Monday, October 30, 2006
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
Syriana is definitely one of the best films of the year because it is intelligent and entertaining, yet doesn’t necessarily take the path you are expecting. Basically the plot looks at the Middle Eastern-U.S. oil conflicts from the points of view of half a dozen of the involved parties (laid-off workers, Texan business tycoons, royalty, CIA, economic advisors, etc.). None of the characters are necessarily right or wrong, good or evil (the best choice I think the director could have made), and each is flawed in their own actions or self-righteous outlook. All of the different threads in this movie have their own twists and impact, and they do come together and overlap like most films of this nature do, but they don’t reach an “end game” or big solution. The fight for oil is one of the most complex and potentially disabling problems that our generation will ever face, and Syriana presents that quite honestly. The already infamous speech about corruption explains quite well what the entire film is about: look around and we’ll see that nothing is going well in the game for oil and it never will.
I feel a warning is necessary, however: George Clooney is not at all hot in this picture. You won’t be turned off him forever, but expect to be slightly disgruntled with the hairy, fat Clooney. So just close your eyes and listen to his words (and the occasional scream or violent grarrl) – he did win the Oscar after all. In closing, Syriana is obviously my choice for the best movie of 2005. Until next year my movie-loving internet friends!
2. Good Night, and Good Luck
Oh George Clooney, you are so hot for an old man, and, as you proved with Good Night, and Good Luck, a very talented and conscientious director too. For those of you that have seen this film, you will probably agree that it nearly put you to sleep. Not necessarily a good trait for a second best movie to have, but nevertheless a result of the black-and-white coloring choice and the rather subdued plot. This is certainly not a film that comes out with all barrels ablaze, scene after scene of knock-you-off-your-feet action or drama. But, it has a beautiful subtlety and self-respect for its characters (Murrow, of course, but also the other network employees, like Robert Downey Jr. and Patricia Clarkson) that was unique among 2005 movies. It harkens back to old, great movies like All the President’s Men or The Manchurian Candidate. The direction is superb, of course, but what is really great is the writing. At 93 minutes it is a short, tight script with nary a wasted scene – something that I wish happened more often in this age of 3 hour, multi-ending films. Good Night, and Good Luck is quite the old-world treat.
3. Sin City
Apparently this movie is almost a word-for-word adaptation of the graphic novel by Frank Miller. So maybe this praise is more for that than the movie itself. Well both certainly have the same style, which I’d say is the most valuable element, beyond plot or characters. This is simply a style of cinematography that we have never seen before – very comic-like, of course - an interesting mixture of gritty and cartoonish. Each act is related but not wholly overlapping as directors often find necessary but really is not (parallel stories with similar or contrasting themes can work without having its characters interact, no?). These elements ultimately operate to explain the environment; really this is a movie about its setting, not plot. But that’s just my take on it. Nearly everyone who sees it gleans something different and that’s certainly part of its appeal.
Quite a worthwhile film, and unlike many of the other political movies this year, it succeeds without hitting you over the head with its message. Is the message in the banner? I would think so, but you can decide for yourself. (Clearly you should see the movie if only to understand what the hell I’m talking about). Tsotsi won Best Foreign Film at this year’s Oscars and I definitely agree with that choice. This is a movie about a thug (that's what the word tsotsi means) in a very ghetto area of South Africa who kills and steals without much conscience to get by. But as the movie progresses so does Tsotsi; he is a bad man who gets better. That kind of redemption story is all too absent from movies these days, and frankly better it be an African film where there are real causes for the bad behavior in the first place.
I was not expecting to like this movie. I thought it was just another one that I had to see in order to make a credible list (look how much trouble I go to just for you people!) but ultimately would not enjoy. I also believed with absolute certainty that Billy Bob Thorton played a lead role (he's not even in it), but that’s beside the point. Don’t be deterred by thinking that this is all about the events that took place at the Olympics. Knowing the outcome of that event does not matter (it didn’t in Titanic either), but moreover this film is really about the after-math and how Jewish people took their revenge. By the way, favorite part: Naomi Watts’ death, least favorite part: final sex scene… weird! In my mind, Munich is one part Shindler’s List, one part Grapes of Wrath (I have no idea why), and one part James Bond. The James Bond part is why I love this movie because it’s so unexpected and fun! More movies should incorporate 007 into their angsty, political plots. Can you imagine Brokeback, Crash, or Constant Gardener with a little spy action thrown in? Amazing!
6. Batman Begins
The second best superhero movie ever made! After Spider-Man 2, of course, which was #7 on last year’s list. I looked that up just for you. Batman has always been close to my heart, ever since that wonderful 60s sitcom (POW, ZAP, SHWAP! Indeed!), so I was very excited for a feature adaptation that promised to take a shrewd look at the roots of this great bat. Well, it did not disappoint. There was certainly a pile of interesting, gritty back-story of how the bat came to be, coupled with a central plot that delved deep into the mythology of Gotham villains (so that’s why there are so many crazy people in NYC!). Christian Bale was surprisingly great in the lead role, and really the only downfall was Katie Holmes because she’s just awful. ZOP! BANG!
7. The Constant Gardener
Oh what a lovely movie! The more time that passes since I last saw it, the more I feel good about it. I don’t know what that’s suppose to mean. Anyways, the performances are great and the writing is very strong. The thing I liked the best was how you understand and appreciate Rachel Weisz’s character more and more as the film progresses - something most critics pointed out. This is true elegance in cinema, and personally I think what Crash could have been. That is, a movie that has a lot to say about on an important subject, but that does it with pure delicacy and grace.
I really did not think I would like Crash at all when it first came to theaters. It looked kind of stupid (people crash into each other just to feel … Um…) and ridiculously preachy. And it was both, especially the latter, but it was also kind of magical. My favorite scene was when the little girl… did her thing. That sentence sounds dirty because I’m attempting to avoid spoilers. Paul Haggis (writer of Million Dollar Baby – my second favorite movie of 2004) is certainly an intelligent man and he has a lot to say about racism that, perhaps, has not been said before. Overall it was pretty tight, but I think Haggis needs to learn the meaning of the word subtlety and thus it is lower on the list than it otherwise might be.
Even if this had been a strange carbon copy of War of the Worlds, I have extreme solidarity with Joss Whedon and would gleefully have compromised my journalistic (?) integrity and added to the list anyways. But, fortunately, this is just a really great film. Lots of fun in its bizarre Western-Fi way, full of great action moments, a fairly solid plot, and original characters. Not to mention a pretty great death scene (rival even to some of the better ones on Buffy).
If you have been paying attention, you may remember that Cache was also one of my worst films of the year (note: when I originally wrote this I assumed there would be more time between the two posts). I obviously haven’t been able to resolve the conflicting emotions that it left me with. I estimate roughly 10% of the audience loved it, and 10% somehow managed to find some peace of mind in the ending as thus found it "OK-to-Good", and the rest definitely hated it. Overall, it was a very intelligent, thoughtful film on the nuisance of a man’s conscience. The ending was… different, but definitely appropriate and in-keeping with the director’s motives. It’s just tough to ascertain (while watching) that the film’s purpose goes far beyond that of a regular suspense movie. So, fine, I will allow it, and even offer some praise for it, but I stand firm in regard to its dual positioning on my lists. In fact, I think it’s rather appropriate given the movie.
However, an audience has a life of its own. I find it so gratifying to be laughing along to the same jokes with a large crowd, hearing girls scream (again, often along with) at the scary parts, gasp at the twists, and in rare cases even clap or boo at the end. The best case for this was probably Return of the King which Matt and I saw at Silver City on, I think, opening day a few years ago. It made the experience that much more enjoyable because everyone was so into it.
The theater was also completely packed when I recently saw The Departed. This was mostly a good thing except for when the silly blonde Western girls (who else could it have been?) laughed at the dramatic climax. I can only assume this was because they clearly just did not understand what was going on. But at any rate, this is a huge part of why I love going to the movies.
Monday, October 23, 2006
- How do you know if you're doing the right thing with the rest of your life? Such big decisions are effectively made in high school, but with consequences that extend far beyond. And if you are a different person now than then, which is more than likely, how can you be sure you're still on the right path? We're talking about the rest of my life here. But opting for a change of course now is risky and potentially remarkably stupid.
- Is it wrong to like Van Morrison's cover of 'Comfortably Numb' more than the original Pink Floyd? Cause wow is it amazing.
- Delayed musing from last week's Lost: what a great final shot of Desmond skipping his rocks. I love it when shows aim for something more in the visual department, without going over the top.
- New Heroes tonight! How could Claire die?
Sunday, October 22, 2006
Before Sunset is one of the best films of my life and our generation. Though by technical merits not the tops of 2004 (but how can you beat a perfect film like Million Dollar Baby?), it is emotionally and intellectually the best. The story picks up 10 or so years after its interesting but unremarkable predecessor, Before Sunrise. Our favourite deep thinkers are reunited for a brief time while he is on a book signing tour in the city where she lives. They only have the opportunity to spend a few short hours together, but they make the most of this time by exploring the streets of Paris, and, among other things, how their lives have turned out and what would have happened had things been different. At the start, they both smile and explain how happy they are, but this facade falls victim to the truth which, for reasons of fate or providence, they cannot hide from each other.
It is this development, the way they reveal more and more as the sun drops, that drives the story and prevents it from ever becoming boring like the first may have. In Before Sunrise you knew they were going to hook up, but here the end is a bit more questionable. Even more importantly, the characters have both grown up.
Before Sunrise suffered from typical twenty-something bullshit, but Before Sunset takes a much more grounded look at the world. These people are messed up, too. They have problems and can be borderline unlikeable sometimes, which ironically, makes me like them even more. The film is frank and real, and the characters certainly not idealized.
When the sun is very low in the sky, the film of course ends. And - I'm going to say it - this is one of the best endings ever. I was very sad, not necessarily because the ending was sad (I'll let you find that out for yourself), but because I so desperately wanted more. I would have watched them walk around Europe for another 24 hours. If that doesn't make it the best film of 2004, I don't know what does.
2. Million Dollar Baby
This is not only the best movie of 2004, but it is a completely perfect one at that. Confused as to why it sits at only #2 on my list? Yeah, me too. Let's put it up to "reviewer's tilt." Anyways, I challenge you to criticize it because I think it's just not possible. If I had complete editing ability I would not change a single line, sound, or action. The characters are likeable and real and viewed through a lense of complete truth and clarity. This helps create so much emotional content that it could easily have been overwhelming. Eastwood's direction ensures that it avoids reaching mediocre sentimentality. Don't be put-off by the fact that it's a boxing movie, because that's not really what it's about at all.
Sideways is simple and sweet, probably like some kind of Pinot, but definitely like a kind of great movie that doesn't come along very often. There is not really a message or remarkable character growth (Jack, at least, is certainly not a reformed man by the end)... I think if there were Sideways would be worse off for it. There is a wonderful, subtle script that is matched with equally endearing acting (not exactly expected casting) and perfect dialogue shown best by the wine discussion scene between Miles and Mia. Miles is incredibly flawed for a main character, but by the end is so likeable that he reaches hero status when he saves Jack's wallet in another great scene. This is just a really great example of what movie making should be about.
4. Kill Bill: Vol 2
Very few movie-lovers would deny the talent of Quentin Tarantino. These few, more often than not, are quite full of themselves. But everyone is entitled to their opinion, so I digress.
The Kill Bill series is classic Tarantino, and Volume 2 is its heart and soul.
It is much more than just a continuance of the bloody mayhem begun in Volume 1; it contains the major story arcs and plot drivers. Characters are fleshed out, background is filled in, and the Bride’s vengeance goes forward.
The movie is divided into phases that each exist and flourish in their own world while still contributing to the overall story --- somewhat like TV episodes making up a greater season. From Pai Mei, to Elle Driver and Budd we have quite the cast of characters. One of the greatest things about Kill Bill is that it is all so fantasy driven yet manages to never feel like it. The final meeting of the Bride and Bill himself is perhaps the best single scene in any 2004 film.
One way to recognize Volume 2’s distinction is to think back upon Volume 1. Does it not only make a hell of a lot more sense, but somehow seem infinitely more important? If yes, then you and I would agree that Volume 2 and the Kill Bill series is quite the masterpiece.
5. Bad Education
Pedro Aldomovar is one of the best foreign film makers in recent memory. All About My Mother and Talk to Her were both amazing. Bad Education isn’t quite up to those standards. It’s more complicated and less meaningful, but still contains the essential Aldomovar traits: exists entirely in its own world, explores the darker side of life and sex with a humorous flair, and is chock full of melodrama. It works because the individual moments work (even if the audience does not understand their connections until the end, or perhaps not even then). There’s lots of gay and straight sex in this movie, not to mention the transvestites and other various sexual perversions – and who doesn’t love that, let’s be honest.
6. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
I spent much of 2004 tearing this movie apart; criticizing everything I thought was even slightly amiss. Everyone else was so gung-ho about it, and I just wanted to emphasize that it was not a perfect movie. But it is a unique experiment, like all of Kaufman’s so far, and it is far more rewarding because this time you care about the characters. Sure the girl can be a jerk sometimes, but she’s still really lovely in all her insecurity. Jim Carey is for once bearable as an actor (and I suspect he never will be again). The script is great – full of nuances and twists, character depth, insight into relationships and life, etc. It definitely feels like a bit of a whirlwind sometimes, and gets lost a bit in the middle, but never loses focus of its essence – the reality of love – until the pitch-perfect ending (almost as good as the finish of my #1 film of the year). So Eternal Sunshine is definitely not perfect…. maybe that’s the point?
7. Spider-Man 2
Sequels are usually bad. (Although, they have been making somewhat of a comeback. For every 5 bad ones, there’s 1 good one!), and superhero movies are worse, but this is just a great film. It has lots of action and adventure, a great villain who isn’t completely evil, and some pretty good romance. However, what Spidey-2 has that not many other action films do is insight. The plot doesn’t have much to do with Dr. Octopus --- it’s really about the trials and tribulations of being a hero. Peter Parker has to cope with every day life, and the burdens of his responsibility. This movie is great because it focuses on the people – not the super powers, not the special effects, and not the pending world apocalypse. That’s something it has in common with Buffy (the greatest TV show ever made), and any movie with similarities to Buffy is good enough to make this list! Just kidding – Spider-Man 2 is hands down the best superhero movie ever made, and that’s why it’s here at #7.
If you have a good memory, you may remember that I have reviewed this movie already. It was early January, and I gave it a respectable 3 stars (out of 4). But wait, 75% isn’t good enough for a top 10 list you might say! To be honest, I really had no intentions of putting Closer on this list after seeing it. I was highly annoyed at its unrealistic and pretentious tone, and was very happy when it ended. But a curious thing happened. Without realizing it, I’ve spent the last 2 months thinking about this movie. I’m not sure if it was the experimental nature of the project, the lucidity of the characters, or simply the haunting final shot of Natalie Portman walking down the streets of New York, but any movie that can force its way into my subconscious to that extent is certainly well-deserving of a spot on this list.
Moolaade is an ancient African right to protection. It’s like invoking double jeopardy, or putting someone under citizen’s arrest. It’s just a word, but it has a lot of power. An Africa woman named Colle must invoke moolaade to protect the girls in her home. Why must she do that? Because the girls have fled their purification ritual that aimed to cut off parts of their genitals so they would be numb and “pure” for sex. Being that Moolaade is about female circumcision, it’s obviously a heavy movie. The subject matter is handled delicately, but also with the intensity that it deserves. The acting is great, and the direction from the 81-year-old “father of African cinema,” is also superb; this is a visually beautiful film. However, the best part is that despite the harsh subject matter, the movie is not dour or even depressing – it’s remarkably full of life.
10. Garden State
I saw this movie for the second time recently and it dropped a few notches on my list. It seemed a bit less important, not because I knew what was going to happen – it just lost a bit of its magic. However, I can still recall how impressed and even moved I was the first time I saw it in theaters. I love movies that “transcend reality.” That is, the characters and plot are not contrived (they seem entirely true to human motivations), but they bring a certain intelligence and depth that is sometimes hard to come by in real-life. Certain moments in Garden State are a bit over-done (Andrew Largeman living in a white room, taking all the drugs), and there is too much focus on the romance, which, although lovely, takes the focus away from Andrew’s transformation and revelations. But considering how much glossy teenage fare is produced per year, Garden State was a welcomed relief.
1. Lost in Translation
2. Love Actually
3. Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
4. American Splendor
5. Kill Bill: Vol 1
6. Nowhere in Africa
7. Mystic River
8. In America
9. Capturing the Friedmans
10. The House of Sand and Fog
2. High Fidelity
3. You Can Count On Me
4. Almost Famous
5. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
7. Best in Show
8. Requiem for a Dream
9. Billy Elliott
So, I thought I'd import them here since they are something I am certainly very passionate about. I'm not sure how to import the longer ones because they were posted individually and as a whole would be very, very long. But to post each one again would be rather encumbersome, though that is likely what I will do. Anyways less chatting and more importing!
Saturday, October 21, 2006
I miss him so much because we have uncannily similar taste in movies. I think around 95 times out of 100 I will rate a movie within a half a star of what he gave it. Sometimes we disagree, (The Aviator comes to mind!) but that happens once in a blue moon. We do tend to have wildly different "Best of the year" movie lists, but he likes the weird stuff a bit more than I do.
Anyways to not have him around has left me completely stranded in the cinematic world. Trailers help, as does knowing who is attached to a movie. For instance I love both Sofia Coppola and Christopher Nolan's films so I instantly have interest in seeing Marie Antoinette and The Prestige. But, appearances can be deceiving, so until I am given advice by an authority I truly trust it is hard to know whether these are worth seeing. Now, I generally try to see most of the films in "Oscar season" so thankfully it's not like I have to make that many decisions really.
Because darn is it hard to find agreement among reviewers about what to see. Some will say it's a masterpiece, others will vouch that it is completely not worth your time. One easy pick was The Departed which scored an 85 on Metacritic, meaning it has extremely universal praise. It also helped that a couple of friends who I respect really loved it.
So who to trust? Basically you have to find someone that you share the same taste with (even a friend) who sees a lot of movies. And luckily, I had 100% found this in Ebert. I tried desperately to find a replacement for him while he's been ill. In fact, I went to all the trouble of statistically compiling scores found on Metacritic of some highly polarizing movies and comparing cumulative reviewer scores with my own rankings (a very complicated process... there were spreadsheets involved).
But, alas, no one even came close to matching me. Many critics are too hard on the movies and I find myself thinking "wow you just really didn't get it, did you!" In terms of real life people, Luke has pretty good taste in movies but doesn't often see them before I do. The parental units generally have great taste too, especially in older movies to expose me to. Though again, they usually won't see new releases before me, and they have made some questionable choices in the past (The Ring and Million Dollar Baby come to mind for opposite reasons)... and obviously they would think I had made some poor calls too! This is why I was so lucky to have Ebert.
Alas! what is a girl to do except for watch a lot of trailers, sift through the buzz and try to determine on her own what movies are worth her $10. SIGH!
So excited for the good movie season, and this has certainly been a commendable start to it.
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
Roughly 13 million-plus Americans have fallen hard for Heroes, television's newest cult-pop sensation, and I am proud to say that I am one of them. My friends and family have applauded the expansion of my geek-TV interests; they were worried that Lost had begun to take over my life. Of course, Heroes isn't much of a leap from Lost, considering how much they overlap: Both shows have a diverse, multicultural, interconnected cast; fixations with fate, coincidence and destiny; mysterious comic books; an inexplicable recurring motif (in Lost, it's the Numbers; in Heroes, it's a helix-shaped pattern); a mythology grounded in weird science and possibly sinister scientific experimentation; and even a potentially superpowered kid with estranged parents. Hmmmm...
In fact, after watching the most recent chapter in the unfolding Heroes saga, my conspiracy-theory senses began to tingle and twitch in that crazy Brad Pitt-in-12 Monkeys kinda way that makes my wife very, very nervous. Because it suddenly struck me that Heroes' fantastical premise — that human beings are breaking out with superpowers as an evolutionary response to environmental changes (overpopulation, global warming, war) threatening the survival of the species — is conspicuously similar to the sci-fi conceit of Lost's Hanso Foundation/Dharma Initiative mythology. And by ''conspicuously similar,'' I am indeed suggesting that both shows occupy the same creative universe.
The mysterious island on Lost was a mad-scientist laboratory focused on accelerating human evolution that created the superpowered heroes on Heroes.
According to the Lost revelations disclosed this past summer through The Lost Experience (and if you haven't seen the mother of all Lost orientation films, check it out here), the purpose of the Dharma Initiative was to develop radical scientific solutions that could save the world from an impending apocalypse, as predicted by a mathematical formula called the Valenzetti Equation. The Numbers belong to that equation; it seems that each digit in the sequence — 4 8 15 16 23 42 — is a value in the equation that corresponds to a key variable in Valenzetti's recipe for disaster. Those variables include overpopulation, global warming, and war — the same environmental factors that are (allegedly) triggering Mother Nature to sire a world full of X-Men on Heroes.
Apparently, Dharma financier Alvar Hanso believed that if just one of the values in the Equation could be changed, Armageddon could be averted, or at least delayed. Dharma's activities on the island somehow had the ability to have an impact on the rest of the world, perhaps via the ''unique'' electromagnetic energy that radiates from the same section of the island where Station Three: The Swan was located. Remember the radio tower that was broadcasting the Numbers? It was basically a weather report, updating the scientists on the condition of the world; when and if they heard that the core values of the Equation had been changed, they would know that their work had succeeded. Alas, according to The Lost Experience, the Dharma Initiative failed to accomplish its mission.
But what if the Dharma scientists did have an impact on the world, one that defied calculation and measurement at the time? Remember, Dharma was active on the island during the '70s — about the time that all the superpowered characters on Heroes were conceived and born. What if Dharma spiked the world's gene pool with some superpowered hooch? According to The Lost Experience, Hanso is affiliated with a prominent confectionary marketer called the Apollo Candy Company; maybe one of those Apollo candy bars gave Nathan Petrelli on Heroes a real high-flying kick, if you know what I mean.
Okay, maybe I'm the one who's high. But I think there's enough reason to be suspicious, especially since the two shows in question share one unquestionable link: the creator of Heroes, Tim Kring, and the co-creator of Lost, Damon Lindelof, used to work together on Crossing Jordan and remain good friends. So: Are the brilliant buddies quietly engaged in some kind of clandestine creative collaboration?
RESPONSE FROM HEROES CREATOR TIM KRING
Hey! Look at this! Turns out we're onto something, at least in a wishful-thinking sort of way. Asked if Heroes and Lost are in a secret alliance, Kring says, ''Well... Damon and I did talk about a lot of stuff. And unfortunately, we're on different networks, because otherwise, a lot of those things would have been really, really fun to have done.'' By ''stuff,'' do you mean you guys actually discussed the possibility of mythologically linked shows? ''Oh, yeah,'' says Kring. ''We've talked a lot [in general] about how two shows could dovetail. But again, we are limited by the fact that we are on competing networks.'' But couldn't you guys conceivably do this idea without ever technically acknowledging it in any formal way? ''That's true. That's true,'' says Kring with a laugh.
Keep dreamin', Doc J. (BTW: Thanks to Mr. Kring for kindly indulging my obsessions.)
ESTIMATED CHANCE OF A LOST/HEROES CONNECTION
Oh, like they would ever admit it if this were true!
Monday, October 16, 2006
Basically it's all about elevators. I am being chased by some kind of killer or villain and I run onto an elevator and then it's all about eluding him from there. Choosing the right floors to push, what do you when you get to the floor - run off or stay in the elevator? You have to remember that if he's in the lobby he can probably see what floor you got off on so you have to be tricky and press a bunch of buttons. Usually I'm protecting others in the process, last night it was little cartoon animals and this silly little pig got off on the floor that the killer was on. So of course there was a mad rush to get the pig and get the elevator doors closed which did so just as the killer was about to get us (of course). The details are always different: what the building looks like, what the villain looks like (never can really remember this), the strategies I choose to use, etc.
I swear I've been having this dream ever since I can remember, usually about once every few months. I googled it and most of the results related to eleavtors that crash, stop unexpectedly, or leave the dreamer trapped inside. None of these things ever happen in mine. Hmm, wonder what it means!
Sunday, October 15, 2006
1) Where was the Lord of the Rings trilogy filmed?
2) Indiana Jones' love interest in Raiders of the Lost Ark.
3) Name the star of The Croupier.
4) What role did Cillian Murphy play in Batman Begins?
5) What classic 80s movie was structured around Peter Falk telling Fred Savage a story?
6) What German movie starred Franka Potente rushing frantically to save her boyfriend's life?
7) Canadian film that won best foreign feature at the oscars in 2003.
8) What was the last name of the actress that delivered the iconic line, "I'll have what she's having" in When Harry Met Sally?
1) Sheridan's 3 wives on Babylon 5.
2) The name of Jon Stewart's news show.
3) Chris Noth of Law & Order fame played this infamous character on Sex and the City.
4) Currently seen on ER as nurse Sam Taggart, she got her big break in this 2002 live-action cartoon playing the nerdy Velma Dinkley. (Name either the actress or the film for 1 point, or both for 2).
5) He had recent guest spots on Arrested Development and Veronica Mars. On both he could subtely be heard uttering his iconic, "d'oh".
6) He plays Dr. Dorian on Scrubs.
7) The numbers Hurley won the lotto with on Lost.
8) Name everyone that has died on Buffy the Vampire Slayer (pre-finale and even if they came back to life).
After a couple hours of this late last night I've decided that the following movies I would like to see, in order of eagerness:
1. The Departed
2. The Prestige
4. The Queen
6. The Science of Sleep
7. Fast Food Nation
8. Keeping Mum
9. ... And So Goes the Nation
10. Marie Antoinette
11. School for Scoundrels
Friday, October 13, 2006
Oct 13: Tax assignment due
Oct 24: CFR2 (intermediate accounting) exam ... 8am-12pm
Oct 24: ICFP interim materials due
Oct 25: Tax exam ... 8am-12pm
Oct 27: CFR1 group report due
Oct 31: Athabasca auditing exam ... 6:30-9:30pm
Oct 31: 3 auditing assignments must be submitted
So for tax I am about 1/2 way through the materials I should have read so far, thanks largely to the assignment that was due yesterday which forced me to catch up on a few topics. CFR2 I am at least 8 chapters behind on (we were suppose to read SIX chapters before the course even started, for some ungodly reason). ICFP: my group has been meeting a lot, but we've made very little concrete progress.
In other words, I am just completely swamped. And yet, this is not bothering me or hardly even stressing me out. I am in the ivey library right now, where I will be until 5pm (close) so that I can get through my Athabasca readings and hopefully one assignment. I will also be here tomorrow and probably Monday too. I have plans to go to Toronto on the 28th for a night of Halloween fun with my Deloitte friends.
I guess I just know that I'll get it all done, and it'll all be ok, and even if it's not - hey I still have a job!
In other me-world events, I've been keeping up on my TV watching (the only thing on my PVR at the moment is Six Degrees from Thursday) and, in the order of episode quality, here's what I enjoyed most: Veronica Mars, Lost, and Grey's Anatomy. The last, which I adamently opposed for a very long time, is now unabashedly one of my favorite shows. Yes it's extremely soap opera-ish but sooooo amusing. The characters are likeable, the dialogue is great, and there's never a want for dramatic moments. Oh, Heroes was great this week too. Even The Nine and Studio 60 were good. There sure is a lot of high quality TV being produced these days!
And now for some links...
Did you know that Erica Durance is married? To a bald guy nonetheless? See a picture of the strange couple.
Lost almost loses it's timeslot.
Claire is really short.
Saturday, October 07, 2006
- Rewatched the premiere of The Nine which I had dismissed as silly the first time that I read/surfed through it. Much better if you actually pay attention - who knew! Still not sure I'm sold on the premise or the quality of the writing but we shall see.
- Home for Thanksgiving. This hardly seems worth mentioning because the only people likely to read this are the people that actually saw me there, but anyways. I made a pie! And did part of a puzzle, and some homework, and watched some Lost DVD extras and other miscellaneous TV. It was a great weekend; nice to be home.
- I've decided that I dislike Sarah Paulson on Studio 60 as much as Amanda Peet. Can we please get some female lead replacements here?!
- Heroes was great again this week, IMO. Possibly the best episode yet! I'm intrigued to see where pretty much all the subplots go. If there had to be a weak link it would probably be the Ali Larter 'evil twin' character, but even so I'm interested to know what the rules are behind her activation.
- SO much going on the next couple of weeks. Oct 13: Tax Assignment due, and then the week of the 24th two exams and two assignments due. Fun fun! Not to mention the silly Athabasca course I still need to complete by Oct 31st or pay for the extension.
- May possibly take up cooking as a mild to moderate hobby. Buying lots of healthy foods and things that require cooking when I go to the grocery store these days.
- Trying to drink less milk in favor of water these days. I know it's good for your bones (and oh so delicious) but at 200 calories a glass I don't have the room for it! I'm trying to limit my calories to around 1200/day. Plus it's bad for your complexion.
- I read an article in my mom's Women's World that cited drinking water as a legitimate diet in itself. Apparently if you chug a full glass before each meal, you're metabolism automatically speeds up and less calories are turned into fat. Plus it fills you up and so you generally eat around 15% less than you would otherwise. I'm not really trying to diet here or anything, just the more I work out the more it motivates me not to spoil it by eating junk foods.
Friday, October 06, 2006
I'm not sure if I'll enjoy the mini-mysteries formatting... I really like having one huge mystery that leads up the finale. But actually, this might be more rewarding. We'll have to see.
Thursday, October 05, 2006
- Opening scene: I had heard beforehand that it would be orchestrated to Downtown so I had kind of figured out what was coming. Actually, my exact prediction was: camera moves at a quick pace through the jungle (like it was being chased by something), music starts up quietly in the background, and as soon as it gets to the big chorus line "Downtown!" the camera emerges from the jungle onto a suburban street lined with pretty trees and houses where the Others live. Of course this isn't exactly how it went down, but I didn't really get the same "shock and awe" factor from this scene as most people probably did. However, I definitely loved the muffins and Elizabeth Mitchell's superb acting (why is she so sad?)
- Speaking of this new cast member, who got more on-screen time than anyone but Jack in this episode (!), I like her. I was majorly apprehensive at first of course, because new characters generally frighten me, but I think it was a good choice to have her introduction be full of empathy-inducing moments. Get away from Jack though missy! I know you like him already, I can tell. I will not have you two become romantically involved. I just will not have it.
- Anyways, going back to the first scene: doesn't it seem like Juliet is a nice girl? And yet we see later that she is fully involved with the initatives and manipulation of the Others, so that's interesting.
- So Henry Gale/Ben runs the Others... "here I am thinking that free will still actually exists". Not sure how I feel about this. Of course I love Henry Gale and think that his subplot was what really turned around the second season but when he was a prisoner in the hatch he eluded to someone much more powerful than Mr. Friendly, which I guess now was actually himself. This is kind of creepy, and kind of disappointing. I think I can accept this though.
- It was nice seeing Ethan and Goodwin again, and the plane crashing for oh the third time. Henry's (err Ben's) remarkably quick reaction was nothing short of petrifing.
- I still don't know what book the book club was reading - something by Stephen King, presumably? Why is Henry out of the book club? Why is the Others' camp so small when compared to the size of the island? Why have the Lost people not found them yet? Maybe I just answered my own question.
- I seriously laughed out loud when Jack ran into the glass wall and couldn't stop giggling for the rest of that scene.
- Oh I love Mr. Friendly... is he gay? "You're not my type."
- Ouch! What did they stick our kids with? Were they injecting something or taking out blood to test? Possible theories: they injected the virus, which will take two weeks to activate. They injected the antidote to the virus. They're testing their blood to make sure they are ideal candidates for their new gene pool thingy. This is also why they love kids. Their whole 'wysteria lane' colony seems to suggest that they are trying to create a new, better society. Though some of their housing looks a little more rugged (mainly what you see in Sawyer's scenes). Maybe this is just the Dharma testing facility remnants.
- Who is that other kid in the cage that tried to escape? Why was he in trouble?
- Loved Sawyer getting the biscuit and later sharing it with Kate. Cute. I wonder if it tastes like fish?
- Jack's flashback scene in the lawyer's office: "I just want to know his name" --- I feel for you. I think this is undoubtedly the best Jack flashback yet. Never have I empathized or cared more for him. We finally get to see some flaws, asides from the way-too-repeated 'I need to fix things' issue. I love that Jack is obsessive and jealous. I actually cared more about the flashback in this episode than what was going on on the island - definitely a first for me! I also love that we get some more insight into his papa issues. PS. Why is Sarah smirking as she walks away in the lawyer's office? You can just barely see it, but it's there. Odd. Maybe it was just Julie Bowen thinking "man, I nailed that scene!" or maybe it was something more?
- Oh Kate, you look so cute in your sundress. Your arms are far too muscular for a proper lady though. The scene with Kate and Henry (Ben! damnit) on the beach was my favorite of the entire episode. Such an interesting, scary twist to what seemed like a fairly straight-forward scene (did anyone else think Kate was just going to have to mate with him?! lol).
- She asks about Sawyer first. I wonder who she'll pick. I think probably Jack. Future episode spoiler (highlight with your mouse to read): I heard she will actually pick very soon.
- I desperately want a grilled cheese sandwhich.
- Whoa whoa whoa how did they get a copy of his father's autopsy report? Either they still have connection to the outside world, or they performed the autopsy? Actually I guess the latter is fairly feasible considering his body was on the island. But even still, I don't think they could find out everything else simply from the contents of the plane so they must have contact with the real world. If so why are they choosing to live on the damn freaky island... especially if the Dharma Initiative was a long time ago?
- I always thought that Sarah's new lover would be someone significant that we'd seen before, like maybe Goodwin or something. I never bought that it was Jack's dad. Are we now suppose to assume it was just some random guy?
- "It doesn't matter who he is, it just matters who you're not" --- best line ever. Did she really need to throw in the "now you have something to fix" part though? That just seems cruel.
- End episode. Overall pretty good, 9.0.
Tuesday, October 03, 2006
Though by no means a comic-book fan (despite really enjoying Watchmen, V for Vendetta, and The League of Extrordinary Gentlemen.... and possibly having travelled to one or two conventions in 'past lives'), I find the medium works really well translated onto screen. A more literal example would, of course, be Sin City. Though Heroes doesn't use the same graphic embellishment or storyboard techniques, it certainly has the feel of a comic book.
Anyways, I love all the characters and am consistently intrigued by the developments and plot twists. I totally saw the time thing coming at the end of this episode... and was rather disappointed that they won't leave the wacked-out painter dead. As intriguing as I found his story, there's nothing I enjoy more than a good old main character death (especially shocking this early in a show).
Oh and by the way, apparently the story line is eerily similar to a 1981 novel. See the details here. Creator pleads innocent.
- How far out of her league is Amanda Peet? She was given some interesting material to work with in this episode and seemed to bring the same blank, i know more than you do even though i've never demonstrated it and will continued to be amused by every problem stare to every scene. Major casting faux pas.
- In contrast, the Matt and Danny interactions were even better than usual. Bradley Whitford can do no wrong, and the dreaded 'Chandler' fall-back persona only rears its head once per episode (in fact, not at all that I noticed in this one). The climax to the focus group story (the sandy part) was surprising and clever.
- Overall the character development in this episode seemed to step it up a notch from previous weeks. Case in point: Jeannie (resident show-ho) can write smart sketches about Italian commedia dell'arte? (I definitely had to look up that spelling by the way, and I still have no idea what it involves).
- I enjoyed the pop culture references such as Politically Incorrect circa 2001.
- In general, however, I've decided that my biggest problem with this show is that Aaron Sorkin clearly knows very little about comedy. His strengths are in the "let's walk and talk" snappy dialogue, good characters, and generally superb show structure. But gosh are the actual comedy sketches horribly un-funny. I'm mostly referring to last week's big intro which was supposedly heralded as turning the show around, but to me seemed boring and poorly produced.
But then, I guess this is a bit of a catch-22 with the show. It's not really about the actual Studio 60 show, but whenever they reference what they deem to be a hilarious sketch, we as viewers naturally want to see it. When we don't (as with Crazy Christians) they lose credibility fast, and when we do it's often disappointing. I actually think the way they handled it in 'The Focus Group' probably worked best of all, showing us snipets of each act. I actually laughed out loud at some of the Science Schmience jokes.
Speaking of comedy on TV in general, I think everything is pretty much horrible except for The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. He is consistently the only comedian with the actual comedic clout (/talent), guts, and personality (/delivery) to make me laugh, think, and respect him all at the same time. It should be noted that Stephen Colbert certainly has the first two going for him, with an extra helping of guts. Surely this is partly due to the fact that both air on the Comedy Channel and thus don't have the network pressures to avoid pissing off certain groups. But then again, if Stephen Colbert can get up in front of the entire white house cabinet and tell them off to their faces, is this really an issue? Anyways, now I must go watch Heroes! To close, an awesome Stewart quote from this week:
''In the West Bank, a group calling itself the Lions of Monotheism firebombed four churches, telling the Associated Press, 'The attacks...were carried out to protest the Pope's remarks linking Islam and violence.' The irony — and this is often the case, we find — was completely lost on them.''
Monday, October 02, 2006
One disgruntled Lost fan writes a letter to the producers. I agree with some, but not all of his criticisms. If you're a huge Lost fan this will not amuse you, but it is still interesting.
More Lost... action figures! I think all but the Kate one look remarkably realistic.