Sunday, May 31, 2009

Up with Pixar's Top Ten

Pixar has released Up, its tenth film, this weekend and it's yet another fantastic film to add to their already great lineup. I ended up seeing this with my brother this morning, in 3D no less, and of course fell in love with it. What some people might find shocking though is that this is only the second time I've seen a Pixar film in theaters. The first time was last year with WALL•E. No real reason why this happened. I eventually saw most of the films on DVD and have realized that Pixar could probably do no wrong.

With Up as Pixar's tenth film, lots of people have been ranking the films coming up with a Pixar Top Ten. So of course I just had to join the bandwagon and do the same.

1. Finding Nemo
3. Up
4. Toy Story

I just think these four films are almost flawless. Of course I'm not naive enough to actually think they ARE flawless, but the experience of watching them just made me see animated film in a whole new light. Though who knows what some time and repeat viewings will do to Up but for now, it belongs in the upper echelon.

5. The Incredibles
6. Ratatouille
7. Toy Story 2
8. A Bug’s Life

These next four films are great and it just speaks volumes about Pixar that the lower ranked films in their lineup can still be seen as great works of art.

- Monsters, Inc.
- Cars

Finally, these are the two films I have not yet seen. I just Netflix'd Monsters, Inc. so I will get to see that soon. And I will eventually see Cars, mostly dubbed as the "worst" of Pixar's films, but I'm in no hurry.

Shocking Exits: Nadal, Ivanovic

Both the defending champions were beaten in the fourth round today. Ana Ivanovic's loss to Victoria Azarenka 2-6, 3-6 wasn't exactly a big surprised as she hasn't done particularly well since she won this title last year.

But 4-time French Open champion Rafael Nadal losing to Robin Soderling 2-6, 7-6, 4-6, 6-7 is just a monumental upset. Think about this for a second. Rafael Nadal has been dominant on clay losing only to a handful of players and usually it's when he's tired or injured. Not only that but he has NEVER lost a five-set match on clay and was in fact 31-0 at the French Open coming in to this match. Even more stunning is that no one has ever taken TWO sets from him at the French Open, but today Soderling took three.

Just unbelievable and definitely opens up the draw. Nadal was in fact my pick to win it all for a record fifth straight title and now I'm left questioning. Obviously with Nadal and Djokovic gone, Federer has now become the favorite for the title. And why not? For the past four years he has never lost to anyone at the French except to Nadal, reaching the finals for the past three years. But will this sudden and unexpected pressure get to him?

Hell, this tournament has just been downright weird so I supposed ANYTHING can happen now. Nadal and Djokovic gone, but Murray and Roddick are still in? What kind of messed up world are we living in now? And don't even get me started on my now defunct predictions.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

French Open: Men's Report

Fourth Round

Rafael Nadal [1] vs. Robin Soderling [23]
Fernando Verdasco [8] vs. Nikolay Davydenko [10]
Andy Murray [3] vs. Marin Cilic [13]
Fernando Gonzalez [12] vs. Victor Hanescu [30]

Juan Martin Del Potro [5] vs. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga [9]
Tommy Robredo [16] vs. Pholipp Kohlschreiber [29]
Andy Roddick [6] vs. Gael Monfils [11]
Roger Federer [2] vs. Tommy Haas

12 of the top 16 men tennis players in the world have made it to the second week of the French Open with James Blake [15] crashing out in the first round followed by shocking third round exits by David Ferrer [14] and top ten players Gilles Simon [7] and Novak Djokovic [3]. The latter was the most surprising since he was dubbed the second best clay courter this year other than Rafael Nadal and was widely expected to contend for the title. Oops.

The top two seeds, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, winner and runner-up for the past three years respectively, are both still alive. Nadal has not dropped a set and is looking as dominant as ever. Federer, on the other hand, has been pushed in his matches losing two sets and has been driven to tiebreakers. In his current form, Federer doesn't seem to pose too much a threat to Nadal considering Nadal just looks impossible to beat right now. By anyone.

Two surprise fourth round survivors are the two Andy's, Murray and Roddick. This is the first year both of them have reached this far in this tournament and it's a testament to both of their off-court preparations that they've done so well this year. Both will be tested by young guns in the next round but they should be happy with what they've done so far.

Speaking of those young guns, one of those is Gael Monfils, one of two Frenchmen carrying the flag during the French Open. He has given much needed excitement to this tournament and to the French along with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. The latter will next meet up with Juan Martin Del Potro for probably the match of the tournament.

Prediction: Well I was just so wrong when I predicted during the Australian Open. But here goes. Winner of Del Potro vs. Tsonga will meet Federer in the semifinals with Federer meeting Nadal in the final. Nadal will face Gonzalez in the semis and then will go on to capture his record 5-straight French Open champion beating Federer in three sets.

French Open: Women's Report

Fourth Round

Dinara Safina [1] vs. Aravane Rezai
Ana Ivanovic [8] vs. Victoria Azarenka [9]
Dominika Cibulkova [20] vs. Agnes Szavay [29]
Na Li [25] vs. Maria Sharapova

Jelena Jankovic [5] vs. Sorana Cirstea
Samantha Stosur [30] vs. Virginie Razzano
Svetlana Kuznetsova [7] vs. Agnieszka Radwanska [12]
Serena Williams [2] vs. Aleksandra Wozniak [24]

Only 7 of the top 16 women tennis players made it through the second week with two top 4 players suffering early exits, Venus WIlliams [3] and Elena Dementieva [4]. Neither were expected to make a run for the title, but they were definitely expected to last longer than they did.

After three rounds, number one seed Dinara Safina had only lost 4 games total. Like Nadal in the men's side, she is in dominant form and is poised to grab her maiden Grand Slam championship. Former world number one, Serena Williams will try to derail Safina. While she has had to fight through a lot of her matches, underestimating her especially during Grand Slam tournaments is never a wise choice.

Defending champion, Ana Ivanovic has looked shaky and was downright in the dumps after she won this tournament last year. She gave herself low expectations coming into the French Open, but she has played like a defending champion ever since. Fellow Serb, Jelena Jankovic is quietly and strongly moving through the draw as well.

Finally, one wild-card player is Maria Sharapova who came into the tournament unseeded after being out for almost 10 months with shoulder problems. She has been far from perfect, but she has shown great mettle especially in defeating Nadia Petrova [11] in the second round. It would be an amazing story if she were to make a deep run especially at the one slam where she has not won.

Prediction: I'm going to be super safe and very predictable here. Safina will defeat Ivanovic in the quarters and then go on to defeat Szavay in the semis. Williams will defeat Jankovic in the semis en route to an Australian Open final rematch with Safina this time taking the crown.

Pushing Daisies Gets Encore

The facts were these...

ABC is finally giving fans the opportunity to watch the last three episodes of Pushing Daisies starting tonight at 10pm. The last episode was shown all the way back in December and even at that time Daisies' fate was already sealed.

The cancellation of Pushing Daisies ranks at the top of my dissapointments from this past TV season. It's just too bad the show never connected with America. Its cast was phoenomenal headlined by the adorable Lee Pace and the even more adorable Kristin Chenoweth. The Writer's Strike of last year really hampered the show because at a time when it was nominated for scores of Emmy's and Golden Globes, the show was forced on hiatus due to the strike. Quite sad and ironic really, because the writing on said show was just top-notch and unlike any other show that was out at the time.

But neither here nor there. It's cancelled. It's not coming back. It joins other beloved shows that were cancelled way too early in their runs such as Firefly and Journeyman.

In any case, the DVD for the second (and final) season comes out in July, but again if you can't wait that long, ABC is showing the last three episodes on consecutive Saturday nights starting tonight at 10pm. Of course ABC is not even making an effort to promote this, but what can you expect?

Doctor Who Comes Back Home

Sort of.

For the past few years, Sci-Fi (soon to be renamed Sy Fy) had the rights to air first-run Doctor Who episodes in the United States. But starting this year with David Tennant's final episodes, BBC America will be airing the episodes along with its sister show Torchwood which has already been airing on BBC America.

I think this is a great idea though it doesn't really matter because most fans usually find a way to watch episodes as soon as they air in the UK.

I'm just sad that we only get a handful of Doctor Who episodes with David Tennant because I'm really going to miss him. He was our generation's Doctor Who! But now come 2010 he's going to be replaced by 26-year-old Matt Smith.

The Doctor just gets younger and younger!

And so does his companions. Just today, it was announced that 21-year-old Karen Gillan will accompany Matt Smith on his maiden voyage as the Doctor. Time will tell if these two will live up to the shoes of previous Doctors and companions, but I'm looking forward to finding out!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Close Curtain Call

Two multi-Grand Slam champions and former number ones got tested today and had to fight off very determined opponents to reach only the third round of the French Open today.

Roger Federer [2] d. Jose Acasuso 7-6(8), 5-7, 7-6(2), 6-2

On track to get that lone Grand Slam title he's missing from his resume, Roger Federer went in as the overwhelming favorite over a player who has lost in the last four matches he has played. Acasuso stayed close to second seeded Federer having four set points in the first (and losing) and getting the second set. He then pulled ahead as Federer went on a walkabout and suddenly the scoreline for the third was 5-1 against Federer. Federer came back strong and rallied to take it to a tiebreak and suddenly he was up two sets. It was all Federer from there as he won in four long sets.

Venus Williams [3] d. Lucie Safarova 6-7(5), 6-2, 7-5

Like Federer, Venus has never won the French Open, but unlike Federer she doesn't really have much expectation to go far, but even she would've been glib if you told her she would have a difficulty with this match-up. Safarova for her part was focused and was able to win the first set as darkness set in yesterday evening. When they returned today, Venus hammered down and won the second set easily, but Sarafova held on and had a match point at 4-5 during Venus' serve. It was sadly not meant to be as Venus went on to win it in three.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Looking Forward To...

Release: October 16, 2009
Distributor: Warner Brothers
Director: Spike Jonze
Starring: Catherine Keener, Lauren Ambrose, James Galdofini, Catherine O'Hara, Forest Whitaker, Paul Dano, Mark Ruffalo, and introducing Max Records

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A Whedonless Buffy? Craziness!

The rumors are swirling that my beloved Buffy the Vampire Slayer will be relaunched in movie form. At first I was excited. It was about damn time! But then when I read the article, I was shocked and perplexed, as I am sure a lot of people were to find out that this new movie will NOT involve Joss Whedon nor any of the original cast members of the TV show!

Now I can see why they might not want to include Willow, Xander, Giles et. al since getting all the principal actors together might be too difficult. Plus it's a reboot so it would make sense not to have these characters we've known and love. With that mindset, I can even see why they wouldn't want Sarah Michelle Gellar to play Buffy Summers since they would want to cast younger. While I would rather have a continuation of the series, I would relunctantly support this reboot, but ONLY if Joss Whedon is part of the project.

Face it, the original movie was campy and had as much substance as cotton candy. Joss Whedon took that movie and made TV gold. Without Joss Whedon, this new incarnation will fall flat in its face no less because Whedonites everywhere will be rioting, this blogger included.

I don't see why they can't take the world that Whedon created and just tell another story about another vampire slayer. Why Buffy? Why not work with Whedon? Why take a risk in alienating the fans who are still so enthrenched in the fandom?

You know I blame the success of Star Trek and The Dark Knight since now everyone is all about rebooting franchises. Now, I highly enjoyed both of those movies, but Hollywood, take a deep breathand evaluate. I also blame Twilight. It's all about vampires now. I say just go pop in DVDs of BtVS and Angel and enjoy.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Why Am I Doing This?

Just wanted to try out this whole blogging thing. Still not sure what this is for. Most likely it will be used as a depository for all of my thoughts on pop culture, TV, movies, celebrities, etc. You know like the myriad of other blogs out there.

We'll just see how it goes, I guess.