Posted on August 2nd, 2020
2020 never seems to end, but neither does the bullets... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Umbrella 2! I liked the first season of The Umbrella Academy despite the fast that it took some serious liberties with the comic book source. The second season just dropped and I binged it all in a day...
Even better than the first season! Number 5 must be one of the best comic book characters ever brought to life on the small screen. If I have a small bit of criticism, it would be that the series got a bit mired in personal drama that was boring and not terribly important towards moving the story forward. Particularly Vanya's time on a farm(?)... a diversion that could have been adequately addressed in 1/3 the screen time. Otherwise? genius.
• Just Do It! There is some serious image re-mapping and aligning going on here and it's incredibly well done. This is beautiful to behold...
Bravo to the art director and their team for how this came together.
• Cheapness! A couple people asked me about the "cheap movies" I bought and where I bought them. I monitor a site called Cheap Charts then, when I find the cheapest price on a sale movie I want, I go ahead and buy it if it's from iTunes (because that's where all my movies are). If it's not on iTunes, I check MoviesAnywhere to see if the movie can be bought at a member site, which means iTunes will import it automatically. Usually iTunes is the most expensive place, with Amazon Digital and Microsoft Digital being the cheapest. If the movie is not a part of MoviesAnywhere, then I usually don't buy it... unless it's super-cheap, then I just suffer through having to use Amazon or Microsoft's player to watch it. And now you know.
• How to Mask! Sarah Cooper has been on fire with her last several videos, but this one is just beyond...
Nice to know at least one thing to laugh about when it comes to the horror show we're currently trapped in.
• Biscuits! Thanks to friends on Facebook, I've finally cracked the puzzle of making the perfect Egg & Cheese McBiscuit! I start with FROZEN Pillsbury Grands and smear the tops and bottoms with butter. Cook pushed together as directed. THEN I smear the tops with butter AGAIN... separate the biscuits AND FLIP THEM OVER. Increase the heat to 400º and cook for four minutes longer so the tops get fried on the hot cookie sheet. VOILA! Perfectly crispy biscuits with fluffy insides that taste every bit as good at McDonalds!
Now I no longer have to pay ridiculous prices (THREE DOLLARS AND FORTY-NINE CENTS EACH?!??) to get one of my favorite treats! Hooray!
• US History! It's easy to see how the reason so many people are so ignorant about how things actually are in this country is that they don't have an accurate picture of how we got here. The mind boggles...
Smartly done. But the people most needing to see this and understand this are exactly the people who will never watch it.
• Memory! Face, Velvet, Church, Daisy, Red. Yep, still got it a week later.
I guess that's all I got for this week. See you next Sunday.
Posted on July 10th, 2020
If there's one thing I've learned over the years, it's that movies based on comic books are a mixed bag. Sometimes they do a great job of translating the source material... other times they do a horrendous job. But in every case, there's always changes that get made.
Marvel Studios has been the most successful in respecting the original comic books with their films. When they make changes, they are usually in the service of the story and are made so that the essence of the characters and stories will work in an entirely different format. DC had some very good Batman movies with Christopher Nolan's take on The Dark Knight, yet their current movies have been worse than shit. And then there's the 20th Century Fox X-Men movies, which were awful to extreme levels of bad, and about the worst comic book translation you'll find.
You just never know.
So when I heard that Netflix was creating a movie based on The Old Guard, I wasn't entirely sure what to expect. I loved the comic book. Greg Rucka and Leandro Fernandez told a great story in a cool way and it had incredible potential for a movie. So when Netflix unleashed it, I tuned in with a mix of both excitement and dread. How much of the story would they butcher? How many senseless changes would they make?
Turns out they did a fucking amazing job.
This story of immortal beings working as mercenaries stars Charlize Theron, which was reason enough to watch. She has never disappointed. And she absolutely does not disappoint here. She kicks copious amounts of ass and delivers exactly as you'd expect her to. That much was not surprising.
What was surprising? Not did Netflix keep two of the major characters gay... but they did not reduce their characters to platonic shells as what usually do. Take this scene between them from the comic book, which was incredibly touching and romantic as it gets...
And compare it to The Old Guard movie...
The scene is not just faithful... it's word-for-word faithful.
There was a time not even ten years ago that this would likely have not been the case. If the characters of Joe and Nicky were allowed to stay gay, they would have been neutered or played for laughs. And then there's the fact that the two leads of an action movie are women... and one of them is a Black woman. Don't see a lot of that, even in 2020.
Highest possible recommendation. If you like action movies, it's definitely worth a look.
Posted on July 5th, 2020
Life can be so cruel, but there's more to existence than misery... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Cuong Nguyen creates utterly amazing works of art in various mediums...
The guy's entire YouTube Channel is remarkable.
• Areala! Netflix finally dropped their adaptation series of Warrior Nun Areala and it's pretty good...
If there's a fault with the series, it's that they dragged it out too long. There's painfully dull stretches where the nuns aren't kicking ass that should have been seriously cut down. I admit that there were times I just fast-forwarded through it because I just could not bring myself to care. They could have easily dropped this down to six episodes and been far better for it. When it comes to faithfulness to the comic book, it's a mixed bag. Sister Shannon (who headed the comic) is gone, and a formerly quadrapalegic, formerly dead young woman inherits her mantle. Alas, she's new and inexperienced, so that's automatically adding dead weight to the story, but Shotgun Mary and Mother Superion are there... as are other warrior nuns... so I think it tries to keep true to the spirit of the source material, and that's something. Hopefully if it gets renewed they'll focus more on action than they did the first time around. And if it doesn't get renewed? That's one shitty fucking cliffhanger to go out on.
• Being With Her! One of my favorite TV shows was I'm With Her... a rom-com where a school teacher starts dating the most famous movie star in the world. It's a fairly obvious take-off of the Julia Roberts movie Notting Hill. The series was fun and clever and featured hilarious guest-appearances by Peter Dinklage. The idea was retread again in the show Beauty and the Baker this year. It was good but nothing special. Today I found out that this show is based on an Israeli show called Lehiyot Ita... which, coincidentally enough, translates to Being With Her. So we've come full circle...
But here's the thing... the Israeli original series is really pretty good. Clever, smart, funny, and the casting is fantastic. If you have Amazon Prime streaming, I highly recommend giving it a shot! It's in Hebrew, so you'll need to turn on the subtitles, but it's worth it.
• Hamilton! I had the opportunity to see the Broadway play Hamilton very early on. I knew it was getting raves and had huge buzz, but it hadn't entered national consciousness yet. I don't care for Broadway shows at all, so I took a pass. I'd have to burn money on a flight and hotel that I'd rather spend on something else. Better the ticket go to somebody who would enjoy it. Then as Hamiltonmania exploded across the country, I always wondered if I made a mistake. Maybe I should have saw it just so I could say I saw it?
I finally saw the filmed performance on Disney+ and now I know I was right to skip it. Don't get me wrong... Lin Manuel Miranda is genius (I loved his work on Moana) and the cast seems talented... but good Lord is this not for me. AND IT LASTS THREE HOURS?!? I would have been praying for death after 30 minutes. I'm happy that people can enjoy watching actors running around in circles screaming/singing dialogue like this, but I just don't get it.
• Oopsies! And this... is 2020...
And we're only half-way through.
• And Lastly! You're welcome...
Just try getting that out of your head.
And that's enough joy, I suppose. See You Next Sunday.
Posted on May 24th, 2020
You may be stuck in the house, but you won't be lacking for televised entertainment... because a very special Streaming Video Edition of Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Big Eden! For better or worse, small-town rural America has been saddled with a shiny veneer of down-home values and a sense of strong community. And, having lived that my entire life, it feels an accurate way of looking at things. But this image kind of glosses over the general bigotry and specific homophobia that seems to permeate it all. Big Eden is a movie which shows what happens if it didn't permeate it all...
This is such a warm, charming, and wonderful movie. I don't want to spoil a thing, but suffice to say that it's flawlessly realized cinema. After finishing it, I had to watch it all over again because there are dozens of tiny moments happening in the backgrounds by actors performing at the top of their game. This won a slew of LGBTQ awards, but I'd hardly call it a "gay movie." It's just a movie about a place that you wish existed.
• The Ultimate Gift! I had ZERO expectations for yet another "spoiled rich brat loses his fortune and turns his life around" movie... but The Ultimate Gift was a really good take on the genre...
James Garner is a multi-billionaire with a truly horrible family. This includes a spoiled grandson who spends money like it was water and hasn't worked a day in his life. Everybody gets short-changed in the will when James Garner dies, but the grandson is given a second chance at an inheritance. All he has to do is complete a series of challenges which will win him gifts... ending with "The Ultimate Gift" after all the challenges have been met. But the challenges are not easy and are designed to push him into being a better person. Yes, there are some over-the-top moments to create artificial angst and drama but, overall, I walked away really enjoying this one.
• Hide Away! (Josh Lucas, James Cromwell • 2012) — This movie has polarizing reviews. Some people hated it. Some people loved it. I absolutely loved it. Josh Lucas shows up at a small coastal town and buys a beat up old sailboat to refurbish. The entire movie is a metaphor for rebuilding your life after tragedy, and has been filmed beautifully. I mean really beautifully...
Some of the reviews were screaming "NOTHING HAPPENED IN 85 MINUTES OF RUN-TIME... NOTHING!!!" To which I can only respond "Maybe everything happened and you just weren't paying attention?" The movie 100% relies on Josh Lucas selling it, and he does not falter. From beginning to end, his nuanced performance and commitment to the story were pretty incredible. The ending takes a little thought to process, but was well-handled, I think.
• Kid Brother! This was one of those films where I pretty much had to trust Amazon's recommendation because I would have never given it a second look had I just seen the poster on the Prime Streaming page. A reclusive janitor's life takes a very different turn when his kid brother comes to stay with him...
Do not let the trailer fool you, there is some really good subtle humor and great performances. Where did Alan Longstreet come from and why hasn't he been in like A HUNDRED MOVIES by now? Clever, charming, and some real heart, Kid Brother is worth a look.
• The Lovebirds! Amazon doesn't have an exclusive on enjoyable movies. Netflix just dropped The Lovebirds, starring Issa Rae and Kumail Nanjani. I'm big fans of both, so I was planning on tuning in even if it looks kinda slapsticky and goofy...
And, don't get me wrong, it's absolutely slapsticky and goofy... but it's not without its charms, and I thought Nanjani and Rae did an incredible job of selling it. When all is said and done, it's a cute, sweet film that manages to overcome its weaknesses. It also take place in New Orleans, which is a definite plus.
• Mythic Quest: Quarantine! And, lastly, a lot of television shows are doing "quarantine" episodes or finding other imaginative ways to carry on. Late-night talk shows are thriving in the age of COVID-19. But none of them... none of them... can compare to the sheer brilliance that they came up with for an all new episode of Mythic Quest: Raven's Banquet...
The trailer shows none of the ingenuity which makes the episode so bloody brilliant, which is actually pretty great because it doesn't spoil anything... including an amazing finale. I really enjoyed the first season of the show from Apple+... this is just icing on the cake.
And that's all the movie bullets I got. Stay safe, everybody.
Posted on May 11th, 2020
I finally watched First Lady Michele Obama's Becoming on Netflix.
Love her or don't love her, there's no denying that she's a fascinating person...
I really enjoyed the show (and her book) even though I've not always been a fan. Some of the things she's been party to I've vehemently disagreed with, as I think they've been an attempt to do a good thing badly. Take, for example the new "Nutrition Facts" label. It's meant to help people eat healthier. But ultimately it's just another expense and hardship for small business food manufacturers who have to invest a rather large chunk of money into something which is ultimately not worth it.
The calories font is bigger. How does that help? They tweaked a few values. How does that help? People who want to eat unhealthy foods already know that they are eating unhealthy foods, and they're not going to change their mind because the calories font is bigger. Stuff like this is what Democrat detractors can point to and, with good reason, say that they make things harder on American businesses.
But then she also worked very hard to get kids healthier meals in school and a bunch of other wonderful things, so you gotta have perspective. In the end I can say that, if nothing else, I believe that Michele Obama was a patriot who honestly thought that she was doing what's best for the people she served. Can't say that about too many political figures.
Posted on May 8th, 2020
I'm not "running out of things to watch," but I am getting bored with the massive amount of stuff that's available to watch. Binging Plan Coeur (The Hook Up Plan) yesterday really made me want to revisit some of my favorite French films, but it's tough to work and read subtitles at the same time, and I can't afford to lose the hours like I did yesterday. I thought that I would instead put on some of my favorite Japanese anime since I was once fairly fluent in the language and "it's just cartoons," but that didn't work out at all. My Japanese comprehension is so out of practice now that I have to stop and think about what's being said, which is actually more distracting than reading subtitles.
I was lamenting the idea of starting in on another Netflix series when a friend in a Zoom meeting mentioned that they've been watching a lot of YouTube videos. This seemed like an excellent idea, because that's somewhere below mindless entertainment, and the YouTube app for my AppleTV will just keep playing them one-after-the-other all night long!
When I asked for suggestions, the first one out of their mouth was Mr. Beast. I was going to take a pass because the only thing I had ever heard about the guy was that he drops a lot of homophobic slurs, but my friend said "He's done so many good things," and I was intrigued.
At first I was just going to start at his first video and run through them all, but he's been doing this for six years(!) and most of his earliest videos are just him playing video games and stuff. He then made a slew of videos speculating on the wealth of other YouTubers and making fun of other YouTubers. Then he went through a phase of counting to really high numbers... reading the entire dictionary... and doing other time-consuming and inane stunts.
Yeah. No thanks.
But then things started getting interesting about two years ago.
Mr. Beast started giving away hundreds of thousands of dollars (which he gets from sponsorship and branding deals). He'd give somebody $10,000 for winning a video game challenge. He'd tip a server $20,000. He'd give random subscribers to his channel huge amounts of cash. And he also started doing crazy stuff like trashing his friend's car then give them a new car... buying every billboard in his city... spending 24 hours in prison... and having his friends do random challenges for huge cash prizes.
I began to see his appeal. His stunts are genuinely interesting.
My favorite stunt he pulled was buying a house then ordering a pizza from Dominos. He offered the pizza delivery guy $2,000 if he would help them go shopping for stuff to move into the house "for a friend," then he gave the fully furnished house to the delivery guy after they were done. Watch the video. It's pretty great...
After a while you start really getting invested in the lives of his friends. Poor Cameron kept losing challenge after challenge and never won anything. You really started to feel sorry for the guy because he was constantly made fun of. Then, finally, he won one and I was far more happy for him than I had a right to be...
Yeah, this is not highbrow entertainment, but it is entertaining. I've certainly seen worse uses of time and money on YouTube.
After my Mr. Beast marathon, I started catching up on all the YouTubers I follow but have neglected over the past several months. Like Unbox Therapy, who unboxed Apple's SEVEN HUNDRED DOLLAR WHEELS for their MacPro computer so you don't have to. It looks to be an oddly unsatisfying experience...
Don't worry. Eventually he made a skateboard out of the wheels.
Yahtzee at Escapist's Zero Punctuation took a look at Animal Crossing: New Horizons and it's oddly comforting in its raw predictability...
John Kirkwood made cheese & onion pasties... something I am dying to make and will attempt soon, because it's like a gorgeous blend of some of my favorite things...
Ryan at ScreenRant unleashed another hilarious pitch meeting...
Two amazing thinkers (who just happen to be brilliant comedians) discuss atheism and other deep topics in a fascinating conversation...
And lastly there's Johnny Harris, who actually spent his valuable time looking into flerfers (insert eye-roll)...
After all that, I was ready to start watching regular ol' television again, and started in on Ryan Murphy's latest... Hollywood... which is currently airing on Netflix. Not exactly sure this is going to be my thing, but it sure looks like it was expensive to make.
Posted on February 20th, 2020
If there's one thing I'm certain of, it's that humanity as a whole is on the decline.
Today reeeeeeally drove that home for me. Vividly. And so I decided to go home and turn off the world for a while. Which would usually mean that I'd clean house, play video games, or build something, but I didn't feel like doing any of that.
Fortunately Netflix decided to tell me that there's a new offering called #CATS_THE_MEWVIE, which is a documentary about cats on the internet...
Yep. That did the trick.
Even if some of the people on this are nuts. Or assholes. Or both.
Ready to face the horror show that we call "Reality" again.
Posted on February 9th, 2020
It's Oscar Sunday but I just don't care, because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Crapple! Given my longstanding rant against Apple being complete and total assholes by sticking their customers with shitty butterfly keyboards for years before they FINALLY thought to replace them with something not-quite-so-horrible, this one's for you. It's at the 2-minute mark...
People think this is funny... but, but I'm the biggest Apple Whore I know, and even I was seriously shopping for PCs before the 16-inch MacBook Pro was released. I hope Apple is fucking embarrassed at this, because they should be.
• Gold! I used to do a big thing on the Oscars, but I stopped giving a shit when they kept rewarding the same old crap. This year it looks like things are on a better track. Here's my list...
The love for Parasite, which would usually be thrown in the "Best Foreign Language Film" category (it still was and won there too), was a breath of fresh air. I didn't see it until last week or else it surely would have been one of my favorite movies of 2019.
• Mythical! If you haven't been watching Mythic Quest: Raven's Banquet on Apple TV+, it's worth a look. Especially if you love video games. Apparently Rob McElhenney (who is at his most Rob McElhenneyist here) and Charlie Day consulted heavily with Ubisoft to get some semblance of accuracy even though this is a comedy about what goes on behind the scenes at a video game company. It shows. The show is absolute gold, and will easily make my list of favorites for 2020. It's not quite The Office or The IT Crowd, but it kinda draws from both...
The jokes come fast and most of them land well. I cannot believe that they got F. Murray Abraham. He has the perfect amount of gravitas for his part. But this is Rob McElhenney from start to finish and he's absolutely perfect.
• Starch! Wow. How come nobody told me that adding corn starch to scrambled eggs makes them taste like they've been slow-cooking for 30 minutes? This is reeeeeally nice. So creamy and rich. If you haven't tried it, these are pretty great. Also works wonders with omelettes. I will never cook scrambled eggs without it.
• NEWS: Antarctica logs hottest temperature on record with a reading of 18.3°C. That's 65°F, people. When I visited, there were many times I took off my jacket because Antarctica was too warm to have it on. I worry for the wildlife which calls this continent home. How is this going to disrupt their habitat and can they survive it?
Penguins are already having a tough time of it, and things look to be getting worse. And then there's polar bears starving in the Arctic. Troubling times for our planet.
• trAIn! Apple has put Artificial Intelligence "Machine Learning" in their iPhone and are making good use of it (especially with the camera). As time goes on, it's just going to be surreal how it changes our lives. Take for example this footage from Denis Shiryaev, which upscaled the video to 4K with machine learning and resounded it... Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat, by Auguste and Louis Lumière, 1896...
Looks old, but almost new. Here's the original footage...
We are really close to the unreal easily being mistake for the real, if we're not there already.
• Netflix Fix! And, lastly, apparently there is a God... you can finally tell Netflix to STOP AUTO-PLAYING FUCKING PREVIEWS WHILE YOU ARE TRYING TO SEARCH FOR SOMETHING TO WATCH! People have been complaining about this bullshit FOR YEARS and Netflix did nothing. Apparently somebody finally figured that customers were worth listening to... or maybe it's because many other streaming services are treating customers with a lot more respect by not irritating the ever-loving-shit out of them...
Apparently you set it once in your preferences and it goes into effect everywhere. I haven't yet verified this, but I sure hope it's true.
And that's a wrap, little golden statue dude!
Posted on February 3rd, 2020
There’s a difference between "I really connect to your lyrics"... and "I’m going to break in."
I never gave much thought to Taylor Swift. Her music was originally Country, which I don't listen to. Then she dropped into the world of Pop music with 1989 but I wasn't "in that place" at the time, didn't like the single Bad Blood at all, and ignored it. When Reputation was released I didn't much care for the first single, Shake it Off and ignored that album too.
Then I heard the song Mean while shopping in a store somewhere and didn't know who sang it, but Shazamed it even though it was Country because I was hooked by the lyrics...
Someday I'll be living in a big ol' city
And all you're ever gonna be is mean
Someday I'll be big enough so you can't hit me
And all you're ever gonna be is mean
I made a mental note to take another look at Taylor Swift because that one song impressed me so much.
When I finally remembered to pull up her catalog on Amazon Music Unlimited while brushing my teeth one morning, the first song to come up was New Romantics...
Cuz baby I could build a castle
Out of all the bricks they threw at me
And every day is like a battle
But every night with you is like a dream
I remember just standing there, toothbrush in hand, toothpaste dribbling out of my mouth, trying to really listen to the lyrics, which were pretty great. From there I blew through all her music, consistently impressed with her songwriting, even if I didn't always like the song itself. But most of the songs from 1989 and Reputation I did like quite a lot.
Then the singles from Lover started dropping and I was suddenly full-on fan of Taylor Swift... putting Lover in the top spot of my favorite albums of 2019.
And now, just when I didn't think I could love Taylor any more than I already do, a documentary dropped on Netflix called Miss Americana...
I enjoyed it quite a lot. The film is an intimate look into the highs and lows of Taylor's life and gives a glimpse into her songwriting process (which is worthy of a documentary all on its own). There's also a good chunk of time devoted to Swift's decision to unleash her political beliefs, even though she knew full well what the consequences might be for her life and career. The scene where she's about to unleash a political tweet that changes everything was almost a hold-your-breath moment.
It would be really easy to watch her struggles and think "Oh boo hoo! Go cry into your millions of dollars because nobody cares!"
But any such snap judgements are made out of ignarance. Swift built herself a castle out of all the bricks that were thrown at her and earned her millions of dollars with hard work and talent. The fact that she uses her popularity and fame to speak out against bigotry and injustice when her life would be a lot easier if she just sat quiet and smiled is what makes Taylor Swift be Taylor Swift.
Even though she all too often gets burned for it.
And so... Miss Americana is recommended for Taylor Swift lovers and haters alike. If you have Netflix, give it a look.
Posted on November 19th, 2019
I honestly don't know where I land on all the impeachment stuff.
I mean, yeah, the president abused his office for personal gain. There is no debating this. It all really happened and there's a preponderance of evidence that it happened. Of course the president denies it happened... but then, like every other time he's accused of something he did, he tries to suppress evidence and tell lies to convince people it didn't happen. Then real evidence is uncovered, proof is found, and he starts screaming "Fake News" so his supporters will look the other way. This has been happening since he assumed office. And it's obviously a strategy that works for him because he should have been thrown in jail long ago.
Except... don't all politicians do crap like this?
The issue at hand here is that President Trump's corruption is so much easier to see. Because. He's. Just. That. Damn. Stupid. And he surrounds himself with fucking morons like Rudy Giuliani who is happy to go on live television interviews and admit everything. And, oh yeah, President Trump's crimes run bigger, badder, and worser than most politicians, so there's that. He is effectively giving this country to billionaires, special interest groups, and foreign countries (many of them our enemies)... all while eradicating small business and the middle class to do it. People who benefit him get everything. People who cannot benefit him get fucked.
Same as it ever was.
Same as it ever was.
So, yeah, sure. Impeach him. Remove the president from office. Let bat-shit crazy insane Vice President Pence eradicate what few personal liberties remain and start World War III by nuking all the non-Christian nations (it's the jihad he's been masturbating over for decades). Or let President Trump continue his term... possibly get a second term... and run this country so far into the ground that it can never recover. Either way, we're fucked. The world is fucked.
The only way that impeachment will actually mean anything for the rest of us is if ALL the crooked politicians get thrown in jail. ALL of them. Then we can establish term limits... eliminate gerrymandering... abolish lobbyists... curb corruption... strive for equal representation... nurture personal liberties... repair our environment... protect our wildlife... set our clocks to permanent Daylight Saving Time... and work towards being a country that lives up to the ideals of who we want to be. Who we really want to be once all the slime has been eradicated and our government works for everyone and not the few.
Make that happen and I would gladly tune into the hearings.
In other news... I hope Netflix is offering Aamer Rahman a pile of money for his own special. I've shared a video from him before, but here's some more...
Some of his stuff is wonderfully insightful, flipping the script on race to illustrate exactly where we're at...
I don't find anything offensive in truth. If people do, then that's probably a good thing.