Sunday, July 31, 2005

tooo old!

So while I was in college I didn't think that watching high school TV shows and movies was that strange because it just didn't seem that far in the past and my high school experience had never been like the TV/movie stuff anyway. But now that I'm a college graduate and out in the real working world, I think I'm starting to feel like maybe I really am too old for it all. Unfortunately it's still too enjoyable to stop...

Laguna Beach: the Real Orange County on MTV. Can you say guilty pleasure? Sometimes I think I like this better than the Fake Orange County aka the OC because this is so catty and ridiculous but there are no crazy family dynamics soaping it up. And it's real! I find it amazing that there are kids out there who actually hang out in the hot tub for fun. I always thought that was just one of those Real-World-house contrivances.

Instant Star on Noggin. I was constantly seeing commercials for this on other channels so I watched my first episode of this last night. It's about this punky teenage girl who wins some contest and gets a record deal and a hot producer and a rapper boyfriend...haha yeah, this show is also ridiculous and the music is kind of horrendous in a catchy pop sort of way, but I like it. Man, I'm pathetic.

Made on MTV. So if I was still in high school and wanted to be MADE, what would I be made into? What's the opposite of a quiet, unpopular nerd?

Friday, July 29, 2005

summer TV series

Summer television usually involves massive doses of reality TV stunts (that I invariably give into *cough* Dancing with the Stars *cough*) but now that cable networks have started offering original series that don't follow the regular broadcast television season, there are other things to watch. This summer I've been watching:

Entourage on HBO. I love this show! It's a very light half-hour show about a hot young actor (played by Adrian Grenier who I've always liked since Drive Me Crazy, that movie with Melissa Joan Hart...yeah, I'm weird) and his friends working and living it up in Hollywood. This is part buddy comedy and part inside look at the movie business. There are plenty of real actors guesting as (or spoofing) themselves...this season Mandy Moore, James Cameron, Bob Saget (in a really disturbing appearance), and Amanda Peet have shown up, to name a few, and the situations these guys are in are always hilarious.

The 4400 on USA. This is my current sci-fi fix. Originally conceived as a mini-series last year, it was successful enough to warrant a full-blown series and it's easy to see why. The premise is that 4400 people that have disappeared over the last hundred or so years are suddenly returned together, not having aged at all and some having strange new powers. A handful of these 4400 are regulars in the show, along with the two agents assigned to monitor their cases, who are somewhat Mulder and Scully-esque, which of course I love. This season, various other members of the 4400 pop up as part of the mystery-of-the-week, while the bigger mystery of where the abductees were taken and why they were returned is pursued. I like the writing, I like the cast, and the requisite little blonde girl who knows everything is a lot less scary than Dakota Fanning...

Thursday, July 28, 2005

dvd: babysitters club, the movie

Oh man, so growing up I was a huuuuuuge fan of all teen series. Sweet Valley (University, High, Twins, Kids), Nancy Drew (especially the Super Editions with the Hardy Boys), Satin Slippers, Boxcar Children, The Bobsey Twins, The Saddle Club, The Fabulous Five, Sleepover Friends, the list is endless.... And leading up to the first one I ever got introduced to back in 2nd grade, the books that started it all... The Babysitters Club! So anyway, when I saw that a coworker of mine had the movie on DVD, I became that eager pre-teen kid I was and borrowed it from her enthusiastically.

Okay, yeah it was a fun trip down memory lane. The actresses in the movie were all really well-suited for their parts. Rachel Leigh Cook as Mary-Anne Spears? Perfect. Larisa Oleynik (best known as Bianca in 10 Things I Hate About You) was probably the best actress of all the kid actresses, playing Dawn Schafer. It was kinda funny seeing the guy from My Girl 2 as Logan Bruno, and the Brian Keller from Saved by the Bell: the New Class as a random exchange student guy named Luca.

But man, other than that fun trip down memory lane? The movie was kinda lame. I couldn't stop cracking up about the things that were SUCH a big deal. Perhaps I am now a little too old for this. I mean considering Mallory was 11.5 years old. Dude, I'm twice her age! This is a movie I should've watched 10 years ago. Maybe it would've been better then. Maybe.

Anyway, not recommended as a movie to watch unless you really do want to take a stroll down memory lane. Cuz they mentioned a lot of little details from the book. Like Jackie Rodowsky, the walking disaster. The Kid Kits. Etc.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

sydney, pregnant?

So apparently Jennifer Garner's pregnancy is going to be written into the next season of Alias. We'll see how well they actually pull this off.

Oy. I have yet to fully catch up with last season either. I should get started on that one of these days...

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Howl's Moving Castle

I'm making my post-college move this weekend so likely I won't be posting for awhile. I'll be busy furniture shopping and deciding on an exorbitant cable TV/internet package...

I went to see Howl's Moving Castle yesterday with a friend who is a really big Hayao Miyazaki fan. She'd actually seen the movie already but it was all in Japanese so she didn't understand most of it and wanted to see it properly.

I actually think I enjoyed this more than Spirited Away. I thought the supporting characters like Calcifer and Markl and the scarecrow were really cute, and I actually liked the main character, Sophie, more than Chihiro from Sprited Away, maybe because I related better to her or something.

But I have to say that I was kind of confused by the movie though. Sophie's apparent age kept on changing throughout the movie and I wasn't exactly sure what was causing it. The overall plot was a bit murky too. And clocking in at two hours, this was a bit long for an animated movie and I found myself dozing off at the end (I found myself really bored near the end of Spirited Away too). So I did miss some good chunks of the resolution, which must have come on really quickly because I definitely wasn't asleep for more than 10 friend explained it all to me but I think I was still left a bit confused.

But the animation is excellent as to be expected, and there are lots of really imaginative details (I'm not sure how much is derived from the book it's based on) so it was still a good viewing experience. My friend did say that she enjoys (and understands) Miyazaki's films more on repeat viewings though so maybe I'll have to give this one another try on DVD.

Mira's note:
I, too, loooove Miyazaki. I'm not much of an anime person in general, but all of his films that I've watched (Totoro, Kiki's Delivery Service, Spirited Away, Castle in the Sky, Princess Mononoke, and now Howl's Moving Castle) I thought were excellent. What I really appreciate about his movies is that you are left feeling like the movie could only have been made through animation. Because there are so many fantastical details that he includes, crazy inventions, that could only be created through animation. Like a scarecrow that bounces around on a stick, a castle created by a hodgepodge of architecture and objects that is powered by a little flame, little wood creatures that tick-tock their heads, etc. Anyway, I love, love, love Miyazaki.

Monday, July 18, 2005

mira's summer movie list

Gotta love summers because of all the movies coming out, but it's hard to prioritize which ones to actually go watch! Unfortunately I won't get to watch everything I want to this summer, but here's to trying!

***Already Watched***
Mr. and Mrs. Smith (June 10)
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (June 11)
Crash (June 18)
Howl's Moving Castle (June 26, reviewed by Jenn)
Batman Begins (June 30, reviewed by Jenn)
War of the Worlds (July 10)

***Still Want to Watch***
Cinderella Man, June 3
Bewitched, July 24
Fantastic Four, July 8
Wedding Crashers, July 15
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, July 15
The Island, July 22
Sky High, July 29
Must Love Dogs, July 29
The Dukes of Hazzard, August 5

harry potter 6, in brief

Cuz Jenn doesn't want to put up any spoilers yet, we'll have a more comprehensive post in a few weeks. However, just for now..

I'm satisfied. :-) How about you, Jenn?

I was just over at reading some of the customer reviews, and I have to say I'm kind of surprised that some of the reviews were so negative. I thought this was one of the best of the series. Yeah, it's darker, there isn't as much action, or any great new characters, and it was a lot shorter and less ambitious than the last two, but I still loved it. I saw it as kind of the calm before the storm, i.e. the final book. Oh, well, I suppose everyone is entitled to their own opinions. I personally didn't like Order of the Phoenix very much at all, and I can never remember what happens in Chamber of Secrets....

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Fantastic Four

I'm not going to make excuses: I knew this was going to be a dumb movie but I went to see it anyway. And it definitely was stupid, but I have to say that I kind of enjoyed it anyway. All those film critics comparing it to other recent superhero stuff like Spider-Man and Batman Begins were really just taking it too seriously. This is just one of those brainless summer popcorn movies that you shouldn't think too much about.

Oh, and Chris Evans as Johnny Storm/the Human Torch was hilarious and kind of hot.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Avenue Q

My first theater review! Since I won't be living in NYC much longer, I figured that a Broadway show was in order. We tried to get rush tickets through the lottery, but didn't win (I wonder if I'll ever get lucky) so we just bought the cheapest regular price tickets instead. They were $46.25, which really wasn't too bad, considering the theater was pretty small so the view from any seat was fine.

Avenue Q won the Tony Award for Best Musical last year, and I'd heard only good things about it. The show is like a grownup Sesame Street: the characters are mostly puppets operated by puppeteers who appear on stage with them, and a few humans, who all live on the fictional Avenue Q. But with songs like "It Sucks to Be Me," "The Internet is for Porn," and "I'm Not Wearing Underwear Today," this definitely is not for the kids...there's even a puppet sex scene. But even with the crude humor and discussions of racism and homosexuality, I thought it was overally really good-hearted and pretty true to life too The characters were all in their 20s and 30s, wondering what their purpose in life should be. Plus it was just unique to have puppets be real adult characters, rather than Bert-and-Ernie types.

I can see why some people might have fond the show offensive, but this isn't supposed to be the same sort of theater experience as Les Miserables or Phantom of the Opera (both of which I also liked a lot too). It's just a hilarious good time with some great puppet work and a lot of catchy tunes.

amazon is so cool!

For their 10th anniversary, partnered with UPS to make a few special deliveries: some lucky people are getting their packages delivered by celebrities! How cool is that? So far, the likes of Anna Kournikova, Michael J. Fox, Chris Noth, Nick Lachey, Jason Alexander, Minnie Driver, and Clay Aiken have all delivered packages!

Most have been in California, naturally, so even though I had an package delivered on Monday, there was probably no chance that a celebrity would have come with it. Plus I ordered a pair of headphones, which don't have any logical celebrity connections. It's still really cool though!

Sunday, July 10, 2005

war of the worlds

Frickin' a! Why didn't anyone tell me this was a scary movie?!?!?!?! I was just expecting flat-out action or something. I wasn't expecting to be hiding in my seat, worried about what would happen next. *sigh*

Aliens are scary. The end of the world is scary. Mass mobs in panic are scary. Tom Cruise and Dakota Fanning are scary.

Friday, July 08, 2005

another DVD rundown

My local library is awesome.

City of God: A Portuguese-language film set in the slums of Rio de Janeiro in the 60s and 70s. I really liked this movie a lot. It showed all the harsh realities of living in the so-called "City of God" with both heart and humor but also unforgivingly. The violence depicted is really shocking, because pretty much everyone involved is just a kid, but the narrator, Rocket, is an aspiring photographer and more of an observer of than an active participant in the violence and street wars, and his story provides a somewhat hopeful outlook.

Spirited Away: My first Hayao Miyazaki film. I know that everyone says that he does the best animation anywhere, so maybe I'm just not that big of a fan of animation in general. I liked the movie, it was very imaginative and the animation itself was great, but in my mind it's not going to overtake any of my Disney favorites (i.e. Beauty and the Beast and the Lion King). I guess it's just a matter of preference.

Real Women Have Curves: In almost every review I read of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, America Ferrara (Carmen)'s performance in her first movie was mentioned, so I decided to check it out because I was in need of a chick flick. This one had a little more substance than the average chick flick's about a Mexican-American girl who wants to go to college but instead has to work in her sister's garment factory due to obligations to her family. As the title suggests, all the women in this movie have curves, and there are a few scenes where that's brought up, but the rest is more classic coming-of-age stuff. It was nice to watch a movie in which all the characters are played by wonderfully average and non-Hollywood actors.

Tape: I'm actually not sure why I even borrowed this in the first place...I guess I have a thing for Ethan Hawke in Richard Linklater movies. This was one of those concept films...there are only three characters and it all takes place inside of a motel room. The three actors (Ethan Hawke, Uma Thurman, and Robert Sean Leonard) are all very good and the dialogue was also excellent, and you don't lose interest even though there's not much to look at onscreen. The intrigue is supposed to be in how these three people all remember an event in their past differently. I did feel like some of it was strangely over-the-top, but overall it was pretty interesting.

The Rule of Four by Ian Caldwell and Dustin Thomason

This book is kind of old news (I think you read it a long time ago, Mira) but I finally remembered to borrow it from the library this week. I finished reading the whole book in a day, today, in fact, so I figured I might as well review it.

Since comparisons to the DaVinci Code have been inevitable, I'll start with that. I liked this book a lot better, because the characters were just college guys at Princeton instead of that annoying, aging professor running all around Europe, and it was all just easier to swallow. Both were very easy, quick reads, but I actually thought the Rule of Four was better written...some of it was a little too English-major-y for me, but I thought it flowed better.

The mystery part was alright. I'm not terribly interested in ancient texts and codes and stuff like that...I much prefer Agatha's Christie's murder mysteries, which I've been reading a lot of lately. But I thought that the story was pretty well thought out. The present action spans only a few days, with the narration skipping back to the past for most of the novel, but the pace is good and it's not confusing at all. The characters were all pretty well developed and convinced me even further that I would never want to be either a thesis graduate student or professor in the humanities...haha, yeah, engineer speaking here.

But I think what intrigued me the most were the descriptions of Princeton and how life goes on there. I considered applying there when I was in high school, and what I remember from my campus visit was that it all seemed so upper-crust and steeped in tradition. From what I read in this book, I guess my impression was about right. My experience at Cornell seemed so completely different, despite the fact that it was still Ivy League. I kept thinking that a novel set at Cornell would probably be so much less interesting and have so much less character, but maybe that's just the bitterness talking. There's apparently some fantasy novel set at Cornell entitled Fool on the Hill that was written not too long ago by an alum, so I'm really curious to check that out and see how my alma mater transfers to the page. Of course, hey, maybe someday I'll write a book set at Cornell too.