The Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp Trailer Is The Best Thing You’ll See This Fourth of July

  
Many of us (over the age of 25) recall the cult comedy of the early 2000s,  Wet Hot American Summer. Featuring an all-star cast, including 90s alt-babe Janeane Garofalo, David Hyde Pierce (of Frasier fame), Law and Order: SVU‘s own Christopher Meloni, Paul Rudd (post-Clueless but just before Anchorman), Amy Poehler (before Parks and Rec) and Bradley Cooper (pre-Hangover), among others, the movie pokes fun at 80’s teen summer camp comedies in the best way possible. 

Now, the unstoppable force that is Netflix is bringing back the cast (along with some great additions) for one of its original series, and the trailer is enough to make any fan of the movie giddy as hell: 

I’m especially psyched to see Don Draper (okay, okay, Jon Hamm) and the amazing H. Jon Benjamin (of Home Movies and the–in my opinion lesser, Archer) joining Molly Shannon, Elizabeth Banks, Michael Showalter, Michael Ian Black, et al for what will hopefully/surely be one of Netflix’s best comedies yet.

The laughs begin July 31st.

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In Moving Pictures: Me and You and Everyone We Know

In Moving Pictures: Me and You and Everyone We Know

My friend Valerie recommended this movie to me while I was asking the internet for some Netflix movies to add to my queue. I recalled seeing the box cover of the film on several occasions and how I had even contemplated watching it a few times, but the right time just never came. Since I’ll be home much more from now on (hello, unemployment! …a post about that later), I thought I’d dust off my movie review skills and start Ebert-ing it up a bit.

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Me and You and Everyone We Know is the first film by writer/director/actress Miranda July, in which she plays an eccentric performance artist by the name of Christine Jepsen, who moonlights as a cab driver for elderly folk. But the movie, like the title, is not just about her. She’s just the “Me” (or maybe we’re the “Me”) and there’s an entire slew of oddball characters that are introduced during the first half of the film. There’s also Richard Swersey (played by John Hawkes), a husband and father who’s new separation seems to be taking an interesting effect on his behavior. Or maybe it’s his behavior that prompted his wife to leave him. There really isn’t much in the way of back story, and for the sake of the film, it’s not really important anyway. He’s got two kids who live with him most of the time, it seems. His relationship with them seems strained at best.

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Christine and Richard meet while Christine is taking on of her ElderCab clients, Michael (Hector Elias) , to buy some new shoes. Richard’s a shoe salesman and ends up convincing Christine to buy a pair of pink flats she didn’t really want or need. That’s where the end of their typical interactions end, and from then on out, every time this pair is on the screen, they both seem to speak to each other in character, improvising realities as they go along, trying to show some sort of interest in each other at times, and at other times being almost cruel in denying the interactions ever happened.

But then we meet more people. Christine attempts to drop off one of her VHS taped performance pieces to a Ms. Nancy Herrington (Tracy Wright) who works for a local contemporary art museum, but Nancy seems less than thrilled to accept work handed to her by a total stranger and evident nobody. We also meet Richard’s neighbors, a little girl named Sylvie who later befriends one of Richard’s sons, Sylvie’s mother, and Richard’s coworker Andrew, who hits on a couple of neighborhood teen girls to the point of inappropriateness. Interesting side plots go on throughout the film, and it’s entertaining enough to keep you watching through to the end.

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Now, the two kids (played by Miles Thompson and Brandon Ratcliff) are by far the most amusing characters out of this entire movie. The shenanigans they each get into (especially little Robby) are very distinct and also believable, not to mention bordering on dangerous…but mostly, hilarious. If you’ve seen the film, the image below describes my favorite scene of all.

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I have to admit that I never really feel any connection to Christine or Richard in this whole film, although they are obviously the main characters. It’s everyone else they interact with that really keeps me wondering what’s going to happen next. Maybe it’s because they aren’t very likeable characters, but instead just full of awkwardness. And while I empathize with this, it’s not enough for me to want to invest emotionally into them. Still, the movie overall has a light tone and makes for excellent afternoon viewing. Not bad for Ms. July’s first feature, although I’ll have to watch her other movies to see what direction she heads in next.

3.5/5 Stars

Let’s Do The Time Warp Again!

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I don’t think there’s really a need for a reason to want to do the Time Warp. On this date in 1975, Rocky Horror Picture Show was released for the first time in Westwood, Los Angeles, and has become the longest running film of all time. I do recall going to see it once while an undergrad at UM with my friend Ed, and having no shame to go and fake an orgasm when they called up all the RHPS virgins. And that was only the beginning, so I knew the rest of the show would be a blast-and it certainly was. Looking forward to going later this year and seeing it with JB and hopefully getting to throw some things at the screen and participate in every way I can. If you’ve never experienced the RHPS Live, get yourself to a theater this Fall!

For now, I’ll be daydreaming about (not-so-goddamn-hot) Fall days and doing the Time Warp…

PS. Thanks to Mr. Landshark for inspiring this post.

In Moving Pictures: Lincoln

In Moving Pictures: Lincoln
Image Credit: AwardsDaily.com
Image Credit: AwardsDaily.com

Let’s face facts: you can probably find more Americans  live Tweeting an Apatow movie than you can find ones who know what the thirteenth amendment is. And it’s almost certain that while many of us recognize the name Kardashian, few have ever heard of Thaddeus Stevens. Luckily, Daniel Day-Lewis and Stephen Spielberg are on a quest to educate and entertain in this most recent endeavor. Sure, it’s not an easy task to turn a historical House vote into an engaging 2.5 hour long movie, but given the right cast, director, and screen play, Lincoln delivers.

If you’re looking for a high intensity film, or lots of war-related violence, you’ll probably be disappointed. Spielberg pushes his sights away from the violence on the battlefield and instead puts us into Lincoln’s own struggles: with the South who are unwilling to give up their slaves, with the Democrats who refuse to recognize blacks as worthy of freedom, with a son who demands to fight for the Union, and with a wife who can’t handle any more loss as a result of the war. We’re given an interesting glimpse into the ways in which votes were sought and sometimes bought as well as the conflicted feelings of those who, though enlightened enough to understand the  importance of the thirteenth amendment, were still afraid to support it publicly. We actually only see a total of maybe 3 war-related scenes total, and (slight spoiler) no deaths are shown on screen.

If Spielberg’s main goal was to simply educate his audiences about this important moment in American history, he did a great job. However, the lack of action makes the film drag on a bit, and while the story lines regarding Lincoln’s family members were present, we never really get to know the other Lincoln’s enough to sympathize with them. We can tell Robert Lincoln (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is looking for the approval of his father, and that he is troubled by not being involved in the war, but as we know little else about him, this subplot is almost distracting. And while characters like W. N. Bilbo (one of Lincoln’s operatives played by a sloppy James Spader) serve almost as comedic relief in an otherwise quiet film, you don’t really end up caring much about them either. And then there is Elizabeth Keckly (Mary Todd Lincoln’s confidant and a former slave who would later go on to become a civic activist), a silent presence throughout much of the film. One scene finds Keckly and Lincoln discussing the amendment, and it is here where Lincoln shows that he is not immune to the times. Upon wondering what the newly freed slaves would end up doing, he admits to Keckly that he doesn’t really know any “of you” (meaning African Americans), but that he expected he would “get used” to them. But although it’s really Daniel Day-Lewis who reels us in with his fantastic interpretation of President Lincoln, I’m almost more intrigued with Thaddeus Steven’s (Tommy Lee Jones) role in the film, which felt underdeveloped by the end of it all. There were simply too many characters, too much to say, and not enough time. Still, the film perseveres because in the end, the film is much more than the sum of its parts, or its subplots. Worth watching, but don’t expect a Saving Private Ryan meets There Will Be Blood or you’ll likely be disappointed.

On a side note, it’s sad to know that there is still the kind of racism from Lincoln’s time lingering in our society, some 150+ years later. This film comes at an important time in history, a time when we have our first African American president (approaching his second term!), a time that could not have come to pass had it not been for Lincoln’s actions and the perseverance of generations of politicians, activists, whites, blacks, and everyone in between.