Sunday, June 28, 2015

Thinking of Tomorrow.

I watched Edge of Tomorrow with very few expectations and not really understanding what the film was all about. Honestly, I am very uncertain what I think of the film. I didn't like the first part, but liked the second half of the film. I really found the concept of the film fascinating, but would argue that their delivery of it wasn't quite too successful. Tom Cruise starts out as a spineless officer pressed into combat, of which he has no experience against an alien invasion . Their plan is a major offensive (think D-day like WWII, and it is essentially the same place they're attacking; the beeches of France) after which the military is hoping to seize the day for victory. So, the attack in France ends up being a slaughter for humanity and Tom Cruise's character ends up dying but not before he kills one of the aliens which imparts to him the ability to restart the day to a certain point. This he continues to do as he dies learning more and more. Through the course of this, he finds a woman, played by Emily Blunt, who is one of the toughest soldiers and has shared a similar experience with him. Together they fight, train, and die, and die, and die, and die, and die, and die, and die until they reach the end goal. Tom Cruise's character dies a lot, and they did a great job making the audience feel the visceral stress of what he was going through time and time again as he was the only one who never forgot anything of what he experienced. The film pretty much revolves around those two characters, and both of them do a great job. The secondary characters are good; Brendan Gleeson makes a nice appearance as does Bill Paxton. The visual effects were pretty good, and the action wasn't half bad I suppose, although rather dull after you've seen it the tenth time, or some variation of it. The aliens were interesting with a fascinating concept, although it was never revealed what their intentions are for invading Earth, and if more of them would be coming in the future. Doug Liman who directed the film is no stranger to action films (The Bourne Identity, Mr. & Mrs. Smith, and Jumper. He did a relatively good job at directing the film and what not, but I have to say what I think was the overall problem of the film was the story and the direction of the plot. The majority of the time of the film was spent on the plot mechanic, not exploring the characters or motivations of the villains. If the film was going to center on mainly just two characters it should have been written entirely differently and I think that's what ultimately led to it's rather tepid box office performance and critical reception. I also have to say that the ending was rather weak as well, but had the potential to be really good if they had played it differently. It definitely became an entertaining film once I got about 35-40 minutes into it, up until that point though I was very annoyed. In essence it was an okay film, and I love Emily Blunt, so I would watch it again just to see her performance; everything else I could live without. So bad news this weekend that was overshadowed; the radical terrorist group ISIS performed 3 terrorist attacks on three different continents and killed many people. Their ability to coordinate such a series of attacks is very disturbing, and I think what is more disturbing is that people don't seem to really care. The more time goes on, ISIS reminds me more and more of the Brotherhood of Nod (Google it), and even though it is fictional, to me the radical ideas won't go away, nor will the organization; it will only continue to grow and become stronger. I did experience some personal good news though; I turned in the last assignment for graduate school today. I am officially done with work on my Master's degree; a near lifetime goal has been realized finally.....next step years from now though is a Ph.D. but not for a long time; I am so over school.

Edge of Tomorrow trailer

Legend trailer (looks good for a British mafia film)

Phoenix trailer (looks amazing, but quite intense)

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Second time not the Charm.

So every now and then I watch movies that I originally saw in the theatre to see if I really didn't like them. Sometimes I get lucky, I think that makes sense, and I turn out to like the movie, or what happens most of the time, I end up not liking it even more. The first Pirates of the Caribbean film, Inception, and The Prestige were all films that grew on me. I watched The Amazing Spider-Man 2 to see if I still didn't like it, and it turned out that I still don't like it, but it was better than the first time I believe. The screenplay could have been much, much better, but when it comes down to it, I think Marc Webb failed as a director, which I suppose happens; hey, even Martin Campbell fails (Green Lantern). Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield are very talented individuals, as are Jamie Foxx and Dane DeHaan, so I really don't think it was a reflection too much upon them, although some of them could have done a better job with delivering the lines. The scenes between Harry and Peter seemed awkward and forced, and then with Stacy and Peter it seemed too...sugary and like a joke; there was none of the drama from the other film that really permeated in an effective way. The parts with his aunt and parents just seemed like they were tossed in there, as were the villains as well, even though Jamie Foxx was awesome! I think he may be the best part of the entire film. There just seemed to be far too many things going on and nothing really brought it all together to forge something seamless, which does tend to weigh more on the director's shoulders. Wasn't a fan of the music still either, which was Hans Zimmer; James Horner did better with the score for the first film. So if you haven't seen it you aren't missing anything, but it is entertaining I suppose and not too painful, although there are some scenes that are just too much. Anyways it doesn't matter as they are apparently rebooting the franchise and killing the "Sinister Six" spin-off from what I understand. Poor Sony just can't catch a break (they own the film rights to Spider-Man, Fox owns the film rights to X-Men, and then I think Disney owns everything else Marvel). The era of comic book films continues....Ant Man, need I say anymore. Oh, I would like to briefly mention the death of James Horner, one of the finest film composers ever. He's up there with Jerry Goldsmith, John Williams, Hans Zimmer, Danny Elfman, and Alan Silvestri. Some of my favorite compositions are: The Wrath of Khan, Krull, Willow, The Mask of Zorro, The Amazing Spider-Man, Troy, and of course Titanic. He was a musical genius and was one of the few film composers that really knew how to compose themes and motifs that were always spot on. He may always be remembered for Titanic, but I will always remember all of the work he did with fantasy and science fiction films. May the Force be with him.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 preview

James Horner music tribute

James Horner interview

Monday, June 22, 2015

Death by Treachery.

Something occurred to me this morning while I was finishing up season 5 of Game of Thrones; all of the Stark family members tend to die because they are betrayed and don't see their death coming until it is upon them. All of those who have died from that family, even before the series began (Ned Stark's elder brother and father) were stabbed in the back, and in season 5 it apparently stays true to form. I was surprised by all of the people who perished in this season and the fate of those left dangling. I think some real story and character progress was also made despite some still slow going on that front in some cases. At the same time there was some surprises this season as well including: child sacrifice (Greek King Agamemnon did this to gain favorable winds to reach Troy), death of one of the series' most popular characters (won't spoil it for those who do not wish), a vicious walk of shame during which the character was completely, and I mean completely naked, other things that I can't write due to spoilers, and of course the typically Game of Thrones garden variety violent sex and rape scenes as well. Apparently, according to a source I read George R.R. Martin thinks it's ridiculous that people complain about graphic, sexual deviancy being present and detailed in the books, but don't apparently care about the brutal and graphic violence that is also much more prevalent within the books and series as well. A very fascinating thought actually if you consider it. The writing continues to remain excellent, and I honestly believe the series has gotten better since the beginning of season 4, but was getting there in season 3. The action sequences were much better plotted and thought out; I like the one particularly when they fight a monstrous horde of dead people and white walkers in the frozen tundra. It was quite spectacular, especially the end of that sequence. The acting is of course brilliant with this season having new faces like: Keisha Castle-Hughes, Jonathan Pryce, and Alexander Siddig to name a few. Notably absent though from this season oddly enough was Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead), which actually I find very odd considering how important his role seems to be based on season 4. It's weird, all of the characters keep saying that winter is coming and that it is going to be the hardest one in decades, but to me it seems as if we're finally getting though the "winter." I read somewhere that the writers and producers of the show want 7-8 seasons of the show, which mean there is only potentially 2 or 3 seasons remaining, which means hope is on the horizon. It's a writer's trick; rob the people of all hope and slowly chip away those characters that they care about, and then at the very end unleash a wellspring of goodness; it's that catharsis that everyone yearns for, and makes the ending, the characters remaining that much better. And honestly even in the show enough events were set in motion (lots of people dying has that effect) that I can see issues becoming resolved rather than deepening. It should be interesting to see how they do the next couple of seasons as there are no currently published books to direct them where to go, or people are uncertain of the path they will take; Mr. Martin might come out with the next book Winds of Winter in the spring of next year. Well, hate it or love it, this show has definitely changed the world of the small screen and the television series put on it forever.

Game of Thrones Season 5: Daenerys meets Tyrion

Game of Thrones meet the real villain of the series....I think.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

"...Unclouded by Conscience, Remorse, or Delusions of Morality....."

So there is this series that I have been watching called Hollywood's Best Directors, and I was watching one episode on Ridley Scott and he talked a lot about making the film Alien and what all it took, so suddenly I had a hankering to watch the science fiction classic again. Granted as I watched the film, it looked incredibly dated to the 1970's, but there were a lot of elements that still looked quite great. The Alien eggs, the Alien.....thing that wraps around the mouth and head, and of course the gritty inside of the main ship, and lastly, the crashed Alien ship on the planet. Now, what is also interesting seeing it again after so many years is that I have seen Prometheus quite a few times and seeing what leads up is very cool even if all of it doesn't seem to really add up 100%. It was odd seeing Sigourney Weaver, John Hurt, and Ian Holm looking so incredibly young and not quite yet at the top of their acting game. It was amazing as I watched the film that I still jumped and freaked out as many times as I did as some of it was classic horror and I should have known that it was coming. You know there is something about science fiction films from the 1980's (1979 was close enough) that are unlike science fiction from any other era and I'm not sure why. I guess it's why westerns from the sixties and fifties are perhaps the best as well; maybe each film genre is only good during a specific period of time for a while and then after that most are only mediocre. One thing that I was disappointed with supremely was the score by Jerry Goldsmith; there was nothing memorable about the score really, which is unusual for Mr. Goldsmith as he was one of the finest film composers in the business, and especially with this genre being what he seemed to excel at composing. I keep hearing that Alien 3 and Alien: Resurrection aren't worth watching, but since my brother in-law got all four in a box I figure I might as well give it a shot. One more week left of graduate school and then I will be done. Wow! I have been waiting for this moment since I began college back in 2004, and now it all seems a little anti-climatic. Hopefully that all will change in the next couple of months.

Alien scene

Alien scene 2

Ridley Scott on Alien

Friday, June 19, 2015

Family Drama with a Twist.

Starting off with some good news, I was informed that my Master's project was accepted as is so that's it; the hardest part of my Master's degree is really finished. Now I just have to finish this one last class and then I don't have to worry about school again until I go back for my doctorate, which will be a long time from now. So I watched This is Where I Leave You which is a dark comedy film about a family that comes together for mourning after the father dies, but the catch is that they're bringing all of their crap along with them and they have to stay at their mother's home for 7 days (the Jewish morning period or something like that). Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Jane Fonda, Corey Stoll (House of Cards), and Adam Driver (Star Wars 7) play the 4 children and the mother. As you can imagine there was a lot of shouting, a lot of fighting, and a lot of crude language. The acting was great, the characters rather interesting, although Jason Bateman's character was the most interesting to me, but that was because I think I could identify with him the most. It was funny a lot, but it wasn't go happy lucky humor, or even that kind of a pace. There were quite a few deep dramatic moments, some that were quite touching. In that regard the writing was relatively good, not fantastic, but pretty good I have to say, and the film did a fairly good job of keeping up pace and holding my attention. It was also interesting to see Adam Driver play the type of character he did before I shall see him playing a villain in the new Star Wars film (Kylo Ren; the guy with the cross like lightsaber). Rose Byrne, Kathryn Hahn, Abigail Spencer, and Timothy Olyphant were really quite excellent in their supporting roles as well. All in all, it was a good story; I suppose what I like about it is the notion that a messed up family with all of their individual problems can come together and find a way to love and care about each other in a meaningful way. That catharsis is something I believe everyone deep down truly wants.....and a little humor helps it go down easier. This film could be hit or miss with most people; I would watch it again and I enjoyed it, but at the same time I could see how it would not be for everyone.

This is Where I Leave You trailer

Sicario trailer (looks like it has some good potential)

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Caprice ala David Garrett.

Until I heard of David Garrett (one of the top violinists in the world currently) and I didn't really know who Niccolo Paganini was. This man was a maverick of his time as a composer and violin virtuoso as he came to age in Napoleonic era Europe. I am uncertain about how accurate the film is to the man, but based on what I read, the particulars and the spirit was very much the same as the man truly might have been according to recollections. If you don't know who David Garrett is, then YouTube him; he is an amazing violinist from Germany, and an excellent performer. I went to one of his concerts in Chicago and it was amazing. His acting wasn't the best in the world, but when he played the violin as the character it was quite powerful; he appeared to look and act the part that he was playing, but not the best with dialog. I can forgive him of that since he is a musician first and foremost. Jared Harris played what could be considered his manager, but he was something much more than that. I am actually a little confused about the character, unless you take quite literally what happens during the course of the film, but he did a good job irregardless. Joely Richardson had a lovely supporting role as a London Times reporter, which was fun to see her in. The supporting cast was alright, but the main attraction was David Garrett and the music of course of Maestro Paganini, which did not disappoint. Technically the film was okay; nothing astounding, although there were some shots peppered throughout the entire film which were spectacular, especially the last sequence in the film. The music of the film is on Spotify if you'd care to sample the David Garrett adaptation of a musical genius, which I highly recommend as I am listening to it now. It was a very enjoyable film experience and I would definitely watch it again, but I have to warn you that it is very dramatic and doesn't have per se a happy ending, but follows the tragic end of typical creative geniuses before their time.

Scene from The Devil's Violinist

The Devil's Violinist trailer

Crimson Peak trailer

Knight of the Old Republic: Fallen Empire game trailer (It's very interesting for Star Wars).

Monday, June 15, 2015

Gone.

So I actually have very good news for once, last Thursday I successfully presented by Master's project and paper to my review board, and they not only liked the presentation but also stated that I did an excellent job with my paper, and that I should indeed "give myself a pat on the back." Essentially the most difficult part of my Master's degree is now over, which since starting back in 2013 was a huge weight on my shoulders, now I have this great feeling of relief washed over me. Now I just have to get through the next couple of months and get myself settled somewhere else than where I currently am. The year is essentially half over today; time has just flown by this year thus far. I finally sat down this evening and watched a move which had been sitting on my blu-ray player since April; Gone Girl. I can sum up my entire viewing experience of that film in just one word....wow. Rosamund Pike should have gotten the Academy Award for her performance in this film; she was astounding! For those of you who don't know, she plays a woman who is missing and presumed dead for which her husband gets the blame for, played by Ben Affleck. It's amazing that Mr. Affleck is staging as big of a come back as he is; his performance was equally astounding, and the two had such brilliant on-screen chemistry. These two were the main reasons to watch the film, although there were excellent performances from the supporting cast such as: Neil Patrick Harris, Tyler Perry, Missi Pyle, and David Clennon. David Fincher directed the film, and I have to say he did an amazing job of it. The writing was perfection; Gillian Flynn who wrote the novel also wrote the screenplay, and he did an excellent job with it. Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross composed the music, neither of which I care for the music they compose or their style, but the music they came up with for this film seemed to work quite well, so I guess you can't argue with that. I will say that I won't be listening to their score anytime soon though. It was a very well done film which grabbed and then held my attention for pretty much its duration, with a few slow spots in the middle. The characters are interesting, flawed and dynamic, and the story is oh so compelling. It isn't a funny hahah film, and some people may not like the ending, and it is rather...disturbing at times, but all in all quite a good film. If you like well written and performed dramas then this is for you.

Gone Girl trailer

Rosamund Pike interview

Star Wars Battlefront game trailer (usually I don't post game trailers, but this does look pretty good).

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

A Mad World.

So I have less than a month of graduate school remaining, and I am presenting my master's project on this coming Thursday, and I am preparing to move back out West; so I have been somewhat busy and distracted, although I did leave my previous job due to stress and the desire to retain any level of sanity I possessed. Although the title of this post could double for current events in the world today, that is not my intention. I just finished watching the show Mad Men, or rather what was available on Netflix (for some reason the episodes stopped abruptly in the middle of the 7th season). A good friend of mine recommended it to me so I thought I'd try it, although based from what I heard I wasn't that thrilled about it. To be sure after I began watching the first episode I knew I was going to despise the show if it remained as it was going, but I thought I'd stick it out hoping something would happen to redeem the show. Nothing did however, and the show was as despicable as when I began watching it. I'm not going to write about how poorly the show was written, or how shoddy it was filmed or acted or presented because none of that is true; the show is technically brilliant, but that's not my problem with it. The show follows a group of men and some women from the 1960's who work in New York city in the advertising business, and it focuses on one particular character, Donald Draper, who is the quintessential chauvinistic womanizer, manipulative liar, drunken opportunist that a good many men, particularly affluent from that era are stereotyped. I would consider him worse than James Bond, as there is no honor whatsoever or higher purpose what it is that he does. One woman does rise throughout the ranks of men to an important position, but she is not really taken seriously and since she is a woman she has faults for that which impeded her ability to do a good job like a "man" could do apparently. Wives from the show (and thereby portraying women from that era) are apparently good only for raising children, sexual toys when needed, cooking and cleaning, and hosting dinner parties (although they are quite adept at cruelly gossiping as well). Married men can have sex with whoever they want and it is fine (although it is very wrong for the wife to do this), they can ignore their children and go partying with their friends and co-workers whenever they want, and this carries on into most behavior as well in general. Okay with that said, I have never watched a show that is full of more depraved characters in my entire life with the exception of Game of Thrones, although that is heavily fictional and there were at least good and redeemable characters in it. In the show Mad Men there are perhaps two solid, good characters; everyone else is basically poison. I've noticed a trend lately in television shows, films, and media in general that are popular; sex and violence. Yep that's right, Sigmund Freud's most favorite topics and that's because he was right. The majority of his research came from upper class women who didn't work and were very wealthy; women who were bored, and probably some men as well with similar circumstances. I'm not sure about the rest of the world, but in the United States people are bored, and when bored people are left to their own devices sex and violence are sure to follow. Granted this is not the de facto rule, but rather a plausible theory explaining a behavioral pattern concerning popular media consumption. I'll name a few: Game of Thrones, 50 Shades of Gray, Hemlock Grove, Master's of Sex, How to get away with Murder, American Horror Story, Penny Dreadful, Mad Men, and Orange is the New Black. Many of these shows also have either subtle nuances or are straightforward about their treatment and presentation of women as sexual toys or possessions, or less than men. I think a question needs to be asked that why are these shows rather than wholesome shows with positive characters, and more particularly heroes, are more popular and in demand? I found Mad Men more disturbing than entertaining, and I found it even more disturbing that the show is popular; why would people want to watch and enjoy a show that glorifies such a perverse lifestyle and perverse characters, and these aren't even the villains, these are the "heroes" or main characters. There is no foil to Don Draper's character; he is the worst of them. Right now I think it is safe to say that American culture is an absolute mess, and the media isn't helping as many people unfortunately take their point of behavior from popular media rather than more wholesome and wiser sources. Not sure what should change, but one thing that would help is some positive characters and heroes in popular media for people to look up to since their eyes are cast in that direction. I think that would be a good start to a very large and widespread problem.

Mad Men: Don Draper Scene

Mad Men trailer

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 trailer

Saturday, May 2, 2015

"There Are No Strings On Me."

I've been losing track of how many comic book films there have been in the past 15 years, but the number is increasing exponentially, and seems like that will be the trend for many years to come, especially as Marvel unveils its Avengers and Infinity Wars films as it interweaves all of its films together to form a cohesive universe. Irregardless, there are a lot of them. Today I saw the 2nd film in the Avengers series: The Age of Ultron. It was entertaining to be sure, but I honestly didn't enjoy it as much as I did the first film. I will say that Joss Whedon is a really good director when it comes to dynamic action sequences, though he lacks the finesse of Spielberg and Lucas. I think there was more over the top action for purely just the sake of action unlike the first film, and it was just uninteresting. I enjoyed the additional characters of The Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver, and Ultron and wished that they could have fleshed these characters out more, as well as explored more of the Avengers than they actually did. Aside from Robert Downey Jr., the three aforementioned characters above were the best part of the entire film. Don't get me wrong, it was good and entertaining and all of that, but I think part of my struggle is that I am getting all 'comic booked out.' It's just becoming too much of the same exact thing every time; too predictable and thus boring. There were a few surprises along the way story and plot wise, but nothing too interesting or wowing. James Spader I'm sure only provided the voice for Ultron, but he was absolutely amazing and entrancing. That man is talented in so many ways. Even though they had small roles, I liked their characters immensely nonetheless; Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Quicksilver) and Elizabeth Olsen (The Scarlet Witch). The film would have been much better if they had delved deeper into those two characters. The remainder of the cast was great of course, and yes Robert Downey Jr. was the main attraction, especially with what how he interacted with the other characters. The screenplay was okay, but it could have used a little more guidance in regard to the story and the plot; the entire film just seemed like one major action extravaganza. Overall, it could have used with a little more depth. The score was apparently composed by Brian Tyler and Danny Elfman; not sure how they did that, but for two good composers I didn't really remember anything but the theme that was composed by Alan Silvestri for the first film. All in all I wasn't overly impressed with the film; but like I mentioned, it was entertaining and good, but nothing really great or amazing. Go see it and be entertained, but beyond that it really has no purpose, although I suppose geeks and comic book nerds will have spasms of joys galore, as well as plenty of revels.

The Avenger: Age of Ultron trailer

Star Wars Rebels season 2 trailer

Saturday, April 18, 2015

A Darker Side of Justice.

My first introduction to Daredevil was in the 1990's animated Spider-Man television series when he and his alter ego Matt Murdock got Peter Parker out of a sticky situation. They did a very cool job with the character, and so later on when Ben Affleck had a go at it in a film version, I thought it would be great. Boy was I disappointed (along with nearly all film goers). I think that film deadened the Marvel comic book character for a long time, and then someone got the idea to breathe new life into the character except this time for a gritty Netflix television series rather than a major motion picture. I think they have the right idea. There are a lot of fantastic characters and stories out there (just not comic book characters and stories) that will never be necessarily well suited for a major motion picture, but rather a series. Game of Thrones is the best, shining modern day example of this philosophy; looks big budget, well written, and highly successful therefore making it the envy of many program content producers. Despite watching only one episode of the Netflix show Daredevil I have to say that I am very impressed thus far. The writing is quite good, the cinematography is also very striking making usage of shadows, light vs. dark, and a very grim inner city landscape thus far. Although I have not seen the characters fleshed out that far yet, I do have to say that my attention was pretty much captivated for nigh the entire time. Charlie Cox as the hero I think was a good choice. He provides levity, darkness, and seriousness to what comes across as a very dark character. Even though I have not yet seen the performance of Vincent D'Onofrio as Wilson Fisk, I can tell he will be amazing. The bad guys in this show do not mess around; pretty much said, you cross them, you die or suffer greatly. Well I cannot yet say whether or not I would recommend this show, I will say this; so far so good and I have heard a good critical response since it's release. So if you find yourself bored I think you should give it a try, although it is very dark and violent. Oh one thing that kind of bothered me were the fight scenes; the choreography was interesting and dynamic, but there was an awful lot of pounding and punching over and over again....which after a few minutes of it kind of got boring. I understand why they did that (at least I think I do), but still, it makes it less....well cool, but I suppose it does make it more realistic. I don't know; we'll see how it progresses. Enjoy your weekend everyone.

Daredevil trailer

Batman vs. Superman trailer (not sure what to think.)

Star Wars: Battlefront game trailer (usually I don't put game trailers on here, but this looks pretty good.)

Thursday, April 16, 2015

An Enigma.

I just finished watching an amazing film The Imitation Game. The film is based off of a book about Alan Turing who was probably almost entirely responsible for breaking the enigma code that the Nazis used during World War II. It also portrays the many complicated aspects of his personal life as well such as coping with homosexuality around that time in Britain, and most likely having some mental health issues as well. Apparently he also may be responsible for creating the template for what became modern day computers. It is perhaps one of the best WWII era films that I have seen in a very long, long time. I don't know much about the real man, but Benedict Cumberbatch's performance was astounding! That man truly has superior talent when it comes for spot on acting. Not only him, but a tremendously talented cast was assembled for the film as well. Keira Knightley played for lack of a better term, Turing's beard of sorts although I am certain they cared very deeply for each other. Matthew Good was on of Turing's colleagues (Ozmandias from the Watchmen film), and he was of course spot on as well. Then there was Charles Dance and Mark Strong both of which can strengthen a film just by there mere presence being in it regardless of the size; both were quite amazing with their roles though. I think though that the biggest star of the film was the writing, the screenplay was beautiful and the dialog was so effortlessly spoken with such intricacy that you couldn't help but be captivated as people's mouths moved. Graham Moore wrote the screenplay which was adapted from the book written by Andrew Hodges. As a writer, I love words so much, and these two individuals created seemingly effortless works of art. The cinematography was also nicely done, although I wasn't that surprised by the lackluster score composed by Alexandre Desplat. Granted he did get an Oscar for The Grand Budapest Hotel, but this score was very...Salieri like (you won't get the reference unless you've seen the film Amadeus) which is to say that it all sounds rather like itself and is very simplistic sounding. John Williams would have been a good composer to tap, or Michael Giacchino. Oh well. Can't have everything unless you're James Cameron. It was a really amazing film and I definitely recommend it to people to watch regardless of who you are or what you believe. I was just looking at my school schedule when I realized that next week is the end of the second spring term, which means, I only have one round of classes remaining before I graduate! I have begun the job hunting process in earnest and soon I will begin the relocation bit as well. Such a great feeling to realize I am almost done. Hopefully I will be able to do more writing with my spare time. Well, everyone. Good night and good luck, oh and don't forget to watch the new Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer; it's pretty sweet!

The Imitation Game trailer

Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch interview

The Force Awakens Star Wars trailer latest (Wow!)
   

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Is Ignorance A Virtue?

So it begins, my catching up on Oscar winning and nominated films. So tonight I finally sat down and watched the film Birdman. Now, I didn't have any thoughts or expectations going into the film other than my sister and brother in-law liked it. Now after watching the film I can state simply that it was boring. about 30 minutes into the movie I had thoughts about just stopping it, but I sat through the remaining hour and thirty minutes somehow. Now, the film was shot spectacularly and the performances were great, and even the writing wasn't too bad. The characters themselves so though were not endearing, the storyline was uninteresting, and there was just a lot of shouting, yelling, and raw anger. It doesn't take a lot of talent to scream and shout, just watch a Michael Bay film. I was honestly expecting more, the film did have some similarities though I noticed to Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle in regards to especially the shouting, yelling, and anger, but also the not so endearing characters and boring storyline (aside of Jennifer Lawrence of course though). I don't know why there is such a trend lately with Hollywood films; I think they're going through a phase that was similar in the 70's. Michael Keaton is very talented man and his portrayal of a psychotic, washed up actor was spot on, yet I couldn't really empathize with his character until the very end, and by that point it was too late. Edward Norton played a self absorbed fat head very well, but I couldn't stand his character whatsoever. Emma Stone, played the recovering drug addict with a gross attitude very effectively, although once again nothing there. Naomi Watts had a small role as Micheal Keaton's wife in the film, and she brought class and an anchor point to the film. Whereas Zach Galfianakis brought levity, and wit to the film (also a small role, which was a real shame). As I mentioned the film was shot very exquisitely; reminded me of Gosford Park and Pride & Prejudice. The film score was essentially obnoxious, and that is all I have to say about that. The lighting was actually quite spectacular, but that's about it. The premise I think is a wee bit ridiculous, but it could have worked. The whole Michael Keaton acting psychotic though just didn't work that well. Also, I wasn't certain if this was Hollywood political film blasting big budget films as opposed to films similar to Birdman, but that was kind of ridiculous as well. If you don't see this film you aren't missing anything. I could have done something far more enjoyable with my time, and kind of wish that I did after spending hours finishing up a statistical analysis of a survey that I create for my grad school class. I found out today that since I like House of Cards and Niccolo Machiavelli that I may enjoy reading Plutarch, according to my friend acquiring his MA while studying England. Just an interesting anecdote. I really feel like I should write something concerning international matters, but it's hard to do that without sounding too politically abrasive or antagonistic I suppose. Perhaps we can all reflect on an old Vulcan proverb, "Only Nixon could go to China."

Birdman trailer

Robot Chicken Disney Princesses (need some humor, granted inappropriate, but quite hysterical)  

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Who's the More Foolish? The Fool, or the One who Follow's Him?

There are only 8 months remaining approximately of 2015, and then 2016 will come. I think that sounds rather intense when I sit and think about how fast these past 3 months have gone. I suppose March Madness will do that to do, and I am not referring to Basketball; mental health March Madness, and yes this happens at least all over the area I live in, I cannot speak for other geographic areas, but I am certain there are some similarities. The bright spot is that I only have 3 months of graduate school left, and I am putting the finishing touches on my Masters project for a presentation (which I am not looking forward to) so everything is beginning to come to a close. This also means that I will be beginning the process of trying to move back to San Diego, thank God. Even though the Midwest is beginning to warm up, I am kind of over it all. Oh, happy April Fool's Day! Not sure what the reason or history is behind it, but there was this one joke that I really want to try on someone one day. Fill a balloon with air, cover it with whipped cream, decorate it enough so that it passes for a cake, and then have someone cut into it; best effect would be if there was a large group of people around when it goes off. So I recently finished watching Da Vinci's Demon's season 2 and I do have to admit that it was still pretty good, and maybe even better than the first season, although their trek into the New World was less interesting than I would have preferred. Still, the characters grew stronger and better I think, and there were quite a few interesting surprises which were awesome! I'm not certain what Leonardo Da Vinci was like in real life, but I love the performance of Tom Riley; it is truly astounding. Dark, intense, humorous, thoughtful, flawed; just really well done. I can only say good things concerning the rest of the cast as well. It was shot beautifully, and written fairly well; the costumes are also quite divine, but they were of course done by Trisha Biggar (did Star Wars Prequels to name a few). If you like excellent adventure and drama, and also like history, then you will love this show. I wish I could say that I have been writing....but I would rather say that I have been surviving and thinking about writing more so than actually doing it. Time has turned out to be my biggest enemy currently; always could use more time. So if anyone knows how to make human clones please let me know. A part of me wants to tell people to not watch world news because it is so doggone depressing, but being educated and knowledgeable about world and domestic affairs and voting accordingly is how to fend off oppressive government most of the time. So please stay informed and consider what other people are going through throughout the world before you cast stones at glass houses. May the Force be with us all.

Da Vinci's Demon's season 3 teaser

Da Vinci's Demon's first look

Spectre trailer (new James Bond)

Monday, March 9, 2015

"I Have a Bad Feeling About this Mission...."

In the film Gravity there is a statement that nobody can hear you scream in space, which I am assuming is true even though I myself do not know for a fact, but what they presented sounded reasonable. It took me forever to watch this rather short film starring Sandra Bullock supported by George Clooney. Well, I think the best way to define it would be that it was very short, and in space. Honestly, I don't know if there is much to say about essentially a one woman show in space trying to get back home. Ms. Bullock provided an excellent performance that was quite believable and powerful, and Mr. Clooney was hilarious, serious, and in turn an excellent foil to Ms. Bullock's character. The plot of being stuck in space while completing an upgrade or to repair the Hubble telescope isn't necessarily anything new, and it reminded me a little bit of the 80's film Space Camp. There was suspense, which was nice and some really good drama; I have to say that the film's suspenseful turns were anything but predictable. The special visual effects were excellent; Alfonso Cuaron (director, writer, editor, etc.) did a fine job of putting the film together, and the sound editing was perhaps one of the finer technical parts of the film. Steven Price, who composed the music, didn't have a really memorable score; the music at the very end of the film sounded a wee bit like Hans Zimmer. The screenplay was well written, and the dialog was delivered beautifully thanks in turn to Ed Harris (mission control voice), Ms. Bullock, and Mr. Clooney. I might watch the film again possibly, so it has medium watchability. It's a good film, but if you don't watch it then you won't be missing anything super fantastic. Nobody may hear you scream in space, but on a rollercoaster ride everyone can hear you scream. This past weekend I visited Florida with my family and together we went to Sea World, which was cool. I did something I have never done in my entire life; I went on a rollercoaster ride called "The Kraken." All I have to say is wow! I have never done anything so death defying in my entire life. The way the ride began was us slowly going up and then there was a complete vertical drop as if I had stepped off a cliff and then....well, I closed my eyes for the duration of the rest of the ride. I don't know how or why people enjoy rollercoaster rides; it was one of the most terrifying things I have ever done in my entire life, yet at the same time after it happened I was kind of proud of myself for surviving it (as weird as that may sound).....though I don't think I would ever want to do that again.


Game of Thrones Season 5 latest trailer

Bates Motel interview with Freddie Highmore 

Bates Motel season 3 trailer (looks even more disturbing than the last season)

The Kraken rollercoaster ride at Sea World  (it was much more terrifying in person)

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The House Begins to Tumble Down.

The end of this school term was very satisfying and successful, and I hope that trend continues until the very end. I took the day off of work to prepare for my miniature vacation to Florida, and while I was getting ready I took a few moments to finish watching the 3rd season of House of Cards. Well I think my title says it all, and I am not of course referring to President Underwood's house, but the show. I had a lot of hope and desire for this season of the show that it would really up the ante what with Francis being President and all, but for 13 episodes all I saw was all of the main characters that I loved so much get weaker, and weaker and more vulnerable and less fulfilling. Frank I thought would be titan to be reckoned with as President, but he comes off more ineffective and powerless than he ever was previously. Don't get me wrong, Kevin Spacey's performance was astounding that isn't the problem; the error lies in how the character was written for this season, which I didn't care for. The same goes for Robin Wright; Claire as well seems powerless, lost, and ineffective, and although she gave a remarkable performance as always, the character was not written well. As a matter of fact none of the characters were really written that well for this season now that I think about it; I guess the writers had an off season, even the season finale ending was lame, whereas the ending to the 2nd season was powerful. They spend a lot of time on superfluous characters in the 3rd season, on pointless storylines; it was just not plotted well. I suppose the writing that was there was good, but nothing near to what the first two seasons were like; the 1st season remains the best so far. I was deeply disappointed with the 3rd season, and they had better improve upon the 4th otherwise the show will most likely (in my opinion) tank. There were some good moments in the 3rd season, but nothing really stood out to me. The show was shot really well, and one cannot deny how real all of it feels or looks, so in that regard it remains a visual masterpiece still. There is a lot going on in the world, and even here in the United States; even something very tragic almost happened to one of my clients at my job. All of us struggle day after day and fiercely wrestle with ourselves and others. Hopefully despite all of the difficulties that we have to work through none of us lose sight of matters of importance, and that none of us lose our genuine humanity. Good luck and may the Force be with us all.
House of Cards

Ex Machina trailer (looks kind of blah unfortunately)

Friday, February 27, 2015

"....Just Shy of Treason...."

Well it is that time of year again when House of Cards premieres it's newest season, and I have been eagerly awaiting to see what they'll do with season 3. What I've seen so far hasn't really got me thrilled, so I'm, hoping the show picks up as the season continues. It's great to see Francis as President, but it's weird that he seems weakened by becoming President not more powerful and emboldened. I think it really took a lot out of the character, unless that is a tactic more akin to a cathartic moment in waiting. Any rate it still looks great, and the characters remain good, just seem a little more vulnerable and less prepared for crises than before. After this week, I only have two terms (two 7 week periods) of graduate school left! That is such a relief, and come next month I will be preparing to once again change locations to live my life, and this time the place I choose will become much more permanent. In the meanwhile I have to survive, which as of late has been proving difficult. Something small that I would like to quickly address is poor customer care; recently I was in the process of rebuilding my computer and was fortunate to have a friend assist me in this endeavor, as I am not quite that adept at the technical aspects of computers. The go to place was Newegg.com as a source for acquiring the necessary parts, however I was quite unfortunate to have received a defected hard drive and the wrong part. Both were sent back and needless to say, I had an extraordinarily difficult time with customer service to get all of this accomplished. Never before in my life have I experienced such incredibly poor customer service and treatment during the which my integrity and honesty were questioned; I was talked down to and given incompetent assistance from their representatives, and when I was finally able to speak with a supervisor (this of course all unfolding over a period of a month almost) he made it sound like he was doing me a favor by making certain that they sent me a new part, even though it was my fault that they lost it in their shipping department. I maintained my composure and thanked the man for his assistance, although I will never be shopping there again; I checked the Better Business Bureau and found that most of the complaints (and there were a lot) against Newegg.com were for poor customer service, and poor product satisfaction I believe. I don't know who designed their customer service departmental guidelines, but they did a very poor job of it; I cannot imagine wanting to shop at a place that treats their customers so poorly. So be advised when shopping there. I would not be able to finish this week's blog without mentioning the Oscars from this past Sunday. Usually I have a little more energy about the ceremony leading up to it, but this year I cared not, and now I know why. The Academy Awards show this year was mostly boring, very awkward, and not hosted very capably. Neil Patrick Harris apparently needs to stick to the Tony's, John Travolta should never present again, and Hollywood should stay away from overt activity in politics as it always seems to end in poor taste. Some highlights: Julie Andrews as divine, Lady Gaga was astounding and the most refreshing part of the Oscars, Star Wars will always reign supreme, and thank you Anna Kendrick for doing what we've all wanted to do which was throw a shoe at Jack Black and tell him to beat it. Hopefully next year will be much better (Billy Crystal or Ellen). One more day and it will be March of 2015; it's scary that as the older you get the faster time seems to go by.

House of Cards season 2 ending (President Underwood)

Rebels season 1 finale

Cinderella clip (this looks great; hopefully so will the film)

Saturday, February 14, 2015

"Let's Call it the Blacklist, that Sounds Fun..."

Welcome back and Happy Valentines day! As I get older and busier, time seems to be the one elusive element that is difficult to keep track of as well as find more of. It's hard to imagine (but thrilling at the same time) that is about 5 months I will graduate with my Masters degree, and hopefully moving on to bigger and better things with my life. I discovered that since I started graduate school that writing in addition to that and working full time would not be possible, and I have noticed that more profoundly within the last year where I have been doing very little writing. Hopefully once I am done with school that I will be able to find more time to write. So I've discovered the television show The Blacklist starring James Spader, who alone makes the show completely worth watching. If you've never seen Boston Legal with him, Candice Bergen, and William Shatner then I encourage you to do so if you have the access and time. The 2015 Academy Awards are coming up in a couple of weeks and I honestly don't have a clue much about the films being nominated. I am currently listening to one of the nominated original scores by Gary Yershon for Mr. Turner, and so far it seems to be the best choice out of the ones nominated: Hans Zimmer (Interstellar), Alexandre Desplat (The Imitation Game), Alexandre Desplat (The Grand Budapest Hotel), and Johann Johannsson (The Theory of Everything). Not a very good list as I have listened to parts of all of the scores and have found none of them really compelling unfortunately, and I was considering the entire year and I cannot recall really any good original scores, which is unusual. I have been working sporadically on a number of projects such as a musical (think a combination of Sweeney Todd, the Sound of Music, and Fiddler on the Roof), and developing a comic universe of sorts. I should really be working on my third book for my fantasy trilogy, but I think I really need to be focused and have a lot of extra time to be able to do that, and do it well. I am looking to start doing that in the fall of this year, if all goes as I have planned. Not sure how intimately all of you are familiar with what's going on in the world, but things aren't looking too good in all of the really hot spot locations like the Middle East, Ukraine, and Africa. Despite what President Obama and his administration tend to report, things aren't quite so rosy, although for the United States we seem to be doing pretty good, so in that regard I suppose he's correct, but as for the rest of the world as we abandon it....not so good. I have been watching this documentary on all of the presidents of the United States, and also about the nature of the office and the struggle the men have frequently had with Congress, especially in regards to the reach of presidential power, and the nature of the USA's role in the world. Let's just say that I am bigger fan of American activism within the world of both humanitarian and military support to nations in need and our allies. It's hard to do any of that effectively from the rear. On a side note, I don't understand how people live in frigid and arctic regions of the world year round for their entire lives like Siberia, Alaska, Canada, Sweden, Norway and Finland; as I write this currently from the US Midwest, it is so cold! Major props to those people who live in the uber frosty lands of the earth!

Game of Thrones Season 5 trailer

House of Cards Season 3 trailer

Crimson Peak trailer (directed by Guillermo del Toro; looks...interesting).