Sunday, June 25, 2006

DVD roundup

King Kong: I'll admit it, I've never watched the original: all I knew was a big gorilla on the top of the Empire State Building and somehow a blonde chick was involved. But when Peter Jackson of LOTR decided to remake it, I decided to pay attention. Unfortunately I didn't get to watch it on the big screen but yay for Netflix. Anyway, as expected, it was an exceptionally well made film, but somehow I didn't really like it as much as I thought. I guess I'm just not into big animals or something, though King Kong fighting a T-Rex is pretty much one of the coolest things ever. Plus Peter Jackson definitely knows how to do scary. The spiders were positively terrifying and those were by far the scariest natives EVER. It's a fun movie, but it kind of lacked the emotional power of LOTR for me, despite the whole beauty and the best thing.

Junebug: Amy Adams picked up an Oscar nod out of nowhere for this movie so I picked it up. It's a quirky indie movie, which I usually love, and I did like this one, but I have to agree that a disproportionate amount of that like is due entirely to Amy Adams. The movie has a meet-the-parents premise: George is the husband taking his new wife, Madeline, home to meet his family in North Carolina, which includes a sullen brother (played by Ryan Atwood himself, Benjamin McKenzie) Johnny, and his nine-months-pregnant wife, Ashley (Amy Adams). Ashley is almost impossibly sunny and positive and upbeat but it's completely genuine and not fake at all. Her character really carries the movie, but the rest of the cast is competent as well. Embeth Davitz plays Madeline as sophisticated but eager to have George's family like her. Alessandro Nivola plays George as aloof but slightly uncomfortable at being back home. And Ben McKenzie portays Johnny as generally angry and unpleasant but his hints of happiness at work and moments of affection for his wife keep him human. I don't want to give the ending away, but it was really excellent. The only thin that I really didn't like about this movie were the strange silent transitions that were just sequences of still outdoor or indoor scenes. Yeah just a little too much quirk there.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

cars, cars, cars

Since the TV seasons are sorta done (minus the new popularity of Summer TV as Jenn mentions below), to keep up the blog, I'll write about some movies I've watched as of late. After all, summer is the time of movie blockbusters...

Fast and the Furious 3: Tokyo Drift
Yeah, so I got dragged to watch this with Russ, but hey, this was ACTUALLY really entertaining. I mean, you gotta go in understanding that this is simply going to be watched for action-entertainment-value and to look at cool cars and watch cars race. Cuz really, bottom-line, that's ALL it is. But man, being one to like action movies, to enjoy car movies, FUN!

I've been wanting to see this movie since I saw the previews for it a year or two ago. It was a cute movie, it was original, it was funny. But dude, it was long... Okay, okay, 2 hours may not seem that long, but for an animated film? Definitely long. In any case, it's funny how they took such stereotypical cheesy human scenes and put it into cars. In any case, not quite The Incredibles level of awesomeness, but fun nonetheless.

Now I'm just waiting for Superman Returns (Returns from where?), Pirates of the Caribbean 2, and erm, I guess that's it. Geez, summer movies this year don't look all that appealing. Interesting.

Friday, June 16, 2006

new summer TV

Ironically, just as I actually have time to now watch TV, the regular season is over. But not to worry, the face of TV is changing, and there are plenty of summer series to watch. I can't say that this stuff is really quality at all, but hey, it's better than nothing...

Falcon Beach on ABCFamily – I’m not really sure what’s up with ABCFamily and all their original series that aren’t terribly family-oriented. Falcon Beach is set in a fictional beach resort town (I think it’s supposed to be New England but the original Canada, and follows the drama among a group of townies and vacationers. The main character seems to be this boring blond guy named Jason who gets a lot of pretty cool wakeboarding scenes and who will obviously be having a dumb romantic triangle with the bitchy ex-girlfriend returning from modeling abroad and the bitchy spoiled princess vacationing with her mother and bad boy brother. Then on the side there’s Jason’s nerdy best friend Danny who’s crushing on a lifeguard he’s known since childhood. It’s all very poor mans’s Dawson’s Creek but without too likeable characters, except for maybe Danny, but it’s almost required that you like the nerdy sidekick. The whole show kind of just has this weird sleepy fuzzy quality to it, and the acting is pretty bad.

Beyond the Break on the N – Follows four female surfers in Hawaii and their “coach,” former Baywatch dude David Chokachi. I liked this show a lot better, maybe just because the surfing scenes are pretty awesome and I’m used to the afterschool-special-ness of Degrassi and Instant Star and other shows on the N. The acting here isn’t that much better than in Falcon Beach, but it’s perky Saved-by-the-Bell bad acting and not taking-myself-too-seriously bad acting. Plus the girls were much more sympathetic and face it, Hawaii’s an infinitely better setting for a beach bikini show than the Atlantic coast.

The Hills - I was always a bigger fan of Lauren than Kristin on Laguna Beach, so naturally I tuned into this show. The only problem is that I HATE her friends! Well, Whitney seems alright but Heidi is possibly the dumbest blonde on the planet and she irritates the hell out of me. And the guys aren't too hot either. I'm awaiting the return of Jason for some real drama!

Hex on BBCAmerica - A Buffy/Charmed hybrid set at an English boarding school. It's been awhile since there's been a supernatural high school show so I was happy to see this one pop up. I liked the premiere, but the promo/preview sequence pretty much gave away everything to come and since the show has already run its course in Britain, I read over a summary of the entire series (on wikipedia!) and well, it ends up going in a very very crazy direction. I'll probably keep watching for a bit, but I'm not expecting it to be awesome.

Hell's Kitchen - I missed the first season of this, but heard of it during discussions of that other cooking reality show, Top Chef. The feel of this show very different from Top Chef though: it's more about running a kitchen and less about personal creativity. Gordon Ramsay is pretty amusing to watch (would be terrified of him in real life though) and the whole dinner service thing is super crazy. I wasn't terribly impressed with any of the candidates though...overall much lower caliber than on Top Chef I think. But then again this is FOX, and they love their stunt casting so they have a prison chef, a fishmonger, a pizza dude, and a salad chef among others.

Fresh Meat (RW/RR Challenge) - I'm a huge sucker for these challenges. I didn't watch a lot of the original seasons of these people, but I've come to know them well through the challenges and they're still funny to me. I kind of like this new twist, especially since the alumni and the newbies are paired up to work together. I really agree with everyone on the show that the Austin cast sucks. Can't wait until they're all GONE. Not sure if I'm a fan of the whole exile thing though, because half the fun of the Gauntlets and Infernos were the rest of the teams watching and cheering and booing. Plus the same exile thing every week isn't that fun either.

Windfall - I like the idea of this show, but I'm not sure about the characters. Luke Perry is always welcome but I wasn't so into the thing with his wife and the friend who might be the father of his student's baby. Dude from life as we know it with the Russian wife thing was also pretty stupid, and I don't really care what's going on with crazy flower shop man. I think there's a reason this got pushed from midseason to summer...

The Janice Dickinson Modeling Agency on Oxygen - I actually wasn't really aware of Janice Dickinson at all until America's Next Top Model but for some reason lately I've been all into the fashion and the models on TV (ANTM, Project Runway, 8th and Ocean, What Not to Wear) so I DVRed this. Janice is totally crazy ("Two words, OUT!") and I was a little bewildered by the whole posing nude for a casting call thing but overall it was kind of fun. This show is obviously going to be half Janice antics, half actual modeling agency stuff. Kind of makes for a good time.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

what would you do with a couple millions of dollars?

I just started this new show on NBC called Windfall by randomly falling on it while channel surfing. The premise of the show is that 20 people, some friends and some randomly connected, donate to a pot to buy lottery tickets and win $386 million. It's interesting because this is a group of people in all different places in life, with different ideas on how to spend the money. It's interesting so far. We'll see how it goes. And we'll see how much $20 million (I guess $10 million after taxes?) per person can go.

So, what would YOU do with $10 million?

Monday, June 05, 2006

Season wrap-ups Part 2

Veronica Mars: Don't want to give away too much as Mira has yet to watch this season, but this is a tough one for me to sum up. The first season was one of the most brilliant things I've watched on TV in awhile but I think this season they became a little too ambitious. Still better than most of what's on TV but this year's mystery suffered by being too complicated and by being wrapped up too quickly. There's still stuff that I don't understand, and I'm waiting for the DVD to come out so I can re-evalute everything. But tons of good stuff this season. Lots more Mac. Tons of wonderful Keith-Veronica moments. Weevil and Logan working together. Dick = comic genius. Duncan leaving. Logan and Veronica dancing. Veronica's graduation dream. Aaron Echolls finally getting his. "I thought our story was epic." !!!! Next season is reportedly going to be structured a bit differently, with three sections/mysteries to the season, which I think will help viewers keep up better.

Alias: A fittingly uneven end to an uneven series. I loved Alias when it first premiered: it was different and fun and it had a great premise with the whole double agent thing. And while I agree that something did have to happen with SD-6 in order to move the story along, I feel like things really did start to go downhill when SD-6 was destroyed, and then the Rambaldi nonsense just took over and the rest is history. I mean, there was definitely a lot of good stuff, especially in the first two seasons. All the intrigue with Irina in second season was excellent and the development of the Jack/Sydney relationship is still a highlight. Lots of great supporting players with Marshall and Dixon and Nadia and Anna Espinosa and Sark and even Rachel and Tom this final season.

But there were just too many horrible things. The 3 year time jump and Vaughn's terrible wife (most hated character ever). The Francinator. The stupid big red ball and the zombies. The Allliance. Prophet 5. And Sloane. Ugh Sloane. The number of times he flip-flopped between being evil and being evil but claiming to be good makes my head hurt. And over time, Sydney just became less sympathetic. She started out as this tough ass-kicking chick who also has a big secret and a lot of parental issues and angst, but great supportive friends and co-workers. But when some of those elements went away, she became cold and robotic, maybe with good reason, but it just didn't help the show very much.

That said, the finale had its moments. Liked the flashbacks. Liked that Sark escaped, because that's just what he does. Liked that Syd and Vaughn ended up happy together. Liked that Carrie made an appearance and that Marshall ends up having 4 kids. Liked that Sloane ended up buried alive for eternity. LOVED that Jack put him there as his last act. Was disappointed that Irina was involved and pretty much evil after all, and that Tom died in the subway just as I was starting to hope he and Rachel could be the next Syd and Vaughn. But let's just leave it at that. I'm glad it went out when it did because any more would have just been adding salt to the wound...

24: Maybe I didn't quite pay enough attention this season but I'm still pretty confused about what was going on and what everyone's motivations were. I'm really fuzzy on what Logan's plan really was and who Dr. Romano's little group was supposed to be and what they wanted and what Bierko wanted and what Christopher Henderson was all just a bit too much. But unlike Alias and Lost, the plot intricacies don't hold the show back from being just completely kick-ass. Jack Bauer is definitely going to go down as one of the most distinctive TV characters of all time, especially as he gets more and more ruthless as the seasons go by. Glad to see Audrey back to soften him up though as she's definitely my favorite among Jack's many doomed loves. Chloe was also even more awesome this season, loved all the snark and the tasering and (sob) Edgar. (And what was up with her ex-husband??) Bill Buchanan, best CTU boss EVER! Also glad that Karen Hayes wised up and saw what was going on. And I loved the ending because come on, we were all waiting for the Chinese to resurface.

But ultimately this season was all about President Logan, and man, what a twist. The weak and incompetent man we hated from last season is suddenly the archvillain, but through it all he somehow still manages to be weak and incompetent. And gotta love Martha Logan, and her little smirk to her husband at the end of the season. Completely awesome that the one person with the power to bring down the President started off the season completely loopy. Was also glad to see that Aaron Pierce and Mike Novick weren't fooled either (and that they didn't die).

It's funny, 24 is definitely an action show first and foremost, but no matter how crazy and ridiculous things get, I still love it. Lots of my co-workers and other people I know have recently gotten into the show, which is awesome. I'm proud to say I've watched it from the beginning though!

Friday, June 02, 2006


This is going to be short, cuz I don't want to spoil anything for Jenn in case she hasn't seen it yet and plans on going to watch it. I super enjoyed X-Men 3: The Last Stand simply at face value. And my new favorite character is definitely Kitty Pryde, who I think Iceman should end up with over Rogue. While I'm not really sure if this is intended to be the final of the movie series (because it was left off with some ambiguity) enough changed in this movie to make the future ones very different. Ie. the questionable return of *many* of the key characters from the first 3 movies.

My only complaint is, there was never much or any development of WHY the X-Men chose to side against Magneto and protect the "non-mutants," in this fight between mutants vs. humans. Usually there is a very clear-cut distinction, in why Magneto is going after his purpose against the humans, and why the X-Men feel there is a less-violent way to achieve a similar purpose. In the case of this movie, I simply didn't buy that the X-Men should simply protect the humans. I also was hoping for more development on Archangel's character.