Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Review Shots - Wall-E, Slumdog Millionaire, Quantum of Solace

I'm putting in a rating scale of 1-10 for my reviews now, just because my reviews are probably incoherent, incomplete and rambling most of the time. It is an easier way to tell if I liked it or not (since it matters so much).

Wall-E - Throughout the years, Pixar has delivered time after time with animated films. Though Wall-E is certainly another supremely animated and meaningful animation, it is just that: an animation. It is a good family movie that has a positive message and can (and should) be enjoyed by people of all ages. Is is Best Picture quality though? Not quite. The enthralling first half hour starts wearing thin and the third act falls into mediocrity, as it is hampered with an overly preachy message and an overdone climax. But then again, who cares? I for one am not looking for Best Picture quality in an animated film and Wall-E still almost delivers that. Despite its flaws, it is an excellent movie that is fun to watch.
Dan-o-Meter: 7 out of 10

Slumdog Millionaire - The most enjoyable film I have seen this year, Slumdog Millionaire is about destiny and the power of love. Seldom are you so gripped with horror and so filled with joy in the same movie, yet Slumdog Millionaire does both. It is a rags-to-riches story about an Indian slumdog who makes it on to Who Wants to be a Millionaire. Only he doesn't care about the riches. Featuring an amazingly cohesive story and brilliant cinematography, it is Daniel Boyle's best pic to date and is a front-runner for the year's Best Picture Oscar. It is a feel-good movie that isn't cliched and doesn't cheat to make you feel good.
Dan-o-Meter: 9 out of 10

Quantum of Solace - Casino Royale brought the Bond franchise to a whole new level. It had an intelligent plot, great acting, witty dialogue and a gritty sense of realism. Quantum of Solace brought the series back down. Then drove it into the ground. Then completely obliterated any remembrance of Royale's positive qualities. Its shaky camera action has been compared to that of the Bourne series, which is an insult to the trilogy which employed both action and intelligence. Solace does neither. Its action isn't exciting, either because you have no clue what is going on or it has been done before. Its villain is weak and boring, and worst of all, the plot is absolutely incomprehensible. I'm still not sure what the whole point of the movie was. Nor do I care. The characters were one-dimensional, uninteresting, and not funny. It's like the director (I can't even recall his name. I should find out so I know what to avoid in the future) intentionally included every bad quality he could because he knew it would make money. He succeeded in both: its a bad film and it made a lot of money.
Dan-o-Meter: 2 out of 10

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Yankee's Winter Wish-list

After last years sorry excuse of a season, I'm hoping the Steinbrenner's open up the wallet a little wider this year, but also exercise a little wisdom in their spending. Here's who I want on the Yank's '09 roster once the shopping is finally over:

C - Jorge Posada. Hopefully Posada will be able to return to form as one of the best backstops in the AL. I'm a little worried though, because of his recent injury and his age.

1B - Mark Teixeira. He's a top 10 American League hitter and one of the best fielders at his position. At 28 years old, he is just reaching his prime and I see no problem with offering him a large 8-10 year contract.

2B. - Robinson Cano. He had a bad, inconsistent year last year, so hopefully working with Kevin Long over the offseason will give him a little more discipline at the plate and a better work ethic over all.

SS. - Derek Jeter. Let's see if he can overcome a somewhat down year at the plate last season and spark the Yankees offense. This could also be his last season at short, but that's far from anyone's thoughts right now.

3B. Alex Rodriguez - Same as Jeter, he needs to step it up offensively. His BA with RISP was awful last year, which, contrary to popular belief, is not normal for him.

RF - Nick Swisher. I'm not to thrilled about his signing, especially because Cashman appears to prefer him at 1B, but since we have him, he would be a vast upgrade over Abreu defensively in right field.

CF - Brett Gardner. Still needs to prove he can hit, so Johnny Damon and Melky Cabrera would also split some time with him until his big-league ready.

LF - Xavier Nady. Matsui could make some spot starts in left too.

DH - Matsui/Damon/Posada

Bench - Jose Molina, Melky Cabrera, Justin Christian, Cody Ransom

SP1 - CC Sabathia. A huge need for the Yanks that they matched with a huge $140 offer. Let's see if he takes it.
SP2 - AJ Burnett. I am a little wary of him though, because of his history if injuries and his demand for a 5 year deal.
SP3 - Chien-Ming Wang - Almost an ace, having him in the third slot is a great sign.
SP4 - Andy Pettite. Give him a 1 year deal with an option for a second.
SP5 - Joba Chamberlain. Who knows if injuries will hold him back for reaching his potential?

Bullpen - Mariano Rivera, Humberto Sanchez, Damaso Marte, Phil Coke, Dan Geise, Alfredo Aceves, Edwar Ramirez, Brian Bruney. If they perform like they did last year, our 'pen will be the least of our concerns.

With inevitable injuries to hit the rotation at one point or another, look for Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy to get another shot in the majors. Hopefully a team like that can get us #27. Can't wait for February and the beginning of Spring Training!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Film Review Shots: round one

May as well begin with my favorites. Here's my top five favorite (not to be confused with my more objective top 5 list) movies:

The Lord of the Rings trilogy - Peter Jackson brought Middle-earth to life with a scope so massive, yet so intimate and focused, that it is hard to not be stunned by it's powerful themes of friendship, power, sorrow, and destiny that were seamlessly integrated with some of the most amazing computer-generated images in movie history.  It's overarching theme that all good things must come to an end fulfills itself by the end of this cinematic masterpiece.
Dan-o-Meter: 10 out of 10

The Dark Knight - Complex, layered, and dark, the Dark Knight is not a comic book film. It is a modern crime-drama that relentlessly blurs the line between right and wrong.  Heath Ledger's Joker (one of the greatest acting performances I've ever seen) leaves no doubt that pure and unadulterated evil does indeed exist, but the search for the right way - if any - to combat this evil has consequences beyond any single person's control and rarely leaves anyone unscathed. With this film Christopher Nolan directed a masterpiece and cemented his name as one of the most talented directors of today.
Dan-o-Meter: 10 out of 10

Crash - One of the most thought-provoking and introspective movies I've ever seen, Crash shows a society where every individual's soul contains a deep recess where hate and racism coexist with love. The nuances of behavior and emotion that Paul Haggis puts in the narrative will cause viewers to question their own motives and actions that occur in their interactions with different ethnicities. Provocative soul-searching is the mark of a good movie.
Dan-o-Meter: 10 out of 10

Boy A - A film that asks the question "Who deserves who gets a second chance?" Does a young man who committed a brutal crime as a child deserve another chance in life?  Boy A gives us the heart-wrenching tale of such a young man and forces us to see him as a human being on the path of reformation and redemption that teeters on the brink falling to ruin because of our own notions of justice and solace.
Dan-o-Meter: 9 out of 10 

Children of Men - called a modern day nativity story by some, Children of Men is about a world without children. But it is about so much more than that. It is about a need for redemption in a world where pride, power, and prejudice dominate. As the world crumbles, an unborn child is its only hope and the enthralling story surrounding it will not let up until the end credits bring closure to it. The inclusion of one of the longest uncut movie scenes in movie history is stunning in its intensity. You will gain a new appreciation for the joy of children when seeing a world where their laughter and mischief is completely absent.
Dan-o-Meter: 10 out of 10

Film Review Shots

I am clearly always right on which movies are good and which ones aren't, so if you're interested, I will post my reviews and you can be enlightened and never make a bad movie choice again. Since there are so many film reviews that are long and detailed (and because I'm lazy), I thought I would serve up my own reviews in a few sentences or so. Enjoy.