Thursday, June 25, 2009

SYTYCD Top 16 Results

So tonight's bottom three couples were

Asuka & Vitolio
Karla & Jonathan
Caitlin & Jason

Asuka - I am never a fan of the ballroom solos. They always seem to be the same thing, especially for the girls. Weird Riverdance leg movements and head grabs with a big smile. So she was fine but I wasn't excited about it.

Vitolio - OK, first off let me say "no thanks" on that ending. What was that? But his dance felt over the top and desperate.

Karla - I like her music choice of Radiohead. Points for that. But the dancing was so strange and I just couldn't enjoy it. Reminded me of a monkey or something.

Jonathan - He has "ballroom legs"!! And I enjoyed the non-ballroom part. It was pretty good, but not sure it will keep him around over the other two guys. He is just a little bit blah...

Caitlin - Her solo was pretty and seemed the most heartfelt of the solos. I don't think she is in trouble of going home.

Jason - He has a great solo and it is also really heartfelt. It beats Caitlin's for best of the night.

So heading home tonight is:



For much better thoughts about the episode, check out Vance and Emily's opinions (when they get them posted).

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

SYTYCD Top 16 Performances

I have yet to post anything about this season of SYTYCD's performances. So I am making an effort to get it going tonight. So let's get this party started. Tonight, joining Nigel and Mary, is Toni Basil (the hat!). I am still really tired of Cat prompting the audience to say "jidges." I think it was cute like twice and now we need to move on.

Karla & Jonathan - Hip hop by Dave Scott
Dave described this as gangsta with emotion. Jonathan had a hard time getting the "gangsta" thing down in the rehearsal. It didn't bode well for his performance. Karla really brought the 'tude. But Jonathan, he tried, but it just wasn't doing it for me. I was so distracted by him that I just couldn't enjoy this dance. And the judges really did not like it. Nigel was harsh, taking bets that they would be in the bottom 3 couples. Harsh.

Osaka & Vitolio - Jazz by Mandy Moore
Thrash Rocker Jazz. That is how Mandy described this dance. Poor Osaka got very frustrated. This happens every season where someone gets frustrated and cries. But I am sure she'll make it through. I usually love Mandy's choreography, but this was kind of strange to me. Maybe it was the dancers' interpretation? But Osaka was so "ballroom-y" during it. And I did not like Vitolio's blue pants. Maybe I am being too harsh, but for now I am 0 for 2 on tonight's dances. The judges like it, so maybe I just didn't get it.

Melissa & Ade - Rumba by Tony Meredith
These two had to have bring out their sensuality for this dance. And master the ballroom moves. I really like Melissa & Ade. They managed to ooze the sex for this dance. And I don't know if Tony just choreographed this well for them both, but I thought they looked great. Their chemistry is great. I am relieved to see a dance I like. And the judges liked it, too.

Jeanette & Brandon - Hip hop by Dave Scott
Rock & roll meets hip hop. Should be a fun mash-up. I am interested in the dance, in theory. But can these dancers pull it off? Wait, first off. What do they have her wearing? OK, moving on to the actual dancing. Brandon was surprisingly good at the hip hop. I didn't think he could pull it off. And I enjoyed it. Jeanette was good, too, but I felt like the hip hop dancing in this choreo was what drew your attention.

Kayla & Kupono - Viennese Waltz by Jean-Marc Genereaux
I am already bummed for them before they start dancing because they are doing ballroom. It is their first week together and it would have been nice to get a more audience-pleasing dance selection. So here's hoping because I like the two of them. Kayla's flowy dress really adds to this performance. But I am not sure that they are doing so well technically. It wasn't bad for me but not amazing either. And it sounds like the Nigel felt about that way about it, too. But, alas, Mary put them on the hot tamale train. I wish she hadn't...

Randi & Evan - Contemporary by Mia Michaels
The choreographer that everyone hopes to get. Almost always keeps you out of the bottom 3. And I love Evan. And Randi. So fingers crossed on this one. So the point of this is that Evan is hypnotized by the booty. Huh. First off, immediately distracted by his outfit. What is tat? It is so huge and baggy. I thought Randi was sexy and stunning. This had more of a jazz feel than a contemporary feel to me. I enjoyed it. Not the best Mia routine ever, but enjoyable. The judges liked it quite well.

Caitlin & Jason - Jean Marc & France Genereaux
Paso Doble is one of my favorite dances. I think it does a good job of giving the man a really masculine part to play. And I feel it is one of the ballroom dances that puts the pressure on the man over the woman to be on display. But if not pulled off correctly, it quickly looks sloppy. And this just felt sloppy. Unfortunately. I just wasn't crazy about it. The judges gave it compliments but I felt they just thought it was alright. Oh, did I mention Jason has a good upper body? I am not surprised now that I hear he is a soccer player. They have the best bodies.

Jeanine & Phillip - Broadway by Tyce Diorio
First of all, Sean pointed out a huge hole in Phil's pants that I am pretty sure is NOT supposed to be there. I like the use of the pillows and feathers, and the routine was cute. But it didn't feel to me like a routine that requires a lot of technique, but instead just a lot of energy. That may be what gets Jeanine & Phillip through this week.

Lease fave couples:
Karla & Jonathan
Caitlin & Jason

My fave couples:
Melissa & Ade and Janette & Brandon

Going home:
I don't even know...

I am having trouble really finding a favorite this season. Anyone else?

Monday, June 15, 2009

Movie: The Time Traveler's Wife Trailer

The trailer for The Time Traveler's Wife has finally been released. I have been so concerned about how they were going to pull this off. The book is amazing but I couldn't see how they could translate it to screen. The trailer looks pretty good, but I say it is still difficult to tell. What do you think?

Monday, June 08, 2009

Casting News

Here is some casting news to be happy about:

Neil Patrick Harris scored not one, but two movie roles, announced today. The first is called The Best and the Brightest, an indie comedy. The second is Beastly (a book which I did not particularly care for) and Harris is cast in one of the few roles that I enjoyed in the book. He will play a blind tutor that can't see how "beastly" Kyle has become, and accepts him. I am glad to see NPH getting some work, since I adore him as Barney on How I Met Your Mother and he was AWESOME on the Tony Awards. In fact, there is already speculation that he might host the Emmys this year, as well!

Katee Sackhoff might be dragging me back to 24 after I had given it up for good. I so adore her from Battlestar Galactica that I might have to return to the drama to check her out, now that she has been cast as a regular for the upcoming season.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Movie: Land of the Lost

OK, so Land of the Lost isn't doing so great at the box office. It fell $10 million short of its expected $30 million opening weekend take. But that is OK, because I still need to support my husband. I headed out to see it today with my husband and a couple of friends in tow.

Well, I can't say it is the best movie I have seen recently (come on, I saw Star Trek and Up!). There were some weird parts and some major continuity problems. But mainly, it was just the regular Will Ferrel schtick that we usually pay money for. I am sure people were confused weather it was supposed to be for children or for adults.

However, while it wasn't my favorite movie, there were really funny parts and some pretty good bits that make you jump. The t-rex was appropriately scary. And the animation was sharp! OK, OK, my husband did animation on this one. In fact, that is why I lived in Mumbai, India for 3 months. And I was so proud of his work. I always enjoy waiting for his name to scroll across the screen and do a proper clap and holler combination. This time his name was set apart since he was an animation supervisor. And high-five to him for his hard work and for bringing home the bacon. And for doing such a cool job.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Books: Several reviews/Thoughts

I have read a TON of books without a single review, so I am putting a few quick thoughts down here for posting.

The Outcast is the first novel from Sadie Jones. It is a story about a boy named Lewis living in post-WWII England whose mother dies when he is young. As a result of the complete lack of emotional support from a single adult in his life after her death, Lewis becomes emotionally disturbed. As he gets older turns to drinking and violence and is pretty much rejected by his family and friends, eventually landing himself in prison for a couple of years in his late teens. The only person that sees Lewis for who he really is is Kit, a girl who is several years younger. She thinks of Lewis as her hero and loves him from afar for many years.

The reader spends most of the time reading being frustrated with the people that interact with Lewis and that they are incapable of helping him through his emotional difficulties. In addition, you will be waiting for Lewis to get a break. I found it very compelling and a quick read. Lewis and Kit are likable despite their faults, like the bad is happening around them and to them, but they are not bad themselves. It was a heartbreaking story, but an enjoyable read nonetheless.

John Grisham's The Associate was just released in February and I got it for 3 bucks at the Indian bookstore, so I gave it a shot. There was a time I read everything Grisham wrote, but it has been a few years now since I lost that habit. I am glad Grisham has returned to the legal thrillers, but I found The Associate to be just so-so. It is the story of a law student just before graduation who gets blackmailed into taking a job at a huge firm and stealing information for his blackmailers. I don't know if it just felt anti-climactic (or perhaps there just wasn't the right build up to the climax), but I found myself saying "eh" about it. Not bad. Not great.

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne caught my attention at the bookstore after I watched the trailer for it online. It is told through the eyes of a young boy in Germany. It is eventually revealed, while the boy doesn't understand anything that is going on, that his father is a Nazi officer, put in charge of a prison camp (Auschwitz). The boy makes friends with another boy on the other side of the other fence who wears "striped pyjamas."

This story was really sad and I hated seeing it through the eyes of a young child like that. It was a really quick read (read it on a train ride in a few hours), but I easily predicted where the story was heading, just based on the tone. It was certainly not a feel good book. Just a warning...

The highly acclaimed book High Fidelity by Nick Hornby was also a quick read. There are certainly funny parts. But I didn't find any of the characters to be very sympathy-enducing. Rob's co-workers, girlfriends, even Rob himself are all a little unlikable. Now, that makes it a little more real and gritty than your typical "love story" novel. But I also found it frustrating. I would be interested to read something else by Hornby and see how I feel.

Beastly by Alex Flynn is a reimagining of the old Beauty and the Beast story, set in current times. Unfortunately, the cheese level was incredibly high. Kyle mentions so many times how good-looking he was before he was cursed and made into a beast that he grossed me out. A movie is being made of this. Let's hope it is better than the book. I would say pass unless you are 15 years old.

Movie: The Reader

I finally watched The Reader for which Kate Winslet won the Best Actress Oscar this year. I was very curious to see her performance and I had heard it was great (but a bit of a downer). Kate was phenomenal, as expected. And she reinforced her positioning as one of my favorite actresses currently on screen. She never disappoints.

I was also very impressed by David Kross. I enjoyed watching him so much that when the time came to use an older actor for the part (Ralph Feinnes) that I was disappointed, and that is saying a lot since I consider Feinnes to be such a great actor.

The Reader does a good job of making you empathize with a person that really has no real empathy-inducing qualities. Instead, you see her through the eyes of a young and naive boy. It is a dark subject matter and has been quite controversial. I have started reading the book as I was hoping to get a little more insight on a couple of details in the movie. I'll let you know what I think.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Trailers to Think About

The Road

I wrote about The Road after I read it last year. It is one of my favorite books of all time. You come away from it feeling devastated and hopeful all at once. McCarthy did a stunning job writing it. I was concerned about how good the movie adaptation would be,and if it could possibly convey the right mix of despair and determination. I can't tell that from this trailer. All I can tell you is that it looks like we get to SEE why the earth is in its post-apocalyptic state. In reading the novel, you don't ever know WHY things are they way they are. Because it isn't important to the story. And I am concerned that they are trying to turn this into some sort of action thriller, which it isn't.

New Moon

I was pretty excited when this one premiered on the MTV Movie Awards on Sunday. I am among the great masses of Twilight fans and am anxious for a better movie this go round. Twilight had its ups and downs, but most agree it could have been done better. I am quite excited about some of the cast additions (Michael Sheen and Dakota Fanning) and the direction that Chris Weitz will go with it, especially since he has better experience with lots of CGI (The Golden Compass). While I would say the one werewolf we got to see in the trailer isn't as amazing as Aslan was, you can tell the budget has gone up and am OK with that. I think I might like this movie better than the book since New Moon is my least fave in the series.

Sherlock Holmes

Robert Downey, Jr. fans always await his new projects. I have yet to see The Soloist but it is still on my to do list. Before Iron Man 2 comes out, we'll get to see him alongside Jude Law and Rachel McAdams in Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes. This outing looks to be a bit different from the other Ritchie films I have seen and enjoyed (Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch). Downey is looking fine as usual in this one, and I especially enjoy the boxing scene. Check out Emily's top RDJ films post here.


I recall hearing about this a while back because my husband would have liked to animate on it. It is a feature-length animated film based on a 2005 short by Shane Acker (who also writes and directs this version). This doesn't look like a kids film. It is a dark, rather creepy, post-apocalyptic story about creatures given life a la Frankenstein as their mad scientist dies with the rest of humanity. The trailer looks quite intriguing.


So two films named Nine/9 coming out this year (2009, is that why?). They couldn't be any different. I have never seen Nine performed onstage, but I am vaguely familiar with the premise. When Rob Marshall's film was announced, I was concerned about the casting of Daniel Day Lewis, mainly with the singing. Seeing that I haven't seen the show, I can't give my opinion here. But he doesn't sing in the trailer so I can't see how he is, but all the ladies look great. This is quite a cast!

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

1984, George Orwell

I read a LOT of books in high school. I was in AP English and I think we read one per week. Somehow, I didn't read 1984. Every now and then I get the urge to read a book I missed back then, to see if it lives up to the hype it is given. Sometimes they disappoint on the "entertaining" scale, even if they prove to be thought-provoking but that isn't the case with 1984.

I was surprised how quickly I was invested in the story of a futuristic dystopian society. This novel makes the reader wonder how society got to the point that they would allow their every waking moment to be captured by camera, to be viewed by authorities, to allow their thoughts to be censored. It is certainly pertinent in current times as we deal with things such as the Patriot Act. This is certainly a bit extreme of that, but it makes sense that people fear something like that happening.

I felt a lack of hope in reading this story similar to the feeling I had when reading Cormac McCarthy's The Road. There was a little more hope as anyone reading this novel would expect each individual to have an internal struggle with such circumstances that would thus lead to an eventual uprising. Of course Orwell explains why that would be so unlikely.

Now that i Have given this the badge of hopelessness, I am sure everyone will be inspired to read it. But if this is one you managed to miss in high school or college, consider reading it now. It is especially interesting and captivating.

Theatre: The Fantasticks

I caught a performance of Reprise Theater Company's The Fantasticks at UCLA's Freud Theater a couple of weeks ago. Apparently, The Fantasticks is the longest running show in New York, or the world, or something. It has been playing in New York in some theater, on or off Broadway, for fifty years.

This particular production didn't get rave reviews, mainly because the director (Jason Alexander) apparently took a lot of liberties with lyrics, stage direction and the set. I couldn't give you an opinion on that because i have never seen this show otherwise. I will say this: I didn't love it. But I think I just don't like the show. It was a little boring and the music was not very fun. Maybe I am just the wrong generation (because, as the people next to me said, it looked like buses of blue-hairs from local nursing homes had taken a field trip to see the show).

Now, here is the good part. Boy (Lucas Grabeel, Ryan from High School Musical) and Girl (Alison Woods) were great. In my opinion. they were the saving grace to an otherwise kind of dull venture. In fact, seeing this did manage to cement the creepy I'm-too-old-for-you crush I already had on Lucas Grabeel. I expected Eric McCormack to knock my socks off, and, unfortunately for us all, that wasn't the case. But again, I don't blame him. He wasn't given a lot to work with (plus, who can think of him as anything but Will Truman?).

Overall, I wasn't too terribly happy with the show. Give me this cast in another show, and I am sure I would have been happy. However, I don't really feel the need to see The Fantasticks again.

Movie: UP

I saw Up last. And I loved it. I cried a lot. And laughed a lot. I am not sure it was a kids' movie, really. But it was really well done, as expected. I have been a Pixar fan for ages and they never disappoint. There are certainly my favorites (Monster's Inc., Finding Nemo) and I have my least favorite (Cars), but even then, I still think of them all as really good.

Up deals with some surprisingly dark and grown up issues (death and loss). I don't generally find that I cry in animated features but this one just really got to me. I spent more time laughing but cried several different times during the movie. So that is my warning to bring tissues with you to the theater.

I would try and explain the plot, but it is kind of random. Instead, I'll just mention a few things I love about it.

Dug and the other dogs. They have collars that translate their thoughts into spoken words. But they are still done from a dog's perspective (sentences are often interrupted by an exclamation of "Squirrel!"). And I might have to buy this book.

Russell. Also termed "small mailman" by the dogs. He was really cute and sweet, and very well-animated (per my animator husband). He was excellent at unknowingly antagonizing the old geezer Mr. Fredrickson (voiced by Ed Asner).

Mr. Fredrickson himself was just a bit too old man angry. I love sweet old people but mean ones are the worst!! Of course, that is the point, and as you would expect, he comes around in the end.