SUNDAY MORNING REVIEW OF SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE – Kristen Stewart / Alessia Cara

Review, Saturday Night Live

COLD OPEN: In a wonderful introduction to what we can expect next Saturday, Alec Baldwin is back as President Trump and this week Steve Bannon is also in SNL’s cross fires. Dressed as the grim-reaper we witness as Bannon eggs Trump on in calling various world leaders. We witness the horrendous call between Trump and the Australian Prime Minister, his failed attempt to getting Mexico to pay for the wall, and what Zimbabwe’s leader thinks about the current commander and chief. Pretty solid cold-open, but what else do we expect at this point. Cannot wait to see what a whole episode with this guy will be.

MONOLOGUE: Kristen Stewart is here to host this week! She may have nothing to promote but she’s famous enough that she doesn’t really need to plug anything for people to know who she is. People primary know Stewart from being in the Twilight films, which were the ‘it’ movies back in 2012, and Stewart was Donald Trumps ‘it’ tweeting topic during that time too it seems. In her monologue, Stewart introduces the audience to actual Trump tweets from back in 2012 in which the current President was very invested in Stewart’s then relationship with Robert Pattenson. Yes, it is as ridiculous as it sounds. Why a grown man would be interested in that, who knows? There are so many questions at this point, this one seems pretty low on the list. There’s a small bit at the end where Kate MacKinnon and Aidy Bryant try to seem cool to the too-cool-for-school Stewart, but the best part was the accidental f-bomb from Stewart as she’s kicking off the night 🙂 a great start to the night.

HAVE TO YOUTUBE: (The Press Conference) Not since Alec Baldwin as Donald Trump, which was just back in September, has there been a more perfect impression than Melissa McCarthy as Sean Spicer. This will go down has one of the greatest moments from this season of SNL, I’m calling it now. Acting as the current press secretary, McCarthy perfectly encapsulates Spicer’s frustrated demeanour of trying to convince the press that the past 12 days of the current President’s time in office is completely normal for a president. Completed with props and an also perfect Kate MacKinnon impression of the Secretary of Education, this was the sketch of the night, and might I say the season. Fingers crossed for more McCarthy!

WEEKEND UPDATE: Most of the time, Weekend Update can pick up the slack of the evening’s episode. But tonight, nothing could really top Melissa McCarthy’s cameo. Jost and Che gave it their all though. Continuing the theme of throwing punches at Trump there was also Keenan Thompson as Boston Red Sox’s Big Papi. There was also a cute moment where Jost tried to end the segment early. Oh Jost, McCarthy’s awesomeness was just too much for everyone it seems.

MUSICAL GUEST: This week’s musical guest is Alessia Cara. And for those of you that are not Canadian or didn’t go to Taylor Swift’s concert, she is a singer from Brampton, Ontario. For her first song of the evening she started off with “Scars to Your Beautiful,” it was a nice way to start off the show. The slightly upbeat song was great being accompanied by the band and back up singers. The song allowed her to move around the stage and engage with the audience. For her final song for the night, she lowed down the tempo with “River of Tears,” just her singing from a microphone with a piano backing her up. Two solid performances for this first timer. Honestly most of the time I have no idea who the musical guest is, or usually not really that big of a fan of them, but being a Canadian I like her and her music so this review might be biased.

 BEST LINE FRONT THE SHOW:

“I’m here to swallow gum and take names.”

– Sean Spicer (Melissa McCarthy)

NEXT WEEK:

Host – Alec Baldwin

Musical Guest – Ed Sheeran

BOOK REVIEW: Born a Crime

Book, Book Review, Review

RATING: ★★★★★

Author: Trevor Noah

Pages: 224

Published: November 15, 2016

 

When it was announced that Trevor Noah would replaced John Stewart as host of The Daily Show in 2015 many people were like, “who?” The South African comedian was relatively unknown to North American audiences. But it has been a little over a year with Noah behind the desk, with him making The Daily Show his own. This one-year anniversary of his hosting gig is also marked with the release of his book Born a Crime.

This books serves as an opportunity to get to know a bit more about the man behind the hit Comedy Central show as well as provide some insight to a completely different culture. As the title points out, the birth of Trevor Noah was a crime. Born to a black South African woman and a white Swiss-German man during apartheid, his presence was evidence of an illegal act in his country.

And that’s just the launch pad for this book, with Noah choosing to highlight more about his life and upbringing in South Africa then how be became the host of The Daily Show. With the former being the more interesting by far, Noah describes his childhood during this apartheid making his childhood incredibly different than most. But the hardships that Noah experiences and explains to his audience is never told in a way that asks for sympathy from the reader, but rather told in a ‘matter of fact’ manner. Acknowledging that you never really know what your own experience is like until you start comparing yourself to others.

The real hero in this book is not Noah (which is shocking since it is about his own life) but his mother. She is his champion and the person who seems to have taught him everything and have the most impact on his life. Writing about his mother with a particular fondness and admiration but also not shying away from her flaws which makes everyone human. The relationship between Noah and his mother, which is told from the very first sentence of the book, is the heart his story. She is the source of most of the laugh, tears, and lessons this book provides.

FAVOURITE QUOTE:

“People love to say, “Give a man a fish, and he’ll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he’ll eat for a lifetime.” What they don’t say is, “And it would be nice if you gave him a fishing rod.” That’s the part of the analogy that’s missing.”

SUNDAY MORNING REVIEW OF SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE: KRISTEN WIIG / THE xx

Review, Saturday Night Live, Television

COLD OPEN: Last week we were still in shock, now we have to deal the current predicament. And so does SNL. When Alec Baldwin was offered to play the presidential nominee, and now president-elect Donald Trump, he probably didn’t think it would last past the election. But now Trump won the election, and Baldwin has a steady gig now. As life imitates art, we see the newly elected President in complete shock as his campaign manager Kellyanne Conway (Kate McKinnon) ushers in people who are determined to have Trump come through on the promises he made on the campaign trail, including ISIS and locking up Hilary Clinton. The sketch involved a meeting with Mitt Romney (sup Jason Sudakis?). Only to result in him not wanting to change anything, a la the revolutions that were discovered during the recent 60 Minute interview.

OPENING MONLOGUE: She’s back; former SNL cast member Kristen Wiig is hosting this week. And it doesn’t seem like there is anything she’s here to plug so here’s no awkward “I’m in the movie [blank]” line to look forward to. Wiig decides to fall back onto the ole faithful singing monologue, she launches into some song about Thanksgiving or something. Some pluses to having a former cast member host the show is the hopes that they might do some favourite characters or sketches from their time on the show, or even the possibility of them bringing along other past alums (like formerly mentioned Jason Sudakis)…. And oh my goodness it’s STEVE MARTIN AND WILL FORTE!!!!! Yes! Yes! Yes! Oh, and they’re back to singing…

HAVE TO YOUTUBE: (Secret Word) As I said, one of the upsides of having an old cast member is the possibility that they’ll break out some old characters or sketches. And Wiig did just that with “Secret Word” and her character of Mindy Elise Grayson. You know, the washed up Broadway actress who never seems to understand the concept of a ‘secret’ word. Classic Wiig, and Cicily Strong was great in this sketch too.

Honourable mention to Anderson Cooper 360, set in Westworld. Too realistic!

And surprise party Sue, obviously!

WEEKEND UPDATE: CHE! JOST! I’ve been looking forward to see you all week. The duo behind the news desk reported on, you guessed it, Trump. More specifically, his recent appointments. To make it seem like the didn’t spend the whole segment bashing Trump, they bring on Pete Davidson (yay!) to talk about his concerns, and those of young people, about the recent president-elect. His comments on Trump are hilarious, especially since last season he compared a Trump victory to how former American Idol contestant Sanjaya. How people kept voting for him for laughs instead of talent, so yeah, he definitely saw this coming. They also brought on Che’s neighbour Willie, but I’m not the biggest fan of that character. (SIDENOTE: Micheal Che’s comedy special “Micheal Che Matters” comes out on Netflix this Friday, in case you need a Gilmore Girls break or something 😉 )

MUSICAL GUEST: Musical guest this week is indie pop band The xx (and yes, it’s supposed to be 2 lower cases ‘x’s, I Googled it). Their first song of the night was “Hold On” which is a new song that will be on their upcoming new album I See You, which comes out in the new year. It’s a cool song, and the performance wasn’t bad, maybe not one that the audience can really jam too but that’s not always the point.

BEST LINE FROM THE SHOW:

“How was Hamilton?” – Donald Trump (Alec Baldwin)

“It was good, I got a free lecture.” – Mike Pence (Beck Bennett)

 

NEXT SHOW:

December 3

Host: Emma Stone

Musical Guest: Shawn Mendes

BOOK REVIEW: Scrappy Little Nobody

Book, Book Review, Review

RATING: ★★★★★

 

Author: Anna Kendrick

Pages: 275 pages

Published: November 15, 2016

 

I normally am not interested in “celebrity-memoirs,” partially because 1) they’re mostly by celebrities from shows and/or movies that were before my time or 2) these stars don’t seem all that relatable to me (sorry Rob Lowe and Brooke Shields, but it’s hard for me to see us as being from the same species you handsome aliens!!!). But if I’m being honest, I was super excited for Anna Kendrick’s “memoir” Scrappy Little Nobody because in typical millennial fashion, she’s just so #relatable.

The book takes us back to the times of a young Kendrick making her debut on Broadway (and getting a Tony nomination in the process), being a part of the “Twilight” franchise, and her experiences on “Pitch Perfect.” As well as the whirlwind of being nominated for an Oscar for “Up in the Air” despite being flat-broke. Now not many people would find themselves in these experiences, how this young woman was dealing with these events is what makes readers want to be this girl’s best friend.

Because before she was the darling that makes great late-night segments that garners millions of YouTube views, she was this girl from Portland, Maine. Who was always the littlest in the class, bought the cheapest IKEA furniture when she moved out of her parents house (same girl), and who had a tendency to like boys who had no interest in her (again, relatable).

If Twitter ever needs proof of why they should increase their character allowance from 140 characters per tweet, they should read this book.

 

FAVOURITE QUOTE:

“I lost a Tony award to Broadway legend Audra McDonald when I was twelve so I’ve been a bitter bitch since before my first period.”

– Anna Kendrick

MOVIE REVIEW: The Edge of Seventeen

Movie, movie review, Review

RATING: ★★★★☆

 

Cast: Hailee Steinfeld, Haley Lu Richardson, Blake Jenner, Kyra Sedgwick, Woody Harrelson, Hayden Szeto

Director: Kelly Fremon Craig

Length and Rating: 1 hr. 44 min | R

 

Among friends, we call know there is this cardinal rule that we are not to go after our friend’s brothers or sisters. You just don’t. Obviously rule doesn’t always stop people from doing it, but it’s still there. There are countless movies and TV episodes where this happens, and The Edge of Seventeen can be included. When we meet our protagonist Nadine (Hailee Steinfeld) and her best, and only, friend Krista (Haley Lu Richardson) couldn’t be closer. For Nadine, why have any other friends when Krista fully accepts her odd fashion choices and sense of humour. Besides other seventeen-year old girls are mouth-breathers, so why even try to make new friends. But that all changes after one night of drinking that leads to Nadine discovering that her best friend as hooked-up with her arch-nemesis older brother Darian (Blake Jenner).

After Nadine gives Krista an unfair ultimatum, she is on her own. Left to her own devices, she is now forced to interact among the people around her, whom she has spent the past three years of high school looking down upon. This includes her history teacher Mr. Bruner (Woody Harrelson), who we all wished was our history teacher in high school, because duh Woody Harrelson. Her overbearing mother (Kyra Sedgwick) who seems to still be in the transition of being a single parent after her husband, and Nadine’s father, dies of a sudden heart attack. And her classmate Erwin (the completely endearing Hayden Szeto, painfully endearing), who tries to get Nadine to open up enough to let him in.

Let it be known, this is Hailee Steinfeld’s movie. Yes there are other amazing people in it, but Steinfeld had the very difficult task of playing this stubborn, cynical, and emotional teenager (so a teenager) without having the audience completely abandon her. Yes her character makes mistakes, but as an audience you never really give up on Nadine. I think we forget that Steinfeld was first introduced to us as an actress, probably because we now know her through her songs that play on the radio and get stuck in our heads hours after hearing it. But it’s through her interactions with her teacher, mother, and brother that we see that this girl is not as tough as she wants people to believe she is.

This movie has been tossed around has being in the same genre of John Hughes movies of the 80s. And if you need to convince your friends to go see it with you, sure you can draw the comparison. But I think people make those calls because of the fact that this movie, along with John Hughes films, was able to capture what being a teenager is like. These films have teenage characters that are more than the stereotypes that countless other films cast kids to be like. And if that is what it takes for a film to be called “Hughes-like” then sure, I’ll give it that title.

 

FAVOURITE QUOTE:

“You’re the first person who has underestimated how much I make, that made me feel good.”

Mr. Bruner (Woody Harrelson)

MOVIE REVIEW: Arrival

Movie, movie review, Review

RATING: ★★★★☆

Cast: Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker

Director: Denis Villeneuve

Length and Rating: 1 hr 56 min | PG-13

Are we the only living things in this universe? If not, what would we do if aliens came to Earth? Well, in Arrival, it seems we would all lose are freaking minds. Because when 12 alien pods, that look similarly like the Chicago bean, land all over the planet in different locations, the planet is at a lost of how to communicate with them. In America, the army enlists the help of renown linguistic Dr. Louise Banks (Amy Adams) and scientist Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner) to try to decipher their language in order to know their purpose here on Earth. They are not only racing against time, but also against the other host countries of these pods so that no one takes matters into their hands and start an all-out war with these aliens.

Amy Adams shines as Dr. Banks, a woman who is tasked with an impossible job while also struggling with her own inner turmoil. Her anxiety is also ours, and your wanting her to succeed also comes with apprehension of what her victory will mean for the planet. Will we like what the aliens have to say?

What this movie succeeds in is the fact that it throws away this notion that if alien life were to inhabit Earth we would be able to understand them. This film explores the idea that aliens not only would not be able to speak any of our languages, but also have a completely different comprehension of what language is and how it is used. Which only makes the task of deciphering their language that much more difficult.

This movie is advertised as an alien invasion movie, but if you have read other reviews you know that it’s more than that. This film does bait and switch, and the decision to accept that is ultimately up to you. But if you do accept it, you will walk away thinking about this movie for days after, like I did.

 

FAVOURITE QUOTE: “There are days that define your story beyond your life, like the day they arrived.”

Dr. Louise Banks (Amy Adams)

MOVIE REVIEW: Dr. Strange

Movie, movie review, Review

RATING: ★★★½☆☆

Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams, Mads Mikkelsen, Tilda Swinton

Director: Scott Derrickson

Length and Rating: 1hr 55 min | PG-13

 

It’s been a couple months since a superhero has been released into theatres, but the Marvel movie making machine made sure that their films are perfectly spread out so we don’t forget about them. The newest installment of the Marvel universe comes in the origin story that is told in Doctor Strange. Dr. Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) is a world-renowned brain surgeon whose skills barely surpasses his ego. He’s good at his job and he knows it, and lets everyone else know it. But not even the greatest surgeon is immune to distracted driving. When it is revealed to the great Dr. Strange that he will no longer be able to use his hands in the same capacity as before, he refuses to accept that and goes on a quest to regain the mobility he has lost. It is on this journey that he gets swept to Kathmandu and the teaching of The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton), where his understanding of the known universe gets expanded drastically.

Dr. Strange may not be the most popular superhero in the Marvel universe; where Captain America has his shield and super strength, Thor has his hammer and luxurious blonde locks, Dr. Strange can bend space and time all while donning a cape (who is a scene stealer). This is definitely the most psychedelic Marvel movie, with special effects that make Inception’s seem like child’s play.

Whenever the concept of time and the ability to control it may cause the audience to lose its ability to follow the storyline, it makes up for it with the characters that are infused in this universe. Although Dr. Strange can be completely arrogant, Cumberbatch’s approach to the character makes you not want to fully abandon the character. Making him more rounded of a person with sprinkles of redeemable qualities. The supporting cast is just as strong, with Chiwetel Ejiofor as Mordo and Mads Mikkelsen as the villian Kaecilius. Even with all the controversy surrounding the whitewashing of the character The Ancient One, Tilda Swinton does do a superb job, but even the performance doesn’t take away from the fact that the casting should have been more conscious of the choices they were making.

FAVOURITE QUOTE:

“We don’t get to choose our time.”

The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton)

MOVIE REVIEW: Me Before You

Movie, movie review, Review

RATING: ★★★½☆☆

Cast: Emilia Clarke, Sam Claflin, Charles Dance, Janet McTeer, Jenna Coleman, Matthew Lewis, Stephen Peacocke

Director: Thea Sharrock

Length and Rating: 110 min | PG-13

With all the superhero movies being released recently, Me Before You attempts to get people to go to the theatre for something other than grown men in capes. Louisa Clark (Emilia Clarke, Games of Thrones) has lived her whole life in the same town and has been at the same job for years. But when she is forced to find new employment she lands herself a job as a caregiver to Will Trainor (Sam Claflin, Hunger Games: Catching Fire), a quadriplegic who is adjusting to his new life predicament, poorly.

It classic girl meets boy, boy dislikes girl, girl dislikes boy, girl begins to like boy, boy has given himself 6 months to live… wait a minute. Yes, Will has given himself and family a specific length of time he would like to remain on earth before he goes to a medical facility that will help him commit suicide. You won’t find that in your superhero movie.

This is not a Nicholas Sparks film, although you would be forgiven if you thought so. This film is funnier than a Nicholas Sparks film, surprising funny. It actually has you both laughing and crying if you let yourself get swept up in the story. Emilia Clarke, a.k.a. Queen of Dragons, plays quirky Lou without making her seem over the top and unbearably happy. She in fact has most of the funny lines in the film, giving the girl who wears the outlandish outfits some substance. With Sam Claflin, who we have seen play charming in the Hunger Games franchise, as her counterpart the two have some chemistry. And it’s not an instance romance with is refreshing, as each character becomes for comfortable around one another that’s when the relationship between the two changes gradually until you realize they are in love with one another.

What may lose some people is the subject matter of doctor-assisted suicide, which is a factor in this film. Since his accident Will feels likes this is not his life anymore, and he is not the same person. He was meant to have a different life, and that life ended for him when his accident happened. Whether you think what he wants to do is morally right or wrong is up to you to decide. Now is this the film to have a serious debate on doctor-assisted suicide, maybe but probably not. But the ultimate goal of the movie seems to be to encourage fullness of life, and as the film’s tagline suggests, to live boldly.

FAVOURITE QUOTE: “You only get one life. It’s actually your duty to live it as fully as possible.” – Will Trainor (Sam Claflin)

MOVIE REVIEW: X-Men: Apocolapse

Movie, movie review, Review

RATING: ★★★½☆☆

Cast: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, Oscar Isaac, Rose Byrne, Evan Peters, Sophie Turner, Tye Sheridan, Kodi Smit-McPhee

Director: Bryan Singer

Length and Rating: 144 min | PG-13

After X-Men: Days of Futures Past, the possibilities that these following films can go are endless due to the fact that Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) changed the course of time. This film focuses on what happens years after mutants saved the President from an attack against him. Unfortunately for the mutants, as seems to be the case in every X-Men film, they are still being hunted and killed. But when an ageless God-like mutant Apolcalypse (Oscar Isaac) awakes and is determined to rid the world of its humans, it’s up to Professor Charles Xavier and his baby-faced X-Men in training to save the day.

That is the main story line for this film, but threaded throughout are many smaller components. Beginning with the introduction of the young Jean Grey (Sophie Turner), Scott Summers (Tye Sheridan), and Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee). There is Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence), who has gone into hiding, resisting to be the poster girl for mutants everywhere she has decided to travel around in her non-blue form and save as many other mutants as possible. And there is the constant tension between Professor Xavier and Magneto (Michael Fassbender) who can never truly see eye to eye when it comes to the state of humanity.

So really, all that means is that this is a long film. It’s two and a half hours. If you are a fan to the X-Men films you won’t care or notice. But if you’re not you probably will. And with all those plot points to hit and character development to be made, at times the film can seem like it was trying to accomplish too much. In addition, when you have a great actor like Oscar Isaac as the villain there should be little need to cover his face in makeup and prosthetics.

The introduction of the younger X-Men members were great, knowing how these characters interact later on in time make these scenes able to melt hearts. Managing to capture the essence of the character while also making it refreshing. Special acknowledgements should go out to Kodi Smit-McPhee as the young Nightcrawler, definitely a favourite. Also great was the always changing dynamic between Professor X and Magneto, one of the best “friend/foe” relationships around. With Fassbender giving the familiar villain more depth and understanding as to why he is the way he is. Similarly to Captain America: Civil War you can understand why there are two sides to this fight. One wants to see the best in the world, while the other wants to change its sad reality.

Mutants are being ostracized because they are different, and the world does not want to accept them. It is something that can be seen in the world around us today as well. People being afraid of what they do not know, of what is different, causes divides and creates hatred. Professor X’s goal, which has been constant throughout these films, both the original series and the reboot, is to blur these lines and have no divide. Here’s hoping he gets closer to achieving that in the next film.

FAVOURITE QUOTE: “I feel a great swell of pity for the poor soul that comes to my school looking for trouble.” – Professor Charles Xavier (James McAvoy)

BOOK REVIEW: Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness

Book, Book Review, Review

RATING: ★★★☆☆

Author: Susannah Cahalan

Pages: 250

Published: November 13, 2012

At the age of 24 Susannah Cahalan had the seemingly perfect life, a great job as a writer for the New York Post, a wonderful boyfriend, a great apartment in the city. But it all falls apart for her when she suddenly starts to have psychotic episodes and hallucinations. When she is admitted into the hospital there begins her month journey to a diagnosis and a lifetime journey to recovery. Written by Cahalan herself, she does not remember this month in the hospital due to her illness. In order to accurately write about what happened to her she relies on her medical records, journal entries from her parents and herself, and interviews with doctors and loved ones.

Brain on Fire allows Cahalan expand on the article she wrote about her illness and time in the hospital. As interesting and scary the journey to a diagnosis was what is even more heart wrenching is her recollection during her recovery. Due to the fact that her memory of that time is present compared to her time in hospital, she is able to really explain and confess her emotions. You get her insight on not only what this illness was doing to her, but to those who were around her. As much as this book tells her journey, it’s also about her family’s journey as well.

There is a fair bit of medical jargon used in the book, but Cahalan is able to explain it in laymen terms and not make readers feel overwhelmed. This book illuminates how intricate the brain can be, and how it can get compromised in multiple different ways. Reading this book will give readers a (hopefully) greater compassion and understanding to those with a variety of brain illnesses.

FAVOURITE QUOTE:

“Sometimes, just when we need them, life wraps metaphors up in little bows for us. When you think all is lost, the things you need the most return unexpectedly.”

Sidenote: This memoir is being adapted into a movie staring Chloe Grace Moretz, Jenny Slate, Thomas Mann, Tyler Perry, Navid Negahban