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Dany's RaaD Roundup

The Ides of March Review

George Clooney‘s Ides of March is a behind the scenes look at the days before the Democratic primary election in Ohio between a fictional US Senator (who looks surprisingly like Vladimir Putin) and a middle of the country Governor (played by George Clooney). In similar films from the past, the stages were filled with smoke filled rooms, while now, smoking has been cordoned off to only blind alleys and parking lots and instead of smoke filled rooms, the rooms are filled with stone cold staring contests and conversations between the likes of the intense characters played by Ryan Gosling, George Clooney, Paul Giamatti and Philip Seymour Hoffman. As my friend Sara put it, the film had a few too many of these intense stare downs, to the point where it was almost comical.

The film sports strong performances, but especially by Gosling and Giamatti (as a character so slimy and jaded, it feels like melted kryptonite), but one can not forget the performances of Marisa Tomei and Evan Rachel Wood who provide pivot points for the main players to play off each other.

The film seems to live in a fictional present day that references overtly the former US Presidents from George H.W. Bush through George W. Bush, while also covertly paying reference to the recent message of “hope and change.” At the same time though, the film also reflects back exactly how most Americans feel about politics, especially if you take just how low Americans polled recently have been rating their favorability of Congress below 20%, by showing that behind every strait arrow politician is a room full of dirty tricks and hustling sessions. This film is a far cry from the idealized Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, but instead brings shades of grey into this top notch game of political brinkmanship.

The film does a good job of keeping the audience in to loop with the plot except for one conflict point that became far too obvious as to how it would unfold about 3/4 through the film, which came as a surprise to the main character, which was surprising considering how the entire script leading up to that point in the film praised Gosling’s character as being the smartest man in the room, yet allowing the audience to pick up on the trick before he could figure it out. I won’t say anything more specific, in case it actually is not as clear to anyone else seeing this film as it was to this reviewer.

I fully enjoyed this film overall and I look forward to the next film slated for George Clooney in the director’s chair.

Thanks to Teaser-trailer.com for the above pic.

Enjoy

Dany

October 22, 2011 10:54 pm Posted by | movie reviews, movies, politics, Washington, Washington DC | Leave a comment

The Hangover 2 Review

I was glad that even with the pending legal battle over the facial tattoo made famous by Mike Tyson that was also featured plastered on the  face of Ed Helms (see above) in The Hangover 2, that the film actually was released on time for this holiday weekend.

The film itself though, is none too different from the original Hangover. So, you can take that two ways, if you loved the original, you will enjoy what is basically the same movie, just this time replace the backdrop of Las Vegas with Bangkok, Thailand. There is a lot that was not necessary in this film, like why was there a car chase in this comedy or why is this group (wolf pack) of guys actually friends with each other (Galifianakis not included)?

I know I will not remember much about this movie’s plot or many of the jokes, but just as with the first film, I will definitely remember the montage during the credits that actually chronicles the bachelor party night and how impressed I was with that trained monkey (on a side note, probably the most memorable on-screen monkey since Friends).

Regardless though, I know I had a lot of fun just watching the film unfold with all its one-off jokes. I enjoyed just letting the madness flow over me for 100 minutes.

Thanks to Hangover 2 trailer for the above pic.

Enjoy

Dany

May 30, 2011 10:17 pm Posted by | animals, art, Bangkok, comedians, crazy celebs, Las Vegas, Law, movie reviews, movies, Nevada, travel, tv | Leave a comment

The Week in The Daily Show and Colbert Report for February 21, 2010

It would be interesting if the recent revolutions in TunisiaYemen, Egypt and many other countries in the region, lead the people if Iran to be able topple the government that they couldn’t topple after their last election.
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January Jones (who does a great job on Mad Men, but I still have yet to see their latest season) is just cute as a button as she promotes her new movie Unknown (and you know how that worked out for me from my last post when I went to see the preview for it).
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So far, proposals to cut the budget have only dealt with non-defense and non-medicare/medicaid/social security. The problem is that when you combine all those spending programs, that makes up over 80% of all federal government spending, so any cuts in spending not related to those programs, is just shaving off the top layer of snow from the iceberg that sunk the titanic. Until both parties get together and start talking about real spending cuts to the rest of the 80% of government spending (like how congress just voted to cut a military spending program on the F-35 fighter jet that the military did not even want anymore), all this is just one big kabuki theater. Although I must say, John Hodgman‘s got some interesting fiscal ideas!
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John interviews Republican State Leadership Committee Ed Gillespie. I think I will miss Michael Steele being the spotlight Republican organizer, because even though I don’t agree with some of Mr. Gillespie’s conclusions, he is much more measured and interesting to listen to.
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David Albright attempts to explain to Colbert the Stuxnet program, the damage it caused and what it could mean in terms of potential war… with a lot of help from Christiane Amanpour.
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It is time to celebrate another edition of Tip of My Hat/Wag of My Finger. Colbert tackles such issues as the sale of the Huffington Post to AOL, wales and trash tv.
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I love when secret memos get leaked out, especially when it makes news organizations seem petty and stupid. Thanks Fox News!
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Clarence Thomas is again in the news, he has an illustrious history of scandal in the news, but any time a high profile lawyer/judge has problems filling out legal documents, it makes the news.
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Jeffrey Leonard tries to explain how many big businesses are increasingly paying their small business contractors for their services anywhere from 30-90 days later than the small businesses have to pay for their own costs and how this change is really hurting the ability of small businesses from running efficiently, growing and hiring new people themselves.
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Enjoy

Dany

February 21, 2011 3:10 pm Posted by | clips, DC, economy, Egypt, Germany, Iran, Israel, Law, Middle East, movies, politics, tv, Washington, Washington DC, Yemen | Leave a comment

Win Win Sneak Preview Review

Tonight was an interesting and unexpected night. A friend and I were originally going to a sneak preview of Unknown, with Liam Neeson, but once we got to the theater and got onto the end of the line that was literally around the block, five minutes before showtime a representative from Fox Searchlight came around the corner and announced that the screening we were to go to was full up beyond a point ahead of us and if we wanted to see the film he was screening, Win Win, we could get in to see that instead… so we decided to give that a go instead.

The film stars Paul Giamatti as a family man and New Jersey lawyer, who is in trouble and throughout the beginning of the film makes one bad decision after another and then he needs to spend the rest of the film trying to untangle himself and possibly actually make a good decision or two on the way. Especially since the film is not even released yet, I do not want to give any more of the plot away, but Amy Ryan and Jeffrey Tambor also bring strong performances, while Bobby Cannavale provides some quirky comic relief moments and Alex Shaffer‘s muted performance was very believable.

What is funny is that I really enjoyed the film, I had a great time watching it, but I went in not knowing anything about the film and not having seen any trailers for the film. After seeing the film though, I can not imagine a trailer that Fox could put together that would entice me to see this film… and now that I JUST found the trailer online (which I do not want to share here), my advice is SKIP THE TRAILER and just watch this movie once it comes out. It is a film that anyone that doesn’t mind a bit of cursing will enjoy, so I was surprised it received an R-rating, but it must have just had too much profanity to pass with a lower rating, although I feel like a broader audience would enjoy this film because the story ultimately speaks to family life.

I don’t know if our original movie we were supposed to see was really sold out, but either way, I don’t mind, I had a good night with a small movie that I was not expecting tonight.

Thanks to OnlineMovieHut for the above pic.

Enjoy

Dany

February 17, 2011 3:21 am Posted by | Law, movie reviews, movies, New Jersey | 1 Comment

This Week in The Daily Show and Colbert Report for the Week of January 30th, 2010

Megyn Kelly‘s view of Fox News’ coverage does not seem very well backed up by print or video evidence. I will just assume she missed all those different Nazi references on her own network… sadly this does not excuse Rep. Steve Cohen for using that type of rhetoric himself earlier this month though. Nice report Wyatt Cenac. The next day Jon Stewart calls Bill O’Reilly out on how HE took offense to Jon calling Megyn Kelly out on her previous statement out. Just as a by-the-by, I had no idea that Ms Kelly was a practicing lawyer.
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This may be the saddest piece on the Daily Show, that the historic town of Turkey Creek could only gather enough political power to appeal to the government once they got the bird lovering Audubon society on their side. Oh and shame on you Al Sharpton for not helping more with the issue or at least even seeming sympathetic about this issue.
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I disliked most of the Spider-Man movies, but I have liked James Franco in Pineapple Express, I have not gotten to see 127 Hours yet though. Here he talks about how he heard about his Oscar nomination.
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Jonathan Alter has a new book, The Promise, that looks at the first year of the Obama administration. Alter talks a lot about jus how badly President Obama and staff were at communicating to the public during that first year in office.
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T. Boone Pickens talks in this extended interview about his plan to get the US off of OPEC oil with his 10 year plan, even though he thought 2 years ago it was the same 10 year plan. He wants to get the US off OPEC oil with natural gas, two years ago he talked a lot more about wind power though. I just don’t know how he can say that he’s never seen any sort of damage coming from fraking though, he never gives a solid answer to the documentaries with flamable water in local faucets after fracking. Pickens does not seem to make sense, he says everyone is in and that it’s a non-partisan issue, but no one in the US government seems to be talking about it. It takes til the end of the 20+ minutes to get to the meat of the issue, one big reason nothing has moved forward with his energy plan is that energy companies are not yet convinced to give up their golden goose just yet.
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Stephen Colbert absorbs Keith Olbermann‘s audience and power after finding out that Keith’s show is over… only to experience some deleterious effects.
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Hey, you can move to Utah now and kill any suspicious animal wandering around you, by clubbing it to death, decapitating it or shooting it, as long as you have a reasonable belief that it is feral… sounds like a great way to spend Saturday night and possibly build a personal history of conduct disorder leading to a future payoff of antisocial personality disorder! THANKS State Rep. Curtis Oda.
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Daryl Bem‘s recent study shows that when people are being shown erotic images, they can predict which window that image will reveal said erotic image, at a rate of just over 53% compared to just under a 50% prediction for a neutral image.
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If you didn’t have a reason to avoid fast food. Here’s Taco Bell defending their beef taco filling even if it contains less than 35% meat, instead of the government mandated minimum of 40%… I guess in the future you might see Taco Bell selling their new beefoid burrito. Who wouldn’t want the non-harmful but also non-advantageous silicon dioxide (sand) in their food? Just don’t inhale it, it’s bad for the lungs, but so would other foods.
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I hope Brian Greene‘s new book, The Hidden Reality, explains how I could be “a bag of particles governed by the laws of physics.” The idea that math describes the possibility of alternate universes is intriguing. We still need some sort of experimental evidence, but I have no idea how we would go about obtaining that evidence. I wonder how this compares to predictive porn research, don’t you?
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Enjoy

Dany

January 31, 2011 4:06 am Posted by | astronomy, books, brain, clips, DC, economy, health, Law, movies, politics, science, sex, tv, Utah, Washington, Washington DC | Leave a comment

This Week in The Daily Show and Colbert Report for January 9th, 2011

Hmm, we now have birds falling from the sky and dead fish washing ashore in Arkansas. Here are a few links to recent articles about this thanks to No Agenda episodes 266-268
(story1, story2, story3, story4, subscribe to No Agenda here)
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I love the metaphor of Barack Obama as Luke Skywalker, it’s geektastic!
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I am guessing that San Francisco is going to get sued over forcing McDonald’s to change the food they serve to healthier Happy Meals in order to serve it with a toy, it seems like government overreach into the private sector to me and councilman Eric Mar does not seem to do a good job explaining how they have the authority for this law to be legal. I wish McDonald’s would offer healthier options for their Happy Meals when they give out toys, diabetes has already become a major problem and it is only getting worse for more and more children and adults in the US and worldwide, but this type of government law does not seem to be the way to go about fixing this problem.
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Here are some choice segments from the debate over who will run the Republican National Committee and I was also surprised that anyone on Fox News would point out that everyone hates Michael Steele. Stephen Colbert also gets some ribbing in at Reince Priebus‘ expense.
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Here is Jon’s interview with NY senator, Kirsten Gillibrand, after listening to her, I am glad she’s one of my senators from NY, I don’t usually get to hear from her, she generally does her work behind the scenes.
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Goldman Sachs is investing $450 million into Facebook and it will allow it to seem like a single investor as they then sell these shares to their own clients, thus delaying when Facebook has to file with the SEC, as there is an SEC rule for revealing a company’s financial information once they have 500 shareholders or more. Ahh, I love breaking the spirit of the law by only following it to the letter… Facebook will instead release their financial information to the public at latest in April, 2012.
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The idea of gold and silver as legal tender has been making a comeback and now with new committee subchair Ron Paul, we may see some interesting ways where he tries to weaken or at least make more transparent, the Federal Reserve. Stephen even interviews Congressman Ron Paul and David Leonhardt about this in the second clip.
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Dr. Atul Gawande’s book, The Checklist Manifesto, is now out in paperback. He is a very interesting doctor who also periodically writes for The New Yorker, you can read his articles here.
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It’s sad when Bill O’Reilly’s argument for God’s existence can be debunked by an elementary science lesson, thanks Neil deGrasse Tyson!
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As of right now, when we try and manipulate telomerase to reverse aging, we end up causing cancers to form. New research in mice may help us better understand when to manipulate telomerase to increase vitality, hopefully without increasing the risk of cancer. Stephen interviews Dr. Ronald DePinho about this after some of his new research on this issue has garnered the media spotlight.
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Enjoy

Dany

January 10, 2011 3:17 am Posted by | Arkansas, books, California, clips, DC, health, Law, medicine, movies, nature, newspaper, podcasts, politics, Religion, science, tv, Washington, Washington DC | Leave a comment

Love and Other Drugs Movie Review

I was finally able to go and see the movie Love & Other Drugs yesterday. I had been wanting to see the movie since before it came out, I have liked Anne Hathaway ever since Ella Enchanted. I also have been following Jake Gyllenhaal ever since Donnie Darko. Even though I have wanted to see the movie for such a long time, I kept as far away from the advertisements and previews as well and I am glad I was able to do that.

This movie was not at all what I expected, with the title, I expected a love affair mixed with an elicit drug parade, but the film was nothing of the sort. I will not reveal the storyline, but it was done very well and it was unexpectedly quite funny for a serious love story, especially with Josh Gad and Oliver Platt providing some great asides. This is extremely difficult for a film to pull off, but the director, Edward Zwick, does a great job from scene to scene balancing serious scenes with comic relief. I also heard that some people had criticized Hathaway for how she portrayed her character (for storyline reasons, I will not reveal why), but I felt that she did a wonderful job with this role.

I would highly recommend this film, unless you have a problem with seeing quite a bit of nudity from many of the main players. Both myself and the girl I saw the film with had a great time with this film, go see it.

Just as an aside, I am glad that this is a fictional story, otherwise the main catalysts that set this movie in motion would have been a giant HIPAA violations on the part of one of the receptionists (Judy Greer) as well as for the main doctor (Hank Azaria) in the film.

Thanks to April Hubal Photography for the above pic.

Enjoy

Dany

January 8, 2011 11:59 pm Posted by | movie reviews, movies | 2 Comments

Black Swan Review

Director Darren Aronofsky seems to be driven by obsession, whether it’s an obsession for knowledge (Pi), drugs (Requiem for a Dream), love (The Fountain), a fading wrestling career (The Wrestler) or with the perfect ballet performance in this film, Black Swan. This makes for an exciting career and Arrenofsky‘s most recent film delivers fully.

I came into this movie only knowing about Aronofsky‘s previous films and that this was a film about a ballerina’s struggle to perform, but I left the film admiring the grueling performances by the lead, Natalie Portman, and Barbara Hershey, who plays Portman‘s mother who struggles to bring up and support her balerina daughter along with her own demons.

There were many cringe-worthy scenes that instead of making me want to turn away, drew me in closer to the screen and story. I had no idea that this was going to be an enthralling story of sex, drugs and ballet that turns into a disturbing descent into the mind of a lead performer obsessed with the challenge of becoming both the white and black swan for Swan Lake, not always being perfect and what that does not just to her body, but her mind, not to mention how to keep from falling behind the competition and losing her position to others in her ever growing ballet troupe, in the same way that the previous upstart, Winona Ryder, did in the dog-eat-dog world of ballet.

Aronofsky has never been been a prolific special effects director, he dabbled during The Fountain, but the way he utilizes visual effects in the Black Swan would put most directors to shame, he utilizes it so flawlessly, so subtly and in such a way that unequivocally improves the story that it’s barely noticeable as CGI, but instead just blends into what are amazing visuals in what is already a visually stunning film, never more memorable than in the opening and closing scenes of the film.

Mila Kunis also brings in a top notch performance as the newest and most up-and-coming ballerina in the troupe that seems to be Aronofsky‘s disturbing version of a Manic Pixie Dream Girl in a role where you can not take your eyes off of her while she’s onscreen. Kunis also shows that along with her performance in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, that she has the acting chops to leave behind That 70’s Show and become a solid movie star, a jump that many TV stars have struggled to do.

This is a tough film to watch, it is not for the faint of heart, unless you are willing to close your eyes or cover your eyes with your hands during particularly intense scenes, but it is definitely a must-watch film of 2010, with intense performances and yet another wonderful film for Aronofsky. There are very few directors that on their name alone, I would jump to see their newest film, but Aronofsky is one of those names. It is also stunning how much prep work the actresses did to prepare their bodies for these roles, just looking at the tone and definition in their back musculature alone for these performances was quite impressive.

Thanks to Zimbio and Joblo for the above pics

Enjoy

Dany

December 23, 2010 2:01 am Posted by | movie reviews, movies | Leave a comment

Burlesque Movie Review

In the film Burlesque, Christina Aguilera is frequently over-makeupped while performing onstage, she almost always looks best during her scenes with low-key makeup. The film has segments of terrible dialog with a predictable storyline and twists. That said, I ended up liking the movie and the woman I was with loved it…

I say this because the movie is also filled with very sexy ladies who perform dressed in various degrees of, for lack of a better word, sex, the musical numbers and vocals are very well done and Christina Agulerra and Cher do a good job sharing the screen together. Also, you really can’t go wrong watching the extremely entertaining Stanley Tucci and Alan Cummings.

Guys out there should take their ladies to see this film. You will win points with your partner as you get to enjoy the eyecandy and the great vocals.

Thanks to HollywoodGiants for the above pic.

Enjoy

Dany

December 21, 2010 3:19 am Posted by | movie reviews, movies, music | Leave a comment

True Grit 2010 Remake Review

Later this month, the remake of the John Wayne classic, True Grit, will be released nationwide. I first saw the original film with my father growing up and I loved it, but that was then. This current version stars Jeff Bridges as the salty ol’ sauced US marshal who is convinced by a 14 year old girl played by Hailee Steinfeld, to track her father’s killer. She convinces him after it is already well established in a very funny negotiation scene that she is the quickest wit and smartest tongue west of NYC. Matt Damon, Josh Brolin and Barry Pepper all make appearances in the film, but the screen time is dominated by Bridges and Steinfeld as they hunt a murder.

The Coen Brothers know how to interject comedy into what is inherently a very dark film and Bridges is impressive as the one eyed marshal who is coherent and sharp shooting enough when he needs to be, but drunkenly incompetent after a long day and a bottle or two of drink.

I miss the regular release of the American western film and if Jeff Bridges wants to come in and take the cowboy mantle from John Wayne and Clint Eastwood, after this performance, I would go and see every production.

Thanks to the wonderful Sara for getting me in to see this pre-screening and thanks to AllMoviePhoto for the above pic.

Enjoy

Dany

December 17, 2010 12:59 am Posted by | movie reviews, movies | Leave a comment