Archive | December, 2010

2010’s Entertainment Stays with Me

31 Dec

A couple nights ago, I re-watched the series finale of Lost for the first time in about four months.

I’m happy to report that I enjoyed it as much, if not more than, I did when the episode first aired in May, and the last time I watched it back when the DVD was first released in August — and that’s not just because I’m still blown away by how great Evangeline Lilly looked in that black dress.

That’s a relief, because when the finale aired, I was lamenting the end of one of my all-time favorite TV shows.

The last episode of Lost not only lived up to the hype, but it endures and continues to be great. Continue reading

2010 Was for the Birds

30 Dec

Never Speak of 2010I’m going to go out on a limb and say that it’s no coincidence that one of the biggest timewasters of the past year was the iPhone app Angry Birds.

That’s because as far as I’m concerned, 2010 was for the birds.

2009 was an awesome year for me, and this year was, well, not.

I started the year alone in my apartment on New Year’s Eve, and then it continued from there. There was disappointment, frustration, challenge, and laziness. Relationships didn’t pan out, I got too used to spending time on my own, I was let down a few too many times, and things I hoped to do I never was able to set my mind to.

Sure, things got better after the midway point, but especially after the year I had 12 months earlier, this year just kind of sucked. Continue reading

The Sad Version

29 Dec

Don’t go to see Rabbit Hole expecting a comedy. Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart star as Becca and Howie, two parents still coming to terms with the death of their four-year-old son. Whereas he is fixated on the past and trying to deal with his emotions, she is letting go rather than dealing with the loss. Becca finds comfort in the high school student who was driving the car that killed her son, and Howie bonds with another member of a support group (Sandra Oh). As you may assume, the film is not big on laughs. Thankfully, it’s not a total tear-jerker, either, but it won’t be the lightest moviegoing experience you have. If you’ve seen Ordinary People or In the Bedroom then you know what to expect.

Rabbit Hole, which was adapted by David Lindsay-Abaire from his play and directed by John Cameron Mitchell, is an intimate, poignant look at grief, and the differing ways it plays out. Kidman, in the role that won Sex and the City‘s Cynthia Nixon a Tony award, is very good, as is Eckhart, but for me, it’s Dianne Wiest, as Becca’s mother, who gives the better performance. It’s hard to say I enjoyed this movie, and I thought there were some moments and scenes that didn’t work, but the whole thing ends nicely, and I walked out of the theater thinking positively about the movie. So I’m giving Rabbit Hole a B.

She’s Truly Great

28 Dec

Here’s the weird thing about True Grit, the Coen brothers’ remake/reimagining of the classic Western tale: About an hour after seeing it, I couldn’t remember much about it. The film just didn’t stay with me. And it’s not that I didn’t like it or anything. It just didn’t have any lasting impact on me. And that’s a shame, because I love the Coen brothers (Fargo remains one of my all-time favorite movies, and last year’s A Serious Man ranked number three on my list of favorite movies), and I’d had high hopes for True Grit. Oh well.

In the film, young Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld) hires U.S. Marshal Reuben J. “Rooster” Cogburn (Jeff Bridges, in the role that won John Wayne an Oscar) to help her find Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin), the man who killed her father. Also on Cheney’s trail is Texas Ranger La Boeuf (Matt Damon). Bridges speaks in such a heavy drawl that after a while it’s really off-putting. Damon does his best to keep up with Bridges, but he’s just not a strong enough presence. That leaves Steinfeld, who at the age of 13, blows the other two guys away. She’s really the star of this movie, and the reason I’d give anyone to see it. It’s all the more remarkable when you realize this is her first movie.

Anyway, I wish I had liked True Grit more than I did so I’d have remembered more about it. That’s why I’m only going to give it a B–.

There’s a Place for Him

27 Dec

If you want to know what Sofia Coppola’s latest film, Somewhere, is about, the first two minutes provide a handy (and not too subtle) synopsis.

In those opening moments, actor Johnny Marco (Stephen Dorff) drives his Ferrari around and around in a circle, and then finally comes to a stop and realizes how much he’s missing when he gets out of the car and looks around.

The real plot of the movie is about how Marco’s life is going nowhere until he’s visited by his 11-year-old daughter, Cleo (Elle Fanning), and he decides to change his self-destructive lifestyle. Continue reading

Strangers on a Train

26 Dec

The biggest mystery about The Tourist isn’t the whereabouts of the guy people think Johnny Depp’s character is. It’s how a movie with so much going for it could be so disappointing. Depp stars as Frank, a Wisconsin math teacher, who innocently meets the mysterious Elise (Angelina Jolie) on board a train en route to Venice. Elise involves Frank in a plot to distract some mobsters and some British Interpol agents, but something goes wrong and of course, the two fall for each other. It all unfolds on land and water in the Italian city, and the film was directed by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, director of the Oscar-winning film The Lives of Others.

Sounds intriguing (mostly), but I just didn’t buy it. I’m not sure exactly when the film lost its credibility, but it had to be around the part when Depp revealed himself as the most stylish, sophisticated, athletic, and resourceful math teacher of all time — and he’s from Wisconsin to boot! Is there any reason for him to fall in love with someone who has put his life in danger, even if she looks like Angelina Jolie? Of course not. So I don’t mind telling you that the “twist” at the end couldn’t be any more predictable. And as moviegoers, we’re left wondering why Depp, Jolie, et al didn’t just stay home instead of taking this ill-fated trip. I’m giving The Tourist a C–.

Happy Hanukkah, Greenberg’s Delicatessen!

24 Dec

On this, the day of Christmas Eve, allow me to wish all my non-Jewish readers a very merry Christmas.

My “gift” to you is this clip from Turner Classic Movies, which shows It’s a Wonderful Life as it was originally intended: As a Hanukkah story.

Enjoy, and ho ho ho!

It Wouldn’t Be the Holidays Without Her

23 Dec

A few years back, I got into a discussion with a friend when I told her how much I love Christmas.

“No,” she clarified. “You love the Christmas season. You don’t have to deal with the family and the religious stuff.”

She was right about all of that. I’m a huge fan of the season, with the pagentry and the lights and the deals and the happier mood and the lighter workload and the food and the celebrations and the traditions and yes, the music.

Oh, how I love the music of the Christmas season. Continue reading

The Godfocker

22 Dec

Was anyone really asking for a third film in the Meet the Parents series? I guess someone was, because in theaters now is the totally unnecessary Little Fockers. In this latest go-round, Jack Byrnes (Robert De Niro) is feeling mortal, so he dotes on his son-in-law Greg Focker (Ben Stiller) to make sure he’s got the stones to take on the mantle of family leader. Essentially, the jokes are as broad and old as they were in 2000, and some of the references are just as dated (for example, when Jack learns how to Google himself, and when he looks up someone on the web and finds her MySpace page). Essentially, the film comes off like a desperate attempt by Universal for a holiday hit, and a paycheck gig for the actors. I’m giving Little Fockers a C–.

Sweet, Sweet Victory

21 Dec

Generally, I’m a guy who avoids confrontation.

I’d rather just live with an unpleasant situation than confront the person who is making it unpleasant for me.

No, actually, what I usually do is be all passive-aggressive about it, and complain, bitch, and moan — often for the sake of a laugh — even though that does no good in terms of helping the situation.

It’s what happened in my old apartment building, with my violin- and flute-playing neighbors, and for a whille, it was happening with my current upstairs neighbor, who would not only never remove her shoes when she walked around her apartment, but had a proclivity to clean her apartment late at night, and worse, to vacuum her floors at even later hours. Continue reading