Saturday, October 9, 2010

What I Watched/Read This Week

Modern Family somehow took a premise that was getting tired fast – the mockumentary sitcom – and made it fresh again, by having the cameras document a family. To be honest, I thought this season's premiere episode kinda sucked.  It felt like the cast was trying too hard to live up to last season's buzz. The second episode (The Kiss) was much better, as the actors seemed to find their characters again. This week’s episode, The Earthquake, had Phil locking his wife in the bathroom after an earthquake dislodged a book cabinet that came inches from killing their son. This particular cabinet is a cabinet Phil promised his wife he had fastened to the wall months ago in the off chance that an earthquake should dislodge it and it nearly kill one of their children.  So Phil goes to work securing the cabinet, hopefully before Claire finds her way out of the bathroom.  I would argue that Ty Burrell is the funniest character on TV right now.  I love this show.

Okay, yes, The Event IS a Lost ripoff.  Impossible to argue that.  But let me say something if I may. This is the best Lost ripoff to hit television since Lost debuted six years ago. There are many reasons why I should hate this show, the biggest being the unoriginal random time bouncing that keeps happening. But here's the thing that always saves it.  Once we get into the actual scene we've time-jumped to, it's always good.  Every scene in The Event is packed with suspense, mystery, and action, and it's all non-stop.  Jason Ritter, who should have been an indication to avoid the show, is pretty freaking amazing as the lead character. There hasn't been a second in the first three episodes where I didn't believe him.  And that just doesn't happen to me anymore.  I have to admit also that I’m genuinely interested in who these mysterious visitors are and what their purpose is. I don’t know if this is going to crash and burn a la Heroes or has some Lost-level mythological depth, but I am officially a fan of the show.

Okay, you’re not allowed to ask me under what circumstances I found myself watching this sequel to the 2003 surprise hit, Open Water. Just know that as soon as I realized the watching was on, I was committed to trashing it for the entirety of its running time.  Indeed, the way this thing starts, with a bunch of douchebag friends going out for a nostalgic booze cruise, I wanted to claw my eyeballs out.  But to my complete surprise, the unique and shockingly simple premise made me reevaluate everything.  Basically these guys head out to the middle of the ocean, jump out to go swimming, and then realize they forgot to place a ladder on the side of the boat!  So they can’t – get – back – up. And the best part? There’s a baby on the boat! I mean come on. You gotta love it. This is cheesy as hell. Silly as hell. Stupid as hell.  The ending is so melodramatic even the titles are rolling their eyes.  But hell if it's not a fun ride. A great backup plan flick.   

If you know me, you know one of my pet peeves is critics’ infatuation with documenteries. You could make a documentary about upholstery and it would get at least an 85% on Rotten Tomatoes. Documentaries are fine.  I have no problem with them.  But putting the word "documentary" on your poster shouldn't ensure a four-star rating.  Unless that documentary is Pressure Cooker.  This totally surprising doc is about a group of inner city kids who take a culinary arts class in hopes of getting a college cooking scholarship. Although the focus is on the tough-as-nails guidance of teacher Wilma Stephensen (who, behind the scenes, terminated the documentary several times for being too intrusive on her class), the breakout star for me was the socially awkward Fatoumata, a recent immigrant from Africa who used to walk 30 miles to and from school every day, and who takes advantage of every oppotuntiy America gives her, foregoing activites such as hanging out with friends and her senior prom so she can perfect her culinary skills, all in hopes of landing that 100 thousand dollar scholarship.  If you're feeling down and just want to smile, watch this documentary now.  It's really good.

I’m about 150 pages into this right now and let’s just say I’m f'ing disappointed. (spoilers) The second Lisbeth Salander is introduced as having a boob job, a little piece of my dragon tattoo died. There are no circumstnaces under which this character would ever or should ever get a boob job, yet these kind of strange choices are commonplace in this Dragon Tattoo sequel.  Mix in a hurricane (?) a few pointless Salander relationships that go nowhere, and a story that pretends like Salander and Blomqvist never even met each other, and I’m borderline pissed. The only reason I’m still reading is because Dragon Tattoo took 200 pages to start getting good. So I ask you dragon tattoo experts. Is it worth it to keep reading? Or should I move on to another book? The first book is so amazing, I don’t want to spoil it with all this random stupidness.