Yes I’ll See You, I’ll See You On the Other Side

An airplane wing just after take off at Sacram...                                                                                       For the first time in 51 weeks, we’ll be taking a break from the blogging.  The ravingmadscientists will be dark for a week, so we can take our much needed vacations.

We’ll be back April 2nd, AKA our blog’s FIRST BIRTHDAY!  To commemorate, we’ll be bringing you something totally new.  We’re sort of excited about it. :)

Have a wonderful week!!!

~Annie & Nikki

Do You See What I See

As you read just the other day, Silent House was a big let-down.  But, while waiting for the shitfest to begin, we did get to see some outstanding movie trailers that are a promise for a new day at the cinema.

You’ve all seen the teaser for Prometheus, but have you seen this?

Charlize Theron, Michael Fassbender, Noomi Rapace and Idris Elba…it’s all but impossible not to get my hopes up.  Seriously, it looks like a new, modern, CGI-filled Alien!

Also on the horizon, an intriguing new mystery/thriller featuring our favorite John Cusack as Edgar Allen Poe:

God, I love John Cusack.  And the dark, tormented works of Mr. Poe.  I so hope The Raven does justice to them both.

And finally, one that we did not see in the movie theater but something I just couldn’t resist sharing with you, because I’m more excited about this than anything else…

Someday, Ricky G., Stephen Merchant, Annie and I will all be bff’s.  IT WILL HAPPEN.  You hear that, Universe???  Make it happen!!

Have a great weekend. :)

~Nikki

Disappointing House

I’m going to spoiler the shit out of this movie, so if you intended to see it (you’re going to want to reconsider, seriously), exit this page pronto.

Source: Wikipedia

We were excited, our interested piqued – titillated, if you will.  Silent House promised much.  A mysterious house.  A whole new way of filming the action (in one long, un-ending, vomit-inducing sequence).  Something paranormal?  Something sinister, a la The Strangers?  It delivered about half, and half of that was shoddy and stupid.

Follow the camera in seemingly one real-time take, as Sarah (Elizabeth Olsen), who’s helping clean up her family’s lake house with her dad and uncle, ends up getting terrorized by someone (or something, as the trailer wants you to believe by teasing you with horror flick foreplay and confounding your psyche).  Half the “fun” of this movie is trying to figure out what’s happening, but after a while I was so frustrated I started to not care.  When the truth was finally revealed, I couldn’t wait to go home and do something else.

When a film plays upon your fear of the unknown, that can be a very good thing.  This one absolutely does that, but it also goes along with the unknown of whatever is outside of Elizabeth Olsen’s field of vision.  Because the camera is with her the entire time, so what she sees, we see.  And that’s it.  Which sounds sort of freaking cool in theory, but in execution, I got Cloverfield-level motion sickness and my patience severely tried.

I did the whole jump-around-in-my-seat thing, because of course it’s pretty jumpy.  Especially when you go through the initial “is this house haunted or are there some sick hillbilly lunatics trying to kill her?!!”-stage of the film.  The house has no electricity (of course, because THERE’S NEVER ELECTRICITY IN FILMS LIKE THIS!), and is pretty damn dark as well, since drifters have broken all the windows, and they’ve been boarded up from the inside.  The  stage is set nicely for fear.

Elizabeth Olsen stars as Sarah, and she’s really lovely to look at, and has a natural way about her that makes me believe she’s a perfectly fine actress who I wouldn’t mind seeing in something else.  I cannot say the same for her co-stars.  Adam Tesse and Eric Sheffer Stevens, who play her father John and uncle Peter, respectively, are two of the worst actors I’ve ever seen in a major motion picture.  Line delivery so ridiculously cheesy and lame it was almost difficult to watch.  I absolutely witnessed more skill and talent in my high school drama club days.  Olsen is good on her own, but in comparison to these two clowns, she’s Academy Award material.

House is brought to you by the husband and wife directing team of Chris Kentis and Laura Lau (Lau also wrote the script, a remake of a Uruguayan – is that a word? – film).  This pair is responsible for the unbelievably terrifying flick that felt so real I was truly nauseous – Open Water.  If you haven’t seen that, I give it a stamp of approval.  It will haunt you.  And change you.  When the ad for this stated it was from the makers of that great little film, I was extra hopeful.  But this one didn’t even come close to instilling that sheer, cold, base-level fear.  The terror of human survival.  Considering Sarah is trying to stay alive in this house, it’s sad that nothing this deep was conveyed.  No, for this story, we get a “twist.”  The filmmakers keep the secret from you until 3/4 of the way through, when they want you to start figuring it out on your own, and they slowly start to reveal it to you.  This is where I caught on, and it made me mad, and feel kind of stupid, then gross, and finally, angry.

Elizabeth Olsen at the Toronto International F...

Elizabeth Olsen at the Toronto International Film Festival 2011. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Nikki’s husband called the plot twist the moment he saw the commercial.  Can you guess???  I didn’t, but then again, my naiveté is off the charts.  Here goes:  Sarah’s actually crazy, has a sort of split personality, and is hallucinating and imagining the brutality in her head.  In reality, she is the one inflicting the violence upon her male relatives.  Why is she mentally unwell, you ask?  Because her dad and uncle molested her when she was a kid.  Which is gross and awful and I’m sorry to even type this, but pretty clichéd.  Like, really?  REALLY?  It gets even more disgusting when the camera pans slowly over loads of pics from the aforementioned atrocity, giving the viewer enough of a glimpse to make you feel sick, but it just seemed so forced, like they were shoving this abuse down our throats to make us sympathise with Sarah.  I get it, okay?  You don’t have to show me the fucking Polaroids, you assholes.

Silent House adds nothing new to the horror genre, except an eye-torturing method of filming.  I’ll give it a few props for attempting something original, but since I walked out of the theater pissed that I had gone in, it must be said:  Don’t see this!

~Annie

I’m Gonna Need You Down This Yellow Brick Road

Unlike some, who apparently took great offense to the unconventional romantic comedy, Friends With Kids, I quite enjoyed it.  Aside from the final four or five lines, I thought it was an original and honest look at the state of affairs regarding American marriages and families today.

The thing is, raising a child (let alone, children) is hard.  Physically, emotionally, financially, and mentally draining.  Under the best of circumstances, it is seriously challenging.  Parents with small children are sleep-deprived, stressed out, anxious, nervous, broke, hungry and exhausted.  And all with good reason.  Yet, if you ask a single one of them how they feel about the experience of being a parent, they will look you straight in the eyes and say it is the best thing they’ve ever done.  And they mean it.  In all honestly, I understand why.  It’s almost universally true in life that the harder something is, the more rewarding it feels to succeed at it.  And parenthood is full of successes, big and small.  Daily successes like the impromptu hug from your toddler, the macaroni necklace made by their tiny hands, the B in math for which they worked tirelessly.  And much bigger ones like your child’s acceptance into college, his/her hard-earned promotion at work, or the blissful satisfaction of seeing him/her function independently in life, a healthy, happy adult.

But let’s not kid ourselves about some of the uglier realities of parenthood.  It’s a 20 year-long endeavor during which you must, at every turn, put your own needs and desires second (or third or fourth) to your child’s.  All of your time and money and energy is consumed by them and what they need and want and what you want for them.  It is, in fact, hard.  And there are as many approaches to it as there are parents in the world.  Which is why it’s so easy, after becoming parents, for two people to drift apart.  To grow resentful, angry, bitter towards one another.  To feel unappreciated, unloved, undervalued and overwhelmed.  To take out all those emotions on the only other adult in the room.  To realize, suddenly, that this person you married is not, in fact, the best friend you’ll ever have, but someone who doesn’t care enough about your happiness to pick up his own dirty socks.  Or take the kids to the park on Sunday morning so you could sleep in.  Or forgo an hour of sleep Sunday morning to sneak in a little nookie before the kids wake up.  You stop helping each other, appreciating each other, hell, you stop seeing each other at all as anything other than one more person relying on you to take care of them.  And before you know it, you can’t stand each other.

Does this happen to every couple?  Of course not.  Does it (or some variation of it) happen a lot?  Yes.  We all know at least one couple with a similar story.  And with the divorce rate hovering somewhere around 50% (that’s 1 out of 2 marriages, people), I’m betting we all know more than one couple who can relate to what I’ve just described.

Friends With Kids is the story of two people who recognize this pattern and come up with an alternative approach to parenting in an effort to beat the system.  Two best friends who’d prefer to skip the failed marriage and jump straight into joint custody, thereby eliminating the most painful and unpleasant steps in the process.  Written and directed by the female lead, Jennifer Westfeldt, FWK takes a close look at all of the realities of not just parenting, but what it can do to marriages, friendships and every other relationship in a person’s life.  Westfeldt plays Julie, a thirty-something singleton in Manhattan who wants a baby but has not yet met “her person,” someone with whom she’d like to spend the rest of her life.  Her very best friend, Jason (Adam Scott), would also like to be a parent but seems incapable of a relationship that lasts longer than a week or two.  After seeing their best friends’ marriages struggle (and in one case, fall apart completely) after having children, they decide they’re better off having a baby together and skipping the whole marriage-and-divorce thing.  Win-win.

The problem doesn’t arrive until several months after their baby is born, when Julie falls in love with her baby daddy.  And why wouldn’t she?  He actually is her best friend- he’s kind, supportive, honest, helpful, willing and able to share half (literally, fully, half) of the parenting responsibilities and so obviously has deep, sincere respect and appreciation for her not just as the mother of his child, but as a human being.  All of which is showcased in the most touching, heartfelt and beautiful speech given by Jason in Julie’s defense when a friend calls them irresponsible for their choice to procreate together.  The hitch: he’s just not attracted to her.

The friends of these two are played by none other than Maya Rudolph & Chris O’Dowd and Kristen Wiig & Jon Hamm (Westfeldt’s real life, long-time boyfriend).  Both sets of couples begin the film married and childfree but soon have a baby or two and their marriages are never the same again.  Which is pretty much how it is in real life, for better or worse.  My initial reaction to that first scene showing the effects of child-rearing on them was that it must have been a gross exaggeration.  Then I started thinking about some of my friends and family members and their marriages and how they changed after the little ones came along.  And in all honesty, I don’t think it was all that exaggerated.  A bit, for humor’s sake, but not much.  In fact, it was the super supportive, understanding, completely equal interactions between Jason and Julie that sometimes felt unrealistic.

I enjoyed all but the last two or three minutes of the movie, all but that final scene when Adam Scott gives the worst “I love you” speech ever written.  Which felt extra disappointing because of the beautifully moving speech he’d already given about Julie.  Otherwise, it’s an enjoyable and interesting flick with a great cast and several laughs.  And the message I took away from it was neither anti-children nor anti-marriage (nor pro-either of those) but that if you want either (or both) of them, be prepared to work your ass off.  With someone you genuinely like.

~Nikki