Dec 4, 2012

Super Mario Beads 3

Super cool.

Christmas Lights

First there was Psy. Now Skrillex. Don’t skip to 2:00 if you have seizures. Maybe don’t skip even if you don’t have them.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Parady

First of all: awesome. Second of all: great work on the costumes. Third of all: I can’t believe that song actually exists, it’s somewhat depressing.

Nov 21, 2012

Movie Reviews @ The Temple

Looper – Pretty good movie, but not mind blowing like I was hoping. Everyone seemed to think it was the coolest shit in town. It’s cool and I liked it, but it’s not revolutionary. I’ve heard people refer to Primer talking to this, and it’s nothing like that. Primer blew your mind, this doesn’t blow my mind. It’s a fine world that they create, but it’s nothing new, time travel and one additional “power” that I won’t mention because they chose not to in the trailers. But it’s not like it’s a new version of time travel, and it’s not like they handle it all that well. To their credit, they stick to their on rules, which is the most important thing, and those rules have a direct impact on the outcome of the movie. But the rule obviously doesn’t make any sense, and that’s bothersome. People can’t help but think of time travel so linearly, which is just silly. But it’s really hard to make a non-linear movie, which is why time travel will always be kind of dumb. If it hadn’t been built up as the jesus movie, it would be a great movie. Worthy of ignoring the lameness inherent in time travel. JGL’s 2 hour impression of bruce willis is good. Bruce willis is good. Most people are good. They kid is a little shakey, it’s not his fault, but people in the theater were laughing a bit when it wasn’t supposed to be funny. But still a good movie.

Jiro Dreams of Sushi – This was actually hard to watch, so much fish. I know I shouldn’t be surprised by that, and I’m not, but it’s still gross. Unfortunately it’s subtitled, so it’s not like I can just look away and listen. Sushi as sushi is kind of abstract and not so bad. But watching them hack up whole fish. Watching an octopus struggle against being stuffed in a plastic bag, was pretty upsetting. The story of Jiro is a good one, it’s crazy to see someone devote so much of himself, to the exclusion of himself and his family, to be the best. But the fish, man, yuck.

Men In Black 3 – Surprisingly fun. You’d be forgiven in assuming it’s a crappy rehash way past it’s time. But it’s actually pretty fun. Will Smith is charming and likeable, even though it’s the same act as always. And Josh Brolin doing a 2 hour Tommy Lee Jones impression is worth those 2 hours in and of itself.

Lockdown – Meh, kind of a letdown, no pun. It’s not bad, it’s a fine actioney movie, but there’s nothing interesting about it that I might hope for from Luc Besson. It’s barely even a scifi, if they didn’t take a space ship to get there, it’s really just a prison, rogue cop, save the pretty girl kind of movie.

Unknown – This movie actually holds together really well. Can’t talk about it much without giving things away, but there are lots of things you think are wrong with the story as it goes. Unrealistic or forced, but it really manages to clean itself up. Interesting, actioney, very well done.

Snow White and the Huntsman – Nope. I know everyone hates Kristen Stewart, so they assumed this was bad. But it looked pretty cool with the slashey slashey and the visuals. I’ve never seen Twilight, so I didn’t have proof, but yeah, Kristen Stewart is a horrible actress. The flow of the movie is kind of awkward for some reason, not sure why. Neon Flux and Thor do good enough jobs, I guess. Just didn’t come together, and there wasn’t enough action or cool visuals to justify the rest.

Battlefield – Wow. I’m trying to figure out what the most ridiculous part of this movie is. Where they reboot an 70 year old warship? The part where that warship is armed? Maybe the part where radio signals can combine at one point in space and glow like laser beams. Nevermind, it’s obviously the part where a radio signal “5 time as powerful as any before it!" somehow travels however much faster than it would need to travel to get to this other planet, and then for the aliens to get here, in all of 8 years (there’s all of 4 known stars less than 8 ly from here). All that being said, it’s kind of an awesome popcorn movie. The CG is all great, the ‘splosions are all great. I mean, I’m not exactly mr. blind patriotism, but when they reboot the battleship, it’s a pretty effective america, fuck yeah moment.

Hunger Games – I never read these books, don’t feel a burning need to now, but the movie is decent. You can tell they had to skip a lot. There’s a lot of relationships that are referred to as deep, but are given just 2 minutes of screen time. I assume there’s a lot more in the book. The set up is nice, dystopias are common enough, but combining with the gladiator/reality tv stuff is cool. Mostly it makes me want to see the next movie, where I assume they must rise up against the oppressors. Seems like that will be more fun. But this was good.

God Bless America – Wow did that suck. It’s a very puerile rebellion of what’s “acceptable” in society and filmmaking. It’s just a fantasy of: oh boy I want to kill everyone who pisses me off, wouldn’t that be awesome. But there’s no subtlety, no real meaning, no sense of self. It’s just being an asshole for a couple hours and going out in a blaze of glory, every troubled 13 year old’s fondest fantasy. Except Bobcat Goldthwait (he made the movie) is 50.

Cabin in the Woods – This movie is pretty cool. The concept is just neat. Everyone knows that it’s set up like a typical horror movie, but something else is going on. I didn’t know that they were going to be extremely upfront with what that something else is, right away. I mean, they tried to be a little vague, but it was fairly clear. The details in between the ideas are all pretty mundane, nothing special as far as effects or acting. It’s pretty damn bloody. Some of the dialogue is clever, but not the best Whedon stuff ever. Still a fun movie though.

Iron Sky – Meh. This movie sounds like a great idea: the nazis fled to the dark side of the moon after WW II, and sometime in the near future (from now), they come back to conquer. That sounds kind of awesome. But like many ideas that sound awesome when you say it on the internet, it’s not really awesome when stretched to a 2 hour movie. Acting is horrible, the set up is pretty bad. The sarah palin president is not funny, it’s just annoying. The effects are pretty good for an indie movie. But besides that, yikes. The last shot is pretty awesome though.

The Artist – So, this is best movie, huh? I don’t get it. The concept of seeing a silent movie star as the world moves past him is interesting. And a few scenes (the dream, the end) are very cool. But how can you make a movie about how silent movies are boring and not be boring? Either you are lying, or you are boring, those are the only options. It’s cool that you could pull it off, I guess. But it’s also cool when someone hacks a TI-85 to play Doom, that doesn’t make it the best video game of the year.

The Lorax – Pretty cute movie. I guess I can see why all the anti-earth people go bugs up their asses, it sure does lay it on pretty thick with the taking care of the planet. But that doesn’t bother me, so it’s just a cute movie.

Three Musketeers – Well, this movie isn’t very good. It’s trying to be very slick. It may be set hundreds of years back, but it is very much a modern movie. Change the swords for machine guns, and it’s a modern day heist/gangster movie. It’s got lots of sword fighting, that is pretty good. Lots of explosions that aren’t. Lots of CGI that’s very CGI-ey and not that good looking. But more than anything it seems to be a cynical exploitation of what someone thinks is cool. It’s just so unnecessarily slick that it has a fake sheen. Like a woman in Maxim with no knees, it feels artificial.

Ghost Rider 2 – Yikes.

The Iron Lady – This movie isn’t exactly about what I thought. Yes it’s about Margaret Thatcher, and yes it’s half about the famous part of her life. But it’s also about the last years of her life, and that’s the really good part. The stuff about her time in government is interesting, to be sure. Despite the fact that she seems like a horrible person, it’s pretty cool becoming so powerful in a society that wouldn’t give a woman such opportunity. But if it was just that, it’d be a kind of boring biopic. Instead it focuses even more on the end of her life, and Meryl Streep gets all amazing with her acting skills and such. It’s not an exciting movie, and I was kind of bored for lots of it, but as expected as it is, you can’t ignore what a good actor she is.

Safety Not Guaranteed – Meh. I thought this one sounded good. And then when the director started being floated as a potential star wars director, I jumped it up the list. It’s a quirky type movie, kind of purposefully dry and a little bland. I was enjoying it for the most part. But the primary relationship is really freaking creepy. Not in an interesting way, just in a icky way. And the ending is amazingly bad. Why the hell they’d make that choice, when there’s no reason to, completely changing the movie, is beyond me. I was still okay with the movie up until that, but now I don’t like it.

Sep 29, 2012

Our Story in 2 Minutes

Is this awesome because of the Inception music, or because it’s awesome? Not sure.


A crazy beautiful short film. What it’s about is a bit confusing. I get the general gist of what’s happening, plot wise, but I’m not really sure what the meaning is supposed to be. Damn pretty though.

Sep 17, 2012

The Butterfly Circus

It’s almost tragic how good this short film could be. The acting is really pretty poor, and some of the editing doesn’t help, it comes off awkward. But the way it is filmed, the feeling of the film, and certainly the scene before the end are all beautiful.

Paso Wine Man

In the spirit of dollar shave club and old spice, this is pretty funny.

Sep 3, 2012

Movie Reviews @ The Temple

Dark Knight Rises – This movie is pretty great. It’s not the Dark Knight. I need to go back and watch that, but if my memory is to be trusted (which is mostly dangerous), it was good because it had a solid story, solid action, and a singular performance. This movie does not have that performance. The story is still good, as ridiculously full of holes as it is, it serves its purpose.  The action is very good, no worse than the 2nd movie, and certainly better than the first. But Bane could never be as interesting as the Joker, never in a babillion years. But if this was just a cool action movie, it’d be a cool action movie. Yes Bane’s voice is ridiculous, yes I truly did not understand at least 4 full sentences that he said. On the flip side, Anne Hatheway did not completely suck. I wouldn’t say she didn’t anything particularly well, but she also didn’t screw it up. All the old standards are good enough, and Joseph Gordon Levitt does his job well. Very fun movie.

Step Up: Revolution – Don’t you judge me! I like dance movies, okay? The plot is exactly the plot of every movie. No one is paying attention to the acting, no one is paying attention to the story. It’s just cool dancing, and the dancing is cool.

Warrior – Holy crap, this movie is really good. It has the advantage of being a fighter movie, of course, and all those movies are formulaically built to be emotional and powerful. Just two dudes fighting to swelling music can’t help but get you. But even besides that, besides being more than a little forced plot-wise, it’s very good. Nick Nolte is freaking awesome. I know the criticism is that he’s not really acting when he’s playing a deranged drunk. But acting or not, I’m not sure how many people can have a scene like he did, raving about Ahab, it was amazing. Tom Hardy is also extremely good. I’ve seen him 3 times in the past week – as Bane, as a spy, and as this guy. This was by far the scariest. Bane just wasn’t that scary, everything hidden behind the mask, that goofy voice, and a slightly random, more cartooney version of evil. But this fighter he plays, wow, he is frightening. I can see that guy in real life, I can see him having appeared in my own family if things hadn’t gone a different way. To see him coming out of his corner of the ring (octagon, I guess) with that rabid dog craziness in his eyes was pretty wow. The main guy I guess is the least stand-out of those 3, but he still does a very good job. The ending, as pushed and perhaps inevitable as it was, is good and emotional. I’m really surprised, but I think this movie is fantastic.

The Raid: Redemption – Holy shit, this is cool. This movie starts pretty slow. It’s an Indonesian (I think?) action movie, a bunch of cops are raiding an apt complex run by some bad guys. The opening 20 minutes or so is pretty boring standard SWAT team stuff. But when they let the main actor go, holy crap does he go. This is kind of like the first time I saw Ong Bak – a kind of fighting I’ve just never seen before. There’s plenty of guns in this movie, and they have their place, but the real star is the knife combat. All the hand to hand shit is really cool, but the way this guy dismantles dudes with a knife is effing amazing. I mean, it’s all pretty stylized, they aren’t going for realism. But the motions are real, and the guy’s speed is real. It’s all pretty bad ass. This is one of those movies that will influence action movies for a while after it. Either that, or this is the result of the influence of some other awesome movie that we never heard about over here!

Tinker, Tailer, Soldier, Spy – This one didn’t end up doing it for me. I love the structure, in theory. It jumps around in time a LOT, so much so I wasn’t always sure when I was. It gives you the background piece by piece while also advancing the present. It takes quite a while before you can figure out what the hell is going on, really. That sounds awesome, and for the first 1/3 or 1/2 of the movie I still thought it was going to be. But it just didn’t come together for me. The intrigue was not intriguing enough. The payoff wasn’t some amazing kaiser soze moment. Perhaps they dragged it out TOO slowly and eventually it just dribbled to the full background and you realized you knew everything, without any big revelation. Again, that seems like it could be cool, but it just didn’t end up that way for some reason. Not a badly made movie, just didn’t accomplish what I feel like it was trying to accomplish.

The Adventures of Tintin – This movie was pretty fun. The animated people movies have certainly gotten a lot better lately. There are certainly cartoony aspects of the animation, but the people and faces are quite convincing. Even the body motions, things like action (punches and running) must be mo’cap’d, they look good. Hair is lacking, everyone has statue hair. Even the dog, they might as well have chosen a Sphynx, they went with as little hair as possible. We went and watched the Final Fantasy movie a couple nights later to compare. It’s pretty impressive how well Square did 10 years ago. Their facial animation isn’t as good as the new stuff. With the exception of eyes (which they went to great effort to get right), the faces are kind of bland. They avoid uncanny valley (as does tintin), but it’s not as realistic. On the flip side, the hair in FF is much better than this brand new movie, which is impressive. But back to TinTin, it’s all pretty good. The story is fun too. It’s kind of a treasure hunter feel, though it’s not exactly that. I don’t know that I’ll remember the story in a couple months, it wasn’t special, but it was entertaining.

Midnight in Paris – This is my first Woody Allen movie. I have a very hard time separating the movie from the real life. I’m left with a weird feeling about how he sets women up in his story. If every main character in every one of his movies is really supposed to be him, it all tends to feel like puerile fantasy. That being said, the movie is a pretty cool concept. The idea is a magical cab shows up at midnight and takes this aspiring writer guy back in time to the 20s or something. It’s a kind of neat concept. Everyone acts well, the movie is filmed well. I can’t completely deny Woody Allen’s ability as a filmmaker. But the wish fulfillment aspect leaves me a bit creeped out.

Cyrus – This movie isn’t exactly what I thought it would be. The trailers seemed like completely wackiness, and there is some of that. But the whole relationship stuff between the three people is treated pretty seriously. I’d say it doesn’t really succeed at that though. It’s not funny enough to be that, it’s not good enough to be the other. So, kind of not much at the end. Okay and everything, just not much.

The Thing – This is the remake, or prequel I guess. It’s alright. The good parts are some good creature effects, and that a woman took charge of all these dudes, that was kind of cool. The bad part is there’s just not enough there. The technology is not significantly different from the original not to just want to go watch the original.

Tower Heist – This is actually funnier than you’d imagine. The setup is only minorly stupid. The wrap up eventually because overly stupid and it kind of goes off the rails. Ben Stiller plays Ben Stiller, Eddie Murphy plays the increasingly charicature-ey version of Eddie Murphy he seems to have fallen into. But despite that, the humor is there. It was definitely funny.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – Okay, so, this movie is a murder mystery. I did not know that. I guess I thought it was scifi? Or fantasy? Just because it says dragon in the title? Not sure. But anyway, it’s a murder mystery. So, heads up. It’s also very brutal, particularly in a sexual manner. It’s somewhat hard to watch in parts. It’s not visually disturbing, they don’t show a lot, but you can see enough. It’s a pretty good movie though, a pretty good story. Murder mysteries are kind of all over the place, so to stand out you have to be somehow interesting. I’m not exactly sure what was different about this one, maybe just the weirdo character of Lisbeth, but it was good enough.

Immortals – I have to rewatch this one. I put it on in the background assuming it would be horrible, but it wasn’t really! Not that it was artwork. But it was kind of a less-than sequal to 300. Not as good, but still not bad. The visuals are interesting, the representation of the Greek gods, though sometimes not appealing to me, are at least unique and shows some real artistic individuality. The action is pretty good, especially involving the gods.

Croupier – Huh, weird movie with Clive Owen, kind of film noir-ish in that he narrates it. He’s a Croupier, which apparently a dude who runs games at a casino. He means to be a writer, but lacks inspiration. He gets involved in some weird things at the casino, which provides the inspiration. It’s not a particularly good movie, in the end, it’s kind of awkward.

Submarine – I had heard this was a wonderful coming of age movie. I disagree. It’s about this outsider british kid. His weirdness is supposed to be endearing, but I found it completely obnoxious. He does stupid things, treats people stupidly, and is generally a little dick. I know, he's a kid, and kids are kind of stupid, so fine. But I was certainly not endeared. And without that, the movie becomes kind of pointless. Sorry.

Toast – Oh look, another story about an awkward british kid. This one is less annoying. I guess it’s a real story about a food critic. He’s got kind of a weird upbringing that is moderately interesting. It’s still british and awkward, but there’s something to it. It’s not wonderful, but it’s ok.

Ondine – Colin Farrell pulls a lady out of the ocean, hijinx ensue. Sounds kind of lame, but it’s actually pretty good. It’s kind of weird to describe without telling what happens. But he is an interesting character, she is sufficiently enigmatic without being obnoxious. His daughter is kind of annoying, pretentious kids always are, but it’s manageable. Pretty good.

The People vs. George Lucas – This is kind of weird. It’s just about people’s dislike for the new trilogy and effing with the old trilogy. It’s kind of review for most people plugged into this kind of stuff. Some people in the movie are smart enough to recognize that it’s not life and death. The people who care just a bit too much have a presence too, though. It’s an okay movie, it’s still kind of interesting even though I know a lot of this stuff.

Heaven – Uh, that was weird. A woman is on a crusade to solve her husband’s death. She gets helped by some guy who falls in love with her for no apparent reason. It’s really a weird movie and I don’t think I enjoyed anything about it. It’s not bad as in it’s somehow made horribly, but it’s certainly not good.

The Conspirator – This one is pretty good, it’s about a lawyer defending the mother of one of the people who conspired to kill Lincoln. He can’t be found, so she’s taking the fall for him. It’s not been so long since I read that Lincoln biography, so I can remember some of the context. It’s a pretty well done movie and the story is very interesting, and tragic.

Silenced – Yikes, this movie was hard to watch. It’s a true story about a guy who starts teaching at a school for deaf children and finds rampant sexual and physical abuse. The movie is oppressively sad. Such abuse is sad as it is, but then on top of kids who can’t even tell you what’s been done to them, and who are generally treated as mentally handicapped, it’s pretty hard. And not to give anything away, but it’s not exactly david defeating goliath up in here. The justice system (in this case in Korea) is shockingly fucked up. The movie is well done, and I certainly hope that it gets the story out there, since the legal system didn’t manage to punish effectively. On the flip side, I don’t understand how making the abuse scenes was legal. Maybe it’s a movie, maybe it’s with a bunch of cameras and lights and crew. But that is still a grown man running his hands up and down a naked boy. It was very unnerving. I hope it was a CG boy or a dummy or something, otherwise I don’t understand how that’s ok.

From Dusk Til Dawn 3 – Um, that’s not good. For fuck’s sake, it took them half the movie to get to the god damn bar. What part of FDTD made you think that the shit before the bar was the good part? And then inside the bar isn’t very good, so… that’s about it.

The Air I Breathe – This movie is pretty good. It’s trying to do the Crash thing where a bunch of stories intersect in ways that aren’t necessarily spelled out to start. Sounds like it could be a lame copy cat, but it’s pretty well done. The stories are compelling enough. Sarah Michelle Gellar’s story is kind of boring, not very interesting. But Forest Whitaker and Kevin Bacon are really good and believable. Pretty good.

The Experiment – So, you know that study that some professor did, where he makes a bunch of students be guards and prisoners. And he watches as they all supposedly embody those roles and basically become despicable human beings? This is like that, except in the Saw sense, where this would never actually happen. The story goes exactly as you’d expect. To be fair, Forest Whitaker and Adrian Brody both do excellent jobs at being complete fuckin’ wackos. Nonetheless, the story is manipulative and movies like that piss me off.

30 Minutes or less – Meh, this is what the preview told you it would be. A few funny moments, not a complete waste of time. But nothing more than what you’d think. Plus I hate Danny McBride and Aziz Ansari, or at least the characters they always play. Not good.

Hugo – Sure, I like this movie well enough. The 3D thing bugged the hell out of me. We didn’t watch it in 3D, but it was so painfully obvious it was made for 3D. So many god damn shots zooming down hallways or in crowds or random pieces of furniture flying at your face for no apparent reason. I can tell, without seeing it in 3D, that it was shitty 3D. It was 3D just to be 3D. It was not immersive, it did not lull you into the world, it did not make you feel surrounded by the story. It was just balls in your face. That being said, I like the story. It’s a tiny bit naïve, but the idea of finding your purpose is nice. And the metaphor of the movie feels good.

J Edgar – Pretty good movie, this one. It’s a biopic, there’s not a lot to say about it. Leo does a good job. I’m not sure about his accent, sounds kind of dumb, but I don’t know what Hoover talked like, maybe that’s spot on. This movie is not exactly about what I thought it was about. It is about the history, which is interesting since I’m dumb and I don’t know it. It is about his life and background and how he became how he was, which is all good. It’s also about another aspect of his life, and I don’t mean the cross dressing, that I was surprised by. I guess I can’t say, it doesn’t exactly ruin the movie, it’s clear that it’s happening. But it was not clear to me that that was going to be the point, which I found to be pretty amazing. Pretty good.

Aug 29, 2012

Ryu vs. Scorpion

Wait, there’s a fan-made MK vs. SF video that’s actually pretty good? Weird. Their batman vs. capt america doesn’t work so well, too ninja; but this was cool (sans acting and scorpion’s faceplate).

Aug 21, 2012

Aug 18, 2012

Batman: Puppet Master

I just watched a test piece for a Batgirl web series, and it was god awful. Like I think some 15 year olds with a flipcam did it. Then I saw this, which was awesome. More than that, I’m unfamiliar with this part of Batman lore, so I didn’t see where it was going at all.


Very well done.

Jun 14, 2012

Movie Reviews @ The Temple

Drive – Finally saw this, boy it’s a weird one. Good, yes. Besides Ryan Gosling, who does a good job (although having no personality isn’t exactly amazing acting), the star of the movie is the pacing. It moves extremely slowly, deliberately, almost ploddingly at times. But with a wonderful sense of tension. Then sporadic bursts of horrifying violence. More and more of that as you approach the end. Kind of a weird movie, kind of a what’s the point. But good.

London Boulevard – I almost really like this movie, but it tries to do a bit too much. The basic idea is colin farrell is fresh out of prison. He is simultaneously trying to work out to what extent he is involved with some gangsters, and also for some reason doing a bodyguard type thing for a recluse celebrity chick (keira knightly). I really like most of the movie. It does get kind of over done toward the end. Some of the people’s choices just don’t really make sense, they seem to exist only to heighten the craziness of it all, rather than contribute to the movie. It’s too bad, I was pretty into it, and that stuff at the end dulled my enthusiasm. Still good though.

Sleeping Beauty – Uh, ok. This movie is trying way too hard to be interesting. It reminds me a bit of Eyes Wide Shut, in that it tries to treat sexuality so nonchalantly. As if it’s completely beyond our puny human taboos. What? Oh you are bothered by the idea of being served by 7 women in weird bondage outfits with their tits out? How plebian. Bunch of bullshit. The movie doesn’t have any kind of point, a girl trying to make money cuz she doesn’t have any. Extremely weird things she does in order to make it. I think the main point is that the girl (one of the ones from sucker punch) in it is fantastically hot and you see a lot of her. Short of that, I’m not sure why you’d watch this.

Iron Giant – I’d always heard this was really good, and it is! There’s nothing particularly unexpected in it, but it tells a very nice story. It’s funny, it’s sweet, it’s everything you could want from a movie like this. Come to find out it’s Brad Bird, so that makes sense!

Four Lions – Ugh. This is supposed to be a dark comedy. Except it’s not funny. Not really dark either. It’s these british guys who fancy themselves jihadis. Except they suck at it so it’s just fucking pink panther goes to terrorist training. It’s not good.

Fast Five – So this movie is really more a heist/action movie than a car movie. I mean, it’s not really a heist movie, those are a lot slicker. It is an action movie there’s shooting and, uh, action. It’s not really a car movie. They have a race… OFF SCREEN. They go to all this effort to get bad ass cars, then RENT COP CARS. They finally get to a big over the top car thing at the end. Besides ignoring every single law of physics, it’s pretty fun. I’m really not sure. In other news, Vin Diesel looks like a roided midget next to the Rock.

Contraband – This movie isn’t what I expected. I thought from the previews that it was Mark Wahlberg’s Taken. But it’s got none of that. He’s just a thief who gets forced into thieving. It’s an okay movie, nothing is particularly wrong with it, nothing great either.

Conan the Barbarian – Not nearly as bad as I imagined, but still not good. However, the sand fighters were pretty awesome, and pretty much worth putting up with the rest of the movie, which is just average.

Man on a Ledge – This one’s okay. It’s kind of heistey, which is fun. The brother and his gf are pretty funny together. Everyone does a fine enough job. I liked it well enough.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close – This movie is really good. It’s not as sad as you’d think. I mean, it’s pretty sad. But it is very uplifting in its own way. It reminds me very much of that book the curious incident of the dog in the night, in that it really pegs the perspective of an autistic (or slightly or whatever) person. I mean, I’m not, and I don’t know anyone who is, so I could just be getting tricked. But it really seems to present that perspective so honestly, it’s really good. The story/journey as a whole is pretty wonderful, it’s very nice.

Grave of the Fireflies – Holy shit. Now THIS is sad. It is sad from the very first moment. It is sad at the very last moment. It is sad nearly every moment in between. This is a Studio Ghibli movie, but nothing like any other movie. It’s about a boy and his sister in Japan toward the end of WW II. It’s really freaking horrendously sad. We were bummed out for like a week afterward. It’s very good. The relationship between the two is good. The desperation to be free, even if that means something bad, is painful, beautiful, sad. Good movie, but don’t ever make me watch it again.

The Producers – Yikes, not so good. I’m not sure why this is such a thing. Partially it suffers from its age, people just don’t act like that in movies anymore. Gene Wilder’s character is so ridiculously obnoxious. The idea is pretty clever, produce a broadway bomb, get rich off of the failure. That’s a cute idea, and it ends as it only can. And the ridiculousness of Springtime with Hitler is pretty funny. But all the rest of it is honestly hard to bear.

The Lincoln Lawyer – This movie was alright. It’s about a morally bankrupt defense lawyer who finds his morals. Sounds kind of trite, and it kind of is. But it’s still worth watching.

The Tale of Desperaux – This movie is pretty close to Ratatouille! And of course that means Ratatouille is like this movie since the book is a bit older. This one is pretty cute. Desperaux is kind of annoying, to tell you the truth. But I rather like the rest of the movie. The creature made out of food sticks with me as very charming. It’s a somewhat average cartoon at the end of the day, but it’s likeable.

Enter the Dragon – Er, no thank you. I was excited to see this after the Ip Man movies. I thought the “Wwwwaaaaaaa” thing that people do when mimicing martial artists was a ridiculous exaggeration. It’s really really not. Bruce Lee is a ridiculous exaggeration of himself. And there’s barely any ninja’ing in this movie. All the fighting is quick cuts, mostly one hit kills. Super disappointing.

Copying Beethoven – This was good. I wouldn’t have expected to like it, but it’s pretty cool. I’m not sure how true it is, it’s about Beethoven’s copyist (duh?), which is a very weird relationship because Beethoven’s an asshole. But it’s pretty interesting, at least in the fantasy that it’s true.

Friends with Benefits – Comments: 1) This movie is better than you’d imagine, it’s actually pretty funny. 2) Emma Stone screaming “He is the Sheryl Crow of our generation” completely makes it worth it. 3) C’mon, no one plays the Move. 4) The amazon guy was pretty funny too.

Batman Blows His Cover


May 26, 2012

Event Reviews @ The Temple

Alvin Ailey – These guys are pretty good. I want to cover that first, because I do have things I didn’t like, but that shouldn’t fool anyone into thinking they aren’t good. They are remarkably talented and athletic people doing pretty remarkable things. The show came in 4 parts, the first was sort of exactly what I imagined from Alvin Ailey. But the choreography was pretty beautiful. It painted some pictures that were striking, moments that stuck in my head. The outfits were incredible, the dresses were so flowy and perfect for their movements. The dancers were… less than expected. Still amazing, all that stuff I said. But I saw a surprising amount of wobbly turns, and slightly off balance poses. I really didn’t expect to see that, I thought it would be much smoother. Second dance was an INCREDIBLE modern thing. Set to this “music” that was really just a woman rhythmically saying “tick tack took” or some random sounds. The dancing was equally staccato. This isn’t a good description, but it was awesome. Third dance was this samurai-inspired thing set to really industrial heavy music. It was telling the story of a hunt or something, the dancing was very aggressive and masculine (it was 6 guys). It went on a bit long, the last 3rd didn’t need to exist. But it was pretty cool up until that, and the lighting was amazing. Last dance was the one these guys are famous for. Created by Alvin Ailey a long time ago, it’s inspired by the lives of slaves, it has a few parts, set mostly to gospel music. I was strangely disappointed with this. It seemed like it should have been amazing, it had all the right ingredients. But it didn’t connect with me, I ended up bored. I feel bad! Overall, the show was great, not the best. I think I’d rather see the columbia dancers again, if put to it.

Pancho Sanchez – So, this guy leads a little latin jazz group, and has for a few decades. Turns out, I don’t really dig latin jazz. I think the guys did a good job, they are all good musicians. Although a couple didn’t seem like they wanted to be there, really. But they were skilled. The sax/flute, trumpet, and trombone guys especially. They had a guest trumpeter, a guy named Terence Blanchard, who was pretty fantastic. Probably the best trumpeter I’ve ever seen. I saw Wynton Marsalis a few years ago too, I don’t remember him being as good! All that being true – I don’t really love latin jazz. It’s fine and all, just kind of boring. They did a soul song as an encore, that was pretty fun, the rest of the night was just a bit snoozy.

River North Dance Company -  Well, these guys are a bit mixed. There was one really bad dance, but that's just because it was excessively jazzy (to Miles Davis music as well), and that's just not my thing. I'm sure they performed it well, I just don't like it. So removing that, this one is hard to judge. They had one beautiful dance that I loved. It was just a couple, dancing to "At Last", a very romantic, joyful dance. It was very much what you'd see on So You Think You Can Dance, a nice beautiful couples contemporary dance. Which is funny, because that's something I don't normally love on SYTYCD, but in person it was fantastic. The girl espeically represented such pure joy, she was genius. The night wrapped with a series of latin-inspired dance. The neat thing thing was they weren't all super high energy. I like super high energy, but it was cool to see latin music danced more slowly. The songs were fun, I liked it all. They danced to Andalucia, which I've just spent 20 minutes figuring out the name of and discovering that the reason I know it is because Pink Martini does it! So that was really nice. All the cuban stuff was good. The other stuff was the mix, they had a fairly standard contemporary piece, and then two aggressive songs. One was a solo half-improvised thing to really percussive staccato music. The other was a Robert Battle (dude running Alvin Ailey) thing. All three, including the contemporary, seemed to lack something for me. I don't know why,they seemed like fantastic ideas, great music, cool lighting. But it's like the idea was never rounded out. There was too much repitition, not enough creativity. Too much of the modern dancer equivalent of thathappy feet thing b-boys do. It's just filler, and I think kind of lazy. But I don't want to end on a bummer. I LOVE variety in dance. 2 hours of tango was overwhelming. 2 hours of Alvin Ailey, while very well executed, was a tiny bit too samey. This, while confined to jazz and contemporary, had a lot of variety, and I really liked that. This was the last dance show of the season. Funny after all that, i still love the Premium Blend by the UA dance students the most. It has the most variety and creativity, hands down. But still, good show, I'd see these guys again for sure.  

The Cat Empire – God dammit, I forgot to write about this for a whole month! These guys are Australian, so they rarely come to the US. And when they do, it’s a pretty sparse tour. So we flew to LA just to see them, which perhaps expresses how excited we were to do so. The show was fantastic, unfortunately the experience was less so. Going to a show in LA is a miserable experience. The club, which chose to enforce the fire code when it came to stairwells, but to dramatically ignore it when it came to number of people in an area, is mostly to blame. The assholes who attend such shows are a close second, though. But forgetting that (as I would prefer to), the performance was great. The music is a lot of fun, and the guys are very good at what they do. They have a lot of ska and latin and other random influences. So there’s a lot of brass, which is great. Both primary singers are great (and very different from each other). We love the music, they could hard to any wrong by just playing the albums. But they do a LOT of extra. A lot of extended musical breaks and such, it’s really awesome.

Yo Yo Ma – I’ve never seen him before. Kind of like Itzak Perlman, he is very skilled, but I just don’t get all too excited about the music, so I never pay that much attention. He’s continuing his fusion trajectory, however, by playing with these two Brazilian guitar-playing guys – the Assad brothers. So the music was all Brazilian and Argentinian, which was kind of cool. The music still wasn’t exactly my favorite, but it was pretty cool. Seeing the mix of Ma and his long-time (apparently) pianist with this South American music was neat.

Game Reviews @ The Temple

Okay, I’m not really sure what to do here. The Steam sales over the holidays really wrecked me. I have 75 games installed in Steam right now. At least half of them I have never even opened. I touched a few of them trying to do Steam’s holiday contest (I didn’t win anything), but that led to very shallow experiences. I’ll try to keep up and at least jot down thoughts on games I play through or through a lot of. We’ll see how it goes.

Actually, I wrote that first paragraph a couple months ago. Whoops. I’ll see if I can remember what I played.

Portal 2 – Have to start here. Without question, the best game I played all year. Perhaps in a few years. The Uncharted games get a lot of very deserved credit for their writing. They are cinematic and engaging and awesome. But his is just something else. Portal one was awesome because you had a game mechanic you’ve never experienced before. And then at the end there’s this hilarious final sequence that has you rolling. In this one, the ENTIRE GAME is the hilarious sequence. It maybe dips a little in the middle bit, but only barely. The first half had me just had me dying. It was so well written and performed, it was amazing. I must say, I don’t think the game play is as good as the first one. Perhaps it’s because the concept is no longer novel, maybe the puzzles are just as good, but not just as new. It just seemed a bit more routine, I was doing the puzzles to get to more dialogue, which is a crazy statement. The addition of the new mechanics didn’t seem that great to me. There were a few very clever solutions, but mostly it felt more mechanical to me, less creative. That being said, I haven’t had a chance to play the co-op version, that might introduce some dynamics that are amazing. Overall, still, best game of the year (keeping in mind that I won’t play Skyrim until it’s under 10 bucks), hands down.

Dead Space – Just finished this one, so that’s easy. It was a decent game. I like what everyone liked about it, the HUD-less experience. The story is a nice Event Horizon kind of creepy story. On the flip side, it’s not particularly scary. And on the bad side, the controls are god damn horrendous on PC. To get them even usable I had to google and play some tricks with the config. And even still the mouse acceleration was so jacked that aiming was very non linear. It made the game harder to play and thus less fun. But I did make my way through it and enjoyed it. I got #2 in the same deal, so that’s next.

Dead Space 2 – Second verse, same as the first! Except way prettier. Interesting playing two games separated by a few years in the same month. The second one looks freaking amazing compared to the first. They also fixed all the shit PC controls from the first game. Acting is still of good quality. The story isn’t anything amazing, kind of like the first. A decent way to spend 10 hours.

Trine – I played the demo so long ago on PS3. Got it with all the holiday sales on steam. Not much to say that hasn’t been said. It has a beautiful art style. The gameplay is fun, switching characters is a great trick. Though I spend most of my time as the thief just to her ability to get around, the wizard is a great character. He doesn’t toss fireballs and fry bad guys with lightning, he’s just a creative character. Sometimes I feel like I’m cheating because I can use his pieces to get around in ways I don’t think they intended, but it does make it fun.

Metro 2033 – This is a pretty short game, beat it in less than 10 hours. It’s good enough. It’s the modern system killer, I  didn’t try to run it with EVERYthing maxed, but I got good fps out of 1080, so that makes me feel good. The game is okay. It’s not very original in being post-apocalyptic, but it is pretty original past that. Humanity lives in the old metro lines because creatures rule the surface. It’s set in russia somewhere. You do go to the surface to travel, but there’s really only two environments: dark tunnels, and snowy surface. The game looks very good, as much as those sets can look good anyway. Action wise it’s pretty average. It has a gas mask thing for travel on the surface. Some of the guns are kind of interesting, all pretty low-tech. The sneaking mechanic doesn’t work very well. You have a monitor for if you are in the dark, which works fine. But once you are discovered, every enemy within a 5 mile radius gains the power of omniscience, which is really annoying. There’s one level in particular where you are under the floor of a bunch of bad guys. It would have been SO fun to run around, popping up, shooting them, then ducking under and moving again. But instead they know exactly where you are at all times and you head is blown off the moment you approach an opening. Combat is pretty hard, even on normal setting. Humans are decent at teaming up on you, and monsters even more so, plus they move so fast and jump on you and get behind you, it’s hard to track. It is often the right choice to sneak, or to haul ass. Overall it’s a decent way to spend a few hours. Nothing amazing, but not bad.

Rock of Ages – This is a kooky little game. You roll a giant boulder down an obstacle course of sorts trying to bash down the front gate of the enemy’s castle. He is trying to do the same to you, so in between rolls, you both set up defenses – walls, catapults, fans, etc to stop the other’s boulder. The game doesn’t seem super deep, either that or I’m just not great at it. Basically always the strategy is to slow him down just enough that you are slightly ahead in the boulders-bashing-into-gates department. So your last boulder will hit before his and you win. Never did I win because I stopped him or was several hits ahead. It got really really repetitive toward the end and not very fun. Maybe there’s something more here, but I didn’t find it.

Star Trek Online – I’m actually having a lot of fun with this. It’s free to play, and what you pay for is mostly bonus. A lot of cosmetic stuff ( costumes) and also extra things, extra crew, extra ships, etc. Super unnecessary to play the game, which is great because I have no desire to pay. But the game is quite fun. I’ve been having a bit of a star trek revival lately, after an absence of many years. So it’s fun to play this game. Space combat is the best part, to be sure. Away missions are okay, but mostly an uninteresting  version of typical MMO stuff, with a nice star trek wrapper. But space combat is pretty cool. Outfitting your ship with different phasers, torpedos, blasters, mines, etc. Plus special abilities like tractor beams and such makes it cooler. I had a number of ships throughout the level progression, including galaxy and whatever the enterprise-e is. The story is so so. The first was about the war with the Klingons, kind of cool, but nothing much. The second was about the Romulans and Remans, which was actually a pretty cool part of the fiction. The some cardassian arc, then some stuff about breen (wha?), borg, and undine. They are kind of cool, but kind of run out of steam. Not sure when they’ll add new content or if it’ll be interesting. Anyway, certainly for a free to play game, this is awesome for any star trek fan.

Just Cause 2 – Played this a while ago, I’ll try to remember. Mostly, it’s running around an island wrecking shit, which is pretty fun. There is a very short story, track down some dudes, kill em, etc etc, nothing new there. But destroying stuff is pretty fun. In fact, part of the reason the story was so short was because nominally you are forced to go around the island causing havoc in order to continue, but I created so much havoc just because it’s fun, that I could do a story mission any time I felt like it. There’s nothing particularly revolutionary here, but running around and shooting things, especially with tanks, helicopters, and jets, is pretty awesome. They give you a nice quantity of stuff to shoot at, both people and environment. Not a deep game, not a life changing game, but a crazy fun game.

May 24, 2012


Holy crap, why has no one ever made a movie about what happens after we survive the zombie apocalypse? Genius!

May 15, 2012

European history

Holy crap, this is awesome. I can’t believe I just stared at my screen for 11 full minutes. Just imagine if this was an interactive map where you could hover over for more information, pan and zoom around. It’d be the coolest thing ever.

EDIT: Dammit, the idiots who apparently don't love free publicity took down the long version. The short version (sadly without dates or significant events called out) got taken down too. I found it on this site, see it while you can.

Movie Reviews @ The Temple

Horrible Bosses – Man, this is another Tucker & Dale. Seemed like a great idea, trailer seemed really funny, but the movie wasn’t as much. Granted, this one is better than T&D, I laughed, it certainly had its moments. But it didn’t have me rolling. Everyone did a fine job and everything, it just didn’t have as much gas as I thought it’d have, too bad.

Attack the Block – Gosh, what is with me lately? This one isn’t bad, but it’s not as good as I heard. I heard it’s like the most amazing alien invasion movie ever. And it does get credit for doing it totally different. The idea is aliens invade, and a group of hoodlums in London fight them off. It’s a really cool concept. The problem is the whole anti-hero. I just can’t get behind a group of assholes who start the movie by threatening and robbing some random women. I’m sure it’s just my perspective, but I have a much harder time accepting them as heroes than the lovable ruffian who never really does anything wrong, but is just kind of an asshole. To be fair, the finale is pretty cool and heroic in its own right. But the movie just doesn’t live up to what I was hoping, sadly. Still decent, still 3 stars, just not great.

Ip Man – This movie is super good. It’s a chinese movie based on a true story of a guy during the japanese occupation during WW II. It’s a bit of a folk tale, him standing up to the oppressors and such, but I guess it’s at least partially true. He also was a great teacher of a martial art style called wing chun that is famously the style used by Bruce Lee. The movie story is cool enough since it’s “based” on real life. But the fighting is pretty awesome. It’s worth seeing the movie just for that.

Everything Must Go – Kind of a bummer movie that’s supposed to be about turning your life around and having hope that it can get better. Will Ferrell is a drunk who loses his wife and job and lives on his lawn. It’s well done, I can’t say it’s a bad movie, it’s just kind of a bummer.

The Station Agent – So, Peter Dinklage inherits an old train station from a friend of his in some podunk place. He is, of course, a dwarf, so he is an item of curiosity in this small town. That’s hard for him, he’s antisocial, some people force some social on him. It’s generally a nice story of making friends and figuring it out.

Planet Hulk – Haven’t been able to get to the avengers yet, so this is my consolation prize. It’s ok. I’m not really a hulk fan, and I wasn’t a fan of the planet hulk run, what little I read of it. I just feel like hulk is used so weirdly, sometimes he can smash a planet, sometimes he has to try to break through some dinky armor. Seems very inconsistent and hard to write well. The movie, separate from that, is an okay saturday morning type movie.

Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps – Didn’t like the first one, don’t like this one. Don’t like money. Movies about people who only care about money are boring.

Martha Marcy May Marlene – This is another tough one. It’s about a girl who gets out of a cult and tries to make sense of it, doesn’t do a very good job. Everyone does a very good job in it, I can’t criticize the movie at all, it’s just kind of uncomfortable to watch. The ending is kind of weird, supposed to leave you wondering “oh no, is that what just happened?” but it’s kind of dumb when movies do that. It’s good though.

Killer Elite – This isn’t really as bad as you would think. Clive Owen is trying to stop a team of assassins led by Jason Statham. Many fights and explosions follow. Sounds bad, it’s not great, but it’s got plenty of fun fighting, which is really all I was looking for, so thumbs up.

Elephant White – This isn’t a bad movie. It’s about human trafficking, which is pretty effed up. Djimon Hounsou (yes I definitely copy pasted that from the netflix page) is on a tear out to punish the bad guys and save the girls. Kevin Bacon is an arms dealer with a weird accent. The movie is decent, Djimon goes around shooting the shit out of some people until all the people are shot. Despite nominally being about something someone different (not just some terrorist with a  bomb), it’s still a pretty samey action movie.

Griff the Invisible – Um, I’m not sure about this one. It’s about a guy, with a crappy boring life, who plays super hero at night. It’s hard to talk about the movie without saying too much. It’s kind of a sad movie, he’s a pretty pathetic character. The movie ends up in a very weird place, in that it embraces his patheticness, and is just okay with it. That’s an odd answer. I guess it’s not an invalid answer, if that’s the way you think, that’s one way to live. I’m being obnoxiously vague, but I sort of have to be. Not that it’s a big mystery or anything, but no sense in spelling it out. It’s kind of sweet, the way it embraces his weirdness, but it’s also kind of off putting. Decent movie, I guess.

The Double – Pppt. So Richard Gere is some kind of secret agent hunting down a super spy. Topher Grace is also an agent (less secret) trying to help Gere do that. Have you picked up on the two things wrong with this movie yet? To be fair, Richard Gere isn’t completely unbelievable as a badass. He has a couple bourne-esque scenes that work surprisingly well. He’s slick enough to pull it off. Topher Grace though, jeez. Between this and Predators, I’m thinking he should never be in anything except the movie version of that 70’s show. I mean, jeez, that was just not very good.

The Mechanic – So, Jason Statham made a movie where he beats up people. I know, weird, right? All things considered, this is one of the better Statham movies of the last couple years. It’s not particularly over the top. It’s not particularly clever either. But there’s this whole apprentice thing that is kind of cool. And Ben Foster, who is a freaking awesome actor, certainly does a great job. The action is actually somewhat sporadic, but comes in really quick awesome bursts. Very slick. You see the end coming, but it’s decently satisfying anyway. Worth the watch.

The House of the Devil – I actually was into this movie for a while. It wasn’t going gross out, or jump scare, or found footage. It did have a hokey 70s/80s feel to it, but that was on purpose, so it was ok. It was going for a slow burn. It did go a bit too slow though. And then it did try to be extra gross after things started going. In the end, it’s not that interesting or different. It’s not super poorly done, there’s just not a lot there to be fascinated by.

Battle: Los Angeles – Okay, I’m not done watching this movie, but it just lost me. It just said, I shit you not, that the aliens invaded because of the “composition” of our water. Because we, unlike ANYWHERE ELSE IN THE UNIVERSE, have liquid water on the surface. The fuck? 1) That’s a ridiculous statement, we might not even be the only place in the SOLAR SYSTEM with liquid water. 2) somehow travelling millions of light years to a planet to get water is more economical than MELTING ICE?! Besides that, it’s an entertaining enough shooty explodey movie. Lots of booms, lots of guns, lots of dead people and dead aliens. Totally fine if you want to watch explosions for a couple hours. Really can’t get over the no liquid water thing, though.

Reel Steel – Huh, this is a pretty good movie! It sounded so dumb, rock ‘em sock ‘em robots and all. But I’ve never actually seen a movie like this, so that’s cool. The plot is mega predictable, not amazingly well done or anything. It’s a very average movie in all regards, except that you get to see robots beat each other up.  Very fun!

Apollo 18 – This actually wasn’t half as bad as I thought it’d be. I had heard only bad things, but, as far as found footage movies go, it’s one of the better ones, I think! The context really suits the movie. I mean, the found footage part of it is stupid, it’s always stupid. But hey the moon is pretty freaking scary. It’s isolated, it’s foreign. As annoying as found footage is, it works to not be able to see what’s really going on. I don’t know, I’m not saying it’s a masterpiece, but I would absolutely watch it over any of the paranormal activities.

Contagion – This was decent. It does everything it’s trying to do well. But it doesn’t do anything that hasn’t been done. I think I probably could have gone back and watched Outbreak and saw the same movie. Not sure what new stuff this gave me. But still, done well enough.

The Man From Earth – Uh, ok. This is kind of a stoner movie. But not a party stoner movie, more like a “woah, what if we were all ants?” kind of stoner movie. A guy tells his friends that he’s actually a stone-age caveman who never ages. You don’t know for sure if he’s crazy, full of shit, or supposed to be real. I think they thought it was an interesting thought experiment to have everyone sit around and talk about what it WOULD be like. But it comes out more like potheads talking about how there’s actually 8 dimensions you just can’t see them. Meh.

The Game – I think I saw this long ago, but we resaw it. It’s kind of annoying, any movie where things work out so perfectly and unrealisitcally is annoying. In that context, I guess it’s fine. Kind of exciting and everything. The conceit just kind of bugs me.

F/X – Apparently I forgot to do this one a long time ago. The movie was… ok? Seemed like a generic 80s movie, clever that it’s about a guy who is good at practical effects. That makes for a slightly more interesting protagonist than a random cop, I guess.

Red Riding Hood – Don’t remember this at all. I do remember it wasn’t’ very good. Waited too long to write about it, oops.

Bridesmaids – Yeah, I don’t really get the whole thing. People so flipped out about this. I was very resistant to the Hangover, and ended up thinking it was very funny. I’ve been very resistant to this, and end up thinking meh. It’s certainly got funny parts, no doubt. But I’m sick of the over the top shenanigans. I get it, girls can be gross, very funny. Can we make a movie that’s funny cuz it’s funny now?

Hangover II – Same thing as Bridesmaids, except not as good. But I didn’t say Bridesmaids was good! Exactly.

Gentlemen Broncos – Holy shit, no no no no no no. I love flight of the conchords, I was excited for this when I first heard about it. But no no no. I mean, c’mon, at least TRY to do something funny. Bridesmaids tried, it had some parts that were very funny, the over all thing was just too focused on one type of humor. Hangover II tried to try, tried to re do what it had done, didn’t really succeed, but at least some laughs. I don’t think I laughed once in this one, really just crap.

Piranha – And to wrap up this crapfest, no big surprise. Blood and boobs, how bad can it be? Pretty bad. The gore is really lame, digital flesh and penasia (to borrow Louis C.K.’s term) is pretty 3rd rate. The fish look pretty good, so I think they put all their money there. The rest of the movie had worse CG than in most decent amateur internet movies.

Game of Death – Right, so, Wesley Snipes kills some dudes. Then some dudes try to kill him. He kills them in response. That happens a handful more times. End of movie.

Casino Jack – This is kind of interesting. I didn’t really know much about Jack Abramoff, now I know more. Hopefully it’s true, otherwise I’ll be carrying some misconceptions forward. But the movie is done well, the fantasy scene at the end is so unbelievably tempting, would be kind of awesome to actually happen.

May 14, 2012

Apr 7, 2012

Stop motion Old Man and the Sea drawing

Not exactly riveting, I’d understand if you didn’t make it through. But the execution is fantastic. The expression of time and action across a page is really cool.

Mar 31, 2012

Feb 19, 2012

Event Reviews @ The Temple

Forever Tango – These guys are pretty good. Buuuuuut, not amazing. The problem, I think, is that you can only watch Tango for so long. And I really like tango, it’s one of the only dances I’ve danced, so that makes you like something more. And in small pieces, the stuff they did was amazing. Crazy ass flips, cool little moves, high energy, very skilled, great dancing. I don’t want to say I didn’t like it, I did like it. But I think it’s just fundamentally hard to do one kind of dance for 2 hours and make it stay interesting. The musicians were really good. I didn’t love the singer, but it wasn’t his fault, he was skilled, I just don’t like the style much. I’m sad, I don’t think I’ll go to this one next year, I’d rather see 3 tango dances, not 10.

National Dance Company of Columbia – Oooooo, now that is bad ass. These guys were fucking fantastic. They opened with a swirly dress and guys-in-hats dance. It was very much like the Ballet Folklorico Tapatio we saw a few weeks ago. Nothing mind blowing, but nice. Then they just went nuts with this tribal dance. They had little fake statues on stage and did all this very cool dancing. Their outfits – yikes. Basically everyone was wearing thongs and bras on the women. Butts galore, was kind of arresting, but it felt very appropriate. Side note – I do have a bit of american guilt that I might just be looking at these people from another culture and finding what they do so cool. There’s a chance that it’s exploitive of the culture in a way I don’t understand. Or hell, it could not even be the culture, they could just be tricking my dumb ass. But I’ll continue on the assumption that none of that is true. They did another hat dance, then this inSANE african-inspired stuff. I normally dislike dancing that seems like people just throwing themselves around. African/tribal dance often seems like that to me, sadly. But holy hell these guys were good. It didn’t seem random, it was crazy flailing to a BEAT. It was really rather astonishing what these dancers did, I mean, that has got to hurt a lot. They all had little poofy things on their butts (even the dudes) in this one, and they could manipulate the poofs more accurately than I can my hands! It was astonishing. The second half of the night wasn’t as good, for me. There was a very cool sword dance (again, like the Tapatio folks). There was a (maybe?) samba type dance. Two weird dances, one with chicita banana type outfits, and one with outfits that looked dutch, that I didn’t like so much. They ended with a salsa that was pretty cool. They had a rapper-kindof guy singing during one song that was pretty great (I like spanish rap a lot in small doses) and another song they had us all up on our feet “dancing” (wiggling randomly) and singing along to. Overall it was a lot of fun, totally worth going to. I’ll certainly be there if they come next year.

Jonothan Coulton – JC was actually the opener for TMBG (next), but he deserves his own entry. CUZ HE’S AWESOME. He didn’t have a very long set. But he opened with code monkey, he did Still Alive (!), he did shop vac, he did the pluto song, and a few others I didn’t know. Actually I don’t know much of his music, I have to go buy it now. I just like him in principle. Also, he did Good Morning Tucson, which was awesome and I bought a t-shirt (yeah, I bought a band t-shirt, first time ever, ok?). He closed with Re: Your Brains, and I could have gone home then.

They Might Be Giants – But, then these guys came on stage. Turns out, I don’t know any TMBG songs! I mean, I know particle man, which they did. And the istanbul song, which they did. But that’s it, not a single other one. But despite that, it was, as I had hoped it would be, a really fun show. A lot of audience participation – half the crowd chanting “people”, half chanting “apes”. We (apes) lost that one, sadly. A crazy ass back-stage sock puppet show (complete with Ironman by Black Sabbath, which was great). Fun stories, fun banter, fun everything. Admittedly, the main guy, the piano guy, seemed like he didn’t really want to be there. But other than that it was a lot of fun. Super good show.

Itzhak Perlman – So this guy is the yo yo ma of violins. I say that because yo yo ma is the only other classical musician I know, not because it is a particularly apt analogy. Point is, he’s very good, very famous. Apparently getting tickets to see him for $15 was some sort of mind blowing thing. I, of course, don’t disagree for a moment that he’s amazing. Even a plebian like me who has no appreciation for what it takes to play a violin like that, can see that he’s amazing. But of course, at the end of the day he’s playing music that stirs me less than other kinds. The main course was nice, but just nothing much to me. He did a couple Hungarian Dances that I liked. The encore is where it’s at, though. Apparently that’s always true at concerts like this, I didn’t know. But the music was better, and it seemed his playing was even more amazing. He did a couple songs that were so freaking fast my brain could barely comprehend. He did the theme to Shindler’s List that was very pretty. Overall that last stuff was very cool. In the end, I can only be so excited about virtuoso playing of music that’s not my favorite, but it was certainly something to see someone so good at what they do.

The Chieftains – Hey, this was way cool! I had no idea what these guys did. I’m sure I’ve heard songs before, and I must have known it was Irish stuff. But really that’s all I knew. They are doing a 50 year anniversary tour, which is astounding, and it was a hell of a lot of fun. I like Irish music to begin with, and these guys are very good at it. Plus they bring in a lot of other influences (scottish, mexican, bluegrass) and local artists (kids irish dance troupe, some choir I didn’t know, and the 7 pipers band). The one thing I didn’t like was when the harp lady played keyboard and the flute guy played softly. That was very new agey and boring and corny. But everything else was awesome. The jams were awesome, the piping was awesome, the dancing was AWESOME. They did this canadian chair dance thing that was so fucking cool. A scottish lady did this type of singing called “Puirt a Bheul”. It’s this very rhythmic, staccato, fast singing that I guess was used in the place of instruments for dancing when instruments were banned at some time in history. It’s really cool and like nothing I’ve ever heard. All the musicians are really good at their instruments, and the music is just so much fun. Over all, from knowing nothing about these guys, this was awesome and I’m ready to buy at least a couple albums.

Feb 7, 2012

Lego Captain America

Um, I liked Captain America okay. But this is definitely better. They even have the Wilhem scream!

Simpsons a capella

Turns out I’m still not sick of the a capella multi-track thing. This guy has a few other covers too, including pokemon, is this guy going to steal Matt Mulholland’s thunder?

Jan 29, 2012

Movie Reviews @ The Temple

Water for Elephants – I did not like this movie. From a “just a movie” point of view, I don’t think it’s that great. Of course, the dude from Twilight and the chick with the pointy chin put me in a bad frame of mind. That’s pretty unfair to him, I’ve never even seen Twilight. Even though the chick from it is in Snow White & The Huntsman, I’m super on board with that movie, so I can look past it. But he did prove me right. And so did pointy chin. The story could be kind of interesting, the framing is nice. But I can’t get over the circus thing. I don’t like circuses, for obvious reasons. And even though this movie is ostensibly against animal abuse, it’s totally okay with it as long as you aren’t actively beating the shit out of a creature. Moving around the country in a cage 2x the size of the animal itself, that’s totally okay. Just don’t hit it with a stick. I never saw Seabiscuit, for instance, because I think horse racing is fucked up, I don’t care how inspirational the story is. I think I feel the same way about this movie, I’d rather not have seen it.

50 / 50 – Well, that’s a pretty wonderful movie. It’s about a 27 year old guy who gets cancer, 50/50 chance of surviving. The movie is nothing you don’t expect it will be, which sounds like a fault. He has his problems with his family, and his girlfriend, and his friend, and all the normal parts of life. The romance in the movie is pretty predictable. But it is all the same a very funny and honest movie. There’s nothing to dislike about it, warms your little heart, and makes you laugh. One of the better movies to come out recently, for sure.

Win Win – This is a pretty good movie. It’s about a family, the husband (a lawyer) takes charge of an old man who has lost most of his senses, and then ends up in charge of this guy’s grandson as well. Lots of dramatic stuff happens, but I don’t mean in a melodramatic way. It revolves a bit around a high school wrestling team the guy coaches. You know, I say all that, and this movie sounds super boring. Just as boring as it sounds on the back of the box, which is why I wasn’t in a rush to see it. But I heard it was very good, and it was. Maybe not as good as I had heard, it’s not the best movie of 2011 or anything. Not better than 50/50. But it is very good. It is very honest and real. Nothing is overly dramatic, just slightly out of the ordinary (enough to make it interesting). And everyone does a good job, acting wise. Just a solid movie, all around.

Jane Eyre – Zzzzzzz. No seriously, I fell asleep watching this. And this is about all I need to know about it. Boring!

The Descent 2 – People seemed to like the first one, and I never understood why. It wasn’t the worst horror movie ever, but I’m not sure why it stood above the rest for so many people, it seemed pretty samey to me. This one is more of that. I do like the premise a bit. It’s at least every so slightly more creative than “woah, 4 more dumb teenagers randomly wander into the same cave! crazy!” Besides that? Kind of normal, tries to be pretty gory for the sake of it, not super impressive though.

Let Me In – I liked the original version. Not so much because it was geniusly executed (it was kind of a weird Swedish thing) but because the concept was so cool and unique. Sadly, this movie doesn’t have that benefit. It’s a remake, it’s fundamentally not unique. So it loses a lot due to that. The execution of the movie is decent, nothing bad, nothing amazing. The kids do a pretty good job. I’d be fine with only having ever seen this version, but since that’s not true, the Swedish one was good enough for me too.

Bronson – Yikes. So, I guess this guy is the most famous prisoner in England. He calls himself Charlie Bronson, and he’s a complete fucking wacko. The movie tells me he’s spent 34 years in prison, 30 of them in solitary. Largely due to the fact that if he spends more than 10 minutes in the presence of another breathing human being, he beats the living shit out of them until their breathing has ceased. Perhaps more shocking, though, is the depths to which the actor playing Bronson went to pull off this roll. The movie is basically told by him, much of it with just him talking at the camera – sometimes to an audience as if this is one man play. And this guy inhabits every bit of this insane man. It is somewhat frightening to watch, honestly, how deeply he carries this guy’s insanity. The movie itself besides that is just okay, but his performance is worth watching, even though I never want to watch it again. I’m slightly afraid of what the movie thinks of Bronson. He’s clearly nuts, but at the same time, given that he’s telling the story, he is kind of glorified. When he goes on a rampage, there’s this dramatic operatic music. It gives it almost a nobility? Kind of uncomfortable. But still should be seen.

UHF – So I had never seen this. You know, I think this kind of movie has to live in nostalgia. I’m sure it was hilarious when it came out. And I’m sure if I saw Top Secret for the first time in 2012, I’d probably think it was kind of dumb. So me seeing this for the first time now, it’s kind of lame. The skits (and it really is just a series of skits) aren’t all that hilarious. The commercial for the spatula story made me crack up for some reason. A couple weird al songs they shoehorned in were good. But besides that it was kind of meh. Sorry!

The Red Balloon – I guess this movie is very famous, I had never heard of it. But it’s only 30 min long and on Netflix, so there you go. It’s a little French movie about a boy who finds a red balloon, but the balloon is kind of alive. It moves around on its own, follows him, plays with people. It’s really kind of cute. If it was 10 minutes long and cuter, it would basically be a live action Pixar short. It really hard that feel. I’d rather it be that short, too, it does kind of drag in the middle. I guess it’s supposed to be deep, with the little boy trying to get away and the masses of humanity descending on him to take the balloon. That doesn’t really connect with me in any way. But maybe I’m just ignorant. It does have a pretty powerful penultimate moment, though. The balloon was given such personality, seeing it “act” out the end is surprisingly effective. Then the real end is kind of sickly sweet and not that touching. But still interesting enough for a 30 minute investment. Don’t go on the internet and find out that there’s supposed to be some bullshit christian allegory going on though, that’ll just ruin it for you.

Harsh Times – Um. So, Christian Bale is an ex-soldier fuck up screwing around with his fuck up friend. Kind of trying to get their lives in order, but not really, mostly fucking around and hoping they get lucky. It’s kind of hard to see the point of a movie like this, I don’t feel like I learn anything or care all that much for these assholes. It ends as it can only end. That’s about it. Note: I wrote those last two sentences when I was only 2/3 of the way through the movie. I knew it could end as it can only end, before I saw it end. That says enough, I think!

Cash Back – Meh. This movie is just a basic love story. The hook is the kid has some ability to freeze time. This is largely an excuse to go around to all the hot girls who just happen to be in his shitty supermarket at 2 in the morning, take all their clothes off, and draw pictures of them (I assume they cut out the creepy part where he touches them, because he definitely did that). That then tries to become some kind of metaphor for life, I guess. I don’t really know, but I do know that the movie is trying to be artsy. And a movie that thinks its artsy wouldn’t put a bunch of boobs in without inventing an artsy justification. The movie isn’t poorly done, it’s pretty british (main character has two emotions – talking in a monotone, and staring into the distance), but it’s ok.

Nerdcore Rising – This movie is about MC Frontalot. He’s sort of one of the big progenitors of “nerdcore” rap. I’m listening to a lot of the nerdy music these days. I’ve never been particularly into Frontalot, but I’ve not really listened to much to know if I like it. Adam WarRock is my favorite in the category, hoping to see him in Phx in a few weeks! Anyway, the movie. It’s… not great. It’s not bad, it’s just kind of an okay version of following this guy around with a camera. There’s not amazing insights into the genre or into Frontalot himself. It’s really just a tour diary, if anything. IT’s neat to see, I guess. But I feel like there’s more to do here. Maybe a movie about the rise of the genre in general would be a little more interesting than just a bunch of nerds talking about how cool Frontalot is. Or maybe we need more distance from the origins to find a story like this interesting. Not sure. But if you love Frontalot, I’m sure it’s an entertaining enough movie!

Jan 5, 2012

Jan 4, 2012

Movie Reviews @ The Temple

Sherlock Holmes 2 – This was really good! Now, the big caveat is that it’s not really a sherlock holmes story. It’s really just a cool action movie. To be clear, it is a REALLY COOL action movie. The slow mo fights are awesome as always (though I liked it better with the logical commentary, not just predicting what would happen in the future). The scene in the forest was jaw dropping. But, it is just an action movie. Gone are the twists, the intrigue, the mystery. It’s not very Holmes-ey. But, I’ve got the British TV show for that. For this movie, it was just cool.

Mission Impossible 4 – This was decent. Nothing special, I’d say. They didn’t do anything wrong. Lots of cool set pieces, cool action, cool stunts, cool gadgets, all that good MI stuff. Can’t complain. But. Kind of boring. I’m not super into the story, I’m not super invested in the people. And I’m not nearly as awesome-ized as I was with Sherlock. Oh well. That car was pretty bad ass.

Knight & Day – Wow was that bad. It’s trying painfully hard to be True Lies, but it fails really hard. You can’t force charm, even as hard as Tom Cruise tries. He seems to be phoning it in, just playing a pale imitation of ethan hunt. And Cameron Diaz, gads, she’s just awful. Always. In everything.

Going the Distance – This movie is surprisingly funny. You’d be excused in thinking it’s just some random romantic comedy. And to a large extent, it is. The plot is just normal old stuff, except this time for a long distance relationship. When they delve into that stuff it’s pretty boring, I could honestly do without all of that. But when they are being wacky it’s pretty funny. They give the two main people a banter (a combination of Sorkin and Diablo Cody, kind of?) that works most of the time. It comes out forced now and again when they are trying too hard to get the quirkiness in. But a lot of the time it works rather well. Christina Applegate is pretty funny as a hectic mom. Jason Sudakis and Charlie Day play douchey friends, who wouldn’t have a lot of character or anything interesting-ness, but those guys are funny guys, so you forgive the cliché characters and laugh at the silliness.  Overall, a good time.

Cave of Forgotten Dreams – Holy crap was this cool. How did I go 32 years without knowing about cave drawings? These aren’t just scribbles from some guys in 33 and a half BC. These are 30,000 years old. That is just astounding. There are these caves, in France, elsewhere in Europe, that for one reason or another got sealed off for a few ten thousand years. Then we find them, and there’s this amazing cave art inside. I mean, it’s not Monet, it’s just chalk drawings. But 1) I still couldn’t make drawings that good, and 2) did I mention 30,000 years old?? Just mind blowing. The film maker, Werner Herzog, is kind of annoying, and throws a complete batshit addendum on to the movie. But besides that, the movie is amazing.

Cowboys and Aliens – Ehhhhh. Seems bulletproof, right? Cowboys, great. Aliens, awesome. Energy weapons, cool. Why is this movie so lame then? It had no heart, and I don’t mean a sentimental heart, I didn’t feel any heart behind the action. It seemed so ho hum. No one stands out, the effects are fine, but nothing particular. I just don’t get it.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes – This movie is actually rather good. From a storytelling stand point, it’s entertaining, interesting, cool, all that good stuff. But on top of that it connects with the older movies in all manner of interesting ways. None of which were apparent to me, but fortunately I had someone in the room who knew these things and told us when they happened, which was great. There was also a little extra on the disc about really subtle things that they stuck in to reflect the original movie. It’s really pretty cool. My only complaint about the movie is I’m pretty sure it was filmed on a Canon Elph. There is something extremely non-hollywood about the cinematography. It felt like bad TV. Like british TV. Very constrained sets, like the people were filming it in their house. I eventually got over it, but it was kind of distracting for at least half the movie. I can’t totally explain why it looked like that, I don’t know anything about filming, but whether it was the cameras, the lights, the style, whatever, something seemed kind of low budget about it. The apes were a bit off too. Sometimes, when they really put effort in, they looked astounding. But you just can’t do that for 2 hours, so sometimes they looked kind of fake. Took me out of it a little. Nonetheless, my overall impression of the movie is very positive.

Kung Fu Panda 2 – This is pretty fun. It’s just another cartoon, so there’s not too many words I can use on it. But it is definitely fun, entertaining, cool little cartoon fights. Continues to be the only context in which I’ve ever enjoyed Jack Black.

Harry Potter 7: Part 2: 2nd act: 3rd section: Scene 1: version 8: Electric Boogaloo – Okay, I’m being a jerk, but the movie is actually pretty good. I mean, it’s not amazing, but compared to 2 hours of CAMPING that made up the last movie, this thing is a god damn work of art. No more bullshit teenage drama (except one extremely awkwardly placed kiss and one obnoxious coda). Fight fight fight, cast spells, do magic, transform, summon giants, good stuff. I have no affection left for this series, I have mostly disdain. What good will the listening to Jim Dale read the 7th book earned it, the 6th and 7th movies completely destroyed. But, this was at least fun to watch.

Super 8 – This one is good enough. I was hoping it’d be better, I guess. I do like the style, set back in the 80s. Done with little budding filmmakers. It’s a much more interesting context than a bunch of 20 somethings in new york, certainly. The creature is cool, the overall arc of the plot is good enough. The kids generally do a fine job, which is saying something. Overall I’m left a little underwhelmed, though. It’s not bad, not at all, just didn’t wow me. Just good enough.

Tucker and Dale vs. Evil – Maaaaaaan, this looked awesome! It’s such a genius concept, the hillbillies are the good guys, the city kids are judgemental assholes (and worse). Such an awesome idea! But every single funny moment (mostly deaths) was spoiled in the trailer. The rest is just loosely stitched together with not really enough story. There are times where I kind of laugh to myself and say that’s funny. But I’m not really laughing. I’m acknowledging that it SEEMS funny, that it OUGHT to be funny. But it just doesn’t work out. So sad. Probably my biggest disappointment in a long time.

No Strings Attached – Okay, I know this isn’t very good. But it does have Natalie Portman. But it does have Ashton Kutcher, so… yeah. But the real point is, I was having a shit night, and this movie was idiotic, but it made me laugh. Not good laughs, not smart laughs, not even laughs it would probably get on any other day. But on that day? Spot on. So I know it’s not good, it’s a 2 star movie, but it served it’s purpose. It gets a few points for that.

Battlestar Galactica RPG

Awesome. What can’t 16-bit RPG sheen make better?