March 31, 2010

American Idol Update #6

10 Idol-hopefuls left and I think, to be honest…well this is not my favorite group ever on the show. Now I’m only 3 years into watching it so I may not have the frame of reference of some of you who have always watched…but I think I may be fading a bit on this show. I thought it was just so-so with the usual suspects as standouts…I did think Andrew Garcia was back in form.

Top 10-Guys were better this week…probably not close

Best Performances of top 10 week:

· (1) Lee Dewyze-Really good version of “Treat Her Like A Lady”, a song I have never liked much, but may download.

· (2) Crystal Bowersox-I get what Simon said on the show (and I rarely care what he says), it was a bit odd to see her with loads of makeup and high heels…but solid performance as usual.

· (3) Michael Lynche-I’m not a fan of this guy, but it would be hard to argue that the vocal performance of “Ready For Love” wasn’t spot on…I’ve never heard this song before…but it doesn’t sound easy to sing.

· (4) Andrew Garcia-“Forever” Good version of a song I don’t really like…potential download, and should by him some time.

Worst Performances of top 10 week:

· (1) Tim Urban-This kid is still here…Still they give him a microphone, and still he actually chooses to sing into it…I for some reason still choose to listen myself, rather than just fast-forward…please for the love of god (and I am now speaking directly to 14 year old girls everywhere that love this kid)…send him home so he doesn’t destroy the entire season!!!!

· (2) Didi Benami-I really like her so I try to root for her, she picked a good song, and sang it bad…that’s not a good sign. (What Becomes of the Brokenhearted)

· (3) Katie Stevens-I kinda think this girl is never going to get better, yeah she has a nice voice (but so did Paige), but she doesn’t ever elevate her…well anything.

Push for top 10 week (just fine, not great…should stay alive): Siobhan isn’t going anywhere, but I agree that she took on a hard song, that nobody really knows (Through the Fire), and it sounded like it. Aaron Kelly is another Idol who isn’t really getting better, and the sum of these just ok contestants is making me bored with the show…Lastly Casey James…fresh off his Huey Lewis week, strikes again with another song I really like (Hold On, I’m Coming…by Sam & Dave)…I love Sam Cooke, and though I didn’t like the performance as much as the judges, at least I wasn’t bored by it.

Current Pick to Win: Siobhan Magnus-I’m staying with her…she’s still very much capable.

Runner Up: Lee Dewyze-I actually am starting to think that it may be a boy/girl finale rather than an all girl finale.

Prediction-Going Home this week- Tim Urban or Didi Benami (sleeper to go Katie Stevens)

***UPDATE-One of my favorites Didi Benami goes home (6/15 40% in going home picks), while somebody that looks a lot like Puff Daddy performs…I don’t know what Usher was doing, but at least the cool guy from the Black Eyed Peas was there. I thought Didi sang well in her farewell and even thought for a second that they would save her (I think they are saving it for Mr. Garcia), in any case she was just a piƱata of emotion that was getting a tad old I suppose. I thought she would better, and there were certainly others that were more worthy of the boot (That’s you Tim Urban…DAMN YOU 14 YEAR OLDS GIRLS!!!!) but nonetheless she couldn’t win and she made the tour so we can look forward to a Brooke White like career from Ms. Benami…Downloads to consider: Forever by Andrew Gracia (I actually got this one and it sounds great), and my second Dewyze download…Treat Her Like A Lady…all avail on ITUNES. ***

March 29, 2010

DVD Review #34 Brothers

Brothers (2010) Tobey Maguire, Natalie Portman Parker Directed By Jim Sheridan

Similar to the film Precious, I wanted to put this obviously intense film off for as long as I could. Brothers was going to be hard to watch, and maybe even more difficult to rate was my guess, but as usual I was wrong about that…yes the film is intense, and subsequently hard to watch, however it is easy to rate because it is a tremendous film. It is both poignant and well-balanced, filled with good-acting that is paired with a haunting and touching soundtrack. Having served in the Marine Corps for a few years (although never seeing or having to deal with anything like this) I was emotionally captivated by the movie…actually scrunching up like a wussy knowing what was coming…hard to watch…but very good.

Brothers is the story of Capt. Sam Cahill (played brilliantly by Tobey Maguire), a Marine whose Blackhawk helicopter is shot down over Afghanistan. He is presumed dead by the military, but has been captured, and is not dead. His wife, Grace Cahill (again played brilliantly by Natalie Portman…who is always good) is left home to deal with two kids, and Sam’s drunk brother Tommy (played well by Jake Gyllenhal). With Tommy’s brother presumably dead, Tommy manages to clean up his act enough to help his brother’s wife both grieve and continue to take care of her family. While this is going on the captured Capt. Sam Cahill is being tortured and forced to face some of the most gruesome realties of war (these sequences are brutal), and after many dramatic moments in captivity, the camp he is being held in is freed by allied forces. I think most people will tell you that the film starts when Sam gets home to see that his brother has become close with his family and that the realities of non-war (or regular) life don’t seem to make sense to him anymore (a much sadder portrayal than the film The Hurt Locker which also deals with this), but I would argue that, though the most important scenes in the film come at the end, the moments with Sam in captivity are the meat, and the rest is the dressing. Little Bailee Madison who plays Sam’s daughter Isabelle Cahill is a break-out young actress who was great in this. I recommend this film highly, I don’t know when is a good time to watch a film like this, and now that I saw it on DVD, I sorta wish I had seen it in theaters…it is a good film…A film with a message, and a film about some of the darkest parts of war…the price some men have to pay…well watch the film and you will see. Would love comments on this one!

(The Shawshank Scale 1-10) Brothers is a very good 7.0 on the Scale, it will be just outside the top 10 of 2009 (see the list on the blog sidebar), the acting, the message, and the emotion that many will feel watching this film is what will make it memorable.

March 28, 2010

Movie Review #33 Hot Tube Time Machine

Hot Tub Time Machine (2010) John Cusack, Craig Robinson Directed by Steve Pink

The second good solid comedy of 2010 (and my 2nd comedy review in row) is Hot Time Tub Machine. The title would suggest that this movie was an easy pitch to the MGM suits…so we have a comedy that will let us pick on the 80’s (such an easy decade to pick on), there is time travel (Hollywood loves twin brothers and time travel…any pitch with one or both of those is a no-brainer), and we have John Cusack (good or bad everyone loves the Say Anything and Better Off Dead guy). And so it was, Hot Tub Time Machine got the fast track to theaters, probably without anyone ever reading a script or considering where they would get all those fluorescent hot pants or alligator polo’s. Taking all that into consideration…I liked this movie, it was the kind of brain-dead film that works well on a date or just to kill time until the next March Madness game.

Hot Tub Machine is the story of three late forty-something guys who are disappointed with their adult lives, and are visited by a mystical Chevy Chase (yes the very same Chevy Chase your thinking of) who opens a gateway to the past (via um…a hot tub…don’t over think it). So Adam (played by a very sad looking John Cusack…probably sad because he finally watched 2012 and thought…what was I thinking there?) is the center of the story. Lou (played by Daily Show alum Rob Corddry) is the break-out funny guy in the film (a la the bearded Zach Galifianakis from The Hangover), and Nick (probably the best acting in the film, played by Parks & Recreation guy Craig Robinson) is the heart of the story. These three ex-best friends go back in time to make fun of Poison and Cassette tape players, while also trying to figure out why they are there, and what they can change to make their futures better. Crispon Glover shows up as a one-armed man (which is lazy comedy…but still funny) and a very pretty Lizzy Caplan briefly shows up as the only cool person in the 80’s. So the movie has some good laughs, it has a splash of heart, and some hot tub sex…if you add those up it’s hard to give this movie a bad review so I won’t, I actually recommend Hot Tub Time Machine, whether you go out and see it in theaters or wait for the DVD, this film is just what you would expect…given its title…mindless, harmless comedy.

(The Shawshank Scale 1-10) So Red Dawn-obsessed teens, leg warmers, and Ronald Reagan (I can’t be the only guy who thinks having him on Mt. Rushmore would be hilarious right??…am I??) all add up to a serviceable 6.0 on the Shawshank Scale…check it out!
Food For Thought: I had a Dulce/Vanilla/Coffee milk shake, which was straight awesomeness. Up next for Cusack is a WWII movie called Shanghai, and for Break-Out star Rob Corddry there is Cedar Rapids out later this year that will team him up with fellow Daily Show Alum Ed Helms (seen more recently in The Hangover).

March 24, 2010

American Idol Update #5

So Miley Cyrus a mentor at age 17…her dad must be so proud…truth be told (and yes The Climb is on my IPOD) I fast forwarded through most of the Miley moments, in fact I had a hard time with this whole episode…even the best performances were just ok this week. Whenever you give these kids the freedom of any #1 Billboard hit ever…they are bound to over think it.

Top 12-I’d say the battle between the girls and guys was a push this week.

Best Performances of top 12 week:

· (1) Casey James-Full disclosure (I grew up on Back to the Future and Huey Lewis and the News)…so when this guy (who I haven’t like thus far) busted out my boy Huey’s Power of Love from that movie…he gets some leeway…that said his best so far.

· (2) Crystal Bowersox-She did Janis Joplin (shocking) and did it well, I didn’t think it was great, but good…I still think she can’t win, despite how much talent she has.

· (3) Lee Dewyze-He did The Letter, not a great choice but his chops made it fine, the bar was low this week so Lee still cracks the top list.

· (4) Siobhan Magnus-My pick to win tackled Superstition by Stevie Wonder, why she chose this is beyond my understanding but she is so likable and has such a strong voice that she can make just about anything work…she may want to cut back a bit on the screaming though.

Worst Performances of top 12 week:

· (1) Paige Miles-She might be out of chances after butchering a great song (Phil Collins Against All Odds), it was really bad.

· (2) Tim Urban-This kid is still here…I think Paige was worse but man this kid is annoying…nice slide (really a slide…was that necessary?) anyway his rendition of Crazy Little Thing Called Love was goofy…just goofy…can 14 year old girls stop voting for this kid now??? (he does have cool hair though)

Push for top 12 week (just fine, not great…should stay alive): Didi Benami-(I liked her and she was sexy…but she needs to do a more current song), Aaron Kelly-(Don’t Want to Miss a Thing with a touch of twang…ok fine), Michael Lynche-(he needs to pick back up his guitar and add a twist to a cool song), Katie Stevens-(She needs to relax…but is getting a bit better), Andrew Garcia-(it might have been bad as the judges said but I really liked his Marvin Gaye…I thought it was fine).

Current Pick to Win: Siobhan Magnus-Winner-Winner!

Runner Up: Crystal Bowersox-She is good, just not Idol material…she would be better off not winning.

Prediction-Going Home this week- Tim Urban or Paige Miles (sleeper to go Andrew Garcia)

***Update well Ms. Paige (who has a good voice) is sent packing, we got that one right which puts us at 5/14 (35%) in (sent packing picks)...we are making a come back...So I guess Tim will be sliding around on stage during the tour, 14 year girls everywhere rejoice...only download of the week was Casey James rocking Huey Lewis's Power of love, see you next week***