While overall I enjoyed Tarantino's half of the movie, there's no question regarding whether or not it is a snoozefest. (It is.) Literally every review I saw about the movie mentioned how boring QT's half is.
I submit that people weren't as "confused" as they were "informed."
Dead Silence is by far the best undead ventriloquist death-puppet revenge movie I've ever seen. It's got funny moments, creepy moments and even a few legitimately frightening moments, all of which far outweigh the incredibly hard-to-swallow concept.
Seriously, though, if you think a film about an undead ventriloquist and her creepy-as-hell revenge puppets would at all interest you, then I say go with your gut like I did and just go. You will not be disappointed.
Not saying that it's a great movie, but I really enjoyed it. (For benchmarking purposes, I really didn't like the Chucky or Puppetmaster films, but did like Halloween 1 & 2.)
If you don't think it would interest you, then you're probably right not to see it.
Oh, and if you don't see it, just remember this: if ever you are being hunted by a ventriloquist, for the love of all that is holy, don't keep going around corners or looking over your shoulder just acuz you heard a sound over there... That's kinda what they do
I first heard about ABC's The Knights of Prosperity six months or so ago, when Maz Jabroni was talking a bit about why he signed on to it. His love for the show was enough to sell me on it without even knowing what it was about; he talked in length about how it concerns Everyday Joes trying to overcome their lots in life, to scrape ahead and make something of themselves through somewhat unconventional means. Sounds great. He also said it was really funny. Bonus.
Then I found out the show was originally called "Let's Rob Mick Jagger!," and that it was created as a vehicle to allow Donal Logue's real-life personality to shine through and to allow him to stretch his "wacky character" muscles in ways he hasn't had the opportunity to since you saw him in MTV's "Jimmy the Cab Driver" spots back in the mid-nineties. Donal Logue is easily one of my favorite actors of all time, so I had to mark another point in the "I want to watch this show" column.
So then I heard that it's a serial arc, where throughout the season they get progressively closer to accomplishing what they've set out to accomplish, each week getting slightly closer to the better lives they desperately want to make for themselves. It's kind of a bumbling-criminal 24/Prison Break -- except funny, and not gimmicky, unrealistic or overrated. I've been saying for some time that networks need to embrace long-term arcs that don't require strict adherence to their timeslot shackles, and it seems ABC is taking the chance. The show is designed such that you can miss episodes without any worry; each one is self-contained, yet progresses through the overall arc painlessly. I really hope it pays off, because I'd like to see more tv like that.
I just watched the pilot episode and have to say that it surpassed even my extremely lofty expectations. It is very funny in ways that most comedy programs are not: there's no laugh track and no "jokes" per se, most of the humor is situational and dialog based. For instance: Maz Jabroni's character is a taxi driver who has hired a naive student to "intern" for college credit for their crime syndicate, having convinced him that they're producing the film "Taxi 2 (colon) Step On It." There's an amusing anti-cliche wherein an outsider wants into the syndicate, and the leader (Donal Logue) thinks it will be hard to convince the others to approve it. Seconds after seeing that this particular outsider is in fact a smokin' hot chick, all the syndicate members gladly approve her joining. It's exactly the way I think a bunch of inexperienced criminals would behave, but exactly the way they never do in fiction.
The characters are all quite likeable, and all pretty grounded in the "blue collar" day-to-day lifestyle that most of us live in. They don't sit around drinking expensive coffee or shopping at fancy stores. They have realistic problems. This is no Friends or Will & Grace; you're laughing because it's funny, not because the tv started laughing so that you know it's time to.
The show is put together pretty slickly as well as being well-written. There are many cuts to an E! Channel program about Mick Jagger's home, wherein Mick shows us completely over-the-top extravagances such as a hat-storage room with a sophisticated climate-control system and a swiming pool that is only used by Mick's dogs -- ensuring that even the most law-abiding viewer doesn't feel too bad about what the Knights are trying to accomplish. The soundtrack is all Dick-Dale-meets-Enrico-Morriconi surf-guitar renditions of a popular spaghetti western theme that really helps to set up the exciting situations they get into, punctuating their lack of grace as these bumbling, inexperienced criminals execute their plans.
This is my new favorite comedy, and I give it a full five (out of five) Chicken Enchilada Grilled Stuft Burritos -- a rare feat in this age of lousy, derivative television. I couldn't possibly have loved the first episode any more, which is rare for me as I find that even the best shows usually take a few episodes to really catch a stride and hook me. I greatly look forward to next week's episode, and hope that you either catch the pilot when ABC runs it again Friday Jan 5th at 9pm, or acquire it via some other means.
For reference purposes, here are some fiction programs that I enjoy (in no particular order): Battlestar Galactica, Dead Like Me, Veronica Mars, Dexter, Medium, Brisco County Jr., Northern Exposure, Firefly, Spaced, That's My Bush, South Park, Scrubs, Robot Chicken, Home Movies, Heroes (though to a lesser degree after each episode), House.
Some that I dislike: Smallville, any of the CSIs, Psych, Friends, Will & Grace, Family Guy, Eureka, Monk.
If anyone would like reasonings for my likes/dislikes, I'd be happy to provide them in the comments. I just list them in case I overlap at all with your tastes, thus increasing the likelihood that you don't miss out on a great show.
the interface is very nice. Shiny and bubbly in an OSX-inspired sort of way, yet it doesn't really seem copied.
the tiny little rumble as you move your Wiimote cursor over a clickable element is a really nice touch (pun intended). Tactile feedback is sweet.
the speaker in the Wiimote is pretty inspired; now the sound of a tennis ball hitting your racket seems to come right from the racket.
it is amazingly satisfying to bowl or pitch a fastball using real-world motions to do so -- at least until you injure yourself, or throw a 94 MPH Wiimote through your plasma screen.
Gamecube games require a Gamecube memory card to save, completely skipping over the built-in storage the Wii has.
there's no way to return to the Wii interface when playing a Gamecube game. A restart of the system seems to be required.
you cannot close the Gamecube memory card bay door if there is a memory card in it.
it is not at all obvious which way discs need to be oriented when inserting them. Half the time I get it wrong, and the other half I have to give it serious thought first.
if you do insert the disc the wrong way, it doesn't spit it back out. You have to try to launch the game and then manually eject it if it doesn't work.
the Wii system menu includes News and Weather channels that won't be activated until December and January respectively. If you try to use them, the error message only says a system update is required, not that the services aren't active yet. Upon trying to update the system it says there are no updates. It seems to me that it would be more appropriate to have the necessary system update install said channels in the menu at update time, and not taunt us with unworking functionality until then.
Despite the flaws, the Wii truly would have been worth freezing oneself for those agonizing last 3 weeks of waiting for its release.
(I can't wait until some hacker gets homebrew running on this thing, as it would make a truly glorious front-end for MythTV.)
(Imagine a Beowulf cluster of Wii MythTV front-ends.)
Here's a first: me saying something good about Starbucks. Kind of.
Akeelah and the Bee is a really great movie, despite the fact that its marketing was targeted to drinkers of overpriced, trendy, terrible coffee.
I hereby suggest that whether you like Starbucks or not, the movie they produced and advertised is exceptionally good.
Unlike their beverages, this movie isn't overly sweet and doesn't end up bitter and cold at the end.
(There is one small change I'd make though: early on in the film, Akeehla turns on ESPN so her brother can check the scores, only to find the National Spelling Bee on. She then realizes that spelling bees are cool afterall, and that she might want to participate. I think the movie would have been way better had she turned to ESPN to find Jason Garfield's World Juggling Federation championships instead.
I bet Laurence Fishbourne would have made an exceptional juggling coach, and that Akeehla would have cleaned up at the juggling bee. Come on Starbucks; how 'bout a sequel?)
First up was Panic Plane*, which I thought was pretty good. If you like thrillers but aren't bothered too much by unrealistic and predictable movies then this is your film.
Up next was Panic Plane 2*, which I didn't think was nearly as good as the first one. Nowhere near as good. Isn't that always the case? The two saving factors are: 1) Rachel McAdams is really, really hot, and 2) Brian Cox is thin and has a beard. (I love Brian Cox.)
Then it was time for Saw, which much to my surprise I really enjoyed. I'd heard people talking about this movie so much for nigh-on two years that I really didn't think I was going to like it. I like it when things work out that way.
Finally, it was time for Saw II, which admittedly breaks my sequel policy, but Travis insisted that it is not only better than the first one, but not really related. Well, I must say that once again, the first one is better. Waaaay better. Saw II is a very weak rip off of Cube (and its sequels) kind of grafted into the Saw universe. Lame. If I wanted to watch Cube, I would have rented it.
*: These titles are of course made up by me, but I feel they describe the movies better than the actual titles do.
I've already shared some of the many programs I watched during my December vacation, but one that I specifically wanted to post about eluded my memory until yesterday. The film in question is the documentary entitled Paper Clips, which is fairly charming and educational. As you can probably guess though, I have a few problems with it.
The basis of the documentary is a multi-year effort by a Southern U.S 8th grade class (I can only assume that at least some of the 8th graders were limited to a single year of the project) to collect 6 million paperclips to represent the 6 million Jews that died in Nazi concentration camps. The idea was to help the students (and clip donors) become more aware of one of the worlds most traumatic injustices, and that goal was accomplished. People from all around the world were touched by the efforts of these children, and that is really impressive. The goal of collecting 6 million clips was also accomplished -- in fact, they had to stop collecting at 11 million, deciding that they could throw in some of the non-Jew causalties to bump it up to 11 million.
The first problem I have with the film is in semantic details of the logic employed during their endeavors. Throughout the film, they kept repeating how each paper clip will represent an individual dead Jew, serving as a monument to honor their souls. That's a nice gesture, very commendable. So where did they decide to house these souls? In an actual Nazi rail car that was actually used to haul thousands to their deaths -- a trip that was unbelievably uncomfortable, being packed to the brim with over 150 cramped suffocating Jews at a time. Students kept saying, "I can't believe there were 150 people in here at one time... it's so small." Well, that's just great, now all 11 million of these souls get to spend eternity crammed in there. You think 150 was uncomfortable, imagine what you've just subjected them to. Now that's irony. Rather than just scattering them around on the floor in there, maybe they could have put some ovens in there to fill with clips as well?
The second problem I have is in the problems that had to have arisen as a result of the clip collection. Eleven million+ paperclips is a lot of them. What do you think happened to all the paper clip manufacturers that suddenly ramped up production due to the huge increase in demand? I bet they went and bought fancy Lexuses (Lexi?) in anticipation of the newly lucrative paper clip industry, only to have to sell them after the project's completion. This brings me to another problem: many of the clips came from people in the U.S government; senators, congressmen and presidents sent them clips. Who paid for those clips? Me, thats who. And you.
One thing that was neat about the documentary was that they had a special dinner during the filming where some actual living breathing holocaust survivors told stories of when they were in the camps. Sadly, the producers decided to include very little of this material, giving more time in the film to fat redneck children counting paper clips. It seems to me that the whole point of the project was to help people learn about the holocaust, what better way to help this project out than by, oh, I don't know, listening to stories from people who actually experienced it? Naw, let's just put in more redneck children counting paper clips.
In any case, Paper Clips is a pretty good little film, just try not to let your irony detectors beep too loudly while watching it.
Today is the last day of my extremely badly needed vacation. I must say, I feel a bit lousy about spending nearly 2 weeks without doing a damn thing other than watching movies and eating in restaurants, but eh, what're you gonna do?
As far as entertainment viewing went, the time was pretty productive.
We finished the final season of Soap which was a bit frustrating. Every episode ends with a little teaser of what will happen in the next episode, and this includes the last one. In addition, every season ender had at least 3 big cliffhangers, and this one was no exception. There's just nothing quite like knowing that a show has been cancelled for nearly the amount of time you've existed on the planet when you see the final moments, knowing there's not a chance in hell of ever finding out how it ends.
We watched both Firefly and Serenity, and I'm pleased to report that the hype is actually well deserved. Firefly is even better than I had been led to believe by the army of rabid internet fans, and in my opinion, doesn't suffer from the retardation that plagues most of Joss Whedon's tv work. Once again, it is slightly frustrating that the show was cancelled before any of the major arcs really got anywhere, but Serenity did a pretty good job of making me forget about all the unanswered questions. The only thing cooler than cowboys and space are cowboys in space. I personally think Brokeback Mountain could learn a thing or two from Firefly. Can you imagine how glorious gay cowboys eating pudding in space would be?
I love the SciFi Channel "original" movies, so I've set up a very complex rule on my MythTV box to catch them all for me. It now records any post-2003 science fiction movie that airs on SciFi during primetime on friday and saturday nights. Most of the movies are really crappy -- see, most of these so-called "original" movies are just movies bad enough to not deserve straight-to-DVD status, so SciFi gets a deal on the broadcast rights -- but after being sped up to 1.2X in MythTV they are generally fairly tolerable. There's just something about the "I need 50cc's of epinepherine, STAT!" style that watching everything sped up creates, causing all dialog to become intense, tricking the viewer into thinking it is interesting in addition to intense. Also, the running time is cut down a bit, so it doesn't feel like you're subjecting yourself to something quite as bad. Painkiller Jane was one of the few that I actually enjoyed soley on the merits of the film, and would probably watch again at normal speed some day. I had never read any of the comic it was based on -- she's kind of a Wolverine-esque regenetive hot chick ass-kicker -- but I may have to pick up a trade, because I really enjoyed the movie despite my "this is really going to suck" predisposition. Particularly enjoyable were the thief with a heart of gold, the hard-ass commanding officer with a heart of gold, the young mute boy with a heart of gold and the archetypical comic book villain who -- you guessed it -- had a heart of gold. Well, kind of.
At this point we had exhausted most of the History Channel's 'Armageddon Week' (more on this at some point in the future. In a word, "awesome.") and were kind of scraping the bottom of the proverbial barrel, so we set MythTV to record bad movies off HBO. Here's a little recap of the most memorable.
Racing Stripes might have been a decent little movie, save for the talking animals with big paycheck famous voices. If they had taken all the money they spent on a) getting Dustin Hoffman and Wookiee Goldberg to emotionlessly read their dialog and b) greenscreening all the animal shots to animate their mouths and spent it on a more polished script, they might have had something. Something other than too many poop jokes. Seabiscuit and Dreambiscuit it was not.
Let me tell you, even speeding Son of the Mask up to 1.4x didn't help that turd to get squeezed out quickly enough. All I can say for that film is that the cartoony battles between the CG baby and the CG dog were mildly entertaining. Oh and also that Alan Cumming was as hot as ever. Seriously. If both of us weren't straight... rowr. Ha ha, I'm just joking about him being straight. Why must he make such shitty movies? This one was particularly shitty, and seriously sloooow. I kept checking to see if I had sped it up or not, and I truly feel for anyone who didn't have the luxury of watching it this way. How slow was it? Both Ben Stein and Steven Wright had speaking parts in it.
One that really surprised me was The Perfect Man. I actually enjoyed the over-cliched The Parent Trap aspects of it way more than I expected to, and overall I'd only make a couple changes. First off, I would have swapped Heather Locklear and Caroline Rhea's characters. I mean seriously, who makes a more believable single mother of Hillary Duff than Caroline Rhea. The other change I would make is getting rid of the Queer Eye For the Straight Guy dude as the lovable gay guy. For goodness sake, it is/was 2005, do we really need to continue portraying gay men as wacky crazy guys who we can't help but love? None of the gay people I know behave like that.. I mean come on. I bet they could have gotten Alan Cumming for less than that Queer Eye guy and then people actually would find him lovable. Well, at least I would.
I've now reached the point where I'm tired of talking about what I watched on television, so I'm going to shut up now.
As promised, here's a couple mp3s from the debut album from The Like (it is kind of refreshing to find a band that is apparently without a website), entitled Are You Thinking What I'm Thinking?.
UPDATE: These have been up for way too long, so you should just go buy the album rather than download them illegally from me.
I like this album quite a bit, these young girls are verty talented. In a world of Lindsay Lohans and Hilary Buffs Duffs, it is refreshing to hear some quality work from attractive young women.
As this album is available commercially -- and came out less than a month ago to boot -- you really shouldn't steal it. I'm providing these 2 songs in a lame attempt at fan marketing, which is something which will probably get me in trouble if the record label finds out.
There are a bunch of things I've been meaning to recommend to people, so I figured I'd just post a 'meta-recommendation' here. (note: All links to products are direct linked to the best Froogle result. I don't get any cheesy commission or anything, because I think that is lame.)
Firstly, if you enjoyed Harry Potter, but wish that J.K. Rowling was a little bit less R.L. Stein and a little bit more C.S. Lewis, you should check out Philip Pullman's superbly written and beautifully poignant His Dark Materials trilogy [froogle result]. All three of these books are my favorite.
Next up, if you liked Harry PotterandHis Dark Materials and enjoy listening to audio books for free, you must check out The Pocket and the Pendant by Mark Jeffrey. This was originally posted as a podcast, and us listeners had the story dragged out for what seems like forever. You can subscribe in podcast format at podiobooks.com, but you apparently need to create an account, so it's probably easier just to download each chapter by hand from the link above. This book is also available in print for those of you who don't feel like listening to it for free (which I would highly recommend because all the character voices and music really add to the production), it is available in print [froogle result].
A week or so ago, MadProfessor recommended It's Only Temporary[froogle result], which I purchased (and loved immensely) based on the review he wrote. I can't do it justice, so just click on over to his review.
If you enjoy the work of Stephen King, want some helpful hints on how to write, and are possibly entertaining the idea of writing fiction of your own for fun and profit, you ought to check out On Writing by Stephen King [froogle result]. There's a lot of really great advice in there, and some really entertaining stories regarding the events of Steve's life that shaped the stories he would eventually write. An entertaining read, even for non-writers.
For anyone who likes to know about the good bands before they get played on the radio, check out the Los Angeles based three-piece called The Like. Three hot young chicks, a sound I can only describe as "a pinch of Mazzy Star, a dash of The Sundays, some hand-whipped Poe and then a little Veruca Salt added to taste." They said their debut cd comes out tuesday, maybe I'll post an mp3 or two then.
The second opening band is The Ditty Bops, and they have a really nice "old-timey" sound filled with fiddle, standup bass, slide guitar and lots of 2 part harmony. Think a slightly more contemporary Oh Brother Where Art Thou soundtrack sound. They're about halfway through their set at the moment, and I'm now going to give them my full attention
I'm sad to report that this movie was not very good. I wanted it to be good, I wanted it very much. Alas, it wasn't.
It pains me very much to say that the remake of George's Dawn of the Dead is at least 10 times better than this was. How hard is it to make a good zombie movie? I would think George, who is by all accounts the master of the genre, would have done alot better.
Other than characters and situations that I just couldn't give a damn about, there is some general movie stupidity involved. For instance, in order to show that these people have lived with zombies for some time now, George invented a new name for them to use when referring to them. Only once is the word "zombie" used by a character in the movie, every other time they are referred to as "stenches", which is pretty fucking stupid. Also, fireworks are called "skyflowers." I don't know if creating a little bit of mythology was supposed to lend believability to the situations, but it just ended up sounding silly. Then there's the tank/truck named "Dead Reckoning" which everyone in the movie called by name every time. "I'm gonna go grab my pepsi from Dead Reconing," "Whoa, nice driving, way to handle Dead Reckoning," etc. Stupid. Who does that?
In short, the movie had a great concept but suffered from extremely terrible execution. The sad thing is how many people I read saying that they absolutely loved it -- I'm not even sure we saw the same movie.
I did love the navel ring thing though, that was pretty cool.
I give this movie 2 nyquil liquigels. It earned an extra one for the navel ring. Oh and another extra one for Asia Argento (when did she drop the D' ?)
While staying at the beach, I agreed to see The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, under the condition that I get to drink several fuzzy navels before viewing it. The movie was playing at The Bijou (what's the deal with small-town theaters being named The Bijou or The Cameo, anyway?) which is right across the street from Maxwell's, an establishment that is well-known for strong fruity drinks. There was just time enough for me to suck down several drinks in order to ensure that the movie couldn't suck too much.
I have to say -- and this might be the alcohol talking -- that the movie wasn't actually half bad. By not "half bad", I mean half of the movie wasn't bad. The other half was.
See, the movie is made up of 4 segments -- one for each of the main characters that share the magical one-ass-fits-all pants that they decide to FedEx to each other all summer long. One of the characters goes off to Greece, one goes off to soccer camp, one goes off to stay with her semi-estranged father and the other stays home to work at Wal-Mart while making a documentary about losers.
It may just be that I don't identify with the soccer star (who is attempting to seduce her coach) or the girl in Greece (who has gotten caught up in a bizarre love triangle between her family and a boy she likes), but I personally would have cut those 2 girls out completely. It may also be that I did identify with the girl who doesn't go off somewhere and the girl whose family is all split up, but I would have made 2 separate movies; one about the Wal-Mart girl, one about the girl struggling with her father's decision to remarry. Either of those would have made a much better movie than The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.
If ever you find yourself writing a review of a movie, or even just recommending it to your friend, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD do not mention that there's a big twist at the end. I don't care how amazing the twist is, or how impossible it is to figure out, don't say anything about it. Twists are meant to surprise you, and if you spend the whole movie trying to figure out what the twist is it just ruins it.
I was just looking at a movie on netflix and EVERY one of the reviews say how awesome and unexpected the twist is. Thanks a bunch netflix users.