Archive for December, 2006

Review: The Holiday

Friday, December 29th, 2006

The only old-fashioned romantic comedy showing this coming weeks, so I had nowhere else to turn to. Like most rom-coms these days, stories tend to feel contrived, but since we have a double story going on, it doubles that feeling. But Nancy Meyers, while being a relative new-comer when it comes to directing, has been a writer far longer, and knows the trade. Hence, even with all the predictabilities, she lifts it just high enough not to disappoint. You’ll get all the charms that can fly off the screen, and it’s sweet all the way along. Good acting (mostly Kate Winslet) and an interesting score (Hans Zimmer) round out the rest. So, luckily, there’s no harm that this is the only romantic comedy choice this holiday season.7.

Open call out

Tuesday, December 26th, 2006

I need Wii Friends. Besides the non-functioning online gaming (not available yet, but it should arrive within the next half year, and it should be free), you can send messages and Mii’s (your own miniature puppet) to and fro. And when one arrives, your Wii will ominously glow, like a wrongly colored Cylon attack is coming up. See video:

One-Sentence Review

Monday, December 25th, 2006

Strangers with Candy: Just like the TV series, funny in its own strange way.7+.
Freedomland: Utterly crappy most horrible “thriller” ever.2.
Dreamer: Inspired by a True Story: Typical Disney feel good movie (‘cept it’s a Dreamworks production) starring the always lovely Dakota Fanning.7.
The Matador: Best comedic performance yet by Pierce Brosnan as an assassin in this overall amusing flick.7½.

This just in… a special Wiiport.

Monday, December 25th, 2006

Well, it took Nintendo a while, but they finally shipped enough Wii’s to a particular shop, to reach all the way down the reservation list (mainly because I decided only last-minute to get myself a Wii). While getting the call on Thursday, it was only after much delay (work, party, work, etc) that I finally unpacked and played with it late Saturday. So, that’s the story of my first console.
Here’s my mob cousin in action, with him imagining the bat being a…. somewhat more violent bat (considering his line of work).

As you may or may not know, Wii Sports is the free game delivered with the console. I can tell you now, that that’s pretty much enough game you’ll need for at least a week or so. What most other consoles lack is the imaginitive and immersive power, but here, you pretty much literally control yourself on the screen. And Nintendo goes a step further, designing a fitness program around it, it’s fun and healthy at the same time.
I dunno what the index means, but it says I’ve done a good job, and who am I to disagree. I mean, sore muscles all over the place. I kid you not, I need a day off.

Of course I’ve bought more games, the actioner Red Steel, and the adventurous Zelda. But I’ll take it slowly with those (with Zelda being dialogue and small mission intensive).

Technically, graphics don’t compete with the Xbox (the first Xbox, so let alone the Xbox 360), but you get a tiny box that’s silent instead (Xbox has a noisy fan). I guess the Wii will beat the other consoles with better gameplay then.
Aesthetically, it also beats the other consoles, being nice stylish and small and all.

And now off to the next hurdle, getting myself the Wii Play (the game combined with an extra Wiimote). With an incredible shortage of accessories, it means the Wii is a 1-person family friendly console for a few weeks at least.

How Messy is it at my Mob Cousin’s Work Today ?

Sunday, December 24th, 2006

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

Total: 1 out of 1 votes > Average is: 1.000

work pic

As you can clearly see, it’s not my desk. It’s the office of my mob cousin. Somewhere underneath that mess, is a list with all the Swiss bank account numbers linking to each specific “unfortunate accident” that’s completed. Heck, there could be 3 decomposing corpses and you still couldn’t find them.

US Box Office

Sunday, December 17th, 2006

Will Smith reigns the box office once again, this time a drama based on true facts. The Pursuit of Happyness (no, no type there) is good for a $27 million opening.
At two is the weak Lord of the Rings knock-off Eragon, with $23.5 million. Another premiere at 3, Charlotte’s Web, starring Dakota Fanning and talking animals, with $12 million.
At 4, Happy Feet sing togethere another $8.5 million, with a total almost passing the $150 million mark. Rounding out the top 5 is The Holiday, dropping two places with $8.2 million.

Review: Deja Vu

Saturday, December 16th, 2006

And here we have the third Tony Scott/Denzel Washington collaboration, and history tells us, those are good. And while the main story outline is nothing really new (and done many times on sci-fi shows), it’s the whole package that counts. People afraid of the sci-fi factor shouldn’t be, as it’s main function is just a backdrop, and it’s nicely integrated in the story (still, nitpicks will be able to poke some holes here and there).
As always, Tony Scott directs most of his movies with a certain sense of thrillery drama, and so the acting has to be up to par. Of course, it’s all focused on Denzel, and it looks like a walk in the park for him. Not delving into the characters as deep as Man on Fire from two years ago, it’s that little bit of edge that’s lost. But all in all, still a Jerry Bruckheimer worthy production.7½.

Review: Eragon

Thursday, December 14th, 2006

THE December tentpole, but like most poles, it doesn’t deliver. Again, we have a full Brit cast, probably to save costs here and there. But that wouldn’t be so bad, if only it had a story, or any other kind of content that sticks. It’s not a character piece, it’s not a solid drama. It’s just setting up simple characters, and go through all the necessary stations, the into, journey and end fight. No humor is injected, and it’s cliche-ridden. Without any real imagination, the story is also extremely predictable, even predicting dialogue word for word is possible.
So are we served with spectacular battle scenes and inventive special effects ? That’s also a no-no, as the 98% feels small scale (with the director thinking doing a lots of wide shot of mountain scenery fly-by’s will make up for it). Then again, it’s not that childish rubbish we had last year (Narnia), but it’s pretty close.4+.

Consumer Fraud ?

Monday, December 11th, 2006

As you may know, Sultana serves (usually the plain version) as my breakfast, and I usually get to it, when I get in the office in the morning.
So I sometimes have to take a few packages with me, to renew the stock. These I bought at the same time, and you can see the batch code and expiry date almost matching up. One difference though, one was a bit thin in its package, like a catwalk model on bulemia. So I decided to open them up and check out what was the problem:
My mind was already racing, a header for the complaint letter was almost complete, but you always have to have scientific backup if you are to stand your ground.
And behold the result, the bigger looking ones (like I’m used to), is 222 grams, 4 up from what the package states. Imagine my surprise when I weighed those skinny ones. 224 Grams !
I’ll just have to put up with the much denser “new” Sultanas, I guess.

US Box Office

Monday, December 11th, 2006

Despite the drunken racial slurs from writer/director Mel Gibson, Apocalypto still managed to outrun extinction, and ended up at the top spot. Getting in $14.2 million though, is in stark contrast to The Passion of the Christ, which managed to open with $84 million. Though, maybe good word of mouth might do the trick the coming weeks, just as it did with The Passion.
At two, something less bloody and without subtitles, is Nancy Meyers written/directed comedy The Holiday, with $13.5 million.
The following two spots are for the left-overs, Happy Feet with $12.7 million, and Casino Royale with $8.8 million.
Rounding out the top 5, is also a new entry, thriller Blood Diamond, starring Lonardo DiCaprio and Djimon Hounsou, with $8.5 million. This might be considered a financial bomb, with a hefty $100 million budget. Even with the slow box office slide and family friendly flicks opening next week (Charlotte’s Web and Eragon), Apocalypto with a $40 million budget is a safer bet to break even.

How Messy is my Desk Today ?

Saturday, December 9th, 2006

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

Total: 1337 out of 438 votes > Average is: 3.053

desk pic
I was ready. Nintendo though, wasn’t (enough stock ? Yeah, maybe… for a certain Pacific island called Nauru !). So, here’s my new combo, LG 32LC25R with an LG RH-188H. But it’s just sitting there lonely, screaming “Wii aren’t there (yet)!!!”.

Review: Flags of our Fathers

Saturday, December 9th, 2006

Clint Eastwood takes on a WWII movie, based on true facts. (Actually, he takes on two, shot back to back, with the other side’s perspective shown next year.)
Most of the time, as a director, he doesn’t disappoint. This movie is doesn’t either, but it’s not as impressive as the awards whispering makes it out to be (both this movie, and the follow-up Letters from Iwo Jima, were shortlisted for the National Board of Review top 10). Maybe it’s the war movie overload currently happening, as blown off limbs hardly scares anyone these days anymore. On the personal drama, it only gets effective more towards the end. Before that, you’ll get confused by the many characters and all the time jumping (flashbacks).
As a whole, there’s decent acting involved, and visually, it’s commendable (for its budget).7+.

Review: The Nativity Story

Friday, December 8th, 2006

As the title suggest, it’s the story leading up to the supposed birth of Jesus. As such, it won’t provide any new insights or interesting points of view. As it’s almost a 1:1 rehash of the Bible, and the only difference I can tell, is that the Three Wise Kings are used for comic relief. Then again, I was never much of a reader, so correct me if I’m wrong.
Cinematically, it’s decent, choosing visceral wide shots now and then, to keep your mind off the slow pace. Acting is not spectacular, but up to par.
As an entertaining, enlightning or inspiring movie, I don’t think it has much to offer, Christmas time or not (just grab a The Passion of the Christ DVD).5.


Wednesday, December 6th, 2006

As per Dutch law (which forbids mentioning of the upcoming feast to commemorate the birth of Baby Jesus before a certain steamboat leaves the Port of Rotterdam), I couldn’t disclose my lightning visit to our eastern neighbours, as they set up their traditional Christmas fairs in the bigger cities pretty early on. A quick day trip to Keulen/Köln/Cologne is pretty feasable, being just 2.5 hours away by car. Another event is of course a visit to the Dom, the biggest cathedral in the World.







Doesn’t look too busy eh ? *BZZZZZZZZZ* WRONG ! These little shops with food. drinks and Christmas trinkets attract millions and millions of people from the locale, but also from Dutchers, Belgians, the French and the Brits alike.




But that’s not just it, not only do you have some 5 markets spread over the city within walking distance, the whole city is one big shopping heaven, it’s kilometers after kilometers of different big and small shops. And even on Saturdays, where we Dutchers feel tired at 17.00 and close down already, the Germans will keep going for another 5 hours. Better check your savings account before heading out there.

Review: Shark 101 – 108

Tuesday, December 5th, 2006

Still hanging around CBS, here’s another legal drama, from the DA’s stand of point. Off to an interesting start, mainly focusing on James Woods’ character, after a while, it’s highly formulaic. The cases following certain story points and turns, and hence become a bit predictable. Mostly, it’s a James Woods one-man show (one half as an Assistant DA, one half as a father of a teenage girl), as all the other characters are just neatly dressed up furniture. So it won’t make the must-see list, but it’s high on the killing-time list.