Wednesday, February 27, 2008

TV REVIEW : LOST 4.04 "Eggtown"

Busy busy week - tomorrow is another LOST and I have not had a chance to speak on "Eggtown."

Things are still moving forward but for the first time this 4th season, we have a slow down. This is a regular flow for LOST, moving fast and slowing things down to a crawl - season 2 lost several fans due to it's lack of momentum. Those fans are back because of the end of season 3 and I think, because of the end date being chosen, they will continue to feel a strong drive until the end of the show.

What keeps this episode from exploding like the previous three... is Kate. Kate is a conundrum. Kate seemed far more interesting before we got to know her - she murdered her stepfather... she got her best friend killed... she can't choose between Jack and Sawyer...


I am wiped out on the Jack/Sawyer thing - it has zero dramatic power for me. And frankly, I am not sure the writers really have anything anymore... but they feel they need to. Poor Kate needs to decide... and move on.

The bit with Miles above was entertaining - but most of Locke's other choices in the episode were pretty weak and the situations were pretty lame.

The final bit with Aaron did get my mind churning again... is Claire dead? Is Jack acting like his father? Is Aaron the 5th member of the Oceanic 6?

Hmmm.... let's get back to the light not scattering right.

LOST 4.04 "Eggtown" : B-


Thursday, February 21, 2008

DVD REVIEW : Missing the "3:10 to Yuma"

I guess, for me, the western never really left. I got into film as Eastwood's phenomenal "Unforgiven" hit theaters - I watched "Wild Wild West" as a kid - hell, I've seen "Silverado" about a dozen times! I grew up watching contemporary westerns, then in college, I discovered John Ford and John Wayne. Then some Anthony Mann and the amazing Sergio Leone.

So when the marketing team behind "3:10 to Yuma" decided to proclaim that the western had finally returned... I did not feel the need to trumpet it. And after watching the film, I am glad I didn't.

The film is definitely sloppy - with some bland direction and an annoying amount of ADR work (I hate that fake empty voice that should be echoing throughout the lands!!). There is some truly flat moments (Doc's death) and some ridiculous casting (LUKE - FREAKING - WILSON IN A CAMEO?!?!?) and some really failed editing throughout the film (Bale gets zero, and I mean absolutely ZERO, love from the editor - in every scene with Crowe, it is obvious Bale is only cut in to remind you someone is with Crowe!).

The ending that the critics yelled about is not really good - in fact, it is the final moments that really sell the film out.

But I did have a little fun - the opening titles got me excited for the film. I loved the initial cut to Crowe and a bunch of his little moments (talking with Gretchen Mol, Bale's wife).

I did particularly like a line from the "boss" obsessed Ben Foster - "I hate posse's." After killing a group of men who wanted Wade (Crowe's character). Foster is feminized throughout the film and the line doubled as a declaration of his sexual oddness. That was fun.

Frankly though, I did not see much to enjoy here. Bale struggled and was given nothing in the editing room - Crowe never balances good and evil (though he comes close in telling the story of his mother leaving him) - characters die off and it means nothing (Fonda)... overall, just sloppy and disappointing.

I need to watch "Unforgiven" again.

"3:10 to Yuma" : C+


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

"And the Oscar goes to..."

2007 was an amazing year for film and I am thrilled to say that all five of the nominations for Best Picture this year were among my top ten of the season! I would like to take a moment to comment quickly on each;

"No Country for Old Men" is simply perfect. This is the Coen Brothers at there best, doing a story that is familiar, handling the direction with assurance, and allowing actors to breathe in their film like I have not seen before.

Jones, Brolin, and Bardem all knock their roles completely into the stratosphere - all should have received nominations!

The film is taut - frightening - layered - fascinating... and perfect.

Paul Thomas Anderson is a really interesting filmmaker who continues to explore his creative abilities within a storytelling structure - "There Will Be Blood" does not play out like a historical biography, but more like a scattered image of a driven mad man. I loved watching the imagery and Anderson's direction - but Lewis' portrayal of Daniel Plainview dominated every aspect of the film.

He will win the Oscar - he is amazing in the film - it is fantastic.

"Juno" was marvelous. It is a story that I was happy to hear, a young girl who finds herself pregnant - decides to keep the baby and give it up to a couple in need... yet does not struggle with that decision but more with the relationships that surround her.

Cara, my mother, my brother and I got out to see this the weekend it opened in town, and we all really enjoyed the film. As most people mention, I was a little thrown off by Cody's ultra groovie dialog at the beginning of the film but the performances eased me back into a love for "Juno."

I would not complain if Ellen Page won for Best Actress.

"Pride and Prejudice" was a beautiful surprise for me - I am not a huge Keira Knightly fan and I had never heard of Joe Wright... but that film was captivating and a joy. "Atonement" was just as good.

The story was compelling - the acting was superberb... but the direction was what really excited me. There is a moment in the film where events are played backwards and we watch as Knightly is separated, yet joined, to her lover, McAvoy. The colors - the movement - everything worked fantastically in that scene.

Though the film was not perfect (8 min long take that did not work) - I would recommend it to anyone!

"Michael Clayton" is all about taking a story that we have seen before, but making it real. Screw "Erin Brokovich," this film actually looks at what it takes in a person to sell your soul for financial gain.

Clooney was really good but it is Tilda Swinton who steals every scene she is involved in. Her final moments in the film are brilliant.

Gilroy directed with a light touch (and I even loved those horses at the beginning) and I appreciated his respect for the characters. The film is very very good.


with out a doubt "No Country for Old Men" is a film that 40 years from now the world will still be looking at - still be analyzing... still be admiring.

It is the Best Picture of the year.

Now we just have to wait til Sunday for the world to concur.


Friday, February 15, 2008

TV REVIEW : LOST 4.03 "The Economist"

I was loving life when "The Sopranos" and "Deadwood" were in full swing, rolling off new episodes every Sunday night. At that same time, I was spoiled with new and hilarious "The Office" and "Scrubs" every Thursday! And the peak was every Sunday watching the Bluths run amok through "Arrested Development." Since AD,Tony and Swearengen left our blessed air waves... and JD and Turk started milking screen time with often very lame eps ("The Office" still kills me) - our TV life has become a barren waste land of trite and contrived crap.

"Lost" was a part of that... not any more.

We are in the third episode of season 4, a season that will now contain 13 episodes (down from 16 due to the strike), and things are still smacking my face raw. Holy Crap.

Sayid as a Jason Bourne-ish hired killer? He is a member of the Oceanic 6? The time delay on the payload that Daniel had the ship send? SAYID IS WORKING FOR BEN IN THE FUTURE?!?!?!?

There is no doubt about it - "Lost" is on that separate plane... that level of creative madness and genius that keeps me salivating for every episode. Starting with the final episode of Season 3, the series has rev'd itself up... shredding every expectation the viewer has... and every rule that the series seemed to build. It is truly exciting to watch these writers continually come up with fascinating twists and turns (I can't believe I just used that phrase) that keep the viewer jumping out of their seat!

This particular episode only had a few moments of crappiness (Sayid having his gun in the pocket of his jacket - in plain view... but Elsa claimed he was unarmed) and some beautiful shots (the helicopter floating over the water with the island in the background... wow) keeping this episode running strong.

I am loving this... yeeee-haaaa!

LOST 4.03 "The Economist" : A-

Thursday, February 14, 2008


I am ready!!


Really funny bit - trailer peaks.

Pure CG - Lucas needs his ass kicked!!!

Classic shot - questionable content.

Could have been a huge mistake - looks weak.

Decent ending... though bottom of stomach has acid forming.

I am worried... but excited. Thus is life. Trailer added below!


Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The slow sad death of HD-DVD

Cara started it all.

We had talked about spending less on birthdays - not going too crazy... then I opened up her gift which was a Toshiba HD-DVD! Wow. Being the greedy little man that I am (and after Kreitner alerted me to a $99 HD-DVD player opportunity), I took back the player and bought a Playstation 3 with a Blu-Ray player on it.

Ya know - so I would be format neutral (or a "Neutie" as I prefer to be called... well, not prefer really... ya know... just so people know that I don't care who wins the format war... but with a cool sounding nick name... "Neutie" is cool... right?).

Anyway, a major blow against HD-DVD came in the form of Warner Bros. choosing to go exclusively with Blu-Ray... then yesterday, what I feel might be the final breath... Netflix dropped HD-DVD.

Netflix - the largest corporation for renting DVD-movies... dropped the format completely. The discs in rotation will be phased out within the month (due to handling, it seems discs get replaced monthly).

That kills things for me. I was not out buying movies - I only rented Blu-Ray and HD-DVD's... now, I almost have zero need of my player. I own perhaps 10 discs (with 5 free ones coming)... and probably won't be buying more in the future. In fact, I really look to Paramount and Universal to jump ship within this month as well.

Poor HD-DVD - it really did not deserve to lose! Some people even believe the quality HD-DVD delivers is superior to Blu-Ray (I have not seen this, only read)! If that is true, this is a real disappointment.

A moment of silence... for a lost war.


Monday, February 11, 2008

DVD REVIEW : Cronenberg's "Promise"

A Russian accent must be a tricky thing to pull off - more often than not it just sounds ridiculous (Sean Connery in "Hunt for Red October" and Harrison Ford in "K-19"). "Eastern Promises" has tons and tons of Russians coming out of every corner of London - actors trying their best to sell their Russian descent, while also delivering some dark and dramatic material. Some works and some doesn't.

I watched this film for two reasons; The first being that Viggo Mortensen has been nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor for his role as the driver, Nikolai, who has a knack for wearing cool shades and disposing properly of bodies.

Mortensen deserves a few props for going all out on the naked sauna fight for his life - the 5 minute sequence is the best moment in the film and seeing Mortensen kicking and fighting for his life in the buff turns out to be carnal and more real than I expected. The cuts and the hits seem more extreme with his frail (pretty frail for a Hollywood strong man), exposed body. Sadly, his role does not open up to much more than a standard leading character by the end.

He does not deserve a nomination - instead Casey Affleck should have been in the Best Actor category for his leading role in "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford."

The other reason I watched "Eastern Promises" is because of David Cronenberg. Cronenberg's resume has some scattered successes as well as some major flaws. His directorial vision can often frustrate me with it fabricated simplicity - yet there are times when it does all click and make for an exciting work.

"A History of Violence" had hiccups and some problems, but by the end did really speak to a far greater statement than the plot itself allowed. Thusly, I expected something similar here. The beginning of the film was intriguing and I really afforded "Eastern Promises" a long time to get moving and allow the characters to breathe. But by it's end (with a twist that comes that does nothing to help the film), I felt the film really did not have a firm grasp on the story it was telling.

There were some interesting characters - Krill (Vincent Cassel) could have been fun to spend more time with. Naomi Watts was a dead end from start to finish, but her uncle could have been given 20 more minutes to really delve into life as a Russian immigrant living in modern London. Analyzing the "old school" laws of the Russian world would have been far more interesting than anything Watt's character had to offer.

My feelings are probably more harsh than the film deserves, but after about 1 hour of allowing the film to live on it's own without any judgment... everything seemed to fall apart... and the end was really a true disappointment.

"Eastern Promises" : B-

TV REVIEW : LOST 4.02 "Confirmed Dead"

Thursday night brought another stellar episode of "Lost" - a show that single handedly filling my TV show viewing needs. I am not an insane fan of the show, having watched all of the episodes perhaps twice... and really questioning some of the dramatic moments of the series (as well as some of the stale writing on the show!). I will say this though, I do enjoy how the show always keeps me guessing at what is going on.

"Confirmed Dead" starts off with some fascinating images from a few submerged deep ocean camera subs - stumbling on an airplane sunk deep into the waters off of the coast of India. The wreckage is creepy and bodies still have some flesh on them... yikes! It is Oceanic Flight 815.

Ok - so that was not really unexpected since this scene was referenced last season ("They found 815 - there were no survivors!") but the delivery was spotless - and I am thrilled at how the writers used this moment to introduce each of the new characters of the "rescue" team.

Ken Leung (last seen on the final season of "The Sopranos") has a killer role as a semi-ghostbuster who has no qualms about ripping off poor old ladies! Jeremy Davies is a fun addition, opening the show with some uncontrollable tears.

And finally... Jeff friggin Fahey!!!

In all seriousness - the creators of this show are at once really smart and one can definitely tell they know exactly where they are going now... but also, they are complete film nerds like most of us. They hired Ken Leung BECAUSE they saw him on Sopranos... they got Fahey BECAUSE he IS Fahey!!! They have really taken this show to another level and it is all really exciting to watch.

As far as the mystery goes there is tons to digest; Why was Daniel Farrady crying at the 815 news? Why was there a polar bear skeleton with a Dharma logo found in the desert? Who are the rest of the Oceanic 6? Why is the "rescue" team here to get Ben? And who the hell does Ben have on the boat?!?!?

Loads of fun!

LOST 4.02 "Confirmed Dead" : A-


Saturday, February 02, 2008

Our father, who art in heaven, hallowed by thy name...


"Arrested Development Movie in Development!
Source: E! Online
February 2, 2008

Kristen at E! Online was told by Jason Bateman that "the creative minds behind 'Arrested Development' (Mitch Hurwitz and Ron Howard) have put the wheels in motion toward a major motion picture of the Fox TV comedy so many of us adore. I'm told by insiders that Jason and other Bluth family members have received calls from producers (Hurwitz and Howard) asking if they would be willing to shoot a movie."

"I can confirm that a round of sniffing has started," Bateman said. "Any talk is targeting a poststrike situation, of course. I think, as always, that it's a question of whether the people with the money are willing to give our leader, Mitch Hurwitz, what he deserves for his participation. And I can speak for the cast when I say our fingers are crossed."

She adds that other cast members were called and that everyone seems to be very much on board and excited by the prospect."

Everyone must pray...


Friday, February 01, 2008

TV REVIEW : LOST 4.01 "Beginning of the End"

Last night "Lost" finally returned to start its shortened 8 episode run and things began right where we left off at the end of last season. The episode, titled "Beginning of the End," laid the ground work for a new story structure that the show can now use. Having the flash-forwad concept blowing viewers minds in the final episode last season, this episode makes use of that and centers on a Hurley flash-forward.

This concept really rips the show loose of it's restrictions and fires up all sorts of interesting parallels!

I dig this series. The writers always aim for larger themes then really what is being told... and the direction is more often than not - exhilarating! Take for instance the first image of the episode (above).

Then the image explodes.

In reality it is Hurley driving his Camaro (fantastic throwback to his previous flash-back ep) right through the stack - and the show could just as easily jumped to an image of a speeding car being chased... but instead, they take this moment to create an image that speaks to where things are heading... the natural world of the island is about to be destroyed.

I love it.

There were some moments that did not quite work - Hurley specifically had a few moments that I thought stretched the actor a bit thin. It was emotional watching him tell Claire that Charlie was dead... but still, something rung a little weak and false there. I did enjoy Hugo's cannonball into the ocean - what a beautiful moment to see.

The scene with Charlie at the mental institution was perfectly eerie... a moment that this show continually gets right.

It is great to have the series back and I am really pumped to see where things go. It is a little frustrating to see some of the hiccups the writers have (Naomi leaving two blood trails... dying just moments later... the group splitting at the end... ugh!) - yet it is thrilling to watch them play with our expectations and tantalize us with new characters and story lines.

The show is a ball.

"Lost" 4.01 : B+