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Archive for January, 2010

So, the great revelation of my pending unemployment led to me purchasing way too many Blu-Ray discs. And then, Amazon sprung a sale on me with the first five seasons of Lost on BR for a huge deal. So, figuring I was going to spend a few months with way too much time on my hands, I bought them. And watched them, in pretty quick succession.

Since thinking about five seasons of a single show isn’t something I can do briefly, I’m splitting my thoughts into two parts – one for the plotting & story and one for the characters & performances.

This is Part I: Plot, Story & All That Mystery.  If you’re not caught up with the show prior to the 6th and final season, catch up first.  You better believe I need to talk about plot developments that would be considered spoilers if the show wasn’t already on DVD.

The show was a beacon for ABC in its bid to relaunch itself.  Lost started the same season as Desperate Housewives, and spawned a huge following with strong writing and a several boatloads of mythology.  The show was seen as a template to be recreated by the other networks with Surface (NBC) and Threshold (CBS).  ABC even took a shot at duplicating Lost’s success with Invasion.  None of these shows were able to develop enough of a following to last a season, despite both Threshold (starring my beloved Carla Gugino) & Invasion (with the always hot Eddie Cibrian) showing very promising storytelling balance with their respective mythologies before getting the ax.

The show itself was launched by a still-in-Alias mode J.J. Abrams, and has been run by the wildly  complicated Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse (who also produced another boundary-pushing, hard to categorize show – The Adventures of Brisco County Jr.).  The pilot began with a flourish – a plane crash on a tropical island.  A cast of mostly beautiful people was dealing with the immediate crash.  The entire pilot centered on dealing with the crash itself: sustained injuries, trauma, shock, fear – all of which would pop up again throughout the inaugural season.

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iFail

So, there was this whole iPad release this week.  Perhaps its news.

The tablet as a product has always been seen as a convergence device – part business tool, part media consumption, part creative tool, part phone.  So, it was with a tremendous amount of disappointment, the iPad is born.  Its really a bigger iPod Touch mixed with a Kindle.  Its clearly not intended to be used as a processing or creative tool, and its not really robust enough for web surfing.  Basically, the iPad is a failure of concept – which is really what’s disappointing.

I was cautiously optimistic, given that Apple has shown vision with the iPod and the iPhone, albeit with many technical holes in their first generations.  The iPod used its platform of media delivery to extend into a phone with other applications.  But, it wasn’t so flexible early on.  It grew with playlisting, and ultimately video.  The iPhone was easily hackable early on, and still eats battery time like no phone I’ve ever seen.

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Along with most of America, I tuned in to the Hope For Haiti Now telethon.  Having given online earlier in the day, I was focused on the performances.  Here are the highlights in my head.

If you haven’t already donated, please do so now:  https://www.hopeforhaitinow.org/

Shakira – I’ll Stand By You

Jennifer Hudson – Let It Be

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In honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, here is a clip from the Reverand’s funeral featuring Aretha Franklin’s performance of Precious Lord. Its not a complete performance, which is fitting given that his life, while great, was sadly incomplete and cut short. While I did try to find the complete performance, I was not successful.

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Every year for the last few years, Stinky Lulu hosts a collection of arguments about some of the great supporting female performances in film.  This is my entry.

I don’t see a tremendous amount of movies actually in the theatre, since I enjoy my Blu-Ray player & large TV quite a bit. But, that doesn’t mean I didn’t see a few.  The adaptation of Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons’s Watchmen by Zach Snyder was certainly a disappointment.  A literal translation of the circumstances and imagery without the philosophical intent, it was a fairly empty cinematic experience.  However, Carla Gugino stands out with a scene stealing performance as Sally Jupiter (the original Silk Spectre), an older hero and mother to Malin Ackerman’s Laurie Jupiter.

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So, what’s the big deal about this movie?

I thought Up In The Air was an enjoyable experience as a film-goer, but it wasn’t all that revelatory to me.  Its a hard-working man in crisis who realizes the importance of relationships he never developed.  If a woman was in the lead role, this would be a romantic comedy (though with a different ending) – and its been played out, with stars such as Kristin Chenoweth, Renée Zellweger, Sandra Bullock, and Sarah Jessica Parker all taking the lead.

George Clooney delivers his usual Cary Grant-ish performance.  He’s charming & wonderful, likeable yet still a little off.  Vera Farmiga is lovely as his love interest, matching him despite claiming to be 34.  He’s somewhere in the neighborhood of 50, and she’s close to 40.  It bothered me that her character was written younger.  If anything, I would have preferred a woman in her early 40’s as his love interest.  Regardless, they had a palpable romantic energy, fitting into each other quite well – much like Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn having about 25 years apart in Charade.

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So, I finally hauled myself to a theater to see Avatar.  In IMAX 3-D.

I was not disappointed.  Despite a slow start and a literally paint-by-numbers plot, the movie is a gorgeous piece of film-making.

First and foremost, everyone seeing the film is interested in the visuals.  Given that at least 80% of the film is digitally rendered, the work involved by the WETA folks is extremely impressive and realistic – especially close-up.  The jungle planet is lovely, and the movement of the forest vegetation & creatures is excellent.  We’re now used to seeing group scenes and backgrounds digitally created, so while the large scale battle and movement sequences aren’t revelatory, they are drastically better than anything Lucas did with the Star Wars prequels.  They just don’t compare to the intimate moments.

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