Lit Up

The Voice of WIC

I Feel Like I’m Taking CRAZY PILLS! March 30, 2008

Filed under: TV & Movies — NYU WIC @ 9:40 pm

semipro.jpgI grew up watching Saturday Night Live reruns on Comedy Central (this was, of course, before they replaced SNL reruns with Mad TV, something I am still very, very bitter about). I loved watching the evolution of SNL — how the comedy evolved throughout the very different casts over the years. From Belushi’s “Samurai Man” to Eddie Murphy’s hilarious “Buckwheat” sketches to Adam Sandler’s “Canteen Boy,” I was continually impressed and entertained by the show. Throughout all the casts, however, my favorite member was Will Ferrell. He had such amazing comedic range, with such memorably amazing characters as Craig the Spartan Cheerleader, Inside the Actors Studio’s James Lipton, and Marty Culp, the not-so-hip high school music teacher. To me, Will Ferrell was one of the funniest men who could take any situation and make it hilarious.

I was thrilled when, after he left the cast, he made a great transition into a movie career. From playing Old School’s “Frank the Tank” to the crazed fashion designer Mugatu (which, I believe, is his best performance yet) in Zoolander, he was certainly making his way into the public eye, in a good way. When Anchorman came out in 2004, I was blown away, as was most of America, by this original and hilarious movie, which cemented him as comic — and box office — magic. It was an absolutely ridiculous comedy with an amazing cast, but if anyone could pull off a story such as this, it was him. After this movie and his other blockbuster, Elf, everyone knew who Will Ferrell was and that he was the funniest man in comedy.

However, then things started to go awry. Though many will argue me on this point, I was not impressed with Talladega Nights, and though I thoroughly enjoyed Blades of Glory, by the time I saw the first teaser for his latest flick, Semi-Pro, I was less than satisfied. Then I continued to watch him “whore out” his Semi-Pro character, Jackie Moon, from Old Spice commercials to Budweiser Superbowl commercials to the side of every single bus in New York City. On SNL, he showed such a great range of characters, so why now was he just sticking to his tired formula of “Stupid Chauvinistic Man + Funny Profession = Box Office Magic”? Yes, these movies are funny, but not when looking at them together because in reality, they are all the same. He even gets attacked by a bear in two of his movies! But why am I the only person writing about this? Why doesn’t America realize this?! Recently, I had a conversation with my sister and brother about our disappointment in Will, when we realized how much his streak of the same roles was mirroring what happened in one of his movies. In Zoolander, his character is the one who raises the idea that all of supermodel Derek Zoolander’s “looks” were, in fact, exactly the same. He says, “They’re the same face! Doesn’t anybody notice this? I feel like I’m taking crazy pills!” Well, Mugatu, I know exactly how you feel.

–Ilana Phillips


Top 10 Movie Trailers… part two February 8, 2008

Filed under: TV & Movies — NYU WIC @ 12:00 pm

Missed the first half? Click here!

 5. Superbad

As if seeing the words, “From the guy who brought you Talladega Nights and The 40-Year-Old Virgin” wasn’t enough, newly successful from their recent hit Knocked Up, Seth Rogen and Jonah Hill are shown alongside SNL‘s Bill Hader and Arrested Development‘s Michael Cera. These facts alone speak for themselves. This movie instantly became one of the most talked about movies of the summer before it even came out; the mere catch phrase “I am McLovin'” was incorporated into teens’ everyday speech before even viewing the movie. Great trailer, great movie.

4. Jarhead

The trailer opens with Jamie Foxx forcing Jake Gyllenhaal (both dressed in full army garb) to play reveille…without a bugle. This awkward hilarity is only the tip of the iceberg of the rest of the engaging trailer, revealing the irony of being a soldier. Never saw the movie, but the trailer is sweet.

3. I’m Not There

There is a silhouette of Bob Dylan as his quote, “All I can do is be me, Whoever that is” is shown. Six quick mug shot-type pictures are suddenly shown as Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone” begins to play. This trailer makes everyone from hard-core Dylan lovers to those unsure of who he is curious as to how six completely different people (black, white, young, and even a woman) could play one man. Merely seeing a trailer of Cate Blanchett playing Dylan is enough to make you want to see this movie.

2. Across the Universe

Adorable McCartney look-alike Jim Sturgess opens this trailer singing the Beatles’ “Girl” on a beach. The rest of this amazing trailer is packed with colorful images, happy people, and even some supernatural things; but most importantly, this trailer is full of the re-worked Beatles music, and each song is done to perfection. This trailer brings you through the ages, from the free-loving 60’s to the revolutionary 70’s, while floating atop the wonderful music of the Beatles, making it merely impossible to watch without getting the chills…wait, was that Bono and Salma Hayek?

1) The Dark Knight

As the trailer that came out right around the time of Heath Ledger’s tragic and untimely death, it falls nothing short of spectacular. I could not help but obsessively watch this trailer over and over again, sure that though this was Ledger’s last full movie shot, his work as the Joker will most certainly be his best. The mere contrast of his terrifying and intense utterance of “Why so serious?” to his eerily ironic petrifying smile with his wilted face paint and greasy hair is serious enough to give you chills. His Joker laugh and the terrifying tone of his voice shown within this 3 minute span show you what may be the greatest performance of his sadly short life. Of course Christian Bale returns as one of the most badass Batmans audiences have ever seen, alongside Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine who reprise their roles from the last movie, Batman Begins. Though the hype of this trailer sadly but surely rose after the death of one of its main characters, it has definitely become one of the most anticipated films of the year, only further fueled by this riveting and exciting trailer. RIP Heath.

 –Ilana Phillips


Top 10 Movie Trailers… part one February 5, 2008

Filed under: TV & Movies — NYU WIC @ 11:13 pm

Movie trailers have the sheer ability to make—or break—a movie; they are exciting, innovating, and just plain awesome. In order to show my love for movie trailers, here is my list of the top ten trailers of the past few years. Keep in mind that not all of these movies were great or even made a decent amount of money, but their trailers were captivating and had the power to leave viewers drooling at the edge of their seats…

10. Snakes on a Plane

I’m sorry, but how could this movie not be on the list? The trailer opens with dark music playing in the background. The words “They are the world’s deadliest creatures…They can attack without warning…And they’ve just been unleashed…30,000 feet in the air” are shown, and a plane roaring through the sky appears at the end. Who knows what these evil blood-chilling creatures could be? And then you see it: Snakes…and Samuel L. Jackson. I can vividly remember seeing this trailer in the theaters, and hearing the entire audience hysterically laughing. The entire marketing strategy of this movie was based on the sheer ridiculousness of the movie it was promoting. Though it wasn’t a box office hit, the movie was definitely one of the most talked about that summer.

9. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Exciting, colorful, fun, Sam Rockwell with long blonde hair and a white furry jacket. It’s a trailer that makes fun of trailers themselves, introducing the pure irony of the movie it is promoting. Definitely worth watching.

8. Young at Heart

The trailer begins with the names of several prestigious rock bands such as The Clash, The Ramones, and Coldplay flashing on the screen. The announcer introduces it as “the concert event Rock and Roll fans have dreamed of their entire lives…” and suddenly it cuts to an old woman’s mouth wailing the tunes of The Clash’s “Should I Stay or Should I Go?” This trailer is hilarious, inspiring, and definitely makes its viewers excited to see the movie.

7. Marie Antoinette

Upon seeing a poster for this movie, one would probably assume it was just another boring period piece about the reign of Marie Antoinette. However, once you view the trailer, you see a whole other side to the film. Though Kirsten Dunst is dressed from head to toe in clothing that seems ancient, she is shown more as a young celebrity living the life ala Lindsay Lohan than a queen. Rock music plays, music one would never associate with a movie such as this, and the words “SCANDAL…SEX…FAME…REVOLUTION” are shown. This trailer reveals the modern twist Sophia Coppola brought to an old story.

6. The Departed

When Jack Nicholson, Mark Wahlberg, Matt Damon, Leonardo DiCaprio, Martin Sheen, Alec Baldwin, a hot chick, Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb” and lots of guns, violence, and gangsters are shown on the same screen within two minutes, audiences have no resistance. This movie is absolutely awesome, and so is its trailer.

Want to know the top five? Check back next week for the rest!

–Ilana Phillips


American Values for Sale February 1, 2008

Filed under: TV & Movies — NYU WIC @ 2:24 pm

momentoftruth.png“The Moment of Truth” debuted on FOX last week, and oh, what a moment it was. The game show has in its arsenal the most simplistic challenge on television: contestants must answer 21 questions correctly to win up to half a million dollars. So, what’s the bullet? Each question gets progressively more personal and duly difficult; answering “correctly” is but a euphemism for answering “honestly.” This all sounds easy enough until factoring in the lie detecting polygraph, the gaze and curiosity of three loved ones, and a live audience equipped with cheers and jeers for each morally revealing response.

The show’s first contestant, a personal trainer and husband named Ty, embarrassingly — but honestly —answered “yes” to the question, “Have you ever had sex with someone the same day you met them?” After a dismaying wave of “ooh’s,” a confused audience then found itself clapping for Ty—and the $10,000 he secured for answering truthfully. To keep count, that’s one for wealth over scrutinizing casual hanky panky. Then, when Ty denied ever touching a female client more than was required, the audience didn’t clap — whether this was because of his dishonesty, because of his invasive admission, or because he didn’t earn more money is uncertain… Let’s just hope that somewhere in our American barrel of values, there’s something to stop viewers from clapping on this degrading, cheesy, and overdone-reality show for even another episode.

–Nia Tran


“Cloverfield” Falls Flat January 29, 2008

Filed under: TV & Movies — NYU WIC @ 11:59 am

In the spring of 2007, an eerie poster of a headless Statue of Liberty fueled rampant speculation about J.J. Abrams’ (creator and exec-producer of ABC’s Alias and Lost) new horror project. Questionable promotional tactics and constant Internet gossip seemed to have sparked a burning curiosity in the minds of thousands of devoted movie fans. Expectations for the film were so immense that, in retrospect, I should have realized would be nearly impossible to meet. Maybe those expectations warped my opinion a bit, but if you ask me, Cloverfield was one of the biggest cinematic letdowns in years.

cloverfield.jpg“I just wish it had a plot!,” I heard someone say as I left the theater. Well, the plot is there, kind of, but not enough to revive the movie from its ultimate face plant into the ground. The film starts by introducing star-crossed lovers Rob and Beth. Rob is leaving for Japan, and best friend Hud tapes goodbyes from friends and family at his going-away party. The entire film is seen through this lens, Blair Witch style, and tests your patience in the area of visual disorientation. The shaky camera watches a vicious monster attack the city in an unexplained attempt to destroy all of Manhattan.

The ending was not much of an ending at all, leaving way too many unfinished plot points; there are already rumors of a sequel to tie things up.

So would I see the sequel? Probably not. The first one didn’t make such a great impression on me. It was a good try, but not quite good enough. You let me down, J.J.!

–Ali Feinstein


‘American Gangster’ Delivers November 13, 2007

Filed under: TV & Movies — NYU WIC @ 9:12 pm

gangster1.png“The man I worked for had one of the biggest companies in New York City. He didn’t own his own company. White man owned it, so they owned him. Nobody owns me, though,” explains Frank Lucas, officially cementing his place as one hell of an on-screen villain in American Gangster. Frank Lucas, played by a fiery Denzel Washington, is a 1970’s drug dealer who smuggles extremely potent heroin into the U.S. from Thailand, often by using the caskets of dead Vietnam soldiers to ensure a safe delivery. He supplies all of Harlem with his “Blue Magic,” while gracefully rising through the power ranks of New York by gaining the support of family, friends, junkies, and crooked cops. Of the very few straight cops determined to take Lucas down, we meet Richie Roberts, played by a magnetic Russel Crowe. Not since 12 years ago in the thriller “Virtuosity” have Crowe and Denzel proved to be such an enigmatic screen team. But once again, they affirm their presence as an intense duo, so captivating that it seems nearly impossible for audiences to be disappointed with this remarkable crime drama.

Directed by Riley Scott, the man who brought us Gladiator and Hannibal, this is a film that will surely claim a prime location on the DVD shelf right next to similarly gripping films like The Godfather and Scarface. There is never a minute when you’re bored or unmoved; every scene sparks with pure action-packed electricity. The picture takes you through a seductive world of drugs and crime that will only leave you wanting more. I sat on the edge of my chair the whole time, in awe of a simply flawless film that has already earned itself a fair amount of Oscar buzz. With any indication, this film is definitely worth seeing ASAP. Whether it is drugs or cinema satisfaction, American Gangster will surely deliver.


 –Ali Feinstein



Filed under: Media Commentary,TV & Movies — NYU WIC @ 12:03 am

ttyra3.jpgBack in February, when I was bored and sick, I randomly stopped my channel surfing on the Tyra Banks Show. Although I had seen a few episodes of Tyra’s America’s Next Top Model before, the most exposure to Tyra I had gotten was her performance in that Disney Channel Original Movie Life Size back in the day with Lindsay Lohan. As I continued to watch Tyra, I learned it was the Black History Month episode, and, being African-American, Tyra decided to celebrate the commemorative month on her show. Standing proud before various blown-up photographs of her, Tyra said, “Today, I’m honoring black history by celebrating an event that not only changed my life, and the direction of my career, but more importantly, it impacted the face of beauty for women of color everywhere.” She spoke with such conviction and passion; I had a feeling she was going to discuss a real revolutionary moment for blacks, or black women. But then Tyra continued, “This month marks the ten year anniversary of my appearance on the cover of Sports Illustrated magazine’s swimsuit edition!” tyra1.jpg[Cut to close up picture of a sexy bikini-clad Tyra in a suggestive pose in the water] Hmm…so, in order to celebrate Black History Month, Tyra decided to re-shoot her decade-old sexy swimsuit cover and that helps for the advancement of colored people… how? Though I do have to admit her cover was revolutionary, as she was the first African-American woman to be featured on the cover of this issue, Tyra conducted this episode in a way that did not focus on Blacks or Black History…it focused on something I discovered she loved much more…TYRA. 


Since that day, I cannot bear through an episode of America’s Next Top Model, or anything featuring Tyra, without feeling consumed by her complete self-centered narcissism. Top Model is supposed to be about the models, and yet all Tyra talks about is “me, me, me.” On this past Wednesday’s episode, Tyra was teaching her protégées how to be fluid and sexy when they modeled. She gathered them in a dance studio, forcing them all to wear matching nude-colored uni-tards with clunky white kneepads (for their sexy crawls), while she twirled around in a cute black leotard with almost invisible black kneepads. She stuck out like a sore thumb—a beautiful one, that is. Tyra’s vanity can be seen throughout the rest of any episode. Every season the girls are equally excited about receiving “TYRA MAIL!” (which, of course, features pictures of Tyra), and at the end of each episode when the unlucky girl leaves the house, the camera pans back to an enlarged picture of Tyra hanging up on the wall.tyra41.jpg


Though I just Ty-ranted on the self-loving ego that is Tyra Banks, I do have to admit that she is good at what she does—the modeling, but not anything else. To be such a successful supermodel, you really do have to have a complete overabundance of confidence, which is exactly what Tyra has, and which is why her career has brought her so much success. As long as she’s frozen in a picture, I suppose Tyra is OK with me.


–Ilana Phillips