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A. Leung "An Alicegator- chomp, chomp, chomp" RSS Feed (New York, NY)
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KONG Duckie Catnip Toy, Yellow
KONG Duckie Catnip Toy, Yellow
Price: $5.09
18 used & new from $2.79

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My cat is obsessed., June 4, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Length:: 0:23 Mins

So I got my Kong Duckie Catnip toy the other day and though the video speaks for itself in terms of how much my cat Snoodles loves it, I just wanted to provide a few more details on this product:

- comes with a tube of catnip. To get the catnip into the toy, you pull apart the velcro on the back of the duck, fill it with the kitty crack and then press the velcro back together
- the toy itself is very cute but my cat has a tendency to chew things and the toy does get wet.
- it is very small. Like literally the length of my finger.
- Snoodles loves it so far but I think I am going to have to get a lot more catnip to keep it fresh

Great little toy for $4!


Rock of Ages [Blu-ray]
Rock of Ages [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Julianne Hough
Price: $9.15
89 used & new from $2.47

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars 5 stars for Tom Cruise though (What?!?! Yeah, I SAID IT!), April 29, 2013
This review is from: Rock of Ages [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
Writing a review for this movie poses an interesting challenge---I normally would not even think too much about a movie like this but oh man---Tom Cruise. Tom freakin'Cruise.

(Short version of review: just watch the Tom Cruise parts and skip EVERYTHING else)

Long version:
1. Rock of Ages--the "Film"
2. The Awfulness of the 2 Leads
3. Tom Cruise Pours Some Sugar on Me
4. Everyone Else in 5 bullet points
5. Final Thoughts

1. Rock of Ages--the "Film"
As a film, Rock of Ages is pretty terrible. With the exception of Stacee Jaxx, the other characters are flat, one-dimensional and while a few of them are given a moment (Baldwin, Brand, Blige--even Giamatti), these are more cardboard cutouts than fully realized characters.

Which is absolutely fine in a musical sometimes. The fun of musicals is watching people perform and bring a dimension to their characters through the music that may not necessarily be in the script. However, don't take that to mean that actors can slack off in musicals---because to really be able to convey emotion, that actor better be able not only to sing, but also act out emotions through face and body---without looking ridiculous. Even in a movie with a crappy script, truly talented actors can bring dimension to it through charisma and acting ability. Think Singin in the Rain---3 stock characters (lover/clown/ingenue) and a whole world of emotion was expressed in that movie, along with real critical commentary on Hollywood. No wonder everyone loves it.

This movie did not succeed in that regard. At all. Terrible pacing, inconsistent character moments thrown in more for shock value than coherency, and poor story structure.

2. The Awfulness of the 2 Leads
OK--I hated these 2 characters. I hated the actors' performances. And I actually saw the musical and really loved them in the musical! I think part of it is that the script takes a lot of the character development out by favoring whitewashing original plot elements. If you have seen the musical, you know what I mean. Specifically, Sherrie's "indiscretion" and how that really was the driving force for Drew's decisions and viewers understand why he diverged from his rock path. In the movie, he's just a mistrustful jerk.

Hough and Boneta can't elevate these characters either---they are just so...bland. Their voices are not special in anyway (like 2 chirping chipmunks is how I kept thinking about it). They have 0 chemistry. And I hate to say---there is nothing attractive physically about either of them. So everytime they are onscreen, I just zoned out and felt no investment in their storyline which is supposed to be the heart of the story.

Also, Hough is a good dancer---but she does no dancing in this movie! She just hangs off a stripper pole for a few seconds.

And was it kind of sad that when Constantine Maroulis gets to belt a couple of lines that I wished that he was cast as Drew instead? Say what you will about him, he truly was fantastic as Drew.

The problem with Boneta is that he looks like he belongs in a boyband---so when he puts on the duds, he is supposed to look really out of character. It's a problem when I thought he looked right at home in pastels and shoulderpads.

3. Tom Cruise Pours Some Sugar On Me
OK---I am no innocent---I am sure Cruise had a huge amount of influence on the Stacee Jaxx character. And make no mistake---this is NOT the same Stacee Jaxx from the musical. In the musical, Stacee is absolutely the villain. He does awful things--shockingly awful things.

But in this instance of character adaptation, it WORKS. Unlike our 2 boring and bland leads, Stacee Jaxx is a real character with real motivations and struggles---and Cruise does SO much with the character and looks like he's having a great time.

His duet with Malin Akerman was probably the sexiest thing I have ever seen Tom Cruise do. I loved the two of them together. Despite all his years of film, I have never once thought of Tom Cruise as sexy. Ever. But wow---the 2 of them singing I Want to Know What Love Is on top of that pool table was pretty off the charts. It made me forget Tom Cruise the nut---and think ooh..maybe I can throw a bra at my screen and he'll catch it!

But the centerpiece of the movie is without a doubt Pour Some Sugar on Me. I could not believe how AWESOME that scene was. Tom Cruise is always at his best when he goes balls-to-the-wall against his Tom Cruise bag of tricks and he is great in these smaller roles. Can he sing? Sure--he can carry a tune. But his physicality is on full display here. The body has aged (he sure is standing up straight) but he looks good. His age is perfect for the character. And his charisma leaps off the screen and you really do believe Stacee is an aging rock legend who once was great, got lost along the way and yearns to be great again. Urgh...now I have to find another bra to throw at my screen.

The Tom Cruise scenes all seem like they come from a completely different movie. Look how well the shots are composed, the lighting, the editing. All the effort seems to have gone into making these scenes work and even though they amount to just about 20% of the movie, it is without a doubt the only time this movie ever comes alive.

See the movie---but come back for Tom Cruise. Definitely one of my favorite performances from him. Ever.

4. Everyone Else in 5 Bullet Points
- Mary J. Blige is a LEGEND. And I have a real problem with modern musicals needing a sassy street-smart black woman (Hairspray, Chicago, Dreamgirls, etc). Mary is too good for this and is utterly wasted.
- Alec Baldwin and Russell Brand were cute. Nothing memorable but they seemed like they were having a great time and that shows.
- Bryan Cranston. Oh Walter White. Are mortgages and tuitions that expensive that you have to do this? Is meth no longer the path to financial freedom? You are SO MUCH BETTER THAN THIS!
- Paul Giammatti needs to work more too. Just not in a musical. Ever again. But he's great as the slimeball agent
- Catherine Zeta Jones tried very hard but her character is so unlikeable and the dance sequences are staged so badly that it just doesn't help her cause

5. Final Thoughts
This is a pretty terrible movie that may annoy you. But get it on blu ray so you can just skip to the Tom Cruise chapters. Oh--and this movie is not for kiddies---there is no nudity but a lot of extremely sexually suggestive material. I'm no prude but even I was a little surprised this was a PG-13.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 17, 2013 2:33 PM PDT


Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol (Two-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo + Digital Copy)
Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol (Two-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo + Digital Copy)
DVD ~ Tom Cruise
Offered by Cocodrilo Deals
Price: $11.69
155 used & new from $2.97

122 of 159 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars 5 star movie but 3 star blu ray disc, April 22, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I think there are several reviews already with the same complaints but I just thought I would add my voice to the chorus.

No spoilers.

The Movie- 5 Stars
This movie has a ton of "hands-down" moments. Among them:
- Probably one of the best pure action movies I have ever seen. Yes, the plot is silly, but this is not a movie you walk into expecting it to change your perspective on life. It's just a fun and exciting movie which puts a very nice spin on the tired franchise with the Murphy's Law conundrums. Part of the fun is watching how Tom Cruise and team find their way around everything that the plot throws at them. One of my favorite sequences in MI3 was the Italy scenes where a daring heist is carried off flawlessly. In this movie, you have tons of heist scenes where absolutely nothing goes right and the movie still manages to find that tricky signature balance between action/plausibility/humor that carries the viewer from scene to scene with bated breath.

- Direction/editing was first-rate. Brad Bird really has the chops to carry this off and I look forward to his next big screen popcorn pleaser.

- Acting. Nobody, and I mean NOBODY runs like Tom Cruise. Despite his tarnished public image, Cruise proves once again why he is the king of action movies. His intensity and star mega power is on full display here and his physical investment is right up there on the screen. He is nicely matched with the supporting cast---Paula Patton is the feminine charm (and how nice it is to see an actress who is not a 20 year old stick and is believable being super sexy and kicking butt!), Simon Pegg is used in just the right amounts and Jeremy Renner is adequate in his role as well, though I am not sure if he can match Cruise on pure charisma if the plan is to have him take over the series someday. He does have amazing arm veins though.

- The Imax scenes in the theatre were jaw-dropping and perfectly blended into the regular scenes. And this leads me to my complaints.

The Blu-Ray Disc- 3 stars
I cannot emphasize how incredibly disappointed I was that these Imax scenes were not presented in the disc.

I have no idea why they skimped out on this, but those panoramic sweeping vista moments were a key highlight to this movie. The opening scenes in Prague set the stage, the Dubai scenes contributed to that sense of vertigo and epic stomach churning anxiety. Why would they not include these on the Blu Ray?

"The Dark Knight" Blu Ray, still my favorite disc, proved you can do this well for the home audience. When I ordered MI4, I was most looking forward to seeing those Imax scenes again and was extremely disappointed they were not included. And yes, that was enough to dock 2 stars for me, despite the movie's excellence.

Do I regret this purchase? Yeah, I kinda do. I am super picky with my Blu Ray purchases because I went a little nuts purchasing 100's of DVD's and promised myself only to buy Blu Rays which were superlative. I was really hoping this would be one of them and I feel a bit cheated because in my opinion, this was not the whole movie. Those Imax scenes were a labor of love to shoot and specifically part of Brad Bird's vision and it is a huge disservice to have not included them.

ETA: I actually did a little research as to why Brad Bird did not include the 16:9 aspect ratio to accommodate the Imax scenes...apparently, this was so that there would be no impact on people who have constant height projection systems. Again, this was Mr. Bird's choice and I guess I have to respect it.
One more thing I did want to add which I did not mention in my review---the Blu Ray itself *is* pretty incredible in both picture and sound. Really great quality. My only nitpick was the exclusion of 16:9 aspect Imax scenes, which even though there is now a real reason for it, I wish were still included as an extra.
Comment Comments (21) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 14, 2014 3:15 PM PST


The Surrendered
The Surrendered
by Chang-Rae Lee
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.48
161 used & new from $0.01

15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Magnificent prose gone a bit haywire, March 22, 2010
This review is from: The Surrendered (Hardcover)
(light spoilers)

Chang Rae Lee's power of prose has just grown and grown over the years and I had been eagerly awaiting a new novel from him ever since his "Aloft," which I thought was one of the most extraordinary books of that year. It is with great relief to me then that this novel contains some of the best writing Chang Rae Lee has ever produced. Some of the phrases literally sing off the pages and make the heart weep with longing and wistfulness in its imagery...moments that are just perfectly crystallized in words and structure. It is this reason that made me finish this book in just one day and wanting to re-read passages again to savor those well-crafted and ethereal sentences again.

It is comprised of a trail of beautifully written moments which certainly kept me chugging along until my next fix (the 3 haunting war set pieces for Hector, June and Sylvie are masterful, the simple dinner prepared by a woman in love and the effect it has on the man was a wonderful little moment, the luxurious and almost travelogue descriptions of Italy, the taste of food to a dying woman...etc etc...I can go on and on). Certain minor characters (Sylvie's parents, Benjamin, the latter-Dora, Min, to name a few) were wonderfully sketched and realized.

Sylvie was also a fully constructed and realized character--it didn't matter that you knew she was doomed--her character was so rich that the suspense lay in whether she found peace or if she were damned. Her struggle and war with herself was probably the most compelling aspect of the novel and she is a real creative achievement for Lee.

But the first of 2 big flaws to this novel were the 2 central characters of Hector and June. Both characters, June moreso than Hector, have moments of sheer unlikeability. They are both frozen in time and unable to move forward because of their individual tragedies and the shared tragedy which I suppose, makes them the eventualeponymous Surrendered. June has moments where her motivations of certain actions, especially later in her life, are somewhat unclear. I get it--she is "surrendering" after a lifetime of fighting defeat. But it would have benefitted her character a greatly if Lee could have filled in just a few more of the gaps. With Hector, the man who was born to be a hero but who could not fulfill his birthright's destiny, it is almost too much pathos and weakness. His continually broken character veers into the maudlin and the pathetic which makes him into merely a sad sack nurse in the latter parts of the novel where his big moment of breakthrough is defined as putting his beer down. I imagine this is intentional from Lee, but at times, I just wanted to move past these two characters to mine the pages for more prosaic gems or hear more about the past.

The second big flaw are the plot devices Lee chooses to move the events along. Examples:
- the mostly-angelic lot of orphans who I think in reality would all be a little more like the damaged and antisocial June and a little less like bratty moppets.
- the Nicholas WTF moment
- the very quick transformation of Dora from blowsy bar floozy to self-help book reading housefrau
- the Dora/Cline WTF moment
- the rush to the end (I was really surprised by how rushed the last scenes in the orphanage seemed...maybe that's just me)
- the NJ gambling subplot which I thought added nothing to the novel (this includes Hector's buddy Jung and the old man)
- the repetition of nausea and rot from June...it became just a bit too many times and felt heavy handed
- the fact that June and Hector had a son---it is extremely vague as to why June wanted to at all

These things, while having again beautifully observed and written passages, just seemed either excessive plot points or not fleshed out motivations.

In closing---I know that despite the 3-star review, I have to really recommend this book as a wonderful read. It WILL move you and the prose is something to marvel at. However, this is absolutely a novel which has some deep narrative flaws and my hope is that Mr. Lee's future novels (which I breathlessly await) are better structured plot wise and are more prudently edited.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 28, 2010 9:21 AM PDT


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