Dec 23, 2009

Dec 13, 2009

Movie Reviews @ The Temple

The Adventures of Baron Munchausen – Okay, this is a pretty weird movie, but it is Terry GIlliam. I didn’t like Time Bandits, I’ve yet to see Brazil (I guess I did them in the wrong order). I did like this movie. It’s certainly weird, it feels like the whole thing is puppets even though it’s not really. Just the quality of the sets and effects feels like a movie filled with puppets. The story is kind of clever, fantastical and a little all over the place, but I found it entertaining. The characters are completely unlikeable, which is a problem. The servants are either without personality or idiots, the girl is a brat, the antagonists are jerks, and the baron is just an ass. Presumably we’re not supposed to like these people, but it's hard to invest in even the fantastical lives of dipshits. But I did like it. Not love, not even like a lot, but like.

Sukiyaki Western Django – Damn, I thought I was going to love this! It looked like a japanese video game but western. It looked like Final Fantasy 3:10 to Yuma. And for some reason I felt like it was going to be slightly futuristic too, don’t know where I got that, way off. Sadly the movie doesn’t really work out for me. It’s kind of over the top, not kill bill over the top, but certainly heightened reality. Some of it is cool, shooting arrows out of the air and such. Some okay gun fighting. But most of the movie is more of an extended wtf moment. The plot is nigh incomprehensible, the acting is overbearingly japanese. That sounds racist, and it is, but I’m american and I’m not used to actors screaming nonsense at the top of their lungs. And I mean english nonsense, I’m not that racist. I’d almost rather the movie have been in japanese and subtitled, would have made more sense to me. But, not enough sense, through no real fault of it’s own, it’s just not for me. What style there was didn’t make up for the rest of it.

Battle for Haditha – I’m struggling with this movie. I know I didn’t like it, but I’m not sure why. It seems to me it’s either because 1) it’s poorly made; 2) it’s manipulative in an extremely shady way; or 3) I’m uncomfortable with the truths of war. I’m pretty sure it’s 1 or 2, but I can’t totally rule out 3, one doesn’t always know why one feels a certain way, right? I’m pretty sure the movie is poorly made. The acting is kind of awful for most of it, except toward the end one of the kids learns how to act. The tone is aggressive, though you could excuse that given the subject matter. #2 is tough, it’s basically about the real life story a couple years ago where an IED killed a few marines, and their comrades went on a fucking rampage and killed every iraqi they could find nearby. It’s an awful story, seems to shine a pretty horrible light on us and our military. The movie uses that and I can’t decide where it’s going. You don’t feel much empathy for the soldiers, despite the fact that one of their friends is literally blown in half. As such, it feels very negative toward the soldiers and toward the military. Throughout they are portrayed as soulless and uncaring. The part where #3 creeps in – is that true? This is an often enough discussed subject – do you have to become soulless to survive in that kind of environment. Can we wonder why our trained killers sometimes kill? But, at the same time, the movie seems too simple. And anytime a complex issue is portrayed in a very simple way, I decide it’s manipulation with a distinct viewpoint (or if you want to sound more political – a distinct agenda). The iraqi side too is over simplified. There are the bad ones who want to kill everyone, the one who was an iraqi army guy, then got booted, so starts killing americans, then wonders what the point was if it lead to the deaths of more iraqis. It also points out, rightly, that when the soldiers go on their rampage, it does nothing but stoke the people into anti-americanism in general and terrorism in particular. Those are not doubt all true representations of things that happen in parts of life over there. But the way it is given to me, it feels hacked together. Like every perspective was forced in. Like a student film hitting all the bullet points, but having no thread between them, no believable characters to support them. I don’t know, I’m sure I didn’t like it, I’m afraid it’s because I don’t like to think that people can be so disgusting, but I think it’s because the filmmaker was too keen to make me feel disgusted.

Observe and Report – Wow, what a horrible piece of crap! Every bit as bad as Paul Blart, except without the almost innocent charm of being an imbecilic movie. This movie thinks its funny, thinks its a parody, thinks its serious, and most laughably thinks its badass. Anna Farris is pathetic. Seth Rogan is a fucking asshole, and not in a fun way, just an asshole that you hope loses. If he gets shot in the face, I’m kind of okay with that. Stupid movie. Maybe not the worst movie ever, okay definitely not the worst movie. Not even in that category. But massively annoying because it thinks it’s cool and it’s horrible.

Adventureland – Huh, this movie has no right to be as good as it is. Fault the first – it stars the guy they got cuz they couldn’t get michael cera. The second – it also has the twilight chick who, while very cute, will always be the twilight chick. The third – ryan reynolds is the big star! These did not bode well. And in truth it’s really just an indie-feeling summer love movie. But in the end it’s actually good. Not great, didn’t make me cry or change my life. But I’m pretty impressed with its straightfoward honesty. It’s a little cheesy, events are a little too well structured for real life. But I still like it. Can’t really justify why, I just think they did a good job.

Year One – Y’know, when we all first saw this trailer, we all said “holy shit that is going to be bad.” Then by the end of the trailer we actually laughed like 4 or 5 times, and we were confused. Clearly this will be bad, but we legitimately laughed! Well, fear not, the movie is bad, and those 4 or 5 laughs were the entirety of the comedy to be found in this comedy. Jack Black is obnoxious, Michael Sera is funny precisely once – that berry picking comment in the trailer. The movie plays like the bible’s greatest hits, the only thing they didn’t have was noah building an ark. It’s all around boring, predictable, and not funny, boo.

Angels vs. Demons – 0 for 2 this weekend! Didn’t expect this one to be any good. I was into Dan Brown briefly several years ago. I liked Da Vinci Code, though I imagine I wouldn’t now. I read two others, but not this one, and they were both fine. Though the NASA related one pissed me off. I guess that’s kind of the trouble with dan brown. Either you don’t know the subject matter he is ripping in to (or “exploring”) and you are learning from it. Except that you know perfectly well he makes half of this shit up, so you don’t know what is true and what is shit. Maybe the Illuminati formed in 234 and then bought a kitten in 455 and then pooped behind the altar at the vatican in 899. Or maybe I just made that shit up, but in dan brown stories, you have no idea. On the other hand, maybe you know about the subject, like Galileo or antimatter, and you are either bored to tears because you already know it, or you know perfectly well that the movie has bullcrap coming out of its movie shaped ears. So… what’s the point? It’s an average thriller, running from point A to point C, solving puzzle B on the way. It’s really no better or worse than national treasure. Except it is made with an extra 150 million dollars and is shinier.

The Taking of Pelham 123 – Huh, I wouldn’t call this movie good, it’s not necessarily 1 out of 3 for the weekend, but it is actually better than I thought. First off, I thought it was more horror. It’s actually kind of terrorism thriller, like Speed or something. John Travolta is kind of convincing, but he says motherfucker far too often, it’s silly. Denzel Washington is pretty decent, he has a pretty straightforward job, but it’s good. What else? I can’t really remember even though it was less than 24 hours ago. The beginning, the actual heist (if that’s what you can call taking over a subway) was more exciting, the rest was average. The ending was mind boggling. It pretty much completely undermines Travolta’s character that he’s such a genius and then such a dumbass. Really? That was the plan? Just… run that way? Oookay… maybe think that one through next time. Maybe think the movie through while you are at it.

Blazing Saddles – So I’m pretty sure I saw this many years ago, but I didn’t really remember it, so we gave it a shot. I’m pretty surprised at how not good it is. The core of the movie is great. The whole concept of a black sheriff and a racist town is really smart. And most scenes with Bart are good to excellent. But pretty much everything else in the movie is horrendous. It’s either cheesy physical comedy, stupid sight gags or corny character jokes. I think you just had to watch it in 1974 (and remember it) to like it. I think spaceballs is fantastic, most of its corny jokes are hilarious. But this just seemed stupid and pointless. Had to have been there I guess.

Spies Like Us – 80s movie I had never seen. It’s pretty fun. Not a whole lot going on there, feels pretty 80s with some of the humor. But I enjoyed it. Can’t think of a whole lot to say about it. Oh! It does have the “doctor doctor doctor doctor” thing! I never knew! Everyone knows that, and everyone gets that when they become a doctor. But I didn’t actually know what it was from. I didn’t actually know it was from anything. So that was cool. Besides that? Random movie, kinda fun, nothing big.

Raging Bull – Um… okay. This is a big famous movie I never saw, Rober De Niro is a famous boxer from real life (I guess famous, I don’t know him, but that isn’t saying much). I don’t really get why it’s so good. deniro and joe pesci defintely do good jobs, they are very convincing and they aren’t at all bad. But the movie itself? It’s nicely done, it’s in black and white which is pretty pretentious. But his life is just so boring. He beats the shit out of people to make money, he gets mad a lot, he beats the shit out of the people he loves, he gets sad, repeat. He’s just a big fuckhead who can’t control his fists. I didn’t see a lot of dimensions to him. The very end of the movie is fairly powerful. His scene in jail is very good, especially given that he’s in shadow. The stuff after that is kind of good too. But for the most part I just don’t think he had that interesting of a life. I guess it’s supposed to be more of a character study. In retrospect, it seems kind of like The Wrestler for 30 years ago. But the wrestler was amazing, and this was just kind of boring. Sorry :/

War Inc. – This is a pretty weird movie. It’s essentially a farce, sort of a near future, almost hyper real, parody of the world. Focusing on the power of corporations (kind of going with the shadowrun model where they are the global power instead of countries) and throwing in a lot of “wakawaka-istan” countries that the countries and america by extension are attacking and occupying. John Cusack is a hired killer, he goes on a mission and hijinks ensue. It’s not really particularly good. It’s not so over the top that it’s a comedy, but it’s ridiculous enough that it’s certainly not a dramatic narrative, even though they try to make one out of the relationships. It’s not really one of anything, or good at any of those things. It reminds me of Idiocracy in that it’s this ridiculous near future stupid world. But it’s not funny, and I don’t really give a crap about john cusack and some stupid pop singer. So I’m not left with a lot. Also, Joan Cusack is the most annoying fucking actor in the world, I need someone to punch her in her screaming face.

Scratch – Wow, I guess I really don’t care about turntablists. This is a 90 min documentary of the history of those guys who make the wikky wikky sounds. Seems like it should be interesting, that’s why I rented it, but I was completely bored. I just sort of happened, people came and went, introduced new styles or whatever. Super duper boring.

Dec 1, 2009

History of Mario Clock

I want it!

Iconic Reshoots

Empire magazine did a super cool photo shoot with actors recreating their famous characters. Some of them are really awesome. I don’t really buy recreating hot fuzz, or harry potter, it was like… a day and a half ago. The effective ones are very out of context or it’s been so long the actor is much older. Braveheart, Seven, and Silence of the Lambs are my favorite.

Nov 25, 2009

Lego Matrix

Short, but cool.

4-handed Guitar

When they started just playing on different strings, I thought, aw cute. When they went half and half (one strumming the other’s strings and vica versa), my mind was blown.

Nov 23, 2009

Nov 21, 2009

Video Game Reviews @ The Temple

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed – Awesome!!  This game was so damn much fun! I remember the demo and being kind of unimpressed, it seemed shallow. That’s true, and it isn’t. The much self-lauded physics engines are okay, they are cool, certainly if you are going to be force’ing things around, they ought to move interestingly, but it’s not like it changed my life. The combat is deeper than I thought, there’s enough saber combos and combinations of force powers that actually give you a wide variety of things to do. Any significant enemy or boss ends with a quicktime event, which are pretty awesome. QTEs are always a pain cuz you are focusing on your stupid buttons instead of the cool action, but it’s still pretty damn cool. The graphics all around are pretty great. It helps that it’s a fundamentally cgi almost cartoony world, but it all looks really good. The character models are also great, though the facial animations leave something to be desired.  Especially on the monkey main character, the girlfriend with enough plastic surgery to look like that cat lady, and the mutated clone of jimmy smitz. Eyes tend to have a glassy clearly separate look to them as well. But besides that the game looks great. The environments are beautiful star wars imaginings. Everything looks good and right. The game is kind of buggy, mostly forgivable (in that we somehow accept a buggy game these days). Just dumb things like stuck on invisible walls, stupid save policy, and one hilarious moment where I pushed a boss through the ground to her death (I got the points). But each boss ends with a QTE, not death, so the game was stuck and I had to reload. Kind of annoying, but honestly only a handful of annoyances in a great game is okay. The highlight might be the story. It fills in a gap between the 3rd and 4th movies better than the 3rd movie filled in the gap between the 2nd and 4th! The corruption and redemption of a character is more believable here than in any of the 3 prequels. It was really enjoyable from top to bottom, the progression of powers is good, the fights are generally challenging but not frustrating. There was one fight where you had to fight like 4 of these ironman dudes that are really meant to be fought 1 on 1, but that was the only one I had to retry 80 times to win. I’d almost consider playing this game again on a harder difficulty or to collect more stuff, as I don’t have any other PS3 games to play. But then I realize I have 3 or 4 unplayed PC games sitting here. Plus replaying for collectables or achievements is freakin’ boring. Maybe if i was 14, not now. Anyway, off track! The point is, great game. Just the gameplay isn’t a new era of gaming, but it’s very fun. Add in the very good story, and you have a winner. Had much more fun than in 75% of MGS4! There is DLC, and believe it or not I considered it. But $10 bucks for a single effing chapter is pretty much the dumbest thing I ever heard. The game is going for $30 at retail now, why the hell would you charge another $20 in missions and $15 in character packs? Idiots. But let’s pretend I never logged onto PSN, and say great game.

Call of Juarez – Whooopsie! When I bought this for $2 on gogamer I thought it was the new one. Turns out there was an old CoJ from a couple years ago. Oh well, play it anyway. It’s an okay game. It brings some somewhat interesting (I guess) game play mechanics in, though they aren’t really that interesting, but at least they were trying. There’s some slow motion bow&arrow and gun aiming. There’s a quick draw high noon sort of mechanic that isn’t that much fun. It’s neat how the story alternates between characters, especially since they are at odds with each other to begin with. The story itself is fine, not bad. The voice acting is surprisingly decent for what is otherwise kind of a low production values game. I think maybe that’s why I feel meh about it, it just doesn’t feel that exciting. Everything is done fine, but not great. And since the gameplay is interesting in theory but not necessarily all that fun, you have to have more in the production department to keep me going. It’s a relatively short game, so I did push all the way through. But if it was twice as long I wouldn’t have made it, I imagine.

Prince of Persia – The newest of the PoP revival, though still a couple years old. But hey, I’m always behind the times on games. Playing this one on PC (another cheapo gogamer purchase). Sadly, that fact presented many of the issues. The first was controls. Playing this on keyboard and mouse is an absolute nightmare. There are four basic attacks (kind of like the four face buttons on a controller?), plus a block and movement. Trying to map all four attacks and a block to my mouse, though it does have the requisite number of buttons, is horribly janky. On top of that, my mouse only registered 1/5 of the “forward/back page” button clicks, making the “press the button repeatedly” moments literally impossible. Fortunately, the day was saved when I borrowed a 360 controller from JIHoR and that worked wonderfully. The game is quite fun to play with a reasonable control scheme. As the PoP games are known for, the fluidity of the motions is pretty good. Jumping from this to that and flipping and sliding works pretty well. Next comes the other big PC fault – my computer wasn’t totally up to task. In any sufficiently complicated scene or battle, the framerate slowed down pretty pathetically. This is presumably not a problem on a console and would have made the game more fun. It’s frustrating to lose because the game didn’t keep up with your button presses, or even worse, you get used to pressing multiple times so that it does, but then it registers multiple presses and you jump into oblivion for no good god damn reason. But getting past that, the game is pretty fun. It is not nearly Sands of Time. SoT was revolutionary, the entire time mechanic was so mind blowing, and so much more fun to use and to save yourself with. This game doesn’t have that, all it has is a chick who follows you and helps you jump around. And if you fall, slip, get stabbed, or swallow a grenade, she casts a spell and you’re back, presto. That is fine, certainly makes getting through the game a lot easier, but it’s not anything like the fun of playing with time. The platforming is still fun, though, the best part of the game. The fight mechanic isn’t great. There’s combos that are kind of neat, blocking that’s a little finicky, and most annoyingly there are repeated quick time events. Not really fancy QTEs, just things that you have to press the button fast to dodge or counter an attack. Trouble is it’s a big pain in the ass, especially with a bad framerate fucking up your response time. So the combat kind of sucks, but it’s tolerable. The art style is basically cell shaded, with a little more style. I don’t really like cell shaded most of the time. I guess it kind of works here in a storybook tale sort of way. But hey, if it was real graphics, my computer would have slipped a disk, so i should be happy I guess. The story is very simple for the most part, the voice acting is good. The script is mostly good, some of the humor is forced and falls flat, but the prince is mostly charming. The ending is pretty fantastic, as far as I’m concerned, with only a slight negativity due to natural expectation of a gamer these days that you can always choose between good and evil. But there’s no choice here, and the end is very effective. Over all, good game.

Vakyria Chronicles – Pretty great game! I played the demo forever ago, but not during a time I had gamefly, so I never got the real thing. Luckily JIHoR had it in, so I borrowed it! It’s a turned based, RPGish war game, set in sort of a fake WW II time. It’s pretty japanesey in visual style, but in an odd mix with european influence. The gameplay is the star of the show. It’s not really like anything else I can think of. It’s kind of a first person RPG combined with final fantasy tactics or something. You have different units (although I think there should have been more) with different specialties. You run around, shoot bad guys, save the world, etc. It sounds simple, and it kind of is. There’s not so much strategy to it. Mostly you sneak up behind with these guys, run at them with these guys, and in general: just use the tank. The story is…. kind of crappy. There are some sweet spots, a clumsy discussion of race, and an awkward importance placed on community over technological superiority, which is very japanesey too, and kind of silly. It’s funny, we had this discussion – why does the VC mindless babble seem more tolerable than the MGS4 babble? The conclusion was that in an action game you expect action and badassery. And in a jrpg you expect miles of text. Well, that’s what you get, but it doesn’t really make sense to me, babble is babble, and if I have to “sit through it” instead of enjoy it, you made a game with a shitty plot. But I’m being overly harsh, it’s not intolerable, and you can of course skip it if you don’t have my disease. And certainly in this case the gameplay is original and fun enough to justify it (where as MGS4 was pretty derivative of itself). So, really good game, not underrated, but underplayed.

Nov 9, 2009

Movie Reviews @ The Temple

Xmen Origins: Wolverine – Yeesh. Actually, it wasn’t so bad. I had heard it was horrendous from all but one person. If you average everyone, such that it is slightly over horrendous, that’s a pretty good estimate. The opening credits I actually quite liked (if you ignore the canadians fighting in every american war ever). That might be a bad sign that that’s the highlight? The rest of the movie is… fine. It’s not super bad, I expected more cheesiness? poor production? not sure what. It was just kind of a crappy action movie, not worth noting if it wasn’t wolverine. There are some okay fights, some decent choreography. The striker group at first is kind of neat, if short lived. The effects are mostly fine, EXCEPT when wolverine first gets his claws. Then, HOLY SHIT, what the fuck happened? Why does he have roger rabbit graphics coming out of his hands?! Christ! Truly amazing bad failure there, just completely out of the blue shockingly bad. Happened a couple times, but that was the really bad bit. The rest of the effects for explosion and such are fine. Besides that, I’m having a hard time thinking of what is bad about this movie, except that it’s just kind of heartless. It doesn’t evoke much response in me as a viewer, seems like the syfylis channel decided to make a wolverine movie. What they do to deadpool is fairly fucking tragic, though that will only matter to a fan of the comics. His introduction is decent, though he is played too sullen for deadpool. He jokes, but it’s got a bitter layer that’s not appropriate to the traditional character. Then you go and beetlejuice his mouth shut, and it ruins literally the core concept of the character. Fuck, his catchphrase is “the merc with a mouth”! You took. His mouth. The whole climax of the movie is kind of a whimper. Overall, not as bad as I thought, but that doesn’t make it good.

GI Joe – Huh. Y’know, not bad! It’s kind of a fun movie, lots of effects and fights. The gun fights aren’t all that impressive, really. The ninja fights seem technically good, but they don’t grab you. Actually? It’s been a couple days since I saw this, and I’m realizing it wasn’t that good. It wasn’t bad, it was kind of a fun experience to watch. Lots of shiny. But now with some time I realize it is a completely forgetful movie. There was not a single wow moment, or how cool moment. Nothing that sticks as a big effect. I do remember the horrible jelly person CGI (also known as the Blade 2 effect) early in the movie. I definitely remember, because I wrote down, the worst dialogue in the world: “He sure didn’t want [the nanobots] taken out” “There’s nothing you can do for her?” “It’ll take some time, but we’ll take them out” Umm… really? Christ, did you read 2 lines ago? Anyway, I don’t know, I was thinking that as long as the movie gave me big booms, ninjas, and that red head, I’d like it. While I was watching it I thought it succeeded, but now I don’t remember any booms, the ninjas were lame (seriously, why the fuck does snake eyes have a mouth? its creepy!), and the red head was permanently encased in black leather, soo…. I changed my mind. It was bad.

Bolt – I liked this! Better than monsters vs. aliens, certainly. It’s not an amazing movie or anything, in the inevitable comparison – it’s no pixar movie. But it’s certainly a fun and funny movie. Granted, animals are an easy target, but i quite liked it. There’s not really a whole lot to say about it, it’s a naturally simple movie. But the graphics are acceptable, the voice acting is serviceable, the script is funny, and that’s the whole story. Good movie if you want a cartoon.

Safe Men – A 90s movie suggested to us by someone. It’s pretty fun. It’s very quirky, but in a peculiar way. There are flavors of quirky. You can be wes anderson quirky, amelie quirky, christopher guest quirky. Lots of kinds of quirky. Most of them don’t appeal to me. They are as often as not so far up their own quirky asses they forget to write a good movie. This is another kind of quirky and, for the most part, I enjoyed it. It’s not a kind I’m familiar with. I just imdb’d the director/writer, he hasn’t done much, most notably the tick (never saw it), along came polly (decently funny, but not like this), and I love you man which I actively disliked. None of these movies are like each other, so I’m still left thinking this movie is a very particular kind of quirky. Jesus, how many times am I going to say quirky? Anyway, the movie is fun, sam rockwell is kind of doing his thing. Mark Ruffalo is kind of also doing sam rockwell’s thing, which is actually pretty funny. It’s not a super complicated movie, it almost feels more 80s than 90s, it’s like dirty rotten scoundrels or something, charming bad guys. It’s really pretty enjoyable.

Soylent Green – Knocking out another unseen classic! This one is good! Except for one glaring exception, it’s actually pretty good! If I didn’t know the ending, I wouldn’t have expected it until he gets to the factory. My movie watching companion (not knowing the ending)got it then. But it’s really kind of a cool investigation story in a reasonably convincing dystopia. The big problem with this movie is the treatment of that hooker chick. What the fuck?!  He meets her, and immediately places her as property and bangable whenever he wants? And she meets him and immediately places him as savior and needs the big strong man to save her? It was pretty fucked up, I gotta say. But short of that glaring fuckedupedness, I liked it.

Serpico – Quite a good movie, this. Not that anyone was waiting 35 years for me to weigh in. Just as a movie it’s good, not amazing, but good. It all rests on Al Pacino, and if I can forget that he’s been acting the same in every movie since, I can recognize that it’s a very good performance. His commitment is pretty staggering. Everyone else that supports him does their job, which is too be sad, menacing, supportive, antagonistic, or friendly, but only in a way that doesn’t get in his way. I guess it was maybe an early example of “gritty” story telling. It’s hard to take that in context, there are certainly a whole lot of movies that have done that better since. I’ll give it an odd form of credit that it stands up to time. It could very easily be overwhelmingly 70s, but it doesn’t feel that way except perhaps in filming style. As a story that is based on real life, it’s pretty amazing. It was only 40 years ago, such rampant and accepted corruption, and then someone actually does something at such great risk, pretty astounding. Certainly a good movie, over all.

Metal Gear Solid: Philanthropy - Had this one bookmarked for a while, but who has time to watch an hour long fan movie? Well, me, tonight, apparently. One the one hand, it’s an hour of MGS story. And hours of MGS story were pretty much what made MGS4 a not great game. On the other hand, holy balls this is a fan movie? It looks amazing! Better visuals than a fair amount of real movies! Granted, the acting is bad. The story isn’t great, but hey, that’s pretty much keeping in canon. The voice dubbing is something atrocious. You’d think it was actually filmed in a different language, the dubbing is so bad. But nope, just poorly done looping. The effects are pretty good though. There are some all digital scenes that give everyone a glow I don’t like, but it’s not really any worse than a big budget all digital movie. There are some cgi blood problems toward the end, which is becoming my jihad as of late. But jesus christ, they got an effing metal gear in there! They aren’t fucking around! Sadly, i can’t really recommend spending an hour to watch this unless you are crazy into MGS, and no one who reads this is. But it should be noted for it’s production values at least. If nothing else, the fact that I just pasted this into the movie section instead of its own post shows where I place it.

Finger Tutting

Had only really seen this stuff before on AB Dance Crew. It’s not really that worthwhile outside of the broader dance, but there are some cool moments.

Nov 8, 2009

Citizen Journalism

A very thought provoking post at TechCrunch. It’s a complicated problem, but I pretty much agree with him. I won’t watch the Neda Agha Soltan video, just as I wouldn’t watch a beheading, the death of Hussain’s sons, or any other bullshit that has too many hits already. But the This American Life allegory at the end is very powerful.

Nov 5, 2009

Filipino Prisoners Do Queen

They’re baaaaack. Not as good as before, remember Thriller? but still fun.  And I didn’t even know about this one!  Is it weird that I’m a filipino prison complex fanboy?

Nov 2, 2009

Star Wars Retold

Another one I had bookmarked, hilariously cute and cool.


Horribly sad short film by the guy who did District 9. Good though. Reminds me of Brian Clevinger’s Warbot, except that comic is just mean, but awesome.

MSU band doing Numa Numa

Super cool! I want to see this whole show (technology themed). PS, so much more interesting than jay rees doing another freaking band with incompatible music that hasn’t been cool in 10 years. Though I do hope MSU has some actual marching involved, at least U of A gets that right.

Oct 30, 2009

Oct 27, 2009

Oct 25, 2009

Book Reviews @ The Temple

The Chronicles of Amber (Corwin Cycle) by Roger Zelazny read by Roger Zelazny – I’m going to give the review I was going to give until something happened, so let’s go.  So this is a big series in my family.  One of my brothers owes his name to the main character, it was one of my first fantasy series, but it’s been 15 years since I read it.  I know I loved it then, but I was 15, what do I know?  Some things you used to love don’t age so well, but hey it’s well respected, it’s got to be good, right?  Yep!  It’s fucking fantastic.  I’ve said before, a solid fantasy series depends on a believable world that you are immediately immersed in that is clear, but clearly different.  That introduces you slowly into aspects of that world, keeping that cool factor, but never confusing you.  This book does that wonderfully.  And it does that through another very hard thing to do – first person storytelling.  The book is solely from the perspective of the main character, and he starts with amnesia, which means he is being slowly introduced to the world.  That is an amazing device to bring the reader in with equal parts mystery, wonder, and coolness.  The plot is fantastic, up even into the 5th book you don’t know who the enemy really is.  You hate the “bad guy” in the first book.  But by the second book, he was never the bad guy, it’s actually these guys.  And then they aren’t so bad, or maybe they are, but you don’t know.  It does political and familial drama in a way that is not cheesy or melodramatic, but is suspenseful and engaging.  I can’t say enough, it really is one of the best fantasy stories ever.  Here comes the “but”.  BUT, I’m a fucking moron and I accidently listened to the abridged book.  FUCK!  I found this out when I was literally 30 minutes from the end of all 5 books.  GOD DAMMIT!  Really?  I didn’t bother to compare to my real life copy to see if it was abridged until the very end?  So I’m super pissed, I feel like I missed out.  The books are cut by at least 1/3 by the abridgedness.  It’s fortunate that I’ve read it before, so it’s not like I’ve never seen those pieces, it’s almost like I got a refresher without going through the whole thing.  But it is amazing! I wanted the whole thing.  But I’m not going to go reread or listen now that I’ve already spent a month listening!  I mean it’s been 15 years, if you extrapolate from those two data points, I’ll be 45 by the time I reread these books, I’m super annoyed.  I suppose it’s possible the things that were cut out weren’t great, maybe I liked it more because it was abbreviated?  But I doubt it, more likely I missed 1/3 of an awesome sandwich, and that sucks.  I’m starting the Merlin Cycle now, una-god-damn-bridged, so hopefully that will cheer me up!

Amber (Merlin Cycle) – Alright, I’m through the second series! I managed to get unabridged this time. It was kind of a mixed bag. Two books were read by zelazny, two by some boring guy, and the last by an interesting guy. The last guy was interesting just because he actually did voices, gave each person a semi-recognizable tenor. Kind of sad that I only got this by the last book. Also had a slight side effect of messing with my 9-book-enforced impression of what they should sound like. But to the books – they are still very good, but not as good as the corwin cycle. At times they are, the world is still fantastic, the introduction of sorcery is awesome and makes the options more plentiful. The books do too much to try to be mysterious, though. I don’t really like when a story gets up its own ass with it’s sneaky plot. The first 5 books were masterful at this, just the right amount of playing around with the reader, stringing you along, constantly getting you to question who was on whose side. These 5 books take the sad turn of messing with reality via magic. I don’t like a untrustworthy narrator. Corwin was legitimately confused because he didn’t know the truth. But Merlin is confused because of silly magic games, and once that possibility is introduced, I have no reason to believe anything else that ever happens again, because it could be silly magic games. It really bothers me in a lot of stories these days, especially all the psychological thrillers. Anyway, besides the 2 books (mostly) when zelazny is doing that, they are good. The ending happens too quickly, but then maybe that’s the way endings happen. Still a great series of books, I’m looking forward to 2025 when I read them again!

A Night in the Lonesome October written & read by Roger Zelazny – What a fascinating book! I got it on accident with the amber books, so I listened having 0 idea what it was about. Part way through I had to go google it because I was kind of confused, and I definitely wouldn’t have figured out all that was going on if I hadn’t (though, as it turns out, if I had looked at the cover of the book, that might have cleared things up). The premise is London at some unknown time, perhaps the 1800s. Several historical and fictional people are involved in a dramatic ritual involving dark gods. Those people include dracula, jack the ripper, dr. frankenstein, sherlock holmes, and others. Each of these people has a famliiar (an animal with which you have some sort of magical connection). The story is told, in first person (which zelazny seems to have a mastery of) by jack the ripper’s familiar, a dog named Snuff. He is to help his master prepare for and complete his portion of the ritual, for which there are two competing teams. The whole story is just the machinations of preparing for the ritual and allies and enemies and such. The playing out of the story itself isn’t all that fantastic, it’s not bad, it’s just fine. The premise is just so odd, though, it makes it a good book. Part of the problem is listening to it I tend to miss things when I get distracted, and so I lose some of the intrigue. This wasn’t so bad with the amber books because I had a general idea of what was going on (even if I had forgotten nearly every detail). Here I was often lost until something else happened to clear up what I missed before. Nonetheless, pretty cool book.

Movie Reviews @ The Temple

The Knowing – Ugh, why do I do this to myself? No one thought this would be good. And I have an extra special problem with silly bullshit that’s too close to reality. What I mean to say is, a story about aliens, no problem. Dragons? check. Ghosts? sure. But people actually believe in numerology. Those people are idiots, granted, but I still don’t like to see their delusions made into a big movie. I know this isn’t really numerology, it just happens to involve numbers, but it’s all stupid and it annoys me. But even without that, the movie is obviously bad. It’s not horrendous, suprisingly, Cage actually keeps it in check, the lady and the kids are fine. The writing isn’t frightening, even if it offers nothing of interest.  Of course, in the last 20 minutes the movie goes so off the rails it can’t see the amusement park. I mean, jeez, just the most obvious yet pathetic way to “twist” the ending. Pretty damn silly.

Underworld 3: Rise of the Lycans – Going in with super low expectations, this movie was actually alright. No one would think it’s amazing, but it’s kind of a decent action movie. The only big fault is the blood. I swear to jesus in 10 years we are going to look back at the 2000s as the decade of horrible stupid CGI blood. Bad prop blood is so much better, but we are so enamored with our puters that we just can’t help to use them for everything possible. Use ketchup, it will be more believable, you are embarrassing yourself with this glossy bullcrap. But, hell, I’ve seen the Mutant Chronicles, so nothing can dismay me anymore. The rest of the movie is pretty decent. It’s got good enough choreography, the story is 100% expected. The acting and writing are fine for a slightly above generic action movie. That’s all.

The International – Wasn’t exactly looking forward to this one either. I mean, it’s about international bank intrigue. Christ, i almost fell asleep typing those three words. I give few shits for intrigue movies to begin with, they generally aren’t all that intriguing (I’m positive I’ve used that line before). This one isn’t either, and to top it off it’s about effing banks. Who gives a shit?! Clive Barker needs to stop acting the same way in every movie if I’m going to remember how great children of men was. Naomi watts was just… there. I don’t remember anyone else in the movie. it was fine, it wasn’t bad, but i can’t think of a single reason to be interested.

Drag Me to Hell – Oh come on! Is this failure week? I thought this one would be good! Granted, it didn’t look good. But people said it was good, and people said Sam Raimi makes good these-kind-of-movies (I haven’t seen the evil dead things, they are on the list). So despite looking totally stupid, I had high hopes! But…. BOOOOO. What the fuck? First of all, the premise, the reason why I thought it would be bad. You deny some bitch gypsy a loan because this is 2009 and you have to actually pay real-life non-magic-gypsy money for things, and so you get cursed? That’s just a stupid idea. Make a movie about some guy murdering you because you stepped on his shoe in the movie theater while you are at it. Dumb. Okay, so maybe that’s the point? Maybe this faultless thing (unless you try to make some sort of comment of capitalism, but meh) turns into a big thing and that’s silly but let’s have fun with it? Or… not fun. You know, more like, anti-fun. Movie isn’t scary, except for startling scares, which are obviously cheating. I don’t think it’s funny. The times when it’s being stupid which you might imagine are stupid to be funny, aren’t funny, which just leaves stupid. I honestly don’t get what I’m missing, everyone else seemed to think it was so much fun and a great ride. It seemed so pointless to me! And then the ending has a sort of interesting quandry (if an obvious one they could have gotten to earlier), but they don’t end up doing anything interesting with it, just the cheat. And then the end end is just blah of course stupid. I don’t get it, I really don’t. Am I going to hate the evil dead movies?

The Haunting in Connecticut – Okay, here’s a weird story – this movie is kind of okay. Here’s a really weird story – I think it’s better than Drag Me To Hell! Okay, let’s calm down. It’s not a good movie. What this movie has in its favor is a decent premise. It’s kind of a Poltergeist movie, rather than a single murderer, or a single ghost, it’s a haunted place cuz some bad shit went down. On top of that, the main kid has super cancer and is dying and that interacts with the story a little. After that, it’s mostly a normal horror movie. But those tidbits had me slightly interested for the first while. I was never interested in Drag Me To Hell. And in as much as this is a standard horror movie, DMTH was that too. DMTH was cheesier, which apparently some people interpret as funnier, but not fundamentally any better in my opinion. Anyway, this is an okay movie, it’s not as bad as you’d assume, watch it on cable some saturday night.

Yes Man – Oh I dunno, kind of a random comedy. It wasn’t bad. I wouldn’t rush off to see it, but it’s mildly entertaining. The premise is forced, but no surprise. The romance is forced too, but meh. I don’t know, watch it on a plane, it’s fine.

2001: A Space Odyssey – Umm… what?  So… this is one of the greatest movies ever made ever, huh? Masterful? Art? Genius? It’s weird, maybe I rented the wrong disc, but the movie I saw was long, boring, weird, briefly brilliant, but mostly meh. First the good – Hal. That presence really is genius. It’s so foreboding, ominous, omniscient, and almost evil. But not evil. Not even capable of evil, in fact, which is what is so scary. Hal has a distance from humanity that is frightening, even today after 40 years of movies and scifi have reused this idea, it’s frightening. The image, too, has been reused. The glowing unblinking constantly watching red eye is the best part of this movie. The rest, however, is kind of bad. The Jupiter mission could have been an amazing short film, but tack on the monkeys, the moon base, and the crazy ass shit at the end, and I don’t know what to think. The monkeys are cool in concept, even in execution, the dawn of man is an interesting moment. But the idea of aliens prompting evolution is somehow fundamentally annoying to me. Evolution didn’t need a stupid monolith to spark it, it works just fine on its own, that’s why it’s so damn cool! Wikipedia tells me the book makes more sense of the end than the movie. But the truth is even after I looked that stuff up (hoping I was missing some hidden genius) I realized I understood what they were going for all along and I still thought it was stupid. Man evolves further, to a giant space baby? Even as a metaphor that’s idiotic. Evolution is interesting, evolution in spontaneous jumps because of magic black bricks is not. I am really just all around disappointed in this movie. It’s famous for the monkeys and for HAL, and those really are the only things worth remembering.

Paul Blart: Mall Cop – Yeah, I rented it, so what? It was completely what you think it is. I laughed a little, maybe more than I expected, but not enough to make it a good movie, obviously.

Inkheart – I was excited for this movie, once upon a time, because someone I knew was excited about it (having loved the books). I don’t know that person anymore, though, so I ended up letting it pass by without notice. Glad to have finally seen it, though I don’t know that it reflects well on the book. The concept of a silvertongue, someone who reads books to life, is pretty awesome. It’s original, has crazy options as far as storytelling, and is just neat to think about. The trouble with the idea is it’s wildly uncontrollable in any sort of real narrative sense. The whole plot progression doesn’t make any sense, a million solutions present themselves along the way, all of which are ignored for the sake of the preordained plot. It’s really kind of a failure in that sense. The rest is fine, people act fine, it’s kind of amusing in parts, the few special effects there are are good for this kind of movie. In the end it’s fun, but the quantity of plot holes is overhwelming, for me.

Monsters vs. Aliens – Damn, didn’t really like this one either. It’s cute enough, I guess. There is some good humor, mostly centered around B.O.B. The rest is pretty childish, and yeah I know it’s a movie for children, but most of these try to reach adults too, pixar being the obvious example, and this one doesn’t reach me. And besides, I don’t mean it’s childish in that it’s humor for children. I mean it’s overly simple humor that a child could write, it’s amateur. The voice acting is good some of the time, but a lot of the script & relationships make a lot of it seem forced. I’m sure I’m being too harsh, no one expects greatness here. But I expected a little more, nonetheless, should have been more fun than it was. Also, this movie was clearly made for 3D and it’s fucking obnoxious. For no damn reason things fly at the screen every 10 minutes, which in 2D seems ridiculous. But, even without actually seeing the 3D, that informs me that the state of 3D is still the same today. I’ve said before (regarding beowulf, I think), that 3D is still gimmicks, it offers no value. Shit flies at you, you duck, it’s a novelty, it means nothing. Some day in the future 3D will be a fundamental medium for art, just as radio, then pictures, then color pictures. It will give us something we can’t get otherwise. But right now all it gets me is balls in my face. And no one likes balls in their face.

Oct 22, 2009

Gadget Buying Flowchart

I keep looking back and forth between this and all the promotional shit for the Droid (Sholes was a better name bee tee dubs, even Tao was). November is going to be a stressful month!

Oct 15, 2009


There are some pretty fundamental problems with this, but I love anyone trying to rethink the essential user interface. It’s a fascinating subject, to me, and one I’m not nearly smart enough to contribute to. What I can do, however, is nitpick about how this one isn’t good enough. Fundamentally, any restriction on organization is just that, a restriction. An option to organize windows like this is cool (an awful lot like the Pre, bee tee dubs), but it tells you to do things one way, and I will always prefer my way. They might instead consider organizing multi desktops like this instead. By way of simple example, my main screen often has one window, fine for this GUI. But my second screen might have email, 2 or 3 calculators, a gaussian calculator, winamp and/or Miro, and occasionally extra info a text editor or something. Multitasking isn’t about only about having multiple things running, it can be about using a lot of information at once. But I don’t really think the window organization is the point here, honestly, it’s more a trick than a revolution. The separate multi touch interface is the difference, and that requires use to convince me.  I don’t like having to have my hands on the pad at all times to know here I am. If I want to click somewhere, I first have to lay down my hands, find where I am, then move to the right place and do my business. Seems kind of awkward, especially if I’m switching to a keyboard (separate or virtual on the pad, they don’t address this), but maybe it would work wonderfully with practice. Maybe the screen gets imaged to the pad so you can know what’s where, though that obviously requires moving your view. I dunno, it’s cool, but give me the minority report interface that actually works and automagically knows what I want, then I’ll be happy!

Horror Photography

Some of these are kinda dumb, but jesus christ some of them are creepy as eff.

Oct 13, 2009

Event Reviews @ The Temple

Pink Martini – Yay pink martini! I saw them a couple years ago at the rialto, and liked it a lot. I liked it a lot again this time.  It was largely the same, though they have a new album coming out so there were 3 or 4 new songs from them, all of which I liked, a couple of which were great. Pink Martini is a weird band, most of their music is not their own, but they play such eclectic stuff you never would have heard, that’s not a bad thing. Their original music isn’t as good anyway, as a rule, though some of it is still quite good. They are very different, they have a lot of members and instruments, which is great. Some of them are very talented, the violinist, pianist, and trumpeter in particular. But the others are pretty good too. I like the banter between the main two – the pianist and lead singer, though my concert companion actively disliked it, so *shrug*. I am in agreement concerning the lead singer’s stage presence.  Much like my dislike for dudes “rocking out” on guitars, I think a lead singer has pretty much no choice but to seem awkward on stage. They sway, or they do little dances, or they move their arms around dramatically, it’s all silly. She is especially silly, she flows with the music in a corny way, and she has a touch of overly dramatic gestures that seem divaish, but in a sort of flighty way. It’s kind of annoying, I remember thinking the same thing last time. But it’s not at all bad enough that it prevents me from liking the show. It was all fun and I had a great time.

The Kiterunner by the Arizona Theater Company – This is my first exposure to this story, I’ve not read the book or seen the movie.  I’m a little disappointed that that’s true, as I think there is a solid story here, but it was not very well executed. The story, for those like me, is a guy who grows up in Kabul, Afghanistan, some sad things happen, they come to america, more sad things, back to home for some other sad things. It is certainly an interesting story, the protagonist isn’t much of a hero and his life is crappy which is generally a good way to tell a story. There were good elements to this play, the sets were good for a non-profit organization like this. The musical accompaniment by this guy on what I presume are afghani style drums was very cool. They did well with lighting, two scenes in particularly were notable solely for their lighting. The two big faults, I’m sad to say, are the writing and the acting. I don’t know how the book is written, but the transition to the stage wasn’t convincing. The story is too compact, to neat and tidy, maybe this is to fit it in 2.5 hours, maybe it was that way to start. There are a few moments of parallelism in the show, something I typically love, but it was too forced, the echo too close to the sound, I didn’t like it. The first act is told far enough in the past that the main actor is a kid in the memories, but the main guy is narrating, walking around in his own history.  This is fantastic, I love that structure, and for the most part it was very effective. The second half he continues to narrate, but he’s acting his own part, and the structure fails. It’s still okay, in principle, but he starts to narrate things you can see happening, see him doing! I hate over narration, if I can see it, you don’t gotta tell me it’s happening. There’s some genuine humor, but some of it is forced. There was a particularly disappointing taliban scene that was actually pretty bad. They turned the taliban into cartoon characters, caricatures of evil, and it is not only not convincing, but is ridiculous. For me, the proper way to handle something like real evil is not so simplified. Evil doesn’t list its atrocities, it isn’t a bond villain proclaiming it’s lack of virtue.   It doesn’t surprise me that this isn’t a true story, because life doesn’t work like that, it’s not so clean, evil isn’t so evil, virtue isn’t so virtuous, cowardice isn’t so cowardly. So the writing is a problem, but it has an interesting core. Sadly, the acting is the real fault here. Everyone else is okay, the kids are pretty good, the dad is decent.  There’s some funniness with accents, I assume these are all the typical cast of ATC made to sound afghani, and the accents seemed kind of fake.  Then again, maybe they are all afghans and I’m super wrong and semi-racist. The real problem is the protagonist.  Early on he’s shakey, he talks at you instead of performing for you and he overacts. His emotion rings untrue, his humor is more often pressed on you than shared with you.  But in the second act it gets actively bad. As he tries to act harder, his lack of skill becomes apparent. His screaming and yelling and crying and praying are all borderline awful. I feel pretty awful saying that, but it was actually very bad, for me. And when you are in a situation where everything revolves around this guy and all the emotion ties to him, if he fails, the play fails.  So there we are, the play failed. Seems like a good foundation, I suppose I should see the movie (if only because I’m very unlikely to make time for the book). I do have a fear that the problems I have with the plot will remain, though, even with better actors.

World of Goo for any price!

Seriously, if you haven’t played World of Goo at this point, you are kind of an asshole. And now you can get it for ANY MONEY. Also? If you pay less than $5 I will punch you.

Classic Achievements

We all agree achievements are stupid, right? They are kind of fun, if you are bored, but anyone who derives their self esteem from their gamer score should probably find a career path? Yeah? Okay good, that being said, this is funny.

Oct 12, 2009

5-way Backstreet Boys Dub

I don’t know why I like this, it’s pretty dumb. But there’s something cornily genuine about it, they seem like they are having fun, even the one acting like she isn’t.

Oct 11, 2009

Video Game Reviews @ The Temple

MGS4: If I started writing this at various points I might have a different opinion. But I’ve just watched three effing years of cutscenes to end this game, and jesus christ that did not put me in a mood to be generous.  In fact, i started typing this as the credits ran, AND NOW THERE’S A NOTHER FUCKING CUT SCENE. It’s really pretty ridiculous, people said 1.5 hrs of cut scenes, I’m not sure that’s enough, it might be more. It’s really just overbearing, and in general completely unnecessary.  There are some cool ones, raiden kicking ass, the big confrontation in the middle. And occasionally they manage to be emotional, but very rarely. Mostly when people are upset the acting is bad and the scenes are completely horrible. There are some quieter moments of emotion, focusing on snake (not otacon and his horrible voice actor) that work. The story isn’t bad, it’s kind of a typical huge conspiracy gotta stop the man MGS story, but it’s not bad.  It’s very much anti war, anti corporation, kind of anti capitalism. Some themes about freedom, etc, not bad, just not really new. There’s just so much bullshit filler than I end up hating even the good parts. To be clear, I loved MGS 1 & 2, just like everyone else (well, not everyone loved 2). The first obviously introduced a whole new genre of gaming, and MGS2 iterated on this in a great way (I always liked raiden). MGS3 was pretty forgettable, it tried to be creative with the camo thing, but meh. This game does very little to evolve the genre. There’s a couple clever gameplay moments, but nothing earth shattering. It’s still fun to play, MGS is fun to play and pretty unique in its style still, so I had a good time. But man, these cut scenes are driving me crazy. The graphics aren’t really that great. It’s the best MGS graphics so far of course, but they aren’t wonderful. Character models are decent, but kind of skeletal at times.  Things are too shiny, hair and fabric doesn’t move. Well, hair does move, but only specific parts of hair in specific ways, not realistically. Some things are bad, like shadows with jagged edges and models with bright lines on the edge, very weird for a high production game. There’s a really weird level of perviness in this game, as there has been in the past. It focuses and allows you to focus on tits and ass waaaaay too much. It literally introduced one character via only her cleavage for 20 full seconds before showing her face. I understand that as a boy, and even as an adult, I’m going to look at the pretty girls in games. Christ, I remember pausing Chun Li during her spinning kick to get a look at her digital goods! But there’s something about the game allowing and even encouraging you to ogle the computer generated bits that is really creepy and offputting, not to mention morally pretty fucked up. The cut scene finally ended, I’m watching more credits dreading another scene. The game isn’t bad, when you are playing it it’s good. It’s not great, it’s not amazing, it’s not new, but it’s good. But then you add in all the bullshit and you have a kind of bad game.  If you don’t have my disease where you have to watch everything, you can skip the cut scenes and be a much happier human. Sadly, I can’t make myself do that, so here I am grumbling. Most of the music is fine, though I hate the main theme, supposed to be haunting, but it’s just annoying. The product placement in the movie is obnoxious, Otacon uses solely macs, apparently, and snake carries an ipod. Otacon using a macbook pro (or air?) to hack into the greatest AI that ever lived is patently ridiculous and unnecessary. There’s a strong reminiscing element to the movie, it looks back on the previous 3 games a lot and references them constantly. This was actually pretty cool, though I don’t remember the lore enough to know some of the references, most are big enough events that I remember them even after 10 years. The shadow moses level in particular is really cool because of this.  See, when I think on that stuff (now that the credits, and the last audio-only cutscene, are over and the PS3 is off), I think I did like the game, because the game play, as reused as it is, is still very enjoyable. The end gameplay sequence getting to the last part was actually really cool and dramatic, even though it was barely gameplay. The last fight was super simplified, but somehow very effective for me. But man, the cut scenes could have been half as long without even changing any content, they could have said things ONLY ONCE, for example. Then you remove the unnecessary content and you are down to 25%, remove the bad jokes, the meta self referential humor (though I guess you can keep that, it’s kind of a tradition), and the perviness, and you have a svelte 10% of solid story and a good game to go with it. PS I did try the online thing. You know perfectly well that I don’t like playing console games online. This was made worse that it took 7 minutes for the automatching thing to find enough people for a deathmatch.  I assume this is due to a horrible underpopulation, not bad software, either way, I finally got in, it was fine, I did ok all things considered, then my connection gave out. Game over, it goes on the shelf now.

Penumbra: Overture, Black Plague, & Requiem – So these three games form an episodic trilogy of sorts, though I’m sure there could be more if they want to.  It is basically an FPS adventure game.  Though the games are slightly different from each other, they are mostly puzzle solving.  The first game had some actioney threats, but you couldn’t realistically fight them with weapons effectively.  UNLESS you kinda cheated and threw boxes at things, which is what I did.  So rather than sneak around like they intended, I just killed things.  So in the second game they made the threats invincible, so you HAD to sneak or run, which was very tense and uncomfortable, especially because the sneak mechanic wasn’t great.  The third game they did away with threats and it was pure puzzle.  The games are pretty good, they are simple, linear, confined in scope, but interesting in story.  The voice acting is pretty decent, best in the first game probably, the puzzles are good.  Most are pretty simple, two times I got stuck and had to cheat because I didn’t have the patience to figure it out.  That’s something that changed in my old age, if I spend an hour on something, I’m not spending more, and I’m not forsaking the rest of the game due to my crappiness.  As it turned out, one sticking point I was being stupid and should have spent 5 more minutes, the other I never would have got, so I felt justified in my wussiness.  Anyway, the games are good I think, especially when you get all 3 for like $10 on steam.

Plants vs. Zombies – Heh, pretty fun game.  It’s kind of a desktop tower defense, but very linear.  You have 5 rows of lawn that you are defending from invading zombies.  You place sunflowers to generate sunpower with which you place various plants that fight and defend against the oncoming hoard.  There’s a good deal of variety of plants and zombies, and things that counter each other.  There’s some switching with levels (water, fog, night, roof).  It’s pretty basic, but it is fun.  There’s a few minigames too that are entertaining.  I’m not quite all the way through it, I haven’t been able to beat the last batch of extra hard levels (at least I assume it’s the last batch, unless they open up yet more).  It’s nothing life changing, but it’s a cute game that’s definitely a fun popcap distraction.

King’s Bounty: The Legend – Well jesus I’ve been playing this game for a long time.  Not sure how long, but months for sure.  It’s just that kind of game that you keep playing.  Which isn’t to say it’s the best game ever, it’s just that kind of game.  It’s basically Heroes of Might & Magic, you have a dude (only a dude, no chicks allowed) running around a map getting into fights like an RPG.  But when a fight starts, it breaks down into a gridded map, and you have an army of units and the bad guy has an army and they fight.  You recruit units in the world – soldiers, mages, dwarves, elves, creatures, undead, etc.  You have magic and abilities that help your troops.  Then you go on missions and save the world, etc etc.  At first I was freaking loving this game.  It was so fun and there were so many options and creatures and stuff it was really cool.  The game never stops being cool in this way, it’s just cool in exactly this way for a long god damn time.  I’m not sure how many hours I put into it, but it was a lot.  With all the spells and creatures and quests, it’s just got that RPG collectable addictiveness.  But by 2/3 into the game, I was really bored.  The story was boring, and though I was getting new creatures and spells, I was pretty much done.  I kept going because I have a disease, and I finally finished it and it’s a relief.  It’s a really fun game, I just might advise you pretend that the first 2 or 3 areas are the whole game and go your separate ways content.

Secret of Monkey Island Special Edition – So I was kind of excited to play this.  I played the two original (I think?) MI games, and i played the semi-recent (2000s) sequel.  Of course the former is when I was a little teenager and they were just the greatest things in the world.  Remember very little about them, ‘cept the awesomeness.  Lucasarts is going through a bit of a retro renaissance, it appears, and first up was a rerelease of MI, but with new graphics.  Coolest thing ever, you can at any moment flip between old timey original graphics and new fancy graphics, which is super neat. The question is does an old classic that was fun and funny hold up 20 years later? The answer is…. kinda.  The first 1/4 of the game I was having fun, there were chuckles, if not laughs.  I wondered before I played if i would cheat to get through it, I have this feeling that younger me was either smarter or had more patience.  I was doing fine in this game until I accidently discovered press ‘h’ for hint.  I lasted a while longer without using it, but eventually there were 4 or 5 times where I didn’t have the patience to figure it out when the answer was one button press away. I honestly wish it was harder to cheat, though that’s just a pathetic comment on my willpower. It’s the problem w/ these games, it’s fun to play, it’s not fun to try to combine every item with every other item or part of the world to make it work. I never got more than 4 screens into Grim Fandango because I was completely confused, and it’s supposed to be great! So the answer is the game is fun, for $5 (steam deal for talk like a pirate day, telltale is giving away the first episode of the newly released sequels too), it was certainly worth it for the nostalgic trip and to see what they did with it.  It’s still fun, it’s silly and quirky, and it has the hand waving salesman, so that’s pretty much worth 5 bucks.

Tales of Monkey Island: Episode 1 – As mentioned, telltale released this for free on talk like a pirate day, and i got it. Wasn’t really sure if I’d be into the new monkey island games, remakes are rarely good, the one a few years ago wasn’t really. This game was…. alright.  It’s charming, I guess, it’s cute.  The game play is kind of simplified from the original in that any given clickable object can only be clicked, not looked at, grabbed, pushed, talked to, etc, the game just does what you should do. I managed to get through the whole thing cheating once, which given my cranky 30 year old level of patience is pretty decent. It didn’t seem outrageously hard, the one thing I missed wasn’t hard. A couple other things had me stuck but I stumbled into the answer. The game is kind of funny, like I say it’s cute, but it’s not hilarious. I suppose the original wasn’t hilarious, playing it again. I can’t think of any game that’s really been hilarious, except portal. Some games have been funny, but nothing that I think of as a comedy or anything. I don’t think I’ll be buying the subsequent chapters of this. Maybe when they are all out and steam has some cheap deal for them. But for 35 bucks, I definitely didn’t get that much enjoyment, sorry.

Oct 7, 2009

Movie Reviews @ The Temple

Brothers Bloom – What a wonderful movie! I had heard it was good, so it’s not a surprise, but still. Though it is the guy who made Brick, and I hate that movie with a fiery flame, but everyone else likes it. It’s about these brothers, con men. It’s a love story, in a couple of ways, and its very charming. It’s got a quirky sensability, but not overly so. I was afraid at the beginning, these movies, wes anderson type movies, can go off the rails quickly for me. But this stayed true to the brotherhood core, and it was very nice. The whimsicality reminded me rather of Pushing Daisies, but not as fantastical. The cinematography might be the star of this show, though, which is a rarity for me. But there are some goregous shots in this movie. Single scenes or frames that make you just sit back and say wow that’s fantastic. It was really good. The plot itself is good, a little overwrought. I don’t like tricksy stories. You can’t trust a story that constantly lies to you (which is surely part of the point, as you can’t trust a man who constantly lies), but still I don’t love it. If not for what they did at the end, I would say they had gone one lie too far, but then it turned into something quite beautiful. Ruffalo, Weisz, and Brody each do a very good job. It’s not necessarily the best movie of 2009, as some seem to think, but it’s definitely very good.

A Guide To Recognizing Your Saints – I must have heard this was good, because the name and the description scream not for me.  It sounds really cheesy, a kid survives and finds a greater power guided him through or some crap like that.  But it really has nothing to do with that.  It’s based on a much broader autobiographical book, so maybe that element is in the book.  But there’s nothing like that here.  It’s just a story of a kid growing up in Queens and everything with family & friends is fucked so he runs away, and many years later he comes back.  It’s broken up between past and present, but that’s never distracting.  It’s a pretty heavy film, there’s no amazing events, his life is probably sadly common, but it’s still a pretty horrible one. So it’s a pretty good movie.  The guy who wrote the book & directed the movie is an amazing stereotype.  Seriously in 2008 he’s wearing a floral colorful shirt with the collar on the outside of his jacket. Jeez.  And he’s clearly no hollywood professional, but he happens to be friends with robert downy jr., and he has a group of actors and I assume producers that made up for his weaknesses. The weight of the performances is pretty strong.  And, now hold on to something, this is going to blow your mind and call into question all that you use as your anchor to reality and truth …. THE BOOF is actually a good actor.  No fuckin’ way!  He does have a kind of straightforward part, his character is kind of stoic a lot, it’s part of the story. But there are moments, and though I’m not reaching for my oscars, given that it’s the boof, I’m rather impressed. To reiterate the initial points, this movie isn’t about magic. This kid survives a shitty life and everyone in that life made an impact and stayed with him, and those are his “saints”, it’s pretty effective.

Touching the Void – This is a kind of weird movie.  It’s about this (apparently) very famous story of two mountaineers climbing up some crazy ass mountain and almost dying.  One is hurt, dangling on a rope, the other cuts him loose, thinking he has to save himself and he can’t help the other (which I can’t argue with).  It’s a pretty amazing story, naturally.  But there’s something extraordinarily weird about watching it reenacted, narrated by the guys themselves.  I was having a hard time with it, it seemed kind of cheesy? kind of forced? kind of fake? I didn’t like it.  THEN I stopped paying attention, I was doing stuff on my computer (oh em gee, monopoly city streets has restarted!!), and at that point I’m just listening to the amazing story told by these two guys, and the movie got better!  When I finally started watching again, it was with a slightly different view.  Pretty scenery, some visuals to accompany their story, and I liked it much more. So that was interesting.  It’s still a pretty slow movie, the story COULD be told in 20 minutes, this one takes 100. I wouldn’t rush out unless you are super into that sort of thing (I’m only marginally into it, despite my fondness for climbing, I have limited empathy for prideful jackasses on mountains). But it’s a good story if you want one.

The Mutant Chronicles – Holy fucking christ!  What a horrible piece of shit!  Wooooowwwww. Honestly amazingly bad! It’s some sort of future, and some mercs go to kill some weird mutant monster things.  Perhaps not surprisingly, Thomas Jane is the lead “actor.”  Somewhat surprisingly, Ron Pearlman is in it.  Holy shit, did you just buy a new house, surprisingly, John Malcovich is in it.  It’s really really bad.  The whole thing is digital, I don’t know if there’s a single real set in the whole thing. And all the digital has a cheesy sheen that screams fake. It’s not *bad* CG, but it is obviously CG and there’s not really any interesting visuals.  It’s the blood that’s amazing though, it is so bad! I’m not exaggerating here.  I know I exaggerate a lot on this blog, it ought to be called temple of the hyperbole whore, I know. But this is the worst blood in any movie ever.  Horrible ketchup physical blood is better. Midnight Meat Train digital blood is better.  This looks like someone used photoshop CS1 to pain the screen red.  It is so shiny, so separate from the background, so globby, so ridiculous.  I think I actually exclaimed out loud I was so shocked by its awfulness. And no this is not “so bad it’s good” kind of bad, it’s just bad.  It’s not hilariously bad, it’s just bad.  Jesus, so bad!

Cavite – I didn’t like this one either.  It’s kind of that big budget movie a couple years ago where some guy is forced into terrorism because of his family or something.  It’s also kind of like Saw where some hidden power with control over you makes you do stupid or horrible things.  Freaking stupid.  I never like those movies that force you the viewer into trying to resist an omnipresent power, I hate it. It’s cheap, unfair, manipulative. The only trick here is it’s indie, in the phillipines, and… that’s really it.  Not good.

Used Cars – This is a kinda cute 80s movie I had never seen (we’ve been going through the 80s providing a proper education of my childhood).  Kurt Russell (wearing a metric shitton of makeup) is a used car salesman, his boss dies, the competitor tries to take over, the daughter shows up, and hilarity ensues.  It’s pretty corny, and it gets very over the top at the end, but it’s fun. Not a whole lot to say about it besides that!

Paprika – Yikes, weird ass japanese movie!  It’s a semi futuristic, dangers of technology, warning kind of movie.  But because the technology involves dreams and the subconscious, it quickly gets wackaloon. It’s like a normal japanese anime, but made by michael gondry, which is just like, fucking crazy squared. Honestly, too crazy for me.  I was kind of into it, and some of the imagery is cool, but in the end I was mostly weirded out and not really captivated in any way. It also has some japanese pervyness toward the end that was strange, but not so bad. I don’t know, it’s not bad, it’s kind of worth seeing, as these movies (surreal, dream like, or weird anime, take your pick) tend to be, but I wouldn’t say I loved it, I’d kind of say I didn’t like it, if put to it.  I did love the theme song of the dreams, though, I might have that stuck in my head for a day or two.

Man on Wire – This was a pretty good movie. I’ve been meaning to see it for a while, but subtitles typically stand in the way of me watching something because I can’t do other things at the same time. But I had 3 subtitled netflix movies on my table, so there ya go. It’s the story of this crazy mopho who tight rope walks between the twin towers. The movie is structured pretty well, from the get they are planning the caper, and it is very much a caper. But interspersed is how they got there, other tight rope walks, and the cast of characters. There are some weird moments, they introduce people in odd ways, and some of the reenactments are corny as all get out, but over all it is good. The story itself is hard to deal with. On the surface, it’s an amazing thing what they did, can’t really be denied. On the other hand, he is 100% legitimately crazy, and I’m not sure I want to give that credit. He has this life long fantasy affair with the twin towers and is the one crazy person in the world to get to do something about their ridiculous obsession. For every one of this guy, there are 10,000 nutjobs who rant on street corners or marry rollercoasters. So let’s not pretend he is filled with divine greatness, he is crazy, and he has a skill, and luck found his story going this way. In principle, you can’t support what he did. He used public resources (cops), endangered lives (people below him), so that he could pull a stunt and get famous. Fuck him, that’s an asshole move.  But there is a level of grandeur because that is so far beyond what any of us will ever do with our lives, you can’t help but stand back and gape. There is a strong quixotic element to his quest, though I don’t know if you can call it quixotic if the quest succeeds. The movie is strongly aware of that, perhaps Phillipe is too. But there is a kind of creepy desperation and fundamental level of fantasy that is troublesome about this man. That doesn’t mean his story isn’t interesting, but it might mean I don’t want to honor him by watching his movie and making him more famous. I’m honestly not sure what I think, no one will ever do what he did, for obvious reasons. He has a place in history, and this movie becomes almost as much a fond farewell to the towers as it is a story of this guy, and that is important. Maybe without 9/11 he would just be a crazy guy. Instead he memorialized these monuments before we knew we’d lose them, and that’s pretty crazy too.

Changeling – I really wasn’t expecting to like this movie.  I’m not huge on period pieces, I’m not huge on jolie, I do like eastwood, but I hated gran turino, so my most recent memory is negative. The trailer just looked like jolie pouting for 2 hours, meh. Turns out the movie is pretty good.  It’s not amazing or anything, but it’s a solid 3 stars on netflix. The story is more involved and more engaging than I anticipated. The reflection of 20s/30s treatment of women and police corruption is quite staggering. The movie goes on a bit too long, I’d say, I don’t know that it needed all 2.5 hours. But it is a well made movie, to be sure.  The acting is pretty good from most people. A couple of the kids, one in particular, is kinda awful. I actually thought this one kid was so bad that he was acting well as a kid who was acting badly in order to lie to the police. But, no, he’s just a bad actor, oh well. You can’t fault the filmmaking, the style, the lighting in some scenes is fantastic (though I don’t need to see jolie peeking out from behind the shadowed brim of a hat ever again). It’s a pretty solid movie, all in all, worth the time.

Tron – I had never seen Tron! Nerd fail + 80s fail! It’s kinda corny, eh? I’m sure those graphic would have blown my ass off in 1982, but it’s obviously funny looking now. Then again no one really does graphics like that anywhere else, it’s pretty singular. I do like how it looks like 80s games, that’s a weird kind of nostalgia, media that reminds you not of the first time you saw that media, but of the media that you did see that influenced it. The story is corny too, but it’s classic and you can’t really hate on it. After the matrix the idea of being in computers isn’t uncommon, but this idea of anthropomorphizing programs in some sort of metaphorical digital space is pretty fantastic. The only analog (no pun) I can think of (surely influenced by Tron) is the matrix in Shadowrun. And I love that concept, so how can’t I love this? It’s really very much the same and very cool. So, the acting is cheesy, the graphic are dated but very unique, the world is very cool. I can’t say it’s an amazing movie, it’s too silly, but it has it’s place and it’s kinda cool.

The Host – Blech. I thought there was some sort of cult following around this movie. There’s going to be a sequel after all. But it’s pretty much crap. Any time the monster isn’t on screen its unbearable. Horrible acting for a boring story. The monster is fine, kind of a standard monster with the splayed mouth that’s become so popular. The monster doing monstery things makes the movie watchable for those few minutes, but then he goes away and I forget why I am watching. Dumb movie.

The Girlfriend Experience – This is a weird movie. It’s steven soderbergh being “experimental.” It stars sasha grey, a real life porn star, as a call girl, explores her open relationship with her boyfriend, her life as a call girl, and has a good deal to say about the economy (it is set about a year ago). No one (besides grey, if you even count her) in the movie is an actor, they are all real people acting in some analog to their real lives. It’s largely unscripted and improv’d. It’s not really a whole movie, though, it’s very short, and it doesn’t do anything in depth. It is kind of snippets of her life, kind of a fly on the wall thing, which is reinforced by the fact that all the conversations, being improv’d and unskillfully acted, are boring and trivial. It’s almost like a reality show, in that it has no real content. Her relationship with her boyfriend is given to us without explanation or context, so when it hits rocks we can’t interpret the damage. You could argue that’s the point, i would argue it’s a bad point. Grey, besides being astonishingly attractive when she doesn’t have so much make up on, actually does a pretty decent job, everyone else doesn’t really, but they aren’t horrendous necessarily. I think my favorite part of the movie is actually the editing.  The transitions in and out of scenes (especially since the scenes are near-randomly ordered) is really fantastic, I was very impressed. But the movie as a whole is just a little meh, there’s not enough going on to be interesting, I think.

Sep 24, 2009

Windows 7 Launch Parties

Everyone knows that this idiotic launch party thing is lame, it quickly became canonical.  However, did you know it could be AWESOME with the right editing?

Sep 17, 2009

Event Reviews @ The Temple

Soo… it’s a new section here at the temple.  But I was thinking, I write down these silly reviews not for my nonexistent readership but for myself.  It’s a notebook, public but not personal, about what I thought of things.  Someone asked me the other day my favorite PS3 games, I said I’d check my blog.  I was entering Netflix ratings last week and couldn’t remember if I liked M, I checked my blog.  I write these so I remember what I thought, as those thoughts won’t last the week, so why not for concerts and the like?  I include “the like” because though this is being kicked off with a electric rock music show (that’s said in a midwestern accent), it will soon include The Kiterunner and if I had started it several months ago would have included my first opera.  So, here goes my digital memory.

Ryanhood (opened by Telescope) – So I went out tonight to see Telescope.  They are an arizona band.  They are just pop rock, nothing amazing, I have no illusion that they are particularly unique.  But I do occasionally like the pop rock, and all things being equal I’d just assume pay an indie band, and all indie bands equal I might as well support arizona music.  They are a good band, I do legitimately like them, they just aren’t revolutionizing music.  Their stage show is a bit iffy, they don’t have the presence yet.  The lead singer guy is the best of the bunch, but doesn’t have an excess of personality.  The other singer is fine, but he has a permanent uncomfortable looking smile on his face while he performs, it’s like he’s forcing it.  The bassist is just weird, jumping around in his shorts (never a good idea) and trying to rock the bass guitar.  There’s something odd about watching a rock band, it’s never settled with me.  Go to a jazz-ish concert and I buy some guy rocking out on his sax, or piano, or bass.  But watching white boys in their 20s jump around with a gee-tar, and it seems too cliched, too corny.  Not their fault, definitely my issue, just funny.  Anyway, they were good, I should buy their new album.  They gave their first one away for free, and that deserves compensation.

Ryanhood I had never heard of, though it seems they are a Tucson band (they referenced Rincon High and Beaver’s Band Box) and clearly had a local following.  They are absolutely the better musicians of the night, at least the guitarists (Ryan Green and Cameron Hood) are, the bassist and drummer are average, not better or worse than Telescope.  But they, especially Ryan, have some legitimate skillzuhzuh.  The song writing is solid, there’s some very good music in there.  The lyrics are less so, 80% of them are about chicks, and that’s just tiresome to me.  I get that everyone has boy/girl troubles, and so everyone writes songs about them, and they relate to everyone.  But we’ve been doing boy/girl troubles songs for a about a 100 years in a mass-distributed kind of way, there’s not much more to say.  But there are some good bits in there, and generally I don’t listen to lyrics much anymore, so if they aren’t overt, love song stuff doesn’t bother me.  They have a very strong stage charisma, especially Cameron.  They are funny and tell stories and get along with the audience well.  They were certainly the better show, though I went for the first.  Overall a very satisfactory night for 10 bucks.

Can’t Stop The Serenity 2009 – So I guess this is a thing, I didn’t know about it.  For the past 4 years Whedon fans, nationally, have organized local charity events where they watch serenity and the proceeds go to Equality Now, an organization for women/girls.  This year it included Dr. Horrible, held at the Loft, gonna be a big party.  The event was fun, they had this “shadowcast” group which is apparently where you stand in front of the movie and pantomime what’s going on.  They were pretty good, timing wasn’t exquisite, but they had clever ways of handling various scenes. The show is awesome, of course, but then I watch it about once a week, so it’s not like I went for that.  There was an intro by fans and featuring whedon, tudyk, and fillion, which was neat.  Though honestly, the quality was shit.  I mean, did they film that on a webcam? From 1995? Made by “Lojitek”? A flip cam is like 20 bucks at this point, guys.  Even an iphone can record better looking video than that.  Not that you can really give any shit to people who put so much effort into something for charity.  I’m just saying, a better looking video would help the cause, yeah?  Anyway, it was fine, the celebrity bits were funny, quotes by fans were often funny.  Here’s the problem with this event: people.  Attention all people everywhere ever: YOU ARE NOT FUCKING FUNNY.  Jesus christ!  I know it’s a sing-a-long, and that was great.  I know it’s a big party event, so of course people are going to be talking and saying lines and being silly, I don’t have a problem with that in principle.  I have a problem with the fucking morons who yell out their stupid shit that they clearly planned out and is at best not funny, at worst annoying as hell.  People just think they are so damn clever, even the people who say the thing someone else JUST SAID.  Even the people who yell jokes I’m fairly convinced their 5 year old niece wrote for them.  It was really obnoxious.  Even the people who are just saying the obvious joke, or stealing the joke from the movie, which we obviously all know! I know I’m an anti-social misanthrope and have a general and abiding dislike for the majority of our fine race, but christ. It was tolerable for dr. horrible, it was fun to sing a long, and it’s a show that’s built for that environment.  But there was no way in hell I was staying for serenity.  I don’t need these jackasses ruining a great movie for me.  As such, I missed the costume contest and raffle, but I didn’t see anyone in the audience dressed particularly amazingly. A friend did win a signed lunchbox with a lucky fortune cookie (they passed them out at entry), which was funny.  It was a fun event, I bitch too much, I wouldn’t discourage anyone from going, most people probably wouldn’t mind the jackassery as much as me anyway.  ‘sides, charity and all that, yeah? Oh, also, people: they can’t hear you in the movie when you clap for them.  If you clap and have a litlte mini orgasm in your pants because your make believe boyfriend nathan fillian is on the screen, he can’t hear you, and I miss his next three sentences, shut the eff up, k?  … jesus, I really am a misanthrope.

Advanced DOS Strategies

Wow. I mean, holy crap wow.  I can’t decide what the most amazing part of this video is!  The over acting? The fake conversational style? Her comically large jacket? ALWAYS FORMAT B?  Oldfood?!  HAHA!

Sep 16, 2009

“Two Weeks” Fan Video

Man, between this and the daft punk thing I posted before, these may be fan videos, but they are hardly amateur.  I guarantee these are better than anything MTV has shown in the past year (just go with me here and pretend MTV plays music).

Sep 15, 2009

Beer Bottle Inspector Gadget

I’d give him a buck!

Movie Reviews @ The Temple

Nine – So this was pretty much my most anticipated movie of the summer.  More so than District 9 (which had too much hype so I ignored) or Basterds (which didn’t have much hype).  I was convinced this movie was going to rock my shit, it just looked like exactly what I wanted.  Sadly, nothing can live up to that, certainly not this movie.  It’s not a bad movie, it’s even a good movie, but it has its fair share of failings, and it did not rock my anything.  Random things: the magnet was completely unnecessary and very uncomfortable.  The bad guy sounds were as distracting as they were scary.  Speaking of sounds, I think that without strong facial animation, the movie relied on gasps to convey emotions.  This led to scenes that literally went: Puppet 1: “oh!”  Puppet 2: “OH!”  Puppet 3: “ah!”  It was lazy and weird.  I like that the girl is a total badass, that’s a nice touch. To the overall picture - I do like the animation, I like the style, I love the sackboy thing, it reminds me of this video I loved and linked some time ago.  The framework for the world is solid, everyone loves an apocalyptic future.  Having a band of characters is always the most fun, the characterization here is good, if archetypical.  Sadly the plot is just not there.  It is rushed, and at the same time meandering.  It’s got an shakey staccato rhythm to it that leaves you unsure what’s a crest and what’s a valley, when should you be excited, afraid, or joyous.  The idea of the plot isn’t bad, it is just executed in such a way that is awkward.  More importantly, it isn’t epic.  A movie like this has to be epic.  The trailer is epic. The music is epic. The themes are epic. But the movie is not, it begins with a sense of wonder, but proceeds with an unsure footing, and ends with an odd whimper.  It should have been great, instead of just good, I feel like we lost out on something awesome, but maybe I saw something that was never there. 

Severence – Some random low budget british horror movie.  More of a deliverance style movie than horror.  Except not memorable or interesting.  Kinda bloody, only one part really.  The rest is out and out average.  I recognize one of the girls in it, not sure from what, but besides that it’s just a bunch of random people they apparently picked off the streets.  Not that they did that bad, it was reasonable for random people, but there’s nothing worthwhile here.

Isolation – Is this british week?   This is a monster movie, also british, or maybe or scottish or irish or something, some kinda UK.  It reminded me kind of a Scott Sigler book, genetic engineering (or something like that) gone wrong, monster terrorizes people.  But those books would probably make pretty cheesy movies, they are good because he reads them and there’s personality there.  This is a pretty cheesy monster movie.  That’s pretty much all there is to say about it.  Not bad enough to be good, certainly not good enough to be good.

The Uninvited – I guess this is a remake of an asian movie, big surprise.  It’s a murder mystery / ghost story, I guess.  It’s a “twist” movie, though the twist isn’t that interesting.  The movie as a whole isn’t that interesting.  Without the twist, it’s just an average suspense/murder movie.  Add the twist and it’s different, but not better.  Twists are pretty much done, you can’t do them well anymore.  Not that I sat up at the 45 minute mark and said “aha I know what the twist is”.  But when the twist happened it was just “oh, yeah, okay, I guess that makes sense”  Not sure if we get mind blowing twists anymore, there’s only so many possible answers, the twist being one of them isn’t that big a deal.  Anyway, movie is fine, nothing to bother seeing.

Sunshine Cleaning – Note to the filmmakers: you made little miss sunshine, you can’t make another movie with sunshine movie, sorry.  Note to Alan Arkin: see above.  But besides that?  It’s a cute enough movie.  Not as good as little miss sunshine, certainly.  it’s less quirky (that’s bonus points), but misses the rest of the boat.  Amy Adams is good, but she kinda has the same look on her face as she did in doubt.  she needs more than one face (the zooey deschanel sydnrome) if she’s going to last another movie for me.  The story is nice, predictable from top to bottom, the trailer tells you it all.  There’s worse ways to spend a couple hours, but meh, no need to rush.

The Spirit – Believe it or not, this was not as bad as you’d think.  I’m not saying it’s good, naturally, just not as bad as I imagined from… from pretty much everything I’ve seen.  So first there’s the style, Frank Miller obviously looked at zach snyder and said “hey! talent! I think I lost mine in the 90s!” and took the black/white isolated color thing, except he forgot to do it good.  It’s exaggerated in a not-fun way, some of the effects look really cheesy, there’s this blood covered sword at one point that reminded me of roger rabbit.  But it’s not all of the movie, so it’s not too offensive.  The rest of the movie is though.  Okay, not offensive, just aggressively mediocre (I love that phrase).  The movie really just tries way too hard.  It’s overtly noir, overacted, over the top, tongue in cheek, and reminiscent of previous times.  And it’s all on purpose, I hope.  But it’s not done well, it falls flat, it doesn’t feel cool or interesting, it just feels forced.  The main guy tries to be too sexy, samuel jackson tries to be too crazy, scarlett johansen tries to be too aloof, the police recruit tries to talk too loud.  It’s all just too much and not convincing.  So here’s my surprise: it was actually a descent idea.  I can see the pitch, cool stylized graphics, throwback to old movies, an homage and a parody.  But it turned more into dick tracy, except cheesier.  You heard me, cheesier than Dick Tracy.

Tell No One – So, this is a french suspense movie.  Kind of a murder mystery, kind of conspiracy movie.  At first I was into it, it seemed to have an atmosphere and play with time in a way that I was into.  But 30 minutes in it was clear it’s just a normal suspense movie.  It’s not bad or anything, it just kind of does what you’d think.  It’s got a mystery and I guess i had no idea what was going on.  But that was at least as much because I didn’t care as because I couldn’t guess.  It just didn’t pull me in enough to unravel the mystery.  I do like the conclusion, it has a romantic longing element that you don’t find in these movies.  Quite touching in its way.  But besides that, it didn’t have much for me.

Dead Man’s Cards – Kinda random irish boxer movie.  Had a hard time understanding them, truth to tell.  Kind of a gangster movie too.  Kind of a I’m gonna redeem myself I did shitty things movie, get out of the life movie.  I guess it was okay, I wasn’t really paying attention. I was kinda bored.

Class Act – There was an ad for this before that Chalk movie I didn’t like, this one was much much better.  It’s a real documentary, nominally about this old drama teacher in miami beach who happens to have taught a lot of semi-famous people, but also many examples of teaching of the arts, and the troubles there, around the country.  It’s a little bit sporadic, for that.  It jumps from subject to subject, different teachers, schools, or foundations.  It’s not necessarily hard to follow, it just doesn’t linger or even let you settle on one issue.  But it’s still a good movie, very likable, very charming.  It’s not hard to be on the side of education and arts education, unless you are an idiot.  I don’t imagine this movie convincing any idiots to stop being idiotic, but I generally don’t imagine that of any documentary.  It’s a nice movie though.

Bobby – I remember this coming out, but somehow it completely escaped my memory until just now.  It’s this carefully constructed (one might say overly constructed) movie of many peoples lives and how they intersected with the assassination of robert kennedy.  If I thought class act was sporadic, jesus.  This movie can’t sit fucking still, it is constantly jumping from person to person and story to story, not only was i not keeping up, I was horrendously bored and stopped paying attention.  It’s also so god damn chock full of celebrities its kind of ridiculous.  Seriously like 20 high B, or A list level celebrities.  And, fair or not, that is incredibly distracting.  This is why people make movies with no stars in them, because I wasn’t thinking “oh, the life of this doorman is fascinating” I was thinking “jesus fucking christ, everyone is in this movie!”  The end of the movie is fairly effective, but then that’s mostly because of direct audio of a robert kennedy speech.  That’s the best part of the movie, and it’s not really of the movie.  The movie just tries too hard, it’s too clever.  The end is good, and some of the individual stories are good, but it does too much and it comes out scattered instead of cohesive.