Archive for April, 2005

How Messy is my Desk Today ?

Friday, April 29th, 2005

Rate 1 (FR#^&% MESS !) to 5 (how very tidy !). Only rate the latest picture, otherwise I can’t keep track of the average.

Total: 1261 out of 409 votes > Average is: 3.083

desk pic
How patriotic is THAT ? Ridding the virtual world of scumbags in orange on tha Queen’s Day.

Review: xXx² – The Next Level (or is it xXx: State of the Union ?)

Friday, April 29th, 2005

One down, how many more to go ? That’s the question. Well, it doesn’t really matter, actually, as dropping Vin Diesel was a major improvement on its own. So how does Ice Cube handle his tough act role ? Well, that doesn’t seem to really matter either. Thanks to Lee Tamahori, who follows the action packed Die Another Day (remember the fake ice cap scene ?) with an even more explosive version of it. More bang, more glitter and more shiny things and to top it off, a CGI end sequence right out of the server farm with no time to apply realistic surface bumping and textures. Acting wasn’t a requirement either on Lee’s shortlist. Then again, the script wasn’t that demanding. But then again, even the punchlines (pretty much the whole script) come out as if they’re already on a deadline with no film to spare. But hey, at least the eye candy (lots of old fashioned explosions combined with lots of blue screens) was there. No matter what the official title of the movie is, it’s definitely not one you’d want on your resume.6½.

Review: Grey’s Anatomy 101 – 105

Wednesday, April 27th, 2005

ABC’s fortunes have quite changed this year, with slouching ratings going up and up due to hit series and lead out shows profiting along the way. This time it’s a mid-season replacement (effectively bumping Boston Legal to an early hiatus), Grey’s Anatomy. Not an entirely coincidental title, being a book (in its 39th edition already) that’s mandatory reading for medicine students, it’s a reference to the title character of this show. This show focuses mainly on Meredith Grey, a med intern, and her fellow colleagues in a fictional Seattle hospital. Of course we get to see the residents and the attendings, and their daily routines, which include sucking up to superiors, competing for surgical assisting spots and the effect of the crazy long working hours.
Stories don’t move as fast as E.R., but the series as a whole, also feels sluggish. Still, a few interesting things seem to be developing, so I’ll be sticking around. Let’s see if this series has the same longevity as its paper equivalent (the 38th edition lasted for 10 years).

Review: Rob Thomas – Something to Be

Tuesday, April 26th, 2005

Breaking away from fronting Matchbox Twenty for a decade, this solo debut unties him from the limits the band’s rock background invoked. Or so Rob Thomas says. And if he says so, it must be true. Though I never had any problems with the 3 albums over the years, evolving nicely from melodious but bare metal setup of Yourself or Someone Like You to the more produced sounding Mad Season to the more experimental More Than You Think You Are. Infusing jazz (the genre I most hate) ? No problem, the result is more satisfying everytime I listen to it. Adding a choir to a rock song ? No problem. Same rule applies. Musically, it has many levels, and with every listen you can focus your ears to another level, making the experience a little bit different. Lyrically, the sentences are poetry with emotional depth. Vocally, it contrast nicely with the rough guitars, adding extra soul to the usual dramatic statements the songs make.
So, can he pull the same trick off another time, on his own, sweating for six months in the studio, with more poppy arrangements ? Yes, definitely. While on some songs you could’ve easily stuck a Matchbox Twenty banner on it, most are as he already told us, breaking away from the traditional sound. You’ll fall in love with them slowly, but in the end, it’s more profound. Again with all the previously mentioned ingredients, if you’re in for something different, this is the album you’ll want to get this year. With all the four albums, there are songs I immediately recognise as non-likably, but the majority are always rock solid, growing on you over time (instead of sudden hits, you’ll forget after a while). If you want lasting power, either try this one, or stick to Matchbox Twenty (as I’m sure they will return some day).8½.

Review: House of D

Monday, April 25th, 2005

During the nineties, David Duchovny was loaded with work on the little screen. A tiny job, years of announcing stories on Red Shoe Diaries, and a pretty heavy job, spanning almost a decade, as Fox Mulder on the X-Files. The transition to the big screen was almost unnoticable. Playing God and Evolution where not the break-out hits you’d hope for. Now he’s back again, both in front and behind the camera. Also penning the script and choosing his wife Tea Leone to star, makes this a true Duchovny show (with the story probably containing real-life experiences from his youth).
At the core we have a coming of age story, with Anton Yelchin starring as Duchovny’s younger version. It poses some nice angles, but it’s not that intriguing. Outside this frame we have some contrived scenes to complement the main story, so that doesn’t totally work either. Acting is mostly good, and ironically, only Duchovny could’ve used some more direction.
As a writing style, he choses triviality above depth. As a first time, it’s not bad. But it’s not a heartfelt drama, nor is it a light comedy. You’ll have to do with a typical mediocre independent film.6½.

US Box Office

Sunday, April 24th, 2005

The first movie to have permission to film inside the UN Headquarters was interesting enough to land at the top spot. Sydney Pollack’s return to the director’s chair, earns The Interpreter $22.8 million.
The Amityville Horror is still scary enough for a runner up spot, with $14.2 million. Sahara also drops one place, in its second week on the third place with $9 million.
At 4 a second entry this year already for Ashton Kutcher. A Lot Like Love opens with $7.7 million.
Rounding off the top five is Stephen Chow’s Kung Fu Hustle. With Sony behind it, it has a better strategy than Chow’s previous entry Shoalin Soccer, which earned less than $500.000 last year, due to Miramax’s decision to let it run limited only. The first taste was still a good one though, as Sony’s decision for a sub-titled version (instead of Shoalin Soccer’s dubbing) opens with a wide release, hustling some $7.3 million.

Review: 2005 1st quarter ice cream

Sunday, April 24th, 2005

While officially, we’re in the second quarter of this year already, let’s just say it reflects my hope of 3 more quarters of new ice creams to be flavored.

First up is Ola’s Magnum 5 Senses (€2.99). Those 3-packs are harder to find than a diamond ring in the Nile (and I mean the $1 million 6.1-carat ring that Ben Affleck gave Jennifer Lopez, not the $500.000 4.5-carat ring that he gave Jennifer Garner this week).
The first 3-pack (which probably means another 3-pack is on its way, with one sense making an encore) contains Taste, Touch and Aroma.
Taste is a Magnum with a subtle caramel taste to it. It’s actually so subtle, you probably won’t notice. Touch is again, just a Magnum, but the chocolate outside has hazelnut in it. The most special one is Aroma, a Magnum with chunks of coffee beans in the chocolate, giving it extreme taste and contrast (very crunchy). If you include the hidden sense (the sense of perception, because this Magnum is smaller than the regular “normal” Magnum), it makes the whole experience not extra special. Then again, the regular Magnum was pretty good to start with.7½.

Second is Nestle’s Extreme Gold Straciatella (4-pack €2.81). It’s a cone, with vanilla ice cream with chocolate decoration. First thing you’ll notice is that it’s not the normal crunchy cookie cone, instead it’s chocolate. Combined with the chocolate that’s already in ice cream, it’s a bit of overkill. Then you’ll notice Nestle isn’t experienced with ice cream at all. It’s more milky than creamy, resulting in a flimsy flavor.6+.

Lastly, we have Ola’s Cornetto Passion Pannacotta Chocolate (4-pack €3.09). First you is, you wonder what the hell pannacotta is. Well, it’s an italian recipe made from cream, which you have too simmer and after adding gelatin, after which you freeze it for a few hours. For this icecream, it’s just a normal cone, with several levels of sweetness to it. Not too surprising, but it’s nice nonetheless.8-.

Review: Coach Carter

Saturday, April 23rd, 2005

Based on a true story, it follows a season of high school basketball with Samuel L. Jackson as the coach. It plays out as a mild version of Dangerous Minds combined with sports. Samuel actually played another similar role before (187), so it’s pretty much a piece of cake. Young actors playing the students are pretty decent, but they’re not pushed that hard, as the story doesn’t go too deep into the characters. MTV’s co-production status is also very present at all times, with loud music pumping out of the speakers whenever possible. All in all, an easy to digest light drama.7+.

Review: Fat Actress 101 – 107

Thursday, April 21st, 2005

Another short series on Showtime, spanning only 7 half hours. But it’s not the quantity that matter, nor is it the size of the actress. Since her debut on the silver screen (Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Kahn) to her success on the small screen (Cheers, Veronica’s Closet), Kirstey Alley has grown into quite the fat lady. It’s not extreme, but it’s QUITE noticable. After Veronica’s Closet cancellation, she had 5 years to think about it, and the result is this amusing short series of semi-reality sitcom. As outrageous as she is in here, she’s not the least afraid of a bit of self-deprecating and racy humor. Her search for a big return on TV are filled with funny cameos, and the storylines are pretty decent. I would not object to another season, as the battle against her weight continues.

Review: Natalie Imbruglia – Counting Down the Days

Wednesday, April 20th, 2005

Previous released have been spaced quite evenly, with the single Torn launching her carreer in 1997. The poppy album Left of the Middle was well received, and four years later came White Lilies Island, growing more mature. While less of a commercial hit, it didn’t mean the album was of lesser quality. Now four years later again, comes Counting Down the Day, where she continues to mature with the guitar driven pop songs. Save a few strange songs, it’s still the same uplifting high tempo vocal sensation. This makes this album this year’s first no-brainer, as I’m sure anyone will enjoy this ultra-easy-listening album.7½.


Tuesday, April 19th, 2005

My favorite Linux distribution just changed its name. From the tough sounding Mandrake to the girly sounding Mandriva (due to a take over of another distribution called Connectiva, and previous lawsuit on the Mandrakesoft name, which will now, of course, be dropped).
What to do now ? Continue to use it and risk being called names, or drop it even though it has nice features, is easy to use, and works flawlessly ?

Review: Alias 406 – 415

Monday, April 18th, 2005

During the last review of the beginning of Alias’ fourth season, I had my doubts. Now I’m ashamed I doubted J.J. Abrams. His ability to lead no less than two top-notch series is almost unparalleled. Slowly, the mystery pours back in, and the depth of characters and storylines are developing at a rapid pace. It’s exactly the same must-see TV it used to be. ABC probably knew this already, and hence a fifth season has been confirmed.

Review: US Box Office

Sunday, April 17th, 2005

The winning streak for horror flicks to end up number one has not ended yet. The latest is The Amityville Horror, another remake, of course. With a $23.3 million opening, I can tell you this piece of real estate was a good investment.
The heat stroke is almost over for Sahara, dropping to number 2 with $13.1 million. Third is Fever Pitch with $8.8 million. Visitors of Sin City decreased too, now fourth with $6.69 million. Guess Who rounds off the top 5.

Review: A Love Song for Bobby Long

Sunday, April 17th, 2005

As a true follower of all Scarlett Johansson’s work, this collaboration with John Travolta couldn’t be missed. Her acting skill leaves me with no regrets, but the movie itself isn’t the must-see that I hoped for.
Scarlett plays a young girl who crosses path with John Travolta’s character after her estranged mother’s death. The movie builds on a brooding secret, and inbetween are literary quotes bloated with methaphores your head will exploded. And all that in a slow pace. The feeling is there, but it’s all covered and foggy, so you can’t figure it out. In the end, all the heart and soul passes you by unnoticed. So, all it gets from me is a scratch on the head and a nod of acknowledgement.6½.

Review: Invasion Iowa

Sunday, April 17th, 2005

A limited series on SpikeTV, it’s actually the only series I’ve ever watched from the male oriented (WWE Raw, Extreme Sports and such) network. And what a surprise it was.
The outline is one of a kind. Marketed as a reality show, I wouldn’t really call it that (that would make it the second reality show I’m watching currently, and I would deny it anyways). See it as a more elaborate, longer running, larger scale version of Punk’d. It follows William Shatner with a few other supporting improv actors and a small filming crew invading Riverside, a small town in Iowa, to film a movie called Invasion Iowa, while the real purpose is of course to film what goes around it all. It’s not really an invasion, as the self-declared future birthplace of James T. Kirk welcomes an outrageous pompous version of William Shatner with open arms. What follows are well scripted pranks, while the crew has to keep its cover the whole while they’re filming the fake movie with much help of the locals.
The result is five hours of comedy filled with hilarious (and later on touching) moments that can’t be copied by combining the aforementioned unique ingredients.