Friday, April 29, 2011

Jesus the Reality Star

Did you see that God showed up on Survivor this week?

Now, if you don't watch Survivor, let me give you a little background on this Matt fella Julie mentions.  Matt is the "Christian guy" on the show.  You know the type, the character that reality producers like us to snicker at for there naivety and cluelessness.  Except a funny thing happened on the way to the stereotype, Matt ended up being a great story.  He was voted out early, but thanks to the season's new twist, Redemption Island, he had the opportunity to duel each week to stay in the game.  Week after week he would best the latest evicted tribemate and keep alive the hope of returning to the game.  That hope was fulfilled at the merge when he was placed back into action after winning six straight duels. This, of course, was immediately followed by being blindsided by the same people who blindsided him the first time, at which point he survived two more duels and currently sits on Redemption Island still clinging to a chance to win.  The whole process has left him beaten, weak, and lonely, yet still committed to playing whatever roll God has for him on this show.

Over 11 million people got to see the beauty of who Jesus is because some kid named Matt decided to just be real and give credit where credit is due.  After Julie's speech about being inspired by Matt,  I turned to my wife and tears were streaming down her face (well, at least I think they were, I was having trouble seeing through my own watery mess).  Probst himself talks about how deeply it affected him in his latest vlog (heads up, minor swears).  How much more must it have meant to Matt to know that his perseverance, if nothing else, might lead to Julie reconnecting with her creator in a deeper way.

I love these moments.
And its not the first time Jesus has shown up on Reality TV.

On American Idol, Mandisa, deeply hurt by an insensitive Simon Cowell, returns to not only offer him forgiveness, but express beautifully that "if Jesus can forgive me, I certainly can forgive you"

On Big Brother 3, a handsome young videographer named Jason, turns heads by talking about his virginity and convictions while at the same time showing love and grace to the people who mock him for it.

And again on Survivor, after Michael Skupin falls face first into the campfire, the producers for the first time don't end the episode with an eviction, but rather linger on a group of people holding hands and praying for their friend.  The final words heard in that episode, "In Jesus name, Amen".

The tribe has spoken, indeed.

In each instance, it's beautiful not just because someone name drops the Messiah, but because Christ's attributes are lived out right in front of us.  It's haircut evangelism. You never have to tell someone you have a good haircut, you either do or don't.  And if someone likes your hair, and if they ask you who did it, you just give them the info.  Conversely, if you go around telling people how awesome your barber is and how desperately they need a trim, they probably won't take time to listen (especially if your words are trumped by your own tangled head nest)

So to Matt I say, I'm diggin' your haircut, and I have this feeling there will be plenty wanting to know where you got it done.  Just keep pointing the way, man.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Queue Tips: The Proposal, The Switch

Rom Coms and why they usually don't work for me.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Whatever Wednesday: Lord of the Rings Re-Release

Are big movie re-releases a good thing for film lovers or just a cheap marketing ploy?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

TV Tuesday: The Voice

Will "The Voice" be a gimmick or a great show?

Monday, April 25, 2011

Monday Movie Review: The Conspirator

Is it a movie or a history lesson?  Maybe it's both, but is it good?

Friday, April 22, 2011

The Summer 7's Triumphant Return (or maybe just return).

Summer is when the big boys come out to play at the cineplex, but it's Spring that causes me to start convulsing with anticipation. I'm not even exactly sure what's in store, I just know there will be explosions, aliens, car chases, and heroes saving the day at the last possible moment.  So, in order to keep myself from overdosing on the Summer supply, I try to focus my attention on the seven movies I'm most anticipating for the months of May, June, and July.

Before we begin, I should mention that there are three movies that did not make the list this year, and despite my best efforts, I'm still being drawn to.  One is Green Lantern, which is one of those movies I thought I'd love, but when I finally saw the trailer, I just felt uneasy.  It feels like they may have missed the mark on it.  Still, I love Ryan Reynolds enough that I will likely see it anyway.  The other two that I really shouldn't be excited about, but somehow I am, are the next Pirates and the next Transformers.  Both franchises had genuine clunkers last time out, but somehow I just can't help myself rooting that they right the ship this time.  Still, no way I could put them on the list proper in good conscious.

In reverse order of anticipation, the 7 movies I'm most geeked about this summer:

7. Thor

Much of my anticipation for this entry (and the next on the list) is due to my high hopes that an Avenger movie can put all the pieces together and give us a unique film experience.  I do feel a little weird about a super hero who is technically a god though.  I would much prefer he be an alien, a genius, or even bitten by some sort of scientifically compromised arachnid.  I should be ok though, as long as they don't cheapen it by playing an MC Hammer tune.  That would be like playing Black Sabboth during an Iron Man movie... oh wait.

6. Captain America: The First Avenger

The only thing that puts this above Thor for me is Chris Evans, who showed his super hero chops in The Fantastic Four movies and his acting chops in a movie called Sunshine.  I love his sense of humor, but I also think he has a depth and gravity in him that you don't often see in the chiseled jaw set.  Plus, the physical transformation they give him in this movie is nothing short of spectacular.

5. Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Part 2

No, the movies never live up to the books, no I haven't even seen part 1 yet, and no I can't imagine they are going to tell the story in enough depth to make me happy.  Yet, somehow I cannot wait to see those final battles on the big screen.  By the way, not seeing the first was a conscious choice on my part, to try and avoid the ugly feeling in my gut after Matrix 2 and Pirates 2.  There is an art to telling full stories that have continuations, and unfortunately only Peter Jackson seems to have figured it out.

4. Cowboys and Aliens

Every time I see another trailer for this movie, I'm shocked at what it does to me.  I see the title and I think, "yeah, that sounds like fun."  I hear that Jon Favreau is directing and Harrison Ford and Daniel Craig are starring and I think, "Awesome, I love those guys."  But then I see the trailer and I turn into some sort of slobbering Neanderthal that can only seem to communicate with grunts and frantic hopping.  Must... see... soon...

3. Cars 2

Listen, Pixar movies are a summer tradition on par with Tiger's baseball and burgers on the grill.  But someday they will make a mediocre movie and I'm kinda worried this is the one.  Plus, the original Cars sits at the bottom of my Pixar list (it was still a great flick, just not as great as the others for me) so you can see why I would be nervous.  Still, I was nervous with Ratatouille as well, and that turned out amazing.  Consider my anticipation sky high for it, but consider my anxiousness up there as well.

2. X Men: First Class

I loved the first two X-Men movies and personally think that the X Men universe should be the most successful movie franchise of all time.  There is no excuse not to put out a great mutant movie every other year or so when you have such a variety of colors to paint with.  Unfortunately X3 felt stale and cheap, and the Wolverine movie was flat out butchered.  The casting and previews for this one, though, give me great hope that they have found their way again, and I cannot wait to see Professor X and Magneto when they were just Charles and Erik.  Also, the brief glimpses of Nightcrawler in the preview were enough to set my geek senses over the edge into full out giddy mode.

1. Super 8

Sure, Mr. double J and Mr. double S being involved necessitated my interest, but it's the incredible first trailer that set the tone for the film that I'm most tugging at my chain to get to.  It's also important to note that this is the only film on the entire list that is an original non franchise property (Cowboys and Aliens is not a franchise yet, but it's based on a comic book series).  There is just something about the creativity involved in telling a story from scratch that is so beautiful, and if the movie holds the nostalgia, wonder, and intensity of the trailer it will likely be my favorite two hours spent in a movie theater in a long time.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

TV Tuesday: Mythbusters

The new season just started!  Is it good? Confirmed!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Monday Movie Review (Bonus): Soul Surfer

I love Jesus, the people in this movie love Jesus, is that enough?

Monday Movie Review: Rio

Rio is a pretty bird, but is there more to it than that?

Friday, April 15, 2011

Left Overs: On Angry Birds, The Hobbit, and Wii 2

Is it just me or is Rio going to blow up theaters this weekend?

I just get the sense that the genius marketing of this movie has created a throng of children running around begging their parents to see the "Angry Bird" movie.  And judging by the amount of children I see playing Angry Birds on their parents' phone Rio may end up pulling in more than Avatar in the first hour of release.

Speaking of the fuming fowl, did you see that Rovio has committed to backing up your progress online so you can switch phones and even platforms and pick up where you left off?


Peter Jackson just released the first video diary for the shooting of The Hobbit.  I was caught off guard by the emotion I felt watching it.  I knew I'd be geeked, but to shed a tear because a movie that won't be out for another couple years just started filming, come on man, keep it together.  Watch it at your own risk.

On the tech side of the movie Jackson has been talking about shooting the movie at 48 frames a second, which means there will be more than 50% more visual information packed into each second of this movie.  The result, apparently, is unbelievable clarity, and the result with the 3D should be phenomenal.


I know I'm a privileged son, in that my mom's employment by a certain rodent with a double M monogram means that my family gets a free crack at Disney World every year, but I couldn't be more excited about getting back there for the next trip for one reason.... Star Tours.  The revamped Star Wars ride looks incredible and the fact that you could ride it 57 times and get a different ride each time is a genius move by the Disney imagineers.  You can read C-3PO himself's opinions on the whole deal, and just try not to hear it in his distinctive voice.

Not only that but...

Nintendo is being rumored to announce the next generation of the Wii sometime this summer for a possible December 2012 release (Wow, a new Nintendo system and The Hobbit Part I releasing?  December 2012 is gonna feel like Christmas!)  Aside from obviously making the jump to being HD and being backward compatible the thing Nintendo really needs to nail is the online community system.  The one piece of XBox envy I have is the incredible XBox Live experience.  I would love to be able to have achievements and friends on the Wii in a way that would allow me to keep up and compete with friends.  Strike that, not me, my kids.  Turns out when you turn 35 you actually do stop playing video games.

I feel so old.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Whatever Wednesday: M. Night & Will Smith

Can M. Night ever get back into my good graces?  Will Smith might help.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

TV Tuesday: Sherlock

Has Steven Moffat done it again with his modern adaption of Sherlock Holmes?  Short answer: yes.  Long answer:  Oh my goodness, you would not believe how emphatically the answer is yes.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Monday Movie Review: Source Code

Source Code gets lots of points for degree of difficulty, but does it stick the landing?

Friday, April 8, 2011

Idol Thoughts: 3 Ways To Fix American Idol Voting

I'm furious.... I'm frustrated.... I'm fed up....

Nope, not with the fact that American Idol once again lost its best singer way too early in the competition (Pia was the best, that much is not up for debate), no, I'm outraged with the outrage itself.  How many times does American Idol get to pull this stunt before we realize as an audience that we are the ones being played?  Jennifer and Randy can huff and puff, but are we really supposed to be surprised when this happens now?  The voting system is broken, it always has been broken, and here's the kicker, I'm pretty sure they want it that way.

Pia Toscano was eliminated on American Idol.
Why would they want to fix this?  They LOVE this!

If Idol's true goal was to find the singer that America loved the best they could solve this problem in a heartbeat, but that's not their goal.  Their goal is to continue to be a water cooler show, which creates relevance from controversy, and results in more eyeballs on their product and more dollars for drinking out of Coke glasses.  To be honest I don't hold it against them, they are, after all, crafting entertainment.  I just wish they would drop the pretense of being angered and befuddled when the best singers go home when even I can whip up a trio of simple solutions that would guarantee it never happens again.

Don't believe me? Here are three easy ways to fix the American Idol voting, any of which, alone or in combination, would go a long way towards turning Idol into an actual talent contest.

1) Reveal the Votes - Why the secrecy?  What's with keeping us in the dark?  Wouldn't it be much more interesting to see week to week who was gaining and who was falling in votes?  The answer?  Maybe more interesting intellectually, but revealing the votes on a week by week basis would allow you to see that your favorite isn't as safe as you thought.  You can see the result of this in what I call the "Bottom 3 Bounce".  If an Idol can survive a bottom three scare they will generate votes like crazy the week after, because their fans are more passionately aware of their situation.  Idol's system rewards motivated voting, not general popularity, and revealing the votes would even that score.

2) Open Voting - 2 hours, directly following the show, only by phone or text.  What is this, 2007?  By the time much of the audience sees the show, voting is over and they couldn't vote even if they wanted to go through the hassle of dialing a phone. You really want people to vote? Open it up!  Let people vote for the entire day, maybe up until about an hour before the show.  Find new ways that people can get their vote in, at the very least online.  How about this?  Design a killer American Idol App for my smartphone that lets me follow along with the show, rate the performances, post comments live, and then vote for my weekly favorite. Hey, you could even sell some adds for it!  Oh wait, if people had an easier way to vote, the casual viewer might vote more and they would lose so much of the motivated voting that creates those shocking water cooler moments. (sigh)

3) Vote Against Not For - The most dramatic change to format, but also the most guaranteed way to get the right person to go home each week.  It's not as if they aren't willing to make big changes if they really want to (age limits, judges saves, Ellen).  Imagine a world where instead of voting for your favorite, you voted against the person you felt least deserved to be there (until the finale).  It completely takes the guesswork out.  No more Sanjayas hanging on week after week, no more surprise bottom threes, and no more shocking eliminations.  Pia would still be with us and we would all be happy.

Except for one thing, it might make the show worse than unfair, it might make it.... boring.

Never mind, American Idol...  go about your business... nothing to see here...

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Television, Tunes, and Talkies: Hollywood Yates (Wolf from American Gladiators)

The Wolf Man from American Gladiator lets us in on his favorite TV Show, Movie, and Music Artist.  Might have predicted the Movie and Artist, but not the TV show!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Whatever Wednesday: Rebecca Black's Friday

Rebecca Black, a naive teenager who wrote an awful song that just happened to become a hit?  Not a chance.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

TV Tuesday: The Office

Why I can't get peace about Steve Carell's departure.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Monday Movie Review: Hop

Hop joins a list of classic Easter bunny films like.... uh.... hmmmm, I'm drawing a blank here.  Anyhow, here's my take.

Friday, April 1, 2011

My 41 Favorite Movies of All Time (2010 Update)

I've decided that exaggeration and hyperbole are the worst things to ever exist in the entire known and unknown universe.

All kidding aside, I do tend to sigh when someone will offhandedly classify a movie they just saw as the "best movie I've ever seen" or "the worst movie ever made".  Have you done the homework?  Have you really sat down and ranked "Paul Blart: Mall Cop" against all the movies you've ever seen?  When you say "Inception" is in your "Top 10" do you really have one?

If you don't, I'd challenge you to make one, if not your 10 favorites, try 5.  Sit down for 10 minutes, jot down a couple dozen of your favorite movies and see where they land.   It's not as easy as it sounds, but when you are done you can at least rest assured that the next time you call "Flight of the Navigator" the best movie ever made, you've got the proof to back it up.  The feeling of holding that hard copy of "your" movies will have you feeling accomplished and secure in your assertions.

Either that or have you questioning why you stayed up til 3:16 in the morning listing movies instead of watching them.

Here's my list, feel free to tear it apart as necessary.

(These are, in order, the 41 movies I enjoy, respect, desire, and love the most that I have ever seen, with some honorable mentions thrown in at the beginning.)

Honorable Mentions:

Big Fish, Contact, DoubtFugitive, Hoosiers, Indiana Jones & the Last Crusade, Iron Giant, Oh Brother Where art Thou, Rope, Shawshank Redemption, Tangled, The Fifth Element, The Village

The Top 41:

41. Moulin Rouge (*)
40. Groundhog's Day (-2)
39. Gattaca (+2)
38. The Dark Knight (-2)
37. Shadow of a Doubt (-4)
36. Cast Away (-5)
35. Sound of Music (-7)
34. Wall E (-10)
33. Ratatouille (-6)
32. Liar, Liar (+2)
31. Swing Kids (+1)
30. Monsters Inc. (-4)
29. Searching for Bobby Fischer (-7)
28. Apocolypto (+2)
27. Gran Torino (-6)
26. Toy Story 3 (*)
25. How to Train Your Dragon (*)
24. Inception (*)
23. Dial M for Murder (+6)
22. Star Wars 4 (+3)
21. Vertigo (+2)
20. The Passion of the Christ
19. Titanic
18. Unbreakable
17. Avatar
16. Apollo 13
15. Signs
14. Up (-5)
13. The Incredibles (+1)
12. United 93 (+1)
11. Toy Story (+1)
10. The Matrix (+1)
9. The Hudsucker Proxy (+1)
8. Toy Story 2
7. The Truman Show
6. The Princess Bride
5. Quiz Show (-2)
4. North by Northwest (+1)
3. Finding Nemo (+1)
2. Singin' In the Rain
1. Lord of the Rings