Monday, December 28, 2015

Top Ten Worst Hit Songs of 2015

Greetings Pups,

As difficult as it was for me to fill yesterday's Best Of list, it was equally, if not more, difficult to narrow down to ten songs for today's list. There was so much crap to sift through. So much that I am going to do something that I don't think I've ever done for one of my Year End lists. I am going to give some Honorable Mentions. That's how bad it was. Let's get this over with. Ladies and gentlemen, the Worst Hit Songs of 2015, as always, just in my opinion.

Honorable Mentions (along with condensed reasons for my distaste):

"Post To Be" Omarion featuring Chris Brown and Jhene Aiko - Because saying the word "supposed" correctly took too much effort, apparently.
"What Do You Mean?" Justin Bieber - Because it can almost be described with that particular word we used on "Blurred Lines". That "R" word.
"Four Five Seconds" Rihanna, Kanye West and Paul McCartney - Because What the Heck, Paul McCartney?!?
"Anything by Meghan Trainor Except the One That Actually Made the List" - Because the gimmick is getting old.
"Bad Blood" Taylor Swift - Because of the questionable casting of the video, and less about the actual song. But still.

And since I limited myself to only five for the pre-list, let's get to

#10. "Girl Crush" Little Big Town - First of all, this song is boring as heck. Second, what is with this title? It is the musical equivalent of click bait. Oooh, they're a country group maybe delving into some lesbian themed music and being all edgy for their genre. But wait, the song isn't actually about any homosexual activity, so that presumed core fan base will stay calm. Really? What they did is kind of shady and insulting, and this song is just not good enough to make up for that.

#9. "Sugar" Maroon 5 - Well, that praise for Adam Levine didn't last long since yesterday. But what I said good about him then has much to do with what I'm saying not so good now. It's his voice. Restrain yourself, sir. You can sound very good, so why do you choose not to do so?

#8. "Watch Me" Silento - A.K.A The Whip/Nae Nae song, and proof as to why anything we write as teenagers should not be given any reverence. Of course, on the upside, I guess this isn't supposed to be taken that seriously, but it was enough to make the charts. Still, I hate these songs that try to start a dance craze and will now be played at wedding receptions and other events for the rest of our lives. We have the Macarena. That is all we need.

#7. "Want To Want Me" Jason Derulo - Are you asking me a question here? Like do I want to want you? If so, the answer is a resounding NO! No, I do not want to want you, Jason Derulo. I do not want you at all. In the words of the illustrious Michelle Tanner aimed at her sister from that one episode of Full House where Stephanie was trying to play a song on her recorder and kept hitting a bad note..."You are not good". Yeah, that's right. He gets a Full House related joke, and even that is too good for him. But look on the bright side, Derulo. You're not the absolute worst of the year like last time, so congratulations. And go away, already.

#6. "Honey, I'm Good" Andy Grammer - I think it was Chris Rock who made the joke about men who pull the "Hey, I Take Care of My Kids!" card, and the response being "What, do you want a cookie?" Indeed, no one should get anything extra for simply doing what they are supposed to do. In the case of this song, apparently, I am supposed to give this guy a medal for not cheating on his lady. Yeah, you're supposed to not to that. And you're also supposed to not make some of the worst sounding music in recent history.

#5. "7/11" Beyonce - What in all serious heck is Look, I may not be a fan of Beyonce's music, but I never deny anyone their talent. I happen to think she does have some talent as a singer and songwriter sometimes. So, what is this? See, this is what happens when people or genres or movie studios have a built in audience. They become complacent, because they know people will buy whatever they give them. They barely try to make anything good. I mean, why bother to put forth the effort? But honestly, Beyonce, you are better than this.

#4. "B*** Better Have My Money" Rihanna - Yes, I don't use some words on my blog. Sorry, not sorry. So, is this song kind of glamorizing pimps? Well, that seems like a super good idea to emulate people who are purported to be abusive toward women when you are a woman who has been abused. Rihanna, what happened to you? You were so classy in that interview you did right after the...incident, telling young girls not to stay with a guy who hits them. I had so much respect for you in that moment. Talk about a 180 turnaround. But I believe there is hope for you yet, musically and otherwise.

#3. "Ayo" Chris Brown and Tyga - Speaking of which...Look, I can go on and on about all the really bad things these guys have either been accused of doing or have straight up done for sure, but we're here to talk about the music. And this music is freakin' unlistenable. Which is totally a word. Enough said.

#2. "Cool For the Summer" Demi Lovato - "Hey, look at me! I'm edgy now! Did I mention that I was edgy now? Because I totally am! I was on Glee! And now I do this kind of music! LOOK AT ME!!!" Yeah, that could have been the parenthetical title of this song. You know, a few years back, Ms. Lovato shared with the world some of her personal issues, and I was glad she did, especially since it seemed like she was getting help. And she recorded a lovely song called "Skyscraper" that told a story of triumph. THAT song sounded more sincere than THIS song, and she didn't even take part in writing it. She wrote this mess, though, and it is so contrived, fake and calculated. I've said it before, I'll say it again. When did portraying oneself as an adult consist of NOTHING but one's sexuality. That is a part of it, but not all of it. At least, it shouldn't be. I might have criticized Little Big Town for being underhanded, but I can also criticize this for being too obvious. Just try harder to stop trying so hard.

#1. "Marvin Gaye" Charlie Puth featuring Meghan Trainor - What...the...crap? When I first heard this thing, my jaw dropped. It was and is so awful. I mean..."Let's Marvin Gaye and get it on"? That doesn't even make any sense. And by the way, if you look at the whole Marvin Gaye oeuvre, most of it is not overtly sexual, and yet everyone has to grab onto that one aspect and magnify it times 100. A lot of his stuff was just sweet love songs., but that doesn't sell these days. We must have only the sex talk. And not very well written sex talk at that. Oh, and one more thing. Look, believe it or not, I'm no prude, but when the cringe-worthy song is accompanied by a cringe-worthy video that I think portrays an orgy at a high school dance? Yeah, too far. Too, too far. The whole thing is just collectively the worst. According to me, anyway.

So, there are my own personal Worst Hit Songs of 2015, as always, just in my opinion. But WOW! I'd like to hope that we've hit rock bottom, and we can only go up from here. But I just have serious doubts. Therefore, God be with us and our ears in 2016.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Top Ten Best Hit Songs of 2015

Greetings Pups,

Okay let's just get this out of the way. This year in music was pretty not that great. Yes, there were a couple of gems here and there, but holy smokes, it was hard to make this list. I just don't know what to say, other than I think I'm giving up on music. Generally, I mean, though there are some specific people I will still keep an eye on. Let's just do this.

Again, my rules for making these Year lists. The songs have to be on Billboards Hot 100 Year End chart and they cannot have appeared on any of my previous lists. There you go, here we go. My Top Ten-ish Best-ish Hit Songs of 2015.

#10. "Locked Away" R.City featuring Adam Levine - Amazing! A song where Adam Levine does not sound like a nonhuman. Hooray! Honestly, when he holds back a little and stays away from the falsetto (you are not a Bee Gee, sir!), he has a voice that I can enjoy. And I enjoy this song. I like a song that talks about people sticking together through the tough times. Even if those tough times evidently include jail time. Hey, we all make mistakes. And R. City has come a long way since taking part in the inception of a certain Miley Cyrus song. Now we have just good stuff. Stay with that.

#9. "Heartbeat Song" Kelly Clarkson - I think the best part of this song is the chorus. It is very...hook-y. As well it should be. And frankly, I don't find enough songs with that asset these days. Also, Kelly Clarkson is awesome. At least, with American Idol ending, we can be reminded of one good thing that came from it.

#8. "Drag Me Down" One Direction - So, this happened. Yeah, I must be really desperate to fill this list. Seriously, though, I've never disliked One Direction, per se. I've always just been indifferent to them. It's their fans who bother me a lot. Calm down about the Zayn thing, already. But as far as his song goes, it has a good beat and I can dance to it. Not that I would, though, because we must protect the eyes of the children.

#7. "Love Me Like You Do" Ellie Goulding - Okay, it's official. There are exactly three, count 'em, three good things that came from that mess of a film known as 50 Shades of Grey. An episode of Cinemasins, an Honest Trailer from Screen Junkies and this song. That is it! Don't let anyone tell you differently. I just hope Ellie got paid good for this, because she is SO too good to be associated with that thing.

#6. "Here" Alessia Cara - I'm sorry, but is this lovely young woman talking about how drinking and partying like a fool are bad things? Is she trying to be a legit good role model for girls her age and younger? Have my prayers been answered? I think maybe the answer to all these questions is YES!

#5. "Waves" Mr. Probz- Sometimes a nice simple song sung with some passion is all we need. This song fits the criteria quite well. I love the lyrics, and considering what a snob I am about that part of a song, I'd say that's a big compliment. Also, this guy has a nice voice. He can stick around. Oh, and I'm kind of cheating on this one. First, I think it's been out for a while, but it's still on the Year End Chart, so fair game. Also, technically, it was a remix that charted, and whilst I do like that version, I like the slower, more acoustic-y one better. But still. Same song.

#4. "Renegades" X Ambassadors - I forgive this song for being written for a car commercial, first of all. I can do that because it's really good and it has apparently inspired a lot of people. The video speaks volumes to that. It's a tearjerker, but in the best possible and the most heartwarming way.

#3. "Photograph" Ed Sheeran - I believe this is the less popular of Ed's ballads this year, but I like this one better. Whilst the other seems to be looking to the future, this one speaks of the importance of the past and our memories and how they shape who we are. And again, the video! Baby Ed Sheeran! So cute!

#2. "Uptown Funk" Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars - Yeah, I am so not a big fan of either of these guys. Well, as far as I know I'm not a fan of Mark Ronson. I don't really know what he's done besides the stuff with Amy Whinehouse. But that doesn't matter. I dig this song. It's nostalgic of a time when there was much, much better music. I'll take a good copy over a crap original any day. And that makes me kind of sad.

#1. "Hello" Adele - Yeah, surprise. As soon as I heard this song, I figured it would be very high on my list. Who knew it would have made it to Number One? Most people, probably. And like most people, I've missed Adele and I'm glad that she's back. Yes, there were parts of this song that felt a bit overproduced when it could have just relied on her amazing voice, and I know that this song is about an ex of hers...again. We have gone done this road with her before, but who cares? She does this very well, and there were very few things done this year with as much passion as she sang this song. So, congratulations, Adele. You're Number One on my good list. I'm sure she's thrilled.

So, there you have it. The few songs that I found, at best, enjoyable and at least, tolerable, in 2015. God bless the people who did manage to make some good music this year. As far as the others go? Well, just tune in tomorrow for the other side of the coin.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Monday, December 21, 2015

The March Sisters at Christmas - TV Movie Review

Greetings Pups,

So, have any of you ever read the book, Little Women, or perhaps, seen one of the wonderful cinematic adaptations of it and thought, "These characters are way too likable. I'd rather have a version that portrays them in a way that makes me wish they would all just go away!" If the answer is yes, then have I got a TV movie for you. The March Sisters at Christmas, everyone.

Where do I begin with this one? Okay, this is a 2012 Lifetime movie that I just happened to stumble upon as I was channel surfing. As I've mentioned, Lifetime movies can be hit or miss with me, and I thought this would be a hit. I mean, I love the story of Little Women, and you'd think a network that prides itself on being for women would do a good job. Yeah, not so much. I give credit to the production aspect of it, as I think it looks really great. The town and the house in which they shot were actually rather perfect, but then, the script happened. Again, generally speaking, it's not that poorly written, but in context of a Little Women adaptation...Holy Smokes, I was confused. Anyway, let's get started. Oh, and I will be giving some spoilers, so, if you'd like to check this out for yourself, do that first, then come back and read.

So, this is a modern adaptation of the story that actually takes place over three holidays, not just Christmas. That's fine. The book was a lot more than Christmas as well. And I have absolutely no problem with updating it for the times. That can work quite well. After all, I loved The Lizzie Bennett Diaries. But while that was a very detailed, well-constructed and even loyal version of Pride & Prejudice, this seems more like the writer merely read a synopsis of Little Women. Okay, the plot.

What's going on in this version is that Mrs. March is planning on selling the family home, Orchard House, because it is pretty much falling apart, and she and her husband, who is a correspondent currently injured and out of the country, do not have the means to fix it up. All the girls come back and tell/whine to their mother that she can't sell the house. Excuse me, but yes, she can. It's not your decision, ladies. Making matters worse, Mrs. March must leave to get Mr. March and they will both be gone until January. More whining. So, once their mother is gone, the girls decide to fix up the house themselves. Even though they have absolutely no idea how to do that, to an almost life threatening degree. I'm not even kidding about that. I suppose my only response to what they're doing can be this: "Hello, 911. I've just witnessed some people trying to identity thieve a Property Brother". Whatever, though. I guess their hearts are in the right place. Benefit of the doubt and whatnot. And the movie pretty much documents the shenanigans of the renovation, as well as some other things. I know what you're thinking. That doesn't sound so bad. What's the problem?

Well, remember that thing I mentioned earlier about the characters? Yeah... I don't know what the heck they were thinking when they wrote these, but in my opinion, they got it so wrong. Yes, all the girls had their quirks in the book, but they were still lovable. Let's get just compare and contrast the March sisters of yore with these ones. We'll start with Meg. I recall Meg as being the nice, responsible one who was very traditional and straight-laced, even for the time period. Here, she's a law student, but not so responsible or traditional. Unless those are words you associate with cheating on your boyfriend. Okay, they made it seem like she really didn't, but I think she did. Timing is everything. Next, there's Jo, who in the book, was the writer and free spirited and creative. A bit stubborn, certainly, but always loving and caring underneath something of a hard shell. She's a writer here, too, albeit working as a phantom Tweeter for celebrities, but she's also kind of (and I hate to say this) B-wordy. You know what I mean? Look, there's stubborn and then there's being totally obnoxious, rude and ungrateful to a friend who is simply trying to help her family. Third, we have Beth, who we all know is the most beloved of the March sisters. She is the most gentle, kindhearted and sweetest of all of them. In this, she is pretty much just a whiner who doesn't want to do anything with her life (until the very end, but it seems forced). Sweet Moses, she cries at the drop of a hat. Even Claire Danes' Beth didn't do that and she was dying! Oh, yeah, Beth doesn't die in this. But who wants the most emotional part of the story told anyway? Finally, we have Amy. Oh, what to say about her? Well, Amy, being the youngest, could be a tad petulant at times and rebellious as a child, but as the book progressed, she grew up into, for lack of a better term, a grown up. This Amy is twenty-years-old (we know because she brings it up like 800 times) but she acts like she's about 9. Except for the being super promiscuous part. No, I'm not judging, exactly, but there is a naked picture scandal in this, where Amy is the perpetrator, but someone else gets their reputation damaged. Charming! And again, I know what you may be thinking. That I said I loved The Lizzie Bennett Diaries, which also had a similar situation. Yes, but in that case, the featured character, while having made a big mistake, was also being victimized by someone else, so there you go. Oh, and back to Amy, you may be wondering if the big incident where she burns Jo's writing is in this version. In a manner of speaking. But instead of a book, she almost burns down the house. The house that they are trying to save. It seems she thinks that she, an unqualified person, can repair the major electrical problems, even though her sisters said they'd get a pro because - HELLO! Dangerous! And then she gets mad at them for getting mad at her. Apparently, she thought the only reason they wouldn't let her do it was because she is the youngest. Not because she's not an all! Do I have to call 911 again? What the actual heck? Yeah, Amy is pretty much the worst. Moving on.

As far as the rest of the characters are concerned, it's a spectrum. The parents are fine, but they're barely in the movie. Mr. Lawrence is kind of interesting, too. The stand-in for Bhaer is okay, but he's sort of just there. John Brooke spends most of his time waiting in the wings to pounce (literally) on Meg, even though she has a boyfriend. And then, there's Teddy Lawrence. Sometimes, he's fine, like when he's dealing with obnoxious Jo, but other times, when she's being decent, he's the one being super obnoxious. Nothing for anybody, I see.

Look, I'd say that this is the biggest problem with this adaptation - the way they wrote the characters. The story is fine-ish, in theory. Could use some tweaking. I just don't know why they made the girls and almost everyone else so unlikable. This could have been a really good movie, but I cringed my way through it. Look, if you want to watch this, go right ahead. Like I said, it does look beautiful, and honestly, none of the actors were bad. They just had some questionable material to work with. If you do watch this, though, prepare yourself.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Remember the Days, Not the Dates

Greetings Pups,

I took a glance and the calendar the other day and realized that it is the middle of December. Then, I thought that there was something I forgot about in November. Then, it hit me, that thing that I forgot - November 26th. You may recall from a few weeks ago that date being where Thanksgiving fell this year. For me, though, that date was my "anniversary" of sorts. And somehow I managed to completely forget...again. Well, actually, I remembered about a month before, and then it slipped me mind until now. I was a bit harder on myself this time, since this year was a pretty special one, numerically speaking. But I started to think how important remembering that date really is. Is it important at all, that particular date on the calendar? Maybe not, so long as I remembered the days.

See, I've been a writer for many years, and it was on November 26th of a particular year that I knew it was my calling in life. So, pretty much every year since then, I have acknowledged the date as my anniversary. Even if I didn't do it ON that actual date. I realize now, though, that when I look back on the hundreds and thousands of days I've spent writing and creating and coming up with stories and worlds all my own, it was what filled those days that really counts. And I know that they were filled with what I love doing the most, which counts for a whole lot.

I know there's always the joke, or joke-not-so-much, of people forgetting important dates, because life gets in the way, usually. Okay, let's be honest. The joke tends to be a husband forgetting his anniversary. Sitcoms. Oh, you. So let us use this as an example of what is truly important in life. Whilst some men who forget an anniversary may be flat out jerks, I believe that some are simply absent minded at times or, like I said, bogged down by the stress of everyday life and they just innocently forget. And yes, a woman may get upset about that, justifiably so, a bit. However, if she stops and thinks about all the other days of her life with this man, does he take care of her and love her and help provide for the family and show her honor and respect as a husband is supposed to honor and respect his wife? If the answer is yes, then let it slide. Of course, there are other examples of this with different kinds of relationships, so just pick the one that is yours and think about it.

My point to all this is that we should ever let ourselves get caught up in technicalities. Yes, it is nice to get a gift or a card or a whatever to commemorate a date that is special to us. It lets us know that someone is thinking of us. But what about all those other days when its a phone call to talk about nothing in particular or a thank you for an act that seems unimportant or just a smile of compassion that you are given when someone hears you sigh? That matters even more. And if you're like me, who has dates that are more personal celebrations for something like a decision or a choice or a realization of what you are meant for in life, think of what you have done since then to keep yourself on that path and going in that direction. If your days are filled with purpose and truth and love, real love, I mean, then your life is full. Anything else is just a little something extra. I say we just all be grateful for everything with which we are blessed every day.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Staying Alive - Music Movie Review

Greetings Pups,

I believe I have, indeed, saved the best for the last this week. Yes, I am saying that. I know many people are not fans of this film. In fact, some people say that it's downright terrible. Well, here's a question for them: Are you always wrong or just never right? Okay, fine it's not the best movie ever, but is it as bad as everyone says? I say no, but I guess we'll discuss that today as we discuss the 1983 film, Staying Alive. So, let's get to a little backstory.

As we all know, in 1977, a little movie called Saturday Night Fever came out and became a phenomenon. It turned John Travolta, who was cast as Tony Manero, into a huge star, the Bee Gees into the biggest musical act in the world and disco into a giant, terrifying monster set out to destroy real music for everyone. At least, that's what some people said. Funny thing that the Bee Gees were blamed for this, since they never considered their music disco, but rather R&B. No lie, and I'm always on their side, so there you go. Sorry, I digress. So, Saturday Night Fever, super successful, super acclaimed and kind of controversial, actually. I can certainly see why. But that was the seventies. What happened when the eighties rolled in? That's when someone decided we needed a sequel. Because...good timing? Whatever. Let's get started.

Staying Alive takes place six years after Saturday Night Fever, and it follows Tony once again, now in his mid-twenties, living in Manhattan and trying to make it as a professional dancer. On Broadway, not the other kind. In fact, he appears to be less...Tony Manero-ish than he was in the past, and I'm just talking about less F-bombs. Although, he has seemed to adapt a bit from his Brooklyn way of life. Of course, if you thought that what happened at the end of the previous film had a huge effect on him, it kind of didn't. See, he has this girlfriend, Jackie, played by Cynthia Rhodes, who is also an aspiring dancer/singer/performer in general and who loves him lots. Why? I don't know, because he totally starts putting the moves on this other, more successful dancer named Laura, played by Finola Hughes. I mean, I get it. It's Finola Hughes and she's awesome. Not saying that Cynthia Rhodes isn't, but I naturally side with the brunettes, because I am one. But why am I choosing sides between the women? This is all Tony's fault. The funny thing is that, when he sees Jackie singing with some other guy, he gets totally (you'll never guess this one) jealous! Seriously! He is being a total "Rio"! You'll get that if you're a fan of the Jem and the Holograms cartoon. Then, again, the other guy with whom Jackie was singing is...Frank Stallone! Yeah, you have reason to be jealous, sir. I love Frank Stallone. Just throwing that out there. Oh, that reminds me. Did I forget to mention that Sylvester Stallone directed this movie? Yep. Good times. I probably should have said that before, but I wanted Frank to come first this time. Not that I don't love both of the brothers equally. Moving on.

So, anyway, besides all that relationship stiff, a lot of the plot centers around Tony wanting to recapture the "acclaim" of his younger days in the disco. Turns out, though he was praised for his dancing on that sweet, lit up floor, that didn't transfer over to the musical theater world as easily as he would have hoped. He tries anything, and I mean anything, to get himself a starring role in a production called - wait for it - Satan's Alley! Because...I don't know. Eighties' Spandex looks best in red? And does Tony get the part, therefore, ensuring us to have a phenomenal finale dance number that will leave the audience stunned and amazed? Maybe. However, what will most leave the audience stunned and amazed will be the little Saturday Night Fever call back at the end of the film. I haven't decided if it's a good thing or a bad thing. I'll leave it to you all to choose for yourselves.

Oh, and speaking of the '77 movie, I should warn you that there isn't much from that in this. As I mentioned, far fewer F-bombs, so if that was why you liked it, you may be disappointed. And aside from a couple of scenes with Julie Bovasso who played Tony's mom, John Travolta is really the only person to carry over from Saturday Night Fever. Forgive me. He is the only actor to do so. Whist we had few familiar faces, we may have had a few familiar voices.

That brings us to the subject of the music. I am, after all, referring to this as a "Music Movie". As well I should, since music is such a big part of it, like it was with its predecessor. As I said, familiar voices we will hear, specifically and no surprise, the Bee Gees have returned, offering up five new songs, as well as giving us all more "Stayin' Alive". And the songs are really good. Interesting thing, around this time, the Bee Gees weren't exactly the big stars they once were, but the Brothers Gibb were writing a lot for other artists. That translates into their own songs not doing so well on the charts anymore. However, this album did go to Number 6 in the U.S. Rightfully so. As I said, I like the songs. There's a reason I own the soundtrack. Besides the Bee Gees, we get some more songs from the aforementioned Cynthia Rhodes and Frank Stallone, and some guy named Tommy Faragher. I know nothing about him, but his contributions were pretty good, too. I rest my case on that one.

Okay, is this movie the failure that it is remembered as? Well, no. And that's not just my opinion, necessarily. It did make back three times its budget, so it wasn't a failure financially. And that music I was talking about, at least the score, was nominated for a Grammy. Of course, it did also get some Razzies. Not that I trust those either. But the bottom line is this - I can't hate this movie. It may not be traditionally good, but it is so darn entertaining. And by the way, if you do or have ever had a crush on John Travolta, this is the one you want to see. See, oggle, whatever. Just enjoy.

So, I guess I understand why people prefer Saturday Night Fever to Staying Alive. As a whole, the music was better, it did have a better story line and it was certainly a product of its time. But you know what it didn't have? Satan's Alley! Or Frank Stallone. Yeah, this sequel is totally better!

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Friday, December 11, 2015

Pitch Perfect 2 - Music Movie Review

Greetings Pups,

And here we have another sequel where I don't know if it needed to exist. I seem to recall Pitch Perfect original being rather a contained story with a beginning, middle and end. Remember those kind of movies? When it was over, I could not think of a reason to continue said story into another film. But then, I noticed the box office amounts and realized "Okay, here comes number two". Again, though, just because a movie might not need to exist doesn't mean that it's not a good thing that it does exist, right? I guess we'll find out. Pitch Perfect 2, ladies and gentlemen.

Our second, cinematic, a capella extravaganza takes place three years after the first, where we find the Barden Bellas performing for the president. As revealed in the trailers, things do not go as planned and the girls are punished. They can't compete in the ICCA's and they can't audition new members. Oh, no! But as it turns out, since they are, technically, the current champs, they can compete in the World Championship. It's a competition that the U.S.A has never won, so...HAHAHAHA! What? I'm pretty much quoting characters in the movie on that one. Anyway, at this point, we see that most of the characters have returned for the sequel. Beca (Anna Kendrick) Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson), Chloe (Brittany Snow) as well as other assorted Bellas, whose names I can't really remember. But that is so not their fault. Later, we see that Jesse (Skylar Astin) and Benji (Ben Platt) have also returned. Yay, boys! And, of course, the people I consider the best part of the first movie have also returned. Those people are the commentators, John and Gail, played by John Michael Higgins and Elizabeth Banks, respectively. Banks, by the way, also directed here. I happen to think she did a great job. Though, one can only go up from being a contributor to Movie 43. Oooohhh! That mess still grinds my gears. Let's move on before something happens.

So, do we have any new people for the sequel? Yes, a few. First, our villains are a rival a capella team from - get this! - Germany. Really? Well, I suppose we have to get something in lieu of that Cool Runnings sequel we were hoping for. And we also get a new Bella in the form of Emily, played by Hailee Steinfeld. And, yes, she gets to sing. That was one of things missing from her role in Begin Again, so I'm happy I get to hear her in this. Now, I know what you're thinking. How can they get a new Bella if they can't hold auditions? Well, as it happens, Emily is a legacy, because her mother was a Bella, so they just let her in, no audition necessary. Her mother, who is played by...Katey Sagal!! Hooray...I guess. Oh, certainly HOORAY for Ms. Sagal, but she's barely in it,, to that.

Okay, besides the main plot I mentioned about them preparing for World's, we get a subplot of Beca having a secret internship that takes away time from the Bellas. Also, we find out that Emily is a songwriter. Hmmm... New girl is a music making person? Gee, I wonder how this is gonna end? Yeah, exactly the way you think. But that's not so bad. More on that in a moment.

Anyway, let us discuss the music, which was the star of the first movie. Same here. Although, if given the choice, I guess I prefer the music from the first rather than this. Not to say that it's not good here in the sequel. It is. Also, we get something in this film that we did not get in the predecessor - an original song called "Flashlight". It is a really good song. I mean, Sia helped to write it, so it's already got one good foot in the door. And it plays an important role in the finale. I like the finale. I like what they did, and it even made me a little misty eyed, I must admit. What? I have feelings.

And we are apparently getting a third Pitch Perfect, so prepare yourselves.

Okay, let's aca-finish this up. (Yeah, you just saw that!) I like the first Pitch Perfect better, and I still kind of think that the only reason they made a second one was because that was a big hit. Also, because of the music. However, that does not mean that this was bad at all. In fact, I enjoyed myself whilst watching and listening to it. I think if you were or are a fan of the first, you will definitely enjoy the one that follows.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle - Movie Review

Greetings Pups,

Hey, remember the other day when I said that one of the only things I didn't like about Shanghai Knights was lack of Lucy Liu? Well, today, we have a movie with a lot of her in it. Unfortunately, said movie and its material are so far beneath her. That must have been why Bill Murray allegedly said she couldn't act. You could have given this script to Bette Davis, and she would have come off like an amateur. And Ms. Liu was the only of the Angel actresses to NOT win a Golden Razzie for this, so...At least, that led us to getting some time with the late, great Bernie Mac as New Bosley. But I'm getting ahead of myself and my feelings for this movie. Both of them, actually, but, of course, we are only discussing sequels this week. So, ladies and gentlemen, Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle.

So, the main plot of the film is that the Angels are tasked with retrieving a bunch of titanium rings, which, when put together, can reveal a list of people in the Witness Protection Program. Obviously, having this fall into the wrong hands would be a bad thing. Although, like I said, that is the main plot, and in these kinds of films, the main plot can often become secondary or almost non-existent, in lieu of the many subplots going on. Oh, where to begin with those.

Okay, one subplot is about Angel Natalie, Cameron Diaz's character, moving in with her boyfriend, Pete, played, once again, by Luke Wilson. Oh, honey, no. She seems to be the one who would most likely jump the Angel ship to gain herself some kind of "normal" life. Angel Alex, Lucy Liu's character, has to deal with her boyfriend, Jason, played by Matt LeBlanc, and an unexpected visit from her father played by John Cleese. Really? Okay. And finally, we have the subplot of Angel Dylan, played by Drew Barrymore. Her thing is concern that her group of Angels will end someday. Someday soon, in fact. She has a bit of a checkered past, and it's clear that this job has been the most stability and the thing most like a family that she's ever had. Wow, movie, you are trying to get too deep for your own good. Anyway, whilst all of THAT is going on, we are also dealing with the return of Madison Lee, a former Angel played by Demi Moore. Okay, so here's the thing. I am not exactly a fan of Demi Moore's, generally speaking. But credit where it's due, I'd say she's one of the best things about this movie. I won't say why, but yeah. And not to sound shallow, but she also looks absolutely amazing, giving her younger co-stars a run for their money. Oh, and I like Justin Theroux in this. He's always fun. As is another person in this Crispin Glover. He tends to be a kick in a lot of movies, for better or worse, but after that whole Back to The Future 2 thing we all heard about, I just don't know about him.

Look, I don't even know what to really say about this, considering how much the plot matters, or doesn't matter, should I say. then, there's all those subplots with which we have to deal. And finally, all of that...extra stuff we have floating around. And I don't mean like not in the movie, DVD extras. I'm talking practically Family Guy style cutaway type stuff, which I don't even know if they had a point. I was too distracted by the way that they kept putting the Angels into these weird, fetishy situations. Not unlike what they did in the first movie. Whatever. Oh, and holy crap, there were so many cameos in this thing. You can find a list on your own. I am not naming them all.

So, even though when it comes to this movie, I do not exactly approve. However, it was better than the first. Certainly less boring, but enjoyably more self-ware, which is no less than what we want from these movies. And I still have no idea why they didn't set these in the 70's like the show. You know, in a time when it would have made sense in context for most people to be thinking "WHAT?! WOMEN?! Going out and getting jobs? Good Heavens!" I would mostly classify these Charlie's Angels films in the category of 'Acquired Taste', like for guys who enjoy seeing women in fetishy situations. Tame, but...yeah, fetishy. Is that even a word? Well, it is now. Having said that, I can't figure out if this film is trying to empower women or objectify them. Can you do both at the same time? I don't know. I don't think so, but I just don't know. Yeah, I'm putting too much thought into this.

Let's just wrap this thing. Bottom line, this is not exactly my taste. And if you want to see some Lucy Liu in some good stuff, might I suggest reruns of Ally McBeal for a funny mood, or Elementary (WAY better than Sherlock!) for a more serious mood. She's worth it.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 - Movie Review

Greetings Pups,

Hey, wait a minute! Are you trying to tell me that you can have a story with not two, not three, but FOUR females having a strong friendship where they genuinely care about and love each other, and occasionally have disagreements, but only over things that warrant said disagreements, not just because they need to be catty, because "Women! Am I right?", whilst still maintaining a powerful connection as friends, or, dare I say it, sisters? So, anyway, I like this movie. And I liked the first one. As my rant stated, both films were a great example that women can be actual, legit friends, not just the popular "frenemies". Interesting, considering one of the actresses in these things. However, today, we are only talking about one of the films, the sequel, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, 2: Secret of the Blues. Okay, fine. That second part is just what I would have added. I really need to find a job as a professional title maker. Anyway, let's get started.

The second cinematic installment of the "Traveling Pants" saga takes place three years after the first, since the four friends Carmen (America Ferrara), Tibby (Amber Tamblyn) Lena (Alexis Bledel) and Bridget (Blake Lively) came across the magical pants that somehow fit all of them. This time around, after a quick montage of what they have all been up to over the years, we learn that they are now all finishing up their first year at college. Colleges that spread them all over the place, mind you. And now they are all coming home for the summer to Bethesda to resume the tradition of sharing the pants. Or so Carmen thinks. Turns out, though, that they are all going to be separated again to go off on some adventures. Tibby has to stay in NYC for some kind of summer school, Lena takes a drawing class in Rhode Island, Bridget heads to Turkey for archeology, then Alabama for other reasons, and Carmen, on a whim, goes to Vermont for a theater workshop.

Like with the first film, we follow each girl with whatever she is doing, switching back and forth every so often. I have to say, before I saw the first film and only heard about this method, I was worried. I thought I would feel too flip-flopped around, not being able to get invested in any story. Well, this sequel, just like the first movie, did a very good job with making you feel like you're getting all the stories equally and just enough at a time. No confusion as I feared. I also like that they let the girls grow up just as much as you'd expect them to be. They weren't acting older or younger than their characters were supposed to be. So, again, just right.

Throughout the summer, several things happen to the girls individually, much like before. On this go round, Lena, Tibby, and Carmen are dealing with issues concerning guys, from somewhat to majorly, whilst Bridget is more dealing with family issues. So, the structure has remained the same, but what fills up the time are all new stories. And since we have new stories, we have a few new characters, as well as some returning ones, which means new and returning actors. Leonardo Nam, Michael Rady, Rachel Ticotin and Ernie Lively all come back, and we get, for the first time, a bunch of other actors, including Lucy Hale, Jesse Williams, Tom Wisdom, Rachel Nichols, the legendary Blythe Danner, the always awesome Kyle MacLachlan, and Shohreh Aghdashloo, who might have the most amazing speaking voice in the history of vocal activity. Yes, I enjoyed this supporting cast verily.

Anyway, though we do follow the four girls through their individual trials of life, one pretty big thing happens to all of them. So, technically, they are forced back together close to the end, but it doesn't FEEL forced, which is the most important thing in these situations. And we all get to go to a beautiful location once again. Honestly, I love the ending of this movie, which I will not give away, of course. I just think the short monologue in the final moments really does say some downright perfect things about friendship and growing up. And isn't that what the story of these girls is truly about?

So, some of you may be wondering, since I love books so much, if I've ever read these books. Well, no, but I would certainly like to do so someday. Now, concerning those books, there is one thing that I always wondered. As it happens, while the first film is based on the first book alone, the second film is based on the second, third and fourth books, combined. I've always wondered how the fans felt about that. If they would rather have had three separate movies, or if they were happy with this. Frankly, if they were disappointed, I'd just tell them to count their blessings and prepare themselves for the adaptations to come. You know, when we switch from condensing three books into one movie to expanding one book to three movies! Darn you, Hobbit! I'll never get those 87 hours of my life back! Anywho...

Bottom line, as I said, I like this movie, and I think I like it more than the first. I just feel like it has more story and the characters are more developed, dealing with far more grown up issues. Maybe that's because of the "three books squished into one" thing, or it could just be some good adaptation writing. Either way, if you like a good movie, specifically a (I hate to say this!) chick flick, this one as well as its predecessor, are some great picks.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Shanghai Knights - Movie Review

Greetings Pups,

When it comes to Westerns, they have always been hit or miss with me. I think a lot of it rests on the fact that the movies in this genre have to know exactly to what extent to take themselves seriously. You can make it funny or serious, but know which one you're doing. Yes, this can go for other genres, but I think film makers can most teeter on this one. And this is why I loved 2000's Shanghai Noon. It was a comedy and it did not take itself seriously. It starred Owen Wilson and Jackie Chan, for crying out loud. What does one expect? Did we expect a sequel? Did we need one? I don't know, but because of reasons, which I'll get to later, I'm glad it exists. On a less personal note, I think the fantastic chemistry between the aforementioned actors made it one people were looking forward to. So, let's get to today's sequel review, Shanghai Knights. Because it's in old England. And they have knights there, apparently. Get it. Like Shanghai Noon. High Noon, like a Western. GETITGETITGETIT!!!!!! Moving on.

Okay, the story of Chon Wang (Chan) and Roy O'Bannon (Wilson) actually starts in China, where we see Wang's father (Kim Chan) and sister, Lin (Fann Wong), having tea, and we find out that he has disowned his son for staying in America. Then, suddenly they are attacked by a guy named Lord Rathbone (Aidan Gillen) and the Boxers, and Wang's father is killed. When he receives news of this, Wang is understandably devastated, and this is an ongoing thread throughout the film, which includes his having to figure out a puzzle box, something he will be able to solve only when he is ready. After a time of mourning, Wang seeks out Roy to get his share of their gold. See first movie for details. Turns out that Roy is just as lovably sleazy as we hoped he would still be, leading to hijinks and shenanigans, including attempted male prostitution. Ya know? For the kids. In the end, everything leads them to where the meat of the story happens, England.

Speaking of which, I guess I should say something before I move on. If you think this movie believes it is above making the typical "England" jokes, you would be wrong. As well it should not be, as it is a comedy. But, yes, they did take advantage of everything you would expect. Hey, let's play with the Buckingham Palace guards because they can't move! Hey, English people have bad teeth! Hey, their food sucks, and even if it doesn't, it has a name that sounds like something no one would want to eat! Yeah, all of those things. However, I am letting it slide, because it's all in the execution. And they carried it out very well.

Anyway, whilst in England, we watch the boys partake in several adventures and meet some new faces, including a young boy (Aaron Johnson) named Charlie (who could it be?) and a Scotland Yard inspector (Tom Fisher) named Artie Doyle (WHO COULD IT BE!?!? Okay, that second one will probably be easier to guess.). Also, they must rescue Lin from jail as she tried to assassinate Lord Rathbone, who is like the 87th in line to the throne or some such number. It's a thing that comes up a lot, and always in a funny way. So, both Lin and the boys have to find a way to expose Rathbone and avenge the death of the Chons' father, a quest that is complicated by Roy's developing feelings for Lin, which causes a few problems in his friendship with Wang. As it does. But, after finding out the hilarious ridiculous plan of Rathbone to overtake the throne, a plan that also included a guy named Wu Chow (Donnie Yen) the boys and Lin partake in even more adventurous behavior to thwart him, as well as his accomplices. I wonder if more hijinks and shenanigans will come to pass. Indeed.

I must say, as a whole I think I like this one even better than the first. Now, if we get specific, I usually would never say that without Lucy Liu is better than with Lucy Liu, as she was the female protagonist in Shanghai Noon, but, again, looking at the big picture, I prefer Shanghai Knights. And now it's time for my personal corner, as I hinted at before.

Okay, in early 2003, I went through a very difficult event in my life. One with a very serious and painful loss. I was in a state of not wanting to smile, and certainly not laugh, because I convinced myself that if I was laughing, I wasn't grieving and if I wasn't grieving, I was forgetting. I know now how wrong I was to feel that way, but then, I was really in a bad way. So, one night, I was watching an interview with Owen Wilson and Jackie Chan concerning this movie, and Owen said something funny. I smiled and then, I laughed. Yt felt really good, and I was able to feel okay doing it. Frankly, that one act managed to help me out of something of a depression. So, believe it or not, I associate this film with people bringing light into the lives of others just by trying to bring smiles to their faces. And there you go.

In closing, I am, of course, recommending this. See the first one, and then, see this one. Both of them are just plain fun and funny and definitely worth the watch. And, yes, I am still holding out hope for a third installment. Shanghai...Dawn..or Shanghai Don? Who's Don? I don't know. I can only come up with titles. Someone else has to come up with the idea.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Monday, December 7, 2015

Legally Blonde 2: Red, White and Blonde - Movie Review

Greetings Pups,

Sometimes I wonder to myself when it is that a sequel is necessary. It's obvious with some movies, every now and then, due to cliffhanger endings or being part of a book series or whatever. I'm kind of on the fence about this one about which I'll writing today, and I'll get to why in a moment. Maybe I'll figure it out, for sure, as I review Legally Blonde 2: Red, White and Blonde.

In 2001, the movie Legally Blonde became a massive hit, kind of out of nowhere, as I recall, and it turned Reese Witherspoon into a huge star. And rightfully so, because she was just a delight in the film as Elle Woods, a young woman who decided to go to law school because of a boy and ended up excelling. In case you didn't already know that. Well, here's a spoiler if you haven't seen that movie. We find out in the end that Elle's new boyfriend, Emmett, is going to propose to her. We could have all guessed that she'd say yes, and lived happily ever after. But apparently, we needed another movie to follow through with that. A movie that pretty much has almost nothing to do with said nuptials, which may have been a better plot, but what do I know?

Anyway, two years later, we got this sequel, starting with Elle making plans for her wedding, which includes trying to find her dog Bruiser's mother. Yeah, I'm a dog person as well, but come now. This leads her to finding out about a certain makeup brand doing animal testing, which, in turn, leads her to trying to fight it by way of her law firm, and when that doesn't work out, it leads her inevitably to Washington, D.C. so she can use the system to change the laws. And then, came the unicorns and leprechauns, because what happens in this thing is a tad fairy tale-ish. At least, it seems that way to me, because I can be a bit of a cynic, every now and then. Plus, I don't always trust Hollywood. Although, I think many people classify it as "feel-good". Whatever. Moving on.

What happens when she gets to D.C. is going to seem quite familiar to anyone who has seen the first film. It kind of follows the same tropes, as sequels are often wont to do. You know what I mean? She goes to some new place full of powerful people who don't take her seriously. Friends become enemies, enemies become friends, and apparently knowing plenty of fashion and beauty tips are the answer to everything. This means that writing this review is pretty easy as for plot I can basically just say "See First Film". However, despite those similarities, it has enough changes that make it different. I suppose that's the most we can hope for from a lot of sequels. Also, we get the introduction of the "Snap Cup". Which might be the awesome-est movie prop since the DeLorean. Anywho...

Another thing I like about this movie is the cast. We get a lot of old favorites coming back, like Jennifer Coolidge, Alanna Ubach, Jessica Caulfiel and of course, Luke Wilson. No Selma Blair, though. What the deuce? I thought they became best friends. Did those two have a tiff? Anyway, we also get some new faces, including legends like Sally Field and Bob Newhart, great character actors like Bruce McGill and Dane Ivey, and also the wonderful Regina King. Although, now that I think about it, she got her start on 227, which took place in...Washington, D.C., which must mean...Oh, my gosh. OH, MY GOSH! It all makes sense now! But moving on.

I suppose the question with this, as with all sequels, is whether or not it was necessary. To be honest, not exactly. We could have predicted that Elle and Emmett would marry and she would become successful at something. I don't think we needed another movie to tell us that, especially since the former was barely more than a subplot. But is this a bad movie? No, I certainly wouldn't say that. It's enjoyable enough, particularly if you like the feel of the first one. It's nowhere near as good as the first one, of course, as the newness and charm were what really made it become a hit, I think. It obviously doesn't have the newness, and also, a bit less of the charm, but it does have its moments. I say that it's worth at least one watch. And who knows? That one watch may lead to more.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Sequel Week...quel.

Greetings Pups,

Okay, clearly, I have not come up with one of these...clever titles in a while. But as I've been distracted over the past month. The NaNoWriMo, as I mentioned a few times before. And yes, I did win. Didn't finish the whole novel, but got in, at least, the first 50,000 words. So, seeing as how I haven't done much posting for a while, I thought I'd get back into the swing of things with yet another theme week. Those of you who read this blog regularly know that I tend to do one of these after I've been absent for some time. It's a way to pay you all back.

So, as you can tell by the, again, extremely clever title, I will be covering sequels this week. Movie sequels, to be specific, in case anyone couldn't figure that out. And we all know the reputation of movie sequels being, mostly, not that great, or, at best, usually not living up to the original. Though, we have had a couple that surpassed their predecessors. What's up, Ricardo Montalban? Will I be talking about any of those good ones? Maybe.

As I like myself a good roller coaster ride, I will certainly try to cover the good, the bad and the WHYYYYY?!?!? Oh, yes. We've all seen those ones. Hang on. I forgot to mention the meh. There is plenty of meh in movie sequels. So, should this week go well, I will probably do another one, which means that suggestions are always welcome. Oh, and this probably goes without saying, but whether I give spoilers or not for the sequels I'll be reviewing, might not want to read them until you've seen the movie that came before. I feel as though, if I talk about the second at all, I may have to tell secrets about the first.

Anyway, I hope you all enjoy this week, and it's nice to be back. Thanks for waiting for me.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer