Tuesday, January 04, 2005

…The Dead Will Walk the Earth (or at least return to work)

I know I promised to return on Monday, but due to a feisty illness, I was delayed a day. I’m normally not one to get to personal on the blog, but five days in bed sucks! I must vent. My cat was quite enjoying my illness. She’s needy and was happy to have the permanent company. She’s the only one, as both myself and my Ben were ill. He was far less ill than I, and took to caring for me. He also calmly delt with my whiny and bitchy nature that accompanies any cold or flu I catch. I love my Ben. After fever, joint pain, headaches, sleeplessness, fatigue, stomach pain, and congestion, I’m down to sneezes and weakness. I also have this uncontrollable urge to eat garlic, specifically garlic bread. I know; it’s random. I’m hoping that I’m not pregnant with a vampire child. The odds are favorably against this. Today, I ventured back into the real and virtual worlds that have been burgeoning with activity outside my bedroom. At some point, the year changed and I missed it. So happy new year bloggers. Now, down to business.

POPCORN: Incredible disappointments and the effects of bad casting

On Screen - While I had planned on seeing The Aviator, The Life Aquatic, Closer, and/or Phantom during my extended vacation, the pesky sickness kept me down. Before my smiting, I took my sisters to see The Incredibles.

The Incredibles – 5/10

The Incredibles follows a family of retired superheroes as they are recalled to the cause and discover it’s okay to be “different” in the process. Although the difference they finally decided to accept in themselves is that they are better than everyone else.

I don’t get it. Do people really love this film? Or, is it just that this year gave us no heart in the animated world the way that Shrek or Nemo did in years past? I must say, that even though Finding Nemo is one of my all time favorite films, overall I’m not a huge Pixar fan. The Incredibles is no exception. I found myself fighting to stay awake during the first act of the film. I didn’t have all that high of expectations for the film to begin with and it failed to even live up to that. I haven’t quite pinpointed where the film indeed “failed” other than the fact that it simply wasn’t good enough.

But, “maybe the kids will like it” you say? Even less. My sisters and I (ages 9, 13, 15, and 25) all found parts of the film thoroughly enjoyable, but were not crazy about it as a whole. I found the comedy subpar to any sigh delivered by Nemo’s Dori Fish (Ellen Degeneres). In fact, I did not find the character of Mr. Incredible likable in the least. I found Dash, his son, to be annoying. The more I think about it, the characters strongly remind me of The Family Guy minus Brian (the Dog and my favorite character). I really like the Griffin Family though, and they don’t even have superness on their side.

My favorite character from the film was Violet, the Incredibles’ my-so-called-life-like daughter. While I found her character to be the most endearing super through the film, I was also disturbed by the animation which exaggerated a severely unhealthy waifness. I’m not the biggest critic or champion of accurate body image in the media. Everyone likes looking at people who are better than them. This was an animated film, and I’m not ridiculous enough to accuse a drawing of eating disorders. Although, I think the guys at Pixar should draw her a pizza. Seriously, the character’s sickliness in frame was, well, disgusting. While on the topic of animated people, I’ve come to the conclusion since this film that I apparently only like animated movies which feature animals. I can’t wait for Madagascar!


Collateral – 8/10

This is a solid film from acclaimed director Michael Mann (Heat, Miami Vice). Every word of praise you have heard regarding the performances of both Tom Cruise and Jamie Foxx’s is true.
This film (extremely short for Mann btw) follows a really bad night through downtown Los Angeles as cab driver Max (Foxx) is forced into escorting “collections” professional Victor (Cruise) on an endeavor of violence and philosophy.

The rhythm is set by cab scenes which delve into the meaning and value of life bookended by violence and death. This film has a simple plot which trails off slightly in the overly predictable final act. The plot is the least important part of this film, so the clearly coming twist isn’t that disappointing. Cruise puts forth the peformance of his career by showing us for the first time in two decades that he can disappear into a character. Foxx showed us months before Ray hit theaters that he’s one of Hollywood’s untapped kegs of talent.

The entire film is beautiful which is often rare in real and modern settings. Without fantasy elements or period costumes, the cinematography is breathtaking in the neo noir world of LA. This is the most beautiful LA - and Jada Pinkett-Smith - have ever looked.

Anchorman – 4/10

Wow! This film was the biggest waste of talent and time that I’ve experienced in awhile. This is exactly why checks and balances are important in both government and film. Gone unchecked, the brilliant and hilarious Will Ferrell falls far from his mark. Ron Burgundy would have made an excellent anchor with Tina Fey as part of Weekend Update, but on his own in a film that lasts more than 10 minutes, the occasional laugh doesn’t make up for the wasted celluloid in between.
Random Thoughts on Random Films

During my bed ridden hours, I caught up on two films which escaped me last year… The Last Samurai and Big Fish.

The Last Samurai – 7/10

The only flaw of this film is casting. Tom Cruise is so miscast that he throws off the entire grandeur of the piece. Ken Watanabe, on the other hand, was the best part of this film which mixed poetry and philosophy into a warrior epic. The plot is a blend of Braveheart and Dances with Wolves as a people oppressed by a growing Imperial force fight to maintain their culture and their lives (btw both Braveheart and Wolves took the Oscar for best pic) . The interpretation of culture through the eyes of the drunken “white man” is poignant and comical at least to myself who is if of Japanese ancestry. It is peculiar how in a story of Japan, Americans are presented as the sources of good and evil, righteous and weak, as the drama unfolds. The meddling in the affairs of a growing nation brings the “moral” into modern times in political affairs. At times the reference to middle eastern correlations seemed to too blatent. Afterall, subtlety and politeness should convey from the message of the culture through to the tone of the script… Shouldn’t they? The Last Samurai is pretty in a genre that is traditionally gorgeous and finds itself just on the outside of greatness.

Big Fish – 6/10

Ewan McGreggor is Scottish! I know that might sound obvious, but his attempt at the “Awe shucks, Ma’am” Forrest Gump wannabe lead character of Big Fish was bad… very very bad. McGreggor is a great actor which is why it’s so painful to watch his forced accent and seaming confusion in the bayous. Trainspotting, Moulin Rouge… all fine performances. Besides McGreggor’s unfortunate slot in the production, the story falls through at the end when the fantasy dies. Director Tim Burton’s visual stylings are still very strong, I just wish the director better writing to work from. He seems to have peaked early in his career constantly hitting just to the left (or right) of the genius we know he has in himself.

THE BOX: Back from Break, New and Improved

Embarking on their new season’s this week are 24, Alias, and Carnivale.

24 - Day Four: 7 a.m. starts this Sunday at 8 p.m.

Who knows what’s in store for Jack Bauer (Keifer Sutherland) after the huge overhaul to the entire series? In fact, Keifer is the only returning cast member as everyone else is cast aside. 24 hasn’t been afraid to kill, wound, or torture the most seemingly “safe” characters to keep you on the edge of your seat. Who can forget when George went down with nuclear bomb? In fact, Day One through Three seems almost like a super spy trilogy, but now that Nina is gone and Palmer is no longer President the series lacks familiarity. This could be good to woo in new viewers, but might also offend those of us who have been tuning in for three years to see what asinine situation Kim (Elisha Cuthbert) has got herself into this week (rapists and mountain lions oh my!). I’m most sad about the lack of cast member Carlos Bernard who played Tony Alemeda. Agent Alemada was a sideline character in Day One who became my person favorite the past two seasons. Last season he was shot in the neck and still made it through the day. I will miss you dearly, Tony. Okay back to the show. Jack now works for the DOD in Washington under the Secretary of Defense, James Heller. Jack is also having an affair with Heller’s married the daughter. The day begins with a commuter train explosion that has Heller sending Jack back to CTU to meet with Erin Driscoll, the new head of CTU and the woman who fired Jack. Chaos and Danger ensue.

Fox is rolling out the first four hours of 24 during back to back episodes both Sunday and Monday 8 p.m. – 10p.m. (January 9th and 10th). Get ready for the ride.

Alias – Season Four starts Wednesday at 9 p.m.

Did you get the memo too? Wednesday is now J.J. Abrams' night at ABC. That’s right, Lost, Alias, and Felicity the Grad School Years. (Okay, so maybe no Keri Russell) 24 isn’t the only spy series that was “retooled” this year (IMO Alias’s “tool” seems perfectly fine to me – Michael Vartan this means you). I must admit that I have never seen an episode of Alias. Wednesday night seams like the perfect time to start especially because no other worthwhile television is airing then anyway. So, you should tune in too. In fact, a new time slot might be the best thing to happen to Miss Bristow (‘cept for Michael Vartan). I don’t have much to say other than my irrational hate of Jennifer Garner has subsided. For more on Alias, check out the DKME which has plenty of Alias love and excitement to share.

Carnivale – Season Two conjures up Sunday at 9 p.m. on HBO

Carnivale was perhaps my most anticipated new show for a while. Unfortunately, I’m a victim of bad broadcast quality. For some reason, anything broadcast on HBO in Hi-Def has such atrocious sound quality through my cable system that with the television and cable box both at full blast sound, I can only hear whispers. It’s normally tolerable, but due to the sound mix in Carnivale, I could barely make out any of the lines which made following the dark complexities of this series frustrating, so I gave up. This doesn’t mean that I’m not going to tune back in next week to see if the problem is still as apparent. The least praised and watched original series of HBO takes and avant garde look at mysticism set in the dust bowl and depression of the 1930’s southwest. HBO rebroadcasts their original programming nearly every night, so no matter what your normal viewing schedule, you can find an hour to fit in Carnivale.

Season One Starts…

NBC finds itself at the bottom of the big three ratings race for the first time since the mid 1980’s. They are desperately trying to survive in a world where the sitcom is not king. This week they give us Medium and Committed.

Medium – Mondays at 10 p.m. on NBC

Medium starts Patricia Arquette as a medium ("one who talks to dead people") that helps police with dead end cases. The show is based on the real life crime capers of Allison Dubois. If you haven’t been able to figure it out, I’m a sucker for supernatural drama. It’s all Dan Curtis’s ("Dark Shadows") fault. Anyway, Medium premiered last night.

1.01 Pilot – First the title sucks, NBC. “Medium” is right up there with “Medical Investigation”. "Dead End" would have been more original, if not by much. There are so many title possibilities that I’m insulted by your unwillingness to work at it! Okay, rant over. The title sequence was also a little too much of a rip off of The X-files as well. Patricia Arquette was great and predominantly the only reason I tuned in to the show. The pilot followed Arquette’s character, Allison, as she decides to follow up on dreams and visions she has of the dead. She abandon’s her career path as an attorney and instead is hired as a secret consultant to the DA’s office. It’s like Law and Order: CI with a twist (dead people). It could become a good show or it could tank quickly. It wasn’t out of box super strong, but if you’re tired of Law and Order reruns on Monday night as your only form of entertainment, it can’t hurt.

Episode 1.02 will air Thursday at 10 p.m. followed by episode 1.03 on Monday at 10 p.m. Regardless, there isn’t anything else on at these times.

Committed. If you’re interested, which i'm not, it premiers tonight at 9:30 p.m.


I’ll be watching Veronica Mars which is all new tonight. House returns with new episodes next week. Lost and Desperate Housewives also return all new this week. Unfortunately, DH will be on the same time as 24’s premier. Since I’m TiVo-less, maybe someone over at the DKME will tape it for me.

... That's the Ticket

My friend Jon over at The Big Ticket will be taking down his Big Ticket '04 mix soon featuring some of the best imports, indie rock, and under the radar music of the past year. His most recent post features a self portrait too (he's a hottie, but I'm also admittedly bias). Check it out before it's history.

And that kids, is more than anyone should post in one day!


At 11:05 PM, Blogger mr gilbert said...

thanks for the plug, angie. i'l leave the tracks up an extra day, just for you darlin'.

fwiw, i really dug the incredibles, thought the last samurai sucked (perhaps it was only tommy-boy), am not impressed much w/house & found medium to be damn near unwatchable. but that's just, like, my opinion, man.

feel better, toots...

At 11:19 PM, Blogger mr gilbert said...

holy crap, angie! close the link on the 24 banner - the blog is all one link!

At 12:09 AM, Blogger Mitchell - Crumrine said...

silly jon jon, you seem to think I actually have a clue as to what i'm doing :0)


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