“Just Like Heaven” & “Elizabethtown”

I don’t know if other people have the same problem I have, but I sometimes get Reese Witherspoon and Kirsten Dundst mixed up.  I don’t get confused when I see a photo of either of them.  The mixup happens when recalling movies they may have done.  I know the Reese Witherspoon has had memorable roles in Legally Blonde, Sweet Home Alabama, Highway, and the recent Walk the Line. I know Kirsten Dundst is known for the Spider-man movies, Jumanji, and Bring It On.  Come to think of it, maybe I don’t have a problem recalling what roles they have done.  I think I just may have had a blonde moment or I’m not sure how to start a review for two of their movies Farrah and I just watched on DVD.

The first movie is the light romantic comedy featuring Reese W. called Just Like Heaven. The //Netflix summary is:

Shortly after David Abbott (Mark Ruffalo) moves into his new San Francisco digs, he has an unwelcome visitor on his hands: winsome Elizabeth Martinson (Reese Witherspoon), who asserts that the apartment is hers — and promptly vanishes. When she starts appearing and disappearing at will, David thinks she’s a ghost, while Elizabeth is convinced she’s alive. Their quest for the truth ultimately leads to love in this spectral romantic comedy.

What I liked about the movie: Reese Witherspoon did a fine job as the career driven, yet lovable, doctor.  I also liked the fact the story was set in San Francisco, though it didn’t really play any major role in the film expect some shots of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Just Like Heaven

What I didn’t like: Mark Ruffalo isn’t romantic lead material.  I think he’s more suited for dramatic roles.  He reminds me of Vincent D’Onofrio, who isn’t romantic lead material as well, though he is a very fine actor.

The story follows the romantic comedy formula to the “t”.  How can you have a romance when one of the character’s is dead?  Well, you’ll have to watch the movie to find out.

For Elizabethtown, the //Netflix summary goes:

Drew Baylor (Orlando Bloom) is fired after causing his shoe company to lose hundreds of millions of dollars. To make matters worse, he’s also dumped by his girlfriend (Jessica Biel). On the verge of ending it all, Drew gets a new lease on life when he returns to his family’s small Kentucky hometown after his father dies. Along the way, he meets a flight attendant (Kirsten Dunst) with whom he falls in love. Cameron Crowe directs.

What I liked about the movie: The actors are very likable, with good supporting roles for Alec Baldwin and Susan Sarandon.  You can recognize Cameron Crowe’s words, who has a good ear for dialog, coming out of the actors’ mouths.  He captures a portion of America I’ve never personally experienced, and one that Orlando Bloom’s Drew hasn’t either, and manages to make the discovery a shared experience.  I enjoyed the road trip portion of the movie.  The music is on par with other Crowe movies.  He writes so well, though….


What I didn’t like: …some of the editing in the movie I didn’t like.  I understood, as I was watching the movie, that there was more to background on why the shoe failed and was recalled.  This bugged me throughout the movie, even though I understand the specific fact of why it failed wasn’t important as much as the failure itself.  There also didn’t seem to be enough development in some characters, such as Jessica Biel’s as the girlfriend, and development in relationships, such as between Orlando Bloom’s Drew and his mother played by Susan Sarandon.

Just Like Heaven: ** (out of five)

Elizabethtown: ***1/2

“Hitch” & “Must Love Dogs”

Just finished watching [Hitch] on DVD.  The movie stars the likeable Will Smith as a matchmaker for men.  Hitch puts his clients in the best possible situation to succeed in having the women of their dreams fall in love with them.  “The rest is up to you”, he says.

Hitch Movie Poster

The movie has some pretty good pacing the cast (Smith, Kevin James, Eva Mendes, and Amber Valletta) are very likeable and funny in their own way.  There are predictable portions of the movie, but they are pulled off well.

[Must Love Dogs] on the other hand has two likeable actors in a poorly scripted movie.  We find Diane Lane playing a recently divorced woman who is being pushed by her family into the dating scene.  To help her along, one of her sisters posts Lane’s character’s profile on an online dating service.  It is through there she meets a slew of men, including the recently divorced John Cusack.  From there the fun begins.

Must Love Dogs Movie Poster

What doesn’t work in this movie is the writing.  The actors are likeable enough, oozing charisma off the screen.  If only they had some smart words to say, as they would in real life, and not the dribble that pours out of their mouths, it would make this film a much more pleasant experience.

Hitch: B+

Must Love Dogs: D-

Batman Begins

Batman Begins

Rating: **** out of 5

Quick shot: The movie chronicles the Batman’s beginnings.

What I liked about the move:

It’s back to the serious Batman.  The storyline is very well structured, good acting all around, and Gotham City looks like an actual city.  Plus Batman’s toys are pretty cool as well.

What I didn’t like: 

Bale’s Batman voice didn’t do it for me, except for one scene where he was very effective.  Go catch this movie either in primetime or a matinee.  Worth seeing!

Mr. & Mrs. Smith

Mr. & Mrs. Smith

Rating: *** out of five

Quick shot: Boy and girl meet. Boy and girl get married. Boy and girl are spies for competing agencies and don’t know it. Boy and girl must kill each other, or die trying. Will this have a happy ending

What I liked about the movie: Good action – gun play, hand-to-hand combat, and car chases. Good chemistry between Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. Fair and snappy dialog

What I didn’t like: The distracting choice of hand held camera movement during some quiet moments during the film. The latter third of the film had issues resolved suddenly.

Overall a good matinee movie. 

National Treasure

National Treasure
Originally uploaded by sith_kicker.

Rating:** 1/2 out of five

Quick Shot:Nic Cage plays a treasure hunter/treasure protector in this action packed film. Yeah, it’s a little like “Indiana Jones meets teh Da Vinci Code”.

What I liked about the movie:Good chemistry between the cast. The storyline keeps moving. A good film to put in and just enjoy, not thinking much about anything.

What I didn’t like:I didn’t care much for the Jon Voight character. Strike that…I don’t care much for Jon Voight at all.

U2 @ San Jose HP Pavillion

Ok, a moment to reflect on last night’s concert.

This was the sixth time seeing U2, but my first general admission experience in seeing them.  The first time I saw U2 was from behind home plate at the Oakland Coliseum on the ZooTV tour.  The Pop tour came next, the first time seeing them two shows in a row.  This experience was unique in that the first night Farrah, Doug and I had seats way up high in the 200 section (again at the Oakland Coliseum), then the next night we were in the 5th row!  Talk about being able to get an overall perspective of the show.

I was lucky enough watch U2’s Elevation tour both at San Jose Compaq Pavilion (with Doug) and Oakland Coliseum Arena (with Farrah) for two different shows.  When I saw them in San Jose it was towards the beginning of their tour, the group was energetic.  Later in the tour, two months after 9/11,  they came to Oakland a bit more subdued and somber.  But this concert they came out rocking.  Here is the list of songs they played:

  • Love and Peace
  • Vertigo
  • Elevation
  • Cry / Electric Co.
  • An Cat Dubh / Into the Heart
  • City of Blinding Lights
  • Beautiful Day
  • Miracle Drug
  • Sometimes You Can’t Make It on Your Own
  • New Year’s Day
  • Sunday Bloody Sunday
  • Bullet The Blue Sky
  • Running to Standstill
  • Pride in the name of love
  • Where the Streets Have No Name
  • One
  • The Fly
  • Mysterious Ways
  • Original of the Species
  • All Because of You
  • Yahweh
  • 40

The open act was the Kings of Leon, who didn’t sound half bad. From their interaction with the crowd, it seemed as if they had a rough night the previous show.

The Blind Swordsman: Zatoichi

The Blind Swordsman: Zatoichi

Rating: ***1/2 (out of 5)

Quick Shot: A blind masseur is more than he seems.

What I liked about the movie:  There are about three or four subplots in this film, woven together with Zatoichi in the middle.  It’s done very well.  Plus you can rarely go wrong with Beat Takeshi.  Just remember, it does get a little bloody in this film.

What I didn’t like: It took me a while to get adjusted to the cinematography/look of the film.  It was very ‘clean’ and modern, not helping to take the viewer back in time which made it distracting.  Once the action started it was an after thought.  The dance number – yeah, there is a dance number – was a little out of place for me as well.  After reading the [IMDB trivia] about this movie, it made a little more sense.

Un long dimanche de fiançailles

Audrey Tautou

Rating: **** of 5

Quick Shot: World War I love story.  Audrey Tautou is the Mathilde to Gaspard Ulliel Manech in this magical journey to find each other.  Or do they?

What I liked about the movie: The cinematography and direction was very impressive.  Audrey Tautou is adorable as ever.

What I didn’t like: A little long (2 hours 14 minutes give or take), most of it setting up the story in the first third of hte film.  I thought the last third was a little rushed as things fell into place.  I wasn’t expecting some graphic elements of war, but they were needed to drive the story.

The Ticketmaster/U2 Experience

This morning Farrah and I took a whack at trying to buy U2 tickets on [Ticketmaster.com]. I’m usually the only one trying to get tickets, but since there was a hard limit on the number of tickets one could buy, both Farrah and I tried.

Well, 10 AM came around. We started trying to get tickets on both the laptop and desktop, entering in the amount carefully and just waiting for the results. We couldn’t get tickets for the first show, which sold out in less than ten minutes. I knew there was a second show, so we waited for it to be posted.

We only had to wait about ten minutes. We tried over and over again to get (at the least) two general admission tickets – which were going for $49. Seats, which are an ok view, were topped out at $160! Well, Farrah managed to get two tickets. Me – shutout! I did get one screen opportunity to buy, but the tickets were seated and high above the show. I must be losing my touch! Well, at least we’ll be able to see U2. I only wish we got two more tickets for friends.

What’d you think, I was going to sell them?

Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story

DodgeBall: A True Underdog Story

Rating:**** out of 5

Quick Shot: Vince Vaughn plays the underdog/hero gym owner trying to save his gym from the evil (and hilarious) Ben Stiller.  So how can Vince save the gym?  By entering a dodgeball tournament!

What I liked about the movie: Ben Stiller, who’s in about every other movie made right now, is just funny as hell!  Way better than his turn in Starsky and Hutch.

What I didn’t like: Nothing. It was the perfect DVD to pop in and just laugh away.  Ok, maybe the bit with the pizza was too much but…nah, it was a very funny movie.



rating:  **1/2 of 5

quick shot: val kilmer does his bit for country and mamet.  a good thriller even though the ending is a bit deux machina.

what i liked about the film mamet’s writing.  snappy dialog and interesting plot.

what i didn’t like part of the ending (you’ll know what i mean)

reading comic books again

i’ve been reading comic books again.

it has been several years since i picked up comic books on a regular basis. but late last year i was in a mall and stopped by the comic book store. i picked up two hardback compilations:

both books were excellent in there own way. daredevil was done by the team of loeb and sales. loeb knows how to write a clean story with excellent dialog, while sales can draw in such a minimal but expressive fashion.

by comparison, the morrison written x-men was dark, brooding and sadistic. it was nice to see the x-men go through pain and deliver it back to the enemy at hand. i didn’t feel confused jumping back into the x-men (which was confusing when i left reading the book due to some characters and subplots). morrison did and is continuing to do, an excellent job with the x-men.

after these two books, i’ve been picking up issues here and there. i enjoyed loeb and jim lee’s run on batman, and lee’s current run on superman (more later on this). i’m also enjoying the batman/superman book by loeb and turner.

i’m taking a different approach to my comic book reading now also. i’m more into the hardbound collection as opposed to collecting individual issues. i don’t know, i can’t stand the ‘bagging and boarding’ of comic books any longer. i guess i’m not a collector any longer. i just enjoy good comic art and a good comic story.

concerts we’ve attended

this is a ‘concert’- me list listing all the concerts we’ve been to (so far). updated when another concert comes along.

[Bill Graham Civic Auditorium]
99 Grove Street, San Francisco CA 94102

Who we’ve seen there:
Tori Amos (12.21.2002)
Oasis (4.13.1996)

[Bimbo’s 365 Club]
1025 Columbus Avenue San Francisco, CA 94133

Who we’ve seen there:
Cardigans (6.19.96)

Berkeley Community Theater
1930 Allston Way, Berkeley, CA 94704

Who we’ve seen there:
Dido (05.23.04)
Cranberries (04.05.95)
Chris Cornell (11.30.99)
Ani Di Franco (10.31.97)

[Concord Pavilion]
2000 Kirker Pass Road, Concord, CA 94521

Who we’ve seen there:
Tori Amos/Alanis Morrisette (09.19.99)

[The Filmore]
1805 Geary Blvd. S.F. CA 94115

Who we’ve seen there:
Fiona Apple (03.18.97)
Lush (04.15.96)
Morcheeba (4.11.2008)
Lorde (9.27.2013)
Greek Theatre-U.C. Berkeley
Gayley Road, Berkeley, CA 94720

Who we’ve seen there:
Alanis Morrisette
Black Eye Peas/Macy Gray

Oakland Arena
7000 Coliseum Way, Oakland, CA 94621

Who we’ve seen there:
Peter Gabriel
Peter Gabriel w/Sinead O’Conner sing backup(11.22.93)
U2 (11.15.01)

Oakland Coliseum
7000 Coliseum Way, Oakland, CA 94621

Who we’ve seen there:
Sugarcubes/Public Enemy/U2 (07.11.92)
Oasis/U2 (06.18.97)
Oasis/U2 (06.19.97)

Orpheium Theater

Who we’ve seen there:
Sarah McLaughlin

Pac Bell Park

Who we’ve seen there:
Macy Gray/Dave Matthews Band (5.18.01)

[Paramount Theatre]
2025 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94612

Who we’ve seen there:
Bjork (10.17.01)
Sarah McLachlan (10.30.97)
Tori Amos (11.11.01 and some other date)

San Jose Arena

Who we’ve seen there:
Garbage/Smashing Pumpkins (08.18.96)
INXS (04.08.94)
U2 (4.19.01)

San Jose Event Center

Who we’ve seen there:
Pearl Jam
Soundgarden (06.03.94)
Tori Amos (09.19.98)
Sarah McLachlan (03.9.98)

Shoreline Amphetheater

Who we’ve seen there:
Lilith Fair 97 (07.08.97) (Sarah McLachlan, Tracy Chapman, Jewel, Paula Cole, Suzanne Vega)
Lilith Fair 98 (06.24.98) (Sarah McLachlan, Indigo Girls, Natalie Merchant, Erica Badu, Me’Shell Ndegeocello, Bonnie Raitt)
Lilith Fair 98 (07.14.99)
Lollapaloza ’94 (Smashing Pumpkins, Beastie Boys, George Clinton & P-Funk Allstars, The Breaders, Green Day…) – [http://www.jamesiha.org/interview/1994lolla.htm]
Lollapalooza ’95 (Hole, Sonic Youth, Beck, Cypress Hill, Elastica,…)
REM (05.17.95)
Sade (07.18.01)
Sting (08.05.00)


Who we’ve seen there:
Julianna Hatfield (http://www.julianasite.com/touragraphy.html#city)
LLoyd Cole
Cibo Matto (10.09.99)

[Villa Montalvo]
15400 Montalvo Road, Saratoga, CA 95071

Who we’ve seen there:
Diana Krall (7.19.01)
Norah Jones

982 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

Who we’ve seen there:
Smashing Pumpkins (10.18 0r 19.93)
Bjork (05.21.98)
Portishead (05.31.98)
Crowded House/Sheryl Crow
Garbage (05.20.98)
Dido (08.10.00)
PJ Harvey (05.19.95)
Sonic Youth
Sara Bareilles (12.16.2010)

I know I saw them, but where….

Hole (the Edge)
Filter (somewhere in San Jose)
Lisa Loeb (well, actually didn’t stay for that one)
Pearl Jam @ Golden Gate Park (06.24.95)
WOMAD (ft. Peter Gabriel) Golden Gate Park
Smashing Pumpkins (2. 7.96) Kezar Pavilion

Tori Amos at the CPA
TLC and MC Hammer (Hawaii)
New Kids/Tiffany at Great America
David Spade (05.30.98)
Cassandra Wilson @ Nob Hill Masonic Center(10.24.97)
Pharoah Sanders Quartet @Yoshi’s (03.17.01)

kill bill volume 2

Kill Bill Vol 2

rating: **** out of 5

quick shot: continuing the revenge story of the bride from kill bill volume i.

what i liked about the film: slightly different tone from the first movie.  i like the dialog an interaction between bill and the bride towards the end of the movie.

what i didn’t like: the audience members who didn’t realize movie’s contain dialog.  yeah, this volume is more talk-y then the first but give me a break…it’s tarantino!

mean girls

Mean Girls

rating: ***1/2 out of 5

quick shot: smartly written tina fey comedy.  a cut above your average teenager movie.

what i liked about the movie: the way it treated most kids with some intelligence.  i also liked that the adults weren’t totally oblivious either.  smart script all around.

what i didn’t like: the movie bogged down a third of the way through, though it picked up in the end.