Wednesday, January 30, 2008


Tonight's show was slightly more entertaining but the worst news was that this week is not the last of the first round. We have to sit through another week next week.


The shine is definitely off Idol this year. Last year was the first year that I felt that the "bad" auditions went on too long. This week there are less hours, and already I feel like I've seen this all before. The judges are definitely bored, even their comments aren't interesting any more. Paula didn't even show up half of tonight's show.

I look forward to Hollywood week finally starting.

Monday, January 28, 2008


I totally forgot to review BEE MOVIE after I saw it. I guess that doesn't say much for the movie.

It's an OK film, although I expected a lot more from Seinfeld. It's funny, but it's so geared towards children, it's predictable and forgettable. The Pixar bunch have really spoiled audiences, they seem to do films for families that are smart and funny for adults as well as entertaining to kids.

I give it a C+.


This is the first year in more than a decade that I do not feel completely qualified to analyze the awards nominees thoroughly. Normally I see about 60 films a year, most of the in the theater, and most of them during awards season, so I've seen almost all of the nominees. This year that didn't happen. A shift in the classes I teach put a lot more time into the end of the semester, so I was unable to see as many screenings as I normally would.

However, I'm going to do my best to analyze the Oscars, Motion Picture Sound Editors Golden Reel Awards, and Cinema Audio Society Awards. I'm involved directly with the latter two, as Past President of the MPSE and current Vice President of the CAS.

I'll start with the sound awards since that's what I do. I'll add a later post for other categories.

The nominees for the Oscar for Sound Editing:

Karen Baker Landers and Per Hallberg

NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN (Miramax and Paramount Vantage)
Skip Lievsay

RATATOUILLE. (Walt Disney)
Randy Thom and Michael Silvers

THERE WILL BE BLOOD (Paramount Vantage and Miramax)
Matthew Wood

TRANSFORMERS (DreamWorks and Paramount in association with Hasbro)
Ethan Van der Ryn and Mike Hopkin

All five films sounded quite good, but by far the best two were NO COUNTRY and RATATOUILLE. BOURNE and TRANSFORMERS were both big, loud action films, but I always feel it's more of a challenge to do the type of subtle work in NO COUNTRY. However, all Academy members vote on the final award, so it's likely something more obvious will win, and TRANSFORMERS had the most obvious use of sound.

The Golden Reel nominees for Sound Effects Editing in a Feature are similar:

3:10 TO YUMA

RATATOUILLE is in a separate category, animation, along with these films:


RATATOUILLE has the best chance of winning. Anything else would be a major upset.

For the Oscar in Sound Mixing, the nominees are:

Scott Millan, David Parker and Kirk Francis

NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN (Miramax and Paramount Vantage)
Skip Lievsay, Craig Berkey, Greg Orloff and Peter Kurland

Randy Thom, Michael Semanick and Doc Kane

3:10 TO YUMA (Lionsgate)
Paul Massey, David Giammarco and Jim Stuebe

TRANSFORMERS (DreamWorks and Paramount in association with Hasbro)
Kevin O’Connell, Greg P. Russell and Peter J. Devlin

Kevin O'Connell has his 20th nomination, and might win for TRANSFORMERS. Personally I liked NO COUNTRY and RATATOUILLE.

The CAS nominees in the same category are again similar:

Production Mixer Kirk Francis, CAS
Re-recording Mixers Scott Millan, CAS, David Parker

Production Mixer Edward Tise
Re-recording Mixers Michael Minkler, CAS, Lora Hirschberg

Production Mixer Peter Kurland, CAS
Re-recording Mixers Skip Lievsay, Craig Berkey, Greg Orloff, CAS

Production Mixer Patrick Rousseau
Re-recording Mixers Chris Jenkins, CAS, Frank Montano

Production Mixer Peter J. Devlin, CAS
Re-recording Mixers Kevin O’Connell, Greg P. Russell, CAS

Of these, I like NO COUNTRY, although there's again a good chance Kevin might win for TRANSFORMERS. I just can't bring myself to see 300.

Sunday, January 27, 2008


PERSEPOLIS is a great animated French film based on a pair of autobiographical graphic
novels from the point of view of a young girl during the fall of Iran's Shah.

There's a lot of great stuff in the film, including a lot of good music, and I highly recommend the film. Perhaps the only weakness is the fact that the third act is clearly so compressed that it's obvious it was adapted from a longer novel. Otherwise it's hard to find fault with the film.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

AMERICAN IDOL Week 2 Night 2

South Carolina brought some more entertaining bad singers than last night, and also a few decent ones. But I think the first round is starting to lose its luster. They need to get to the next round soon.


Really more of the same tonight, nothing special, nothing great, but plenty of entertaining bad people.

Saturday, January 19, 2008


I've been watching an outstanding series on the History channel called GANGLAND. It's a brutally honest series about the many, many gangs in America. The show goes into great details about specific gangs, and has incredible footage of gangs in action and interviews with former gang members and police officers. The two best episodes were about the Hell's Angels (I can't believe this even made it to air) and the huge problem the military is currently having with gang members working within the war (including skinheads).

Even here in LA I learned about the Mexican gangs in LA. It's pretty scary.

I highly recommend the series.

Friday, January 18, 2008


It's hard to believe it's in its 7th year.

Due to a rare Tivo screw up (it crashed while I was at MacWorld) I did not see the first show (which was supposedly better), but the second show certainly puts it in league with the previous seasons. If anything, it seems Simon is cooling down with age, and they all seem more patient with the terrible singers. No one stood out yet as a potential star.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


The MacWorld in San Francisco has changed over the years many times. After many consecutive years of downsizing, last year's show was the largest in at least a decade. This year, the show was almost twice as large as last year, and in the West Hall of the Moscone Center, it was so packed that it was almost impossible to walk. It didn't help that there was massive confusion about registration that sent many people back and forth between the South and West halls twice while trying to check in.

Everyone talks about the halo effect of the iPod, and there are still a lot of iPod-related items, but the iPhone is almost certainly what has made the difference in the last year. Apple has sold 2 million units, and in the smart phone market, it's second only to the Blackberry, and bigger than the next three (Palm, Nokia and Motorola) combined.

But Apple also has increased its computer market as well, going from 3 to 8 percent of the market in only a few years. Today they introduced a new laptop that can be as little as two-tenths of an inch thick. It fits in a manila envelope. Is this really necessary? For the price? It certainly looks cool. Sideways, it's almost invisible. (Rumors of a tablet appear to be just a rumor.)

They also introduced a software update for the iPhone. I was hoping they would announce that the new 16 Gig versions were coming in a few months, and then they would clear stock on the 4 Gig models with another $100 price cut. Oh well, looks like I'll be waiting for a while longer before getting one. The Software update is minor, with the coolest function being the ability of the phone to figure out where it is, without using GPS!

Apple's new operating system (Leopard) has a cool function called Time Machine which allows you to bring your computer back to an earlier version at any time, by creating incremental backups. Today they announced an Airport that has a hard drive built in for backing up, which could save you in the event of a system failure. Very cool.

But undoubtedly the biggest announcement was that iTunes will be renting movies from every major studio. (They also updated Apple TV so it is more versatile.) Looks like the BluRay - HD DVD battle will soon be irrelevant. VOD is the wave of the future.

Sunday, January 13, 2008


The first half looked pretty close, but USC blew it open in the second half and handily defeated Washington State 66-51 for their first conference victory.

USC had an excellent percentage in foul shots, an area they had been weak in much of the season. However, a number of weaknesses still showed. Defense was awkward in the first half, allowing Washington to score quickly and easily while they had to work for their field shots. Rebounds were terrible. Passing was weak.

Mayo seemed obsessed with passing the ball to other players especially in the first half. I think he's still not comfortable being a team leader.

Floyd must have given a good halftime speech; the team was not only much more aggressive after the half, but also much more confident. Mayo scored 14 points in the second half.

USC plays at #5 UCLA next week (probably #4 after beating WSU today, who beat USC Thursday), then games at Oregon (11-4) and #24 Arizona. That's a tough stretch for a young, small team.

Friday, January 11, 2008

USC Loses to WSU

USC looked extremely weak in the 2nd half tonight, particularly defensively. It was a good game for the first half, but they were unable to stop the strong offense of WSU, particularly their 3-point shots.

USC also had an awful lot of fouls, to the point that the refs were looking one-sided, but they were also unable to score aggressively, and WSU was.

USC is now 0-3 in conference play, and that's a terrible start in a competitive division. They are a young team, and have a long way to go if they want to make the Sweet 16 again this year.

Monday, January 07, 2008

CES Vegas

CES , the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, opened today. It was almost anticlimactic, as BluRay had already announced three days earlier that Warner Brothers had decided to release all future DVDs in their format. This is an essential death announcement for HD DVD. It's odd to drive around Las Vegas and see all the advertisements for HD DVD knowing that they are all but dead. Which is just fine anyway; the only major difference between the two formats is the amount of storage space on the disc, which is significantly higher on BluRay. That allows BluRay to either include more content, or to use less of a video compression on their content, which will allow it to look better. In either case, it's a win for consumers.

Panasonic also introduced a 12' flat screen TV, but it's outside the cost range of consumers. Otherwise, there was not a lot new at the show. Next week I'll be at MacWorld, so we'll see what Apple has coming.

Saturday, January 05, 2008


AUGUST EVENING is a good independent film about Mexican-Americans. It's a family drama, with some extremely well written scenes and some very good acting. However, the writing is very inconsistent, and the pacing is truly awful, particularly in the first half. A good editor could have made this good movie into an excellent one. However, it's still worth watching, and it's nice to see a slice of American life that is rarely shown in American cinema.


THE ORPHANAGE (El Orfanato) is a Spanish film presented by Guillermo del Toro who gave me my favorite film of last year, PAN'S LABYRINTH. The two films have a lot in common (perhaps too much). They are horror fantasies with child characters and confusion between the worlds of the living and dead. PAN was a much better film, but this film has a lot to offer, in particular a fantastic performance by lead actress Belén Rueda as the boy's mother. It also has a very good score, and some great sound work. It's greatest weakness is the last two scenes in the film, which hit the nail on the head unnecessarily ruining the beautiful mood of the last scene between mother and son.

I still recommend it.

Thursday, January 03, 2008



I keep waiting for Paul Thomas Anderson to stop making student films, but he hasn't gotten there yet. Someone needs to sit him down and tell him he can't write for shit. Unfortunately for him, producers keep indulging him, and I'm forced to sit through more and more pretentious bullshit from him.

Please STOP giving him money to make films!

I can't for the life of me imagine why people are saying good things about this movie. Worst of all is the acting. Daniel Day-Lewis chews the scenery almost as badly as he he did in GANGS OF NEW YORK and all of the other characters are treated like furniture by the writer. The movie is interminably long at 2 1/2 hours, and is truly a butt-buster.

Good luck making it through this one.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008


USC had an excellent day today against over-ranked Illinois, leading to a big win for USC. They certainly looked like one of the best teams in college football, once again showing the need for some type of playoff system in the NCAA.

The Trojans looked good all day long, with the exception being the number of penalties the Trojans racked up.

It was a beautiful day for a game, not too hot, and even though the game was sold out, traffic in and out of the stadium was not anywhere near as bad as last year. The crowd was, as expected, mostly USC fans, but the Illini had a decent contingent present. Unfortunately they had little to root for as USC commanded the game throughout.