June 30, 2008
1. The story is nothing new - boy meets girl and it's love at first sight. Granted this time around they're robots, but you get the picture. It's this simplicity that makes the film universal, and an excellent choice for kids, too. (Also there is a cute cockroach. Yes, I'm serious.)
2. By creating a world beyond our experience, the creators draw us in completely, so that you want to move around and explore with the characters. It's like an animated Life After People.
3. The dialogue is sparse in WALL·E, so we really get to focus on the story and the emotions. In fact, you become so engrossed that you immediately forget the fact that robots expressing emotions isn't really logical.
4. Beneath the enchantment of the story, there's a clear pro-green message going on. But it's subtle enough that you don't feel like you're being preached to at all. Again, a gentle message that will go over well with the little ones.
Get ready to hand this one the Oscar for Best Animated Feature, because it's practically a lock already!
The bigger question - how would I rank it amongst the other Pixar films? Tough call. I'd definitely put it near the top. Maybe somewhere around 3rd, after Finding Nemo and The Incredibles.
Oh, and as always you get the bonus of an animated short by Pixar at the beginning. This time around it's the very clever slapstick of a magician and his rabbit in Presto. I'd say an Oscar nod is a sure thing!
June 26, 2008
Continuing a chain from blog-to-blog, I’m borrowing this idea from Voenix Rising.
Using the Entertainment Weekly list of the top 100 movies from the last 25 years [editor’s note – debatable, at best]:
- Bold the movie if you’ve seen it
- Put asterisks next to the movies you’ve seen and really liked. If you saw a film and hated it, cross it out.
I’ve seen a whopping 66 of the Top 100 films, but outright hated only four of them. That’s probably because I’m a bit choosy about what I will and won’t see in the theater. Although the age of Netflix has helped me delve into a lot more so-so movies, I admit.
If I had to pick a single favorite on this list, it would undoubtedly be the LOTR trilogy. But since that might be considered an unfair advantage, I’ll give honorable mention to…The Breakfast Club. A true modern classic!
As for the worst, I think I'd have to say Breaking the Waves. My other crossed-out titles I just thought were overhyped. But Waves was just...bizarre.
- Pulp Fiction 1994**
- The Lord of the Rings trilogy 2001-03**
- Titanic 1997
- Blue Velvet 1986
- Toy Story 1995
- Saving Private Ryan 1998
- Hannah and Her Sisters 1986
- The Silence of the Lambs 1991
- Die Hard 1988
- Moulin Rouge 2001
- This Is Spinal Tap 1984
- The Matrix 1999
- GoodFellas 1990
- Crumb 1995
- Edward Scissorhands 1990
- Boogie Nights 1997**
- Jerry Maguire 1996
- Do the Right Thing 1989
- Casino Royale 2006**
- The Lion King 1994
- Schindler’s List 1993
- Memento 2001**
- A Room With a View 1986
- Shrek 2001
- Hoop Dreams 1994
- Aliens 1986
- Wings of Desire 1988
- The Bourne Supremacy 2004**
- When Harry Met Sally… 1989
- Brokeback Mountain 2005**
- Fight Club 1999
- The Breakfast Club 1985**
- The Incredibles 2004**
- Spiderman 2 2004
- Pretty Woman 1990
- Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind 2004
- The Sixth Sense 1999
- Speed 1994
- Dazed and Confused 1993
- Clueless 1995**
- Gladiator 2000
- The Player 1992
- Rain Man 1988
- Children of Men 2006**
- Men in Black 1997
- Scarface 1983
- Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon 2000
- The Piano 1993
- There Will Be Blood 2007
- The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad 1988
- The Truman Show 1998
- Fatal Attraction 1987
- Risky Business 1983
- The Lives of Others 2006**
- There’s Something About Mary 1998
- Ghostbusters 1984
Confidential 1997 L.A.
- Scream 1996
Cop 1984 Beverly Hills
- sex, lies and videotape 1989
- Big 1988**
- No Country For Old Men 2007
- Dirty Dancing 1987
- Natural Born Killers 1994
- Donnie Brasco 1997
- Witness 1985
- All About My Mother 1999
- Broadcast News 1987
- Unforgiven 1992
- Thelma & Louise 1991
- Office Space 1999
- Drugstore Cowboy 1989
- Out of
Africa1985 The Departed2006
- Sid and Nancy 1986
- Terminator 2: Judgment Day 1991
- Waiting for Guffman 1996
- Michael Clayton 2007
- Moonstruck 1987
Lost in Translation2003
- Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn 1987
- Sideways 2004
- The 40 Year-Old Virgin 2005**
- Y Tu Mamá También 2002**
- Swingers 1996
- Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery 1997
Breaking the Waves1996
- Napoleon Dynamite 2004
- Back to the Future 1985
- Menace II Society 1993
- Ed Wood 1994
- Full Metal Jacket 1987
- In the Mood for Love 2001
- Far From Heaven 2002
- Glory 1989
- The Talented Mr. Ripley 1999
- The Blair Witch Project 1999
: Bigger Longer & Uncut 1999 South Park
So how about you - how many have you seen, and what do you think is the best and the worst?
So how about you - how many have you seen, and what do you think is the best and the worst?
June 24, 2008
Spotlight - Jennifer Hudson
Yeah, I know - I totally already had J-Hud on my iPod. But this is the first song of her own material, the first single off her new album. I'm not sure I'd pick this as the premiere song if I was her record label, but it hints at the power behind that voice. I consider this a decent appetizer to what should be a hearty main course.
Mercy - Duffy
Several of my co-workers have been talking about Duffy lately, and after sampling a few songs, I downloaded this ditty. It's a really catchy tune in the vein of Amy Winehouse - a movement I'd call retro-soul. Duffy by contrast is far more upbeat than Amy, and thus far doesn't seem to have the deep personal issues.
My Heart - Lizz Wright
I try to catch CBS Sunday Morning whenever I can - it's been a tradition in my family for years. One thing I've enjoyed recently are the music suggestions offered by Bill Flanagan. His tastes touch all musical genres, and he has a particular reverence for the classics. This past week he offered what he thought were the best CDs for this summer, and I immediately latched onto Lizz Wright. She's got a cool pop sound tinged with jazz - think India.Arie after she's had a mojito. This particular track is hard to get out of your head - check it out!
So those are my latest finds - what have you discovered lately? What am I not listening to that I should rush out and get ASAP?
June 22, 2008
[On a side note, I finally saw the first half of The Hulk. WOW was that bad.]
Anywho, I went with my brother and sister-in-law to go see it last weekend (second time for them). And it was in fact a really great movie. This is the rare case where a trailer undersold a movie!
I believe that the primary reason it is so successful is that the origin story is carefully crafted, and the entire film is very character-driven. There are actually only a handful of action sequences, so when they do come, you can settle in and enjoy. It's not constant explosions and guns, etc. (Yeah, I'm looking at you, Transformers!)
But I would be remiss if I didn't mention that Robert Downey Jr. makes the movie. He's a lovable lothario (with a hot body) that draws you into every scene. Surprisingly, Gwyneth Paltrow makes a good foil for him. She's a nice mix of smart and sexy.
And for you die-hard comic fans out there, there are a couple nice winks thrown in for good measure. Terrence Howard sees Tony's other iron suit sitting there and says, "Next time, baby." And indeed, his character later becomes Iron Man - perhaps in the third film? If you sit through those long ending credits, you get a hint of where the Marvel Studios are headed - an Avengers movie! The real question - will they do the other indvidiual character films first? (Thor and Captain America, if you're keeping track. Although I'm holding out for The Scarlet Witch!)
June 19, 2008
Let's give it up to Heinz for this adorable take on the non-nuclear family!
So adorable, it makes me smile every time.
Thanks to Joe for the heads-up on this one.
June 18, 2008
This week's double-elimination was quite a shocker for our players. Personally I think that when the host offers a bribe, you should smell a rat. Anywho, it was a shame to see even-tempered Ali go, as she was becoming quite likable. Of course she totally got the last laugh walking away with the cash and then watching an execution from the sidelines.
But I'm more than happy to see that pathetic loser (Bobby), go home. I hate to agree with Paul, but come on - that kid was pathetic! He gives us skinny guys a bad name. Even I can manage to WALK through a town. Yeesh.
Looking ahead, here's my latest round of predictions:
Least likely - Nicole
Paul is a close second, but I think at this point Nicole's "strategy" and attitude are completely transparent. I won't count her out to be smart enough to make it to the finals, though. (Paul, not so much.)
Most likely - Craig
Craig probably comes off as an unlikely candidate for The Mole, which is exactly why he could be the one. What I was really watching for this week was subtle sabotage or inside information. I think that he led Victoria into talking after the finish line, resulting in a disqualification that appeared to be her fault. Also his stumbling across the team's laundry was just a bit too convenient.
The dark horse - Kristen
I still think that Kristen is so good she's dangerous, but I was stymied trying to find any situation where she could have caused sabotage this week. Unless she was taking a break from her job... Still, I'm keeping my eye on her. She could be The Mole, but I think it's increasingly likely she could be our winner.
June 07, 2008
I'll put it right out there - I really liked the movie. Is it perfect? No. But for fans of the show it's great fun and brings back happy memories. You'll leave the theater anxious to go sip some Cosmos with your best girlfriends (and gay friends) while watching back episodes on DVD, deciding who amongst your group is a total Samantha.
The critics have been a bit hard on the movie - it's too long, it's too Carrie-focused, it celebrates materialism, too much time out of Manhattan. But I maintain that it's a good time and you'll have a ball. Thus I offer...
The Top 10 Reasons to See the SATC Movie!
10. It's a good time to giggle and frequently say, "Oh, CHARLOTTE..."
9. Have a debate with your friends as to who has aged more gracefully since the series first aired - the men or the women?
8. Outrageous fashion is always a good time to see even if you know you could never afford it.
7. You always want to know what Samantha's next sexual escapade is going to be.
6. Those eyebrows of Big's - you know you've been waiting to watch them arch.
5. Even though her character really could have been fleshed out more, Jennifer Hudson is still lovely. And the only Oscar winner in the film.
4. Hear Carrie intone just one more time, "I couldn't help but wonder..."
3. Miranda and Steve having sex. HOTT! (The second time.)
2. Tear up at Charlotte's unexpected (pun intended) news.
1. Brunch at the girls' favorite place - what could be better?
Enjoy, and if you're in the neighborhood, let's whip up some cocktails, and I can confess why I am sometimes too much of a Miranda!
June 04, 2008
Now don't get me wrong - this is a show that has also had some hits and misses depending on the whims of network executives. The first season is a true classic, featuring a mole that few could have predicted, clever challenges, and that devilishly handsome host with the most, Anderson Cooper. The second season was also good and brought us a popular hero in Dorothy, but overall paled in comparison; the general opinion is the producers just picked a bad choice for the mole (Bill was totally predictable).
From there we had the celebrity mini-seasons. The first in Hawai'i was surprisingly good, with a clever mole and an even more clever winner in Kathy Griffin. But from there we descended into the constant antics of Corbin Bernsen and Steven Baldwin, which was boring for everyone (except maybe those two).
At long last the show has returned to it's "regular" format, featuring a dozen people trying to complete challenges and put money in the group pot, all the while trying to ferret out the identity of the saboteur in their midst. The new host is Jon Kelley whom I think is doing a fine job at explaining everything in a slightly ominous but tongue-in-cheek manner, without drawing too much attention to himself. Subtlety is a good thing in a reality show host.
Last night's premiere was pretty good. I liked starting with a slightly daredevil challenge and immediately identifying peoples' suspicions. We've also established a villain really quick, so you know you'll be seeing plenty of Nicole. So where do my own suspicions lie? I'll break it down thusly:
Least likely - Paul
I think his slightly arrogant guido attitude seems very genuine. I also don't see him having a chance at winning. Making a coalition with the first person to be eliminated is not a good indicator of intelligence.
Most likely - Kristen
I think Kristen has the right mix of intelligence, athleticism and cunning. She's nice without being too nice. Exactly what makes a good mole. (Ask Kathryn.)
The dark horse - Ali
On any other show, you can discount anyone that lists his/her profession as "model" or "bartender." But on this one, assumptions are dangerous. Keep an eye on this girl. She could be the mole, or she could be your winner.
So stay tuned each Monday evening - I know I will be watching! And stop by here for updates. You might also want to try the Fafarazzi game to see how well your "team" does each week. Here's my team!
June 02, 2008
Now it looks like she even loves kittens. Isn't she sweet?