Muffin Top: A Love Story is a movie by women, about women. It’s also about body image. And love.
I love it already.
Watch the trailer.
Muffin Top: A Love Story was funded by a Kickstarter project and a bunch of awesome people who like the idea of women both in front of and behind the camera as much as I do. The muffintopmovie.com website has more stuff about this chick flick made by real chicks.
The English Teacher has potential, I think, as I’m thumbing my way through Netflix on a Friday night. Julianne Moore, Greg Kinnear, Nathan Lane. It looks like a romantic comedy that could work on an otherwise long evening.
I took a chance. I enjoyed it. I watched it all the way through. It wasn’t so terrible that I had to quit 10 minutes in, but it was definitely not as good a film as you might expect from Julianne Moore and the other exemplary members of this cast.
The plot was fine. Julianne Moore is an English teacher – one of her former students returns to town feeling like a failure because his play was rejected – she decides to get the play produced at her high school. Nathan Lane is fantastic as the high school drama coach. Michael Angarano is perfect as the talented but immature playwright. Greg Kinnear, who of course we know will be Julianne Moore’s love interest simply from reading the cast list, does a fine job as the father of the young playwright and eventually makes it to love interest category. The play gets produced with a few bumps along the way.
Maybe “bangs” along the way would be a better term. Michael Angarano and Julieanne Moore have a moment on the desk in her classroom which adds complications to the plot. Especially when he then moves on to the high school girl leading the play, Lily Collins. And, of course, there are the complications involved in getting Moore and Kinnear together after they get off to a rocky start.
Predictable plots are a romantic comedy staple and new approaches to the various plot changes are always appreciated. This film does fine at that.
No, it wasn’t the plot.
It was the cute.
There was too much cutesy voice over. (Voiced by Fiona Shaw, by the way.) That grew annoying. Also, there was the cutesy way the teacher graded men like they were an English essay and we saw her “notes” plastered on the screen as she talked to them. If I could magically sweep away the cute, I’d recommend this as a great representative of the romantic comedy genre.
Alas, I can only recommend it as an average representative of the romantic comedy genre. Which, of course, is why I watched it all the way through and found it entertaining. Let’s face it, if you’re into rom coms, you’re used to average.
Check out the trailer.
If you watch The English Teacher, I’d love to hear your opinion of the cute. Was it as annoying to you as it seemed to me?
If you can pry the TV away from the football fans, there are many good movies available for instant streaming that can be fun for a family holiday weekend. Here are a few ideas for your Thanksgiving viewing.
For the Grown-Ups
Robot & Frank is delightful. Frank, warmly played by Frank Langella, is a former jewel thief and second story man who is losing himself to Alzheimer’s. His son, James Marsden, gives him a robot butler to take care of him. The robot makes sure he eats healthy and takes his pills. Plus, the robot can carry on an interesting conversation. One problem – or bonus – the robot makes no moral judgements about theft. The robot is voiced with great charm by Peter Sarsgaard.
Robot & Frank appeals because of its older lead characters. Here’s another.
A more complex story with many more characters that would do well for the family over a holiday weekend is The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. The cast includes many of the world’s best actors, most of whom are over 50! There will be a part 2 of this delightful movie in the future.
For the Younger Crowd
If you plan on heading out to the theater to watch The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, why not watch the original The Hunger Games before you go to refresh everyone on the story?
Katniss Everdeen, played by Jennifer Lawrence, is an inspiring character that everyone in the crowd can root for.
There’s plenty of action in The Hunger Games, but another action-filled option for the late teen/young adult contingent would be The Avengers.
Everybody loves a good superhero, right?
For the Little Ones
Why not step back in time a bit to something the kiddos haven’t already watched 80 times in the last week. And why not pick something with enough humor to keep the adults interested, too. Once such choice is Cars.
Don’t be afraid to go way, way back to old classics. They always satisfy and keep the little ones glued to the floor until dinner is ready. How about Chitty Chitty Bang Bang one more time? You know you enjoy it.
Our modern world brings so much choice in entertainment into your home every day. Why not put some of these movies in your watch list for the holiday?
SyFy is a favorite channel. I’ve loved Eureka, Warehouse 13, Defiance, Continuum, and Lost Girl. I even watch Haven sometimes, although it isn’t nearly as good as the other shows I mentioned.
Helix, a show coming in the new year, looks like it may be another favorite. Here’s the trailer.
Here are some things it has going for it.
Stories about the CDC and mysterious viral outbreaks always interest me.
Billy Campbell is playing the lead character. I like him. This is important because I tend to watch shows with female lead characters. When I entertain thoughts of watching a male led story, the guy better be someone I can tolerate.
There are plenty of women characters in the story, including a newly announced part for Jeri Ryan.
The show is partly the work of Ron Moore, who worked on Battlestar Gallactica in all its incarnations and on Carnivàle, a show I enjoyed for the weirdness.
I have a friend who won’t watch anything sci fi. She’s perfect except for this one defect. Personally, I love the weird stuff.
Are you interested? There are a bunch of clips from the show at SyFy.com. Check it out and let me know if you think you’ll be watching.
If you are in the U.K., you can see Last Tango in Halifax season 2 now. Here’s the trailer for season 2.
For those of us in the U.S., here are some nice resources for interviews, image galleries and other goodies related to season 2. It will have to be enough to get us through the waiting. Crossing my fingers that PBS brings Last Tango in Halifax to our side of the Atlantic very soon.
BBC One has a four minute clip from the first episode of season 2 that you can see in the U.S.
On this week’s episode of The Good Wife, America Ferrera returned as a guest. Eli goes all twitterpated over her. It’s sweet and charming. It’s nice to see Alan Cumming get to break out of his straight-and-serious-suit persona and go a little googly-eyed over a smart and beautiful woman. He’s normally surrounded by smart and beautiful women, but he merely snarls at them. America Ferrera is Eli’s kryptonite.
Alan Cumming and America Ferrera seemed to enjoy the episode as much as the fans.
In many ways, the “Everything’s Coming Up Mellie” episode of Scandal belongs to Bellamy Young. The title is a big clue (duh). We see Mellie in new ways, learn some important backstory, and Bellamy Young enjoys an opportunity to stretch beyond her usual boundaries.
Quinn’s (Katie Lowes) story is important to the overall arc of this week’s Scandal as well. I’ll mostly recap what these two do and leave out some other bits of the episode in the process.
As the episode begins, Mellie is trying to redeem her image in the public’s mind after ratting out her cheating husband on live TV. She’s showing a female reporter around the White House, acting cheerful and bright and happy and supportive of her man.
Flashback to California 15 years ago. Mellie and Fitz (Tony Goldwyn) in bed, in love. A man yells at them to come downstairs.
The man is Fitz’s father, Fitzgerald Grant II (AKA Jerry) played with horrible, dissolute intensity by Barry Bostwick.
Mellie and the elder Grant want Fitz to run for Congress. We learn how much of what Fitz has achieved is because of Mellie’s ambition. Mellie made him what he is with sheer force of will, and with Cyrus Beene (Jeff Perry), whom Mellie and Fitz meet for the first time here. We knew about Mellie and Cyrus (with Olivia) deciding to cheat on vote counts to win the Presidential election, but now we are seeing where it all began with Mellie and Cyrus.
Young Cyrus has a full head of hair, a beard, a wife of the female variety, and a chart of California on a tripod that he uses to explain how Fitz will win the state.
Cut to Quinn at the shooting range with Leo (Paul Adelstein). She’s finally starting to hit the target. She’s also getting sexually interested in Leo. Quinn has been attracted to the dark side of Huck (Guillermo Díaz) for some time, and handling a gun is part of her journey into some other place which we haven’t seen yet.
At Olivia’s, the special phone rings. The one connected to the POTUS. She ignores it, then runs back to answer. She lets Fitz know how angry she is. She discovered (in a previous episode) that he was the Navy pilot who shot down the plane her mother died in. (We got a tiny glimpse of Olivia’s mother in a flashback in an earlier episode. She was played by Khandi Alexander, whose name appears in the credits for this episode. Will she be in another flashback?) Olivia also discovered that her father (Joe Morton) gave the order for the plane to be shot down. Olivia has been digging into this whole mess for a couple of episodes and is not happy about any of it. Fitz begs her to leave it alone for her own safety.
At the office, Olivia tells the gladiators that their new client is her mother, and pastes a photo of her on their case wall.
Mellie is showing the reporter paintings in the White House, bringing up a discussion of the Grant political dynasty, leading us into another flashback of 15 years ago in California. Cyrus wants Fitz to run on his record as a war hero. Fitz says running on his military experience is off limits.
At Olivia’s office the conversation is about the plane getting shot down and her father’s role in it. That’s when she pastes a photo of the plane’s pilot up on the case wall. It’s the POTUS.
Quinn follows Huck (Guillermo Díaz) into his office and says she is interested in what he does “for the right reasons.” He’s been trying to keep her from going into his particular rabbit hole full of hell but she keeps pressing.
The gladiators discover two important things. Someone was taken off the flight at the last minute. They are tracking down the gate agent. Fitzgerald Grant II was the head of the congressional committee investigating the plane crash. First Olivia’s dad and now Fitz’s Daddy dearest were in on the whole thing.
In California, 15 years ago. We learn that Fitz joined the Navy in perhaps the only independent decision of his entire life. His father berates him, belittles him and generally shows us what an ass a father can be. They talk about shooting down the plane and his father says he owns Fitz because he covered up the shooting down of the plane. Fitz doesn’t want to run on his war record because of this incident.
Quinn is spying on Leo while he spies on someone. He catches her at it, kisses her, and says she should give him a call. She’s hooked.
Mellie takes the reporter into the Oval Office to show her how the baby and his daddy say goodnight. Fitz isn’t there. Flashback to 15 years ago. Cyrus is leaving the Grant house because he doesn’t do family drama. Mellie begs him to stay. Cyrus says that if Fitz is going to be governor, he is Mellie’s full time job. She promises to make him ready to work. This is it, the moment when Mellie gives up her own life in order to make her man President.
Mellie’s in Cyrus’ office. She is livid because Fitz didn’t show up for the good night baby scene with the reporter. Cyrus doesn’t know if he will show up tomorrow for an interview.
The gladiators find out the name of the man they took off the plane.
Leo calls Quinn and asks her what she’s doing tomorrow night. She smiles.
In California 15 years ago, the elder Grant is ranting to Mellie about how he’s a decent father. He talks about the flight Fitz shot down. He says there was a dirty bomb on board, Fitz was stationed in Iceland and he shot it down. If it had reached its target it would have taken out half of London. Mellie says everyone died, but the elder Grant explains what would have happened if the plane reached London. Then he sits down next to Mellie and says, “Good God, you’re a beautiful woman.”
He grabs her, she objects, says no, pushes back. He says, “You know you want it.” He rapes her.
Back to now, Mellie waits for Fitz in the Oval Office.
Mellie gives Fitz hell, tells him she’s tired of doing everything herself, they are supposed to be partners, talks about her sacrifices. He treats her like shit and all she’s ever done is fight for him. She says he doesn’t have to love her but he needs to be her friend and show up for her. It’s a long, powerful scene for Bellamy Young. When she finishes this, we flash back to moments post-rape, when she came into the bedroom where Fitz was waiting in bed. She wanted a shower desperately but Fitz made her lay down beside him. She hid her emotions from him, hid what had happened, and endured his whining. Fitz says, just once he wishes his father would apologize and be on his side.
In the present, Mellie is surprised when Fitz shows up for an interview with the reporter. The reporter asks Mellie why she went on live TV to talk about her husband’s affair and says many Americans think she’s insane. Mellie can’t give the reporter a good comeback.
Fitz takes over the interview and says, “I had the affair, I should bear the responsibility. I made the mistake. Don’t blame Mellie for what I did.” Wow, he did step up. Mellie is a bit amazed but grateful.
Leo and Quinn are in a car, watching a security guy on the ground floor of a high rise office. Leo shows her a syringe and asks her if she wants to give the security guy enough of a shot to put him to sleep and then disable the security cameras. She says yes. They get it on right there in the front seat. Afterwards, Quinn enters the high rise, stabs the guy with the syringe. Blood pours out of his mouth and he drops dead. She panics, touches him, gets blood on her hands, and runs out.
Back to 15 years ago, Mellie uses the rape to force the elder Grant to apologize to Fitz and tell him what he needs to hear in order to get him to run for Governor. He does it.
Jake (Scott Foley), who is working for Olivia now, shows up outside the high rise. Police are everywhere and they are carrying out a body. Seems the guy Quinn was tricked into killing is the guy the gladiators were looking for to learn more about the flight Fitz shot down.
Quinn’s in an alley trying to call Huck. Leo appears, shows her video of her committing the murder, and says, “You belong to B-16 now. Welcome to Wonderland.” Quinn is now trapped in the same hell as Huck, plus she killed the only clue Olivia had to the case. Damn.
Olivia’s father strides through a jail, enters a cell. Interspersed with this, we see Fitz examine intel that lets him figure out that the guy who ordered the plane to be shot down is Olivia’s father and that one of the passengers was Olivia’s mother. In the jail, Olivia’s father sits down and says, “Our daughter’s been asking about you.”
Olivia’s mother turns over on her cot and looks at him.
Fifteen years ago in the governor’s race: Mellie is thanking everyone who worked on the campaign for being so much help. She tells Fitz she’s pregnant, he kisses her and says, “You know if it’s a boy, he’ll make us name it Jerry.”
Mellie’s expression is enough to make us wonder if the elder Grant is the father of the child. Oh, oh.
Coming in December, The Invisible Woman stars Ralph Fiennes as Charles Dickens. Fiennes also directed the film. The title character is Nelly Ternan (Felicity Jones), a young actress whom Dickens met at the height of his fame and had a secret affair with. The costume drama also stars Kristin Scott Thomas, Tom Hollander, Michelle Fairley and Joanna Scanlan. It opens on Christmas Day.