This week: Into the Woods

written by Lhynette Alejandro

Into the Woods is a modern twist on several of the beloved Brothers Grimm fairy tales, intertwining the plots of a few choice stories and exploring the consequences of the characters' wishes and quests. This humorous and heartfelt musical follows the classic tales of Cinderella (Anna Kendrick), Little Red Riding Hood (Lilla Crawford), Jack and the Beanstalk (Daniel Huttlestone), and Rapunzel (MacKenzie Mauzy). These stories are tied together by an original story involving a baker and his wife (James Corden and Emily Blunt), their wish to begin a family and their interaction with the witch (Meryl Streep) who has put a curse on them. (C) Disney

Uno: the aesthetics
Can we please talk about the fancy seamless special effects that populated this movie? From the costume, Cinderella’s  transformation from the girl hanging out by the fireplace to a very pretty princess to head to the ball. Even though Johnny Depp was only in the movie for a hot second, his character as the wolf was impressive as expected. The endless hours the actors spent in the make-up chairs reflects in how amazing everyone looked in the movie. We can’t forget about Meryl Streep with the blue hair, snaggle teeth and looking like a crazy bum off of the streets of Compton in the 80s. The way the actors were dressed and made up were so perfect for each character in the movie and definitely tied everything together, by everything I mean the environment they were in. The setting of the woods, as the precocious little girl in the red cape stupidly frolics through the deep dark woods (side note: I mean seriously, what little girl will be THAT happy to go into the woods?) The castle, the bean stalk, the village of the baker and his wife, Rapunzel... the special effects brought all these whimsical themes into life. I was hooked. Sitting in my movie chair, I was in a daze…living happily ever after.    

Dos: the great musical talent of Kendrick, Blunt and surprisingly Pine.
This totally surprised me, Chris Pine? Singing? Let me back track - I didn’t know Into the Woods is a remake of a musical from the '80s until I started reading more about the movie. It’s based on the play by this guy named Sondheim. Then I also read that the same person who produced/directed Chicago is the same person who directed/produced Into the Woods. So I was definitely intrigued. I had high hopes, but I definitely had my doubts – especially with this movie being a musical and all. I think of musicals similar to waiting for your newly painted nails to dry. You hate it, you have to sit there, and wait patiently and live through it because you paid money to get your nails done and you don’t want it to get smudged or ruined. Similar to a musicals – I paid for it, but hurry up with the singing, where’s the acting? Then bam, we all know Streep is, as always, nothing short of remarkable. Kendrick and Blunt didn’t disappoint either. Chris Pine blew me away though. I know it might sound lame, but he totally “Captain Kirked” his singing in his role as the Prince. He was fit for the part - he had the face, the blonde hair, the blue eyes, and to top it off he was singing like a bad ass. It blew me away and surprised me. Chris Pine’s singing was like finding that fifty dollar bill in your jacket pocket from last winter while you were spring cleaning. Chris Pine, you blew me away!!! Great singing voice!

Three: great mashup of all fairytales I know by heart presented so differently from what I knew as a child!
Even though the movie put some twists and intertwined each fairytale with one another – it was a great mashup of everything I had hoped. The movie kept the original story line for each fairytale which I really liked and added the baker and the baker’s wife story –Rapunzel gets in the mix of things with Cinderella and Jack with the beanstalk. It was nostalgic to start the movie with the words “Once upon a time…” The movie was whimsical and kept me interested the whole time. I liked that the dialogue was very witty and definitely smart. The fairytale characters definitely held their originality, but in this movie, the characters I knew as a child had something dark. With the Prince falling for the Baker’s wife, and Cinderella questioning the Prince’s motives. It was a good balance of surreal and then the dialogue made the characters seem like “real people” dealing with issues of love, grief, longing, sex, and envy. It was pretty much a fairy tale for grown-ups.

My two cents – If you don’t like musicals, just suck it up. This movie will change every bad opinion you have about musicals being boring and pretentious…maybe for at least 90 minutes you’ll be impressed. Did I mention that Chris Pine sings his heart out in the movie? Totally did not expect that. This movie definitely puts a grown up twist to the fairytales you knew as a child. The actors, the costumes and the whole story line are all together making the best movie sundae of all time. I also read that the movie has already snagged a few supporting actors award and best musical blah blah blah award…How can you go wrong with that? Just go, grab your keys, take a friend and enjoy the film as much as I did!
Movie trailer thoughts:
  1. WOW Meryl Streep! Tha snaggle tooth though...
  2. All my fairytales in one movie? I don’t get it.
  3. Hahaha the Prince was being a smart ass.
  4. Anna Kendrick! Pitch Perfect!
  5. Oh God, Johnny Depp looking wack!

2.5 out of 4

This week: Horrible Bosses 2

written by Lhynette Alejandro

Three reasons why I enjoyed Horrible Bosses 2:

Uno: The amazing chemistry between the three main characters definitely played a huge part.

Dos: You have the ever so stupidly hilarious Charlie Day, the horndog of a single guy, Jason Sudeikis...and between the two, Jason Bateman as the father figure who looked after the group, convincing everyone "we are not going to see mother fucker jones, because we are not going to kidnap anyone."

Three: The dialogue was fast and witty-usually this banter was between Day and Sudeikis. The kind of sarcastic humor I was hoping for was there...and it was definitely shown in the first scene where the three characters are on a makeshift morning TV show...introducing their "shower buddy" invention. Once I picked up the interaction between the three characters in the first scene, I was convinced that the movie will be peppered with unexpected funnies! 

The class we all wished we took in college.

written by Jessica Elliott
For the past two months, I’ve helped myself to an extra cup of coffee on Fridays in an effort to keep my sleep-depravity at bay (a direct link to raising a 15-month-old) so I can stay awake to watch the latest episode of Sonic Highways. Even then, I made sure the DVR was set to record (God help me if there are technical issues!) and calmed even further knowing the latest episode would be available on On Demand. Why the sense of urgency? I blame the premiere of the series set in Chicago. At the end of that episode, I knew I was in for a musical education and it was exactly what my Friday nights needed but more importantly, it reinvigorated my love and interest in the musical culture and community which, until now, had exponentially waned - I’m looking at you Taylor Swift.

Sonic Highways follows the Foo Fighters as they visit eight cities across the U.S. with the purpose of showcasing how the community and surroundings influence the creation and recording of an album. At the end of each episode, they perform a song inspired by the interviews, people and history of that city. Each song is written by Dave Grohl and comprises their eighth album, also named Sonic Highways.