Thursday, November 18, 2010

100 things I love about the movies

It's been a while since I've written anything here mostly because I didn't have anything to say. I still don't, but I ran across this and thought I'd include it for anyone interested in some fun things. If you don't understand any of the references, google it and then watch those movies. You'll thank yourself if you do:

1. The violence in Sam Peckinpah movies

2. “Leave the gun. Take the cannoli.”

3. Nazi zombies

4. Vertigo is actually about necrophilia

5. Chest Rockwell and Brock Landers. And while I’m on the topic…

6. The tracking shot in Boogie Nights. And

7. The tracking shot in Goodfellas. And

8. The tracking shot in Contempt (Le Mepris). And

9. The tracking shot in Weekend.

10. “To-ga! To-ga! To-ga!”

11. Jean Gabin was the inspiration for Mel Blanc to create Pépé le Pew

12. This wallet


13. Roooooose Buuuuuud

14. The monkey funeral in Sunset Boulevard

15. The plague of locusts in Days of Heaven

16. Humphrey Bogart

17. The vulnerability and sexuality of Marilyn Monroe in The Misfits

18. The raw feminine independence and sexuality of Ava Gardner in Night of the Iguana

19. “You know, for kids!”


20. Robert Altman’s overlapping dialogue

21. Wes Anderson soundtracks

22. Karen Hill stuffing a gun into her panties in Goodfellas

23. Ingmar Bergman’s theological self-loathing

24. Heath Ledger as The Joker

25. Howard Cosell narrating the consummation of a marriage in Woody Allen’s Bananas

26. “She’s my sister!” (slap) “She’s my daughter!” (slap) “My sister!” (slap) “My daughter!” (slap)

27. Harold Lloyd hanging from a clock in Safety Last


28. Shut the fuck up, Donny.

29. Martin Scorsese’s love affair with Motown and the Rolling Stones.

30. Peter Sellers in Being There

31. High Noon was an allegory for film industry people blacklisted by McCarthyism

32. Oliver Stone’s nutty conspiracy theories

33. Sliced-up eyeballs in Un Chien Andalou

34. Toshiro Mifune…

35. and that he was almost cast as Obi-Wan Kenobi

36. John Huston’s rebellious streak

37. Christopher Lee vs. Peter Cushing in a billion Hammer Studio horror films

38. The hobo last supper in Viridiana


39. Peter Lorre’s creepy bulging eyes

40. The art deco architecture in Fritz Lang’s Metropolis

41. Dennis Hopper screaming “DON’T YOU LOOK AT ME!” in Blue Velvet

42. Slim Pickens riding a nuclear bomb

43. The “Ride of the Valkyries” scene in Apocalypse Now

44. I see dead people

45. Terri Garr’s nice knockers in Young Frankenstein (“Sank you”)

46. Indiana Jones being chased by a boulder

47. The juxtaposition of the beauty of classical music with the brutality of boxing in Raging Bull

48. Are you trying to seduce me, Mrs. Robinson?

49. Charlie Chaplin in the feeding machine in Modern Times

50. Catherine Deneuve

51. The Bear Jew

52. Boris Karloff’s voice

53. Mickey Rourke’s clever use of a popcorn box in Diner

54. Counting all of the Star Wars influences in Kurosawa’s Hidden Fortress

55. I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!

56. The final 20 minutes of Unforgiven

57. No, seriously. Catherine Deneuve.


58. I drink your milkshake! I drink it up!

59. One of us! One of us! Gooble gobble, gooble gobble, one of us!

60. The 50 egg challenge in Cool Hand Luke

61. and the Christ analogy that immediately follows

62. Wanna have a catch, Dad?

63. I know it was you, Fredo.

64. The Man with No Name

65. The overt genital symbolism in Closely Watched Trains

66. Even a man who is pure in heart and says his prayers by night, may become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms and the autumn moon is bright.

67. The last scene in Sleepaway Camp


68. Charlton Heston kissing a monkey

69. Günnar Bjornstrand’s monologue about Spider-Gods in Winter Light

70. And while we’re at it, let’s throw in Ingrid Thulin reading her letter to Bjornstrand for six minutes or so in the same movie.

71. And what the hell, Ingrid Thulin masturbating with a shard of glass in Cries and Whispers

72. The Dude

73. The crossdresser sequence in Everything You Wanted to Know About Sex* (*But Were Afraid to Ask)

74. What business is it of yours where I’m from, friendo?

75. The cold, lonely specter of “23 Juillet” on Alain Leroy’s mirror, The Fire Within

76. Buster Keaton being chased by hundreds of cops and/or hundreds of angry brides

77. I made it, Ma! Top of the world!

78. The incredibly expressive face of Maria Falconetti in The Passion of Joan of Arc


79. I’m not even supposed to be here today!

80. Jack Nicholson as R.P. MacMurphy in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

81. Rhett Butler telling Scarlett O’Hara to go make love to herself

82. Andy Dufresne breaks free

83. Guido’s women come back to haunt him, all at once, in 8 1/2

84. Whistle while you work, Bridge on the River Kwai

85. Robert Mitchum in Night of the Hunter

86. Are you talkin’ to me?

87. The triptych in Abel Gance’s Napoléon

88. Mommy’s corpse in Psycho

89. The look of horror and defiance on Isabelle Huppert when she stabs herself in The Piano Teacher

90. Sven Nykvist’s cinematography

91. I’m ready for my close-up, Mr. Demille


92. The fact that Santa Claus Conquers the Martians exists

93. A town painted entirely red in High Plains Drifter

94. The crawling, severed hand in The Exterminating Angel

95. The look on Simon Pegg/Nicholas Angel’s face in Hot Fuzz when people start singing The Cardigans’ “Lovefool”

96. The creepy cult people dressed as animals in The Wicker Man

97. Clyde the Orangutan

98. The ending of Match Point

99. Annie’s soliloquy to baseball in Bull Durham

100. George C. Scott’s monologue, as Patton, in front of the American flag

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Zombies vs. Vampires

Growing up, I was a huge fan of the vampire genre. I watched Lost Boys and Fright Night until the tape in my VHS fell apart. When I reached high school, I started reading Anne Rice's vampire novels and have read all 10 to this day. I never watched Zombie movies. I may have seen and enjoyed some of this genre from time to time. 28 Days Later was fun, as was the orignal and remake of Dawn of the Dead, but I just didn't care, give me Buffy the Vampire Slayer anyday.

About a year ago, a friend that is a HUGE Zombie movie fan came over to me and we got into an argument about Vampires vs. Zombies. It didn't end well. I defended my vampire love and he said the Day of the Dead series alone wins hands down. We disagreed, but this argument stayed with me.

A few days after the argument, I realized what always appealed to me about Vampires was the romanticized notion I had of them. I wanted to be a Vampire. I would live forever, do anything I wanted and the only negative was I never saw the sun (no big deal for my pale, Easter-European descended ass) and I had to drink blood. For me this seemed like a great trade-off where being a vampire won out. On the other hand, no one wants to actually BE a zombie. You have no thoughts, or dreams, you just roam the earth trying to eat brains.

Maybe because the world is so over-saturated with the Vampire craze with Twilight and True Blood and the hundreds of other Vampire-like entertainment, I have found myself not enjoying it as much. Maybe because the Twilight Vampires really are not the vampires I grew up with. These cry-baby vampires aren't for me. At least the True Blood vampires want to kill, fuck and enjoy their immortality. But this season of True Blood has been too political with the Vampire kingdoms and the Werewolves, I have found myself just not caring about my former love: the blood-drinkers.

So when I heard that AMC was creating a new television series based on the comic book series The Walking Dead, I had to try the book out for myself. I bought the Walking Dead Compendium. It has the first 48 issues in one single bound book. the book weighs about pounds and for the past two days I have been enraptured in the story. I finally get why my friend loves the Zombie genre and it has nothing to do with the zombies at all. The story isn't about the mindless monster that is trying to eat you, but it is about the survivors.

In The Walking Dead a zombie outbreak occurs and 99% of the world's population are now mindless pieces of flesh that want to eat anything alive. The remaining 1% has to learn how to survive in this new world. They need to set up their own rules, and governments. Also, because of the isolation that they all feel many literally lose their mind whether it is due to watching their children or loved ones ripped apart in front of them, or planning the death and sabotage of their only rival of their affections and dealing with the grief.

I read a lot. On top of that, I have read many disturbing stories in my day both supernaturally based, and psychological. But, I can honestly say The Walking Dead has some of the most intense stories about human nature that I have ever read. I am really looking forward to the TV show when it comes out and beg everyone else to give the source material a try.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Piranha 3D

When I first heard of this movie, I thought it looked stupid. Then I saw this 10 minute clip from this new movie. WARNING -- Do not watch this if you don't like blood. This is literally one of the most disgusting things I've ever seen in a feature film. It's bloody, sick and disgusting.

If you're like me click here to enjoy.

It really kicks in about 4 or 5 minutes in. Who wants to see this with me.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Neil Young's Double Rainbow

Last night I got into bed and my TV was on NBC. It was about 1:00 and i was very tired. The TV went on, and it was a black screen.. then all of a sudden it faded in to Jimmy Fallon sitting with a guitar dressed in his Neil Young garb (if you've never seen Jimmy Fallon's Neil Young impression, let me be the first to say it is absolutely perfect).

He then went on to sing a song in the style of Neil Young which used the lyrics from the internet sensation "Double Rainbow".

Absolutely brilliant. For those that don't know the youtube clip, see it here;

For Jimmy Fallon's parody, please click here:

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Between Two Ferns

I'm not the biggest "The Hangover" fan, but I do love me some Zack Galifinakas. If you have never seen his interview show on Funny or Die, please do yourself a favor and watch them. The latest is him interviewing Steve Carrell, but you should really watch them all in order.

Click here's the link to the newest episode.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A new Lost theory

I have not posted anything on here since the Lost finale about my favorite show of all time. Mostly because the conclusion (while quite good) was not what I was expecting and cannot properly formulate my opinion on the finale in words. Instead I just stumbled upon this Lost theory that I thought was pretty good and worth a read.

Take a look and enjoy. If nothing else, I love that Lost is still allowing us the opportunity to discuss, theorize and think.

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Magic of Going to the Movies

I just had lunch with my 17 month old neice and I asked my brother if he was going to take her to see the new Toy Story movie. He said she is too little and it would be annoying for him since she doesn't have the attention span to watch a 90+ minute movie. I then started to think about my life-long relationship with the theater and the simple magic of going to see a movie at a movie theater.
I love the way everyone comes in and picks their seat. The eventual hush that comes over the crowd as the lights fade. I used to stare at the light just above my seat and watch it dim until it was almost dark, but not quite. And my favorite part was that split second of complete silence in a room of 250 people (or so) before the opening music begins. This is especially the best during the Star Wars movies when the blue writing comes on the screen that says "A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...". The silence there is golden before the fanfare of the John Williams score along with the Yellow Star Wars logo traveling deep into space.
My parents tell me the first movie I went to in the theater was Meatballs. A quick IMDB search tells me this movie was released in July of 1979, so that means I was about 22 months old. I take some pride in the fact that the first movie I saw was a starring vehicle for the awesome Bill Murray, and even cooler, was rated R. My parents were always very liberal about what I was allowed to see and what I wasn't and for this I am eternal grateful to them. They didn't treat me like a child, as long as I understood the difference between real life and make believe, and I did. I also knew if I ever acted out in any way they would make me leave the theater
I realize the problem with going to the movies today is A) It's very expensive and B) with how great some home theaters are (with surround sound, BluRay, and HDTVs) going to a movie seems like difficult especially with a screaming baby who may bother those around you. Although, I know what it's like to listen to screaming kids during movies and I HATE IT, but there is a time and a place to be in a movie theater with a bunch of screaming and crying kids too. I agree with my brother, and think 17 months is too young. I see how my niece is and she cannot sit still for 90 minutes, and I also remember the crying babies in the theater with me while I saw Grindhouse and 28 Days Later. But, at the same time, I have a slight recollection of seeing Fantasia and Pinocchio in the theater during a rerelease in the early 80s. Now that memory is slight, but I have a distinct memory of getting into a popcorn fight with whatever friend I was with during Pinocchio and my mother telling me to stop and there is something great about seeing a kids movie with a bunch of children while you are a child yourself.

This has caused me to to think about some of the great experiences I've had in the past of going to the theater. I've had many in my life, and felt this was a great way to try and chronicle them:
My first theater memory ever is driving away from a movie theater after seeing The Empire Strikes Back. I have no idea if I had seen the first Star Wars yet or not. But I have a distinct memory of driving away from the theater and my brother saying "I can't believe Darth Vader is Luke's father" as I stared out the back of my parents car and watched Movieland in Yonkers disappear out of the back windshield. I have no memory of seeing the movie, but I have a distinct memory of fondly looking back at the theater while he spoke. Empire came out exactly 30 years ago last month, so I must have been 2 and 3/4. I have a separete memory of finally seeing the original Star Wars in the theater when it was rereleased in 1982 with my brother as my mother allowed him to take me into one theater while she went to see An Officer and a Gentleman in the other.
In 1984 a new occurance happened while at the movies that I'll never forget. A movie scared me. The movie was Gremlins and immediately upon being introduced, I fell in love with Gizmo. The brown and white Mogwai sung songs and looked like the most cuddily pet you could possibly imagine. He sang songs, and could even speak a little. What 6 1/2 year old wouldn't want one of these for himself. Eventually he multiplied and a bunch of other Mogwais came along. They got hungry and tricked Billy into feeding them after midnight (even though that was against the rules). Billy got them some chicken and even offered some to Gizmo who sadly refused. Gizmo knew 6 1/2 year old Mitch was about to close his eyes in a movie for the first (and only time) in his life. The Mogwais went into cocoons and transformed into the devilish Gremlins and first attacked Billy's mother. She fought them off with basic household appliances, and this scene did two things. It scared me so much that I actually put my fingers in front of my eyes so I wouldn't see what happened next. The blender scene bothered me but I was able to watch it. But when she put that Gremlin in the microwave and turned it on, that was too much for me. I hid my eyes and asked my mom if I could leave. She looked down at me and asked if I was sure. With my eyes still hidden from the screen I shrugged. She said "why don't you just take a walk." She took me outside and in the lobby of the theater she said there was nothing to be afraid of since it was only a movie. She asked if I wanted to go back in and finish it. I asked her if it was OK if I closed my eyes again. She said of course. So bravely, I walked back into the theater and sat down. I finished the movie, and did not hide my eyes once. In fact, I loved it. I didn't even scream when Stripe melted at the end. I had conquered my fear of the movies, and made a vow to myself that I would never hide my eyes again. I think I've held up my end of the bargain to myself. There have been many times I've winced from something I've seen, but I've persavered and kept with it.
In 1987 right around my 10th birthday I had another milestone happen at the movies. I loved a movie so much that after the credits rolled, I didn't leave the theater and just sat there until the movie started again. The movie was The Princess Bride, and I had actually gotten to the theater late. I came into the theater about 10 minutes late, but it didn't matter. I was thrust upon an adventure filled with giants, sword-fighting, pirates and (yes, even) some kissing. I loved the movie immediately and still do. My mother was my date yet again, and she loved it too, but we didn't know how it ended. The movie ended and both of us were so excited, I asked her if we could see it again. She said, we could stay to see the beginning just so we knew how it began. I was so happy. She told me not to leave the theater or we might get caught and if I had to go to the bathroom, the deal was off and we'd have to go home. I did have to go to the bathroom, but that wasn't going to stop me from seeing this fantastic story again. We sat there alone as new people started to show up for the next showing. the lights dimmed, and i finally found out that the kid was home sick and his grandfather was reading him a story. My mother told me we were only going to stay the first 10-15 minutes, but for those reading this blog, I'm sure you can understand how it's nearly impossible to stop watching that movie. I begrudgedly allowed myself to leave after Westley gets caught on the other side of the Fire Swamp. To this day, I still think the movie is a little slower after that, but I may be jaded by my first viewing.
As I grew, I can't remember many magical experiences. I remember some great movies, and I remember some awful movies. For example, I remember seeing Leviathan with a bunch of friends and then we spent the hour after the movie scaring each other in the parking lot. I remember skipping school to go see Pulp Fiction alone because none of my friends had heard of it yet. I loved convincing my friend Chuck to come with me and see a small independent movie I heard was good on opening night called The Usual Suspects. I remember telling two old ladies sitting behind me to leave the theater if they hated it so much while they berated Eyes Wide Shut which I was completely captivated by.
Once I moved to Manhattan, I got into a craze of seeing older movies at places like The Film Forum, or Cinema Village. I stumbled upon Barry Lydon one afternoon and I had 2 hours to kill decided to see that. I didn't know it was over 3 hours long and was late for my plans that night, but it was worth it. I also decided to see True Romance in 2000 alone. I had seen the movie 100 times already but never in a theater. I remember a really pretty girl sitting in front of me alone and the entire time trying to psych myself up to ask her if she wanted to get a piece of pie once it ended and completely chickening out.
I started becoming addicted to the midnight screenings of "event movies" All the Star Wars prequels, Harry Potter, and Spider-Man (For the original Spider-Man, I took the day off work and went with a bunch of friends and my brother and I decided to stay through the credits and watch it again immediately like I did with our mother 15 years prior.) Also seeing Borat on opening night in Times Square in the front row and looking back at a sea of 300+ faces roaring with laughter during the infamous nude wrestling scene is unbeatable.
About 4 years ago, I joined Netflix and got content and lazy. Why spend all that money and go to all the trouble of seeing these movies in the theater when I can see them from the comfort of my home for a small monthly fee. This led to me not seeing any movies at all in the theater for a long time. Until New Years day 2008 my friend Jed called me and told me he was going to see Charlie Wilson's War. I had little desire to see that movie, but I wanted to see him and I like most of the actors in it. For whatever reason, I was brought back to my childhood. I stood at the light above me as it dimmed and watched it go dark. I felt that sense of excitement of jumping into an unknown story that I knew nothing about and got swept away for two hours. I left the theater and had another awakening of the great experience of seeing a movie on a large screen. Since then I have seen many movies in the theater and consciously recognized how great the act of going to the theater is.
But like everything, life happens. I don't know why but, it has now been at least six months since I've been to the theater. For whatever reason, nothing has appealed to me in the theater, but I'm starting to get that itch again. Toy Story 3 was just released and I know I have to see it. Part of me wishes I could bring my neice, but I know she's not ready yet. I hope I can be with her when she sees her first one, whenever she's ready.
I wish I knew what it was about the going to the movies that is so great. Is it being placed in a dark room where anything can happen? In a movie theater I have seen fantastic things like men being able to fly, and aliens visit Earth both friendly and not so friendly. I have seen the human spirit overcome impossible odds both in impossible ways like in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, and in beautiful, simple ways like in The Straight Story. I have seen people fall in love and seen people fall out of love (sometimes in the same two hours). I've literally gone to the moon and beyond. But with all this fantastic things, you never know what story is going to strike the right chord with you. That's why I keep going. To giggle, be amazed, to have my mind opened to new possibilities, to simply be entertained by a shocking twist in the third act or be inspired.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Stephen King on Religion?

So I just finished The Colorado Kid. I read it to knock out yet another Stephen King book, it's only 178 pages so it took only 2 train rides to finish it, and I happened to find it in the Library. So yay, another Stephen King book down with only me needing to read Cujo, Carrie, The Cycle of the Werewolf and a few stories in Four Past Midnight to have read his entire collection of published works.

That's just bragging though. The book is a short mystery of the Hard-Boiled crime ilk. I won't say anything about the book at all, the real reason I'm writing is to copy a paragraph that Stephen King wrote in the Afterword of the book. I thought it was a great way of looking at life and really the pre-life and after-life that may or may not exist. Here's what he wrote:

"...Consder the fact that we life life in a web of mystery and have simply gotten so used to the fact that we have crossed out the word and replaced it with one we like better, that one being reality. Where do we come from? Where were we before we were here? Don't know. Where are we going? Don't know. A lot of churches have what they assure us are the answers, but most of us have a sneaking suspicion all that might be a con-job laid down to fill the collection plates. In the meantime, we're in a kind of compulsory dodgeball game as we free-fall from WWherever to Ain't Got A Clue. Sometimes bombs go off and sometimes the planes land okay and sometimes the blood tests come back clean and sometimes the biopsies come back positive. Most times the bad telephone call doesn't come in the middle of the night but sometimes it does, and either way we know we're going to drive pedal-to-the-metal into the mystery eventually.

It's crazy to be able to live with that and stay sane, but it's also beautiful. I write to find out what I think, and what I found out writing The Colorado Kidwas that maybe- I just say maybe - it's the beauty of the mystery that allows us to live sane as we pilot our fragile bodies through this demolition-derby world. We always want to reach for the lights in the sky, and we always want to know the answers to our questions. Wanting might be better than knowing. I don't say that for sure; I only suggest it. "

I really like this passage and I find it can be applied to most anything. Once again, I say Thankee-sai to my Uncle Stevie.

Monday, June 21, 2010


I've become fascinated with the act of writing. I guess it's the same thing for artists or musicians, but to take nothing and create something seems almost magical. The problem for me is I don't think I'm a very good writer. Sure, I don't try much. Most of my writing is in the form of this blog, or in emails. Instead, I've become a voracious consumer of anything written. This includes books, comic books and in a way film and television since they must have started out as scripts before becoming filmed.

But my reading list continues to pile up. I even joined a book club about 6 months ago to read books I normally wouldn't read, or just to get into a fun discussion about a common theme/story we read. This book club has so far read the following books:
- What the Dog Saw - a collection of short stories by New Yorker columnest Malcolm Gladwell. All insightful essays that look at common occurances in a more scientific way.
- The Art of Racing in the Rain - A story of a family breaking up because of the sickness of the mother -- told from the point of view of the family dog. It's a sweet story, but in the end kind of forgetable.
- After Dark - Murakami. A surreal short tale of a night in the life of a single girl in Tokyo. Quite good and since it was open to interpretation it led to a lot of great discussion.
- City of Theives - David Benioff. A novel about two young men in Nazi-occupied St. Petersberg near the end of WWII. A structurally flawed book since the author toyed with fiction and reality in a way that was was only done for a cheap "pay-off" at the end.
- The Stranger - Albert Camus. The famous existential novel written in the 1950s telling the story of a man who goes through life with little regard for himself or other people
- The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo - Steig Larsson. The best-seller about a murder mystery that took place 40 years before the story began.

If it had been my choice, I probably would have read all of these books sometime in my life but probably not in this order. I'm enjoying the idea of someone making up my mind for me. Or more specifically, I'm enjoying the challenge or not curtailing my own reading for the book club's assigned readings. I like planning out my month and seeing how many other books I can fit into reading and still finish the assigned book in time.

This month the assigned book is The Alchemist. I have not obtained the book yet, but will sometime this week. I think we have a planned meeting for July 18th to read the book, and before blogging this I was trying to figure out my reading schedule for the next few weeks. I expect the schedule to look like this:
The Colorado Kid - Stephen King - Today - Wednesday (and then I am down to 4 SK books I ahve not read)
The Alchemist - the week of June 28th.
Mr. Shivers - A book I know nothing about and have no desire to research since it was given to me by a friend over the weekend whose opinion I respect. I expect this to be read the week after.

Is this too much reading? I don't think there is such a thing. I love the challenge of a difficult book like the David Mitchell book I read last week Number 9 Dream. I love the schmaltz of a Stephen King book, I love the predictability of any James Patterson Alex Cross novels.

And the book club has added some things I didn't realize. I love it when someone says something that you never thought of and it makes you see the entire book in a new way. I love trying to come up with insights like that for other people. I love it when you and someone completely agree about your outlook and opinion of a story, yet I also love it when you whole-heartedly disagree which strikes up heated discussions.

I'm also learning that the best books, do not often make the best book-club books. For example, although my group all really enjoyed The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, we had very little to talk about since most of the questions brought up in the book were answered in classic mystery style. Page-turners, are often like that. They bring up a bunch of questions and you keep reading to find out what happens only to have it all kind of neatly tied up in a bow at the end.

Compare that to the Murakami book we read - After Dark. This told a simple story of a night from midnight until 6 AM of a single girl in Tokyo. Not much there, but the layers and the weird David Lynchian textures that were brought up and never discussed again made the discussion heated, engaging and fun. In my day to day reading, I prefer the former. Mysteries and fun. But I'm learning in discussion books, I prefer the open-endedness.

In the end, there are too many books, and time is too short. I look forward to my continued consumption of the written word. Even though this blog is the type of writing I personally hate: Writing with little to no substance.

I have heard the best thing to do when you have nothing to write about is to just write anyway. Practice makes perfect and the more you write, the better you become. The only issue is when this adage was created, there was no way to post it on the internet for the world to see which I'm about to do right n-

Monday, June 14, 2010

They found Extraterrestial life on Titan!

I cannot believe this is not being blown up all over the world. For the first time ever, scientists have found possible life on one of Saturn's moons, Titan. There are articles everywhere but I haven't seen it once on the news and most people aren't discussing it. Please read a little about it here since this is potentially one of the biggest news stories ever.

Now, for those that don't want to read too much, if this is actual life it is most likely primative, but it's still insane. Even more insane is people always assume if we find extraterrestial life it will be like us: carbon based life-forms that breathe oxygen. This is saying we have to completely rethink our idea of what constitutes life and in what type of conditions that life may live.

After Stephen Hawking's little story of the dangers of finding life on other planets, we should probably be cautious, but come on people: they may have found aliens! That's exciting!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

My Captain America treatment

With the news of Hugo Weaving cast as The Red Skull in the new Captain America movie, I decided to write a treatment of the movie that I would make given the opportunity to make a Captain America film. I expect the movie they will make to be AWFUL. This is what I would make. Please disregard all my spelling and grammatical mistakes.

My treatment if I was to write a Captain America movie..
First scene before the credits is a Normandy style, WWII invation of Captain America leading thousands of regular army troops into Berlin in 1945. He goes in and somehow him and Bucky get separated in a building where they know Hitler is hiding. In the process Cap uses his shield to ricochet off about 15 walls and it knocks Hitler out, possibly kills him, but the Red Skull is there to launch a nuclear missle that is geared towards America. Cap and Bucky leave Hitler and the Red Skull and jump on the missile as it leaves the silo. They are racing through the sky, and first Bucky hits a booby-trap that won't let anyone tamper with the controls of the missile. The thing blows up, blowing his arms off as he falls hundreds of feet out of the sky in into the frozen water below them. Cap screams, but now that the booby-trap has been blown, Cap knows that he can disengage the missile. Cap uses his shield to basically disarm the missile, and then realizing he has no-where to go, he guides the disarmed missile into the waters where he gets frozen in a block of ice.

Then the credits begin-- 15 minutes into the movie... the credit sequence shows the advancement of technology and super-hero's from 1945-present day.

After the credits, we learn more about the Red Skull still being alive and whatever he's up to trying to clone Hitler (or whatever gimmick they will be using in this movie) hopefully with the cosmic cube.

We then cut to an army training faility (headed by Nick Fury aka Sam Jackson) where they are testing new weapons in the arctic. while there, they blow up and iceberg and see Cap's frozen body inside. They airlift it back to America and thaw him out, where he comes out alive. Fury is the one to break the news to Cap that he's been frozen for 65 years.. He's in shock and doesn't believe them. He thinks it's a nazi trick and he's able to fight his way out of the SHIELD helicarrier.. He's shocked that the carrier is hovering over a futuristic (to him) version of NY. He still doesn't believe it, and he jumps off hte carrier using his shield as a glider (a really cool scene where the shield can be a glider, or he can jump onto a building and uses the shield to slow his fall enough by digging the shielf into a building) . He escapes to NY and he starts looking up people he used to know.
He finds the name of his fiance and as he's walking to see her, we see the flashback of the origin of Cap.... This is the typical story about a smart kid who scores aces on all the intelligence exams, but he's really puny and weak and declared section 8.. We see him back with his girlfriend at the time talking about 'if only i was strong, i'd bring down hitler myself....yada yada'.. This leads to him getting a call from unknown to him at the time Nick Fury who asks him to come down if he'd like to participate in an experiment. We see him go to his girlfriend and she doesn't want him to do it, but he leaves her to join the super soldier program. He gets the injections and then we see the doctor get killed right afterwards, and he kills the assassin accidentally with his new-found strength..

cut back to present day... Cap finally makes it to his exes apartment. She's old (about 85 years old) while he still looks like he's 30. She can't believe it's him. This convinces him that he really is in the future and he returns to SHIELD and Nick Fury to apologize.

They accept him back and the reason they do is because they have intelligence reports showing the Red Skull back and he's about to clone Hitler. They need his help since he has dealt with the Skull before. Cap refuses. He says he just wants to move on with his life. Until Fury tells him that the Skull is using an assassin.. They flash on screen and it's Bucky with cybernetic arms that is the Red Skull's henchman. Cap can't believe his best friend and partner is working with the Red Skull so he decides to take on this mission to finish what he started in WWII.. This is where Fury tells him that he is the only Super Soldier int he world. The process died with the inventor and Fury hopes he will work for his country and continue to uphold truth justice and the american way (a patriotic speach).

Some other stuff happens as filler to prolong the plot. We need another good battle or two. Some investigation scenes into figureing out what the Skull is doing and especially scenes with Cap being the greatest military commander ever.
Everything builds to the final battle of the movie with Cap facing off against Bucky (who's been hypnotized and reporgrammed to not remember his earlier life). They have a crazy battle and it ends with Cap taking his mask off to show Bucky who he is and dropping his weapons and shield and giving Bucky a chance to kill him in cold blood. Bucky snaps out of it when he's unable to kill his father figure. Then they both team up against Red Skull while he's putting the finishing touches on his Hitler - clone machine and some other sort of terrorist plot. Cap and Bucky jump in, and in the battle with the henchmen, Cap touches the clone machine and his DNA gets in the machine. More cool fights happen and Cap eventually kills the Red Skull just as he flicks the switch... Something happens though with the machine and even though the Red Skull's body dies, we see that his consciousness goes into the cloned body instead of the saved consciousness of Hitler. However, that body is now a genetic match to Cap's body since his DNA got caught up in the machine during the fight.

The movie ends with Cap and Bucky alive and working with Fury, but unbeknownst to them the Red Skull is alive in a perfect genetic copy of Cap where he plots for the sequel...

Monday, May 3, 2010

I may have found my favorite movie blogger

I was looking over my old blog post and came upon this post. I skimmed the article the author wrote and thought to myself "I wonder what else he's written" I clicked on the name Drew McWeeny and it brought some of his latest articles. It seems that he writes often for hitfix and he seems to be saying everything that I would say if I was more eloquent, a better writer and/or had more time.

From his thoughts on the new proposed Dark Tower series by Ron Howard. He hits the nail on the head. He also explains how reading the books as they came out gave us "Constant Readers" a feeling like we were a part of something special that may or may not ever end.

He also brought up the possible adaptation of Ang Lee doing Life of Pi and again made points that I agree with but would never have been able to express.

I will be following Drew McWeeny much more often. He's just been bookmarked, and it's quite possible I will have more links to his posts if everything he writes is as agreable as these.

Check him out, but watch out for spoilers.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Lost MVP

I am going to start experimenting more with this Blog. That means you may see more stories and thoughts than Pop-Culture references. Due to my low readership (read: Since no one is reading anyway), I feel it's time to really play around and see what happens. Things might get weird, but who cares:

First up is a story of what happened last night:

Last night at 9:38 PM I heard my phone vibrating in my kitchen and thought to myself "wow, Lost must be great because Jed is calling me, but I haven't started the episode yet, so I'm just going to let this go to voicemail"

A second later Aubrey's phone starts vibrating and her phone was right in front of her and it's an incoming call from my friend Jed. I answer by saying "I have not started the episode yet so do not ruin it" before allowing him to speak on the other end. He proceeds to tell me that his DVR crapped out and he's very upset and he makes me check my recording to make sure I have the entire thing. i start the episode and fast forward about 15 minutes and inform him that it looks like I have the entire thing and he can either a) watch the episode on or b) come on over. 15 minutes later there is a knock on my door and it's none other than the aformentioned Jed who came over to make sure he got his weekly fix.

Jed officially gets the MVP award for running over to watch a TV show at 10:00 PM not caring of his alergies to the cats or any other negatives. Bravo Jed!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

What has happened to Network Television

I love TV.

Like most kids my generation I grew up watching Mr. Roger's Neighborhood, Sesame Street, and Romper Room. This led to watching sitcoms like Diff'rent Strokes and Silver Spoons, then I started watching "Dramas" like Knight Rider, The A-Team and The Powers of Matthew Star.

Comedies and Sci-Fi television has always been what I gravitate to with a few Dramas thrown in from time to time, but in my life I watched the original V Miniseries followed by the TV show, I was an avid Alf, and Cheers fan which as I grew became Seinfeld and now 30 Rock and The Office.

But I am having a problem with my TV these days, and my gripe is mostly directed and the major networks CBS, NBC, Fox and ABC: I find myself not enjoying your shows. More of my DVR is recording cable shows and during a discussion with a friend this weekend, I realized next year I may be watching only a handful of shows on Network television. Below, I will list what I am currently watching and at end I will put a Y if I will watch next year if it returns, a N if I will not and an M if it's a maybe.

CBS: This has always been the station that I watched the least of. Maybe I'm not their core audience, but as much of a Science Fiction fan as I am, I have never seen an episode of The Ghost Whisperer, and I've never seen an episode of any CSI. I watch CBS a lot for Sports, most notably NCAA Basketball and NFL Football, and they have the best News Program on TV in 60 Minutes, but other than that my remote control rarely punches in 702 (For HD). The shows that I am currently watching are:

- How I Met Your Mother - Has gotten increasingly bad as the seasons have progressed. Now, I pretty much only tune in to see NPH do his thing. (M)

- Big Bang Theory - I started watching this show due to word of mouth, and I really don't see what all the hype is about. Their comic book references are on point, but I find it a chore to watch this show and can stop anytime. (M)

- The Amazing Race - The one reality show I enjoy simply because I would love the opportunity to do this challenge to see this much of the world. (Y - but only because I normally watch it as I go to bed on Sundays)

NBC: In my life, NBC has probably been the channel I have watched the most. From Family Ties and Alf to Cheers, Seinfeld and SNL, channel 4 was my favorite growing up. Now it still makes up the bulk of my DVR:

- Chuck - This is the show that got my friend and I on a discussion of TV today. He still enjoys it, I think the storylines have felt forced every since Chuck got the new intersect put in. They continue to keep Chuck and Sara apart for no reason except because history has shown that viewers tune out once the leads get together, so they are finding dumb obstacles to put in their place. Superman was also a horrible character, I'm glad he's gone.. or is he? I can't even remember and that's not good for the show. (M - but leaning towards N)

- Community - It's hit or miss every week. I continue to tune in and will next season if for nothing else Abed is one of the better sitcom characters around now. (M)

- Parks and Recreations - The first season was so bad, but I'm glad I came back. This has been one of the funniest shows on TV this year and look forward to more. (Y)

- The Office - Something is missing this season. It's still good, but not as much. (Y)

- 30 Rock - Alec Baldwin is still perfect. 30 Rock always makes me laugh, but like The Office, this has been missing something this year. (Y)

- SNL - I watch the 90 minute show in about 20 minutes. I give every skit a minute or 2 and if it loses me, i fast forward. I love Weekend Update and Whats Up With That. Otherwise, there are no recurring skits that I enjoy. (Y)

- Parenthood - I gave up after 3 episodes, I just didn't care anymore. (N)

- Heroes - I stopped watching midway through last year. (N)

*** Friday Night Lights - Everyone says it's great, but I've never seen it. This may be something I watch on Netflix- Watch It Now next year since I don't see myself watching too much TV.

Fox - I don't think I'm their demographic anymore. From their heyday of 90210 and Melrose Place, Fox just can't figure out what they want to be it seems.

- American Idol - Yes I watch it. No, I don't know why. I hope I can stop, but it's like a drug. I want to say (N), but it's really a (M).

- Glee - I've hated this show from the beginning, but I keep watching it trying to understand why people love it. My friend Craig has a rule: He doesn't watch a show where he wouldn't want to hang out with at least 1 character. Every character in Glee is mean, catty, morally reprehensible and cliche. On top of that, I don't think I know one character's name. I know them as their cliched name: The Cheerleader, the football player, the guy with the mohawk, the gay guy, the black girl, the asian girl, the guy in the wheelchair, the teacher, the teacher's wife, the guidance counselor, the principal, and the only character's name I know-- the villain Sue. I would love for anyone to explain why people like this show, but I don't know anyone else that watches it. (N)

- Fringe - I really like Fringe and look forward to it next year (Y).

ABC - Home to my baby Lost. The loss of Lost is really what made me reevaluate my TV viewing habits. Without this lynchpin of the show I care the most about, I found my desire to watch anything at all diminish. It's like Lost was so good, and so thought provoking that all other shows pale in comparison, so I started to ask myself why watch them at all? I've already seen the best (for now) until something can keep me as interested, I just don't see the point.

Lost - I'll miss you. (N)

Happy Town - Will this show fill the void? I doubt it, but I'll give it a try. (M)

V and Flash Forward - I already gave up and deleted from my DVR queue. I tried, but they failed me. (N)

Modern Family - A great sitcom in the vein of Arrested Development. I look forward to its success. (Y)

So by my count, next year I will be watching 4-5 NBC Commedies, How I Met Your Mother, Modern Family and Fringe on network TV.

Each night there is 3 hours of prime time space, so that is 21 hours times 4 networks, so out of the 84 hours of TV that will be airing, I will be watching about 3-4 hours of them. Plug getting wrapped up in some new shows that will most likely fall by the wayside and a some nonesense, maybe 6 hours.

Most people see this as a good thing (and they're probably right). Too much TV is probably bad, but of course there are all the shows on Cable I will be watching:

True Blood, Dexter, Mad Men, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Treme, South Park and whatever shows I'm forgetting which I'm sure there are many.

But right there off the top of my head, I expect to be watching more Cable than Network TV. This is the first time in my TV watching history that the best shows, are not available to the masses anymore.

This may be a product of what the masses want and I may have more particular taste than the masses, but I'm just angry. Television is a huge business, and I understand that they must produce shows that appease the highest number of viewers to get the advertising dollars, but even Late Night Talk Shows will be better on cable with Conan coming to TBS and Jon Stewart signing on for another 2 years with Comedy Central.

Again, most people will say this is a good thing and they are probably right. I lived without TV for a year once and it was one of the best years of my life. I'm sure I can do it again, but my 46 inch Aquos is a strong drug. I feel the pull of her all the time and I just want to have the most entertainment possible when sitting in front of her inviting glow. I've known her for so long, we have an unspoken agreement. I feel like next year, she may disappoint me. Luckily with the advance of technology, I have another friend waiting in the wings. Her Twin sister the BluRay and the Netflix streaming box. I can find better quality than the networks put out. I can make my own schedule with DVR. There is hope. I just hopen to remain as enthused as I have for the first 30 years of my life.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Does anyone listen to audio commentaries on DVDs?

I don't listen to the audio commentaries on DVDs all the time, but once in a while I do and often they are quite good. I came across this article which counts down someone's favorite audio commentaries. I truly think it's possible that and maybe even started to happen that there will be some film-makers that learned everything they know about film-making directly from the Scorsese's of the world that record their own audio commentaries and discuss their techniques to influence new artists.

In case you don't feel like clicking he says these are his favorites with my comments on them:
10) Ocean's 11 - I have actually listened to this and it is quite good. Just fun actors talking about a fun movie they made. If you like the actors in the movie it is worth listening to for added enjoyment.
9) Watchmen- I have the super-awesome BluRay where this is featured but at a runtime over 3.5 hours, it is tough to watch. I hope to check it out soon (fun fact: I am currently watching Watchmen on HBO, but that's besides the point)
8) This is Spinal Tap - A commentary done in character by the 3 main band members. One of the funniest things I've ever heard. It's almost like getting a sequel to Spinal Tap
7) Apocalypse Now - I enjoy the movie and am sure this is a great commentary, but have never listened to it.
6) The Matrix - Again, I never heard it, but believe it could be decent - at least for the first movie
5) Gladiator - Anyone that knows me knows I think this movie is a big steaming pile of awfulness. I'll just let this one go.
4) Conan The Barbarian - I truly think Arnold got to where he is as an actor and governor because he is one of the most fun people to be around. This commentary apparently cements that.
3) The Lord of the Rings Trilogy - I've only listened to some of it, but what I've heard is quite good. We were talking about listening to the commentaries next year during our annual New Years Day day of going there and back again. I think this list guaranteed this happening.
2) True Romance - I really did enjoy this commentary, but it kind of made me like the movie a little bit less. Tarantino does a great job of talking about a script that he wrote but wasn't able to get made. It's worth a listen, but when he pointed out how the movie is a young man's adolescent fairy tale, I realized he was right, and it made me look at a movie I loved in a new light. Still worth a listen, but it did have an effect on me seeing the movie the same way ever again.
1) Tropic Thunder - I saw the movie, but have not heard the commentary.

some other notable commentaries I have listened to:
- Dark City- The commentary was done by Roger Ebert around the same time it came out. The amount of detail that he noticed and was able to expand upon made me love this movie even more than I originally did. He points out all the old-school film references the movie has to classic noir films as well as crazy film techniques that I would never know about.
- The Goonies - They were able to get the entire cast of the film together for a viewing around 2001 or so. All of the Goonies show up and talk about making the classic 80s kids movie. They even show it in split-screen so you can see the cast as adults. Sean Astin did have to leave in the middle because he had to do something Lord of the Rings related. Anyone that is of my generation will love this.
- Fight Club - It has some bad parts: Most notable is that it is obvious not everyone was in the same room when it was recorded so prominent people are given a section to speak while others are absent.

I implore both of my readers to give this virtually lost part of the DVD a try for your favorite movies, I think you will be entertained.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Lost credits to Buffy Music

I think you all know that I love Lost. Besides that, I think editing in film is one of the greatest arts that is around and I wish I had the patience to do it myself.

For any Buffy/Lost fans, take a look at this video that some fan put together. It's basically perfect.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Fun Website/Time Waster

I ran across this website and thought it was fun:
Young Me Now Me

It is just regular people recreating old pictures of themselves now and posting them side by side. It's quite simple, but I found it a fun thing to look at and I think I should try to do this myself sometime.
Just keep clicking NEXT to get a new one. Some are better than others and some involve parents and siblings. I love how they try and recreate the exact poses and situations the original pictures were taken.

Monday, March 22, 2010

I'm officially NOT looking forward to the Summer Movies this year

I ran across this list for Summer movies coming out and WOW does it look terrible. I am excited for 3 of these movies:
Iron Man 2 - I will see this movie, but am not too excited for it. I loved the first one, but it looks like the trailer played the entire movie and although i know Robert Downey Jr will make it watchable, I am not expecting much from this.
Robin Hood - Confession: I hate Russell Crowe and think Ridley Scott is VERY overrated. Of all his movies, I like Alien and that's about it.
Shrek - The first one was OK. Since then I don't care.
Prince of Persia - I never played the video game (it's based on a video game, right?) and I don't care.
Sex and the City 2 - Nope.
A-Team - I know I will eventually see this as a guilty pleasure, but this as much as I loved the show when I was 8, it really wasn't very good. And Mr. T isn't even in this
Karate Kid - I'm getting depressed the more I look at these movies
Jonah Hex -- I love comic books, I like Jonah Hex in the comic books, but this is screaming Constatine at me. It will be fine to see, but very forgetable.
Toy Story 3 - One of the few movies I expect to be good this summer
Eclipse - I saw Twilight and hated it, I just don't care.
The Last Airbender - This could be good, but I never watched the cartoon, and don't think I'm the audience for this movie.
Wichita - Romantic comedy with Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz -- I'll be at home
Despicable Me - This could be a decent cartoon and I'm sure I'll netflix it, but that's it.
Inception -- The only movie I'm very excited for. I love Chris Nolan and think The Prestige was one of the best movies I've seen in years.
Dinner with Schmucks - I never heard of this before this list, but it has potential
Salt - No thanks
Little Fockers-- Come on Hollywood. This is just embarrassing for both of us.
The Other Guys - More Will Farrell being Will Farrell this time with Marky Mark. I'll catch it on HBO
The Expendables -- This actually looks like what the A-Team wants to be. It stars every action star fromt he 80s now getting together for 1 more mission. They should have gone all out though and gotten Jean-Claude Van Damme, Dolph Lungred, Carl Weathers, Jesse Ventura etc.... and anyone else you can think of and kill them off slowly in huge elaborate action scenes. It would've been the greatest movie ever. But this could be fun.

Overall the movies just seem terrible already this year.

Anyone looking forward to any movies this year? The next movie I want to see is Kick Ass and I hope it does.

Friday, March 12, 2010

2009 Movies I did not like that much

Some people enjoy reading scathing reviews as much as good reviews. I own Roger Ebert's book "I Hated, Hated, Hated This Movie" where he just reprinted the reviews where he ripped movies. Mine are short, but these are just the movies I cared less for:
The Hangover – I think this will get better with subsequent viewings, but with these type of movies you really need to see them before you hear everyone in the world quoting them for 6 months before you get a chance. Not much surprised me, so I didn’t laugh too much. I hope it has rewatchability. In order to understand why I did not enjoy this in more detail, you can read this.
Angels and Demons – It passed two hours without boring me. That’s enough.
Knowing – Decent little Sci-Fi film. I’m always shocked when movies don’t have happy endings. The plane crash scene was fantastic.
The Girlfriend Experience – An interesting, depressing little movie.
The Time Traveler’s Wife – If I didn’t read the book, I would have hated this movie. But because I already knew and cared about the characters, it was decent.
I Love You, Man – I really like this one. Just silly fun. Paul Rudd can do no wrong for me.
Precious – Heavy handed, badly directed, pointless movie. I hated every second of it. The only time I was interested was when I said “Is that Lenny Kravitz?”
Public Enemies – A forgettable film that had some of the best music I heard in a movie this year. Ragtime 1920s style score was just perfect. The cinematography was quite nice too, but I just couldn’t care less.
Taken – Fun action movie. Liam Neeson kills so many people.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine – Pretty terrible. The turned Deadpool: The Merc with a mouth into a silent killer. Hollywood can’t go to the comic book and then shit on the characters. It’s just not fair to the public that doesn’t know anything about these characters.
A Perfect Getaway – Started out pretty good, and then took a nosedive. The “twist” was unbelievable, pointless and just plain bad. Mila Jovovich still looks gorgeous though.
Big Fan – I wasn’t of this boring, pointless movie. And I’m a football fan.
Extract – What happened to Mike Judge? He seems angry.
Terminator Salvation – Someone took a dump on every Terminator movie that came before this. This movie was pointless and stupid. I liked some of the winks to previous movies, but that wasn’t worth the price of admission.
Transformers: Rise of the Fallen – Was it necessary to have horrible, comic relief in this movie? I really didn’t get it. This is an example of too much special effects.

Movies I still need to see: A Serious Man, Bruno, Crazy Heart, Fanboys, Halloween 2, Me and Orson Welles, Moon, Paranormal Activity, Pirate Radio, The Lovely Bones, The Men Who Stare at Goats, The Road, Where the Wild Things Are, World’s Greatest Dad and Zombieland.

My Favorite movies of 2009 (so far)

This was a pretty bad year for movies overall, but there are some decent diamonds in the rough and a few classics.
Without further ado I will do my best to write about my opinions on my favorites, and some comments on movies I did not particularly enjoy:

1) The best movie of the year is simple to remember. The only movie I walked out of the theater and couldn’t stop talking about. Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds may have been perfect. I wrote a little bit about the movie previously here, but now that the Oscars have come and gone, with the Basterds only winning one award for Christoph Waltz’ amazing portrayal of the Jew Hunter but if people haven’t seen this movie in it’s entirety, they are missing out on one of the most fun movies of the decade. I was surprised by how much of a foreign film this movie felt like, and I say that in a good way. The movie is broken up in five chapters and each one really does stand alone. I guess we shouldn’t be surprised anymore that Tarantino told a bunch of loosely related stories in one film since that’s pretty much all he ever does, but this one really feels different.
The opening scene featuring Waltz and a guy that looked like Jean Reno but wasn’t Jean Reno was the single best scene of the entire year of any movie I’ve seen. The tension during this scene was so strong and it felt like it went on so long while really absolutely nothing happened. The camera slowly panned around the table looking at these two men and every time it got close to a window, I was sure we were going to see the three daughters either dead, or with knives against their throat but this never happened. It was the possibility that it could that kept me on the edge of my seat, and this was all in the first 10 minutes of a three hour movie or so. It didn’t let up for a second and I enjoyed the ride. I look forward to watching this movie again and again as I’m sure, like other Tarantino films, it will only get better with multiple viewings.
2) Inglourious Basterds is heads and tails better than any movie I’ve seen this year, if it gets an A, the following movie would get an A-. District 9 is probably my next favorite movie I saw. Going in, I knew absolutely nothing about this movie. I found the special effects great, the social commentary fantastic, the style of having an almost documentary feel and I really could believe this world that was created. It showed how if aliens ever did come to this planet, I feel this is one of the best portrayals of how we would treat them. The last third of the movie did fall apart a little bit and devolved into a typical action film, but the characterization of Christopher Johnson really helped keep me interested. The movie left it open for an easy sequel, but I hope if they do follow through that they keep what made this movie interesting, and not become an aliens vs. humans war movie.
3) This year was one of the best movies for animated films that I’ve ever seen. There were so many great animated films that I am putting them all right here in order of my favorites: Up, Fantastic Mr. Fox, Ponyo, Avatar (I’m counting it as being animated), Coraline and 9 were all absolutely amazing movies in their own ways.
- Up had the most heart of any movies I’ve seen this year. The opening 10 minutes alone was heart-wrenching and amazingly done. The rest of the movie is some typical Pixar fun, but you really felt for that old man and his wife in the beginning. I look forward to watching this again and loved the talking dogs. Really, Pixar continues to put out amazing product after amazing product I don’t know how they do it.

- Fantastic Mr. Fox was done with stop-motion animation and stayed on that fine line of being an art-house Wes Anderson movie (and it really did have the same feel as all his other movies, amazingly) and being a movie that children can really enjoy as well as adults. The dialog of everything being “Cussing” this and that never got old. I don’t know anyone that wouldn’t like this movie.
- Ponyo I watched yesterday and is simply an old-school, perfect Japanimation movie. It has a sweetness behind it and can literally be watched by anyone of any age. The story is quite simple, it is a take on the Little Mermaid myth, but the style of animation really puts it in an elite class.

- Coraline was good. Nothing special, but a solid piece of animation influenced by one of my favorite authors in the world, Neil Gaiman. Honestly, it’s not my favorite story by him but I was happy to see it translated well onto the big screen. I implore people that even liked this one iota to give his books a chance. He has a very distinct voice. Start with The Graveyard Book

- 9 was another great animated movie I watched this year. It’s a dark tale of these strange puppets trying to survive in a post-apocalyptic world. It is strange, but in the end it was the visual animation that made this as good as it was.
4) These next quick hits are all movies I enjoyed, but really in the end they good, not great:
- 500 Days of Summer – The scene where JGL looks himself in the mirror and sees Han Solo looking back was worth the price of admission. I really enjoyed this movie because we’ve all been obsessed with someone that really wasn’t that special. This was the story of that relationship. I also liked how it ended where you hoped this girl was different, but it would probably be more of the same. At least this new girl was interested in architecture.
- The Hurt Locker – I think everything I said about it I said in my previous blog entry, but it was a very good movie that told a story about the Iraq War and the type of people that are fighting in it. It also showed how depressing it must be to live there and how happy I am that I never enlisted in the army. For more of my thoughts on this movie Click Here.

- Star Trek – A great summer blockbuster, updating the classic Star Trek crew for a new generation. Chris Pine’s Shatner impression without being a Shatner impression was simply perfect. The entire movie rode on his shoulders and he really delivered. Being a pseudo Star Trek fan, this made me happy and caught a lot of the winks and nods. The real challenge will be the sequel: Every other Star Trek movie has been good: Kahn, Voyage Home, Undiscovered Country, and First Contact. That also means every other Star Trek movie has been bad: The Motion Picture, Search for Spock, The Final Frontier, Generations. I wish this group luck in breaking that curse. For my immediate thoughts on Star Trek when I saw it in the theater click here.
- Watchmen – It’s tough for me to comment on this movie. I think I can understand why people don’t like it. I just think they’re wrong. They made something unfilmable into an entertaining, decent story. It’s not perfect, but I really don’t think anyone could’ve done better. Since writing this I've seen the movie a bunch of times including the Director's cut on BluRay. I still really enjoy this even if that lessens my geed-cred.

- It Might Get Loud – The obligatory documentary film. This follows Jack White of the White Stripes, The Edge of U2 and Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin and gets them to talk about why they love the guitar. It’s a great love-letter to music. The ending jam session was a little disappointing though. Why would you get 3 fantastic electric guitar players together and give them acoustic guitars and have them play some simple chord progressions. They should’ve all just played some 12 bar blues with each guy having an opportunity to really show what they’ve got. I think this was a missed opportunity, but it may be available on the DVD.
- Adventureland – A coming of age tale in 1980. I don’t know what I liked about it, but in the end I enjoyed it.

- Drag Me To Hell – Welcome back Sam Raimi. Best ending of a movie in a while. For a further review Click here

- Avatar – Special effects: Great. Story: Good. I loved how evil the evil colonel could be. Sipping the coffee while blowing up the tree of life? Classic! The movie was beautiful to watch and I understand howit revolutionized how movies will be done in the future. I'm just not excited for all the Avatar-like movies. Kind of like how after The Matrix came out and every movie was like Diet Matrix for 2-3 years. I expect something similar until we're sick of super computer generated movies and blue creatures.

- Funny People – I liked it. It’s not funny; it’s more like the title is ironic. It should’ve been called “Sad, Depressed People”, but whatever. I enjoyed the non-funniness. I wrote more about why in this blog for those that care.

- Food, Inc – This smart, well done documentary should be seen by every American. It makes you question what you put in your body and how fucked up it is that we don’t really know. We don’t know where our food comes from, we just put it in our body and for a country that is obsessed with H1N1, and Flu Shots and germs, and then they go out and eat a chicken sandwich with no qualms is shocking. Like all documentaries, this movie does have an agenda, but I think this is a movie worth seeing.
- The Cove – More documentaries: I watched a bunch this year. This one is tough to watch, but the final image is really worth it. A powerful film about a messed up situation, luckily South Park can parody anything and they did a great parody of this.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Just more cool stuff on the internet

Once again there are some really creative people here. This blog has a buy take one frame of a film per second and put them all next to each other on poster. It has a pretty cool effect. It's funny that all movies seem to be bright in the middle. It must be some unconscious structure of all stories.

Take a look

Be sure to notice all movies.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

This is cool

I don't really get it, but it is absolutely amazing.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Music I'm Listening to these days

I noticed I rarely post anything about music, so I thought I would simply post some bands I have been listening to lately. I am not quite as good at articulating my musical tastes as I am my film/video tastes but I will try to compare them to other bands. Although my taste is normally quite eclectic, I still think there is a lot of good music out there that I don't know and am open to anything, so please fill me in.

Muse - This band has a bad reputation, but I absolutely love them. Their new CD, The Resistance - has a few misses on it, but it starts with a power single that I'm sure most have heard on the radio. The next song is decent, but after that there are really solid rock and roll song after solid song. I really feel this song plays like a missing Queen CD (and I'm not just saying that because of the one note they hit about a minute into United States of Eurasia, although it definitely helps). It has that arena-rock sound along with some genuine musicality. The songs also seem to tell a story about America and how it is perceived. The CD ends with a 3 part symphony that is absolutely spectacular. I love when rock bands can play classical-type music and hardly miss a beat and Muse can do it. I really enjoy this CD, but then again, I've been a big fan of the band for the last 3 years or so.

The Airborne Toxic Event - I heard this band on the radio and was shocked at how good they were. They reminded me a bit of The Secret Machines and they were my favorite CD for 2004ish. Here is a link to some of their music on youtube. They really are a great band. They seem to have the ability to deconstruct a song which is something that I love. Many of their songs start with one instrument while the rest join in until a full song has been realized. I'm also proud of myself for realizing they took their name from a random book I read about 8 years ago, but that's just cleverness for cleverness sake.

Some other quick hits:
- The new Alice in Chains CD is surprisingly old-school. It sounds a lot like their CD Dirt from 1993ish, which is surprising considering they are doing this without their lead singer.
- Sigur Ros - Since coming back from Iceland I have been once again listening to this fantastic Icelandic band. It really doesn't matter that you don't know what they are singing about. Good music is universal. After all, I'm a huge Radiohead fan and I don't think I know any lyrics to their songs.
- I've been listening to the newest Shawn Smith CD called the Diamond Hand. For anyone that doesn't know him, he just has the world's most beautiful voice and I challenge anyone that has heard him to disagree. Listen to any of these songs. I can't vouch for their sound quality, but his CDs really feature his vocal talents.
- I also found Monsters of Folk on the radio and was impressed by their one song on the radio. I found out later they were a "Supergroup" consisting of M.Ward and some guys from My Morning Jacket. So far, they impress me, even if I've only heard 2 songs. The song I heard is Say please which you can listen to here
- I've also been listening to The Beatles. I'm addicted to the side B of Abbey Road. Ever since I played them back to back to back to back on Beatles Rock Band, I really can't listen to this enough. They really were the best and it's amazing that 4 men could create so much fantsatic music in such a short period of time.

As usual, that's not all I'm listening to, but this is some of the stuff I'm really enjoying. I hope my reader(s) do as well.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Oscars -- Do they matter?

We're about 2 weeks away from the Oscars and the crowning of the "Best Movie of 2009". As I usually do, I am trying to see all the movies that are nominated before the telecast so I can have my own opinion and then root for whatever I choose to root for. As of this writing I have seen 5 out of the 10 movies nominated for best picture. For those that would like a full look at what is nominated feel free to click here.

But with about 14 weeks until the Academy Awards are given out, I find myself asking Do they Matter? Now, of course they don't matter versus two wars the Americans are involved in and everyone's money problems in today's troubled economy. I'm even asking do they matter in the entertainment world?

It is rare that I think the best movie produced in a given year actually receives any awards for best picture. I loved Slumdog Millionaire last year when I saw it in the theater, but if I find it on HBO on a nightly basis, I will normally pass it by for pretty much anything. That does not take away any of the smiles I had while watching the movie the one time I've seen it, or how clever I found the main character (no I don't remember his name, and I don't want to look it up) and how he happened to learn all the answers to all the questions that were asked of him in his young life. It just means, that was not the best movie last year. While at the same time, I've watched Wall E and The Dark Knight at least 10 times and am sure I'll watch it again.

But looking forward to this year, I am trying to figure out what the movies that are nominated mean. There are now 10 movies that are nominated for Best Picture instead of 5. This is done mostly so more movies can put on their DVD box "Best Picture Nominated film" in order to generate more sales. But looking at the list of movies, I'm wondered what will win, and why it should/shouldn't.

I'm choosing (for the sake of space) to only cover what are perceived as the front-runners. I will be doing my favorites of 2010 post soon enough:

Avatar: A HUGE technological breakthrough of a film. It uses technology in a film in a way that hasn't been seen since the original Star Wars in 1977. Remember Star Wars was nominated for Best Picture and it lost to Annie Hall. A good movie in its own right, but nothing as revolutionary as Star Wars. It's difficult to say "Best Picture" about either of these films since they are so different it's almost like asking which band is better Guns N Roses or Run DMC. I'm sure many people that grew up in the 80s have an opinion of which band was better depending on if they like Rock music or Rap music. This is similar. Star Wars is a sci-fi opus using camera tricks, special effects and some generic "Hero's Journey" storytelling vs. Annie Hall's witty screenplay and discussion on adult relationships in the 1970s. Both movies have their audience and both are quite good, classics in fact. But besides the fact that they were released in the same year, it is very difficult to compare them.
Avatar is in a similar situation. Is the movie good, with huge special effects and a story about the rise of a hero? Yes. Does the movie tell a story we haven't seen before and won't see again? No. The movie is impressive and beautiful to look at. I'm sure I will watch it on cable again and again, and there will be numerous copy-cat movies soon. But again, is it the "Best Movie of the Year"?

Next up: The Hurt Locker - I saw this movie this weekend and it was amazing. It was not what I expected, and it showed me a side of the Iraqi war that I never thought about, or even knew about. It wasn't really a story of the war itself, but more of a character study on a person and what type of person chooses to go into what looks like hell to me, but to him it's all he cares about. This story is "important" in the same way Apocalypse Now or Platoon was about Vietnam. To me, it was one of the greatest anti-war movies I'd seen in a while. But that's because I don't want to get blown up while walking down the street. Other people have seen this movie and think it would be cool to go to war. After all, William loves it and goes back for seconds (or is it 3rds, or 4ths). The movie was well acted, and well done-- I have some problems with the director's choices in storytelling. Especially in the middle and at the end where it got jumbled, but overall I come back to the question of is this the best movie of the year?
Again, I think it is "important" in the sense that for people that don't know what has been going on in Iraq for about 7 years now (assuming most action in the movie is based on truth), this was good to see. Americans should see this movie to see how the war has effected the Iraqis as well as the soldiers that have been fighting. As far as a movie goes, there was confusion in how the story was presented at times, and although the special effects were great (the slo-mo bomb going off), and the intensity of the action was amazing I keep coming back to the fact that the story was jumbled and rushed at the end. There could have been many scenes that were cut and we would have had the same impact if only we could have really seen the end of Will's tenure at Bravo and more his decision to return to Delta group. This would have made for a more-effective story and as a result, there are some flaws.

Which brings me to Inglourious Basterds: I found this almost perfect. This was almost 5 films in 1 and each were fun, intense, engrossing and I only have one minor gripe with the entire film. (The theater owner had to make a film of herself laughing for about 20 minutes to get the effect of the smokey Giant Face, and I just couldn't see her doing this). This movie is well acted, almost perfectly written, you find new things in it each time it is watched (I'm assuming, I've only watched it once so far). But it is a work of fiction. Tarantino rewrites how World War II endeed in the movie. It is not "Important" like The Hurt Locker, or groundbreaking like Avatar. But it is solid from beginning to end. Of course many people have a problem with the violence in Tarantino films and that is a strike against it as well (even though I have submitted that almost all the violence in Tarantino films is off-screen, and mostly in the viewer's own head which makes it even worse than if it was on screen in the first place, but i digress...)

Next is District 9 which was absolutely amazing on numerous levels. This movie actually has everything the above movies has. It is groundbreaking with the use of special effects and how one actor played the role of all of the prawns in the film. It is groundbreaking in the use of special effects that were used and although the effects are not quite as good as Avatar's, the are quite good in their own right especially when you consider it was made for a fraction of the cost of Avatar. It is "Important" in the sense that the way the Humans have enslaved the prawns and thrown them in the ghettos of South Africa is an amazing allegory for Apartheid and discrimination throughout history for anyone that has been 'different' than the majority throughout time. It was amazingly acted and I can find no holes in the story. The only problem the movie seems to have is the open-ended ending which leaves us with a possibility of a sequel.

So how do you choose? What is the Best Picture? Sure I have my favorites, and pretty much all 4 of these gets some consideration as my favorites of the year, and sure only one movie can win the prize. I guess it just upsets me that if one wins that means the majority has chosen X as the movie of the year, when really in truly, they all have their own positives and negatives.

Of course all this could be changed by me seeing Precious or A Serious Man and believing those are the best, but from what I can see Avatar, and the Hurt Locker are the front runners and one of these will mostl likely be crowned the victor. I just added the others to show a conflicting opinion and why some of these should be considered.

What do you all say? In the end, I believe the Oscars are just another money-making scheme for people that have a lot more money than I do or than I will every have. So, to them my opinion really doesn't matter at all. I'm just a guy with an internet connection and a keyboard. So the answer to my title question is simple: Yes, just not for you.