Wednesday, January 27, 2010

I got your iPad right here

Hey, Apple, try doing a Google search before you name your next big product.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

One week to go

One week from today, the sixth and final season of "Lost" premieres. I'm giddy, to say the least. 

I also have a lot of questions that I want answered. 

What's the deal with Smokey? We got a glimpse at what the island's resident smoke monster when Locke took Ben to visit the temple, but we didn't really get an answer about how the monster works -- or who it's working for.

Where did the ageless wonder, Richard Alpert, come from? Was he on the Black Rock? Or perhaps the ship we saw in the S5 finale when Jacob and the Man in Black were conversing on the beach? Also, how can I get my eyeliner to look as fabulous as his?

What happened to Claire? The Australian blondie was last see cavorting with her dead daddy in Jacob's cabin, way back in S4. She also appeared in Kate's dream, warning Freckles not to bring baby Aaron back to the island. The producers confirm Claire is coming back this season, but in what capacity? And will we get an explanation of what really happened to her after she disappeared into the jungle with Christian?

Speaking of Christian, why's he so damn important?

I have about a million other questions, many of which I'm sure will be answered, and many of which I'm sure will remain a mystery. I'm not even going to pretend to be an expert on the show, even though I watch somewhat obsessively, but I shall direct you to a bonafide expert: Entertainment Weekly's Jeff "Doc" Jensen. Read his recaps and previews and theories and more; it will blow your mind.

Movie review haiku: Up in the Air

Charming, witty, deep
Where Clooney goes I'll follow
Firing people sucks

Movie review haiku: Big Fan

Real, funny look at
Hardcore NFL fandom
I'm on the phone, mom!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Movie review haiku: Moon

Take two Sam Rockwells
Add Kevin Spacey robot
Get sci-fi letdown

Friday, January 15, 2010

Another Runway observation

Thanks to a "Project Runway" season 4 marathon on Bravo (!), I was able to revisit the Bryant Park collections of the S4 finalists. All three were outstanding, so outstanding, in fact, that I think runners-up Jillian and Rami could've been champions in almost every other season. Just sayin'.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Project Runway rundown

The seventh season of "Project Runway" begins tonight, so let's rank the previous six seasons:

6. Season 6 (Winner: Irina)
A legal battle between Bravo and Lifetime over the rights to the show put the airing of this season on an extended hiatus. I wish I could say it was worth the wait, but it really wasn't. Marred by inconsistent judging and an overall bland group of designers (use some freaking color, guys!), Season 6 did not live up to the long-awaited hype. Here's hoping its second go-round on Lifetime, which starts tonight with a return to NYC, is much, much better.

5. Season 5 (Winner: Leanne)
Like the winner, this season was just boring. Throw in the abomination of annoyance that was Blayne (stop trying to make "-licious" happen!) and the notorious Bettie Page wannabe of evil that was Kenley, and you do not have a winning combination.

4. Season 1 (Winner: Jay)
I got hooked on the show while stuck inside during a rainstorm in Hawaii. True story. The first episode I saw was the mail carrier challenge. Holy crap, did I laugh my head off. The entire season was extremely entertaining and hilarious, and it delivered a "twist ending" -- did anyone think Kara Saun wouldn't win? -- but the quality of the designs was, like the show itself, in an infancy stage. It was more than enough to get me hooked on the series, though. And the reruns still crack me up. Austin Scarlett; need I say more?

3. Season 2 (Winner: Chloe)
One name defines this season, and it wasn't the affably adorable winner, Chloe Dao. It was Santino Rice. Love him or hate him, Santino certainly made for great reality TV. His Tim Gunn impression still gets me every time. "What happened to Andre?" indeed. Some outstanding designs were borne from this season's contestants and I found myself rooting for several of them, depending on the week. We even had drama with the model selection (it's a mothertruckin' walkoff!) and some creative challenges, too (clothes of your back, flowers, ice skating).

2. Season 4 (Winner: Christian)
Champion Christian Siriano could be the most talented designer in "Runway" history. Chris March could be the most lovable, huggable designer in "Runway" history. And the overall talent level of this season's contestants could be the best in "Runway" history.

1. Season 3 (Winner: Jeffrey)
Jam-packed with drama, talent and comedy -- not to mention my favorite challenge ever, the dog challenge -- I can watch these episodes over and over, and they still evoke a cornucopia of emotions. I'm still angered by Alison's elimination (totally should've been Vincent), in awe of Michael's consistency (all the way up until the finale; WTF, Mike?), entertained by Kayne and Robert's banter, and on edge during Keith's controversial dismissal. And don't forget the mom challenge. Man, this season had it all, including some fantastic fashion.

Now, carry on.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

License to drive

After a series of unfortunate events, I was forced to spend the day at the Chicago West DMV to get a new driver's license. Because I lost my previous out-of-state license and thus could not prove I'd ever even had a license, I had to take both the written and road tests again.

My husband wished me luck as he walked out the door. "I hope you pass your tests so you can take Mercedes Lane on that big date tonight!"

"An innocent girl, a harmless drive, what could possibly go wrong?"

You'll be glad to know I passed with flying colors, unlike Corey Haim. Though I'm pretty sure there's no way I could drive to the hospital backward with a woman in labor in the back seat.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Best of the Aughts: Top 10 movies

OK, fine, you caught me. There are actually 11 movies on this list. (Or 13, if you count "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy as three movies, which I do not). But I just could not decide which movie to lop off to make it a top 10. So, much like the Big Ten Conference has 11 football-playing members, my top 10 movies of the decade list has 11 films. Deal with it.

(Note: Movies listed in chronological order)

"Almost Famous" (2000)
Cameron Crowe, you're my hero. This story of a fictional band and the innocent teenager who leaves high school to write about it captures the powerful, magical effect music can have. The film is hilarious, touching and at times heartbreaking, and will make you fall in love with music all over again. Oh, and the "Tiny Dancer" scene still gives me goose bumps.

"Amelie" (2001)
Amelie Poulain is a young waitress in Paris, living an ordinary and lonely life. But when she decides to become an anonymous do-gooder to help others, she also learns how to help herself. The insanely adorable Audrey Tautou plays Amelie with a lovably mischievous innocence, and her surrounding cast of characters add layers of hilarity, wackiness and heart. I could watch this French film without subtitles and still be wildly entertained. Its outstanding direction, vibrant colors and whimsical score evoke enough emotion to carry the audience through; the clever dialogue and omniscient narrative voice simply provide the caramel on top of the creme brulee. I have seen this movie about 10 times, and my heart soars with every viewing. Note: This also happens to be my favorite movie of all time.

"The Lord of the Rings" trilogy (2001-2003)
Peter Jackson and Co. turned J.R.R. Tolkien's epic literary masterpiece into an epic cinematic masterpiece. LOTR was groundbreaking with its use of motion-capture technology, miniature sets and the film-makers' decision to film all three films at once. That, and it significantly boosted New Zealand's profile as a vacation destination.

"City of God" (2002)
Outside of Rio de Janeiro is a place called the City of God, a slum run by young hoodlums and drug dealers. This is the true story of how organized crime evolved in the slum during the late '60s, '70s and early '80s, told from the point of view of Rocket, an aspiring photographer who grew up in the slum and is trying to escape its grasp. It's violent. It's gritty. It's shocking. And it's incredible to watch.

"28 Days Later" (2002)
Wait a second ... zombies are fast? And they're not really zombies, they're rage-infected humans? Um, yeah, I'm scared now. Danny Boyle's neo-zombie thriller was one of the first movies to be shot almost completely digitally, giving it a decidedly rugged, urban feel and making "the infected" seem even faster. It is also one of very few horror movies where I actually cared about the characters and whether they lived or died. And even if you aren't into the plot or scary-movie genre, you most certainly can marvel in the sight of bicycle messenger Jim (Cillian Murphy) waking up from a coma in a deserted hospital and wandering the abandoned streets of London. Chilling.

"Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" (2004)
At its root, this offering from the often-bizarre mind of Charlie Kaufman is a love story. Joel (Jim Carrey) and Clementine (Kate Winslet, robbed of an Oscar, if you ask me) were in love and then they weren't. It was so heartbreaking that they decide to have all memories of their relationship erased from their brains. Have you ever felt that way? That erasing memories of a certain part of your life would actually make you happier? This movie certainly will make you reconsider that logic, while also making you laugh, cry and marvel at just how creepy Elijah Wood can be.

"The 40 Year Old Virgin" (2005)
The first of the Judd Apatow comedies is still the best, paving the way for crude jokes and bromances for years to come. But what made this movie so great was Steve Carell as Andy, the movie's namesake and emotional and moral center. His awkwardness oozes off the screen and yet we're rooting for him the entire way. The movie is endlessly quotable and helped launch the careers of Carell and Seth Rogan while rebooting the careers of the indomitable Jane Lynch and Leslie Mann, who puts together what could be the best drunk chick scene of all time. Of all time.

"Children of Men" (2006)
It's 2027, and infertility has struck the world; no human child has been born in 18 years. How's that for a grim scenario? Director Alfonso Cuaron (incidentally, he's also the director of my favorite of the Harry Potter films, "The Prisoner of Azkaban") shows us the UK in 2027, gray and hopeless and deconstructed. It's an action film, a political film and a drama all in one. "Children of Men" also features incredible camera work in the form of several lengthy single-shot sequences. Simply jaw-dropping.

"Once" (2007)
I already marveled at the music in this film in my top 10 albums of the decade; now it's time to marvel at the movie itself. The simple story of two musicians, each lonely in their own way, coming together to make incredible music over the course of a couple weeks. The clock is running on their relationship, but the art that they create together will last forever. An amazing thought, no?

"WALL*E" (2008)
Perhaps the most unlikely blockbuster of the decade: An animated feature with very little dialogue about two lonely robots making a love connection (sans Chuck Woolery, of course) and featuring songs from "Hello, Dolly." Pixar never ceases to amaze me. Somehow this movie made me care more about two animated robots than I do about 95 percent of people in movies.

"Inglourious Basterds" (2009)
Quentin Tarantino produced another bloody good film, this time based loosely (and I mean loosely) on World War II and Nazi-occupied France. The movie is quintessential Tarantino: long, cerebral conversation scenes that serve to build anticipation, shockingly violent scenes that wreak havoc on your gag reflexes, and iconic characters that will forever be imitated and quoted. (If Christoph Waltz doesn't win an Oscar for his turn as SS Officer Landa, then, well, I'll ... I'll ... I'll be mad, OK?)

Friday, January 8, 2010

Poker Face-off

Lady Gaga has taken over the pop culture world, so it seems. (This just in: the singer/songwriter/fashionista has been named a creative director for Polaroid. Seriously.) Sure, she's bizarre-o and androgynous and all that, but dammit if her songs aren't catchy -- especially "Poker Face." The question is, which version of this song is the best? Ladies, gentlemen and hermaphrodites, I give you the Poker Face-off.

Here is the original Lady Gaga version:

Here is the Eric Cartman version, from the "Whale Whores" episode of "South Park." (NSFW)

Here is the Christopher Walken version, performed on Friday Night with Johnathan Ross on Halloween:

And here is a mashup of all three versions:

Which one do you prefer? For my money, I'll take Cartman any day of the week, though really, you can't go wrong with any of them.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Favorite movies of 2009

I was waiting to see "Avatar" before I posted my top 5 of 2009 -- and it made the list.*

1. Inglourious Basterds
2. The Hurt Locker
3. UP
4. (500) Days of Summer
5. Avatar

*I'm guessing I'll revise the list after I see "Up in the Air."