Archive | March, 2010

Hurt People Hurt People

28 Mar

This may sound funny, but … While watching the new film Greenberg, I couldn’t help but think of The Blind Side. That latter film, and particularly the performance by its star, was surely helped by its end-of-the-year release.

Had it been released around now, would Sandra Bullock’s work have been praised as much as it was?

And by extension, would Ben Stiller have been Oscar nominated for his performance here if Greenberg had been released in November? Was Sandy’s performance that much better than Stiller’s?

I guess we’ll never know the answers, but the questions surely crossed my mind. Continue reading

Should You Get in the Hot Tub (Time Machine)?

25 Mar

Sometimes, it’s all in a name.

Hot Tub Time Machine, like Snakes on a Plane before it, is a movie where all you need to know is spelled out right there in the title: Four guys in 2010 go to a ski resort, get drunk in a hot tub, and wake up in 1986. That’s the entire plot, basically.

John Cusack, who produced and stars, seems to be having a better time here than he did in 2012. Other laughs come from Craig Robinson, best known as Darryl from The Office, and Crispin Glover (Back to the Future).

Mostly, though, Hot Tub Time Machine is a bit of a one-joke letdown (yes, I was actually looking forward to seeing this one and was expecting good things). Continue reading

A Passover Tradition Continues

24 Mar

Like the youngest child asking the four questions, or the hiding of the afikomen, I, too, have my own Passover traditions. One of those is posting a rant about how much I hate shopping for Passover food. If you don’t know, dietary restrictions during Passover prevent you from eating anything with flour or yeast in it. And if you’re observant enough to keep the holiday, then you need to purchase Kosher for Passover food for eating during the week. While I’m not the most observant Jew 51 weeks of the year, I often joke that Passover is the one week when I find my religion. As a result, each year I have to buy these “special” ingredients and foodstuffs.

Sunday was my annual trip to Star Market to make these purchases (the holiday starts this Monday night), and like in years past, I was annoyed by how much I was being charged to buy food I didn’t even want to buy. $6 for a box of cookies that might ordinarily cost $2.50. Cake mix for the same price, even though the cake is half the size of a normal cake (if not smaller). A jar of grape jelly for $4. A can of tuna fish for nearly $3. And those were the “sale” prices! Yes, that’s what supermarkets do: They set a price for the Passover food, call it a “sale” price, and mark its regular price a dollar or so higher. It’s like they’re capitalizing on the horrible stereotype that Jews like their deals and would rather buy something on sale than if it was normally priced. And then, because we don’t have the option, we buy all this overpriced stuff, which we only need for a week.

When all was said and done, I had spent $50 on Sunday for my K4P food — and that’s not even counting the perishable stuff that I’ll pick up this weekend. By comparison, on an average week, I usually spend about $20 for my groceries (the beauty of living by myself, I guess). So that’s why I saved my receipt. When the holiday is over, I’ll be partaking in my second Passover tradition: returning all my unopened food and getting my money back. The way I figure it, if the store’s gonna overcharge me, the least they can do is take back and refund my money for the stuff I don’t use.

Happy early Passover to all who celebrate. Grumble, grumble, grumble.

One of My Favorite Days

23 Mar

Just a quick PSA, because today, March 23, is one of my favorite days of the year: Free Cone Day at Ben & Jerry’s. Yes, it’s a month earlier than usual (last year it was in late April), but who’s complaining when we’re talking about free scoops from Ben & Jerry’s? So head on over to your favorite scoop shop between 12–8 p.m. and have yourself a cone. Yum.

Thanks Again, Google Maps

21 Mar

Yesterday, with the temperature up in the lower 70s and the sun shining bright, I decided I had two options for how to spend my day: I could go for a long drive or I could go for a long walk.

I decided to combine the two and head out to the outlets in Wrentham. Continue reading

The Time of the Season

16 Mar

Driving home from work tonight, with the sun shining, my sunglasses on, the window down, traffic moving well, and my radio playing loudly (song of choice: Owl City’s “Fireflies“), I was reminded of just how much I love this time of year. And sure, it’s easy to be happy when three days of heavy rain have just ended, but it’s more than that. It’s the confluence of the changed weather, a bright sun, Daylight Savings Time, and warmer temperatures that just make me so happy this time of year. And … It’s the start of baseball season. It’s the opening of the ice cream stand at Pizzi Farm. It’s the impending arrival of golf season. It’s the reappearance of runners and bikers up and down Comm Ave. It’s … alright, fine, it’s mostly the increased sunlight and the warmer temperatures after a long, cold winter.

And it’s the happier mood of everyone around me too. How they all seem to come out of their winter cocoons all at once. Where I work, on days like today, the sun just shines on us through the window at 3 p.m. and practically blinds us — despite the shades. (Seriously. Someone today told me he had broken a sweat.) All of a sudden, there’s a buzz in the air. More people are laughing. People can’t sit still. No one is working. After all, it’s hard to concentrate when you know it’s so nice outside. There are so many other places you’d rather be.

So as we begin a stretch of days where the high temperatures are going to be in the 60s and the forecast is calling for a lot of sun, I hope I’m not jumping the gun tooooo much by wishing you a very Happy Spring. Woo hoo!

The Odd Couple

15 Mar

She’s Out of My League comes from a long line of dweeb-gets-the-girl comedies, and like its predecessors, it’s got a totally unbelievable and completely predictable story arc. In this case, geeky TSA officer Kirk (Jay Baruchel) meets hot-chick Molly (Alice Eve) when she leaves her iPhone behind after going through security before a flight. He returns it to her, and much to his surprise (and the surprise of his friends and family), she’s interested in him. Will Kirk’s insecurities (and her more attractive ex) get in the way of his happiness? (What do you think?)

Alright, enough synopsis. This is not the kind of film where you get bogged down in plot details. After all, the second you start questioning things, that’s the sign that this isn’t the film for you. Rather, it comes down to casting and chemistry, and I’m sorry to say, this film doesn’t have it.

In other roles, Baruchel has been more engaging, but here, he is a guy so gawky and geeky and awkward, that you’ll find yourself really wondering, what is this girl doing going out with him? Eve sure is attractive, but that’s about all there is. Let’s be honest: No woman this good looking would ever be this open-minded and tolerant of Kirk or his crude, obnoxious friends and family. Speaking of which, all the other supporting characters don’t have much to make them likable. So, despite some decent chuckles along the way, She’s Out of My League just isn’t in the same league as, say, Knocked Up or The Girl Next Door. This isn’t a dislikable movie, but I’m still only going to give it a 6.5, which (with a slight curve) would translate to a C.

War Is a Drug

14 Mar

If you really want to know what kind of movie The Hurt Locker is, all you need to watch is one scene about a third of the way in, when Army Sergeant William James (Jeremy Renner) discovers a trunk full of explosives.

Knowing his life could end any minute from now if he doesn’t succeed in his mission to defuse the bombs, he takes off all his protective gear and says to a member of his team, without flinching, “If I’m gonna die, I want to die comfortable.”

That brazen, no-holds-barred attitude permeates Kathryn Bigelow’s award-winning film. Continue reading

Right to the Source

10 Mar

Green Zone, director Paul Greengrass’ new film, takes us back to those exciting days in 2003 when the Iraq war was just beginning and the search was on for weapons of mass destruction. (Yes, that was sarcasm.) Of course, now we know that there never were any WMDs, but for Roy Miller (Matt Damon), a chief warrant officer in the U.S. Army, this is a new discovery — and he’s pissed. The film focuses on Miller’s search for an intelligence source known as Magellan, who was the person who sent the Army on its wild goose chase.

Reuniting Greengrass and Damon for the first time since their Bourne films (and Damon with Greg Kinnear, costars in the Farrelly brothers film Stuck on You), Green Zone is certainly an exciting two hours. Greengrass’ beloved shaky-cam method of filming reflects the chaos of the situation in Iraq, and he keeps the action moving from start to finish. If only the film was less underwritten. Oscar nominee (and erstwhile The Office guest star) Amy Ryan, for example, isn’t given enough to do as a Wall Street Journal reporter. And that shaky-cam stuff does get a bit nauseating. So while Green Zone is a compelling Iraq war action film, I’m only going to give it a B.

It Was Great Fun

7 Mar

All you really need to know about Jamie Cullum is right there in the lyrics of the song “Mixtape,” which appears on his new album The Pursuit.

The song — which name-checks Nine Inch Nails, Louis Armstrong, Morrissey, John Coltrane, Cinematic Orchestra, De La Soul, Thelonious Monk, the Shangri-La’s, and more — indicates the wide range of musical influences that are running ’round Cullum’s head, and which result in a wide-ranging live show, such as the one he put on Saturday night at the House of Blues in Boston.

(And if the list of influential artists doesn’t give away what Cullum’s live shows are like, then the image of an exploding piano on his album cover surely does.) Continue reading

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