October 2017 Updates

Before I launch back into recap season, I thought I’d fill you in on what I’ve been up to since I started posting regularly again! I want to be better about keeping up with current goings-ons here on the blog, since it can take me weeks and weeks to finish recapping a vacation months after it happened. There aren’t many photos, so just close your eyes, picture what I describe (after reading it), and be grateful for a reprieve from photos since I have a heckuva lotta Paris photos coming after the latest flood of pictures.

[ Spirit of Autumn ] DC has an interactive digital art gallery called Artechouse (art + tech + house) that is currently exhibiting an installation called Spirit of Autumn. I went with some coworkers at the beginning of the month and it was a bit of a letdown, especially after hearing the hype about their previous installation, but it was still really cool to see this digital art and how artist are using technology to create immersive experiences. (I shared some of my experiences on Instagram.)

[ Whoopi Goldberg ] I had the opportunity to see the legendary Whoopi Goldberg perform a comedy set at the Kennedy Center and it was an experience. First of all, she swears so much. Second of all, she has inspired a love from her fans that I have never really seen before. People rushed to stand in line at the microphones to ask her questions and about a third of those people just wanted to say “Whoopi, I love you, I admire you, I’m such a fan.” And then they sat down! It was incredible. Also, she was so generous with her time. I took issue with how she spoke about the Harvey Weinstein scandal (and I touched on that on Instagram, too) but she is a legend for a reason, she’s hilarious and she knows how to reach people.

[ Death of a Salesman ] My friend Annie got tickets to see Death of a Salesman at Ford’s Theatre (the same theater where Lincoln was assassinated; we could see his box seats from ours) and I have actually never seen the play nor have I read it! I’ve also never seen a show at the Ford’s Theatre so I was happy to go. While I didn’t love the play (I found the start of the first act not engaging and a bit awkward given how the dialogue has aged), I found the subject matter to be heartbreakingly real to grapple with. It was a lot of issues that I see in my own life and in my friends’ lives: aging parents who don’t really know who you are, unmet expectations of grandeur and success, the disappointment of working hard and not getting what you think you deserve. It was a hard play to watch but I’m really glad I got to see it.

[ Rennfest ] I went back to the Maryland Renaissance Festival this year, my second time ever! We went during closing weekend because of some timing issues trying to go earlier and I had an awesome time. We got great seats for the joust this year, during which time Ben learned that I get really into live sporting events and will lose my voice shouting. (“BOOOOO! You lack honor!”) We saw falconry, ate scotch eggs, and just enjoyed so much merriment. The Rennfest is one of my favorite things to do in the fall now and I hope it remains and annual tradition.

[ When You Wish Upon a Bar ] I did Harry Potter trivia through Geeks Who Drink with my friend Logan a few months ago and my team won first place! (Although I still feel guilty, to this day, about taking home an equal share of the cash prize given that I only knew the answer to one question…) Logan invited me out to a Disney trivia night that Geeks Who Drink was hosting and I was thrilled to be able to pull my weight, although I spent all of the day leading up to the quiz worrying about the breadth of the Disney knowledge (Disney Channel TV shows? Marvel? Star Wars? ESPN?!) and the depth (there are so many obscure movies I haven’t seen… and characters whose names I don’t know…) so I was really relieved to arrive and actually be able to pull my weight on a team full of former Jeopardy contestants and people who have been doing quiz bowl trivia since high school. Unfortunately, we got 2nd place but it was still a lot of fun!

How is your month going?
Are you ready for Halloween and the rest of the year-end festive season??

Table 19 (2017)

Thanks to Fox Searchlight Screenings, I was able to attend an early viewing of the latest comedy feature from the Duplass brothers, Table 19.


The premise of the movie is the Eloise (played by always-lovable Anna Kendrick) was the maid of honor for her friend’s wedding until her boyfriend, Teddy, who is the bride’s brother and the best man, dumps her via text. She drops out of the bridal party 2 months before the wedding and is relegated to Table 19, the rejects table where the obligatory invites who weren’t gracious enough to RSVP no are sitting. Her tablemates are Bina and Jerry Kepp (Lisa Kudrow and Craig Robinson), a married couple that owns a diner, Nanny Jo (June Squibb), the bride’s (and Eloise’s ex’s) elderly childhood nanny, Walter (Stephen Merchant), the cousin of the bride who got leave from his prison sentence to attend the wedding, and Renzo (Tony Revolori), the teenage boy skipping his junior prom in the hopes of having better luck with getting lucky at a wedding.

It’s a table of weirdos, yes.


TL;DR I found the movie mildly charming and fairly funny, but ultimately I found it a little too indie-comedy in that the pacing and storytelling were strange and off. The audience is left scratching its head at a lot of what is happening, strange personalities aside, because not enough time is spent developing motivations and plot points and, instead, spent on quirkier sequences that don’t add as much to the story. I can’t highly recommend the movie, but it’s not a bad way to pass the time at the movies.

Table 19 is in theaters this weekend. (Discussion with spoilers after the trailer.)

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Keanu (2016)

I’ve been a fan of comedy duo Key and Peele (Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele) since they were on MADtv together. Their Comedy Central show, Key & Peele, has churned out hit after hit after hit. Although I don’t have Comedy Central, I’ve seen nearly every single sketch available online and I can’t think of a single one I didn’t find funny.

So, when I heard they were releasing a feature film, I was definitely interested. And then my interest was confused when I saw the first few seconds of the trailer. And then my curiosity piqued when I saw the rest of the trailer.

You know what, I was pretty dubious that this movie would be funny. And I’m not sure why, seeing as how I have seen sketch comedy successes be hilarious in a feature-length film. (See Coffee Town.) Keanu was like a few different sketches that were strung together into one cohesive story. From the get-go, I was already laughing at the extremely dramatic music playing when the lights dimmed. (Me to Annie: “What is happening? Are we even in the right movie????”) I was only reassured that everything was going all right when I saw the star of the movie appear on screen: the most adorable little kitteh! (Fun fact: 7 kittens were used for the filming of Keanu. All 7 were adopted!)

If you enjoyed Key & Peele, then you will really enjoy this movie. If you’re an avid fan of the show, you’ll definitely appreciate certain nods to their sketches. (Guess who is the star of a movie they see in the movie?) Key and Peele are able to flex their comedy muscles while making subtle social commentary about blackness and drug culture and violence and language and lots of other great stuff.

George Michael? Yeah… he… he light-skinned… yeah…

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The Wedding Ringer (2015)

A few weeks ago, I went to a VERY early screening of The Wedding Ringer, which will be released January 16, 2015. I didn’t know a lot about the movie going into it except that it starred Kevin Hart. Here is how I will describe the movie to you:

This movie combines a little bit of I Love You, Man with Wedding Crashers and even some Pretty Woman/Can’t Buy Me Love fun. Josh Gad plays a groom-to-be who is woefully without male friends. Enter Kevin Hart, who is a best man for-hire. CUE SHENANIGANS.

At this point, I trust Kevin Hart to really deliver when he’s on-screen. I always laugh out loud and hard when I am at his movies. This was no exception. It’s not exactly my kind of movie but it was HILARIOUS. I only knew Josh Gad from his voice work in Frozen (… I hate Olaf so much) so it was nice to see what he brought to the table also. I don’t really have anything to say about Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting, I never really do.

There are a lot of great scenes, great references and nods to other movies and TV shows. (If you like catching those references in shows like The Mindy Project, you’ll like spotting them here.) Writing was just very ON POINT here and I laughed really really hard, I cannot stress that enough. There is dancing, there is fake identities, there is muddy football with senior citizens, there is fire, there is a car chase. This movie has everything, and it’ll all make you laugh.

The Wedding Ringer doesn’t come out for another month, but it’s definitely a fun one to catch with friends.

The Heat

I went to see The Heat on a whim this weekend. When I first saw the trailers for the film a few months ago, I didn’t think too much of it. Buddy cop movie with Sandra Bullock playing some kind of twisted version of her Miss Congeniality character and Melissa McCarthy, who seems to be getting typecast as this type of brash, less than savory character in many of her silver screen roles. I thought it would be funny but didn’t think that many people would care. It has, however, gotten some good press, and I’m hearing everyone from my younger brother to Harry Shum Jr. recommend the film to others.

SO. Buddy cop film where the twist is female cops. I laughed and laughed. Since it’s the feature debut of a screenwriter, it’s only right that the jokes are great in this movie. I was tickled pink seeing Tom Wilson, best known for playing Biff Tannen et al. in the Back to the Future trilogy. (I was somehow watching The Heat with 2 people who had no idea what I was talking about when I pointed this out. What. Buttheads.) Bullock and McCarthy are also pretty safe bets as far as comedy goes. Their roles didn’t challenge them to portray characters they haven’t portrayed before (Bullock as the uptight and therefore unlikable and therefore lonely Ashburn; McCarthy as loud and brash and messy Mullins) but they are reliable characters that play a reliable foil to each other.

Plotwise, The Heat was pretty predictable. I wasn’t disappointed by the predictability moreso than I was disappointed by how the movie seemed to actually try quite hard to catch you by surprise. Oy.

When a movie like this focuses SO HARD on the two leads, the other characters get really… just blah. You don’t really know why they’re there or what to do with them. I got a little giggle out of seeing “Gina… Jessica Chaffin | Gina’s Boobs… Jessica Chaffin’s Boobs” during the credits and all (and yes, they did merit their own credit line, spilling out of Chaffin’s top for an agonizing minute) but some of the characters just flopped around wanting and deserving more but not getting it: Wilson’s sad and pathetic Boston PD chief, Marlon Wayans as the wannabe romantic opposite to Bullock, Spoken Reasons as the hilarious small-time drug dealer.

I really liked The Heat. I felt like there was potential for much more, but it was really funny. This was a good feature debut for director Katie Dippold (who writes for the NBC comedy Parks and Recreation). There is no reason why anyone should doubt the hilarity of a buddy-cop movie that stars women instead of men. Women are funny, end of discussion.