Friday, April 29, 2011
So given that I was so in love with the original script, how did it compare? I have to say that it took me longer to get into it than I thought it would. It is not a great first act and I don't know why - I think that that's probably what feels the most different from that beloved script, although that shouldn't matter - I think it just feels weird and awkward but not for any particular reason. Clunky, maybe. But when it starts to cook, it starts to cook and it turns into a really lovely little film. It makes me especially happy for someone like Natalie Portman who has a film like this and Black Swan happening at the same time - lets us know that she's not going to take herself so uber seriously or just go after the kinds of films that she's "supposed" to make. Ashton Kutcher is probably at his career best and I thought that the two worked off each other especially well. It's a film filled with great writing and really lovely performances including one of my new favorites - Greta Gerwig, and someone I hadn't noticed before - Lake Bell. And of course the always kick-ass Olivia Thirlby.
If you like films about relationships this will be up your alley - it's not a raunch fest either - it's actually a really smart and sweet film that doesn't feel bad about being a little naughty as well. Give it a shot, I say!
No Strings AttachedNo Strings Attached (Two-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo + Digital Copy)
Many people have commented that this season feels like (and quite frankly is) the Michael Scott Farewell Tour. It was announced pretty early on that it would be the last season with the character and I wonder if that wasn't a big mistake. I wonder if it wasn't a marketing trick to get people back to the show that had left. Personally I would have rather seen it unfold in real time - to learn, as the other characters did, that Michael was leaving. The whole time we would have thought that something will happen to keep him there - never being able to believe that he'd actually walk away. I really liked this episode and I'd be lying if I didn't admit to feeling a bit weepy during a sequence between Michael and Jim. As the season has been extremely Michael heavy the other characters have disappeared into the background and Jim was one of them - as a character that's had some of the best moments of the entire series, this one was easily added to them.
I think that the strongest testament to this episode and how it showed how Michael has grown as a character is having him decide to not let everyone know he's leaving a day early - deciding to not have people make a fuss about him. The Michael from season one never would have done that. Michael's character has always been on a quest for a family, and now that he's going to have an actual one with Holly (yippee!!!!!!) he doesn't need The Office anymore - he's out grown it. What will happen in his place? I have no idea - but I'll stick around. The Office has done a really good job of finding ways to keep it fresh in the last season or so - by having the company sold to another corporation, and thereby bringing in a few new characters, bringing Daryl up to the main floor, bringing in Erin (who is a great great great addition) I think that this show has given itself new life for some time. It'll be interesting to see how far it can go with whatever direction they're heading...
The set-up is pretty awesome - after World War II when superheroes started to become a little more known the gov't designed a world just for them. So fast forward to today where there's a plant inhabited entirely by super-humans, and other creatures with powers - and this series in particular follows their police force around. There is so much fun to be had with this world - and Moore does a good job of mashing in the mundane - stuff like a couple in the background talking on the phone to their realtor about someone coming in to see their secret cave, etc... lots of little goodies like that happening in the background. The series itself has a pretty small life, just two trade paperbacks and a few spin-offs - so as long as my comic buddy has them I'll give them a read - otherwise I may just try to pick them up myself.
At a time where it seems like a lot of people are doing "commentary" on superheroes Moore manages to keep it fresh and exciting and well, well worth reading.
Top Ten (Book 1)
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Like I said, I love Jamie Oliver - I'm sure that some of this is more dramatized than it is - I work in television, I know the kind of notes that you get on this kind of show to make things more dramatic and exciting - but for the most part it doesn't feel like it's fabricated - the stakes feel real. When it comes down to it, this is about people's lives.
Oliver comes up against some harsh critics here and it's always a question if he can win people over - given what his quest is about it just boggles the mind that it's even a question whether or not you would get on board. Like Oliver himself says - the only reason you wouldn't is because you're lazy or you just plain don't give a shit.
I love how this season ended - giving us a glimpse into it heading deeper into the world of change. Hopefully we'll get an update on Huntington in some way - you really do get connected to the people you see here. The second season just started airing, but if you poke around you can find this one still. Not only is it great entertaining television - it's important.
Jamie's Food Revolution: Rediscover How to Cook Simple, Delicious, Affordable Meals by Jamie Oliver Jamie's Food Revolution
Friday, April 22, 2011
Not a film for everyone, but for those who like relationship dramas, this will probably be right up your alley!
XX/XY XX/XY ORIGINAL MOVIE POSTER MARK RUFFALO KATHLEEN ROBERTSON
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
I thought this film looked stupid - I'll be honest. I felt like the whole thing just looked like an excuse to make some pretty digital images and prove how innovative James Cameron is. And I was pleasantly proved wrong. I've also heard this film described as Dances with Wolves in space. Which is funny, and not untrue. Much as been said about it's "message" and so I don't really feel the need to echo on any of that. I got over the non-realistic look of the film far quicker than I thought I would, and when the time came I thought that the live-action and CGI blended well. In a time where most action films just let their third acts be wall to wall action, Avatar's action is emotional. We watch characters we've come to love get their asses handed to them - and it's not pretty - a lot of people don't make it out alive.
So if you were like me and just assumed that this would just be another big empty film, think again. Thank being said I really don't know what they would do to flesh this out into a trilogy. I guess the humans will come back in bigger, stronger numbers... This time I'll try to see it in theatres :)
Avatar (Original Theatrical Edition) Avatar (Three-Disc Extended Collector's Edition + BD-Live) [Blu-ray] Avatar (Three-Disc Extended Collector's Edition) Avatar (Two-Disc Original Theatrical Edition Blu-ray/DVD Combo)
Saturday, April 16, 2011
So I'll try to keep this spoiler free, but I'll give you a heads up if I feel like it's going to veer into that category. So this series took a much needed break after the disaster that was Scream 3, besides just being a return to the original local, this one is smart by taking us back to basics. The film has a pretty damn great opening and has a lot of fun with it's self aware meta-attitude - one might worry from this opening that the film might entirely be about this - but luckily the commentary about films, horrors, remakes, sequels, etc... are used sparingly and it isn't a case of overkill. To add to the pros column (which, by the way, I think it stacked high enough to recommend this film), is a really well done ending - which, let's face it, is what this series is all about - the reveal! And as good as it was, this also leads us into the cons conversation - which will probably contains some form of spoiler - but I won't be specific.
First off, this is the kind of film where it's designed for everyone to be a red herring, so anyone walking away saying that they figured out who the killer (or killers) are is, I'm sure in some way telling the truth, but I'm sure no one walked away declaring it as being obvious. It's not a shocker by any means, and as interesting as it was, it's not the most original idea for this series - and not in a self mocking way - they're actually repeating themself in kind of an annoying way - but I'll let it slide since it ties in so nicely and, in a way, brings the series full circle. I suppose that the biggest problem I had was that I barely got involved in the characters - Kirby was probably the only character that I really got behind (Hayden Panettiere was great). We didn't really follow them along the way we did in the other series and so it was hard to connect, and therefore, hard to care about them - so by default I cared about our original core cast - but never for a moment felt like they were in danger - even when they were attacked.
So to summarize - I liked it - it was pretty decent, and probably the second best of the series (the original still being the best) although I'm not sure anything beats the scene in the second film where Sydney has to get herself out of the back of a police car.
If you're a fan of the original series you'll probably see this anyway - if you're new then at least go back and watch the original film first. Enjoy!
Thursday, April 14, 2011
For those just joining in Fables is the story of all of the fairy tale characters living in our modern day world - at least that's how it started out - and they've come a long way from there. I really enjoyed this volume, and I think that Fables has done a pretty amazing job of keeping this series going with fresh life. They could have easily ended it several volumes ago, but they had a lot more up their sleeve than that. So far the only mis-step this series has taken was the ridiculous cross-over - but luckily you can just pluck that out. The first volume to be directly named after a character I was happy to see one of my favorites get their groove back and just in time for shit to hit the fan - again. If you're a fan of this series then you're going to pick this up anyway - but if you've never heard of it I promise you that it's worth the read. It's ridiculously clever, lots of great humor to it, and every and then it just grabs you and takes on an emotional spin. Of all the comics I've given for gifts, I think the first trade of this ranks amongst the top - and so it should.
Fables Vol. 15: Rose Red
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
When we got the call my first thought was - please not my computer - but more importantly - please not my external harddrives. Just before the holidays I had finished editing my feature The Untitled Work of Paul Shepard and it was on there. Of course, it was gone - along with pretty much all of my back-ups. Months of work gone, and months to redo. I'd be lying if I didn't admit to having shed a few tears. But nothing was as heart breaking as realizing that my wife's grandmother's wedding and engagement ring had also been taken from us.
Now, fast forward almost a year and a half. Last week I got a call from the police department letting us know that they had arrested two people in conjunction with the string of robberies in our area, dozens of counts, and that it looked like some of our stuff was there. So last night we were able to go and retrieve it. First off, we never expected to see ANY of our stuff again - when something like this happens it sucks, you get angry, you feel violated, but you find a way to move on and get over the loss - in many cases it's just stuff - in the case of the jewelry it's a little more painful because of the sentimental attachment. We had seen a news report the night before and so we knew that my iMac was there (I have coloured editing keys on the keyboard), but we were amazed to see that my old laptop, my harddrive, and our WiiFit was there as well. But what surprised us the most - Emily's grandmother's rings! She almost cried she was so relieved to have seen them - she really beat herself up when she thought that they were lost together - as if it was her fault that someone would do something like this. And what's even more bizarre was that yesterday was her grandparent's wedding anniversary. The world works in mysterious ways.
So when we got home I plugged the iMac. Now, I had wondered why it was still there - a lot of people's computers never showed up - and despite it not being the newest model - it was a pretty awesome iMac - I had it suped up with as much memory and space it could hold - and then upon taking a quick look around I realized why they hadn't gotten rid of it - they were using it as their own personal computer. The woman had renamed the hard-drive and changed all the passwords and made herself the administrator. My login was still there - but my old password didn't work. Based on how much space was gone on the drive I knew that my stuff was probably in there somewhere - but I couldn't get to it. Alas. I looked around some more - some documents (including an admittance letter to a meth clinic) - and then into the internet browser history to discover a whack load of stuff - their connections to ebay accounts, storage lockers, a disturbing amount of porn, and a lot of websites where they were clearly looking up the prices for some of the items they'd gotten. I made a copy of all of it for the police to help them with the case. Who knows, maybe they'll even find a storage locker with more people's stuff.
After several hours, and my brain shifting back to my formative years where I was a big computer nerd, I figured out a back-door way through "terminal" (which is like the MS-DOS version of a Mac) and was able to reset the master password and gain access to my original login. MY MUSIC WAS ALL THERE!!! Which was amazing - I had amassed an ass-load of music over the years and had given away most of the CDs. I haven't gone through the entire contents to see what's all there - but it's more than I expected (need to spend time sorting through my external harddrive as well). Some teenage girl had apparently taken over my login as the desktop image had changed in addition to a lot of iSight pictures of herself making "sexy poses". So while I'm glad to have my computer back, I need to spray the thing down and clean out the keyboard - based on the kinds of porn I'd found downloaded, I know that my desktop was not used for good!
But now to the saddest part of the whole thing - the two people above charged in this whole affair (the teenage girl who graces my computer was apparently not charged) are Diane Grise and Charles "Chuck" Craig, and they lived one street over from us. I know there house. We've walked past it. And I'm pretty sure I've seen both of them as well as the girl around the neighbourhood. I'm from a small town and so I've never gotten as close to our neighbours as I did when I was younger - but still - you never expect this from the people that live close to you - and I suppose that's the lesson learned. I'm not trying to say that people should live in fear - but it's worth being aware that there are a lot of sad and desperate people out there, and they don't care about you or your things. We were lucky in that we weren't home (although the police said they never broke in to a house where people were sleeping), we were extremely lucky to get what we got back - but I can't imagine not having our alarm system now. Maybe it's being silly, but it's enough to make people like this think twice.
So that's that - happy ending so far. I'll be curious to see how the trial plays out for these two and what their punishment is for their crimes.
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Out for a walk a year or so ago I saw that he'd put a collection of them into a book and picked it up on a whim - pure popcorn reading. Again, entertaining, funny, and clever. It was then that I saw they were making a film. So the film is smart to find a way to group a bunch of the misadventures together into a bachelor party. The casting of Matt Czuchry is wise as he's charismatic as hell and Tucker is a douchebag. I think that the film, unwisely, tries to give him a traditional character arc where he sees the error of his ways and makes a big grandiose apology - but first of all, I don't buy for a second that he means it (and he doesn't) but secondly, words are cheap - actions speak. He doesn't DO anything. I'd rather just have seen an examination of a charismatic sociopath. Alas.
I suppose this might be interesting for the college crowd - it's by no means a terrible film, it's just not a very good one.
I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell
Monday, April 11, 2011
It follows Lacey, a woman who navigates herself through the New York art world over the course of two decades with it's highs and lows. Most people know this girl - she's the type that finds the most powerful person in the room and makes them want to please her.
The book has been out for a few months now, I picked it up on a whim due to my love of Martin's other books. It's not my favourite of his, but I enjoyed it nontheless, and I think anyone with an appreciation, or curiosity of the art world would consider it a must-read.
An Object of Beauty: A Novel
Sunday, April 10, 2011
It's a film filled with a lot of interesting things, but I'm not sure that they all come together in a way that's intended. From watching the 'making of' it's clear that Hunt it attempting to tell a story about betrayal - but I can't say that I ever got that from the actual film. It's a really fantastic cast that she's assembled and they alone make the film interesting and worth watching, even if it's parts are better than the whole.
Then She Found Me Then She Found Me
You could see this without seeing the series first, but I'm not sure why you'd want to. Watch it and do it with your kids or your parents or whomever.
Saturday, April 09, 2011
My wife and I went with natural childbirth through a midwife for our son, so this documentary is preaching to the choir, but we enjoyed it anyway. I'm sure those against this ideology could see this piece as pure propaganda, focusing mostly on the positive - although what happens at the film's end is really quite perfect in making it a bit more balanced.
Even though this was the perfect choice for us - and we'll do any subsequent children we have the same way - the one thing I've learned since being a parent is that you don't judge others for what they want to chose. Its hard enough as it is. That being said - read up on your options and figure out what's best for you - whatever it is - don't just do what's "normal". And if you're curious, give this a whirl for sure - it talks about the American system, but let's be honest - besides who pays for the hospital bill - we're doing a lot of similar things.
As an educational piece this film is easily recommended.
The Business of Being Born The Business of Being Born
I have to say that it started off a tad creepy - with Jason Ritter's character practically stalking Marianna's, down to lying about the death of a family member just to get close to her. If it wasn't for the fact that she was as damaged as he was, I would think it's time to get a restraining order. But somehow the film starts to make it okay that he's acting this way - because we sense that she needs him, she needs this at this point in her life.
This is not the tie-up-the-loose ends type of film, and we just get a glimpse into what's made them who they are (for better or worse). It's a the kind of film that's about the first step towards recovery. It's a charming little film with some really nice intense moments and some wonderful dark comedy. Marianna Palka is just plain stellar - I hope to see more from her.
Good Dick Good Dick Good Dick Soundtrack
Friday, April 08, 2011
This is a rare 80's film that stands up really really well. The dialogue isn't cheesy - or overly anyway, and the story moves at a great clips with lots of fun stuff. I think that what makes this work well with a mass audience is that the "nerds" aren't presented as stereotypes to the full extent that a lesser move would have. It's not perfect, of course not, but it's pretty decent for what it is and even more so for standing the test of time. For those who have never seen it, do yourself a favor - it's worth the hour and a half. It's a classic simple underdog story about a group of nerds fighting for their rights on a college campus. For the nerds inside all of this - check it out. I just hope that Netflix adds the rest of the series!
Revenge of the Nerds - Panty Raid Edition Revenge of the Nerds: The Atomic Wedgie Collection
Wednesday, April 06, 2011
But underneath the surface this film is about our society - where we're at - hopefully not where we're going. About our need to detach from our actual lives and live vicariously.
It's over the top, it's satirical, but it's got a lot of truth bleeding out from it. Full of some almost ridiculous moments - including a really wonderful song-and-dance number from Michael C. Hall. If I'm being critical about it I think that the ending is a bit anti-climatic compared to how "big" other parts feel. This is a big, fun film that's got some stuff to creep you out in terms of how close to reality this might be becoming. This wouldn't be for everyone, but I think those who like it will like it a lot. And that's all I have to say about that.
Gamer Gamer [Blu-ray]
Tuesday, April 05, 2011
This season went by in such a wonderful blur. Losing the character Mohammad seemed like an odd choice, especially since he was more or less replaced by Sam - although Sam does offer a more interesting dynamic so I'll let that one go. Zoie continued to be one of my favorite characters, and all the others shone as well. I don't want to get into each one because I'd rather you just discover them yourselves.
This season was all about Jackie spiraling downward. It's final episode had a perfect quote as someone told her, "Any one who knows you knows that they don't know you." Jackie is a really wonderfully complex character and it's nice to start to see the cracks show. Given the mess that's left at the end of this season I'm very curious where the show is headed - but more excited than anything. If you're like me and late to this series, there is no time like the present to catch up! You'll just wish there were more episodes to catch up on.
Nurse Jackie: Season Two Nurse Jackie: Season Two [Blu-ray]
Monday, April 04, 2011
This book in particular I purchased on my honeymoon in a little bookstore in Halifax. So it's been collecting dust for some time, sadly. This is the kind of book that, part way through, I started sniffing around to see if the film and television rights were still available - only to discover that they were sold off for a million dollars - so that's that.
Just like the title states it's about a man dealing with great loss - but it's not a 'woe is me' type book. It deals with the pain with a wonderful edginess and full of supporting characters that could each be the lead in their own novel. As I was reading it I kept thinking - there is no way to make a movie out of it - it's just too damn full of rich characters and story. If I had my druthers I'd develop it as a television series.
Full to the brim with heart and humility and endless quotable dialogue Jonathon Tropper is a writer whose material I will seek out more of once I thin out my stack of books. If you're looking for something that's not super heavy, but heartwarming and funny - this might just be the book for you.
How to Talk to a Widower: A Novel (Bantam Discovery)