Sunday, October 22, 2006

One Could Say The Oscar Season Has Started

Because I should be writing cover letters right now, but that would be absurdly silly when I have until Wednesday.

Finally got to see The Departed on Tuesday, and it was a mighty fine film. A great story that could have very easily gotten convoluted with all the twists and double-agentry, but the editing kept it crisp and the acting kept it engaging. Damon and DiCaprio were both awesome in their roles as two Massachusetts state troopers whose careers veer in extremely different directions, and between this film and their roles in The Good Shepherd and Blood Diamond (respectively), they should both be well represented at the Oscars. For some reason, this film isn’t getting consensus Oscar Best Picture Contender status, which bothers me, because despite the lack of a deeper message, this is a fantastically told story and a great movie.

The key to ninety percent of all quality entertainment, as stated here many a time, is the supporting cast, and Scorcese handles his pieces like the master craftsman that he is. The overall hierarchy of the police department is rather confusing, but you know Martin Sheen is at the top, and he’s very Martin Sheen-like in that role. Sometime he seems to be too quiet and you’re not really sure if he cares about his undercover operative at times, but his son in the film attends Notre Dame, so all is forgotten. Mark Wahlberg is his bad-ass second-in-command, while Alec Baldwin plays the not-so-hardcore superior of Damon. Or maybe he’s not his direct superior after a certain point; as I said, the most confusing part is the layout of the police department. Vera Farmiga (the chick from The Manchurian Candidate, I definitely had to look this one up) was serviceable as the police psych who dates Damon and treats DiCaprio.

The opposite to sheen is Frank Costello, the Boston crime lord played by Jack Nicholson. At this point in time, Nicholson just plays himself in every film, with varying levels of menace, confidence and comedy (all very high, most of the time). It’s somewhat distracting, but his mentor role to both Damon and DiCaprio is kind of fun. While someone else might have made the role a little more realistic, Nicholson was only slightly distracting, and in the end, I’m glad it was him in the part.

Overall, a great gangster movie, although again, there’s not really a Big Message to take away from it. Definitely worth your eight dollars, and definitely necessary fare to see before Oscar time.

(Tuesday was like Departed day, as Katie texted me in the middle of the film "the departed = woah" and Sean had an e-mail waiting for me when I got home extolling its virtues and slandering Clint Eastwood. I'm glad the box office is actually picking up a bit.)


Chad now resides down the stairs and across the hall from me as opposed to in the same room, which means that the television doesn’t stay on MTV 90% of the time as it did last year. Because of that minor factoid, I’m a little bit behind on things, like the fact that Real World: Denver starts in a few weeks. I was a huge fan of Real World: Key West, but so far, I’m not getting good vibes about this season. Maybe because Bunim and Murray haven’t been all that consistent in reason years, or that I can’t imagine Denver being all that interesting, save for that time the roommates were out and mistook Jake Plummer for a homeless man.

Still, my recent vacation from Music Television doesn’t mean I didn’t dive right back into the new season of Real World/Road Rules Challenge: The Duel. It’s interesting to note that some of the competitors from the terribly horrible Fresh Meat season are onboard as cast members, meaning that this should really be called Real World/Road Rules/Real World/Road Rules Challenge Challenge: The Duel, or at the very least, Real World/Road Rules/Fresh Meat Challenge: The Duel.

Some of my Key Westers are already gone, thanks to an idiotic decision by Tyler in the first episode. Still, I like how this season is set up. There are no teams, and each challenge alternates between male and female elimination. If it’s a female elimination day, then the winning female in the individual challenge picks a male, who then picks a female, and so on and so forth until only one lady remains. That girl is bound for The Duel, in which they get to choose any other female to face except the winner of the challenge. They then battle it out one-on-one, loser going home. It fits well into a thirty-minute episode (Fresh Meat was an hour show split in halves, and didn’t work on a week-to-week basis for me) and the cast is diverse, cocky, competitive and hot enough, save for the eternally grating Beth, that I think I’m in for the long haul.

Still, one problem remains. He’s clouded the beautiful skies of Challenge for far too long, and I’m going to have to break some of the rules my classes here have taught me: If you have to use bold or italics to get your point across, your writing isn’t that strong. I’m not just going to use bold or italics here.


Okay, I apologize, but it needed to be said. He’s terrible. So bad. Just give me the hey day of Johnny Mosley, or even Dave Mirra. It’s important to have a host that fits your show. Seacrest is perfect for Idol, Probst for Survivor, Phil for Race and Bergeron for Dancing. Chuck Woolery and Bob Barker were born to host game shows. Mosley was perfect for some of the first challenges, and Mirra did great after him.

The only other flaw in the show is that I don’t think they try out some of the challenge events. Some are ridiculously hard, others are obscenely easy. They can’t steal a couple of Survivor’s brainstormers with free Jessica Simpson CD’s or Killers tickets or something? Come on, MTV. I’m moving on, as just thinking about TJ Lavin stumbling threw another line bothers me immensely.


When I think about scientific discoveries, I figured that invisibility would be one of the easiest to achieve. Think about it: all you would need is some sort of fiber optics, either bending light, or using extremely small cameras to gather the light and then project it on tiny LCD screens on the opposite side. Some form of internal computer would probably be needed, but this seemed significantly more possible than folding and then punching through the fabric of time

Well, the first steps towards invisibility have thankfully been taken, and now the monopoly held by Daniel Radcliffe is close to being lifted.

I also often wonder why we can’t control weather. Doesn’t the basics of weather just revolve around air temperature and the flow of warm and cold water in the oceans? Can’t lasers be used to control, or at least disrupt, the current flow of things? Why can’t hurricanes be knocked off course or weakened with counter fronts? You can tell I have the most basic understanding of how meteorology works, but you’ve got to agree that weather control with modern laser and satellite technology can’t be that hard.


It appears one of the new shows I loved the most out of the gate, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, is about to go the way of the dodo. The LA Times took a look at other much-hyped, little-watched shows, and I can remember a few, especially the dreadful American Coupling. Still, it’s worth seeing a few more episodes of this season through – the last one was not very effective, if you were to ask me or any others that watched it – because at the beginning of last season, there was talk of canceling The Office. Thank goodness NBC kept the itchy trigger finger resting then, and hopefully they do the same for Studio 60 and Friday Night Lights.

In other interesting news coming out of NBC, Zucker announced that there won’t be any new non-reality/game show programming on at 8:00, as it’s too expensive. That means current 8:00 hour denizens Office, Earl and Friday Night Lights will have to find new homes that don’t involve imminent cancellation. With NBC’s interest now turning towards game shows and reality content for the 8:00 hour, it’s the perfect time to implement my surefire game show concept:

Legends of the Hidden Temple: Primetime. The kids are gone, and so is Kirk Fogg. Think of Dog Eats Dog, with an abundance of twenty-something attractive people who have a propensity for using the pool provided on the set. The questions on the Steps of Knowledge wouldn’t be storyline based, but instead just general trivia. I’m basically ripping off Dog Eats Dog, throwing in a cheesy, talking stone head and adding in a sweet temple at the end which will not be two dimensional. The time limit will be higher, and with the modern advances in cameras and budgets, contestants will be able to go up and down, but also in all four directions. Action will have to be followed on giant screens by the studio audience, but that’s a minor detail in the overall scheme of things.

And after my rant above, it’s certainly important to have a quality host. Yours, clad in safari gear?

Ed’s Tom Cavanaugh. Or maybe John Stamos. But most likely Cavanaugh.


I’m extremely excited for Borat in a few Fridays. It appears to be a cinematic sure thing, but the only thing that worries me is the fact Americans are idiots more often than not, and without the financial support of Bible Belt soccer moms in Middle American, films cannot succeed. While you and your friends may be rolling every time you see the trailer, it doesn’t mean people who don’t even understand the concept of satire, let alone the genius of Sasha Baron Cohen. Cinematical tries to answer this question, and despite the amazingly positive reviews to this point, we’re only going to know come the box office tallies on November 5th.

This a bit old, but Cracked runs down the top ten Borat skits. Should tide you over for a few more weeks.


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