Archive | December 2011

the 2011 movie score guidebook, vol. 1

I’ve decided to keep up some traditions, and this is one of them.  Last year I wrapped up the movie year with a six-volume rundown on the soundtracks of the year.  And here’s your first volume for 2011 – I’ll try to vary it up by release date, pedigree, and quality, depending.

The Adjustment Bureau
Score by Thomas Newman

Rango
Score by Hans Zimmer

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
Score by Hans Zimmer

The Debt
Score by Thomas Newman

Water for Elephants
Score by James Newton Howard

Green Lantern
Score by James Newton Howard

Potiche
Score by Philippe Rombi

A Dangerous Method
Score by Howard Shore

We Bought a Zoo
Score by Jon Por Birgisson

Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark
Score by Marco Beltrami

Rio
Score by John Powell

Mr. Popper’s Penguins
Score by Rolfe Kent

Cowboys & Aliens
Score by Harry Gregson-Williams

Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Score by Patrick Doyle

Beginners
Score by Brian Reitzell, Dave Palmer, and Roger Neill

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mecc… those were the days

Inspired by the lovely Calla, I was moved to reminisce on a mainstay of a Midwestern upbringing – perhaps it was more widespread than I realize, but any good child of 90s spent a good deal of time plucking away on MECC software during computer class.


Sure there was Mavis Beacon for those in need of a typing test or two, but the real action was on Word Munchers.  Calla speaks of the horrors of Number Munchers, something I managed to avoid through the years, but there was nothing like testing my word and even pop cultural intelligence on my grandma’s old iMac via a frog-looking, slack-jawed hero as he munches his way through “Prime Ministers of the United Kingdom,” “Edible Items,” and “Rhymes with ‘Kite.'”  But your foes were formidable.  The Troggles were sneaky, portly little fellows with every intention of devouring you whole.  If you wanted your chance at throwing on your Superman cape and retrieving letters (while avoiding falling boulders) to get to the top of the Hall of Fame list, you needed to know your famous people… and it didn’t hurt to have Roget’s on hand just in case.

But that rascally Minnesota educational consortium didn’t stop there.  I must say, as a young aspiring writer, I would’ve been nowhere without my Storybook Weaver.  Given the opportunity to craft my own novels with full-color, printable pictures (choosing setting, objects, and characters was clearly the most fun part), I found myself drafting my own Animorph short stories and Clue mysteries to fuel my creativity somewhere.  Sure, the comically computerized narration option certainly added to its appeal.  Though much to the chagrin of many elementary teachers, the poor in-computer voice was talked into saying some colorful words out loud into the ears of fellow classmates in many a computer lab through the years.  But rest-assured I was too busy writing serious literature to fiddle with such immature trifles.  Yep, I took myself seriously.

Perhaps my true favorite, though, was Museum Madness.  Sure, it wasn’t as popular as the others, but reorganizing a museum that’s malfunctioned by heading through each exhibit and correcting their historical inaccuracies was kind of an ingenious idea.  With the help of a trusty (if not often very helpful) robot, and a backpack full of necessary tools, you – as a backwards-cap-wearing ragamuffin – had to help Galileo remember how to discover gravity, help American begin the Industrial Revolution, and assist ancients in realizing the written word by pressing papyrus.  Yep, it was pure historically educational glee for a young nerd.

Poor Sarah – perhaps my trusty flashlight will shed some light on this situation and rescue you from the stake!  The power of magic children.
So what did you occupy yourself with in your days in the computer lab?  Did you find yourself in the Busy Town of Richard Scarry with your worm friend Lowell?  Did you eat the wrong berries and come down with some dysentery on the Oregon Trail?  Or would you rather snap photos of giant tarantulas on the Amazon Trail?  Hit me up in the comments!

final golden globe predictions

With the nomination announcement coming up on Thursday, I thought it only best I make a final stab at predicting the once-great ceremony.  Arguably the true kick-off of major awards gets, the Globes may’ve lost some of its luster last year with its bizarre choices, but at least they still get their guests schnockered!  Just a few alterations from my last go at it.

Best Picture – Comedy/Musical
The Artist, Bridesmaids, Midnight in Paris, The Muppets, Young Adult

Best Picture – Drama
The Descendants, The Help, Hugo, Moneyball, War Horse

Best Lead Actress – Comedy/Musical
Amy Adams (The Muppets), Julia Roberts (Larry Crowne),
Charlize Theron (Young Adult), Kristen Wiig (Bridesmaids),
Michelle Williams (My Week with Marilyn)

Best Lead Actress – Drama
Glenn Close (Albert Nobbs), Viola Davis (The Help),
Elizabeth Olsen (Martha Marcy May Marlene), Emma Stone (The Help),
Meryl Streep (The Iron Lady)

Best Lead Actor – Comedy/Musical
Johnny Depp (The Rum Diary), Jean Dujardin (The Artist),
Joseph Gordon Levitt (50/50), Jason Segel (The Muppets),
Owen Wilson (Midnight in Paris)

Best Lead Actor – Drama
George Clooney (The Descendants), Leonardo DiCaprio (J. Edgar),
Michael Fassbender (Shame), Woody Harrelson (Rampart),
Brad Pitt (Moneyball)

Best Supporting Actress
Berenice Bejo (The Artist), Sandra Bullock (Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close),
Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids), Vanessa Redgrave (Coriolanus),
Octavia Spencer (The Help)

Best Supporting Actor
Albert Brooks (Drive), Nick Nolte (Warrior),
Brad Pitt (The Tree of Life), Christopher Plummer (Beginners),
Max von Sydow (Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close)

in defense of… DRIVE ME CRAZY

You said it, Melissa.  Though it lacks much pedigree, starring the former Clarissa Explains it All figurehead and the future leader of the pack on Entourage, Drive Me Crazy fell into teen comedy obscurity amongst the plethora of popular ones at the time (namely She’s All That and 10 Things I Hate About You).  In fact, you’ll likely find it relegated to $5 dollar bins across America.  So to sum it up, there’s no excuse by way of inaccessibility for seeing this underrated gem.

The premise is admittedly familiar – spunky popular girl takes on outsider next door, remakes him into a BMOC in a week or two, and, what do you know, they fall for each other.  But thanks to the effervescent charms of lead Melissa Joan Hart (yes, I went there – Sabrina haters be damned!) and a surprisingly springy script courtesy of Rob Thomas (no, not that Rob Thomas), we’re left with a bit of transcendence.  It’s a quiet picture, to be sure, and it certainly has its weak points (some of those supporting fortysomething “teenage” actors aren’t exactly grand thespians), but can you really top this interchange:

Nicole: “Turn that radio off, or I’m going to go Sean Young on your ass!”
Chase: “I think she means Sean Penn.”
Ray: “Good – Sean Young scares me.”

So I tell you, it’s time to forget what you think you know about Melissa Joan Hart.  Though she’s made some missteps in her career (um… Melissa & Joey?) this flick is a admirable teen comedy that surprises with its zingers.  There’s of course a predictable soundtrack loaded with late-90s pop-rock faves, but give it a chance!  Hey, at least it’s nice to reminisce about the days when pop was as simple as Britney Spears in a goofy waitress costume.