Posts Tagged Movies

Idol Thoughts — 05.11.10

I’m surprised by this. But as a theme week on American Idol, “movie songs” doesn’t hold up very well for me.

Sure, it’s a way to put some limits on what song the contestants sing. But genre-wise, movie songs can be every and any genre. So musically, it really isn’t a “theme” at all.

On top of that, I never feel any connection between the performance on the Idol stage to the films the songs are from. Maybe they could show some footage from the movie on the screen behind the singers as they perform? Just thinking out loud. I’m sure that costs money Idol producers would rather not spend.

For that matter, it’d be somewhat dubious to resurrect some of last night’s movies. Helping a giant killer whale find freedom? The second worst Batman movie? A 40-year old AFI Top 100 classic–that 80% of Idol‘s audience has never seen?

Jamie Foxx returned last night. With success in both the films and music, you couldn’t book a guest mentor that makes more sense. Even so, there was a tinge of “been there, done that” seeing that Foxx was on just last season. Foxx got in the finalists faces (literally) and pushed them to be “artists,” not “contestants,” even bestowing tee shirts to the singers with those words on them at the end of his time with them. Big Mike seemed a little put off when Foxx tried to hand him the “contestant” tee. Mike said no, he wouldn’t take it. Foxx didn’t argue. Hey, it’s “Big” Mike…probably wasn’t the right size, anyway!

In addition, the duets were back last night. To save the night, I should say. They turned out to be the highlights. I guess I’m not surprised. On a season where there’s been a shortage of personality, there’s a better chance of getting some when you double these finalists up. Here’s everything ranked, individual and duet performances all together:

1) Lee DeWyze and Crystal Bowersox – “Falling Slowly” by Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová (from the film Once) – Probably my favorite performance of the entire season. This really worked. Lee and Crystal sang as if something really mattered. Not that they don’t on their own. They do. But the passion was stronger here than ever before. I’ve always felt the best duets allow the individuals to spotlight their vocal strengths while finding some shared, harmonic area. Lee and Crystal nailed that. They made a strong argument for a Lee-Crystal finale.

2) Casey James and Michael Lynche – “Have You Ever Really Loved A Woman” by Bryan Adams (from the film Don Juan DeMarco) – Another solid duet with some tight harmonies and skillful guitar-work from Casey. Although after singing the opening verse, it seemed to me Casey became Mike’s back-up singer; Casey sounded lower in the vocal mix. That said, “Big Mike” was clearly better suited vocally for the song. And Mike made the most of it, getting more mileage out of his singing here than on his solo song.

3) Crystal Bowersox – “I’m Alright” by Kenny Loggins (from the film Caddyshack) – Hey, at least it wasn’t “Footloose.” Can you imagine someone doing that? I can. He name is Tim Urban, and he got voted off weeks ago. So, this was kind of a cheesy song choice for Crystal. I’m guessing Crystal loves the comedy goldmine that is Caddyshack (as should everybody!!). As such, Crystal probably has fonder thoughts about this song than are really deserved. On a night where the other finalists’ solo efforts came up short, Crystal made the most of this one, giving it an energetic, bluesy-rock, Janis Joplin vocal.

4) Casey James – “Mrs. Robinson” by Simon & Garfunkel (from the film The Graduate) – Oh, c’mon! You know Casey was talked into performing this song by someone behind-the-scenes, right? So the show could play up the whole “Kara DioGuardi is Mrs. Robinson” storyline. Hey, I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. But outside of that particular  storyline on AI9 (like in, you know, the real world), I’m not sure how Casey doing this song is relevant. At least that’s what I was saying as I was tapping my toes and diggin’ this sit-down, ukulele version. It all came together and worked.

5) Lee DeWyze – “Kiss From A Rose” by Seal (from the film Batman Forever) – This is a complicated song to sing. If you don’t believe me, you try and sing it! The vocal range needed is huge. Bigger than what Lee has. So he did what he could. I happen to love his voice. So I enjoy even a lesser Lee performance. This was a lesser Lee performance. Good thing for Lee he had the duet tonight.

6) Michael Lynche – “Will You Be There” by Michael Jackson (from the film Free Willy) – My problem with Big Mike is this. He usually sounds good. Just fine. Nothing really wrong. And yet, I’m just not excited by it. Ever. Well, maybe not ever; “Woman’s Work” was great. So my problem with Big Mike seems to be…I’m not a fan. And it’s beginning to look like that’s not gonna happen. But there’s absolutely nothing about what he’s doing that offends my musical senses. Odd moment: we learned that Big Mike’s goal is to make the Top 3. Really? Not…to win this?

Here’s some predictions. Yep, I continue to make them, even after three consecutive misses! Hey, Shaq doesn’t stop shooting free throws, does he? The Bottom Two tonight seems clear: Casey James and Michael Lynche. Not making the Top 3: Michael Lynche.

Greg Valentine
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Juno What Happened To My Movie?

uspsOkay, I’m always up for a good conspiracy theory. Three times in the last couple months, Netflix shipped me DVDs that never arrived. Yet each of those DVDs has relatively quickly and mysteriously made its way back to Netflix. Is it a stretch to conclude that people at the Post Office intercept these things, take them home, watch, enjoy and drop in the return mail?

Netflix seems to have a “no-harm, no-foul” policy when you report a disc as never having arrived. They just send out a new one. And from the perspective of a postal employee, seeing as ‘”borrowing” these DVDs involves no mass homicide of co-workers, they probably feel justified, almost like a reward for “not going postal.”

Next up in the queue, Juno. Let me know how it is!

Updated 07/27/09: Not to beat a dead horse. But today a Netflix envelope showed up opened but Scotch taped shut. C’mon! An entire perforated line was (carefully) torn. Then someone (carefully) taped it up. Netflix doesn’t mail it that way. Shadiness.

Updated 10/18/09: I knew it! This sort of thing definitely goes on. Here’s a story about a postal worker caught stealing thousands of Netflix DVDs:

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New Transformers Ready For ‘Prime’ Time?

optimusSaw Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen last night. I enjoyed the first film, and was ‘optimistically primed’ for this one. I should say I’m far from a ‘Transformer’ expert. So this isn’t so much a review. Just a few random thoughts.

  • If you watch most of your TV shows on DVR like I do, then you know this phenomenon: fast forwarding through commercials, keeping the button pressed a half second too long, going back to regular speed and letting the show continue, even though you’ve just skipped over a part of a scene. Every Michael Bay movie reminds me of this. Michael Bay doesn’t have time to tell a story. More like, he suggests a story and leaves the rest up to us.
  • IMAX is my favorite format for the big action movies. As long as you’re not sitting in the second row. Those were the only seats we could find at the sold out 11pm showing. When you’re that close, you literally can’t take in the whole screen with your eyes. At best, I saw two-thirds of this movie.
  • If you decide to see this movie at 11pm on a school night, you’ll probably agree it’s a skosh too long.
  • They had one of those Camaro’s parked outside the theater. That’s a sweet ride! Speaking of sweet rides…
  • Apparantly, I know more about girls than Transformers. There’s a big cheer when Megan Fox makes her first appearance on screen. That I get. Later during some of the battles, I don’t always know which Transformer is which enough to start clapping when the rest of the audience does. Every Transformer should have it’s own exclusive color (like the ‘yellow one’) so idiots like me can follow.
  • There’s more comedy in this one than the first movie. Some people will like that. My guess is some ‘purists’ will probably grumble that big metallic beings from another planet who can fly through space and change shapes who also have senses of humor is sooooo unrealistic.
  • The special effects are amazing. The explosions are awesome. The cars and trucks are downright sexy. The trademark Michael Bay slo-mo? A way to guarantee you leave the theater 20 minutes later than you could have.

Verdict? Impossible to make one based on my experience last night. Yes, I will see it again. Hopefully not so close to the screen that I feel like I’m inside John Turturro’s nose! Plus, there’s at least a third of the flick that will be new to me.

Greg Valentine
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The Top Four Funny Guys Named Seth

Seth? We had a guy named “Seth” in junior high. Kinda kept to himself (when he wasn’t being picked on). Was it the name that caused his cruel social exile? Yeah, I think so.

So there weren’t many Seths in my class. Looks like that was our loss, considering the comedy riches the name’s producing. Here they are. The funny guys named Seth, ranked:

1 – SETH MACFARLANE – If Seth MacFarlane did nothing more than voice Stewie Griffin, he’d still be number one on this list. As the creator of Family Guy, this is one television bazillionaire who actually deserves every dollar of his success.

2 – SETH ROGAN – Stoner, everyman, delusional mall cop. Whatever the role, you just have to root for this guy. Acting accomplishments earn him this spot. But writing credits not too shabby (Superbad).

3 – SETH GREEN – More film and television credits than anyone on this list. Best work: voice of Chris Griffin (Family Guy), Scott Evil (Austin Powers movies), Robot Chicken.

4 – SETH MEYERS – Anchor of SNL‘s “Weekend Update.” Has transitioned well to solo anchor after the departure of Amy Poeler. Thanks to him, I say “REALLY?!?” way too much.

Greg Valentine
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