Monday, April 18, 2011

I Wish I Knew How to Quit You: Abandon

Kevin Williamson is awesome.

Sure, he's had his missteps (I never even attempted Wasteland because of how awful I heard it was, and Vampire Diaries looks positively poopy), but Dawson's Creek provided a gigantic bonding experience for me and my roommates freshman and sophomore year of college.  And seeing Scream 4 at 12:01 last Friday, surrounded by a raucous crowd who wasn't above yelling at the screen, I was reminded how much FUN horror can be. Much as I enjoyed the morality-play aspect of the first Saw film--and to an extent, the second--I hate how quickly it denigrated into straight-up torture porn.  RiffTrax notwithstanding, where's the entertainment in that?

Of course, Kevin Williamson isn't perfect.  He is also largely responsible for introducing the world to Mrs. Tom Cruise, or as she was known pre-couch jump, Katie Holmes.

Because I am a nerd, after seeing Scream 4, I immediately visited IMDb for the film's trivia/fun facts.  This led me to look up the original Scream trilogy, which I haven't seen in ages.  And for some reason, I remembered a suspense-y piece of tripe I encountered on the university movie channel back in my law-school days.

Anyone else remember Abandon?

Kevin Williamson's not involved at all, but Katie Holmes sure as hell is. This KH vehicle was unleashed in 2002 when the Creek was still running and Hollywood's powers that be were trying to translate her little-girl voice and rolling eyes into full-fledged stardom.

Didn't really work.

Let me just say I'm a little prejudiced.  I never liked Joey Potter.  Yeah, she was from the wrong side of the tracks and her sister had the audacity to get knocked up by a non-white guy (one of the many, many things Joey bitched about), but my God, the girl never stopped whining.  Also, honey, your best friend/boyfriend/whatever's name is DAW-son, not DAH-son.  In contrast, Michelle Williams' Jen Lindley was just as misguided, but way more interesting.  I mean, she liked 70's rock and her best friends were her grandma and a gay guy.  WINNING.

Also, who has the more successful acting career now?  I rest my case.

Anyway, Abandon.

So Katie Holmes is Katie Burke, a senior at an unnamed super-chichi East Coast-looking school.  We know it is for smart people because a boy in Katie/Katie's group of friends wears glasses.  Katie/Katie's other pals include resident African-American and Bring It On alum Gabrielle Union, and Zooey Deschanel in her pre-hipster goddess days when she was typecast as the wacky friend.  Katie/Katie is NOT friends with the weird girl in the library, played by Melanie Lynskey in the lean post-Heavenly Creatures years before she had much of a career.

Katie/Katie has everyone drooling over her: she's one of two students on campus being pursued by the exclusive i-banking firm McKinsey.  Even the thesis she's struggling to finish sounds impressive.

But much like with Elizabeth Wakefield, I don't really see the appeal.  You see, Katie/Katie is sort of a robot.  A very pretty, apparently smart robot, but a robot nonetheless.  She has what I like to call Bella Swan Syndrome: where a young character is totally popular despite having practically no personality.  I have no idea what McKinsey sees in her--then again, I'm not an i-banker.

Anyway, this little robot has a secret.  When she was a sophomore she fell in love with senior Embry Larkin (Charlie Hunnam, who is now on Sons of Anarchy, which everyone says I should check out).  Shown in flashback form, Embry is a picture-perfect, spot-on trust fund brat desperate for street cred crossed with theatrical pretentious douchebag.  In other words, I would totally have wanted to do him in college.

At the end of Katie/Katie's sophomore year, Embry staged an elaborate theatre production which he introduced by essentially telling the audience to fuck off, and disappeared into a waiting vehicle, never to be seen again.

Two years later, Embry has no family to speak of, but his attorneys want him declared legally dead so they can donate all his riches to the family foundation or something, and recovering alcoholic cop Benjamin Bratt (when Hollywood was trying to make HIM happen because I think he was doing Julia Roberts at the time) is digging out his notepad and most serious expression to find out what happened.

Meanwhile, Katie/Katie is having a very boring nervous breakdown: she can't sleep, can't finish her thesis, and despite the McKinsey guy showing up at her dorm room (which I'm imagining breaks all sorts of rules and codes of appropriateness) and Detective Bratt creaming his jeans over her, she's seeing Embry everywhere she goes.

What is Katie/Katie hiding?  Is Embry really back?  Will Det. Bratt start drinking again?

All I know is Zooey's wisecracking all the way!

I don't get it.  Why did I gravitate towards this film?  And by "gravitate" I mean "stalk relentlessly."  Back in 2006, when I couldn't catch the whole damn thing on the university movie channel, I went to no less than 2 or 3 video stores trying to track it down.  And yesterday, I looked at my local video place and at the library, plus Netflix streaming and Amazon, before I may or may not have illegally streamed it from some Japanese website where I think they're trying to sell me sex shoes made of chicken.

In other words, it's a big ole case of This Movie Sucks And I Can't Stop Watching And I Totally Hate Myself.

I think in the old days, I could relate to Katie/Katie's general stress and weirdness surrounding her upcoming graduation, job interviews, and remembering an ex best left un-remembered.  The end of school is a strange time and I thought the film actually did an okay job of conveying that (would have done a better job with a more convincing actress, just saying).  In the, I dunno.  Maybe it's nostalgia.  Maybe I really like it when Zooey plays the wacky friend (aw hell, I love her as the hipster goddess too).  Maybe I find Embry totally hot and who am I kidding, I'd probably still hit that.  I'd just tape his mouth shut first.

Either way...I might still buy the DVD.

Or one of my readers could buy it for me (hint, hint).  I'd even take it as a present from Katie, if Tom lets her out of the Scientology basement.

Do you have any inexplicable favorites?  Along the same lines, what movie do you think desperately needs a RiffTrax?

'Cause for me, the answer to both those questions starts with A and ends with -bandon.

Son of a bitch.

Monday, April 4, 2011

A Love Letter to My Nook

Dear Nook,

I never thought we would get this far.

I swore I would always be a paper girl.  I love the smell of books, the feel of them in my hands, the pretty covers.  I love popping into a bookstore and flipping through several tomes before deciding which lucky one will be going home with me that evening.  For me, books are a quick, fairly cheap (especially when I have a coupon!) pick-me-up: better for me than ice cream, and way more lasting.  I can revisit them again and again.  And thanks to an awesome city library system, I can borrow almost anything I want for free!

Then two things happened.

One, my neighborhood Borders closed, as did most of the locations in Chicago.  I was devastated.  Sure, there are independent and used bookstores in my 'hood (one of the advantages to living here), but they don't have nearly as good a selection, plus one of the used bookstores is run by a real asshole who always yells at me to turn off my cell phone.  Even when my cell phone is tucked away in my purse.  Plus, no coupons.

Two, I started planning my move.  Granted, I'm staying in the same neighborhood, but even a trek seven blocks east requires packing, which necessitates a purge.  And I realized: while I love my three full bookcases, they are very, very full.  I've loved discovering the romance genre, and I was about YA way before Twilight was even a sparkly germ in Stephenie Meyer's mind, but the thing about genre fiction?  IT PILES UP.  Like crazy.  Because YA and romance reads tend to be fairly fast (and I'm a fast reader anyway), I have a ton of them.  Sure, many are worth rereading and revisiting (for example, I always turn to Jennifer Crusie's Bet Me on a bad day), but some I haven't looked at since the first read.  Also?  Usually all of my holds from the library come in at once, which makes for a very heavy bag at the end of the day.

There's a Barnes & Noble near my office, where I like to write and have hot chocolate on lunch breaks.  And like the nerdy best friend in an 80's movie, you, Nook, were always hanging around, at your little kiosk, surrounded by attractive covers and accessories.  But I always ignored you.

Until one day, like the nerdy best friend in an 80's movie who gets a makeover, I stopped for a second look.

You were light and easy to use.  You use "e-ink" and not backlighting, so as not to hurt my eyes.  You could store a bajillion titles AND fit into my purse.  Many of these titles were cheaper than their paper brothers and sisters.  For a girl who panics if she finishes a book in transit and has nothing else to read, this was like discovering Nutella for the first time.  And best of all, you could store e-books from the library.

But I took my time.  I asked around about your reputation.  I did online research, I grilled my fellow bookworms.  I listened to my sister when she said, "you read so much, you're actually a great candidate for an e-reader!"  I'd never thought of it that way, but she was right.

I know there are risks.  For example, I don't essentially own any material stored in your lovely self--essentially, I'm "renting" it.  A zombie apocalypse could happen any day--or you could just massively upgrade--and I'd lose all of that.  But my paper books, they would remain.

I get it, though.  Falling in love always, always comes with risks.  And sometimes you have to just jump in.

So I bit the bullet, Nook.  I picked you out, along with two pretty covers.  I learned how to do a search, how to load library books on you, how to make "shelves" to sort my growing collection (my shelves are named Noodle Stories, Bitches Be Crazy, Teen Girl Squad, and Do Not Watch That No No Channel).  I'm still growing accustomed to all your little quirks.

And I don't think I'll ever fully outgrow the print format.  Some books I do want to own, to hold in my hands, to display on my bookcases.

But on the whole, Nook, I think you and are going to be very happy together.