Monthly Archives: August 2010

Quickies 8-31-2010

Batman: Under the Red Hood ~ This direct-to-DVD animated film from DC Comics follows the story of the second Robin who was murdered by the Joker and then mysteriously returns from the dead years later as Batman’s adversary the Red Hood. I didn’t actually read the comics this was based on so it was all new for me, and as I am not much of a Bat-fan these days, surprisingly good. I especially loved the fight early on with Batman and Nightwing vs. Amazo. Even though it’s not Mark Hamill doing the voice, the Joker is exceptionally scary here. Great stuff. Not for kids, but recommended.

Hot Tub Time Machine ~ This really wasn’t as bad as it sounded when I first heard of it, in fact this was a pleasant surprise. Yes, the title, and the previews pretty much give it away, but this flick has a heart, and a funnybone. Anyone who loved all those 1980s movies like Better Off Dead or Just One of the Guys or anything by John Hughes will get a kick out of this. Might be a bit rough for kids, lots of sex and drugs, but still a good romp. Fun, nostalgia and John Cusack. You can’t beat that.

Big Fan ~ You might think of Patton Oswalt as just a comedian, but he’s not. He’s also a very good actor. His semi-dramatic peripheral role in “United States of Tara” is only the tip of the iceberg. I just saw him in Big Fan and he is a tour de force portraying a lonely middle-aged guy obsessed with New York Giants football and sports radio. We know these guys, and this is an intimate and chilling look into their world. This is a hell of a movie. Recommended.

The Road ~ Based on the book by Cormac McCarthy, this post-apocalyptic drama stars Viggo Mortenson and briefly Robert Duvall, Guy Pearce and Charlize Theron. It’s about a father’s quest to show his son the ocean by traveling across the country dodging psychos and cannibals in a world without sunlight. It’s visually intriguing, but very little else, and at some points, downright boring. Read the book, and only see the movie if it’s on free TV and there’s not much else on.

Igor ~ Anything with John Cusack’s name on it is worth checking out in my opinion. He has rarely let me down. This overlooked computer-animated flick about the hunchbacked assistants to mad scientists, called Igors, is quite a gem. A bit predictable in some places and unexpectedly outrageous in others is definitely worth a look. Good for the kids, and the adults as well.

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More Wendy’s Madness

True Blood: I Smell a Rat

A lot happened in this episode of “True Blood,” but really none of it was fulfilling. Sure, it had been stuff we had been waiting on for some time, but none of it was what we wanted to see. On the cliffhanger we got last time, this should have been all about Russell Edgington, but it seemed as if the live murder and declaration of war on live television was almost a non-event.

There were interesting bits. We got a round of secret origins with Sam, Jason finally confessed to Tara he shot Eggs, Eric wrote his will, Lafayette and Jesus took a v-trip that flashed forward on what may be next season’s big storyline, and of course we finally found out what Sookie is. On that last one, in Sookie’s own words, “Well, that’s lame.” And of course I did pat myself on the back for figuring it out earlier in the season without the benefit of reading the books. All this was good, but it wasn’t what we wanted.

“I Smell a Rat” was for the “True Blood” TV series what we used to call a fill-in issue in the comic book biz. It was a placeholder, to keep the show on schedule, but essentially it did not continue any storylines or cliffhangers. Comics eventually got rid of that tactic. I really wish “True Blood” hadn’t brought it back. Boo hiss.

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Zagat Names Best French Fries

True Blood: Everything Is Broken

In the pre-credit teaser of this episode we get our first look at the vampire law enforcement/military. They are very Robocop, very Starship Troopers, and very old school cyberpunk, and of course, they are armed with silver. My first thought is ‘kewl,’ but my second thought is ‘how do you keep something like that a secret?’ I’m all for secret empires and ages-old illuminati and the like, but whoa.

“Everything Is Broken,” title derived from the Bob Dylan tune that closes the episode, is written by Alexander Woo, who also wrote the less than satisfactory episode “It Hurts Me Too” from earlier this season. We open on Russell cradling what’s left of Talbot and then move to a vampirically erotic shower scene with Bill and Sookie. Nice juxtaposition. The chatter between them, about what normal couples do, is fun and charming.

When Sam suggested to Tara that she see a shrink, I nearly snarfed Coke through my nose. I think the last thing this show needs is a psychologist creeping around Bon Temps. They would have to commit the whole town! Crazy aside, it’s a good episode for other things. Bill and Sookie get some, Lafayette and Jesus get some, and Sam’s brother gets some.

Eric rats Russell out to The Authority (not the comic, although that’s the first thing I think of when I type that). Full confession, baby. Only the result is not what he hoped. They leave him high and dry. Russell is too hot to handle, so if something is to be done, Eric has to do it himself.

Bill gets to visit fairyland. I have to wonder at the logic of this however. After Sookie’s blood saved his life, there was a weird effect where he could momentarily stand the sunlight. Here, he goes to that watery place of light near the cemetery and the hostess says he’s there because he has Sookie’s blood. But now, hasn’t Bill had Sookie’s blood before this? Why hasn’t this come up before this?

Franklin! He sure scared the crap out of Tara, but we knew he wouldn’t be gone long. Lesson learned for folks not in the know, like Tara – you must stake or decapitate a vampire or they just ain’t dead. Stake in the heart, or head off body, or there’s just no true death.

And finally, Russell takes his war public and worldwide – wow and holy crap – in one of the best cliffhangers on television in quite some time. I cannot wait for the next episode!

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French Fry Diary 138: Jack ‘n Jill Potato Chips, Barbeque Flavor

Aarti Party?

As someone who followed Aarti Sequeira through the several weeks of this year’s “The Next Food Network Star,” I have to say I was quite disappointed when her TV show, “Aarti Party,” her prize in the reality competition, finally aired this weekend.

Throughout her time on the program, surviving week to week, as her competitors were cut, Aarti was a delight. Her energetic and bubbly personality charismatically put her above the others even before many of the contests on the show. She was an early bet to win, both with the judges and in this household.

When she won, and her TV series was announced, we couldn’t wait. The DVR was set with anticipation. When it first came on, all of the colors seemed muted. The wild bright fashions Aarti wore on “Network Star” were gone, but that wasn’t all. She seemed sedated, slowed like molasses. It was if they had told her to tone it down so much… so much that all of her charisma was gone and she was no longer interesting.

I really hope you fix this, Food Network, and give us back the woman who really won. Until then, “Aarti Party” airs, very slowly, Sundays at noon. And for a taste of the old Aarti, check this out.

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Baked Potato and Bacon Soup

The Blind Side

The Blind Side ~ This is easily one of Sandra Bullock’s best performances and obviously, with an Oscar for her trouble, one of her most acknowledged. And that last part is a shame because Sandra is always excellent. Exept of course for Miss Congeniality 2 and picking Jesse James, but I can forgive her for those mistakes.

I’ll say up front that I didn’t care for her Southern accent in The Blind Side, but the rest of it makes up for it. It’s an Oscar film, and it got Sandra her first (and it shouldn’t be her last), so I can overlook the overworked accent. The accent would have fit Julia Roberts well, so thank God she turned this part down. It’s really nice of Julia to turn down all the good roles the last year or so. I wonder when she’ll be firing her agent?

The story, that of a young athlete from the wrong side of the tracks taken in by an upper class family and eventually makes it to the NFL, is a true one, an uplifting and positive one. And if it seems clichéd, it can’t be helped – it’s based on a true story.

The cast is top notch, not just Sandra, but Quinton Aaron, Tim McGraw and Kathy Bates are all in excellent form. The Blind Side is must see.

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Ore-Ida Commercial 1981