Wednesday, July 21, 2010

America's Got Talent: Quarterfinal Two

The next 12 acts performed Tuesday night. Only four will advance

Who Should Advance?

1. Alice Tan Ridley
The mother of Oscar-nominated actress Gabourey Sidibe of "Precious" was easily the best performance of last night. She's the best singer in the field and is a threat to win it all.

2. Mona Sampath Dance Company
Bollywood meets Hollywood with this aesthetically-pleasing dance group, which mixes traditional Bollywood dancing and modern hip-hop (such as the Black-Eyed Peas last night). They were perfectly in sync and even got applause from judge Piers Morgan.

3. Michael Grimm
This soulful male vocalist from Mississippi benefits from the lackluster episode last night. He passes this time but not sure he will make it next.

On The Bubble:

4. Wreckless
The street dance group chose a different style that involved elaborate costumes and choreography. However they weren't as edgy or exciting last night, and that may cost them.

5. Antonio Restivo
This pyrotechnical illusionist screams Vegas. There was lots of fire but little on the illusion side. He is a tremendous showman and that might get him through.

6. AscenDance
A unique rock-wall-climbing dance act is very poetic and graceful. The married couple added two people to the act and delivered an emotional performance to Snow Patrol's "Chasing Cars." They deserve to make it through.

7. Hannibal Means
He probably creeps so many people out that I doubt he will advance, but he has an amazing voice, proven last night by his cover of "Circle of Life." It will be interesting to see if he found an audience.


8. Lil Chris
9. Cheer SF
10. John Beatty, "The Strong Man"
11. Iron Horse
12. Ronith

Friday, July 16, 2010

Movie Review: Inception

Christopher Nolan is the best filmmaker on the planet.

"Inception," one of the year's most highly-anticipated movies, is finally here and it will blow your mind. This multifaceted labyrinth deals with alternate realities, such as a dream within a dream, and delivers in every aspect. It's action is thrilling. The settings are aesthetically breathtaking. The main character's back story is emotionally powerful. And it is incredibly witty throughout.

After being snubbed for his masterful direction in 2008's "The Dark Knight," Nolan should be in line to win his first Academy Award. "Inception" is the clear front-runner for Best Original Screenplay, Best Director and Best Picture.

Leonardo DiCaprio plays Cobb, who penetrates the minds of others to steal ideas, or even plant new ones. His carefully nuanced performance is on par with Nolan's ambitions, and he is the perfect fit. And that can also be said about the rest of the cast. Rarely does one find a film where there are zero acting flaws. This is one of them. Academy Award winners Michael Caine and Marion Cotillard and Oscar-nominee Ellen Page give superb performances, as do co-stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ken Watanabe, Cillian Murphy and Tom Hardy.

"Inception" contains many plot staples of traditional heist movies, which allows the audience to follow what would otherwise be confusing sequences. And that is what sets this apart from others in the same genre. Since Nolan explores the topic of subconscious realities, it has drawn comparisons to "The Matrix." This film trounces "The Matrix." The storytelling excels in a way the Wachowski siblings' trilogy never will. It works on multiple layers, taking us into different worlds each time with stunning visuals to match. Plus, everything is explained in the story, not just all tied together at the end, and the audience can then enter Nolan's mind to fully understand each aspect.

Nolan burst on the scene with 2000's psychological thriller "Memento," during which he came up with this story and worked on the screenplay for nearly a decade. He previously directed "Batman Begins" and "The Prestige" and continues to consistently produce exceptional films.

Grade: A+

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

America's Got Talent: Quarterfinal One

Twelve of the final 48 acts competed in the first quarterfinal Tuesday night. Only four will advance.

Who Should Advance?

1. Fighting Gravity:
This glow-in-the-dark act is the front-runner to win the competition. They have amazed the judges and the audience in both performances so far. No way they don't make it through. Haven't seen them yet?

Here's a video of their original audition:

2. Future Funk:
This kid hip-hop dancing duo is a crowd pleaser. They are incredibly entertaining and gifted performers despite being so young (10 and 5). Lock to advance.

3. Nathaniel Kenyon:
This male singer was the final act to perform on last night's show. He offered an underwhelming version of "Lips of an Angel" by Hinder but judging by the crowd's reaction (aka the ladies), his looks will probably get him through.

4. Maricar:
The sexy female painter performed in a water tank last night, crafting an unbelievable replica of judge Piers Morgan. She continues to excel and is my second favorite behind Fighting Gravity. I hope she makes it through (I voted for her).

On The Bubble

5. Christina and Ali
These sisters suffer from cystic fibrosis. It's truly inspiring each and every time I see them perform. They're not great singers but their courage and likability may come in to play on tonight's results show.

6. Airpocalypse
This air band may be the least talented act left. That may or may not matter. They are quite entertaining and may get a lot of votes. They shouldn't advance but it wouldn't shock me.


7. RNG
8. Sally Cohn
9. Nick Pike
10. The Hot Shot Tap Dancers
11. Kung Fu Heroes
12. Paul Safy Jr.

Those are my picks. And as you know, I'm never wrong.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Viva España!--2010 World Cup Champions

In the second period of extra time in the most physical World Cup Final ever (13 yellow cards), Spanish midfielder Andrés Iniesta delivered the game-winning blast, earning Spain's first World Cup championship in a 1-0 victory over the Netherlands.

With Iniesta's moment of brilliance, Spain's record of most wins in FIFA World Cup games without a title is no more (24 wins), and that honor is now bestowed on the Dutch with 19.

The world's second-ranked team was taken out of its usual rhythm, consisting of commanding possession, by an overly aggressive Dutch side. That limited scoring opportunities for both sides, though each came close on a coouple occasions in regular time. The Spaniards nearly scored early on a header from right back Sergio Ramos and then later on a counter attack by substitute midfielder Cesc Fabregas that was saved by the leg of Dutch goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg. Fabregas went on to deliver the assist to Iniesta's goal.

Dutch forward Arjen Robben also had two breakaways but failed to capitalize, missing wide once and having one stopped by the leg of Spanish captain GK Iker Casillas.

Despite an opening game loss to Switzerland, this is a much deserved result for the 2008 European Champions. La Furia Roja (Red Fury) has been dominant in the past four years. From November 2006 and June 2009 Spain went undefeated for a record-tying 35 consecutive matches. Its streak was snapped in a 2-0 loss to the United States in the semifinals of the 2009 Confederations Cup.

Though Spain only scored eight goals in seven matches, the lowest total ever by a world champion, that does not indicate the amount of control it had in each of its matches (Even in the Switzerland loss).

Forward David Villa led the Spaniards with five goals, Carles Puyol added one in the semifinal win over Germany and Iniesta had two, including the most important in the nation's history.

Spain will soon move atop the FIFA world rankings, but many things can happen between now and the 2014 World Cup hosted by Brazil.

Only four years to find out.