Monday, April 30, 2012

Celebrities: Their Lives Are Lived on Olympus

Amanda Bynes recently had a run-in with the law when she crashed her car into a police cruiser in the early morning hours.  Allegedly, her blood-alcohol content was far greater than the state of California allows, so she will be charged with driving under the influence.

For mere mortals who do not make a living in front of the camera or on the field of play, this would have terrible repercussions: a job loss, an end to a marriage, and a year of riding a bicycle to work.

Celebrities, though, fear no remonstrance.  In most cases celebrities and professional athletes will find some way to weasel out of the sentencing.  Need proof?  Just look into the penalties that Donte’ Stallworth faced when he drunkenly plowed into and killed a pedestrian on Biscayne Boulevard in Miami.  His slap on the wrist ensured that he would be ready for the upcoming season.  An indefinite suspension handed down from the NFL lasted so short a time that Stallworth played for the Washington Redskins the following season and will be debuting with the New England Patriots this season.  No bad for someone guilty of vehicular manslaughter.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Does Anyone Model Railroad Anymore?
When I was a kid I had a God complex: I wanted to create a tiny world under my control.  Hours were spent laying ballast, tacking down track, and forming mountain ranges out of Plaster of Paris.

Technical issues prohibited me from completing my Lilliputian railway.  For one, I had to store my layout on an outside porch in South Florida.  The humidity rusted the rails on a daily basis, and I had to tear up and replace more track than a prison chain gang.

My navy blue and yellow Santa Fe diesel never made a full circuit around my incomplete railway, but the details I had completed were exceptional.  Bridges crossed mountainous gaps, old towns sat with decaying buildings, and clumps of red clay sand gathered on a trip to New Mexico carried along HO scale zephyrs.

Friday, April 27, 2012

The Airshow is in Town. No—I Don’t Want To See It

I'm am 100% against war and those things that signify and celebrate the act.  That includes air shows.

Here's where so many people make the automatic jump equating being anti-war with being anti-American.

Before every wacko flag waver misinterprets what I’m about to say, I will make it perfectly clear how much I appreciate the United States of America.  I pay my full taxes, I’ve never skipped out on jury duty, and I can name my congress people and senators.  As a citizen, I do my part to support the country that I think is the best on this Earth.

But I’m ashamed that people will be flooding the beaches this weekend to watch the Air Show that’s in town.  Why does this drunken cavalcade of machinery upset me?  I dislike Air Shows for the glorification of weapons.  That’s right, the feature entertainers at most air shows are The Navy Blue Angels or the Air Force Thunderbirds.  Both are glorified recruitment tools and symbols of a society that’s painfully backwards looking.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Knocking on the Sky and Listening to the Sound: How I Learned to Like Tron: Legacy

When I walked out of the theater after watching Tron: Legacy I was pissed.  Fandom resurrected a childhood favorite only to have Disney Condorman it up.  But time heals wounds, and reflection allows for insight.  I’ve realized that the main reason I hated Legacy was unfounded.  No, it had nothing to do with the horrible CGI Jeff Bridges young effect that looked like graphics from Kings Quest II.  I thought Flynn was a dud (not a Dude-- that was The Big Lebowski).

Flynn keeps repeating the mantra about taking himself out of the equation.  I read that as a weakness because Flynn did nothing but pontificate hippie maxims before getting de-rezed in the anti-climax of the film. 

Flynn.  My Flynn.  The User who saved the Grid by jumping into the Master Control Program.  The guy who flew the Recognizer by rebuilding it with his mystical power.  The one guy who I wanted to meet in cyberspace after I die and say, “Greetings, Programs” because he’d be the only one who would get the joke and not kick me in the balls.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Devolution in Predator

My technology is better than yours. When opposing forces reach a stalemate, a third force is required to break it. Man once turned to technology to break the stalemate of his eternal quest to conquer nature. As time passed, however, technology’s aim has shifted. Now technology competes with the technology of another in a never-ending game of one-upmanship. As man increasingly competes with technology, he risks forgetting how to compete with nature. Someday soon, nature may catch him by surprise. Predator illustrates the return of nature as characters learn to devolve in order to compete. Even the film’s name evokes a primal fear, one we all acutely remember but wish to forget.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Film Rumors That Need to become Film Realities

I have nothing to do with this article.

As a film fan-boy, I pay particular attention to script and production rumors.  Some of these Hollywood urban legends are so out there that one can’t help but roll back eyes at their far-fetched nature.

But then some are just so damn cool that they can’t be forgotten.

I have gathered a couple of those rumors and stated them here just to keep them fresh in the collective memory.  These are projects that have been hinted at but really need to be made.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Cashing In on the End of the World

This is either the movie 2012 or Lindsey Lohan's Liver under a microscope.

You heard this rant before.  The world is coming to an end.  It’s been long prophesied but never correct.  The only problem is that you never made one red cent off all this hysteria.

Sure, other people have profited.  Cult leaders have gotten multiple wives and more sex than you’ve had in your whole life.  Corporations like Nike reaped the benefits of added publicity from the Heaven’s Gate sect who thought they were going to hitch a ride from the Hale-Bopp Comet.  So they donned their black cloaks, cut off their cocks, laced up their Nikes, and committed mass suicide. 

At least they were committed.

So when do you get to cash in?  Y2K went by and the only people to have any real gain from that were the internet tech folks who spent five years resetting the fucking clock on your computer while laughing all the way to the bank.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Needs more love: videogame cartridges

What image comes to mind when you hear the word “videogame”? For me it’s the old school videogame cartridge. There’s just something about cartridges that makes them so synonymous with gaming. Maybe it’s because so few other media used the format. Disks don’t exactly scream “videogame”, because everything is a disk these days. Music, movies, games are all disks. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The switch to disks has led to vast improvements in picture and sound quality, and games in particular have benefited greatly from this. Yet every time I play a game on disk I’m reminded how much I miss cartridges.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Why Cast Away Is Scary and Masafumi Nagasaki is my Hero

In the horror film Cast Away, Tom Hanks’ character Chuck escapes the trappings of the modern world: a shitty job that has him working holidays away from his beautiful woman, a society that hates him (at least from what I can tell), and modern technology that tries to kill him (the jet plane wanted poor @TomHanx dead).

When he finds heaven on a deserted island, Chuck achieves the peace and quiet that I so desperately want.  There’s no one else around to play loud music, drive like an asshole, or be amazingly stupid.  Food is plentiful, and water abundant.  Spending his days fishing, sleeping on the beach, and making fire, Chuck doesn’t worry about a job, society, or war.  No alarm clock rules his life and no stoplights tell him when to come or go.


Pure. Unadulterated.  Freedom.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Running (On Ft. Lauderdale Beach) Towards A Reunion
My 20th high school reunion looms, so I am now in full-on acceptance mode.  I want to drop a few pounds for the event in case I run into one of my forgotten crushes in high school that may be single.  I’m probably just deluding myself, but I need to be ready if all the shitty movies are right.

I haven’t had much luck finding a suitable girlfriend/wife so far.  The one sage who suggests I might be lucky at the 20th is someone who has turned out to have a greater accuracy than the oracle at Delphi: my Mother.  So with her insistence and odd prophetic powers, I am running full speed into my reunion—in more ways than one.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Beer Junkie

I have never tried any of the drugs that will get you a reality show on A&E.  But I have watched enough programs dealing with addiction to compose a humorous scenario of my past two days events surrounding a beer that I have become fond of.

One of my friends introduced me to a brew known as a ‘shandy’.  In layman’s terms, a shandy is a beer mixed with lemonade or a lemon/lime soda.  Shandys are available in summer months due to the flavoring of the beer and also due to a desire on the brewer to punish beer drinkers with season concoctions that include pumpkin, gingerbread, or Easter bunny.

Computer Generated Music?

Special Effects technology in film has brought us marvels such as completely computer-generated characters like Gollum in The Lord of the Rings trilogy.  Such effects have been utilized to complete a film when an actor dies during production (Brandon Lee in The Crow and Oliver Reed in Gladiator are two examples).

Rumors abound that George Lucas had all of the original cast members of The Star Wars trilogy digitally scanned after completion of Jedi.  Lucas wanted to eventually continue the trilogy with computer-generated versions of the actors.  At the time the idea seemed preposterous.  If the technology advances to the point where the CGI becomes indistinguishable from real life, Lucas’ foresight might not be easily dismissed. 

Computers can make the visual duplications of stars—both living and dead—but when will the technology allow the audio to be faithfully duplicated?  I’m not trying to dismiss the original; there will never be a replacement for a Springsteen, Benatar, or Gabriel.  But I would be curious to hear a computer replication that would allow rock stars to have one last chance before the microphone.

Like the comic book fan that ponders the implications of team-up like Superman and Indiana Jones, I ponder the potential of a song sung by Steve Perry and Freddie Mercury.  The possibilities would be endless, and most would be absolutely terrible.

I don’t want to see something like this become an acceptable wave of music culture.  Instead, this is done for the sheer hypothetical curiosity.  This is a day and age when ‘what might have been’ has been replaced with let’s see how it would be.  But it’s time that the audio caught up with the visual. 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Kabaya Fortress Maximus is coming

Back in December I reviewed wave 4 of the Transformers Kabaya kits. At the end of the review I offered my thoughts on what I’d like to see from the line going forwards. I mentioned that I’d like to see Decepticon leaders in the line to go with all the Autobot leaders they’d released so far. Someone at Kabaya apparently saw the video and realized how right I was, because they later revealed that the very next wave would contain Deszaras, the Decepticon (or Destron if you’re a purist) leader from Transformers Victory.

I Wish the Kurgan Won the Quickening

Nothing against Connor MacLeod, but the Quickening should have gone to the Kurgan.  1986 was a pivotal year, and Connor didn’t have what it took to use the power of the Quickening to shape future events properly.  In fact, so many things that went wrong from that point on can be directly related to Connor’s mismanagement.  I have put together some of the things that would be better if Kurgan took MacLeod’s head.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Review: Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan’s Hope

If any doubt exists that Morgan Spurlock does not deserve the title of master documentary filmmaker, A Fan’s Hope erases all those uncertainties.  Spurlock does not appear at all in Hope as he did in his previous works; instead, he steps aside to allow the subject matter to take full attention it deserves.

Where the first five minutes feels like a voyeuristic perspective on the once bullied but now mainstream comic book culture, the remaining run time the film becomes something totally unexpected.  This is an excellent documentation of a substratum of culture where those participants in the community do so with their whole passion and being.  Sure, there are plenty of examples of movies that follow someone trying to break into dance or professional sports.  What separates the people in Hope is that they just don’t try and move on.  Comic book fans devote their entire lives to their passion.

Two Car Movies and Their Themes of Age: Bellflower and Drive

Getting a driver’s is a rite of passage that signifies adulthood in an American teenager.   Cars signify independence and autonomy that happen the moment one is allowed to sit behind the wheel.  Bruce Springsteen’s “Thunder Road” and “Born To Run” perfectly capture the feeling of freedom through mobility made possible by the automobile.  So it’s no surprise that two movies would come out within a year of one another that would embody growth and maturation associated with the act of driving.

Bellflower (2011) builds a world of suspended youth free of consequence or blame through its significant inclusion of an automobile as a plot point while Drive (2011) deals with the exact opposite—a series of immediate responsibilities imposed on its protagonist because of his specialized talent for driving.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Review: Goon

You’ve seen this movie before when it was called Major League, Slap Shot, or Happy Gilmore.  All the typical elements of the feel good sports comedy are worked into the script with only a small flavoring of originality.

The shame of it all is that great talent goes to waste on a script that wasn’t work shopped past a first draft and editing that clumsily jerks the story along (watch Eugene Levy’s glasses pop on and off during the dinner scene).  Sean William Scott gives it his best at being a dim-witted bouncer trying to live up to his parents’ expectations.  Doug Glatt (Scott) shows off at in a brawl with a minor league hockey player in the stands during a game.  That gets him his big shot to play hockey and find his place in life.  Glatt gets promoted to another team.  While helping his teammates cope with their dysfunctions, he finds a girl, gains a nemesis, and gets direction in his life. 

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Golf Movie Characters Augusta Leader Board

Golfers have gathered from around the world to play the sport in the hallowed green fields of Augusta, Georgia.  There’s a rich, storied history that goes along with the hallowed game of golf—and I could give a shit less about it.

What I do love are golf movies.  Just the same way I can’t stand the sport of baseball yet still take great pleasure from films like Bull Durham and Major League.  So if something uber-cool were to happen like the characters* from golf movies playing a round at Augusta, this is what the leader board would look like at the end of regulation play.

*I know that some of these movie characters are based on real-life people.  Movies are better than real life, so don’t bust my dimpled balls over it.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Review: American Reunion

Courtesy of failing careers outside the franchise, the main players of the American Pie series return for another raunchy outing.  Like a familiar recipe for comfort food or your that one dick joke that always makes you laugh no matter how many times you’ve heard it, this installment fills one’s need for nostalgia—and provides some decent belly laughs, too.

Finch, Kevin, Oz, Jim, and Stifler return to East Great Falls for their thirteenth reunion because everyone goes to their thirteenth reunion, right?  Nevertheless, the group returns to do what Facebook permits us to do without travel: compare lives, kids, and problems.  Also returning are the requisite love interests.

Some familiarity with the series will make certain jokes funnier.  The trailer does sap some of the humor from key scenes.  But make no mistake, this is a well paced comedy.  There was no time where I felt a scene dragged.  I laughed consistently through the entire run of the movie.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Best of the Cinematic Vampire Hunters

They stalk in the night.  Hunters out for the deadliest prey.  With sharpened stakes and crosses at the ready, Vampire Hunters have been dispatching the bloodsucking undead to the delight of filmgoers.

Some are good while others are iconic. Here’s a run-down of some of the most interesting Vampire Hunters to don some garlic and spill some blood.

Abram Van Helsing
Straight from the pages of vampire scripture, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Van Helsing understood the ancient, arcane traditions surrounding the Nosferatu.  But this was not some stuffy old man set in his ways.  In the novel, Van Helsing was a study of the cutting edge of medical research.  He utilized blood transfusions to those under the bite of the vampire. The same actor that played Grand Moff Tokin, Peter Cushing, gave us one of the most memorable portrayals of the best of all the vampire hunters.