In the Storm: The More Serious-er Sharknado

Guest Post from our Loyal Reader, Mary reviewing the summer action flick Into The Storm which opened last weekend:

Yes. I spent money on this movie.  Yes. I spent money on this movie the weekend that it opened.  Yes. I spent money on this movie the weekend that it opened and pulled Cammy and a local friend into the funnel cloud of summer blockbuster cheese Read the rest of this entry »

Move Over Cary Elwes–You’re Not the Only Bad Accent In Town

Some of you may remember that we here at MTVMPB do, on occasion, hand out our own awards for the less-recognized aspects of film and television.  Things that even Mtv Movie Awards doesn’t bother to recognize.  These awards have nothing to do with new releases–any work is eligible whenever we damn well make it so.  On the list of elements we choose to recognize is the “Worst American Accent”–an award meant to honor those from outside the US who try–and utterly fail–to imitate one of our many native accents.

We usually refer to this as the “Cary Elwes Award” as his work in Twister was what inspired this particular category.  While he still reigns as the only winner in the Feature Film sub-category, we are honored to finally recognize another outstandingly bad attempt to sound American, this time in the sub-category of “Miniseries.”

A truly realistic Southern drawl may be something easily conjured for the purposes of a quick, mocking comedic impression, however the convincing level of execution needed for a dramatic miniseries is far more of a challenge.  After all, Southern accents come in so many subtle variations from sweet seductive drawl of a Georgia peach, to the piquant twang of Central Texas, it’s no wonder that so many fail in the attempt to pull this off.

But few have failed in a manner as epic as Miranda Otto in the BBC miniseries The Way We Live Now.

Holy.  Shitballs.

Don’t get us wrong, we’re Miranda Otto fans around here.  She rocked the Rohan thing when she played everyone’s favorite shieldmaid, Eowyn in the Lord of the Rings films.  Sure, we wanted to see more with her and Faramir in the Houses of Healing, but we were all pretty damn happy to cheer at “I am no man!” when she sent that Nazgul back to meet his maker.  And, beyond that, she was also great in comedies like Danny Deckchair.  Seeing her name in the opening credits for this miniseries seemed like a fantastic sign for what lay ahead.

Until she opened her mouth.

Oh, for the love of all that is holy.

It’s clear it’s supposed to be Southern, but it’s so fake, so generically over-the-top that it is literally painful to hear.  And it’s sad, because the character to which she’s attaching this audiological abomination is actually an interesting character (two words: pistol. packing.).  The acting is great, it’s just that the accent with which the lines are delivered completely throws one out of the moment.  And also, it makes me feel….bad.

Which is why it deserves an award.  If it’s going to be that awful, we’re going to turn it into something positive by pinning an honor on it.  Woohoo!

So, for “Worst American Accent in a Miniseries” we salute Miranda Otto.  Now go find the vocal coach who trained you on that and pinch him/her on the arm.  Hard.

Awards Night!

Most embarrassing vocal performance in a motion picture

To paraphrase Tolstoy, good vocal performances are all alike.  Every bad vocal performance is bad in its own way.  Most of them can fall into a couple of larger groups:

1.  Those that don’t know how bad they are.
2.  Those who know that they’re bad, but simply hope you won’t figure it out.
3.  Those who know they’re bad and therefore make it into a gag.

The third group is the least offensive and embarrassing; we don’t mind you not having talent as long as you know you don’t have talent.  The first variety makes you look stupid.  The second makes it look like you think we’re stupid.  Tonight’s winner falls into the second category.

We give this award for “Most Embarrassing Vocal Performance in a Motion Picture” to Pierce Brosnan for his humiliating vocal performance in Mama Mia!

Now let’s be honest, that movie (which I love, don’t get me wrong) was clearly cast based on acting ability, name recognition, and looks.  Vocal ability wasn’t much of a consideration, I’d guess.  Which I don’t necessarily like, but I can live with.  But there is such a thing as vocal dubbing.  What happened to the days when they just let Marni Nixon sing for everyone?  (Okay, she might not have been a great choice here).  Most of the singing in this film is less than great.

But something about Mr. Brosnan’s performance just makes me really uncomfortable.  Because you can see in his face that he knows it’s not good and he’s just trying to get through without too much of his soul dying.  And outside of the singing, I thought he was good in this film.  But… This man was James Bond, for Pete’s sake.  And the motion picture industry already put him through costarring with Talent Free Denise Richards, was this indignity necessary?

So Pierce Brosnan, we love you, but we have to give you this award.  At least something can now come of that embarrassing performance.

In Recognition of Butchered American Accents…

I have some great friends who hail from the UK, and I love them dearly, but one too many times I’ve been subjected to these friends, and some mere acquaintances, railing about American actors who don British accents for a part and fail miserably in the ears of anyone native.  It’s not that I don’t agree, but the rant is a little old hat at this point.  Yes, we Americans suck at British accents, we’ll never understand the subtleties and complexities and we ought to be heartily ashamed.

But, my dear friends across the pond, I-35 runs North AND South ’cause y’all suck just as much at getting American accents down pat.  I’ve heard the evidence.

Knowing that recognizing the bi-lateral nature of the situation will never be enough to actually end the ranting, we at It’s My TV, It’s My Peanut Butter have opted, instead, to recognize those from outside the US who attempt to emulate one of our numerous accents and fail miserably.  If we can’t stop the butchering, we might as well celebrated it!

The benchmark for this failure was one we identified years ago.  While watching Twister we couldn’t help but cringe at Cary Elwes’ attempt at, well, we think he was trying to do a Southern drawl, but the jury’s still out.  It was obviously supposed to be some variant of a US accent, but instead it came off as what it was:  a British guy trying to do an American accent.  It grated on the ears and totally threw whatever suspended disbelief I had in the movie (which was admittedly very little) right into the swirling vortex of the CGI-tornado on screen.  I’m not sure if this was meant to be some form of payback for American actors butchering accents over the years, or if it was just an example of how hard it is to really capture the dialect of a place you’ve never lived.

It takes guts to stink up an accent that much in front of so many, and for this, recognition is order.  For” The Worst American Accent in a Feature Film”, our inaugural winner is Cary Elwes in Twister.  Congratulations.  Now, never try to be southern again, sir.

Award Season Continues…

Tonight are the Writer’s Guild Awards.  Neither Cammy or I are members of the Writer’s Guild (shocking, I know) so we’re going to continue giving out our own awards.

The Award for Most Needlessly Flashy Fight Sequence in a Motion Picture…

An ordinary person might think that a fight sequence in which four of your principal characters die would have enough drama in it.  But Kenneth Branagh knows that you can no more pack too much drama into a final duel sequence than you can pack too many A-list actors into one random Shakespearean movie.  And that is why we here at It’s My TV, It’s My Peanut Butter bestow the inaugural award for Most Needlessly Flashy Fight Sequence in a Motion Picture upon Kenneth Branagh’s 1996 production of Hamlet.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love Kenneth Branagh in many ways.  And there are several things I love about this movie.  But somewhere out there is a fight choreographer with blackmail material on Mr. Branagh.  (Nick Powell is credited as “fight arranger.”  He’s my primary suspect.) I can’t think of any other reason for the final fight sequence to be quite so over the top.

The duel between Hamlet and Laertes clearly would not have held our attention on its own, and that’s why Branagh ratcheted things up a bit by interspersing the invasion of Fortinbras’ army.  Thank goodness, it was the only thing that kept me awake. (That’s a joke, in case you’re missing my sarcasm).  The pure visuals of the scene–the red carpet on the black and white floor, the mirrored hall, etc are striking, but completely overshadowed by the sheer violence of the duel, which is supposed to be, at least at the outset, amiable.  But from the moment Laertes’ sword goes sliding across the tile and Hamlet makes the switch, I just can’t keep a straight face.  Because next we have stairs, and glass display cases exploding as our heroes bump into them.  And it’s not enough for Laertes to die from being stabbed with at poison tipped sword.  No, no.  We have to have him flip over the railing of the second floor walkway so that he can gurgle out his final lines while silhouetted against the black and white tiles.  Brilliant!

But where this scene really loses me, is Claudius’s death.  I know he’s a murdering scumbag, but is there a chance that’s a touch of overkill?  Dude gets impaled with a flying fencing foil (still envenomed), pinned to his chair by a falling chandelier (complete with Tarzan!Hamlet) and then forced to drink poisoned wine.  Cathartic?  Yes.  A little silly?  Definitely.

And in the midst of all this we also kill Osric.  Because we can.

For all this death and drama and use of every stage combat technique you learned in school, we give this award to your film, Mr. Branagh.  Please share it with Mr. Powell and your stunt coordinator Simon Crane.  Congratulations.

The Mountains Outside Dallas Award

It’s that time of year again.  This morning, writers, actors and directors awakened at insane hours, not to be at the set on time, but to listen to the nominees for Ye Olde Oscars.  It’s that whirlwind season of awards galore:  Grammy’s, Golden Globes, SAG Awards, Razzies…..  So why not add a few more commendations to the honors already bestowed on Film, Music and TV?

But unlike the major awards, we at It’s My TV….It’s My Peanut Butter understanding that properly recognizing a work means going beyond the best (or worst) actor in a limited time period, looking deeper than just the best adaptation of last 365 movie watching days, and seeing more than just the ubiquitous on-screen kiss.  Some elements of film and television are so rarely captured, that not every year yields an example truly worthy of an honor.  The absence of awards for these –how shall we phrase this?– “less mainstream” elements means that we are forced to look backward to pay homage to the great works before as well as to present day efforts.

And so, we submit to you the first of many very different award categories here at It’s My TV….It’s My Peanut Butter:

The Award for Outstanding Geographic Inaccuracy In a Feature Film

Once upon a time a girl, transplanted from her life in Texas to a new life in Virginia went to see a movie about alien conspiracies.  She settled in, surrounded by native Virginians as the lights dimmed and the film began.  And when it was over, she was the only one left thinking that the real conspiracy lay not in the massive alien space-ship hidden under an ice-shelf in Antarctica, not in the alien-virus-take-over plot allegedly being enacted by a shadow government.  No, the darkest, most sinister, un-explained phenomenon was the fact that Dallas, Texas was shown in the middle of a desert….with massive mountains behind a skyline which looked nothing like the real thing.

And no one else in that theater was confused.

Geographic Inaccuracy.  It plagues everything from animated features, to your favorite weekly TV series.  Sometimes there are just limits to how many places you can imitate using only Southern California, or the Greater Vancouver area, but some errors are so heinous, so erroneous that you question whether even the most remedial geographic education would be able to help the folks in Film and TV who managed not to care enough to right the wrong.

In the Category of “Outstanding Geographic Inaccuracy in a Feature Film” we are pleased to honor X-Files: Fight the Future for its stunningly inaccurate portrayal of Dallas, Texas.

A city with an average annual rainfall of between 32 and 48 inches, located in a region where the elevation ranges from approximately 450 ft. to 800 ft. above sea level (across the entire Dallas/Ft. Worth Metroplex–an area covering thousands of square miles).  And yet, flying in the face of common sense and what would probably have been minimal impacts to budget, the X-Files folks still decided to try and pass off establishing shots of a desert-mountain backdrop with a bone-dry desert foreground for this well known, flat and (relatively) green Texas city. Wow.

For this shocking abuse of basic geography, we at It’s My TV….It’s My Peanut Butter shall, henceforth, refer to this illustrious category not simply as “Outstanding Geographic Inaccuracy” but as   “The Mountains Outside Dallas Award” for Outstanding Geographic Inaccuracy in a Film.  Congrats.  Your lack of simple research brought a whole new conspiratorial level to this already paranoia-heavy picture.