Oooh... new spoiler images of the final film in the George Lucas Star Wars prequel trilogy fiasco have been leaked all over the web! Well, not really "spoilers" per se (because we already know how everything turns out) but it would seem that George is trying to find some ways of keeping things interesting for us in Episode III (which would be a pleasant change from the horrendously bad Episodes I and II). Three images jumped out at me...
SPOILER 1) They are finally starting to bridge the gap between trilogies, as we're getting something almost TIE-Fighteresque and almost X-Wingish about the ships now. This space dogfight shot is so delicious it has me wishing that Lucas would drop all pretense about knowing how to write good drama/romance and just stick to what he knows best, because a Star Wars movie made entirely of spaceship fights would kick ass!
SPOILER 2) Badass Christopher Lee (ridiculously named "Count Dooku") gets his ass handed to him by lameass Hayden Christensen (appropriately named "Annie Skywalker"). This is wrong on so many levels. I mean, seriously, why in the heck didn't anybody tell Lucas how implausible this is? "Hey George, you've made an error... I realize that you count on your fans suspending disbelief enough to accept that robots, spaceships, and aliens are real... but NOBODY could possibly believe that Christopher f#@%ing Lee would EVER be served by Hayden Christensen!! It's much more plausible that a puppet with a lightsaber could own Christopher f#@%ing Lee in a fight, so why not have Yoda take care of it?" Not that it would do much good trying to tell him anything... I mean, Lucas thinks high comedy involves burp and fart jokes. But Lucas also seems to think that repeating themes over and over and over again is brilliant writing, so I guess that's why we've got Annie and Dooku battling it out in front of the Emperor in his throne-room now, just like we'll have Annie and Luke battling it out in front of the Emperor in his throne-room come Episode VI. Also, I suppose it's easier to write the same thing over and over and over again rather than having to think of something original... because, heaven forbid we should actually get some fresh new ideas in a Star Wars film (oh look... somebody gets their hand chopped off AGAIN).
I hope that Episode III is at least watchable. I just don't think I can take another movie that's as heinously lame as Episodes I and II. The sci-fi geek in me would probably implode.
Oh my. Yahoo! Movies has put up some yummy production stills along with the first full five minutes of the forthcoming Jennifer Garner love-fest known as Elektra. Sure the movie clip features a brief snippet of badass action and has a kind of interesting opening but, to be totally honest, I am not holding out much hope for the quality of this film. Though that's not exactly why I want to see it so badly...
At least they made movie Elektra look like the comic book Elektra a little more this time. Not that it matters much... it's not like I am going to be watching the movie thinking "the shape of Elektra's halter top is entirely unlike the comic, thus ruining my enjoyment of the film." Uhhh... no. What will be going through my mind is the exact same thing going through every other guy's mind in the theater. Men are such dogs. What can I say? I'm just doing my best to live up to the label, I guess.
UPDATE: Proving that you just can't get enough of a good thing, Patrick notes that IGN has an exclusive scene from the movie featuring Elektra getting the ultimate "kiss of death" from Typhoid Mary.
Finally got around to seeing Wes Anderson's latest masterpiece... The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou starring Bill Murray and numerous other talented people. This film received a disappointing 50% over at Rotten Tomatoes which leaves me flabbergasted, because I think it is easily one of the best films released in 2004. Not only is Murray's acerbic wit in full force, but all of Anderson's usual comedic touches are sprinkled throughout the film like candy, waiting to be discovered, unwrapped, and savored.
Aquatic tells the story of once-famous (but now washed up) oceanographer-filmmaker Steve Zissou who is hoping to hunt down a kill the mysterious "leopard shark" that ate his best friend. He also plans on documenting the adventure to create a new film which he hopes will bring him back to the limelight. Along the way he has to deal with a stranger who may or may not be his son (Owen Wilson), a failing marriage (to Angelica Houston), overwhelming competition (Jeff Goldblum), and a myriad of money trials to finance the operation.
And all of it is hysterically funny, of course.
What's truly magical about the film is the detours into occasional fantasy with stop-motion animated sea life (Sugar Crabs! Electric Jellyfish! Rhinestone Bluefins!) and a cut-away set that's entirely brilliant...
I understand that the comedy in this film is miles away from more pedestrian fare like you'll find in the latest Adam Sandler flick, but if you like a little intelligence to your funny, I can't recommend The Life Aquatic highly enough.
The movie Sideways is racking up all kinds of critical acclaim, and sweeping the art-house awards circuit. Something this special I just had to make time to see.
And... I just don't get it.
It's not that it is a bad film, it's just that I am mystified at how so many people are falling head over heels in love with it. Aside from a few clever bits of writing, some nice character work from Paul Giamatti, and an excellent performance by the ever-brilliant Sandra Oh... well, there was just so much nothing in the film. Mind-numbing stretches of nothing.
It's as if the people working on the film got to certain spots where they didn't know what to do, and so they simply said "well, let's just drag things out and maybe people will think we're being artistic." But, for me, it just didn't work. And I'm not saying that every frame of a film has to be wall-to-wall action either. I mean, my favorite film of all time is Field of Dreams, which has plenty of quiet moments... but they mean something. Sideways, on the other hand, is a character piece with very little character and not much else. I've seen episodes of Buffy The Vampire Slayer that had more of an impact on me.
And that brings me to the Oscars tomorrow night... I saw nothing in Sideways which convinces me it is Best Picture material. Thomas Hayden Church had zero depth to his character, and was so paint-by-numbers predictable that I can't imagine him being in the same league as somebody like Morgan Freeman for Best Supporting Actor. Finally, Virginia Madsen's character had so little screen time and complete lack of emotional detail that I can't even fathom why she was nominated for Best Supporting Actress in the first place. I guess being a "critical darling" gets you a lot of mileage.
And through it all I think back to Kill Bill 2 which had everything going for it, yet it gets snubbed from a nomination to make room for something like this?? Travesty!
When you are a vegetarian in San Francisco, there is really only one thing you need in order to decide where to eat, and that would be Dave's SF Veggie Restaurant Page. This amazing resource gives you the low-down for many of the Bay Area's finest vegetarian establishments, and is updated frequently. Among the most highly recommended on Dave's list is a Chinese restaurant called "Golden Era Vegetarian Cuisine," which has amazing food that's so delicious you will never miss the meat...
About the only thing that could possibly be a better resource than Dave's SF Veggie Restaurant Page for hunting down veggie cuisine in the city is Dave himself...
After a truly amazing meal of Pot Stickers, Spicy "Chicken" (imitation), and Plum Lemonade, we headed off to see The Aviator, which is a terrific film. And while I haven't seen the Clint Eastwood boxing-snuff flick Million Dollar Baby, I find it difficult to believe that it could be superior to the Scorsese epic about Howard Hughes. It had just the right balance of biography and action to be constantly entertaining though, as usual, Scorsese needs a stronger editor to pare down this 3-hour film by at least a half-hour (particularly the decline of Hughes' mental state, which went on for far too long). I suppose the most surprising thing about the film was the cast, with Leonardo DiCaprio turning in a shockingly good performance that redeems his lame Titanic work. Even more amazing was Cate Blanchett's eerie rendition of Katherin Hepburn... she OWNED that role, and earned the Oscar she got (and then some). I still maintain that Sideways, while somewhat entertaining, is in nowhere near the league of The Aviator, which is truly an Oscar-worthy nomination.
Oh, and before I forget, I just want to mention something that happened while I was at Fisherman's Wharf, on my way to meet Dave for lunch. Here, take a look at this...
See that five-dollar bill? Well that's all you need in lieu of an apology now-a-days.
While standing at the street by Pier 39 trying to figure out what bus I wanted to take, some ass-clown in an expensive suit comes out of nowhere, running for a taxi... AND KNOCKS ME COMPLETELY ON MY ASS IN THE PROCESS! He has his wallet out so, as he opens the taxi door, HE THROWS FIVE DOLLARS AT MY HEAD!! He doesn't say he's sorry. He doesn't ask if I am okay. He doesn't bother to help me up. He just throws a fiver at my head and gets in the damn taxi.
What the f#@%?!?
I don't know what makes me more disappointed... 1) That this inconsiderate, monkey-spanking ass-wipe thinks that throwing money at things is an acceptable way of dealing with a problem, or 2) That he thought I was only worth a measly $5. So now I've got a jacked-up leg that feels as though my hip has been ripped out of the socket... with which I have to make a 45-minute drive to the East Bay tomorrow morning. What is WRONG with people now-a-days? When did "sorry" turn into a $5 bill?
I love animation. Well, let me rephrase that... I love good animation. There's something "pure" about a world that is wholly created and realized. Many animators understand this god-like power and use it to full advantage. But few animators are as brilliant at it as Nick Park and the geniuses at his Aardman Studios. Their most famous characters, Wallace & Gromit, are easily one of the best animated creations ever made. Any adventure of the cheese-loving gadget inventor Wallace and his genius dog Gromit is guaranteed big fun.
I love Gromit more than Mickey Mouse. More than Tigger. More than Marvin the Martian. More than any other animated character. Though he never speaks, he is more expressive than most human actors...
But there is one character even better than Gromit. One character destined to forever rule over animation with an iron fist. One character I obsess over: Feathers McGraw, the evil penguin criminal mastermind who disguises himself as a chicken to foil the law...
Not only that, but he carries a gun! How can you not love an evil penguin that packs heat?
The first Aardman major motion picture was the excellent Chicken Run and now, after years of waiting, a Wallace and Gromit feature arrives this October... Wallace & Gromit and the Curse of the Wererabbit! You can catch the teaser trailer from The Sun by clicking here. You can also watch a "making of" featurette by clicking here.
Never seen Wallace & Gromit? Well, if you are a Netflix user, there's a DVD of their first three adventures, and you can add it to your Rental Que. Otherwise, I think it's out of print and you'll have to try eBay or something (hopefully it will be re-issued to coincide with the movie release).
Gee... entirely too many good things happening today. Most importantly, my motorcycle is OUT of storage and my car is back IN to storage. Life doesn't get much better than that! I've already gone out for an hour, and realize once again just how trapped I feel driving a car now. Many other people must be feeling the same way, because there were a lot of motorcycles out over the weekend. While this does get a bit tiring because of all the "motorcyclist courtesy waves," there can never be too many motorcycles out on the road. The more people riding, the fewer rights that dumbass lawmakers can take away from us.
I keep "flip-flopping" back and forth over which upcoming movie I am most looking forward to seeing this year. After the fiasco that George Lucas had with the first two Star Wars prequels, I can safely remove the third (and final?) off my list... still, it's got Wookies and Darth Vader, so even that has some amount of excitement around it.
No, setting aside the Wallace and Gromit movie, there are really just two that are coveting for my top spot. The first, Frank Miller's Sin City appears to be very faithful to the stunning comic book that inspired it. It looks exactly like Sin City, has Quentin Tarantino as a guest-director for part of it, and features Gilmore Girls' Alexis Bledel looking disturbingly hot. Moviefone has a new trailer up that totally kicks ass, and has me even more excited to see how it's going to play out...
The other film, Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is based on one of my favorite novels of all time, and has been a long, long time coming to the silver screen. The casting looks note-perfect, and since Douglas Adams himself worked on the script before his untimely death, that can only bode well for the adaptation. I want so badly for the film to blow me away and set box office records so that the remaining books in the series will be put to film. The original trilogy deserves at least that much...
Yes, a very promising year for movies I think, even if these two films were all we got.
And, in music news, I have a song stuck in my head from a movie trailer I saw for a romantic comedy starring Drew Barrymore and Jimmy Fallon called Fever Pitch (definitely not a movie for me). It's an excellent rendition of the Supertramp classic Give a Little Bit which is not sung by Supertramp! A search on the iTunes Music Store reveals it's a cover by the Goo Goo Dolls, which I proceeded to purchase immediately. Very sweet. It's the instant gratification that makes me so happy to be alive in the digital age.
If you could own any item from any movie, what would you take and why? Well, I'd love to have my very own Gort robot from The Day the Earth Stood Still... how cool would that be? My dream of taking over the world would be a piece of cake with Gort there to kick everybody's asses. Or maybe some of the gadgets from the James Bond movies would be handy? Nah, I think the one thing I would want more than any other would be Mace Windu's purple lightsaber from the Star Wars prequels. That way I could open up a can of Samuel L. Jackson-style Jedi whoop-ass all over the stupid people who bug the crap out of me...
If you could become any character from any movie, who would it be and why? Dude! No question, it would be Indiana Jones! He got to run around the world having awesome adventures, finding treasure, and shooting Nazis and stuff! On top of that, if I were Indiana Jones I could literally whip somebody's ass with my bull-whip. That would totally rock...
If you could visit any location from any movie, where would it be and why? Probably inside The Matrix so I could fly around, shoot lots of guns, and go all kung-fu on people who cut me off in traffic...
FQ MOVIE MASH-UP: Combine some items, characters, and locations from different movies to create an entirely new film! What would you call it and what would it be about? I think I'd like to take the chain saw from Texas Chain Saw Massacre, the Alien from Alien, Jason from Friday The 13th, and put them on the ship Discovery with HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey. Then everybody could battle it out IN OUTER SPACE!! My master-work would then be ready to kick box-office ass and be called: Friday the 13th, 2001: An Alien Chainsaw Massaccre Odyssey. Brilliant! I'd pay serious bank to see that flick.
Be the movies at the FridayQ.
For a Friday, I must say it's been a pretty good day for me...
Sixteen. Verizon finally came through with my DSL order today after sixteen days of orders, cancelled orders, re-orders, and a myriad of other problems that wasted hours of my valuable time to get sorted out. Much to my surprise, the new router/modem they sent me had wireless built-in! That's a pretty cool bonus, and shows that (if nothing else) Verizon is at least paying attention to how the customers are accessing the internet. Even better, it seems as though my connection is slightly faster to boot, and the Verizon wireless has more range than my old Apple Airport Base Station. The best part? All of that is at a $20 savings per month over my previous EarthLink DSL line. This couldn't come at a better time, because just this morning I was thinking I'd rather give up the internet than spend another week with dial-up.
Three. Last night while watching the latest episode of The O.C., they ran the new Star Wars: Episode III, Revenge of the Sith trailer. Just for fun, they had "Seth Cohen" from the show (the ultimate sci-fi/comic book nerd) introduce the thing with his Star Wars action figures. The trailer itself is pretty kick-ass cool and features mind-blowing special effects, Samuel L. Jackson with his purple lightsaber I covet so much, Wookies(!) and, best of all... GREEN BOOBIES! Of course, I remember getting all excited about Episodes I and II after watching the trailer, and they both sucked so much ass that I nearly shat myself in the theater. Do I dare muster any hope that the final Star Wars installment will be worth a crap? History tells me no... BUT WOOKIES AND GREEN BOOBIES! How can I not be excited?
Of course, the bigger Star Wars news is the increasing rumors that Kevin Smith will be in charge of some kind of Star Wars television show after Episode III wraps production. Since Kevin Smith on his worst day can fart better dialogue out of his ass than Lucas can write on his best day, this is really enticing gossip. It also seems really plausible given that the show could be done fairly cheap given today's digital special effects... I mean, all the computer models and scenes and such are already there, they just need to be reused in new and interesting ways.
Six. TrackBack spammers are pummeling me today. In the past six hours I've received dozens of email notifications for horrendously disgusting TrackBack pings that I am trying to Blacklist as quickly as they arrive so that any further attempts will be rejected. The problem is, they are using a new domain every time, so Blacklist is only killing a portion of what I'm being hit with. Six Apart has STILL failed to patch MT so that I can force moderation of TrackBack pings for manual approval, which is mind-boggling. I'm left with no choice but to turn of TrackBack for my blog, because I refuse to allow "hot doggy sex bestiality pics" to be promoted here. What in the heck is Six Apart waiting for? It's not like I am asking them to take care of my spam... just give me the ability to do it myself through moderation like I already can with comments. Seesh!
Four. Since putting Scott Plank on my "List of Three Guys I'd Go Gay For", I've received four emails wanting to know more about him. One email was from a woman who "became obsessed with him after seeing that sexy photo on your blog." Unfortunately, as I had mentioned, I don't know much about him at all. I met Scott briefly a few times because he was a potential actor for a role in a movie project I was involved in. Unlike most everybody else I met in Hollywood, Scott was a genuinely nice guy who was kind, funny, and humble. I was sent tape of his appearances in Air America and Melrose Place, but anything else I learned about him was from his entry on IMDB. I am told that he once had a web site at ScottPlank.com, but it isn't there anymore, which is kind of a shame. I have no details about Scott's death, only rumors I don't care to elaborate on. If anybody out there runs across this and knows of a place that has any information about Scott, please pass it along, and I'll be happy to share it.
Eight. And speaking of computer animation, I switched to LightWave today after having used Electric Image Animation System for nearly a decade. I originally started with EIAS because that's what the people at Industrial Light and Magic used in Star Wars: Special Edition. It cost thousands of dollars, didn't come with a modeler, and was a bitch to use... but it produced pretty images very quickly. The problem is that EIAS sucked more and more with each new update. Version 5 has a modeler that crashes constantly doing the simplest of things (like beveling the corner of a cube!), and an animator that is so buggy I keep looking for roaches under my keyboard. The final straw came when I got a notice that I can upgrade to EIAS 5.5 for $300 the same day I got a notice that I could purchase a "sidegrade" to LightWave for $500. Despite my having to re-learn a brand new package from scratch, I decided I was not going to pay $300 for another pile of shit from Electric Image just to get bug fixes to problems they never patched (and a load of potential new problems to worry about). As a perk of switching to LightWave, there's about a hundred books and dozens of training videos available... I think EIAS has at most three books (all out of date) and not much else. So any penalty from switching should be fairly short with such a wealth of material to learn from. Here's hoping.
UPDATE: Interestingly enough, NewTek just hired Jay Roth and Mark Granger... two long-time Electric Image employees. I am hopeful that this is a good thing, but my past problems with EIAS do have me slightly worried.
Seventy-Two. It's a lovely 72 degrees outside this afternoon. I am so taking off work early to go for a nice long ride on my motorcycle.
Well, Neil has gone and done it again... dug up another huge meme that I don't really want to spend time participating in, but feel compelled to nevertheless (and he got it from Richard, so he's equally to blame). This time it's the infamous "Internet Movie DataBase Top 250 Films" (as ranked by IMDB Voters). The idea is that you take the complete list of 250 films and then check-off the ones you've seen. Surprisingly, I've seen all but 77 of them (and only two on the list are unknown to me completely).
It's a terrific idea for a meme and, since I love movies so much, I just can't pass it up (as I have twice before). But TWO-HUNDRED FIFTY?!? Ah well. I've kept the IMDB links, so you can click to learn about the movie if you are so inclined. I've also added my personal rating to those I've seen (Bomb to 5 stars) and, like Neil, have also noted which of the films I own on DVD...
For those of you who could care less about my movie habits, I've put the list in an extended entry.→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
This has not been the best of weeks for me, but it has been a good week in entertainment news...
Oldboy. A movie I have been waiting to see for years now... a Korean film called "Oldboy" finally has a US distributor! When I was last in Korea I looked for it, but it had left theaters there (having been released in 2003). It's a mystery/revenge thriller that won the Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival last year, and has critics falling all over themselves with praise (in fact, it's #93 on the IMDB 250 meme I did yesterday, and is assured of going higher on the list once more people have seen it). You can read about the movie and see a trailer over at FilmForce. The only down-side is that I will probably end up having to go to Seattle or L.A. to see it, unless it starts making Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon box office.
Veronica. E! Online's annual "Save One Show" television poll is over, and Veronica Mars devastated the competition with 56% of the vote! All while beating out popular favorites like The West Wing (less that 1%) and Arrested Development (9%)...
Hartman. After being announced, then unannounced, scheduled, then unscheduled, Phil Hartman's final show News Radio is finally coming to DVD! One of my all-time favorite comedians, Hartman headed up an absolutely brilliant cast that included Dave Foley (Kids in the Hall), Stephen Root (Office Space), Andy Dick (Less Than Perfect), Maura Tierny (E.R.), Vicki Lewis (Celebrity Makeover), and Khandi Alexander (CSI: Miami). I stopped watching after Phil died, but every show until then was GOLD and will be a welcome addition to my DVD collection.
Renewal. NBC has already announced renewals for The West Wing, Crossing Jordan, Las Vegas, ER, and Joey. I stopped watching ER ages ago, never got into Crossing Jordan, and thought Joey sucked ass. That leaves me happy for Las Vegas a guilty pleasure which has four of the hottest ladies on television, and The West Wing which took a nose-dive after creator/writer Aaron Sorkin left, but has been rebounding with great new characters (the new National Security Advisor, "Kate Harper," is the best addition since "Ainsley Hays"). It will be interesting to see what happens when the show gets a new president.
Bullshit. Proving that it can't be all good news all the time, The Sci-Fi Channel has debuted what has to be one of the most embarrassingly bad concepts for a movie in recent memory... MANSQUITO! He's half-man, half-mosquito, and all killer...
They cancelled the brilliant Farscape so they could have money to finance this crap? WTF?!?
I finally got around to watching Sky Captain And the World of Tomorrow on DVD and found it to be a stunning piece of art. Every frame looks more like a gorgeously rendered painting than a movie, and the visual effects are nothing short of jaw-dropping. This may very well be the most beautiful looking film I've ever seen. As if that weren't enough, it's got giant robots attacking New York, ray guns, and loads of other cool stuff! It's as if all the things that those 1930's sci-fi serials thought was going to happen in the future, actually did happen!!
I remember wanting to see this when it was in theaters, but never managed to make it. I am furious with myself that I didn't get to see it on the big screen (where it absolutely belongs). All I can hope is that it one day hits some kind of limited re-release or is shown at a convention of some kind...
No still-frame capture will ever do justice to the lush visuals Sky Captain so liberally doles out (and choosing from hundreds of amazing shots is an impossible task), but oh what a movie...
The only thing that keeps this flick from being one of the greatest films of all time is A) The story is a bit weak, and B) The acting in places is dreadful awful. Jude Law is fine as the heroic Sky Captain Joe, Giovani Ribisi is great as his sidekick Dex, and Angelina Jolie is radiant in her bit part as Captain Frankie Cook... but Gwyneth Paltrow's take on not-so plucky, plucky reporter "Polly Perkins" is a mess. She wanders through scenes as if she's drugged, never fully committing to the part. I know that she is a capable actress, so I can only guess that she was unable to work in blue-screen environments or she needs a strong director, and first-timer Kerry Conran was too awestruck or timid to get it out of her. Such a shame, because a strong female lead would have improved the film quite a bit.
Still, story faults and Gwyneth aside, the dazzling images and edge-of-your-seat action sequences make this film a must-see. Just accept the fact that it is supposed to be a cheesy 1930's sci-fi serial drama, and embrace it for the masterpiece it is. I rented Sky Captain from NetFlix but, had already ordered myself a copy just 10 minutes into the movie! I must own it so I can watch it again and again and again, because there's no way you will ever absorb everything the film offers in only one or two viewings (even dozens may not be enough).
The bigger news to come out of the Sky Captain front is that writer/director Kerry Conran's next project is an adaptation of my favorite sci-fi novel of all time: Edgar Rice Burroughs' A Princess of Mars. This has me very conflicted. On one hand I am thrilled, because I know that the visuals will be amazing. On the other, I am terrified that he won't have the directing chops to get the acting performances that this story will desperately need. If there is no chemistry between John Carter, Gentleman of Virginia and Deja Thoris, Martian princess of Helium, then the movie will suck ass. And I am telling you right now, this movie simply cannot end up sucking...
I have waited most of my life to see John Carter in the movies, and it will not be in vain. I want this film to rule the earth so we can get a dozen sequels. I want it so fabulous that critics (or, more importantly, Burroughs FANS) cannot find fault with it. If they end up moving the time period from Civil War America, or some other dumbass thing, I would rather there be no movie at all.
I am cautiously optimistic. In the meanwhile, go buy a copy of Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow on DVD. It's just too darn pretty not to see it.
I was going to make time next week to go see Sin City, but when I found out that the tightasses over at MovieGuide.org were using words like "depraved," "despicable," "abhorrent" and "evil" to describe it... well, I just had to see it immediately. That's guaranteed box office GOLD, baby!
And I was absolutely not disappointed. The film is a shot-for-shot exact translation of Frank Miller's hyper-violent graphic novels, brilliantly realized by Robert Rodriguez. While there are a few hiccups in the process, the end result is a stunning visual treat that brilliantly captures a world gone mad.
And it doesn't hurt that the film has an astounding cast of talented professionals breathing life into the characters. Bruce Willis, Mickey Roarke, Clive Owen, and dozens of others (including a never-ending buffet of hotties like Jessica Alba and Brittany Murphy)...
In fact, I dare say there isn't a poor performance in the bunch, which only accentuates how beautiful the minimalist splashes of color look over the rich black & white noir feel. So, for me, this film is simply a must-see. But I realize fully that it is not a film for everybody. The violence is pretty heavy throughout, and much of the subject matter is not very pleasant (hey, this is "Sin City" after all!).
Now I'm going to have to go back and re-read all the books again.
UPDATE: I have tried a couple of times now to contact MovieGuide.org to point out a mistake in their review, but they don't offer up an email address, and emails to "webmaster" are bounced. So I guess I might as well make the correction here, since they are not open to communication...
*** SPOILERS AHEAD ***
In the review, among the many violent atrocities they list is "dog eats at dead person." This is not correct. It should say "dog eats at live person!! The reason that Marv took along the surgical tubing was so that he could use it as a tourniquet after cutting off Kevin's arms and legs. That way Kevin would still be ALIVE when the dog ate at him! Since Kevin was a cannibal who would make the women watch him as he ate them, Marv took a cue from The Bible and offered up Kevin a big-old slice of "eye for an eye" type retribution. You would think a so-called "Christian" movie review site could appreciate this.
UPDATE: Thanks to "Carmen" for telling me where to find the contact information at MovieGuide.org. I had problems with their drop-down menus and couldn't see it, but they do work fine in Safari, so I was able to send them the correction.
I won't even pretend to be surprised that somebody decided to take me to task for my overview of the sublime artistic vision that is Sin City. About the only surprise to be had is that there haven't been more such emails. Any time you remotely touch upon religion, it's almost a guarantee.
The short version of the letter is this: apparently everybody is entitled to their opinion, unless you are just positive that you are right and God is on your side... then, of course, everybody else is wrong and shouldn't have an opinion in the first place.
The long version is a little more complicated than that. I won't go into all the boring details, but suffice to say that movies like Sin City are destroying the moral principals God has handed down, and I shouldn't be attacking the MovieGuide.org ministry for doing God's work. Since sending a reply is undoubtedly useless, I'll just reply to her comments here for my own amusement.
I suppose the first thing I should do is provide a disclaimer that I am not a theologian. I have studied numerous religious philosophies over the years (including Buddhist, Christian, Judaic, Islamic, Mormon, Hindu, and Shinto faiths), but am not a practitioner of any of them. As a matter of full disclosure, I should also mention that I find Buddhism closest to my religious "ideal" and endeavor to apply Buddhist teachings to my daily life (but do not consider myself a "true" Buddhist). All of my religion studies were undertaken because of my love of different peoples and cultures in the world, and an effort to understand my fellow humans a little better.
Given all of that, I can say that I understand the world's major religious philosophies quite well. What I will never understand is how people practice the religions they profess to subscribe to. I do not, for example, understand how so-called Christians feel justified in bombing an abortion clinic and killing a doctor who performs abortions when killing is a mortal sin according to The Bible, and judgment is for God alone to pass. I do not, as another example, understand so-called Muslims who would blow up a building with women and children inside when the Prophet Mohammed forbids such actions. I do not, as yet another example, understand so-called Buddhists who own a gun and eat meat when Buddhist precepts discourage such things.
Ultimately, I have decided that people do not live according to any religious doctrine, but instead live according to their INTERPRETATION of said religious doctrine.
So, as a matter of respect, I fully appreciate people's religious beliefs and their opinions and interpretations of the laws that their religion demands of them. But, on the other hand, this is America. The same freedoms that allow you to practice your religion also give me the freedom to watch a movie you consider to be abhorrent (like Sin City). So if you honestly believe that I don't have the right to enjoy a movie your religious interpretation says is wrong, then go f#@% yourself.
Now, addressing the matter of me "attacking" the MovieGuide.org "ministry" (or whatever), this is complete nonsense. I only wanted to notify them of an error in their review. For Christians who find it pleasing to know about offense content and a film's adhesion to a "Christian World View" before going to a movie, then I'm happy that MovieGuide.org exists to spell it out for you. That way, I don't have to listen to you bitch and complain while I'm trying to watch the film. I have no problem with the people over at MovieGuide.org (tightasses though they may be), and wish them the best of luck in stemming the tide of Godlessness in America... unless it results in the removal of movies I want to watch, in which case they can go f#@% themselves too.
My respect only goes so far as to extend to those who would respect my beliefs in kind.
After going through a mile of bubble-wrap to get all of the fabulous Blogiversary 2 prizes packed up (just waiting for the T-shirts!) I thought I would update my Mac G4 Cube to Tiger and watch a little TiVo and a couple of NetFlix DVDs.
First up was Shaolin Soccer, which kicks so much ass that you almost need a new genre of film to describe its ass-kicking proficiency. If you've ever wanted to know what would happen if a soccer game took place in The Matrix, then this film is your answer. Really cheesy dialogue also makes this one of the funniest films I've seen in a while. The DVD had both the shitty, butchered "American" version and the vastly superior "Chinese" original (with English subtitles).
Next was Erasure: Hits!, filled with incredibly bad videos that are so gay that even gay people must think "wow, those are some pretty gay videos!" I am really schizophrenic when it comes to the music I listen to. At home, in my car, and on my iPod are groups like Radiohead, System of a Down, Depeche Mode, Oasis, Nirvana, Nine Inch Nails, and Pearl Jam. While at work, I am strictly synth-pop with groups like Erasure, New Order, Thompson Twins, Pet Shop Boys, and Moby (which is why my AudioScrobbler profile looks the way it does). Of all of them, Erasure is easily the undisputed queen of bubblegum synth.
Sadly, not a single video in the entire Erasure canon is worth a crap (the low point is when both Andy and Vince are dressed in full drag as very ugly women singing Abba's "Take a Chance on Me"). It's really too bad given they are capable of such beautiful music... "You Surround Me," "Joan," "A Little Respect," "I Broke it All in Two" and so many more. Why can't their videos be as lyrical and beautiful as the songs they depict? Sad.
Lasty, I watched the two-part Enterprise episode: In A Mirror Darkly. It's where we get to have the boring Enterprise characters all evil and interesting (finally) because they're in the Star Trek "Mirror Universe." It's fun to see Archer gone all insane... but even more fun to see Hoshi as a power-crazed whore in a belly-shirt who will sleep with anybody to advance her career. Delicious. I also found it a bit touching to see T'Pol and the other aliens attempt a coup against the evil humans, knowing they would fail completely in order to maintain continuity with future Star Trek series. If the show were this good for the past four years, I might have actually bothered to watch it (and so would everybody else, which means UPN wouldn't have had to cancel it).
Which begs the question... why is it that Trek producers just don't understand what Star Trek fans want to see? We want action! LOTS AND LOTS of ACTION! Don't have characters sit around in decontamination chambers and talk for an hour straight... blow some shit up! The reason Captain Kirk was so cool was because in any given situation he would either fight with somebody, shoot somebody, or have sex with somebody. THAT'S IT!! That's all he did, and we loved it! But now all we get for action is people sitting around the bridge saying stupid shit like "let's re-route the EPS conduits" and then pressing a bunch of buttons so they could go back to boring talk again. Stupid. I have every last episode of the original Star Trek on DVD and watch them all the time. I don't own any of the other series, and usually won't be bothered to watch them for free on television either. Why? Because when I tune in to Star Trek I want to actually be entertained (and there wasn't much of that to be found in anything that followed the originals, except the movies #2, #4, #6, and #8). Please, if there is a god of science fiction television, let Paramount fire the dumbasses who have been running Star Trek into the ground for the past 20 years and get somebody who will actually entertain us with the next series.
And now for a few more MacOS X Tiger observations in an extended entry.→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
One of the (many) things to love in the new MacOS X Tiger release is the new High Definition video codec that's built into QuickTime 7. The technical name for it is "H.264," whereas the "H" stands for "Holy crap this is amazing-looking video!" At first I had a little trouble with playing samples from Apple's HD Gallery, and assumed it was because my computer wasn't fast enough. But I think that might have just been because Spotlight was indexing in the background at the time... now it works great on my Dual 1.42GHz G4 Mac.
All the clips are amazing (and big!), but the movie trailer for "Serenity" is just jaw-dropping. I must have watched it a dozen times now. Each and every frame looks like a hi-res photograph instead of the blurry mess you get from regular video compression. Just look at the detail...
Every pore in her face... ever hair... is clearly visible. It's almost surreal. Now compare that to the previously released "large-sized" trailer...
Incredible. It doesn't hurt that the movie looks like it's going to kick huge amounts of ass when it arrives on September 30th. I was not a real fan of the cancelled "Firefly" television show, but I will absolutely be going to the feature film sequel.
Right now, QuickTime 7 is only available for the Mac, but a Windows version is promised soon.
I so want a $10,000 HD video camera right now.
Just got back from seeing Crash, a film about nothing... and everything. I guess I'd describe it as a character study that's a commentary on racism and race relations in a way that's both enlightening and frightening at the same time. Every character has their flaws, and nobody is what they seem or what you'd expect. What's interesting is the way the lives of the people inhabiting this film keep intersecting in so many ways... sometimes lame, but most-times fascinating.
I loved it.
And it doesn't hurt that every single performance was flawless... Sandra Bullock's brief part is the best I've seen from her in years. Don Cheadle's here in yet another jaw-dropping performace. Thandie Newton looking beautiful as always. Matt Dillon proving again that he's moved far past his teen-idol status. Michael Pena in an Oscar-worthy role. And even rapper Ludacris shatters expectations. And that's just a fraction of this amazing ensemble that's almost too good to be true.
It's refreshing to find that Hollywood is still occasionally giving us thought-provoking films to challenge us, rather than the spoon-fed cliches that are so predominant now. Life doesn't always turn out all wrapped up in a pretty bow... and movies shouldn't either.
Watched "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" today and have mixed feelings about it. I am a huge, huge Douglas Adams fan. I've read every one of his books and have met the man three times at readings he's done. On top of that, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is one of my favorite books of all time. Given that kind of devotion to the material, I admit that I was biased against it going in. How could it possibly live up to what's been in my head for twenty years?
On one hand, it was an entertaining flick with absolutely perfect casting and beautiful effects (Shynola could have really dropped the ball in animating The Guide but shined instead). Compared to many movies out there, it's brilliant. On the other hand... well, compared to the actual book, it sucks. They made too many senseless changes that meandered off into distraction. If the changes improved the story for film, I wouldn't have objected... but the majority of the changes just didn't make sense. They didn't make the film funnier. They didn't make the story easier to follow. They didn't explain things for those unfamiliar with the books. They were changes for no reason I could see, and they would have been better off sticking to the source material. Why mess with perfection?
For true fans, there were a few nice touches... like the original theme from the radio show that played when The Guide was opening up. The original "Marvin" from the television version standing in line at the Vogosphere. And Douglas Adam's head being the last object transformed into by The Heart of Gold (to name a few). It's not enough to make up for some gross errors, but it helps.
Complaints aside, I am glad I saw the film. As I mentioned, the casting is so good that I can never again read one of The Guide books without picturing characters and settings imagined here (except Zaphod's second head, which was stupidly handled in the film). All I can say is that if you see the film and haven't yet read the book... you really must. You can't not read it.
And while we are on the subject of Douglas Adams, his book Last Chance To See (about his quest to see endangered species around the globe before they disappear forever), is also worth a look. Funny and heartbreaking at the same time... all while being an incredibly important work as well.
One last thing. For the love of Zarquon... SUBWAY, WOULD YOU PLEASE STOP PUTTING THAT f#@%ING TOOL JARED IN ALL YOUR LAME-ASS COMMERCIALS! Seriously, I don't give a crap if you are toasting your subs now... I will drive 20 minutes into Wenatchee so I can get a real toasted sub at Quiznos so long as you keep having that moron advertise your shit. Jared had a fat ass, ate some sandwiches, and lost weight... BIG f#@%ING DEAL, it doesn't make him any less annoying. All you're doing is pissing people off by keeping his dumb ass on television. And yes, I still want him dead... now more than ever.
Ah, my last day in beautiful Utah started out in Zion to watch the sun rise over the park. After that, it was all about heading North so I could get back to Salt Lake City. But, along the way, I decided to get the most out of my $20 Zion Entrance Fee and take a look at the Northwestern corner called "Kolob Canyons." It's pretty sweet, but going in the morning was a big mistake, because you have to look directly into the sun to see all the coolest scenery. That means photos are pretty much out of the question, though I did snag one that wasn't all glare...
Once back in SLC, I decided to go watch Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith in a decent theater. After reading all the rave reviews, I was really, really looking forward to it. Well, now that I've seen it, I have one thing to say...
George Lucas should never be allowed to write or direct ever again.
George Lucas sucks so much ass as a filmmaker NOW that I find it impossible to believe that he was responsible for films like American Graffiti and the original Star Wars THEN. He is an embarrassment to himself and his profession. His once brilliant talent has been pissed away to depths impossible to fathom twenty years ago.
Revenge of the Sith was indeed better than the first two prequels... but that wasn't hard to do. Both Episodes I and II were tragically bad. Horrendously, praying-for-death bad. Lucas had nowhere to go BUT up. That he managed to do so just shows he at least has the smarts to hire some very talented people to save his hack ass. In the grand scheme of the Star Wars universe, I'd probably rate them like this...
And before you decide to attack me because you think that Revenge of the Sith is the coolest movie you've ever seen... think about it for a second. What was so cool about it? The awesome space battles? The mind-blowing special effects? The stunning settings? The kick-ass light-saber fights? Yes, yes, yes, and yes. But Lucas didn't do any of that shit. Industrial Light and Magic created all of that. Let's take a look at what Lucas WAS responsible for... horrible, cheesy dialog that is so bad that I was visibly wincing as phrases like "it is your love that makes me beautiful" stank up the screen. He's also responsible for getting crap performances out of otherwise incredible actors. Does he even bother to actually DIRECT his characters? You can tell they're trying, but there's simply too many scenes where they wander through like zombies spouting all that f#@%ed-up dialogue.
But what I loathe most of all is that Lucas excels at drawing you into these fantastic worlds, only to sabotage himself with stupid, unforgivable shit. A fantastic scenes of Wookies on the rampage has me totally engrossed... until it's f#@%ed up by a Wookie doing the "Tarzan yell" as he swings through the jungle. WTF?!? Congratulations you dumbass, you've just shattered the illusion you worked so hard to create. But it's nothing new... Lucas is ALWAYS destroying scenes with childish bullshit like burps and farts. He defends himself by saying that these movies are written for kids... but kids from WHEN? The 1960's when this kind of idiotic, juvenile behavior was actually funny? Now it's not just lame, it's stupid.
Despite all of that, I must admit to having a good time at the movie. If you can ignore the dialogue and acting, it's a Sci-Fi lover's dream come true to finally see the birth of Darth Vader... those epic space battles... all those geeky touches (was that the Millenium Falcon?)... it's the first movie since Empire Strikes Back that actually feels like Star Wars again. I just can't help but wonder how amazing this film could have been had Lucas done the right thing and passed the dialogue writing and directing to more capable hands.
I went and saw Mr. & Mrs. Smith today, and it has to be the most entertaining movie I've seen this year. It also has the highest body count. Angelina Jolie was stunningly hot, and this was the first role since 12 Monkeys that Brad Pitt has done that I've enjoyed (a pleasant surprise). The only problem was the ending, which fell a little flat, but getting there was so good that I didn't much care. I am embarrassed to admit that I am secretly hoping for a sequel. I could watch Angelina Jolie blow stuff up and shoot people for hours. I could especially watch her shoot the dumbass behind me WHO MADE A MOBILE PHONE CALL DURING THE MOVIE!!
Whenever you think you've seen the ultimate depths of human rudeness, somebody comes along to prove you wrong. One day that idiot is going to end up with his mobile phone deeply impacted into his ass. That would rule.
My love and addiction for Kitty Spangles Solitaire is well documented. But Kitty and I drifted apart after I upgraded to MacOS X Tiger, because she refused to play anymore. I had forgotten about it, but then Swoop released a Kitty upgrade, so I wrote and got a working serial number and she's all better now. There's a few improvements in the new version. One option is that a pig comes out and tells you when there are no more moves...
It's great at first. You don't waste any time running through a deck when there's no cards you can play. But after a while, all I want to do is bake that little ham when he comes on and tells me I'm a loser. That's pretty drastic considering I'm a vegetarian...
It seems that every time I go to the movies, it ends up being more about the morons who are sitting around me than the film itself. When I went to see Batman Begins, this did not change.
Sitting two chairs beside me was a woman who wheeled in what I thought was a suitcase. But it wasn't luggage, it was an oxygen tank. Ordinarily, this would not be a problem, but it was a defective oxygen tank that kept making a "sssst - sssst - sssst" noise throughout most of the film. I was getting so angry that I was contemplating either beating her over the head with the tank, or strangling her with the surgical tubing. I have no problem with people who need oxygen to breathe, but come on! If you are going to a public venue, be sure you've got a tank that isn't going to annoy the crap out of people.
But tank-woman was nothing compared to the f#@%ing sack-licking dumbshit that sat two rows behind me. It wasn't the fact that the redneck asshat felt the need to constantly talk to his inbred cracker clan... IT WAS THE FACT THAT HE TALKED TO THEM VERY LOUDLY!! He was forever dropping pearls of insight like "THAT FALL WOULD KILL A NORMAL MAN" and HEH, HEH... HE HIT HIM IN THE FACE. IT WAS THE FACE!!!!" and, my personal favorite... HE'S ON FIRE! THAT MAKES HIM THE HUMAN TORCH! HUH! HUH! HUH! HUH!!!" People like this should not be allowed in public... let alone be allowed to breed. He's just propagating an entire generation of movie-talking white trash that should be wiped from the face of the planet. If I had the ability to set things on fire with my mind, he'd be crispy like a burnt marshmallow. And, after I tossed the oxygen tank on him, he'd be like a crispy-dead exploded marshmallow.
Now, on to the movie. I don't really talk spoilers but, just in case you want to stay pure and haven't seen it yet, I'm putting my comments into an extended entry...→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
After toiling away at work until 3:00, I decided to take a break so I could watch the Oscar-nominated film Finding Neverland and eat some Cheesy Potato Quesadillas. Both the movie and the food were spectacular.
Finding Neverland is a shockingly good film of brilliant imagination that showcases just how amazing an actor Johnny Depp has become. His performance is the epitome of subtlety and nuance that few others can match. It's been a long road since 21 Jump Street...
Depp portrays J.M. Barrie, creator of Peter Pan, and the film shows the real-life inspirations that led him to write about the little boy who would never grow up. Of equal brilliance is the supporting cast which includes Kate Winslet, Dustin Hoffman, and four boys who are beyond gifted. I always marvel at how child actors can manage to pull it together, and this movie features some of the best I've seen in quite some time. Highly recommended.
Dave's Cheesy Potato Quesadillas.
Heat 1/3 cup of cooking oil in a skillet and then add one pound (1/2 bag, if frozen) of Southern-Style (Small Cubed) Potatoes. Sprinkle with Taco Seasoning to taste. Cook until crispy and golden brown, then drain the oil and set aside over low heat.
Take a Large Flour Tortilla and lightly butter one side. Place into large skillet over medium heat (butter-side down). Sprinkle with potatoes and plenty of cheese, then add a spoonful of salsa with green onions and black olives to taste. Cook until cheese is starting to melt (don't over-cook!). Fold tortilla over in half with a spatula, then continue to cook until both sides are a nice golden brown.
Cut into thirds, then serve with Sour Cream and Salsa (if desired). Delicious!
After Finding Neverland, I took a look at Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events, which was moderately entertaining. I've never read the books, but it seems as though they must all be the same story... Orphans get taken in by some freaky unknown fringe relative, then the evil Count Olaf comes along in disguise and tries to get them back so he can kill them and inherit the family fortune. I guess it's a formula that works, since the books are wildly successful, but it all seems a bit redundant to me.
Back to work...
I finally got around to watching Jean-Pierre Jeunet's Un long dimanche de fiançailles (A Very Long Engagement) starring the ever-radiant Audrey Tautou. I can't image the pressure of following up his previous success with Tautou (the incredible Le Fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain), but Jeunet somehow managed to deliver.
Engagement takes place after World War I, as Mathilde (Tautou) begins a search for her fiance, who disappeared during the war. She's been told he is dead but feels that if he had died, she would somehow know it. And since his body hasn't been uncovered, she refuses to believe it. Her search takes her on a fascinating journey that uncovers secrets, lies, danger, and a mystery...
The pacing of the 2 hours and 13 minutes is deliberately slow but, because the story was so beautifully shot, I never minded a bit. In addition, there were stunning special effects woven into the visuals which means there is always something incredible to see. This being Jeunet there were other quirky treats along the way, including a cameo by Jodie Foster (speaking flawless French), that was just icing on the cake.
By the time the movie had ended I was ready to watch the entire film again. And, if I had another 2-1/2 hours to spare, I would have. I've never had a desire to learn French, but if Jeneut continues to crank out these masterpieces I may have to start. The temptation to watch his work without subtitles is simply too great.
As for Tautou, she is starring with Tom Hanks in The Da Vinci Code come next year, so at least there will be something nice to look at if they screw up the book adaptation.
NEW! Google Blogs. Google has released a search tool exclusively for blogs. I guess that makes it "Bloggle?" I'm not very impressed... at least not yet. The search results often look totally random, even when sorted by date. In addition, problems I have with other search services haven't been fixed with Google. For instance, when I search for my name, my own blog doesn't show up in the results. This is despite the fact that my name appears in the sidebar of every single page here. WTF?
NEW! Bankruptcy. Today both Delta and Northwest filed for bankruptcy (or, to make it sound pretty they are calling it "restructuring"). This is kind of sad, because if our major airlines start crapping out, it's going to be really interesting trying to go anywhere when you have to string together a bunch of uncoordinated hops on small carriers. United Airlines, who has gone through bankruptcy itself in 2002, shows that surviving is possible... but operating conditions are getting progressively difficult. My guess is that fares are finally going to start climbing to levels where people are not going to be able to afford it. This, in turn, will cause airlines to shrink or die. Entire tourism industries to fold. More people to lose jobs. We are trapped in a downward spiral and nobody seems to be trying to find a way out. I'd say this is a job for our government but, well, you know...
NEW! Hero Cards. I've received quite a few emails wanting to know how to make hero cards. Just in case anybody is serious, click here to download a ZIP archive with a blank card in both Adobe Illustrator and GIF format. The GIF blank requires you to add your own text... the Illustrator files have text in place. Have fun.
NEW! Television. I just realized that I'm going to be gone as most of the new television season is starting up. Even worse, my TiVo doesn't have room to record everything I'm wanting to see. Even worse than that, my TiVo appears to be dying and I can't find a dual-tuner replacement. And just when you think you can't get any worse, it's been revealed that TiVo is going to start allowing networks to limit how long you can store their shows and disallow you from transferring them to tapes or DVDs. As if TiVo couldn't suck any worse after having canceled their Mac version of TiVo2Go, now they are actively hostile towards their customers. Hopefully DirecTV will come up with another option soon, so I can drop TiVo and tell the dumbasses to bite me.
NEW! Transporter. I am a huge fan of the first The Transporter film. Jason Statham kicks major ass, and tears through a fight scene better than just about any white guy I've ever seen. And when you get down to it, fight scenes and killer car chases are what an action film is all about. It helped that the script was actually worth a crap, but I suppose I should have expected as much from Luc Besson. Keeping all this in mind, I was freaking out when The Transporter 2 was announced, and Statham and Besson were both back onboard. This time, the action has moved to Miami, and "Frank" is a hired as a fill-in driver for a powerful politician's son. But when the son is kidnapped, the plot grows a bit complicated, and more sinister motives are revealed. Is it as good as the first movie? Not even. There's too many slow moments that attempt some really forced drama, and a few of the stunts go way past the relm of believability. But, as far as action films go, it's still pretty good. If you were a fan of the original, it's worth a look just so long as you keep your expectations in check.
UPDATE: Bwaaaahh ha ha haaaah! Thanks Susie! I have no doubt that a bitch could kick my ass... it's been done too many times before...
UPDATE: Now Patrick has a really cool card up! I think "1EE7 H4X0R" would make for a sweet battle against "Tube Dude" by hacking his nuclear-powered remote control!
Tonight I went to a showing of Just Like Heaven with some friends from work. I was the only guy in the theater. For a chick-flick, it was a pleasant surprise. Mainly due to stars Reese Witherspoon and Mark Ruffalo, who waltz their way through this romantic comedy almost effortlessly.
The story revolves around Ruffalo's character "David" who moves into an apartment only to discover that it is already occupied by Reese's character "Elizabeth." Problem is... she's a ghost... or is she?
The first half of the film is a bit cliched, but entertaining. The last half a bit sappy, but also entertaining. So overall not such a bad flick, and the dialogue is fairly snappy which is always a plus. Even if you can see the ending coming from miles away, there's always Reese to look at, so some fumbling in the plot is excusable.
The title of the film, Just Like Heaven is from a song by The Cure. I was a bit upset when they opened the movie with some other singer interpreting the song in a very different way, but the Robert Smith original played over the closing credits, so I guess it's all good. What's not so good is that they have the song Brass in Pocket in the film which is not sung by Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders... instead they got somebody else to sing it just like Hynde which leaves me asking "what's the point?" Why not just use the original if you want it to sound the same? Probably a money thing, but whatever.
If they're looking for another song by The Cure to base a movie on... I suggest Fascination Street. That would be a sick bit of deliciously naughty cinema!
Me, my friend, and a theater packed with nerds were treated to Joss Whedon's genius in the form of Serenity, the movie sequel to the ill-fated cult-favorite television series Firefly.
But as the credits were rolling, I couldn't help but think about what could have been. NOT for Serenity, which I enjoyed quite a lot. NOT for Firefly which was cancelled because of network morons grossly mishandling the show. NOT for Joss Whedon, who abandoned the "Buffyverse" to try something new. But for Star Wars.
Yes, Star Wars.
Star Wars started out as total brilliance, and then escalated into one of the greatest science fiction films of all-time (and best sequels ever) with The Empire Strikes Back. It remains my undisputed favorite sci-fi film, and a total masterwork in the canon of filmmaking. But then George Lucas found out how much money there was to be made in toys and merchandising rights (of which he maintains 100% control), and Star Wars was flushed down the toilet.
No longer were the Star Wars sequels about the story. It was about everything except the story. It was about selling action figures and stuffed Ewok dolls (case in point: everybody knows what an Ewok is, even though they were never named in the film). By the time Return of the Jedi came along, serious sci-fi was shoved aside for burp and fart jokes to appeal to the kiddies. The prequels gave us even more fart jokes, and then descended into untold levels of suckage with cardboard characters so boring and annoying that they were the least interesting thing on the screen.
Star Wars became a joke of cosmic proportions, and only partially redeemed itself with Revenge of the Sith.
So this is what a sequel looks like when the creator resists the temptation to sell out.
Whedon didn't introduce cutesy characters to sell toys. Whedon didn't dumb down the show to the lowest denominator so two-year-olds would be entertained. Whedon didn't destroy what he created for the sake of special effects. Everything that made the original Firefly series so compelling is right here in spades.
Unlike dumbass characters that typify the "new" Star Wars universe (exemplified by Jar Jar Binks) who you wish dead every minute they're on-screen, you actually care about the people whose story you are watching. You feel their pain and share in their triumphs. You relate. Serenity is all about the characters, and everything else takes a back seat... just as it should be. Sure it makes for a slower pace, but by the end of the film you're totally absorbed in a world that's not your own.
That's not to say that there aren't problems. The film is unevenly balanced in parts, clumsily shifting between action and drama that accentuates its television heritage, but it never self-destructs as it so easily could. Trademark Whedon humor and witty dialogue drive the story forward through the rough patches, and easily make up for any shortcomings.
The story revolves around killing-machine savant River Tam, and the mystery of why "The Alliance" is so desperate to reclaim her. Along the way there are kick-ass fight scenes, stellar special effects, and more than a little dose of tragedy. I enjoyed it all, even if my favorite character had to suffer for it (proving once again that Whedon knows just what buttons to push to involve the viewer).
I'm not convinced that a 2-hour movie is the best format for Whedon's talent... he needs time to develop his stories that he just doesn't get here. But he did the best he could with what he was given and wraps things up in a way that won't disappoint the fans. I can only hope that between the box office and DVD sales, Serenity makes enough money that the dumbass network execs second-guess their decision to cancel Firefly.
And if there were any justice, the show would return in a new television series in better hands than those at Fox who worked so hard to make it fail the last time.
Returning home from back-to-back travels is never a good thing. Not only has work piled up while you were gone, but your TiVo ends up so packed with television shows to watch that you have to wonder if you will ever manage to work your way free.
Fortunately, there are only two shows I can't live without, and all the rest I am pretty much skimming through, so it's not as bad as it could be. Good thing, because I don't have the time for television right now...
Sigh. When a television genius like Joss Whedon says that Veronica Mars is the best TV show ever you would think that people would want to watch it. The fact that this is a true statement makes you think that people would be dying to watch it. Every episode is so tightly written and so brilliantly acted that the show seems to redeem television all on its own. Sadly, despite all of this (or, knowing American viewing habits, IN spite of this), the show will be lucky to last out its second season.
What is wrong with you people?
Last season was excellent from start to finish, and the last few episodes had jaw-dropping moments so profound that I wanted to have Rob Thomas' baby (he's the guy who created the show). This year, Veronica has shown no signs of slowing down and the episodes have been as amazing as ever. If you think this is just another high school angst crapfest, you couldn't be more wrong. It's a brilliant detective drama/comedy that's the one of the most clever and intelligent series ever to air on network television. It's only been five episodes and already we've had a tragic bus crash, a cameo appearance by Kevin Smith, Charisma Carpenter in a bikini, Steve Guttenberg, and Veronica is being her usual self... destroying powerful people and solving mysteries that Jessica Fletcher wouldn't have the balls to face. If you are missing Veronica Mars, you are missing life. The first season is out on DVD now, so there are no excuses.
Speaking of Kevin Smith, he's got a blog running for the filming of Clerks 2 and a spoiler images he's provided shows that one of the funniest people on the planet, Wanda Sykes, will be making an appearance. This woman is so funny that I actually sat through the movie Monster-in-Law (starring, heaven help us, Jane Fonda and Jennifer Lopez) because Sykes was in it. I am trying really, really hard not to get overly-psyched for Clerks 2, but I absolutely cannot wait to see what crazy stuff Smith is going to do with the "Jersey Trilogy" this time.
After Veronica Mars, the best show going has to be Grey's Anatomy (Sundays at 10pm, ABC). The medical drama part is better than ER, the comedy part is sheer writing genius, the eye candy is sweet (in the form of Katherine Heigl and Sandra Oh), and it has my favorite character on television (George). This show could have failed so easily because the dialogue doesn't really impress on the page, but the cast somehow makes every line sparkle. Who could guess that a simple exchange like this could be the funniest thing on television all week...
Izzy: "Way to go George!"
George: "I have my finger in a heart."
Izzy: "Very cool!"
It's just so flat when you see it in print, but when performed by Katherine Heigl and T.R. Knight it totally kills. I have no idea how they can keep things going so well for more than a couple of seasons, but I sure hope they manage it. Veronica doesn't have the ratings (a scary 2.5) to run much longer, but Grey's is a hit (a stellar 12.2) and can have a nice long run if they keep things interesting enough.
And speaking of stellar, Mr. Sulu has just come out of the closet and announced he's gay. Well, not really Mr. Sulu... he's married and has a daughter just out of Starfleet Academy... but the guy who plays him, George Takei. This got me to wondering why we haven't yet seen a gay character in Star Trek. I mean, in the Star Trek future everybody is supposed to be so advanced and tolerant of alternative lifestyles (you'd have to be with aliens walking around), yet it seems that anything not hetero has been jettisoned into space. It's all kind of bizarre when you stop and think about it. For the next Star Trek series, why not toss in a couple of hot alien lesbians and see if that affects ratings any. Nothing makes a sci-fi geek happier than hot alien lesbians.
And, since there is no better way to end a post than by talking about hot alien lesbians, I guess there's no point blathering on any further.
Watching A History of Violence is an exercise in patience that is rewarded with some terrific performances. Surprisingly, a big part of that is unexpected talent from Lord of the Rings vet Viggo Mortensen. I've seen him in miscellaneous movies, but usually in throw-away roles requiring zero acting ability. This time around he turns in a carefully crafted performance of measured subtlety that salvages an otherwise predictable film.
Oh yeah... there's also nifty left-field roles for Ed Harris (spooky!) and William Hurt (12 shades of crazy!).
As the title suggests, there are moments of gross-out violence that are only partially gratuitous. I suppose you could argue they are necessary to put the characters into context, but I'm not quite convinced. I thought the movie Crash had more to say, but A History of Violence is still noteworthy. The story revolves around an apparently meek and mild diner owner who has a shocking and violent run-in with armed robbers. Once he becomes a local hero things start to escalate out of control. The plot-holes and completely unrealistic ending aside, it's worth a look when it hits video.
Speaking of violence... people who can't shut the f#@% up during a movie shouldn't go to movies in the first place. One of these days I'm going to be sitting in front of a rude talker and they're going to end up DEAD DEAD DEAD!! If I would have killed the dumbass, I wonder if he could appreciate the irony of dying during a film with "violence" in the title? I sincerely doubt it.
After Peter Jackson finished up the Lord of the Rings trilogy, my hopes were high that he would finally get the movie rights sorted out so that The Hobbit could be made and the story would be complete. Instead he decided to remake King Kong.
This isn't really unexpected... if you've just finished a trilogy of box-office blockbusters, you can pretty much do whatever you want. King Kong was a dream project for Jackson, and he decided to go for the brass ring. I must admit, the idea of seeing Kong unleashed with today's special effect capabilities and a decent script adaptation is certainly compelling (it will help to erase the memory of the Jessica Lange remake crapfest from the 70's).
From the looks of the delicious new hi-def trailer up at Apple, not only did Jackson do a sweet job of capturing the spirit of the original, but he is composing the film to take full advantage of wide-screen, which should make for a mind-blowing movie experience come December 14...
I still want to see The Hobbit though. Unfortunately, Jackson's directing The Lovely Bones next, so I have no idea if that will ever happen.
I am sick.
And I have gone totally gay over Ryan Reynolds.
It's entirely possible that I am sick because I've gone totally gay over Ryan Reynolds, but I'm pretty sure it was the crappy dinner I ate. And when I say "crappy" I don't mean that there was literally crap in it, but that it tasted terrible. And now my stomach aches and I've got cramps so bad that it feels like my intestines are trying to claw their way out of my torso.
HEY! You don't think that there actually WAS crap in my food do you?!? Because that would certainly explain a lot.
It's no fun being sick, but it's even worse when you are far from home...
Anyway, before the gastronomical disaster that was my dinner tonight, I went to go see the movie Aeon Flux. But Aeon Flux was sold out until midnight, so I decided to go see Just Friends starring Ryan Reynolds. It was not a good movie. It was, in fact, a pretty bad movie. It was cliched and slapsticky and there was too much time between genuinely funny moments. In the end, I think it had potential to be a good movie, except the pacing was all off and it wasn't charming enough to make for good romantic comedy.
But I ended up liking the film anyway.
And it's all because of Ryan Reynolds. The guy is hysterical funny...
I first remember seeing him in Two Guys, a Girl, and a Pizza Place, but he eventually worked his way up to starring roles in Van Wilder, Blade Trinity, The Amityville Horror remake, and now Just Friends. None of these films were anything remarkable, but I think Ryan Reynolds was entertaining in all of them (how can you not love "Berg" from Two Guys, a Girl, and a Pizza Place?). I can only guess that it's because he's an astoundingly talented actor and a genuinely funny guy...
...or because I find him totally hot.
When I get that all figured out, I'll be sure you let you know. In the meanwhile, I think I need to go puke my guts out.
CHAPTER 12: Christmas, Bloody Christmas..
LEGO ADVENT CALENDAR TOY OF THE DAY: Crossing Guard with Traffic Paddle.
Lego Dave and his faithful companion Barky the Dog are rushing the brave construction worker to the hospital, but the evil Lego Buzz has caught up to them...
"NOW YOU CAN ALL DIIIIIIE!" screams Lego Buzz, his eyes filled with hate.
"Don't stop!" yells the construction worker. "Smash through the barrier and run him down!"
"Bark! Bark!" agrees Barky the Dog.
Lego Dave grits his teeth and charges forward, busting through the barrier and knocking Lego Buzz on his ass. The resulting crash tips over the wheelbarrow, and everybody goes tumbling to the ground.
"Hey!" yells a crossing guard running up to the scene of the crash. "You can't run a construction barrier! That's illegal! I'm going to have to write you a ticket!"
Then, out of nowhere, Lego Buzz appears... "TICKET THIS!!" he yells and he plunges his rotary saw into the crossing guard's stomach. "WAAH HA HA HA HAAAAHHH!"
"Dude!" exclaims Lego Dave.
"Bark! Bark!" frets Barky the Dog.
"AND NOW YOU'RE NEXT! ALL OF YOU!" screeches Lego Buzz, clearly out of his mind. "BWAH HA HA HAAAAH!"
Has time finally run out for our heroes?
FIND OUT TOMORROW WHEN DAVE'S "A VERY LEGO HOLIDAY TALE" CONTINUES!