Saturday, June 27, 2009

My sister and Apollo 13

I was thinking about how movies and TV have the power to change people and the world.

A recent episode of the Family Guy spin-off American Dad postulated that Martin Scorsese changed the course of history with the film Taxi Driver. It's a well-known fact that would-be presidential assassin John Hinckley became infatuated with a 12-year old Jodie Foster upon seeing the famous 1970's film and attempted to kill the president because it was the only way he could get noticed. The episode takes it a couple steps further and postulates that because of the sympathy from almost being killed, Regan was able to win the election and therefore the Cold War. In the episode, the show's protagonist goes back in time and gives Scorsese the advice of not doing drugs. Without the drugs, Scorsese doesn't make Taxi Driver as effectively and the chain of history is broken so when they return back to the preseent, they are living in Communist Russia.

That would probably be an extreme scenario of how a film could change history. Nick Clooney, who I previously had the pleasure of interviewing, wrote a book about films that changed history and there's a good list. The Birth of a Nation was used as a recruiting device to sway opinion towards the KKK. Sidney Poitier's films and even Hattie McDaniel's Oscar win for Gone with the Wind in 1939 allowed blacks to be seen in a more dignified light. There is a lot I could expand on in this entry.

Moat often, films and TV shows inspire people to take on new interests or even professions. A lot of people were encouraged to major in forensics when the TV show CSI became a hit. A film that changed the lives of my sister and me was Apollo 13. Say what you want about Ron Howard being overly commercial, but he can tell a gripping story, and in the case of Apollo 13, there was something about that movie that really inspired me and my sister. The excitement, the wonderment of space, the danger of it, and most importantly the noble cause of furthering our understanding of the universe by going to outer space made me and my sister obsessed with space.

My sister was encouraged to read Apollo 13 and wanted to learn all she could about NASA. She sent a letter to Gene Krantz (the character that Ed Harris played) and he wrote her back. Me and my sister both went to space camp as well and had the time of our lives there. We also live in the Washington D.C. area where the most popular museum is the Air and Space Museum and we visited it on multiple occasions. My sister could have told you the names of every astronaut in the Apollo missions for a while.

Ironically, at space camp my sister befriended a teenage Bryce Dallas Howard a few years before she became famous. She was in my sister's unit. My sister also heard Warner von Braun speak if I'm not mistaken.

My sister developed an interest in the stars and went to college where she considered majoring in astronomy. She ended up working astronomy into her major. She met her future husband in an astronomy class. She was her first serious boyfriend. The night before my sister went to study abroad for a year and had to break up with her then-boyfriend (she didn't think they'd survive the distance), they escaped a going-away party that my parents threw for her and went to an open field miles away from the city where they could see the stars.

I remember once when my father, my sister and I were driving late at night from the ski slopes in Vermont en route to the hotel we were staying at. My sister said to us, "You know, I learned how to navigate by looking at the stars" and proceeded to show us which way was East and which way was North. My dad proceeded to tell my sister she was incorrect and that East was straight ahead of them. We later found out my sister was right and my dad had misnavigated. We had to turn around and spent an extra hour driving.

I was just thinking of this because USA Today reported that the upcoming 40th Anniversary of the moon landing is upon us. I remember on the 30th Anniversary of the moon landing, my sister invited me to go out with her and two of her best friends. We bought a rocket launcher and reenacted the the moon landing (technically, we reenacted the Apollo 13 space capsule leaving from Cape Canaveral if you want to be more specific) and she read a quote from her Apollo 13 book. It was one of the funnest evenings I've spent with her.

Peter Jackson said that he had been so greatly inspired by the movie King Kong that he wanted to recreate it over and over again in his room. The 2005 film King Kong represented his lifetime ambition. Stephen Spielberg also said this year as he accepted the Cecille B. DeMille award that he was greatly inspired by DeMille's "Greatest Show on Earth" and discovered his passion of filmmaking when he tried to recreate a train crash.

My sister is not an astronomer by trade and is not a filmmaker, but I see that similarity between her passion and those two filmmaking greats. I also think that one movie did truly change her life. She is also the greatest supporter of my blog and writing career there is (and her husband and father-in-law are two equally enthusiastic supporters) so here's to you, Yasmine.

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Monday, June 22, 2009

What I've seen so far and what I'm expecting to see...

The Brothers Bloom, dir. Rian Johnson-The film had some very good elements:
It's hard to cover this film without spoiling much of it
-The visual look was terrific. I wasn't sure if it was a period piece or it was set in the late 2000's, because there was a definite lack of cell phones and other modern day apparatuses in the frame. It was very retro, yet very much in the present
-Rachel Weicz was such a fascinating character. How could a woman that beautiful and rich be so lonely? Weicz manages to pull it off. An absolutely amazing performance and kudos to her for learning all those talents (apparently she had to learn all those talents)
-Some of the dialogue was exceptional. Penelope's speech about reinventing her life and refusing to see her loneliness as a weakness was definitely thought-provoking.

At the same time, the film on the whole didn't make any sense. It was too many twists to the point where you just didn't care what was going on screen because none of it was real and there wasn't much suspense to convince you that the film might have been heading in any other direction.

Wolverine, dir. Gavin Hood
Simply put, I've never seen such a promising franchise be squandered so poorly. The story, before being put to screen, had a lot of potential. Here's what I grasped from what the film was really about: Wolverine had some sort of internal ying and yang battle between his animalistic urges and his sense of humanity. Whenever something happened, his immediate reaction was to go berserk (full disclaimer: Wolverine goes berserk a lot) because that was his animistic nature. When he was able to control himself more, Wolverine showed empathy towards others and did the right thing. Sabretooth, on the other hand, was just purely irrational. Wolverine's journey is partially what's in the plot but it's also from differentiating himself with Sabretooth.

Anyway, because I'm an X-Men fan that I would have seen the film anyway, but it was a massive disappointment. It was overly Ramboish and the special effects were distractingly excessive. I wrote more here

Angels and Demons, directed by Ron Howard:
I know that the original had a hard time pleasing people, so if I liked the original a lot and I also liked A&D, I know that's not going to count as a highly-touted recommendation. What I can say is that A&D is similar in tone to the first film but with quicker pacing. It's much more of a thriller although it doesn't have as much of the buzz and controversy that the first one carried with it. That takes away some of the gravity. As someone who has read the book, I think the adaptation made some very smart decisions as to where the film should depart from the book and there is enough to be surprised in that department. You also have to hand it to the film for really showing Rome in all its glory and there's a lot of great scenery to like in the film as well.

Land of the Lost, directed by Brad Silberling:
It wasn't the absolute worst film I have ever seen but it was close to it. I am someone who tend to think anything starring Will Ferrell, including Step Brothers and Blades of Glory, were good films. This, however, was a major misstep on Ferrell's part that will definitely make me second-guess going to a film just because Ferrell is on the marquis. The film just wandered without much of a plot and didn't have enough laughs to keep us invested along the way. I know it was a homage to a TV show with notoriously low production values, but that was a kid's film.

Star Trek, directed by J.J. Abrahams:
Most of what's already been said about Star Trek are my sentiments. It's a truly exciting film that does a flawless job of walking the fine line between reinventing characters and altering them to fit a new generation or storyline. The actors and forces behind them did a great job of interpreting these iconic roles and that's what made the film tick so well. The special effects and visuals were amazing as well. It's hard to truly awe in audience when one out of every films released in the summer boasts a $100 million budget for special effects, but Star Trek was out there. One little complaint: The plot was somewhat confusing and ultimately, meaningless. It wouldn't have hurt to give us a plot worth caring about.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Twitter Review of 2005 film Elizabethtown

I live-twittered the film Elizabethtown as I was watching it on TNT:

road trip took a little long, was that like a 12-minute montage?
1:41 PM Jun 13th from web

yeah, Clare doing that camera clicking thing and now making that ridiculously accurate book, supercreepy (and superhot)
1:28 PM Jun 13th from web

Oh, so Ben is god and Clarie is with Ben? so this guy's in a 3-way love triangle with god?
1:28 PM Jun 13th from web

apparently, Clare is a fallen angel from god:
12:56 PM Jun 13th from web

Clare directing the people out of the fire-sprinkler induced chaos like a flight-attendant, nice touch..and then last look, good too
12:44 PM Jun 13th from web

Susan Sorandon dancing at the funeral was ridiculous but really effective and nearly tear-inducingly touching
12:40 PM Jun 13th from web

Susan Sorandon @ the funeral: I loved mitch b/c i couldn't function w/o him. literally:i'm probably legally retarded
12:33 PM Jun 13th from web

ehh, kind of lazy to intertwine a convo about romance and a convo about business together IMO, so jealous of orlando bloom now, btw
12:21 PM Jun 13th from web

so ben's out of the picture, but why was he in the picture in the 1st place? ewww, are you two making out next to daddy's dead body?
12:19 PM Jun 13th from web

i'm officially sad that kirsten dunst or anyone like her doesn't show up when i'm on a plane, cause yeah, she's stalkeish but iminluvwithher
12:13 PM Jun 13th from web

cameron, why did you write the other guy, ben, in the story?
12:08 PM Jun 13th from web

true story: uncle met my aunt as a flight attendant and rode her flight 20 X before eventually asking her out, maybe he'd like this film?
12:05 PM Jun 13th from web

is alec baldwin coming back into this movie? please comeback, alec and provide some deadpan comic stylings
12:01 PM Jun 13th from web

cameron why have you made judy greer and susan sorandon out to be laurel and hardy? i'm referring to the bumbling fix-a-car scene
11:59 AM Jun 13th from web

i wish i had a soundtrack playing in the background of my life so i could know which phone convos were important and which i could hang up
11:57 AM Jun 13th from web

...that must have been kind of awkward
11:55 AM Jun 13th from web

cameron: remember when u interviewed your idol billy wilder in that book and asked about rock music and he was all like "that's crap"
11:51 AM Jun 13th from web

cameron crowe: i know you love rock music, but stop drowning out the conversations with it
11:49 AM Jun 13th from web

oh, screw it: if kirsten dunst was a flight attendant who showed me obsessive attention n a red eye flight, i'd probably like it too
11:48 AM Jun 13th from web

is kirsten dunst bad at her job, stalkerishly obsessed on 1st site or both? apparently, because she's hot the audience will forgive her
11:45 AM Jun 13th from web

cameron crowe doesn't think much of females so far:flight attendants are pretty girls who only take the job to meet mr. right and...orlando bloom's sister and mother have no idea how to make funeral arrangements
11:37 AM Jun 13th from web

live twittering elizabethtown:hope this movie isn't too sentimental and/or mushy for me at this time of day
11:34 AM Jun 13th from web

Again: Follow me on twitter at okonh0wp or here at

Sunday, June 14, 2009

17 Actors most overdue for an Oscar nomination

Hi everyone, I am going to blog a little bit on here after a 5-month hiatus. Please do repay the favor if you like what you read by simply clicking this link. Clicks on that site are the only way I make money through blogging.

Here is a list without even looking at who is in high-profile films this year, i would say:
Lead Actor:
1. Matt Damon-Snubbed for Talented Mr. Ripley, Good German, Syrianna. Only one nomination 12 years ago despite being one of the most bankable actors today with one of the most creative tastes in projects he choses
2. Ralph Feinnes-Only two noms, snubbed for Constant Gardener and vote splitting cost him a nom for one of three fine performances this past year
3. Russell Crowe-No nominations since 2001. Nominated 3 times and deserved to win 2 of them. Despite being one of the two or three most brilliant actors in their prime today. Snubbed for Master and Commander, Cinderella Man, and American Gangster.
4. Jim Carrey-Snubs have dated back to 1998 with Truman Show, 1999 with Man on the Moon and 2004 with Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Has wisely stayed out of sequels like Dumb and Dumber 2 and Evan Almighty, so he's not as commercialized as people give him credit for.
5. Liam Niesson-Snubbed for Kinsey and has only one nomination with

Either one:
1. Albert Finney-Being nominated for Erin Brockovitch was a good consolation for one of the best British imports of his generation to go empty-handed at the Oscars
2. Tom Hanks-Been 9 years since last nomination. Terrific in supporting roles like Catch Me If You Can or lead roles such as Ladykillers or Terminal
3. Daniel Craig-Clearly a better actor than the James Bond moniker allows him to be and he was snubbed for Munich and Infamous. I fear that in the mold of Sean Connery, the Academy will wait until he's done being Bond before the Academy gives him any consideration, because he's more an action star than a guy to be taken seriously.
4. Jude Law-Was in 6 movies alone in 2004. Highly prolific actor with only 2 noms to his name and 6 years since last nom. Still no win.
5. Ewan MaGregor-More than Obi-Wan Kenobi, he's a star in his own right and has been bankable and interesting to watch in everything he's been in.
6. Gabrael Garcia Bernal-If Benicio del Toro and Javier Bardem can get oscars, he should at least get a nomination. He hasn't exactly been snubbed but he has shined in Babel, Bad Education, Y tu Mama Tambien.
7. Michael Douglas-He's only had one nom in his whole career and has a lot more memorable roles in that and has been one of the premeiere actors of his time in the 80s. Traffic and Wonderboys showed he could still be a great actor

Supporting Actor:
1. Paul Bettany-I just think the guy is great in supporting roles like Master and Commander, Beautiful Mind (he got snubbed there, IMO), and that film with Harrison Ford
2. Alec Baldwin-He's brilliant on 30 Rock and his career spanning from Beetlejuice to Glengarry Glenn Ross has produced way more than just one memorable role. Plus he's on TCM, so bonus points with the old people. He needs to not have those list
3. Lawrence Fishburne-Contemporaries such as Morgan Freeman and Samuel L Jackson have been nominated multiple times, why not him?
4. Kevin Spacey-Only 2 nominations but then again there are only 2 wins. With his schedule as theatrical manager of the Old Vic Theater in London, he's said that he wants to only do supporting but he killed in films
5. Greg Kinnear-Whether the lead in Little Miss Sunshine or Auto Focus or supporting, he's an excellent actor and just one nomination doesn't serve adequate credit to him

Thursday, June 11, 2009

NBA list I compiled

This is the rosters for the 2007-2008 by the ten biggest colleges to contribute NBA players:

From 10 schools, you have 137 players. I don't know what the exact total of people who played in the 2007-2008 season was but I know that the number of people on the opening day roster for the 2008-2009 season was 438 (I couldn't find the number for 2007-2008 with a quick google search and don't feel like wasting any more time on this). Players like Keith Langford and Loren Woods were signed for 10 day contracts which means that they're signed as temporary help over the course of the season, so the number is probably higher than 435.

A star next to their name means that the player was never on a final four squad.
I think the mark of a school is one that produces NBA talent consistently. Kansas, UCLA and Arizona have relatively good numbers for being able to ship people off to the NBA in off years where the school doesn't make the final four.

Los Angeles Lakers: Luke Walton
Portland: Channing Frye*
San Antonio Spurs: Damon Stoudamire
Dallas: Jason Terry
Houston: Loren Woods*
Atlanta: Salim Stoudamire*, Mike Bibby
Washington: Gilbert Arenas
Philadelphia: Andre Iguodala*
NJN: Richard Jefferson
Toronto: Marcus Williams*

Seattle: Donyell Marshall*
Memphis: Rudy Gay*
New Orleans: Hilton Armstrong
Milwaulkee: Charlie Villenueva, Jake Voshkul
Detroit: Richard Hamilton
Chicago: Ben Gordon
Charlotte: Emeka Okafor
Washington: Caron Butler*
Philadelphia: Kevin Ollie*
New Jersey: Marcus Williams*, Josh Boone
Boston: Ray Allen*

GSW: Brendan Wright
Minnesota: Rashad McCantis
Dallas: Jerry Stackhouse
Atlanta: Marvin Williams
Charlotte: Jeff McInnis, Raymond Felton, Sean May
Washington: Antwain Jamison, Brendan Haywood
New Jersey: Vince Carter

LAL: Jordan Farmar, Trevor Azria*
GSW: Baron Davis*, Matt Barnes*
Seattle: Earl Watson*
Denver: Delani McCoy*
Milwaulkee: Dan Gadzuric*
Detroit: Aaron Affallo
Charlotte: Ryan Hollins
Toronto: Jason Kapono*, Derrick Martin*

Houston: Chuck Hayes*
Memphis: Antoine Walker
Orlando: Keith Bogans
Detroit: Tusheyan Prince*
Dallas: Jamal Magloire
Charlotte: Derek Anderson, Nazr Mohammed
New York: Randolph Morris*

Los Angeles Clippers: Corey Magette, Elton Brand
Phoenix: Grant Hill
Portland: Josh McRoberts*
Utah: Carlos Boozer
Denver: Dahntay Jones*
Houston: Shane Battier
Chicago: Lou Deng
Indiana: Mike Dunleavy Jr.
Orlando: JJ Reddick
Atlanta: Shelden Williams
Philadelphia: Shavlik Randolph
New York: Chris Duhon

Michigan State:
LA Clippers: Paul Davis
New Orleans: Morris Petersen
Milwaulkee: Charlie Bell
Cleveland: Eric Snow*, Shannon Brown*
Charlotte: Jason Richardson
New Jersey: Maurice Ager
New York: Zach Randolph

Sacramento: Orien Greene
Denver: Taureen Green
Minnesota: Mike Miller, Corey Brewer, Chris Richard
San Antonio Spurs: Matt Bonner
Chicago: Joakim Noah, Anthony Roberson
Miami: Udonis Haslem, Jayson Williams
Atlanta: Al Horford
New York: David Lee

Sacramento: Brad Miller*
Portland: Raef LaFraentz*
Seattle: Nick Collison
Minnesota: Wayne Simien*
San Antonio: Keith Langford, Jaques Vaughn*
New Orleans Hornets: Julian Wright*
Chicago: Drew Gooden, Kirk Hinrich
Cleveland: Billy Thomas*
Boston: Paul Pierce*, Scott Pollard*

LA Clippers: Brevin Knight*
Utah: Jarron Collins
Minnesota: Mark Madsen
Memphis: Jason Collins*, Casey Jacobsen*
Atlanta: Josh Childress*