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Rivalry Week

Ohio State vs Michigan sure lived up to its hype. Wow!

Washington Huskies partially redeemed a lost season with an inspired winning performance against Washington State in the Apple Cup.

Rutgers fell from the ranks of the unbeaten, opening the door even wider for the hordes of one-loss teams chomping at the bit. Boise State vs Ohio State, anyone?

James Bond: Casino Royale — ok, but not really as good as all the reviews made it out to be.

Update: I forgot to include a score, lets say 2.5/5

The Prestige

I went to see The Prestige tonight with Dan. He brought along his Dad and Alex, and I brought along Kunlun, and Courtney who brought along her sister Jackie. Dan and his dad were nice enough to save seats for the my and my guests, who arrived a few minutes into th previews. Unfortunately, I was unable to stick around and thank Dan for his kindness, as Courtney seemed to be in a hurry to get back. So, my apologies for running off on you Dan, and my sincere thanks for holding some excellent seats. Hopefully, a public thanks will make up for taking off so abruptly.

As far as the show goes, I enjoyed it a good amount. It certainly was had some interesting ideas and twists that I had no idea were coming. I would give it a 4 on my 0-5 scale.

The Village

I had avoided watching M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village mostly due to some terrible reviews I heard. I have liked his previous works, but for some reason became convinced that this one was not up to par. Well, I was wrong. I’m just kind of embarassed that I let movie reviewers influence me so much.

At any rate, I suppose that it is obvious now that I did watch it, and I would recommend it to anyone who hasn’t watched it yet. I enjoyed the suspense — the sense of terror rather than horror that was at times palpable. Well directed, without stunning acting performances, but good enough, and an enjoyable film overall.

4.0 on the Ryan Scale

Pirates II and the World Cup

I saw the second Pirates of the Caribbean with Scott Torborg last night. It was nice to see it get fairly good reviews from the general movie-going audience (who I trust far more than the critics), so I was looking forward to it. Unfortunately, it wasn’t at all what I expected. It was not a bad movie, necessarily, but it had none of the lightheartedness that made the first one so endearing. It was indeed much darker; as I heard someone call it, “Pirates of the Caribbean 2: The Empire Strikes Back.”

However, I’m torn as to whether darker was really necessary here. Certainly it made the movie seem less flippant and more important; but that isn’t really what I was hoping for. I wanted to feel good at the end of the day, not pensive. Alas, it was not to be as the darker side of human nature reared its ugly head again and again.

Certainly some of the nastiness of the opening scenes was completely unnecessary, and almost all of the humor seemed to be a reference back to the first film, which actually was funny in its own right. Also, there was too much to get done in the story that tried to hard to do too many things at times that it frayed at the edges. And although I didn’t like the major choices made by the characters (by design, I am sure), it is also, ultimately, what made this movie work at all: The fallibility of all is perhaps the greatest uniting theme of humanity.

Which brings me to the World Cup. Italy beat France, while I was rooting for France. But more shocking than the loss to Italy for us Francophiles was the loss of Zinidine Zidane to red card for a truly absurd foul in overtime. A great player, who seemed to be always cool under pressure, the captain of a team of veterans, made perhaps the greatest mistake of his career in his final game. So how does this fit in with the Pirates? Well, as I see it, we all make mistakes — and we all deserve a shot at redemption. I hope Zidane proves to be apologetic and conciliatory, and I believe him doing so will help him be remembered for his wonderful career instead of his final moments of competitive soccer. And Elizabeth Swan, Norrington, Barbosa, and company will get their chance at the redemption in a year or two as well.

OSS 117

I skipped out of work early today after Dan Marsh called to inform me he had an extra ticket to a French Comedy movie at the Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF). Since SIFF started during the end of spring quarter and finals, I never got my act together to get tickets, so this was my first movie of the festival. Dan told me that he had heard good things about the movie, and since I thoroughly enjoyed the last French comedy I saw, I thought I would give this one a shot.

As it turns out, what Dan had heard was right — the movie, OSS 117: Cairo – Nest of Spies, a spoof of a Jame Bond-esque spy series, was a great deal of fun. As an extra treat, the director and the beautiful lead actress, Berenice Bejo, showed up as well. Their english was not excellent, but it was good enough and, well, she didn’t need to speak much if you know what I mean :-D.

This gets a solid 4.0 on the Ryan Rating, and is deservedly reccomended.

Cars

Met up with Shai tonight (and missed Brian, but saw Dan) to watch Pixar’s latest offering, Cars. I laughed, I (almost) cried, and I enjoyed myself thoroughly while leaning back into some of the finest movie theater chairs ever created at Bellevue’s Lincoln Square Cinemas. While Cars was not as deeply layered as The Incredibles, the movie still really worked for me. Definitely the best I’ve seen in a while.

Movie Update

Its been a while since I last posted about movies. I haven’t been on a particular tear, but I have seen a few and I thought I would quickly review them on my famous 1-5 scale. My memory isn’t the best, so I may have seen more movies than this implies, but this is what I recall at the moment: [See Addendum]

V for Vendetta – Subversive Action – 4.5
Transporter 2 – Non-Stop Action – 3
Inside Man – “Smart” Thriller – 3
Ice Age 2 – “Kids” Comedy – 1
The Rock – Unlikely-Heros Action – 4

I had not planned on seeing Ice Age 2 until an invitation to see the movie last night with Maria came soon after a recommendation of the movie by an acquaintance. Needless to say, I will never trust that person’s movie recommendations again. The movie was terrible, in almost every way. I have no respect for movies, especially children’s mvoies, that employ swearing for comedic effect. It is a poor crutch for a weak comedic mind, and I don’t find it funny or even mildly amusing. Its just crass and unwarranted. Furthermore, Ice Age 2 adds to this ignoble start with, well, nothing pretty much. A song, a few predictable twists later, and the movie was thankfully over.

Inside man was, thankfully, quite a bit better. I watched it with Scott Torborg a week ago. It was an enjoyable bank robbery film that did a fair amount to keep me guessing, but in the end, its reliance on a wearily overused theme stopped it from being any better than sort of “blah good.” Don’t we all know that the Nazis were really really bad? Do we really need another movie villianizing some relation with the Nazis yet again? What about modern day evils? Anyway, while this movie had a lot of interesting ideas, its main theme was too easily lost on me. Good, sorta, but not great, at all.

The night before, I watched Transporter 2 with Jon, Maria, and Maura at my parent’s place on their wonderful large TV. It was a fun action movie, but it had too many physics-defying moments for me to call it anything above “pretty ok” (note that this is the same rating as “blah good”). Particularly disheartening were the gun that could blow up helicopters but failed to shoot through wood doors and the plane crashing into the water so gently that simply jumping away from the water was enough to counteract the decelleration of the collision. On the other hand, the movie made the very intelligent move of completely avoiding the details of how the world was saved after the final fight scene, and the transporter resisted a sexual overature by a rich and hot drunk woman, not because of who she was, but because of who he was. Impressive, in my book.

Finally, a few weeks ago, I watched V for Vendetta with Dan. I thouroughly enjoyed this movie, and not just for the fact that lots of government buildings blew up (always a good thing). I could not agree more with what I see as the central premise of the movie, summed up in the line, “people should not be afraid of their government; the government should be afraid of its people.” This delightlyfully subversive theme carried the movie along quite nicely, and even helped it overcome its primary shortcoming of trying too hard to make the audience see the parallels between modern times and the movies times, which really were not as strong as the directors (Warchowski brothers) seemed to want the parallels to be. Despite this small stumble, the movie was quite enjoyable throughout. Good dialogue, nice action, intelligent plot, all in an enjoyable package — can’t ask for much more out of a movie.

Addendum:

I just remembers two things — one, I saw The Rock with my housemate Hadrien a couple of weeks ago. While there was nothing particularly spetacular about it, it was a very solid movie. What I liked the most about it was the fact that the main “villain” for most of the movie was a likeable character, and even a hero in his own way. This made me think again about V for Vendetta — and I realized that its biggest flaw was how one-dimmensional its villains were. There were no attempts to relate to them outside of their “evilness.” While V for Vendetta did blur the line with V’s “Terrorist” antics, I think the movie would have been stronger overall if there had been some way to relate more with the villains — the people V was knocking off — as more than straightforward goons. Looking back, I think this was the primary factor that prevented me from giving it the covetted 5 (that no major release has ever recieved).