Friday, April 18, 2014

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

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If someone would have told me that I would enjoy "Phase 2" of the Marvel Cinematic Proliferation that has begun post-Avengers, I would have laughed them off. Part of me was always certain that my love for this series of interconnected and yet mutually exclusive films would quickly devolve from inspired to money-grubbing. Even after Thor: The Dark World (which I was surprised to find I completely loved), Captain America: The Winter Soldier was still a wild card in my mind. 

The first Captain America was my favourite of the intro-movies, being that it was the only period piece and carried a large weight in the overarching Avengers storyline.... also Chris Evans' abs. But how would they bring this "man out of time" into the modern world without turning him into a gimmick? How would the story continue to be meaningful to the audience, and still profitable to the studio? By changing it's genre, that's how. 

While Thor embodies all of the fantasy elements that people crave, and Iron Man brings us all the cool gadgets and snarky retorts, Captain America (Chris Evans) is a soldier no matter which decade he's in. He and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) are also the only two Avengers who stay on with S.H.I.E.L.D after the events of The Avengers, and with a noticeably-absent Hawkeye, S.H.I.E.L.D needs them (it's rumoured that Jeremy Renner will be replaced after complaining about his role in The Avengers, which will be a true test of Marvel's resiliency.)

With The Winter Soldier we are brought into a new but familiar world for the Marvel characters: spies! With Black Widow at his side, Steve Rogers  must attempt to learn life in the new world while also coming to terms with the new nature of American war. No longer do men go to the front-lines, dig trenches and fight for justice. War is backhanded and secretive. You can trust no one, and the methods for maintaining freedom are often difficult to swallow. Cap and Black Widow are now part of a strike force that could be described as "Navy SEALS on steroids", and it's putting Cap in a major moral dilemma. 

If it sounds as if the series has become blatantly political, it truly has. It's impossible to deny the real world connections to Rogers' problems with Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and S.H.I.E.L.D.'s tactics for both maintaining peace and gathering intelligence. They don't go so far as to directly address drones, but the do everything but. Eventually, Cap, Black Widow, and their new (very cute) friend Sam Wilson aka "Falcon" (Anthony Mackie) must turn against the United States Government to protect it from a secret that may have been borne from within: The Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan). 

Sunday, April 13, 2014

The Blind Spots I Didn't Know I Had: DIE HARD I & II

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When I sat down one lazy weekend to watch Die Hard, which seems to play at least twice a week on AMC, I thought it was going to be a re-watch. Completely convinced that I had seen the film at least once, probably more, I began to experience a phenomenon that is fleeting to those of us who watch movies for a living: it was unrecognizable.

"Maybe I just missed the beginning when I was a kid..." I told myself. But when the film hit the 30 minute mark and I was still totally in the dark, I came to the stark realization that I hadn't, in fact, seen Die Hard. I only thought I had. I was fully convinced that I knew this film intimately, and yet I had inexplicably gone my entire life without ever watching a single moment of it.

Following what turned out to be my first viewing of the action classic, I immediately put on Die Hard II, and I realized I DEFINITELY hadn't seen that one, either.

I gotta say, it was kind of a nice surprise.

In a way, I had seen them. Die Hard I II are the holy grail of action movies. They are both spectacularly violent and devilishly self-aware. John MacLane (Bruce Willis) is the sarcastic, unkillable hero that cannot be paralleled by anyone before or after him. Even the contemporary John MacLane can't hold a candle to the MacLane we see in the first two films.

They also act as a monument to the state of America in late 80s and early 90s. The films labour under the pretence that MacLane is fighting against a variety of terrorist threats where he just happens to be in the right place at the right time. In reality, it feels more like one talented cop fighting against the gross negligence of American Law Enforcement agencies with a variety of African American sidekicks.

Moreover, these films couldn't exist today, if only because the things that happen in these films often seem like uncanny predictions of what was to befall America 10 years later on September 11th. Exploding skyscrapers, hijacked planes being flown into the ground, Law Enforcement powerless against foreign enemies technical prowess and careful planning... these things felt like fantasy in '88 and '90. Now, it's all too real. It's nice to watch a film unsullied by these events; it almost feels innocent.

So, unexpectedly, Die Hard I & II were the newest additions to my apparently spotty film education, and the ever-constant meter stick from which all action movies are measured. Michael Bay WISHES he was this good.

For more of my Blind Spots, click here, and don't forget to check out Ryan McNeil's Blind Spot series that started it all at The Matinee!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Single Girl Survival: Beauty Secrets

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Today I saw an advertisement for an unbelievable "product" that I immediately knew I needed every woman that reads my blog to see. Men too, even.

While I waited for a YouTube video to load, I found myself in the usual routine of watching an ad and waiting for the little "skip this" bar to appear. I never clicked it. I watched all the way through. When it was over, I was completely blown away.

Dove is known for their revolutionary advertising and products that help women feel more beautiful. Watch the video below and tell me what you think! It completely changed my outlook on myself, and the products that I buy.

Even though it's technically an ad, it feels more like a public service announcement. Share it, and leave me a comment below!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

How I Grew to Resent Your Mother: My Thoughts on the Long-Awaited, Long-Winded Finale


I was about 20 minutes in to last nights hour-long finale of How I Met Your Mother when I knew that I was going to need to blog about it. I could not remain silent any longer, and this was my last chance.

I remember the first time I saw HIMYM. I was in University, at a sleepover with my (now) longtime friends Kally, Chelsea, and Justine. When they heard that I had never seen the show, they insisted that we put the Season 1 DVD in immediately and that my education begin. They had all fallen asleep by the time I had binged on the entire debut season of the show (and, as I recall, an embarrassing amount of Lays BBQ Chips...) Needless to say, I was hooked.

In the years that followed, I managed to miraculously hold on to both my love for that show, and my love for the friends that had shared it with me. In recent years, though, most of them stopped watching, giving up on the meandering and frustrating progression of the tiresome plot. The point of the show had become completely lost. The bread crumbs were getting soggy. Patience was waning, and so were ratings.

Still, I held strong. I had every hope that the writers would deliver, that all the hints and stories that we had been listening to Ted tell for 9 years would eventually pay off and give us a spectacular finale to one of the greatest sitcoms on television since Friends. Last night, and really since Season 9 began, my hopes for that satisfying conclusion were quickly squashed.

I've said this before: shows have an expiration date, but few observe them. We all may mourn the loss of Breaking Bad, for instance, but the writers made a creative choice to end the story when it was over, not when the popularity was gone. This is where HBO and AMC excel, for the most part: network TV is very different. HIMYM was the anchor to CBS's Monday night lineup, one of the most watched lineups on television. However, it became clear somewhere around Season 7 that they were running out of ideas. By the time they reached the final season, they were plum out. For the past few years, we have been watching televised chunky milk.

Fans were held hostage, unwilling to stop watching the final season of their once-favourite show, but also betrayed by incredibly lazy story-lines which were comprised entirely of flashbacks and the events that occur during the 3 days leading up to Barney and Robin's wedding. Talk about squeezing blood from a stone...

Then came last night's finale. Fair warning, spoilers incoming.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Kate Has a Podcast Episode 2: THE HUNT

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Thanks to everyone who downloaded or streamed my first podcast episode last weekend! As promised, I've uploaded the second part of my conversation with Ryan McNeil for you all. We talked about The Hunt, my newest Hidden Gem of Netflix, as well as a nominee for Best Foreign Film at this year's Oscars. You can download or listen Episode 2 below!

Have you seen The Hunt? Tell me what you thought in the comments below!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Kate Has a Podcast!!!

Remember all those times that I said I was going to start a podcast? Well, it turns out I'm not all talk: it has arrived.

Despite almost setting my computer on fire, I have managed to (finally) finish up the first episode of "Kate Has a Podcast", with the invaluable help of the great Ryan McNeil. I hope you guys will listen, and enjoy. He and I talked so much that I had to split the episode into two parts. Part 2 will be available next weekend, where we'll discuss The Hunt.

This episode, Ryan and I answered some fun questions so that you guys could get to know us both better, and it lead to some very interesting (if not slightly schizophrenic) discussions on film and television shows which included Days of Thunder, Terminator, Showgirls, Empire Records, Archer, Mad Men, and of course The Walking Dead.

The episode will hopefully be up on iTunes soon, but for now you can listen or download using the Podomatic player below, or by visiting my profile there.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Champagne Birthdays, Golden Statues, and Looking Ahead

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Here we are again. Another awards season over, and I'm another year older. I could so easily freak out right now...

But seriously, this past week has been a blur. Sometimes bad, sometimes good, I celebrated my Champagne Birthday when I turned 26 on the 26th, and then I drove myself to the cusp of a nervous breakdown by trying to cram in the last dozen Oscar Nominees before the show.

So, here's a few things that I'm taking away as I reflect on a whirlwind February, with the help of hilarious gifs:

John Travolta is a Marionette

Seriously, it was like watching a malfunctioning Ken Doll up there...

I Hope Little Girls Everywhere are Looking Up to Lupita Nyong'o 

Beautiful, intelligent, talented, authentic, and confident. I can't wait to see what she does next, and her speech made me cry. Her win is even more incredible when you realize that her role as Patsey in 12 Years a Slave was her very first big role after finishing Yale Drama School. Dream big!

The Person Who Directed the Oscars is Definitely Fired

I did a better job directing a student play in 12th grade. Seriously. 17 year old me would have nailed that gig.

The 80s are Back, and I'm Confused



Watch Out Boys, The Ladies are Ruling Hollywood Now

26 Actually Does Feel Different Than 25

This year I want to do a lot. Among those things? Get healthier, get a tattoo, bring sexy back, get a podcast, get an Xbox One, finish my screenplay, become rich and famous. 

Check back in a few months... I'm sure I'll have made a lot of progress on all of those things.