Friday, December 14, 2007

Goodbye, Sir

I hate to be the one to tell anyone who reads this blog...

Adam passed away this past weekend. He is gone. I thought it was all a joke, a prank he was pulling on all of his friends but it was not. I rushed to his apartment when I heard the rumor and found his brother and sister packing up his belongings.

There will be a service for Adam on the 22nd of December in Cleveland at Blessings Cremation Services. More specific details will follow shortly.

Feel free to contact me for more information not covered here.


baristacmh AT gmail DOT com

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Local Adam B. Memorial

Hello All-

I have arranged a small memorial service for Adam B. here in Columbus for all of us that will not be able to attend the final service in Cleveland.

It will be Monday, Dec. 17th at 6:00pm at the Drexel Gateway Theater in Columbus.

Please feel free to contact me for any info not mentioned here.


baristacmh AT gmail DOT com

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Age-Restricted clip from WALK HARD

If you don't feel like going through Moviefone/New Line's hoops, you can download the whole thing via Mediafire.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Stephen Chow's CJ7 trailer hits Yahoo (Singapore)

via AICN:

More imaginative fun from Stephen Chow, hopefully.
If you simply MUST have this for your own (ie, put it on your iPod, etc), you can download the .flv file from MediaFire.

Saturday, November 24, 2007


The IMAX version of the sequel to Batman Begins is gonna be SPECIAL.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Giving thanks...

This is one of those personal posts that would usually end up on someone's myspace page. Usually marked PRIVATE or FRIENDS ONLY or whatever they do. So, if you don't care about the personal stuff, hit the BACK button now. Or go watch the BME Pain Olympics. It'll brighten your day.

You know...I have a lot to be thankful for.
I ruminate on this every year. Even years I don't get the requisite turkey dinner and nonsense. I've come to take Thanksgiving seriously in my advanced age. No, seriously. I do.
I've set aside the day each year to think about what I really am thankful for. And every year, it comes down to two things: family and friends. They're the two things I'm most thankful for every year.
My family might be spread to the four winds. We might not get together nearly often enough. But...we are a family. The love is still there, and always will be, no matter what. I'm grateful to have what family I have. My sister and brother. My aunt and uncle. My niece and nephew. Even my Republican-in-name-only brother-in-law. Even if I haven't gotten to visit any of them this year (which totally sucks), I still feel close as can be to all of 'em.
My friends are the same way. They're the family that's grown up around me. Each of them might only cruise in to my life every six months, but the hour or two we get to spend together is precious time. I'm appreciative that they give of themselves to me every single day and, like the family, I try and let them know that.
Life is good. I feel I'm at the exact spot where I'm supposed to be, knowing what I need to know and who I need to know. That's satisfying in a way that the simpler definitions of success never can be.
I give thanks for all this, and all that is to come.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Canadians take their workplace safety SERIOUSLY

Jamieson showed me some graphic and disturbing Canadian PSAs about workplace safety.

These commercials are downright horrifying.

They certainly get their point across.

I mean...damn. I'm going to worry every time I get on a ladder for a while after that.

That one's the worst, at least for me (I feel for burn victims, bearing some scars myself).
Thing is, I can see why they'd play ads like this. Workplace safety is a heavy responsibility. One we all need to pay more attention to. And if you're not paying attention by the end of these're NEVER going to.

And now...a moment with the producers

I've been posting so much pro-writers propaganda, I figured I'd include something pro-producers. Here's some of the bigwigs from the AMPTP stating their case:

Friday, November 09, 2007

A simple primer on the writers' strike

via Mark Verheiden:

They lay out their case simply and very effectively. Of course, the AMPTP folks don't see it that way. They'd like to continue making money hand over fist while the people who made them money in the first place get both jack and squat.
I do love some of the arguments that internet idiots have posed. Writers are "greedy" and "should be happy with what they have". Yeesh.
McDonalds employees should be happy with what they have too, huh? Which is why most people won't work at fucking McDonalds (and why we NEED undocumented aliens to fill menial jobs like that). People stuck in the ghetto should be happy with what they have, too. Yeah. Economic empowerment is bad. KNOW YOUR PLACE, POOR PEOPLE.
Internet trolls are funny.
I could spew more invective, but it's hardly worth it. Responding to morons doesn't work. Isn't that right, rexcase/Anonymous? Responding to you hasn't enlightened you one bit, has it?

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

So you say you don't understand the WGA strike...

Well...being writers, they have a blog. Imagine that. New media.
And they even posted some videos explaining their position. Also in new media.
Here's Damon Lindelof (that pesky Lost show) and Marc Cherry (Desperate Housewives) stating their case:

Here's Greg Daniels and Paul Lieberstein from The Office. Damn they break the issue down in an easy manner.

If you need a more personal angle, might I suggest the anecdotes from Mark Verheiden's blog.

After all of this, I actually feel bad for having purchased shows via iTunes.
I promise I'll only steal shows until writers get a fair deal.


From rexcase, the anonymous troll in the Dead Patrol review comments.
Interesting take on clothing stores a la The Office. Not funny. At all.
In fact, that's pretty much all I have to say about it. Not funny.

Monday, November 05, 2007

International IRON MAN trailer

Too bad I can't find a quicktime. The little bit at the end...I giggled. But, I'm a dork.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

DEAD PATROL episode 1 review (ammended with 100% less slag!)

via the Zombie Reporting Center:
Episode 1: "Trapped"

Zombies are great fodder for genre storytelling. After all, it's end of the world stuff.
However, Dead Patrol isn't great storytelling. It's not even good storytelling.
Sure, they managed to get a Skinny Puppy song for their main titles. Sure, they stole the design for those main titles from The 4400. It looks and feels pretty professional.
Everything else pretty much sucks.
The logic of the premise is extremely weak to begin with. After the zombie apocalypse, the Army begins nuking cities. Well, let's look at that. In zombie lore, they dead go to where the food is. If the cities are no longer inhabited and there was no food available, they wouldn't still be in the cities. Oops.
Second problem? They send a two man team in. One's a young guy. The other's a 40s-ish housewife-looking bird with an eyebrow piercing. The military would never allow eyebrow piercings. Sorry. That'd be a spectacularly bad idea in a zombie apocalypse as well. Ever seen someone with a piercing in a fight? That piercing almost always ends up being ripped out. And eyebrow piercings bleed a LOT.
Thinking in the logic of the zombie genre, that's a tremendously risky thing to have. Either the zombie rips it out and you get infected via the blood, or the zombie rips it out and you get blood in your eye, blinding you at a crucial moment.
Two soldiers against an entire city full of the undead? Um...The military isn't stupid. Not gonna happen. The military can't tie a pair of shoes without at least twelve soldiers. Zombies would rate a few more, I think.
The two soldiers steal a Lamborghini to make their getaway. Problem #1 - they crash out of the garage (through a plate glass window, which mysteriously has no frame). That would have seriously damaged the car. Problem #2 - they stop for an old lady zombie (I think it was an attempt at humor, but, well...just not funny). Besides, the CGI for the car was just fucking terrible. Save the money and buy a used Rabbit or something.
Well...where was the vehicle they brought the warhead in on? They show a trailer. But no vehicle to tow it. Why not just drive that out?
Better yet...if you're going to nuke a city...just send a missile. Then your "two man team" doesn't have to face the living dead at all...that is until they find the missile silo.
I haven't even mentioned the uneven and mostly hilariously bad zombie effects. The less said about them the better, actually.
I've since been contacted by two of the people involved in the making of this web series (see one of them spewing stupidity in the comments) who attempted to explain the shortcomings. Apparently, there WAS a truck and there WERE more troops. But somehow these two got left behind (they could have mentioned this...a line of dialogue would have explained it). And there's a backstory to the eyebrow piercing...which while still totally a bad idea will apparently be explained in future episodes. The only explanation for why missiles weren't sent instead of soldiers? No drama.
Yes, that's exactly how the military operates. Based on drama. Yeesh.
Out of consideration for Jas, I will give the second episode a chance (It's apparently gonna be ready before the month is over...which is QUICK turnaround for a web show...I be impressed). I hope to bring you better tidings when it drops.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Conan vs The Topless Women

via Kotaku and

So, there's gonna be a Conan game for the XBox 360 and the PS3. THQ's making it.
The design looks fantastic. It looks almost like a Frazetta painting brought to life. If there's a heaven, Robert E Howard wholeheartedly approves. Conan is thick and sinewy, in his fighting prime. And...there's bare bosoms in it.
Yes, breasts in a video game. Call the moral police.
Pulp entertainment has long had a tradition of womenfolk in next-to (or less than next-to) nothing and the ultra-capable hero who has to save them. Sure, in modern comics, the women stand shoulder to shoulder with the men, but is Wonder Woman a realistic model of a female warrior? I think not. With the low body fat that a highly-trained soldier such as herself would attain, something tells me that she'd be a little less top-heavy. The objectification of the female form hasn't quite evolved over the ages. Men like their breasts. So, the comic book female tends to look more like a pole dancer than a body builder.
Back in the days of Robert E Howard's pulp stories, though, the womenfolk were there almost as ornaments. They were objects to be won. So, in the game, you run around rescuing topless women. Since many of them were pleasure women or dancers, the pole dancer model applies in spades.
The fundies and the parents groups can't have their children looking at breasts. The kids might start getting ideas (the same ideas they get anyway, seeing as they're hormonal little monsters). So, rest assured, there will be protests. And stories on FOXNews. Somewhere, a woman will break out in tears because her son might some day see a naked breast. Oh, the horror...
While I'm sure there WILL be outrage over this (the game IS rated M, though), the born agains and bible thumpers are missing the point.
If you have to buy a sixty-dollar video game to see a pair of unleashed mammaries, you need to get your keister down to the local strip club and at least see them in person, folks.
That's my two cents worth, at least.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Can you Face the Horror?

Adam has lent me his lappy-top for some time now, entrusted its care to me. I brought it to him for the Horror Movie Marathon at the Drexel Grandview this past weekend.... Here are his thoughts:

Marathon time is always a special event for me. As long as I've lived in Cbus, I've tried to get time off to see the sci-and horror marathons.
The horror marathons have always been worth my time, starting at an unnamed competitor with Joe Neff at the helm. After said theater gave Neff the heave-ho, fans were presented with a choice. Go back to Brand X with new folks running the show or remain loyal to Joe and attend the Drexel Grandview with Neff and Bruce Bartoo of Ohio Sci-Fi Marathon fame.
I chose right. But, I'm a sucker for the personal touch. And Neff and Bartoo do that better than anyone in the Midwest.
The Two-Headed Marathon is now on its fourth year. While it still isn't a full 24 hours, I think that works to its credit. The tighter schedule forces out any films that might be weak or perceived as padding. The 13 hour marathon is lean, mean and straight to the point.
Considering how beat to heck I already am today, I can appreciate a less-is-more approach. But enough about me, let's talk movies.

11:16 pm
Finally underway. Trailers trailers trailers. MANIAC. NEAR DARK. Goodness, goodness me. I'm one of a handful of people who saw that one in the theater. TWINS. PAN'S LABYRINTH. Good schtuff, that one. Dunno if it's horror, but it's certainly better than THE LOVE BUG for this audience.
CRONOS. Love that one. Ron Perlman was soooo good in it.
THE SHE-BEAST! Yes. Classic cheese.
SCREAM BLACULA SCREAM! Yes yes yes. Love the two Blacula movies.
Ringo Starr? What the hell? Whoa. I haven't seen this one. SON OF DRACULA. I'm making a note on that one.

FREAKS starts to applause. Why? It's a substitute for ZOMBIE (aka ZOMBI 2, etc etc), the Lucio Fulci semi-classic. Frankly, we made out on that deal. It's a true classic.
Todd Browning was always fascinated by carnival culture (see his early films like THE UNKNOWN and THE UNHOLY THREE). FREAKS was the culmination of that love affair. He cast real sideshow performers in the film -- people the normal world would classify as freaks -- creating true poignance and pathos in a film most directors could only make as crass exploitation. That the films sympathetic characters are almost entirely the deformed and unusual is testament to Browning's affinity for his sideshow brethren. The so-called "normal" people are the deceivers and betrayers.
When the freaks band together to wreak vengeance on those that have wronged them, it's truly chilling. But it's also just desserts for the villains.

I have the urge to beat down Joe Neff for being a black-hearted Red Sox fan. But, he hates the Yankess. He's not all bad, right?

12:30 am
Out in the lobby networking with the folks behind the marathon, Drexel alum Anna Biszaha showed up (in town from her new digs in Pittsburgh), and folks from the Drexel staff. These folk are the backbone of the film community and Columbus and I'm gladdened and lucky to know them.

12:59 am
Almost 1 am. Things are semi-on schedule. The lobby is filled with people grabbing grub and re-connecting. The marathon is a family affair, and we're glad to have this yearly reunion.

1:15 am
Trailers again. DON'T GO IN THE HOUSE. DON'T GO INTO THE BASEMENT. DON'T ANSWER THE PHONE. All very appropriate selections for out next film, THEM (aka ILS), a French-Romanian thriller that really doesn't make me eager to visit my relatives in Eastern Europe. A French couple are attacked in their new Romanian home by assailants they barely see and most definitely hear. That's all you need to know about the plot of THEM. Who They are and what motivates them is something not revealed until well into the film. I'm not about to give the lil' secret of ILS away. It's not especially shocking if you think about it, but it's creepy. It certainly doesn't work on everyone, particularly the folk of puffed-up bravado and over-confidence that Americans are braver than all foreigners. Frankly, were that the case, crime wouldn't exist in America. We all know that's not the case. We're conditioned to think of our country as being unsafe. I don't necessarily believe the hype on that, either.
The film works as a thriller, keeping things out of sight as often as possible. The unknown is scarier than the known. Simple math, there. As long as you don't see Them clearly, They can scare the bejeepers out of you.

3:21 am
I'm out in the lobby, writing away while the trailers play. The only film I haven't seen in the lineup is coming up next, TO THE DEVIL, A DAUGHTER. Gotta watch that.

4:52 am
Wow. Freaky deaky. TO THE DEVIL, A DAUGHTER is over. And the print we had was...unique. Certain things were missing (some 20 seconds of full-frontal nudity) and certain things were added (footage from a handful of movies including Sponge Bob's butt). Yes, indeedy, the power of Satan was in full effect on that one. The last of the Hammer films (at least for now -- there's allegedly a new one on its way), it stars Richard Widmark as an author and expert on Satanic groups who runs afoul of Father Michael Rayner (Christopher Lee) and his cult. Rayner and his followers have been raising Catherine (Nastassja Kinski) for some nefarious purpose until her father ,Henry Beddows (Denholm Elliot), places her in the care of Widmark and his friends. The rest of it is a confusing mess, but the mishmash craziness at the end definitely made it worthwhile.
PS...Christopher Lee is The Man. That is all.

5:15 am
BLACK SHEEP. Gotta sit in for this one just 'cause it's fun.

6:38 am
People liked BLACK SHEEP. It's goofy, which is always a plus at a marathon of any kind. Keeping it light and fun never disappoints at a group outing like a movie marathon. Killer sheep. Were-sheep. Do I really need to say more?
If you're not signed up on that premise alone, BLACK SHEEP is not for you.

6:56 am
As I've said before, the marathon is a family reunion. So, the breaks are full of animated discussions and exchanges of information. New generations of marathoids are introduced (We even have an attendee this year who's nine months pregnant. No. Really. We could have a new movie freak any moment.), life stories are updated. Fans and freaks network. It's a great thing, and it's half the reason to be here.

8:30 am
TOURIST TRAP is over. What a wonderful piece of schlock. Chuck Conners is uber-wonderful as the telekinetic, drag-dressing freak of a villain. The film is so no-budget that the best special effect is a pre-CHARLIE'S ANGELS Tanya Roberts in a tube top (That's Production Values, folks!). Trust me. This is NOT a good movie. But it's really fun with the right audience at the right time. This was the right time and the right people to see it with. We're all too worn out to worry about how bad it is. It's easier to lean back in our seats and enjoy it. I'm tired. I'm worn out. But we're not done, folks. We've got two films left, and I shall be there for both of 'em.

10:26 am
Yeah, MANIAC is a minor classic of the genre, but let's face it -- Joe Spinell's performance is a little over the top. Okay, it's somewhere beyond Shatner. But the movie's still great fun to watch. William Lustig's always been stuck in low-budget purgatory. But he can do things with a handful of pocket change that most directors need a huge budget to accomplish.

10:29 am
LOST BOYS trailer. A fine precursor to our final feature, NEAR DARK.
The film snaps right after the GINGER SNAPS trailer (how appropriate), necessitating a quickie splice before we can proceed (and we were doing really well on time...). NEAR DARK is apparently getting the remake treatment from the same folks who have done the remakes to TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, AMITYVILLE HORROR and THE HITCHER. Looks-wise, they're not going to have to deviate much from their formula. Katherine Bigelow helped establish the visual dictionary that Michael Bay and his cronies follow. Cast-wise, though, the remake can't match the original. Adrian Pasdar puts in a fine performance, two decades before HEROES' Nathan Petrelli. The best parts of the ALIENS supporting cast (Lance Henriksen, Bill Paxton and Jeanette Goldstein) are the baddies, a group of Southern vampires who roam the open spaces of Texas. Jenny Wright (who pretty much disappeared after THE LAWNMOWER MAN) is the vampires' honey trap, May. NEAR DARK relies on the culture of the frontier South just as much as the modern world. It's almost a vampire Western, but our hero dwells more in the gray areas of morality than your stock white hat. He's a good man, but flawed enough that he ends up travelling with a group of homicidal bloodsuckers. These aren't your Universal-era vampires, though. The infection can be cured. When Pasdar's Caleb manages to save himself, he also tries to rescue May, incurring the wrath of the rest of her clan. The only part of the film that doesn't absolutely hold up is the very, very 80s soundtrack. I'm so glad we've abandoned cheesy synthesizers. That age rightfully died two decades ago, and good riddance.

Not everyone finishes a movie marathon, but that's not really a terrible thing. Not everyone is hardcore enough to stay up all night watching flicks. Those of us who do, well, we're a rare breed. And we're glad to have people like Bruce Bartoo, Joe Neff and Jeff Frank around to make our marathon dreams a reality. Sure, I'm exhausted. My reflexes are shot. I'm not thinking straight. And when I look at sunlight, I think I'm going to burst into flames. But, I wouldn't trade a Drexel marathon for anything.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Sure it's early...

via Jamie:
But the nice folks behind The Dark Knight's web-presence have changed ever-so slightly in anticipation of Halloween:

Gotta love the reference to The Long Halloween.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Anne Coulter's been HACKED!!!!

That's all I have to say.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Adam's affadavit on MICHAEL CLAYTON

It's official. I'm a Tony Gilroy fan now.
Michael Clayton, his latest script (and his directing debut) is so smart, it shows you the climax at the very beginning of the movie. And yet it doesn't spoil the ending. There's things going on that you don't yet know. Wheels turning.
Just like what's always going on with the title character.
Michael Clayton is a fixer. In the legal world, this means he's the firm's go-to guy when things need cleaned up. He's the guy who shows up when you have no plays. He's the lawyer of last resort. And he's good at his job. Great, even.
You first meet him racing to the home of some rich asshole in Westchester County outside of New York City. The rich guy has just hit someone with his Jaguar and left the scene of the accident. Being a rich asshole, he certainly can't be to blame for any of this. It's that dumb schmuck's fault for getting hit. Yeah, that's it.
Clayton gives the rich guy the skinny, which he's not going to like, and leaves. He's pissed about something, and it shows.
Then, his car blows up.

Skip back four days. Clayton's in trouble. He's in hock for loans his brother took out on a restaurant the two owned together. He's selling the fixtures and booze, trying to scrape enough up to pay the loan sharks.
He's unhappy at his job because, since he's the fixer, he has no equity in the firm. Things go south, say there's a big merger, and he's out on his ass since he has no official position. The restaurant was supposed to be his safety net, and now it's the noose with which he's apparently hung himself to the tune of seventy-five thousand dollars.
His oldest friend at the firm, Arthur Edens (Tom Wilkinson), has a break down at a deposition for the class action suit he's been working on. He confesses his love to one of the plaintiffs, strips naked, and chases the plaintiffs around in the parking lot.
Clayton is sent to Wisconsin to grab Arthur and get him back under control. Turns out that Arthur is bipolar and off his meds.
It also turns out that he's totally right about their big client being responsible for ungodly environmental damage that's continuing to kill people exposed to their defoliant, since it seeps right into the groundwater.
The corporation has a lot to lose in the lawsuit (the subjects of the class action are asking for $3,000,000,000 (That's three BILLION dollars...much cheddar, even for a major agri-corp). Their general counsel, Karen Crowder (Tilda Swinton), is looking to prove herself and maybe move up into the board room like her predecessor Don Jeffries (Ken Howard). If she can somehow settle the case for a manageable amount, she just might. She's got a problem, though.
Arthur has a memo, the proverbial smoking gun, that could blow the case right out of the water.

Where Michael Clayton shines most is in the performances of its three principals. Clooney, Wilkinson and Swinton are fantastic in it, as are Michael O'Keefe and Sydney Pollack in supporting roles.
The roles are classic movie star fodder, and allow each of the principals room to shine in their own unique way. Clayton is calm and collected, even in the face of peril. Edens is manic and obsessed, but fully on the side of angels now. Crowder is mannered to the point that she rehearses every word that's going to come out of her mouth before she leaves her house every morning.
All three roles offer plenty of star moments, and room for character as well. And, being that all three are fine actors in their own rights, they take advantage of that room to give mannered and deep performances.

Where Michael Clayton succeeds without any effort to shine is its smart, tightly-written script. The script is nearly transparent, fading into the background and letting the actors carry the material. There's no snappy dialogue, no forced patter. Everything feels natural and believable.
Lately, Gilroy's become a fairly adept writer. Who knew that the man behind the scripts for The Cutting Edge, The Devil's Advocate and Armageddon was going to churn out fare like the Jason Bourne movies and Michael Clayton? But he turns out to be a pretty damn good director his first time out. It's not a flashy movie at all. He sets up shots in similar ways to how Paul Greengrass framed the last two Bourne movies, but without the constantly swaying handheld effect. Things feel live, on the fly, very cinema verite.
The pacing is relentless as well. Gilroy and company trimmed out all the fat, giving you only the moments you need to see when you need to see them. You aren't dragged into minutia. Everything counts, be it Clayton reaching out to his estranged son or the final confrontation.
The ending is satisfying in a way few films are any more. The redemption that Clayton earns for himself is hard fought and comes at a great price. But the open-ended conclusion leaves much of the pending justice up to the viewer to decide and imagine. There's no feel-good moment or group hug or triumphant slow-clap. Just a lonely cab ride in the only direction that matters: away.
I'm not certain that Michael Clayton is going to be huge come awards time, but it's certainly a movie worthy of a view or two on the big screen (and an eventual DVD purchase).

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Radiohead's IN RAINBOWS is out!!!

You may or may not have heard (especially because it's almost immediately below this post -- I'm lazy) that Radiohead has a new album out. In Rainbows is not quite a new CD because there is no physical CD (yet -- but that super-deluxe disc box is coming in December).
The price? Damn reasonable, since you set it yourself.
The verdict? Well, it's Radiohead. Some folk will hate it, since they're still blazing the trail begun with Kid A and OK Computer. The stripped down, half-electronic warbling is something that some folk just love and others utterly despise. If you're in the latter group, don't expect to be swayed back to the fold. Just remember that they're absolutely amazing live, and you need tix to their next tour.
Track one is "15 Step", which begins with an almost marching drum sound and those lilting guitars that Radiohead's been known for for the last decade. It almost becomes a smooth jazz tune, though. That might tune people out before they delve deeper into the tracks. It's not a weak song by any means, but the almost sedate groove isn't necessarily what you use to get a crowd fired up.
"Bodysnatchers" might have been a more appropriate starting point. Distortion and real drums are the special of the day here. While the tempos for both songs are nearly identical, "Bodysnatchers" drives the music home with more force and urgency.
The action slows way down with the dreamy "Nude" and the once again lilting "Weird Fishes/Arpeggi". I can see both of these songs carrying more power live, but on the digital equivalent of a record, they're almost ephemeral constructions. They're not bad songs, but they're somewhat slight after the political charge of Hail to the Thief.
"All I Need", while down-tempo, carries some of the dramatic weight and power of Radiohead's aural-pharmatronic live show. I can see this one blowing minds at a concert, especially at the climax's crescendo.
"Faust Arp" is an almost folky side-step with a string accompaniment that drowns out Thom Yorke's voice. Still, it's a gorgeous sounding track.
It does little to prepare you for the thumping rhythm of "Reckoner". The drums seem almost more important than the guitars for the first 90 seconds of the song, when the style of play shifts and the rest of the instruments truly join in. Just when you think you know what you're listening to, the song changes gears and moves from a drone to an almost gospel-esque chant. One of the more interesting tracks for me (being a drummer, I'm all about the rhythm section), and another I'm certain will reformulate your brain chemistry live.
"House of Cards" betrays my age-old 45 Second Rule. If the song doesn't grab you in 45 seconds, it's not really right for airplay. It's not a bad song. Really. But out of the tracks on this album, it's the one I'd probably be least likely to listen to repeatedly.
"Jigsaw Falling Into Place", on the other hand, is the one I'm probably going to throw onto a few compilations. It's the most mainstream radio friendly of the songs, structure-wise (being almost straight-forward rock) and another that truly benefits from listening to LOUD.
The album's closer, "Videotape", seems soft and meek but evolves into an almost plodding drone. The vocals are more important here -- the music seems almost incidental to the process at points, repeating polyrhythms instead of finding a melody. Very odd track for beginning, middle or end.
As I said before, In Rainbows is unlikely to win new converts to the Radiohead fold. For diehard fans, this is yet another desert island disc that they'll be unable to live without. For the rest of the world, they might wonder what the point of it all is. They're missing out, but try explaining it to them and you'll find your arguments are falling on deaf ears.

NIN joins Radiohead in shrugging off the label chains

Yeah, the news is two days old. I didn't see it until late last night. Sue me.
Trent Reznor announced on the eighth that Nine Inch Nails is a free entity. After eighteen years of recording contracts, he too is on his own.
The RIAA have to be worried already. Two big guns have told them to go fuck themselves. Pretty soon, they'll be left with talentless pop hacks like Britney Spears.
It's a great time to be a music fan, folks.

Monday, October 01, 2007

What the new Radiohead album might mean...

via Jamie and
So, Radiohead has a new album coming out Oct. 101 (whoo-hooooo!). It's called In Rainbows and it may be the death knell of the RIAA and their obselete business model.
Sure, it's been tried before. Public Enemy tried the digital experiment, sans label. And unsigned bands have been throwing their tracks online for ages.
Radiohead going it alone is an event of some significance, though. They're still on the top of their game, and they're still critical darlings.
The mainstream press has already jumped all over the story. That means that mainstream music fans will know about the album, and might actually pay for the download. Then again, there's the legions of idiots who'll be trading it on Limewire and the torrents...
If Radiohead can achieve label-level success without major label distribution, the RIAA is over. Pure and simple. When an artist can control their material -- can control their own music from conception to delivery -- they have all that power that the RIAA has been trying to throw around. And the RIAA...well, they've got nothing.
Sure, Metallica will still sue the shit out of their fans after the RIAA is history. But the business model of the RIAA signatories might just be over. The labels might just implode.
This could be excellent for artists. No more seven-cent-per-unit-sold royalties. No more labels owning the masters. No more oppressive contracts. Freedom -- real creative and artistic freedom.
The labels have strangled recording artists for too long. Look at all the classic rock artists from the 50s and 60s who're starving without royalty payments. Look at the surviving Beatles no longer owning their songs. The current business model is a failure for the artists -- it only serves corporate greed.
It's time for a change. And maybe we've taken the first step in the right direction.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Adam decides AND I LIVED is better off dying

Written while writer/director Ryan Dacko was stationed in Antartica for the Coast Guard, And I Lived is at various times a teen angst drama, a parable about class, a love story, a long and drawn-out car chase/drag race and an excuse to put 1037 montages into one film.
If that sounds remotely schizophrenic, you don't know the half of it. And I Lived is incredibly earnest when it's focussed on story, but devolves into a confused mess towards the end. Occasionally it takes place in a small country town. Occasionally it seems to be in the city. Occasionally, you'll notice the school building just changes for no reason whatsoever. Just like it can't make up its mind where it takes place, the movie can't make up its mind what kind of movie it is.
It's not to say there aren't things to like about And I Lived. Dacko (who also shot the film himself) has a good eye for composition, and there are quite a few shots that demonstrate skill at framing his actors in just the right way to emphasize his points. Then, right alongside the great shots will be a jerky handheld shot that makes you realize how low-budget the film really is.

In this small town/big city high school, the classes are truly divided. The rich folk dress in whites, the poor folk in black. The color of their skin doesn't matter. Only the color of their shirts makes a difference. There is omnipresent tension between the white shirts and the black shirts, and plenty of resentment both ways.
The conceit that the rich all wear white and the poor all wear black might be meant to hint at the class struggle. It might also hint at race relations, even if the white and black groups are ethnically mixed. The visual is definitely meant to contrast the two groups, so you're always certain of where someone stands.
Frankly, it's a bit heavy-handed.
The filmmaker didn't count on the audience to recognize that the rich and the poor are at odds. He didn't expect the audience to recognize the difference between the two groups. So, he clothes them in opposite colors to show they're opposites.
Of course, opposites attract, so therein lies our love story.

Elaina (Lori Shaufelberger) and Kevin (Matt Clark) both have ties to the leaders of their respective sects. Elaina used to date Jered (David Bianchi), the leader of the white shirts (Of course, Jered himself used to run with the black shirts prior to his mother marrying into money.). Kevin is best friends with Reg (Josue Rivera), the leader of the black shirts and owner of the Dodge Charger that the production company (Charger Films) was named after (the Charger is important to the story! HINT! HINT!). Kevin's also already going out with Meagan (Kim Chesterton).
That doesn't stop him from falling for Elaina, in spite of the rule that the each group sticks with their own kind. Of course, as we already know from countless other stories (including Romeo and Juliet, which the opening narration references), that the tales of star-crossed lovers from opposite camps always end badly.
Oddly, I found the conclusion of the film somewhat weak, mainly because we've seen the tragic end of romance so many times. Had the two lovers just gone their separate ways, Kevin off to college and Elaina to California, the result could have been more real and possibly more effective.
Also, the past romance between Elaina and Jered isn't even hinted at until the climax, and it's a key factor in driving his actions. Some explanation before the fact might have been nice.

Schaufelberger is adequate as Elaina, and Clark is quite decent as Kevin, but it's the supporting players that shine. Josue Rivera and David Bianchi squeeze the most out of their screen time, managing through simple movement to tell more about their characters than the leads do through their speeches. Their conflict is really what drives the story, right up until the big fight scene. Bianchi might get a bit melodramatic in his delivery, but both spit out dialogue that shouldn't work and make it sing.
Also noteable are Kim Chesterton as Meagan and Delaine Dacko as Elaina's friend Susan. Both are credible in their meager screentime (and both would have filled the role of Elaina better than the very Jamie Lee Curtis-y Schuafelberger). The most thankless of roles, that of comic relief, goes to Mike Baird as Stan. He manages to combine bits of Falstaff, Curly and maybe a little bit of Charles Martin Smith in American Graffiti into a guy you'd probably want to hang out with. Until he starts spilling his soda...

Visually, this does not look like a movie shot on under $20,000. Dacko managed to make a film that easily should have cost ten times more on a budget so miniscule that Robert Rodriguez would shudder. Aside from a couple handheld shots that don't quite work and a murkily-lit climax, And I Lived looks like a million bucks and change.
The cinematography and the editing are top-notch. Based on look alone, the film is definitely worth a gander by anyone studying the art of filmmaking. The shot composition is fantastic, and the movie flows quite naturally most of the time.
Hell, they might not work thematically in the story, but the car sequences alone look like the budget was much, much larger. They do, on a budget, what the studio system spends millions on.
My one gripe with the film from a technical standpoint is that the director relies on montages to tell the story, instead of letting the story tell itself. So much time is spent on the sweeping montages that litter the reels that we really only get a few choice minutes to get to know our hero and heroine.
Unfortunately, it's the lack of a relationship with the leads that torpedoes an audience's enjoyment of their journey.

The opening act is where the film is the strongest, in spite of an pointless extended sequence where Kevin and Reg go to the race track. The moment where Kevin and Elaina connect over music is simple, sweet and beautifully shot (watch the camera angles to see how the distance between the two changes). It's as close as we get to knowing Kevin and Elaina as people. And it's almost enough to tell their love story on its own.
From there, the movie just begins unravelling. There's no illustration of the relationship developing between the two, only montages and the occasional shot of the two of them touching hands when no one else is looking. There's mention of them talking on the phone, but we see no conversations between the two of them. We don't see them connect more than a fleeting flirtation, and this makes every moment thereafter feel false.
On top of that, the script morphs from a love story into a massive brawl and then into about a half hour of drag racing and car chases that's supposed to be a fifteen minute drive to the prom.
Let's look at the race and chase sequence for a moment. Imagine that you're a youthful rebel who's decided to take your brand spankin' new rich girl girlfriend to the prom. Except it's supposed to be ending in fifteen minutes (but it's not dark yet). Would you 1) get into a drag race with some Moby-looking dude in a Ford Taurus or 2) get into a car chase around a mall parking lot with two rent-a-cops or 3) go to the damn prom and get it over with? Both sequences have no place in this film, and were included as an indulgence that wastes the viewer's time.
I forgive a lot of things in low-budget films. I'll be extra forgiving of bad actors if there was no money to hire real talent (Clerks). I'll forgive cheesy effects since there was no budget to hire a real effects artist (Evil Dead). I'll even give a pass to bad direction if the overall effect of the movie is good. Wasting my time, I can't forgive.

And I Lived might have been a good ten minute short film. But, with the padding of montages, car chases and an utterly illogical ending (How does someone get shot through another human being when the person in front isn't injured? -- Oh, did I just spoil the ending? Naughty me.), it becomes a colossal waste of my time as a viewer. Don't set a time limit and then willfully exceed it, expecting your audience to play along. Don't promise a story and deliver a montage.
While there's some obvious talent involved in the cinematography department, And I Lived just shows how terrible a writer Ryan Dacko is and quite probably why someone shouldn't attempt to write a story about humanity when disconnected from it. He's a great visual stylist, but he's not much of a storyteller. That's fine, though. Because he shows such a talented eye for capturing the moment in his lenses that he could easily have a future directing other peoples' scripts (how many directors write all their own material, anyway?). With a great script and a budget, he'd be a force to be reckoned with. And I Lived may be incomplete as a story, but as a demo reel of Ryan Dacko's ability with a camera, it may open some doors.

The final verdict? Well, I can't truly say I enjoyed sitting through And I Lived. It takes a lot of chances, but unfortunately not in the sake of telling a great story. I did, however, see plenty of talent on display...enough to check out things that the principals involved do in the future. With luck, we haven't seen the end of any of the cast and crew.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

The Zombie Reporting Center reviews DEAD HEIST

The fun thing about the internets is occasionally you drop in on someone else's little corner of the cyber world. I did just that a little while ago, when I commented on the Zombie Reporting Center's posting of a bit of Fangoria's review of Dead Heist. I kinda called them out for dismissing the film outright without seeing it, as I had fun with it.
Well, the folks over at ZRC aren't cowards. Far be it from them to shrink away from a little movie. So, they had their stab at it and you can read it HERE. While not nearly as positive as my look at it, they're even-handed in their treatment of it. So, I figured I'd show them a lil' link love and let you check out their site.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Wizard's got the goods on HEROES

via Ain't It Cool News:
There's a huge article over at Wizard Magazine about the DVD release of Heroes. Lots of great lil' insight about the show's first season and some great quotes from the people involved.
I thought about posting the latest pre-season stuff from the metagame, but I think this image is far more ripe for discussion.

The whole milk moustache campaign has raised snickers from time to time, but this one's just purely ridiculous. Not only do we have the milk moustache on barely legal starlet Hayden Panettiere, but she's also getting a splattering of milk on her face and chest. Yup. Milk Bukkake.
Is bukkake coming into the mainstream now? Has it been referenced enough on Howard Stern that everyone knows what it is? I know that my buddy Byron had to explain it to the state of Ohio (well, they figured it out by spying on his website), which cost him his BUKKAKE plates. But, I'd hope that the average person would be slightly more well-informed than the government.
Anyhoo, it's still kinda gross. And worrisome that the advertisers would include fringe imagery in their ad to appeal to the sickos that 1) get all gooey over young girls and 2) are into Japanese porn. Ick.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The 45th New York Film Festival Line up is Released

Thanks to a source in New York I was given a release of the films to be shown at the 45th New York Film Festival. Please check out the WEBSITE for more info and to buy tickets. Sorry this is so long but it is worth it!

28 Films to Debut at 45th New York Film Festival, Sept. 28–Oct. 14

Closing Night: Persepolis
Five Special Retrospectives, Three Special Event Screenings, Three Sidebars Included

NEW YORK, August 15, 2007—The 45th New York Film Festival will premiere 28 films when it runs Sept. 28-Oct. 14 at the Frederick P. Rose Hall, home of Jazz at Lincoln Center. The festival, presented by the Film Society of Lincoln Center and sponsored by Sardinia Region Tourism and The New York Times, also features three unique sidebars, three special event screenings and five retrospective films.
Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud’s Persepolis has been selected as the festival’s Closing Night film. The animated coming-of-age story, based on Satrapi’s popular graphic novel about her own childhood in Iran during the Islamic Revolution, won a Jury Prize at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival. It features the voice talents of Catherine Deneuve, Chiara Mastroianni, Danielle Darrieux and Simon Abkarian, several of whom are expected to attend the festival’s Closing Night screening at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall on Sunday, Oct. 14. Sony Pictures Classics is releasing the film.
The festival’s previously announced Opening Night and Centerpiece selections (Wes Anderson’s The Darjeeling Limited and the Coen Brothers’ No Country for Old Men) now headline a strong American contingent in the 2007 slate. Noah Baumbach, Gus Van Sant, Todd Haynes, Sidney Lumet all return to the festival with American productions; Julian Schnabel and Abel Ferrara come back with international co-productions; and Brian DePalma, John Landis and Ira Sachs each make their festival debuts.
Baumbach will screen his follow-up to The Squid and the Whale, the very funny and very true Margot at the Wedding. Nicole Kidman and Jennifer Jason Leigh star as contentious sisters thrown into a disastrous family weekend caused by Pauline’s (Leigh) engagement to the underwhelming Malcolm (Jack Black). Scott Rudin produces the film, a Paramount Vantage release.
Van Sant’s Paranoid Park, based on the novel by Blake Nelson, details the unraveling of a skateboarder’s life after he is involved in the death of a security guard. Newcomer Alex Nevins stars in the film, for which Van Sant won Cannes’ special 60th Anniversary Prize. IFC First Take will release the film.
The other American titles include Haynes’ I’m Not There—a rumination on the life of Bob Dylan, with actors Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, Richard Gere, Heath Ledger, Ben Wishaw and Marcus Carl Franklin each representing elements the famed musician’s mystique—DePalma’s trenchant vision of the Iraq war, Redacted, and Ira Sachs’ taut melodrama Married Life. Lumet returns to the New York Film Festival for the first time in 43 years (Fail-Safe, 1964) with Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead, a crime story starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ethan Hawke, Albert Finney and Marisa Tomei. Two documentaries—Landis’ Mr. Warmth, The Don Rickles Project and Ed Pincus and Lucia Small’s The Axe in the Attic—round out the festival’s new U.S. productions.
The 45th New York Film Festival honors worldwide film production with more than half of its slate taken from other countries. Julian Schnabel’s The Diving Bell and the Butterfly tells the story of magazine editor Jean-Dominique Bauby, who, paralyzed by a stroke, blinks out a memoir that eloquently captures his vibrant interior life. Mathieu Amalric stars as Bauby in the Miramax release, which won Cannes’ Best Director award and Technical Grand Prize.
Spanish director Juan Antonio Bayona will screen his feature film debut The Orphanage, a supernatural drama about a woman who re-opens the orphanage in which she was raised, only to discover terrible secrets as her seven-year-old son, Simón, begins making imaginary friends. The Picturehouse release is presented and produced by last year’s Closing Night director Guillermo del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth).
Among the other international titles in the festival are Carlos Reygadas’ Silent Light, which shared with Persepolis the Jury Prize at Cannes; Abel Ferrara’s Italy/U.S. co-production Go Go Tales; Catherine Breillat’s The Last Mistress; Claude Chabrol’s A Girl Cut In Two; Hou Hsiao-hsien’s The Flight of the Red Balloon; Eric Rohmer’s The Romance of Astrea and Celadon; Alexander Sokurov’s Alexandra; Béla Tarr’s The Man from London; and Jia Zhang-ke’s documentary Useless. Cannes Palme d’Or winner 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days and Best Actress prizewinner Secret Sunshine were previously confirmed.
Five films will be featured as special retrospectives of the 45th New York Film Festival: the long-awaited “definitive cut” of Blade Runner by Ridley Scott, honoring the landmark
science fiction film’s 25th anniversary; the premiere of a new score by the Alloy Orchestra to accompany Josef von Sternberg’s 1927 film Underworld, winner of the Best Writing Oscar® at the first Academy Awards®; John Ford’s first major film The Iron Horse (1924), a massive production about the building of the transcontinental railroad; Sven Gade and Heinz Schall’s 1920 German production of Hamlet, starring actress Asta Nielsen in the title role; and an evening titled The Technicolor Show, introduced by Martin Scorsese and featuring John Stahl’s Leave Her to Heaven (1945).
The Walter Reade Theater will also host three upcoming music documentaries as part of the New York Film Festival’s special events. Carlos Saura will screen Fados, an exploration of the celebrated Portuguese musical style. Acclaimed rock documentarian Murray Lerner’s The Other Side of the Mirror: Bob Dylan Live at the Newport Folk Festival, 1963-1965 features footage of Bob Dylan’s infamous Newport performances, where the musician first used electric amplifiers. Peter Bogdanovich will complete the set with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers: Runnin’ Down a Dream, an in-depth look at the legendary American rock band to be screened at its full 238 minutes, with a 15-minute intermission.
Persepolis joins a select group of films that have closed the New York Film Festival, many of which have gone on to critical acclaim and successful theatrical runs. Over the last 20 years, these have included David Mamet’s House of Games, Jane Campion’s The Piano, Milos Forman’s The People vs. Larry Flynt, Pedro Almodóvar’s Live Flesh and Talk to Her, Ang Lee’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Alejandro González Iñárritu’s 21 Grams, Alexander Payne’s
Sideways, Michael Haneke’s Caché and last year’s selection, Guillermo Del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth. Due to ongoing renovations at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall, this year’s New York Film Festival screenings will be held at the Frederick P. Rose Hall, home of Jazz at Lincoln Center, in the Time Warner Center. Opening Night will be held at Avery Fisher Hall, as well as Rose Hall. Closing Night will be held at Avery Fisher Hall only. Special events and some retrospective screenings will be held at the Walter Reade Theater.
The 45th New York Film Festival’s selection committee is made up of Richard Peña, chairman and the Film Society’s program director; Kent Jones, associate director of programming at the Film Society and editor-at-large of Film Comment magazine; Scott Foundas, film editor and critic, L.A. Weekly; J. Hoberman, film critic, The Village Voice, and visiting lecturer at Harvard University; and Lisa Schwarzbaum, film critic, Entertainment Weekly.
As previously announced, this year’s festival sidebar will honor director and screenwriter Joaquim Pedro de Andrade, a renowned member of Brazil’s Cinema Novo movement of the 1950s and ‘60s, who solidified his place as a master filmmaker with his 1969 classic, Macunaima. The series, titled Tropical Analysis: The Films of Joaquim Pedro de Andrade, will run Sept. 29-Oct. 9 at the Walter Reade Theater.
Two other sidebars are included among the festival’s events screening at the Walter Reade Theater. Views from the Avant-Garde returns for its 11th year as a distinguished showcase of experimental film and video, screening films during the second weekend of the
festival, Oct. 6-7. The festival also celebrates the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region with Chinese Modern: A Tribute to Cathay Studios, Oct. 10-16, screening films from the Hong Kong production house that, more than any other, introduced a distinctly modern lifestyle to Chinese culture.
Additionally, during the festival, the Film Society will salute New Line Cinema’s 40 years of extraordinary filmmaking at a black-tie gala to benefit the Film Society’s campaign to build a new film center. New Line Cinema’s Co-Chairmen and Co-CEOs Bob Shaye and Michael Lynne will be honored at the event on Friday, Oct. 5, at the Frederick P. Rose Hall, home of Jazz at Lincoln Center.
The 45th New York Film Festival, presented by the Film Society of Lincoln Center, is sponsored by Sardinia Region Tourism and The New York Times. The screening of Underworld is made possible through the generosity of the Ira M. Resnick Foundation. Tropical Analysis has been organized by the Film Society of Lincoln Center and Os Filmes do Serro. Chinese Modern is sponsored by the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office New York.
The Film Society of Lincoln Center was founded in 1969 to celebrate American and international cinema, to recognize and support new directors, and to enhance the awareness, accessibility and understanding of film. Advancing this mandate today, the Film Society hosts two distinguished festivals: the New York Film Festival, which annually premieres the best films from around the world and has introduced the likes of François Truffaut, R.W. Fassbinder, Jean-Luc Godard, Pedro Almodóvar, Martin Scorsese, and Wong Kar-Wai to the United States, and New Directors/New Films, co-presented by the Museum of Modern Art, which focuses on
emerging film talents. Since 1972 when the Film Society honored Charles Chaplin, the annual Gala Tribute celebrates an actor, filmmaker or industry leader who has helped distinguish cinema as an art form. Additionally, the Film Society presents a year-round calendar of programming at its Walter Reade Theater and offers insightful film writing to a worldwide audience through Film Comment magazine.

I will post the actual lineup in a later post, perhaps tomorrow!

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

What's your problem? Go see HOT ROD!!!

OK. What's the problem here, yo?
Why the heck aren't you people out there seeing Hot Rod? It's not only one of the funniest movies I've seen all year, it's one of the funniest movies I've seen in ages.
Utterly without irony, Hot Rod wallows in the glorious trash of the 80s, from re-creating the "I'm so angry I could DANCE!" sequence from Footloose to dressing up the Queens of the Stone Age in full 80s regalia for the climax.
And yet, it's more than that. It's a loving send-up of those inspirational sports movies. And a family comedy. And it's got real, actual pathos and humanity (courtesy of the mighty Ian McShane and the always-spectacular Sissy Spacek).
The movie opened a dismal 9th. After Transformers, which opened a month ago. Freakin' Underdog beat it. Seriously, what's wrong with the world?
The film is directed by Akiva Schaffer of the Lonely Island team (the folks who brought us "Dick in a Box" and "Lazy Monday") and written by supergenius Pam Brady (South Park, Team America: World Police, Kid Notorious, Mr Wong). If that's not pedigree enough for ya, it was originally supposed to star Will Ferrell. You know, that really funny guy from Anchorman and Talladega Nights? He ended up serving as executive producer when it became apparent that he was too old and fat to play Rod Kimble.
Instead, they got Lonely Island (and now SNL)'s Andy Samberg to play the title role. And while they lucked out in not getting a fat, overrated blowhard like that Ferrell guy to be in it (he's sunk so low since not getting the Rod role that he's doing internet videos with Adam McKay's kid), it's the supporting cast that shines in Hot Rod.

Isla Fisher is so damn adorable in this movie. She's pure and sweet and wholesome without ever once getting annoying or remotely near anything like the manure the Disney channel shovels into American households each day. I feel bad that the first thing I really noticed her in was The Wedding Crashers, because she's got skills. I watched The Lookout this weekend and loved her in that, too. She's great in everything. And she's bearing Ali G's child. Need I say more about her greatness?

That's Bill Hader, Jorma Taccone, Samberg and Danny R McBride as the stunt team. Samberg's lucky to be surrounded with guys like that. They're all ace comedic actors, and their total lack of fear and ego made each of their characters all the more real. Each of them is given a chance to shine, and they more than rise to the occasion. Bill Hader is gonna be a household name soon enough, with his performance in Superbad looming on the horizon. In this film, he's a gloriously dumb freak with a mullet and a job at the local ice rink. He's Rod's mechanic and...when things are at their lowest for Rod, he provides the voice of reason that only a guy tripping balls with a piece of metal stuck in his head can provide. Jorma Taccone's Kevin is the moral rock of the team, even if he'd rather be serenading his stuffed animals with George Michael songs. And Danny R McBride's Rico dishes out one of the best beatdowns on screen this year, whupping Ken Kirzinger's keister with a road cone in a green tea-fueled rage.
It's dumb, yes. Completely dumb. But, that didn't stop Napoleon Dynamite from becoming a cultural phenomenon. And this is a better film. It's funnier, it has better performances, and it's got a heart three times bigger than the Grinch's after he gets to the top of the mountain (and I ain't talkin' bout no crappy Jim Carrey Grinch, either).
And people still haven't seen it.

Why? What's wrong with Hot Rod? He didn't rape your childhoods. He never touched your girlfriend in her bikini area. And he's certainly a courteous houseguest when he stops over (unless he's with his dad -- in which case, move the lamps).
Why no love for Hot Rod??? I'm not the only person who's noticed. Ben Lyons over at E!online has wondered exactly why this film hasn't caught on. Sure, it's bound to be a cult hit. And sure it's going to spawn at least four careers (five if Chester Tam gets the notice he deserves for the absolutely hilarious Richardson).
Five years from now, very few of us will be able to say we saw Hot Rod when it first opened. Rest assured, other people will try, but they'll be fronting. A $5 million opening for a wide-release picture is kinda pitiful. And that means it doesn't have long before it hits second run and DVD, where I assure you it will become a classic.
At least Roger Ebert gets it. But with a dearth of bad reviews (check out MetaCritic or Rotten Tomatoes to see how ugly it's gotten), people aren't exactly flocking to the theaters.
Do you REALLY want to be one of the late-comers to the party? Or would you rather be a pioneer? Get your butt in the theater and see it. And listen to this on the way...

For more information about Hot Rod (or to buy a SWEET Team Rod t-shirt), visit Stuntman Forever or the official site

Oh, and PS...I love Will Ferrell. I was just poking fun.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Arctic Tale Hits a Berg

I had the misfortune of seeing this 'documentary' yesterday and I must say it SUNK. Between the comments of one, Queen Latifah and the personification of every single action of the animals in the film, this was one monotonous whale.

The start was fine, typical wildlife film. Soon, however, we were hearing about the FEELINGS behind each of the animals instincts! Imagine, a walrus depressed for lack of a comfortable sleeping place! THE HORROR!

Additionally, one would think that given this film was in participation with the folks at National Geographic the footage of the animals would be top-notch. Nay, say I. The footage, though amazingly close at times, looked to be the quality produced from my cell phone's camera! Grainy, dark, hard to watch!

See this movie at your own risk. Kids will undoubtedly enjoy the prancing of the baby animals but parents can expect a long long 83 minutes, narrated with comments such as, "When your mother is a polar bear and she calls you, you BEST be coming."


Wednesday, August 01, 2007

THE DARK KNIGHT teaser is gone!

And so is
In its place? Well, you can still get pics of the folks who participated in the ComiCon festivities (shame on Collider for thinking there were none -- do they even pay attention?) via whysoserious' brand-new redirect:
As for the teaser...well, it's still out there. You just have to get creative (potentially copyright infringing) in looking for it.

Friday, July 27, 2007

That darn Joker is at it again! UPDATED -- The Aftermath!!!

Well, the teaser trailer's not that far off (in fact, footage from the ComiCon presentation's been popping up periodically on YouTube), but the Joker's got a mission for the folks out at SDCC...
The trail begins at THIS SITE...
So, what do you see there? Well, the old Uncle Sam recruiting poster...just, um...enhanced...

...and there are some instructions scrawled underneath...

...and even a satellite photo if you can't figure out where you're headed...

How do I know it's SDCC? Well, the map coordinates are kinda spot on...

Oddly enough, if you look it up on Google Earth, there's even a photograph someone uploaded at the EXACT SPOT everyone's supposed to meet. So, here's what you're looking for (if you're reading this blog and in San Diego)...

I'm sure SOMEONE out there will post something about the fun and games tomorrow...

So, the event WAS at ComiCon (big surprise there), and you can find information about it on the whysoserious site.

Or, if you're lazy, you can go directly to

The Wannabes



to see more of the fun.

And, as an added bonus, the teaser trailer went live today, as well (on the whysoserious site...what, you thought you could get away from it?). It's not nearly as mindblowing as the teaser for Batman Begins, but this one's just a taste...and we've got a full year before we see the finished product...

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Goodbye, Harry Potter...

You's over.
Yeah, we've got two more movies to wait for. But, it's over.
I was confronted with exactly this feeling after watching Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith. Something beloved is finished. We're not getting any more. Strangely, I never feel this way about comic cancellations, but with book and movie series I get a little twinge of sadness.
There aren't any more Harry Potter books forthcoming. And while I enjoyed the hell out of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, I'm saddened that I finished it so fast.
I picked the book up last night at the big Borders event. There were about 900 people there, some in costume, some dorks, some kids, some moms, some of pretty much everyone. I people watched for a good long time, enjoyed the atmosphere, and chatted with all the Borders folk I know. And it occurred to me as I was walking up to the store that I was whistling John Williams' "Hedwig's Theme". So, officially count myself as a Potter dork.
No, I wasn't in costume. Shut up.
I went home after a couple hours of people watching, sat down and read for a few minutes before I realized that it was already late and I wasn't gonna finish the book that night.
When I woke up, I was even more reluctant to dive in. Two hours got me halfway through the book before I set off to have fun with my day. Too fast. Needed a break.
I meandered around town, wandered, talked to people, had lunch, watched Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix again, and generally avoided all but the most perfunctory occasional reading. People kept asking how it was when they saw I was carrying the book with me.
Chances are, you don't give a crap what I say, you're either gonna read the book or you won't. At this point, it's a culturual thing. But let me tell you, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is not only a worthy conclusion to the series, it's quite possibly the best book in the series.
After the events of his sixth year at Hogwarts, Harry and his friends have decided to skip their final year in favor of a dangerous quest to find all of Voldemort's horcruxes (objects he's fragmented his soul into) and stop his reign of terror once and for all.
Where at times in the last two books, I felt that Rowling was kinda losing the way, the final volume not only nails the dismount, it shows that the whole routine was pretty close to flawless. There's a ton of loose ends that get cleared up. There's actually a sense of finality to the proceedings. Things are coming to a close and everyone knows it.
Where some of the previous volumes got very internalized and talky, this book is almost wall-to-wall action. From the opening ambush to the final fatal battle, you're on the edge of your seat, flipping pages like crazy.
The body count is DEVASTATING. The stakes are high, and not everyone makes it out in one piece (A few fan favorites might be on the butcher's bill, too. Don't get too attached to ANYONE.). Damn near every minor character in the series gets a hero moment where they get to shine.
That's all I'm telling you about the plot. No spoilers. No hints. Nuts to the damn book.
I just don't know what in the world they can cut out to make this movie-length. They might finally have to split the book in half. It's just huge and involving and there's less fat available to edit out.
That's about what we have left at this point. The movies. And then it really is over.
Much as I'm saddened by that prospect, I'm glad that people forced me to read the first couple of books. I've had a great time with them. And I'm pleased as punch with how it turned out. Sure, I'd like it to go forever, but that's not quite how life works, now is it?
Harry and Ron and Hermione have been my friends for the last four years, and I'm sad to know I'll never hear from them again. But I think I'm better off having read their exploits. In a few years' time, I look forward to revisiting their adventures at Hogwarts. Until then, well, it's time to look for something else to get attached to.
Thanks, JK. You've filled another Muggle with joy. Now, write something new and fun. Maybe we'll all be hooked again.

Monday, July 09, 2007

My ramblings on Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

What to say about Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix?
Well, they cut a lot out. But, the book was 896 pages. To cover it fully, with every detail intact, would take days. At two hours and 18 minutes, they've pared the story down to its bare bones, trading internal monologue and political maneuvering and teen romance for action.
We lose a lot of character beats for supporting characters as well. This means very little at all of Tonks, only a few moments with Luna Lovegood and all of Ron Weasley's big moments disappear with the Quidditch (there's broom flying aplenty, but none for the sake of the game in the film). Harry and Cho's romance is whittled down to a handful of fleeting moments that doesn't even whet your appetite.
If that's going to spoil your appreciation of the fifth film in the Harry Potter franchise, don't even bother going. Keep to your books and appreciate them for what they are. You're likely never going to be happy with the films, anyway.
If you're looking for one of the most fast-paced films in the franchise (nearly dizzyingly so) or some harrowing wizard-on-wizard combat? Well, they've got your number exactly.
David Yates, the director of this fifth film in the continuing adventures of Harry Potter, has a background in British television. He's never helmed a production like this. He's more than up to the task, keeping things lean and focussing the film almost entirely on Harry. He is our hero, after all. That makes the film more like a typical American film than the previous chapters, but it's not like they're ever going to win converts to the series at this point. You're either watching them or you aren't.

The film starts out with Harry at his lowest point. Cedric Diggory is dead. Harry feels responsible. He's isolated once again from the wizarding world and he feels miserable. He's tortured mercilessly by his cousin Dudley and his crew (Dudley now sporting the costume of a chav and looking much the worse for it). Bad things happen, and Harry is whisked away from Privet Drive by the Order of the Phoenix (waste no time in getting that title in!).
Harry's reunited with his friends and presented with a new nemesis: the Ministry of Magic themselves. Turns out that Harry's claims of the return of Voldemort aren't believed by the folks at the top, and they'll stop at nothing to squash out any word of the return of He Who Must Not Be Named.
In pursuit of that, the Ministry forces Dumbledore to accept a new teacher at Hogwarts. Dolores Umbridge, as brought to shocking pink life by Imelda Staunton, is every bit as iron, unbending and unflinchingly evil as she was on the written page. But there's a bit of humanity to the teensy despot now. I almost felt sorry for her. (Damn you and your acting skills, Imelda Staunton!)
Umbridge starts tightening her fist, enforcing the Ministry's new draconian vision. And that vision doesn't include learning any sort of defense against the Dark Arts (Why would anyone need to defend themselves? Rubbish idea, if you ask me). The students take it upon themselves to have a secret class, with Harry teaching what he's learned from fighting for his life over the last four years.
It's with Dumbledore's Army that the film misses out on some of its best potential material. However, we do end up with a training montage, and that has to mean something, right? Can't have an action movie without a montage, I say.
The kids get pretty darn good at their combat spellcraft, and that's a good thing because we're whisked into the finale very, very quickly.
How's the finale? Well, it's big. Really darn big. The Death Eaters really see action this time (the bulk of their attack on the Quidditch World Cup cut out of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire), fighting both the D.A. kids and the Order of the Phoenix. And the results are more intense than anything in the series thus far (and earning the film a PG-13 rating).

What's good?
Hmmm. Well, every moment that Gary Oldman, Alan Rickman or Maggie Smith is on screen, to be sure. They've brought their A games, and consequently, they raise the bar for the rest of the cast, who seem more than adequate to keep up. Staunton as Umbridge, of course. She's so close to how I envisioned the character in the book that she made my flesh crawl. She's the perfect combination of malevolent menace and sickeningly proper ettiquette. I really wish we saw more of Michael Gambon as Dumbledore, but he's damn near pushed out of the film until the end.
Jason Isaacs, of course. He's almost always great, though. Ralph Fiennes turns to subtlety to embody the ultimate evil of Lord Voldemort, not going over the top one wee bit. That's left to the batshit crazy Helena Bonham-Carter as Bellatrix Lestrange, who gets precious little screen time, but wrings gallons of madness out of her brief moments.
The kids are growing into fine little actors themselves, and Daniel Radcliffe shows signs that his career is going to continue long after he puts the Potter character to rest. Rupert Grint has already proven that, but gets so little time in this one. The budding Ron-Hermione romance is hinted at, but nothing else. Emma Watson also suffers from near-deletion. If she and Ron aren't right next to Harry, they're not in the movie. Evanna Lynch does a marvelous job with her few scenes as Looney Luna Lovegood. She's creepy and weird to the nth degree with seemingly little or no effort.
The humor. This is a really funny chapter in the series. And considering how dark and violent it gets, the humor is a welcome respite from the gloom that the series is delving into.
The effects work is generally good, though I found the centaurs and Grawp a wee bit cartoonish. The final fight is amazing, though. Throwing in visualizations was very necessary, and Yates and company managed to make the wizarding duels exciting and harrowing.

What's not so good?
Well, cutting out three quarters of the book. Duh.
You miss out on a lot of great character moments. "Weasley is our king." The twins' exit from the school (since they've NEVER had Peeves in the films, this was bound to be weaker for his loss). Harry's romantic confusion (though, in his credit, Radcliffe manages to convey some of that without the setup).
The flying scenes. Remember where I said the effects work was generally good? Well, the flying scenes look like they were shot before Star Wars and before Superman: The Movie. The compositing is sloppy -- not even TV quality by today's standards.

You don't need me to recommend the film to you. Either you're going to see it or you're not. You made that decision years ago. While stripped down to its bare bones, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix gets it all pretty close to right. The big moments are all there (including that dreaded third act death). It's just the little things that you end up missing.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Adam gets trapped by DEAD HEIST

Occasionally trouble just finds you.
Say, for instance, being linked to the entirety of Swirl Films upcoming release Dead Heist, written by Anghus Houvouras (Fearsome, 20 Funerals) and directed by Bo Webb (The Idea Guy. That shouldn't be too much trouble, right?
The film's as low-budget as low budget gets, yet still manages to get off an interesting shot or two. Sure, it's highly derivative, but it's also wackily original, too. A melange of dozens of familiar bank heist/vampire/zombie/shoot-em-up movies, the plot of Dead Heist isn't really all that serious about anything other than a body count.
Jackson (DJ Naylor) is a small-time thug and bodyguard who gets mixed up in a scheme with a bunch of low-rent gangsta never-will-be's to rob a bank in a small town.
Doing some preliminary scouting, Jackson meets this weird guy at the local surplus store who spews some weird shit about vampires and zombies. The weird dude is played by Big Daddy Kane, so you KNOW he's gonna end up 1) being right about the zompires (I'm copyrighting that term. I own it. Nobody else can use it.) and 2) kicking a whole lotta ass.
The wannabes are led by Ski (Brandon Hardin, who also was the extras casting director...ain't low budget films great like that?), a guy tougher than he's skinny. And he's one skinny emeffer. Ski gets the bright idea to take the bank a day early, when Jackson's scouting the town and casing the bank. They even manage to score two of the local deputies as hostages, including pretty Deputy Becky (Michelle Mims).
Things go wrong (Do any bank heists EVER go right???), the local po-po shows up and after night falls, so do the living dead. And then things just get messy.

The final verdict? Well, it's not a good film, but I don't think it was trying to be. It's fun, though, and that'll do most nights in front of the Tee-Vee. There's a lot to like in Dead Heist. It never takes itself seriously, but it's also not tonge-in-cheek or smarmily self-aware. This means the film can be violent as hell and even slightly scary while tossing in the occasional one-liner or sight gag.
The filmmaking shows a bit of promise. There are some neat shots, and a cool-as-hell sequence when the bank is finally stormed by a veritable army of the undead (which echoes a scene in this summer's 28 Weeks Later). The acting isn't necessarily award caliber, but that's not what you're looking for when you check out a low-budget flick most of the time, anyway. You're looking for blood, violence and a body count that you have to take your shoes off to tally up. Dead Heist has all that and a can of Krunk energy drink. No, really. There's Krunk Energy Drink in it. Who knew?
I'm sure when they pitched it, the filmmakers threw out names like From Dusk Til' Dawn and Dead Presidents. Not bad films to aspire to be, but Dead Heist doesn't quite have the budget or the talent to line up in the same ranks. Nothing wrong with that, though. Really. Josh Becker's Running Time is another deliciously low-budget affair that I had oodles of fun with on DVD. If you come with the intention of having a good time with this film, there's plenty to be had.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Wanna know how hateful the Right is in about five seconds?

"...if I'm going to say anything about John Edwards in the future, I'll just wish he had been killed in a terrorist assassination plot." -- Ann Coulter

Seriously, that's just sick.
What kind of diseased mind says something like that in a public forum? "I don't agree with someone, so I hope he suffers and dies!" Really.
Ann Coulter is so threatened by Edwards' progressive ideas and agenda that she's wishing death on him. That says loads about his effectiveness. If he's got the Right scared, he could well be the guy we need heading a ticket next November.
We're gonna win, folks.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Keith Calder is Anti-Human!!!

USA Today has an article on the upcoming film Terra which has already stirred up a shitstorm.
Why? Because the film is about an alien world that must fight to protect itself when invaded by earthlings.
The humans come to the planet to rape it like George Lucas raped fanboy childhoods everywhere, looting the planet's natural resources and disturbing the ecosystem.
Because this parallels the environmental destruction of the earth, one would think this story might be a parable of today. But, the Right Wing bloggerati are already spewing hate at it, accusing producer Keith Calder of being, amongst other things, anti-American and anti-human.
Think about that for a second. Really. What does America have to do with the worldwide consumption of natural resources. Sure, we consume more than our fair share, but we also HAVE more than our fair share. Perhaps this judgement of anti-Americanism by the twits on the Right comes from some guilt? Perhaps they realize that their rabid consumption and wasteful ways are actually endangering our future.
Wait. What am I thinking. The day a Right Winger realizes anything other than "Jesus is coming back...and soon!", I might just die laughing.
Anti-human, though? Seriously... What's anti-human about PRESERVING THE ENVIRONMENT WE LIVE IN??? You know, the thing around us that SUSTAINS OUR LIVES??? Are Right Wingers this dumb? Really?
This is the dogmatic stupidity that infuriates me about the Right. They don't want humanity to survive. Why? Because it might cut into profits this month. Things are gonna get a lot worse unless someone smacks some sense into the neo-cons...if that's even possible. They might not be bright enough to actually absorb information that's not spoon fed to them by a fat, annoying Oxy-cotin addict or a vitamin shill with a show on FOX News.
Yeah, Keith Caldwell's anti-human, all right. Any moron who believes that might as well join the rest of the lemmings in their march to the sea. The rest of us don't need them any more.