31 March 2011

Friday "This Moment" Ritual!

For the second week in a row, here is my entry into the weekly "This Moment" ritual many of my friends participate in. One picture with no words to capture the essence of my week. Enjoy your weekend!

27 March 2011

My Opinion is the New Popcorn. Don't see a Film Without It!

I started a post about the pitfalls of technology, but I had to shelve that for a later date. Suffice to say, I just couldn’t make the words flow. I wanted humor, it was becoming a lecture.

Since I have been largely shirking my academic responsibilities this weekend, I thought I’d write a little bit on some films I saw.

Zee is out of town for a few weeks, so I am exercising my film going obsession. I saw three different films this weekend, “The Lincoln Lawyer,” and two discount flicks, “The Eagle”,” and “The Mechanic.” Yes, all three are obviously referring to specific people or items. The latter two can be combined into one title, “The Waste of Time.” The former is worth discussing a little bit.

It really is not fair to slam something without saying why, so here is the quick and dirty on the two cinematic disasters. First, I paid $3 to see them, so value is relative. Mostly I want the 3.5 hours of my life back.

In “The Eagle,” they managed to ignore the first rate efforts of several TV shows addressing Roman life to create a weird mess of a buddy movie instead. The dialogue is written by a 6th grader who doesn’t understand subtlety; the action scenes are straight out of a 1980s era matinee. Chatum Tanning is in no way ready to carry a historical epic, even when it goes real light on history. I was unaware you could go so far north on the island of Britain in the 1st Century AD that you would encounter pre Iron-Age indigenous people wielding weapons of seal bone and wood. From there on, the movie basically becomes the chase scene from “Apocalypto.” Save yourself the trouble and watch the DVD version of HBO’s series, “Rome.” It is a stupendous romp through ancient Rome. If you really go for the violence and sex angle, check out the immensely entertaining Showtime series entitled, “Spartacus: Blood and Sand.” Despite, (or maybe because of), its borderline soft-core porn scenes, it is a lot of fun!

“The Mechanic,” is a remake of the 1972 hit man saga starring the late great Charles Bronson. The similarity ends at the title. Jason Statham burst onto the international scene as a Guy Ritchie favorite in “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels” and “Snatch.” Both those films occupy high positions on my all-time favorite lists. Unfortunately, Statham has made a series of increasingly bad choices ever since. Here is the entire plot line of, “The Mechanic.” A moody psychotic killer kills people for profit. He works for some giant douche bags. They make him kill his friend, who is just sort of an old douche bag. Then he takes the equally douche bag like son of that friend in and teaches him a lifetime of killing arts in one simple montage. They kill some other douche bags, then have a go at each other. Nowhere do you ever give a damn for anybody, and that includes the hooker with a heart of gold…The end. Any guesses on what I think the title ought to be? Skip this dreck and rent the 1972 version. If Charles Bronson is not cool enough for you, the 1972 era car phone is worth watching the entire film to see.

Now that we got that out of the way, let’s move on to better topics. “The Lincoln Lawyer” was a mixed bag for me. I am a fan of Michael Connelly’s books featuring detective Hieronymus (Harry) Bosch. They are engrossingly good mysteries. I recently met Mickey Haller, aka The Lincoln Lawyer, while digging through the bargain hardback bin at Barnes & Noble. I feel like this Connelly series lacks the depth of the Bosch novels and that definately translated into the movie adaptation.

I also have to be honest; I got suckered into seeing “Failure to Launch” AND “Fool’s Gold” so Matthew McConaughey owes me a few hours of my life back! Nonetheless, I happen to love good legal thrillers, so I took a shot.

The film is short on details, which means it really fails to grip you like say, “True Believer,” or "Blood Work." Being the first in a series, the main goal of this film seemed to be setting up sequels. However, it isn’t all bad. The part is custom made for McConaughey’s smart ass, one liner acting style. Marisa Tomei comes back to the legal theme; she is solid but don’t expect Oscar magic to strike twice. William H. Macy plays a gay private detective, so that alone is worth your time. The plot revolves around a rich spoiled douche bag, apparently on loan from “The Mechanic,” who has a thing for getting away with murder. Overall an entertaining story, even if it is a bit light on depth.

A really great point is the soundtrack. It opens with “Ain’t no Love in the City” and scrolls through a variety of urban rap tunes with classic R&B hooks. Not normally my cup of tea, but catchy enough that I sprang for the iTunes download.

So that was a couple of wild nights on the town in my world. I hope you were able to handle the thrills and spills. Thanks for coming along and I’ll see you again real soon!

24 March 2011

This Moment; A Friday Ritual

This Week I am participating in a ritual amongst some friends of mine. This Moment is one picture with no words; intended to reflect the essence of my week.

13 March 2011

Back Where it All Began; But Somewhere Else Entirely

It is tragically ironic that my very first blog entry was a way for me to vent my rage and frustration at the devastation Haiti experienced in January of 2010. Now, a little over a year later, Japan has taken its turn as the target of nature’s fury. Today, I will be stepping aside from my usual humor and quirky subject matter to recognize the Japanese people in their hour of dire need.

The Haiti quake killed 300,000 people in one day. Japan is much more prepared and equipped; having been dealt nature’s loosing hand on a number of previous occasions. Despite this, their death toll and the destruction will still stagger the mind. As the tragedy unfolds, I am awestruck by the calm demeanor of the Japanese people. They assess the damage and move towards the necessary recovery steps as if it is an everyday event to be walloped with an 8.9 level earthquake, which then spawns a devastating Tsunami and nuclear catastrophe. In America, where people are partial to hysterics and over dramatization, there are lessons to be learned in the Japanese response.

But then as people are wont to say, “Proximity breeds familiarity.” And the Japanese have a long history of sharing space with disasters. In 1954, Gojira first crawled from the ocean depths to ravage the Japanese mainland. Ishiro Honda’s rampaging reptile was the embodiment of Japan’s collective horror with atomic weapons and the effects of radiation. They would know better than virtually anyone, having the distinction of being the only nation ever subjected to nuclear attack. Not once, but twice. Not out of necessity, as many historians including myself have come to realize, but as an object lesson to emergent antagonists. Gojira went on to become a franchise, more widely known to the world as Godzilla. While Japan shares much of the blame for the excessive horror of the 1930s and 1940s, one has to feel compassion for the victims of one of the human race’s most horrific creations.

Natural disasters are no stranger to the Japanese either. Inhabiting a densely populated island on the edge of a geographic feature known as “the Pacific Ring of Fire” comes with its share of risks. Over his lifetime, Godzilla played them all. In latter films, he even sided with the Japanese people to fend off other horrific aliens and monsters. The message being that when it came to rampaging destruction, Japan was spoken for. Ultimately it seems so unfair.

How can the land of playful cartoons and colorful fashions; the land of industrious people and amazing technological brilliance; a land that is steeped in history and honor going back thousands of years; be the frontline in the battle between humans and nature, between human nature and humanity? I know it is not fashionable to describe it as a battle. It is so much more endearing to imagine a harmonious relationship between humans and their environment. But the new age of enlightenment only goes so far.

To the desperate person, clinging to a tree as the world shakes itself to death around them, surviving that only to be confronted by a thirty foot wall of mud, water, and the homes of their neighborhood, it is a fight. To desperate people, exposing themselves to deadly doses of radiation in order to frantically pour sea water and Boron into a rampant nuclear reactor, it is a fight. To friends and family engaged in a frenzied attempt to dig their loved ones out of the rubble that used to be their homes and city, it is a fight.

No love interests’ blossom to provide a back story, no unexpected reprieve arrives in the penultimate scene. No Director yells “cut.” No effects creators cart away the remnants of their craft. Each long weary day dissolves into yet another long weary day. Simple survival seems daunting. Each scene of graphic horror is layered onto those already indelibly etched into the minds of numbed survivors; scenes certain to play out in expressions of art for generations to come.

Once again we sit, thousands of miles away. We try or pretend to identify with something we could never imagine. We wish and pray for the Japanese people who are left to imagine hot food, a clean glass of water, and a comfortable bed. We want to do more in a world where there is little we can do. And in the darkest reaches of the night, we wonder when our beast will crawl from the depths, to visit upon us the excess of our actions. We wonder if we have dodged nature’s wrath, or if that wrath builds; just offshore, just out of sight, just waiting to remind us that we will not always be spectators.

03 March 2011

Thursday Dedication Numero Uno

I am participating in blog dedication event, so I figured there is no better way to start out than with a blog I love to read. Sugary Cynicism is a smart-assed bucket of awesome! If you like film reviews done right, without all that babbling professionals do in an attempt to justify getting paid to watch movies, you need to head on over to Sugary’s blog. Together with her recently added “boydude” aka, Clevereuphemism, they’ll set you right on how to blow your $12 movie budget! Run, don’t walk.

And here is a little inside tip to make you feel special. If you mention how much you love Sean Connery a lot; it’ll get you unearned VIP privileges, or what I like to call The Kardashian Treatment.