Entertainment News and Views
Judge Eric Profancik's Blog
• Location: Cincinnati, OH
RE: Who is The Doctor?
As I said in the Jury Room, this new Doctor is some good stuff. It's fun and quirky, but I don't think a newbie will quite appreciate it like a Whovian.
But don't let that deter you. Give this show a chance and see why it's lasted for over forty years!
Re: Let me just say that moving SUCKS!!!!
I feel your pain and can one up you (not that we need to do that sort of thing). Last year I moved twice in two months. My first move was prompted just to live in a new place. Once there I ended up with the neighbors from hell. After two months of complaining, the complex let me out of my lease - thank god! And then I packed it all back up and moved again. I still have one box I haven't unpacked yet, a year later....just in case! That one box has at least 100 smaller boxes inside (my Star Trek and Star Wars pewter collection).
Tommy Lee Goes to College
I apologize up front, but I'm going to be saying a few nice things about this latest entry to the land of reality television. Not being a particular fan of Mr. Lee nor of Motley Crue, I have been pleasantly surprised by Tommy and his "antics" on the show. Coming across as an incredibly likable guy, Tommy has gone up a few ticks in my "cool book," and it would be quite a riot to meet him in real life. His adventures in going to Nebraska are easy to relate to, funny, and a clever spin on the "college thing."
If you haven't seen this one - on NBC, Tuesdays at 9:00 - give it a chance. It's only a thirty minute show, and it's not like House is new or anything. And, if nothing else, you've got to see Tommy's tutor!
I was paging through the old blog when I came across a discussion (in March) of ye olde high gas prices, and how we were kvetching about paying $2.199/ gallon. Well, give me those good old days, seeing as we're now up to an astonishing $2.699/gallon in podunk Cincinnati, Ohio! I can't wait until we get a national average above $3.16/gallon, then people will stop making excuses for this outrageousness (??) by saying we paid more for gas in the Seventies. Folks, if we get out of this in one piece and we don't do something about getting off fossil fuels and work on increasing efficiency in all cars/trucks/SUVs/etc, then we are one incredibly stupid species. I have a feeling I'm going to be very disappointing (again) with the human race.
Blog Review: Under Milk Wood
I missed something as I watched the screener disc of Under Milk Wood from our friends at The Sundance Channel. Adapted from the poem (play?, or maybe just epic work?) "Play for Voices" by Dylan Thomas, I didn't know what I was watching. And, when you don't know what you're watching, you are missing something - everything! Sitting in my room, I read over the DVD packaging and finally found this tiny blurb: "A celebration of life and death, the film follows the people and events in a small Welsh harbor village, on one spring day." Oh! That's what's going on! Now I get it. Seems simple enough, don't you think? But, the catch stems from what I called Thomas's work: a poem. For me, Under Milk Wood is what a poem looks like. With constant narration, the movie shows us the poem. Words are transformed into images, and images transform the words. Poetry is extremely difficult for me to interpret, as I have a far too literal mind for the abstract, free-flowing nature of verse. I wanted to find some linear structure to the narrative, and I couldn't find it. Only when I accepted the fact (about 30 minutes in) that this was the visualization of a poem about 58 different people in a Welsh village called Llareggub (hint: backwards) was I able to get the slightest idea of what was going on.
And it was just the slightest idea.
For those of you into poetry, this could be a treasured find; and the accolades on the web and on the disc would seem to support that idea. But for the likes of me, it's far from my cup of tea. Even with the superb talents of Richard Burton, Peter O'Toole, and Elizabeth Taylor, I couldn't muster much interest in Under Milk Wood. Told mostly via narration (of the poem/play/whatever) with "minimal" dialogue, you've gotta get it to get it.
What did me great disservice was that this disc was but a bare bones screener: just the movie and the trailer stuck on the front. The full "special edition" disc is chock full of bonus items like a feature length documentary on Dylan Thomas, a director's introduction, a director's commentary, production notes, and more. For a poor schlub like me who doesn't know iambic pentameter from mozzarella, this bonus information could have really helped me appreciate and embrace this film. Without it, you see what I surmised.
As far as the quality of the video and audio, I don't know if this screener includes the final transfers, but the video is a bit hazy, full of dirt, and lacking rich colors; while the audio is a bit muffled, making it hard to understand at times. What Under Milk Wood does have going for it is some masterful cinematography. The town utilized to portray Llareggub beautifully captures every word of Thomas's work. Maybe the town was the true inspiration of the poem?
I wish I could lavish more praise for this film, for I feel that for the right audience, Under Milk Wood would be greatly appreciated. If that sounds like you, give this one a spin and help me figure out what I missed.
This weekend I rented a couple of DVDs from my local Blockbuster - my apologies to anyone who boycotts the establishment, but I rent infrequently and it's literally a two-minute walk from my front door. I rented three discs, The Producers, XXX: State of the Union, and Kung Fu Hustle. An odd combination? Sure, but I had just seen"The Producers" on Broadway a few weeks ago and was very curious how close the musical and the movie are....very!
And then there were the other two rentals, which were both surprisingly entertaining. (I think we'll have full reviews of the discs, so I'm just tossing out some quick thoughts here.) First, XXX: State of the Union is a huge improvement over the original with Vin Diesel. Ice Cube makes a believable action hero, and the action sequences are pretty fun. It's a preposterous plot, but it has an interesting and new twist or two.
But the biggest joy was in Kung Fu Hustle. I had given thought to catching this one in the theaters but obviously passed. Wow, this movie was outrageously fun. What a great combination of kung fu, wire fu, Looney Tunes action, and innumerable homages to other films. This one is a definite rental, and a safe blind buy (excellent video and awesome audio)! It's good to see there's still some interesting ideas (albeit "borrowed") left in movies. Please give this one a spin; you'll like it.
Blog Review: Family Flaw
I have just had the most infuriating experience while attempting to watch a screener disc of the film Family Flaw from Ariztical Entertainment. As I made the sincerest of efforts to try and watch and finish viewing the entire movie, I grew more and more maddened by what I was seeing. Was it the movie that so rattled me? No. It was the disc itself. The DVD was so riddled with errors that it locked up almost every five seconds. There were moments when it would play for a minute or two without locking up, and thatís what allowed me to keep watching it until 1 hour and 10 minutes when the disc so froze up that I pulled it out of my machine and stomped on it (but dang if it didnít break, though Iím looking forward to using it as a frisbee instead). I have no idea how the final 20 minutes of the film went, and I donít care.
But let me tell you about what I did see in those first 70 minutes:
I viewed an Italian film that would be wonderfully suited for reruns on the Lifetime channel. The clichť-riddled story tells of two estranged brothers who are brought together by the death of their mother. In her will, she stipulates that the two must drive her body to their hometown of Casa Bianca to learn a secret, sealed in an envelope only to be read once they conclude their journey. You see, the older brother, Francesco, is a homosexual; the younger, Nicola, an uptight businessman who does not approve of such a lifestyle. Along the way, mom hoped the two would reconcile. At 70 minutes, it was apparent that would happen; but it was also apparent you wouldnít like either of these two men with another 20 minutes to go. Francesco is a flippant, self-centered, free spirit who will do whatever he wants, no matter the hurt he may cause to others. Nicola is an over-disciplined, hypochondriac, with a ďheart of graniteĒ; he never met a rule he didnít like.
I know what the big secret is, thanks to the trailer attached to the front of the movie, but I donít know to whom it specifically relates. Regardless, I donít care. I think I might have cared a bit more if the disc werenít so riddled with errors; but it is so cíest la vie. My only true compliment for the movie is that being set in Italy, the cinematography and the locations are gorgeous.
The movie doesnít provide anything new with regard to the story, the acting, or the tale of familial reconciliation. When the picture wasn't locking up, it looked reasonably decent with some nice color and details. The dubbed audio was Dolby 2.0, and it was good enough for this dialogue-intensive film. Outside of the aforementioned trailer, nothing else was included on this screener. Donít buy the disc, and donít stop and watch it if you see it on Lifetime one day. Family Flaw? Ha! ďDVD FlawĒ is more appropriate!
I have always been a closet fan of the Fantastic Four. Though I never avidly read the comic books or watched the animated series back when, they've always been among my favorite superheroes. Why? I'm really not certain, honestly. Yet I was very excited when I heard about the movie, and I was looking forward to it from the first trailer - the one bashed by many.
I went into the movie with average expectations. I'd heard some rumblings and wasn't expecting a whole heck of a lot, and that is what I got: an average action movie. The first half hour of the movie is slow, as we have to get everyone up to speed with the exposition of our main characters, the villian, and all of their powers. But once we hit the "bridge scene" (as seen in all the trailers), the pace picks up quite nicely. You have four disparate people working to realize their new place in the world.
My favorite part of the picture was Johnny Storm, the Human Torch. I loved his freewheeling, carefree attitude about life and the love of his new powers. "Am I the only one who thinks this is cool?," Johnny embraces his mutation and acts like I would like to think I would: joyous. Johnny has a great personality, has a lot of fun taunting his friends and the media, and he's the life of the party (of the film).
If you go to see Fantastic Four (what happened to the "the"?), you'll be treated to a decent flick that takes a little while to get up to speed. It, of course, lays the foundation for a bunch of sequels, and I'd be all the happy to pay to see them....as long as everyone comes back. I think they found just the right people to fill the roles, even if some of them are a bit too young versus their comic counterparts. I'd give this one a solid B, and I hope it has a nice DVD come fall.
Re: The Dark Knight Calls a Do Over
I happened to catch Ebert & Roeper on TV this weekend, and they were doing an early preview of Batman Begins. These guys gushed all over this film saying it is excellent, easily the best of all films, even topping Burton's original (which Ebert didn't particularly like). I'm excited about this one too, and I want that Batman SE now!
Revenge of the Sith: Mediocrity Achieved!
Well, we all have to see ROTS because it's the last Star Wars movie and because it does make an honest effort to tie the two trilogies together. However, Lucas has completed the circle and Sith is another helping of mediocrity.
I think it can be summarized in this way: I feel disappointed. The excitement I had hoped to feel just isn't there. Right now, I'm not even sure I want to see it a second time today. There just wasn't anything that new, different, or consistently exciting going on. Finally, Lucas does insert some true emotion in this one from friendship to anger to grief, creating the first moments when we truly care or are moved by his prequel trilogy. Certainly there's eye candy out the wazoo, but it still just doesn't work. It still feels too fake, but this time George is also REALLY showing off what he can do, as clearly evidenced in the very opening minutes of the movie. Yes, there are some great action sequences and some brilliant lightsabre battles, but they don't balance out the continued plot convolutions, horrendous dialogue, and atrocious acting. Lucas just doesn't bring the best out of anyone, and you'll never see a more wretched example of pathetic acting from such talents as McGregor, Jackson, or Portman. When you hear some of the insipid lines between Padme and Anakin, you'll want to barf. Ain't love grand?!?
As our carload trekked home, the near entirety of the discussion was saying what we didn't like about the film. And there was quite a bit. At the end I asked, "Well, what do we like about the film?" I think the only two things we ended up with was Hayden's bare chest (there were three ladies in the car) and everything on the lava planet. I think we'll also toss in the action sequences on the whole. Obivously, this is not a ringing endorsement. And, sadly, I have to toss in that it appears John Williams missed the mark again here. None of his new score jumped out at me during the film - except "Battle of the Heroes" but only because I recognized it. Only when he revisited his old, classic themes did it catch my ear. Even on the way home, the few tracks I was able to listen to do CD were just so-so.
Regardless, go see Sith but expect a final serving of middling mediocrity. I am sad to say that this is still NOT "the movie we've been waiting for," but it is decidedly the best of the prequel trilogy.
I sat in theater number twelve tonight. According to the complex, ALL 20 screens were sold out. Wow! I wonder how many feel the same way my friends and I do? At least there was a consolation prize, we all received a free "re-admit pass" on the way out. I have two hypothesis for this, neither related to the quality of Lucas' film. First, it's because the framing was incorrect at the beginning of the film. Oh, the previews were perfect, but once we got to the film itself, it was rolled so it was split horizontally, with the top of the film on the bottom half of the screen and the bottom half on the top. You should have heard how ballistic we got. Luckily it was fixed by the time "Episode III" showed up. Or, secondly, maybe it was because the sound mix was "off." I felt the audio was too low, with the surrounds having minimal action. Seeing what was onscreen, I can't imagine that was the true mix. In either case, I got my $10 back.
Maybe we'll have better luck with episodes seven through nine...
May the Force Be With You.
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