Tag Archives: date night movies

The Return of “Twin Peaks”

The past couple of months around here have been totally surreal and packed with enough weirdness, heartbreak and family drama to fill a whole season’s worth of episodes, so, it was kind of strangely appropriate for this to be the week that Showtime announced that they would be airing a nine episode “third season” of Twin Peaks in 2016.

That’s right, the show that brought dark, daring, non-linear storytelling to network television is finally returning to the airwaves. Hooray! I’ve been waiting for something like this for years, and though most die-hard Peaks fans expected a return to the Peak-a-verse via another movie, graphic novel or a spin-off series featuring new characters, no one was expecting co-creators David Lynch and Mark Frost to reunite for a third season of the original series! Wow, Bob, wow, does it get any cooler?

News is still trickling out about the casting and such, but, if the clip Lynch and Frost released is any indication, I imagine, we, like Kyle MacLachlan’s Agent Dale Cooper just might be seeing Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee) again as well.

I know it sounds geeky, but, I remember totally flipping out when the scene in the clip above aired on the original series. “‘I’ll see you again in 25 years?!’ What the hell does that mean? Is she coming back to life?!” And while I relished discussing the meaning of that scene (and almost every other aspect of the show!) back in the day, the thought that it might actually be clarified literally twenty five years later is downright thrilling!

To steal a quote from a fellow, diehard Peaks fan: can we just skip 2015 and get to the good stuff already? So excited!

 

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Philip Seymour Hoffman (1967-2014)

I don’t know about you guys, but, I’m still kind of reeling from the death yesterday of Philip Seymour Hoffman. Not only was he one of my all-time favorite actors, but he was also the kind of reliably brilliant character actor (like John Goodman) that you’d hope to see onscreen in killer parts large and small for years to come. Sadly, that was not to be…

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Although it’s little comfort right now, the fact that Hoffman left behind such a remarkable and diverse body of work is pretty awesome. He was usually my favorite character in anything he was in, and I loved him in everything, but, my favorite role of Hoffman’s is probably his turn as a home health care nurse in Paul Thomas Anderson’s crazy masterpiece Magnolia.

It’s not Hoffman’s showiest role and he could easily be eclipsed by the onscreen theatrics of his co-stars Tom Cruise and Julianne Moore, but there is a quiet grace in his performance that just kills me every time I see it. It’s like you can actually feel the things he is going through. Really amazing work in a movie busting at the seams with great actors.

I also loved him in Happiness, Boogie Nights, The Savages, Doubt, The Big Lebowski, Almost Famous, Moneyball and Pirate Radio, a movie I missed the first time around and finally saw (and loved!) this past summer. The funny thing is that when I looked up his filmography just now, some of the best stuff Hoffman did onscreen was in tiny parts in big movies that I barely remember seeing. And if you ask me, that’s the mark of a truly great actor.

Rest in peace, PSH. You left us way too soon…

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AFI’s 10 Best Movies & TV Shows (2013)

I was already feeling woefully behind in my award season movie watching when the American Film Institute released their ten best list this week and totally sealed the deal. Sadly, I have seen only one of the movies on this list. Yikes…

And though AFI’s annual list is hardly an accurate predictor of future Oscar glory, it definitely puts a spotlight on films with award season momentum. And with films like Her, 12 Years A Slave and American Hustle already doing very well with the National Board of Review and various film critics groups around the country, a nod from the AFI never hurt anyone.

So, while I try to scramble to find a babysitter so I can actually try and see some of these movies, please enjoy this year’s pick of AFI honorees.

AFI's top ten movies & TV shows (2013)

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Date Night TV: “Girls”

I should start by saying that up until about a month ago I had sort of a love/hate relationship with Lena Dunham, the writer/director/creator of HBO’s hit series Girls. And though I know it’s never cool to judge a filmmaker by their personal life — if I did I’d have a hard time stomaching Woody Allen movies too, which I love! — but after watching Dunham’s feature film debut Tiny Furniture on DVD about a year ago, I couldn’t stop hating her. Don’t get me wrong, the movie was great and explores many of the same issues and even character types as Girls does.

The problem I had with Dunham’s movie is that it was released by my beloved Criterion Collection, whose main objective, as I may have stated here before, is to release “a continuing series of important classic and contemporary films”. Yes, Tiny Furniture is contemporary (it was released in 2010) but I think it’s still a little early to tell if it’s “important.”

And then I learned that Dunham is from a family of New York art world superstars — her father is a painter and her mother and frequent co-star, Laurie Simmons, is a well-known photographer — who no doubt circulate in the same hip, underground crowds as the Criterion Collection execs do. So, then I hated her even more. In my mind, Dunham was nothing more than a privileged rich kid using Mommy and Daddy’s connections to make so-called “indie films” that debuted on the freaking Criterion Collection! Urgh…so lame!

Lena Dunham on GIRLS

GIRLS cast

The problem was though, I still loved the movie. And then Girls came along and I loved that too. Correction, I more than love it. Mrs. Yeti really likes it too, but, I’m kind of obsessed with the show right now. And then I started reading and learning more about Dunham and I realized that, parental art-world connections or not, she really is talented as all hell. So, when we finally got HBO last month, I put my own professional jealousies aside and started watching season one of Girls from the beginning. And it was fucking hilarious!

Sad, funny, goofy, dirty, real, authentic, it’s one of the best-written shows I’ve watched in a long time. Dunham and her amazingly gifted cast are a joy to watch each week, especially when one (or all) of their lives are spinning wildly out of control. Oh, man…it’s fantastic. And season two, which started three weeks ago has been even better. I have actually taken to writing down memorable quotes from the show on my iPad. Yes, I’m that kind of fan.

The only problem that I can find with Girls so far is that it is not even remotely kid-friendly. In fact, the other day Greta came into the room while I was trying to watch it and even before anyone said or did anything profane, Greta said: “Daddy, I don’t think I should be watching this show.” Ha! And she was right, the next scene would have required way too much explaining to a toddler. So, I put on The Princess and the Frog for the twentieth time instead.

But, if you and yours happen to have a night to yourselves, one of those cherished “date night-ins” that have become so chic of late, then pop in the first season of Girls and go to town. Seriously, you will laugh your ass off. Truly groundbreaking stuff!

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Date Night Movie: “Cloud Atlas”

The other day I realized that Hollywood award season is almost the only time of year that my wife and I see movies outside of the house. And when we see movies, we see a lot of them. Like, a whole year’s worth in two or three months. Then we’re burnt out and don’t see anything on a big screen again until summer. Thank God for Redbox!

So, I decided to highlight some of the movies we’ve been seeing lately in a new, hopefully regular, series I call “Date Night Movies”. Here I will blog about movies that I think are not only worth seeing on the big screen but, also worth dressing up and hiring a babysitter for. Now, before I get to the main event, let me touch on something we saw last month…

A few weeks back, Mrs. Yeti and I went to a screening of Argo and it was incredible. The acting, writing and directing was all first-rate and not only was the whole movie edge-of-your-seat thrilling, but it was also funny as hell, even if you don’t get all the insider Hollywood jokes. So, it’s definitely worth checking out, especially if you like to see all the possible Oscar nominees — judging by the reaction so far, Argo is sure to snare a Best Picture nod — before they get nominated.

That said, the movie I want to talk about today is Cloud Atlas. My brother and I went to a screening of Atlas the other night and, despite a few flaws, we loved it. Actually, I think the flaws made me like it even more because they highlighted the colossal effort it took to make something this bold. I don’t want to go into too much detail about the plot, but, as you’ve no doubt seen from the trailer, the movie is as big and epic as Hollywood movies get these days.

The acting is great, the writing and cinematography is gorgeous but the real star of the movie is the theme. Much of the pre-release chatter about Atlas has focused on the fact that Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, Hugh Grant and the rest of the cast play multiple parts in multiple time periods, which is cool, but, the message at the heart of the movie is much more interesting. The movie theorizes that everything is connected, love, hate, good, evil, life, death, every single thing we do in our lifetimes touches someone else’s life in ways we could never imagine.

I know what you’re thinking: great, an essay about life from the creators of The Matrix Trilogy and the guy who directed Run Lola Run. Well, in a way that’s kinda true. The movie is an essay, or, a love letter if you will, about the eternal, transcendent power of love. I know that sounds corny and mildly student-film-ish and maybe it is a little of both. I mean, honestly, there is a lot going on in this movie, and it does require a bit of patience on the part of the viewer. Hell, up until the half-hour mark, my brother and I were so confused and annoyed that we were ready to bolt. But then something happened — it was a different scene for both of us — that changed everything and from then on, we were caught up in the whole crazy-beautiful, time-tripping swirl of it all.

I don’t want to ruin the experience for you guys, so, I’ll stop gushing about it for now, but, if you’re on the market for a deep, heartfelt, truly original movie about ideas and emotions and the power of human connection, then this is the date night movie for you. As I said before, it might not be for everyone, as it is a little weird and challenging in spots, but, man, if you’re up for a little three-hour, mind-bending adventure, Cloud Atlas will rock your world!

Oh, and make sure you budget in some post-movie chat time afterwards because this is definitely a movie you’ll want to discuss. My brother and I have been dissecting it for two weeks now and our heads are still swimming!

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