The exultation of motion, the seduction of speed, the thrill of reckless danger, but most of all the duality of existence. The feeling that while I am at once both more and less a part of the world around me. I transcend it, I pass through it, I sense it but it cannot touch me. That is what it feels like to ride a motorcycle. And I suspect it is a feeling shared by the skate punks of Venice Beach circa 1975 when they leave the shitty everyday world behind and ride their boards. The story is a familiar one if the trappings are unique. The rise of the pure artist until money and ambition bring about the inevitable fall from grace. A wistful look back at the glory of the early days but a recognition that the innocence of the past cannot be recaptured. I liked how each of the characters was drawn in a realistic yet sympathetic manner so that I cared what happened to them even if they weren't all perfect. A tone of youthful rebellion and boyish bravado runs throughout the movie. Take the time and see what it was like when the great drought emptied the swimming pools of Southern California and local ruffians filled them with skateboards.
Netflix Status: DVD only. Currently on Starz on Demand
I haven't bought a Marvel comic for 2 or 3 years now, nor have I followed anything major since Civil War. So I guess that makes me the target audience for their Point One Initiative, an effort to provide a perfect jumping on point for some of their most popular characters. These books are supposed to make it easy for new readers and returning readers (like myself) to get an idea of what's going on in the Marvel Universe right now, as well as get ongoing readers excited for what's coming up. So this month and over the next two months, I'll be weighing in on what I thought of everything the Point One line has to offer.
It's that time of the year!
A thrilling tale of discovery! An action packed adventure to the darkest heart of Africa! Two men in a search for fame, fortune and the source of the Nile! That's what I was expecting when I began to watch this movie. A tedious snore-fest is what I got instead. It took some true skill to take a scene where two explorers defend themselves against a thousand screaming tribesmen and suck every last drop of vitality out of it. And if the director could kill the excitement there, how much more of a suffocating tomb are the scenes in the England of garden parties and academic lectures in front of the Royal Geographic Society? The last half of the movie is the worst of all where the story focuses on the petty squabble between the two friends and the nit picking as to who really discovered lake Victoria. Save some time and pain and just read the Wikipedia entry for Richard Francis Burton. It's a hell of a lot more entertaining than this film.
What I expected was a cross between My Big Fat Greek Wedding and Moulin Rouge. A musical about the crazy mixed up world of a woman about to take the plunge and live out the fantasy ceremony that all girls dream of from the day the come screaming out of the chute but this movie is not what I expected. There is music by ABBA but it is not a musical. Not even slightly. I expected it to be a sappy tribute to the ritual of marriage. One where we see the happy couple comes rushing out of the church showered in rice and beaming in joy. It is not sappy, at least not like that. I expected there to be a roster of family members who may be exasperating and annoying but at the end of the day are well meaning and loveable. There is a large family depicted but they are far from adorable. What this movie is about is a somewhat melancholy look at a woman desperately trying to prove to herself and others that she has some value. The humor in it is more of the "grit your teeth and wince" variety that comes from putting characters into uncomfortable situations and then letting them twist in the wind than the "snort coca-cola out your nose while you choke" type. I found the movie to be touching, sad, depressing and hopeful by turns. That it could move me in different ways says something good about the writing and acting. "A hilarious comedy about friends, fun, and unexpected surprises!" as the tag line proclaims? Hell no. "A good way to spend an hour and a half and convince your wife your not above watching a chick flick?" Hell yes.
Netflix Status: Currently Streaming
Exhibit A Pictures, 2010
Written and Directed by Alexandre Philippe
A common stereotype of a ‘geek’ is someone who sinks mass amounts of time and money into an interest that has little or no practical utility, like a fantasy, or an interest that most people find somewhat eccentric. The more this geek tries to satisfy that interest and fill the hole that drives it, the bigger the hole grows.
There’s a goofy sincerity that comes through when people throw themselves into something driven by their own imagination. I love that. At the same time, though, I feel queasy at the idea of people being overpowered by fantasies of their own making – people feeling they are the mercy of their own creations.
The geek I’m trying to describe is one of the buried themes one can excavate from “The People vs George Lucas,” a documentary about Star Wars fans and the sense of betrayal they felt in reaction to Lucas’s work on the prequels to Star Wars and the digitally souped-up remakes of that popular series.
(The following is a slightly updated reprint of a column that ran last year. George Lucas is my hero; in another five or six Christmases, this column will actually be about "My five favorite sandwiches", and I'll claim that was my vision all along, but sandwich technology wasn't quite ready for that when the column was originally written.)This time of year, you'll find plenty of radio stations who are on a constant 24-hour Christmas music rotation. Most of them start around midnight Thanksgiving and carry straight through Christmas. The idea is to gorge yourself on a veritable buffet of cheerful holiday sounds, sending you into a glazed but mostly pleasant Christmas mood.
Here are the five songs you're likely to hear this season that will not engender the desired holiday spirit...in fact, enough exposure to these, and you might go on a Feliz Navidad-fueled killing spree.
Short and sweet this week, as I'm still trying to get back into the flow of working (or pretending to) after the awesomeness of Memorial Day and Trashfest South.
A nuclear war has destroyed the Northern Hemisphere. The residents of Melbourne Australia wait for the creeping cloud of radiation that will kill them all to arrive. The movie reflects the fear of the age in which is was made, 1959, but the movie retains its power and relevance because it is about how people deal with catastrophic disaster more than the disaster itself. Some give in to debauchery, some live in denial, some go crazy, and some wait for the end with acceptance. The tone of the movie is one of melancholy rather than rage, regret at lost opportunity rather than anger at folly. Stanley Kramer, the director, is at the top of his game here.
Netflix Status: DVD only
I hate Jane Austin. I hate her maudlin melodramatic crap. I hate her stories of women whose sole ambition is to marry a rich douche bag. I hate tales of the English class system. The tribulations caused to wealthy jerk-offs by the improper use of a piece of flatware bore me to tears. So when I clicked on Turner Classic Movies this morning and the movie was the 1940 version of Austin's Pride and Prejudice I said "Fuck this." and had every intention of turning the channel to something far more exciting like the Indian Head Test Pattern. Five minutes later I was still watching it. That arrogant jerk Mr. Darcy was saying some very unkind things about Miss Elizabeth at the ball. "To hell with this," I said as I picked up the remote. The latest Slap Chop infomercial had to have more action than this movie. After forty five minutes Mr. Darcy, Mr Bingley, and his bitch sister had moved back to London without even so much as a good bye and broke poor Jane's heart. "Those rotten bastards." said I intending to put on reruns of Full House. An hour and a half in and Lydia had run off with the dastardly Mr. Wickham and brought shame on the entire Bennet clan! Can you imagine? After two hours I was drying a tear from my eye as Miss Elizabeth and Mr Darcy were to be married! The point here is this movie drew me in in spite of myself. The sets are luxurious. The actors and actresses are all legends. And I dare you to watch this and not be in love with Greer Garson by the end. I double dog dare you.
After reading Mad Dog's article about eye-patches I was inspired to come up with another obvious category. Throwing back a nod to Ancient of Mumu with the calendar concept.... or a top 10. My criteria used to winnow it down to a dozen was... movie or TV but no anime/cartoon/comic... only humans. It's not so much about the character as it is about the body part... has to be cool and preferably it has uses beyond what nature intended. Many of the characters in this article have gone on to become memes and have been mocked, copied, or otherwise been paid homage in other movies. Sci-Fi is liberally applied as I wanted to keep the title consistent with the original.
Have you ever danced with the devil in the pale 8-bit moonlight?
Two story lines weave and twist and converge in this epic TV series produced by HBO that is some of the finest television ever shown. The first is the political rise to power of Augustus Ceasar filled with intrigue and betrayal. The other follows two ex soldiers as they struggle to find their way back to civilian life after years of only knowing the brutal and violent world of soldiers in the Gallic wars. The story will grip you and draw you in. You'll find yourself fumbling for your gladius and wanting to jump into the fighting pit with Pullo. Yell it with me in defiance..."XIII" !!
Netflix Status: DVD and Blu-Ray
There was only one Babe Ruth. There was only one Pele. There was only one Gretsky. In that same vein there was only one Aryton Senna. He was a god in the world of Formula 1 Racing and until I watched this documentary I had never heard his name. The best documentaries take us into a world of which we know little or nothing and show us, to a greater or lesser extent, what it is all about. Here we follow the career of Senna from his beginnings in Formula 1 in 1984 until his death in 1994. I don't know if you've ever tried to watch a Formula 1 race where rich men race cars built with budgets larger than the GDP of half the worlds countries but they strike me as high speed processionals with passes being few and far between. Rather dull affairs. However, through the miracle of editing we only watch the exciting parts. And they are exciting even if they were taken on 30 year old video tape and look it. The portrait we get of Senna, on the whole is a positive one as told by clips of interviews he did and comments of his friends and family. His death was a tragedy as it always is when someone dies to young. Broaden your mind and watch this movie and you will gain insight into the most expensive sport in the world that you did not have before. That knowledge will never have any practical application in your life, ever, unless you happen to be drinking in a bar in Brazil and the subject comes up.
Netflix status: currently streaming
Fun! That is the word that should be used to describe this movie. Sure it's a sequel. If you've seen Sherlock Holmes 1 then you've seen much the same before. Sure it has it's share of movie cliches. I'm sure somewhere in the world there is a gypsy girl who is not beautiful and noble. I'm sure there exists at least one capitalist who is not a nefarious war monger. Sure it has historical inaccuracies and implausibilities. Don't go see this movie for a history lesson nor should you if you can't get over heroes being able to shrug off wounds that would permanently cripple normal mortals. This movie DOES have fun and excitement by the metric shit-ton! The chemistry between Jude Law and Robert Downey is fantastic. Jared Harris plays a great Victorian era villain, all respectable on the outside but with a juicy core of pure evil. I still think the device of going to slow motion to reflect the fantastic speed of Holmes' mind is brilliant. The scene as the heroes flee through the woods also makes great use of slowing down time to prolong and enhance the tension and thrill of the scene.
Netflix Status: Not released on DVD yet. It is available "on demand" and showing on every United airplane in the world.
I've exercised a considerable amount of caution in this review, and I don't think there are any spoilers that could diminish your enjoyment in the least. But if you're one of those, 'don't tell me anything!' spoiler-paranoid people, just skip this one and come back when you've seen it. No, you have not come to the wrong site. Your RSS feed thingy is working just fine. I have not been replaced by Siskel & Ebert (one of whom is dead now,which works because I'm reviewing a zombie movie). It's just that I went and saw Zombieland this weekend, and it's so spectacular that I just had to gush like a severed limb. Here's how I figure it: 1. You come here at all, so you've gotta be at least part nerd. 2. A good number of you will be fans of horror films. Because, you know, nerds. 3. There are countless zombie games out there, from RPGs and CCGs and CMGsto BVDs and MP3s and DMVs (those last three, incidentally, are not actually types of games. They are, respectively, types of undergarments, types of music files and types of places where peoplework when God hates them.)
Sophie is a young idealist in war time Germany who gets arrested for the distribution of anti-Nazi pamphlets at the local university. Once the statist machine gets its hooks into Sophie it never lets go and she is dragged mercilessly towards her fate. There is no physical cruelty but the mental torture is just as real. A few notes rang false during the middle of the movie but the first act left me with a tension induced ulcer and the last made me want to howl with anguish.
Netflix status: Currently Streaming
Tough guy talk and action permeate this movie. A serviceable tale of an abduction and the effort to get the victim back. There isn't a lot that stands out as stellar but there isn't a lot that sucks either. The suspense is there but not nail biting. The action is there but it isn't something you've never seen before. Written and directed by David Mamet, the movie does have the rapid fire dialog you'd expect of him especially from the head of the hero's unit. His female characters seem not to be as fully realized as his male ones. He also gets a shot to the gnads for falling into a couple of cliche's of action movies that really annoy me. The first and foremost of these is costume changes and equipment appearing out of nowhere. They are in a helicopter in their business suits headed for a stealthy covert op that they had no time to plan for. Then the next time you see them sneaking into a compound wearing black ninja outfits and having specialized sniper rifles. The second is what I call "the temporary bullet wound" where some dude takes a shot that would kill an elephant but the next scene he's all healed up as if nothing had happened.
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