Archive for November, 2006

Review: The Class 101 – 110

Wednesday, November 29th, 2006

After Friends, there hasn’t been anything on TV that copied the same feeling. With The Class, David Crane (exec producer of Friends) sets shop at another TV station, CBS. Partnering with Jeffrey Klarik (formerly Mad About You co-producer), and you have the best sitcom entry for this season. Of course, it’s no contest when it comes to comedy in general (single camera comedies like My Name is Earl and Extras win hands down), but for the “simple laughter” category it’s good enough.
A few positive points are, the ensemble cast, while the characters start seperately, they’re slowly written into each other, which is nice. Then there’s the continuity, long developing story lines, and every episode ends with a “cliffhanger”, which adds something extra to keep you watching. The humor itself is exactly what you expect. It’s a bit of the same craziness you’ve loved Friends so much for. Laugher-wise, it’s still hits-and-misses, but the hits win it overall.

Review: Jericho 101 – 109

Tuesday, November 28th, 2006

Barely have I finished reviewing the current new batch of new TV shows, and I have another batch waiting already. Moving on to the last station, CBS, home of Bruckheimer, procedurals and other episodic easy to digest chunks. But wait, the premise of this show (nuclear fallout) doesn’t fit in at all. Well, lucky us, something different. With world destruction and isolation as the main themes, it’s dramatic, and sometimes action packed. It focuses on bonds made during these stressful times and how people react in these harsh times. And with a whole town to write about, I think there’s a lot of life left in this series (bar another nuclear blast coming down).

US Box Office

Sunday, November 26th, 2006

The same top 2 goes toe to toe this week, with Happy Feet slightly increasing the lead (this week $37.9 million and racing passed the $100 million mark) over the James Bond adventure Casino Royale (with $31 million and a $94.2 million total).
Newcomer Deja Vu, the third Tony Scott/Denzel Washington, does the title justice. With $20.8 million it’s on par with the two earlier movies (Crimson Tide and Man on Fire) to reach a $80-100 million cume when the movie ends its run.
Another new release at 4, Deck the Halls, a seasonal comedy starring Matthew Broderick and Danny DeVito, seems it had its thunder stolen already last month by The Santa Clause 3, reaching only $12 million. Rounding out the top 5 is Borat with $10.4 million.

Review: Casino Royale

Sunday, November 26th, 2006

While this series has been as adaptive to time as possible (going through 5 actors, and technology/gagdets parallel to our own timeline), it doesn’t escape the current reboot/reimagining hype (and mostly successful, see Batman Begins and Superman Returns) to launch or refresh a franchise. So we go back to the start, and see what makes Bond Bond. This means, gone is the static womanizing care-free spy, and in comes a fresh character ready for a bit of development (although it also means, gone is the smooth photo-model like stud, and in comes what many furious Brosnan fans describe as potato face after the casting announcement was made). And it works great. More meaningful dialogue, more dramatic depth. The darker and psychological aspects of the script are pretty well done. But not all is well. Somehow, it didn’t have the adventurous or thrillery feeling that usually comes with Bond movies. Also, it runs a bit long, with noticable gaps of “downtime”. Maybe I just expected too much, after most critics hyped it up. Then again, as a movie on its own, it’s still good.7½.

(+44) – When Your Heart Stops Beating

Saturday, November 25th, 2006

Can’t say I’ve really been a fan of Blink 182. Of course there are the radio friendly hits. But I’ve discarded most of their albums as too much of the same guitar style and shout heavy. After the split up, one third, Tom Delonge was the first to finish an album with a newly formed band Angels and Airwaves. Granted, grandiose intros very much to my likings, but well into the song, it’s again that same weary feeling. Now the other two thirds (Mark Hoppus and Travis Barker) have finished their album, also with a newly formed band.
And guess what ? AGAIN. It all sounds nice at first glance, but it just doesn’t stick. The hooks are too simple, and the songs are too similar. And let’s be fair, that’s what Blink 182 had going now and then, since none of the singers were world class vocalists. Of course, since it’s not repulsive at all, and they probably do their genre honor, it’s not a totally bad grade.5½.

Update 13-12-2006: I guess some songs did grow on me, and the playlist is now down to 7 songs (Baby Come On, When Your Heart Stops Beating, 155, Lillian, No It Isn’t, Make You Smile, Chapter XIII). Not really superb, but still quite respectable.7+.

How Messy is it at my Work Today ?

Thursday, November 23rd, 2006

Rate 1 (sucks) to 5 (cool). Only rate the latest pictures, otherwise I can’t keep track of the average.

Total: 805 out of 248 votes > Average is: 3.246

While I was working on the upper floor of the warehouse of our office, during an idle moment (and there aren’t many of those), I looked up and saw this…
work pic
…which got me thinking (since those are pretty sharp and long screws sticking out), if you are somewhere at a party at some industrial terrain where most building are made the same way, and your favorite past time is the same as Lionel Richie’s (which is dancing on the ceiling), better think twice, or even better, thrice, before actually doing it.

Review: Thank You for Smoking

Thursday, November 23rd, 2006

As with most indie pictures, the danger of being too off-beat boring always looms. But with this ultra-low budget movie, there’s a high pace set at the start, and it doesn’t stop. The intrigue here isn’t really the story (which by all it’s lightheartedness, doesn’t have high impact), it’s how the dialogue develops. There’s a certain level of smartiness, that works in an enlightning way. As a subtle underlining, irony pours in now and then, enough to keep you smiling mostly throughout the movie. And while it’s a work of fiction, it somehow feels like a history lesson. And the biggest irony of it all is, it doesn’t matter if you’re pro- or anti-smoking, this is just a movie you’ll have to see for it’s artistic content.7½.

US Box Office

Monday, November 20th, 2006

A certain secret agent didn’t have to battle super villains at the box office, but had to face an army of… Penguins. Happy Feet proved to be the winner, with $42.3 million, ahead of a very satisfactory opening for the first Bond to be distributed by Sony (instead of the previous tradition of MGM releasing it), with $40.6 million. At three, Borat is finally showing signs of fatigue, dropping some 46% to $14.3 million, but with a healthy $90.5 cume. The Santa Clause 3 and Flushed Away round out the top five with resp. $8.2 million and $6.8 million.

Review: The Black Dahlia

Saturday, November 18th, 2006

I know when to avoid film noir murder mysteries when I see one (it’s right up there in the same alley as costume period dramas). But I ignored the better half of me this time, thinking names like Brian dePalma, Scarlett Johansson and Hilary Swank wouldn’t disappoint me. But plain ol’ statistics won again, as this is another one of those quite boring, tedious film that nicely fit the category (only thing missing is the use of pure black and white film). Add some more boring jazzy background music, and your yawning muscles are in for a good training. If not for Scarlett’s utter beauty on screen, I might have joined the guy sitting behind me snoring out loud. I have to admit, some story points are well done, but in its current form, I can’t recommend it to anyone.5-.

Review: Hertog Advocaat Royaal

Thursday, November 16th, 2006

Ice cream-wise, this year hasn’t been that great. And now it’s already almost winter. But my view is, why spend a fortune building a nice centerpiece fireplace (or in my case, 2000 Watt portable heater fan thingy) if you can’t enjoy it while having a contrasting delightfully cold dessert ? And that’s where this new ice cream with egg nog comes in. Nice timing, I’d say. But not only that, it’s the nicest thing to come around too. After getting a tast of this flavo, I’ll put it right next to the existing Koffie Royaal, and it would even be able to compete with the non-existing pistache flavor (only available at ice cream specialty shops). For the sugar sensitive among you, it can be frightening, because it’s truly ultra-sweet, but that’s the way I like it. And just in case there’s no dry wood to burn in the fireplace (or in my case, to save energy from draining too much current and risking blown fuses) this creamy ice cream gives you that familiar warm fuzzy feeling that comes with this friendly yellow substance.8½.

Review: Justice 101 – 108, Standoff 101 – 106

Monday, November 13th, 2006

One round for Fox, it’s a short list (as all the other new shows from this male oriented TV channel weren’t that interesting at all). These two new entries aren’t aiming for the must-see status either though, being fairly episodic and predictable.
Let’s start with Justice, before it is canceled. Oh wait, just received it on the telex, it’s just been axed. Ah well, it was a typical Jerry Bruckheimer production, and it’s another legal drama (just like last year’s Just Legal on the WB), but unlike the previous lower budget attempt, it’s the fully flashy CSI style visualisation, with the suits and the set design to match. But other than that, the characters were pre-defined, but still lacking depth and detail, while the stories weren’t really that interesting at all, leaving no other judgement available than the usual time killer.
As for Standoff, almost the same judgement has to befall on this hostage negotiater based series. While a smaller cast will make the focus shift more easily on the two main characters and their relationship, this also hasn’t been really developed well, still focusing on the case at hand every week. For the guys, there are two hot chicks admire here (Rosemarie DeWitt and Raquel Alessi), but again, predictability is something you can’t negotiate around. This series will have to up the ante if it doesn’t want to drop off my time killer list.

US Box Office

Sunday, November 12th, 2006

After Borat’s surprise performance from last week, word of mouth made it reign the box office for another week. With a wider release, it actually earns more than last week, $29 million and a $67.8 million cume.
The rest of the top 3 is also unchanged, The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause with $16.9 million and Flushed Away with $16.7 million.
One newcomer in the top 5, at 4 is Stranger Than Fiction starring Will Ferrell, with $14.1 million. Saw III rounds out the top 5 with $6.6 million.

Review: The Departed

Friday, November 10th, 2006

The original Hong Kong movie Infernal Affairs (and to some extend, the two pre/sequels) garnered critical acclaims when it was released (praised as that years best movie), and it was bound to spread around the world. However, before the import DVD arrived here, Brad Pitt’s production company Plan B already snatched the right for a remake, and hence, I waited for the Hollywood version (saves you a lot of time, just like I do with written literature).
Was it worth the wait ? Yeah, it’s a good movie. But not the gem everyone was talking about when referring to the original. For starters, the beginning is chaotic, and filled with light-hearted banter. The original and remade title made me think it was a darker drama. But as time goes by (and clocking in at two and a half hour, there’s enough of that), the focus is indeed dark drama (with Leonardo DiCaprio getting the meaty role, the only one with real issures). As the tension grows, the cat and mouse game is far ahead of the cliches we’ve seen so many times already. The dichotomy built inside the story creates an intriguing atmosphere, but as I had my reservations for the sloppy start, the end is even worse. This way, I can’t call it a gem like I would call Michael Mann’s Heat, but it’s definitely one of the better movies of this year, and the star-powered ensemble cast is nifty (but not totally necessary).8-.

US Box Office

Wednesday, November 8th, 2006

Apparently, Borat is up for a Pulitzer Prize soon, as the Kazak journalist blasts to the box office top spot this week with his documentary Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan. Opening at just 837 locations, it still earned a whopping $26.5 million. Where $10.000+ per screen is more an exception than a rule for the number one, Borat manages $31.607 per screen. Jagshemash to that.
A bit too early for my taste, but The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause manages a runner-up spot with $19.5 million. Close behind is a Dreamworks/Aardman Animation collaboration, Flushed Away, with $18.8 million.
With three new entries, it means a big drop for Saw III, now at 4 with $14.8 million. Rounding out the top 5 is The Departed, with $7.7 million in its fifth week, with a total of $102 million. This is just an inch away from Martin Scorcese’s current highest grossing movie, The Aviator ($102.6 million).

Review: Babel

Monday, November 6th, 2006

And here we have another multi-threaded time-shifting inter-locking story, which is quite becoming a commodity these days. This one focuses on some personal tragedy divided over a few storylines and locations, and it wouldn’t be a tragedy if all of it happens to all the people in a short period of time. From a drama perspective, this only works half. Mostly since this whole thing is event-driven and dragged out and stretched thin. And I mean, it’s really really loooooong, filled with the director trying to capture sequences that might jog your visual and auditory senses a bit, but certainly doesn’t stimulate any particular feeling in the brains. Best comparison I can come up with is, you’ll kinda have to see this as shallow Magnolia rip-off, that while is shorter, feels longer.6-.