Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Your spirit cam seems to show a pernicious influence around these two dolls. They were found in the basement of a house noted for a series of "accidents." Please advise on what course to take next.
(note found in pocket of corpse, no dolls were ever found.)
Let's for the moment though hop into the way back machine and see what made Romero so interesting. Let's not look at his zombie films which are now the subject of legions of papers but let's rather look at "The Crazies." It's a hard film to find, and even today if you find the DVD of it you'll notice it was taken from a damaged print and there are some scenes that had to be rather obviously doctored for continuity. It was almost truly a forgotten film. It is the story of a small town infected by a military created virus code named "trixie" ("Code Name Trixie" was an alternate title for the film.) The virus quickly drives its victims insane with a marked tendency for homocide. The military sweeps in to try take care of the matter, but they act so ham handedly that the locals both crazy and not yet infected react as if they were being invaded. The film becomes a three way struggle. A group of non infected try to escape the quarentine zone, the military tries to round up as humanely as possible both the non infected and infected and try to find a cure, and a whole bunch of crazy people are running around with sharp objects. It doesn't take long for everything to break down. The non infected slowly find their numbers dwindling as they become infected or the victim of violence, the military soons find itself overwhelmed and all chances for a cure are lost. You can certainly draw parallels to Vietnam, or Kent State here, Romero is not exactly ever in "subtle" mode. But the film is certainly good enough even without the subtext. These aren't Romero zombies, they are capable of shocking violence and the breaking of all social tabboos. Certainly, it shows the razor edge that society is based upon and how easy it would be to fall to anarchy.
So, given this film's 'forgotten' status, I was glad to see it remade. I was doubly glad to see it star Timothy Oliphant of "Justified" and "Deadwood" fame. If there is anyone who can nail down the reality of the situation it's him. He plays the sheriff who wakes up one morning in his nice little town to find out that people are no longer being nice. It starts off with him having to shoot a man down in the middle of a baseball game, and the ball just starts rolling down hill from there. The film doesn't dwadle that's for sure, and that's a good and a bad thing. I would have liked a little more from the military side of things. On the other hand it whizzes past the usual cliche of "town officials not wanting to start a panic," which I for one could well do without. The military here oddly is presented in a less favorable light than the original "Crazies," I find that odd since the original was made at the height of anti military feelings. The Violence was ramped up thanks to a better budget (the original was made from the change in romero's extra pants), but the tabboo-ness of it was lowered way down. In the commentary, the director said this was a conscious decision and that today's film goers just wouldn't stand for it. If that's true, then that's sad.
Overall, this is a decent little film. And certainly works well in the zombie/28 days after genre. I do like how it is spelled out that, no matter how much you like Timothy Oliphant, if the main characters succeed they might very well likely spread the virus to other places. Certainly, a no win situation for all concerned. It would be enough to drive you.... crazy.
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
I just fell in love with this. The song is witty, and is a catchy little tune. I think the main singer definitely has charisma even if some folks were afraid he was going to get his dredlocks caught in his piano. The video is lovely and playful, and I'd certainly look at more of their work!
The new version has better actors (Benicio Del Toro, Anthony Hopkins, and Hugo Weaving), and of course new fangled special effects, but is it better? It takes the gothic feel up a couple of notches in some places feeling very Tim Burtonish (specially in the dream sequences), but I think the main difference in the feel between these two versions is in the main actor.
Lon Cheney played Larry Talbot as a likeable, normal lug. You could imagine watching a football game with Larry and sharing a beer. Del Toro is more distant figure. He plays an actor and as his father Anthony Hopkins remarks he makes his living pretending to be other people. Becoming infected by werewolfism becomes a process of unmasking for Del Toro and while very sympathetic I just wasn't as engaged as I was with Cheney, though definitely Del Toro is a much better actor.
There is a great scene with the werewolf coming out in front of London's finest men of medicine, and I always enjoy Hugo Weavings eye brows. The Wolfman's design was very respectful to the original and the computer effects blended nicely. I saw that Rick baker had a cameo which is a nice little easter egg. Overall, I liked it but I liked the original better.
Monday, June 28, 2010
Sunday, June 27, 2010
This was one of the last films to feature David Carradine. I can't help but to feel it might have something to do with how he ended his life accidently. After being in this flick, choking one's self for pleasure might seem a lot more logical. I'll give him this there was about 20 seconds of acting that made this film good. His nurse forces his heart pills on him and he takes them with a semi sneer. He takes the glass of water from her hand. He then flicks the water out into the pool. He dry swallows the pills and fill the glass with jack daniels and as she pouts with disapproval downs it after the pills. Good show Mr. Carradine.
The rest of the film is a waste, and is only fun if one is wasted or can mentally fake it. The plot is pulp, and the characters are sap. The writing is cliched and dumb: "First you said I stink, now you call me a hillbilly, you must really be flirting with me." The special effects are not special, are bad, and have no character. In short this is a bad film that isn't even a good bad film.
Luckily, "Under the Dome" is not one of those numbers at all.
"Under the Dome," is just that. An accounting of a small town that one day suddenly gets trapped under an invisible dome. It comes down without warning and fast. People are cut in half and planes and cars crash into it. People are also divided into camps. There is Big Jim who runs the town and now intends to control it completely by any means neccessary. On the other there is Barbie, a retired soldier who was ten minutes away from leaving the town before the dome came down, and his friends who just want what is right for everyone. As the outside military and world looks on, it soon becomes open nasty warfare between the two sides. Add several shades of crazy with Big Jim's son who has a brain tumor, nutty drug manufactors with religious delusions, and of course the mysterious "they" who dropped the dome in the first place and you have first class King entertainment.
One thing I like is that the doom is more than a mere barrier. It begins to retain heat, and keep the light out as it gets dirty. It certainly becomes an open metaphor for the global warming debate but not intolerably so. The inclusion of Barbie who was just recently in Iraq also opens up another set of fears that we've seen every day on the 24 hour news channels. There's a lot happening here along with classic King tropes about the darkness hidden in Norman Rockwell's small town america.
The novel moves fast, has some good characters and certainly builds suspense. It is certainly one of the better King novels of the last few years. Certainly a pleasure to know that there is still something of interest under his dome.
Saturday, June 26, 2010
Friday, June 25, 2010
Don't be afraid. They aren't looking at you. They are looking THROUGH you. Oh wait, maybe you should be afraid. Do you know what is behind you? Don't turn around! You will tip it off, and it may go on a rampage. It has meat hooks you know. Don't be afraid.
The first episode ties up the loose end of the last DVD and in Futurama fashion plays fast and loose with issue of loss of a loved one. After a horrid crash where Leela is put into a coma, Frye builds a Leela bot and falls in love with it. Any more I would say would be criminal, so I won't.
Watch it folks, let's keep Planet Express flying!!!!
I seemed to have been the only one to love Greg the Bunny. It headed to the great cancelverse almost as fast as "Firefly." But like some shows it bounced back. This time on IFC. Here on the Independent Film Channel Greg and friends make parody of various films. Whereas if they were on the Comedy channel they would focus on blockbusters, here on IFC they 'channel' more esoteric fare. So if you want to see puppets do their version of "Blue Velvet" here's your chance.
I still like Greg the Bunny, but it has lost a little something. I liked it more when it was in its own weird universe. Still this is pretty decent for TV, if I actually got IFC (in all senses of that phrase) I would watch it.
Queen's Blade is one of those anime. Not down to the level of TP (Tentacle Porn) but not so far away. I see it is based on a video game, and I think I know why some controllers stick. If you read the blurb it sounds vaguely feminist; women partaking in a tournament to prove who is worthy to rule a kingdom. Wonderful. How empowering. These aren't whimpy some whimpy Princess a waiting for her prince charming.
Then you watch the first five minutes.
First off you notice that these ladies are ... enhanced. Over endowed. Be tata'd. Boobie overdrive. Good Lord is it even medically possible? Do the Japanese have a word for 'top heavy?' Then we get to the first fight. Princess in regal, flowing, and very flimsy silk ....well I guess we'll have to call it a dress. She fights a.... no.. really? Ok, she fights a shape changing demon, who chose to look like a bunny girl with her hair turning into hands in the end to grasp her enormous boobies so she can squeeze them covering her foes in acid.
Beyond THAT sort of creativity and relationship hells ("I'm your sister and I'll make any man you marry rue the day, can I sleep with you now?"), it is the very base cliche of fantasy universes. The type of fantasies where someone can say, "I'm queen of the good bandits" with a straight face. Certainly one can avoid watching this show and not miss much.
waiting for the doctor
she didn't abided
but ironically endured
She had raven hair
framing her face
like spartan helmet
but with a ponytail
and red flower
She had something
stuck behind her ear
no THROUGH her ear
a long metal prong
piercing through the top
She wore suspenders
red and thin
and a t shirt
from a bloody bad film
and sensible boots
She got on with nurses aids
who wore pastel scrubs
adorned with adorable puppies
You would never guess
For all that
you'd have to look
to see this tough looking lady
was a scared girl
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Definitely kids will like this one.
Phoebe in Wonderland is something of a problem for me. You can't reference 'Alice in Wonderland,' without getting a little darkness in the subtext. In Phoebe though it gets a bit much for me personally. It follows the meme of 'imaginary friends help child with life,' but there are a few problems. First I don't see the imaginary friends being much help. Worse, though, the child is not just delightful imaginative, or even "eccentric" she's on the verge of real mental illness. Her constant hand washing, and counting and such point to OCD, and she's having real anti social problems like spitting on other people. I don't think imaginary friends, or completely the school play are going to help in the end. I'm at least glad they are taking her to therapy. Visually the film is ok, but I found it odd that her imaginary films are clearly other actors in theatrical costumes of their alice character. Being that it is her imagination (or delusion) I would think that humpty dumpty would really look like an egg not someone wearing an egg costume. That's a minor bitch however. The film is well acted and I did find it engrossing. I always enjoy seeing Bill Pullman even in a minor roll.
Over all it is worth watching, but I don't know about letting kids watch it.
So I am so totally nerd in my love of Total Drama Island, the reality show cartoon. So I'm happy to see the world tour. Most of the old gang is here, along with a few new faces including a crazed internet-blogstalker. This time they are travelling the world doing silly things each week for the chance of winning a million dollars. I just love the characters of the show and crazy Lizzy has jumped to my top ten cartoon gal list (though don't worry there will always be Velma, JINKES!)
Oh one added feature is each week they have to sing to avoid elimination. Fun.
Monday, June 21, 2010
Really there's nothing I can say to do this film justice. It is well acted, the design is good, the burnt out colour is just perfect. It also has a great twilight zonish end.
Watch it please.
ABC had the Hills which tried to be "True Blood" with "Desparate Housewives." Desparate indeed. More yawn inducing. Boring. Trite.
SyFy had "The Phantom." Ok, I liked the Parkour angle, even though they did not make the connection between the old phantoms going through the jungle compared to the new one's effortless jaunt through an urban jungle. Like the authors working for SyFy are going to spot a subtle character point. But what steams me, is you have a lithe acrobatic character and what do you do? You put him in the ugliest assortment of gear laughingly called a costume that makes him look like a teenage mutant ninja turtle and as about as agile as a rock. It is a truly awe inspiring aweful costume.
Oh the story sucked as well. Some one is doing subliminal mind control commercials and they recruit Kit Walker as the next Phantom. His organization looks very james bondish and they are definitely skittish about the whole native and jungle angle of the orginal phantom series. Oh well, even Billy Zane couldn't do much with the Phantom, why did I have any hopes SyFy could???
"Bare Knuckles" is sort of odd. It rips off both "Million Dollar Baby" and "Every Which Way But Loose," except of course without Clint Eastwood, or even orang atangs. Lady falls into the seedy world of female bare knuckle boxing to pay for her son's medical bills. You can set the words processing program on "puree" from this point. It's not so bad though as a B (ok C) movie. It moves along jauntily.
Astropia makes me happy? Why? Because it is proof that WE HAVE CONQUERED THE WORLD. When an Icelandic dork has to resort to "The Force is Strong in this one," (in ENGLISH) it is proof that our uber culture has taken pernicious root everywhere. Let's all share a mountain dew and revel in our glory.
After that, actually watch Astropia. It's a great little film from Iceland. Hildur is a beautiful woman living a beautiful life till her boy friend gets put in the slammer. Now dealing with real life she gets the very unreal job of dealing with geeks in a comic book store. She is slowly brought into the culture and finds herself having a great time. Really it is to warm any geek, dork, nerd's heart to think that any beautiful woman is just a dice throw away from LARPing with gay abandon.
All the geeks are great characters. I like the geek girl who is at first wary of Hildur because she threatens her place as "the one with breasts" at the store. I also like the DVD geek who is trying to push films like the Exorcist to the six year old in Hildur's care. His argument was that he was still young enough to appreciate the magic of a film like "The shining" and not worry about things like special effects. Heh. Yah, the magic of "The Shining." That particular scene ended with him babbling something icelandic that translated as, "Oh hey, "Cuju" you like doggies right!?"
Parent of the year material.
Oh, this film is also called Dorks and Damsels.
Sunday, June 20, 2010
Code Monkeys was a small little TV show about making video games in the eighties. Given the subject matter it makes perfect sense that it is animated in 8bit style. It's crude and rude and very funny, if you don't see someone that reminds you of a person you know, well then you aren't spending enough time with the right people.
Or the Wrong ones.
Great song too.
Remember how the pod racing scenes in "The Phantom Menance" almost didn't suck? Well someone thought they'd suck less as a tv show in Japan. Oban is full of the usual cliches like the "Plucky Female Hero Out To Prove Herself," but it is all in good fun. The style of animation mixes an a retro old school sensibility seamlessly with CGI ship racing. Some of the aliens are fairly interesting in design and execution. I like the ones that come off like brass stick figures and seem to have magic of some sort.
All in all good fun.
Saturday, June 19, 2010
Friday, June 18, 2010
Thursday, June 17, 2010
The point being is sometimes, for reasons unknown to us the little people, stars will do some godawful mess for a check. Rarely though have I seen so many shining so little in one place. In "Super Capers" we have Tommy "Tiny" Lister, Clint Howard, Michael Rooker, Joe Polito, and Tom Sizemore in various states of non, or over acting. Only Clint Howard and Tom Sizemore, as "Mugger" and "Lawyer" respectively, keep a little dignity and provide a very little bit of entertainment.
The rest of "Super Capers" involves a useless guy in the suit with the name of Ed Gruberman (A name which is a steal from the incredibly funny "Boot to the Head" sketch to which the writer/director should be profoundly embarrassed for soiling) who is ordered by a court to be a part of a team of super losers. Said losers are for the record: A professor X type with mother issues, a very cold woman, Mr. Super Vanity, and a guy who turns into a puffer fish when scared. They try to fight crime from their mansion and super winnebago.
Really I was hoping for a little dumb fun. What I got was a long stretch of no fun at all. If you want to see a fairly funny zero budget super hero film let me suggest "The Specials." Not, however, "Super Capers."
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Now sometimes these "viral" templates, memes, what have you, can go through a strange mutation. Many decades after J. R. R. Tolkein released (or unleashed) his "Lord of the Rings," something new was created in the dungeons around the Great Lakes. Here Gary Gygax and his merry crew invented "Dungeons & Dragons," and therefore role playing games giving parents of the world one more thing to worry about. Gygax and gang embraced the J. R. R. Tolkein theme whole heartedly to the point of lawsuit (Short form: "Hobbits" are "Halflings" and "Orcs" are still "Orc.") Then something strange happened.
Role playing games was never made big money, but it certainly was a money maker. It's small fan base was both willing to spend money and wanted more. More rules, more adventures. In race to keep up with demand someone in Gygax's crew decided to create the "anti-elf."
Thus the Drow were born.
The Drow lived under ground, not in some beautiful woodland glade. The Drow have skin that is jet black because fantasy readers know that is an evil colour (Note: Most fantasy readers are white males, why do you ask?) The Drow are evil, evil, evil. They worship spider demons and other icky stuff. Well everybody LOVED the Drow. They had oodles more class than some lowly Ork, and they had better toys to loot. So as demand for more on Drow arose from the masses, folks were willing to oblige for just a little money. So, we then found out that the Drow are a race of Matriarchs, that they are cultured and refined with numorous clans and spent at least half of their time fighting each other. Soon there were Drow novels, and things spun out of the control of Gygax and his crew.
Now we ave "Drowtales: Moonless age," a manga featuring a cute Drow. http://www.drowtales.com. The idea of a cute Drow sort of goes against the original idea of "anti-elf," but you can see how things like this get a life of their own. To be fair, after reading one chapter, I have to say it's not bad.
Drowtales so far concentrates on Ariel who is only ten years old. Being that Drow are EVIL (don't forget that) her mom has no time to raise her, so gives her to older sister and says bring her back to me in ten years and we'll see what you've done. This is much worse than having to baby sit your little sister for the afternoon, and the sister being both EVIL and selfish acts accordingly. So poor little Ariel is in a tiny, soul less cell and forced to read and remember by heart big books that don't mean anything to her. And her sister will come in and yell at her and beat her senseless. Luckily, Ariel is a plucky little girl so sometimes she sneaks out of her cell and spends time with her big brother. One month before her tenth birthday, big brother gives her the best gift of all. A cute kitten!
Her sister kills it.
So, on her tenth birthday she is presented to her mom. Her mom just sees a half starved, beaten little girl who seems fearful and weak. She asks her, "What does your heart most want you to do." And ariel says "Kill my sister!" Mom says, "Do it."
Of course Ariel doesn't, which proves to her mother that Ariel is weak and not worth being her daughter (remember she's EVIL). Big Brother intervenes and promises to hide and teach Ariel to be a proper Drow. Big Sister is taken away, but I'm sure we'll see more of her later.
All and all Drowtales does well, and I'll read more of it.
The real problem though is more of a personal nature. His character is still a virgin and he wants to do something about that. He finally finds the girl that he wants to help him with his problem but she is attracted to another and in a different town.
His solution? Well it's a bit radical. He creates in his own head a radical, dickish alter ego ala 'Fight Club.' Why? Because as many people have noted, a lot of women seem to be attracted to rather dickish men. Let's not even start to discuss why. So now with his bad boy alter ego, his next step will be to be bad enough so his mom will kick him out of her house and he'll have to live with his Dad in the town with his girl target. The problem is there's a fine line between bad and a five million dollar fire.
Honestly, I didn't need the alter ego bit. Everything that happens in the film could have happened for the most part without him. The two characters do have some rather funny lines as they "talk" with each other, but really it seemed a little too cute. The film is saved by Michael Cera who grounds things with his low key acting. It doesn't hurt that Ray Liotta and Fred Willard pop in here and there for a dose of the crazies.
I certainly liked the film, and while not five stars, it gives me even more hope for the "Scott Pilgrim" film. Hooray!
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
The Mutamime can change its shape somewhat. Touching one is like touching a bag of moldy tomatoes. The Mutamime lives a life of invisible walls and winds and so walks a rather odd tippsy turvy way. But the joke is over when it catches you. Then it is you who are silent.