Monthly Archives: December 2009

Movie Reviews: Sherlock Holmes -vs- It’s Complicated

Sherlock Holmes meet Robert Downey Jr., arguably the best male actor of our time.  It’s hard to not enjoy a movie where Downey gets to prance around solving crime, outwitting Scotland Yard, and sniffing, licking, and drinking for clues.  Jude Law’s not so bad either.  But of course, it’s Downey who steals the show.  The movie however, is long.  Too long.  Someone needed to take a firm edit to that thing and (despite how much I enjoy watching the facts come together) shave off  a good 30 minutes.  This is a movie not a book.  It would’ve been just as good of a mystery at 2 hours in length.

The stage of the film is superb, as are the costumes and the props.  Watching Holmes and Watson muck about in the dirty streets of London, I truly felt like we were right back in time with them.  Yelck.  Who ever thought I’d be glad for blacktop and sewage pipes?  Madonna’s ex-husband, I mean Guy Ritchie, reclaims his manhood with the film although once again, with Robert Downey as your star, what else does one expect?  I must say, Robert’s looking a bit craggy these days.  With deep grooves on either side of his mouth, under his eyes, and across his forehead, I was reminded of what a man who is 44 might look like without Botox and weekly facials.  A concept quite foreign for much of Hollywood.

Metacritic, my favorite movie website lowballed the film at 57 out of a hundred.  I would have to say I disagree and give it a good 78 points at least.

Meryl Streep.  Period.  What more do I need to say?  Where Downey hits home runs for the male species of actors, Streep does the same for the ladies.   She’s the best.  Add Steve Martin, Alec Baldwin, and John Krasinski and we’ve got a winner.  It’s Complicated is funny, really funny, as in I laughed out loud the entire time.  I don’t think I laughed aloud once for Sherlock Holmes.  The premise is simple, the stage is nothing more than the backdrop of a beautiful and privileged Santa Barbara, but it is the script’s dialog and the acting thereof that makes this movie so likeable.  Let me begin by admitting that I was most certainly the youngest person in the theater.  If the film’s gross is low, it’s because most of its patrons are buying senior citizen tickets at $9 a piece versus $15.

Alec Baldwin plays Streep’s naughty ex-husband superbly, Steve Martin is good too as the love interest, but who really shines is the daughter’s boyfriend played by young, handsome, funnyman John Krasinski.  He was really great and added much to the tiny role with his fantastic comedic timing.  There are holes in the movie that didn’t get worked out and the ending is vague, but overall, it’s a feel good comedy that delivers.  Streep looks wonderful naked (wonderful as in real not bone-thin and over-plasticized) and Baldwin, well…he helps her look better by comparison.  He’s good like that.

Metacritic gave It’s Complicated the same score as Sherlock Holmes, 57, but I would contest that it’s much higher than that.  Out of a hundred, I’d give it an 80, two points higher than Sherlock if only because I’m still laughing about It’s Complicated and I doubt I’ll think about Holmes and Watson again.

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The World In 2010

When I was little I remember my teacher playing a game with us of ‘What do you think the world will be like in 2010?’  All of us pictured flying cars and people in space suits walking down the street and aliens behind the counter at McDonald’s.  I thought our houses would be floating by then and that we could play on the clouds if we didn’t feel like getting dirty on the playground.  Moms wouldn’t have to go to the grocery store anymore because all of our food would be delivered by a system of shoots like the ones we used to have at the bank; the kind where you put your money in the tube and a magic suction system sucks it up into the air and into the bank.

By 2010 there would be a settlement on the moon, high rises of course, called Moonville.  Just like Hawaii, anybody could go, you just had to not mind the 10 hours of travel.  The aliens who now lived amongst us had 8 arms and 12 eyes and some of them were blue.  Nobody said anything anymore about black and white when there creatures covered in rainbow scales and forked tails.  In 2010, we also didn’t have to go to school like in the olden days because of an accelerated learning program that started at birth.  Everybody would be able to speak at least 5 languages, know how to fight kung fu, and easily solve the hardest word problem any math teacher could give you.  Instead of spending so much time doing homework, we would all have cool jobs where we helped connect the universe and make our planet the capital planet of all the other planets we kept discovering.  In 2010 things were great.

Well here we are…3 days from 2010 and not much has changed since the 70’s.  We have cell phones and internet and microscopic surgery.  We have Dolby Surround Sound, Hybrid cars, and flat screen TV’s.  We have improvements in medicine, improvement in pharmaceuticals, and improvements in science, but we also have more diseases, more stress, more obesity.  We have more brain cancer, more couch potatoes, and more isolation from the rest of the human race.  We still have war, we still drive cars, and my house is still on the ground.  There are no blue aliens living next door to me and I still have to go the darn grocery store.  Nothing I wished for came true.

So maybe this January 1st, I’ll wish for something more realistic, like the energy to get up and do a few of things I dream of; take a sewing class, refresh my Italian, get involved in local politics, organize a book club, go to Africa.  Maybe 2010 doesn’t have to be all about spacesuits and high rises on the moon, although I encourage all of my readers to own a spacesuit.  Nothing wrong with a little white lycra and a helmet that hides who you are.

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Ho! Ho! Ho!

For all you Christians out there, only a few hours to go until the big day!  Over here in Los Angeles, we’ve opened the flue, dusted out the fireplace, and purchased all of our ingredients for chocolate chip cookies with milk.  The milk being the easiest ingredient of course; 1 bottle milk.  In case Santa can’t fit through the chimney this year (last stop on the route, too many cookies, bad summer diet, etc) we’re making sure the window is easily accessible for him.  In other words, we’re leaving a ladder outside and turning a lamp on.  One way or another, we’re prepared.

So I wish all of you who celebrate, a very Merry Christmas.  I hope you’ve been good this year so your stockings are full of candy and not coal.  In case you’re on the border (fed the homeless, but cheated on your taxes…rescued a dog, but stuck gum in a parking meter…helped an old lady across the street, but then kicked her in the shin and stole her pocketbook) leave out extra cookies.  Sometimes Santa will give you a last-minute clemency for a good cookie recipe.   Ho! Ho! Ho!

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Man Eats Rare Tiger

In the Yunnan Province, a man has been sent to prison for eating a rare, maybe even the last, wild Indochinese tiger.  Kang Wannian came across the tiger (seen here at right, photographed in 2007) at a nature preserve in the south-western part of China.  He was there gathering freshwater clams, the tiger probably stopped to get a drink.  One thing leads to another and…the tiger gets eaten, Wannian gets caught, and a punishment is given for 12 years in prison.

The four people who helped Kang Wannian chop up and hide the evidence eat the tiger have also been sentenced to four years.  Because really, who gathers clams with a gun?  And why kill and eat the animal when a few warning shots in the air would’ve scared it away?  The poor, deceased tiger was the only known wild Indochinese existing today in China.  Sadly, there are less than 1,000 Indochinese tigers left in the world.  On the verge of extinction, the remaining few beautiful beasts can be found in Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Myanmar.

So instead of buying a stuffed animal for your favorite niece or nephew this holiday season, why not make a donation to saving a tiger?  At World Wildlife Federation you can give a gift that also helps the planet.  Think about it.  It’s a win-win situation!

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Ahmadinejad Claims USA Is All About the Propoganda

Ahmadinejad, most famous for his appearance in the Saturday Night Live music video, I Ran So Far Away, has now told the media that the United States is responsible for fabricating documents.  Last week the London Times published a document that was supposedly an Iranian plan to build an atomic bomb.  Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian president, claims that the document is hogwash and nothing but an American forgery attempting to put pressure on Iran.

This is the same president who spoke at Columbia University in 2007 and told listeners that there were no gay people in Iran.  He also asserted that “the Nazi slaughter of six million Jews should not be treated as fact, but theory, and therefore open to debate and more research.”*  The papers, entitled in the London Times as “Outlook for Special Neutron-Related Activities Over the Next Four Years” are said by Ahmadinejad to be a “… fabricated bunch of papers continuously being forged and disseminated by the American government.”**  Huh, who do we believe then?  The president who knows that in the 72 million people who live in Iran, not a single one is a homosexual?  Or the London Times who probably did a little due diligence before printing up documents from their source?

I mean, I’m for the US being sneaky.  I’ve seen the spy movies where the government official kills a village in Africa for an oil pipeline and blames it on someone else.  I’m not saying we’re not above forging documents and leaking them to the press.  What I am saying is that when the person who is claiming we did it has also claimed that a genocide never happened, eh.  I’m not so quick to jump on that ship.  Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the year-end deadline for certain nuclear concessions is fast approaching and Iran seems to have no intention of backing down.  I think Ahmadinejad voices his stance perfectly when he said this week on TV in Iran, “Who are they to set us a deadline? We set them a deadline that if they do not correct their attitude and behavior and literature we will demand from them the Iranian nation’s historic rights.”**

Great.

* NY Times

**Reuters

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Blockbuster, Closed. Hollywood Video, Closed.

Driving around town I’ve noticed that every Blockbuster Video store from Hollywood to Santa Monica, except for two, have closed or are in the process of closing.  Signs are up advertising ‘Sale! Every Video Must Go!’ on bright yellow banners in the windows.  When I peak in, the stores are nearly empty…the same is true for Hollywood Video.  Closed, closed, closed.  I’ve been keeping my eyes peeled in the last few months because I just can’t believe it; Goliath has fallen.  A new age of rental has dawned.

With the advent of Netflix, iTunes, On Demand, and Red Box, renting movies has completely transitioned.  Fast, easy, and cheap.  Those are the new key concepts.  No more driving to Blockbuster, paying $6 for a movie you’re not quite sure when they want back, and leaving with several yards of receipt paper.  Blockbuster has closed almost 1000 stores as of last September, 400 for Hollywood Video.  The little man however, the ma and pa who was able to survive the reign of big business, is doing fine.  Loyal customers are still visiting their doors regularly or in many cases, whenever the wait for a flick at Netflix has grown too long.  And why not?  The rules at these corner stores are clear and concise, the receipts are negligible (ie: just one), and the fees feel appropriate for a rental.

I for one, am not sad to see these big boys shutting their doors.  I feel the same way about Barnes and Noble and Borders who in the early 90’s, pushed out numerous small bookstores when they came, sliced prices, and conquered.  I’ve always preferred home-grown to manufactured.  Unfortunately, the behemoth otherwise known as Wal-mart will be harder to fight.  And if I’m going to get crazy pessimistic, I could moan on about the fact that Netflix is nothing but a warehouse and a mail-order catalog.  Red Box is well, a box in a parking lot.  And the rest of the video rental options are all electronic via the internet.  No human interaction there.

So I guess the moral of today’s story is: stores are closing so pay attention to where you spend your dollar.  If you don’t want Dayton & Son’s Video Store to close, then don’t go to the Red Box outside of Wal-Mart.  The End.

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Gone Forever

I’ve been under the weather this past week and have thus had mucho time to surf the internet.  First of all, there is a lot of crap out there.  It kind of reminds me of cable television.  I guess there’s a niche for everyone, but really, some of these sites seem like a gunshot to the head.

Moving on…one of the things I kept coming across during my web meandering was coverage on holiday shopping and sales and comparisons to last year’s model.  It seems that we are still in a recession and have got the sales numbers to prove it.  Target and Wal-Mart on the other hand, are cleaning up nicely.  With only 12 or 13 days until 2010 (depending on how you count it) here are the brands that you’ll never see again…

  1. Circuit City
  2. Saturn
  3. Pontiac
  4. Max Factor
  5. MSN Encarta
  6. and my personal favorite, Domino magazine.

Of course, there are hundreds of more brands and stores for that matter, who have shut their shop doors for good, but the loss of Gourmet Magazine and Home Depot Expo don’t affect me as much.  So for all of you merchants who have made it through another year, congratulations!!!  May 2010 bring you a deep breath of security.  And for all of you website owners out there who are doing only God knows what on your websites, get a job, find a hobby, go to church, seek counsel.  Happy Holidays to all! 

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