Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Recaps and Comments 10/20/2009

Top Chef 6 - Las Vegas:

The guest judge was Charlie Palmer, who is sometimes credited with making "American Food" a "Cuisine" and not just a derided joke.

Brothers Bryan and Michael had both worked for him. Bryan for about 10 years, and Michael for about a year. Charlie said that he wouldn't give them any special treatment.

The Quickfire Challenge was that they had to pair a new company's (ie sponsor) brand of snack food with something else to make a nice dish. The snacks were 1 of 6 flavors of Alexia Crunchy Snacks that are made from veggies. The chefs had all been eating the snacks back at the apartment they've been living in, so they were all familiar with the flavors of the snacks. Some seemed really good, while others were kinda meh. Poor Jen, she cooked her tenderloin too early, and Charlie and Padma got to her last, so while her meat sat all that time, it continued to cook. Tenderloin has less fat and is easy to dry out, and by cooking it too early and having it sit, by the time it was tasted, it was overdone. Jen, Ash and Robin were in the bottom. The tops were Bryan, Eli and Kevin and Eli got the win. No $15,000 or immunity for him though, his only reward was that he got to pick first in the Elimination challenge.

The Elimination challenge began with everyone drawing knives. On each knife was a type of cut of pork. Shank, shoulder, butt, loin, tenderloin, leg, etc... Jen got "Wild Boar" which was the "wild card" so she could pick whatever cut she wanted. She wisely chose pork belly which is the juiciest, tastiest, and least likely to get dried out. One they had their pig part, they had to pick a brand of Pinot Noir to pair their dish with for Charlie's "Pigs & Pinot" annual charity fundraiser.

The result was a microcosm of this season as a whole (and clearly of the remaining cheftestants.) The Top 4 were the usual 4 that are in the top. Brothers Bryan & Michael, Kevin, and Jen. Kevin got the well deserved win, and he get talking about how much he loves pork that he even has a tattoo of a pig, and once he won, he proceeded in showing it off to the judges. The bottom 3 were the usual bottom feeders, Robin, Ash and Laurine. That meant that Eli and Mike I were where they usually are...somewhere in the middle. Laurine's dish was called "catfood" by Dana Cowen, another Food & Wine person (like Gail) who also is a regular on Top Chef and I think she's been on Iron Chef America too.

For me, anyone who has a dish called "cat food" should be the one sent home. Especially after she explained how she cooked it, and Charlie informed her that her cooking method wasn't even the way the dish is SUPPOSED to be prepared. So, let's see, she didn't even know how to cook the dish she made, and the final product was like cat food. So she went home right? Wrong! Ash who YET AGAIN changed his mind after talking to one of the other cheftestants, and prepared the dish the way the other person suggested, instead of his original idea. He told Charlie what his original plan was, and Charlie thought that it sounded yummy. I think Ash got the boot because Tom was tired of Ash always cooking someone else's idea, and not his own...even after telling Tom that "this time it would be all him." Ash would contend that Padma had a LOT to do with him going. He claimed that she NEVER liked ANY of his dishes, and was ALWAYS critical of him. When he was in front of the judges explaining his latest disaster, she asked him in a VERY condescending tone, "Did you taste the dish?"

Regardless, The Top 4 will most likely always be in the top and SHOULD be the Final Four, the bottom 2 should go next, and Mike and Eli may win another Quickfire or so, but I don't see either winning an Elimination round.

Paranormal Activity:

I am not a horror movie fan.
That said, if a movie comes along that looks interesting, I might try to see it. 10 years ago, it was Blair Witch. That was not really a "horror" movie as we know them these days, but more of a scary movie...like a throwback. It was ok, but by the time I had seen it, the "cat was out of the bag" that it was a movie and not "found footage." I also happened to see the fake documentary (aka mockumentary) that presented all this back story. I think it was called "Curse of the Blair Witch." I've read where some people saw the mockumentary first and then were disappointed that NONE of that info makes it into the film. For me though, I think it enhanced the experience because I understood some of what was happening. Perhaps it would have been better to see the movie first, and then the fake documentary. I dunno, hard to say.

It's been surprising at how few "scary" movies have been made since, and how many gory horror movies have come out. I suppose there have been a few, some would say 28 days later.
Most would say [REC] which was remade as Quarantine. I haven't seen any of them.
I am trying to see "Let the Right One In," but I've heard that the DVD has poor ad misleading subtitles. Like some of the dialogue was misinterpreted or made not as full as seen in the theaters. So, I guess I'll wait for the revised DVD. I also want to see Trick r Treat, which like Paranormal Activity was a small budget film (although it does have some known actors) and for whatever reason, it was never given a proper release. I've heard it's scary as Hell, and I see it's On Demand, so I'll probably try to order it soon.

At any rate, Paranormal Activity, like Blair Witch and Cloverfield, is supposed to be a movie made from footage from a personal camcorder.

I won't give anything away, but the gist is that a young 20 something unmarried couple move in and odd things start happening. The guy doesn't think much of it, but decides to buy a really nice video camera, with great resolution and an expensive mic, to let the thing run at night and see if it picks up anything. He does it more or less to appease his girlfriend.

As such, while the entire movie is filmed from this camera, the main thrust of the film is told while the camera runs during the night while the couple sleep. Watching darkess and a time counter run in the bottom right corner of the screen may not seem very interesting, but trust me, it is.

There isn't any gore. This movie is 100% creepy, suspenseful, scariness. Sitting there watching them sleep and wondering if something is going to happen is pull out your hair, look thru your fingers, bite off your nails creepy. I would say that I found this to be 10 times creepier than Blair Witch because while that took place in the woods, this takes place in their home. I find that to be MUCH creepier. The main problem that people had with Blair Witch was that you really don't see anything. If you like creepy, scary, terrifying, non-gory horror movies, this is for you.

I have NEVER been in a theater with so many people screaming their faces off. Even Sixth Sense was more people being startled than actually terrified. This movie could very well make you lose your shit...both figuratively and literally.

I saw this by myself.
I do not recommend that.
While I personally didn't have any problems sleeping, alone, that night or since, I've read where a LOT of people have had problems. Even those not sleeping alone.

I encourage people to go see this movie. It's the perfect time of the year for it. Also, it's a great story of a movie made for less than $20,000 doing good. In very limited release (still in less than 800 theaters) it's made over $20 million this past weekend, and has topped $30 million total.
If it's not showing in your area, call your local theaters and request it. Go see this movie, and see it with an audience as that is really part of the experience.

Odds and Ends...

Adam, who won Big Brother 9 (the ONLY Spring edition) was arrested for selling Oxycodone.


The headline that lead me to that search for the above article (as that one has a photo) was "Big Brother Winner Arrested for selling Oxycodone." I thought, oh no, Dr Will!?!
I had thought that Adam was a basically decent guy, despite his well known "retard" comment. I guess not. He used his winnings to fund his life of crime. As Bugs Bunny would say, what a maroon.

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