30 December 2007

The Oneders

Over Christmas break (I still refer to this period as break although I'm many years out of school), I've finally fallen prey do the addiction that has been sweeping the country. Yes, I'm a wannabe Guitar Hero. I thought it would never happen since the game looked semi-lame and I was more of a Bustagroove dancing rhythm kind of guy. But after being exposed to Guitar Hero for more than ten minutes, I got hooked. Big time.

Everything they say about the game is true; you really do feel like you're playing the guitar. We played co-op mode for hours on end and after each successful song, I would scream, high-five, or pump my arms in celebration. It was a rush.

Apparently I'm a real jittery type of player and I have to stand up and bop around to play. I can't just sit there on the couch since real rock stars would never do that. It's funny to see other people's "styles." George sits there still as night and Star Powers in super slow motion. James and Victor are cool, calm and collected. Des has the whole rock starlet stance down.

As a truly cross-gender game, Guitar Hero (and Garage Band) is the perfect party game. Heck, my mom started playing it and is addicted as well. Sure, she can only do a few songs on Easy but she loves it. She had to take a day off from playing because the movements were causing her bad shoulder to get too sore. Still, with the help of some Salonpas, she soldiered on.

Tragically, my skills may have already peaked. I've also been pigeon-holed as a bass player. In my learning stages, I played too many songs as bass so now I'm only good at that. I'm an Excellent bass player but only a Hard guitar player. It's a real shame because I feel like I have so much more to give to the world. I'm not just a bass dammit!

29 December 2007

No Country for Old Men (2007)

There's certain films that critics adore that I really can't get into. A History of Violence was one. Most David Lynch stuff is another. Apparently my one Art of Film class wasn't enough to shed any light on what it all means. What I can say about No Country for Old Men is that it's finely acted and everything seemed to be really dramatic and important, but in the end, I just felt like I'd missed something. And not just because of the abrupt ending. If you see it, you'll know what I mean.

Bigger film brains than I are hailing No Country as a powerful film that says something meaningful about the nature of violence and evil (in men). I didn't catch any of that; maybe we're desensitized nowadays. Javier Bardem was cool though. It's not easy to rock black slacks, a denim jacket, and that so retro it's now-tro hair.

26 December 2007

Juno (2007)

Everyone's calling Juno this year's Little Miss Sunshine but it's far and away a better experience. Little Miss Sunshine was saccharine drippy and disgusting to swallow. Juno is sarcastic, caustic, and filled with hilarious dialogue. What's not to like? I think Ellen Page is one of the finest actresses around -- of any age -- and she deserves to have an amazing and fruitful career. With all the positive press Juno has been getting, it's sure to win some awards. Jump on the bandwagon asap.

I'm been reading the blog of Juno's screenwriter, Diablo Cody, who's exactly my age but has done so much more. She began as a blogger, then wrote a book based on her blog, and now has a hit movie to her name. I'm green with envy -- and admiration.
"Vanessa: Your parents are probably wondering where you are.
Juno: Nah... I mean, I'm already pregnant, so what other kind of shenanigans could I get into?"

21 December 2007

Starting Out in the Evening (2007)

Full of excellent dialogue and characters that immediately catch your attention, Starting Out in the Evening begins quite well but then drifts toward an ending that is altogether unsatisfying. Frank Langella is a literary lion working on his last book when a young graduate student invades his space and proceeds to turn his life upside down, sort of. Sadly, the expected epiphany or denouement never arrives and it bugs because the movie as a whole is so finely acted and constructed.

The best thing I got out of the whole experience was newfound respect for Lauren Ambrose of Six Feet Under fame. She shows another side of her acting ability and really glows in her role as the beautiful graduate student. Hopefully this will springboard her into bigger (but not necessarily better) roles.

19 December 2007

King Dork (2006)

"In youth-oriented movies and books, the guy like me often has a huge crush on a specific blond cheerleader who doesn't know he exists and would never stoop to talking to him. Or maybe she is kind of mean to him even though she's friends with him and asks him for advice on how to get the football guy to make out with her, which drives him crazy, and so forth.

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm definitely that guy. But there isn't any one particular girl that fits that formula, and the idea that someone like that would ever be friendly with me in any sense, even as a device to dramatize my own pain and loneliness, is rather preposterous.

But of course I do have this mousy but cute female sidekick who has been right under my nose all along, only I won't realize how great she is till I've learned a few painful lessons about commitment and responsibility and what's important in life.

Just kidding; I don't have one of those, either."
-Frank Portman-

17 December 2007


Marshall Herskovitz and Edward Zwick have a new show called "Quarterlife" and the material is right in-between thirtysomething and My So-Called Life. It's about a group of twenty-somethings trying to figure out what's next -- exactly the type of premise I like. With Herskovitz and Zwick behind the project, I'm very willing to sift through every episode and while it's not amazing so far, it's also not bad. The interesting thing about the show is that it's being released online through MySpace in 36 eight-minute episodes (they're currently up to thirteen).

The general manager of MySpace TV said that this is the "single best-produced piece of serialized content for the Internet, ever" because of its production budget and the creative team behind the project. Of course, the show was picked up by NBC and will hit regular television soon and it'll be interesting to see how well it does. Either way, if this thing is a hit, it can't be cancelled after one season; there'll always be MySpace!

In the show, the main character, Dylan Kreiger, blogs about her life and runs afoul of her friends by revealing too much. Heck, that's something I want to do! I'd love to write a dishy blog about everyone I know. But that seems like a poor life decision since I'd soon be hailed as a pariah and outcast from any social groups that I claim membership. But I'd have millions of fans to compensate right?

An awesome thing about the show so far: the end credits have the little ditty so familiar to any fan of MSCL. "And dance by the light of the moon..."

Wondering if you qualify for a quarter-life crisis? Here's some common characteristics, as gleaned from Wikipedia. You "win" if you score more than ten.

  • feeling "not good enough" because one can't find a job that is at one's academic/intellectual level
  • frustration with relationships, the working world, and finding a suitable job or career
  • confusion of identity
  • insecurity regarding the near future
  • insecurity regarding present accomplishments
  • re-evaluation of close interpersonal relationships
  • disappointment with one's job
  • nostalgia for university, college, high school or elementary school life
  • tendency to hold stronger opinions
  • boredom with social interactions
  • financially-rooted stress
  • loneliness
  • desire to have children
  • a sense that everyone is, somehow, doing better than you

12 December 2007


Into the Wild
Christopher McCandless graduated from college, gave away his savings, and set off to traipse around the United States in an attempt to escape consumerism and become one with nature. Inspired by Henry David Thoreau and Jack London, he also subsequently joined them as RIP two years after he disappeared.

You could look at the whole thing as a touching tale of a young man finding himself or as a spoiled kid who died because of his arrogance. I lean toward the latter despite the movie heavily promoting the inspiring version. While the film has been getting all sorts of great reviews, I felt it was a bit dry and hardly revelationary -- or insightful. Good cinematography though.

The Golden Compass
Fine, I only watched the back half of the movie (the better half so I'm told) but if the entire thing is anything like what I experienced, it's no great adventure flick. In fact, the entire film seems stilted and aside from the very cool snow bears, there wasn't much we hadn't seen before in either Lord of the Rings or Chronicles of Narnia -- neither of which I was in love with in the first place. While this first movie will undoubtedly extend into a franchise, I can't see it measuring up as a classic.

I'm halfway through the book too (and have been for months) but I can't seem to commit to that magic either, although the series is always touted as a classic. I guess I'll give the book another go when I can. The movie? I'll pass.

Would you believe that out of all these movies, Enchanted was the best one? I mocked somebody at work for printing out preview passes to watch this; turns out he was just ahead of the curve. Walking out after the magic of "The End," I just felt happy inside. Happily ever after as it were. The film mocks Disney's classic stories but in a really funny way. The mix of animation and live action is done really well and it's refreshing to see the Disney princess tale given a new spin. Seriously, it's good.

Check out this NY Times story, "The Line Between Homage and Parody," for an interesting behind the scenes.

05 December 2007

Gone Baby Gone (2007)

Well, this was a first. I've watched plenty of movies by myself but never in a completely empty theatre. Like a little girl, I initially thought, "Wow, I hope this movie isn't too scary." But then like a man I strapped on a portable machine gun, readied my rocket launcher, flipped the safety off the pepper spray, and dug into my popcorn.

I'm happy to report that the movie is as good as everyone says it is. I won't even go into any plot details since it's definitely better to watch this thing with no idea what's about to happen. It's mostly a basic crime suspense thriller but done very well.

I've read Dennis Lehane's books before (but not seen or read Mystic River) and Ben Affleck does a great job bringing Lehane's world to the big screen. The movie is paced and shot well and the Affleck behind the camera emerges as the one that truly impresses. Actually, what's most impressive is Michelle Monaghan's slightly snouty nose. I mean, I feel like most actresses would have gotten a new nose long ago but now it's her cute trait, like Jewel's snaggletooth.

The movie made me feel a little discombobulated so I drove home in radio silence, with fog settling in everywhere. Which made me scoot home just a bit faster. Because, you know, real men drive fast.