Tuesday, January 30, 2007

"Folks, the show may be over."

I love watching comedians lose it on stage. Note, however, that it's only amusing if they're actually funny to begin with, and something (or, in this case, someone) happens to get the better of them.

The frequent crack-ups between John Stewart and Stephen Colbert, during their Daily Show-ending check-ins, wouldn't be half as entertaining if they weren't both good performers in the first place. It's the fascination of finding something outrageous enough to crack those professional facades, and then watching them recover from it. Or not.

Now that's comedy.


Thursday, January 25, 2007

Simile of the Day

"[T]his thing has me giggling like a 12 year old girl sucking on a My Little Pony hash pipe."

Thank you, Kung Fu Monkey. I think.


Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Adapted from what?

This year's Academy Award nominations were announced earlier today, and the most bizarre, I have to say, is Borat Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan for Adapted Screenplay. I mean, really, that's two words, and both of them seem wrong.

Otherwise, no huge surprises. I'm rooting for Monster House to win Animated Feature, but I expect Cars to take it. I won't feel too bad about that, since I have friends at Pixar, but Monster House was a better realized story about growing up.

In some ways, I find the Oscar nominations more interesting than the actual winners--at this point, the whole thing turns into a psychology experiment, where people will vote for a film they like in a category they don't really understand (hello, Sound Editing vs. Sound Mixing) just so that it will win something.

Other winners I'd be happy to see: Children of Men for Cinematography, Pan's Labyrinth for Makeup, and Superman Returns for Visual Effects. I haven't seen the two other VFX nominees yet, but how anyone can compete with the Man of Steel?


Thursday, January 18, 2007

El Laberinto del Fauno

That's Pan's Labyrinth to you, and it's another great film in limited release. If you only know director Guillermo del Toro from his Hollywood studio projects--Mimic, Blade II, Hellboy--you don't know what you're missing. Which is not to say I didn't enjoy those three movies as well; Pan's Labyrinth just operates on a different level. It might even be more effective for non-Spanish-speaking viewers (like me), because it drops you into two unfamiliar settings: the end of the Spanish Civil War, and a fairy-tale fantasy world. Highly recommended.


Friday, January 12, 2007

Star Trek: House of Representatives

I'm not saying this changes my opinion of our federal government one way or the other, but as a lifelong Trek fan and Chinese-American immigrant, I gotta give it up for my homeboy, Congressman David Wu (D-OR). Represent!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Children of Men

Last Saturday, D and I saw Children of Men (after it finally opened at our local AMC), and it is amazing. One of the best of last year, no question.

You can compare the premise to any number of dystopian future visions--D picked Damn Nation; I went for Y: The Last Man--but Children of Men breathes life into its ideas, making the fantastic plausible but never mundane. Yes, there is at least one MacGuffin. Yes, the movie could have been a lot longer and more sprawling. But this film knows what it is and isn't about, and sticks to its story, and I think it's stronger for that commitment to narrative.

I also need to mention the phenomenal cinematography, which features several long, continuous tracking shots, simulating the gritty reality of a documentary and giving the action scenes a visceral immediacy. I'd argue that Children of Men is worth seeing for the Bexhill sequence alone--yes, it's that fucking good. You may not like everything this movie presents, but it will affect you.


Monday, January 08, 2007

Trebek, you liar!

Will installing Flash cause any harm to my computer?
There are no known issues associated with installing Flash.

-- Jeopardy! Online Test FAQs

Oh, you meant aside from the annoying animated ads that you'll now see on every other goddamn web site? And other than the fact that you'll be annoyed to no end by promotional and marketing sites which think it's K3WL to hide all their content in Flash, so none of it can be indexed by search engines, and you can't actually use your known-good browser interface to view the site, and instead have to navigate through whatever hideously unintuitive scheme their overpaid script kiddies crazy-glued together after smoking up all weekend?

No, no known issues at all.


Tuesday, January 02, 2007

The Apocalyptic Pursuit of Charlotte's Shepherd

Last Friday, D and I did our traditional movie marathon day at the local AMC. They weren't showing the two movies I really wanted to see--Children of Men and Pan's Labyrinth-- but we did catch four good shows:

Apocalypto - A brutal but effective chase picture. There's a lot of violence, graphic and otherwise, and a more modern story might have said something about that, but here it's just part of the scenery. A compelling visit, but I wouldn't want to live there.

The Good Shepherd - My favorite of the four. It's been a long time since I saw a good movie about spying--as opposed to a "spy movie" with more style than substance--and this one knew the game. It reminded me of John Le Carré's old-school, Cold War-era novels. Anyone who says this film was boring or lacked tension, didn't really understand what was going on.

The Pursuit of Happyness - Straightforward, solid, and down-to-earth. Props to Will Smith for inhabiting his character so well that I almost forgot I was watching Will Smith. (And thank you to the filmmakers for acknowledging, in the first scene, that "happiness" is correctly spelled with an "i." That had been bugging me ever since I saw the trailer.)

Charlotte's Web - I'm really glad they didn't screw this one up. A little lightweight when compared to the other three flicks, but if you don't get misty-eyed at some point during the third act, you are one cold-hearted bastard.

We were going to see Dreamgirls on New Year's Eve, before joining some friends for a party, but my intestines are acting up again. Liquid diet today. Dreamgirls soon.


Child's Play (not the charity)

A while ago, Electronic Gaming Monthly (EGM) magazine gathered some kids between the ages of 10 and 13 to play classic video games like Pong and Tetris and give their opinions.

I suspect many have seen this already, but I thought it was pretty damn funny. Especially this transcript from the Space Invaders session:
Tim: This is nothing compared to Grand Theft Auto III, because you can't steal a taxi cab, pick up somebody, then drive into the ocean with him.

Kirk: And you can't pick up an AK-47 and go kill—hey, those aliens on the top row, you use them in EGM for stuff.

EGM: Yeah, we use them to end our articles. They do kinda look like they're from Space Invaders, don't they?

Tim: They're going to sue you.

Kirk: I'm sure everyone who made this game is dead by now.

Part 1: http://www.lyberty.com/blog/articles/childs_play.htm

Part 2: http://www.1up.com/do/feature?pager.offset=0&cId=3137498