Easy A: For me, high school was an unbearable hell filled with goblins, imps and, scariest of all, girls. I doubt I was ever popular enough to merit a rumor of my own, but I certainly remember how something told in confidence had a way of coming back to kick you in the crotch. I guess that's why I liked Easy A so much, which distills the worst that high school has to offer--pettiness, grudges, cliques and douchebags desperate to get their rocks off--into a 92 minute entertainment.
Easy A treats of good girl Olive who, through a misunderstanding with her bff, is believed to have lost her virginity during a weekend getaway. The school's resident Jesus freak gets wind of the indiscretion and soon cellphones are ablaze with gossip. Texts start flying and, in a matter of milliseconds, everyone knows. That includes classmate Brandon, bullied into depression for his homosexuality. Brandon begs Olive to free him from this torture by pretending to have sex with him. She does, and soon every outcast in school is vying for her unique services. Olive's popularity soars, but at what price? Soon she's flaunting a big scarlet A that she stitches onto an increasingly skimpy wardrobe.
Recent events surrounding the fallout from bullying makes Easy A a timely story. Our hunger for John Hughes-style high school dramedy should get people to the theater. Patricia Clarkson and Stanley Tucci excel as Olive's parents, and look out for Malcolm 'Little Alex' McDowell as the unsympathetic, slightly belligerent principal. Most of all, this is Emma Stone's coming out party. Smart, sardonic and whisky-voiced in the tradition of Hollywood's most sultry icons, she takes this role and runs. As good as she was in Zombieland, her turn as a latter-day Hester Prynne is one she deserves to be remembered for. 3.5 McBones
The Gleaners and I: My sometimes popular wife named her website after Agnes Varda for a good reason: the woman is a genius. As much as I loved Cleo from 5 to 7 and was blown away by Vagabond, The Gleaners and I has raised the Varda bar to a new level. In this documentary/meditation, Varda takes us through the history of gleaning in France, a once respected way of gathering every last trace of a harvest that is now generally seen as the work of outcasts, vagrants and the most downtrodden. Varda travels across France to meet those who comb fields, sometimes legally, sometimes not, in search of potatoes, tomatoes, grapes and whatever else would otherwise go to waste. In her journey she meets those who glean not just for survival, but for the sake of art, pleasure or simply as a way of life. In The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck made us aware of the tragedy of hunger in the face of bounty. Here Varda, a first rate gleaner in her own rite, documents it in real life through the quirky lens of her inimitable vision. 5.0 McBones. The Gleaners and I is an official McBone Must-See
The Bond Project: My sometimes popular wife and I will be watching the James Bond movies in chronological order and offering succinct yet cutting edge insight into the evolving world of 007.
N: Goes to great lengths to tell us that the height of human civilization is the white English male. Otherwise, this is a veritable orgy of firsts: first Bond girl, first 'Bond. James Bond,' first vodka martini, first Walther PPK. Most importantly, we get our first glimpse of perhaps the most inspired bit of casting ever: Sean Connery as 007. Mix a superb villain into the cocktail and you get a killer debut for one of the great franchises. 4.0 McBones
A: It's much more of a racist and sexist nightmare than I remembered. I had no idea what was going on with the technological drama were were supposed to be following, but Sean Connery is still very charming and it's quite fascinating as a document of the era's fears, aesthetics and camp. 2.5 McBones