Saturday, August 31, 2013

My Casting 'Controversies'

Ever since Ben Affleck was announced as the next Batman, the internet erupted with WTFs. Seriously, people went crazy. While I definitely have my reservations about this casting, I also remember there were other times in recent movie history where people lost their cookies when iconic roles were cast but the decision ultimately proved everyone wrong.

4. Within 2 years of the Danish film adaptation of the Millennium series, David Fincher decided to adapt an English version with Rooney Mara as the beloved Lisbeth Salander in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. Up against an already popular portrayal by Noomi Rapace in the Danish version of the film, the then-little known actress who's most familiar role was calling Mark Zuckerberg an asshole in Fincher's The Social Network not only proved everyone wrong but also got an Oscar nomination in the process.

3. Back before the "What? You cast a Brit as a famed American" craze, there was the "What? You cast a Yank as a famed Brit" mania. Case in point, Robert Downey Jr. brought his trademark snark to Sherlock Holmes and everyone across the pond went crazy. I mean, do you blame them? A literary character that's been in publication since the late 19th century, Holmes was no doubt a beloved persona. No worries though, Downey entertained the crowds, won a Golden Globe, made a popular sequel and inspired CBS to go with a similar snark with their own Sherlock Holmes television series, Elementary.

2. Fans cheered when it was announced Colin Firth, who played Darcy to much admiration in the BBC miniseries Pride & Prejudice was to play Darcy again in Bridget Jones's Diary- a modern day version of the classic Jane Austen tale. All that went away when Texan Renee Zellweger was going to be playing the heroine. Knowing she had an uphill battle to climb, Zellweger started her now infamous weight flux, embodied the British accent and won over everybody as the boozy singleton, on her way to her first Oscar nomination... for a comedic role, no less.

1. The grand daddy of them all, Heath Ledger was known a teen heartthrob when he won the role of The Joker in Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight. In hindsight, it makes perfect sense but this was before Ledger proved his acting chops with an Oscar nod in Brokeback Mountain. Needless the say, the rest is cinematic history. Surpassed Jack Nicholson as the most beloved Joker and a posthumous Oscar victory, Ledger passed away with a trademark character that no one will dare to touch.

So there, don't worry about the guy who played Daredevil playing the Cape Crusader just yet. Okay, maybe a little...

Saturday, August 24, 2013

My Five Disturbing Thoughts About The Biogenesis Scandal

- Alex Rodriguez. The biggest name attached to the Biogenesis scandal has done nothing to help his own cause. It is unbelievable to me that of the 12 players MLB has suspended, A-Rod has decided to appeal while the others took their punishment. The complete oblivious nature of how a second time offender can try to convince people he's done no wrong is not only laughably entertaining but also makes me scared for all human kind. Can money really drive someone into such a delusional state of mind?

- Anthony Bosch. The founder of the Biogenesis Clinic in Coral Gables, FL claimed he has no knowledge of the human growth hormone distribution in his own company initially before turning a 180 a few months after the initial investigation and says not only does he have names of at least 20 professional baseball players who partake to the illegal activities, but he also claims to have names of players other sports such as the NFL and the tennis tour. Now that he's got nothing to lose, how much damage is he willing to do?

- Ryan Braun. Outside of the unexposed cheaters currently still around the league, the biggest coward in all of this is the former Milwaukee Brewer MVP. The man who famously called a press conference to denounce all allegations not only got caught in a lie, he then decided to turn in a 10 paragraph "apology" that's more vague than this to explain his actions as oppose to holding another confident press conference. Will fans ever hear the tough questions answered by Braun or is this carefully orchestrated statement be it before next season starts when Braun will undoubtedly want to brush all this under the table?

- Joseph Tacopina. The Billy Flynn in all of this. Distracting the world from all things Biogensis, one of Alex Rodriguez's lawyers manages to razzle dazzle most of the press with allegations such as mistreating from the Yankee front office towards A-Rod, a malpractice suit filed against the team trainer for misdiagnosing him and discrediting the Yankee manager for playing his client while he was hurt. I'm sure money will continue to make rounds but I'm glad to see Matt Lauer, of all people, take him down on air.

- Major League Baseball Players Association. The saddest and absurd thing in all of this for me is the fact that players like Rodriguez and Braun will get to keep their millions even though their methods of fooling organizations to get those millions were illegal. I'm almost positive the collective bargaining agreement between the union and MLB will no doubt factor a clause or amendment now that the latest cheating scandal is exposed. At what lengths will MLBPA go to protect their players?

Monday, August 19, 2013

My Season Finales Comparison

Two of my summer shows had their season finales this weekend.  'True Blood', an aging series I'm still watching because there's simply nothing on during the summer and 'Teen Wolf', which despite its name and disclaimer is really nothing like the Michael J. Fox film, both deal with silly supernatural and mythological storytelling that takes themselves too seriously sometimes, but hey... camp can be fun. To no one's surprise, these two shows have a lot more in common. Here are top five similarities in their respective season finales. Major spoiler alert...

1. People like to lounge around in weird, abstract white surroundings.

Look how relax they all look. Doesn't matter if you're a teen wolf or a retired vampire trying to catch up on some light reading, there's always time for staring into clean walls. 

2. When a wise black man gives wise advice, you listen. 

Yes. You better. You know your life depends on it. Especially when all the zombie-acting infected vampires and the lunar eclipse are coming.

3. There's always time for puppy eyes for young lovers.

Leave it to good looking young people to celebrate in the only way beautiful people can after they defeat their evil English teacher or just a simple 3,000 year old fairy vampire who's been obsessing about you before your grandfather was even born.

4. Kids are irritated by what their parents have to say.

Usually involves some major eye rolling as demonstrated by Tara. When you're about to reach the climax of your storyline that you've been circling around all season, there's just no time for insecure, absent parents to be all up in your life.

5. Ladies are tied up.

Especially the pretty ones. Usually in places very inconvenient for normals to find... like under a root cellar or a mystical land where only fairies can enter.

There ya go. I joke but I do enjoy both series even when I see heavy flaws. These two shows are actually working in reverse. While 'True Blood' is finally getting smaller from its once abundant cast, 'Teen Wolf's story canvas is expanding to an almost unmanageable proportion. Guess I'll just have to wait another year before wolves and vampires take over.  

Saturday, August 17, 2013

My Top Five International Cities

A friend recently posted his favorites cities on this planet and naturally ranked my hometown (that'd be NYC) number one. As an avid traveller, it got me thinking what my favorite international cities are. With apologies to some Italian cities (mainly Florence), here it is:

1. Hong Kong, China: I didn't always had a fondness for my birthplace, but recent trips to the former British colony I discovered a lot more of what this incredible city had to offer. For starters, it is never boring and never not busy. While some must state a case why that's a reason to avoid a metropolis like Hong Kong, it's only more of a reason to go. Also, the food. Oh, the food. Key site: Tung Choi Street, it is as chaotic of an experience as you think shopping with thousands of people on a 10 blocks worth of cheap street vendors would be.

2. Madrid, Spain: Perhaps it's the only European city I can see myself living in, but the Spanish capital has long been a favorite of mine since the first time I visited. From Prado to Parc de Retiro, Plaza de Sol (where a political protest is bound to happen every week) to the Parliament, the accessibility of Madrid is one of those city where you can walk a few blocks and experience something amazing. I just heavily suggest you avoid the bullfighting at Las Ventas. I couldn't stomach it. Key site: Roam off the side streets on Calle de Carretas between Plaza de Sol and Plaza Jacinto Benavente for that tapas/sangria experience you want to brag about later.

3. Nice, France: Yes, Nice is indeed nice. The few times I've been to Nice, I keep repeating that cliche saying "This is so nice." every so often. This "beach" town is nowhere as glitzy as its close neighbor Cannes, but it definitely has its share of luxury activities without the heavy price tag. If it's even possible, the city is even more beautiful during rainfall. A stroll down shopping central Avenue Jean Medecin along side the overhead lights and occasional marble ground during the rain makes you not care that you're drenched. Key site: Cour Saleya. Daytime for the antiques, night time for the outdoor restaurants.

4. Melbourne, Australia: Once you get used to the idea that you're in the southern hemisphere (unless you live there), you'll come to appreciate the relax and friendly vibe you get from everyone. It's without a doubt the friendliest group of strangers I've ever encountered overseas, and I'm saying that without my favoritism towards Aussies. Key site: Beach or tennis.... St. Kilda or Rod Laver... oh heck, I'm going with the latter for the "happy slam".

5. Tokyo, Japan: The closest way I can describe my experience in Tokyo is 'Lost In Translation' without the movie star treatment. It's one of the few cities I've been to that doesn't even attempt to cater to non-Japanese speaking people and I respect the city for it. You really do get the sense you're not home anymore but on some adventure.... if that adventure just so happens to include walking around Imperial temple in Shinjuku Park, deciphering directions to Tokyo Dome or trancing out on lights in Shibuya. Key site: Golden Gai. Literally a hundred bars fill 6 tiny street allies. How so? Each bar is approximately the size of a king-size bed. It's like you slide open the door and you're already face-to-face with the bartender.