Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Now Playing: Cloud Atlas

Caught Cloud Atlas on Sunday, the Wachowskis latest offering.  It took in a dismal $9.4-million (and cost over $100M to make), and I'm not quite sure why.  Perhaps Hurricane Sandy kept people in, perhaps the publicity campaign fell short, perhaps people are easily confused by the trailer.  As always, I'll share my bias up front: I love the Wachowskis.  Their multi-part storytelling style, the way they work gender roles, their entire movie aesthetics, and, well, their fight scenes... I think they're amazing.  I pretty much went in with high expectations but without any real idea as to the plot.  Perhaps this was the best way to go about it.

Cloud Atlas was amazing.  No, really.

The cast - which was huge and very talented - really gave it their all.  The actors are asked to play multiple parts - in different times and in different genders - and to do so in an authentic way.  Boy, did they deliver.  Sometimes recognisable, sometimes completely obscured, they put on a tour de force.  It goes without saying that the make-up and special effects stepped up too.  Some critics are saying that the plot is too complicated for the average moviegoer; I didn't think so, and in fact thought that considering there were 6 different plot-lines being interwoven, it was quite easy to follow along.  (Have people gotten that dumb?  I really hope not.)

Monday, October 22, 2012

Now Playing: End of Watch

Despite me catching a cold (from staying indoors, mind you), Jadek took me to the movies on Saturday.  It was a treat to be picked up, fed buttery popcorn, and dropped home. 

Decided on watching End of Watch, a copper flick I had never heard of but which starred Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña.   I generally like these guys,  Turns out, the cast was much deeper than that.  Later found out it was written by the same guy who wrote Training Day, which makes sense. 

The movie is good: suspenseful, realistic, well-paced.  The interspersing of work and life was a nice touch, allowing us (as viewers) to get cozy with Brian and Mike quickly.  I enjoyed that these characters were believable: they weren't white knights or wolves-in-sheep's-clothing; they were cops trying to be be good at their job without completely burning out.  If i had to complain about anything, I'd say it was the fact that these guys didn't pick up a single "normal" call - all their cases were big deals.  I guess that's easier to believe in South-Central Los Angeles, but still.  Surely sometimes there's just an old lady who's dead?

Other than that minor thing, it was very good.  With slim pickings at the theatre before we rev up to full speed starting next week, this was a nice distraction.  4 out of 5 stars.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

triple scotch

Assignment #7:  “Hey, wanna hear a story?”

(I'll admit, this one wasn't hard to write, but really tough to reread.  And, even now, I post with trepidation.  But, I made a long-ago promise to wear my heart on my cybersleeve, so here it is.)


Friday, October 19, 2012

"awesome things from my childhood"

(lifted from LilBro's FB update...with a few edits... what?  I am the older sister after all!)

"While growing up, my sister and I would only get about one hour each to play Nintendo, on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. To most of you that seems ridiculous, but it is what it is. One of our favourite games was the obvious staple, Mario Bros. 3. But since our time was so constrained, we had to devise plans to beat the game, and collect as much power-ups as we could for the final fight against Bowser. Trust me when I say, we had shit down to a science.  Warp whistles, P-wings, you name it, we had it covered.

One great example of this meticulous calculation was the sheet we created of all permutations of the N-card Match game that used to pop up randomly. It took us literally months to figure out that there were eight different match games in the game, and over the course many months, yes months, we had a full cheat sheet ready to go at a moment's notice. It was an accomplishment admired by our friends, and to this day I don't think I have put that much dedication into a video game.

Looking back, I remember clearly memorizing about 4 of those puzzles in my head because of the time spent deciphering them. We never used to have game genie or had Nintendo power growing up, so all these little secrets and gems, we found on our own.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Woman in Black by Susan Hill

I really, really, really tried to like Susan Hill’s The Woman in Black. Really. I did. I had hoped for a lovely little Gothic Horror (with some good old fashioned spooks); I am bitterly disappointed. Hill’s melodramatic writing makes me throw up a little in my mouth out of pure disgust; her attempts to emulate the fantastic writing of Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw fail spectacularly.

Anyway, I gave it the old college try - I even read the damned thing! – but alas. I hated it. No, despised it. It felt contrived, silly, and, at some points, boring. A horror/suspense should never be boring. I’m sure the movie will be better, though plotline was pretty weak to begin with. It had none of suspense of The Thirteenth Tale.

The most offensive part, however, has to be the lack of varied diction. Here’s the sentence that many love and at which I cringe: “[i]t was a yellow fog, a filthy, evil-smelling fog, a fog that choked and blinded, smeared and stained.” I feel, as a writer, it’s your job - nay, your obligation! - to dazzle me with verbiage, serenade me with soliloquy, seduce me with your perspicacity. When you, as a writer, fail to do this, I am not just disappointed, I am outraged. In other words: fog can’t smell evil. It can smell bad, putrid, rotten, desiccated, stale, foul, disgusting, revolting, bilious… but it can’t smell evil. Evil doesn’t have a smell. If you can't effect a sinister atmosphere without using the word "sinister", you need to hand in your writer’s credentials.  Immediately.

For those of you who will actually read this tripe, stop here. Spoilers abound below. I would urge you to read something else though. Seriously.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Now Playing: Argo

I’ll admit, I was mostly influenced into watching Argo after catching a very well-spoken Ben Affleck on Real Time with Bill Maher. So, a Saturday afternoon matinee at the movies, complete with popcorn ensued. You know what? A great movie. Seriously. I wasn’t expecting it. And even though you probably know the ending (for us youngsters, one oughtn’t assume), it’s still gripping and intense. There this one scene with the plane (when you watch, you’ll know it) – I literally held my breath and crept forward on my seat and actually said “thank God” when it was over. I highly recommend you go and catch it – and take your parents with you! They’ll enjoy it too.

The acting was good: full of awesome with Victor Garber, Bryan Cranston, John Goodman, Alan Arkin, and the hundreds of Persian-Americans who portrayed human beings (not caricatures). And the casting? Holy heck! Stick around for the credits to see just how amazing the casting was. Editing was perfectly paced – fast and slow and the right times, appropriate changes of scene, etc.

All in all, great. Hopefully an Oscar contender. 4 out of 5 stars.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Now Playing: Looper

On Sunday, LilBro, Jadek, and I took in Looper.The 'rentals had abandoned us to spend some time state-side with international family, so we had a, ahem, traditional Thanksgiving dinner (at Denny's) and then watched a movie before dessert.  Here's what I knew of Looper before going in: a sci-fi gangster flick starring JGL and Bruce Willis, the former playing a younger version of the latter.  Time travel is involved.  Got it.  Okay!

Let's set aside the obvious: JGL looks nothing like Willis, no matter how much they tried to make that happen.  What they lacked in aesthetics, JGL made up for (in spades) with his voice intonation.  Pitch perfect.  If you closed your eyes, you could almost imagine they were one in the same.  And then there's the supporting cast - krikey.  Paul Dano, Piper Perabo, Garret Dillahunt, as well as the amazing Emily Blunt and inimitable  Jeff Daniels.  Oh!  And watch for young master Pierce Gagnon who plays equal parts cute and creepy so very well.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Now Playing: Dredd 3D

We are quickly approaching Oscar season, but until then: Dredd 3D.  I will admit all my shortcomings up front: I haven't read the comic books nor watched the first movie attempt.  I was suckered by the casting (Karl Urban! Lena Headey!) and the plethora of movie coupons burning a hole in my wallet. 

So, I kinda liked it.  I mean, I got a little bored somewhere in the middle during (what felt like) a 10-minute machine gun scene, but other than that, it was okay.  I guess I was expecting a lot more action and a lot less menace.

Nevertheless, there are a lot of good parts.  Headey is her evil best as the psycho Ma-Ma, Urban never takes his helmet off (which, I'm told, is a big deal) and Olivia Thirlby kills it as Psi-Judge Anderson.  The action is appropriately gritty, intense, and brutal.  A great secondary character played by the always-typecast Wood Harris (will he ever play the lead in a RomCom?).  Nice little twists and turns.

What I liked best, though, was the treatment of females in the movie.