Da Couch Tomato

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The 2009 Top 12

Continuing the tradition of last year's Top 12 films, Da Couch Tomato again gives another recap of this year's Top 12.

Some films should've been on this list, but are not. Like Filipino indie films, for instance. Last Supper No. 3 would've tied for Number 1, and Dinig Sana Kita would've also tied for Number 4. I've decided to scrap them because independent films shouldn't be judged side-by-side with mainstream Hollywood cinema, as they use totally different standards. Zombieland would've tied for Number 4, but it wasn't released in the Philippines in 2009 (hello, Halloween). Kimmy Dora: Kambal sa Kieme would've also tied for Number 4, but the thing is, the Hollywood reviews far outnumber the local ones, and it would be unfair to pit them in the same category. If we had watched more Filipino films, then there would probably be more Filipino films in the Top 12.

Which is why this Top 12 has sadly become a Top 12 list of Hollywood movies for 2009. I am honestly ashamed of this, as I would very much like to saturate myself with local movies, like a true Filipino moviegoer. And so our New Year's resolution is to...watch more Filipino films. (But I've already said that last year...)

And again, this list is limited to 1) Hollywood films, 2) reviewed in Da Couch Tomato, and 3) released in Philippine theaters in 2009. By the way, you can click on the title to read the original review.

12. Star Trek

J.J. Abrams: You. Rock. And this film has established the new Hollywood doctrine: Prequels are the new sequels. George Lucas may have done it first, but J.J. Abrams did it better.

11. A Christmas Carol

We do not just applaud director Robert Zemeckis for a truly delightful and faithful retelling of the Charles Dickens classic. We salute him for his dedication to the development of the art of motion-capture. Like Nikola Tesla, critics may laugh at him now, but they will be kissing his ass in the near future when motion-captured performances become better than the real thing, and biological actors become obsolete.

10. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

This should win an award for "Darkest Harry Potter Film Ever". Although we would've preferred it if they showed us tons of action, and the bloodiest fight scene ever in the wizarding world. Well, they attempted. But it just wasn't bloody enough for us.

9. Terminator Salvation

This movie did not make it to the Top 12 because it's a sci-fi flick, or because it's a sort of prequel (the timeline is all messed up) to the Terminator series. It's on this list because Sam Worthington was great here, and Christian Bale was in it. That's how much we love Christian Bale.

8. Up

This isn't really surprising. You can expect a Pixar film in the Top 12 every year. Pixar has never yet let us down. The minute Pixar releases a crappy movie, I'm switching to DreamWorks Animation.

7. This is It

For those who have never watched a live Michael Jackson concert, this would probably be the closest thing. Although it's not really a full movie concert, but more of a behind-the-scenes type of documentary. But still, I'd prefer the behind-the-scenes intimacy over pyrotechnics any day. Especially with an artist like Michael.

6. Jennifer's Body

Recent studies have shown that sex doesn't really sell anymore. The new generation of moviegoers do not get excited anymore with huge tits and sexual innuendos. And this film is on the list because of Claire's Amanda Seyfried (that's Claire for you), and not because of Megan Fox.

5. Inglourious Basterds

Because we love Tarantino, and we love World War II. Although this isn't historically accurate, the production design and the brilliant acting of Christoph Waltz make this a must-see. Apart from the fact that it's Tarantino's latest in a long time.

4. District 9

The storytelling uses the "fake documentary" style, which I think will become popular in the coming decade. I refrain from using the word "mock-umentary" because "mock" tends to make the whole movie seem like a joke. So if I may coin the word "fake-umentary". But I'm sure my newly-coined word will not catch on, and will die a natural death.

3. The Hangover

Comedies have not really been taken seriously, except if it's done by Woody Allen. But this film belongs to the new breed of Hollywood comedies, similar to the Judd Apatow brand of humor. Let's go cerebral comedy!

2. Avatar. 3D

Again, I shall never tire of saying this: 3D is the future of cinema. For emphasis, let's say that again in boldface: 3D. Is. The. Future. Of. Cinema. Like Robert Zemeckis, James Cameron's development of 3D technology will put him at par with the other filmmaker-innovators before him. And I honestly thought this would land the Number One spot this year, like U2 3D the year before.

And finally, the best film of 2009 is...

1. (500) Days of Summer

Okay, I never expected a rom-com to outrank a 3D film. Not in my entire life. But damn, this is just one brilliant film. The non-linearity of the narrative is excellent, the soundtrack was good (especially the use of a Hall and Oates song), and the narrator had a very sexy voice. And of course, Zooey Deschanel made my heart melt. But somehow...I think I like Autumn better.

*Pics from: 12. lemonlemonade.wordpress.com; 11. thefilmstage.com; 10. thecia.com; 9.
unrealitymag.com; 8. thebestthingsince.com; 7. mjjr.net; 6. aceshowbiz.com; 5. thescene.com.au; 4. scifiscoop.com; 3. rymeorreason.wordpress.com; 2. flickr.com; 1. cribbster.wordpress.com


The Fallen of 2009

As the year comes to a close, Da Couch Tomato pays tribute to the departed of 2009. This year, we have lost a lot in the entertainment industry. The world has lost some of the greatest icons of our time, and it is but fitting that we pay tribute.

Click on the name to view the original obituary post.

Francis Magalona
4 Oct 1964 - 6 Mar 2009

David Carradine
8 Dec 1936 - 3 Jun 2009

Michael Jackson
29 Aug 1958 - 25 Jun 2009

Farrah Fawcett
2 Feb 1947 - 25 Jun 2009

John Hughes
18 Feb 1950 - 6 Aug 2009

Les Paul
9 Jun 1915 - 12 Aug 2009

Patrick Swayze
18 Aug 1952 - 14 Sep 2009

Captain Lou Albano
29 Jul 1933 - 14 Oct 2009

Johnny Delgado
29 Feb 1948 - 19 Nov 2009

Brittany Murphy
10 Nov 1977 - 20 Dec 2009

Albano: Info from Wikipedia, pic from comicculturewarrior.wordpress.com
Carradine: Info from Wikipedia, pic from shockya.com
Delgado: Info from Wikipedia, pic from angsawariko.com
Fawcett: Info from Wikipedia, pic from borough6.wordpress.com
Hughes: Info from Wikipedia, pic from fisherwy.blogspot.com
Jackson: Info from Wikipedia, pic from bbc.co.uk
Magalona: Info from Wikipedia, pic from thegadflyinflight.wordpress.com
Murphy: Info from Wikipedia, pic from gamespot.com
Paul: Info from Wikipedia, pic from blogs.houstonpress.com
Swayze: Info from Wikipedia, pic from redriverautographs.wordpress.com


DJ Earworm's "Blame It on the Pop"

And so, we end the music year with a mash-up (in the tradition of Glee) of the Top 25 Billboard songs for 2009.

Thank you to Juju, who got this video from Ria. But I'd like to especially thank DJ Earworm.

Best. Mash-up. Ever.

*video from djearworm at YouTube

You may also want to check out DJ Earworm's mash-ups for 2010 and 2011


Movie Icons: Brittany Murphy

Brittany Murphy isn't exactly that famous. I don't know if she's a household name in the States, but basing on her filmography, I think the average moviegoer would know her face, but not necessarily her name. Well, she was that cute fat kid in Clueless, and she was Eminem's slutty girlfriend in 8 Mile.

I was actually really saddened by her death. Not because I'm a big fan (because really, I'm not), but because she was really too young. And 2009 has already been a year of great losses to the entertainment industry.

Brittany Murphy. 1977-2009.

*some info from Wikipedia
pic from movies.about.com


Band of Brothers. Part 4: Replacements

As the title suggests, this is about replacements. Easy Company is not that keen on letting rookies fight side by side with the veterans, so that in itself creates a great conflict. Plus, this episode is about the (in)famous Operation: Market-Garden (oh how I love the sound of the names of covert military operations). This was one of the more notorious failed Allied operations. And you'll see here why it failed.

P.S. James McAvoy is here. Yes, THE James McAvoy.

*pic from livejournal.com


Toradora! Episode 16: One Step Forward

image source: http://hetanoyokozuki.wordpress.com/

I was going to write a review of Toradora! after I finish watching all the episodes, but I just can't resist writing one for this episode. And since I am going to write the gist of the anime when I write the review for the whole series, I'll just continue the tradition of sharing how I felt when I watched this episode (basically, all I'm really saying is that my "micro reviews," as Sting Lacson dubbed it, are for those already acquainted with the show.) Episode 16 is my turning episode in which I decided to admit that I fell in love with the series, not just because it takes me back to escapism high school, but because I can bullshit my way into intellectualizing every minor detail. Because Episode 16 tugs the right heart strings of comedy, drama, and even managing to tug some action scenes in a usually "realistic" high school setting (quotation marks; think realistic in terms of anime standards). In this episode, Taiga fights for the love of her life (and when I say fight: wooden swords and jumping on classroom tables). One minute I was rooting for her; the next, her opponent. What makes this episode (and the series) wonderful is one can empathize with all the characters. A is in love with B, C is in love with D, but we all know A and C will make a cute couple too, they just don't know it yet. So on and so forth.There are so many pairings but it's not easy to choose a favorite pairing, because every pairing goes well together. This is not like Friends or That 70's Show where they all, as Mrs. Foreman says, "switch partners more than square dancers." It's more than looking for that fitting romantic relationship to please the audience. Because all possible relationships are already pleasingly fitting in Toradora! Interactions with these possible relationships bring about changes within each character. It's established from the start how everyone hides their "true selves" in the disguise of, for example, hyperactivity or airhead-edness. And when each pairing interacts, or in Episode 16, is fought over for, they bring out the "true selves" in them. Not that I believe in the concept of "true selves" but I love how the unraveling of every "true self" of all characters are intricately involved in each pairing. Also, my favorite joke in this episode was when the scene, supposedly dramatic, showed a flashback of the student council president suddenly appearing on top of this building while Kitamura was brooding over Taiga's rejection, hair flowing, booming background music and all. She majestically invites Kitamura to join the student council for a happier high school life. Then, the camera pulls back and we see a ladder. Then it cut backs to the present awe stricken face Kitamura. Toradora! spurts out typical but untimely jokes without blinking a lash.


Band of Brothers. Part 3: Carentan

Since this is a ten-part series, you can't pull off those ten episodes without focusing on certain characters. Well technically you can, if you have a strong plot. And we all know what the plot for Band of Brothers is--World War II, European front. Ho hum. So we really need to focus on certain characters. "Carentan" focuses on Pvt. Albert Blithe, who isn't even a minor character in the book, but gets special mention here. That's because Blithe embodies all the cowards of war.

*pic from nj.com


The Hangover

First of all, this is quite a good film to watch with your family while waiting for Christmas Eve dinner.

That said, this is, surprisingly, one of the most subdued American comedies I've seen in quite a while.

You can't deny the slapstick roots of American comedy, especially in the movies. But The Hangover more or less follows the comedy style of Judd Apatow, which goes for more cerebral comedy. Although the overall look of this film is quite similar to a Judd Apatow flick, it's not.

I'd also have to commend the filmmakers for not relying on famous names to bring out the laughs. Heck, except for Justin Bartha, I've never even heard of the major characters. But we do have some famous cameos, like Heather Graham as that stripper who married the dentist, and of course, "Iron" Mike Tyson, who, after all these years, has still got it. The knockout punch, I mean.

*some info from IMDb
pic from The Miday Masala

The Hangover. USA. 2009.

Rating: Eight and a half out of ten.

You may also want to check out the other The Hangover review from Cholo Mercado.


Band of Brothers. Part 1: Currahee

This is the very first episode. Of course there's no action yet. This is just jump school. And even if I still can't dissociate David Schwimmer from the TV show Friends, he does a fine good job here as that despicable officer who actually made Easy Company.

*pic from rapid.org


Band of Brothers. Part 2: Day of Days

If you love action, you'll love this. If you love the European front of the Second World War, you'll love this. It's action, plus action, plus action. Guns. Guns. Guns. Parachutes. Parachutes. Parachutes. Germans. Germans. Germans. And for the longest time, I believed that the "D" in D-Day stood for "Dooms", you know, like "Doomsday". But this is actually Operation Overlord, a.k.a. The Day of Days. Let's go American megalomania!

*pic from bor3ds0ul.blogspot.com


Avatar. 3D

Like I said before, 3D will be cinema's weapon against the imminent threat posed by pirated home viewing. But I shall write on that separately.

This is a great film for three reasons.

1. James Cameron is a great visual storyteller. You have to admit that, even if you didn't like Titanic. He's also an auteur, as he single-handedly wrote the screenplay. There are some weaknesses in the way he reveals information and back stories, but those instances are negligible compared to the two and a half-hour running time. The guy has range, like Danny Boyle (although Danny Boyle is technically not an auteur). Range means he can tell stories in any film genre. Not like a certain director of robots in disguise.

This is James Cameron's first feature film after Titanic, and he could only have gotten better after that hiatus. Of course he didn't spend those years idly. He's been hiding in a secret underground base, developing a super-secret digital 3D camera, which he will use to take over the world. Apparently the story of Avatar was conceived a little after Titanic broke box-office records, but has remained shelved because Cameron was waiting for the proper technology to come into fruition. And that is the same thing I would've done. "If you're going to do something, do it well, or don't do it at all." (I don't know who originally said that. Probably me.)

3. This film utilized technology co-developed by Cameron himself. You have to admire James Cameron for following the same path walked by Orson Welles, George Lucas, and Peter Jackson: If the technology does not exist, create it. What makes this film worth watching in 3D is that Cameron intended from the onset that this will primarily be a 3D release, with the 2D release being only secondary. What is great about films originally intended for 3D (like U2 3D) is that the shots are composed to provide maximum depth. This would actually be a good starter for people who have never seen a 3D film before.

And now to the nitty-gritty.

James Cameron, I've already praised you enough. Next.

James Horner, I love your score. I hardly noticed it. And that is the mark of a great musical score.

Sam Worthington, I knew you were good since Terminator: Salvation. I said you could be the next Clive Owen. I think I'm right.

Sigourney Weaver: You. Are. Such. A. Bad. Ass. And I've liked you since Ghostbusters.

Giovanni Ribisi, you are good, but your voice is annoying.

And to the rest of the cast, for not being A-listers, you help keep the attention on the story and not on your faces. Nice work.

Oh, and Michelle Rodriguez, I admit I didn't like you before. Why? Because your acting is always the same. But after seeing Avatar, I thank James Cameron for landing you a role that's tailor-fit to your natural acting template. And I do hope I still like you in your next movie.

*some info from IMDb and Wikipedia
pic from bscreview.com

. USA. 2009.

Rating: Eight and a half out of ten.
3D shots: Nine out of ten.


The Beatles: Rock Band Intro

I've played The Beatles: Rock Band months before, but I've never seen the intro. I only saw it last weekend when I played it at my friend The Jujuman's house. His was the Nintendo Wii version though. The version I played earlier was the PlayStation 3 version. I've already sensed some slight differences, although I'd like to try to play the XBox 360 version first before I write a comparison.

Anyway, the first time I saw it, I was like, blown away. I don't have to explain why. Just watch the video.

My friend said, "The guy who did that's a famous animator." Using my cinematic eye, honed by years and years of viewing, I asked, "Is this the same animator who did The Gorillaz?"

He answered, "No, I don't think so. Probably not."

So I said, "Well, maybe they just used the same software."

And true enough, I googled it, and I found out that this video was indeed done by Pete Candeland, the same one who did The Gorillaz. I love being right. My cinematic eye has never failed me. Yet.

*some info from vectorvault.com
video from SBARSTV at YouTube


Glee. Season 1, Episode 13: Sectionals

image source: http://gleeks.tumblr.com

I like Emma's clothes. And I also like the medley of each episodes dance steps. The cardboard judges are also a nice touch. Finn as the patriarchal Troy Bolton of TV musicals is still impossible to me. Oh well, cardboard and fantastic choreography equals Glee.


Baron Geisler Farts at My Mom

This was during the last day of the wake of the late Johnny Delgado.

MOM -- My mother
TITA -- My aunt, my mom's cousin
FRIEND -- BARON GEISLER's female friend

Outside the chapel. Two benches, separated by a potted plant in between.

From left to right: On the first bench, FRIEND, then BARON GEISLER. Then the plant. Then MOM, then TITA.

MOM and TITA are chatting with each other, as are BARON GEISLER and FRIEND. They do not see each other because of the potted plant.

Suddenly MOM hears an unmistakable, very loud farting sound. Not just one fart, but three successive farts, one long, followed by two short ones. (Proooooooot...prooot...prooot)

Ay ano ba 'yun?

(who also heard it) Onga, ano 'yun?

(looks out from behind the plant, then sees MOM and TITA) Ay! Sorry po! Kala ko po walang tao e. (points to FRIEND) Ito po kasi o, ka-babaeng tao, anlakas umutot.

Hoy ano ka, ikaw kaya 'yun!

BARON GEISLER and FRIEND stand up laughing, then leave.

Si kuwan 'yun, 'di ba...si Baron Geisler?

Oo mare. Inututan ka ni Baron Geisler.


*pic from abs-cbn.com


Band of Brothers. Part 8: The Last Patrol

Because Private First Class David Kenyon Webster contributed significantly to the historical accuracy of the series, he was made the central character for this entire episode. What a break for actor Eion Bailey. And his acting wasn't bad, by the way. Tom Hanks's son also stars here, as newbie Lt. Jones, who graduated on D-Day. He's also got some acting chops (possibly genetic, considering that his old man is a back-to-back Oscar Best Actor), acting as green as his fresh ODs.

*pic from marymary.livejournal.com


Glee. Season 1, Episode 12: Mattress

image source: http://gleeks.tumblr.com

Glee, you've done good again. Finally. The overall story is tight and the musical numbers are back in its proper place, entertaining yet not interfering and forced in between scenes. Of course, the yummy topping of the episode, Will and Terri's confrontation is breathtaking. I've waited so long for this. I've always felt anxious every time Terri finds a way to cover her lie with another. I know she's supposed to be the bitch everyone can't love (unlike Sue), but I do. I love her too. The same way I kind of love deers caught in headlights. Of course she's setting herself up for her big downfall, and I guess I watch out for characters like that. I'm sort of interested how they get up from the downfall, or how they fall even deeper.


A Christmas Carol

Some people will never, ever agree with me when I say that motion capture has its own advantages. I shall defend that in a bit.

I shall give A Christmas Carol a passing score. And not because it's Christmas.

First, because Jim Carrey's acting was excellent. In motion capture films, an actor not only provides the voice, but the performance as well. So all the facial twitches of Ebenezer Scrooge were performed by Carrey. Oh, and Jim Carrey also performed all of the Christmas ghosts.

Second, the supporting cast was also excellent. Gary Oldman as Cratchit was terrific. Although I can't say the same for Colin Firth, as his character's facial expressions looked fake. Well of course. He's still computer-animated. Oh, and Fay Masterson is in it. Fay Masterson was my long-time crush from The Power of One.

Third, it used effective realism. Thank God Zemeckis didn't modernize the dialogue. He stayed true to the book. I'm sure Charles Dickens' ghost would've haunted him if he messed up the canon. Some may need subtitles to understand the dialogue, but those who enjoy dated languages (like me) will have a blast with listening to authentic nineteenth century syntax.

And fourth, Zemeckis' motion-capture technology has greatly improved. I can see now the advantages of motion-capture versus live action. Motion-capture gives the director absolute control. As in absolute control. Anything Zemeckis wants onscreen, he gets. If he wants this kind of look, or this kind of expression, he gets it. To have a great actor in your cast is one thing. And to have absolute control over a great actor is another.

And so there you have it. I predict Robert Zemeckis will be pushing motion-capture to its limits, maximizing it to its fullest potential. And unless he tires of playing cinematic god, we have him to thank for any developments of this promising new medium.

*some info from IMDb
pic from dailybruin.com

A Christmas Carol. USA. 2009.

Rating: Seven and a half out of ten.


Glee. Season 1, Episode 11: Hairography

I like my Sue Sylvester bad ass, but I don't know--in this episode, she seemed unfunny and boring-bad ass to me (I still love her with all my heart, and in this episode, I developed a May-December relationship with her. Heh). Also, singing and sitting on stool chairs can be considered a "gimmick" too. Oh, where did my Football Single Ladies moment go? I gave up on investing feelings for character development and interaction (though I was tempted with Will and Quinn's hugging). But I just refuse to stop believin'.


The Vampire Diaries. Season 1, Episode 10: The Turning Point

Boring until the last part. They had to make a leeway for the second act's establishment of character and plot development. But it ends with a cliff hanger, saving it from being a total bore.


The Vampire Diaries. Season 1, Episode 9: History Repeating

And the plot thickens. Witchcraft is happyhappyjoyjoy. But note to self--never, ever watch The Vampire Diaries at midnight, ever, ever again. Even if you know what's going to happen. Doesn't make it less scary.


The Vampire Diaries. Season 1, Episode 8: 162 Candles

There's a new vampire in town and I adore her. And then they kill someone. And then, wow. These writers are as ruthless as the evil brother vampire, Damon.


Pinoy Icons: Johnny Delgado

2009 has been a year of great losses, and this month we have lost one of the best actors of Philippine Cinema.

I've known Johnny Delgado since the Bad Bananas, and I thought (and still do) that they were the funniest comedy troupe in Philippine showbusiness, funnier even than Tito, Vic, and Joey.

But my first appreciation of his full acting potential was back in film school, when I saw Mike de Leon's short film Aliwan Paradise. And I already marked him down as the most natural local actor I have ever seen. His acting style is subtle, yet full of energy, and the way he delivers his lines--you would never sense that he was speaking lines from a script, as they are colloquial and natural. I don't know if the directors give him license to paraphrase, or if he just does a damn good job.

Film historians will tell you that Johnny Delgado is the son of director Ben Feleo. But what few people know is that he is the director's adopted son. His natural father is Sixto Esquivias, Jr. He is an Esquivias. My mother's first cousin. My uncle by blood.

Johnny Delgado a.k.a. Juan Marasigan Feleo. 1948-2009.

*some info from Wikipedia
pic from pixelgrain.biz


American Icons: Captain Lou Albano

The only people who will feel great loss upon the passing of Captain Lou Albano will be those who grew up in the eighties.

Lou Albano was a wrestler in the World Wrestling Federation. Some might remember him from the animated series Hulk Hogan's Rock 'n' Wrestling.

Lou Albano appeared in several Cindy Lauper music videos, as one of wrestling's most active stars, helping the sport cross over to mainstream consciousness.

Lou Albano also played Mario. Yes, the Italian plumber. This was in the TV show The Super Mario Bros. Super Show!, which was the earlier version before John Leguizamo played Luigi.

Louis Vincent Albano. 1933-2009.

*some info from Wikipedia
pic from blog.taragana.com


The Twilight Saga: New Moon

Okay, I'll just do this in (silver) bullets. (That's a pun--you know, werewolves.)

  • I've never watched Twilight the movie, but I have read Twilight the book. And I think to appreciate the movie more, I should've seen Twilight the movie first.
  • I loved the action sequences. I mean, they're in a semi-podunk town called Forks, where the only action they get is cliff diving. And maybe random rides with bearded bikers. So of course, a vampire-werewolf face-off is always welcome.
  • I think that the werewolves' ability to keep warm is a lame-o excuse to keep showing their bodies and their six-packs. "It's a wolf thing." I mean, seriously, come on. I understand them having tattoos. But them wearing identical shorts and shoes? And no shirts? The only ones who enjoyed this were the young girls in the movie theater. Because I certainly didn't.
  • Kristen Stewart is a traitor. A traitor is someone who doesn't catch your attention at first, but little by little, you realize that she is actually beautiful. The realization slowly creeps up on you, and hits you when you least expect it. My realization hit me around the twenty minute mark. I hate traitors.
  • I loved Ashley Greene. She played Alice Cullen. It must be her hair. But I googled her, and realized she doesn't look as pretty in other hairstyles as she did in her Alice Cullen hair.Which was actually a wig.
  • I ♥ Dakota Fanning. All those who thought Dakota Fanning was an alien when she was a kid, raise their hand. I admit, I found her creepy when she was young. Simply because she was a really terrific actor at that young and tender age. But now, after seeing New Moon, I have concluded that she is not an alien, and that she is all grown up now.

And of course, there will be no ravings about that guy who played Jacob. Nor will there be any ravings about Robert Pattinson, the guy who played Edward Cullen. Because I. Am. Edward. Cullen.

*some info from IMDb
pic from news.bbc.co.uk

The Twilight Saga: New Moon. USA. 2009.

Rating: Seven out of ten.
Kristen Stewart: Eight out of ten.
Dakota Fanning: Nine out of ten.

You may also want to check out the other reviews for The Twilight Saga, such as Eclipse and Breaking Dawn─Part 1.


Glee. Season 1, Episode 10: Ballad

We don't get to see Sue Sylvester in this episode. Finn and Puck are jerks. Kudos to Mercedes for putting Puck in his place. But Mercedes explicitly admits that the loser kids' lives revolve around the popular ones so that's more loser-y. Plus, though I don't like Juno, that film did a better job on handling teen pregnancy messages than Glee could. Glee is so preachy. And when they talk about teen pregnancy, I want to laugh. Or sleep. Mostly sleep. It has been consecutive episodes of these teenagers bitching around about pregnancy, and bitching is fun when it's funny. Here, it's not even dramatic, just annoying. Still, the sub-story, the teacher-student relationship was funny and showed Will's acting capability. But Glee should really stop with the homophobic jokes. Kurt does not deserve to be token funny. He should be token adorable. Because he goddamn is. Plus, we don't get to see Sue Sylvester in this episode.



Less than five minutes into the film, I already stopped it in my head.


Because Tom Cruise spoke English.

I already mentioned in my earlier reviews about effective realism (if I want to coin the word, I'm going to have to do an academic paper on it, which of course I will NOT do), and I wish all movies would follow the same trend. Inglourious Basterds, for instance, also used effective realism. If you're going to do a film about the Germans, then please make them speak German. Or at least make them all look Aryan. I mean, they could at least have dyed Tom Cruise's hair blonde, to make him look more German and less all-American pretty boy. Didn't Tom Cruise look good as Lestat, who had blonde hair?

Also, the story kind of--there's no better word for it--sucked. I don't know if it was director Bryan Singer's fault, or the scriptwriters', but suck it did.

But what saved this film was the production design (excellent uniforms and props, and that annoying eyeball that Cruise keeps in his pocket), and the performance of Tom Wilkinson. He is fast becoming my favorite "fierce old guy" actor. I hope he isn't a fierce old guy in real life.

Oh, and also, Bill Nighy was here. Only I don't know which character he played. He was so damn good, he escaped my eye. I only saw him on the IMDb cast list.

*some info from IMDb
pic from specialcomment.wordpress.com

Valkyrie. USA. 2008.

Rating: Six out of ten.
Tom Cruise's eyeball: One out of ten.



How many more films based on video games do we have to endure before they come up with Grand Theft Auto?

Anyway, Hitman, sadly, is not one of my favorite games. Which goes on to say that this is not one of my favorite movies. And although there are a lot of shots slash sequences that pay direct homage to the video game, that is just not enough. Although there are some redeeming factors.

1. Timothy Olyphant. Surprisingly, he can play a cold-blooded killer with little emotion. No pretty boy antics, though. Which is a good thing, really.

2. Olga Kurylenko. The Russian who doesn't look too Nordic. She looks like she has some Asian blood in her. I think most southern Russians look like this, being close to Mongolia and all.

3. Dougray Scott. What a great team player. Dougray Scott is so effective that sometimes you just forget he's Dougray Scott.

4. Robert Knepper. One of my favorite new actors. He just takes every role assigned to him, and he does it good. Just doing the Russian accent alone already requires effort.

And let me just say that if (and that's a big IF) they do decide to make a sequel to this movie, I am definitely NOT watching it. And I wish the big Hollywood studios would get their asses working on that Grand Theft Auto movie instead.

*some info from IMDb
pic from thehollywoodnews.com

Hitman. USA. 2007.

Rating: Five out of ten.
Robert Knepper's Russain accent: Seven out of ten.
Olga Kurylenko's nakedness: Nine out of ten.


The IT Crowd. Series 1, Episode 1: Yesterday's Jam

From the start, you will know that this is a cheap production. But "cheap" doesn't necessarily mean "crap". This show is a beauty. For finding humor in that seemingly humorless department the white collar workers are familiar with--I.T. And after these guys throw a party, you'll find out why they seem humorless.

*pic from theitcrowd.co.uk


The Nutcracker - Pacific Northwest Ballet

(Culturati alert?!!)

A good Christmas memory for me would always be ushered in by the Dance of The Sugar Plum Fairy from the ballet The Nutcracker. This is mostly because I was made to dance to this as a kid and because they play this in some parts of Home Alone.

I saw the 1986 stage to film adaptation of the Nutcracker by the Pacific Northwest Ballet Company last night on MGM right after Glee. (So this movie is just as old as I am; and yes, I saw the Wheels episode of Glee.)

The production and costume designs were dreamy, of course. We have Where the Wild Things Are author and illustrator Maurice Sendak to thank for these.

This version's ending could have been more dreamy if it had stuck to the original E.T.A Hoffman short story where in Maria(Clara) marries the nutcracker prince is who is her godfather Dosselmeier's nephew. Instead, the film almost ends abruptly when after a series of dances, the whole cast wave goodbye to a floating Clara and Prince. They later fall from the heavens and Clara wakes up in her bed, a young thirteen year old girl again and alone.

Some of the dances seemed like they were there for the sake of but that's not surprising in a ballet or a classical production.


Glee. Season 1, Episode 9: Wheels

At least episode 8 was funny. If they continue on like this, the hype shall fail to sustain the audience's entertainment. Or maybe not. As Dr. Horrible said, some people can be like sheep-ple. And that's a funnier joke than the funniest joke in this episode. The choreography is at least fantastic as usual. Sue Sylvester is still lovable even if the show is toning down her edge. At last they took out the annoying wife versus the obsessive-compulsive fangirl for one episode but can we have more more LESS of Rachel, Quinn, Finn, and Noah for just one episode? MYGAWD. Please. I am so getting sick of their woes. They get so much airtime that this just counters the show's preaching of we-are-weird-people-hooray! It's still about teh popular kids. And this was supposed to be an episode about Artie, the handicapped kid. And he was damn good in his musical number, yes, but if this is an episode about him, give him freaking more air time. The popu kids stole so much airtime they had to squeeze Artie's love story into... nothing. Artie, what Tina did is yes, in a way, wrong. But you don't love someone just because that person has disabilities. And don't get me started on the gay and handicapped messages they're sending. Again, they could have handled it much more properly. Like they should have with the song "Defying Gravity". And that was the only thing I was sure they'd get right. Shame on you, Glee. To make up for it, I suggest a dream sequence where Will and Sue have sex.


The Vampire Diaries. Season 1, Episode 7: Haunted

Slow, episode-wise. Fast, season arc-wise. Someone, who I thought was a mainstay cast, gets killed. And that always makes a show appear brilliant. Note, the word "appear." This compliment is not valid if the supposed mainstay cast gets killed because said cast member wants to fly away from the nest. Evil vampire Damon gets hotter with his humanist side trying to hide, but clearly surfacing. Internal conflicts are hot. His character getting hotter is the very reason why I am bothered with his bad make-up. Yes, I am still obsessed with their make-up. It is really... not good.


Confessions of a Dangerous Mind

This is my first book in months. And I enjoyed it.

This book is about two of my dream jobs. Espionage and entertainment. Spies and showbusiness. What more can you ask for?

They say that this is Chuck Barris' autobiography, from which the movie with the same title was adapted from. Yeah, okay Chuck Barris can write, with more wit and humor than most writers today, I might add. But still, this is a story chronicling the life of a CIA assassin. I don't know why the CIA never bothered to stop its publication. Well maybe they did, but obviously, they didn't succeed. Otherwise they wouldn't have come out with the movie. On the other hand, perhaps the CIA thought that no one is going to believe Barris anyway.

what makes this a great read is the ease with which one goes through the whole book. There are none of the big words that literary writers love sprinkling in their stories. This is just simple, straightforward storytelling, told in the language of a layman.

And the second thing that makes this great is the juxtaposition (<--that is an example of a big word used by literary writers) of Barris' multiverses (<--yet another big word used by literary writers). The riotous world of television production, the grand lifestyle of Hollywood, and the cloak-and-dagger danger of the life of espionage, all combine to tell the story of one of the most exciting periods in American history. For the true lovers of literature, you can read this without even seeing the movie. In fact, you don't even have to know that a movie version exists. But for those of you who prefer the magic of movies--get a life. Read a book.

*pic from isbn.nu

Rating: Eight and a half out of ten.


Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog

How do you classify Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog? Is it a TV show made for Internet? Is it a short film made for Internet? Am I sounding like a cheesy ad? Or am I sounding like your high school teacher who does not really know how to teach, and stalls around to get a minuscule of a point out.

The minuscule of a point is this:

Even the Emmy's awarding Dr. Horrible do not know where to put it.

For the record, the Emmy's do not know what the hell they were doing. If they were actually genuine, Joss Whedon would have won an Emmy a long long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. And not just for the technical effects of his groundbreaking shows.

Ooops, fangirl mode resists to be turned off. I shall take a breather and let's just talk about Neil Patrick Harris.

Okay. Okay. I'm calm again and I shall refuse to succumb to incoherent fangirlism typing the usual "asdaasafsdkfjskdjflakjfa."

Okay. Neil Patrick Harris.

If Whedon is not your cup of tea, you might probably check this Dr. Horrible for NPH. He's NPH, dude. My straight man-friends have a crush on him. They'll probably like NPH better as that guy in How I Met Your Mother, the one named after the purple dinosaur, but who cares? It's NPH. He nails his character with his usual charm even more effectively as the dorky guy who wants to be a supervillain. He is perfect as Dr. Horrible--from dorky to sympathetic to lovable to hawtness to even yes, evil. I think NPH should win an award for nailing the song "Slipping." It was creepy, tragic, bad-ass, and cute. All at the same time. I don't think anyone could pull it off better than NPH.

Oh, did I mention this is a musical? Do I even need to mention that with a title screaming "Sing-Along"?

But if Whedon, NPH, and musicals are still not your cups of tea, then watch it for Nathan Fillion. Which I would find weird because you would probably love Nathan Fillion if you have been watching Whedon's work. And I don't know (or remember) why some people think that Fillion can't act. He was fantastic as the ultra-misogynist priest-like Caleb in Buffy. He was fantastic as the funny-yet-studdly Captain Mal in Firefly. And in Dr. Horrible, he nailed the cheesy, charming, laughable, know-it-all, big brother-like bully Captain Hammer--the superhero, yet clearly the antagonist, and Dr. Horrible's Archnemesis.

But if still, you don't like or know whatever and whoever I'm talking about, goddamn search the fartherst of the earth and find a way to watch this brilliant piece. Just because it's funny. And if funny is still not your cup of tea, god, what is wrong with you people? Dr. Horrible is the exemplar of what funny should be, the kind of funny that actually holds tragedy as tragedy should be, the kind of funny that is sustained all throughout the scenes where funny should not be--not the kind of funny that just uses curse words to get their point and passion out, like "goddamn" errr, right.

But if you still wouldn't watch it because of the points I have raised above, just please, watch it just because I am begging you. You can even watch it just so you can tell me how wrong I am. That NPH is not cute, that Fillion is a bad actor, and Whedon sucks. Of course, I would probably kill you with that last bit on Whedon, but I made you watch! And somehow, with that, I healed the word and made it a better place.



Jesse Eisenberg was first noticed for his lead role in Adventureland. This year he starred in Zombieland with Emma Stone, Abigail Breslin and Woody Harrelson. (I hope next time, Jesse Eisenberg stars in a film called Seamonsterland. Ehehehe. Korni.)

Zombieland was a big commercial success and it has to do with its fresh take on the zombie movie. While most zombie movies focus on the horror and gore of being eaten by another brainless human being that was once your mom, a few zombie movies have either focused on the comic relief of the situation or on the very serious question of humanity and communing with civil society. Zombieland combines both by telling the comedic tale of four people who were isolated from everyone else even before everyone else became zombies.

The story is narrated by Columbia (Jesse Eisenberg) and begins as an enumeration of his rules to surviving a zombie outbreak. Writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick add wit to Columbia's narration, which wasn't at all annoying or overbearing. Columbia mentions that his dream is to brush a girl's hair over her ears. When he encounters sisters Wichita (Emma Stone) and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin) amidst a zombie attack in a grocery store, he thinks "Someone's in danger of having her hair brushed over her ears".

My favorite scene has to be when the four characters meet Bill Murray who is not a zombie but is dressed as one to blend in.

Plus points for not ending the movie by taking the characters to some happy shiny zombie-free sanctuary or finding the cure for the Mad Cow/Mad People disease. Minus one point for not explaining why the sisters wanted to go to a theme park in California. Minus one point for only showing gore at distant angles. Totaling 8/10.

*Picture from ShockTillYouDrop.com

We've shown you some zombie flicks we like. Pray tell, what is your favorite zombie movie? And why?


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