Archive for October, 2011

MasterChef

I enjoy watching cooking shows.  Let me rephrase.  I enjoy watching cooking competition shows.  I recently watched a few episodes of MasterChef starred a bunch of home chefs who want to make it big and have to cook for Joe Bastianich, Graham Elliot, and Gordon Ramsay.

About half of the cooking challenges are Mystery Box challenges, which means they competitors are only allowed to use the contents of their mystery box.  The competition is quite fierce, but since it is a reality show I take the drama with a grain of salt.  After all, if it wasn’t exciting enough, people might tune out, no?

It’s still fun to watch people attempt to make elegant (and tasty) food in a certain amount of time and using only certain ingredients.  I find it somewhat inspiring.  After all, if the competitors can cook something tasty with Gordon Ramsay breathing down their necks, surely I can cook something nice in a peaceful kitchen, right?  I like to think so, anyway.

1.  “We can stay up late, swapping manly stories, and in the morning, I’m making waffles!” – Donkey, Shrek

2.  “That’s yesterday’s news. Take a hike. You want gratitude? Get a hamster!” – Rat, Doctor Dolittle

3.  “You know, I’ve always wanted a child. And now I think I’ll have one… on toast!” – Winnie, Hocus Pocus

4.  “Everyone will suffer.” – Samara, The Ring

The Big Year

Sometimes a movie comes along that does exactly what you think it will do, and that can be a good thing.  The Big Year, which is probably one of the more unsung movies in theaters right now, is a story about birders competing to see the most birds in a single year.  That might sound like boring content for a movie, but it is quite engaging.

Steve Martin, Jack Black, and Owen Wilson play three men–Stu, Brad, and Bostick, respectively–who are all trying to break the previous record.  The movie maintains a nice level of humor (clean humor) throughout the story, but it’s still realistic.  And there are some beautiful shots of birds, such as the stunning one of the courtship ritual of bald eagles.  Birds are amazing creatures, as long as they’re not kept in cages.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Big Year and would recommend it for all audiences, even if they don’t really like birds.

The Three Musketeers

Doing a remake of any sort is a risky move.  There are always going to be people who like the original better, often for good reason.  When I heard that another Musketeers movie was coming out, I was surprised and apprehensive, since I have a bit of an attachment to the 1993 version of the Musketeers story.

I’m not sure it’s fair to call the new version of The Three Musketeers a remake, since it is technically an adaptation of the novel by Alexander Dumas.  Because I like the story and many of the actors cast in the new version, I wanted to like it.  However, I came out of the theater feeling that I had just watched a ridiculous movie.

I think that Paul Anderson, the director, wanted to capitalize on the growing interest in many things industrial-revolution and steam-punk related.  However, those concepts might be best left to people like Guy Ritchie, who handled it well in Sherlock Holmes.  The new Musketeers movie had some beautiful aerial shots toward the beginning, but allowed that brilliance to slip away into the increasingly silly plot.  It was a disappointing movie.

Quote Quiz 10.21.11 – ANSWERS

1.  “Unhand the tail. Aslan the Great gave me this tail and no one, repeat, no one, touches the tail. Period, exclamation mark!” – Reepicheep, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

2.  “But what I do have are a very particular set of skills; skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. If you let my daughter go now, that’ll be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you. But if you don’t, I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you.” – Bryan Mills, Taken

3.  “That’s a terrible name for a detective. Sherlock Holmes?” – Roy O’Bannon, Shanghai Knights

4.  “Beautiful morning, Sergeant!” - “What are you, a f****** weatherman now?” – Sergeant Savage and Sergeant Major Plumley, We Were Soldiers

5.  “As you can see, the pseudo-façade was stripped away to reveal the minimalist Rococo design. Note the unusual inverted vaulted ceilings. This is yet another example of the late neoclassic Baroque period. And, as I always say, ‘If it’s not Baroque, don’t fix it!’” – Cogsworth, Beauty and the Beast

The Doctor

There are moments when a viewer can tell that a movie came from a certain era, and I felt that when I was watching The Doctor, which was released in 1991.  It has a definite late 80s, early 90s feel to it, even if they clothes and hairstyles weren’t a dead giveaway.

The Doctor has an interesting story, which focuses on a doctor (imagine that) who doesn’t care about his patients until he becomes a patient himself.  He has to learn what patients go through before he shows any sympathy for them.  In fact, the experience changes his “bedside manner” completely.

The plot is well thought out, but the execution is a little sentimental at times.  There were some scenes that reminded me of other grade-B 80s movies, because of the focus on drawing out a sentimental thought, often without dialogue or any action.  However, the movie did do a good job of showing the change in the doctor, and making him more human.

If you like medical dramas, you should enjoy The Doctor.

When good times go bad

I’ve been teaching an English as a Second Language class and I asked the students to write about some of their feelings about America, mainly what surprised them in comparison to their country.  Almost all of them said something about the politeness of Americans, how they will hold doors open for each others, say hello to people they don’t know, and help strangers find their way to a store or even find items in a store.

I was pleased to hear this from outsiders, and it made me realize that we generally are a rather polite society.  There are exceptions, of course.  Talking on cellphones in public areas.  Not controlling small children in theaters.  I (and everyone else in the theater) experienced that one recently.  There were a number of children, toddlers really, who were allowed to run all over the theater all through a movie.  It was certainly distracting.

It was also troubling because it shows a possible lack of sympathy for all the other movie-goers who were distracted (upset) by the ruckus.  I’m not saying children should be banned from theaters, because that would be wrong.  But the parents should have the discretion of whether or not to take young children to a movie theater.  It’s common politeness to think about the other people in the theater.  Let’s not lose that politeness.

Quote Quiz 10.14.11 – ANSWERS

1.  “Ah yes, you mock me. But perhaps one day when you’ve awoken from a pleasant slumber to the scent of a warm brioche smothered in marmalade and fresh creamery butter, you’ll understand that life is not solely composed of tasks, but tastes.” – Leopold, Kate & Leopold

2.  “When a man is a widower why do we say he was widowed? Why don’t we say he was widowered?” – Annie Reed, Sleepless in Seattle

3.  “Mama says they was magic shoes. They could take me anywhere.” – Forrest Gump, Forrest Gump

4.  “I’m writing a book.  It’s called ‘The Human Stain.’” – Nathan Zuckerman, The Human Stain

5.  “I can’t get my leg in because of the asbestos cloth on it.  Let me take it off.” - ”Well, what about your leg and the heat?” – “Screw it. I’ve got a spare one.” – Burt Munro, The World’s Fastest Indian

Hunger

I’m in the middle of a few extra-busy weeks, so I haven’t had time to watch any movies.  I have, however, watched bits and pieces of shows when I get a few minutes.  I’ve been gravitating toward shows like Iron Chef America and Chopped, but I’m starting to think that’s a bad idea.  Now I’m hungry…

Real Steel

There are always movies that can surprise me.  The surprise, of course, is not always good.  Real Steel is the movie that surprised me recently.  I saw previews for the movie, but wasn’t that excited about seeing it.  I’m glad I went, because it was a pleasant surprise.

Real Steel is as much about family and learning to be less selfish as it is about the robot-boxing.  The robot-boxing, of course, seems to dominate the movie simply because those scenes are flashy, well-done, and rather intense.

The story manages to capture what is compelling about boxing–think Muhammad Ali facing George Foreman–while showing that people still need something to believe in, even if their heroes are robots.

It’s an interesting movie, and one worth watching.  Those who enjoy action movies won’t get bored, and those who enjoy something more than pure action should enjoy the movie as well.