April (aka Birthday Month) Blogging Challenge

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Sometime last week, I had the idea of maybe doing something different for the blog. You see, April is my birthday month and I all of a sudden had this urge to challenge myself. In case you haven’t noticed, the regularity of my blog postings are intermittent at best; I think my longest streak of posting was 6-7 days and that’s pretty much every May, with me trying to cover TV Upfronts.

Now like I said, it being April soon (tomorrow), I wanted to give myself a blogging challenge. So for the next 15 days, I’m going to write and put up a new blog post every single day. Why 15 days? Well, my birthday is April 15th, so everyday leading up to it, I will post something. Plus, for me to go the full month, would be overreaching. Basically, this allows me to challenge myself to blog more, without feeling overwhelmed by it, and it’s something out of the ordinary for the blog itself. I’m hoping that it’ll ending up being a mixture of different lists (of the standard variety and of the musical kind), some of my usual opinion/”random thought” pieces, and maybe some personal stories. It’s sort of my way of opening myself up, and hopefully you’ll get a little more sense as to who I am. So bear with me as I attempt this.

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Show You Should Be Watching: Hindsight

There are hundreds of shows on TV right now, and no human being could watch everything. Now, cognizant of the fact that everyone has different tastes, I sometimes have trouble recommending shows to others because I’m also limited to what shows I myself watch (and that’s already a lot of TV). But I thought it would be fun to do a few suggestion posts and talk about some shows that you might not be watching and are actually missing out on. (And I need people to talk to about these shows!)

HINDSIGHT

Cast: Laura Ramsey, Sarah Goldberg, Craig Horner, John Patrick Amedori, Nick Clifford, Drew Sidora

Executive Producers: Emily Fox, John A. Norris, Alexander Motlagh, Maggie Malina

# of Episodes (As of Posting): 10 – Season 1 finale aired Mar. 11

Show in a Nutshell: On the eve of her second wedding, Becca (Ramsey) suddenly finds herself transported back to the day of her first wedding in 1995, and sees it as a second chance to right the wrongs of her past.

Why You Should Be Watching: It’s the classic question of “What if?” We have all had instances where we look back on our lives and wonder the possibilities of what could have been, or what would we do differently if given the chance? Hindsight tackles that head on. It really is an interesting look at Becca’s attempt to redo her twenties, with full knowledge of what has already happened in the present/future. But as the show continues on, the question of destiny and fate gets brought up: Even if you can change your past, are there some things that were always meant to happen?

Now the logistics of how Becca even got transported back to 1995 are still a mystery, but that’s not the point of the show. The big focus of Hindsight are on Becca’s relationships with: Sean (Horner), her 2015 ex-husband & 1995 fiance; Andy (Clifford), her childhood friend & 2015 fiance, her brother Jamie (Amedori); and most importantly, her best friend Lolly (Goldberg). Lolly is the only person who knows about Becca’s sudden trip to the past, and because of their deep friendship, believes Becca almost immediately when she’s told of what happened. There’s a looming dark cloud over the two friends though, as Becca informs Lolly that they aren’t on speaking terms in the future present but refuses to make any more mention of it. It is a lot of fun to watch this incredible friendship that Becca and Lolly have though, and honestly, it’s nice to see a meaningful female friendship on TV (think about it, there aren’t a lot of those on TV).

Have I also mentioned there’s a great nostalgia factor? The mid 90s music, the fashion, the lack of current technology (Bye iPhone! Hi pager!) – it’s all there.

Ultimately, it’s a wonderfully written dramedy and really takes a hard look at that big question of “What if?” In this case, going back in time has proven to be just the thing to make the typical “living in the city in your 20s” story feel fresh.

Hindsight was recently picked up for season 2; catch up on season 1 on VH1.com.

5 Fandom Friday: Comfort Films

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I took a couple of weeks off from doing 5 Fandom Friday, but wanted to jump back in with this week’s theme. I love TV, but I also love my fair share of movies (obviously, did you see the picture of my collection in the last Fandom 5 post?!) When I think “comfort films”, I think of movies that always put me in a good mood, and that I have watched multiple times and am not sick and tired of it yet.

1.) CENTER STAGE

It’s only like my all-time favourite movie. I don’t know what it is, but I can ALWAYS watch this movie. Well, in actuality, the obvious answer is the dancing. I feel like my love for dance reached a whole other level after I saw this movie. The movie as a whole puts me in a good mood, but if I need a quick pick-me-up, the finale dance pretty much does the trick.

2.) LEGALLY BLONDE

Reese Witherspoon at her comedic best. Elle Woods and her incredibly positive attitude is certainly one of the best cures for a crappy day. Every time this movie plays on TV, I most certainly will stop and watch it. And again, if for some reason I need a quick pick-me-up “Omigod You Guys” or “There Right There!” from the Legally Blonde musical soundtrack will do the trick.

3.) BEGIN AGAIN

This is a new addition to my comfort films list, because sinceriously, I can’t stop talking about it! I just love this movie so damn much!

4.) MONSTERS INC.

I love my animated movies too. Really, pretty much any Disney and/or Pixar movie could be put on this list – Beauty & the Beast, Lilo & Stitch, Toy Story, Finding Nemo, etc. Though what’s NOT to love about Monsters, Inc.? It might just be my top comfort animated film right now because my niece is also in love with it and always wants to watch it.

5.) CLUELESS

I had trouble picking this last spot because I wanted to pick a movie that I pretty much grew up loving – Matilda, The Mighty Ducks, Little Giants, The Little Rascals – but ultimately settled on Clueless. Why? Because it was just SO of its time. I mean, granted, I was 7 when it initially came out, so a lot of the stuff in the movie went right over my head. However, as I grew older and understood more of it, it just turned out to be such a fun movie that I completely love and despite being slightly dated looking back 20 years, it’s a classic teen movie.

So, there’s my 5 comfort films – no cheating this time around! (Though I still probably could’ve went on and on!)

Show You Should Be Watching: 12 Monkeys

There are hundreds of shows on TV right now, and no human being could watch everything. Now, cognizant of the fact that everyone has different tastes, I sometimes have trouble recommending shows to others because I’m also limited to what shows I myself watch (and that’s already a lot of TV). But I thought it would be fun to do a few suggestion posts and talk about some shows that you might not be watching and are actually missing out on. (And I need people to talk to about these shows!)

12 MONKEYS

Cast: Aaron Stanford, Amanda Schull, Noah Bean, Kirk Acevedo, Barbara Sukowa, Emily Hampshire

Executive Producers: Terry Matalas, Travis Fickett, Natalie Chaidez

# of Episodes (As of Posting): 8

Show in a Nutshell: In 2043, most of the world’s population has died from a viral outbreak. James Cole (Stanford) is tasked with traveling back time to get rid of the virus before it kills us all.

Why You Should Be Watching: TIME TRAVEL!! Okay, so maybe that’s one of the reasons I’m watching because I love the idea of time travel and how it affects timeline and structure. And frankly, I love a good mind f**k (pardon my language), trying to comprehend what’s going on. The fact of the matter is, time travel is tricky business, and though there may not be an inherently wrong way to tackle it, I think it’s safe to say that it can be met with varying degrees of success. 12 Monkeys though, does right by the concept, layering the importance of each jump through time and how it affects (or sometimes doesn’t affect) the future.

Amidst all the time jumping, the characters and relationships are a very important aspect of what makes the show work. When Cole jumps back to 2015, he works with Dr. Cassandra Railly (Schull) to uncover the mystery of the Army of the 12 Monkeys. In 2043, Cole’s allies include his friend/”brother” Jose Ramse (Acevedo) and Katrina Jones (Sukowa), the creator of the time machine that sends Cole back through time. When you watch and see how all the pieces fit together, the importance of Cole’s relationships helps to define who he is as a character and what he’s trying to do in terms of the bigger picture of getting rid of the virus. That’s not to say all the other characters aren’t compelling on their own when not interacting with Cole, because they absolutely are. The writers on the show have done a wonderful job balancing the science fiction of it all, with really important character building/development for everyone involved. For a freshman show to dedicate and put effort into showing us what all these characters are about (not just Cole and Cassie, but also Ramse, Jones, Bean’s Aaron Marker, Hampshire’s Jennifer Goines, Todd Stashwick’s Deacon, and even Tom Noonan’s creepy Pallid Man) is kind of rare. Even if we don’t see some of the characters a lot, you quickly get a sense of who they are and that’s truly a testament to the writers’ abilities to make the audience feel things for these characters in a short amount of time.

Bottom line: It’s science fiction by way of compelling storytelling. The amazing actors involved are just a bonus (says the Nikita, Center Stage, and Fringe fangirl). You want a sci-fi show that has a good mix of geekery, action, drama, mystery, and intrigue? Watch 12 Monkeys. You just want a damn good show? WATCH 12 MONKEYS.

12 Monkeys airs on Syfy, Fridays at 9.

Dance Movie Reviews – Step Up: All In & Make Your Move

It’s no secret that I’m a sucker for dance movies. To be fair, I’m actually a sucker for good dance in general. I don’t know what got me interested in dance in the first place when I was a little kid, but it led me to joining my high school dance team (which has now been ages ago). These days I’m just a huge dance fan, with my occasional moments of dancing in my car and dreaming up choreography to songs when I listen to them.

Dance movies are by no means the best movies in the world, but I love watching them. They’re a nice distraction and the dancing’s always amazing. So anyways, I finally got around to watching two dance movies that were released last year, Make Your Move and Step Up: All In.

Make Your Move stars Derek Hough (of Dancing With the Stars) and Korean pop star BoA as Donny and Aya, two dancers caught between their feuding brothers. It’s a Romeo and Juliet set-up that ultimately makes everything feel very forced in its attempt to be more than a generic film. I was initially excited about the movie for a few reasons: 1) Derek Hough, who is such an amazingly talented dancer and choreographer; 2) NappyTabs were one of the main choreographers; and 3) They filmed it in Toronto. Unfortunately, I was excited for nothing. While most times the dancing is enough to make you forget about the plot and even the acting, this was one of the rare times where I found everything else to be more distracting than the dancing. There was promise in the dancing (or at least you’d hope so, since it is a DANCE movie), with a tap and hip-hop fusion, mixed in with taiko drumming – that was what made it unique. To me, it seemed like there wasn’t enough dancing, especially of the fusion dances. The main feature is that Donny and Aya’s brothers, played by Wesley Jonathan and Will Yun Lee, each have their own clubs, which allows for there to be a stage for our aspiring dancers to perform. Giving them a platform to dance obviously works, even if it is a convenient story device. It’s when they start doing the intricate choreography off the stage as part of their everyday life that it starts to fall apart. There’s the obligatory “love connection” dance scene (you know that one where the two leads realize there’s a deeper connection beyond dance), wherein Donny and Aya start doing some contemporary hip-hop around his place. The scene feels forced, scripted and choreographed, not the least bit natural at all. It also doesn’t help either that, try as they may, there’s no chemistry between Derek and BoA. Honestly, the script itself was an uninspired mess, filled with typical dance movie dialogue that there was nothing anybody could do to elevate it out of generic territory.

Step Up: All In is the fifth movie in the series, and at this point is more or less of the same. Watching this movie, it’s crazy to think that it all started with the original Step Up starring Channing Tatum and Jenna Dewan; it just seems so different. Here, The Mob (the crew from Step Up Revolution) are struggling in their attempt to make a career in Los Angeles, especially when another crew, The Grim Knights are booking all the gigs. Feeling that they’re just not cut out for L.A., everybody except Sean packs up their bags and heads back to Miami. When Sean finds out about a dance competition called The Vortex, he sees it as one last chance at his dance dream and with the help of Moose, assembles another crew (LMNTRIX) comprised of dancers from previous Step Up installments to compete. There’s a tiny twist with The Mob entering the competition, but you essentially know what it’s all leading up to – LMNTRIX vs. The Grim Knights. When you get five movies into a series, it wouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that not all the installments are on the same level. While Revolution actually felt like it was trying something different in terms of storytelling, in addition to all the dance sequences, All In lived up to its title by mixing in everything/anything it could from the first four movies and see if it worked. It ended up being a little derivative and no standout dance sequence from what seemed like not very many. At the very least, the movie serves as a good feature for all the SYTYCD alums: tWitch, Marko, Comfort, Cyrus, Tony Bellissimo, Phillip Chbeeb, Emilio Dosal, Jayme Rae & Jenny Dailey, Vincent Poirier, Janick Arseneau.

Basically at the end of the day, I didn’t really like either of the movies. Both felt very bland and predictable, with nothing really spectacular about it to make you want to watch it again. I’m just a little disappointed that they weren’t better than the ended up being. So I’m just gonna go back and watch Center Stage/Step Up/Take the Lead for the millionth time.