Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Screen Time

While I don't watch broadcast television, I do buy movies and a select few TV series on DVD as rewards for meeting my writing goals. I also swap them with friends as reciprocal gifts for birthdays and the holidays, which is fun because we don't tell each other in advance what we're swapping.

The Proposal with Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds was one of my rewards for finishing my last novel, and features Sandra as a demanding NY Publishing senior editor about to be deported back to Canada, and Ryan as the male assistant she strong-arms into becoming her fiance. I'm generally not a fan of films that portraying powerful women as demanding, heartless harpies from hell because it caters to misogynistic attitudes, but I like Sandra's movies, and as I expected she plays her role as smart and funny versus offensive and insulting. The screenwriters also did a nice job with the back story that actually supports her characterization.

Most of the story takes place in Alaska, during a visit to meet Reynolds's family, and gets pretty goofy at times, but there's enough drama to keep it from becoming utterly silly. Betty White (who plays Reynolds's 90 y.o. grandma) obviously had the best time with this project; she practically steals every scene she's in. The logical but realistic end wrapped up the movie neatly without sending my blood sugar through the roof or ticking me off, something that tends to be a problem for me with romantic comedies. I wonder, though, does Ryan Reynolds have a lazy eye, or maybe is a tiny bit cross-eyed? There were a couple of times during the movie that I swear, his right eye just didn't seem to be staying in sync with the left. Anyway, see the official trailer here.

Chuck Season One: This was a birthday swap gift that I received from a friend who (thanks to me) is now completely hooked on Burn Notice. I think I'm hooked on Chuck now, too; if you're looking for pure farce, you don't get much better than this. Chuck is a computer repair tech/geek/lonely guy who works at a big electronics chain store. He lives with his sister, he got kicked out of college, and he's basically every poor slob who could never get a date in high school. All that changes when via synaptic download Chuck accidentally becomes the government's most valuable intelligence asset.

The characters really make this show, and Adam Baldwin, who plays one of Chuck's handlers, is really priceless as brutal/humorless gung-ho patriot. He deadpans so well that I swear, every time the guy raises a steely brow I crack up. I'm charmed most by Zachary Levi, though, who plays the title role and in every episode grabs your heart with his awkward but sweet and surprisingly deep portrayal of the character; a true prince with principles and a pocket protector.

What I'll be watching over the holidays:

Castle Season One -- Another swap gift, one that came in for Christmas (our theme was favorite on-screen genres, and my pal got the SyFy Channel's Dune and Children of Dune mini-series in return from me.)

I'm a bit nervous about this one. I rarely watch movies or shows about writers because (inevitably, I suppose) they never get it right, or they make us into some idiotic variation of the wonderfully rich, helpfully curious old gal author from Murder, She Wrote (yeah, there's some heavy-duty realism for you.) About every ten years one comes along (ala Author! Author! with Al Pacino, Impromptu with Judy Davis, and Finding Forrester with Sean Connery) that is entertaining, but mostly I avoid them.

That said, I think Castle might be okay for three reasons: 1)It stars Nathan Fillion, who I think is an amazing actor, 2) Nathan plays a mystery author, one genre I don't consider personal territory, and 3) I got my friend (a devoted SF-hater) hooked on Frank Herbert enough to ask to borrow the first book, so this is like swap karma. I'll let you know how it goes, but in the meantime, here's the trailer for season one.


  1. Okay, I have to laugh. I watched The Proposal with my husband for maybe the third or fourth time a couple weeks ago, and we watch Chuck as a family. It's one of the few shows all four of us agree on.

    Knowing that our tastes are similar, I look forward to what you think of Castle. I have some of the same reservations, but agree that Nathan Fillion is fun to watch.

  2. Castle is pretty good. I haven't watched the second season faithfully, but in the first season... there's definitely a lot of "glam" about the "business side" of writing that had me rolling my eyes, because it so isn't like that... but there's a lot they got right. Some of the comments that Castle makes about the psychology of writing are dead-on, so I can forgive the glamorization. Since, well, other professions (like cops and doctors) are hardly like what they show in TV, either!

  3. I loved Castle, and the writing aspect doesn't really come into it, except it made him rich and influential (yeah, right)

  4. Castle! Castle! Castle! No, the writing bit isn't remotely believable, but neither is the cop side, as Nonny pointed out.

    Here is when Castle won my heart. In one scene, he's stopped writing to talk to his daughter, and his screen saver pops up. In all caps, it says "YOU SHOULD BE WRITING!" That little detail was pure awesome.

  5. We are big Chuck fans at my house.

  6. My younger sister doesn't own many DVDs, but The Proposal is in her rotation. It's one of about six movies that she really enjoys watching.

    My whole family watches Castle, but I feel like the rest of my family doesn't get the enjoyment out of it that I do because there is a reference in almost every episode to other things Nathan Fillion has worked on. One of my favorite episodes is the Halloween one which starts with him dressed in full Firefly costume. Really, if you're a Nathan Fillion fan, you should like Castle. It's him at his best.

  7. CASTLE is very well-written and clever. Most TV mysteries bore me, but this one doesn't. Its plot holes aren't so gaping that the characters and the plausibility fall through most of the time, either.

    There are definitely some eye-rolling moments about publishing, but there are also cameos by major authors like James Patterson in the poker scenes.

  8. Anonymous1:52 PM

    I am a huge Sandra Bullock fan! Yes, I love The Proposal, but am also a fan of 28 Days where she's serious, Demolition Man where I think she's pretty clueless but cute, and Two Weeks Notice which is just sweet. My two favorites of hers though are Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood and Miss Congeniality. Enjoy the holidays and have fun watching your shows!

  9. Hm, I've never heard of Castle before, but it sounds pretty interesting! :)

    I love Sandra Bullock's movies! I don't think I've ever seen a movie with her in it that I didn't like.

    Happy Holidays, Lynn!



  10. Sylvia4:36 PM

    I still need to watch The Proposal but the pice is still high and I'm a person who won't pay twenty plus for a movie, but I will dish it out for a hardcover, lol.

    Never watched Chuck, it sounds good I'll put it one my look for it list.

    Castle... hahaha thats so funny I just bought this a few days ago. It was on sale cheaper than The Proposal I couldn't pass it up. Not one of my most favorite though I prefer Bones. Nathan Fillion is the reason it was entertaining for me. The bullet proof vest... that was a good one. He's great in Firefly too.

  11. Castle is great. He has an overactive imagination, a teen daughter more mature than he is (but he's still a great dad). He and Beckett make for a brilliant murder-solving team.

    They talk about "real life", but the murders always have suspect rings. Real old-fashioned mystery instead of procedural in short. Also, great supporting characters.

  12. Chuck is a big hit with my 7th and 8th grade ESL students. The mix of action and comedy works very well and Chuck is a character that particularly teen boys can identify with. Amid all of the action and laughs there's also some surprising emotional depth. For example, the episode where Chuck is forced to return to the university that expelled him and learns the truth about what happened is very affecting.

    Castle follows an unrealistic "author as rockstar" model, but it's nonetheless a very enjoyable show. I love Castle's relationship with his mother and teenaged daughter and he also has a lot of chemistry with Detective Beckett. Even secondary characters such as a various police officers, the coroner, etc... are fleshed out very well. And I adore Castle's bullet proof vest.

  13. I've got Chuck on my list of shows I'd like to watch. I like to start series at the beginning, and we just got an Apple TV that allows us to stream videos on to our TV via Netflix and iTunes, so I'm hoping to dig into Season 1 soon.

    Meanwhile, I've been gorging on Veronica Mars via Netflix streaming. What a smart, fabulous show! If you haven't caught it yet, add it to your list. Same thing with Friday Night Lights which ends its final season in a couple of months. That is my all time favorite shows and well worth the purchase of the DVDs.


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