April 28, 2010

American Idol Update #10

The show is just not the same without Tim Urban to bash…oh well. I thought “Country Week” with Mentor Shania Twain went pretty well actually, one of the best all around weeks of the year…and I really have a hard time with Country Music. The contest gets tough now, as inevitably there is always one surprise contestant that blossoms and at least one shocker that leaves…could this be the week to shock the world???? (or at least those who still watch American Idol).

Top 6-Country week was more solid than expected.

Best Performance of Top 6 week:

· (1) Lee Dewyze-(You’re Still the One) Probably my favorite Shania song (yeah I like a couple actually) and Lee sold it well…I can already tell this may be a download.

· (2)Aaron Kelly-(You’ve Got a Way) I really like this song, mostly because it was in a great romantic comedy called Notinghill, but also because it is a sweet song (insert aww here)…so I sort of hoped Siobhan may have tackled this one, but actually for a guy…or should I say boy…Aaron did well…maybe his best performance.

Worst Performance of Top 6 week:

· (1) Crystal Bowersox-(No One Needs to Know), Without Tim Urban “The Worst” List is way less fun, anyway the Idol darling did not get it done this week for me. It may have just been the song choice, but I didn’t get the arrangement and sound of it all. To bluegrassy or something. I didn’t think it was as bad as last week where Moma Sox sucked the soul out of The Impressions and then cried on stage, but it wasn’t great. If you are going to set the bar as high as Crystal has…you gotta bring it every week, if you don’t you end up like Andrew Garcia (Who we miss).

Push for top 6 week (just fine, not great):

Siobhan Magnus (Any Man of Mine) The judges praised her, but I thought it was just ok. I think this is Idol positioning her now for the stretch run. I am interested to hear how it sounds recorded on ITunes later this week. Casey James (Don’t) I have never heard this one by Shania, but nonetheless (and maybe shockingly) Casey pulled it off enough. Michael Lynche (It Only Hurts When I’m Breathing) this one was a bit annoying from Big Mike…I think he might be done.

Current Pick to Win: Siobhan Magnus-They are grooming her for victory now…pay attention you’ll see what I’m talking about.

Runner Up: Lee Dewyze-Lee is easily the most download friendly contestant…his voice is ready for radio…I think he sneaks into the finale.

Prediction-Going Home this week- Michael Lynche or Aaron Kelly…but watch out for the sleeper Crystal Bowersox to go…the judges might regret having used that save.

***well I was right about the surprise elimination, but it was Siobhan, not Crystal...very upset as she was my pick...oh well mostly guys now...only download was probably Lee Dewyze's Still the One...I have to fight to keep watching now.***

April 27, 2010

DVD Review #36 The Lovely Bones

The Lovely Bones (2009) Stanley Tucci, Dakota Fanning Directed By Peter Jackson

The Lovely Bones is based on a 2002 novel of the same name, written by Alice Sebold, this novel has become beloved since its release. I did not read the novel but after watching this film I had to at least skim through the cliff notes of the book so I could better understand why this film didn’t quite work. As I expected the book has many more plot points and has a much darker tone. Peter Jackson who is better known for his special effects talents (See the great Lord of the Rings trilogy, don’t bother with King Kong) loved the book so much, he personally bought the rights to it. I do think the film was shot well, and I do think the film was well cast, however the three writers of the film (Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, and Jackson himself) couldn’t find the right way to bring the book to life, they left out too much at times, and I think (again I haven’t read the book, but some major stuff was clearly overlooked) paid too much attention to the message of the film, not letting it just come to you…they kind of stick it down your throat.

The Lovely Bones is the story of Susie Salmon (played well by Saoirse Ronan), a young girl who is raped and murdered by neighbor. After she is killed she drifts off to heaven where she watches the lives she once connected to carry on, all the while trying too will them to her killer. Marky “Mark” Wahlberg shows up as Susie’s father doing a decent job with a weak role, and Rachel Weisz does all she can with another underwritten role as Susie’s mother. The standout in the film (and he was rewarded with an Oscar Nomination for this role) is the always great Stanley Tucci who plays the very creepy George Harvey, the serial killer who kills Susie (don’t worry this is not a spoiler as you watch him do it). The problem with the film is it never puts all the pieces of an interesting story together. We are captivated by the killer, but bored by the family, we are intrigued by the search for the killer hoping his identity will be revealed, while not really understanding how Susie is helping from heaven…it’s all a little jumbled and confusing. Susan Sarandon also shows up as Susie’s grandmother, but even her importance to the plot is fuzzy at best. By the end of the film when you expect one thing, you again are left somewhat confused as to what you just watched. I’m sure Peter Jackson really loved this book, and my guess is he didn’t want to make 3.5 hours long, but really the script didn’t work for me. I will tell you that at times it’s fine to watch and I had no problem getting through it, but it is a borderline recommendation at best from me. Though I haven’t read it, my suggestion to you would be…well read the book…(heck I might actually do it).

(The Shawshank Scale 1-10) The Lovely Bones has some nice performances, it will keep you watching, but ultimately fails at telling a compelling a story due to the jumbled and confusing script. It gets a lackluster 5.5 on the Shawshank scale.

April 21, 2010

Coming Soon!!!

Fantasy Update #3 (Baseball)-Did I climb up from the cellar at all?? Did I cut Big Papi?? Final Fantasy Basketball Update of the year (I was tied for first place with one day to go in the season...any guess as to if I held on??) As well as DVD Reviews of The Lovely Bones and The Blindside...also me wrap up of the 2009 Oscars...yes yes I finally saw them all. Check in and feel free to yell at me.

American Idol Update #9

Alicia Keyes is one of the hottest people on the planet…Not only is she gorgeous, but musically gifted, and carries a huge heart along with her…Oh we are talking about Idol right?…it’s inspirational week on the show and though the overall talent left isn’t great, there were a couple standouts. I really respected two song choices…two really tough songs…that I thought were executed about as well as you could ask.

Top 7-Inspirational week was a tad uninspiring.

Best Performance of Top 7 week:

· (1) Lee Dewyze-(The Boxer), Kids got major balls…The Boxer (a beautiful 1972 Simon & Garfunkel hit) is about as hard a song you could choose, it is both brutally difficult to sing and it’s un-relevant (maybe ten people in the audience of 14 year girls knows that song)…but Lee did it well, he could win…but I still think its Siobhan.

· (2) Siobhan Magnus-(When You Believe), Another brutally tough song to sing in front of those judges, she looked great and sang it well, yes the arrangement was a bit off, but when she hits those soft high notes, I mean how many people can do that?

Worst Performances of Top 7 week:

· (1) Tim Urban-(Better Days), the kid picks good songs mostly, but sadly he still can’t sing…somewhere John Rzeznik (lead singer for the Goo Goo Dolls) is weeping.

· (2) Crystal Bowersox-(People Get Ready), Ok so I know she is the show’s darling, and she almost supposedly left a week or two ago (so we should feel bad?)…but c’mon this was not a praise worthy performance…first off she sucked all the soul out of the song…I mean this song was by The Impressions…not the church choir…on top of that she fake cried at the end…I didn’t really dislike her until that moment…that was disingenuous (and awful acting to boot) it turned her from authentic to fraud.

Push for top 7 week (just fine, not great…should stay alive): Not much talent left in this pool: Casey James does a nice job with (Don’t Stop), but it’s not an inspirational song really and he probably should’ve waited another week to perform it. Aaron Kelly busts out the R. Kelly (yeah that’s weird they both like 16 year old girls…at least we think??) and he sang a tough (I believe I Can Fly) song well, he’s going home soon but I give him some props for not butchering it. Michael Lynche busts out the Spiderman with (Hero), lord knows when I think Spiderman…I’m inspired.

Current Pick to Win: Siobhan Magnus-Still a winner…Not the break out performance I predicted last week, but she still has the look, the chops, and the personality.

Runner Up: Lee Dewyze-Guy is going to bust out the bagpipe again trust me…

Prediction-Going Home this week- Aaron Kelly or Tim Urban…I’m not going to beg again (14 year old girls…you are a few weeks older…please be mature don’t let Tim butcher another great song…please) well maybe a little.

***I am a cynic in many things,but not this, let me just say that the amount of money American Idol raises for charity is astounding and amazing, I think it is great and although companies like Exxon have there flaws, the fact that they help people in any way is noble. Idol gives back is a worthy (and yes a bit cheesy) charity. Helping people is always a good thing and that makes it ok that its cheesy...Now all together now Nah Nah Nah Hey Hey Hey Good bye...see yeah later Tim, it was nice knowing you :) Your career as the next Idol Looks Back host I'm sure will be great. Sadly I didn't like any downloads this week...not a one, so we will see you next week!***

April 14, 2010

American Idol Update #8

Elvis week…Lord knows when I think Elvis…I think Adam Lambert…last year’s runner up from Idol (and actually better than Kris Allen frankly…just not better than Matt Giraud) becomes a mentor for the contestants this week as they attempt the King of Rock n Roll. Truth be told I never saw the elimination show last week, so I didn’t get to see the drama unfold with Michael Lynche being saved, however watching him this week had me wondering…well why was he voted off last week anyway? So two go this week and there are a couple of guys I really am getting tired of.

Top 9-Decent songs choices…not always the best execution this week.

Best Performance of Top 9 week:

· (1) Lee Dewyze-(A Little Less Conversation), good song choice, very cool performance…I didn’t miss the bagpipe guy at all.

· (2) Siobhan Magnus-(Suspicious Minds), another great song choice…she has such a cool voice…I did think it was like a three act song, but I at least liked two acts of it…and loved the last act.

· (3) Michael Lynche-(In the Ghetto), yet again a brilliant song choice…this was the first time I really liked him all season…nice work…way to pick up your game.

Worst Performances of Top 9 week:

· (1) Tim Urban-(Can’t Help Falling in Love), Great song choice, a solid arrangement…but Tim can’t sing…I mean he just can’t…doesn’t mean he can’t make an album (just ask KE$HA)…just means he can’t win Idol…send this guy home will you.

· (2) Aaron Kelly-(Blue Suede Shoes), I thought this was really the only blatantly bad song choice by a contestant…he sang it ok…but this might the end of the road.

Push for top 9 week (just fine, not great…should stay alive): Katie Stevens (Baby, What You Want Me to Do)…um how about stop bobbing your head back and forth…but nice vocal. Casey James (Lawdy Miss Clawdy), solid and safe song choice, sang it fine…but not breath taking…his time is running out. Crystal Bowersox (Saved), Just ok for me, I actually couldn’t tell what the hell she was saying most of the time (it works for Bob Dylan…not for you Moma Sox). Lastly Mr. Andrew Garcia (Hound Dog), Like Anoop-Dog, Garcia is just plain real and likable. He lacks the voice to survive much longer, but I admire Garcia’s ability to have some fun and stay real…when he leaves (and it will be soon)…he won’t regret a thing…he may be the most genuine contestant this year (that include Ms. Bowersox)…sadly for him Idol doesn’t admire “genuine-ness” like some us do.

Current Pick to Win: Siobhan Magnus-Still a winner…a break-out performance is looming in the very near future.

Runner Up: Lee Dewyze-He sneaks into the final 2 just so he can sing a Kara DioGuardi song with a bagpipe player behind him…Idol History folks…

Prediction-Going Home this week- Aaron Kelly and Andrew Garcia…but I hope it’s Tim Urban (still 6 for 14 in going home picks…cuz nobody went home last week

***Update so we go 1 out of 2 this week as sadly Andrew Garcia packs his bags (poor Lee, how will he cope?) and Head-bopping Katie takes off as well...still Tim remains...oh well...for the year in elimination picks we are 7/17 a cool 41%...Downloads for the week Siobhan's "Suspicious Minds" and I think it may be worth it to grab Lee's "Little Less Conversation"...See you next week***