Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

Disclaimer: Posting some of my old stuff

“I would like to thank the Academy for giving me this award…,” and so it begins.

My complicated relationship with theEmmy Awards started as a young girl, who’d anxiously wait to hear, “and best actress in a drama series nomination goes to….Sarah Michelle Gellar.” The utterance of those words never transpired.  A misstep by the Emmys that Entertainment Weekly mention in this article.  Every year, I would hope for a Buffy the Vampire Slayer and SMG nomination and every year it was like a Christmas where you got all these nice presents, but never the one you really wanted.  Due to the Sarah Michelle Gellar and Buffy snubs I’ve always been a little bitter when it comes to the Emmys. Despite that and the continuous snub of the Fringe cast, that was also mentioned in an EW article(stop playing games with my heart Emmys) ,I thought the show was very well executed this year.

After the unimpressive Academy Award show, in February, award shows took a downward spiral in terms of quality and enjoyment. The MTV’s Video Music Awards (VMAS) achieved a less eventful show than previous years.   The Golden Globes was unmemorableand the Grammys became completely forgotten.  Justifiably, there was neither anticipation nor excitement for the rest of the award show season. Then the Emmys happened.

Some of the highlights of tonight’s show were:

The musical opening & monologue: When the Emmys started the show with a musical performance the frustration began and the statement “not another musical number” was spoken.  Contrary to expectation, the musical number, oddly, added an element of fun.  Jane Lynch and others mocking themselves for singing saved the opener from following in many other shows path and just doing a cheesy musical number. Instead, the host and company prevented it from being that by inviting the mockery. The opening monologue used safe jokes that only produced a chuckle. However, Lynch’s, compared to many other ones this year it, wasn’t the worst. The Mad Men cast offered the best lines and efforts during the monologue.

Jane Lynch as host: The show continued to improve as it went on. Jane Lynch did an excellent job as host. She managed humor without controversy, which is always hard (ask Ricky Gervais). She’s not the best Emmy host of all time but she gave a solid performance.  I was pleasantly surprised.

The Lonely Island’s performance: How crazy was that? Michael Bolton, long hair or no long hair, continues to amaze. “Jack Sparrow”, the very catchy anthem for cinephiles, proves its musical genius status by getting the audience and viewers dancing to very weird lyrics. The surprise guest appearance by John Stamos, Maya Rudolph and Ed Helms became the best part of the mash up, especially with them dressed in the same costumes Lady Gaga, Justin Timberlake and Andy Sandberg wore on the original skit.  This was one of the best moments because it showed that an award show can be conservative and hip. Take notes Oscars.  There is still a cringe factor remembering the Oscars attempt at this by allowing James Franco and Anne Hathaway to host it….awkward.

The Best Actress in a Lead Comedy Series monologue: Along with the audience, viewers were confused when Amy Pohler ran on stage then other nominees followed. By the time the third nominee ran on stage most caught on to the joke.  This moment increasingly triumphed as the best moment of the night when the nominees did their best beauty pageant faces, priceless. Finally, when underdog Melissa McCarthy won it was like a win for all underdogs and that gave this part of the show a more powerful element, one beyond the laughs and straight to the heart.

Jane’s joke about The Entourage cast: The joke doesn’t have the same hilarity factor repeated. One of those “you have to be there to get it” moments, but for those who enjoyed the live broadcast without a doubt those were probably the funniest lines spoken the entire night. If someone has the desire to hear it again just youtube it and enjoy.

Modern Family wins big: Modern Family continues to become one of the most beloved comedies by critics and viewers alike; therefore, I expect it to receive no awards (call back to early Buffy and Fringe rant). But it won best comedy series second year in a row. It also won five other major categories. Well-deserved Modern Family, well deserved. The creators’ speeches exemplified the essence of the show by talking about familial embarrassing funny moments, which proves family humor is the best humor.

Guy Pearce and Kate Winslet win: I watched Mildred Pierce last night in preparation for the Emmys. The original version is far superior to the remake. However, no one can doubt that Winslet and Pearce gave two magnificent performances. It was equally enjoyable hearing Pearce’s embarrassing sex speech. Boys and their bringing up sex at award shows, just stop it. But really don’t.

The Underdogs win:  Every underdog could hold their heads in glory last night, because it really was the year of the underdogs. Besides Melissa McCarthy having an unexpected win, so did Kyle Chandler for Friday Night Lights. I’ve been a fan of Mr. Chandler from his Early Edition days, so I watched in admiration as he gave his speech.  Though I’ve never seen an episode of FNL (I’m not a fan of football shows), I know Chandler is amazing in it. His award was well deserved and a long time in the making. Peter Dinklage and Margo Martindale, who many of us have seen in a various shows and movies, but never really knew their names, won two major awards for supporting cast this year against some more well-known actors.  This came as a shock to several but both of them deserved it.  Downton Abbey winning against more discussed Mildred Pierce and The Kennedys miniseries was a shock and delight.  Barry Pepper winning, I don’t know if it was a surprise, but he’s also one of those actors many have seen in numerous films and hasn’t gotten awarded for his talent.  Congrats to all the underdogs, just when they count them out they come back swinging with vengeance, or at least giving better television performances than others.

Ricky, Ricky, Ricky:  Ricky Gervais is an acquired taste. People in Hollywood seem to hate him but he has a pretty huge fan base. At least he’s big in Britain and that beats American success, right? His monologue was classic Gervais and that made it hilarious, but he may be deported if he doesn’t make any friends in Hollywood soon.

The Office skit:  Probably the best skit of the evening, which made it bitter sweet when Steve Carell still didn’t receive an Emmy for his final season as Michael Scott on The Office.  That’s okay, he has plenty of Dundies.

Red Hot: On a fashion note, all the red was breathtaking. Kate Winslet’s looked stunning in her simple red dress that flattered her figure. Seeing so many starlets in red gave the show a much needed sex appeal, stepping out of the usual award show colors of blacks, gold, silver, lavender and less bright colors like those. The red kept it classy but fun.

In conclusion, the Emmys showed that award show can appeal to the younger generation and keep its pride and class. Stay classy Emmys. Stay classy.

Overall Grade: B+

In 2006, four guys took a ride on a purple bus across North America. Their mission was  to complete a list of a hundred things to do before you die.  Those four guys were Ben Nemtin, Dave Lingwood, Duncan and Jonnie Penn. Collectively they became known as The Buried Life. A name that transpired after Jonnie read the poem  The Buried Life by Matthew Arnold for his English class. On the boy’s first journey, they decided to ask strangers “What Do You Want To Do Before You Die?” This became part of their routine, for every list item they completed they helped a stranger complete a list item. # 19 on TBL’s list is to be on the New York Time Best Seller list. This book is their attempt to do that.

The book is a hybrid of illustrated list items, and personal stories from them and their friends. The illustrated list items are ones they’ve collected over the last five years from fans and friends. They range from heartwarming things about falling in love, to more scandalous things like a threesome with John Stamos and Sandra Bullock. Some of their  personal stories are from some of the people they’ve helped on their short MTV show, some stories from people who have done some amazing things, and TBL’s own stories of their trials and tribulations growing up, and their journey as The Buried Life.

From the fan community the book has been receiving mixed reviews. Some fans love it because they feel the boys, once again, prove why they’re so honored and admired. Others, think the boys didn’t put enough effort into the book, and instead of making something inspirational, they put together something marketable.  The Buried Life guys often walk that line between being inspirational, and just doing whatever will make them money and get fans, a typical dilemma of anyone in the entertainment industry.

Originally, as a fan of the guys, I was excited about the book, but when TBL’s marketing strategy focused so much on crossing off number nineteen, and less about making something substantial, I had written the book off. The more I heard about the book the less excited I became. However,  the last couple of months before the book was released they focused a lot of their campaigning on using this book to inspire.  This awakened my enthusiasm and I think the boys keep their promise to inspire with this book.

The elements that work strongly for this book is the personal stories. TBL’s stories gives the fans insight into parts of  their life that the fans  may have never discovered without this book. The fans hear constantly about Ben’s depression, but it’s not until reading about it, in his his own words, do they fully get the impact of that. Anyone who has suffered through anxiety or depression can relate to Ben’s turmoil. Dave offers a light-hearted, but just as meaningful story about dealing with weight gain and anxiety. Dave being such a charismatic person it’s hard to imagine him ever being insecure, but him sharing that story allows anyone struggling with weight to realize even the most confident person has had insecurities. Jonnie, clearly a debate/English major, writes so elegantly that it’s sad he has written his own book yet.  He captures his readers and  then takes them along for the same ride TBL experiences five years ago. Duncan’s proportion is the shortest, and is the most criticized among the fans. It receives the harshest criticism because of it’s lack of emotions and straight forward nature, and for not sharing enough.   Duncan’s part works, because, like Dave, he seems very much a confident person that has everything he wants in life , in his few paragraphs you see elements of insecurity, unhappiness, and pain, something many fans don’t expect from Duncan. It’s easy to admire and respect someone from a distance, but it’s when they’re most vulnerable you begin to understand them. The Buried Life’s personal stories  let them show the fans who they are, and where they’ve come from. It creates a bond with the fans by completely showing that they are just ordinary guys who decided they wanted more from their lives then just the nine to five grind. If  men who experienced things almost everyone struggles with can create this big empire, then can’t anyone?

Besides their personal ones, the stories from people they help really show that anyone can do anything. In particular, Sam and Lebon’s story (a father and son that hadn’t spoken for seventeen years, but were reunited by TBL on the first season of their show) really resonates with a lot of people. Many children go their entire lives not knowing their father, or only meeting them later in life. It’s great to hear both sides of the story, because it captures an element the Television show doesn’t reveal: the emotional impact this change had for these two men. Another great story in the book is one from a girl who kept waking up at a certain time, only to end up saving a life. Most people have those inexplicable moments that really make them realize that everyone is born for a reason, and maybe it’s just to offer a loving shoulder when someone has reached their breaking point.   The rest of the non-TBL stories are  about  once ordinary people doing things to make them  become extraordinary by tackling their dreams, or helping others. It’s hard not to find inspiration in these stories, so this element is one of the strongest of the book.

The only element that didn’t work as strongly was that some of the list items chosen lacked depth. Reading about someone wanting to smoke pot with someone famous just translates to silliness. It’s good to have a mixture of meaningful list items, and funny ones, but overall, the chosen list items felt like things TBL thought were cool or funny, instead of things that are more  globally funny or inspirational.  TBL isn’t buying their books the fans are,  so that should probably be considered more in the future. To inspire someone you have to know your audience. TBL forgot their audience with some of these.

As a person who admires the boys, but judges them by their actions and characters more than anything else, I wouldn’t recommend this book unless I believed in it. I don’t support this book because it’s TBL’s book. I don’t get a commission for this review, unfortunately, so I can honestly say buy this book.  I actually don’t recommend you buy it for yourself. I suggest you buy it and either give it to a friend that’s never heard of them, or a complete stranger that needs inspiration. The thing that drew me into The Buried Life was the idea of causing a change. The idea of creating a world of people who actually go after their dreams, instead of just talk about them, and people who help others as they achieve their dreams.  I think even doing something as small as giving this book to someone can help make the movement more of a possibility.  Buy the book for yourself, or buy it for someone else. Just buy the book, then ask the question: What Do You Want To Do Before You Die?