Wednesday, March 12, 2008

We Feel Your Pain

So Philadelphia Phillies All-Star left-hander, Cole Hamels is the latest young MLB whippersnapper to whine and bitch about the "measly" salary he's been granted. I just have one reaction to this...blow me. Cole, if that's getting too technical for you, I'll type slower so you can understand. I make about $450,000 a year less than you do, and I guarantee I work harder for least mentally. You play a freakin' game for a living bro. If $500,000 is considered a "low blow" in any occupational field, then this country must be in a lot better shape than we've all been led to believe. I guess there are no people out there struggling to find work, living from paycheck to paycheck, being oppressed by society from birth...must be a vast right-wing conspiracy to make us believe all this is really going on. But all praise Cole Hamels for showing us the light. Maybe we should just disqualify Obama, Clinton and McCain and anoint Lord Hamels to lead us through to Utopia. Just please...nobody tell him that the President only makes $400,000.


So Iditarod participant Lance Mackey repeated as champion of the iconic Alaskan sled dog race by outwitting his opponent and duping him into believing he was sleeping for longer than he really was. I guess his trick worked on me too because...zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Saturday, March 1, 2008

The Oscars - Ratings Down the Tubes

Much has been made about the Academy Awards telecast being the lowest-viewed Oscar broadcast ever. I'm still trying to figure out how you can put a negative spin on being the number 1 rated show of the week, higher than all three American Idol episodes. What kind of expectations are we setting when 30+ million viewers and a 29% share of the total audience is not good enough? An Entertainment Weekly article cited the highest-rated Oscar show of all time from the 1950's, which raked in almost 90% of American TV viewers. Well guess what folks...that ain't ever happening again...not even close. There was what - one other TV program on at that time? There are freakin 9,000 channels, mobile phones, IPods, DVRs, and all sorts of other things sapping our already short attention spans. If you lock down 32 million people for a 4-hour TV show, you are doing a damn good job. You simply can't compare the numbers to even those broadcasts from only within the past ten years. We live in a different world now. Yes, maybe there is more of a focus on smaller, "artsier" films than there used to be, but hey, who cares? If Michael Bay or Jerry Bruckheimer or whoever wants to go ahead and make an Oscar-worthy film then make our day! I'm sorry though...the general movie-going public is drawn to (for whatever ungodly reason) Spiderman at a 10x higher rate than it is to There Will Be Blood. But are we going to honor dreck like that for appealing to the lowest common denominator? Gosh I hope not. I didn't agree with the Oscar choices this year, and I usually don't. But I know that the 300-million dollar epics are not going to make the grade. Hollywood needs to resign itself to the fact that the Oscars are the #1 game in town - albeit a much lower #1 than ever before. We should all be so unfortunate.

Movie Review: Vantage Point

This is a review of the movie, Vantage Point, starring Dennis Quaid, Matthew Fox, William Hurt and Forest Whitaker.

**Spoiler Alert**

OK. I don't think this review really contains any crucial spoilers, but anytime you write about movies, you're bound to give something away that people would rather have seen for themselves, so proceed with caution.

The one knock against this film that I've heard a few times so far from critics is that the repeated flashback structure becomes annoying. For those of you who are not familiar with the gimmick of this film, we are shown the same 5-or-so-minute sequence (the shooting of the President of the USA) from the perspectives of several different characters who witness it. Each time we get to a pivotal event during each sequence, the action "rewinds" back to moments before the shooting, and we are shown the next character's vantage point. The pivotal event or "cliffhanger" that was not fully revealed is then explained in one of the subsequent sequences. I actually thought this device was interesting and unique. It's really difficult for filmmakers to come up with ideas that have not been used in film before...that's why we see so many mediocre and derivative films. So I say that the director, Pete Travis, and the writer, Barry Levy, neither of whom who have really done any previous work of note, deserve some credit for making their first major box office offering different in some way.

All of the acting performances are pretty spot on, particularly that of Dennis Quaid, who plays a Secret Service agent returning to the job for the first time since taking a bullet for the President months earlier. Totally believable as a rugged, stoic but emotionally shaken Secret Service dude. It's also nice to see Matthew Fox in a role that is not just a retread of Dr. Jack Shephard from Lost. Whitaker's character is kind of lame, but he does with it what he can.

The big faux-pas they make is, of course, laying out one of the big reveals of the film in the trailer. If you've seen it, you know what it is, so I won't go into further detail. Not only was it unnecessary to make the trailer enticing to moviegoers, but it severely impacts the emotional response from the audience during the viewing of the actual movie. However, I think there are a couple of other major reveals in the film that are not known this carries the drama factor despite the misstep in the coming attractions.

One positive I've heard about the film that I would actually count as a negative, is the car chase. I thought it was over-the-top and didn't really add much to the experience.

The film suffers another demerit for never revealing the motivation of the bad guys. I suppose this isn't incredibly important in the grand scheme of things, but I prefer when a movie ties up the loose ends. However, this is somewhat redeemable by the very last line of dialogue in the film, which is a nice touch (that's all I'll say about that).

All in all, there won't be any awards bestowed on this film, but as an action-thriller, it works. It's an enjoyable use of an hour and a half of your time on the weekend.

Overall rating: 7 out of 10 stars/B