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October 2016

Who Cares About Halloween; Here’s the Story of When I Went To A Midnight Screening of ‘Larry Crowne’

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Screenshot by Jenn Murphy

Last October I wrote a post about how I’m not a huge fan of Halloween. My feelings on the matter still stand and so instead of writing some sort of ~spooky scary~ post about today’s holiday I’m going to tell you all about the only time I’ve even been to a midnight screening of a movie. I mentioned it in another earlier post and said that it would be “another story for another time.” Well, that time is NOW. Get excited.

 

Midnight screenings seem to have always been a big thing for huge franchises, like “Harry Potter,” “Twilight,” “The Hunger Games” and “Star Wars.” They know that there’s a gigantic fan base there that’s dying to see the movie, ideally before anyone else. They become huge events, full of prizes, activities and people decked out in costumes representing their favorite characters. (Hey, in a way it’s like Halloween! There ya go. You’re welcome.) But my midnight screening didn’t have any of those things, because my midnight screening wasn’t for one of those big franchise movies. It was for “Larry Crowne.”

 

Now before you ask, yes, the midnight screening I went to was for the Tom-Hanks-is-going-to-community-college-on-a-vespa-with-his-teacher-slash-love-interest-Julia-Roberts movie known as “Larry Crowne.” How did I end up in such a surprising and unexpected situation, akin to a middle-aged man deciding to go back to school at the suggestion of his neighbor, Cedric the Entertainer? It was simply a matter of being in the right place at the the right time, with the right people.

 

I was on vacation at the beach with my parents and my cousin. Usually at some point in the vacation we would end up seeing a movie at the local theater, a questionable but lovely place that smelled as much like the beach as the actual beach itself. (Since then it has become a very fancy theater with lounge chairs and assigned seats, so there.) They had a big sign outside of the theater that always listed the movies they were showing, and on this particular day one side said “LARRY CROWNE MIDNIGHT SCREENING TONIGHT.” I remember saying, “What? That’s insane! We have to do it.” Luckily, my mom and cousin are both pop culture fiends like myself and agreed to the seemingly ridiculous activity. We pulled into the theater lot, bought our tickets and eagerly awaited our return that night for the very special screening.

 

When we got there that evening, it looked like the theater staff were just as surprised as we were that a midnight screening of “Larry Crowne” would be a thing and that anyone, much less three women of varying ages would want attend. We were encouraged to go into the theater where the special event would occur, where a regular-time screening of “Bridesmaids” was just wrapping up. And then it was time for the big show. It was the closest I ever got to living out my dream of being the only person at a screening of a movie. I don’t count it because the poor, kind movie theater staff who had to stick around for our screening came in and watched the movie with us.

 

The movie itself was…fine? It didn’t really get the most amazing of reviews, but I found it to be charming. So many movies are so dark and twisty. Don’t get me wrong, I love the dark and twisty, but sometimes it’s nice to see something that’s light and fluffy and fun. To me, “Larry Crowne” was all of those things. It also has a surprisingly impressive cast outside of Hanks and Roberts, including Rami Malek, Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Grace Gummer, who have all gone on to do great things in film and on TV.

 

So in conclusion, is “Larry Crowne” the greatest movie ever made? No. Did it need to have a midnight screening? Probably not. But did I enjoy the hell out of myself going to said midnight screening? You bet I did. Not only was it fun, but it’s also a great story I get to tell people, including all of you right now on this blog. So next time you see a sign promoting a midnight screening of a movie that most definitely doesn’t need one, consider going. It might not be as riveting as a “Hunger Games” or a “Harry Potter,” but it might end up being a darn good time.

 

Did you see “Larry Crowne”? Have any great weird midnight screening stories? Mad that I didn’t write something Halloween-related today? Boo-hoo, get over it. You can complain in the comments if you want, but it doesn’t really matter to me. Now before I go back to watching cheesy Christmas movies on the Hallmark channel (it’s never too soon), I’ll leave you with this…

 

Stay classy.

Jenn

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Get Ready: Oscar Movie Season Is Nearly Upon Us!

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Screenshot by Jenn Murphy

The other most wonderful time of the year has just about arrived. No, not Christmas, (although I have already seen some Christmas decorations in stores and at least a few Christmas commercials on TV) it’s almost time for Oscar movie season. We made it through the summer, with its barrage of loud and flashy action movies and superhero franchises, and the early fall, with its smaller collection of could’ve-been Oscar contenders. Now is the time for the movies that have real Oscar buzz, real potential to be taking home one or more of those shiny trophies come February 26.

 

Movies like “La La Land,” an old-school musical movie starring Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling, “Jackie,” a Jackie Kennedy biopic of sorts starring Natalie Portman, “Moonlight,” a moving-coming-of-age tale filled with exciting new unknowns and “Fences,” an adaptation of the classic August Wilson play that just might earn the great Viola Davis her first and very well-earned Oscar and her third link in the EGOT chain. And how could I forget “Moana,” the latest Disney-Pixar masterpiece that could provide Lin-Manuel Miranda the final award he needs to join the EGOT club! That’s just a few from the long-list of movies that are considered buzzy enough for Oscar glory. And unless you live in New York or Los Angeles or have access to the festivals where these movies have already screened, the time to flock to the theater and see them has nearly arrived.

 

This is also an exciting time for the Oscars in general, given the push for more diversity in the people being nominated. If the Academy’s decision to include a wider array of people in its latest group of inductees works, we could be seeing a group of nominees that finally represent the diverse collection of people actually making and going to the movies. After a bit of a movie-seeing slump, it’s finally an exciting time to go to the movies again. Or at least, it almost is.

 

Excited for all the Oscar buzzy movies? Have a particular one you’re looking forward to seeing? Think its way too soon to be talking about the Oscars? If so, you miiiight want to stop reading this blog. Oscar season is year-long thing for me. (Just kidding never stop reading love youuuu!!) Make your own grand predictions in the comments. And, before you go back to watching the new “Black Mirror” episodes (or go back to staring blankly at a wall after watching the new “Black Mirror” episodes), remember…

 

Stay classy.

Jenn

We Are Mere Days Away From New ‘Black Mirror’ Episodes, So It’s Time To Get Excited

Long, long ago, when we were all still waiting for a second Frank Ocean album and the end of “American Idol” was still looming cruelly on the horizon, I wrote a post covering the very exciting news that Netflix had ordered new episodes of the brilliant anthology series “Black Mirror.” Now, we’re not only a few days aways from the October 21 release of these new episodes, but we also have a wonderfully mysterious trailer to get us pumped to watch them all in one sitting and then feel really weird for the rest of the day! Psh, as if we weren’t already fully planning on doing that.

 

In case you didn’t read that early post (and if you didn’t, how dare you) and have no clue what “Black Mirror” is and why you should be excited, (again, how dare you) here’s what you need to know. Like I said earlier, “Black Mirror” is an anthology series that deals with our relationship with technology and social media in its many forms. Any given episode will take a concept or an element of technology, create a world or scenario where it is pushed to its most extreme outcome and then examine its potential effects on the state of humanity. That description may make it sound a little cold, but I can assure you that it’s deeply interesting, creative and oftentimes more than a little disturbing. Think “Twilight Zone,” but for the modern era.

 

The original episodes were created and aired in the U.K. and featured a wide variety of great U.K. actors like Domhnall Gleeson, Hayley Atwell and Allen Leech. The new episodes will likely still have some of that flavor thanks to series creator Charlie Brooker, but it looks will there might also be some American flair added, with actors like Bryce Dallas Howard, Wyatt Russell and Michael Kelly. There will even be some American flair added on the writing side, with reports indicating that the great Rashida Jones and Mike Schur took the helm for one episode.

 

It’ll be interesting to see if these new episodes will live up to the very high expectations of all who watched and loved the first seven (all of which you can watch on Netflix right now). I, for one, have the highest of hopes.

 

Have you seen “Black Mirror”? Looking forward to the new episodes? Impressed that I was able to stick an “American Idol” reference into this post? Me too. Download in the comments. And, like I always say…

 

Stay classy.

Jenn

 

P.S. Speaking of things on Netflix, I had the utmost pleasure of seeing “Oh Hello on Broadway” this past weekend. It was everything I had hoped it would be and more and, several actors from “Stranger Things” were there! This was pretty exciting, but I’m sure it would have been even more exciting if I had actually watched “Stranger Things.” I swear I’m going to, though! Eventually… But yeah, “Oh Hello” was great and you should definitely go see it. Charmed, I’m sure.

What’s Your Pop Culture Security Blanket?

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Screenshot by Jenn Murphy

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last year (and if so, how are you reading this?) you’ve probably noticed that things in the world are a little…concerning. From the frequently-distressing U.S. election to a seemingly never-ending series of national and international tragedies to the biggest celebrity break-up since the last time Brad Pitt *allegedly* screwed up his marriage, it can seem challenging at times to find a little sunshine amidst all the darkness. Now, more than ever, is the time to find a nice, cozy, pop culture security blanket and cling to it for dear life.

 

What is a pop culture security blanket, you ask? Well, it’s a genius (or lame, depending on how much you like me) new phrase I just coined referring to a piece of pop culture that brightens your day no matter the circumstance. It could be a song that makes you smile, a book that warms your heart, a movie that leaves you feeling like you can take on the world, or a TV show that makes you just feel good. Even if you don’t think you have a pop culture security blanket, you probably do. What is that one thing in entertainment you always find yourself going back to when things get rough, that thing that brings you at least some peace when things are in chaos? Boom! That’s your pop culture security blanket.

 

For me, that’s the TV show “Parks and Recreation.” I tend to fall on the more pessimistic side of most things, so I regularly need a shot of something happy. “Parks and Rec” is the perfect solution. It’s pretty difficult to watch an episode of that show and not leave it feeling at least a little good. It oozes sunshine and positivity even in its darkest moments, which are very rare. Leslie Knope and co. seem to just want the best for Pawnee and each other and will do whatever it takes to make it happen. They may not always succeed in the way they hoped, but their valiant efforts are enough to make it all worth it. Plus, the show featured a tiny horse named Li’l Sebastian. If that doesn’t make you break into a smile, than I don’t know what to tell you.

 

So next time you’re feeling down about basically anything, find your pop culture security blanket and let it lull you into a sense that everything is a-ok. Sometimes we all need a little sunshine.

 

Do you have a pop culture security blanket? If so, what is it? Do you think I need to stop coming up with weird pop-culture related phrases? Keep that last one to yourself, but share your other thoughts in the comments. And, as always…

 

Stay classy.

Jenn

Worlds Collide in This Hilarious New ‘SNL’ Sketch

(I know I said last week that I would stop writing “Mr. Robot“-related posts now that the show’s second season has ended, but this was way too good to pass up. Plus, this is mostly an “SNL“-related post, so really no one can complain.)

 

“Saturday Night Live” began its 42nd season this past Saturday with a new episode hosted by actress Margot Robbie. Overall it was a perfectly fine episode, full of the things that make “SNL” good enough to be going into its 42nd season, but the best moment of the night (at least, in my opinion) came right near the end with the above sketch. Not only does it brilliantly parody “Mr. Robot” (it even got the tweet of approval from star Rami Malek) but it also cleverly addresses the terrible hack that “SNL” star Leslie Jones endured this summer.

 

In the sketch, Jones enlists “Mr. Robot’s” main man, Elliot (expertly played by “SNL’s” Pete Davidson) to help her figure out who actually hacked her. As they work together (and Elliot tries to make sense of Jones’ very old, very cluttered computer) we see some other “Mr. Robot” mainstays including Elliot’s sister, Darlene (played by Robbie) and even Mr. Robot himself (played by one of the newest “SNL” cast membersMikey Day), which elicited a wonderful shout-out to Jones’ starring role in the latest “Ghostbusters” movie. The sketch also pokes a little fun at some of the more quirky elements of “Mr. Robot” including the tendency to feature people right at the edges of shots. In what has now come to be classic “Mr. Robot” fashion, the sketch features a shocking twist, but you’ll have to watch it to find out what it is. And you should watch it, because it’s really great, okay? I wouldn’t have spent all of this time writing about it if it wasn’t.

 

It was long wondered if and how “SNL” and Jones might address the hacking controversy and, if you ask me, this was the best possible way to do it. By giving the hack only a little bit of the show’s time and by making the focus of the sketch more on how great and funny Leslie Jones is than on the actual hack itself, the show made sure that Jones was the one who came out on top, as she so rightfully should. Now hopefully we can all move on from that ridiculousness and focus on the fact that next week’s “SNL” host is LIN-MANUEL FREAKING MIRANDA.

 

What did you think of the “SNL” season 42 premiere? Did you like the “Mr. Robot” sketch as much as I did? Are you just as excited for Lin-Manuel Miranda to host next week’s episode as I am? Because I’m very very very excited. Try to top that in the comments. And, as always…

 

Stay classy.

Jenn

 

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