when I’m compiling my annual list of the year’s worst films.”  (Plus, when I arrived at the theater, The Fault In Our Stars was sold out.)  But anyway, I sat through it and I forced my sister Erin to watch it with me and I think Erin may be on the verge of finally forgiving me.

Finally, what was more traumatic?  Leaving behind my friends or watching this movie?

Too close to call.

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Trailer: Gone Girl


Gone Girl is one of the most highly anticipated films of 2014.  It’s a film that a lot of critics have already predicted will be an Oscar contender.  However, I have to admit that I’m a bit worried about it.

You have to understand: I loved Gillian Flynn’s novel.  When I first heard that Rosamund Pike was playing the role of Amy, I was happy because, to me, it seemed like perfect casting.  Rosamund Pike has been one of my favorite actresses ever since I first saw An Education and, depending on whether the film’s Amy is anything like the book’s Amy, this seems like it could be the role of a lifetime for her.  However, I have to say that I was less enthusiastic about the news that Ben Affleck would be playing Nick Dunne.  But then I heard that Neil Patrick Harris had been cast in the film as well and, knowing what I did about the role he would be playing, I was again intrigued.  And then Tyler Perry was cast and I was worried again.

And then there was David Fincher.

David Fincher is an undeniably talented director but his last film, the rehash of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, felt like Fincher on auto pilot.  I found myself wondering if he would take a similar approach to Gone Girl, giving us a lot of recognizable style with little going on beneath the surface.

The first official trailer for Gone Girl was released earlier today and, having watched it, I still don’t know what to think.  Particularly when compared to the trailer for Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, the Gone Girl trailer has an almost mellow feel to it.  If nothing else, I hope this means that Gone Girl was made by the thoughtful artist behind Zodiac as opposed to the hyper stylist behind Dragon Tattoo.

We’ll find out for sure in October.