The High Countries

because it’s all paperweight…

Time to Review!

Some of them, I should have seen long ago. Others, long, long ago. But now, you know. Into the fray!

*Scale of score is a 1-10.

GET LOW: 8.38

Bill Murray also maintains his presence as one of the funniest men on the globe as a funeral home owner, Frank Quinn, who’s in desperate need of “some deaths around here”. The final scene alone is worth the price of admission.

 

 

 

 

 




[REC]: 8.06

The original Spanish-version of Quarantine. Its marvelous. And creepy and perfectly formatted and filmed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

[REC 2]: 8.81

The follow up to REC 1, this beats it on all levels: scares, jumps, and above all … Story. Its absolutely terrific, and blows Paranormal 2 out of the water.

 

 

 

 

 

HEREAFTER: 3.41

The worst film of 2010. It was worth putting in this list again, just because it did so poorly with so much. I can’t say this enough. This film is rubbish.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SESSION 9: 1.81

Billed as a scary, closed-in freak fest, this was anything but terrifying — and I was ready for a scare; believe me, I tried hard. It was about as scary as a 4 year old with a Scream mask on. Okay, that’s pretty scary. It was not that scary.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

JACKASS 3D: 7.24
It is what it is. But a jet engine shooting raw materials at guys in lawn chairs? Ding, here’s $12, you win, now give me my glasses…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

RED: 7.68
Its a CIA movie with geriatric agents. And its actually not that bad. It helps that it has John Malkovich in it though … that always does.

 

 

 

 

 

 

PREDATORS: 4.58
I can’t be too harsh on this flick — we sat down as a house to watch a terrible B-level movie and we nailed it on the head, the problem is, it takes itself SOO seriously. Follow up question: Adrian Brody … Who did you piss off to fall so quickly….? I mean like, light-speed-fast.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE WALKING DEAD SEASON 1: 8.14
I was in need of a great new drama ever since LOST went off the air. Though, TWD is no LOST, it is super fun with some GREAT drama — the key to release the handcuffs anyone?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PASSENGER SIDE: 2.21
Heralded as a coming-of-age tale about two brothers driving through LA to figure out life, this movie quickly became about put-downs and emo-vagueness. And I would go listen to Feist if I wanted that…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE CURSE OF THE HOPE DIAMOND: 7.08

Ha ha! This doc was great! I didn’t that the Hope Diamond (the biggest diamond in existence) had a curse behind it! Nor did I know that, in terms of diamond quality, the Hope is not only the largest (by lots) but also the rarest form of diamond, the clearest, the bluest and the most chemically and naturally brilliant diamond ever seen or hoped for. Pun.

 

 

THE SWITCH: 8.79
As Entertainment Weekly put it a couple weeks ago — “The Switch deserves another chance.” This Rom-Com is a splendid journey; Jennifer Aniston and Jason Bateman hold the screen and legitimately made me laugh with the smart writing, great acting while adding a little sperm-spice to life. Honest to goodness, I loved this flick. Its right up there with How to Lose a Guy in 10 Day for me. Fantastic.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HUNGER: 8.42

There is a 23-minute scene (17 and a half minutes of it is a one-take) between an IRA Hunger Striker (Michael Fassbender) and a Belfast Priest (Liam Cunningham). And it is remarkable. It is known now know as The Scene. If you haven’t seen it, you haven’t seen it. So you should probably watch it tonight.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

VALHALLA RISING: 3.10
Great poster, but oh, it was bad. It was really, really bad.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BOY A: 7.07
I’ll watch anything Andrew Garfield is in after I saw him in The Social Network. So now I’ll watch the new Spider-Man and later in life I’ll go back and watch The Other Boleyn Girl. For now, Boy A was good. Not great (Garfield is pretty terrific), but good.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CENTURION: 6.15
Ironically, another Michael Fassbender movie. It was fun. And I watched it after VALHALLA RISING … So naturally, it was a 6.15/10 masterpiece.

 

 

 

 

 

 

TRON: LEGACY: 8.13
The movie was fun, okay. It wasn’t Star Trek and it wasn’t Transformers 2. It was somewhere in the middle. Somewhere right alongside … National Treasure 2, maybe. Daft Punk’s soundtrack was EASILY the best part.

 

 

 

 

BARNEY’S VERSION: 3.11
This was a comedy. This was a comedy? I’m still trying to figure out what was funny about Barney leaving three marriages and covering up a murder. His name? His numerous addictions? I didn’t laugh once. And I was trying. This is only the 3rd movie this year that Rotten Tomatoes has let me down on (The Town, The Fighter, et al)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TINY FURNITURE: 2.12′

I was told Lena Dunham has a “fresh voice” for the industry to hear. She does not. In TINY FURNITURE, she filmed her life right out of film school, but not in doc form as much as in boring form. Look mom, I made a movie.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE WAY BACK: 5.21
They walk. And they walk some more. I’m not kidding. Don’t see it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PIRANHA 3D: 5.3

They were going for “gratuitous sex, nudity and violence”. They nailed it. And the movie made $83m worldwide … So now we get a sequel. What do you bet Jerry O’Connell survived?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

EXIT THROUGH THE GIFT SHOP: 9.6

My favorite doc of the year — thought provoking, intriguing, genuine in its satire and empirical evidence and a documentary about something I knew nothing about before hand. It was wonderful.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

RABBIT HOLE: 8.18
This was a tough one to get through; incredibly tragic and far too real to be a movie. If you don’t have a strong relationship/marriage, I don’t know I’d recommend watching it. Kidman and Eckhart were beyond incredible and one fight between them is maybe the rawest scene of the year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT: 5.5
If I’m being blunt, I didn’t care for it much. I thought it was a great premise, but the execution had me pulling to break up a family — what? Where did they go wrong? Where did I go wrong? Is it natural for a biological father (who screwed up) to want to raise his kids?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LEOPARD: AGENT OF THE DARK: 6.1
I went on a documentary binge before I went to sleep this past month. And this was the beginning of a long list of nature docs. All that to say, the leopard is awesome and huge, but not huge enough to ward off Lions and Hyenas and other born-bigger meat-eaters. Poor dude. No wonder it takes its kill into trees.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE WOLFMAN: 2.41

This is RIGHT alongside HEREAFTER as the worst movie I’ve seen in a while. It was so bad we shut it off. So technically, I can’t say I’ve seen it. Though, I bet you I could tell you what happens. In related news: did you know that The Wolfman nearly caused Anthony Hopkins to quit acting? And if it weren’t for THOR director, Kenneth Branagh calling him to ask him to play Thor’s regal father Odin, he was considering calling it quits altogether because of his time on The Wolfman? If you haven’t figured it out yet, Joe Johnston is directing Captain America, too. Oh… Joy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

LITTLE FOCKERS: 7.04
I was really happy after the first one. And I can’t seem to get back there. Please call it quits guys. I mean, it wasn’t Mystery Men — but it wasn’t Zoolander either.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FREAKONOMICS: 7.78
The middle gets real slow but there’s one part that STILL has me thinking: Roe v. Wade was passed in 1973 … And 18 years later, national crime rates in the nation’s largest cities noticeably decreased. Coincidence or correlation? Freakonomics handles this data marvelously.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

KING KORN: 5.01
This was a weak doc that didn’t go far enough into Korn (Corn). Yes, I already knew that everything is made out of corn. And that the government largely pays for farmers to make a profit on their harvests. And that corn is high in starch. And that processed, corn-fed meats are bad for you. Tell me something I didn’t learn in The Garden, Fast Food Nation, Super-Size Me or Food Inc.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SHE’S OUT OF MY LEAGUE: 7.2
Gotta love a sleeper. This was supposed to be a cookie cutter Rom-Com. What turned out was a great, heart felt, hilarious love story about skinny dude meeting smokin’ hottie.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SLEEPERS: 8.03
I’d never seen it. And I’ll never look at Kevin Bacon the same again. I’m dead serious. And to think I ate Thai food next to that guy one time. If you haven’t seen it, brace yourself. Its a dark tale.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BRICK: 8.14
I’d been told by so many people to see this movie. And now I’m so glad that I did. Murder on the Orient Express meets Sherlock Holmes meets High School. Awesome.

 

 

 

 

 

 

BURIED: 7.02
Ugh, it was so close! Great premise, great timing, but the execution took a couple wrong turns! I will say though, I’m on team Ryan Reynolds. Have been for quite some time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON. 9.2
I put this on here again because the soundtrack and movie are so, freaking good. If you haven’t seen it — get an HD tv and some great sound, turn it up and fully enjoy the blast you’re about to have. My fiancé cried during it, she was so happy. I nearly joined her. And I’d seen it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FROZEN: 3.21

If you like B-level scares, this one’s for you. Three skiers get stranded on the lift and are going to be left there for a week…. How to get down? Make a B-level horror of course!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ETERNAL EMEMIES: THE DOCUMENTARY: 9.17
Best nature doc I’ve seen since LIFE. The eternal struggle between Lions and Hyenas. I’m not kidding you, the shots they get and the stories they tell about this epic, life-long battle are remarkable. The end left me more satisfied than an Mai Tai on the beach.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TIGERS OF THE SNOW 5.11
I was on a Tiger/Lion binge. This was good — Siberian Tigers are friggin’ huge, btw. And can kill just about anything. Oh, and a baby Siberian, when picked up by a scientist inside its den is still capable of doing a surprising amount of damage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’M STILL HERE: 6.02
Plainly said: this would have been a MUCH cooler doc had I know it was fake. That said, the Diddy scene when Phoenix plays him his music is hysterical and brilliant.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

RESTREPO: 9.2
The single most emotional moment I’ve witnessed in a documentary is caught in this movie. The soldiers must mount a hill as bullets fly over their heads … What happens next is staggeringly real.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WAITING FOR SUPERMAN: 9.5
Maybe the “best” doc of the year in terms of what it shines its light into. Scary, emotional, moving and honest, this doc ought to be seen by ALL.

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April 1, 2011 Posted by | Entertainment, Film Reviews, Movies, Television | Leave a comment

Iron Man 2 (2010)

Rotten Tomatoes never lets me down. I’m serious. I go to check out what theater is closest — it uses Flixster, (the RT affiliate app on my iphone) and gets me there. What’s coming out next week? What’s good? What’s bad? What’s not worth 13.50-plus in IMAX? Same result every time. Rotten Tomatoes is genius!

Well, tally one in the let-me-down category now.

Recently, I made a mistake of checking for the first review of Iron Man 2 — the apocalyptically anticipated sequel to the 2008 blockbuster Iron Man. I found a review. It was from the floundering paper mill, The Hollywood Reporter, courtesy of our good friend (I don’t know him, who does?), Kirk Honeycutt.

“Well, that didn’t take long. Everything fun and terrific about “Iron Man,” a mere two years ago, has vanished with its sequel.”

Kirk Honeycutt, you’re a douche misinformed.

I do a little more research. This is the guy that LOVED:

Kenny Chesney: Summer in 3D

Death at a Funeral (yep, the new one)

The Back-Up Plan

Clash of the Titans

Remember Me

Green Zone

The Lovely Bones (arguably the most dismal movie of last year).

I’ve been bamboozled! I keep looking around….WHAT?! He HATED Brothers and Sherlock Holmes. I’ve been duped! So here it is; my attempt to rid the world of that dastardly first review.

Iron Man 2 was a total blast. The villains weren’t quite up to The Dark Knight standards, but this isn’t Batman’s world is it? We’re dealing with a new hero here. Rich, charming (oh man, is he charming), hilarious, and the king of any situation…drunk in the Iron Man suit — no problem!. He’s smarter than you. He’s got more money than you. He’s needs nothing you have and has whatever you might want. He is the perfect superhero and IM2 is his fueled, dying, sarcastic stage. The show lasts two hours, please stay through the credits.

IM2 also weaves the perfect intro into the “Avengers Era”. Clues throughout, a brilliant Easter Egg at the end and intertwining characters make it the perfect kickoff to the films leading into The Avengers, the anticipated superhero Magnus Opus set for summer 2012.

There were a few things wrong with this movie. Don Cheadle just seemed out of place. I’ll be honest, its tough to compete with Robert Downey Jr. on any screen at any time; he’s pure entertainment. Cheadle’s Lt. Col. James “Rhodey” Rhodes was, ‘mehh’. Terrance Howard didn’t steal the show, neither did Cheadle; we’ll call it a draw. Why can’t Stark just control both suits? There’s our fix.

Scarlett Johansson was perfectly cast as the busty poised Natalie Rushman/Natasha Romanoff and played it coolly across the entire movie. She had her scene. It was neat. It was quick. It was nothing new. Though, for some reason, we had to watch our boy Jon Favreau go all Mike Tyson and box some random security guard! I’m trying to watch Scarlet get her kick on!? I couldn’t’ focus during the fight anyway… I kept thinking Elektra…Elektra….why do I keep think … The suit! It’s the leather suit! Yep, got it. Elektra continues to ruin my life annually.

Once we got back to our boy Tony, everything in the world seemed right again. Oh! One more note — I love Sam Rockwell, I hope to never give him a negative review as long as I live. He was great as the “outcast younger brother” Justin Hammer. Well done, as always. And Mickey Rourke in tats wielding long blades of lightening … I’ll take it. But that’s not why we came to see the movie is it. We came for the man of the hour: Indiana Jones, Jack Sparrow, Jake Sulley!

This is Tony Stark, the most loveable playboy/superhero/billionaire on Earth — hopelessly in love with Pepper Potts almost as much as he’s in love with himself.

Kirk Honeycutt, you just…you really screwed the pooch on this one.

May 4, 2010 Posted by | Entertainment, Film Reviews, Lost, Movies, Television | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

T-minus 28 days. And if you look over to your left, you’ll see the fat lady singing. That’s right. It’s over. LOST is coming to a close starting Feb 2, 2010. The one show that gave this blog its wings oh-so-long ago is finally beginning its phoenix flight. Is that the right term?

In honor of LOST kicking the bucket, I’m going to resurrect the blog in rare fashion (frequent posts) for the remainder of its season. What better way to reignite the blog than with a grease-lightning round of “Machine Gun Movie Review”, courtesy of the common cold. Friday I woke up and literally could not feel my face. I was sick. I did no writing. I did no calling. I did very little talking. I did, however, do a frequent amount of movie-watching. Nine in two days actually.

Here’s a rundown…

Food Inc.: What a great inquisitive movie. A fantastic look into the actual nuts and bolts (or is it salt and steroids?) that make up our food industry. Scary, convicting, horrifying all wrapped in one big bowl of cheap, subsidized, fast-food burgers. (8.91/10)

The Cove: Maybe one of the coolest doc’s I’ve seen to date. I wish the end would have been a little more triumphant, but the overall movie was beyond excellent. Oceans 11 meets Free Willy meets Bourne Identity. Fantastic, should win Best Doc at the Oscars. (9.2/10)

Bronson: One man’s take on Britain’s Most Violent (re: Famous) Prisoner. What many thought was going to be Director Nicolas Winding Refn’s take on the crazed, though uniquely charming prisoner, Charlie Bronson turns out to be actor Tom Hardy’s masterful portrayal of a man so disturbed for stardom. Bronson, a journey of fame: any press … may actually be good press. (8.02/10)

The Messenger: Woody Harrelson puts on a masterful portrayal of a broken down, compelling, Iraq War soldier. Sure, we’ve seen these types in movies before, but Woody’s, much like all his other stuff, lets us in on a secret … without a few turns of events, we could easily be that guy too. Ben Foster hops onboard as the new guy, assigned to bring the news of a soldier’s death to the Next Of Kin, along with Captain Tony Stone (Woody). Maybe one of the most heart-wrenching movies I’ve seen this year. Also maybe one of the best. (9.31/10)

Tyson: straight Mike Tyson drama thanks to HBO. I thought I knew Mike Tyson’s life well … until I watched this film. Talking head interviews I still can’t believe made it to screen. The sheer drama in his voice has to be worthy of some award. I dare you to do anything but stare as you watch his interviews. What a life… (8.34/10)

Where the Wild Things Are: I thought I had it on pretty good information that this was a children’s movie for adults. Whoever told me that was wrong. This is a children’s movie for children, and me going into it with a  different mindset ruined it completely for me. I was unimpressed, though, there were some legitimate laughs. (5.9/10)

The Lovely Bones: Quite possibly one of the worst films I’ve seen in years. It takes a lot to get to the top of my movie list, let alone the bottom. One main criteria is that you need to adapt or create already great work. The Lovely Bones, the novel, was already good (great), apparently and the film adaptation butchered it. First 19 minutes: compelling, great, intriguing. Last (what felt like) 8 hours: horrendous. (2.85/10)

Julie & Julia: My mother LOVED this movie, so naturally, I was bit hesitant. Though, after I finished it, I was overcome with this giddy sense of inspiration. Maybe I should challenge myself to something for a year? It probably helped that I watched it three days into the new year, I am a blogger, I love to eat and that I love Amy Adams and Meryl Streep and Stanley Tucci (who were all exquisite) but regardless; truly, honestly, fun. (8.78/10)

Dead Man Walking: This is an old 1994 classic. I liked it. It doesn’t much fit with the current Oscar season, but oh well. I watched it. It was good. It was not great. Sean Penn was good. Susan Sarandon was great. I thought it had a great message about Jesus and his life and what it meant to confess, love our enemies and work towards redemption, but for some reason … I felt it should have been even darker. Terrible crimes are typically done by terrible people, show me some of that. (6.86/10)

Brief Interviews With Hideous Men: I love The Office. Brief Interviews With Hideous Men was a masterful written work by the late David Foster Wallace. It touched The Office’s John Krasinski while at Brown University. While watching it, you can almost see why Krasinski – playing the tired, selfish ex-boyfriend of the film’s main’s narrator and lead – chose to play the movie. At the conclusion of the film, we get “The Monologue”; you know, the one that solidifies in your mind exactly why this was considered Krasinski’s passion project? The one any stage actor would kill for? And that’s the rub, the monolgue would have worked infinitely better on a stage – where two people can actually keep our attention for 9 minutes and where big, 25-dollar words seem perfectly placed as opposed to corny and forced – rather than on the screen. The moment Ryan/Subject #20 (Krasinski) begins to speak like David Foster Wallace, my interest got up and walked out. I had no energy left to translate the postmodern boil of rape-induced love connection that followed in the hitchhiker-story’s wake. It was a wreck; any 80 minute adaptation of a 330 page, four-part short story would be. So, it’s not Jim’s fault? (5.31/10)

January 4, 2010 Posted by | Entertainment, Lost, Movies, Television, The Office | Leave a comment

LOST: Episode 6 — Doubting Thomas, The Island and Proxy’s.

Jack (Matthew Fox) finds himself where everything started.

Jack (Matthew Fox) finds himself where everything started.

It’s back to the land of the LOST. Except this week – it’s not so cut and dry. I mean, the castaways are back. Some of them at least, but this time the rules have changed. As always, Thursday morning was met with a recap of the previous night’s episode. I’ve heard many takes on this week’s (218/09) sode’:

You [we] learned absolutely nothing in 58 minutes of Lost that you didn’t know in the first 2. Complete filler.”

“It was good not great – talk about a bunch of biblical references.”

“I like the bible stuff – the writers are so smaaaart!”

“This may be my favorite episode of the season, thus far.”

And to think that the first and last comment came from two people who use to be dating.

It was really until this morning that I realized that this episode really was something great. Granted, it was a caught-in-the-middle-of-a-much-bigger-story episode, but was that all? This week we opened with what we all thought was a flash back to the pilot. It was not. And we soon realized – crap, they made it. They made it back!? Then we got one of those 52 minute story’s explaining how they got where they just told us they’d be. Part of me felt like we could have done without that. Let me get straight to the point, though.

The most intriguing thing about last night’s episode was the fact that each person onboard the flight had to recreate the original flight sequence. We saw this clearly play out with jack putting his father’s shoes on Locke’s dead body in order to recreate the original flight. We also saw this when we noticed that Sayid was handcuffed to an officer of the law in order to become a proxy for Kate – who was in a similar boat on her maiden flight. And I thought that was it. That must be that Jack was himself, Hurley the same and Sun, too, right?

Wrong.

Think about it. Here we go.

Locke = Jack’s daddy – coffin-ized

Sayid = Kate, cuffed like a renegade.

Hurley = Charlie, with his guitar and carefree spirit (I made the second part up)

Sun = Sayid, who was looking for a lost love

Ben = Hurley, both ended up being late to their flights

Jack = Jack, because he is weak, and the only person weak enough to play Jack, is Jack himself. Pussy.

And now for the kicker….

Kate = Claire (Kate is prego with Jack’s baby from the night before). Whooooaaaa.

What is going to happen to the extra business classer’s that we got to meet briefly in last night’s episode? It hurts my mind to think about. I’m sure they’ll somehow find a gun, point it at someone and die – or they’ll shoot at someone in a raft as they’re paddling away, just before they jump points in time – wait a second!? Eureka!

As for Ben and his gladiator face, I think it’s obvious that he tried to kill my love, Penelope. Can’t you just see Ben about to execute Penny the same way Widmore’s boy Keamy did in Alex? And then, in walks Desmond – all excited because he just told Ben he wasn’t going to The Island. And then as Dez realizes that Ben always gets the best of everyone, Ben softly says, “Desmond, this doesn’t concern you. But if you stop me, I will hurt you.” What’s the only way Desmond will go back to the island – if Penny’s in trouble right? Maybe she dies, or is really hurt and the only way to save her is to go back. Back from where he once came.

Side note: Jack’s character arc coming on around with the inclusion of doubting Thomas (Jack: someone like me exists?!) and the Good Will Hunting-esque, “it’s not your fault” moment from Ben — of all people — was outstanding.

This is all turning out to get very good. Geeeeez, I love LOST.

February 19, 2009 Posted by | Entertainment, Lost, Television | , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Jesse Jackson: “I wanna cut his (Obama’s) nuts off…”

Jesse Jackson Obama's Nuts...

As time unfolds, the Reverend's words may prove more telling than his legacy.

Distinguished quests,

I realize that understanding, mercy and tolerance are flourishing ideals of this postmodern world. I am keen to the fact that most ill-spoken quip can be extinguished with a simple apology, half-witted explanation or conniving, cover-up lie.  By now, I am sure you have all heard that Jesse Jackson did some quipping of his own this week. In our by-the-second news world, this email is legions of seconds too late and reads like yesterday’s classic novel, I’m sure. All tardiness aside, hear me out.

After reading Bill O’Reilly’s book, The O’Reilly Factor, I can say that its main point was the emphasis of dialogue. By whatever means necessary, Bill always tried to have dialogue with most guests. And even in some of his most heated moments — like with Heraldo Rivera — cooler heads usually prevailed. When guest would choose not to come on the show, nearly each time, with enough persistence, they’d make ammends. Hillary and Bill Clinton, Eminem, Reverend Al Sharpton – all finally succumbed, whether to pressure or realization and appeared on the show in one way or another, save one: Reverend Jesse Jackson.

At the time of print, the Reverend had yet to appear on the show. He had not given rhyme or reason for his impartiality towards Mr. Reilly and never once returned a call personally. He didn’t want to talk. He didn’t want to be anywhere near him, maybe for good reason. Each time the Reverend came up in news, Bill was there – ready to give objective view — sometimes on polarizing and seemingly fallacious topics (such as the death of Stanley “Tookie” Williams). With each new news day came more criticizing, grandstanding and stake-driving from the Reverend in response to any and all of The Factor’s coverage. “There’s always a place at the table for dialogue”, Bill would say, adding, “…but it seems the Reverend can’t find the time.  Maybe next week.”

Years have come and gone and although the Reverend has appeared on The Factor (with topical guidelines overflowing from his team’s notepads), never once has the Reverend been the poster child of what he preaches. If there’s people around, tolerance will be preached, but when the mics go off – the dialogue apparently changes.

The courtesies that Mr. Reilly patriotically offered to Mr. Jackson – listening ears, and open mind and a patient tongue – were once again offered publicly to a man that, by his own teaching, would not deserve such a service. Reverend Jackson’s (and it kills me to say that) words echoed through the halls of the causes he so fervently claims to champion against: hate, anger and envy. Could anger ever be more inopportune?

Outside of the sound bites uncaught by hot mics, the point is this: The Reverend Jackson — a man who so adamantly strives for the public stage by which to boast his own tyrannical and illogical fight against racism — has just become the apple of his own eye. Its the modern-day allusion to David’s conversation with the prophet Nathan.  Jesse Jackson’s entire life has been his crusade to place damnation on the masses and wash his hands of any guilt.  After his comments on Monday, and by his own actions, his legacy takes true form.

July 10, 2008 Posted by | Entertainment, News, Television | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

2008 US Open

Tiger Woods, during his playoff round Sunday at the 2008 US Open championship.

2008 US Open: Tiger Would

We’ve reached a new level of insanity here in the High Countries. What once was an unabashed impartiality towards the game of golf has now––upon conclusion of this year’s US Open––become something so much more lethal: full-fledged fun.

As I opened my office door this morning, the only thought I had was the balancing act between productivity and full out, final-round-watching insubordination. I know, I know, its hard for me to admit to myself that I sat there updating a live web blog (courtesy of Jason Sobel over at ESPN), only to write him and express the same thing I am to you now; that as much as I hate to say it, I’m having a great time. I can’t say that the play-by-play was minute-by-minute, but it was…five-minute-by-five-minute, so what’s the big deal? It was like baby-back rib relay race: slow, but genuinely exciting at its finale. As Tiger thought back on his rounds, I thought back on my short-lived journey to this moment…

I’ve only recently began playing consistent golf. A friend and I found an appealing super-twilight rate at a nearby course that allows us to get in about 15 holes 2-3 times a week for a staggering $8 a round. While I boast a ’90 something’ as my best (recent) score (cough…on 17), its suffice to say I can use all the cheap golf I can get. My golf game wasn’t something I really enjoyed until about three months ago and golf on TV wasn’t appealing until about 3 years ago––when I first saw Tiger induce Phil Knight’s screams of delight as his brand rose and fell with the resounding ‘clinkle-clunk’ only a billion dollars could make. Its true, the genius of the 2005 Masters brought me closer to the actual game than anything else. Tiger Woods swung life into a dusty pastime and I found his charisma to be just the medicine I needed.

I can’t say that I saw any of this coming. I can’t say that I had any predictions today other than what Dan Patrick said: “There is a 1-5 chance at the beginning of any given tournament that Tiger will win.” I can’t say that I even watched every round of this years Open. Granted, I am a fair weathered golf fan (I listened to Lakers-Celtics game 5 last night on radio though, gasp!) Lefty’s Pooh Bear-esque moobs are the only reason I recognized him for the first half decade of my fanship. My tenancy in the PGA has been nothing short of short-lived, but one thing is true: I can no longer say I don’t care. No longer am I simply… impartial. I am anything but impartial, in fact, I am…partial. I want only Tiger to win. Even when he’s wearing purple or only half-tanned, its always Tiger. Call me crazy, call me anything but unique. I was alive when Tiger Woods was playing.

June 16, 2008 Posted by | Entertainment, Sports, Television | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Lost: Season 4 Finale

LOST Finale

As it all goes down, fans wait, watch and wilt till next season.

There’s No Place Like Home: Part 2 & 3

By Bryce VanKooten

Well, its all over. At least for now. How do we all feel? Can we describe it all in one word? Legit. Two words: deceptively inspiring? I suppose we need a time machine to get out exactly how we feel.

This year we saw lots and lots of things happen. Wait, no we didn’t. The season started with the ever-fateful ‘the folks on The Freighter are coming to get us’ and ended with the incredible twist: ‘the folks on The Freighter, although tricksy little hobbits’s––did not get us’. Granted, we got to meet Faraday (awesome, eccentric, all good things) and Charlotte (hmmm) and I’ll be the first to admit that I like them, but frankly––when all was said and done, plot wise… It was a simple season.

Remember first season when we saw a Hatch and were entertained just by the thought of it for about 15 episodes? Or when we saw only the feet of The Others walking by––just a glimpse––and we had more Goosebumps than a 6th grade library? Those were the days when nitwit fans were mixed in with the rest of the nuts and left to fight amongst themselves as to who would get the last handful of theory crumbs. Nowadays though, where do we live?  What is it going to take to get us back to that state of wonderment without that nostalgic sense of hate we so often feel? Can it be that we are too smart for our own good?  Always thinking outside the magic box, we can only be duped if hand-fed lies? I say nah, but that’s closer than not.

If ever there was a breaking point for me, it was the end of Season 3. It was the first season where I had to moan along with the rest of the world week by week (or should I say, week off to week on) because I had used up my luxury of DVD seasons (see previous post Lost: The Logic-Free Fee). It was then when I sat back and said, “Lost, I hereby swear I will disown you like a right-wing father to his hippie son if you don’t impress me beyond belief.” And like a true nonconforming child, it did. There I was, watching Jack drink his life away–– popping pills like a MLB All-star thinking to myself, “Well, it looks like this is it. I have to quit. I gotta shut er’ off.” And then it happened. They took me to the future. And like Never, Never, Land, I was hooked again.

When this year’s finale rolled around, I can’t say I was in as angry of a place, but I can say that I wanted some movement. When Desmond did his Marty McFly bit in The Constant, I went wild. When Keamy went from ‘not that tough’ to ‘okay, he could be tough’ by going hard as The Wire and shooting Ben’s daughter, I coincidentally wanted to jump up and scream, “That’s what I’m talking about!” You can’t have anyone to really love if you don’t have anyone to really hate. Throw in a loathsome person like Benjamin Linus (who we all love, lets be honest) and you have a terrific show. Leverage that dynamic with the island’s properties and now we’re talking. The Season 4 finale did just that. It didn’t do everything I had hoped (i.e. reveal to us the/a time machine, show where the island went after it ducked below the surface, give us more insight into where Ben goes after banished, etc, etc), but it did enough. I liked how the island disappeared. I liked how Sun sold out for her final scene with Jin (fyi; that was heart wrenchingly painful to watch and I likely won’t watch it again; I liked Jin, I did…. I did). I liked how Sawyer was the man, again––if only for a little while. He kind of went to that hey-don’t-forget-I’m-still-Sawyer place where he does things, almost subconsciously, just to show how much cooler than Jack he is. I thought his jump was well placed and perfect. And if you didn’t hear what he said to Kate in the whisper, you can hear it here.

Bottom line, this finale was like a punch in the belly button. A good punch, though. It hurts a bit; torments you for a while, but its good to know that you can still feel. You can still hurt–– and they still care enough to take the time and effort to punch you.

June 3, 2008 Posted by | Entertainment, Lost, Television | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Get Smart (2008)

Steve Carrell LOST season 4 Get Smart

Secret Agent Maxwell Smart (Carell) and Agent 86 (Hathaway) in the Mel Brooks favorite, Get Smart.

Didn’t Miss By Much

By Bryce VanKooten

I can’t decide if I like Steve Carell (Maxwell Smart) more when he is silent or when he is talking. Either way he’s a master. Up until about a year ago, I was unsure if he could do anything besides scream with a straight face, although I won’t lie, whether it was newscast gibberish or Kelly Clarkson expletives––I laughed every time. It wasn’t until his role in Little Miss Sunshine that I really appreciated his acting skills and thus, more fully understood the broad range of talent. Still, Get Smart is not about acting; it’s about popcorn. Plain and simply––great laughs, solid entertainment, fun for all the cousins.

Carell delivers once again in this altered, but still very friendly adaptation of Mel Brooks and Buck Henry’s classic mid-1960s TV series, which starred the late, great Don Adams as super-spy Maxwell Smart, a.k.a. Agent 86. For many, Adams will forever be the true Agent 86, and if you see the movie and can’t get over that, I understand, but nonetheless Get Smart, the movie, brings Mel Brooks kind of humor to a new generation––families included.

Obviously an Oscar-worthy movie (let alone the performance…geez, nominate the guy), it’s clear that Carell was born to play this role. Very rarely (and before recent missteps, Will Ferrell seemed to be reaching this plateau) is an actor or actress so brilliantly comedic that they can simply stand on a stage, saying nothing, and get laughs. Think back to the days of Carol Burnett. Or even Bob Hope doing the Oscars. Both comic giants, at ease in any situation––the audience overwhelmed with their charm. I would like to think that this aura is simply ‘comedic charm’, but more eloquently, it is probably closer to ‘comedic genius’. Not that this movie solely places Steve Carell in comedic lore, but it definitely doesn’t hinder his rise. Once again, he holds any scene he’s in and has you shifting in your seat, leaning slightly forward as not to miss an off-the-cuff reference or quip. With Anne Hathaway playing the uptight, overbearing feminist and Carell fitting nicely as the blatant nitwit, there’s little time left for the gadgets to get laughs, save one.

The funniest scene of the entire film takes place in an airplane restroom. Hands tied, seeking freedom from his bonds (seen briefly in the trailer) Maxwell Smart attempts to free himself by using his weapon of choice: a miniature crossbow. Hilarity ensues, as aiming the bow with his mouth becomes something of a nightmare and the plane’s metallic surroundings causing unintended physics. Refusing defeat after the first couple misfires; this scene builds as we watch the entire sheath unloaded, one painful shot at a time. This sequence alone is worth the price of admission and combined with an obese waltz during a fancy gala, your cheeks will likely have had enough hilarity.

Now, don’t get me wrong, there is plenty of robust corny comedy throughout the movie; more specifically––anything that happens in the Control hallway, but outside of faltered gags (which may be eliminated––I saw 6-months early test screening), the movie flows well. Alan Arkin is superb as the Chief and Borat’s own Ken Davitian (Shtarker) brings normalcy to the utterly ridiculous––this guy would have been at home in any Mel Brooks ensemble. The other actors, although working well in the flow of the film, rarely hit homerun jokes. From the ‘Silent Force Field’ to the rooftop fight sequence, one thing is true: no question, Steve Carell is funny. His timing and his flair for Death-Valley-dry under-acting make him a perfect 86, with the entire film serving as testament to his on-screen charisma––not to mention, he fits a suit better than most. Get Smart is a breath of fresh, classic air in a time of raunch-fest comedies like Semi Pro, and the upcoming and completely worthless Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Dare I say, “Best Comedy of the Year”? Ah, missed it by that much.
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*This review is based on a February 2008 test screening

May 6, 2008 Posted by | Entertainment, Film Reviews, Television | , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Whole Package

Get Out of My ‘Offive’

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There’s talk around the town about an Office spin-off. Are you kidding me? It isn’t on tap to start until sometime after the 09 Super Bowl, but frankly, whenever its scheduled is far too soon. Yes, The Office is a nearly-as-good-but-not-quite-as-epic spin off of the UK version (by the same name), starring the irreplaceable Ricky Gervais, originally aired on the BBC. And therefore, I suppose its true; once American television gets a hold of a successful product, its only a matter of time until it is stripped of its excellence, wrought with product placement and repackaged to resemble only a glimmer from whence it came. Sadly enough, if this remake-fest begins, I’m confident America will tune in…sadly, about as long as they watched Joey.

With all this repackaged garbage bombarding our living rooms, I can’t help but think back on some of the worst repackages in the history of our culture. Ones like Freddy vs. Jason (Monster’s Inc. was more frightful), or the repackaging of an athlete, like…well, every week on Dancing with the Stars. Don’t get me wrong, Dancing with the Stars isn’t THAT bad. I can stand it for about 11 seconds, whereas I can only watch a My Name is Earl for about 10––so hey, its relative. But one thing’s clear, they’re no Planet Earth. And hey, why can’t we get another one of those?!

Regardless of preference, this ‘repackage-everything’ mentality also got me thinking of some cool things that should be repackaged. What? Let me share an example: Hulk Hogan was on the down-and-out, but THEN he got a reality show and bam! Back in the spotlight. Yeah, we know, his family is a car wreck (no pun intended) and about as glaring as Dikembe Mutumbo’s bad knees, but hey, wasn’t it fun? He was back on the proverbial track there for a couple weeks! All that to be said, what should be repackaged? We know Star Wars needed a fifth box set (Gold and Silver Editions), and there was no way Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows could skate through untouched so, why not, split it into two movies. As my mind wanders into the realms of the unknown, I dwell on the things that someday, I hope to see.

Ocean’s 18: Yeah, tell me about it. 19 isn’t as easy to hide as 11, but think of the things you could do?! Everyone split into two man tandems, executing nine different heists, all consummating to form the end of the Iraq war. Yeah, think about it.

Shaquille O’Neill to the NFL: This doesn’t even need explanation. This would be, without a doubt, the most profitable/entertaining saga to hit this planet since the life of Mike Tyson––and possibly as violent.

Aquafina Entering the Energy Drink Market: Let’s face the facts; Aquafina should just take Jerry Seinfeld’s advice and “…put enough caffeine in there to kill you … Then, back it off a little”. Call it Addict. There’s your dang drink.

Punk’d Meets Reality TV: Whenever someone wins their respective competition, curtains part to reveal Ashton Kutcher via video, on the set of his current movie, pre-recorded saying, “Uh, You got Punk’d…”. Quite frankly, this could work effectively on The Miss America Pageant.

All gag’s aside, are we not sick of this yet? Is there nothing to be said for class anymore. If have the choice to buy a jersey of my favorite team, do I go online and look for a classic jersey, the home jersey, the away jersey, the alternate jersey or the 2009 Classic version of that same classic jersey? Have we had enough? What if one day, they repackaged Britney Spears––her faith meant something, she was classy and cool, and southern and spicy? Oh…to dream for what could have been.

April 3, 2008 Posted by | Entertainment, Television | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

NCAA Tournament Moments: Elite Eight

The Bruin Issue

Josh Shipp Foul Ucla Blows Texas A&M Hosed

The Tournament has begun. In my respective pools, my bracket is performing like Hillary in front of a microphone; leading me astray with every game it plays. Nonetheless, my spirits remain high, and three out of four Final Four’s remain. If those dill weeds from Duke would have decided to play basketball and not sit on their hands like a home-schooler at a strip club–I may have a chance in this thing. But alas, with no one over 6’8, I should have known. My chances were slim.

With the Terrific Twelve squarely in place, and the Elite Eight being rounded out later tonight, I want to recap on the shenanigans of the last week. Top five moments of the the NCAA Division 1 Men’s Basketball Tournament through 2.5 rounds of play:

5. The Belmont Foresight: I should have known, I know, I know. It was all I could do not to put Duke as my winners. My ex-roommate (who has since moved to SC, and is a terrible human for it) is a raging, die hard UNC fan. Hailing from the Northwest, I’m a fan of Washington teams, but really couldn’t bring myself to put Washington St. past UNC–so I compromised. I went with my next favorite team, Duke, because I knew, somehow, that my Zags would piss it down their leg like an overheated 6 year old after too much hot chocolate. However, I didn’t think the Dukies could win it all, so I put them to the next closest thing: playing in The Championship Game. Fact: Duke, I hate you. Coach K, I still want to be you. Go Memphis.

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4. Puke-on UCon:
Whowould have thought that such a big UCon team could literally, physically, mentally and emotionally fold once their best player got hurt? Besides that, what’s a Torero–a bullfighter? Who cares. Here’s the deal: At college, I played lacrosse. And every time we played USD, we got our anuses handed to us on a rusted-out platter. One time we were pretty amped because we were leading at halftime, but and in the second half, once we lost the lead, we just started swinging our sticks at anything that moved and drilling players at random–USD still won the National Title, vis-à-vis, UCon had it coming. Go USD. Go Lacrosse. Go Memphis.

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3. Bobby’s Brain, and Mouth, and Charisma: I have never enjoyed pre-game and post game charades more in my entire life than when I get to watch, listen and stare at Bobby Knight in his V-neck sweater get up. His Mohave-dry take on each Tournament saga is like listening to Dante tell a fairytale. Combine that with Digger Phelps’ increasingly noticeable resentment and blithe hatred, and you have on-screen genius. Pure Joy.

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2. I want Curry! Stephen Curry at, let’s be honest, 6’1 (maybe) 170 lbs soaking wet, has taken not only the tournament by storm, but also the weight room. I guaranteed you, here in West LA, across the street at our little Park-le-gangster, there’s a dozen middle and high school kids spray painting their t-shirts red and adopting an anorexic lifestyle, in hopes of becoming The Next Great Under-165lbs-Kinda-White Hope.

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1. The UCLA Plague: I wish that UCLA never existed. Not because it would be doing all mankind a favor, but because their history is tainting everything we know. Yes, Kevin Love looks like my uncle Craig after 14 beers, a nine course buffet, and in training for a role in Meet the Klumps IX. But besides the fact that he’s bra-less, can we address the brewin’ (pun) issue? UCLA is infecting the world. Its like they have a weird strain STD and every time they play, they infect those around them. Its not Mojo, its…like…athletic syphilis. I don’t want to comment on the foul at the end of the Texas A&M game (see top). Nor do I want to speak on Kevin Love’s 9 foot Halo of Death, where upon entering, a whistle will blow faster than at the start of a co-ed mud wrestling match. The fact of the matter is that we all need to use protection, we need to get something to fight it. Turn to what wins: USC. And not just anything USC … USC Football. Get out there and buy yourself a jersey. Then, come game time, you’ve got protection. Be prepared, be responsible, wrap your rascal. Go Memphis, I think it all makes sense now.

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March 28, 2008 Posted by | Entertainment, Sports, Television | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment