12.12.2007

Two weeks already?

Time sure flies when you've got tests to take, essays to write, two jobs to do, visiting parents to entertain, and a sickness to suffer from. Not that I'm complaining, mind you. Oh wait, yes I am. I AM complaining.

One good thing did come from being sick in bed for two straight days. I saw the un-aired pilot for the television series Wonderfalls which I stumbled upon because it featured Lee Pace of Pushing Daisies fame. Mr. Pace has a much smaller role in Wonderfalls and unfortunately I've only been able to locate the un-aired pilot on youtube which actually features a different actor in his role. Oh well.

Wonderfalls takes place near Niagara Falls -- go figure. A young girl (I'm too tired to look up her name) works in a souvenir shop and suffers from what she describes as a case of being "overeducated and unemployable." In other words, she's a a smart-alecky, tarty mouth and completely apathetic about her direction-less life. I'm sure many of us can relate. However, unlike most of us (I think), this girl starts to hear voices from different items throughout her store which tell her to do things. It's quirky and untraditional and I can see how networks were afraid to keep it on the air for much longer than it's original four episodes (twelve were filmed in total and they're all available on dvd).

If you want some quirkiness, check out the pilot. I'll post it here for your convenience.

12.01.2007

More Television!

Sorry for the paucity of updates, but for the past week or so I've been caught between a rock and the GREs. I'm taking the test Monday (so wish me luck) and after that I've got five other applications to finish up by the end of the month. Not to mention my ongoing internship and my new job I started two weeks ago. Whew.

And even with all that, I've procrastinated by managed to get some quality television time on my computer.

Here are a few updates:

NBC.com shows

Heroes - You may have heard that Heroes creator Tim Kring apologized for the poor storylines and unremarkable romances on the show's second season. But even with the recycled plots and meandering relationships, I still find the series makes me wonder what will happen next. (Especially the most recent episode.) For another perspective on the show, check out the staff commentary where different cast members (actors, writers, directors, etc.) take turns commenting on the most recent episodes while they play on a different screen. I personally liked the commentary from HRG (Claire's dad).

The Office - The Office's cancellation is the biggest reason why I want the writer's strike to end. Must have new episodes. Pleeaaaase.

30 Rock - Tina Fey and co. have really hit their stride, just when everything is getting shut down. The show has really moved away from the whole "behind the scenes" perspective of a comedy production and is now focusing on the quirky characters that have already been established, namely Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin's brilliant characters. Tracy Morgan has slowly grown on me and Jane (whatever her last name is) has become possibly the most hilarious supporting actress on television. Please don't go 30 Rock! Also, check out Tina Fey's videos where she reads viewer's comments. They're hilarious.

Chuck - I really want to like this show. I like the actors, I like the concept, and I like the style. But for some reason, it all hasn't come together for me. The show continues to focus on the Chuck-Sarah relationship and I can understand the direction but the execution feels so tired and played out. It's like watching Lois and Clark all over again. Plus, I wish Chuck would be a little more manly sometimes.

ABC.com shows

Pushing Daisies - From the first episode I feared that Pushing Daisies would become either too gushy or lose it's "magical" aura. Thankfully, it's pulled off the near impossible and done neither. I credit the strong and diverse cast of characters for the show's balance and consistency. And did you see the bombshell at the end of the last episode? I can't wait to see what Chuck does. This is probably my favorite show on internets-television right now.

Samantho Who? - I've always been a fan of Christina Applegate so I took a gander at her newest show. It could've been called The Christina Applegate show: With Amnesia. I only saw a couple of shows and it's neither fantastic nor awful. Christina's better than this, but it's still halfway decent.

11.22.2007

Happy Thanksgiving from The Spoon!

Everyone at The Spoon would like to wish you all a safe, happy, and wonderful Thanksgiving! Even if you don't celebrate Thanksgiving you can still take a moment to acknowledge all the super swell things in your life like the relief you feel after a massive potty deposit or the satisfaction of telling people the truth about the U.S. moon landing and the Holocaust.

Have a Happy Turkey Day!

The moon landing photo "The Man" wants you to see

The true sequence of events is too horrible to truly understand. Conspiracy theorists are still trying to explain what symbolic meaning Joan Rivers' decapitated head holds for the Klingons

11.17.2007

My Mom's Review of Beowulf

My mom says, "Animated like Shrek but weirder. Like a strange fairy tale."

Like Shrek but not

11.16.2007

No TV? No problem!

The internets is now accessible in my apartment! I still don't have cable and I learned the hard way that Time Warner won't give you a cable box until you actually have a television (who knew?) but man oh man is it nice to scroll through sports news, humor sites, [your site name here], and television shows.

Yup, even television shows!

I've missed this face

My brother showed me how to access some of my favorite shows directly from my computah. Several sites offer download-able versions of television shows and movies but in the interest of not going to jail I won't link to anything here.

Another good viewing option is to go directly to the source and check out NBC.com. Entire episodes of my favorite shows, like 30 Rock and The Office, are available with only a few commercials mixed in. I've even had a chance to catch up on Chuck, which has recaptured my attention after a couple slower episodes. I know relationship dramas are done to death, but what will happen with Chuck and Summer (err, Lou)?

Now I see why all those writers are pissed. I'd want a cut of this whole television-internets thing too.

11.09.2007

The Large Association of Movie Blogs (LAMB)

The internets is a frighteningly large place so it's reassuring to find a map to all the movie-related goodness you want to visit. The Large Association of Movie Blogs, or NAMBLA (just kidding, it's actually LAMB), provides info and links to movie blogs much like The Spoon and Blog Cabins (whose creator, Fletch, also made LAMB). I've already checked out a few member sites, like Counting Down the Hours and Shea of the Dead, and can vouch for their quality reviews and accurate depictions of Bigfoot.

Confuse NAMBLA and LAMB at your own peril

If you have your own movie blog, I encourage you to to stop by LAMB and sign up. Finally, a way to join the cool kids without having to do drugs or kill a homeless man.

11.07.2007

Super Mario Bros. + Electricity = Awesome

Don't ask me how they do it (Tesla coils are involved if you really want to know), but these two guys perform the Super Mario Bros. theme song off their homemade coiled contraption. Something tells me the encore will involve an unsuspecting friend and burnt testicles.

11.06.2007

Old Movies are New to Me

Thanks to the mystical powers of computahs and the internets I’ve been able to stave off complete movie deprivation by viewing compressed video files over the past few weeks. If the government asks, they’re all backups to my $30,000 movie collection.

Smokin’ Aces
Big name performers collide in this stylish action movie that never quite achieves the kinetic frenzy it so desperately strives for. Jeremy Piven struts and hollers in his usual arrogant jerk persona but without any true humility it’s hard to sympathize with his character. Everyone from Ben Affleck, to Ryan Reynolds, to Alicia Keyes, to Andy Garcia wants Piven dead or locked up in jail. The plot is laughable but still kind of cool.

My Rating: 5/10

Chinatown
Back in 1974, Jack Nicholson was slim, handsome, and perfectly cast as a 1930s hard-nosed private eye caught up in an L.A. water supply conspiracy. Part crime procedural and part drama, this is one of those movies constantly referred to as film noir done right. Chinatown isn’t fast paced but Roman Polanski’s infamous directorial methods have produced a beautiful, dark gem of a movie.

My Rating: 9/10

Big Trouble in Little China
Compared to Chinatown, Big Trouble is on the opposite end of the genre spectrum. Pure 80s cheese reigns supreme in this campy, campy, action/comedy film. The acting seems almost purposefully bad, but that adds to the charm of the zany adventures of a truck driver’s (Kurt Russell) attempts to save young women from the black-magic wielding ghost that rules San Francisco’s Chinatown.

My Rating: 5/10

Black Hawk Down
Military anarchy and heroism take center stage amidst the U.S.’s contested involvement in Somalia in 1993. A planned military mission goes horribly awry and leaves over a hundred American soldiers in heated firefights. Young children should not watch Black Hawk Down but I heartily recommend this movie for adults. The violence can be extreme but however you interpret Ridley Scott’s message, his film is not one you will soon forget.

My Rating: 8/10

Munich
Controversial for its portrayal of the vicious feud between Israelis and Palestinians following the murder of eleven Israeli athletes at the hands of a Palestinian terrorist group during the 1972 Olympic Games. Munich delves beyond the Mossad’s spy games to show an agent’s (Eric Bana) – and by extension a nation’s – loss of innocence. The pacing may have been slightly off on this film, as it occasionally meanders, but on the whole it has the excellent composition and verve you expect from a Steven Spielberg production.

My Rating: 8/10

10.31.2007

Box Office Preview

Since I’m stuck in the library instead of the movie theater, I once again resort to stealing Blog
Cabin's
box office preview schtick. I blame the $50 New York ticket prices and my inability to grasp simple algebra.

1. Saw IV
I will not watch Saw IV because I never watch horror movies in the theater if I can help it. When I was a young whippersnapper I saw The Exorcist on television and I actually laughed at Linda Blair’s spinning head as my mommy fed me sandwiches and candy. Later in college I saw The Exorcist in a large, near empty theater on Halloween and I didn’t sleep right for a week. Even the Blair Witch Project screwed me up, but my excuse is that my friends convinced me everything about that movie was real. I know Saw IV isn’t real but I also like to sleep so no way in hell am I going to see this one.

Judging by her orthodontia, Linda Blaire's inner demon is British

2. Dan in Real Life
Steve Carell has branded himself as a goofy, loveable loser but with Dan in Real Life it looks like he’s approaching a saccharine saturation point that his career might never recover from. I’m a devoted fan of The Office and I wish Steve would make full use of his comedic talents and leave the romantic comedies to Hugh Grant.

3. 30 Days of Night
I’ve wanted to see this movie for a while, and I still might if I ever find a dollar theater in New York. I certainly don’t expect anything very deep from 30 Days although Josh Hartnett is an adequately charismatic lead actor. Somehow the guy’s only 28 yet it feels like he’s been a young hunk type of actor for at least ten years. (Oh wait, I’m right. Hartnett was in The Faculty back in ’98.)

The Rock and SWS are magic together. Dirty, sweaty magic.

4. The Game Plan
I’m not mad at The Rock for selling out with this Disney kiddie flick. I’m mad at The Rock for making this movie instead of a sequel to The Rundown. Mock me all you want but Sean William Scott and The Rock are magic together.

I'm not ashamed to say I watched Highlander. Best television theme song ever.

5. Why Did I Get Married?
I get the impression that Tyler Perry wants to be the male Oprah. He should know there can be only one… Oprah.

6. Michael Clayton
Have you ever seen George Clooney play a stupid, ineffective character? Me neither. Clayton is on my “To Watch” list.

7. Gone Baby Gone
It’s easy to forget that Ben Affleck was a talented writer (Good Will Hunting) before he became an overexposed, mediocre actor. By all accounts he’s also a talented director and his little brother Casey is equally good in Gone Baby Gone’s lead role. Add this one to my “To Watch” list.

8. The Nightmare Before Christmas
I saw Nightmare when it first came out in 1993, but it didn’t leave a strong impression on me. One viewing was enough, thank you.

9. We Own the Night
Gross earnings of 25 million are pretty awful for a film with heavy hitters like Joaquin Phoenix, Eva Mendes, Mark Wahlberg and Robert Duvall. That still isn’t going to make me watch it though. I’ll wait for the DVD.

10. The Comebacks
I’ve been dreading this movie since I saw its first preview. It’s basically taking the parody formula of Scary Movie and Not Another Teen Movie and then crapping on it. Those two films (at least the first installment in the Scary Movie franchise) put some creative spins on some tired genre clichés, but from what I’ve seen and heard, The Comebacks sinks to the lowest common denominator and fails to bring anything new to the parody genre. That being said, the movie could be awesome and the 2.3 IMDB rating is just a fluke. But I doubt it.

What are you guys looking forward to watching?

10.27.2007

My Mom's Review of Michael Clayton

My mom says, "I liked it and George Clooney did a good job."

He did a good job.

She isn't my mom for nothing, folks.

10.25.2007

Quick Movie Review: No Way Out

I'd like to see this movie remade with the cast of The Naked Gun and O.J. in Kevin Costner's role. It'd be hilaaaarious.

I took a moment out of my busy schedule of getting stood up for apartments to catch Kevin Costner in No Way Out. This little film of deceit, murder, and scandal has immediately won a place on my list of "must-watch television movies."

Kevin Costner is Lieutenant Commander Tom Farrall, a rising officer in the US Navy. He returns home after a mission to see his on-again-off-again girlfriend (Sean Young before the Catwoman debacle) and discovers that she's been "entertaining" the Secretary of Defense (played by Gene Hackman). Naturally Farrall isn't too happy with the arrangement, but since he loves his girlfriend he puts up with her infidelities.

When Sean Young turns up dead, Farrall is all but certain the Secretary is behind it. An investigation begins into Sean Young's death and it quickly balloons into an elaborate charade of misdirection and cold war boogeymen. Farrall is ordered to head the investigation but it's soon obvious that all the evidence points to him because of his secret relationship with Sean Young. The steady pace picks up during the final hour and a half and culminates in a dramatic flourish that is equally surprising and satisfying.

I've said in the past that any movie with Gene Hackman is going to be pretty good and No Way Out is in no way an exception. You could also say that nobody plays Kevin Costner better than Kevin Costner and in this movie that actually works ok. Will Patton (The Postman) is Gene Hackman's assistant and his performance is a testament to his unparalleled ability to play deranged men of authority.

10.24.2007

Mmm, write Reviews for Money?

No, I haven't forgotten about you guys. I've been a little busy with work, apartment hunting, avoiding bum smells and what have you, but now I need your advice.

Chicks dig Pulitzers. And scars.

You see, I've got a few servings of hot, steamy busy-ness on my plate already, but I recently saw an ad on craigslist for movie reviewers for a very small weekly publication. They're hiring people to review new releases and offering to reimburse movie fees as compensation. So basically the work is for free, but I would get my name on something homeless people live in so in a way I'd be contributing to New York's civil infrastructure. Also, I think I might do it just to say I'm a professional and not be talking about male prostitution.

What do you guys think?

10.21.2007

Good News, Bad News

Good News: I saw Across the Universe and The Darjeeling Limited.

Bad News: I've been too busy (ie: fun NY drama) to write about them. I will say this: surprisingly, I may have enjoyed Across the Universe more than Darjeeling Limited and I never would have guessed that.

Did you know Salma Hayek is in Across the Universe? Now you do.

10.17.2007

My Mom's Review of Good Luck Chuck

I'd like to introduce a new segment called "My Mom's Review of..." In this segment my mom will review an entire movie in ten words or less.

This isn't my mom, but she's a big fan of Salma's work

Her first review is for Good Luck Chuck.

My mom says,
It was funny and I liked it. Don't take family.

Excellent work, mom.

10.16.2007

My New York Site has Moved

Will blog for food

Just like me, my personal New York blog is an itinerant indigent.

10.15.2007

Box Office Roundup 10/12/07

Oh how the mighty have fallen. Just last week I could see any new release I wanted but now that I'm in New York I honestly wonder if I'll ever visit a theater again. Movies just aren't ironic enough to be "cool" here in the Big Apple. Not being cool never stopped me from scratching myself in public but it might make it difficult for me to find fellow movie-goers because if there's anything I need more than peanut M&Ms at a theater it's somebody to witness my totally accurate predictions of who the killer is after only watching the first fifteen minutes.

Who knows when I'll walk these wonderful, filthy aisles again

Since I don't know the next time I'll make it out to a theater, I'm going to steal some inspiration from Fletch at The Blog Cabins and give my impressions of the current Top Ten. Keep in mind that, like everything else on The Spoon, these impressions are wildly biased and highly dependent upon my current mood (gaseous).

1) Why Did I Get Married?
Apparently Tyler Perry has carved a niche out of portraying genuine characters caught up in real life drama, all while dressed as a large black woman. Why Did I Get Married scraps the fat suit but keeps the drama. I have absolutely no interest in this film.

2) The Game Plan
If The Rock is going to make a "comedy" why can't it be more like The Rundown? The guy is charismatic, dynamic, and actually funny and yet he insists on wasting his talent on bland kiddie flicks. Isn't that Vin Diesel's job?

3) We Own the Night
I'm automatically interested in any moving starring Joaquin Phoenix and Mark Wahlburg is quickly becoming a distinguished actor. But I'd rather watch The Departed before I get to We Own the Night.

4) Michael Clayton
I foolishly read a spoiler about this movie before I could stop myself. Even knowing crucial plot points I'm going to try and see Michael Clayton anyway. George Clooney is probably the most watchable actor in movies today.

5) The Heartbreak Kid
Rental.

6) Elizabeth: The Golden Age
My knowledge of history is just good enough to spoil the plot for me. I blame my senior history teacher but I can't even remember her name. How sad is that?

7) The Kingdom
Wham, bam, thank you Islam. High energy and heavy weaponry stand out in this tense clash of cultures. It's plays more for the mood than for any kind of revelation but I enjoyed it nonetheless. Not for the squeamish.

8) Across the Universe
I've heard mixed things about Across. On the one hand, it's been called superficial, heavy handed, and obvious. On the other hand, if you don't like The Beatles than the terrorists have already won.

9) Resident Evil: Extinction
Pure popcorn fun. Read my quick review here.

10) The Seeker: The Dark is Rising
I've found the Harry Potter movies adequately entertaining. This movie looks like it wants to be Harry Potter but on a $20 budget. Seriously, the special effects look terrible and the acting looks even worse. If I want to see a magical children's tale that's cool enough for me to watch, I'll wait for The Golden Compass, thank you.

Since I can't go see the movies, I charge you all to watch them for me. Report back as soon as you can.

10.13.2007

Fun Videos

Sometimes when you're feeling a little sick and a little run down all you need is a good video about simulated masturbation at the office. Not exactly kid appropriate.



And just for kicks here's another fun recreation of Ok Go's music video for a high school talent show. This video came out a while back but it's new to me.

10.12.2007

My New York Site is Up and Running

I hereby present My New York Times.

Thanks for everyone's name suggestions but I decided to just go with whatever came out of my gut. I also decided to try something new with my New York Diary, or "man-diary" as I call it, by hosting it on Tumblr.

I'm still learning how to work with Tumblr but it looks like it won't allow comments. That might be just as well for now, though if you really want to say something you can comment here or email me because I love getting email that doesn't promise to increase the size of my wallet with get-rich-quick schemes. I bet you thought I was going to say penis there, you horny bastards.

I wish I could say that I'll keep up my daily movie related postings here at The Spoon, but I'll probably have to slow down as I deal with my other priorities. Now you're wondering what my priorities are but you'll have to wander over to My New York Times to find out.

10.11.2007

New York City Welcomes The Spoon

Twenty four hours have passed since I lurched off the airplane and simultaneously hugged and kissed the ground (my flight wasn't very bumpy; I just love the ground). In that time I've already witnessed some remarkable events and most of them have made me very happy to call New York City my new home.

Here are some highlights:

-Heard five different languages during a five minute subway ride: English, Spanish, Hebrew, Japanese, Ebonics

-Scraggly homeless man asked ME for weed (I felt so honored)

-Got sick (not that great but impossible to ignore)

-Witnessed bagpipe player serenading subway commuters

-Got pissed on by nature (no doubt one of the contributing factors to my sickness)

-Saw a large number of very attractive girls that I can begin relationships with in my mind

If anybody is worried that I've veered off from my movie focus, I can assure you (them? my head hurts, cut me some slack) that my new New York blog will be up and running soon to contain all my NY stories, opinions, etc. (once I finish some interviews tomorrow and feel better).

Any good ideas for the name of my New York blog? Anybody? Anybody? Bueller? Beuller? Beuller?

Mission Accomplished!

The Eagle has landed. I desperately hope the Eagle is not getting a cold.

10.08.2007

Moving Update

The Spoon might be a little quiet over the next few days so I'd like to take this moment to prepare you for my temporary absence, as I finish getting my crap together for my upcoming move to New York. The reality of my move is starting to hit me, as is my growing need to pack. All of this means I'll be a little preoccupied over the next few days and likely won't have any new posts until the end of the week. Although if everything goes according to plan, I'll be relaxing in Brooklyn come Wednesday evening.

Thanks again to everyone who's offered support or anyone who's thought about offering support but is too much of a lurker to actually say anything. You guys have been instrumental in helping me get my butt in gear and onto the next phase of my career and life.

Speaking of which, my career path just became a little bit clearer in the last couple of days. I had already decided to seek out internships at magazines and online publications to better spread my opinions into the unsuspecting public but yesterday I had an epiphany: Wouldn't I be better prepared to spread my opinions if I actually got educated first? I figure the answer is yes. So I'll be applying for journalism graduate programs in addition to writing internships.

Let me tell you, I'm pretty thick in the head for not seeing this sooner. Journalism isn't just about reporting labor strikes and stock prices anymore and several programs, including NYU's Journalism department, focus on "arts, fashion, leisure, sports, entertainment, ideas, and literature..." Boy oh boy is that right up my alley. And with contacts from NYU (or another program) I'll have all the necessary tools to share my crap far and wide.

In summary, my new plan of attack is to get to New York, find a new place for myself, my brother, and our roommate, get a magazine internship, take the GREs, complete the necessary journalism graduate school applications (before the December/January deadlines), and then get into as many of them as I can. Easy as pie.

I'm also considering starting yet another blog (yes, I know you're already sick of me but I might do it anyway) about my new experiences in New York. I'm hoping the posts on this hypothetical blog won't be about my first mugging or how I got felt up by a homeless man on the subway, but only time will tell.

Take care everyone and I'll see you all on the other side.

10.06.2007

Movie Reaction: In the Shadow of the Moon

It’s been almost forty years since Neil Armstrong stepped onto the moon and into history. During that time, NASA’s achievements have become the stuff of legends, and, now, they are in danger of being forgotten. Young boys and girls still learn names like Buzz Aldrin and dates like July 21, 1969, but America’s space program has become an old man; a grandfather who is loved and revered but rarely listened to. The documentary In the Shadow of the Moon attempts to bring the stories, achievements, and, most importantly, the lessons of the Apollo space program back into the national discussion. I strongly suggest everybody listen.

Mainly told through a collection of astronaut interviews and original NASA video footage, the message of In the Shadow is simple at its heart but universal in its meaning: through total commitment and sacrifice our nation achieved the impossible and all of mankind was united for one fleeting moment in history.

Astronauts like Mike Collins, Alan Bean, and Gus Grissom sacrificed everything, and in some cases even their lives, to touch the heavens. They did this knowing full well the risks they faced and in return their success was rewarded with a near mythic status. In the Shadow pulls back the protective helmets to reveal just how human these astronauts really were and what their extraordinary achievements actually meant to them.

The astronauts’ words are sometimes humorous, sometimes sad, and almost always touching, but all of them are infused with the wisdom of a lifetime’s worth of reflection and every one of their stories recalls moments of clarity and comprehension. Each man, after experiencing the vastness of space firsthand, came to see Earth as a wellspring of hope and opportunity, a Garden of Eden. If mankind could put somebody on the moon, can’t anything be accomplished with enough commitment and sacrifice?

Times have changed since 1969 but the lessons of the Apollo space program are as relevant today as they were when Neil Armstrong first smudged the moon’s surface. The Space Race was a symbolic competition between nations but its end result crystallized the bonds between all mankind. Once it’s possible to see that the heroes of NASA are as human as anybody else, then it’s possible to see that their unifying achievements are just as reachable today as they were nearly forty years ago.

Maybe I’m being an idealist but that is a message I’ll never tire of hearing.

10.05.2007

Pushing Daisies Pie-lette Review

I have a confession to make: Pushing Daisies has put me in a foul mood. It’s not because Pushing Daisies is a depressing show -- far from it actually. The first episode of ABC’s newest dramedy (that’s a comedy slash drama but the emphasis in this case is on the comedy) is so buoyant, fresh, and pitch-perfect that I’m afraid creator/writer Bryan Fuller (Dead Like Me) and his amazing cast have set the bar higher than any subsequent episode can ever hope to match. Ergo, I’m a little bummed that I won’t get to see Pushing Daisies again for the first time. Yes, it really is that good.

I know what you're thinking and the answer is no; Pushing Daisies is not about drug trafficking

From the sweeping camera pans to the brilliant settings (daisies galore!) to the playful, energetic performances by the cast, Pushing Daisies sparkles in every nook and cranny – and it depresses me to hell. Watching this show do so many things right is like pitching a no-hitter or winning the Tour de France (sans steroids); once the glow of achievement fades, you’re left with the nagging feeling that it’s all downhill from here.

The stylish camera work and exaggerated, almost cartoonish set designs are energetic and bursting with so much life that Tim Burton might get a little upset when he sees how perfectly director Barry Sonnenfeld captured the creative whimsy of Big Fish and Edward Scissorhands. Some of Sonnenfeld’s past projects, like Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, appear to be in the same visual vein as Pushing Daisies so I can’t get too far down on the director, especially when the result is so deliciously off-beat.

Comparing Pushing Daisies to a Tim Burton film is an appropriate comparison for another reason; this show looks, feels, and sounds like a big budget movie. If I had licked my television screen I wouldn’t have been surprised if it also tasted like a movie (minty, fyi). I suppose I should have expected high quality production values since most of the creative forces behind the show have extensive movie and television backgrounds and even the music composer, James Dooley, has been involved in like fifty different projects in the last few years alone.

They're so cute together it's making me bitter

The cast members are relative unknowns compared to the folks behind the scenes but you couldn’t tell by their relaxed deliveries that keep perfectly in tune with the show’s light hearted… ugh… tone. Lee Pace is Ned the pie baker, a sensitive young man who reminds me once again of Edward Scissorhands not because of any physical deformity but because they both share a peculiar condition that prevents them from forming close relationships. Eddie Scissorhands had kitchen utensil appendages but Ned has the gift (or curse) of raising the dead. Ned’s gift makes the dead come alive as they once were but with a few complicating limitations (are there any other kind?).

At a young age Ned realized his ability had rules and these rules set up some major story arcs for the series.

Rule number 1: Touching a dead person or animal will bring them back to life (Ned learned this rule by reviving his dead dog).

Rule number 2: If the re-animated person (or animal) stays alive for 60 seconds then somebody nearby will die in their place (Ned learned this rule by reviving his dead mother, and then killing his neighbor’s father).

Rule number 3: Once re-animated, a person or other life form will remain alive until Ned touches him, her, or it again – and this time it’s dead for good (unfortunately Ned learned this rule by giving his re-animated mother a kiss goodnight).

With that kind painful education it’s no wonder Ned grew up to be a little distant.

Ned’s character very easily could have come across as a complete wimp or even a lovesick puppy (I’ll explain) but Lee Pace manages to avoid both possibilities with a reserved masculine strength and wry humor that is self-deprecating without being pathetic. It also helps that he has some snappy lines to work with. When somebody tells him he can’t just bring people to back life and then refuse to help them he replies, “Yes I can. That’s how I roll.” And since he can’t touch his dog again without killing him (rule number 3 in effect), Ned pets his poocher with a synthetic hand made entirely from wood. Ned is just far enough offbeat that he’s different and quirky but not a total geek.

Ned is also a pie maker so naturally he runs a diner (aptly named the Pie Hole). However business is bad so he reluctantly begins a side job with a private eye, played by Chi McBride. When private investigator Emerson Cod (I love these names) accidentally witnesses Ned’s powers in action, they strike a business deal: Cod finds reward cases, Ned brings victims back to life and they very quickly find out whatever they need to know to collect the reward. It’s a natural arrangement drawn from unnatural conditions, and it works because Chi McBride oozes an aw shucks affability that neatly plays off of Pace’s reserved dry wit.

Zooey isn't in this show but she's always in my thoughts. My secret, naughty thoughts

Things become complicated when the duo investigates the death of Ned’s childhood neighbor and first and only sweetheart, Charlotte “Chuck” Charles.” I kid you not, but it took me months to realize that Chuck was not played by Zooey Deschanel. It’s an easy mistake to make since Anna Friel and Zooey both have the same big eyed pixie charm and though I would have loved to see Zooey in Pushing Daisies, Anna Friel does a perfectly good job. It turns out that Anna Friel’s pixie charm is actually quite potent and used to great effect as Ned’s main love interest.

Technically this is a spoiler, but nobody should be surprised to find out that Ned can’t quite leave Chuck dead and the duo of Ned and Cod becomes a threesome. Errrr.

I’ll leave the rest of the plot for your viewing pleasure but by now you can tell why I’m so miserable. The pilot for Pushing Daisies is so exquisitely tuned in pacing, direction and acting that the series can’t possibly get any better. I guess the only cure for my particular brand of depression is to watch another episode of Pushing Daisies and hope for the best. Watch the Pie-lette and you’ll be just as bummed, and eager for the next episode, as I am.

10.03.2007

Saving the World one Link at a time

Occasionally I like to use my V-list celebrity status to make a difference in people’s lives. Africa is played out thanks to Madonna and Angelina so I’ve decided to concentrate my efforts right here in the good ole US of A. Specifically, I’d like to give a shout out to a couple deserving movie and entertainment blogs, because there’s more to life than starving children in third world countries.

Celluloid Heroes
Paul McElligot is the creative force behind Celluloid Heroes, which is the kind of movie review website I’d put up myself if I weren’t so busy being sexy all the time. His reviews are clear, insightful, and a tasteful alternative to my frequent reflections on bowel movements. You might want to get started with some reviews of The 40 Year Old Virgin or one of my all time favorite movies, North by Northwest.

I smell varmint poontang
The Critical Lass
Whenever I see the word "lass" my mind conjures images of a sassy Irish woman who is much hotter than that chick in Caddyshack. I think that image is pretty appropriate for The Critical Lass, not because of any hot Irish women (unfortunately), but because Lass author Kristen has a sassy way about her. Head over to her blog and pay attention as Kristen sets her saucy sights on all the necessary pop culture mediums: books, television, and of course, movies.

Check out these worthy websites but don’t forget to come back to your favorite Spoon!

10.02.2007

Television Roundup: Chuck and Heroes (spoilers)

Given how much I liked Chuck’s premiere, perhaps a little letdown was inevitable. The second episode's jokes were sparse, the action felt rehashed and I didn't feel the same sparkle that I did in the first episode. Admittedly I missed the first 20 minutes because I am slow in the head, but I'm pretty certain the poisoned food routine was stolen from another show, and other than the tablecloth gag there weren’t too many surprises. Even the helicopter finale felt clichéd.

Zachary Levi could've been the the fourth member of Alvin and the Chipmunks

On the brighter side, next week’s episode looks a lot spicier; knives thrown at crotches have a way of making good television.

And on to Heroes.

I'm glad Peter cut his hair. Now if he could only learn how to talk normal-like

Today’s episode reminded me how intriguing this series can be. I can literally hear the creaky wheels in my head struggling to anticipate what will happen next.

It was gratifying to see at least one of my theories came true when Hiro borrowed Kensei’s identity to save the blacksmith’s daughter. But will the daughter realize that it’s Hiro who is actually the hero?

And the “real” Kensei apparently has rejuvenative powers like Claire. Thanks to Claire’s toe chopping demonstration, it looks like her healing powers – and therefore, likely Kensei’s power as well – can repair damage at a sub-cellular level (whatever that might mean). If I were to put on my science hat, I might suppose that their healing powers would also prevent aging and very likely allow eternal life. Is it possible that Kensei is Claire’s ancestor, or perhaps even her father? (I just did some reading and found out that Nathan Petrelli is actually Claire’s biological father. Boy did I miss a lot.)

I don't want to brag, but I was perving on Hayden before it became fashionable

We learned a little more about the brother and sister making their way to America. They're twins and each of their powers seem to nullify the other's. The sister can induce those around her to cry black tears (of shame?) before dying while the brother is able to prevent his sibling's power from manifesting. Today's episode also showed how the brother, Alejandro, can revive his sister's victims.

Is it just me or is Peter a little more muscular than last year? Whatever his physique, Peter is certainly making the most of his stable of powers. He looked pretty unstoppable against a couple of thugs, which makes me wonder why he won’t use force to retake his identity from his Irish captors.

Mohinder, Matt, Mr. Bennett, Molly (the little girl), and now the Haitian all seem to be in league together with the goal of bringing down Mr. Bennett's old company. It even looks like they're making progress which leads me to believe that disaster will soon strike. This could be the perfect opportunity for the worse-than-bogeyman character to make an appearance, unless he was already on the scene as Hiro's father's murderer or Mrs. Petrelli's secret scratcher.

What were your thoughts on the shows?

9.30.2007

Television Spotlight: Dexter (Season 1)

Dexter’s 2nd season begins tonight at 9pm ET/PT, but since I am slow, I offer my review of the first season’s first two episodes. Enjoy.

Who me?

Based on the Jeff Lindsay novel Darkly Dreaming Dexter, Showtime’s Dexter follows the adventurers of Miami’s most likeable serial killer. Wait, a likeable serial killer? Yes indeed, because he only kills murderers, rapists, or the type of people you’d generally call “bad guys.” And Dexter is very good at what he does. Very good. He should be since he began honing his craft as a wee lad, but now he’s all grown up and a member of the Miami Police force as a blood splatter expert (ironic, yes?), a position that grants him an excellent way to scope out his next victims.

Being based on a book seems like a blessing and a curse for Dexter. The blessing is the darkly comical premise that is darn near brilliant. The clichéd anti-hero as a grizzled loner who barks and growls but secretly harbors a heart of gold gets thrown out the window and replaced with a cold-blooded murderer flashing a saccharine smile. Dexter is gloriously free of regret, guilt or any semblance of a conscious. But his twisted code of honor allows him only to kill the bad guys and therefore necessitates his ever-cheerful smile and clever tongue to hide his complete disregard for all human life other than his cop foster sister and possibly his girlfriend.

The smog in Miami looks horrible

Much of the book’s fun was seeing Dexter struggle to keep his monstrous instincts safely hidden within his boring disguise and the show is no different in that respect. Hearing Dexter’s true inner thoughts as he fends off his girlfriend’s amorous advances (monsters like him aren’t interested in sex) is one example of an absurdly entertaining scene. And when I described Dexter as a cold-blooded murderer I was not exaggerating in the slightest. Dexter mutilates, chops up, and fillets his victims every chance he can get. We never see the complete carnage but there’s enough blood and squishy sounds to bother the squeamish (ie: me).

Dexter captures the bright colors and vivid contrasts that CSI:Miami has made synonymous with Miami television shows. Also standing out is Michael C. Hall in the role of Dexter. He's good-looking, charismatic and still manages to growl and grimace like a murderer. His cop sister, played by Jennifer Carpenter, is goofier than expected but her earnest performance is growing on me.

Dexter’s dark humor and intriguing mystery have successfully transitioned onto the television screen but here’s where the curse comes in: by sticking so close to the book’s material the show frequently slows down and scenes feel like they're filled with dead air (no pun intended). I may be coming from a biased perspective but the book was so fast and fun that by comparison the show feels slow and plodding.

If later episoes sharpen the dialogue and kill off (hehe) some of Dexter’s endless sighs and looks of befuddlement, then there’s enormous potential for the show. Increasing the frequency of Dexter’s inner thoughts would help keep narration brisk and up the comedy quotient which is already good but not great.

Dexter shows promise and I’ll do my best to keep with it but so far the book has been the more entertaining option.

9.29.2007

New Computer

I don't want to brag, but I am now the owner of a brand spanking new (ok, technically it's refurbished but still) 2.2 GHz Macbook Pro with the Intel Core 2 Duo /brag. I'll be back with some new updates on Dexter and The Kingdom but for now I'm going to play with my new toy.

Have a great weekend!

9.27.2007

Ridley Scott's Blade Runner Interview

Don't read Ridley Scott's Wired interview if you haven't seen Blade Runner yet. And then smack yourself in the head for not having seen Blade Runner.

"You want to know why my eyes are glinting? For the same reason I smoke weed: my glaucoma."

For enlightened souls who have seen Blade Runner, the interview shares the director's motivations for creating the film as well as some of his conceptual inspirations. It also explains how Scott wanted to make certain, um, ambiguous details very clear but had to buckle to outside pressures.

Hearing Ridley Scott's explanations on the ambiguous detail in question (wink, wink) makes me wonder why he took so long to clear the air (I know he broached the subject several years back, but only now do his explanations sound definitive). I'm eager to hear all your thoughts on the topic and if you don't know what I'm talking about then I strongly suggest watching the sci-fi masterpiece that is Blade Runner. Now.

P.S. Watch the director's cut, not the original version. Trust me.

The Problems with Accepted

I honestly enjoyed watching Accepted except for one minor, little, eensy weensy detail: no effing way could a few kids create a passable imitation of a real university without accidentally killing a few dozen “students” from malnutrition, asbestos poisoning, industrial accidents, and so on. It's not that I’m being a movie snob, it's just that my suspension of disbelief got stretched a little too far with Accepted and I’ll tell you why.

1) Housing

I’ll be conservative and say that there were 500 students at the South Harmon Institute of Technology, aka SHIT. I did a little research and found that hospitals (and by extension mental hospitals like the one in Accepted) could include the necessary housing for each student. So if there are 300 rooms and 500 students are expected to share them, there are more than enough rooms to go around, right? Wrong. It takes time to learn how to submerge the immediate, naked hatred all people feel for their roommates, and without any supervision the students of SHIT would be free to judge, ridicule, and switch roommates to their heart’s content. Naturally this would leave roughly one third of the student body crying in the bathrooms (and we haven’t even gotten to the sanitation issues there) with another third attempting to coax a hottie into rooming with them and the final third busy crying out back in the bushes. Without administrative support, SHIT wouldn’t get settled for at least two days or more likely a week.

2) Disease Risks

One of the movie’s early gags showed Justin Long’s character rushing to keep his mother from seeing SHIT’s germ and disease-ridden bathroom. I think it’s reasonable to assume that all the bathrooms were like that (and probably a fair number of the dorm rooms because, after all, nobody was supposed to use them). Rampant outbreaks of tetanus and hepatitis, not to mention the expected invasion of STDs, would ravage the collective student body. The CDC would be called in within the first week, turning SHIT into the set for Outbreak.

3) Injury Risks

Skateboard ramps. Authorized dorm room renovations. Telekinesis classes. Now tell me with a straight face that these activities won’t end up in blood and fractured/decapitated limbs? I didn’t think so. I’ve seen real college students take such innocuous items as Elmer’s glue and a Latin textbook and still inflict great bodily pain. Replace the textbook with a sledgehammer and SHIT’s going to get broken.

4) Food

Granted, I didn’t watch the final half hour of Accepted so I didn’t see the team of cooks preparing food for the “university” but for the hour and a half I did see, only one guy was feeding the entire student body. And one guy cannot prepare enough food for 500 people. Heck, one guy can’t make enough food for 100 people, or maybe even fifty people. I can't really offer a reasonable estimate since I can barely feed myself.

Without enough food to eat, you know some of the skinnier students are going to very quickly begin resembling those kids in the African adopt-a-child programs. Even the students with an extra layer of cushion aren’t going to be eating the right combination of foods – the freshman fifteen is very real and rarely the result of too many vegetables – so add scurvy to the list of rampaging diseases on campus. Throw in the occasional case of food poisoning from the under-trained cook(s) and the fake campus isn’t looking so hot.

5) Unwanted Pregnancies

Even if the entire student population is slowly dying from food poisoning, blood loss, and hepatitis, the circle of life will go on. Usually college students are less likely to get pregnant, but remember, these aren’t real college students. And if one of the classes is watching girls sunbathe it’s pretty easy to imagine what the practicum would look like. It wouldn’t be long before SHIT listed Lamaze techniques on its big board of classes.

I’d give SHIT about two weeks before dissolving into a cesspit of disease, malnutrition, and untreated injuries. Any longer than two weeks and the South Harmon Institute of Technology would look an awful lot like a ghetto. I don’t know about you, but I would not want to be accepted into that SHIT.

9.26.2007

Heroes Season 2 Premiere: Questions

I fell off the Heroes bandwagon midway through the first season, not because I grew bored with the series but because I am better at sprouting wings and flying than adhering to a strict television schedule. So I skipped ahead to the first episode of the second season and naturally I have a few questions.

(It should go without saying that I can and will spoil plot developments.)

Question number 1: What happened to Sylar?

Last I saw, Sylar had broken out of his paper building prison and seemed likely to confront Peter Petrelli. Based on previews of a sunbathing Sylar and a few comments in Monday’s premier, I gather that Sylar is now “dead.” I use quotations because I find that highly unlikely. Much more likely is that he suffered some kind of defeat and now he is licking his wounds before making an “unexpected” return partway through the second season.

Question number 2: What happened to Peter Petrelli?

Last year Peter was learning to control other Heroes’ powers (and failing at it). His lack of control was somehow turning him into a bomb; very likely the same bomb that Isaac foresaw blowing up New York. Obviously New York is still around so Peter didn’t destroy my future city of residence (in less than 2 weeks!) but he did manage to lose his memory and clothes in addition to getting himself shipped to Ireland in an empty crate. Peter also has some kind of projectile attack now, which is good for him. I always thought videogame fighters who didn’t have projectile attacks were severely disadvantaged.

Question number 3: How and why did Claire and her family successfully move to California?

Quick aside: Claire’s dad’s observation of the tall, hot girl at Claire’s new school was hi-larious. I hope to see more of that humor. And here I thought the Haitian had ripped out Claire's father’s memories to help her escape but now it looks like Claire’s father knows what’s going on and is now actively trying to bring down his old employers. I could be wrong about that, but why else is he hiding? I also predict that Claire’s regenerative powers and her new friend’s flying ability will be revealed to the public very soon.

Question number 4: Who is Matt’s new friend? And who is she afraid of?

Apparently Matt, Mohinder, and Claire’s Dad are all in cahoots in an anti-anti-Heroes campaign. Matt’s new adopted child seems part of this arrangement, if not for any inherent powers (I didn’t notice any) but for her connection to a powerful new enemy. Or is it just Sylar again, reshaped in some new way?

Question number 5: Who is the new Mexican girl and what is her power?

She kills people dead and that’s a pretty cool skill. I predict more killings in the future.

Question number 6: Where are all the other Heroes?

I liked being able to focus on just a few Heroes in Monday’s premiere. But what about all the others? I figure some of them had to die off, but is the show now going to alternate storylines? Stretching plots out like that would seem like a risky proposition. As with all my other questions I guess I’ll have to watch next week to find some answers.

Unless you have some answers for me? Hint. Hint.

9.25.2007

Chuck Recap and Impressions

If you’ve been to the movies in the last twenty months then you’ve already seen NBC’s entire fall lineup, including the comedy/spy thriller Chuck. You probably also know that Chuck is about a guy named (what else?) Chuck who is a computer geek by day – actually, he’s always a computer geek – and he’s also the United States government’s newest, and improbable-est, secret agent. Stop me if you’ve already heard this one.

I know this is the wrong Chuck, but with the right one I couldn't say this: There is no theory of evolution. Just a list of animals Chuck Norris allows to live.

But before you write Chuck off as just another rehash of an unlikely hero thrust into hilariously unlikely scenarios, take a moment to see just how gosh darn likeable Chuck is.

Chuck went to Stanford, so he’s smart, but he also works at Buy More (a play on Best Buy) so he’s also an underachiever. He’s shy around women (he tries to hide from girls during his own birthday party) yet he can still be charming. He wears Converses but also a tie. See where I’m going with this? Chuck straddles the line between working stiff and slacker in a way that makes him eminently likeable without being Carson Daly bland. Think of a young Tom Hanks in a comedy spy thriller and you can see Chuck’s potential.

Is it just me or is Tom Hanks wearing a decapitated arm? It looks pretty good, whatever it is

Besides Zachary Levi’s goofball charm in the lead role, a number of behind the scenes players help make Chuck a comedy thriller that’s actually – gasp -- funny.

Writer/producer Josh Schwartz cut his teeth on a little television show you may have heard of called The O.C. This was THE young person’s soap opera during my college years and while Rachel Bilson may have used her super vixen hormones (it’s my understanding that Bilson’s hormones are currently being studied by the government for their potential uses in biological warfare) to attract a legion of drooling viewers, it was some sharp, witty dialogue that kept them glued to the screen week after week. Chuck shares a lot of the same sharp wit, thankfully streamlined for greater comedic appeal.

This is what the army calls a "flanking maneuver"

Directors McG (The O.C.) and David Solomon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) bring some snappy camerawork to the table. There’s plenty of movement and action to remind viewers that Chuck is no sitcom and the pace isn’t so fast as to induce epileptic seizures.

The on-screen talent isn’t too bad either. Yvonne Strzechowski and Adam Baldwin star as Chuck’s “covert co-workers.” Yvonne displays some nice chemistry with Levi in the two lead roles and her blonde good looks are sure to keep guys happy. And every show is better off (ie: funnier) for having Adam Baldwin in it as proven by his work in Firefly. Chuck’s co-workers and friends, played by Joshua Gomez, Vik Sahay and others seem like they’ll be playing a larger than expected role in the series and their deadpan banter evokes memories of The 40 Year Old Virgin though toned down enough for a television audience.

Monday’s pilot episode did everything right in setting up Chuck’s character. There were a few clichés (why must everyone go to the beach to contemplate deep thoughts?) but overall the show was sharp and fresh and the chemistry between the principal actors was on target. It’s hard to see exactly where Chuck is headed and this lack of long-term focus may be a problem down the road, but for now I’m simply happy to watch, and laugh, at what happens next.

Television Update - Chuck, Heroes

I saw two "new" shows last night. The first was Chuck. It's about a dude named Chuck who accidentally receives an email that embeds thousands of CIA secrets into his brain. He's got to handle government agents who want his head in addition to a video game addiction, a clingy best friend, and a computer tech job that would drive a sloth to tears (I'm not sure what I mean by that, but I'd really like to see a sloth cry). It's also quite funny.

The second "new" show I saw was Heroes. I know this is the show's second season, but I stopped paying attention once I missed an episode in the middle of last year so last night's premiere was a bit of an eye opener. I'm still not sure I understand the recent developments, but my interest is once again piqued.

Later today I'll put up some recaps and impressions on both these shows.

9.24.2007

Quick Movie Review - Resident Evil: Extinction

Every couple of years a new Resident Evil movie comes out and every couple of years I go see it, only to forget what the heck happened five seconds into my post-cinema urination. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the ultra-light, ultra-action-packed earlier films and I also enjoyed Resident Evil: Extinction, the third and latest installment in the franchise, but that still didn't stop me from forgetting everything I saw by the time my hand reached for my zipper.

Everything looks cooler -- and meaner -- in Japanese

Milla Jovovich returns as Alice, the superhuman defender of – hell, who am I kidding? It doesn’t matter who Milla is or what she wants, her entire purpose is to look good and kick ass and she does both quite well. If anything, I wish she could have kicked more ass. If it’s the third episode of a trilogy and I can’t remember what happened in either of the first two films then I know I can expect more violence than a Hayden Panettiere interview – Zing!

Extinction is loosely based on the Resident Evil video game franchise, but I’m pretty sure none of the games featured a ragtag group of humans struggling through a post-apocalyptic world. Still, fans of the series will recognize the creepy bloodhounds, zombies, and a certain bad guy that is big, pulsating, and almost impossible to kill.

The latest Resident Evil film also has its fair share of special effects. Explosions, mutant crows, and gun shootouts are all here, but the special effect that stood out the most was Milla Jovovich's face. Milla’s face practically glowed throughout the film and I later learned that she and Extinction writer Paul W.S. Anderson (no relation to either Paul Thomas Anderson or Wes Anderson) are an item and expecting their first child. I can tell you her pregnancy didn’t interfere with her ability to kick ass, but was it responsible for her glow brite face? You’ll have to tell me your opinion.

"I am a pregnant woman. Now get me some Cheetos."

If you’re down for Milla-mania, zombies, and ass kickings check out Resident Evil: Extinction, but whatever you do, stay out of Hayden Panettiere's way.

9.22.2007

Sadness

I know I promised a movie-related post today but I just received some news that supersedes it.

One of my favorite authors -- if not THE favorite -- of my formative years has a huge following for his monumental and incredibly rich fantasy series that he began writing almost twenty years ago. This series, known as the Wheel of Time, is already eleven books long with a twelfth and final installment as yet unfinished. Now it will never be completed because its creator, James Oliver Rigney Jr., though better known as his pen name Robert Jordan, died this past week at the age of 58.

The artwork: crappy. The story: not so much

I remember picking up the first of Mr. Jordan's WoT (nerdspeak for Wheel of Time) books in an airport many years ago. I was about twelve and the prospect of a long, boring flight listening to my brother snore spurred me to look beyond the hokey cover art and buy The Eye of the World. Ever since that day I continue to judge books by their covers but now I try to give them the benefit of the doubt because within the EoTW's crappy cover art lay the beginning of the most intricate, expansive, and complete fantasy series I have ever read.

In my opinion, neither Herbert nor Tolkein can inspire the same pure, unadulterated enjoyment found in the WoT series and lesser authors like Terry Goodkind can only dream of having a quarter of Jordan's talent. Only George R. R. Martin approaches Jordan's ability to mix history, drama, adventure and prophecy into a transcendent whole. Robert Jordan's stories have shaped the way I read and enjoy books today and I'll never forget him.

I'll miss you Mr. Jordan.

9.21.2007

Moving Update

Only one more day of work! Of course, my flight to New York isn't for a couple of weeks but I plan on using the intervening time to prepare my resume, seek out potential employers, connect with NY folk, and sleep - a lot. Once I get to the Big Apple I predict that I'll need a vast reserve of stored sleep to draw upon, like an obese person needing to eat extra jelly donuts to build up a healthy, natural layer of protection before a wilderness excursion.

I will also be participating in the most emasculating of activities: shopping. I'll be back later today or tomorrow with a movie-related post but for now I will be waist deep in socks, underwear and all the sundry items I need to not stink or look stupid.

Wish me luck.

9.19.2007

2046 Movie Review

Watching 2046 made me think of a book I’m reading. It’s a writing book called Bird by Bird and one of the writing principles it frequently refers to (as do many other books on writing) is how characters need space to grow the same way dogs and horses do. An author can lay out the most precise, detailed plot outline but if her characters resist their prescribed paths then their story will ring false. If an author can allow her characters to make their own decisions and the plot tags along for the ride, then every word and detail will add to the story’s natural depth and richness.

The Asian Clark Gable doesn't give a damn

I get the feeling that 2046 director and screenwriter Kar Wai Wong read the same book I did, or one very much like it. Because 2046 is nothing if not a collection of characters -- characters so fully realized that, whether they are on the screen for two hours or two minutes, watching a sliver of their lives gives the impression that once the film ends, their lives will still go on.

Much of this pervading sense of authenticity must be credited to Kar Wai Wong’s habit of filming without detailed scripts. Male lead Tony Leung, dubbed the “Asian Clark Gable,” describes acting sans script as “demanding” but also notes how “it keeps me from thinking and allows me to just be in my character.” His powerful performance, smoothly flowing from light-hearted to ruthlessly arrogant and everywhere in between, reflects the truth of his words.

Previously I described 2046 as “an emotional gauntlet with a Chinese/Japanese pseudo sci-fi twist.” I’m not sure if this description makes much sense, but I refuse to describe the story in any more detail. This isn’t because I’m being cruel or a tease but I think you will better enjoy this film with an open mind.

Ziyi Zhang, like the Pillsbury Doughboy, enjoys a good tummy rub

Keeping an open mind will also help you keep perspective. Kristen of The Critical Lass commented that the film left her with impressions of colors and moods rather than memories of plot or character and I can see where she is coming from. This is a film that forces you to experience some very strong emotions and it will leave some equally strong impressions on you, many of them emotionally taxing. Additionally, you will want to yell at the characters many, many times. They may be acting true to themselves (and trust me, this is a good thing), but watching them may drive you a little bit crazy.

If I haven't made this clear yet, 2046 isn’t for everyone. It is introspective in the extreme and what it lacks in bombs and explosions it more than compensates in regret and tears. There are also periods of tenderness and even happiness, but no more then you would expect of troubled characters given the freedom to live out their own troubled lives.

9.18.2007

Movie-Writing Casting Call (And Quiz)

You all know I love movies. And you also know that I love writing about movies. And now you know that I love writing about loving to write about movies.

But what about you?

The other day I encouraged everyone to make comments without fear of criticism or stalking. Today I'm going to take it one step further and ask if anybody would like to contribute to The Spoon.

Jonathon Lipnicki: I'm not a boy, not yet blessed with pubes

I'm not planning on making The Spoon a permanently collaborative effort, but if you have always wanted to write a movie review or start a discussion about something movie (or entertainment) related but haven't had the proper forum, this could be the perfect opportunity.

I don't have many requirements and if you read here regularly then you also know my standards aren't very high. If you want to write something funny, great, but as long as you mean what you say then your piece has a spot in The Spoon.

Leave a comment if you're interested in contributing or send me an email here.

And just to keep things interesting here's a Romance Movie Quote Quiz. I scored 3 out of 10 but if anyone asks say I scored -5.

I have a reputation to protect.

9.17.2007

2046

If you feel like wringing yourself through an emotional gauntlet with a Chinese/Japanese pseudo sci-fi twist, I heartily recommend 2046.

I promise to provide more details, if not a full review, but I think I'll try to get eight hours of sleep for once.

Me so sleepy and cuddly

'Night everybody and I hope you all had a wonderful weekend.

9.16.2007

Discussions in The Spoon

I was going through some recent comments when I was struck with a sudden realization: hardly anybody disagrees with me. Now I'm not so conceited that I believe I'm always right, and I know for a fact that I'm not because I totally got called out on my exclusion of some big name child stars in yesterday's post about the trials of childhood stardom.

Andersoncm brought this lack of -- how should I say it? -- "vigorous" debate in The Spoon into focus when he disagreed with my negative review of Balls of Fury and opined that the film was "hilarious" with a "great cast" and a "hot chick." He also called me a douchebag, but that's beside the point.

Balls of Fury is a source of much debate in addition to being a source of much testicle grabbing

In response to his comments I wrote:
I go into every movie hoping to see greatness and my reviews are my honest opinions. I may be critical of some movies (like BoF) but that doesn't mean I'm criticizing your or anyone else's taste in movies.
Immediately after typing this I realized I was telling the truth. I know that people shouldn't be judged by their taste in movies -- hell, I liked Failure to Launch so what does that say about me? -- so I hope nobody is avoiding disagreeing with me for fear of criticism or my incessant tendency to stalk. As long as we're all respectful I welcome any and all discussions at The Spoon.

Come with me if you want to discuss movies

Consider this an open invitation to disagree -- or agree -- with me anytime you darn well feel like it.