– Pixar films, at this point, are either an A+ (Wall-E), an A (Ratatouille) or an A- (Cars). On this scale, Up is a solid A – not quite reaching the peaks of Pixar but definitely not one of their “lesser” efforts (where “lesser” is something just about any other filmmakers would kill for). Ed Asner’s voicework fits his character perfectly (and if you don’t at least sniffle in that first ten minutes, what are you made of?) and the little kid character steals just about every scene without feeling forced. The second great summer film of a thus-mostly-starved 2009.
– Panic Breakout is really only fun the first one or two times, but what a one or two times!
– Finally got around to reading Jennifer 8. Lee’s The Fortune Cookie Chronicles and really enjoyed how a treatise on the history of modern Chinese food could serve as commentary on globalism, cultural mutation, immigration, racial attitudes, appropriation and reconcilation. Fascinating, and also brings with it a number of “oh, must try that” food ideas.
– Mental is a terrible case of medical-procedural-by-the-numbers, pretending to be daring because it’s dealing with mental illness, but come on – using special effects to make schizophrenia more exciting is both overdone and tasteless. Chris Vance, in the lead, is particularly ill-equipped to handle his role; of course, even if he were a great actor, he’d still have a boring “look I’m kooky and nontraditional for no explicable reason” character to deal with, but he’s not a great actor; half of his work feels like a weak Hugh-Laurie-as-House impersonation minus the balls that makes House so interesting.
– “The Princess and the Dragon” expansion for Carcassonne? Oh my god, is it bad. Mutates one of the best board games of all time into an unrecognizable, not very-fun mess. Avoid. Do not get this expansion.
– Man, what a terrible set of audition episodes for So You Think You Can Dance this year. I went back and speed-rewatched the most recent set of Australian audition episodes for a comparison, and then last year’s Canadian and American auditions, and it’s not just me; this year’s American auditions focused more on jokey bad auditions that were supposedly funny much, much more than average, and the American show is the only one that still even bothers to show many bad auditions at all; in the Aussie and Canuck versions you can literally count the number of joke auditions on one hand, which ironically makes them funnier because they stand out in sharp relief to all the really great dancing. I’m honestly a bit nervous about this season now because I can’t help but wonder: did they not have enough good dancing to showcase?