Saturday, December 5, 2009

Entertainment tonight

I have some TV/movie/book related topics to share.

1. I remember being angry when Saving Private Ryan lost the Best Picture Oscar to Shakespeare in Love. SPR is a war movie classic and the D-Day scene at the beginning is unforgettably intense. SIL seemed like a chick flick that had no business winning that Oscar. I remember my history teacher that year, Mr. Thompson, being visibly upset the morning after.

However, how could I truly know if SPR was shafted if I never saw SIL? Due to wonderful Netflix, I finally saw it. I have to say the movie pleasantly surprised me. I enjoyed Gwyneth Paltrow's performance and Dame Judi Dench got the job done in her 10 minutes of Oscar-winning screen time. Nice, enjoyable film with solid performances all around. Though the William Shakespeare character didn't quite ring true. He prances around like a horny twenty something in Melrose Place. The weight of his genius is nowhere to be found. Didn't detract that much from the movie, however.

Still, I can now say with certainly it did not deserve the Best Picture award. The verdict is in ... about ten years late. It's not just my testosterone either. History has decided this one as well. SPR is more fondly remembered and the storming the beach scene is one of the most memorable scenes to come out of any film in two decades. I wanted to make sure my first impression was correct and it was.

2. Since when did Jim Halpert become a complete moron? This past Office episode saw him fail to recognize what was clearly a Dwight prank, especially when the cake arrived. He should've known it had to be Dwight, yet he stammers.

What happened to witty, smart Jim. He's one of the only characters we're supposed to identify with. I understand they're trying to show that Michael Scott's job isn't as easy as it looks and it can be funny for Jim to have problems in his new position, but to continually have no idea how to act or react to situations is really grating on me. So much so that scenes that are supposed to be funny just end up pissing me off.

For the past few episodes, Jim will find himself in trouble with his underlings. Instead of simply stating his case, he hems and haws and makes his "aw gosh" face to the camera. I guess we're supposed to laugh. I yell at the TV.
It's clear The Office is in Tim Duncan mode. It's still good, but greatness has passed it by. It happens to every show, especially comedies. But please, stop making Jim a moron. He's supposed to be one of the smart ones.
3. Mad Men and Friday Night Lights are in a neck-and-neck battle for best show in TV right now. I started watching Season 4 online and it's safe to say FNL is not giving up its title without a fight. The past episode, titled "The Son," was perhaps the show's best. I won't spoil anything. I'll only say Zach Gilford puts on an acting clinic. Just amazing to watch. It's uncanny how FNL always hits the right emotional notes, never getting too sappy or too melodramatic. Still the most authentic show I've seen.

4. I finally caught Marley & Me. I promised myself I wouldn't cry. I can neither confirm nor deny that I did. I will allow that I got emotional. I had a dog, while not as destructive as Marley, was certainly a nuisance at times. But you still had to love him. The scene where the wife is crying and Marley is right there to comfort her., that's what dogs are about. They always seem to know, which is why they're much better than cats. Cats want to kill you for the insurance money.

Our family also buried our first dog (RIP Sparky) in the backyard just like Marley. I dug the hole and poured the dirt on the body ... something I'll never forget. So the movie hit a spot.
5. One more thing, actually. I just finished Dan Brown's "The Lost Symbol." It started almost exactly like his other books, but midway through I could not put it down. The man has his formula and I'll be damned if it doesn't work.
It's Dan Brown paint-by-numbers. Freaky, silent, deadly villain obsessed with something very archaic? Check. Old man put in jeopardy in beginning? Yes. Attractive, single, brilliant woman to be Robert Langdon's sidekick? Check. Secret societies who left us with coded messages? You bet. Characters talking like encyclopedias? Sure. Two-page chapters? Yes.
(I don't like how Brown does one of his cliff-hangers at the end of short chapter and then begins the next chapter at the same point. For example, a character sees something shocking.
Robert Langdon opened the door and what he saw made him step back in shock.
"What the hell ..." he whispered breathlessly.
Chapter ends. Next chapter then begins right there. So why the cliff-hanger? Sometimes, it's not even a new chapter. He breaks, then starts right there again in the next paragraph. The scene should change.)
Anyway, it's still a great page-turner with some neat little tidbits of history. I was thinking "That was it?" after the secret all the characters were desperately chasing/protecting was revealed. If you liked The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons, you'll like this one.

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