Friday, December 31, 2010

The last day of the year

Today is the last day of the year and I've been reading a lot of top ten columns in different newspapers. It made me think, 'gosh, maybe I should do that.' Well I went to a website that listed every movie that came out this past year and I found that I liked a lot of movies but I only really loved a handful of movies. So instead of a top ten list, I'm going to list my favorite movies (the ones I will probably or have already bought on Blu-ray). Then I will list some honorary mentions for movies I liked but will probably not add to my collection.

Here goes. My two favorite movies from the past year were "Inception" and "Scott Pilgrim vs the World." Now if you had asked me at the beginning of the year what movies I thought I would probably like the most this year, I would have probably named both of those movies. I love it when my expectations are met or exceeded.

I loved "Inception" because it was such an original concept. The movie wasn't dumbed down, it was exciting and it had some amazing effects. The script was also engaging. I love a movie that you come out of and you feel like you want to continue talking about it. Or you find yourself thinking about it days later. Both of which I did after seeing this. One of the most important things that can endear me to a movie or TV show is originality and this one had it in spades.

"Scott Pilgrim" also had major originality, even more so probably than "Inception." It's hard to even describe this movie. I wouldn't even begin to try to describe it. But it is frenetic, loud, and hilarious. The comic book it is based on is a great read. As far as the movie goes, when I first saw it in the theater it was under some poor conditions and that affected the way I felt about the movie. I was so glad to find that when I watched it again later, it was really a great ride. This movie is not for everyone, but if you like video games, indie bands or comic books, there's a good chance you'll enjoy this one.

Next on my list is "The Social Network." I also found myself thinking and talking about it hours and days after I had seen it. I was already a fan of Aaron Sorkins, so I was excited to go see this movie, despite it being called the 'Facebook movie.' This movie was just so good and worthy of all the praise it has been getting. Just a fascinating portrayal of one of the richest men in American and the road he took to get there.

"Toy Story 3" is another feather in Pixar's hat. I was watching the Blu-ray special features last night and found myself dreaming of what it would be like to work for Pixar. These are the most creative guys in Hollywood and they make family movies. What more could a guy ask for? This was by far my favorite Toy Story movie and any studio that can make the third entry in a trilogy good deserves to be the winner of many awards.

"Iron Man 2" may not be the best Marvel movie but gosh, I enjoyed it. I've had several people point out the 'flaws' of this movie, but for whatever reason I just enjoyed the hell out of this one. Maybe it's because it's preparing the way for Joss Whedon's Avengers movie... or maybe it's just too chock full of geeky references, but I gladly call this one of my favorite movies of the year.

Finally, the last movie on my list is "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 1." I don't know if this is the best movie of the series, but if it's not, it's certainly at the top of the heap. It was great. It followed the book almost perfectly and I can't wait for the conclusion. So good.

As you can tell I lean towards the genre entries. So if you're not into these type of movies, feel free to ignore my list. That's who I am. But I would say I don't love any genre movie that comes along, just the well written, directed and acted ones. Also I didn't see every movie that came out this past year so there are probably some movies I would have loved that I have not seen yet.

My honorable mentions from this year include:

Shutter Island

The Ghost Writer

How to Train Your Dragon

Kick Ass

The Other Guys

Nowhere Boy





Despicable Me

True Grit

I would like to give a shoutout to two of the worst movies of the last year. "Leap Year" and "When in Rome." I watched both of those movies because I'm a big fan of Kristen Bell and Amy Adams, but gosh those movies were such garbage. Filled with unlikable characters and situations that literally made me groan out loud. Ugh. Avoid at all costs.
Also "Dinner for Shmucks" was awful.

So what did you think of the movies that came out in the last year?

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Last Two Weeks

It's been a week or two since the last post. I've seen a few movies since then. I saw "RED," starring Bruce Willis and a bunch of other famous people. I thought it was pretty good. It's at least worth a matinee. John Malkovich was the highlight for me. I also like Mary Louise Parker, who I haven't liked that much in the past. It seemed like she always played abrasive characters. But she's quite good in this. The movie is fun and I recommend it. B+

I finally saw the new Karate Kid movie, starring Will Smith's son. When I first saw the trailer, I really had no desire to see it, but after it came out, I heard enough good things about it, to put it on my Redbox list. So I rented it over the weekend. It was pretty good. I mean, it was really formulaic and predictable, but it had enough charm to be entertaining. It was also a little long, but nothing too bad. Jaden does a great job and of course Jackie Chan is good. Is it better than the original? Probably, but the original has such nostalgia for me and many others that it's hard compare the two. Yes, the original from a non-biased perspective is probably not a very good film, but I still have a fondness for it anyways. Sweep the leg!

We bought a few blu-rays in the past week. We bought "Beauty and the Beast." And it looks spectacular in blu-ray. Well worth upgrading to. The special features are pretty great as well. I love watching the behind the scene features on the classic Disney movies. My wife gave me "Iron Man 2" for my b-day. I still really enjoyed it. Yes, I can see the flaws that others mention, but for whatever reason they don't bother me. The special features on this disc were also quite good. Finally, I bought "Dollhouse" season 2, but I haven't had a chance to watch it yet. But I did see the special features and watch about 10 minutes of an episode and it looks great in High Def. When it was on the air, it always looked horrible because we didn't have a high def TV and the Comcast signal was crap. We have since upgraded and I am very happy.

What am I looking forward to in the next few months:

Harry Potter 7 (part 1)
Tron 2
True Grit.

Definitely not interested in:

The Little Fockers

I enjoyed the original, but the sequel was sooo awful. The trailer for this one looks very similar.

What are you all looking forward to this Winter?

Or are you like me and think for the most part the movies look weak and are really looking forward to this summer with such gems as:

Captain America
Cowboys and Aliens
Green Lantern
Super 8

See ya next time.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Where have I been?

Where have I been the last few months? I don't know. I don't really have an excuse. I will try to do better, but who knows, I may not blog again for a few months.... so... yeah.

Since we last talked I have seen a few movies. I'll start with "The Social Network" which I thought was great. I was a big "West Wing" fan and have enjoyed Aaron Sorkin's writing in the past. But it's not just the writing that's great in the movie, the acting is great, the directing is great and the music is great. I just really enjoyed this story.

I also saw "Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps" which wasn't bad. It was a little slow in parts but it's worth a rental. Unless you hate Shia Lebouf (which I have been told some people do).

I saw "Kick Ass" and "Shutter Island" on DVD and thought they were very good. I saw "Clash of the Titans" which wasn't very good and "Prince of Persia" which was ok.

As far as the TV season goes, I haven't been that impressed. I think "The Event" holds promise... I'm just hoping it doesn't turn into "FlashForward." "Lone Star" which had promise was canceled. "I've given up on "No Ordinary Family" but may come back to it if I hear good things. I couldn't muster the energy to give anything else a try (except for Hawaii 5-0 which was good, but I'm not a big 'procedural' person). I think the best thing to do is to stick with older shows. "Fringe" is still amazing. "Chuck" and "House" are still entertaining. "Modern Family," "The Office" and "30 Rock" are still funny. And I'm excited about "Smallville" this year. He better fly and put on the suit before this whole thing is over or I'm going to be ANGRY.

As far as books go, I haven't read too much lately because I don't have a commute anymore to listen to audiobooks. But I really enjoyed the Hunger Games trilogy, even though the final book was a major downer. I'm trying to get through the biography "Truman" which is good, but unbelievably long. 48 discs!

And music is just falling through the cracks. I really need to get back on track there. How do you sift through all the stuff that is out there?

Let me know what you're enjoying and what I should make sure to listen/read/watch.


P.S. Bring it down a notch America!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Paul McCartney experience

Yes, it's been a long time in the making. Paul's visit to Utah was over a month ago, but it's taken me a while to get to writing about it. Maybe, I just don't want to admit that it has come and gone... and will probably not happen again.

As anybody who knows me knows, I'm a massive Beatles fan. So, when I heard Paul was coming to Utah, I was obviously thrilled. I had seen Sir Paul once before back in 2002. My friends and I drove to Denver to see him. And it was an out of body experience. Monday night (the night before the concert) I went down to the Rio Tinto Stadium to see if I could get a chance at hearing a sound check or possibly getting an autograph at the back entrance. I had researched online and saw that some people had success doing that at other locations. Unfortunately, the only thing I saw was some groupies who follow Paul to different concerts. They had some crazy (if true) stories. The next day I took work off early and met up with my wife so we could meet up with our friends at Joe's Crab Shack at Jordan Commons. I was absolutely not impressed with the service... but I guess that's another story. We got into the stadium about 20 minutes before the scheduled start time. And this being a rock concert it started about 40 minutes late. But once the show started it was great song after great song. The first half of the concert was solo/Wings heavy... but it was great because in my opinion he chose some of the best of those. He sang 1985, Mrs. Vandebilt and Dance Tonight. My only criticism is I would have switched out 'My Love' for 'Maybe, I'm Amazed.' I also think he could've chosen a better solo song than 'Let em in.' Actually here is the set list for the night.

1. Venus and Mars / Rockshow

2. Jet

3. All My Loving

4. Letting Go

5. Drive My Car

6. Highway

7. Let Me Roll It

8. The Long And Winding Road

9. Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five

10. Let ‘Em In

11. My Love

12. I’ve Just Seen A Face

13. And I Love Her

14. Blackbird

15. Here Today

Ram On (not listed in official playlist)

16. Dance Tonight

17. Mrs Vandebilt

18. Eleanor Rigby

19. Something

20. Sing The Changes

21. Band On The Run

22. Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da

23. Back In The USSR

24. I’ve Got A Feeling

25. Paperback Writer

26. A Day In The Life / Give Peace A Chance

27. Let It Be

28. Live And Let Die

29. Hey Jude


30. Day Tripper

31. Lady Madonna

32. Get BackSecond


33. Yesterday

34. Helter Skelter

35. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band / The End

Yes, 35 songs. The show lasted almost three hours. And as you can see there were a plethora of Beatles songs for the second half of the show. My personal favorites were Back in the USSR, I've Got a Feeling, Live and Let Die, Get Back and Helter Skelter. Hearing those songs live gave me a new appreciation for them. As you can see the rest of the setlist was full of iconic songs. Unfortunately the Beatles have so many hits, he couldn't have sung them all. But he made a vailiant effort.

Paul had some great charisma and talked with the audience throughout the span of the show. He joked around and seemed like he was having a great time. He made particular mention of the fact that this was his and his band's 200th show together. He carried out the Utah flag for his first encore. Speaking of Paul's band, they were just great. They played every song perfectly. Such a great group. I especially enjoyed watching his drummer get into the songs. Paul is in his late sixties, but he sounded great and had the energy of someone in their twenties. Turns out one of my co-workers neighbors was the limo driver for Paul while he was in Salt Lake and he said Paul was a "class act." Which is cool to hear.

It was great to have my wife with me at the show. It was fun to share the excitement with her. We also went with some friends and they all agreed it was one of the best concerts they had been to. So all in all, it was a great night, with great music, great weather and great company.

This concert was Paul's first time performing in Utah. I was really impressed with the Rio Tinto people, in getting him to come here. I was also impressed with the welcome they gave him. They even put up an I-15 billboard the day of the concert welcoming him to the state. When Paul ended his show he said, "We'll see you next time, Salt Lake City." Here's hoping that isn't an empty promise.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Catching up

Okay, I know it’s been a little while since the last post. So now I’m going to unload my pop culture thoughts that have been piling up for the past few weeks.

Wow. How long has it been? I will start where I think I left off.

The A-Team
I was kind of surprised by this movie. It was a nice summer popcorn movie. I like all of the actors and they had some good energy. You might have to turn your brain off for a little while because of some plot contrivances, but I was willing to overlook them because of the frenetic pace. It’s also completely an implausible movie (a tank parachuting to the ground for example) but I kind of like that they went “balls out” and just had fun. I give this movie a B for being a good B-movie.

Toy Story 3
I thought the first Toy Story was okay. I thought the second one was quite a bit better and now I think the third one is the best. In my opinion, Pixar knocked another one out of the park. This movie touches all the right notes. I loved the opening train scene. I thought it was hilarious. I loved the ending and how everyone in the theater was sniffly because of it. I loved everything in between those two points. I don’t know how Pixar does it but they know how to tell a story. They are apparently starting to advise Disney on some of their other movies like Tron: Legacy and the next Muppet movie. People are starting to realize the system Pixar has is one that works well. This movie gets an A.

Knight and Day
I know some people hate either Tom Cruise of Cameron Diaz… and they are free to do so. One of the people I work with feels this way, but yet she tells me she really liked this movie. I can’t explain it. The movie is along the same lines as the A-Team. It’s a fun summer popcorn movie. Cruise and Diaz (whom I both like as actors) do a good job of mixing action/humor/sexual tension. It’s not a 4 star movie but it accomplishes what it sets out to do. It’s more of a matinee movie. Once again, implausible scenarios but I didn’t mind. Check it out. B

Despicable Me
This is no Toy Story 3, but it is a fun little cartoon. I thought the little minions were funny, the little girls were cute, and that Jason Segal and Steve Carrell did a good job with their voice roles. I think this is probably another matinee movie, but it will entertain children and adults. If you’ve already seen Toy Story 3, then this is the movie to see next.

Inception is a great movie. Christopher Nolan continues what I believe is a perfect streak of movies. I don’t know how you come up with a story like this. It’s so imaginative. I loved how 3-4 things were happening at the same time and how that ratcheted up the tension. I thought the cast was terrific. I loved the ending (you know what I’m talking about). I think this is probably the ‘movie of the year’ so far. Everyone I know that’s seen it has really loved it. Word of caution though, don’t go in half asleep, you will have to pay attention to enjoy this one. Bring on Batman 3!! A.

Scott Pilgrim vs the World
Okay so technically I haven’t seen this movie yet, but I feel it necessary to plug it. Scott Pilgrim is based on a graphic novel about a dude who starts dating this girl with 7 evil ex-boyfriends who want to beat him up. Yeah it kind of sounds absurd, but that’s the point. If you love video games, this movie is also a love letter to them. Everything takes place in a surreal video game world… you’ll see what I mean if you look at the trailer. This movie is made by the same guy who directed “Shawn of the Dead” and “Hot Fuzz,” so you know it’s going to be funny too. All of the internet people that I trust, say this movie is going to rock. So, yeah, I know you’ve never read the graphic novel and the trailer seems ‘different,’ forget all that and go see this. It is important that this movie succeed, so we can have some more imaginative films in the future. I promise to apologize if the movie sucks… but I find that unlikely.

All right, well that’s quite a bit of typing I did there. I will have to hold off on my other topics (i.e. the amazing Paul McCartney concert) until next time. Now what movies have you all enjoyed this summer.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

TV finales

Favorite moments and random musings

Rather than write up a top ten list or something I have decided that I will discuss this year’s season finales with a list of favorite moments and a couple of random musings.

Wasn’t it great when Jack told Smokey that he was going to kill him? It was great. Jack really upped his game in the finale. I loved seeing him find his purpose and go all out to accomplish it.

Juliet and Sawyer at the vending machine was great. I loved seeing the two of them finally recognize each other.

The awesome fight sequence between Jack and Smokey.
The resolution… yeah I know some people didn’t like it, but I thought it was very fitting for the show.

So, how come so many people came away from the finale thinking everyone had died in the original plane crash. That is clearly not what happened. Christian clearly explained that everyone died at different times and everything that happened really happened. Why else would Hurley tell Ben he was a great #2. It didn’t help matters that people thought the stupid end credits were part of the story. They were not. ABC had to come out with a press release saying they and not the producers added the footage of the plane to the end credits…. And my other pet peeve, the ABC4 idiot reporter who clearly did not watch the show telling viewers that everyone died in the plane crash. AAAUGH!

The one thing I will say is that, yes, the show ended with a number of unanswered questions. I do think if you think about it many questions actually were answered… but there were definite questions raised that were not answered ie. What was the deal with Walt, why couldn’t babies be born on the island, etc. But in case you haven’t heard the season 6 DVD will include a new feature that shows some of Ben and Hurley’s time on the island. And apparently it will include answers to some of the more pertinent questions that were not answered like where did the food drops come from, and what was the deal with Walt (apparently he makes an appearance). So I’m excited about that.

Finally, I’d just like to say, despite a few quibbles I think “Lost” was one of the best pieced of entertainment ever produced and I will miss it very much.

The final moment of the episode with Olivia behind that door. How cool and creepy was that?

I loved the scene between Walter and William Bell. I could have watched the two of them for much longer.

Peter and Olivia telling each other that they loved each other. I like the two of them together.

The finale was so great. I just loved seeing the alternate world. Everything was just slightly off. Even though I saw the twist at the end coming a mile away… I still think it was great and it will be fun to see it resolved next season. The second half of the season was just perfect. When this show focuses on mythology and characters rather than the monster of the week it fires on all cylinders. That episode featuring the flashback to Walter kidnapping Peter was better and more compelling than most movies.

The best moment by far was the opening scene of the finale that was set several years in the future. It was so good. I hope we get to see more of the future before the show ends.

This show can really be hit or miss with me. They need to kill off Tess now. It has been announced that next season will be the final season. They have talked about bringing back Lex for some eps, which would be great. Also Allison Mack is apparently not going to be on the show full-time anymore, so I hope they put Lois in more episodes and really start to build to the future. I hope she doesn’t forget about Clark’s identity. They’ve really played that card too many times to do it again.

Parks and Rec
Finally some good progress on the Andy and April storyline. I love those two. And any scene that showed Ron Swanson excited about the budget cuts. That dude is so hilarious.

Not enough people are watching this show!! Get with it people, this is the funniest show on NBC and that includes “30 Rock” and “The Office.” The first season was a little iffy, but the second season has been firing on all cylinders. PLEASE WATCH! I’m sure the show will be out on DVD soon enough. You won’t regret it.

Modern Family
My other favorite comedy on TV. The finale wasn’t the strongest episode ever, but there were still a number of laugh out loud moments. Phil is the best. I don’t remember a great moment off the top of my head, but I wanted to mention this show since it’s so funny.

I loved seeing Scott Bakula, didn’t love seeing his character die. Why TV gods do you do this to me? Anywhoo, I loved seeing Chuck’s sister finally figure out what has been happening for the past few years. I loved the return of Jeffster. I loved that they blew the Buy-More up. I love that they’ve given Casey his own arc featuring his daughter. I think it’s cool that Chuck’s mom is involved even if they totally ripped that twist off of Alias. I thought the episode where Chuck originally shot Shaw was a better episode than the finale (it was originally intended as the finale before NBC ordered more episodes). But either way I’m glad this show was renewed (by the skin of its teeth).

I loved the moment when the President faced off with Kapoor’s widow. That was some fine acting going on there.

The moment when Chloe was forced to shoot Jack.

The end moment with Jack Bauer on the monitor.

I felt the finale seemed more like a season finale than a series finale. I mean how many seasons have ended with Jack having to go into hiding? I know they did this because there is supposed to be a 24 movie coming. It better come because I didn’t feel there was enough closure in the finale. I love 24 but am glad its TV run is over. The show should probably have ended at the end of season 5. But there were some good moments this season (Jack has gone too far!) and I will miss the Bauer power.

This show has a formula and it usually sticks to it, but whenever it breaks it, it is usually really good. For example, the finale was really good. The best moment came at the end with Cuddy and House. The writers better stick this thing out or I will be really upset.

What a waste of a good premise. Enough said.

I don’t know if anyone who reads this blog actually watches this show, but I thought the finale was good, and probably should have been a series finale. Here’s hoping that the show can continue to be good despite the fact that the showrunner won’t be as involved next season.

Well those are the shows I felt needed to be addressed. It looks like some promising shows may be coming in the fall. Let’s hope they end up being a lot better than the crop of shows that came out last season (except for Modern Family).

Summer movie season

Yeah, I now it’s been a long while since I posted on this blog. But I have been tweeting about different pop culture things for the past few months, so that has to count for something, right? I am here today to say, “What is with the summer movie season so far?” Since May, there has only been one movie I’ve wanted to go the theater to see. It was “Iron Man 2.” I thought “Iron Man 2” was great. I’ve heard various complaints about the movie. But I just didn’t see any problems. I enjoyed it just as much as the first movie. I especially love all hints of the upcoming “Avengers” movie (to be directed by the great Joss Whedon). I can’t wait to see next year’s “Thor” and “Captain America” movies. But since “Iron Man” I haven’t felt the need to go to the theater. “Robin Hood” looks boring, “Prince of Persia” isn’t getting great reviews, and I haven’t seen a Shrek movie since the second one (which I did not like). I read in the paper over the weekend that some movie executive was saying she couldn’t understand why the current crop of movies weren’t making as much money as last year at this time. Uh… maybe it’s because “Up” and “The Hangover” were awesome and “Killers” and “Marmaduke” look like crap.

This week we have “The A-Team” which looks like it might be some good fun. But the fact that it hasn’t been screened for critics yet doesn’t instill much confidence in me. Next week Pixar returns with “Toy Story 3” – So I’m looking forward to that… but “Jonah Hex” also opens and the buzz for that movie isn’t very good… Aren’t summers supposed to be filled with fun action/adventure movies? “Grown Ups” opens the next week.. it doesn’t look good. I like Adam Sandler, but I have not enjoyed one of his movies for many years. And this movie doesn’t even look like it has a semblance of a plot. It looks like an excuse for Adam and his buddies to hang out. “Knight and Day” opens the same day and it looks like it could be fun. I have enjoyed the director’s past movies, so I am optimistic. I don’t have the Tom Cruise hate that some people have. I loved MI3. I hope this will be in the same vein. The last week of June holds the next Twilight movie. Yawn.

On July 2, the live action version of “Avatar: The Last Airbender” opens. I had been looking forward to this one for a while. I loved the cartoon it’s based on. But I’ve read some early reviews and they were not kind. I still have hope that this movie will be great, but I’ve definitely lowered my expectations. I would love for M. Night Shyamalan (who is directing Airbender) to get back on his game. I loved his early movies… even “The Village.” His movies since then, I will not discuss. I’m looking at the rest of July and there are some promising films: “Despicable Me,” “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice,” “Salt,” “Dinner for Schmucks,” and “Inception.” Of those I think “Inception” is the best bet. Christopher Nolan hasn’t let me down yet. I hope he doesn’t start now. The other July movies, I think hold promise, but I will have to see how they do on Rotten Tomatoes before I decide whether I want to drop $8 for them. The last week of July holds “Cats and Dogs: The Revenge of…” and “Charlie St. Cloud.” Really, did anyone tell the studios it was summer and not January (bad movie dumping ground).

As for August, there are only two movies I’m interested in mentioning. “The Other Guys,” with Will Ferrell looks funny. It’s from the same people who brought us “Anchorman” so I hope it’s good. And then there’s “Scott Pilgrim vs The World.” I cannot wait to see this movie. It looks so great. It’s based on a graphic novel series that is awesome. If the movie is able to capture the strange vibe of the books, it will be great. Judging by the trailers I’ve seen so far, they’re on the right track. The movie is directed by the same guy who did “Shawn of the Dead” and “Hot Fuzz.” Both great movies.

So that is my assessment of the summer. I think next summer looks way better. I mentioned “Captain America” and “Thor.” But we also have “Green Lantern,” the last Harry Potter movie, “Cowboys and Aliens,” “Mission Impossible IV,” (directed by the awesome Brad Bird) and a new X Men movie. So I’m looking forward to next year.

One more thing, since it’s summer, all of my TV shows are in reruns. Does anybody have a suggestion for a good show to finally catch up on – on DVD?

Hopefully my next post won’t be five months from now. ADIOS… and don’t forget to catch me on Twitter (yes I know how lame that sounds).

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Yeah, I know

So, I've been down and out for health reasons and will probably be out for a few more weeks. But in the meantime, like I mentioned earlier, I have started a popculture cafe Twitter account. You can see it on the side of this webpage or you can find it at

Talk to you later.

PS. This week's episode of "Fringe" was amazing.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Top 10 TV shows of 2009

Yes, I know this is a little late.. but whatcha gonna do? I'm gonna make this one quick and painless. If you've been following this blog these picks should come as no surprise to you. So here goes:

1. "Lost"
Without a doubt the best show of the past year. I recently rewatched the entire fifth season on blu-ray during the holidays. That final scene in the finale -- it's a doozy. I can't wait to see how it all turns out. Less that two weeks to go!!

2. "Dollhouse"
This show has really come into it's own.. now that it's been canceled. The twists and turns have been crazy good (although some better than others). The actors on this show are some of the best I've seen. I can't say enough about them. Still one episode to go and I hope it's awesome.

3. "Fringe"
Perhaps you've been noticing a theme. Yes I love sci-fi... and this show is just starting to hit its stride. The "mythology" shows are my favorite. I wish they had more of those and less of the "monster of the week" episodes... With the two shows at the top of this list being put to rest this season, I imagine this may end up at the top of the list next year.

4. "Chuck"
Last year's last batch of episodes were great (the Scott Bakula ones). And this season has started off with a bang. Sometimes it feels like not enough is at stake in the show... but when things get serious, I'm all on board. That's not to say I don't like the humor.. I definitely do... but maybe the show should kill off a character so the stakes can be a little higher. One other thing... you can't really go wrong if Adam Baldwin is in the cast.

5. "Supernatural"
Another good sci/fi horror show. I love it when this show tries to be funny. They recently did an episode where the characters got stuck inside of TV shows. Hilarious. The dark stuff is also good. (Satan is loose this season, and the apocalypse is around the corner). The show finds a good balance between mythology and standalone stories.

6. "Friday Night Lights"
I know you guys still aren't watching this show. But you should be. One of the most realistic shows I've ever seen. These feel like real people that you could actually meet in Texas. They lost and added a number of characters and the show hasn't suffered. That's a hard thing to do. This show needs an Emmy.

I will now rate my favorite comedies of last year. I don't think they should compete against dramas... so you can think of this as a new list if you want.

7. "Modern Family"
I tried not to watch this series. I didn't need to add another show to the rotation... but I kept hearing so many rave reviews that I finally gave in and tried it out... and it was worth it. This show is hilarious. I laugh out loud in every episode. The crazy thing? It's also a ratings winner.. so it won't likely end up like "Arrested Development" or "Andy Richter Controls the Universe" (now on DVD). If you haven't seen this, you should. You won't regret it.

8. "Parks and Recreation"
The first season of this show was good but not great. The current season is superb. I know it's a good show when I can't decide who my favorite character is. They've really fleshed the characters out and made them funny. I know a lot of people who gave up on this show after the first season.. To you I say: "Come Back." The show is on hulu... start at the beginning of the season and find the charms of Ron Swanson.

9. "How I Met Your Mother"
Another great cast... particularly my favorite characters Barney Stinson and Marshall Erickson. I particularly like it when they have they're own storylines. The show has made a few mistakes... but the laughs outweigh some of the dumb decisions the writers have made. Plus, they have some cool guest stars.

10. tie "30 Rock" and "The Office"
I really like both of these shows... but the reason they are at the bottom of the list is because this season has been hit or miss with me. Particularly "30 Rock".. I don't know what's happened but it's not as funny as it used to be. I still love Liz and Jack and the rest of the game but they aren't as funny as they were the past few years. "The Office" on the other hand is about the same quality as it has been the past few years. Not as funny as the first few, but still worth putting on your DVR because when they're on they're on. Now if they can just make Jim funny again.

All right your turn, what shows did you like this past year?

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The 10 Best Movies of 2009

Top Ten Movies of 2009

Okay, I promised a top ten list and here it is. Let me first say my criteria for this list is which movies I enjoyed watching the most. Not which one had deep ideas, or which one had the best special effects. Simply which ones I enjoyed the most. Okay here goes:

1.(tie) Star Trek/(500 Days of Summer)
It was really hard for me to choose between these two movies. So they will share the top spot. Anyone that's read this blog knows of my love for J.J. Abrams and "Star Trek." Combine the two and you get a great movie. I hope people who say they don't like sci-fi or "Star Trek" will give this movie a try. The writers did a great job of appealing to hard core trekkies and those who don't know what a "mind meld" is. I loved this movie.

"(500) Days of Summer" on the other hand, came out of the blue. I had heard a few good things.. but went in not knowing what to expect. What I found was a charming, true to life, taste of modern day relationships. Not only is it a great look at the highs and lows of relationships, it's also one of the funniest movies of the year. I probably laughed more in this movie than any other movie this year. The film doesn't follow a linear narrative, which is fun, but I think even if it did, it would still be a great movie. The thought that went through my head the most as I watched this movie was: "I've been there." I think that's a great compliment.

3. Fantastic Mr. Fox
The second funniest film of the year came to us from the mind of Wes Anderson. I loved this movie. I'm not sure it's a movie for everyone. But I know I've found a kindred spirit when I hear someone use the words: cluster cuss. The old school animation technique is fun and beautiful to look at. It's not as bright and shiny as Pixar.. but it's cool and quirky. The voice cast is also superb. One of the best Roald Dahl adaptations yet.

4. "Up"
Speaking of Pixar... they did it again. I've read and listened to numerous accounts of the way Pixar makes their movies... and it makes me wish Hollywood would adopt their techniques. These guys are so original and so talented, I don't expect that they will produce many duds. This movie is funny, touching, and exciting. The creative team behind this film has found a great way to balance all of it. Buy it on blu-ray... it looks amazing!

5. "Inglourious Basterds"
This movie was really cool. I love not knowing where a movie is going... and Tarantino is very good at keeping me guessing. I had no idea what was going to happen next in this movie. The acting was great.. the set pieces great.. the dialogue great. Just a great movie.

6. (tie) "Drag Me To Hell"/"Paranormal Activity"
Two horror films tie for fifth place. Sam Raimi redeemed himself for the sadness that was "Spiderman 3" with this fun little film. It was intensely gross in many places... and I thought that was great. The parking lot scene is scarred in my brain.

I recently reviewed "Paranormal Activity," so I won't discuss it too much, but I will just say how impressed I was that the filmmaker made a movie with less money than I have in my bank account. He made this scary little movie for around $11,000. And it made millions and millions of dollars. I don't know how much of that money he ended up getting. But, way to go.

8. "Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince"

I've always enjoyed the Harry Potter movies, but this one may be my favorite. I found the movie to be funny, exciting, and, yes, magical. I did have a few problems with the movie. I'm not sure what the scene at the Weasley house was all about. And the end battle sequence could've been a lot cooler if they'd stuck to the battle from the book. But I'm hoping we'll see a really cool battle sequence in "The Deathly Hallows." If you're not a Harry Potter fan I'm not sure how much you can enjoy this movie, but if you are one I think it's definitely worth your time.

9."The Princess and the Frog "

I know some people who thought this movie wasn't very good. But they are wrong. I went to the movie with some children... but in the end I think I enjoyed it more than they did. I left the movie in a good mood and talking about how much I liked it. That doesn't happen too often, so I have to put it in my list. Here's hoping Disney's next traditionally animated film, "Rapunzel" is as good.

10. I am going to leave this spot open because I haven't seen every movie made in 2009. I still haven't seen "The Hurt Locker," or "Up in the Air".... and a number of other buzzy movies. So here's hoping I can put something in here that I can be passionate about.

On a completely unrelated note... I had a commenter ask about my take on the whole NBC late night fiasco. Here it is: Jay Leno sucks!!! Jay Leno hasn't been funny since the 80's. Long live Conan O'Brian! I will follow him wherever he ends up. (hopefully with Andy Richter intact).

Monday, January 4, 2010

A Few Movie Reviews

Okay, I know I promised to write my top ten lists. But I've seen a few movies over the past month or so that I am obligated to review. So you can look forward to seeing the top ten lists a little later.

The first movie I'd like to review is "Avatar." By now you probably have seen "Avatar" or you haven't and you don't plan to. I think everyone should see "Avatar"... just for the visual feast factor. And you definitely have to see it in 3-D. I have a friend who was invited to go see it and when he arrived he realized his friend hadn't known there was a 3-D option. Unbelievable. Poor guy had to watch the movie in regular 2-D... what's the point of that.

I saw the movie a few days after it opened at the IMAX in 3-D. I enjoyed the movie. The special effects are quite amazing... but I thought the plot was only okay. I'm so tired of military cliches. Does every military leader have to be bloodthirsty. Can we have one that's conflicted? That'd be nice... maybe something like Kiefer Sutherland's character in "Monsters and Aliens." Yes I'm saying a cartoon character had more dimensions than Colonel Miles Quaritch. Oh well. And yes as "South Park" put it... the movie is pretty much "Dances with Smurfs." My favorite part was the final battle sequence. It was crazy good. I've heard of a few people who have proclaimed this movie, "The best movie ever." I think they're crazy. It may be the best visual effects movie ever... but best movie ever? No way. Not even close. So I am recommending the movie... but don't expect an original plot. For another good review check out the comments section of the "I'm Back" post.


Next I'll be reviewing "Sherlock Holmes." Robert Downey Jr. is quickly becoming one of my favorite actors. He just brings so much fun to every role. And his take on Sherlock Holmes is no exception. Jude Law is also great as Watson. The interplay between the two is the heart of the movie. This is a hyperstylized version of "Holmes" and I'm okay with it. I read most of the books when I was in Junior High and enjoyed them a lot. I don't think this movie strays too far from the original Conan Doyle books. Sure it's filled with action scenes... but I think that the stuffy version of Holmes has been done to death and I enjoyed this fresh take. Having said all that it isn't a perfect movie... and I would've enjoyed more classic Holmes deductions. But a fun two hour adventure.

Grade B+

I finally saw "Inglourious Basterds" on DVD a few weeks ago... and it was a great movie. I've enjoyed most of Quentin Tarantino's films and this was no exception. The best part of the movie was the first twenty minutes or so. I won't give too much a way... but the entire scene is just one conversation between two men... it's one of the most intense scenes I've ever seen. My wife also agrees. Christoph Waltz plays Col. Hans Landa and you can expect he'll be nominated and probably win for the role. Every time he's on screen you can't take your eyes off his crazy character. Brad Pitt and his cohorts are also a lot of fun. Their story line wasn't as big as I'd thought it would be from the trailers but they were perfect for the parts. There's also a plot about the owner of a French cinema that I really enjoyed. Obviously this movie isn't for everyone but for those who think they may enjoy this fictional version of WWII.. you probably will.

Grade: A

I watched the sci-fi film "District 9" a few days ago. I realized when I put in the DVD that I didn't know what the plot was. I knew it took place is South Africa and that there were aliens... but that was about it. So I went in not knowing much. A lot of sci-fi geeks are calling this the best sci-fi movie of the year. I wouldn't go that far, but it was a lot of fun. I would definitely recommend it for fans of the genre. But I wasn't as engaged as I thought I should be. I probably need to watch it again to gain a full appreciation for the film...
Grade for now: B+

Finally... I also saw "Paranormal Activity." I'd heard all the buzz back when it came out and was glad to finally form my own opinion of the horror film. It was great. It was scary and real and also fun. It's this decade's "Blair Witch Project." It also has a little in common with the great "Open Water." The movie basically follows a man and his girlfriend as they try to figure out why she's being haunted. Sure, the guy acts like an idiot.. but that's probably what most guys would do in the same situation. It's all videotaped on a consumer camera ala "Cloverfield." I didn't have any nightmares after watching the movie... but if I was the type of person who was bothered by scary movies, I'm sure I would have.
Grade: A

One more thing of note... I'm thinking about creating a Twitter account where I will give quick reviews of films, books, music, and TV episodes. If that is something you think you'd like to subscribe to, let me know. Until next time...