Posted on Sunday, January 26th, 2014
Now there's a full year of Bullet Sundays ... because a Very Special THREE HUNDRED AND SIXTY-FIFTH edition of Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Mac! Happy 30th Birthday to the Macintosh. It's easy to overlook the importance of something when you use it every single day, but I love my Mac more now than I ever have...
If you haven't seen Apple's look back at Mac innovations, it's well worth exploring If I were forced to pick that one year of Macintosh history that was the biggest for me, it would have to be the release of the Titanium PowerBook G4 in 2001. Not only was it sexy as hell, but it was also the first time I felt I could do everything on a portable that I could do on my desktop Mac.
Here's to 30 more years of kicking ass.
• Truth! The greatest concert I ever saw was Depeche Mode's Music for the Masses tour back in 1988. A close second would be P!nk's Truth About Love tour from last year. Absolutely spectacular. If you didn't get to see it... or just want to see it again... it's been released on video and is for sale at the iTunes Music Store for just $15 and it's worth every penny...
Just an FYI... the tour is actually still ongoing, with three more dates remaining for Anaheim, Fresno, and Las Vegas. If you've got loads of money sitting around, it's worth tracking down tickets for this sold-out show.
• Bernice! Looks like I need to start watching South Beach Tow! Because, BERNICE! How awesome is she?!?
Holy shit! I hope her ObamaCare has kicked in by now... she's got a rough job!
• Unintelligent! I have been recording the new show Intelligence on my DVR, stacking them up in the hopes of discovering another Black List. No joy. This is easily one of the stupidest shows ever to air on television. It's yet another one of those shitty series where the writers are constantly pulling some kind of random techno-bullshit out of their asses not because it makes sense for the story... but because they're too fucking lazy to come up with something... intelligent... for lack of a better word. "HOW ARE WE GOING TO STOP HER? SHE HAS A COMPUTER CHIP IN HER HEAD?" — "I KNOW! LET'S PRESS A BUNCH OF RANDOM BUTTONS AND EXPLOIT SOME HERE-UNTO NON-EXISTENT FLAW IN THE CHIP SO WE CAN HACK HER HEAD AND SAVE THE DAY!" — YEAH! WHO GIVES A SHIT IF WE ARE THE VERY DEFINITION OF DEUS EX MACHINA! IT BEATS HAVING TO USE LOGIC FOR A LIVING! Seriously, I don't understand how this crap-fest ever made it to air.
• LEGO! Just when I think that I couldn't possibly be more excited about the upcoming LEGO movie, this comes along...
"Epic" isn't an epic enough word to describe the epicness of just how epic this movie is gonna be.
And there it is... a year's worth of 365 Bullet Sundays in the can. And you said it wouldn't last. Shame on you!
Posted on Monday, January 27th, 2014
The iTunes Music Store had the Duncan Jones film Moon on sale for $10 so I snapped it up. In many ways, I consider it to be the 2001 for a new generation... but without all the ambiguity and confusion. It's just really good straightforward "science sci-fi" at its best (a genre that seems to be rapidly disappearing). The entire film is a showpiece for Sam Rockwell, who should have been Oscar nominated for the role of Sam Bell (Sean Penn in Milk was good... but Rockwell's performance in Moon eclipsed it, in my humble opinion). Having Kevin Spacey as the voice of the HAL-inspired GERTY was just the icing on the cake...
I've probably seen the film three times already.
But this was the first time it occurred to me that the scenes outside the moon base make a half-hearted effort to simulate the moon's lesser gravity... but all the scenes inside the moon base take place with full earth gravity.
Now, from an artistic and budgetary standpoint, this makes perfect sense. If Sam were in 1/6th gravity as he was running his scenes, that would be a huge distraction from his performance. Not to mention a very expensive series of special effects shots. And I get that. But now it kind of bothers me when I'm watching the film. Obviously, there's got to be some kind of Star Trek type artificial gravity thing going on... but no mention is made of it. Duncan Jones probably doesn't want to mention it specifically because it would make his serious attempt at science-fiction feel too much like fiction.
But it's there.
And it's to the film's credit that I didn't pay much attention to it until my fourth viewing.
I can pretty much count on it being at the forefront of my mind on my fifth.
Posted on Sunday, February 2nd, 2014
Put down that foam finger, because Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Bowl! Congratulations to the Seattle Seahawks for their massive Super Bowl win. I'm especially happy for long-time Seahawks fans who have kept the faith for so very long and have now had their devotion rewarded...
Pete Carroll, 9/11 Truther and Seahawks Coach, celebrates! Photo by Charlie Riedel at the Associated Press
I'm less excited for all the fair-weather Hawks fans who are all too happy to shit all over Seattle when they're losing... but will still be celebrating "their" victory tonight.
• Twelfth! Personally, I think the whole "Twelfth Man" thing is annoying as shit, but there's no denying that it's become bigger than the team they're dedicated to supporting. This was made abundantly clear when a Boeing jet was taken out to draw a big "12" across Washington State...
It's the ultimate Etch-A-Sketch!
Though, I have to say that this huge display of fandom pales in comparison to this guy...
He's probably the only person happier about the Seahawks' victory than the actual Seahawks.
• Kitteh! Everybody knows about The Puppy Bowl... but did you know there's a KITTEN BOWL?!? I just finished watching the big game, featuring Meowshawn Lynch...
Adorable. You can get more info at The Hallmark Channel.
• Cap! Holy cats does Captain America: Winter Soldier look frickin' amazing...
Thrilled to see The Falcon debut at last... would be even more thrilled if a black super-hero would get their own film. Hello? Black Panther? Luke Cage? Brother Voodoo!? And while I'm equally thrilled to see Black Widow making an appearance (which makes total sense because of The Winter Soldier)... where is her frickin' movie? Even if the film is a dud, at least we're finally getting to see S.H.I.E.L.D. at the high-tech kick-ass organization it is (as opposed to the embarrassment we've been getting from the lame-ass television show).
• Mine! I'm probably going to catch some crap for posting this... BUT IT'S JUST SO TRUE!
I've lost count of the number of times I've asked "Do you want something?" and am told "No!"... only to have my date/girlfriend EAT MY FOOD! Seriously, you said you didn't want any... SO KEEP YOUR DAMN HANDS OFF MY FRIES! Not that I can actually say that, but I want all the fries!
• LEGO! Okay... okay... I know I won't shut up over The LEGO Movie's impending release, but how can you blame me? The latest trailer is beyond awesome...
Could Chris Pratt BE any more perfect for the role?
This may very well be the greatest movie ever made. I cannot wait to see it.
Annnnd... chocolate pudding time!
Posted on Thursday, February 6th, 2014
To say I am excited for The LEGO Movie is a drastic understatement.
And tomorrow is the day we've all been waiting for!
Everything IS awesome!
Posted on Friday, February 7th, 2014
This could have so easily been a five-star film.
Seriously. The casting was impeccable. Chris Pratt embodied the lead flawlessly. Will Arnett redefined LEGO Batman. The voice talent behind every character was perfectly executed. Even Jonah Hill, who I cannot stand as an actor, was unerringly lovable as a Green Lantern who nobody can stand ("I super-hate you!"). And don't even get me started on Will Ferrell, who played the "villain" as only Will Ferrell can.
As the story unfolded, I was near-giddy in my seat. It's so beautiful and... fun! Genuine laugh-out-loud fun! You don't have to be familiar with LEGO to enjoy the movie... but true fans expecting cameos and a little LEGO history will not be disappointed. This is a movie that will beg to be seen over and over again just to get a handle on all the little details packed into every scene...
And the animation.
Holy crap is it amazing. Every frame had a lot of thought put into it.
From a cursory glance, the animators behind The LEGO Movie made it all look so effortlessly "LEGO." But when you look a little closer, each scene was meticulously executed in a way that had to be anything but easy. Action has a stop-motion feel to make it look hand-animated where it helps the story... but they weren't chained to that, and smooth motion was used when jerky movement would have been distracting. I love the fluid dynamics. Water and smoke are all rendered with LEGO, yet flow with a bizarre kind of realism that makes "the world" seem fully-realized. Fire is likewise grounded in LEGO reality, but has a kind of eerie presence that transcends those little orange "flame pieces" that any LEGO builder will recognize instantly. And I love, love, love how everything has a solidity to it. Laser blasts are rendered like rods that are physical pieces instead of blobs of light. It's all so... awesome!
If The LEGO Movie doesn't get nominated for a ship-load of animation awards, it will surprise the hell out of me.
When it comes to the story, things start off brilliantly.
Emmet is a LEGO minifig who is average in every way. He follows instructions to the letter like every good LEGO minifig should. He just wants to fit in and have people like him. And that's all he aspires for. It's all he knows and needs. But then he meets Wyldstyle... a minifig who doesn't follow instructions. From her Emmet finds out that he is "The Special," a fulfillment of a prophecy (by Morgan Freeman, in yet another example of flawless casting) who is destined to stop the evil Lord Business and save the world.
Hilarity... genuine hilarity... ensues. And it's all adorably funny and a joy to watch.
WARNING! Spoilers (kinda) are below!
...the movie then takes this utterly bizarre meta "fourth-wall" turn in the last quarter. And, to be perfectly honest, it kind of ruins the film for me.
Had they just stuck to the animated LEGO story everybody has been dying to see, this would have been a flawless motion picture. Everybody wins.
But they didn't. For reasons completely unknown, the creators decided to spin off on this crazy tangent that undermines all the characters, grinds the movie to a halt, and is completely unnecessary! All of a sudden Emmet, Batman, Benny, and Wyldstyle are not living out their own lives and shaping the story of the world they live in... they're just pieces of cute plastic crap being manipulated by people "in the Real World." Which I guess could be argued to make sense to the story. But not really. There's no internal logic to it. If Will Ferrell is the real-life "bad guy" and his son is the real-life "hero" then why wasn't Emmet voiced by the real-life kid just like Lord Business was voiced by the real-life Will Ferrell? I guess it's the kid's imagination at work voicing the characters, so that could make sense. I guess. But if the entire movie is just a story made-up in the imagination of the kid (and, eventually, Will Ferrell), how can we care about the individual mini-fig personalities when they don't actually exist? Emmet's "journey" as a character who learns that breaking free from the mold allows them to live happier, more fulfilling and creative lives is all rendered moot... because it's not his experience at all... it's a lesson Will Ferrel learns from his kid.
And for what? I just don't get it. And I really don't get the half-hearted "effort" of dropping real-world items into the LEGO world like they're some kind of "clue" as to what's going on. Suddenly the things that internally make sense become senseless when you stop and think about it. Why does Will Ferrell decide to start gluing everything down... it's as if he's suddenly being inspired by the evil alter-ego his kid invented? Say what-?!? Why couldn't there just be real-world items introduced as weird artifacts to LEGO World... just as they would be in real life? THAT was all the "meta" the story really needed.
It's almost as if the people behind the film said "Whoa! Whoa whoa whoa! This is turning out to be entirely too cute and fun. Let's just toss a monkey-wrench into the whole damn thing so that our audience will be ripped out of the story we've worked so hard to build. Because we certainly don't want to deliver on the promise of a fun and engaging movie starring LEGO characters everybody will love... we need to go deeper. That way we can confuse everyone and bore the fuck out of any kids in the audience! But, hey, at least we can pretend to be something smarter than a stupid toy movie... right?
The answer, in case you're wondering, is a resounding "no."
This kind of twist has been done many times before. And done far better. And in a way that makes sense. And doesn't completely undermine all the characters that people want to fall in love with.
I hope somebody edits out all the "fourth wall" crap and LEGO fans get to experience the pure LEGO extravaganza they deserve.
So... taking away one star for a senseless finale in a five-star movie? Four stars. You will love the film... a lot... but, if you're like me, not all of it. Oh... and one last thing... don't bother with the idiotic 3-D version of The LEGO Movie. The bright and colorful world of LEGO is dimmed to the point of being depressing. And the 3-D effects actually ruin otherwise brilliantly realized action scenes.
Posted on Tuesday, February 25th, 2014
Yesterday I went and saw The Monuments Men. Given the high-caliber cast (George Clooney, Bill Murray, John Goodman, Matt Damon, Hugh Bonneville, and Cate Blanchett), I expected this was going to be a killer film. But it turns out that the cast was about the only thing I enjoyed. There just wasn't much of a story... the characters broke up into pairs and wandered around Europe trying to save art during the final days of World War II. The End. I was told this was a "caper" film... kind of like
Which is a shame, because the movie is based on real events that sound anything but boring.
I did see this poster in the theater...
That's Angelina Jolie starring as Maleficent.
Which would be the evil witch from Walt Disney's Sleeping Beauty.
Heaven help me I actually want to see this film.
Posted on Sunday, March 2nd, 2014
No more bitching about how your favorite movie/actor/director didn't win an Oscar, because Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Oscar! First of all, I just have to say that Ellen DeGeneres did an amazing job as host. Funny, entertaining, yet still nice to everybody. And now my take on the big awards...
• Marshmallow! And speaking of Frozen... there's a lot of things I could say about this brilliant Disney animated feature. Maybe that will happen later in the week. In the meanwhile, how much does everybody love Marshmallow? Probably my favorite animated character since Sully from Monster's Inc....
If you love Marshmallow too, be sure to keep watching past the Frozen credits.
• Ark! As I mentioned a year-and-a-half ago when I visited The Creation Museum, the group behind it all (Answers in Genesis) is working on a second museum... ARK ENCOUNTER! Apparently it's going to be a life-size replica of Noah's Ark (or something like that). They were in a bit of financial trouble but, after their leader Ken Ham had a much-publicized debate with Bill Nye The Science Guy, it apparently garnered them enough attention that they got their money after all. Personally, I can't wait to go... even though I believe absolutely none of it...
There's some pretty harsh criticism of Bill Nye for giving Ken Ham a platform to "legitimatize" his beliefs... but that seems kinda lame. I may vehemently disagree with Ken Ham, but I find value in understanding what he (and countless others) believe to be true, so I was happy to have a chance to see him actively debating it. And I'm looking forward to ARK ENCOUNTER as well... if it's as nicely done as The Creation Museum, it'll be worth a stop.
• About! Nick Hornby's About a Boy is a remarkable book that I've read at least three times. Much to my shock, the movie adaptation starring Hugh Grant was quite good... though very different in parts (and with a crappy Hollywood ending slapped on). So when I heard NBC was creating a television series for About a Boy, I was intrigued...
And so I watched it only to find out it was TOTAL SHIT. As an adaptation of the book. As a television show though? Not terrible. Not good, but not terrible. It seems to be based more on the movie adaptation than the book, but it fails pretty badly there too. The concept is the same, however. Will Freeman's dad wrote a hit Christmas song that set him up for life. Since he doesn't have to worry about money, he's living a self-absorbed life that revolves around fun instead of responsibility. Enter Marcus Brewer. He's an odd kid (mostly due to his mother, Fiona, who has severe emotional problems), and he's ruthlessly bullied at school. Will and Marcus cross paths, and both their lives are forever changed. The movie, while not entirely faithful to the book, does get a number of things right. Most importantly, they very clearly show just how miserable a life that Marcus leads and how terrifying it is to not know from moment to moment whether his mom is going to survive her depression. The TV show? Pretty much none of that. They focus more on Will being an idiot than the boy in About a Boy. And that's the biggest problem. The kid playing Marcus is good, but you never feel for him or his situation. And that leads to the entire premise of the show falling apart. And who knows if we'll ever see Ellie, a critical character from the book who was glossed over in the film and seems to be absent from the TV show entirely (so far). I dunno. I guess I'll give it a shot for a while, but my love of the book and movie is kind of killing me here. Maybe if I play the absolutely amazing movie soundtrack while I watch the TV version it'll be more tolerable?
• OREO! So Marshmallow Crispy OREOs and Cookie Dough OREOs happened a while back, but I've only just now gotten around to trying them...
Love the Marshmallow Crispy version. They're very sweet, but the crap actually tastes like a Rice Krispies treat in the middle! The Cookie Dough? Not so much. The flavor is vaguely there, but it actually seems more like
Sorry to end on a down-note, but I do proclaim this Sunday's bullets ended!
Posted on Friday, March 14th, 2014
Veronica Mars is my second favorite television show of all time. Coincidentally enough, Veronica Mars creator Rob Thomas (not the singer) is also responsible for my first favorite television show of all time, Cupid (the Jeremy Piven original, not the shitty remake). Given my adoration of all things Rob Thomas, I had zero hesitation in joining 91,584 other fans in supporting his highly successful Kickstarter campaign to bring Veronica Mars to the big screen.
As part of my "reward" for being a backer, I get a digital copy of the film so I can watch it on the day of release. Which is today. Much to my horror, the code to access the film wasn't through iTunes, but instead via UltraViolet, which is one of the single biggest technological pieces of shit of all time. But I'll get into that in an extended entry. Meanwhile, back to the movie...
I'm just going to come out and say it. The central "whodunit mystery" around which the story revolves is pretty lame. A few red herrings, but none of the twists and turns or shocking revelations that made the television show so compelling. This is hardly surprising. The movie has the rather daunting disadvantage of having to educate viewers new to the franchise plus showcasing enough insider goodies to satisfy die-hard fans as well as having to catch up with an entire cast of characters people haven't seen for seven years.
To be honest, I'm surprised they managed to fit a mystery in there at all.
But squeeze it in they did, and the result is a love-letter to everybody who put up their hard-earned money to get the film made. Which is to say it's a total success story, and I don't think anybody who's a fan of the show is going to be disappointed.
The plot is fairly straight-forward. Veronica's bad-boy ex-boyfriend, Logan Echolls, has been framed for murder, which results in Veronica dropping her new life in New York City so she can return home to help him out after nine long years away. Once back in Neptune, which is even more deadly, ruthless, and corrupt than ever, we catch up with all her old friends and enemies. Well, not all of them... but most of them. The laundry list of cameo appearances is shockingly long.
Where the movie shines is in the way the Rob Thomas manages to get everybody on that list involved in the story. Yes, a few of the cameos are just quick distractions (hey, Corny!), but the bulk of them are carefully interwoven into events so they are appearing for a reason. Not many writers could pull that off without everything degenerating into a pile of crap, but Thomas seems to excel at it. And that's the fun. That's what makes the movie so darn good. Yes, your appreciation of the murder mystery is deeper if you know that Carrie Bishop put herself in the firing line to seek revenge for her best friend Susan Knight getting seduced and knocked up by their history professor. Yes, Piz's familiarity with Wallace and Mac makes more sense if you knew that Piz was Wallace's roommate in college. Yes, Veronica's relationship with her father is more meaningful if you know that she destroyed his chance at a career, but he still loves her unconditionally anyway. Yes, there are scads of moments in the film that only pay-off fully if you're intimately familiar with the Veronica Mars universe. But, much to my surprise, it's still perfectly watchable even if you've never seen a minute of the television show.
But totally watch all three seasons of the television show if you plan on seeing the movie. It's so much sweeter if you do, and the original show is required viewing anyway.
So two thumbs way up and no spoilers from me!
And my heartfelt thanks and gratitude to Rob Thomas, Kristen Bell, and everybody else who worked so hard to get the movie made. It was worth the wait. And if there's a Kickstarter campaign for a sequel... TAKE ALL MY MONEY, PLEASE! Heaven only knows the ending to the movie leaves that door wide open (perfect for the forthcoming line of books).
BONUS FEATURE! I was very happy to hear that one of my favorite bands, Mackintosh Braun, has a great new song on the Veronica Mars soundtrack. Here's their lyrics video for Don't Give In for your listening pleasure...
And now, for anybody who wants to read a rant about my efforts to plow though the pile of shit that is the "UltraViolet" digital video service, that's in an extended entry...→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
Posted on Sunday, April 6th, 2014
Ooh! Game of Thrones is on!
Don't blink... because an express edition of Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Lucy. It would seem that Luc Besson has something new...
Now this I am looking forward to. And a sequel to The Fifth Element, of course.
• Super. Well okay then...
I liked Gravity well enough, but thought it dragged in spots. This would have made for a bit more exciting film... assuming General Zod would show up. Then Sandra Bullock could KNEEL BEFORE ZOD!
• Popular. It would seem that CBS News recommends meth addiction thanks to unfortunate placement of the story below this one...
Unfortunate placement happens all the time in magazines and newspapers, but for some reason I thought that websites were immune. Oh goodie... something new to worry about. In other news... how about that meth? It's a heck of a drug.
• Anti-Vax. Oh look! The mumps outbreak in Central Ohio has now reached 150 cases!
A job well done! Smoke 'em if ya got 'em, you crazy bitch!
• Micro. But to end things on a positive note, how amazing is this?
Absolute genius. I just love innovative stuff like this.
And now? Winter is coming...
Posted on Sunday, April 27th, 2014
Finish up all those boiled eggs leftover from last weekend... because Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Bricked. If you are an iPhone user upgrading your iOS to version 7.1.1, PLEASE MAKE SURE YOUR PHONE IS BACKED UP FIRST! I attempted to update my iPhone and ended up getting it completely bricked. The only way I could make it useable again was to plug it into my MacBook and use iTunes to manually update it. Luckily, my phone had backed up to iCloud that morning, or I would have lost a lot of photos. Usually, I don't even think about backups because I've never had any update problems, but I guess there's a first time for everything.
• Quick. The recent run of absolutely brilliant Marvel Comics movie adaptations has been nothing short of miraculous. Everything Marvel Studios touches... from Iron-Man to Captain America to Thor to Avengers has been amazing. But we haven't been so lucky with Marvel movies from other studios. In particular, Bryan Singer's horrendously shitty X-Men films over at 20th Century Fox. The first three were gut-wrenchingly bad. The first Wolverine spin-off was tragic. But then the pendulum swung in the other direction. Matthew Vaughn gave us the excellent X-Men: First Class, then James Mangold unleashed a terrific sequel with The Wolverine. My hopes for the X-Universe were restored. UNTIL 20th CENTURY FOX GAVE IT BACK TO BRYAN SINGER! I mean, seriously, WHAT THE FUCK?!? And, naturally, once we started seeing photos, it looked like Singer had once again spread his butt-cheeks and plopped a load of crap on the franchise. One of my biggest disappointments was his shitty interpretation of the character Quicksilver...
The ugly hair, freaky glasses, and idiotic belt of clunky gadgets just had to be a joke, right? And what's with that stupid jacket? But, no, it wasn't a joke. Subsequent photos confirmed the hideous outfit... but I was relieved to see the belt gone and the hair looking marginally better...
At least until a fucking hamburger commercial, of all things, showed the character in full lighting...
Holy shit. I MEAN, HOLY SHIT! Somebody dressing up for ComicCon does a better job than this embarrassment! But it's Bryan Singer. After the colossal dump he took on Superman Returns, nothing surprises me. This is what we expect.
But the good news is that Marvel Studios owns the right to The Avengers, of which Quicksilver is a part. Sure, they can't have him be a mutant, because 20th Century Fox gets all that with their X-Men license... but, hey, JOSS WHEDON WILL AT LEAST DO THE CHARACTER RIGHT IN AVENGERS 2!
And then I see this...
Okay. I admit it's a vast, vast improvement over the shitty X-Men version... but this is the best they could do? A nonsensical shirt with an ugly design and pants from some kind of Members Only 80's collection. Really? WHY? LORD, WHY?!?
• Smack. Advice as true then as it is now... DON'T BE A GUM-SMACKING WHORE, PEOPLE!
For more timeless dating advice, here's a link for you.
• Ten. And so Ronald McDonald got a makeover to make him less creepy. Here's the old Ronald....
And here's the new...
FAIL! If anything, the attempt to fashion-forward a fucking clown only makes the scary asshole even creepier. If this thing were to come walking towards me I would lose my shit.
• Shhhh! I've watched this at least a half-dozen times. You couldn't hope for a better end to Bullet Sunday...
And... have a good week, everybody!
Posted on Monday, April 28th, 2014
"It's more than that. It's perfect."
Today is the 25th anniversary of my most favorite movie ever made, Field of Dreams. I've seen it dozens of times and love it more with each new viewing. In the past I've describe the film as "flawless" and, after having watched it again tonight, still feel that to be true...
The filmmakers somehow managed to pull together the perfect cast (including James Earl Jones, a long-time favorite) for a story that really shouldn't translate to the screen very well. So much of the plot revolves around things so fantastical, unbelievable, or just plain nuts that reenacting them in real life seemed like a ticket to disaster. But Kevin Costner was able to ground his character so fully into his world that it just didn't matter. His every reaction to the bizarre things going on around him made you believe there was nothing bizarre about it. He believes it, so you do too.
One of my favorite things about the film is that nothing is explained. Absolutely no effort is put into explaining how any of the crazy events are transpiring because the only thing that matters is why they are happening... which results in one of the best movie endings ever.
And compelled me to visit the Field of Dreams movie site in Iowa.
Perhaps a movie will come along in the next 25 years that will knock Field of Dreams off the top spot in my list of favorite films. But somehow I doubt it. It's pretty hard to do better than perfect.
And now? A bit of trivia...
The little girl who played Karen Kinsella was named Gaby Hoffmann...
Who grew up to play Ruby Jetson in the Veronica Mars movie...
Posted on Friday, May 2nd, 2014
Why does that lady in the subway give Thor the wrong directions to Greenwich in his The Dark World movie?
The bullshit "three stops from Charing Cross Station" line bothered me when I first saw the film... and it really bothers me whenever I re-watch it on video. Like tonight. I can only imagine how badly it pisses off a Londoner. I mean, sure, it would have sucked to say "YOU CAN'T GET THERE FROM HERE, GOD OF THUNDER! YOU NEED TO TAKE THE DOCKLANDS LIGHT RAIL BY SWITCHING TO THE JUBILEE LINE!" or whatever (I think that's how I got there when I went). But wouldn't that be better than forever having the distinction of being known as a writer who didn't bother to take two minutes to look at a frickin' London tube map?
Don't make Thor angry. You won't like him when he's angry.
And angry is what he would be if he were to find out that he was lied to about how to get to Greenwich.
Next up? Where was Captain Britain when London was being torn to shit by the Dark Elves?
Posted on Friday, May 23rd, 2014
So, yeah... that's no longer happening.
"Marvel and Edgar Wright jointly announced today that the studio and director have parted ways on Ant-Man due to differences in their vision of the film. The decision to move on is amicable and does not impact the release date on July 17, 2015. A new director will be announced shortly."
That ugly bit of news was the cherry on the shit sundae of a day, and I'm not sure what this means for the film. Sure, it's still got Paul Rudd and Michael Douglas in starring roles... but what made this such a highly anticipated event for me was that Edgar Wright writing and directing Ant Man. It was such a perfect pairing. I can only guess that Marvel wanted a more serious take on the material than Wright had planned. Which is bound to happen when it's occupying the same universe as such massively lucrative properties as Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, and The Avengers.
Ant Man, after all, IS an Avenger, and that's a billion dollars in bank that I'm sure Marvel is nervous about jeopardizing.
But I have to wonder if Marvel's efforts will ultimately be wasted when people get tired of all their "Cinematic Universe" films becoming too much the same and stop going to see the films. Ant Man skewing a bit more funny and wacky was a good thing.
Alas, given Marvel's stellar track record in film adaptations, it's really hard for me to be too critical.
I just hope I can say the same thing after Ant Man is released.
Posted on Sunday, May 25th, 2014
If you're in the USA, I hope you're in serviceable condition this three-day holiday weekend... because Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• SOLAR. FREAKIN'. ROADWAYS! This project is so mind-bogglingly awesome that I really want to believe it's going to happen. Until I remember that all our fucking politicians are in the pocket of fucking oil industry billionaires who will undoubtedly stop at nothing to make sure it doesn't happen. No... our government will finally decide to allow something like this when we're finally OUT of oil, and there's no more Big Oil teat for them to suckle... at which point we won't have the energy to do it, but whatever...
The project has reached their funding goal... but you can still contribute and they can still put your money to good use. Click here to donate in the next six days.
UPDATE: An interesting look at why this idea is fantasy...
• The R-Word. And so this happened...
Look, it doesn't matter what the intent is. It doesn't matter the context. It doesn't matter what legacy has been established. It doesn't matter how "respectful" you are. It doesn't matter what tradition and history mean to the team. "Redskins" is a historically hateful, dismissive, disrespectful, racist, and wholly offensive term for Native Americans. Period. It hasn't changed meaning. It hasn't been "taken back." It hasn't "moved past" its vile history. It is just as hurtful to those of Native American heritage today as it has always been. So why is this even a debate? Why has it taken THIS long? I mean, I KNOW this country's history of treatment for its Natives has been atrocious from the very beginning, but how can it ever be too late to start changing that? Despite our tragic history's best efforts, THESE PEOPLE EXIST! And there is no possible reason, context, intent, or excuse where "redskins" is an acceptable term to be used for anything. Then. Now. Forever. That there are people who can't even see how horrifically offensive this word is to an entire people and their culture only goes to show just how ugly it really is. And it needs to stop.
• Assholes. Hearing crazy shit from assholes like Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh doesn't phase me any more. They say outrageous crap every day in order to shock people into paying attention to them, and I'm just done with it. But when it comes to everyday people? People who say outrageous crap for no other reason than being assholes towards their fellow human beings? That still freaks me the hell out...
Look, I've already written about the idea of people being forced to participate in activities that violate their religious convictions... but this is getting insane. Does nobody learn from history? Does any of this sound familiar? What's the next step? Do we just round up all the gays and the Jews so they don't accidentally offend somebody's religious sensibilities?? Seriously... what the fuck?!? I mean, THIS is the thinking of ignorant America now? I can't help but wonder how many surviving World War II vets are losing their ever-fucking minds right now. Exactly how far does this crap have to go before people wake up and just learn to live together?
• The Talk. Helpful video advice for parents...
I don't know what to say about this other than "genius." And holy shit.
• BIG! Well, since The Incredibles 2 has finally been announced, but is undoubtedly still years away, it seems like Marvel stepped up to the animation plate to fill the gap with little-known comic book property Big
Looks adorable. Baymax is the cutest thing to come to life since Schmoo.
And... unlike the rest of the known Universe (aka "The United States of America"), I have to work tomorrow, so until next week.
Posted on Wednesday, June 11th, 2014
Since I didn't get around to seeing a movie yesterday, I made sure that tonight was the night. My intent was to see Million Dollar Arm since everybody I know that's seen it says it's a must-see movie. Unfortunately, it wasn't playing at the SouthCenter AMC, so I ended up seeing another movie that was on my radar... Edge of Tomorrow, starring Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt.
In the near-future, Earth has been invaded by hordes of vicious aliens who slaughter humans at a horrific pace... eventually taking over most of Europe. They seem unstoppable, but a glimmer of hope arrives when a new battle suit technology emerges that allows a woman named Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt) to almost single-handedly win a victory at the new "Battle of Verdun." Confident that an army of humans in battle suits can win the war, Earth's allied commander General Brigham decides to send Major William Cage (Tom Cruise) to record the battle for a propaganda campaign to get more people to enlist in the military. This horrifies Cage, a former ad exec who has absolutely no combat experience. In a last-ditch effort to avoid going into battle, he attempts to bribe the General.
This does not go over very well.
Cage is arrested, branded a coward and a deserter, busted down from a Major to a Private, then sent to the front lines of the war, where things are definitely not going as planned. In his first battle he is killed within five minutes.
But then, just like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day, he wakes up to start the day all over again.
Eventually he gets pretty good at being a soldier, and all humanity might just have a chance...
The movie is highly entertaining with terrific performances and some unexpected humor. The visual effects are incredible, and almost worth the price of admission alone.
But, alas, the story itself makes little sense. There is no internal logic at all. You never fully understand how the characters know what they know about the aliens or how they work. The mechanics of how time resets is equally inexplicable. It's as if the filmmakers are saying "Well, it's aliens..." as a catch-all excuse to explain away every senseless plot device. As a sci-fi geek, I was hoping for something... more.
That being said, Edge of Tomorrow is still a really good movie experience and well worth your valuable time if you're into this kind of thing.
Just be sure to turn off your brain when you enter the theater so you don't think too hard about what you're seeing.
Posted on Sunday, June 15th, 2014
Hope your dad wanted a half-dozen bullets for Father's Day... because Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Fathers. And, speaking of Father's Day... happiest of holidays to all the dads out there... especially mine!
Wow! I look so young in that photo!
• Radio. Growing up in the 70's and 80's the voice of music was Casey Kasem. He was also the voice of our cartoons, as he was Shaggy in Scooby Doo and the voice of Robin in Super Friends! I was sad to hear that Mr. Kasem passed away today...
"Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars..."
• Feline. Three marines saved some kittens in Afghanistan, bringing us one of the best things I've read all week...
The story is worth a look over at Love Meow.
• Halloween. In what looks to be the best thing to happen to Halloween since Tim Burton's A Nightmare Before Christmas, here comes Guillermo del Toro's The Book of Life...
Absolutely beautiful. I can't wait.
• Dreams. Kevin Costner and other cast members assembled in Iowa at the Field of Dreams movie site to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the film. Needless to say, I am pretty crushed that I didn't get to go...
Photo copyrighted by the Associated Press
Yep, still my favorite movie of all time.
• Bat-Cave. My second choice for a place to watch Field of Dreams? THE ULTIMATE BAT-CAVE THEATER, OF COURSE!
Photo courtesy of Elite Home Theater Seating
When a friend sent this link to me, I poured over the photos for a long time. The detail and thoughtfulness that went into planning this room is amazing. It feels very authentic to the style of the Christopher Nolan trilogy of films, though I can't fathom the $2.5 million is will cost to implement. If only I had too much money to know what to do with it.
Now we return you to your previous Father's Day activities...
Posted on Tuesday, June 17th, 2014
Today was sure a good day for videos!
Starting with the international trailer for Guardians of the Galaxy, which is shaping up to be a must-see film. This pleases me, because I was highly skeptical when Marvel announced it was on their development schedule. The comic book has all kinds of weird ties to the "galactic" side of the Marvel Universe, which needs a lot of subtext to be fully understood.
It also features a talking raccoon.
But with each new sneak peek and trailer that gets released, I love the idea a little more.
Especially the talking raccoon...
Can you imagine if we get an Avenger or two in the sequel? Holy crap is Marvel doing absolutely everything right in their film properties.
My love of The Daily Show is well-known. A lot of that has to do with Jon Stewart's genius delivery of the "news" stories he reports. But he's not the only talent on the show. His supporting reporters are all pretty darn good. One of the best was John Oliver before he left to do his own show... Last Week Tonight.
Now he's even better.
He is able to distill complex topics to bits that are as easy to understand as they are funny. His latest story on Fifa is an excellent example...
His take on Net Neutrality, one of the most important topics in this country today, was genius...
The YouTube Channel for Last Week Tonight is well worth a look.
In music news... OK Go has done it again. They've crafted an incredible video for their latest track, The Writing's on the Wall...
What's great about OK Go is not just that they know how to make uniquely great music videos... but that the music they put in those videos is really great too. This song has been stuck in my head from the minute I heard it.
If you've ever wondered what would happen if Trey Parker and Matt Stone's brilliant Broadway musical The Book of Mormon were mashed-up with Trey Parker and Matt Stone's brilliant cartoon South Park... well, wonder no more. Simon Chong has flawlessly animated exactly that...
I'm no fan of musicals... but The Book of Mormon was absolute genius, and this just makes me hope that we eventually get a movie version of the show.
The Brian Williams rap mashups that have been appearing on Jimmy Fallon are amazing because they're so brilliantly crafted. The latest installment for Baby Got Back is no exception...
In case you hadn't seen it, my favorite of all of them is Rapper's Delight...
If you can't get enough, here's a link to more.
And lastly... such a cool rescue catch by Brock Holt of the ever-awesome Boston Red Sox...
How sweet was that?
See? A pretty good day for videos!
Posted on Sunday, June 22nd, 2014
It must be Sunday... because Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Paws. It won't be easy to watch... but if you care about our furry feline friends, you'll want to see The Paws Project, now available to stream on Netflix. It documents the horrifying effect of declawing cats, which is far worse than taking off a nail on a human. It's more like taking off the finger-tips down to the first knuckle on a human...
Declawing is just awful. And yet there are still veterinary hospitals that promote it because it's profitable... even though there are far more humane alternatives. Hopefully this barbaric practice will be outlawed nation-wide if enough people start speaking up about it.
• Pledge. I have no idea where this photo comes from. But it's genius, and every time I run across it I love it even more. Because: 'MURICA!
I've finally decided to blog it so I can look it up easily every time I need a laugh.
• Silence! As if this video wasn't already freaky as hell with the sound...
Of course, anything featuring Jagger and Bowie is bound to be freaky as hell.
• Kare! As a huge, huge, mega-huge fan of Susan Kare's work, I was thrilled when Foodiddy sent me this link...
I wish she would have had time to go a bit deeper into her creative process, but this is a must-watch video for anybody interested in graphic design.
• Cozy My Ass. Of all the "Hitler Dubs" floating around out there, THIS is by far my favorite: Hitler tries to rent an apartment in San Francisco...
• Perry! I've grown so accustomed to Texas Governor Rick Perry being a raging douche that the insane shit he says doesn't phase me any more. Comparing homosexuality to alcoholism... while repugnant, ignorant an fucking stupid... is a relatively mild offense for him. I'd argue his pathetic attempt to write that off as a mistake after doubling down on it is even more ridiculous. Regardless, Funny or Die has a brilliant commentary on this particular bit of Rick Perry idiocy...
Can you believe the piece of shit is probably going to run for president again in 2016?
And... that clicking sound you here is me out of bullets in my blog-based six-shooter. Until next week...
Posted on Monday, June 30th, 2014
I'm a big fan of the television show Community.
When NBC decided to cancel the show after its fifth season, I was understandably upset.
YAHOO! TO THE RESCUE! — Thanks, Yahoo!
In other entertainment news, a trailer for The Skeleton Twins was released today. It looks pretty great. If nothing else, the soundtrack sounds terrific...
Secret by OMD!
Holy crap does than bring back memories...
I miss the 80's.
Posted on Sunday, July 6th, 2014
It's a great day to stay inside and surf the internet all day... because Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Drone! Most of the time I am not a fan of the successor to RC helicopters... RC drones. When they're not making an annoying whine as the scream across the sky, they're blowing stuff up. But every once in a while, somebody finds a good use for drones that makes me forget all about the negatives. This viral video of a drone flying through 4th of July fireworks is one of them...
WARNING: It may not be all fun and games, however, as this link will tell you.
• Evian! Speaking of viral videos... how in the heck did I miss this one?
Guess this is the inevitable next step from stupid talking baby and talking animal commercials?
• Proud! During San Francisco Pride, Burger King sold a "Proud Whopper" in one of their restaurants along the parade route. Not surprisingly, I heard about the outcry before I heard about the burger. People were saying things like "I'M NEVER EATING AT BURGER KING AGAIN!" and "STOP CRAMMING HOMOSEXUALITY DOWN MY THOAT!" (ahem). Which is about as fucking stupid as it gets, because this was not a nation-wide project. It was specifically made for a single event in one restaurant in a localized area where the event took place. The only way you'd have "homosexuality crammed down your throat" would be if your were there for San Francisco Pride... and, even then, you could choose to have a plain-old Whopper if you wanted. Burger King never forced you to eat a "Proud Whopper" at all. Putting the usual homophobic idiocy aside, the idea of it all was actually pretty cool. Especially when people found out what a "Proud Whopper" was...
Exactly. Which is why seeing the insane reaction to a completely innocent publicity stunt (which had a positive message for everybody) just reinforces my disgust at what my LGBT friends have to deal with every day. Which I'm guessing is something like this...
The only thing that gives me hope for the future is that people like this will soon be dead and their absurd bigotry will one day be dead with them. Until then, I guess everybody can just "Be Your Way."
• Horrible! The movie Horrible Bosses was a complete surprise when I saw it... namely because it didn't suck. I actually really liked it. Well-written, well-acted, and funnier than it had a right to be. Largely thanks to one of Jennifer Anniston's best movie roles ever as a truly horrible boss. I had no idea they were making a sequel, but here it is...
Can't wait! I just hope that it doesn't go all The Hangover on us and do a crappy rehash of the first film in the sequel... then shit the bed in the third one.
• Democracy? It will come as no surprise that I'm completely disgusted with the state of government in this country. Politicians are bought and paid for every damn day, which has effectively destroyed any chance of true democracy in this country. It seems an insurmountable problem. But then I saw something that has me intrigued...
Surprisingly, MayDay US reached their $5 million goal. Whether or not it can make any difference against politicians backed by unlimited funds remains to be seen... but it's worth a shot, I suppose.
• Shark! After the idiotic crap that tainted Shark Week last year, I was kind of soured on the idea. Then I see this ad...
And now I get to go to work! How awesome is that?
Posted on Tuesday, July 8th, 2014
On days where I do nothing but work, there's never much to blog about.
So I'm starting a new category here at Blogography to make my life easier. Whenever I have nothing to write about, I'll just toss out the best and worst things I've seen that day. Which will usually be YouTue videos I watch while eating lunch at my desk.
Bullet Sunday it ain't... but, eh...
The best thing I saw all day...
Miyazaki-san may have retired from Studio Ghibli, but his fingerprints are still on everything they release. Absolutely beautiful animation.
The worst thing I saw all day...
You have to watch it all the way through to appreciate the true horror of it all. Seriously, who wants to listen to this crap? Was the crowd actually digging it? Or were they waving ironically? What has humanity done to deserve this?
Now I have to get back to work. At 11:36pm.
I'm pretty sure I know what I did to deserve that.
Posted on Sunday, July 13th, 2014
Smoke is in the air and so are bullets... because Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Spoilers! Since I have no desire to see yet another flaming pile of shit Transformers movie that's not about Transformers, I jumped right on io9's "Spoiler FAQ" for Transformers 4. Sounds just as heinous as I knew it would be. Even if you have no interest in this turd of a film franchise, Rob Bricken's comments are pretty epic. If you want an entertaining read that encapsulates everything that's wrong with modern movies, it's an article absolutely work reading.
• Don't Come! But... but... I've already been to Belgium!
Antarctica has been at the top of my travel destination list for years. Now I just don't know. Tourist crowds? In freakin' Antarctica? Blargh.
• Murder! I would like to add my outrage to all those people condemning dinosaur hunters for murdering these magnificent creatures...
Photo © Universal Pictures
What a bastard! NOT COOL, STEVEN SPIELBERG!
• Shawn! Started out my day listening to Jay-Z and found myself Googling him to see what he's up to (besides Beyonce). Ended up watching about 20 Jay-Z interviews on YouTube. He is awesome in all of them. This is probably my favorite. Not many people can out-Letterman Dave Letterman...
It's nice how Jay-Z feels the need to keep reminding us that he's cooler than 99% of the people on earth.
• Pepe! Click here for some wisdom from a true leader... President José "Pepe" Mujica....
Photo © The Associated Press
They saved the most telling quote for last on the secret to happiness...
"To live in accordance with how one thinks. Be yourself and don't try to impose your criteria on the rest. I don't expect others to live like me. I want to respect people's freedom, but I defend my freedom. And that comes with the courage to say what you think, even if sometimes others don't share those views."
Sounds oddly familiar... a pity politicians in this country aren't so forward (er, backwards?) thinking when it comes to imposing their criteria (or, more likely, the criteria of the lobbyists who have bought them off) on the people they claim to represent.
• Thanks! Have you thanked your parents today?
And, to the woman hosting this video... marry me?
Now I suppose I should try to get some rest before The Week From Hell rears its ugly head. Blargh.
Posted on Friday, July 25th, 2014
After what I can only describe as "The Week I Wish Never Happened," I was more than a little thrilled to be getting the heck out of Dodge.
So this morning I packed up my crap for a drive over the mountins to catch a flight out of Seattle for Knoxville, Tennessee. This is a city I have driven by four or five times, but have never actually spent any time in. Hopefully there will be a little time for that tomorrow, but right now I am so tired I can barely even think about it.
The trip wasn't bad at all. Even my layover in Detroit was fairly painless. Mostly because I had loads of news coming out of ComicCon in San Diego all day long to distract me. Now-a-days it's more about comic book movies than actual comic books, which is fine by me. Especially all the amazing stuff coming out of The House of Marvel, which has been one amazing cinematic feat after another since the first Iron Man movie.
And they're really upping the game with the next Avengers movie... Age of Ultron... which looks epic...
If I die before this film is released in May of next year, I will be very disappointed.
Posted on Sunday, July 27th, 2014
It's lobstah time... because a Very Special Bullet Sunday from Maine starts... now...
• Jet. You might find it interesting to know that Portland, Maine doesn't have an airport... they have a jetport! So I guess if you have an old-style prop plane, you're just going to have to land somewhere else. Only jets get the privilege of landing in Portland!
• Waterfront. Unlike so many fishing waterfronts that have been reimagined as tourist attractions or shopping destinations... Portland's waterfront is still in use by the fishing industry. This affords some excellent photographic opportunities which, alas, were lost on my because I didn't pack my camera. iPhone to the rescue!
It's a cool place to explore... assuming the smell of rotting fish doesn't offend you.
• Flatbread. For dinner I decided to stop at Flatbread Company, which was recommended by my hotel. This ended up being a fantastic choice, as I loved absolutely everything about the place. Exceptional service. Amazing food featuring local organic ingredients. And a very good beer selection...
I had a flatbread with zucchini, summer squash, maple glaze, and a bunch of other stuff I don't remember. Dessert was a Maine blueberry crisp with vanilla ice cream and maple-sweetened cream.
If you're ever in Portland, Flatbread Company gets my highest recommendation.
• Cobble. Old Downtown Portland is a really nice place. Some of the streets are still in cobblestones, and there's a wide variety of shops and eateries to visit...
If you're an ice cream lover, Portland has you covered. There are a lot of shops here selling it (I only ate at two of them, swear)....
Turns out "The Other Portland" (if you're a west-coaster) is worth a trip. Can't believe I haven't been here sooner.
• BatMaine? Gotta love any city that's selling a decal like this one...
• Lucy. I am a huge fan of filmmaker Luc Besson. I am a huge fan of Scarlett Johansson and Morgan Freeman. So a movie combining all three of those things should be amazing, right? Enter Lucy...
After some ridiculous circumstances involving a new synthetic drug end up giving Scarlett super-human abilities, she decides to make the best of the situation by passing her massive knowledge about life, the universe, and everything on to all mankind. An evil drug lord is having none of it, however, and decides to pursue her so he can have the drug for himself. Along the way there are some terrific action sequences... mostly involving Scarlett being awesome with her newfound abilities. It's all a bit cheesy, sure, but it's fun. And then things start to fall apart in the third act. Badly. Instead of escalating the cool super-human action to a grand finale, the film takes a massive detour into some kind of metaphysical artistic statement that is really unsatisfying and senseless. Lucy was ultimately disappointed to me because the ending sabotaged the whole movie.
So... it turns out that all the best stuff from Lucy is in the trailer. The movie might still be worth a rental, but I don't know I'd recommending paying the money to see it in a theater.
And... bullets begone! Seeyou next Sunday.
Posted on Sunday, August 3rd, 2014
Don't worry about the temperature... because it's a dry heat and Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Ghibli. From the "News So Horrible You Want to Scream" department... Studio Ghibli announced that they will be closing down their animation studio. Later this was changed to "evaluating closing down their animation studio." Either way, the production company responsible for some of my favorite films of all time is not going to be making another animated feature any time soon...
To say I am absolutely gutted is an understatement. Mainly an outlet for animation god Hayao Miyazaki, Studio Ghibli has produced some of the most stunning animated works of all time. Even with the retirement of Miyazaki-san, I was still looking forward to new movies by the team responsible for such cinematic genius as My Neighbor Totoro, Howl's Moving Castle, Spirited Away, and Kiki's Delivery Service.
I'm very sad for a world where Studio Ghibli isn't in the animation business.
• Black. And speaking of black cats (like Jiji, the cat from Kiki's Delivery Service), I was shocked to read an article about how black cats are being rejected at animal shelters because they don't take good selfie photos. This is a horrifying prospect given that black fur is really common on a cat, and there's always going to be plenty to go around.
• School. We support religious freedom! You are free to be any flavor of Christian you want to be! Holy crap what a repugnant dumbass.
• Bouncy. Hey, kids! Jump on my crotch!
• Berlin. When I was in Maine, I saw that they had yet another piece of the Berlin Wall on display in Portland. I remember thinking at the time that every major city in the world must have a piece, because I see them quite a lot when I travel...
And now I'm really regretting that I didn't make a point of photographing all the pieces I've seen. So many of them offer a fascinating insight into those Cold War days.
• Chocolate. This video of cocoa farmers getting to taste chocolate for the first time is one of the best things I've seen all week!
I find it fascinating how the farmers had no clue as to why foreigners wanted to buy cocoa beans... and had never been given the opportunity to share in the fruits of their labor. Just the way the world works, I guess.
• Whoopie. And speaking of chocolate... while visiting Maine I had my first "Whoopie Pie" which is nothing like the "Moon Pies" I'm used to. They're massively huge and very, very sweet...
I wasn't able to eat but half of it over the course of a day. My teeth were shaking with each bite. The gift shop at Portland Light Head had a Whoopie Pie book...
And... I'm out of bullets. Guess I'll have to shoot ya next week.
Posted on Wednesday, August 6th, 2014
I have to wonder if JJ Abrams has seen Guardians of the Galaxy yet... and, if he has, did he shit his pants at the thought of his Star Wars installment having to follow it? Because Guardians of the Galaxy is quite possibly my favorite sci-fi film since The Empire Strikes Back. It's that good.
And I just can’t quite wrap my head around that statement, because there have been some really good sci-fi films since Empire. Alien, Aliens, Blade Runner, The Terminator, Terminator 2, The Matrix, Stargate, Serenity… even the recent Star Trek remakes and cartoons like WALL-E… all great films. So how is this possible?
I think it’s a combination of two things.
First of all, it’s a fantastic film. Surprisingly awesome in almost every way. Really funny when it needs to be. Story, cast, special effects, direction, cinematography, characters, music, score... all great.
But mainly I think it’s because I’ve been living with The Marvel Universe comics for what seems like forever. There’s something about seeing The Nova Corps... Thanos... Ronan & Nebula... Drax the Destroyer... all these cosmic comic characters... each come to life on-screen in a way that has completely captivated me. Not an easy task, I assure you, but Marvel seems to be making it look easy as they keep knocking it out of the park in comic book movie after comic book movie. And, I fully admit that I was a doubter when Guardians was announced because it just seemed like such an unlikely property to make into a good film. It’s got a talking raccoon, for heavens sake! But writer/director James Gunn (along with co-writer Nicole Perlman) figured out how to make it work. Actually... no... they not only “figured it out,” they completely and totally nailed it in a movie so near perfection that I am still having trouble believing it exists...
Twenty-six years ago a young Peter Quill watches in horror as his mother dies, then runs away from the hospital in a futile attempt at escaping the trauma life has thrown at him. At which point he’s abducted by aliens. So far as openers go, it’s kind of lame, right? What are the odds? But, of course, there’s much more to it than all that… you just need to have patience to get there.
Fortunately, James Gunn makes the wait easy.
Now a grown man, Peter lives his life as a rogue thief. His time spent roaming the galaxy, breaking hearts, and trying to stay out of trouble. But trouble always seems to find him, and when he steals an artifact that some Very Powerful People are after, his life becomes a lot more complicated. Action, adventure, and hilarity ensues...
To discuss the plot is to spoil the film, and I'm just not willing to do that. This is a movie you must see on the big screen. Don't wait for DVD... see it BIG. The eye-popping visuals demand it.
I will, however, discuss the cast. Which is flawless. Chris Pratt as Star-Lord is note-perfect. He encapsulates everything you could possibly want Peter Quill to be. He headlines the movie so effortlessly that even the most unbelievable parts of the film seem anchored and believable. And it's all gravy from there. Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Lee Pace... just amazing performances all the way around. And Bradley Cooper (the last person I envisioned as the voice of Rocket Raccoon) owns the role and steals every scene he's in.
If I have one quibble, it would be that the ending is over-the-top schmaltzy, predictable, and cheesy. But I don't think the film suffers too much for it, and I think Gunn explained it away in a way that kinda works.
Guardians of the Galaxy is a beautiful-looking film with a great story... and funny! It gets an easy A+ from me, which means it's time to update the score card...
The Avengers... A+
Batman Begins... A
Batman Dark Knight... A+
Batman Dark Knight Rises... A
Blade 2... B
Blade Trinity... B-
Captain America... A+
Captain America: The Winter Soldier... A+
Daredevil (Director's Cut)... B+
Fantastic Four... C
Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer... D
Guardians of the Galaxy... A+
Ghost Rider... C
Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance... D
Green Hornet... D
Green Lantern... C+
Hellboy 2: Golden Army... A
Incredible Hulk... B
The Incredibles... A+
Iron Man... A+
Iron Man 2... A-
Iron Man 3... A+
Jonah Hex... F
Kick-Ass 2... B-
Man of Steel... F-
Punisher War Zone... C
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World... C
Spider-Man 2... A
Spider-Man 3... D-
Amazing Spider-Man... D
Amazing Spider-Man 2... D-
Superman Returns... C+
Thor: The Dark World... B
The Wolverine... B
X-Men 2: United... D
X-Men 3: Last Stand... F-
X-Men Origins: Wolverine... D
X-Men: Days of Future Past... B-
X-Men: First Class... B
Posted on Monday, August 11th, 2014
I was very, very sad to hear that Robin Williams died today.
I first became obsessed with his comedic antics on Mork and Mindy... then followed his career right up through The Crazy Ones, a fantastic television show that had the good sense to reign him in a bit, which is always when he's at his best.
But there's one role that will forever cement Robin Williams as a favorite performer of mine... The Genie on Alladin...
You will most definitely be missed, sir.
Posted on Sunday, August 17th, 2014
Time to find some shade... because Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Theif! If I were going to be a master criminal. This would be my jam.
You can't change the world
But you can change the facts
And when you change the facts
You change points of view
If you change points of view
You may change a vote
When you change a vote
You may change the world
The media controls us. It's what they do. Sadly, nobody seems to care... they're too busy feeling what they're told. But the ones we should really be worrying about is not the media... it's who controls them.
• Baddies?! Comedy is at its best when it has some harsh truth to it. This bit from Mitchell and Webb has been in my mind a lot lately...
Doesn't hurt to stop from time to time and evaluate your situation. You might not be where you think you are.
• Yossi! As I was digging through Netflix for background noise while I worked, I was shocked to find that there is sequel to the Israeli film Yossi & Jager (which I talked about here). Titled Yossi, it picks up ten years later. Shattered after watching his boyfriend die in his arms, Yossi Gutmann has buried his life as a gay man and put all his energy into becoming a cardiologist. Depressed, lonely, and with no social life to speak of, everything changes one day when the mother of his former lover appears at the hospital...
So rarely does a sequel live up to its predecessor. This is an exception. I was really glad a reader had recommended the original film, and even gladder to have come across the followup. In many ways it not only provides closure for Yossi... but also the audiences who came to care about the character. Since this is a foreign film with subtitles... AND gay cinema... it hasn't gotten much exposure in its two years of release here in the States. That's a shame, because it's a good story regardless of your nationality or sexuality.
• Sunny! Wow. Be safe out there. And carry SPF 50...
The sun is your friend. So long as you're wearing protection.
• MMMMMEEEEEAT! According to Popular Science, there's a tick whose bite can make you severely allergic to meat. Obviously a sign from God that we're all meant to be vegetarians. Why else would something like this exist? No confirmation from Pat Robertson on that yet though...
Photo from the Center for Disease Control
If this becomes an epidemic, it's good news for cows. And pigs. Maybe chickens and turkeys... I don't know about birds. Bad news for fish and sea creatures who'll have to take up the slack. Really terrible news for carrots, I suppose.
Annnnd... I need to reload.
Posted on Monday, August 25th, 2014
After what I can only describe as "Shitty Monday," it's the little things that make me want to keep going.
Like the news that Funko will indeed be making a dancing Groot Bobble Head toy from the amazing, must-see-in-theaters Guardians of the Galaxy movie.
Sadly, he's not available until January, but he is coming...
In the meanwhile, you can just watch this over and over and over again...
All I need now is a LEGO Guardians of the Galaxy video game for my life to be complete.
Dang. Now I want to see Guardians again.
Posted on Sunday, August 31st, 2014
Don't you dare despair... because Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• The Ramones! HOLY CRAP! If this is true... IF THIS IS TRUE... wow.
• Fun! Funko Pop! finally announced that they are releasing some Firefly characters in their line of vinyl pop culture figures...
I, of course, was compelled to pre-order my favorite character, Hoban Washburne, complete with one of his toy dinosaurs...
You can get your own over at ToyWiz.
• Dreamy! The entire Skyer album by the Swedish dream-pop group Postiljonen is achingly beautiful... but this song is just... beyond. How they managed to create such a lovely song around Whitney Houston's How Will I Know? is a mystery...
Though if forced to pick a favorite off the album, Plastic Panorama is absolute magic...
Of course, I'm a sucker for anything that quotes The Princess Bride.
• Cancelation. With quality television being a rare thing indeed now-a-days, I was disturbed to see that the A&E series Longmire has been canceled...
What's interesting in this case is that the show is being canceled despite pulling big ratings. The studio is shopping the show around to try and keep it on the air, which is encouraging, but it's hard to take news like this given the overwhelming amount of crap clogging network schedules.
• Roofs! If you have a head for heights, Vadim Makhorov and Vitaliy Raskalov have posted a stunning set of sphincter-puckering photos from Hong Kong on their website...
Actually, "stunning" is under-selling it.
• Diane! A big thank you to Diane Sawyer for five years anchoring ABC's World News Tonight. I've been tuning in throughout her run and have become a fan. I look forward to future appearances as a "special correspondent"...
The diversity was nice while it lasted. Now the "Big Three" networks are all once again being safely anchored by white guys.
And... my six-shooter has done ran out of Bullets.
Posted on Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014
Without a doubt, one of the shittiest days on record.
Except Disney released a new clip for Big Hero 6, which is officially the movie I am most looking forward to seeing this year. November 7th can't get here soon enough...
And now I just want to hide under the covers and make the world go away.
Posted on Thursday, October 23rd, 2014
Last night I went to see The Skeleton Twins starring Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader... two SNL alums I like very much. I like them so much, in fact, that I actually went to see this movie it in a theater. Which I almost never do any more. The theater experience is absolute shit now-a-days because people are awful.
I wanted to see the movie ever since I saw the trailer...
It's hard not to see a movie that features the song Secret by OMD, which fits perfectly into the film...
As did the Starship song Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now, which was actually written for a different film entirely...
I'm just going to get this out of the way... The Skeleton Twins is a slow film. It's a slice of life drama that takes forever to go nowhere, but the journey is so well crafted that it doesn't really matter.
Maggie and Milo are twin siblings who haven't spoken in ten years because an incident in their past tore them apart. But when they both (unsuccessfully) attempt suicide on the same day at opposite sides of the country, they come back together to she if healing their relationship can heal themselves.
And that's pretty much all there is to it.
This is a dark comedy with some truly funny moments... but I don't know that I'd classify it as a "funny" film. Even so, I liked it quite a lot. Definitely worth a rental on video.
Posted on Monday, November 3rd, 2014
And so the undisputed master of super-hero movies... Marvel Comics... held an event last week to announce their upcoming plans for "Phase Three" of their Cinematic Universe.
Nothing too unexpected.
Though the absence of a Hulk film still has me reeling. Marvel finally managed to do the character right in The Avengers... so give us Planet Hulk!
Anyway... random thoughts on the proceedings...
Captain America: Civil War
Marvel-lovers around the globe went ape-shit when Robert Downey Jr. said that Iron Man would be appearing in the next Captain American film. Being a massive fan of how the Marvel Cinematic Universe is so well connected by exactly this kind of thing, I was one of them. At first. But then I heard that the story would be following Marvel's "Civil War" event and I was given pause. "Civil War" was a major comic book event which pitted hero against hero because of the "Super Hero Registration Act" that would force super-heroes to register with the government and be under direct government supervision. As a crusader for freedom, Captain America objected... whereas Iron Man supported the idea. Chaos (and a lot of fight scenes) ensued. Personally, I was not a fan of the storyline. Especially since it resulted in Captain America's death (don't worry, he got better). The movie version can't exactly follow the comic book version for a number of reasons, so who knows how the film will retread the material... but it doesn't seem like a very interesting prospect for a movie. I'd rather have a super-villain fight. And yet... the first two Captain America films were absolute genius, so I'm trying to trust that Cap 3 will follow suit.
When building their universe, Marvel has wisely been taking things one step at a time. They wanted to add a space-fantasy aspect, so they unleashed Guardians of the Galaxy. Now they want to show the mystic side of Marvel, so they put the Scarlet Witch into Avengers 2 and fast-tracked Doctor Strange, which is a character ripe with possibilities. Stephen Strange is a brain surgeon and asshole who only cares about money and maintaining his selfish lifestyle. Then one day his hands are crushed in a car accident and he loses it all. Desperate to reclaim his ruined career, Strange wanders the world looking for a cure. His search leads him to the Himalayas where he ends up studying magic and ultimately leaves his selfish ways behind to become the Sorcerer Supreme... earth's ultimate protector against mystical evil. The film is being helmed by Scott Derrickson who, despite his shitty The Day the Earth Stood Still remake, is a capable director. Rumor has it that Benedict Cumberbatch is in final talks to take the title role. Further rumor has it that the story will be taken from the amazing Into Shamballa graphic novel (pretty much the definitive take on Dr. Strange). All rumors considered, this movie has amazing potential. If Marvel can keep the story moving and deliver some jaw-dropping visuals to keep things interesting... it just might be another comic film breakthrough.
Guardians of the Galaxy 2
The first Guardians of the Galaxy film sounded like it was going to be Marvel's first misfire. It's an esoteric, little-known property with bizarre characters. There's a talking cartoon for heavens sake! How in the hell is that going to be successful? Well, thanks to an amazing story that hit all the right notes... a flawless cast... some incredible special effects... and James Gunn's capable direction... it didn't just "work," it completely killed at the box office. Easily my favorite movie of 2014 (so far), there's no reason to expect that the sequel is going to be anything but amazing. Marvel knows exactly where they have to go in order to keep the momentum going... and getting James Gunn back was step one.
Thor has been a bit of a dark horse in the holy trilogy of comic book heroes that anchored Phase One and Phase Two of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He's a terrific concept for a super-hero, yet far removed from Captain America and Iron Man... two characters that even non-comic-book fans can easily grasp. But then Kenneth Branagh's first Thor film proved that a great character is a great character so long as you have an interesting story to make him great. It didn't hurt that Loki was along for the ride... one of Marvel's most iconic villains. Sure the second film stumbled a bit, but it was still terrific entertainment. Thor 3 will undoubtedly be more of the same... but on a much larger scale. In Norse mythology Ragnarök is pretty much the end of the world, and results in the death of a number of major gods, including Thor. In the comics, it's not quite so dire, but still a major, major event. If Marvel can pull out all the stops and create a story as huge, impactful, and worthy of the title, it should be a heck of a ride.
Finally. Finally. It's unbelievable to me that Black Panther wasn't made into a film before there was a "Marvel Cinematic Universe." He's a fantastic super-hero with a terrific origin that will translate easily to a movie. And yet... nope. In all seriousness, Black Panther has potential to be Marvel's equivalent to DC's Batman movies (he's always seemed more "Batman" to me than Daredevil ever was). Ruler of the African nation of Wakanda, King T'Challa uses his access to advanced technology and mystical artifacts (not to mention his massive wealth) to battle enemies of his homeland... and the world... both solo and as an Avenger. As if that wasn't enough, Marvel nabbed Chadwick Boseman for the role (he was seriously fantastic in 42). This movie is a no-brainer. All Marvel has to do is think Nolan's "Batman," but focus on all the things that makes Black Panther truly unique in the world of super-heroes. Piece of cake, really.
Of all the movie announcements that Marvel dropped at their event, Captain Marvel was both a surprise... and not a surprise. The surprise being that A) Captain Marvel (NOT DC's "Shazam") is kinda a fringe character. B) They're going with the current female version of the character. and C) The first female-lead film from Marvel isn't starring Black Widow. The non-surprise being that Marvel wants female competition for DC's Wonder Woman movie that is scheduled to drop in 2017 and, power-wise, their best shot is probably Ms. Marvel (Captain Marvel to be). I'm going to be honest here... I'm pissed that Scarlett Johansson wasn't given her shot at a solo movie. I mean, come on! Fair is fair, and she's paid her dues in Iron Man 2, The Avengers, and Captain America 2! When's it gonna be her time?!? Anyway... Carol Danvers has one of the most complex stories of any super-hero in existence, all of which is undoubtedly going to be massively streamlined for the movie. This is probably a good thing, because the title "Captain Marvel" has been used by so many people in the comics that even comic book nerds can't keep it straight. If Marvel is smart, Captain Marvel is going to fall out of the second Guardians of the Galaxy film, which would be a perfect fit. My guess being that DC is going to screw up Wonder Woman so badly that it won't matter she has infinitely better name recognition... Captain Marvel will be the film to beat in the battle of super-heroine box-office.
Like most Marvel properties, how much I like the Inhumans will solely depend on which version of the characters end up on the screen. If past precedent is any indication, Marvel is going to take all the best bits and pieces from the comics, mix them up with something new, and create something utterly amazing. And when it comes to potential for "amazing," you could do much worse than the Inhumans. A secret society of super-powered humanoids living on the moon ruled by a royal family of heroes led by Black Bolt, a man who can unleash ultimate destruction by uttering a single word from his mouth... and Medusa, a woman with living hair? Yeah. Sign me up. All I can hope is that Marvel will take this opportunity to go a little... weird... on us. By this point, they'll have done the mainstream heroes thing to death. We'll be ready for something new and different.
Avengers: Infinity War (Parts 1 & 2)
And it all leads to this. I can't even speculate where Marvel will go in the battle of Thanos vs. The Universe. If I had to wager, I'd say that they'll be closing out Phase Three in 2019 with the biggest event in super-hero movie history. Every hero who has ever been in every Marvel film will join the fray... Avengers, Guardians, Inhumans, Asgardians, whatever... they're all here. Perhaps Marvel will even drop in appearances of their television and Netflix properties. And why not? These films are going to make billions upon billions of dollars. All Marvel has to do is exceed expectations with the spectacle of it all. Is there any doubt they'll do exactly that?
Can't wait for 2016.
Though getting Avengers2: Age of Ultron and Ant-Man in 2015 will make the wait a little easier...
Posted on Thursday, November 6th, 2014
Crowdsourced funding for movie projects has been hit-or-miss. On one hand, you've got major movie projects like Veronica Mars raising millions... not necessarily to pay for the film (that's pocket change for Warner Bros.), but instead to demonstrate to movie studios that fans want to see it. On the other hand, you've got indie movie-makers who haven't a prayer of breaking into the Big Studio System for funding, so they appeal to strangers to get the money they need. Most of the time, these projects are unrealistic or just plain shit but, every once in a while, something... interesting... comes along that show everybody what crowdsourcing is meant for.
And, heaven help us, this time around it's Nazi's from the dark side of the moon on dinosaurs...
Um... yeah... where do I sign up for that action?
Films like this just don't get made anymore unless the fans step up and pitch in.
And I, for one, welcome our new Moon Nazi overlords.
Posted on Wednesday, November 12th, 2014
Big Hero 6 is a movie well worth a look.
And, if you're a fan of the film like me, I'd recommend checking out the art book. Disney usually does a great job on these, but this is above and beyond...
If ever there was a reason to celebrate Disney buying out Marvel Comics, this would be it. Hopefully this isn't the last animation collaboration we'll see.
Posted on Monday, November 17th, 2014
David Sedaris is my favorite living author.
Not just because his wry humor, observational wit, and charming self-deprecation is about the funniest stuff I've ever read... it's because David Sedaris is an exceptional writer. His prose is so flawlessly constructed... so beautifully realized... so wonderfully clever... you don't just read it, you let it wash over your senses like a warm bath from which you never want to leave.
And, as good as an adventure as reading his work may be... it's not even the best way to experience it. Having David Sedaris read his writings to you adds an entirely new load of genius to an already brilliant work. Which is why I always buy the book and the audiobook of everything he releases...
I also try to attend his readings, so I can listen to him live and in person, which is about the best entertainment ever. Sadly, it's never easy with my crazy schedule, and I've only heard him speak once before. But there was no way I was going to miss this event given that it was a mere two-hour drive away.
Especially since I finally got to meet him up-close-and-personal to get his autograph... complete with a bloody tomahawk...
Benaroya Hall, which is truly a lovely space with fantastic acoustics, was completely sold out for the event...
I couldn't have had a better seat. Right on the first level in the second balcony...
Mr. Sedaris was, as expected, completely worth the trip.
Smart, witty, charming... and utterly brilliant in every way... it was an evening I'll not soon forget.
Oh yeah... earlier in the day I also went to go see Big Hero 6 again. Such a great film. And this time I saw it in a pretty great theater. Not for screen size or anything... but for comfort...
The iPic Theater in Redmond is more comfortable than my bed. It doesn't help that people are waiting on you hand and foot. Want a beer and some Junior Mints? Your wish is their command...
Sure it's expensive... but "expensive" means that people won't waste the money to bring their bratty kids along so you won't have to listen to their bullshit. My first time seeing Big Hero 6 was pretty much ruined by kids who would rather be playing video games than stuck in a theater for 105 minutes being quiet. Not this time, baby.
Oh... and I stuck around for the post-credit sequence of the film, which was kinda nice.
Almost as nice as my Big Hero 6 Funko POP! Baymax figure that finally arrived...
I got the "Amazon Exclusive" so he glows in the dark.
Just like a playtime pal should.
Posted on Sunday, November 30th, 2014
Don't go all Cyber Monday just yet... because Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Bats! The Tolga Bat Hospital posted some amazing photos of young bats experiencing the rain for the first time this week...
Adorable. Oh how I love bats! Much love to Tolga Bat Hospital for posting such fantastic shots. They do good work.
• War! Unless you've been spending the past few days dead for tax reasons, you're undoubtedly aware that the first teaser trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens was released. If you weren't aware, you can watch the thing here.
And then the fan trailers came. First up is this brilliant (literally!) nod to director JJ Abrams' love of lens flare (in his Star Trek movies)...
Nice! Next up... the very funny George Lucas' Special Edition...
What? No fart jokes? And, lastly, heeeeeeere's LEGO...
Genius. I have to say... this trailer had a good Star Wars feel to it. Which is something I can't say about the horrendously shitty prequel trilogy. Just over a year to wait... sigh.
• Space! I really don't have the words for just how amazing this it...
Wow. Star Wars Shmar Wors. More information on this jaw-dropping short film can be found at creator Erik Wernquist's site.
• Sugar! If this Brita commercial is accurate, it's kind of scary. I probably drink double this amount of soda in a year...
Why oh why are all the things that are bad for us so darn tasty?
• Lap! Came across a photo while backing up my image library and was pretty shocked at how big laptops used to be...
Even harder to believe that boat anchor has only a fraction of the computational power that an iPhone has. Probably a fraction of the screen resolution as well. Might have an iPhone beat on battery life though.
• Arthur! A story about a stray dog who became part of a team attempting to complete a 430-mile race through the Amazon is probably my favorite story on the interwebs this week...
So great. I get a lump in my throat every time I read it. If you want to see Arthur arriving at his new home in Sweden, here's the link.
And... I should probably go to bed seeing as how I have to get up early for work tomorrow.
Posted on Sunday, December 28th, 2014
And it's time once again for my annual wrap-up of movies that came out this year.
Or, more accurately, a "wrap-up of movies I saw that came out this year." Every time I write one of these things, there's always a bunch of movies I never saw that would have ended up on the list (last year it would have been Twelve Years a Slave, The Square, and Fruitvale Station, for example). But I can only do what I can do, so here we go...
THE TWELVE BEST...
These are my favorite movies from this year that I actually saw.
#1 Guardians of the Galaxy
Hands-down my favorite film of 2014 in every possible way. After his mom dies, Peter Jason Quill is abducted by aliens for a life of adventure beyond his wildest dreams. Skating through life as an intergalactic thief, Peter makes the ultimate score... only to find out that the fate of the galaxy is literally in his hands. Banding together with an odd assortment of criminals, "Star-Lord" faces a powerful evil none of them might survive. Hilarity and jaw-dropping special effects ensue. INTERESTING ASIDE: A Marvel movie has topped my list every year since I've been doing this... Iron Man 2 in 2010, Captain America and Thor in 2011, The Avengers in 2012, Iron Man 3 in 2013, and now Guardians of the Galaxy in 2014. My guess is that Iron Man would have topped my list in 2008 (if I had one), and it seems inevitable that Avengers 2: Age of Ultron or Ant Man will top it next year. That's quite a feat!.
#2 Captain America: The Winter Soldier
So good. Where do I start? The very concept of "Captain America" is dated and cheesy, but Anthony and Joe Russo turn this weakness into a strength by cutting to the core of what "America" even means in this day and age. And completely knock it out of the park. Captain America stumbles upon a plot that puts our very freedom at risk and teams up with Black Widow to find answers to a political mystery that reaches back to World War II. Along the way we are introduced to Falcon, a staple from Captain America's comic book history, and a welcome addition to the team. As if that wasn't enough, we also get... Robert Redford? Yet another flawless comic book translation by Marvel Studios.
#3 Kaguya-hime no Monogatari
An absolutely mesmerizing film that is an animation fan's hand-drawn dream come true. For a good taste of the stunning, mind-blowing artistry this movie has to offer... YouTube to the rescue.
#4 Veronica Mars
I'm just going to come out and say it. The central "whodunit mystery" around which the story revolves is pretty lame. A few red herrings, but none of the twists and turns or shocking revelations that made the television show so compelling. This is hardly surprising. The movie has the rather daunting disadvantage of having to educate viewers new to the franchise plus showcasing enough insider goodies to satisfy die-hard fans as well as having to catch up with an entire cast of characters people haven't seen for seven years. Even so, the film was a dream come true for this fan, who ranks Veronica Mars as the "second-best television show of all time." Not only did it finally give closure to the non-ending of the series, it also brilliantly opened up the possibilities of more films. Which I would absolutely welcome, because anything new for Veronica Mars by Rob Thomas and Kristen Bell is bound to be good stuff.
#5 Big Hero 6
The third Marvel Studios film on my list also happens to be a Disney masterpiece. After a young genius watches his older brother head to his death trying to help people, he seeks revenge on the person responsible by assembling a team of heroes for the impending battle. That alone is a concept worth experiencing, but Disney didn't stop there... they created BayMax, my favorite cartoon character since Sully on Monsters Inc., and I loved his every second on-screen. If we're going to see more Marvel/Disney collaborations like this, count me in.
#6 The LEGO Movie
This seriously could have been my favorite movie of 2014... if it weren't for the horrendous detour it took at the end which I absolutely hated. HATED! But everything up to that point was gold. The film is funny in all the right spots and a total blast to watch. Not only that, but the animation is sublime and the voice talent flawless (particularly Chris Pratt as Emmett and Will Arnett as LEGO Batman). If you haven't seen it, you really owe it to yourself to submerse yourself into the world of LEGO like you've never seen it before. EVERYTHING IS AWESOME!
#7 Under the Skin
Scarlett Johansson was everywhere this year, including this sci-fi thriller that's almost too good to be true. Stylish, disturbing, and haunting, the film defies description and is probably best experienced without knowing anything ahead of time. That being said, this is definitely a movie that's not for everyone. It requires a real mental leap to appreciate, and if you're not able to make the jump you're probably going to dislike it. Maybe even hate it. As for myself? I can't decide. All I know is that Under the Skin hasn't left me since I saw it, and you can't say that about many films now-a-days.
#8 Edge of Tomorrow
I had -zero- hope for this film, but gave it a shot because it's an adaptation of Hiroshi Sakurazaka's epic All You Need Is Kill (also adapted to manga by Ryōsuke Takeuchi and Takeshi Obata). So imagine my surprise when it ended up being a fantastic movie with amazing visuals and a darn good story. In the near future a disgraced military officer has a mishap that results in him re-living the same day over and over again every time he dies. This allows him to attempt to find a way to repell an alien invasion on the brink of humanity's defeat. Great performances by Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt sealed the deal.
A film that was shot over an 11-year period that shows the life on a young boy as he (and his family) grows to adulthood. It's a very brave idea that paid off big-time. The only down-side being that the story was fluid and tended to wander around. This resulted in some dead spots that ground things to a halt from time to time. Still, it's hard not to appreciate what a feat this was to film and how amazing it turned out. Props to Richard Linklater for having the vision to see it through.
#10 X-Men Days of Future Past
I enjoyed this film a lot despite it being a steaming pile of shit, and I don't know why. Probably because I love comic book movies... even when they take a massive dump over both the comic book source material and the continuity of the film franchise. It's like "We need to send Wolverine's mind back in time into the body of his younger self but we're too lazy and stupid to figure out a logical way, so... KITTY PRIDE HAS A NEW POWER SHE'S NEVER HAD BEFORE FOR NO REASON EXCEPT IT SERVICES THE PLOT!" And, once they committed to that utter stupidity, everything else was fair game... no matter how absurd. And yet... there was plenty of entertainment to be found, despite Bryan Singer's best efforts, so it makes my list.
While not in the same league as Kaguya-hime no Monogatari, Disney managed to craft a beautifully-animated feature with great characters, a terrific story, and addictive music. But I don't need to tell you that. This movie was a massive box office success, and the inevitable sequel is undoubtedly already under way. One of my favorite parts of the film is Kristoff, who managed to hold his own against two Disney princesses in a way that was more about him being himself rather than becoming somebody new so he was "worthy of a princess." Bravo Disney.
This movie came completely out of nowhere to blow my mind into itty-bitty pieces. A group of friends are having a dinner party when a comet flies overhead and knocks out the power. Adventures in quantum physics ensues. As if that weren't bizarre enough for you, the film was shot without a script. Director James Ward Byrkit simply handed out character notes to each actor every day of the five-day shoot (which was in his own home) and let things unfold from there. Once you've seen the film, you'll marvel that this gambit actually worked. To understand the goings on a little better, here's a SPOILER-FILLED interview with the director (which you don't want to watch until you've seen the film, obviously).
I read the book and enjoyed it, but was going to pass on the film adaptation... until I found out David Fincher was behind it. Surprisingly tight and well-crafted film that did the novel justice.
Now this is a documentary. Hobbyist Tim Jenison attempts to discover how 17th-century Dutch Master Johannes Vermeer managed to get near photographic realism in his paintings.
I did not see this in IMAX and which I had, because the visuals are excellent. Wish I could say the same thing about the story, which I found hokey and mediocre. Still entertainment as you'll rarely see it in the cinema, so worth your valuable time to see.
The Grand Budapest Hotel
A terrific film with a flawless cast that's yet another feather in Wes Anderson's cap. The problem is that the quirky films that Anderson makes are starting to lose their luster for me. They've gone from being charming and unexpected to merely more of the same.
Finding Vivian Maier
A Chicago nanny spent her days capturing life around her with a collection of over 100,000 photographs that went undiscovered and unseen until they were purchased at auction after her death. The discovery of Maier's impressive catalog of work propelled her to the spotlight and had critics hailing her as a master of street photography. Not always a flattering take on her life, the film is a fascinating look at photography and art.
The life and times of Roger Ebert, both professional and personal. It's a surprisingly compelling work.
While I was not as enamoured with this movie as the critics seem to be, it was still a pretty darn good film about the life of an independent crime photographer.
This was a pretty tight action film that was beautifully realized from the French comic book... but the ending was utterly insane. My take? SPOILER ALERT! Any survivors surely perished within days of the final frame.
The Skeleton Twins
This was a really well-written, well-acted film about a suicide attempt bringing together two siblings who are living far from perfect lives. It dragged a bit in places, but was ultimately worth the ride.
A documentary that looks back on the making of the greatest movie never made! And, by the end of the film, you really wish it had been...
DIDN'T SEE, MIGHT HAVE MADE MY LIST...
The Strange Little Cat
The trailer is utterly bizarre and more than a little annoying, but the critics won't shut up about it, and it's supposed to be based on Kafka's The Metamorphosis. How can I refuse that?
Two Days, One Night
A character piece that looks unlike anything I've see... in a very good way. A woman has to convince her fellow employees to give up a bonus so she can keep her job.
A Turkish film examining the class divide against a backdrop of winter at a mountain hotel. Looks dramatic... but without the drama. If you know what I mean.
Listen Up Philip
Jason Schwartzman and Jonathan Pryce. I'm intrigued already.
As an art lover, a documentary about the goings on of the National Gallery in London is too tempting to ignore. Can't wait to see it.
An obsessive instructor teaches his student how to become a world-class drummer using intimidation and fear. Doesn't sound like my cup of tea, but the critical acclaim is hard to ignore.
I have no idea if this is something I will enjoy, but the preview certainly seems like it could be. A Catholic nun learns she's Jewish just as she prepares to take her vows. A journey of discovery ensues.
I just can't tell if this is going to be brilliant-brilliant or stupid-brilliant, but I'm happy to spend the time finding out.
British historical-based comedies are my weak point, and this film telling the story of gays and lesbians lending their support to striking coal miners in 1984 Wales sounds like an entertaining concept.
A Million Ways to Die in the West
How in the hell Seth MacFarlane went from the total genius that was Ted to this painfully un-funny turd is a total mystery. I can't believe I wasted my valuable time on this dud.
From the previews, I was ready to love this film. Scarlett Johansson gets mind-bogglingly awesome super-powers and proceeds to kick ass? Fantastic! But that's not what we got. Instead of escalating the cool super-human action to a grand finale, the film takes a massive detour into some kind of metaphysical artistic statement that is really unsatisfying and senseless. Lucy was ultimately disappointed to me because the ending sabotaged the whole movie.
Given the high-caliber cast (George Clooney, Bill Murray, John Goodman, Matt Damon, Hugh Bonneville, and Cate Blanchett), I expected this was going to be a killer film. But it turns out that the cast was about the only thing I enjoyed. There just wasn't much of a story... the characters broke up into pairs and wandered around Europe trying to save art during the final days of World War II. The End. I was told this was a "caper" film... kind of like Ocena's 11 or something. But other than trying to blow a mine open before the Russians arrive, there wasn't much of a "caper" to speak of. Even worse, it was just so horribly boring.
Posted on Wednesday, July 8th, 2015
Something as inexplicably bizarre as Donald Trump himself...
Though The Donald should be orange, not yellow.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I am going to go sob quietly in a corner over how somebody like this can be considered a serious contender for President of the United States. If this is where we're going, I'd rather have President Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho, (former porn star and five-time Ultimate Smackdown Wrestling Champion) as my leader...
Idiocracy. The gift that keeps on giving.