Tuesday, February 26, 2008

TV Ratings and Box-Office

I have just read an article on BBC's website about the last weekend's Academy Awards ceremony and it's pretty darn interesting.

Apparently last Sunday's broadcast drew the lowest audience figures (32 million), even lower than the 2003 ceremony which came days after the Iraq invasion. What is also interesting is the fact that the fricking American Idol - otherwise known as the dumbest show on TV - draws 30 million every week. I mean, are we that stupid? I can't fathom how asinine our culture has become that we are obsessed with a program that thrives on insult and "reality"? We must be really cut off from our imaginative side here, because a "reality show" now takes over and becomes the symbol of our cultural psyche. Really scary...

On another note, the same article also points out the box-office numbers for the nominated films: only Juno broke the $100 million mark, whereas the Best Motion Picture of the Year, No Country for Old Men, only returned $64 million. The conclusion drawn by the article is that, because the nominated movies - critically acclaimed all may be - weren't popular enough to garner record-breaking ratings. The 1998 ceremony, where Titanic swept the board, had the highest rating - that is, since the ratings began.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Another shuffling of iTunes

Well, I'm bored right now...so I will do another iTunes shuffling and let you glimpse into my musical reality:

One of These Days by Pink Floyd
Learning to Live by Dream Theater
Diadems by Megadeth
After Dark by Blue Oyster Cult
I Thought I Knew It All by Megadeth
Piedra y camino by Juan Carlos Baglietto
Go Let It out! by Oasis
Little Queen by Heart
Afraid by Motley Crue
Freedom by Stratovarius
Shame on the Night by Solitude Aeternus
Wheels of Fire by Manowar
Nectar by Opeth
I'll Wait by Van Halen
When the Levee Breaks by W.A.S.P.
The Siren by Nightwish
The Call of Ktulu by Metallica
Blessed Be the Dead by Megadeth
Behind My Camel by Primus
Tall Latte by Devin Townsend
Drawing Flies by Soundgarden
The Baying of the Hounds by Opeth
Gravel Road by Clutch (my favourite song right now)
Signs of Chaos by Testament
Fight Hate by Md.45
The Flowers of Guatemala by R.E.M.
Stupid Girl by Neil Young
Achilles, Agony, and Ecstasy in Eight Parts by Manowar
Breed by Nirvana
10's by Pantera

This is definitely a lot heavier than the previous shuffle...


How did I do?

A few weeks ago, I posted my predictions for this year's Academy Awards. There have been some alterations here and there. I think I did pretty well this year - having said that this year has been quite interesting. We all knew it was going to be between No Country for Old Men and There Will Be Blood, but up until the last handful of awards, neither film asserted its dominance. It was very open and despite the somewhat predictability of some of the categories, most of the awards were up for grabs. And that certainly made it a more interesting, if a little less glitzy, night compared to the last few years.

So, without further ado, here are my predictions and the winners:

Gurur: No Country for Old Men
Academy: No Country for Old Men

It was a two-horse race, but it seemed inevitable that the Coens would go home with the big prize.

Gurur: Daniel Day-Lewis
Academy: Daniel Day-Lewis

Like last year's Best Actress category, we all knew this as soon as we first got a glimpse of Daniel Plainview in that silver mine.

Gurur: Marion Cotillard / Julie Christie
Academy: Marion Cotillard

A disclaimer here: on the ballot I filled out yesterday, I picked Julie Christie as opposed to what I posted here. I should have stuck to my guns.

Gurur: Javier Bardem
Academy: Javier Bardem

Another shoe-in, but it's great to see him finally getting the recognition he deserves.

Gurur: Cate Blanchett / Tilda Swinton
Academy: Tilda Swinton

Again on the ballot yesterday I had a change of hearts and this time it paid off!

Gurur: The Coens
Academy: The Coens

Finally...and thank you all for "letting them play in [their] corner of the sandbox."

Gurur: The Coens
Academy: The Coens

Come on, who else?

Gurur: Diablo Cody
Academy: Diablo Cody

I think I speak for everybody else here...she should have taken her clothes off to make the night a little more interesting.

Gurur: Roger Deakins for ...Jesse James...
Academy: Robert Elswit for There Will Be Blood

Roger Deakins is nominated for two and goes home empty-handed...again...Blood would have been my other pick, though...

Gurur: Bourne
Academy: Bourne

A movie that 'lives' on editing, it was a little obvious, don't you think?

Gurur: Atonement
Academy: Sweeney Todd...

I haven't seen the latest Burton / Depp oddity, so I can't make comments here...

Gurur: Atonement
Academy: Atonement

It was simply brilliant and you know it.

So, it turns out I did pretty well. And barring some last minute adjustments, I could have been a contender, don't you think?


Saturday, February 23, 2008

Excellent banter

I have been reading (for a very long time, it seems) Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials Trilogy. I am stuck in the third installment - The Amber Spyglass (not because I feel intellectually challenged by it, nor because I'm not entertained by it, but solely because of a lack of time).

As I was looking up some information on the 'Net about the books and the author, I came across this interview between Pullman and a Canadian film-critic, Peter Chattaway. It is an excellent and honest interview between two people with fundamentally opposing views on religion.

The core of the discussion appears halfway through the exchange, where Pullman tells Chattaway that the biggest sin of them all is to attribute all the good deeds and virtues to a religious belief, and vice to everything else.

This is an issue that bothers me most concerning the religious doctrine - it appears that religion, or faith, has the monopoly over a fundamental goodness and that those that do not belong to or are not affiliated to a certain belief system possess evil. Belonging to a church or a sect does not beget virtue. At the same time, not having any religious and/or spiritual affiliation does not beget virtue either. Goodness and evil should not be under control of a belief system, but should be embedded in one's consciousness.

The end is nigh...

The time to give away those dildo-shaped golden statuettes to people who mostly deserve them is upon us. I have dabbled in some precognition over the Oscar winners before. And there have been some changes as I got to see more of the nominated films. And then some more...So I won't go into a summary of my predictions- there are quite a few of them around. Just Google something and voila...

I want to dedicate this space for a couple of things that I stumbled on while perusing the cyber reality that I wish I was living in.

It turns out, Diablo Cody - the stripper-turned-the-next-big-screenwriter-in-Hollywood - will be wearing shoes that are worth - just wait - $1 million. I know that she doesn't own them, but it puts a lot into perspective when you think about how the writers went on strike for Internet returns...just mind-boggling. I think we might be living in a time where the writer is the new star (nothing wrong with that, by the way - but something is definitely wrong with $1 million shoes no matter who you are). Some more research also brings forth an interesting figure: the estimated budget for Juno (2007) was $7.5 million.

There are a gazillion film sites on the Internet - we all know the usual stuff. My favorite film site -not a database, but a features and reviews site - belongs to The Guardian newspaper. Not only you can find there my favorite film critic - Peter Bradshaw - but also a lot of features on anything and anyone around the world of cinema. They have an excellent retrospective on articles related to the upcoming Oscars. Worth checking out.

We will see whether his will be the year of No Country for Old Men or There Will Be Blood. You know which one I'm rooting for, but either way this has been a very good year for film.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Once again...

It happened again. Another campaign for European glory ended in a defeat. And this time with a heavy one. It is law now that when Galatasaray are to lose in Europe, they lose heavily...against teams that they should beat. It's also interesting how we manage to lose all the important games with seemingly crushing defeats. How we'll come back up from this is beyond me - it was an abysmal performance. I think we cemented the notion, which we vehemently denied over the last five years or so, that we are no longer a potent team...we have become what we feared most: we are what Fenerbahce used to be all these years. Shame...


Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Strike is Over!!!!!

Four months of painful negotiations, terrible TV listings, incessant honkings outside the studios, and a horde of (mostly) talented people looking for jobs...and finally the WGA vs. Producers feud is over.

We can only hope for better TV shows and better films for 2009.


iPod kaput

Yes, folks...it finally happened...again. My beloved iPod succumbed to its demise and now looks at me with that sad face icon with the exclamation mark plastered next to it...taunting me...

You know men have cars as their extensions, I had my iPod...and now I feel very inadequate indeed...

A sad day in my universe. What am I going to listen to in my car? Or when working out?

When my first iPod was broken, Deep Purple's "Stormbringer" was playing. I cringe every time that song comes on. This time it was "Skeletons of Society" by Slayer. And I like both songs!!!


Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Changes for an Oscar Prediction

Having just seen La Vie en Rose, I feel compelled to change my prediction for the Best Actress category from Ellen Page for Juno to Marion Cotillard. She is simply magnificent. The movie is just a one-woman-show with not much to say about Edith Piaf other than superficial and melodramatic periods of her life, but the center-piece of the movie is breathtaking. It restores your faith in great acting.

I will be watching Away From Her later today - Julie Christie (one of the most beautiful women in the world) is a heavy favourite to win the Academy Award. We'll see if my prediction will change, but even Christie might have difficulty in doing that. And if Cotillard is stripped from this award, it will be a terrible shame. But, then again, I love Julie Christie...


Monday, February 4, 2008


It finally came to be true and the invincible, perfect, awesome, amazing, incredible Patriots were brought down to their knees in a performance that was so mediocre, one wonders how this team managed to come all this way without losing a single game.

This is not a damning indictment on how bad the Patriots were, nor is it a counter-argument to the Perfection epithet. I believe that Patriots deserved all the accolades awarded to them for the whole season. They were (are) the perfect team and they have only played one bad game - and it happens to be the one that counts.

I personally dislike the play-off system that is employed in American sports. True, in world football there is also a play-off system, but that is due to time restrictions. Play-offs are good for the media - it generates more buzz and, in most cases, it is quite good fun. However, the 'fun' part isn't on the field. More often than not, every play-off situation benefits from the pre-game and post-game analysis. This is because the teams participating in the post-season are very similar in terms of quality, so you are more likely to get a 'dull' game. What is interesting is the drama surrounding the situation.

Now, can anybody say that Patriots were the second best team of the season? Or that the Colts just made it to Top 8? No. The league system rewards the better teams, play-offs reward the teams that play better on that very particular day. I don't want to take anything away from the Giants - they were the superior team last night and they have been on a very good run over the last few weeks. Kudos to them that they beat the best team in the country.

I think play-offs are a farce and unfair. Sports is played on the field and Patriots were outplayed by Giants, but the best team of the 2007-08 season were the Patriots. Unfortunately, the record-books won't ever show that.

As for the Patriots players, good job, lads. You played better than anybody and you deserved to win the championship, but your one mediocre game happened to be on the Super Bowl day...

Friday, February 1, 2008

'Lost' Season 4 Premiere

After months of waiting, hypothesising, and endless speculation about its fate, the most amazing TV show on air is back...with a bang.

As with many aficionados, I bought the Season 3 on DVD and marathon my way through it. Although I had seen all the episodes before, it never hurts to re-experience them. When the third season was airing, I thought it was slower and, frankly, rather boring. How wrong was I?

Season Three is probably the most satisfying ever since the Pilot episode. Full of twists, Michael
Emerson, and the first sex between the castaways.

Expectations were high for this season and I have to admit I had my reservations. Would it be a repeat of last season, where the first few episodes were miles away in terms of pacing from the end of Season Two?

Well, folks, they start where they left off. The curveball they throw in the beginning is the best revelation they have come up with yet - I nearly fell off my chair! Then the events on the Island!

I don't want to give away too much, but I can say that the Others will play an important part, but it will be even more difficult to distinguish between the good guys and the bad guys now.

Lost is back. And our lives will once again have a meaning.