TV Raised Me, and I Feel Fine

I saw my brother for the first time in months this last weekend. As insufferable as we are as individual units, we’re exponentially worse when we get together. Every other word is an inside joke (Sleepy Richard, earning your lunch meat, Pretzel Boy, moving about the house), and all the words in between are movie and TV quotes. This earns us little respect from the people around us. But this sibling shorthand we’ve developed comes from a shared childhood experience: we were raised by TV.

To be clear, we had great parents. We were always clean (ish), well-fed, and adequately loved. But when both of your parents work full time, TV is often used to fill the gaps. And when you come from a family of renowned movie buffs, a certain level of cultural literacy is expected. The problem is, when people learn this about you, you get a very specific look. It’s a look that says, “I’m so sorry for your unfulfilled life”. My response usually reflects my impeccable upbringing and unimpeachable manners.

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I appreciate your thinly veiled shade, but it is unnecessary. TV made me who I am, for better or worse. From a early age, I was exposed to movies and shows written by some of the cleverest people in the world.

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I learned social graces.

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I learned how to carefully formulate a snappy comeback.

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I realized that not everyone can be trusted.

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Sometimes these stories reflected my own experience.

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And sometimes they didn’t.

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But without them, I’d never be able to feel another person’s crushing disappointment.

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Or mortal terror.

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I wouldn’t know how it feels to watch someone you love die.

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I’d never understand how it feels to lose everything you have.

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Good TV, like a good book, gives us a window into another person’s experience,

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and explore realities that otherwise wouldn’t exist.

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TV made me empathetic, and forced me to experience emotions other than my own.

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So don’t be worried that your kids watch TV. Worry about what they watch on TV. Make sure that what they watch reflects the kind of person you want them to be. If it doesn’t…

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Make sure their shows are funny and smart.

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Make sure that they are gaining experiences beyond their own.

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And remind yourself to thank me later. I’ll wait.

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Whitney Weldon

Grade A, Choice Picks: Ellen’s Summer Movies Roundup

As August moves into September and as magazines start touting their Fall Movie Picks, it is safe to say that summer movie is drawing to a close.  Like a true fangirl, I have been to the movies more times this summer than I have been in a bathing suit.  That is a fact.  That being said, I feel more than qualified to pass judgement on this summer movie season.

Back in April, I listed the 10 summer movies that I was most excited to see and… ended up seeing 6 out 10.  The reviews for Jersey Boys, Magic in the Moonlight, The Giver, and Let’s Be Cops just weren’t good enough to get $7-$18 out of me, but that doesn’t mean I won’t shill out the Redbox or Amazon Instant fees eventually.  Maybe.

I DID get out for some movies that hadn’t been on my radar, though, so let’s take a look at my favs from the summer.

snowpiercer-mv-110. Snowpiercer (Previously not listed) Look, I liked this movie but I have had a hard time recommending it because it is definitely not for everyone, but if you enjoy gorific, dystopian movies set on trains with a haunting Tilda Swinton (it’s a very niche category), then this is for you.  Or if you like Chris Evans.  Mmm, Chris Evans in a beanie.

9. Chef (Previously not listed) My number one piece of advice before seeing this movie: do NOT see this on an empty stomach.  I saw it after a big meal and I still wanted to eat everything I saw.  It is food porn.  Outside of the most beautiful footage of food you will ever see, the story was sweet and feel-good, the performances were good, and did I mention the food?

maxresdefault8. 22 Jump Street (Previously #5) This summer was seriously lacking in the straight up comedies, but luckily I had this movie.  I feel like anyone who loves movies would love this movie because it is deliciously meta, skewering summer blockbusters, sequels, and itself.  Channing Tatum continued to impress me with his comedic chops and made me sit up further and take notice (because he had never really done it for me until he started being funny in these movies).  TIP: You MUST stay for the credits because they are probably the best part of the movie.

7. Edge of Tomorrow (Previously #9) I’m glad that I showed some faith in this movie because I ended up really liking it and only wish that more people had gone to see it.  I understand that it looks like your typical Tom Cruise shoot-’em-up, but you guys, it was so much more.  It was a surprisingly funny, kick ass, sci-fi, action movie that had a cool chick who didn’t need Tom Cruise to protect her and Tom’s character was actually a bit of a wimp.  Well, at least in the beginning.  Give it a try on DVD.

boyhood6. Boyhood (Previously not listed) If you haven’t heard about this movie, writer/director Richard Linklater filmed the lead boy and the cast of characters in his life over the course of 12 years.  The result is a delightful slice of life film that is more like 12 slices making a delicious cake that, even at a runtime of over 2 1/2 hours, I didn’t want to end.  I was so protective over this kid by the end because I had literally seen him grow up before my eyes.

5.  The Fault in Our Stars (Previously #2)  This one gets demoted not because I didn’t LOVE it, but only because I can step outside of the feels and recognize that it is maybe not as “quality” of a movie as the ones I save for the top of the list.  As a huge fan of the book, I was contractualy obligated to be excited for the movie and it did not disappoint.  I can’t remember a recent adaptation that was more faithful or a Gus that was more adorable.  Okay?  Okay.


Chef4. X-Men: Days of Future Past
 (Previously #3)  I don’t know if this is something I have made clear yet, but Fassbender.  Enough said.  I love him and he does not disappoint in the looks department here.  Not that he ever could.  Except for Frank maybe. But besides Fassbender, Quicksilver!  Boss 70’s threads!  An unprecedented cavalcade of stars!  Some of whom barely even spoke!  This movie was bananas and I was on board from go.

3. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (Previously not listed)  While I was able to recognize that Rise was a good movie, it didn’t do enough to make me overly psyched for Dawn.  Maybe I just really love apes on horses with machine guns, but I really loved this movie.  I cried way more than I was probably supposed to and

Belle Movie Stills2. Belle (Previously not listed) A bit of a disclaimer, I did watch my Blu-ray of this last night, so it is a bit fresher than the others, but I also loved it enough in theatres to pre-order the Blu-ray so that it would arrive on my doorstep so that it would arrive on my door on the date of release. So, yeah.  I really liked this movie, but in the book of Ellen, what’s not to like?  A good rule of thumb is that if it is a romantic period drama, I’m going to dig it.

1. Guardians of the Galaxy (Previously #1) To quote myself:

I have faith.  Faith in Marvel and the power of Chris Pratt’s abs, a power that cannot be denied.  …  Don’t make me regret putting you at number one, Marvel.

No regrets whatsoever.  In fact, my only regret would have been if it had not been number one.  So far, I have seen this twice in theatres and am scavenging for a friend who has not seen it yet so that I can see it a third time.  I have been very vocal about my love for this movie, so I won’t get into it, but long story, I love this movie, I get giddy just thinking about it, everything about it is perfect, and you cannot convince me otherwise.  With that, I leave you with this:

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Happy Fall Movie Season, everyone!

Ellen

Summer Movie Chutes and Ladders!

I did not end up seeing very many movies this summer. In part, because I’ve just been way too busy having a fun, sexy, Newport Ad summer…

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…And also because I just haven’t been that spoiled with choice. It’s no ancient Chinese secret that this has just not been the summer for movies. I did see a few, though, so I thought I’d play a game of Cinema Chutes and Ladders with some of this summers releases. 

AmazingSpiderman2-WPChute: The Amazing Spider-Man 2

Ok, I’m going to say something that is going to sound kinda mean, but is only meant to be constructive: The entire film felt like a really, outrageously expensive piece of Peter/Gwen fanfic. Oh jeeze, that looks just as mean on paper as it did in my head. But the truth is, when you center the entire script of your Big-Budget Superhero Blockbuster on your leads perpetual game of relationship ping-pong, your story is going to suffer. And suffer it did. Everybody knows that Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield have bananas on/off screen chemistry. Doesn’t mean we want to watch a movie about it.  

Ladder: Edge of Tomorrow

There really are not words to express how little I cared about seeing Tom Cruise’s latest attempt edge-of-tomorrowat career dialysis. I figured it was just another two-hour excuse to eat buttered popcorn, watch Tom gaze steely-eyed into the face of danger, and flirt with his under aged, underwritten leading lady. I’ve probably been more wrong before, but nothing immediately springs to mind. Edge was surprisingly funny, inventive, and (whoa!) kind of female driven. Emily Blunt’s character is allowed to be a hero in her own right, and not just as Cruise’s best girl. Not to mention that this is probably one of my favorite Tom Cruise performances EVER. I mean it. He’s smarmy and self-deprecating, and gives us a compelling hero to root for. 

snowpiercerLadder: Snowpiercer

It’s really is hard for me to put into words how I feel about this movie. If you (understandably) assume that my enthusiasm for this one stems from a longstanding and ever increasing Chris Evans crush, I totally get it. But in reality, once I saw the trailer back in May, I knew I was going to see it one way or another. It just looked so different from anything else we were likely to get this summer. And because I ABSOLUTELY refuse to dole out any spoilers on this one, all I will say is that I walked out of that movie theater shaking. It was disturbing and violent and sad and exciting and (once you got over being disturbed, grossed-out, sad, and excited) pretty funny. Just, go see it. For me. Please. Don’t be a weirdo. Just go. Now. Thank you. 

Ladder: Belle

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This one pretty much has all the makings of a super-cute chick flick: Racism, sexism, capitalism, imperialism. All the isms. Joking (briefly) aside, this movie is balls-to-the-wall wonderful. Also, hey there Sam Reid. We’ve never met before, but I like everything about you. Including, but not limited to, your face, your eyes, your voice, your smile, and your formidable acting chops. The ladies of the American Colonies salute you, sir. 

Keira Knightley and Mark Ruffalo in "Begin Again"Chute: Begin Again

Oh boy. I guess I know where they were trying to go with this one. I mean, it’s like Once, but in New York, right? I guess you lost me when Kira Knightly announced that Frank Sinatra, Stevie Wonder and that song from Casablanca were her guilty pleasures. No. Those are the songs you pretend are your guilty pleasures when a cute boy is going through your iTunes library. Honestly. You know what’s a pleasure to feel guilty about? “Having Fun” by Britney Spears. The only thing you have to feel guilty about is not fooling anyone. 

Ladder: Guardians of the Galaxy

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Every time I try to think of a way this movie could have been better, I get nothin’. Soup to nuts, one of my new favorite movies of all time. Chris Pratt slays the competition in the Most Boffable Man of the Summer 2014 race. And while I loved B Coop as Rocket the Raccoon, I think I prefer him in his 20 piece suits.                                                                                              

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Kidding. Love you, Coop. 

What do you think? Did I miss any?

Whitney