Here we go again

So sorry that my posting has been so sporadic/non-existent yet again. I recently started a new job that has been taking up a lot of time as I try to settle into a new routine. I’m also moving out of my apartment and maybe my parents are moving so I have to take care of stuff back there…

… a lot is going on. What’s new? And who isn’t busy, right?

I have been sneaking in time to draft a few posts, so I’m really hoping I can find a routine that includes time for this blog by the time June rolls around.

What do you mean it’s June in a few days? WELL THEN, I hope I have some posts ready for you all by then. I will try to get back on the Tuesday/Friday update schedule in June.

Coming soon will be:

  • Florida recap posts (I have to finish uploading and editing photos from that trip)
  • More Eat DC posts (that I wasn’t able to finish before Karen & Christine visited)
  • EUROPE RECAPS I SWEAR I will not allow myself to die before these are done
  • Much, much more

I have so many drafts right now, I just need to buckle down, polish them up, take care of photos (easily the most dreaded part of the process for me), and hit “Publish”. Because, at the end of the day, I blog because I do enjoy doing it a lot. I have for over a decade now and I like to share my life and thoughts here whether you want to hear it or not.

SCK Adventures in DC: Link Roundup

Really sorry that I have been failing miserably at staying on schedule here. A lot of things have been going on but I’m excited to get back on track!

Why make new memories when you can look back fondly on old ones? Just kidding, keep making new memories, folks, you won’t regret it in the long run.

BUT, I thought it might be handy to have one big post here with the blogs from Karen & Christine‘s recent visit to DC since we all blogged about the trip. Everyone has different photos and perspectives, and I think it’s fun to see what we remembered and wrote down about each day.

Starr: Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 (just me, don’t get too excited)
Christine: Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 (she includes a lot of great, hilarious, personal details in her posts)
Karen: All 3 Days (she’s the real-deal photographer in our group, so be ready for great photos!)

Relive the memories with me, friends!

Photo credit: Christine on Karen's selfie stick!

Photo credit: Christine on Karen’s selfie stick!

Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

I have never watched any of the original Mel Gibson Mad Max movies. Since the last movie came out in 1985, I had assumed that the new one was a reboot.

However, it is a sequel. (And also a reboot…?) They don’t spend much time on world-building at ALL for this movie, which is really confusing because we are only given little hints about what the context for everything is. Here are some answers that will not be answered during the course of the movie:

  • What is “guzzoline”?
  • But really, who killed the world? Did someone or something “kill” the world?
  • What happened to make Max hallucinate a creepy little girl?
  • What about the other creepy hallucination people?
  • Why does half the cast speak with an Australian accent but the other half with an American one?
  • Why is everyone’s name so creative, but then you have Max?
  • Why are viable babies so difficult to come by now?
  • How is everyone so pale/why is everyone painted white? Is this related to the viable babies thing?
  • What does the silver/chrome stuff on the teeth do exactly?
  • What is Joe’s deal, exactly?
  • What is EVERYONE’S DEAL???

In fact, my big question for this whole movie was “What is the story?” What motivated these characters? Why were they in their situations? There was no real plot to this movie, it felt?

(In case you were wondering, I’m about to continue with more reasons I did not like this film.)

It was a big adrenaline rush but with no story to provide structure. Like if you took the race scenes from The Fast and the Furious franchise movies, set them in a weird post-apocalyptic steampunk desert, and took out Vin Diesel talking about family. That’s how this movie felt.
And I hate that.

In fact, just the color composition felt really tired, even though I understand why they made that decision. It was just all that orange/tan of the desert sand and then blues. I just feel like orange/blue for action movies feels really cliche now and it felt ESPECIALLY trite and exhausting for this movie. There were some instances where they made good use of the orange/blue contrast, but mostly it felt tired. Even the posters were some of the MOST orange/blue ones I’ve ever seen.

Honestly, the highlight of this movie was completely random but a nice little tongue-in-cheek joke. (I think. I actually don’t know if it had significance in past movies or whatever.) When our primary villain has his giant convoys rolling through the desert, we hear an intense electric guitar riff playing. In a cute little meta twist (you know I like these meta things), it is actually a dude strapped to the front of a truck wailing on his guitar as this offensive convoy goes busting about, setting war music. Think military drummers, but instead of drums you have sick electric guitar riffs. It was great but really had nothing to do with the movie besides sort of tell a story about what kind of mindset and culture is going on here, I suppose. It was hard not to smile whenever he showed up though, because you often forgot that he was there, just taking the soundtrack for granted.

(You know what, I liked the soundtrack. It was good at setting the tone and easily did more storytelling than most of the rest of the movie.)

The whole movie just seemed so… unnecessary? Especially without any context from the previous films but still……. the dialogue was painful, the visuals were interesting but why were they happening?

I liked Nicholas Hoult’s performance here, as it’s pretty different from a lot of stuff he’s done in the past. Charlize Theron did a pretty incredible job, although she wasn’t given much to work with given her kind of badass-and-therefore-quiet character. Folks like Zoe Kravitz and Rosie Huntington-Whitely didn’t really get to do much either, other than sit, wear ever-dirtying white dresses, cry a bit, and hose each other off. (This was a real scene. It wasn’t even terribly sexy, so I don’t know why any of this happened.)

They TRULY wasted Tom Hardy here, however, since he has almost no lines, his face is barely visible for most of the movie, and he is tied up/incapacitated for a good portion of the movie so we can’t even see him acting with his face or body. Serious waste of his talent here.

I don’t know, you guys. Just… the character dynamics and relationships weren’t really fleshed out properly. We have such interesting characters (with such bizarre names) and I didn’t feel like we really explored any of the relationships they had with each other! You KNOW how much that frustrates me. It was easily the biggest disappointment in this movie, as the lack of story is directly correlated with the lack of strong relationship building (and character building).

One good thing about the movie that I recently learned was that they really tried to minimize use of CGI. A lot of the stunts that you see are real. This is a pretty impressive feat, given how intense this movie was as far as stuntwork, pyrotechnics, etc.

I DON’T KNOW WHY THIS MOVIE EXISTS or why they made these choices??? I left the movie really relieved that it was finally over. SO relieved. I have never left a movie theater feeling that relieved that a movie was over, I think. It was just so painful. Nothing made sense. They wasted this great cast and a really successful movie franchise on this. And I don’t think you can call it a reboot if you don’t set the scene as if audiences had never seen the original movies!

So what did I think of Mad Max: Fury Road? No. Thanks but no thanks.

Mad Max: Fury Road comes out in theaters tomorrow, May 15.

(The editing on this trailer is top-notch, by the way.
But it basically includes all that we need to know about the movie.)

Pitch Perfect 2 (2015)

The first Pitch Perfect movie was a surprising hit, to me. I didn’t think much of it when it was released, but people couldn’t stop raving about how hilarious they thought the movie was. And of course, who could escape Anna Kendrick singing “Cups (When I’m Gone)” on the radio… in the mall… in restaurants… I even did a cover way back when. (Oh to be so fresh out of college that I filmed that in my college apartment.) Anyway, let’s jump right into it, shall we? Our story begins with the Barden Bellas being suspended after Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson) accidentally shows her lady bits to President Obama, Michelle Obama, and a large audience at the Kennedy Center. (This scene is in the trailer and is literally the opener, so I’m not spoiling anything for you there.) They lose their champion tour to German group Das Sound Machine (featuring YouTube star Flula!) and have to win “Worlds” in order to be reinstated. (Because every show/movie about show choir/a capella revolves around a big competition that is usually “regionals” but taking it to Copenhagen for that international flair is nice, too.) Also everyone is a senior, so there’s that. If you’re unfamiliar with the humor in Pitch Perfect movies, let me first warn you: The humor is often offensive. But the movies are fully aware of this and basically make fun of how offensive they are. Examples of running gags that are off-color in this movie are:

  •  Flo (Chrissie Fit), the undocumented (???) immigrant from Guatemala, who doesn’t care too much about if the Bellas get reinstated because of the horrors she endured
  • Announcer John Smith (John Michael Higgins), who frequently makes extremely sexist comments about women, minorities, non-Americans, anyone really

Even though the humor was definitely NOT politically correct, I didn’t find it to be crude, but rather drawing attention to how wrong these jokes are, if that makes sense? I don’t like crude, off-color jokes, but within the script, the sexist joke ITSELF is the joke. It’s a meta-joke, if you will. And I appreciated that level of self-awareness a lot.

“You know you’re setting women back like, 30 years right now, right?”

What was great is that there were so many of these jokes but they never felt too tired. I think the writers did a great job not milking a joke dry. For example, there is a running gag where Becca (Anna Kendrick) says she is intimidated and also sexually confused by Kommissar (Birgitte Hjort Sørensen) so our already adorably awkward Becca has some funny interactions with her. But they didn’t overdo it with this one. THEY CAME CLOSE but they didn’t. I was really surprised that Hailee Steinfeld was in this movie? It made sense once the shock wore off that they would introduce a freshman since, as I mentioned, everyone on the Bellas was graduating. She has her own little storyline and she fit in pretty well as far as being a weirdo. I didn’t love her romance subplot, even though it was pretty cute, and I thought that some elements of her character were sloppily done, even though they made sense in the scheme of the whole movie. I just thought that her character could have been written into the story more smoothly. Can I also say that Keegan Michael Key was amazing in this movie? I’m a huge huge fan of his Comedy Central show Key & Peele, so I was really excited that he would be joining the cast. All of his scenes were really funny because he is really great at playing off other people, reacting to them and eliciting certain reactions. I did miss Utkarsh Ambudkar, aka hot Indian guy from Pitch Perfect, because I really liked his character and what he brought to the cast and to the whole movie. There aren’t that may people of color in the Pitch Perfect movies. Some people take issue with the fact that the few that are in the movies are weirdos. Ester Dean — who is a real-life songwriter for artists like Rihanna — is both token black friend and butch lesbian trope, and well, Hana Mae Lee’s character says really unsettling things very quietly. But the nice thing about how Pitch Perfect does this is that EVERY CHARACTER IS TOTALLY WEIRD. Some are weirder than others. (Am I mad that the Asian girl is clearly waaaaaay weirder than everyone else? A little, it’s okay, I’m just salty because it hits too close to home for me.) But the point of the movies is that these kids are all really weird and that’s okay because they have each other. They might even make an occasional joke about how there’s just one black girl on the Bellas. Still, it doesn’t make it okay to drop their one South Asian guy and to replace him with a black beatboxer and a blond Asian who both have no lines at all. While I’m not the biggest fan of Rebel Wilson’s brand of humor, I think fans will really appreciate her own subplot in the movie. She gets a solo and drives a lot of the movie, whereas Anna Kendrick was the very clear star of the first movie. It seemed like the sequel kind of forgot that Anna Kendrick was the star of the first one, or maybe it just didn’t care. Part of Becca’s story is that she begins to detach from the Barden Bellas as she prepares to graduate but the rest of the girls are having a much harder time letting go. (How is Brittany Snow’s character still there if she was supposed to be a senior in the first movie? Because she has been intentionally failing classes for the past 3 years to put off graduation. Yep.) For comedy movies like this, I don’t think spoilers are necessary. Just know that Pitch Perfect 2 delivers all of the insane but hilarious personality that the first one did with its characters. There’s a really great sing-off scene (another classic show choir/a cappella movie/show trope) that features a great guest star. (Those of you who have been following the movie more closely probably know about this.)  It was easily one of the highlights of the movie, during which I laughed out loud and frequently. And of course, it’s a movie that features a female ensemble cast that everyone enjoys.

ALSO I got a yellow cup (because CUPS) and a flashlight (there’s an original song in the movie called “Flashlight”), which I thought was some pretty nice and clever branding. (Although I didn’t love the lyrics for the song “Flashlight”. They were kind of dumb.) Are you going to see Pitch Perfect 2? Did you like the first movie? Do you like movies/TV shows about competitive singing? Pitch Perfect 2 is in US theaters May 15.<

Please excuse the dust

Things are going to be shifting around a lot around these parts. I’m going to start a big housekeeping project on the blog that will include some host shifting (if things go as planned…..) and also other personal projects that will be taking up some time.

BUT.

I hope when the dust settles, everything looks nice. In the meantime, please don’t be alarmed if you are having trouble with sipofstarrshine.com. When in doubt, go back to sipofstarrshine.wordpress.com and that should still be working fine.

Thanks for your patience and wish me luck! (I’m not good at website things…)