The Departed

The Departed

Directed: Martin Scorsese
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, Mark Wahlberg, Martin Sheen

Leonardo DiCaprio is a cop undercover in a mob gang run by Jack Nicholson. Matt Damon is a mole in the police department working for the mob, trying to figure out who is the undercover cop.

This movie is long, but involved. I can’t think of any way for it to be shorter without losing something. There were some quick cuts that can be distracting at times, but then I was thankful they were there to keep the story moving along. I first thought the quick cuts were bad editing, then realized they were there on purpose.

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Top Chef: Sunny Delights

Episode 2: Sunny Delights

Top Chef: Miami
Channel: Bravo
Day/Time: Wednesday, 10/9c

I had heard this show was good, but I hadn’t checked it out the first two seasons. I thought I would try it out since I had become hooked on Hell’s Kitchen. I love this show and it makes Hell’s Kitchen pale in comparison. While watching Hell’s Kitchen, you can’t believe some of the people even hold any kind of cooking job. You feel you could walk in and do a better job, and I’m nowhere close to being a great cook. After watching Top Chef, I don’t even know what they are talking about most of the time. They get to be creative and it is more focused on the individual than teamwork (which is how Hell’s Kitchen is set up) so I find it way more entertaining. I watched the first and second episode so close to one another, I thought I’d dig into the second one.

Quickfire Challenge

The day began with the contestants coming into the kitchen surrounded by every kind of citrus imaginable. They had 30 minutes to gather whatever citrus they wanted plus any of the staples in the Top Chef pantry to make a unique dish. Guest judge Norman Van Aken (who owns some fancy restaurants in Florida called Norman’s Restaurant) would make the final decision on who would win the challenge. He would judge it based on presentation, taste, and how well it used the Florida citrus provided.

Hung won the challenge with a slow roasted sea bass with citrus crumble, watercress and radish salad. He was safe from elimination. Another standout was Tre’s dish of salmon served hot on one side of the plate and cold on the other. He had made a macadamia pesto to go with it. Howie’s plate of vanilla butter poached lobster tail with blood orange citrus salad and Brian’s Alaskan halibut with pomegranate blood orange molasses were also highlights.

One of the scarier dishes was Micah’s avocado soup which was more mush than soup. Sara N. couldn’t really remember what she had just made so had a hard time saying what it was, which cost her the challenge. Casey made a fancy s’ more with orange in the chocolate sauce and orange/chocolate on the side, but the orange wasn’t present enough in the s’ more to qualify in the judge’s mind, even though he said it was delicious.

Elimination Challenge

The chefs had to create an upscale BBQ dish that would be served to 60 people at an upscale BBQ on the waterfront. They had 30 minutes and $200 to go to the fresh market to get what they needed that wasn’t already in the pantry. Then they had two hours of prep time that day. The BBQ was the following day where they had two hours to cook before the guests arrived.

I was impressed that people came up with ideas immediately on what they could make. I have no idea how people can be so creative with dishes! This is why I am not a chef. I need to get inspiration from looking through recipes. I do love seeing the weird and yummy stuff they come up with though. I would love to be one of the guests trying the dishes.

Many people went for meat, so others went a different route with seafood. A couple of contestants were worried they weren’t going to make their dishes perfect. One of them being Micah since the day before she was an emotional wreck saying it was because she was away from her daughter. This might be more believable if it had been towards the end of competition, but this was the second episode. I think it was more likely that her Quickfire Challenge dish was roasted. Her dish impressed the guests with its taste, but it did seem a very large dish for those trying to eat standing up without utensils.

Micah from South Africa
Lamb with Grilled Halloumi & Pomegranate Sauce

Another one that was freaking out was Sara N. She was a nervous mess during the Quickfire, which caused her to forget what she made. Then she was having a hell of a time preparing things for the BBQ later that same day. She seemed to pull it together the next day at the BBQ since she got rave reviews for her Vietnamese BBQ beef. She was worried that her cucumbers and chiles were going to be way too hot, but no one complained.

Sara N from Santa Monica, CA
Vietnamese BBQ with Pine Nuts, Radish & Cucumber Salad

Camille and Casey’s dishes were also good, mixing a bunch of different flavors in a BBQ setting without it being lost in the charcoals.

Camille from Elizabeth, NJ
Grilled Swordfish with Chorizo & Artichoke Potato Salad

Casey from Cedar Hills, TX
Strip Steak, Polenta, Bacon Wrapped Shrimp with Tomato Salad

Some of the cocky ones were Howie, Tre, Joey and Hung. Tre kept talking about how he was from Texas and going to do his home state proud with the BBQ challenge, yet he grilled salmon instead of meat. He also had a problem with some dishes being too bland. When he heard this, he started adding salt, which led to others complaining of it being too salty.

Tre from Duncanville, TX

Peach BBQ Glazed Salmon with Crab Avocado Salad

Howie who bragged in the first episode about being a perfectionist with time, except that he ran out of time and didn’t plate half of his dish, bragged this episode about his skills. Yet, he sliced his pork tenderloin before grilling it, and then put it on way too early so it ended up dried out. Winner!

Howie from Miami, FL
Jamaican Jerk Pork, Mango Slaw with Citrus Vinaigrette

Joey made easy to eat drumsticks, but they didn’t seem very upscale. Hung’s dish did seem to live up to his claims. He also made a tasty drink that was a big fan with the guests. Joey made something similar during the Quickfire Challenge so he ended up yelling about Hung stealing his drink idea. It was a watermelon shooter.

Joey from Long Island, NY
Korean BBQ Chicken with Charred Corn, Tofu & Bean Sprout Salad

Hung from Pittsfield, MA
Flank Steak with Grilled Corn Salad & Bagel Chips

Other contestants were not thrilled with Sandee’s dish, not because of flavor but because it did not seem to be BBQ. She had poached her lobster and was just heating it up over the grill. It was already done by the time she arrived.

Sandee from Saint Simon’s Island, GA
Vanilla Poached Lobster, Pancetta Wrapped Date & Truffle Slaw

Brian made a dish that everyone loved, and he wasn’t nervous or cocky while making it. His seafood sausage was tasty, and was very upscale. He also was able to talk up the guests while serving to them, so his designated area was very popular.

Brian from Bend, OR
Scallops, Shrimp & Seabass Sausage with Ginger Slaw & Chili Glaze

Winners & Losers

The top choices were Brian, Micah and Sara N. Brian ended up winning the overall challenge. The bottom of the pack were Howie, Tre, Joey and Sandee. The main complaint with Tre was his dish was either bland or too salty depending on when you ate during the event. Howie’s dish was over dry and did not seem upscale to fit the challenge. Joey’s dish was tasty, but also did not fit the upscale criteria. Sandee’s dish was decent, except that some of her flavors overpowered the taste of the lobster where half the judges couldn’t tell it was lobster. It also did not fit the BBQ criteria. The judges had to decide what was worse: not being upscale or not being BBQ. They decided that not being BBQ was a worse sin so Sandee was sent off packing.

Source: Top Chef

TV Show: Week of Jun 24

New Shows

Shaq’s Big Challenge
Channel: ABC
Time: 9/8c
Premieres: Tuesday, June 26

Shaq works with six obese middle schoolers to get them to play outside compared to inside with video games. He also tries to get their schools to get healthier lunches and bring back physical education.

Burn Notice
Channel: USA
Time: 10/9c
Premieres: Thursday, June 28

A CIA spy is fired with no reason, along with his bank account frozen and credit cards canceled. While trying to figure out why this happened, he takes up some private investigator jobs to make some money. Bruce Campbell also stars.

Sources: TV Guide , Entertainment Weekly, Futon Critic

For Coni cuz I luvz her!

Hi Coni! I can use the Italicas!

MWG: Night of the Comet

We have started our Movie Watching Group (MWG). Marci is up first! She has picked Night of the Comet from 1984.

Netflix Synopsis: Earth has been ripped to shreds after a run-in with a killer comet, and those who have survived are in a fight for their lives in this campy cult classic. Valley Girl Reg (Catherine Mary Stewart) and her sister (Kelli Maroney) discover they’re two of the lucky few. But scientists are after them, and now they must run. Why? Because the researchers believe they need the blood of survivors to concoct a drug that can save them all from further ruin.

RT Score: 83%

Here is our group that needs to watch the movie and review it: Amy, Mievil, Pira, Jim, Keiran, Lynz, Jer and me. Review away!

TV Show: Week of Jun 17

New Shows

Channel: SHO
Time: 10/9c
Premieres: Sunday, June 17

A British family is in the witness protection program, yet the new neighborhood harbors many, dark secrets.

Flight of the Conchords
Channel: HBO
Time: 10:30/9:30c
Premieres: Sunday, June 17

Two guitarists from New Zealand try to make it in New York City.

Age of Love
Channel: NBC
Time: 9/8c
Premieres: Monday, June 18

30-year-old tennis star, Mark Philippoussis, will take younger women in their 20's and older women in 40's. He will decide if age matters in love.

Channel: TNT
Time: 10/9c
Premieres: Monday, June 18

Treat Williams is the head of a heart-transplant unit who works alongside his ex-wife and his current girlfriend.

Returning Shows

The 4400
Channel: USA
Time: 9/8c
Premieres: Sunday, June 17

Last season: Jordon Collier showed up and tried to sell the idea of Promicin to the public, which can give people 4400 powers or it can kill them. Isabella tried to bring about the apocalypse, but she was finally brought down by her father.

This season: After the impending apocalypse fear is gone, the focus will shift to Jordan Collier. Is he good or evil? Is Promicin good or evil?

Dead Zone
Channel: USA
Time: 10/9c
Premieres: Sunday, June 17

Last season: Stillson becomes Vice President after the old one dies.

This season: Stillson is on his way to become President while Johnny has to deal with the news.

The Closer
Channel: TNT
Time: 9/8c
Premieres: Monday, June 18

Last season: Brenda picked Fritz over her ex-lover and decided to have him move in.

This season: Fritz would like them to move to a bigger place so he can get his stuff out of the garage.

Sources: TV Guide , Entertainment Weekly, Futon Critic

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End

Directed: Gore Verbinski
Starring: Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley

Everyone goes to bring back Jack Sparrow from the dead and have a mighty battle between pirates and everyone else.

While I thought the first two movies were tons of fun and perfect summer movies, this one was so convoluted that it takes away from the fun of the movie. It seems that the lack of plots in the first two movie ended up crammed into this one. I don’t know if the makers thought the movie needed to be bigger and better since it was the third one in the trilogy, but it ends up being too much.

First, the group has to bring Jack back from the dead because they need to call all the pirate lords together to fight off the East Indian Trading Company that is killing off all pirates. They need a key that all the pirate lords have and Jack didn’t pass his off to anyone before dying. Barbossa knows a way to bring a creature that can fight Beckett and his men, but he needs all the keys from the pirate lords to do it.

Second, we learn more about Davy Jones’ love that was briefly mentioned in the second movie. The lovers want to be reunited, but maybe not. It is a storyline that was explained from the second movie, but it isn’t a storyline that I really needed explained. It could have been cut out or shortened greatly to keep the overlong movie from getting out of control.

Thirdly, there is the storyline of Will Turner who is trying to free his father from being under the control of Davy Jones. This could have been the major plot of the movie along with the pirate lords fighting the British at the end and I think I would have enjoyed the movie more. This plot line was displayed like a random subplot that actually wasn’t even shown for two thirds of the way into it. Especially with the way the movie ends, it seems like it should have been given more air time.

Finally, Will Turner and Elizabeth have a rocky relationship that finally gets made up by the end of the movie. These two have no chemistry. I think they once did in earlier films, but it seems to have faded. Orlando Bloom did look very hot in all black pirate gear at the end of the movie. Too bad he wasn’t wearing that for more of the movie.

Jack seems to be having an entertaining time in undead land, which is amusing and funny, but also stops the movie in its tracks. Whatever forward momentum the movie the movie has comes to a halt when one of Jack’s “other” Jacks starts having a conversation with him or each other. It is just a joke that goes on too long for an already long movie. Jack Sparrow is still the best part of the movie though. When he’s actually interacting with others (and not his other Jacks), I really enjoy the movie the most.

There is one random scene with Keith Richards playing Jack Sparrow’s father, but it isn’t clear that it is his father. I knew he would be playing his father, but for my parents and Jer who didn’t know, they kept asking if he was his father. Once we figured out he was, the scene was over. It was more distracting than anything else.

If the movie had been edited a bit more, or had a more concise storyline, it could have been as entertaining as the first two. The fight scenes were still exciting and enjoyable, but they couldn’t save the entire movie.

Rating: C+