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Showing posts from August, 2011

D'oh!

I hate waiting. I'm impatient. I get bored easily. I like to zoom through life at the speed of a bumblebee, sometimes literally, since riding a bike downhill is faster than a bumblebee flies. I want to go zip-zip-zip from one thing to another. And for the most part, technology enables me: tabbed browsing, smart phones, portable gaming systems, etc are on hand to ensure that I'm always stimulated and raring to go.

One of the consequences of my preference for living life like a four-year-old on a steady diet of espresso beans and Coke is that I wreck things by not thinking anything through. When I was ten I broke my arm because I figured I only needed to see a new cartwheel technique once to master it. Wrong! When I was eighteen I thought I'd be faster at soccer on the beach if I had no shoes on. Right! Except my bare foot smashed into a gigantic German guy's rock-hard shin and my foot swelled to Donkey Kong size. When I was in a college summer program, I tested into a …

Movie Review: The Help (2011)

Originally posted on Rotten Tomatoes (http://www.rottentomatoes.com/user/780338/reviews/).

Someone get Viola Davis an Academy Award; it's long overdue. She created the most unforgettable scene in Doubt, a movie that also featured powerhouses Meryl Street and Philip Seymour Hoffman. Ms. Davis is the core of this movie, which celebrates the moral and emotional strength of people like her character, Aibileen. Octavia Spencer, as Minny, provides the comic counterbalance, her large, expressive eyes shooting sass before she ever opens her mouth. And speaking of giant eyes, Emma Stone and Allison Janney are brilliant as the aspiring writer who gives voice to the town's maids, and her acerbic yet caring mother. Bryce Dallas Howard is an effective antagonist, clueless and self-righteous; and Jessica Chastain is the very image (and high-pitched voice) of a blonde bombshell.

The other elements of the movie work well. The soundtrack is great, except for the cheesy ending song. The cinemato…

Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)

Rise of the Planet of the Apes is great entertainment! It worked well because of the following components:

Acting: The best acting in this film is a team effort: Andy Serkis expresses Caesar's emotional state through his fantastic motion capture work, and the CGI guys handle his face, etc via key-frame animation. Caesar's development from precocious baby to rebel leader is believable all the way. John Lithgow is always a pleasure, and so are Brian Cox and Draco Malfoy, I mean Tom Felton. Freida Pinto is underutilized in her role as Girlfriend. As for James Franco, all the guy can do is squint and look good.

Cinematography: Great shots of the San Francisco skyline. Effective swoops and swivels during dramatic scenes. There's also a lot of vertical camera work that is perfect for the subject of this film. I'm still in awe of the scene with a low-angle camera shot showing apes with makeshift spears standing menacingly on the roof of a building. Mofos will kill you!

Score: Co…

Happy Monday!

If you're a VAMPIRE!

Those of you who really know me know that I am a vampire (a modern one, not a bloodsucking one with too many clothes on). We vamps prey on the weak and vulnerable. We do it not for dramatic tension, but because we are too lazy intelligent to go after the ones who can fight back. For example, if your energy levels are down, you're in the perfect state for me to absorb what's left of your energy, making me extremely hyper and annoying. If you're unhappy, I become obscenely cheerful because I am sucking away your remaining happiness. If you've had a lucky streak, I will shove you face first in the mud and cackle vampirically.

These acts are usually enough to give meaning to my hollow life of mindless environmental conservation, cat adoration, eating, and ruthless old-school video game conquests. Yes, even today, when folks over in management are walking around with doom clouds over their heads and lightning flashing out of their eyes while you meek…

Book Review: The Hunger Games

Hello, true believers!

I've had a crazy week. The operative word here is "crazy." I would love to write about it, but it's way too soon. So let me just tell you about a sub-category of Crazy, i.e. Wild: Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games, a young adult book trilogy deemed interesting enough to transform into a film, starring current It girl Jennifer Lawrence. And because I'm too lazy to actually write paragraphs, I'll bullet form the whole thing for everyone's convenience:

Setting: A dystopian future on Earth. Humanity is confined to one country, Panem, which is composed of the ruling Capitol and 12 districts that provide specialized products (e.g. District 2: police forces; District 7: lumber; District 12: coal). In some districts, most people are usually a day away from total starvation.

Trivia: Panem in Latin means bread.

How You Know You're Not In Kansas: There are hovercrafts, mutant hybrids grown in labs, arena-sized force fields, and modern fa…

All is Vanity

I read a lot of Ranma 1/2 fanfiction growing up. The manga series was slapstick martial arts hilarity with terrific representations of impossible fighting poses, horrified expressions, and cute animals. Its creator, Rumiko Takahashi, was revered for her zany creativity, and her protracted production schedule was similarly almost legendary. Every single issue of Ranma is a laugh-a-minute; every time you think characters are being serious, they do or say something utterly moronic, or are bashed over the head with a mallet.

I had a special place in my heart for Nabiki Tendo, the most cunning character in the series. In a family of martial artists, Nabiki had zero fighting skills. However, she was excellent at exploiting people and situations, a skill she uses to extort or blackmail the other characters, usually Ranma. Nabiki is a sociopath (according to Takahashi), and the comedy of her character is that she keeps getting away with every single one of her cruel, black-hearted schemes. A…

Book Review: Cryptonomicon (1999)

I have finished Neal Stephenson's Cryptonomicon.

And no, no one gave me a cookie.

To fully appreciate the magnitude of my accomplishment, you have to understand my brain. It regulates everything I do -- sleeping, breathing, eating, making random comments, and writing snarky reviews. Like yours, my neurons number in the hundred billions and obediently transmit electrochemical signals. Like you, I have a reptilian brain that (perhaps unlike you) allows me to stare unblinkingly into people's eyes while I wrack my computer for inappropriate responses that will maximize the other person's confusion and my amusement, which are directly proportionate. Finally, like you, I have no idea where I am going with this paragraph.

Oh, I remember: math and my brain do not mix. And Cryptonomicon, which protagonizes* the Nerd, contains a metric ton of mathematics. Stephenson has two timelines and three main good guys/narrators: codebreaker Lawrence, his programmer grandson Randy, and the Mar…

Movie Review: Crazy, Stupid, Love

I enthusiastically and wholeheartedly recommend this movie. Unlike your typical summer blockbuster experience, your intelligence will not be insulted, your wallet will not feel violated, and your brain will not try to crawl out through your ears. Here's my review, also up on Rotten Tomatoes:

This movie is adorable. Everything worked: the actors, the screenplay, the soundtrack, the cinematography. I would watch it again.

Plot: A wife asks her husband for a divorce; their son is in love with their babysitter who is in love with someone else; cuckolded husband gets some tips on how to regain his manhood by a handsome young lounge lizard; hilarity and drama ensue.

Every single character in this film is sympathetic, even Kevin Bacon's pseudo-antagonist accountant. Kudos to Steve Carrell for his heartbreaking portrayal of a lost man; Emma Stone for her usual fine comedic performance; Julianne Moore for elevating the film's dramatic moments; and to Ryan Gosling's smooth inte…