November 28th, 2006
Tommy BoyTommy: Look at 'em there, pretty maids all in a row. I want the one on the left; she's perfect. Which one d'you want? Huh, huh, huh?... Alright.
Paul: Does it make a difference?
Tommy: Oh yeah. Wait a second. Is this your first time?
Paul: Yeah Tommy, it is.
Tommy: God, you're gonna remember this the rest of your life. Can't believe you've never been cow tipping before. Get ready to live. She's sleepin'. What you do is, you put your shoulder into her and you push.
Paul: And?
Tommy: They fall over...
Paul: And this doesn't strike you as kinda dumb?
Tommy: We're family, we're gonna be doing lots of dumb stuff together. Wait 'til Christmas.

Movie of the Month - December, 2006

November 27th, 2006

The Muppet Christmas Carol

The Muppet Christmas CarolCharles Dickens's classic holiday story sparkles with humor and whimsy in the hands of the always hilarious Muppets! Michael Caine stars as the penny-pinching Ebenezer Scrooge in a performance that's anything but "bah humbug!" Alone on Christmas Eve, Scrooge is visited by ghosts who transport him to his past, present and future -- and it's not a pretty sight! but along the way he comes upon poor, kind, humble Bob Cratchit (Kermit the Frog) and his family, including Tiny Tim who teaches Scrooge the true meaning of Christmas. Complete with original music and dazzling effects, this heartfelt holiday movie is exceptional entertainment your family will enjoy for every Christmas to come.

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Jarhead

November 24th, 2006

Link: http://imdb.com/title/tt0418763/

JarheadAcademy Award winner Jamie Foxx and Jake Gyllenhaal star in this critically acclaimed, brilliantly unconventional war story from Oscar-winning director Sam Mendes.

Jarhead (the self-imposed moniker of the Marines) follows Swoff (Gyllenhaal) from a sobering stint in boot camp to active duty, where he sports a sniper rifle through Middle East deserts that provide no cover from the heat or Iraqi soldiers. Swoff and his fellow Marines sustain themselves with sardonic humanity and wicked comedy on blazing desert fields in a country they don't understand against an enemy they can't see for a cause they don't fully grasp.

One quick note before I go on about how much I enjoyed Jarhead. It is described as this ground-breaking film for being set during a war in a hostile zone, but not being ABOUT the war. I think it is unfair that Jarhead is credited as being the first movie to focus on the mental anguish endured by soldiers when other movies have done the same thing. To name a few, see Full Metal Jacket, Apocalypse Now and The Deer Hunter.

And now that I have gotten that out of my system, Jarhead exceeded my expectations. I really enjoyed the performances by Peter Sarsgaard and Jake Gyllenhaal. Even Jamie Foxx deserves credit for the work he did in Jarhead.

I do not normally like Jake Gyllenhaal. It is not that I dislike him at all, in most of his roles I have simply found him unremarkable. He brought a passion to Jarhead that he has not had the ability to display in previous movies. He has come a long way since Bubble Boy.

I like Peter Sarsgaard. I have liked him in pervious parts and I appreciate the complexity he brought to the character in Jarhead.

Not too long ago I could be heard requesting the end of Jamie Foxx's 15 minutes of fame. More often than not he plays a relatively transparent character and he does little, if anything, to bring the parts to life. (Granted, I have not seen Ray, so I am speaking only of his other work.) If he continues to bring the maturity to future characters that he brought to Jarhead, I will gladly eat my words.

I liked the way Jarhead, in a subtle fashion, portrayed different types of Marines. The movie primarily featured the enlisted son of a proud veteran, the cowboy Marine who can't wait to kill anything and everything, the man with the haunted past trying to lose himself in the Marines, and the firm-but-fair, almost fatherly, commanding officer. There were many other men and women who fought and participated bravely in the war, but these characters were the focus of the movie.

I liked two main themes/symbols from the movie. I found it very interesting the way the movie suggests that soldiers are coached on how to address the press when expressing their opinions on the war. I also enjoyed the contrast in one of the final scenes as the veteran Marine joins the young men on the bus. This scene was brilliant in its awkwardness.

(I was a little disappointed by how similar boot camp experience with the drill sergeant was to the beginning of Full Metal Jacket, but it may not bother you at all.)

I approached Jarhead very objectively and found myself very pleased with the movie. I had no expectations, lofty or otherwise. I was able to enjoy the movie for what it was. The language and some subject matter may make the movie prohibitive to a younger audience, but I believe Jarhead is an important movie for the respect and appreciation of our armed forces.

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Top 5 Movies: In Black & White

November 23rd, 2006

1. Lost Horizon

2. Casablanca

3. Clerks

4. Raging Bull

5. M

(Honorable Mention: Seven Samurai)

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November 22nd, 2006
Super TroopersMac: But our shenanigans are cheeky and fun!
Thorny: Yeah, and his shenanigans are cruel and tragic.
Foster: Which... makes them not really shenanigans at all.
Mac: Evil shenanigans!

J. Xavier

November 21st, 2006
J. Xavier
01.Camp Lo - Luchini
02.Master P - Ooohhhwee
03.Mr. Cheeks - Lights, Camera, Action
04.Philly's Most Wanted - Cross the Border
05.Cam'Ron - Hey Ma
06.Trick Daddy - I'm a Thug
07.Ali ft Murphy Lee - Boughetto
08.Benzino - Rock the Party
09.B Rich - Whoa Now
10.Shyne - Bonnie & Shyne
11.Ruff Ryders - Down Bottom
12.504 Boyz - I Can Tell
13.Nas - You Know My Style
14.N.O.R.E. - Nothin'
15.Ghostface Killah - Cherchez LaGhost
16.Silk - Freak Me
17.Trina - Pull Over
18.Big Tymers - Still Fly
19.Alkaline Trio - My Friend Peter

John Legend - Once Again

November 17th, 2006

In 2005 John Legend won 3 Grammy Awards. He won for Best New Artist, Best Male R&B Vocal Performance on his song "Ordinary People" and Best R&B Album for Get Lifted. Both of Legend's albums have been released under Kanye West's G.O.O.D. Music label. Get Lifted was a great album, but I think Once Again is better. John Legend - Once Again

a href="http://click.linksynergy.com/fs-bin/stat?id=IClueOjbfcw&offerid=78941&type=3&subid=0&tmpid=1826&RD_PARM1=http%253A%252F%252Fphobos.apple.com%252FWebObjects%252FMZStore.woa%252Fwa%252FviewAlbum%253Fi%253D201870732%2526id%253D201870715%2526s%253D143441%2526partnerId%253D30">Save Room As the music starts, don't be startled. You are still sitting on your couch, or driving your car. You have not been physically transported to inside an elevator, it is just the song and it will pass. But before you know it you'll want to be sure you have someone in your life into whose eyes you may gaze while you sing along.

02. Heaven There is comfort in John Legend's voice and it comes through in this song. I am not a huge fan of the hollow, tin sounding female support singing "Heaven only knows," but it works well enough.

03. Stereo My guess is that you will be hard-pressed to find a song where you can feel the singer's passion like you can in this song. Listening to this song and this album you, too, will fall in love with your stereo.

04. Show Me While pleading for someone to show him that they love him, Legend shows us how comfortable he is in his upper vocal range.

05. Each Day Gets Better This is the track you will want to take not of on this album. This should be the new relationship anthem. Guys, if you don't get a copy of the album, at least get this song. If your girl has out grown the legend Barry White, try this Legend's "Each Day Gets Better."

06. P.D.A. (We Just Don't Care) This is really the first track on the album where we see the rusty sound in Legend's voice that delighted so many in the Grammy winning "Ordinary People," though it is in short supply. It comes out more later in the album. Gents, this is another track with which to woo your special lady friend.

07. Slow Dance Smooth. Let's drop everything so our arms are free for each other. It's a great message and a great song.

08. Again This song slows the album; it changes the pace and the tone. The first song with conflict in the lyrics is just another way for John Legend to show his versatility on the album.

09. Maxine The jazzier sound here could make this a song you would hear in a more up-scale bar/club/restaurant. It's a good song with a slower tempo.

10. Where Did My Baby Go This is probably my favorite song on the album. It is not the most up-beat subject matter, but it is one of the higher-energy songs. Probably the highest compliment I could pay John Legend is saying that this song is reminiscent of Sam Cooke. It also brings back that rusty, off-key singing that Legend does so well. I love this song.

11. Maxine's Interlude I am not sure why this was added to the album, except for dramatic feel to this story-told-in-an-album. At under 2 minutes, it is not too obtrusive, but I still usually skip this track when I listen to the album.

12. Another Again This is a good song. It is a shame that is on this album because it is overshadowed by so many of the other songs. And maybe if you haven't heard "Prototype," from OutKast's Speakerboxxx/The Love Below, you won't mind how similar the music is.

13. Coming Home This is a beautiful song with which to end this story. There is more emotion here than in most of the other tracks, which makes sense as the album/story comes to its grand conclusion.

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Beyond the Deepwoods - Paul Stewart & Chris Riddell

November 16th, 2006

Beyond the Deepwoods by Paul Stewart & Chris RiddellFar, far away, jutting out into the emptiness beyond, lies the Edge. Filled with strange peoples and terrifying creatures, this is a world unlike any other, where action -- and danger -- await at every turn. Abandoned at birth in the dangerous Deepwoods, young Twig has been brought up by a family of woodtrolls. He has always thought he was one of them, until, one cold night, he finds out he's not. Soon he sets off to find out who he really is, and he does the unthinkable -- he strays from the path.

So begins the heart-stopping adventure that will take Twig through a nightmarish world of goblins and trogs, bloodthirsty beasts and flesh-eating trees. Only two things keep Twig going: the hopes of discovering his true identity and finding his destiny.

I have often seen The Edge Chronicles at the top of "What to read between Harry Potter books" lists. I love the Harry Potter series and with its inevitable demise, I too have found myself looking for alternatives. After only one book, I would probably suggest the Edge Chronicles for a younger reading-audience than the Harry Potter series, but that is not to say that I, as a 25 year old (child), could not have fun with them. Again, with only one book done, I am already looking forward to the second book.

For the first installment of the series, poor Twig (the main character) has a very rough go at it. He is basically pushed out of the proverbial nest and finds himself in a situation where he must find his own way. Beyond the Deepwoods follows Twig as he continuously finds himself face-to-face with danger. At every turn he encounters creatures, many animal...some vegetable, that try to do him great harm. Twig spends more time in trouble than he does getting out of it. From my "adult" perspective, I would have liked to see a little more development in the escape, but I cannot imagine that it would be an issue for a younger reader.

The story is wildly imaginative and fun to read. A huge bonus to these books is the artwork by Chris Riddell. He is a wonderfully talented artist and his beautiful drawings bring the story to life. What I liked most was how the text was wrapped around the pictures. The pictures are not separate from the text; they are just as important as the words and the two are presented together.

If Beyond the Deepwoods is representative of the series, the books are short and simple, quick reads. And if you are sucker for a gimmick like I am, these books all come in a fun, hard-cover binding that will look great on my bookshelf as I add them to my collection.

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November 15th, 2006
Blue October - Foiled - Hate MeHate me so you can finally see what's good for you.

Saw II

November 15th, 2006

Link: http://imdb.com/title/tt0432348/

Saw IIJigsaw is back. The brilliant, disturbed mastermind returns for another round of horrifying life-or-death games. When a new murder victim is discovered with all the signs of Jigsaw's hand, Detective Eric Matthews begins a full investigation and apprehends Jigsaw with little effort. But for Jigsaw, getting caught is just another part of his plan. Eight more of his victims are already fighting for their lives and now it's time for Matthews to join the game...

Aside from the unimportant innacuracy in the synopsis provided with the DVD (Matthews did not actually begin a full investigation, he merely tagged along on the raid), I have no gripes with Saw II.

I will try to avoid being too impressed with the death and torture devices used in the movie for fear of sounding too morbid (especially since I can be so squeemish). What I will shoot for, instead, is showing my admiration with how well they were used within the script. And while I am on the subject, I thought Saw II was very well written.

Neither the acting, nor the dialogue was the focus of the movie. Our attention is directed at the "game." We needn't focus on feelings of "Hey that guy was in Showgirls" or "Hey that kid reminds me way too much of Malcolm in the Middle." We are free to enjoy the plot without reservation. What will happen next? What is around that corner? What is on the other side of that door? How will it all end?!

Saw II was not the horror film that Saw was. The sequel would be better described as a (relatively) gory suspense movie. Nothing from part 2 made me apprehensive about my own daily routine as part 1 was able to do. And that is a sign of a good scary movie: one from which you are changed, for even a moment. Even if it is a few days later and you are getting into your car at night and you have a sudden panic that just maybe there is someone laying down, hidden in your back seat, THAT was a good scary movie. Saw I had that, Saw II did not. I did not love either movie. I liked them both, just for different reasons.

You don't HAVE to see Saw first to enjoy Saw II, though I recommend it. And if you like what you read above, I recommend you see them both.

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