Saturday, June 24, 2006

10 Things ...

I caught this movie some time ago and had the review in stock, as I like to say, but forgot to post it. Anyway, I've always heard good things (mostly by the women folk) and I wasn't disappointed ... in fact I would say I was pleasantly surprised. I think you will be too.


Star rating: **** out of 5

I can see why women go crazy for this flick. It's a sharp high school comedy with quite a bit of charm and a strong ending that'll get to even cynical romantics. Thanks to a kooky father, a sophomore (Larisa Oleynik) can date only when her older sister (Julia Stiles) dates. Unfortunately, the older sister is a cynical, sarcastic contrarian who feels the boys at their school are all idiotic miscreants. Throw in suitors who scheme and hire a beau for a chance with the younger sister and you have the plot. The film is beyond funny and smoothly satirizes high school life. The dialogue is crisp and genuine and takes advantage by quoting Shakespeare here and there. The real gem is the acting with the four main players not only bringing reality to their roles but a nice dose of chemistry (especially Stiles and Heath Ledger). Funnyman Larry Miller plays the father and steals a scene or three. And Andrew Keegan enjoys his time as the foil. Highly recommended; as is the Shakespeare play the film is loosely based on.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Hug it out!

So one Jeremy Piven, aka the Pivert, recently led Wrigley Field in a rendition of "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" in somewhat controversial fashion. Defamer has the lowdown here.

And here's some more background. The Cubs have had a less than stellar season so far. It's actually a big disappointed due in part to major injuries just before the start of the season. The Pivster is a native Chicagoan who's been a longtime Cubs fan.

I basically find this pretty hilarious and good natured. I mean it is crass to be so attached to a catch phrase that you can't go 5 seconds without saying it, but in my opinion he was trying to be jovial and knew how disappointed Cubs fan were with the season.

Anyway, the next time you're with friends and things seem gloomy, I think you know what to say.

Friday, June 16, 2006

MIA for a short while

Sorry folks, only one post this week (not including this one). Anyway, due to circumstances I'll be cutting back on blogging for the near future. I should be good for at least a post or two a week, but rarely more. Well, I just wanted to give you folks the heads up. Have a good one folks!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006


I strongly feel we live in a celebrity addicted society in which logic and rationality go out the window when it comes to celebs and the super rich. I preface this review with that statement because while I sorta enjoyed the remake of OCEAN'S ELEVEN, I have trouble understanding how popular it was. Only our addiction to celebrity could explain it. That or the audience was like 90% women and gays. I mean it was alright people!?! Sheesh, does everyone love the Clooney?!?! Anyway, on to the review.

Star Rating: *** out of 5

While I’ve given this film only 3 stars, I think most viewers would peg it as a 4 starer. If you’re looking for light entertainment, Vegas gaudiness (or elegance if you like that sort of stuff), and good looking guys in sharp outfits, then this is your movie. Basically a guy's guy fairytale, this heist flick is something you’ve seen before with a few thrills up its sleeve. I just don’t buy the whole neo-rat pack, cool super-thieves enterprise. And I’ve seen the original OCEAN’S ELEVEN (though that was a while ago) and I felt similarly — though in that case Sinatra, Davis, Martin, and all simply needed a project so they could party together. Just like in the original, all the actors seem as if they’re merely hanging around together. And for some that might be charming; for me it’s annoying and it’s not acting. Nevertheless, there are a couple of early scenes with Clooney and Roberts in which they’re flexing their acting muscles and it makes for decent viewing. For me, the first two-thirds of the movie are pretty slow and it’s only when we get to the heist itself that things get entertaining. I must admit, the heist sequence is fun and will keep you on edge and guessing. All in all a rather mediocre film with an entertaining ending. Hmm, I feel as though I’m forgetting something ... oh yeah, the plot: Clooney and Pitt round up a posse of professional, quirky criminals in a plan to rob three casinos.

Thursday, June 08, 2006


Jack Black is my hero.

He recently spoke to Sports Illustrated about the training he did for NACHO LIBRE.

"I should take down someone who is strong, so Steven Seagal (would be perfect) - with his ridiculous Indian gear, ponytail and swagger. He's the best fighter in the world in his own mind, so I'll take him down two notches with my Anaconda Squeeze and Face Melter."

He went on to talk about a wrestling move of his own creation.

"The Wind of A Lion is basically a submission hold. You get the guy down, you sit on his face and then you release the lion's wind. That usually spells complete defeat."

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Great Sports Article

Here's a great sports article on how a young, poor pitching prospect helped to change the financial side of the MLB draft. And while most of you frequenting my blog are probably not sports fan I thought I would link to this article because the writer does a tremendous job in telling us a personal story that is at once unique and, unfortunately, all to common in the sports world. It's just a good article that I think many of you will enjoy reading.

Politics Corner

I like to consider myself a cynical idealist. Yes, that's a bit of semantic trickery and even I'm not sure exactly what it means. But I tend to find myself hoping some politician out there will champion ideals and then telling myself "I told you so" when all I find are corrupt congressmen. Recently these corruption scandals have had a Republican tint. We all know about (though after the corruption has brought results) Tom Delay, Duke Cunningham, and Jack Abramoff. The Republicans are also in power, so an outside corruptor (like Abramoff) would, no doubt, focus on GOP members to get results.

Unfortunately, the Democrats aren't so clean either. As some of you may know, Democratic Congressman William Jefferson was found to be hiding a $90,000 bribe in his freezer. The bribe was to grease contracts from African nations. And as this WaPost article shows, this Jefferson is quite the character. He setup a web of companies under the names of his family members in order to launder his bribes around and partake in the lucrative deals he help setup.

But his unethical ways go farther back in time. A graduate of Harvard Law School he had to settle out of court for failing to pay the mortgages on his dilapidated rental properties. And he's more than a slum lord. One of his early business ventures was renting expensive appliances to the working poor.

As much as I want to believe in our politicians, there's too much evidence that some (perhaps many) are not working for the betterment of the people but for bribes and easy money. Just spend an hour or two browsing and see where the money comes from and to who it goes to.

While reading the WaPost article I jokingly remarked to myself, "at least we're not as corrupt as Nigeria" were Jefferson bribed the Vice President with $500,000 for windfall, guaranteed contracts. But then I realized we have a Vice President who allowed the Energy industry to basically write energy policy.

Monday, June 05, 2006


I've been wanting to catch ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND for some time now. And after experiencing it I'm mad I had not seen it sooner. If you've wanted to catch this stellar film but haven't ... do yourself a favor and write "eternal sunshine" on a post-it note and attach it to your forehead. Don't worry, the film is worth a day of weird looks.

On to the review:

Charlie Kaufman is as much a film auteur (author) as any major director working today. When you view one of his scripts on the screen you know you are in for something different, something artistic, something penetrating. For me, one of Kaufman’s main gifts is his ability to create such genuine, unsentimental couples. The relationships he describes jump off the screen; they’re multidimensional and real. At times you feel like a nosy neighbor, perhaps getting too much information. But that’s the gift and charm and insight, and this romantic comedy revolving around a quirky couple displays Kaufman’s wonderful writing ability front and center. Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet play the couple in question and at the heart of the plot is a medical-ish company that can erase all the memories of a bad relationship. Learning Winslet’s character has wiped him out of her memory, Carrey’s character does the same. During the process he has second thoughts and he takes us on a journey through his memories as he tries to hold on to precious moments. The camerawork is fantastic as Gondry uses just enough special effects (of which only a few are digital) to give us the feeling of a merging or collapsing memory. The acting is superb; everyone brings their A game. All in all, a masterwork by those involved.

As you can tell, I adore this film. I can't say enough about the acting or the dialogue. Kirsten Dunst and Mark Ruffalo, who have supporting roles, are phenomenal. And wait till you catch Elijah Wood in this flick. Kaufman and Gondry create a wonderful, hysterical and bittersweet milieu that this film completely embodies. A film definitely not to be missed.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Beware the Hat Gang!

I stole this from Idle but the people must know about ... they must!


Seriously, check out the sweeps episode.

Just read it, even if you're not impressed with the graphics.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

2006 NBA Playoffs

The ratings have been up (as much as 10%) for this year's NBA playoffs and there's no doubt what the basic reason is. This year the playoffs have showcased amazing matchups which have produced hard-fought, entertaining games. LeBron had a great playoff run and I'm sure that brought in some viewers. As must have Kobe and the Lakers taking the Suns to 7 games in the first round. And speaking of the Suns, the always entertaining Steve Nash was once again league MVP (though I felt the voting should have been much closer with a three way race between Nash, Dirk Nowitski, and LeBron). And while great stars bring in viewers, I strongly feel it is the great games (setting records for overtime games and games won by 1 or 2 points) that have brought in the viewers.

During the regular season it seemed as if the Pistons were in a league of their own. And even though their second half of the season was not as magical as their first half, most felt the Pistons would make the finals. Over on the Western Conference, the always formidable Spurs wonderfully weathered a lingering injury to their stellar stud Tim Duncan. Many felt they were peaking at the right time and would also make it to the finals, setting up a rematch of last year's epic 7-game series between the Pistons and the Spurs.

I must admit that I felt likewise. For those who follow the NBA, you know that both teams are now out of the playoffs. The Spurs lost a tough series against the new look Mavs (helmed by the little general and NBA Coach of the Year Avery Johnson, now in his first full season as coach). The Pistons just lost to the new look Heat.

While the Spurs and Mavs faced off in the quarterfinals, they did have the top two records in the West. The tournament glitch might be taken care of by next year. Nevertheless, the 7-game series was majestic, with two games going into overtime (both times the Mavs outlasted the Spurs). Game 7 was a heavyweight fight. The Mavs jumped ahead with a flurry, building a 20 point lead. However the Spurs came charging back and the game headed into overtime. In the overtime period it was all Mavs, who seemed to have simply outlasted the Spurs. At the start of the series, I wasn't sure the Mavs could defeat the Spurs. But they proved me wrong by making shots when needed and getting a stop or two when needed (something they were not recently known for).

During last year's playoffs, one of the semifinal matchups was between the Pistons and the Heat. It came down to 7 games with the Pistons defeating a hobbled Heat team (Heat star Dwayne Wade missed game 6 and played game 7 on a bad ankle). If the Heat were healthy, it could have been them in last year's finals.

However, it will be the Heat in this year's final as they just defeated the Pistons in 6 games. I for one did not think the Heat would be this strong in the playoffs. Since last year the team has added quite a few new players and many (including me) felt they had yet to click together as a team or perhaps would never click. The great Pat Riley, returning as Heat coach, made the changes and he proved the critics wrong with his Heat having a great playoff run and finding themselves in the finals.

The remaining semifinal is between the Mavs and the Suns. And with the Mavs up 3 games to 2 this seems as though it will go the full 7 games as well. Though I thought the Mavs would rather easily win this series. Just goes to show that that's why they play the game (as well as proving I might not be ready to jump into the NBA coaching scene).

All in all, these playoffs have been absolutely memorable so far. And it seems the best part is yet to come. As for a prediction ... I'll give it a shot:

Mavs vs Heat in a 7 game final series. I have no clue which team will win, I could flip a coin and name a team, but you can do that as well.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

I, ROBOT (2004)

I'm wary of summer blockbusters because H-wood has a penchant for making crappola. Filmmaking is a business to the studios so quite a few blockbusters are cold, rigid, by-the-numbers unoriginality. When I first heard about I, ROBOT I thought it would be more of the same. However, once I learned Alex Proyas (THE CROW, DARK CITY) was at the helm I had a slight change of tune. And after viewing the entertaining flick I can honestly say this is the rare summer blockbuster with substance and style.

A first rate sci-fi action thriller filled with enough suspense and intelligence to keep you on the edge of your seat. Will Smith is an old school cop who shuns the latest technology and finds robots (which are ubiquitous in 2035) cold and suspicious. He investigates what may be the first ever robot crime (a murder no less) with the help of Bridget Moynahan’s psychologist for robots. Director Alex Proyas illustrates the future with flourishes and dabs of sleek new fashions (the cars, the robots, the clothes). However, it’s not overboard which adds to the appeal and believability. The writers skillfully intertwine a superb murder mystery with the central theme of technology as a tool or another form of life. Proyas has crafted an all around great film that will entertain you and make you think. And as any great sci-fi flick should have, the film has a wonderful visual effect or two (once again Proyas and company keep it light, so as to not bog down the film with visual spectacle). Alan Tudyk is especially fantastic as one of the main robots (it’s his voice and facial expressions that bring the character to life). Highly recommended.