Posted on Friday, January 6th, 2012
I used to love going to the movies.
I rarely go anymore.
Roger Ebert recently wrote an editorial commentary called "I'll tell you why movie revenue is dropping..." In it, he dissects why people aren't going out to the theater anymore. I thought I'd go through point by point to figure out where I fit in.
I remember several years ago... like ten years... maybe more like eight years ago... I was on a movie date watching Spider-Man 2. About 20 minutes in, some idiot's mobile phone goes off... and he answers it. My date dug into my arm with her nails because she knew this is exactly the kind of situation that causes me to go off. But somebody else beat me to it. "HOPE THE MOVIE ISN'T DISTURBING YOUR PHONE CALL, BUDDY!" he yelled. The man who took the call screamed back "MY WIFE WENT INTO THE HOSPITAL THIS MORNING, SO I HAVE TO TAKE THE CALL YOU ASSHOLE!" At this point I couldn't take it any longer and screamed "YOUR WIFE IS IN THE HOSPITAL AND YOU'RE AT A MOVIE THEATER? WHAT A DICK!" This cause the crowd to start applauding and the idiot with the phone left never to return.
It was at that point I realized that movie theaters were doomed.
Moviegoers have always had to deal with people who talk during the film and smack their popcorn and kick the seats, but mobile phones? This was a disaster. Who the heck is going to want to pay a stack of money for movie and overpriced refreshments if they're going to have to listen to people talk on the phone while they're trying to watch a film? Hell, escaping from having to listen to people on their phones is one of the best reasons to go to the theater!
Clearly movie theater companies would have to do something about this.
But other than those lame "turn off your mobile phone" messages that are flashed for a second after the previews, they don't seem to give a crap.
And now it's even worse because people are texting during the movie. Theater companies seem to care even less about texters because they "aren't disturbing anybody." Except they ARE. All those glowing screens are a huge fucking distraction when you're trying to watch the film...
Though SOME theaters have the right idea about that...
...but most don't.
And since I don't have an Alamo Drafthouse nearby to kick the rude assholes out of the theater, I just stopped going. Now the only time I'll go is when it's a movie I'm just dying to see... and even then I usually go to mid-day showings and wait for as long as I can so the crowds will have died down.
So attention theater companies: Stop your whining about falling revenue.
Because if you really wanted to lure me back as a customer, you'd start doing your part to make it a worthwhile experience. Which means kicking out the talkers, seat kickers, phone callers, and texters so people can actually enjoy watching the movie they paid to see.
Until that happens, I'd rather watch a movie on my iPhone than in your stupid, annoying theater, even though David Lynch will eat my soul...
Maybe I won't be "experiencing the movie" but at least I won't be "experiencing movie theater hell."
Posted on Tuesday, January 17th, 2012
I first became a fan of Betty White while watching reruns of The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Her character of Sue Ann Nivens was about the most beautifully messed-up thing I had ever seen on television, and any episode where she appeared was guaranteed to be a laugh riot.
This led to me watching game shows where Betty might appear, and her guest-spots on Match Game, Password, and many others became the stuff of legends.
After that, Betty became a bit of an obsession, and I'd watch anything she'd appear on. And yes, this included 180 episodes of The Golden Girls plus twenty-some-odd episodes of The Golden Palace. Probably because of all the things Betty has done, playing naive and innocent Rose Nylund was the most bizarre. It was not only opposite of what Betty White was like in real-life... but it was also opposite from most other characters she had played. The easy route would have been for her to take the role of man-obsessed sex-fiend Blanche Devereaux (which she was originally offered), but instead she went for the role that would be more of a challenge.
Though, I dare say that playing one of the sweetest, kindest people on earth wasn't too much of a stretch. Betty's tireless efforts on behalf of animals and other worthwhile organizations sets the bar for others to follow. And despite her having always been a bit raunchy, the fact that she is so widely known to be incredibly kind, caring, and generous makes it easy for me to be a huge, huge fan...
As you can imagine, I was very happy when she made such a huge comeback in recent years. Though, in reality, she never really went anywhere (as her massive IMDB page will show). To see legions of people loving on Betty as I had for decades is pretty amazing. That this newfound popularity led to even more fantastic appearances... such as her groundbreaking guest-hosting gig on Saturday Night Live... not to mention a new television show with Hot in Cleveland... is a Betty-fan's dream come true.
So Happy 90th Birthday to one of my favorite people on earth!
Here's hoping for many more birthdays, and many more years of doing what you do best... entertaining the world in a way few people have ever done!
If you want to help her celebrate, I can think of no better way than cruising YouTube for Betty White videos. That can bring a smile on even the worst days!
Posted on Sunday, January 22nd, 2012
THE SNOWPOCALYPSE IS UPON US! SNOWMAGEDDON IS HERE! Grab that special someone and bundle up tight, because Bullet Sunday starts now...
• Depp! People can say what they like, but nobody in cinema amazes me like Johnny Depp. The guy is absolutely talented... absolutely fearless... and absolutely brilliant. He can disappear into a role unlike anybody else, and owns any character he takes on. And this time it's yet another Tim Burton collaboration where he will be playing Barnabas Collins in the movie adaptation of Dark Shadows. This one image that's been released is enough to make me want to see this movie...
Just like it only took one image for me to want to see these movies...
I'll be the first to admit that not every film Johnny Depp signs onto ends up being great. But his performances are always interesting. It's hard to ask for anything more than that, so I'm always looking forward to his next performance.
• Sniffle! I tend to look at everything as a learning experience. Even having a cold. This time around I learned about a new tissue... COOL TOUCH KLEENEX...
It is awesome on a sore nose because it is, in fact, cool to the touch. And it feels great on your nose. I think it must be some kind of scent-free menthol-like substance that is body-heat activated. Or not. But however they make it happen, it's a pretty sweet advance in tissue technology, and the only tissue I'll be buying from now on.
I could tell you what a terrific, quirky character Walter "The Finder" Sherman is (played by Geoff Stults) and how entertaining the stories are, but all I really need to say is that it has Michael Clarke Duncan in it. If you're looking for something a little different to watch this winter, this show may be worth a look. You can catch the last couple episodes streaming on the official FOX site.
• Netflix Streaming Movie of the Month! Lately I've been on a foreign movie binge and discovering some real gems. The latest is a wonderful French film called The Grocer's Son now streaming on Netflix...
After his father has a heart attack, a guy living in Paris returns to his family home in the countryside to help his mother with their store. His job is to drive a grocery van to small villages and remote homes so that the elderly people there can buy foodstuffs. After a while he begins to form a bond with his customers and his outlook on life starts to change. If you're looking for some "comfort cinema" this sweet story is worth watching.
• Netflix Streaming TV Series of the Month! The contemporary re-imagining of Sherlock Holmes by Steven Moffat and the BBC is currently streaming on Netflix. It is beyond brilliant, and I highly recommend giving it a look if you haven't already...
Like most shows from across the pond, Sherlock has stories, acting, and production values that are leagues above what typically passes for American television. Probably because each series only has three episodes. They put all their good ideas into small number of shows rather than trying to stretch everything out over 22 episodes like they do here.
• Cinematic Anticipation! There's been a movie hovering on the horizon that has me pretty excited. Now Robot and Frank has been unleashed at Sundance and the reviews have been pretty great...
I mean, come on, it's got Frank Langella playing a retired cat burglar who is given a robot to help around the house. But Frank discovers a much more interesting use for his robot pal... crime. As a premise, it doesn't get much better than that!
Annnnnd... scene. I need toast and jam.
Posted on Friday, January 27th, 2012
I think most everyone has experienced a time when they feel very small and alone.
The last time I remember truly feeling that way was in the 1990's when I was doing a lot of traveling by myself. Nothing makes you feel more small and alone than wandering in a strange country where you don't speak the language and don't really know what you're doing. Many times it was just me, my backpack, a map, and very little money.
It was a different time. Blogging hadn't quite arrived. Social networking as we know it now didn't exist. Sure the internet was around, but it wasn't something you carried around in your pocket like today. The way I can best describe life back then is disconnected.
Now I'm never alone. Not really.
Even when I'm alone.
Thanks to the internet, I have friends around the world. Somebody I know somewhere is online at any given time and all it takes is a Tweet or a Facebook update to reach them. I'm hardly ever disconnected... even when I'm traveling in foreign lands far from home. I just pull out my iPhone and the entire world is at my fingertips.
Feeling "alone" for me now-a-days has radically changed.
It's no longer so much about me so much as it's about things around me.
Last year a movie came out called The Eagle. It was roundly savaged in the reviews. People really disliked the film. This was disappointing to me because I'm a fan of Roman Empire era books and movies and was looking forward to it. But I ended up skipping it. Who has time for bad movies?
Tonight I wanted some background noise while working so I turned on the television. As I was whipping through channel after channel of nothing, I saw that HBO had The Eagle playing, so I left it there and went back to work. At least I wouldn't be distracted.
But slowly the movie sucked me in. I ended up really liking it.
And knowing that so many people hated it suddenly made me feel very alone.
I just didn't get it. Yes, the story was simple and straightforward, but it's well-crafted. It's beautifully shot. Good and evil aren't spelled out in black & white, but are subjective and interesting. The film is entertaining overall and even a bit touching in places. So... what's the problem? In an effort to understand what I had missed that was so loathsome, I started reading the bad reviews. I didn't agree with much of them.
A big deal was made over how Romans were played by Americans speaking English where the Brits were played by actual Brits speaking Gaelic. I guess it's odd, but it had an internal logic that was consistent, so I wasn't bothered. Many reviews criticized Channing Tatum's performance as "uninspiring." This was puzzling to me. His character at its core was disgraced and dejected, and I think that came across. Maybe he could have been a little more passionate as his quest came to a head, but even then I though his emotional detachment worked in the context of the character...
Tatum plays Marcus Flavius Aquila, a Roman Centurian whose father disappeared with the famous Ninth Legion in the wilds of Scotland, taking the the famed Eagle Standard (a symbol of Rome) with them. Aquila chooses to be posted in Britain in the hopes that he can regain his family honor there. But his military career is cut short when he is badly wounded by a hoard of invading Celts. While recovering, he hears rumors that the Eagle Standard has been seen in the North in the hands of the enemy. The film then becomes a buddy flick as Aquila and his British slave Escra (Jamie Bell) go on a quest to recover The Eagle so Aquila's family name can be cleared and Rome's honor can be snatched from the jaws of defeat. Some fighting and an encounter with "Seal People" ensue...
So I liked the movie and I'm pretty much alone in that.
Maybe I can commiserate with fans of the television show Chuck which aired its last episode tonight because not very many people liked it*.
Being alone together makes being alone not so bad!
*Including me. I frickin' hated the show Chuck. The only thing that could get me to watch an episode would be if the whiny little bitch Chuck Bartowski was killed in some horribly gruesome manner.
Posted on Friday, February 10th, 2012
If I have to listen to Mitt Romney mangle the lyrics to American The Beautiful one more time, I'm going to fucking lose it. The lyrics are NOT "for purple mountain's majesty..." it's "for purple mountain majesties." Those are the lyrics. Those are the words in the original poem upon which the song is based. If you're going to pander to the lowest common denominator with a bullshit smokescreen masquerading as patriotism, you should at least put the effort into doing it right.
Gee. I'm in a bit of a mood tonight.
That's what happens when you start working at 4:30am.
And you have to read about George Lucas telling the world that Greedo always shot first... that everybody is just "confused" and bad people want Han "to be a cold-blooded killer."
I saw the original Star Wars dozens of times... and by "original" I mean the actual film and not the Special Edition crap. I watched it again dozens of more times on LaserDisc. And not once during any of those times did I ever think that Greedo fired first. But, more importantly, I never once thought that Han Solo was a cold-blooded killer. Greedo had a gun pointed on him... he was acting in self-defense...
And, as we found out in The Empire Strikes Back, the guy was a scoundrel.
Which brings me to my point...
If I have to listen to George Lucas mangle Star Wars one more time, I'm going to fucking lose it.
HAN SOLO SHOT FIRST! I'd also go a step further and say that Greedo never shot at all... but I must be confused on that too.
Posted on Sunday, March 25th, 2012
And now that I've driven home (again) my vacation from my vacation is officially over. Sadly, I am in more of a need of a vacation now than when I got back from my first vacation. So validate your passport, my permanent vacation (and Bullet Sunday) starts... now.
• Thrice Four. When RW and I started THRICE Fiction magazine, I honestly thought that we'd be lucky if we got our friends and family to read it. Which is why once our first issue passed 100 downloads, I was walking on air. Eventually that number climbed to over 300, which exceeded my every expectation. Subsequent issues dropped a bit as the buzz died down, but we were still getting hundreds of downloads. I remain shocked to this day.
The newest issue just passed 2500 downloads only two days after release. It's kind of difficult to know how to react to that...
The cover for THRICE No. 4 is something I worked up while I was on vacation, though I had the idea months earlier. For some reason I always think of forks as being "evil" because they violently stab food, while spoons are "good" because they gently scoop food. After watching the amazing video for Rendezvous' The Murf where one culture rises to worship a squid and another a whale, I had an image of one culture rising to worship a fork and another a spoon. And now I finally had an outlet for it... composing them to be mirror-images of each other. For being a last-minute creation, I'm quite happy with the way it turned out. Though I still prefer the original idea. Let's face it... that video is nothing short of genius...
As always, you can download the latest issue of THRICE Fiction for free at our official website. Apparently we'll be sticking around a while. From the bottom of my heart, thanks to my partner in crime and everybody who has supported us these four issues.
• Trayvon Martin. As I've been on vacation, I haven't been keeping up with the news. Or blogs. Or much of anything. I tend to ignore everything and everyone when vacationing because that's what makes it a vacation. But it was impossible not to hear about the horrific death of Trayvon Martin...
Welcome to "Post-Racist America" where you can kill a black child just because you consider him "suspicious," and not even notorious "crusader for justice" and ratings whore Nancy Grace seems to give a shit. Now if somebody can just explain to me how a person can claim "self-defense" when they fucking profiled and stalked the victim... I'd appreciate it. That would go a long way towards explaining why no arrest was made and how a thorough investigation apparently wasn't worth the effort.
The word "disgusted" is so severely inadequate to describe my feelings here that I am disgusted with myself for even alluding that it could. Will there ever be justice for Trayvon Martin? I suppose that depends on whether people ultimately decide that gunning down a child because he was wearing a hoodie while being black is something worth getting upset about.
• Worship. While I do not consider myself to be a Buddhist, it is Buddhist teachings that form the basis of my belief structure. After decades of wandering when it came to matters of faith, it was Buddhism that "spoke true" to me, and integrating it into my life has done amazing things to contribute to my happiness and understanding of the world. I fully accept that it's not a "religion" for everybody, but that's perfectly fine. It doesn't mean we can't all get along. I respect the religions of others in the hopes that they will respect mine.
Unfortunately, this is increasingly not the case...
And he has ties to presidential hopeful Rick "Piece of Shit" Santorum. Shocking.
And, just like Santorum, this vile piece of crap has -zero- interest in respecting the beliefs of other persons. If you're not Christian like him, you can just get the fuck out of America, and that's all there is to it.
But it's not his intolerance that bothers me.
It's at the one-minute mark where he says "We don't worship Buddha! I say we don't worship Buddha! We don't worship Muhammad! We don't worship Allah! We worship God!" Well, whatever, asshole. Nobody is telling you that you have to worship anything. America was, in fact, founded on the idea of freedom of religion so you can worship whatever the hell you want. But you don't get to speak out of ignorance about an entire faith you stupid fuck.
BUDDHISTS DON'T WORSHIP BUDDHA! THEY DON'T "WORSHIP" ANYTHING.
Buddha was not a saint or a prophet or a god or somebody to be worshipped. He was a teacher. He discovered a way to find enlightenment and happiness, and chose to share it with people. And that's all. So when you see statues of Buddha and people bowing before them, it's not out of worship. It's merely a way of showing respect to a great teacher.
And now you know why I can never be a true Buddhist. Buddhists don't believe in "wrong-speaking." But I can't help but call an ignorant asshole an ignorant fucking asshole, so that's the way it's going to have to be. In any event, morons like this glory-seeking piece of shit are the ones that can get the hell out of America. You are betraying everything we are.
• Blueberry. One of my artistic inspirations, Jean Giraud (better known as Moebius), passed away on March 10th. His stories and artwork remain a triumph of the imagination, and I cherished everything he wrote and drew...
Goodbye Mr. Giraud. You've left us a beautiful legacy.
• Prometheus. Holy. Shit.
Looks like Ridley Scott hasn't lost his touch. To say I'm hyped to see this film come June 8th is a gross understatement.
• LEGO BATMAN!!! And as if Prometheus wasn't enough to get excited about. The sequel to one of my favorite video games of all time is coming later this year...
This looks incredible. If it's even half the game that the original LEGO Batman game was, I'll be very happy.
And now I suppose I should try and get some sleep since I didn't bother this weekend. Such is the peril of going on vacation.
30 DAYS DRAWING CHALLENGE: Draw Scenery...
Already done, man. Already done.
Posted on Friday, March 30th, 2012
I was pretty indifferent when I heard that they were making a movie from The Hunger Games books. Sure I liked the novel quite a lot, but I was in no hurry to see it in the theater. Maybe because I thought the second book wasn't as good... and the third book was disappointing... and I felt done with The Hunger Games.
But here it is, and I felt compelled to see it. I'll be vague and fairly spoiler-free, but if you really want to avoid any discussion of the film until you've seen it (or read the books), I'd skip down to my final "30 Days Drawing Challenge."
In summary... an enjoyable enough film, but a big step down from the book upon which it's based...
In the future the US has collapsed, sea level has risen, the world has been reshaped, and civilization has been replaced with "Panem" a new nation divided into twelve districts. As punishment for having risen up against the government, each district holds an annual lottery where a boy and a girl are offered up as "tributes" in a battle to the death where only one shall survive.
Which sounds kind of familiar if you've read/seen Battle Royale, but whatever. The long and short of it is that the plot of both works is pretty fucked up, seeing as how young kids are going around killing each other.
Anyway... the tribute from District 12 is Katniss Everdeen, who volunteers to take the place of her young sister who "won" the Hunger Games lottery. She is offered up along with a guy who's a vague acquaintance from her past, and the game for survival is on. Death and destruction ensue.
The thing that made the book such a good read is that it regularly punches you in the gut as you made your way through the story. It's edgy, personal, disturbing, relentless, and violent. It has mad pacing and a plot that drives ahead like a sledgehammer. By comparison, the movie falls flat. Most of the events are there, but they've been smoothed out until they lack any sort of edge. The sense of danger never feels very high. The second half of the film where the action should be coming to a head was actually kind of boring. And, worst of all, it never felt very personal.
As expected with a film adaptation, stuff was changed and left out... some of it inexplicably so. But what really pissed me off was how they altered the ending. The filmmakers were clearly more interested in setting up a sequel rather than following the disheartening end-beat of the source novel. This sucks ass, because it completely sabotages the story and robs a major character of their emotional journey. It was a cheap trick and a lame way of trying to make a more "likable" finish.
As for the casting, I didn't think it was as bad as many Hunger Games fans felt it was. I thought Katniss and Peeta were well represented. I thought Woody Harrelson and Lenny Kravitz were great casting choices. Stanley Tucci gave a great performance for a character that didn't really have a great performance in it. Elizabeth Banks frickin' WAS Effie Trinket, even though the character had a chunk missing from her back-story. Cinematography didn't seem as epic as I would have thought, but the film didn't really suffer from it. Direction and editing were capable, if nothing exceptional... probably stemming from the watered-down PG-13 script.
Ultimately, I recommend the book, and half-heartedly recommend the film if you've read the book. I don't recommend the movie if you haven't read the book, as it's missing too much to really hold up on its own (so read the book first!).
And... it's all downhill from here. The second book has some interesting stuff to draw from, but I don't think the third (and final) novel will adapt well at all. But, given the amount of money this flick has been making, that's not going to stop anybody from trying.
30 DAYS DRAWING CHALLENGE: Draw a Congrats Banner for Finishing...
Well that wasn't quite the big bucket of fun that I thought it would be... I guess I probably shouldn't start stuff like this when I have a vacation in the middle. Oh well. It gave me something to blog about a few times when I didn't have anything to blog about, so there you have it.
Posted on Friday, May 4th, 2012
HOLY CRAP WHAT A FRICKIN' AWESOME MOVIE!!
I don't want to spoil it for anybody, so I'm not going to give away anything. Except to say that The Avengers is a comic book lover's dream that even people who don't care for comic books will enjoy.
Which is not to say it's perfect. There are definitely some moments where it dragged a bit. But, unlike the crappy trio of original X-Men films which wimped out in every way possible, The Avengers attempted to show the brutal reality of what it would be like when a super-hero team come to life. And it totally worked...
Writer/Director Joss Whedon just eclipsed every other comic book super-hero film ever made. And I loved, loved, loved it.
With one small exception.
Which I can't talk about without RUINING THE FILM FOR ANYBODY WHO HASN'T SEEN IT.
So absolutely DO NOT read the extended entry until you've seen the movie. Seriously, you just can't go any further if you haven't seen the film. Even if that's going to be on DVD two years from now. Which it shouldn't be, because this movie is screaming to be seen on the big screen.
But before we get to that, time to update my whole "Y2K Super-Hero Comic Book Renaissance" scorecard as follows...
The Avengers... A+
Batman Begins... A
Batman Dark Knight... A+
Blade 2... B
Blade Trinity... B-
Captain America... A+
Daredevil (Director's Cut)... B+
Fantastic Four... C
Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer... D
Ghost Rider... C
Green Hornet... D
Green Lantern... C+
Hellboy 2: Golden Army... A
Incredible Hulk... B
The Incredibles... A+
Iron Man... A+
Iron Man 2... A
Jonah Hex... F
Punisher War Zone... C
Spider-Man 2... A
Spider-Man 3... D-
Superman Returns... C+
X-Men 2: United... D
X-Men 3: Last Stand... F-
X-Men Origins: Wolverine... D
X-Men: First Class... B
→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
Posted on Sunday, May 6th, 2012
Put down that margarita, because Cinco de Mayo is over and Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Wonder! Now that Joss Whedon's The Avengers has broken box office records and made $600 MILLION DOLLARS in only twelve days of release (with only three of those days here in the USA), my mind wanders to another project he was attached to a while back... Wonder Woman. Except Warner Bros. screwed him out of the film, which he very much wanted to make. Now, I'm not so deluded to believe that a Whedon Wonder Woman film would do The Avengers box office... far from it. But I do think that Joss could have made it successful if he had just been given a chance...
Wonder Woman perfectly rendered by the incomparable George Pérez
Whedon has a history of writing amazing female characters (Buffy, anyone?) and his take on Black Window in The Avengers was flawless, so one can only fantasize what he would have done with the most popular female comic book super-hero ever.
If every person at Warner Bros. responsible for fucking up Whedon's Wonder Woman film hasn't gotten their ass kicked and been fired, it needs to happen. Stupid shit like this is the reason that DC Comics' only success with movie adaptations in recent years has been Batman.
• Repeat! Speaking of The Avengers, am I the only one who saw it and now all they can think about is seeing it again?
The movie was just so... big... that I know it's going to take at least a dozen viewings before I manage to process everything that happened.
• Beastly! Sadly, Adam "MCA" Yauch died on Friday at the much-too-young-age of 47. Like everybody else from my generation, The Beastie Boys were a pretty big musical force in my life. And, apparently, other musicians feel the same, because the tributes are already rolling in. Like this one form Chris Martin and Coldplay at a recent concert...
This rendition of the Beastie Boys' most famous song is completely contrary to the brash "in your face" intent of the original song, but it's so beautifully crafted and heartfelt that it still works. Rest in peace, MCA.
• Comedy! I didn't necessarily agree with all the winners at the Second Annual Comedy Central Comedy Awards... but what a frickin' hilarious show. If you missed it, keep a look out. Comedy Central usually reruns their crap fifty times a week, so it should be popping up soon.
• Let Us! Why is it whenever I buy a bag of shredded lettuce for tacos and hamburgers that the shit goes bad just one day after opening? Oh... hold a second... the answer is staring me right in the face...
So now I'm conflicted. On one hand, I appreciate that my lettuce doesn't have any chemicals on it to make me sick or give it a funky taste. But on the other hand... I'M SICK AND TIRED OF THROWING MONEY IN THE GARBAGE EVERY TIME I BUY A BAG OF LETTUCE! I'd be happy if I could get a bag of salad that would last a full week. Hell, I'd be fucking thrilled to have a bag that last three days. But it doesn't exist, so one of two things needs to happen...
And now... back to my post-Cinco-de-Mayo reality.
Posted on Sunday, May 13th, 2012
Happy Mother's Day! And word to your mother, because Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Bank! The Avengers just blew past ONE BILLION DOLLARS at the worldwide box office. Not bad for a movie built for comic book geeks. The only way things could get much better would be if Marvel could get some cooperation between the various movie studios that have the rights to their characters. It can only benefit everybody involved. A cameo appearance by Spider-Man in an Avengers flick would only raise interest in Spider-Man's movie, for example...
But the meeting I most want? X-Men vs. Avengers. Not the cheesy, shitty X-Men from the crappy original trilogy... but the real X-Men we saw in the X-Men: First Class movie. Because the current Avengers vs. X-Men comic book is killing it, and that would make for one incredible flick. But nobody ever accused movie studios of being very smart, so it's probably never going to happen. Such a shame.
• CS6! And so Adobe Creative Suite 6 was unleashed this week. So far... I'm kind of digging it. As somebody who shoots a lot of wide-angle photos, the new "Adaptive Wide Angle" correction filter in Photoshop is worth the upgrade alone. Illustrator gets variable-width strokes and some really nice gradient tools. InDesign gets some really cool layout tools. And everything seems to be a bit snappier thanks to their new "Mercury" graphics engine. I also like the "pro" interface overhaul (even though it doesn't utilize the "full-screen" feature of OS X, which is just stoopid). Overall, a pretty decent upgrade.
Except for the cost. I bypassed Adobe's insulting and absurd CS5.5, so all my pricing is for upgrading "CS5 Design Premium." Except there is no "Design Premium" any more, so I have to get "Design & Web Premium" to get everything I previously had. Price? $749. Bullshit. In 2010 it was only $599. So I guess I skip "Premium" and get "Design Standard" for $549. It only has Photoshop (NOT Extended), Illustrator, InDesign, and Acrobat... which is lame bullshit.
The high prices are meant to push people to join Adobe's "Creative Cloud" offering, which gets you everything they make for $50 a month. This would be a bargain if I actually used everything they make. As a previous customer I get a year at $30 a month (introductory price), which is still too pricey for what I end up using, but it will give me time to figure out what I'll eventually end up buying. Hopefully Adobe will realize that people don't want to pay for what they don't use and offer an option without the video production tools at a more reasonable cost. As it is, "Creative Cloud" is more a rip-off than anything else.
• Iconic! I've written before about the carousel of progress that's been the evolution of Adobe Creative Suite icons. It went from an inexplicable WTF? in CS2... to a nice white on tone in CS3... to a very classy black on tone in CS4... to a pleasing tone-on-tone in CS5. And now in CS6? I don't even have an opinion...
Except to say that they feel clunky, amateurish, and look like shit in my Dock...
Not even color coordinated? Really? Pathetic. And the document icons are even worse. I'd be embarrassed for Adobe, but it's not like they'd give a crap. They're the only game in town now and they know it.
• DVR! Back when I had satellite television, I had a TiVo DVR. It was heaven. The best possible way to watch television. But I had to give up satellite for cable because my location wouldn't let me get HD channels by satellite. Unfortunately, Charter Cable doesn't have TiVo. I was stuck with a HEINOUS PIECE OF SHIT called a "Moxi" DVR. It was a poorly-designed, constantly-over-heating, featureless, stuttering pile of FAIL! It had to be replaced twice. Then the third one died this past week. So Charter gave me a generic Motorola DVR that's a heck of a lot better than MOXI, but still a featureless piece of shit (you can't even hide channels you don't get!).
Which begs the question... Why is TiVo the only company who can make a DVR that's worth a damn?
Charter Cable has been promising TiVo to their customers for ages. It was supposed to arrive next month. Now the rollout has been delayed. Who the hell knows if it will ever be released. What I do know is that I am sick and tired of the sub-standard DVR bullshit they keep shoving down my throat. Maybe it's time to ditch cable altogether and buy all the stuff I want to watch with AppleTV?
• Hooray! From the television up-fronts we now know that Person of Interest, Revenge, Castle, Suburgatory, Happy Endings, Scandal, Raising Hope, and Grim have all been renewed for another season. In somewhat good news, Community, 30 Rock, Parks & Recreation, and Fringe got partial final season orders for them to finish up their shows. While better than a flat-out cancellation, this still sucks pretty hard. Community is essential television viewing.
• Crap! The Finder and Awake... two of my favorite shows were canceled. Awake I kinda get. The show was a bit esoteric and didn't have a huge amount of mainstream appeal with the whole "two worlds" concept. People aren't that smart. But The Finder?!? Such a frickin' amazing and entertaining show. I simply do not understand how it failed to build a huge audience. To add insult to injury, they ended the season with a massive multi-character cliffhanger. I can only hope that Hart Hanson will use a couple episodes of his other show, Bones, to wrap things up. Damn. Fucked by FOX again.
And now? I should probably back-up my laptop now that I've added a bunch of crap. That's a good Sunday project.
Posted on Sunday, June 10th, 2012
Take time to be kind... because Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Prometheus. After getting caught up with work I decided to take a break and go see genius director Ridley Scott's return to science fiction... Prometheus. It's the story of mankind's quest to find the origins of life by following an "invitation" from our "engineers" to another planet. Chaos ensues.
Michael Fassbender as synthetic person "David," the only interesting character in the entire film.
I still don't know quite what to make of the movie because almost nothing made sense. I simply could not figure out how characters knew what they knew or why they did what they did. But, worst of all, there was no payoff story-wise at the end. Everything seemed totally pointless... even when somebody died. Especially when somebody died. And though there was an effort to tie the film to Ridley Scott's brilliant Alien... any effort to use what happened in Prometheus as a back-story doesn't reveal anything particularly interesting. Maybe that comes in the sequel, for which this movie was an obvious setup.
Overall I give the movie an A for the stunning visuals (which I experienced in IMAX 3D, and it was amazing)... but knock it down to a C when you factor in the mostly boring characters and a weak story with few thrills. And while it was nice to see some sci-fi on the big screen, I was mostly disappointed with Prometheus.
• Super. Well, I finally managed to eat at Super Duper, which is where some of my friends swear the best veggie burger on earth resides. And while I still prefer the vegetarian fare at Johnny Rockets, I have to say it's a good-tasting burger if you happen to be a vegetarian in San Francisco (it's got hummus on it!)...
• WWDC 2012. Tomorrow is the start of Apple's Worldwide Developer's Conference here in San Francisco. In the past it's been a big event for the release of new hardware and operating system updates, and this year will probably bring us more of the same. New
I wish I could stick around for the event, but tickets sold out in 2 hours and my flight leaves tomorrow morning. Oh well. Guess I have an excuse to buy internet on the plane now so I can keep up with things while I'm in the air. I'm hoping for an iPhone update that finally makes my "smart phone" into an actual smart phone... with features like AUTO RE-DIAL and SELECTIVE CALLER BLOCKING and TIME-SCHEDULED BLOCKING and all the other stuff that makes my iPhone a not-so-smart phone. Time will tell.
And with that... good bye to the City by the Bay.
Posted on Tuesday, June 12th, 2012
This morning began with me staring into the mirror in horror as I saw that my once-beautiful tattoo had started smearing as I put on some healing cream. "GAH! IT'S MELTING!" I shouted to the world as I grabbed the tube of ointment. My first thought was that I had somehow used too much of the stuff and I was reading furiously to see if I had missed any warnings in the instructions. But then I noticed that my fingers had flakes of inked skin on them, and realized that it wasn't smearing at all... the dead skin was just mixing with the ointment to make a smeary mess on my arm. Jester said that would happen, so I stopped freaking out and just left it alone.
By this evening, most of the blackened dead skin had rubbed off when I put more ointment on, so everything was back to normal.
Well, not everything was back to normal.
My Blu-Ray copy of John Carter had arrived so I decided to take a look. Since it was based on one of my favorite books of all time, A Princess of Mars, and the preview footage looked awesome, I was always mad that I had missed it in the theater despite all the bad reviews...
Now, I should start off my "review" by stating that I had extremely high hopes for this film. Director Andrew Stanton was a self-professed fan of the original Edgar Rice Burroughs novel, and his track record for telling a story with Finding Nemo; Toy Story; Monsters, Inc.; and other amazing Pixar flicks was solid. So when the bad reviews rolled in, I was unconcerned. And when Disney announced they had a massive flop on their hands and were going to lose 200 million dollars on the film, I was even more unconcerned. Obviously Andrew Stanton had created a movie that was so faithful to the source material that the idiot masses of the movie-going-public-at-large were too stupid to appreciate it. And I also blamed the shitty film title and horrible marketing that did nothing to explain the concept of the film. It couldn't be the movie, it was everything else that was bad... right?
Um. No. This movie sucks balls and has to be one of the biggest cinematic disappointments in the history of the movies. If you are sensitive to sporadic graphic language, a warning...
My spoiler-filled "review" is in an extended entry...→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
Posted on Friday, July 13th, 2012
Problems arise when I travel all the time. But I'm not accustomed to having problems when dealing with those problems. I have a stack of loyalty cards... frequent guest cards... preferred guest cards... etc... which make dealing with problems not so problematic. When something comes up, the airline/hotel/rental-car/whatever takes a look at my credentials and makes it go away. It's one of the perks of being a frequent traveler, because your repeat business is something these companies value. They do whatever they can to keep you coming back.
But every once in a while...
This morning after a 45-minute nap, the only sleep I'd had in 23 hours, I had to get back to the airport to turn in my rental car by 10am. My plan was to then go directly to the hotel and get an early check-in so I could catch up on some sleep.
But the hotel was having none of it. No matter how great a customer I was.
They were overbooked with a convention and, unlike previous times I wanted a room early, there was nothing they could rush to clean so I could get some sleep. In fact, they had no idea when I might get a room... even at their usual 3:00 check-in time.
Well this was something new.
After wandering around the lobby in a daze for ten minutes, I eventually decided to drop off my suitcase, drink my fifth
The movie I decided to see? TED! The story of a teddy bear that comes to life and the life-long friendship he has with the kid he grows up with.
It wasn't as funny as I expected.
It wasn't as raunchy as I had been led to believe.
But it hits far more often than it misses, and I really enjoyed the film. Yes, it's reminiscent of director/star Seth McFarlane's other work (namely, Family Guy) but it has a surprising amount of heart, some genuine laughs, the creepiest dance scene ever recorded, some great 80's-related homages, and (most importantly) a lead character that's about as real and believable as he could possibly be (despite being a teddy bear). Definitely some R-rated stuff, but worth your valuable time to check out.
Lunch was at Johnny Rockets, because I just can't help myself.
Then I took a train back to the airport at 2:30... finally got my room at 3:15... then got dressed and took another train back into the city so I could have a last-minute dinner with some - bloggers - of - great - importance, which is my favorite thing to do in Atlanta.
Despite having 45-minutes sleep in 38 hours, I was never really tired. I guess that's the power of keeping active with fun stuff to do... and loading-up on energy drinks.
I'm going to keep this in mind as I try to busy myself before my 7:30pm flight home tomorrow...
Posted on Friday, August 10th, 2012
Portland is a real toss-up when it comes to travel. Driving there from my home is about 5 hours. Flying there is also about 5 hours... once driving to the airport, getting through security, waiting for boarding, flight time, and layovers are factored in. So what to do? Usually it comes down to money. If it's cheaper to drive, I drive. If it turns out it's cheaper to fly, I fly.
This time it was not only cheaper to fly (thanks to a rocking' airfare I found with Alaska Airlines) but I honestly didn't feel like driving for five hours.
Unfortunately my flight was at 6:00am, which means I had to get up at 3:30am. This makes for a very long day.
But a good one.
Because it started off terrible. After checking in with my airport hotel, I took a shuttle to the MAX light rail station. After buying my ticket I went to look at the schedule and saw a poor little moth trapped behind the glass and unable to move...
I tried tapping the glass to try and knock him loose but, even if I got him un-stuck, he'd probably just climb right back up again while trying to find a way out. I then contemplated smashing him to put the poor little guy out of his misery, but couldn't bring myself to do it. Calling the TriMet emergency line was my last option, but something told me they wouldn't rush right out to release a trapped moth. So I left the poor bugger to his fate.
From there I was off to meet fellow bloggers Vahid and Sarah for lunch. Which was at E-San, one of the best Thai restaurants I've eaten at outside of Thailand. I had fried pineapple rice (which they serve in a hollowed-out pineapple half...
It. Was. Awesome.
Then my Portland hosts decided to show off by taking me to Salt and Straw, which is an ice cream parlor SO GOOD that Oprah has it on her "Favorite Things" list. The line ran all the way out the door, which only confirmed that Oprah knows her ice cream...
I had Almond Brittle with Salted Chocolate Ganache mixed with Sea Salt Ice Cream with a Caramel Ribbon. And, yes, you read that right... it's not "salted caramel in ice cream" it's actually SALT-FLAVORED ICE CREAM which happens to have caramel in it. Needless to say... it's pretty damn salty. But also pretty amazing. What's even more amazing than the flavors are the staff... you'd think serving all these rather pretentious and upscale flavors from a hugely popular parlor would give them attitude. But it absolutely doesn't. They are all as nice and fun as can be... happy to let you try flavors and make recommendations so that you're thrilled with your dessert. And I was.
And here's where our day takes an unbelievable turn...
Portland, Oregon is a city so filled with freedom and American spirit... THAT THEY HAVE CUTE GIRLS HANDING OUT FREE HUMMUS ON THE STREET CORNERS! Yes. You read that right. This is NOT a dream. This is NOT an imaginary story. Free. Hummus. FREE HUMMUS ON THE STREET!!
"Is this heaven?"
"No. It's Portland."
And then, because only Batman can top free hummus, Vahid and I went to see The Dark Knight Rises...
Not quite as much as The Dark Knight, but it was a very good end to the Nolan-directed Batman series of films. The only negative was that I had completely figured it all out well before the ending. Anybody who religiously follows the comic books would. But... it didn't diminish my enjoyment one bit. Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle (an unnamed Catwoman) totally steals the show. Bane was a much better villain choice than I gave him credit for (thanks to an amazing performance by Tom Hardy)... and Christian Bale once again ruled the cowl in a way no other Batman has ever done. Genius. Here's hoping that whomever takes over the Batman movies will do even half as good a job as Christopher Nolan.
And now... I'm pretty much dead, and tomorrow is going to be a long day.
Posted on Sunday, August 12th, 2012
Put away that razor and pull on those socks and Birkenstocks... because Bullet Sunday LIVE from Portland, Oregon starts... now...
• Olympic. I would have paid serious money for Bob Costas and Ryan Seacrest to shut the fuck up during the Olympic Closing Ceremonies. Seriously, nobody wants to hear your inane and unnecessary banter. People who don't already know the artist and/or song being performed, or what the British flag looks like, or when the "comedic part of the show" starts, or whatever... isn't going to give a shit, so just stop because you're pissing off the rest of us that do.
Anyway... the mix of musicians was interesting and the performances were top-notch, so I guess that's all you can really hope for. As an 80's music whore and pop music fan, seeing Pet Shop Boys, George Michael, Annie Lennox, Bond, Spice Girls(!), Queen, ELO, and Take That... all in a single event... all with a giant octopusmobile AND ERIC IDLE... was pretty great (alas, no nod to punk?).
Spicey Olympics Photo by Hassan Ammar/AP
So congratulations to London and the U.K. for delivering a big "fuck you" to Mitt Romney by being the perfect host for the games... I'm just sorry that here in the Colonies, NBC felt the need to butcher your event and slap bad commentary over everything while injecting "human interest" stories that (for the most part) were neither human nor interesting. Hopefully we'll have better luck in 2016...
...but I doubt it.
• Rozilla. While I still find the Comedy Central Roasts entertaining, it seems like it's more washed-up celebrity than heavy hitters in comedy any more. I mean, it's Rosanne for Pete's sake...
The opportunity to roast her should have brought out some of the biggest names in comedy. Instead we get Carrie Fisher, Ellen Barkin(?), and Seth Green(?!?). A completely missed opportunity. The surprise appearance by Tom Arnold was (surprisingly) a good thing... and Amy Schumer keeps getting funnier, so I guess there's that. But this pale imitation of the glory days of the Friar's Club Roasts is just kind of sad. If they can't do better than this for somebody like Rosanne then they should just hang it up.
• Totally. And so I went to see Total Recall (the Total 2012 Remake). It wasn't bad. It had good action, good special effects, and a nice Blade Runner-esque environment that pretty much sold the future. And there were a few nods to the original film that were great (TWO WEEKS!)...
The problem? It just wasn't any fun. On the contrary, it was essentially joyless, and I'm not sure how it ended up that way with so much going for it. Kate Beckinsale was delicious, as usual. And I thought Colin Farrell did a great job. So I dunno. Maybe the Arnold Schwarzenegger original was just too well done? Paul Verhoeven really knocked it out of the park, creating a film that totally holds up and doesn't need a remake. But it's not like that has ever stopped Hollywood.
• Kubert. I was very sad to learn that comic book icon Joe Kubert has died. Talk about somebody who made a mark in his field. The guy was a true artist and comic book master. I remember his Hawkman stories very well, and always enjoyed it when he popped up in unexpected places.
Rest in peace, Mr. Kubert.
• Crazy. As much as I try to ignore the freak show, Pat Robertson seems to be echoing the same bullshit that I keep hearing from other homophobic morons who are twisting The Bible to justify their hate, so here he goes...
First of all, IT'S NOT ABOUT A CHICKEN SANDWICH OR A MILKSHAKE, YOU STUPID PIECE OF SHIT. It's not even about some rich asshole's right to give money to groups which fosters an environment so horrible that gay youth are killing themselves. It's about people choosing to not support a company whose profits support such un-American ideals as DENYING EQUALITY TO EVERYONE. Why is it that hate groups like "One Million Moms" can call for all kinds of boycotts against things you don't like and that's okay, but when somebody else calls for a boycott against something you do like, they're "attacking freedom?"
Second of all, cherry-picking only those things out of The Book of Leviticus which you think supports your hateful crap makes for a laughably hypocritical and ignorant "Christian." Where is your outrage for all the other antiquated and ignored parts of The Bible which get violated every single day? Where's the righteous hate towards those wearing an article of clothing woven from two different threads, for example? Not that it matters. Here in the United States of America people don't have to live by the warped, edited, and totally biased interpretation of a religious document that's been butchered by an addle-minded old bigot with a television show. YOU live by it if you want to, that's your right. But keep in mind that it's everybody else's right to tell you to go fuck yourself and live the way they want to. Freedom. You may want to go look it up sometime.
And, thirdly, I defy... I defy an infertile woman married to an infertile man to bring forth a baby from that part of the anatomy which they concentrate on. I also defy you to comprehend that you can't categorize somebody's relationship eligibility by whether or not their body parts can make a baby. Not according to Christianity, and most certainly not according to the law. It's a very simple concept, and yet you keep avoiding it because the alternative is to come out and admit the truth... you just "hate those filthy homosexuals" and don't feel they deserve any rights because they don't live the way you want them to. Holy crap what a pathetic coward you are that you don't even have the balls to come out and say it.
So why don't you be the one to shut your mouth? People here in the 21st century are getting sick and tired of religion being used as an excuse for intolerance and hatred. This country is starting to move past your tired old message of bigotry and exclusion. Freedom of religion also means freedom from religion, and this country was based on that ideal. If you can't handle that, feel free to get the fuck out of the USA and go start a country of your own. That way, I won't have to keep seeing your stupid America-hating, freedom-defiling, equality-bashing ass pop up any time you say something new and crazy. Which, apparently, is constantly.
• EXTREME! Dude! SHARK WEEK STARTS TODAY!!
I wish I knew who created this beyond-awesome fruit carving, because they totally deserve recognition for crafting the most shark extreme watermelon ever. The gummi-fish are a nice touch.
And now? Seacrest out.
Posted on Sunday, August 19th, 2012
Get over your post-Olympic depression... because Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Sexytime. Remember the good old days when a teacher would sleep with one of their students? Well, technically, those weren't the "good old days"... but now it's looking like they could be. Because a teacher in Texas has been convicted for having a FIVE-WAY GANG BANG with four of her students at the same time ON VIDEO. Plus a fifth student separately (I guess he was late to the party?)...
At least the students were at the age of consent this time. Though the truly shitty part is that the woman is married... with three kids. Which makes her eligible for the grand trifecta of Teacher of the Year, Wife of the Year, and Mother of the Year. I don't pretend to know anything about her marriage or her life (apparently her husband was also into the group thang), so it's not really my place to judge her for the things she's done. But holy crap. Age of consent or not, parents should be able to trust that their kids aren't going to get invited to a gang-bang by their school teachers. Military husbands should be able to leave for their service and trust that their wives aren't going to cheat on them with a bunch of teenagers in their own home. Kids should be able to trust that their mom isn't going drag them into the media spotlight by having a sex video where she's sport-fucking a high school football team. If you want to do this kind of crazy shit, more power to you. But don't make it a contest of how many lives you can ruin along the way... stay single and go fuck the Dallas Cowboys or something. Otherwise you're just making choices to intentionally hurt people you should be caring about... and that makes you selfish garbage. I am so sick and tired of hearing about kids having to live through this this crap. If you can't fully commit to having a spouse and family... don't get married and have kids! And if you do it anyway, then at least have the decency to stick by your choices instead of dragging your innocent kids into your shit.
• Douche. There are some actors I love so much that I am compelled to watch absolutely everything they do no matter how bad it is. Morgan Freeman comes to mind. I don't care how crappy the film, you can count on him to be absolutely brilliant in it, thus making the movie worth your suffering. Of course, the opposite is also true. There are actors I loathe so much that I avoid absolutely everything they do. And at the top of that list would be Shia LaBeouf, who has to be one of the shittiest actors on the planet...
Photo take from a douchetastic interview over at Details Magazine
I mean, this guy played a huge part in fucking up an unfuckable movie franchise for The Transformers! How do you fuck up a movie about giant robots fighting evil giant robots? You hand it over to Michael Bay and put Shia LeBeouff in it, that's how! And how do you fuck up the Indiana Jones movies, one of the most beloved franchises in cinematic history? You have George Lucas write it and put Shia LeBeouff in it, that's how! Everything he touches turns to absolute crap. And, as if that weren't enough, he's a colossal d-bag as well... screwing other guy's girlfriends, trashing the people and studios that gave him work, and squaring off with security guards who kick you out of Walgreen's for smoking. He probably thinks that antics like this make him some kind of "Hollywood bad boy," when it actually just makes him a total dick.
Which is why it makes total sense that he is swearing off big-budget films forever, and is just going to do little indie films which have artistic "vision." First up? He's making a porn flick called Nymphomaniac with Lars VonTrier. Because making a sex video is totally visionary. Well, whatever. Anything that makes it easier to avoid seeing this complete douchebag's shitty acting in another film is something I approve of.
• Closure. I am always gutted with a Hard Rock Cafe closes that I didn't get to visit. And the worst closings are those that keep me from collecting a complete set of country visits. Like Aspen, the only Hard Rock in the USA I didn't get to visit. Or Oasis, the only Hard Rock in the UK I didn't get to visit. And now... Narita, the only Hard Rock in Japan I didn't get to visit. It really blows that Hard Rock Corporate doesn't warn fans when a cafe is going to close so they have some time to see the property before it's gone forever. If I had known that Narita was going down, I would have found a way to get there, even if it meant selling a kidney so I could afford it. Stupid Hard Rock Cafe hobby.
• Patrik. A Swedish movie was suggested to me called Patrik, Age 1.5, and I finally got around to watching on Netflix Streaming. It's the story of a gay couple who set out to adopt a baby they think is 1.5 years-old... but is actually a 15 year-old homophobic delinquent. Hilarity ensues...
Well, maybe not "hilarity," but it is a pretty funny movie. And kind of touching. And a little sad. But ultimately uplifting. Thanks again to my blog readers who keep digging up these fantastic obscure films for me to watch.
• Deadly. And so this happened...
When I first heard that Avitable had turned the "Interviews with Dead Celebrities" feature of his blog into a book, the first thought that came to mind was... I'll bet it wasn't entirely written by Adam. I'll bet that those "15 brand new, never-before-published interviews" were farmed out to some out-of-work writer... or outsourced to India... or copied off the internet or something. No way did he actually fabricate all new interviews with dead people just for a book. And look at that cover! It's a dead giveaway! Avitable is drawn wearing PANTS! Avitable never wears pants. Well, okay... he wears pants when he's out in public... but it's always short pants. This book is obviously a fraud and not entirely by Adam at all. And since I had already read all the real interviews on his blog, I was just going to take a pass. Who wants imitation Avitable? Not me. But then... then something incredible happened. I was reading the book blurb and saw this...
HOLY CRAP! The interviews were written ENTIRELY BY AVITABLE!! No ghost writers... no outsourcing... no plagiarism... the guy actually wrote every single interview himself! At first I didn't believe it. I couldn't believe it. Nay, I WOULDN'T BELIEVE IT! But there it was... staring me right in the face. The interviews were indeed written entirely by Avitable. He didn't even have any help or anything. So I was compelled to read the book. Partly because Adam is a friend... but mostly because I could read it for FREE with my Amazon Prime membership. And, yep, he may be wearing pants now, but it's still Avitable. If you enjoy the "Interview with Dead Celebrities" on his blog, then you'll probably enjoy this, seeing as how there's new content and all. Consequently, if you hate his Dead Celebrity interviews, you will really hate this book. You will be so outraged by this book that you'll want to buy a copy just so you can burn it. Except you can't, because it's only available electronically for Kindle. So you would have to buy the book, download it to your Kindle, then burn your Kindle. Which is kind of pointless, even if you've got the money to burn, because it will only encourage Avitable to write a sequel. In any event, you can buy a digital Kindle copy for $2.99 (or borrow it FREE with your Amazon Prime membership) by clicking this link over to Amazon.
Annnnd... back to work.
Posted on Monday, September 10th, 2012
They say that even a stopped clock is right twice a day, but in my case it's just not true.
The batteries in my Mickey Mouse wall-clock at work died at 7:28 while I was in Chicago. And since I arrive both after 7:28am and before 7:28pm I don't see the clock being correct even once. And since I don't even know if my office exists when I am not there, I'm not going to make assumptions about what happens when I'm gone. Logic would dictate that the clock does indeed read correct at 7:28am and 7:28pm, but I'm not going to drive to work to find out.
Because I have more important questions on my mind...
Which means nothing has changed, because that's what I'm going to be doing right now.
Well, that... and planning a trip to Bahrain.
Posted on Monday, October 22nd, 2012
Not a lot of differences on foreign policy in tonights debate. It seems that Romney mostly agrees with the President's handling of foreign affairs... he just thinks that he would make the US look "stronger" than President Obama while doing it. Or something like that.
I try to put myself in the mindset of an undecided voter to understand exactly what it is that each candidate was trying to say to them. Those are, after all, the only viewers of the debate that matter. Romney seemed to be bringing absolutely everything back to our flailing economy, which was probably a smart move. Obama seemed to be doing his best to paint Romney as somebody who it naive and out of touch with how the world works, which is also a smart move... except I have to wonder how much it matters to the majority of American voters, who have a very hard time thinking outside our borders.
Surveying the media landscape, it would seem that most people felt the debate was a clear win for President Obama. He decimated Mitt Romney at every corner using concise arguments and carefully prepared crowd-pleasing rebuttals. But the problem with relying on cleverly prepared statements on foreign policy means that the President was pretty weak when it came to addressing Romney's economic claims. When Mitt Romney talked about being a good businessman who saved the Olympics in Utah... Obama never brought up that he only managed to do it because of a massive government bail-out. Nor did he talk about how the business talents and ethics which Romney touts have been reported to be fiction. Obama should have been more flexible a debater when it came to talking about subjects outside of foreign policy... especially since the domestic economy is the topic which will most likely swing the undecideds. But he didn't. All we got was "the math don't add up," so Romney got the last word on a critical topic. This is bordering on disastrous when it comes to what Obama needed to accomplish, so I am not so quick to call the debate for the President.
If you ask me to summarize the debate over what I most remember from it, this is what you'd get...
OBAMA: “I think Governor Romney maybe hasn’t spent enough time looking at how our military works. You mention the Navy, for example, and that we have fewer ships than we did in 1916. Well, Governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets. Because the nature of our military has changed. We have these things called aircraft carriers, where planes land on them. We have these ships that go underwater—nuclear submarines. And so the question is not a game of Battleship where we’re counting ships, it’s what are our capabilities.”
ROMNEY: "WAH! STOP ATTACKING MEEEEEEEE!!!"
And I'm betting I'm not the only one.
Governor Romney sure talks about how strong and tough he'll be for the country, but he was a complete pussy in the debate. This is made worse when you factor in how he comes across as an out-of-touch Stepford Wives robot with zero personality. I'm not a huge Obama fan because he lied about things that were important to me when it comes to government transparency. No surprise there. He's a politician, which means he's a liar. But the reason I am not a huge Romney fan is because he's a creepy liar (who doesn't believe in personal liberties for people... just corporations).
Ultimately I ended up voting to reelect President Obama because he was the lesser of two evils. At least to me. I can't feel really great about it though, because the lesser of two evils is still evil. So no matter what "huge secret" Donald Trump comes up with to slam President Obama this week, I'm sure it's just par for the course. Because Romney's closet is undoubtedly full of skeletons too. You just don't get to be a candidate for president without skeletons... it's the very nature of politics.
Oh well. For me the election is done. My ballot was sent in days ago and there's no way I can change it now... even if we find out that President Obama is a secret space alien sent here to destroy the earth.
Which, sadly, would actually make me feel better about voting for the guy.
In happier news... The Iron Man 3 trailer is out...
Holy crap does that look awesome!
And I see that Shane Black continues with his raw hatred of cliff-side houses that began in Lethal Weapon 2.
I'm just glad that the events in The Avengers look to be having lasting repercussions, as it should be.
May 3rd can't come soon enough.
Posted on Sunday, October 28th, 2012
Please make sure your seat is in the upright position and your tray table is stowed ... because Bullet Sunday starts now...
• In-Flight. I am typing this as I leave the Netherlands on Delta flight 233... a ten hour flight to Seattle WITH NO INTERNET! So how in the heck am I supposed to come up with bullets for Bullet Sunday when all I have here is a bunch of movies to watch on my Delta-On-Demand Entertainment System?
• Game Change. This film is about John McCain's horrendous mistake in choosing Sarah Palin as his running mate based on some very, very bad advice. Is it completely factual? Probably not 100% so. But boy does it feel like could it be. The initial high that came when Sarah Palin completely killed it with her smashing debut on the national political stage had the McCain campaign ecstatic. Palin would be the savior of the ticket, and they couldn't believe their good fortune in having found her. Victory was within their grasp. But then things start to go terribly wrong. One-by-one the campaign staffers have to come to grips with the fact that Sarah Palin doesn't know much about anything. She is completely clueless on critical concepts like foreign policy. And it's the resulting downward spiral that makes the film so darn entertaining. Julianne Moore plays Palin almost too sympathetically as she gets remade from politician to actress, blindly repeating lines which have been prepared for her because she doesn't understand the issues enough to think for herself. And all the while her escalating popularity makes Palin increasingly dangerous, eventually dominating McCain and dooming the campaign to a Saturday Night Live punchline. If there's one thing I took away from Game Change, it's how terrifyingly close we came to having a vapid joke like Sarah Palin just a heartbeat away from the presidency. It's a scare that no horror movie can match.
• Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. I was actually looking forward to the idea of a revisionist history where our 16th president was a ruthless vampire killer. It sounded fun. Alas, the movie was most definitely not fun, because everybody involved took the film way too seriously. This was a big mistake, because there's nothing to take the edge off the intense violence that permeates one blood-soaked scene after another. One would hope that the result would be a bitchin' action-horror film, but there's not a lot of horror to go with the action (which is actually pretty good). And so what we're left with is a crazy-ass concept for a film with very little substance. I was not impressed.
• The Iron Lady. I was told by more than a couple people that this film about the life of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was boring. But I decided to watch it anyway because the thought of Meryl Streep as Thatcher was literally too good to be true. And, indeed, it was her performance that held me riveted to my tiny seat-back screen. But that's about all that held me captive. The story was a big ol' mess. It vacillated between present to past with little regard for timing or coherence. One timeline had zero relation to the other, and it was this sloppy writing which sabotaged what could have been a fascinating straightforward biography. Still, Thatcher led a fascinating life which was kind of represented here, and Streep certainly made the film anything but boring to me... so I didn't hate it. Actually kind of enjoyed it, despite the missed opportunity it represented.
• Brave. The story of a princess who isn't content to settle down and get married sounds like a modern-day Disney Princess cliché that's the complete opposite of the original Disney Princess cliché. Fortunately, this is a Disney-PIXAR film, where clichés have a tendency to at least be interesting and beautiful to look at. Brave is both. I just wish it was paced a little better. There's a few too many moments that drag on a little long and are a bit morose to fit in with the overall tone of the film. That being said, it IS beautiful. Astoundingly so. There's not a single frame of this film that doesn't look amazing. And there are a lot of clever and funny moments that saved the movie for me.
• Battleship. Holy shit. It would be easy to say that making an alien-invasion movie out of a board game doomed this film to failure... but, if anything, it's this one thing that made it barely tolerable. The only moment... the only one... that I found even remotely entertaining was when the heroes were picking their targets on a big "Battleship grid." Everything else was so inanely stupid and ridiculous that not even the decent special effects reel could keep me from fast-forwarding through this utter turd of a movie.
• Moonrise Kingdom. I am such a huge Wes Anderson fan that I didn't want to experience his latest work on a tiny airplane seat-back screen. But when Battleship turned out to be such a stupid piece of crap, I needed something to watch. I ended up regretting it of course. Moonrise Kingdom is beautiful, wonderful, witty, smart, and filled with a warmth that few filmmakers can manage. I really should have waited to see it on the big screen (or at least my home theater). Which is not to say it's a film for everybody. Those who can't appreciate Wes Anderson's quirky vision may have tough time embracing the odd world he's created. Even so, there's an all-star cast that's performing at the top of their game in a coming-of-age love story that's charming enough to please everybody.
• After-Flight. Arriving at Seattle I was once again embarrassed and humiliated that Seatac International Airport is the way that so many people will first experience my home state. The airport just keeps getting worse and worse, and there doesn't seem to be an end in sight as to how low things will go. I arrive at Customs only to find that the escalator is broken. This is no surprise. Most of the escalators are busted to shit most of the time. Stuff is always leaking, falling apart, torn up, or broken at Seatac. And, indeed, when I make my way to the C/D concourse and find yet another fucking busted escalator, I press the elevator call button and find that the button light is also not working (which made me think that the elevator was broke too). By the time I get to my gate at the C concourse, where there's no place to sit because Seatac has ripped out most of the seats to make way for shops, I've just fucking had it. Whomever is in charge of this shithole needs to realize that this is no way to run an airport. Flying now-a-days is already miserable enough without having to put up with this kind of shit at an airport.
And... my flight (which is overbooked and on weather watch warning) is maybe leaving in ten minutes. Here's hoping...
Posted on Tuesday, October 30th, 2012
It's impossible for me to fathom the influence that Star Wars has had on my life.
In more ways than one, the saga of a "long time ago in a galaxy far far away" changed everything. My fascination with Greek mythology and magical heroes of lore gave way to a love of science fiction. My ambitions of becoming a doctor gave way to an obsession with becoming an astronaut. Drawing flowers and mountains gave way to drawing space ships and alien creatures. Playing with toy cars and trucks gave way to playing with an 8mm camera... complete with hand-drawing laser blasts and lightsabers directly on the film with a magnifying glass and a Sharpie marker. Nothing was the same for me, and that's just as it should be when one grows up in the era of Star Wars.
The original film was released when I was 11 years old. I don't think I saw it until months later in its second-run at the local Vue-Dale Drive-In (long since torn down). I can't remember the details. But I do remember the obsession that followed. I remember getting my hands on every issue of Starlog magazine I could find and going insane over the speculation for the inevitable Star Wars sequel.
Then 1980 happened.
And The Empire Strikes Back was unleashed on an unsuspecting 14-year-old me who stood in line to see the movie on opening day at the Liberty Theater. "Unsuspecting" because there was no way on earth I thought that there could ever be anything greater than Star Wars... only to find out that there absolutely was.
And it was then that my love of all things Star Wars was made permanent. The Empire Strikes Back remains one of my favorite movies of all time. It led me into a Star Wars obsession which had me collecting every action figure, toy, pillow-case, magazine, and kick-knack that I could find. And, because even that wasn't enough, I became fanatical about tracking down interviews, specials, articles, and anything else related to the making of the films. Eventually the "behind the scenes" information was almost as important to me as the films themselves.
My addiction was severely tested in 1983.
Though I loved all the space battles and light saber fighting in Return of the Jedi, the burp jokes and Ewok teddy bears reduced a once great sci-fi epic to kiddie fodder meant to sell toys. It was a pretty big let-down after the sci-fi triumphs that was Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back.
But Star Wars had been imprinted on my soul, and there was no going back... even when George Lucas unleashed the unbelievably shitty prequel movies.
Which I hated.
But there's always something to come along and remind me of my love for the original two films. Most recently was this...
Which is a book I highly, highly, recommend. You can get it at Amazon here.
Which brings us to today, where George Lucas dropped this bombshell...
"It's now time for me to pass Star Wars on to a new generation of filmmakers."
And, just like that, Disney acquired LucasFilm.
Which both thrills and terrifies me.
Thrills me because George Lucas is (assumably) done fucking up the franchise he built.
Terrifies me because Disney could easily fuck things up even worse if they put the wrong people on the property.
All I can do is hope that Disney understands that kids today are far more sophisticated than "burp and fart jokes" and Jar Jar Binks idiocy now-a-days (something I don't think Lucas ever comprehended). As the near-miracuous success of The Avengers has so aptly demonstrated, a serious approach to genre entertainment can pay off like gangbusters, because that's what people are dying to see.
And how frickin' amazing would it be to take Star Wars back to the mind-bogglingly awesomeness we got from Irvin Kershner with The Empire Strikes Back?
Suddenly I'm 14-years old again.
I guess we'll find out in 2015 if I stay that way...
Posted on Monday, November 19th, 2012
I own thousands of DVD and Blu-Ray discs. This is a consequence of my love for movies and television, and my desire to own those videos I love so I can watch them again whenever I want.
But DVDs and Blu-Rays take up space, and I'm running out of room on my shelf. Now-a-days I am more likely to buy my videos from iTunes to watch on my Apple TV or iPad. Heck... I'm more likely to rent my videos from iTunes to watch on my Apple TV or iPad. But not always. DVDs and Blu-Rays often have supplemental material that enhances my enjoyment of the movie/series, and so I still find myself buying discs of my most favorite movies/series to get all the goodies I can.
Besides, most Blu-Ray movies are available in "combo-packs" which includes a digital copy of the film. This is the best of both worlds, because then I get the supplementary material to watch at home, and the film added to my iTunes account to take with me. Sweet!
But it was a situation too good to last.
Because movie studios stopped offering iTunes codes for the "digital copy" and switched to this stupid fucking "digital locker" scam called "UltraViolet." And, let me tell you, Ultraviolet is one of the biggest fucking turds to ever plague consumers. It's so bad that I categorically refuse to buy any Blu-Ray that has Ultraviolet attached.
The latest casualty? The Dark Knight Rises...
FUCK YOU, WARNER BROS. PICTURES! FUCK YOU UP YOUR GREEDY CORPORATE ASSES!
And so...no $24.96 Blu-Ray for me. I'm instead going to pre-order the iTunes HD "Extras" version for $19.99. I don't know if it contains all the "extras" that are on the Blu-Ray but, as much as I want a physical copy on my shelf, I seriously don't give a fuck. The future is DIGITAL... and if movie studios aren't going to give me what I want, i.e. digital copies in iTunes... NOT shitty "Ultraviolet digital locker"... then the physical disc I covet isn't worth having.
And what's next? iTunes copies of the movie will be "edited for content" and you'll be forced to buy the Blu-Ray Ultraviolet crap if you want to see the entire film? I wouldn't be surprised. Any money-making plan, no matter how fucking insane, seems to be fair game to greedy executives. If movie studios continues this downward slide, I'm not going to "buy" movies at all. There are so many better alternatives to paying a company to fucking shit on you.
Posted on Monday, December 3rd, 2012
Seriously... HOLY CRAP!
The new Man of Steel movie poster has been unleashed on an unsuspecting world, and boy oh boy is it a steaming pile of shit. If this... this... is how the people making this movie see Superman, then we're all fucked. And so is the film...
Are you frickin' kidding me?
Look, anybody writing Superman has to wrap their head around one concept and one concept only.
He is a god.
But a god who was raised as a man, so he walks amongst them.
But not really.
Because his powers and abilities are far beyond what any mere mortal can fathom. The problems he has to deal with are on a scale that dwarfs the understanding of any man. Because he's not a man... as much as he aspires to be a man. As much as he tries to pretend he's normal by dressing up as Clark Kent.
So having the movie poster for a Superman film which shows your "Superman" in handcuffs like a regular guy... being dragged down to our level... it's a complete betrayal of everything that makes Superman be Superman. And I don't for the life of me understand what director Zack Snyder is trying to say with it. Superman could bust out of those fucking handcuffs and beat every soldier around him senseless in seconds. Fractions of seconds. So is this symbolic? A way of saying that, despite all his power, Superman is just a man? He's not above the law? Well, barf... who would want to watch that movie?
Superman is not Batman. He's not fighting insanity in the gritty streets of Gotham City.
He is a god.
Who clings to the humanity that his earthling parents instilled in him.
All while being the most powerful being on the planet.
He's about as far removed from the "gritty streets" as you can get. And, yes, he IS above the law.
Superman is above everything.
Except in this movie, apparently. I mean holy crap, Superman was better portrayed in the LEGO Batman video game. This... this... is just pathetic.
Posted on Tuesday, December 11th, 2012
And here's where I start to think that perhaps Zack Snyder might understand Superman after all.
Though it's understandable that I remain skeptical. Between his absurd pet project Sucker Punch (one of the worst films I've ever seen) and the way he managed to fuck up Watchmen while not fucking up Watchmen at the same time... well, his track record rests solely on 300, a film that I'm still very much undecided about. How all that will translate to his Superman movie reboot is anybody's guess.
As I said when I condemned the asinine movie poster that debuted last week, Superman is a god.
The level at which a super-man with such powers would operate is so far above us dregs of humanity that there is no way to treat his story than that of a god-like being. But what makes Superman be Superman is that he aspires to be a "regular guy," thanks to his very human upbringing by John and Martha Kent in the American heartland. It's this concept which drives the character, and the way that writers have walked this line over the decades is what defines a good Superman story.
Which is why the new Man of Steel trailer gives me a lot to be hopeful about...
There he is... all god-like and feeling very much like Superman... all while clinging to the humanity he was instilled with as a child by his adoptive earth parents. Which is not at all the tone I took away from the shitty poster that made Superman look so small and less than super. Contrast that with Kevin Costner debating the merits of saving people with young Clark, and you get the very real impression that Superman has power over life and death... which is exactly what the character is about.
And from the snippets of action being shown in the trailer, it also looks as though we're going to get some epic, larger-than-life battles (General Zod!) which will (hopefully) challenge Superman at that god-like level his fans want to see.
And so now I have something to get excited about.
Even though I still wish they had done a better job on the costume.
Posted on Friday, December 28th, 2012
Time for my annual wrap-up of movies that came out this year. Not surprisingly, many of them were viewed on an airplane screen or my iPad since I rarely get to the theater now-a-days. But oh well. I wouldn't have seen a fraction of these films if not for occupying time while on a trip.
THE TWELVE BEST...
These are my favorite movies from this year that I actually saw...
#1 The Avengers.
I'm such a comic book whore that I even like comic book movies when they suck. Which is mostly. But when a comic book film doesn't suck, it is an event to be savored. And The Avengers gave audiences plenty to be happy about thanks to writer/director/genius Joss Whedon. Respectful to the source material at an unheard of level, The Avengers got absolutely everything right. Arguably the best comic book movie of all time, and easily the best film I saw this year.
#2 The Dark Knight Rises
The end of Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy is bittersweet. Yes, it was fantastic, but it left you wanting more. Much more. I don't know that it was the perfect story to go out on, but it was a definite win for Batman fans around the world.
Some call this the best James Bond film ever made. I don't know that I would go that far, but it was a damn good movie that looked amazing. My favorite thing about it, however, was that it was so fresh, new, and exciting... but unquestionably classic Bond all at the same time.
#4 Django Unchained
Everything you love about Quentin Tarantino... but drenched in more blood and violence than usual. Which is saying a lot, if you know what I mean. It's also the most disturbing Tarantino film to date, but not for the reason you might think. Add to that a performance from Samuel L. Jackson that's so brilliantly heinous that you want to crawl out of your own skin... and you've got my fourth favorite film of the year: a Western comedy/drama that's ultimately about slavery and the evils that men do.
Most times, filmmakers don't even bother to try and get the "science" right in a science fiction film. When it comes to depicting time travel in the cinema, it's usually a thousand times worse. But along comes Looper, which not only did a good job being terrific sci-fi, but a fantastic job being a great film. Smart, entertaining, thrilling, and wonderful to look at... this is a movie both geeks and everyday filmgoers can enjoy.
It's a very good movie indeed when you can already know how the story ends... yet be on the edge of your seat the entire time you're watching. Director/Lead Actor Ben Affleck takes a true story from the Iranian Revolution in 1979 and crafted one of the most smartly suspenseful films of this year or any year.
#7 The Cabin in the Woods
Nothing quite like taking the horror genre and then completely knocking it on its ass... but that's exactly what Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard have done here. If you haven't seen it, I guarantee that you have no idea what you're in for, no matter how many horror flicks you've seen. Smart, scary, humorous fun that redefines a genre and gives audiences everything you could want in a movie.
#8 Life of Pi
This is a beautiful, imaginative, and entertaining work... but Ang Lee wasn't content to stop there. Much like the book upon which it was based, the film is also inspirational in a way that doesn't seem overly-forced or heavy-handed. Even after seeing the movie, I still don't know how they managed to turn a philosophical indulgence featuring a tiger on a raft into something so accessible and entertaining. Try to see this in the theater if you can, because there isn't a television big enough.
A lot of critics thought this film was shit. They call it offensive, unoriginal, and not funny. I, on the other hand, found it brilliant, unique, and hysterical. The titular character was nothing short of a triumph in computer generated effects. Sure, I thought last year's Paul was a better CGI buddy film, but that didn't stop me from loving Ted. And laughing. A lot.
#10 Moonrise Kingdom
Usually when a filmmaker is defined as "quirky" they end up producing embarrassing, unwatchable shit that makes me want to get punched in the face. But Wes Anderson isn't defined by anything, he just lives "quirky." And totally makes it work in his films. Moonrise Kingdom is no different, taking a charming coming of age romance and infusing it with characters so surreal and wonderful that the movie lingers long after you've finished watching it. I get why some people don't "get" Wes Anderson but, for those who do, this is a magical film.
#11 Sleepwalk With Me
As a long-time Mike Birbiglia fan who loves his brand of comedy, even I was shocked at just how good a film Birbigs managed to create. It's a warm, touching, sweet, and really funny movie that most everybody can relate to in one way or another. It's also neurotic and a little crazy but, unlike Woody Allen films (which I loathe), not annoyingly so. Sleepwalk With Me is humor with note-perfect delivery by a smart comedian at the top of his game. Totally worth a look on video if you missed it in theaters.
#12 Men In Black 3
A film that should have been a complete disaster ended up being a terrific addition to the franchise and added to the story in surprising, wonderful ways. That, along with a masterful performance by Josh Brolin as a Young Tommy Lee Jones, put MIB3 on my Best List, bumping other films that were probably more worthy. Assuming Barry Sonnenfeld takes his time to come up with something this good, I am hoping that MIB4 will come out sometime down the line.
Monsters Inc 3D/Finding Nemo 3D — I'm not a fan of 3D films, but fully admit that it totally added to the experience of viewing two of my favorite animated movies. Pixar uses 3D with such subtle perfection, even though they could probably get away with just slapping the shit everywhere... but they don't, and that's why I love them.
The Secret World of Arrietty — Oh shock... Hayao Miyazaki is involved in yet another animated masterpiece. This fantastic interpretation of The Borrowers rings true on every possible level and adds yet another film to Miyazaki's stunning filmography. He keeps saying he's going to retire... oh how I hope he doesn't. Nobody... not even Disney... is making films like this any more.
Shut Up And Play The Hits — I'm a fan of James Murphy's music, and this remarkable film follows him over 48 hours, both before and after LCD Soundsystems's last show ever. I wish more of my favorite bands would have films like this... knowing them better somehow makes me appreciate what they do all the more.
Jiro Dreams of Sushi — I fully admit that this film held no surprises for me. I've been to Japan many times and have studied the culture for decades. And yet... there's something about seeing this very Japanese film that encompasses what I love so much about the Japanese people. Yes, I know a documentary about sushi doesn't sound that exciting, but it's what's going on around that which makes this film such a treasure.
Robot and Frank — The performance by Frank Langella in this film appears so effortless that it's easy to forget the entire story hinges on his ability to deliver when playing against a hunk of plastic and metal. If I had to pick a word to sum up this film, it would be "charming." And don't we all need a little bit of that?
Chasing Ice — Probably one of the most important documentary films ever made, Chasing Ice tells a story nobody wants to hear... beautifully. The consequences of disappearing ice on our world are so unpleasant that most people choose not to think about it. This film is like a slap in the face that all humanity needs.
Gayby — So a single woman decides to have a baby with her gay best friend before the time on her biological clock runs out. It's a concept that's so clichéd as to be annoying, and yet... hilarity ensues and you just don't care. Surprisingly quality filmmaking in a genre that isn't known for it... an unexpectedly funny surprise.
Safety Not Guaranteed — While I didn't love this film as much as the big critics did, I enjoyed it quite a bit. The acting was all top-notch and drove the story to a wonderful conclusion I honestly didn't see coming.
Salmon Fishing in the Yemen — Kind of a romantic comedy... but not offensively so. For the longest time after seeing the film, I debated with myself over whether I liked it or not. Was it too predictable and lame to be a good film? Does the story come through just enough to save it? Ultimately, I decided I wouldn't debate the film with myself if it wasn't worth debating so, yeah, I liked it.
DIDN'T SEE, PROBABLY WOULD HAVE MADE MY LIST...
Zero Dark Thirty — This film flew completely under my radar until everybody I know started raving about it. I was gutted that I couldn't find a theater playing the film when I had opportunities, and it will probably go down as my greatest cinematic regret of the year.
Lincoln — Having read two Lincoln biographies, I just didn't make this film the priority it deserved to be. Now I'm regretting not having seen it on the big screen because I would have undoubtedly enjoyed it given my fascination with our 16th President.
Silver Linings Playbook — I saw an interview about this film and became convinced I'd enjoy it. That being said, I have no problem waiting for video rental to see it.
Wreck-It Ralph — When I was at Disney World back in September, this movie was being heavily promoted. Ordinarily, I'd be skeptical, but the retro video game love provided pretty much assures I would like it.
ParaNorman — Another cartoon I passed on. Just like MegaMind and Despicable Me, this animated feature will undoubtedly be something I regret not seeing on the big screen.
Frankenweenie — A Burton film that I was looking forward to for the longest time. Unfortunately, I never found time to see it in a theater.
NOT QUITE AS BAD AS I WAS LED TO BELIEVE...
Dark Shadows — Yes, the film sucked if you were looking for a reboot of the classic television show. Yes, it's not one of Tim Burton's best works. Yes, the story was weak and some of the characters weren't given much to do. But, despite all that, Johnny Depp as Barnabus Collins was pretty damn entertaining to watch. I did not love this film. But there was just enough entertainment at play to make me glad I saw it. I have no idea why everybody else was in such a tizzy over it, but I couldn't throw a stick without hitting somebody rambling on about how much they hated it for weeks after the movie debuted.
OVERRATED BUT NOT TERRIBLE...
Chronicle — From the way comic book fans were gushing about this film, I thought I was destined to love it. Instead I found it to be one of the most whiny, predictable, boring pieces of super-hero cinema ever made. All efforts of trying to portray the realistic consequences of super-powers was clichéd and uninteresting to me. Still, it was a comic book film, and I was glad I saw it.
The Master — The critics were practically blowing themselves over how awesome a film this was, so I put quite a bit of effort into making sure I saw it. Only to find that it was cinematic garbage tied to great performances masking as some kind of deep character study. The critics had no choice but to love it because this is the kind of crap that makes them feel smarter than all the people they write for. Meanwhile, I just sat there wallowing in the mediocrity of this movie, but still happy to see the performances which were quite good.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey — WTF?!? I mean, seriously, how could Peter Jackson manage to condense the fucking massive Lord of the Rings trilogy into three films... but not keep a short story like The Hobbit as a single film? I probably could have forgiven stretching it out to two films... but THREE?!? There's so much boring padding attached to this movie that I'm shocked you can even find the story in there. Yes, it's beautifully shot and the performances and all that are great... but holy shit was it repetitive and slow. Granted, I am not a massive fan of The Hobbit novel, but I was still excited to see it after falling in love with The Lord of the Rings trilogy. I immediately regretted it. Here's hoping somebody with some fucking sense in their head will edit all three films down to the story it should have been in the first place so I can love it without shining a LOTR lamp on it.
The Amazing Spider-Man — I just don't get it. Half of the film we had already seen in the Sam Raimi trilogy, the other half wasn't anything to write home about. I didn't think the humor worked. The romance was dead. The tone seemed too dark for the character. And Garfield just wasn't as good as Maguire in the role. Yes, it's a shitload better than Spider-Man 3 (one of the worst super-hero films ever made), but I think it's pretty weak compared to the first two films. About all I can say is that the special effects were really well-done, and I liked the fight sequences. Such a pity they didn't bother to tie all that together with something bigger and better than what's come before. All I can hope is that all the foreshadowing pays off in the sequel. It had better, because I want the time spent watching this to mean something.
Prometheus — I am such a huge Ridley Scott fan that I would have his baby if he asked me to. His films are some of the most beautiful, inventive, imaginative stories in cinematic history. The man defines genre entertainment. So when I learned that he was creating a "not-really-a-prequel" to Alien, one of the best films of all time, I lost my fucking mind. So imagine my disappointment when Damon Lidelof turned in another fucking disaster of a script filled with cool elements, but no explanations of story points, and plot-holes so fucking big that you could shove a planet through them. Holy crap was this a jaw-dropping film to look at... even in 3D... but for fuck's sake, WHERE WAS THE GODDAMN STORY?!? Because of my love of Ridley Scott, I actually went out and bought the 4-Disc Blu-Ray Super Deluxe Home Video Package for Prometheus because there was a sticker on the front which said "QUESTIONS WILL BE ANSWERED." And, yes, some questions are. BUT ISN'T THAT SOMETHING YOU SHOULD FUCKING TAKE CARE OF IN THE ACTUAL FUCKING FILM?!?? You honestly expect people to hunt down and watch a bonus disc and listen to a commentary track to know what the fuck was going on and why the characters acted the inexplicable way they did? Really? Fucking bullshit. Damon Lindelof should be ejected from Hollywood for this overrated mess.
Cloud Atlas — The book by David Mitchell was difficult and demanding, but ultimately brilliant and rewarding to get through. With that in mind, I couldn't figure out how it was going to be turned into a film. But the Wachowski siblings (along with Tom Tykwer) somehow managed to do exactly that... but I'm not sure if it's successful or not. Parts of the movie are just mind-bogglingly amazing and have you convinced that no film ever has managed to do this before. Other parts are just boring, confusing, and so unsatisfying that you wonder how in the hell such talented actors bought into it. Ultimately Cloud Atlas is completely lacking the structure and cohesiveness of the book, but is still something I'm glad I saw. I just don't think it deserves the accolades some critics are hoisting upon it. Nothing here is life-changing, so move along.
Flight —Denzel Washington is so damned talented that I don't even bother to question whether or not I should watch his films. The guy can act his way out of just about anything... including a shitty script... so why should I? Well, Flight is why. Yes, Denzel is his usual amazingly talented self. Yes, I actually did enjoy the movie overall. But to heap such astounding praise on a movie that's not really sure of how to handle a character that's drunk and high all the time... and instead goes for long stretches of BORING to fill the gaps... isn't my idea of fun.
The Grey — I get what the filmmakers were doing. I understand the message that was trying to be communicated. And Liam Neeson remains one of the most talented actors in Hollywood. But The Grey fell way short of my expectations... being more boring than entertaining... as the filmmakers tried to bash me over the head with some great message for humanity. In the end, it just didn't work that well for me even though I thought the film itself was pretty good.
WORST OF THE WORST...
John Carter — Take one of my all-time favorite books, add in a massive budget and a very talented director, then put Disney behind it all... and you're pretty much assured of a great movie, right? Wrong. This film was fucking awful. Everything wonderful about one of the most influential books of all time was systematically dumped from the movie, and the lead actors were so horribly miscast that the end result was beyond saving. I have waited most of my life to see A Princess of Mars and the rest of Edgar Rice Burroughs' brilliant Barsoom books brought to the big screen. This box-office bomb and total fuck-up has insured that I'll probably never see it happen in my lifetime. Fuck everybody who crushed my dreams with this hideous turd of a movie.
Battleship —Taylor Kitsch is on a roll. Not only did he contribute to fucking up John Carter, but he also starred in this crap-fest. You could have guessed that a film based on a board game would turn out badly... but there was no way to anticipate something this fucking stupid. I hated every damn minute spent watching this cinematic disaster, and can't help but blame myself for thinking "YOU SUNK MY BATTLESHIP" would end up inspiring anything but shit.
One for the Money — OH MY FUCKING GAWD... STOP GIVING KATHERINE HEIGL NEW FILMS! She was annoying enough when she whined her way through Grey's Anatomy, but this is the cherry on top of the shit sundae of her film career. Why somebody felt the need to remake J-Lo's character in the far, far, far better film Out of Sight, I will never know. This is bland, uninspired, humorless filmmaking at its worst.
The Watch — OH MY FUCKING GAWD... STOP GIVING JONAH HILL NEW FILMS! He drags down every project he's attached to, including otherwise genius films like Moneyball and MegaMind... so you can just imagine how he could completely sink a turd like this film. Firmly in "so bad it's bad" territory, The Watch is about as lame an alien invasion film as you could possibly imagine.
Taken 2 —The first film was mindless action fun that I found myself enjoying. The sequel is a heinous mess of a film that takes capable stars and plunges them into something less than mediocre. Just further proof that Hollywood will churn out anything... no matter how creatively bankrupt.
Total Recall —In one of the most unnecessary remakes in cinema history... the Paul Verhoeven/Arnold Schwarzenegger classic is leveled for a CGI crap-fest that looks incredible, but turns out to be lacking in just about every way possible.
Wrath of the Titans — This is worse than an unnecessary sequel, it's an unnecessary sequel of an unnecessary remake! The filmmakers had two chances to get it right and failed miserably. Has the distinction of being one of the most action-packed movies this year, yet is still mind-numbingly boring... all thanks to a woefully uninspired and humorless performance by Sam Worthington.
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter — I went into this film expecting good ol' cheesy fun, and ended up getting a violent joke of a film that takes itself way too seriously. More like a mindless video game shooter than a serviceable story, this movie is a worse theater experience for Lincoln than he had at the Ford's Theater (I'm betting a lot of critics thought the same).
The Dictator — Oh look! It's a take on Borat but with a quarter of the laughs! Left me wondering if perhaps Sacha Baron Cohen is out of ideas, because Brüno before it was a take on Borat with half the laughs. Can't wait for his next film with one-eighth the laughs.
Alex Cross — Okay... this one is my own fault... I was somehow convinced that Tyler Perry could step into the impossibly large shoes left by Morgan Freeman and actually manage to carry an Alex Cross movie. My bad. Though, in retrospect, it's not entirely on him. This movie was so badly written that I sincerely doubt even Morgan Freeman could have saved it. For a psychological crime thriller, this movie sure had a lot of laughs... a pity every one of them was unintentional.
Red Tails — Okay... this one is my own fault... I let my nostalgia for George Lucas' early work convince me that he could actually be involved with a film that might be worth a shit today. My bad. What's amazing is that the idea only came from Lucas... the unbelievably cheesy characters, groan-inducing dialogue, and pedestrian situations were all written and directed by somebody else. On top of all that, the special effects for the air combat weren't even that great... AND THIS IS LUCASFILM!!! It just kills me is that the story of the Tuskegee Airman is ripe with all the elements needed for an amazing film, and yet nothing in Red Tails seems to take advantage of it. Maybe one day we'll get lucky and somebody like Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg will give us an HBO mini-series as well-crafted as Band of Brothers that is worthy of these brave men and their amazing story. Until then, we get stuck with this crap. Just astounding that George Lucas has fallen so far that he would even consider this flick worth releasing. My pick for the film of 2012 whose poster had more depth than the movie it was advertising.