THEPOPFIX.COM » review What's Your Fix? Fri, 12 Sep 2014 22:38:21 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Elsa From “Frozen” Invades Storybrooke Mon, 12 May 2014 16:24:19 +0000 Wow, last night was like watching a two-hour feature film, but really it was the “Once Upon A Time” season finale. I was a bit worried to start the whole time travel thing, because that can get so confusing, but everything went smoothly. Let me add that this show has really stepped up their special effects and I love it. Here’s a quick little recap of the shocking cliffhanger and what I was thinking each step of the way. 

once upon a time

Everything was going so smoothly in fact that, with ten minutes left of the finale, everyone was 100% happy and content. Viewers are intelligent and we know there is no such thing as a happy ending, especially in a finale. In the final five minutes Emma’s attempt at saving an innocent’s life, leaves Regina once again heartbroken and scorned. The innocent Emma saved turned out to be Robin Hood’s wife, which Robin Hood is Regina’s soul-mate and they were just starting to establish their relationship. Regina became the Evil Queen after being scorned by Snow White, who as a child said something that caused Regina’s true love to be murdered. With Emma being Snow White’s daughter, Regina can’t help but make the connection of Emma being just like her mother. After Emma tried to apologize Regina uttered, “You better hope to hell you didn’t bring anything else back.”

Here is where I get pissed. We all knew that vase that flew into the time portal was going to be important, but what came out of that damn thing was not what I had expected. I should correct that statement, what came out of that damn vase was not what anyone expected! In a high energy build up, the last minute of the finale is a sequence of some blue liquid escaping the vase and turning into a formation. At this point I’m thinking it’s the blue genie from “Aladdin.” Then the formation turns into an obvious form of a woman in a blue dress. As the camera angle crosses her blue sleeved arms, I’m thinking, “Alright it’s Cinderella.” The camera then pans behind the woman as we notice the blonde hair and full blue winter-like gown. I’m still not even making the connection, and then the damn woman with attitude magically throws out these ice-crystal shards into the ground. As she stormed off, I sat there with my jaw dropped and said, “It’s f*cking Elsa!”


Now, all these not so pretty words are a result of thinking we had finally escaped the wrath of the animated Disney movie “Frozen.” This has to be one of the quickest TV adaptations of a character, since the film just came out this past year. The film’s success was insane, it is now the sixth highest-grossing film of all time. The music from the film became obsessed over by children, parodied on multiple platforms, and just frankly drove the rest of us mad! We are left waiting all summer with so many questions. Who will play Elsa the Snowqueen? Who put her in that vase? Will Regina sing “Let It Go?”

Although I seem upset, I have found out how to be excited for this. Being tall, blonde, and liking the color blue are some of my favorite characteristics when it comes to women. All of those are Elsa, so from a dude’s perspective, I’m sure the character will be hot! How do you feel about “Frozen” making it’s way to television?


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THE CRITIC: Jon Favreau Serves Up An Indie Revival In “Chef” Wed, 07 May 2014 20:16:46 +0000 “Chef” 2014

Director: Jon Favreau

Starring: Jon Favreau, John Leguizamo, Sofia Vergara

Rating: R

TRT: 115 mins


Calling all foodies and film fans – if you’re craving an introspective story about family, fear, and finding the strength to follow a dream, Jon Favreau serves it up in “Chef.”

Though he’s most recently known for his work helming big budget blockbusters like “Iron Man” and “Iron Man 2″ Favreau steps outside the expected with “Chef” – a lighthearted comedy about a man’s personal journey to reignite a passion, and reconnect with his son.

“Chef” follows the story of Carl Casper (Favreau), who decides to start a food truck business after losing his job at a high profile restaurant. The journey takes Casper across the country, bringing new experiences, challenges, and the opportunity to spend some overdue time with his son, played by Emjay Anthony. While the progression of the father-son relationship is both heart-felt and entertaining most of the time, it deflates during the few moments where Favreau fails to convey emotional specificity. Instead, the film’s strong suit is found in the chemistry between Favreau and friends John Leguizamo, Bobby Cannavale, and feisty food critic arch-nemeses played by Oliver Platt. The comedy continues down to the star-studded cameos, both Russell Peters and Amy Sedaris brought their chops to the table for short scenes that are likely to be fan-favorites.

Comedy aside, the film’s undeniable charm lies in the main character’s narrative, that in seems to parallel Favreau’s life, resulting in a rewarding movie-going experience that feels more personal than the blockbuster behemoths it’s competing against this summer  “Chef” feels like a flavorful return to his days as an indie darling and successfully straddles the line between star-studded summer flick and low budget indie film. resulting in a relatable, feel-good movie that will leave you asking for seconds.

“Chef” opens in theatres May 9th, 2014.



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Cinematic Support For A Quarter-Life Crisis – The Watchlist Fri, 25 Apr 2014 16:42:41 +0000 Nobody ever said our 20′s were going to be easy.  Sure, they come with their fair share of perks, but not even the blessings of wrinkle-free skin, a fast metabolism, and the freakish ability to function with a hangover can save you from the perils of paying off student loans in a job-less economy.

As if weeding out your college drinking buddies isn’t hard enough…

In the spirit of the quarter-life crisis, and transitioning into adulthood, I went on a search to find some cinematic support either inspired by, or featuring characters currently experiencing the all-too-familiar trials and tribulations that come along with being a 20-something in this week’s installment of The Watchlist. 


“Reality Bites” 1994

 Director: Ben Stiller

Starring: Ethan Hawke, Winona Ryder

Rating: PG-13

TRT:  99 mins

We know, we know, the 90’s were a time of angst. Anyone who’s ever listened to a Nirvana album, or sat through half an episode of “My So-Called Life” could tell you that. A 29-year-old (and most likely flannel-clad) Ben Stiller knew it too, and perfectly captured the spirit of 90’s angst in his directorial feature debut “Reality Bites.”

This coming of age classic follows aspiring filmmaker Lelaina (Winona Ryder) as she sets out on mission to document the disenfranchised lives of her freshly graduated circle of friends. The result? A movie that effectively bottles up feelings of disappointment, depression, and impending identity crisis all in an angsty little time capsule from 1994.

High points: Talented cast, killer soundtrack, and enough 90′s nostalgia to last a full calendar year.

Low points: You might find yourself having a few “did they get work done” distractions…



“Frances, Ha” 2012

Director: Noah Baumbach

Starring: Greta Gerwig

Rating: R

TRT:  86 mins

Having a bad day? Month? Decade? Get ready to feel better about yourself…

“Frances, Ha” follows the story of a woman in her late 20’s who loses her job, apartment, best friend, and relationship all in the span of 86 minutes. Finally, a film that accurately captures the conundrums and cringe-worthy awkwardness that comes with along with the overall inadequacies that make up the majority our 20’s.

Snarky synopsis aside, it’s not a total downer. In fact, it’s in these dark moments where Frances (Greta Gerwig) finds her strength and unyielding resolve to her follow her dreams. Thus, making “Frances, Ha” the only feel good movie that may simultaneously make you very feel bad. Or at least very, very awkward.

High points: Greta Gerwig’s performance as Frances is specific, captivating, and absolutely dead on. If you’re a fan of this talented indie actress, don’t miss “Frances, Ha.”

Low points: It gets awkward. Brace yourself.


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Music & Musings – The Watchlist Thu, 10 Apr 2014 00:29:41 +0000 What have I been watching? This week I delved into the music  of “The Doors” and “The Magic Flute” as well as the comedic ramblings, stories, and musings from Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon in Britain’s TV-to-film adaptation of “The Trip.” Read on for information, and insight in this week’s edition of The Watchlist.



“The Doors” (1991)

Director: Oliver Stone

Starring: Val Kilmer, Meg Ryan

Rating: R

TRT: 140 mins


I don’t know what exactly inspired me to watch “The Doors.” But considering it was a semi-hungover day off with nothing but Netflix to do, I wouldn’t put it past me either.

Oliver Stone’s biography of The Doors frontman Jim Morrison isn’t exactly a glowing portrait, but it’s in those moments of darkness and drug-use that we find an unforgettable performance from Val Kilmer. It’s hard to believe actors like Johnny Depp, John Travolta, and Richard Gere were once considered for the role. But even Kilmer’s brilliant take on Morrison couldn’t save this movie from script-level problems that ultimately result in a languid style of story-telling that seems to float in and out of finding it’s pace.

High points: Kilmer, the costumes, the soundtrack, and Kyle MacLachlan as Ray Manzarek – most ridiculous wig ever?

Low points: Meg Ryan’s generic performance as love-interest Pamela Courson lacked the specificity I was hoping to see in the girlfriend of a rockstar in the distinct times of the 60’s and 70’s.


“The Trip” (2011)

Director: Michael Winterbottom

Starring: Steve Coogan, Rob Brydon

Rating: NR

TRT: 115 minutes


Calling all improv aficionados! If you haven’t seen “The Trip,” do it now. You’ll thank me later. This highly improvised film from Michael Winterbottom is the entertaining story of a road trip starring Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon as amplified versions of themselves. “The Trip” is an interesting take on the buddy comedy sub-genre that’s funny, and smart. Though a wee bit slow at times, it’s still certainly worth a watch.

High points: Coogan’s charm, and chemistry with Brydon will draw you in and make you “feel like you were there.”

Low points: It’s definitely the kind of thing that you have to be in the mood for. AKA: Lots of dry, witty dialogue, but very little action.

“The Magic Flute” (2006)

Director: Kenneth Branagh

Starring: Joseph Kaiser, Amy Carson, Rene Pape

Rating: G

TRT: 135 mins


Could anyone other than Kenneth Branagh combine the fairy tale of Mozart’s most beloved opera with the stark setting of World War I? The answer is no. Though my doubts started at the DVD description, I ended up enjoying “The Magic Flute” much more than I had originally anticipated.

Somehow, Branagh was able to execute a movie version of this larger-than-life opera in a way that actually works. The modified setting and story-arcs retain the fantastic elements one would expect from “The Magic Flute” while simultaneously providing historical context that brings it back down to reality. A little…

High points: The talent. Every cast member in “The Magic Flute” really brings their A-game to this English-language adaptation of the opera.

Low points: I didn’t know this movie existed until today. Low point, indeed. But in my defense, it has not yet been released in the United States. Lucky for you, it’s now available on Netflix.

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Sinners & Saints – The Watchlist Sat, 05 Apr 2014 05:48:57 +0000 Welcome to the first installment of The Watchlist – a new weekly column all about what I’m currently watching and what I thought about it.

My name is Erin Darling, and I’m a LA-based TV/web host, writer, and producer. For the past few years I’ve been mainly covering, reviewing, and hosting shows about movies, and as a result I end up watching a lot of ‘em. Between screenings, homework for projects I’m working on, and/or nights in with my Netflix account, I normally watch between 7-10 films per week. Some of them old, some of them new, some of them virtually unheard of outside of uber specific niche communities of which I’m clearly not cool enough to belong.

I digress. The point is, there’s a huge world of cinema out there, and it’s a fascinating world I’m constantly exploring. Now I’m here to share my discoveries with you!

Join me on this journey, send me your feedback in the comments below, and stay tuned for more weekly installments of The Watchlist on – where movie suggestions, opinions, and stimulating conversation are always welcome!


Sinners & Saints – The Watchlist


Screen shot 2014-04-04 at 10.47.19 PM


“Noah” (2014)

Director:  Darren Aronofsky

Starring: Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Emma Watson

Rating: PG-13

TRT: 139 mins

Oh Aronofsky, how greatly I’ve missed you! Anyone that’s heard me wax poetic on AMC Movie Talk or It’s A Wrap is well aware that I have an affinity for visionary director Darren Aronofsky. With only seven features to his name, his body of work may be small, but there’s no denying it’s impact. His films never fail to capture my attention, break my heart, or and ignite my imagination. Although Noah was received with mixed reviews from critics and audiences alike for it’s Biblical inaccuracies, and lack of pace, I fell in love with the movie for it’s scope, sound, and solid performances.  I left the theatre impressed by the entire cast (particularly Emma Watson, whose performance as Noah’s adopted daughter Ila blew me away), moved by the score by frequent Aronofsky collaborator Clint Mansell with incredible editing from John Finklea, and so very glad that I got to see this movie on an IMAX screen. If you have the option, I highly recommend it.


“The Boondock Saints” (1999)

Director: Troy Duffy

Starring: Norman Reedus, Sean Patrick Flanery

Rating: R

TRT: 110 mins

You know how everybody has at least one classic film, or cult favorite that you’ve somehow managed to go through life without seeing? For me, that movie was “The Boondock Saints.” This week I finally had the opportunity to right this wrong, and I’m so incredibly happy that I did. Then again, how could I not love this movie? It combines three of my favorite things – the 90′s, 90′s action, and a thought provoking ending. My only regret was that I didn’t watch it on St. Patrick’s Day.


“Into The Abyss”

Director: Werner Herzog

Rating: PG-13

TRT: 107 mins

And now for something completely different, I was also very impressed with “Into The Abyss” the Werner Herzog directed documentary on crime and capital punishment from the perspective of the people affected. Definitely not light-hearted material, but a rather compelling and comprehensive look at a very controversial topic. If you haven’t already seen this film, it’s absolutely worth checking out.  Added bonus – “Into The Abyss” is currently streaming on Netflix.


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REVIEW: Neill Blomkamp’s “Elysium” Is A Visually Stunning Adventure Thu, 01 Aug 2013 22:24:24 +0000 If you’ve been patiently awaiting to see what Neill Blomkamp would do next after 2009′s District 9, let me tell you, Elysium is well worth the wait. Visually speaking, this was the best movie I’ve seen this year, and yes…that includes Man of Steel. Elysium is so visually spectacular I could probably watch it again right now with no audio at all. I mean, my favorite part of this movie was a slo-mo robot kill. Enough said.

For my complaints, highlights, and overall score, check out the full movie review, below!


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THE CRITIC: Britney Channels Her Inner Dance-Floor Dominatrix On “Femme Fatale” Tue, 22 Mar 2011 06:30:28 +0000 Britney Spears – Femme Fatale
Jive 2011
Rating: 7/10


Britney Spears occupies a weird, unique space in the pop spectrum. She’s been compared to past greats like Madonna and Kylie Minogue, but she lacks the latter’s self-aware creativity and mentioning her in the same breath as the former is, frankly, insulting. A common complaint with Spears is that she doesn’t write her own songs, which, the argument goes, somehow equates to a lack of talent, but the same can be said of Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson, Frank Sinatra… the list goes on. She isn’t blessed with the preternaturally skilled vocals of a Mariah Carey or a Tina Turner, but her music has never been about her voice so much as her personality. And her personality is just what has carried her this far, when contemporaries like Mandy Moore and Christina Aguilera are becoming Starbucks whores and public laughingstocks, respectively. Spears is the ultimate pop chameleon, transforming from sly school girl with enough sexual innuendo to inspire thousands of illegal fantasies to a robotic dance-floor dominatrix, confident enough to overcome tabloid dramas that have ruined lesser stars. In many ways, Spears needed that separation from her past self to become the four-on-the-floor mistress she is on Femme Fatale. Calling Britney a pop singer is doing the term a disservice; she is much more of a pop bellwether, subject to the whims of the Top 40 crowd and more than happy to adapt to environments that have cruelly undone lesser icons. There’s a reason Aguilera’s last album sold barely north of 110,000 copies and Spears’ single “Hold It Against Me” has the most aggressive beat on mainstream radio today. Spears shows a willingness to reinvent herself that belies her fragile personal life and, most importantly, keeps her on the cutting edge of pop music.

Sure, “Hold It Against Me” has the kind of dubstep breakdown that only the most naïve listener would consider representative of the genre, but the fact remains that Spears is the first to introduce such a rapidly rising phenomenon to the mainstream. She’s become a pop juggernaut not by being the most talented, or the most charismatic, or even the one with the best songs, but by simply listening to the people who know the pop pulse best: her stable of producers. Blackout became such a great modern pop album because Spears finally submitted entirely to her songwriting team, choosing to become the entirely sexualized instrument through which their massive hooks would be transmitted to neon dance floors worldwide. And for Spears, that is just what she needs: a Max Martin and a Dr. Luke to write a track like “Till The World Ends,” one that throbs with trance-y synths, a thumping electro beat that is pure sex and a chorus that goes and goes as only the best club hits can do, sensible lyrics be damned. Synths as dirty as the ones on “Trouble For Me” or as unashamedly Eurotrash as “Trip To Your Heart” are just what pop music needs right now, in a year when electronica is becoming bigger than ever and a pop song is not just about the hook but about how much it can make you move.

Yet while one can be assured that Spears’ lyrics remain as one-dimensional and cheesy as ever, it’s the sonically varied production work that prevents Femme Fatale from being a one-hit factory with a bunch of electro clones. It helps that Spears’ sounds much more involved than she did on the rather dispirited Circus, with even a by-the-numbers Dr. Luke jam like “Gasoline” showing some Spears vocal pizzazz, as much as a Auto-Tuned sexual android as she tends to sound. The real treat of the record lies in the more off-kilter tracks, like Bloodshy & Avant’s (better known as indie band Miike Snow) skeletal, vaguely African-flavored “How I Roll” and their rave day-glo specimen “Trip To Your Heart,” a track that would make Tiesto blush. For all its obvious chart-topping intent and single-minded dance directive, Femme Fatale is an eclectic record, and that’s why for every ill-advised guest spot (“Big Fat Bass” - how the fuck this isn’t a Black Eyed Peas song is beyond me) there’s an out-of-left field flute (!?!) solo that actually works (“Criminal”). It isn’t exactly the progressive stylings of a Janelle Monae, but damn if it’s not catchy and interesting.

So, Britney Spears: pop icon or pop puppet, someone with the genuine foresight to see where the winds are blowing or one lucky enough to have a team of handlers to decide which direction she should go in? It will always be hard to tell, even though I’m inclined to lean towards the former considering Blackout had her pushing the pop boundaries years before electronic music was truly a driving force in mainstream culture. Perhaps it’s easier to just say that Britney is Britney and nothing more – someone who is more a distinctive sound and a driving force of sex nowadays than a genuine musical talent. Femme Fatale, after all, is a flawed album, with lyrics that barely clear the level of a Ke$ha and a maturity level to match. But it’s a pop album that’s supposed to make you dance, and when it comes to that, there’s not a star out there that can match Ms. Spears.

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THE CRITIC: Cold War Kids Vacillate Between Staying True To Their Roots And Widespread Success On “Mine Is Yours” Tue, 25 Jan 2011 22:53:06 +0000 Cold War Kids – Mine Is Yours
Downtown 2011
Rating: 7/10


An eternal question in the indie industry – keep doggedly pursuing your artistic vision, maybe one defined by jagged bursts of post-punk and a singer whose just as likely to veer into screeching wails as he is a soulful hum, or get your shit together and make something perhaps more palatable for your average rock listener? It’s not too hard to see on what side Mine Is Yours falls – producer Jacquire King, whose behind-the-boards work catapulted Kings of Leon from Southern rock also-rans to multi-platinum lords of radio, is on hand, and singer Nathan Willett is content to focus on “love and relationships” in his lyrical matter. Top 40 listeners have something against hearing about family-ruining alcoholics, I guess. But what the band and King bring to the table now, however, is a refreshing tendency to keep things focused. It’s less a sacrifice to the gods of modern rock radio and more a bushwhacking of the Kids’ frustrating proclivity to fly off the rails on previous albums. Not that there wasn’t something charming about it all on Robbers & Cowards or Loyalty to Loyalty, but Mine Is Yours largely succeeds on keeping the Kids’ songwriting strengths on track.

That songwriting, of course, is what separates Cold War Kids from your Neon Trees or your Saving Abel. From funk-inflected anthems (“Royal Blue”) to U2-esque mammoth rockers with arena aspirations (“Bulldozer”), Cold War Kids always have an outstanding hook on hand. Mine Is Yours never comes off as a chore to listen to, as some of the latter half of their earlier work did. For all their aversion to taking even the slightest of risks, you can’t help but admire the craftsmanship that went into a track like “Out of the Wilderness,” where a gently lilting ballad coalesces into one of Willett’s most fiery performances, buoyed by rolling drums and a bridge that frankly explodes. It’s good that the songs here are so strong, because when it comes to Willett’s lyrics, the MOR banality comes on a bit too strong. For a songwriter who was previously lauded for his ability to weave a tale, lyrics like “bulldozer clear a space for us / let’s rebuild this love on what we were” are embarrassing, ham-fisted platitudes. It adds a bit of an asterisk to fantastic tracks like “Broken Open,” where Willett engages in a conversation with a parking meter, but when the songs lift and soar like they more often than not do here, it’s not hard to be a little forgiving. It just makes it even more of a shame when some of the best lyrics on the record in “Sensitive Kid” are sabotaged by a drum machine funk that is as out of place as it is unbecoming of Mine Is Yours’ general direction.

So there’s a give and take at work on Mine Is Yours, one that fans of their earlier work will either love or hate. That essential dichotomy between staying true to your roots and aiming for more widespread success has been the ruin of many bands, but Cold War Kids really don’t give up too much here. Indeed, songs like hit-single-to-be “Louder Than Ever” and the thunderous climax of closer “Flying Upside Down” reveal a band that has always had the songwriting chops to stand out from their peers, one that perhaps just needed a steadying hand to realize it all over the course of an entire album. Something may have been lost in translation – there’s nothing as immediate as “We Used To Vacation” or as heart wrenching as “Hospital Beds,” and Willett truly seems to have thrown aside any artistic compunctions in his quest to write a lyric any ape could relate to. But Mine Is Yours is a damn good rock record through and through, and for a band to sit down and write eleven tunes that showcase the best of their bluesy, anthemic brand of indie with nary a misstep, well, there’s an accomplishment to be praised.

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