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February 2018

Don’t Worry, I Have Your Oscar Night Menu All Figured Out

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Screenshot by Jenn Murphy

Now that the Olympics are over (finally) we can move on to more important things, like the fact that the Oscars are now LESS THAN A WEEK AWAY! While it’s likely that they’ll award the same people and movies that have been awarded at nearly every other award show this season (I’m looking at you, Gary Oldman, Frances McDormand, Sam Rockwell, Allison Janney and “The Shape of Water“), it’ll still be fun to watch and hope, nay, plead for some exciting surprises. I mean, nothing could really top last years “‘La La Land’ won Best Picture oh wait just kidding it was ‘Moonlight’ sorry guys!!!” insanity, but maybe “The Shape of Water” doesn’t have Best Picture in the bag as much as the fish man lovers of the world hope? A girl can dream.

 

Anyway, no watching of the Oscars is complete without food. The show is likely to be at least four hours long, and that’s only if they actually get people to adhere to the 45 seconds of acceptance speech time. (No Nicole Kidman at this show, so it might actually be possible!) Sustenance is needed, and it’s even better if that sustenance is fun and tied to the films nominated for the big prizes. So I, out of the kindness of my own heart, put together some (very serious, not at all a joke) options for what you could serve to honor each movie. I’ll list them in ranking order from what I most want to win Best Picture to what will make me go into a rage blackout if it somehow beats everything above it. Enjoy!

 

Get Out: A pot of chamomile tea and an overwhelming feeling that something about it is very wrong.

 

Lady Bird: “Dori-Toes” (shout-out Tracy Letts) cut into the shape of Communion wafers and Lady Bird wings (it’s the TITULAR FOOD)

 

Call Me By Your Name: Gummy Peachio Peachio Peachios (I’m so sorry)

 

Phantom Thread: Asparagus gazpacho soup, cooked with oil and salt, not butter NEVER BUTTER I mean what is this, prison? Are you my jailer? Have you come to ruin my night and quite possibly my entire life????

 

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri: A couple slices of white bread that think they’re being nuanced about race relations but they’re not, and some cereal to throw at your son.

 

The Post: The ROAST beef sliders with swiss cheese and horseradish mayo to be eaten while waiting for your editor to agree to run the damn story.

 

The Shape of Water: Deviled eggs but the deviled part has blue and green food coloring in it to resemble the fish man she bones *ahem* excuse me, the fish man she falls in love with.

 

Dunkirk: Find out what Harry Styles’ favorite food is and just make that.

 

Darkest Hour: The darkest chocolate, because damn son that movie was not well lit.

 

~BONUS~ Make some orange marmalade sandwiches to honor “Paddington 2” which had better sweep the Oscars next year (or at least split the awards with “Black Panther“) or I will riot.

 

So there you have it, your Oscar night menu in full. Time to head to the grocery store to get the goods!

 

What do you think? Have your own plans for your Oscar night menu? Are you hesitantly excited for this week’s long-awaited return of Lifetime’s first-season-was-great-but-the-second-season-was-very-questionable “UnREAL“? Share your thoughts in the comments. And, as always…

 

Stay classy.

Jenn

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Sick of the Olympics? Here’s Some Other Stuff You Can Do!

With the Winter Olympics now in full swing, it seems like much of the world has been taken over by the “splendor of the games” or whatever. While the Winter Olympics can be fun (Figure Skating!) it can also get a little old after a while. No shade to the talented, accomplished athletes competing at the top of their fields this week, but once you’ve seen one person ski down a hill, you’ve kind of seen them all. Until, of course, someone crashes and then it’s just sad.

 

Anyways, if you, like me, are starting to get a little bit of Olympics fatigue, I’ve decided to compile for us a short list of things we can do this week instead of watching the Olympics. Read on, and get busy.

 

1) Tired of the Winter Olympics? Might I suggest, the Space Olympics?

Sure, it’s still Olympics related, but this “SNL” Digital Short from The Lonely Island days always comes to mind when the Olympics rolls around. The crises facing the Space Olympics in this sketch feel more like the unfinished hotels at the Sochi games or the color-changing pools at Rio, than they do anything happening in Pyeongchang (the norovirus outbreak, maybe?) but it’s still funny nevertheless. I dare you to not have the phrase “You’re a Winner” stuck in your head after watching this. It’s been stuck in my head for years at this point.

 

2) Catch up on some new, great TV shows!

While most of the networks have put their shows on a two week hiatus so as not to compete with the Olympics, a lot of cable series are still airing new episodes. Three somewhat newish shows that I definitely think are worth checking out are “grown-ish,” “Alone Together” (both on Freeform), and “American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace” (on FX). The two Freeform shows are comedies, the former following the oldest daughter from “black-ish” (another great show) as she starts college and the latter following two extremely co-dependent unlikable-but-still-endearing people as they live life in LA. If you hate comedy and want to just feel depressed and creeped out for a while, then “The Assassination of Gianni Versace” might be a better fit. The title makes it pretty clear what the show is about, but don’t expect to see Gianni Versace and co. too much. The show focuses more on the man who killed him and the life he led before that fateful day. It’s definitely not a feel good show, but it’s deeply fascinating and full of great performances. All three of these shows are in the midst of their seasons, (and I think at least two of them are taking a break this week for some reason) so now would be the perfect time to catch up.

 

3) Take on a new podcast!

If you don’t feel like using both your eyes and your ears but still want to be entertained, might I suggest a podcast? Specifically, might I suggest the podcast Punch Up the Jam? It comes from one half of the Gilmore Guys duo, Demi Adejuyigbe, and on it he and co-host Miel Bredouw hilariously and (mostly) factually break down a song of their choosing and then “punch it up,” creating their own remix that is guaranteed to be both funny and surprisingly good. It’s been an incredibly fun addition to my regular podcast listening, so I highly recommend it. And hey, if you still want to watch the Olympics but are tired of the commentators, you can listen to this instead! Look at that, you’re a winner!

 

Well, there you go! Three whole things you can do if you’re sick of the Olympics! You can also go see “Black Panther,” of course. That’s definitely an option.

 

What do you think? Have any other recommendations for people who are sick of the Olympics? Are you more focused on prepping your Oscar viewing party menu? (It is less than two weeks away!) I feel you, and I may have some suggestions in next week’s post…you’ll just have to wait and see 😉 Until then…

 

Stay classy.

Jenn

‘This Is Us’ Needs More Flash-Forwards, Like…Now

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Screenshot by Jenn Murphy

Since most of this past week was taken over by Olympic fever, a fever that will seemingly carry on through the next two weeks while we all become obsessed with athletes who we’ll have forgotten about by summer (unless, of course, they do “Dancing with the Stars,” and then we’ll forget about them by fall) I decided to go back this week to another big moment from Super Bowl Sunday.

 

While much of the talk surrounding the big post-Super Bowl episode of “This Is Us” focused on the details of Jack’s demise (death by crockpot fire-induced smoke inhalation, of course), there was a smaller moment that could possibly be important in how the show plans to move forward.

 

(And yes, I know in my last post about “This Is Us” I trashed many elements of it. Those elements are still trash, but the Randall stuff keeps getting better and better. Hopefully they’ll realize that sooner or later and change the show to “This Is Randall.” A girl can dream.)

 

Earlier in the season we were shown a young boy talking to a social worker who was trying to find him a new foster family, the implication being that he would soon be joining Randall’s brood. It made sense, given Randall and Beth’s plans to continue fostering following their experience with Deja and the fact that Randall had joked about wanting to foster a boy next.

 

The Super Bowl episode brought the boy and his social worker back, only to reveal that the little boy was not really the key player in that scene. It was, in fact, the social worker, who is actually Randall’s eldest daughter Tess in the future. It also seemed to squash those recent pesky fan theories that Randall might follow in his adoptive father’s footsteps and die young. (By the way, if the writers of “This Is Us” think they would ever have a show without Randall, they’re kidding themselves.) Seeing him there with his daughter as an adult surely gave many fans a feeling of relief.

 

A big part of “This Is Us’s” storytelling so far is the way that the show jumps around in time. Our trips to the past with the Pearson clan have given us a better understanding of why the characters are the way they are now (The answer: annoying parents) and how the tragedies in their lives shape their family dynamics. This was the first time the show really jumped to the future, showing how the next Pearson generation will be impacted by current times. In a show filled with shocking revelations both cheerful and devastating (a.k.a infuriating), this moment felt especially revelatory.

 

Going to the past to explain the present has been a valuable tool on “This Is Us” so far, but it could eventually grow stale. (I mean, really. How many times do we need to see Jack do something unrealistically perfect? We get it, he was great and it was so sad that he died so young blah blah blah NEXT.) While there’s still much to mine from the past, like what happens to Randall’s red-headed high school sweetheart or how Rebecca and Miguel go from mourning Jack to marriage, there is the ever-present risk of running out of intriguing stories down the line.

 

Utilizing more flash-forwards could energize “This Is Us” and offer more mysteries for writers and viewers alike to unravel. We’ve now seen what happens to Tess, but what about Annie, Randall’s younger daughter? (She’ll probably become a brilliant zoologist or something to avenge Mr. McGiggles’ death.) Will Kate and Toby, or even Kevin, ever have kids of their own? What would those kids be like as adults? (Total self-involved messes, probably.) In a show so focused on family, it would only make sense to delve into the lives of future generations as well.

 

Only time will tell if “This Is Us” starts to incorporate more flash-forwards into the show’s storytelling, but it certainly wouldn’t be a bad idea. With Jack’s death now explained (FINALLY), the show could use another key moment to tie everything together and build to. There’s nothing that says that moment can’t be in the future.

 

What do you think? Would you like to see “This Is Us” do more flash-forwards? Are you also feverishly trying to determine the relationship statuses of every hunky dude in the Olympics? Let me know what you find in the comments. But remember…

 

Stay classy.

Jenn

What Does Netflix’s “Beyonce” Move Mean For The Future of Film Releases?

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Screenshot by Jenn Murphy

Last night’s Super Bowl had a lot going on: a very satisfying win from the Philadelphia Eagles (I hate football but I love watching Tom Brady lose.), a largely underwhelming halftime show from Justin Timberlake (Is it possible to be high-energy and low-energy at the same time? I guess that’s what you get for crossing both Janet Jackson and Prince.) and a surprisingly sparing amount of commercials that really stood out.

 

One that seemed to get people’s attention though (or, at least, it really got mine) was a trailer for the next film in the always-shrouded-in-mystery “Cloverfield” franchise. Not only was its official title, “The Cloverfield Paradox,” revealed, it was also revealed that it would be available to watch on Netflix immediately following the big game. Yup, Netflix pulled a Beyonce and dropped one of the more highly anticipated movies of this year in one fell swoop, without any big press or promotion. It was an unprecedented move not really seen before in the world of blockbuster movies. So why would they choose to do it now, with this film?

 

Certain conclusions are obvious. The previous films in the “Cloverfield” franchise have been kept pretty close to the vest right up until a trailer debuted. Even then, details were scarce and it was up to savvy viewers to follow clues left both online and in real life to get to the bottom of the vast world these films inhabit. It’s been a largely genius move, keeping people on their toes and making the films even more enticing than they might have been otherwise. Despite all of the mystery though, “Cloverfield” and “10 Cloverfield Lane” both followed the traditional film release route: debut a few trailers, do some promotion and then release the film for all to see. The fact that “The Clovefield Paradox” skipped all of those steps fits in with the innovative ways that previous films have been presented, but it appears that the move could have also been for self-preservation purposes.

 

Because no one knew “The Cloverfield Paradox” was coming, no critics were able to review it in advance. Now that it’s been out for several hours, the reviews are coming in and they don’t appear to be entirely stellar. (I haven’t gotten to watch it yet, so I’ll let you all know what I think next week. I know you’re just dying to find out.) Is it possible that Netflix has cracked the code on how to release a film without the fear that critics will slow its momentum before its even begun?

 

Critics have long been gatekeepers of sorts when it comes to what films succeed and what films fail. While a simple look at audience reviews vs. critic reviews on a site like Rotten Tomatoes can show that critics and viewers don’t always see eye-to-eye (you could also look at the exhausting saga that followed the release of the latest Star Wars film) critics still hold a lot of power, and studios have tried in the last few years to thwart that power with things like embargoes and critic screenings at the last possible minute before the film premieres. By suddenly releasing “The Cloverfield Paradox” with no fanfare and no opportunity for critics to jump on it before its debut, has Netflix shown a way to buck the system and get a film past the critical gatekeepers and directly to the people? It’ll be hard to judge that, given that Netflix rarely reveals how successful its original content is in terms of views. But it’s certainly something for studios to take into consideration.

 

What do you think? Did you watch “The Cloverfield Paradox” last night without seeing any critical reviews? Or are you too busy talking about how wonderful “Paddington 2” is? Because it’s wonderful. It filled my heart with pure joy. Paddington is the best of us and he isn’t even real. Share your thoughts in the comments. And, as always…

 

Stay classy.

Jenn

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