Archive | December, 2006

Movie Review Year in Review

31 Dec

Updated 1/27

Although I still haven’t seen a few films that are on my to-see list (namely, Notes on a Scandal, The Queen, The Good German, Night at the Museum, and Babel) I thought I’d do a special year-end post to give attention to the movies I enjoyed the most this year. I’ve gone through and reread my reviews, noting what letter grades I gave and why, and here are my rankings for the best movies of the year — or at least those I consider my favorites:

1. The Departed
2. Little Miss Sunshine
3. Friends with Money
4. Dreamgirls
5. Dave Chappelle’s Block Party
6. Borat …
7. United 93/World Trade Center
8. The History Boys
9. Notes on a Scandal
10. Half Nelson

With the exception of The History Boys, I gave all those movies either an A or an A- review. And I was tempted to include Snakes on a Plane on that list because it was one of the best moviegoing experiences of the year, but I’m assuming that when I watch the DVD, I’ll think differently about the movie.

And then, of course, there were the movies on the flip-side, the ones I really did not enjoy. It’s worth noting that although I chose to see movies like She’s the Man, I largely stayed away from the crap. And sometimes the crappy-looking movies, like Employee of the Month or My Super Ex-Girlfriend, turned out to be better than expected. So of the movies I saw, which ones were not worth my (or your) time? Here’s the list:

1. You, Me and Dupree
2. Poseidon
3. The Lake House
4. Bobby
5. Game 6
6. Imagine Me & You
7. School for Scoundrels
8. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest
9. The Night Listener
10. The Good Shepherd

If you’d like to read my original reviews for these movies, links to all of them are in the margin. And note, though the list says I’ve seen 51 movies this year (as of December 30), that is only counting 2006 releases. In January and February I saw six films that were considered 2005 releases, but I don’t count them as movies I saw this year. Further, when I see the above-mentioned movies, should they be worthy of one of these lists, I’ll amend as necessary.

Things I’ve Learned, vacation week edition

29 Dec

I could really get used to this “week off” stuff.

It’s nice for a few days to sleep in, roll out of bed sometime between 9:30 and 10, take my time getting ready, do what I want (or don’t do anything at all), and just relax.

Alright, sure I’ve spent plenty of time this week playing with my new computer, but I’ve also learned a couple things too: Continue reading

From the Ashes They Rise

27 Dec

Like any sports movie worth its salt, We Are Marshall plays with your emotions using the typical methods: an underdog who everyone has counted out, swelling orchestra music to generate a bigger response, gruff non-believers, and more.

So knowing you’ll be getting stuff like that going in means you have to evaluate the movie on a different level.

To that end, Marshall is a movie you can root for. It’s not the best sports movie ever, and it doesn’t really earn your tears like, say, Rudy does, but it’s a rousing tribute to how a school and community got back on its feet after a terrible loss. Continue reading

Welcome to the Year 2002

26 Dec

Buying a computer isn’t supposed to be a life-changing experience — unless you’ve never had one before, I suppose — but after this past weekend I can say with all certainty that I am a changed man.

You see, until now I had been using an HP desktop computer at home (wait for it) that was running Windows Me and I was accessing the internets using a (gulp) dial-up connection (the phone cord was strung up along the ceiling from one end of the apartment to the other).

But on Saturday, as a Hanukkah present, I bought myself an iMac and hooked up a cable internets connection with an AirPort Express so it would be wireless and much much faster. (And no, I didn’t pay for it all myself; I used gift checks and other stuff, plus money I’d been saving.) Continue reading

Stuff in the Basement

25 Dec

It could have been God awful, but thankfully, Rocky Balboa redeems itself as a worthwhile movie and a nice send-off for the beloved character.

Basically, that’s because the movie has a lot of heart — actually, that’s all it has. And to that end, there is a lot of sad-sack Rocky bemoaning the past — both his boxing heyday and his late wife, Adrian — and there are quick shots of the people who’ve crossed his path (old opponents like Clubber Lang and Drago, old trainers, etc.) and trips to places of significance. Continue reading

I’ll Be Home for Christmas

22 Dec

I can’t remember the last time I was home for Christmas week. (Actually, that’s not true. It was 1999. And I know that because I went to see The Talented Mr. Ripley in Framingham with Farrah on Christmas Day. So let me start over.)

It’s been a long time since I was home for Christmas week. Most years since I was a wee tot I have spent it in Florida with my family. That one time, in 1999, I didn’t have off from work, so I stayed in Boston. It was also the year I went to my last Matzo Ball. So lame. But this year, by choice, I’m staying in Boston. I’m going to have a vacation at home. And I’m really looking forward to it.

How will I spend the week? Well, for one thing, I’m not going to the Matzo Ball, even though Christmas Eve is now apparently “Jewish Valentine’s Day.” Whatever. Instead, I have plans to see a movie and go for Chinese food on Christmas day, the “traditional” Jewish way to spend the holiday. I may come into work one afternoon just to clean up and get organized (we’re off all week). And I may go to lunch with some friends who are working. Oh, and I’ll probably see a few movies. But other than that, I’m an open book. I may just buy my Hanukkah present — a new computer — and set it up. I will likely clean my apartment again, maybe do some more purging. Maybe I’ll take a road trip all the way out to Framingham or Burlington to brave the “after Christmas sale” shoppers. Oh, the options. I sort of like knowing I have a week ahead of me with nothing to do, really, and all the time in the world to do it.

Maybe it’ll actually snow next week. Finally. That would actually be nice. If it does, I promise I won’t complain about being in Boston in the cold instead of in sunny Florida. I’ll be sleeping in my own bed, hanging in my own apartment, sleeping late, coming and going as I please, running errands if I need to, and just doing my own thing, and that’s more exciting to me this year than getting a tan — not that I ever do.

So, as I begin a well-deserved week off, I just wanted to tell y’all that I’ll still be here and blogging all week — though likely not as frequently. If you’re looking for something fun to read, you can count on me to deliver when I can. Have a good one!

Christmas (Baby Please Watch This)

22 Dec

There are so many great holiday traditions on television, and for me, there is none more exciting than the night when Darlene Love visits David Letterman to sing my all-time favorite Christmas song, “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home).” She’s been doing this for years on the last show before the holiday, and I have to say, the season isn’t complete until she’s been on. Paul Shaffer always does big, Phil Spector-esque musical direction and Darlene just always sings the hell out of the song, with a thrilling finale that includes plenty of snow. It’s the same thing every year, but it’s simple, classic, and wicked exciting. I love that her performance last year is online (as is the one from 2004 and one from 1995). In fact, I could probably watch the clips and listen to the MP3 all day long. (No joke or exaggeration.) I can’t wait to see her do it again tonight. If you want to see real holiday magic, be sure and tune in.

A Very Internets Christmas

20 Dec

Will the wonders of the internets never cease? Today I came across a site that features (almost) nothing more than Christmas music videos, holiday specials, holiday episodes of various television shows, tv commercials, and more. There are 101 things to watch, including last year’s holiday episode of The Office, the Festivus episode of Seinfeld, and the video for Band Aid’s “Do They Know It’s Christmas.” (And if you look elsewhere on the site, you can also find this year’s holiday episode of The Office.) It’s a gold mine for holiday fun, and as the weekend gets closer, this only makes me more excited.

Bring Out the Goat … Again

19 Dec

I was asked this morning why I’ve grown my goatee again. I didn’t have a very good answer.

Could it be that all this holiday merriment is slightly emasculating and I needed to maintain my edge? Possibly.

Did I simply miss a large chunk of my face when I was shaving? Nope.

The truth is I hadn’t shaved all weekend, and when yesterday morning came around, my half-awake stupor convinced me it was time to play my favorite game, “Fun with Facial Hair,” again. The rest is history.

It’s the second time in a year that I’ve brought the goat back. Continue reading

And So This Is Xmas …

19 Dec

I knew after last year’s mix that A Very Marty Xmas 2006 had some pretty high expectations to live up to. Well, now that all the songs have been selected, the hard decisions have been made, the CDs have been burned, and the mix has been sent out and received, I thought I’d share for those of you lurkers out there what ended up on the mix. I think my seventh collection — that’s right, my seventh — is another winner, filled with classics both old and new, some oddities, the requisite jolly-ness, and even a pro-Hanukkah song thrown in for good measure. And of course, there are some surprises between the songs that are not listed. So without further ado, here’s the track listing:

The Killers — “A Great Big Sled”
Big Bad Voodoo Daddy — “Party for Santa”
Jimmy Buffett — “Christmas Island”
The Echelons — “Christmas Long Ago (Jingle, Jangle)”
The Ronettes — “Frosty the Snowman”
Darlene Love — “White Christmas”
Elliott Yamin — “This Christmas”
The Fray — “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)”
Barenaked Ladies with Michael Bublé — “Elf’s Lament”
Sufjan Stevens — “Come On! Let’s Boogey to the Elf Dance!”
Cyndi Lauper and Frank Sinatra — “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town”
The Pussycat Dolls — “Santa Baby”
Diana Krall — “Let It Snow”
James Taylor — “The Christmas Song”
Kelly Clarkson — “My Grown Up Christmas List”
Harry Connick Jr. — “Blue Christmas”
Sarah McLachlan — “River”
Aimee Mann — “Calling on Mary”
The LeeVees — “Goyim Friends”
The Chipmunks (with David Seville) — “Hang Up Your Stockin’”
Papa Don Vappie’s New Orleans Jazz Band — “Please Come Home for Christmas”
Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews and the New Orleans All-Stars — “Oh Holy Night” (from Studio 60)

If you’d like to compile your own version of A Very Marty Xmas 2006, nearly all those songs can be found on iTunes, or various music blogs (like HotstuffFiles.com or PodBop). The Studio 60 track can be found here.

Considering at one point I had enough songs to compile a double CD, you can be sure there will be a A Very Marty Xmas 2007 one year from now. Stay tuned … and of course, happy holidays!