By Hannah Landers, Muse Editor
Sweet summer is almost here, which means it’s almost time for The Muse to take a vacation. But before we grab our flip-flops and short-shorts, we have a few final suggestions to make this summer the most Muse-tastic ever. Below is a list of movies to see, albums to listen to, food to nom on and lifestyle events to check out during the long, hot days. Enjoy your summer, Musies! And don’t forget the sunscreen!
Book adaptation: “The Fault in Our Stars” (June 6) — Sure, “The Giver” promises performances from the likes of Meryl Streep, Jeff Bridges and, er, Taylor Swift. But “The Fault in Our Stars” has a beautifully tragic story and a fresh-faced cast. If the trailer alone doesn’t make you tear up, you are a monster.
Epic: “Godzilla” (May 16) — Walter White from “Breaking Bad” takes on one of film’s most infamous monsters. Need I say more?
Comedy: “22 Jump Street” (June 13) — If you liked Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill as undercover cops in high school, you’re going to love them as undercover cops in college. Ja feel?
Superhero: “Guardians of the Galaxy” (August 1) — With a team of characters that includes a genetically engineering raccoon marksman and a “tree-like humanoid,” “Guardians” promises to be “The Avengers’” weird younger brother. The diverse cast is another draw, especially with a newly buff and mostly shirtless Chris Pratt leading the pack (am I right, ladies?).
Once in a lifetime: “Boyhood” (July 11) — Director Richard Linklater tells the story of a young boy growing into adulthood, but because he shot the film over a period of 12 years, the audience is actually watching young actor Ellar Coltrane age from 7 years old to 18 years old in a span of three hours.
Rock ‘n’ roll royalty: Jack White’s “Lazaretto” (June 10) — Jack White’s last solo venture was filled with a lot of good ol’ blues-tinged rock ‘n’ roll. Here’s hoping that this album is more of the same.
Girl power: Lykke Li’s “I Never Learn” (May 6) — The ethereal Swedish songstress is back after three years, promising more subtle brilliance with her one-of-a-kind voice.
Indie comeback kid: Conor Oberst’s “Upside Down Mountain” (May 20) — Bright Eyes front-man Oberst usually injects a little more of his country-tinged Nebraska roots into his solo releases and vocal assists from folk duo First Aid Kit only sweetens the deal.
James Blake 2.0: Sam Smith’s “In the Lonely Hour” (June 17) — If you caught Smith’s performance on “Saturday Night Live” in March, you know the power of this Brit’s haunting and soulful melodies. At only 21 years old, Smith is slated for a meteoric rise.
Movie mix-tape: American Laundromat Records’ “I Saved Latin! A Tribute to Wes Anderson” (May 13) — This 23-track album features a diverse array of artists covering songs from Wes Anderson’s iconic films. Muted color schemes and Jason Schwartzman not included.
Chocolate chip cookie milk shot: From the genius who brought you the “cronut,” the chocolate chip cookie milk shot is exactly what it sounds like: a chocolate chip cookie in the shape of a shot glass filled with milk. It’s a magical update on a childhood favorite.
Infused ice: Ice cubes no longer have to be the boring frozen treat of your summer. Restaurants are starting to see the potential of infusing them with herbs, fruit and other goodies in order to spice up cocktails and other drinks. Cheers!
A spot of tea: From tea leaves in entrees to tea-based cocktails, there’s plenty of ways to enjoy tea without having to sip a steaming hot cup in the middle of July.
Ice cream sandwich smorgasbord: After enduring years of the cupcake’s reign as most popular dessert, it looks as though we’ll all be screaming for ice cream sandwiches from roaming food trucks soon enough.
Adult popsicles: Booze-infused popsicles aren’t a relatively new idea, but the fun flavor possibilities and their simple prep make them a no-brainer for summer.
Music festivals: For many, summer is equated with hanging outdoors and listening to their favorite bands. Muse did a blog post earlier in April with a list of the best music festivals across the country. All you have to do is pick one (or two … or five).
Get your drink on: You don’t have to be in traditional “wine country” to take a tour of a winery. Or, if beer is more your thing, check out a brewery. Sites such as Groupon offer great rates that include tours, food pairings and of course, tastings.
Stuff your face: Food festivals happen nearly everywhere, and they’re a great place to expand your palette and maybe even find your new favorite restaurant. Some of them are even tailored to a state’s signature dish, such as the Maine Lobster Festival.
Pay homage to your favorite author: Okay, this one is kind of a stretch, but if you happen to be in Florida this summer, why not remember a famous author who used to live there? Hemingway Days is a five-day festival in July that includes book signings, readings, a fishing tournament in honor of the author’s favorite sport and a look-alike contest (Google some pictures and thank me later).
By Katrina Uy, Staff Writer
Last week, news broke out that after more than a decade of fans begging for a sequel, Disney/Pixar decided to give the green light to The Incredibles 2, as well as a third installation of the Cars franchise. For parents of young children and maybe even for fans of Pixar, this may seem like fantastic news. But for me, not so much.
Don’t get me wrong, I love Disney/Pixar as much as the next person. I vividly remember first falling in love with A Bug’s Life when I was six years old. I would constantly watch it on VHS in our living room, even the short with the old man that played chess by himself in the park before the actual movie began. Years later, my dad took me and my younger brother to watch The Incredibles in theaters, and I remember my brother and I clutching our sides in tears when Mr. Incredible tried to squeeze through the conveyor belt but kept bouncing out because of all the weight he’d gained in his years off from fighting crime.
As I got older, I felt a newfound respect for all of Pixar’s original films, more so than its parent company, Walt Disney Studios.
The way I saw it, Pixar was gutsy and clever enough to create smart, witty films that were, yes, targeted for kids, but enjoyable enough for the whole family. But then Cars came out in 2006 and I think we can agree it all went downhill from there (I mean, really, Planes?).
News of the upcoming sequels to Pixar’s critically acclaimed films from the 2000s are just two among many of the studio’s line-up for the next couple of years. They now join the ranks of the most recent Pixar flick, Monsters University, a prequel to Monsters, Inc. (2001) that was released just last summer.
Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t think all of these sequels to Pixar’s beloved original films are necessary. What’s wrong with leaving perfectly good movies untouched and leaving what happens after the closing credits up to the imagination of the audience?
You could definitely argue that the company is clearly trying to target our generation with all of these sequels. We grew up with Andy from Toy Story, who goes off to college just as our generation is leaving for college.
While I will admit that I caved and went to see Toy Story 3 in theaters, and will definitely do the same for The Incredibles 2, I just wish that Pixar would stick to its roots and focus on creating more original and innovative stories for its audiences.
The studio announced in September 2013 that their lineup for the next few years will alternate between sequels and original films, starting with The Good Dinosaur and Inside Out in 2015, followed by Finding Dory in 2016, and many other untitled projects in the works right now, including an untitled project on El Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), also scheduled for release in 2016.
By Robin Ngai, Staff Writer
Since “The Lego Movie” came out two weeks ago, my Facebook news-feed has been filled with statuses raving about it, my friends have been raving about it, and even Rotten Tomatoes has been raving about it (the movie has a 96% rating, beating The Dark Knight!)
My point is everyone is raving about it, except me. No, I haven’t seen it yet and I’m not here to claim that it’s a horrible film. And I’ve heard nothing but praise. But I’m just a bit skeptical as to how brilliant this children’s movie could be (and whether it’s worth the $12 movie ticket).
My childhood was never centered on these tiny plastic blocks (“books or bust” was my parents’ motto) so it’s hard for me want to shell out some time to watch this movie. I’ve seen the trailer in theaters and wasn’t blown away by the cheesy jokes or story line.
It seems that animated movies are the thing of the moment. Last year we had “Monsters University,” “The Croods,” and “Despicable Me 2,” among others. The past few months we had “Frozen” melting hearts all around the world. And now, “The Lego Movie” has stepped up and taken its place.
Despite my skepticism, it’s been rated as a film that should be watched by all ages. Adults love it, children love it and my roommate who hasn’t even seen it yet, also loves it. She’s been trying to convince me to watch it for weeks.
I give it credit for being well animated and for taking the nation by storm. Maybe one day I’ll watch “The Lego Movie,” but I don’t think it’ll be any time soon.
Here are some fall movie reviews from MUSE for the cinema buffs:
By Max Cohen, Staff Writer
“If I don’t shoot you in the face I’d be violating a contractual obligation,” explains face-swapping assassin La Chameleon to her target. But maybe it’s actually Robert Rodriguez, the director of “Machete Kills”, speaking to his audience. Rather than relying on covert excitement and tension, Rodriguez shows up to the theater with tanks, helicopters and heat-seeking missiles. That is the kind of movie you’re getting yourself into.
The second of Rodriguez’s hyper-violent exploitation parodies, Danny Trejo stars as the eponymous ex-federale who must save the world from a madman with a surgically attached missile (just go with it).
This sequel trades the original’s gleeful gore and satirical solemnity for contrived action and formulaic jokes. However, “Machete Kills” has some terrific one-liners and one of the funniest 3D jokes I’ve ever heard. Regardless, the movie is far too fast-paced for any meaningful characterization to emerge and the plot is strung along half-heartedly.
But you aren’t seeing “Machete Kills” for the emotional depth. You’re watching in the hopes that you get to see the most ridiculous things you’ve ever seen in a movie. Don’t worry: “Machete” delivers, handsomely. If you enjoy people getting mutilated by propellers – multiple times – then you’re going to have fun. That said, there are far too many times when the gore is monotonous; explosion-filled gunfights are quaint compared to guns that turn people inside out.
But everything else aside, the main draw of the movie is Mel Gibson. Let me repeat: Mel Gibson is in this movie and he is as gleefully deranged and psychotic and you’d expect from a man who starred in The Beaver. His clairvoyant super-genius was endearingly hilarious and his over-the-top scenes were the movie’s best.
Most of the cameo appearances are built the same way as Gibson’s: Some big-name actor shows up to spit out one-liners and inanely move the plot along. This was especially true for the movie’s supposed number-two star, Sofia Vergara, whose character is just a raunchy parody of “Modern Family’”s Gloria. She spends her meager screen time shouting lines in unintelligible Spanglish and making repeated and contrived boob jokes. No shocks there.
But the actors and gratuitous violence can’t stop me from being slightly disappointed. The film wasn’t very funny and while the gore was satisfying, the originality of the level of carnage was disappointing. Watch it when it comes out on Netflix instead.
By Hannah Landers, Staff Writer
There’s a lot about divorce that can be traumatic, which first time director Stu Zicherman sets out to explore in “A.C.O.D.,” which stands for “Adult Children of Divorce.” Unfortunately, Zicherman tries to cover just about all of those traumas and, despite a stellar cast, the film sags with too many competing story-lines and a waver between genres that leaves much of the comedy falling flat and most of the drama shallow and clichéd.
One assumes that “A.C.O.D.” is supposed to be about middle-aged restaurateur Carter (Adam Scott) dealing with the gradual dissolution of his parent’s divorce as they begin to reconnect, but it’s hard to discern. The movie opens with Carter’s quest to get his vitriolic, long-divorced parents, Hugh (Richard Jenkins) and Melissa (Catherine O’Hara) to be civil for his younger brother’s (Clark Duke) wedding. Yet that’s seemingly abandoned when Carter realizes he unknowingly participated in a published, best-selling study on the effects of divorce on children while talking to a woman he thought was his therapist, Dr. Judith (Jane Lynch). But as his parents begin to reconnect, Carter struggles to keep them apart as the story shifts again. This dizzying back-and-forth is not just confusing but exhausting and offers no pay-off in the absurd, sitcom ending.
“A.C.O.D.” struggles with an identity crisis genre-wise as well as plot-wise, starting out enjoyably as a wacky, offbeat comedy before steering into a sickly sweet, preachy family drama about two-thirds of the way through. This is punctuated by moments like Hugh’s latest wife Sondra telling Carter that he might have liked her, but he “didn’t get to know her.” Gag.
Fortunately, the prolific cast keeps this mess from entering complete disaster territory. Catherine O’Hara and Richard Jenkins are both hilariously twisted and nightmarishly pugnacious, launching into a terrifying screaming match in the film’s opening scene with such tenacity that it makes the viewer feel truly sorry for the young Carter pictured trying to enjoy his ninth birthday against the shrill volume. Jane Lynch is similarly delightful as the eccentric Dr. Judith, playing a bluntly honest weirdo as only she knows how to do. “The homeless are getting so aggressive these days,” remarks the hostess in Carter’s restaurant when Dr. Judith pounds on the window and waves a cheerful hello.
Zicherman, who co-wrote the semi-autobiographical screenplay, had a lot of great ideas. Muddled all together in one film, however, and the viewer is left just as helpless and confused as a child of divorce – adult or otherwise.
By Joe Incollingo, Staff Writer
If all movies from now on were built solely on Tom Hanks and xenophobia, worse things would have happened. Captain Phillips – in theory a story so enthralling of a spirit so strong that every audience need only wait for the tears to flow and the cheers to roar – has to work.
Forgive the movie, then, the slow start. Rich Phillips (Hanks), folksy and underwhelming, a quiet and harmless denizen of quiet and harmless Vermont, goes to work. On the other side of the planet, on the sticky, sunny sands of Somalia, the pirates head to sea. This is an important contrast, mind you, albeit a little too blatant, but the movie does its best to stick with it. Each scene is lousy with polarized color, peppered in to call back blue mountains and yellow dunes. Phillips’s crew wears blue polos; the pirates don yellow rags. The captain’s blue beard quivers; a pirate snarls with yellow teeth.
To the credit of director Paul Greengrass and his Green Zone-cinematographer Barry Ackroyd, this is done without seeming too gimmicky. It adds a needed dreaminess to Greengrass’s trademark realism, a style that works in an odd way. Shaking a hand-held camera on a boat is, after all, a terrible idea. However, Greengrass discovers a masterful marriage of suspense and disorientation in the process. For lack of better words, the movie induces seasickness, making it that much tenser towards the expected resolution.
All this makes the characters dragging Captain Phillips that much more disappointing. It’s not so much Phillips himself; though one of the blandest heroes in recent memory, he’s done plenty justice by Hanks. The performance is understated and perfectly boring while Hanks traps just enough fear in his eyes to keep his captors awake before crumbling into the final act’s desperation. Nobody wants this man to die, which makes the tissue paper bad guys so easy to look past. Given the “us versus them” nature of the story before an American audience, the limp attempts to humanize the pirates seem unfortunately futile in the first place. Newcomer Barkhad Abdi delivers the only morsel of pathos: Phillips asks if he can’t just be a fisherman, to which he somberly replies “Maybe in America.” That’s it, though. Miss it, and he sticks in your head as another grinning monster threatening an honest American.
This is the biggest letdown of Phillips, as if writer Billy Ray had no faith in the humans behind his villains. There needs to be drive outside of some mysterious “Boss” pulling strings. If it’s the desolation of desert life Abdi refers to that Americans can’t comprehend, then show it. Show us desolation. Show us humans in need. Show us why violence is the only option. To stop just past Tom Hanks washing feet and taking beatings gives only a biased half of what Ray (and Greengrass) claim is a whole sculpture. Despite what you’ve read, some stories need more than that.