Sunday, November 22, 2015

Note to Yahoo: Keep your eye on the ball

I use Yahoo every day for two things: Yahoo Mail and Yahoo Finance. So it disturbs me when those services are glitchy.
I worry that Yahoo has become distracted with finding new growth areas and is letting its crown jewels wither. This year, Yahoo has been promoting costly ventures like live-streaming an NFL football game and producing a new season of the comedy series “Community.” Neither were successful.
The headlines lately have been worrisome for Yahoo and its management. (“Yahoo ‘Bleeding Purple,’ Little Relief Seen: Analyst” and “The Last Days Of Marissa Mayer?”)
Yahoo needs to preserve core services that people rely on daily like Yahoo Mail, Yahoo Finance and MyYahoo or users will seek alternatives.
Also, with its desperate focus on serving mobile devices, Yahoo should not ignore its strength among desktop users.
Companies that chase the latest shiny thing often take for granted their legacy operations. I hope that doesn’t happen to Yahoo. But some annoying glitches with Yahoo Finance (stock pages can take forever to load) and Yahoo Mail (occasionally inaccessible), I think it’s lost focus.

Photos: Recent screenshots of Yahoo fails, including a Yahoo Finance error message (top) from Nov. 11. Below are Yahoo Mail errors from September and April.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Will the U.S. remake of ‘The Secret in Their Eyes’ defy the odds and be good?

On Friday, the mystery-thriller “Secret in Their Eyes” opens in U.S. theaters. On paper, the film looks like a winner.
It stars Chiwetel Ejiofor, Nicole Kidman and Julia Roberts and was directed by Billy Ray, who previously helmed “Breach” (2007) and “Shattered Glass” (2003). It’s a U.S. remake of the terrific Argentine crime thriller “The Secret in Their Eyes” (2009), which won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film at the 82nd Academy Awards in 2010.
Unfortunately, Hollywood has a poor track record when it comes to remaking acclaimed foreign films. Most of the time such remakes are unnecessary. Often times, their tone or style is wrong, as if the stories literally did not translate well.
“The Secret in Their Eyes,” aka “El secreto de sus ojos,” was excellent. Why mess with it?
Now just three days before its release, I get the sense that the remake is no good. Not only is it lacking buzz, there are no early reviews. Other films opening Friday have been thoroughly reviewed. But those films, “Carol,” “Legend” and “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2,” have been critically acclaimed, so the studios likely were eager to screen them.

Update (Nov. 21, 2015):  “The Secret in Their Eyes” mustered just 42% positive reviews, according to Rotten Tomatoes.

In November 2009, I wrote about how I was dreading the U.S. remake of the Swedish vampire thriller “Let the Right One In” (2008). I had reason to be concerned. The American remake, “Let Me In” (2010), was not good.
I followed up with two more posts on the subject of U.S. remakes of foreign films. (“U.S. remakes of foreign films a mixed bag” and “Some U.S. remakes, like ‘The Ring’, are just as good as the foreign originals.”)
Since then, other bad U.S. remakes of foreign films have premiered. Most notably they included “Dinner for Schmucks” (2010), “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” (2011) and “Oldboy” (2013).
Such crimes against cinema are likely to continue. Among the movies Hollywood studios have announced plans to redo are the French action film “Sleepless Night” (2010), German crime thriller “Who Am I?” (2014) and Indonesian action movie “The Raid” (2011).
I just started two movie lists on IMDb: “Good U.S. remakes of foreign films” and “Terrible U.S. remakes of good foreign films.”
Let me know if I’m missing any good examples.

Photos: Movie posters for “Secret in Their Eyes” (2015) and “The Secret in Their Eyes” (2009).

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Upcoming TV shows with the most promise: ‘Marvel’s Jessica Jones,’ ‘Colony’

The mediocre slate of new broadcast television shows has me looking forward to midseason replacements.
TV networks often save their most risky and daring new shows for midseason or summer release. Even my favorite show from last year, “The 100” on the CW, is being saved for a midseason return in early 2016.
Other favorites of mine due to return in early 2016 include “Marvel’s Agent Carter” on ABC and “12 Monkeys” on Syfy.
Of the shows that are soon to premiere, I’m most interested in “Marvel’s Jessica Jones” on Netflix, “Colony” on USA, “Containment” on the CW, and “The X-Files” reboot on Fox.
Other shows could have potential, but I’ll need to read reviews or see new trailers to get a better feel for them. They include “Lucifer” on Fox, “The Expanse” on Syfy and “Shades of Blue” on NBC.
Most of those shows are science-fiction, comic-book and horror shows. That’s because genre shows are more interesting to me than standard lawyer or cop shows. I like to be surprised.

Photos: Promotional art for “Marvel’s Jessica Jones” and “The X-Files.”

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Fall TV season update: ‘iZombie’ shines, new shows fail to impress

Once again, the broadcast networks have delivered an uninspired lineup of new TV shows for the fall season.
I gave four new shows a try this fall after conducting due diligence.
This year’s one-and-done show for me was “Quantico.” The pilot episode was terrible and I couldn’t proceed. It was just too stupid for me to enjoy. And while series lead Priyanka Chopra is beautiful, she is unconvincing as an FBI agent.
“The Muppets” is OK, but needs to be edgier and funnier. After five episodes, I’m not committed to watching any more.
“Blindspot” puts the b in dumb, as I like to say, but it’s fairly entertaining. The acting is sub-par, but there is enough interesting plotting and good action to keep me watching for now. But I probably wouldn’t miss it if I quit.
And finally I gave “Heroes Reborn” a shot. It’s pretty good as a limited-run series. But I doubt I’d keep watching if it gets renewed.
That leaves me with returning shows on my watch list. They are “iZombie,” “Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD,” “Supernatural” and “The Walking Dead.” (I quit watching “Z Nation,” which got tedious.)
Of those returning shows, the standout is “iZombie,” now in its second season on the CW. It’s a dynamite comic book show about a medical examiner who helps solve murders while investigating the tainted drug that turned her and others into brain-eating undead.
“iZombie” is consistently the funniest show on TV. Actress Rose McIver deserves Emmy consideration for her performance as M.E. Olivia “Liv” Moore.
To sustain herself, Moore must eat human brains, but when she does so she takes on the personality of those she consumes. This creates a lot of comic possibilities as Moore eats the brains of a college frat boy, a materialistic socialite, gung-ho basketball coach and others.
Trust me, it’s a hoot.