Sunday, November 23, 2014

"Who's the Better Killer....?"

So this weekend went by too fast, although the good thing is I have a shortened week due to the Thanksgiving holiday; thank God for that one woman who really pushed one of our previous presidents to make it a national holiday. I feel like I was supposed to get more done than I did, but oh well, what can one do. So I should be writing more if I have free time, but I don't seem to have the energy and motivation, which really sucks. I decided once more that I need a clone, which can go to work for me while I write and chill; that would be perfect. Okay, so I am one of those people that enjoyed The Chronicles of Riddick, so I thought that I would like the follow up film Riddick, and although I didn't find it dreadful, it wasn't really that great either. I'm not really a big fan of the scenario of being trapped on one planet and trying to get off by outsmarting a bunch of mercenaries while wild animals are killing everyone. It was therefore kind of dull, and the ending was very anti-climactic. I like the character of Riddick, and I like the look and feel of the film, and some of the other characters were good, but honestly, it was all kind of blah like and a let down. Vin Diesel was excellent as Riddick of course, since he created that character I highly doubt anyone else could pull it off. The rest of the cast was fine, small, but fine. I'm not certain how Western Christianity and Hispanic culture figures into the Riddick universe, but it wormed its way into there somehow and came off as really....well...out of place and awkward. If you don't see it, then you won't miss anything; it was entertaining, although I was distracted with something else while I was watching it the majority of the time so that might not have helped much. I wouldn't encourage people to go and see the film, but at the same time if you like that kind of mind numbing action then you will love this film. So there's not a whole lot of good news in the world; either we're getting over the Ebola scare, or the news media just finds what's going on in Iraq and the Ukraine much more interesting, aside from the rancor of American politics. I don't know if any of you have ever reached that point when you've spoke, and spoke, and spoke, and spoke your mind and heart out for so long and nothing happens, it's a little disheartening. That's how I feel about the mess that has been unfolding in Syria for over 4 years and has now destabilized the entire region and threatens to undermine over a decade of hard earned American and Iraqi sweat and blood in Iraq. The unfortunate thing of it is I don't think it will ever get better; the window of opportunity for positive, effective change has slammed shut for good and European and American powers have poisoned the well of good will for at least a couple of generations of people over there. Such a shame. Still, we should keep those people in mind, and those that battle and fight against tyranny across the world in an effort to have the basics of freedom. I am very thankful for all of the freedoms I enjoy. Goodnight and good luck everyone.

Riddick trailer

Vin Diesel interview on the character of Riddick

Strange Magic trailer (looks pretty good).

Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Mockingjay Returns.....

So today I watched The Hunger Games: The Mockingjay Part 1, and I enjoyed watching it immensely. However, the two young...girls that I was sitting next to were less than enthused; the first words out of their mouths as soon as the credits began to role were "oh my god, what a disappointment. My whole day is ruined now. That was not supposed to be how they did it..." There was some additional ensuing conversation, but I ignored them. Needless to say my critique will not be that harsh by any means. I have only read the first book, which was good, and I have yet to read the other two, so my critique purely looks at the film, not at how well it was adapted to the screen. So I will start off by saying that I really enjoyed the film; it was well written, well acted, well cast, well shot, and well paced all for the type of film it was. Jennifer Lawrence is as always amazing and fantastic; more than ever she is depicted as tormented and deeply conflicted as war opens between the Capital and the Districts and she is thrust headlong into it all. She had some really powerful moments captured on film that brought tears to my eyes almost. Josh Hutcherson as Peeta had a small role in this part, but I believe it will be more sizable in part 2. Liam Hemsworth as Gale didn't really impress me as a character this film; very flat and blah like, and he was acting really....well...macho like for lack of a better term. Characters that had smaller roles, but did well were: Philip Seymour Hoffman as Plutarch, Julianna Moore as as the rebel President, Woody Harrelson as Haymitch, Elizabeth Banks as Effie Trinket, and of course Donald Sutherland as President Snow was awesome (he does such an excellent villain, and President Snow is such an amazing villain). The film kept good pace, and thus was edited well. I honestly don't recall much of James Newton Howard's score, so I think they should have gotten someone else to add more pomp into the film score. The cinematography was pretty good, as was the lighting. The screenplay was also well written, and the dialog wasn't ever ridiculous from what I could remember. Perhaps my biggest complaint was that although the film could essentially stand alone, it did feel like it was missing something and I'm wondering if it was a good idea to split the book into 2 films rather than just having a longer film. To each their own I suppose. I would recommend the film, I think it raises some valuable questions and ideas that people should consider, and it was very entertaining.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 trailer

Jennifer Lawrence on playing Katniss Everdeen

Monday, November 17, 2014

Interstellar Travel........? Not Quite Yet.

So after watching Christopher Nolan's Interstellar I have come to the conclusion that every good film director is allotted one or a few flops on his or her resume. Not that this film was a complete flop (financially), and perhaps I do need to see it again, but honestly I was bored almost out of my mind; if it had been any other director than Nolan, I might not have found the film interesting at all. These were the positives that stood out enough for me to remember: good writing (the screenplay), one really good cinematic shot of Saturn, excellent performances by the cast, and some really cool robotics. Other than that, I can't recall anything else that was impressive, stunning, or awe inducing. Mathew McConaughey as the main character was perfect and perhaps the best part of the entire film; he was likable, sympathetic, interesting, and compelling. Anne Hathaway was perfect as well; cautious, practical, and deeply wounded and emotional however once you get past the insulated facade. Jessica Chastain was another good choice (albeit she had a smaller role than did her justice), John Lithgow was another gem that seemed rather wasted on a diminished role as McConaughey's wary father in-law. Michael Caine was....well....Michael Caine; nothing interesting, different, or bad. Jonathan Nolan and Christopher Nolan did an excellent job with the screenplay, but the story was boring and not made to be as compelling as it could have been. The same goes for the characters; although the performances were great, and a fantastic cast was assembled, none of them were really fascinating enough that made you want to get to know them even more. I wasn't really impressed by Hans Zimmer's score for the film; it reminded me a lot of Watchmen, and a little like Inception, but not nearly as compelling (perhaps that has something to do with the content of the film). Perhaps most disappointing of all was the cinematography, lighting, set decoration and design; one descriptive word for all 3 "blah." There was nothing really grand in the shots really, the color scheme was bland and mostly back and grey, and the design for most of the onscreen tech was ugly, and not shaped well (with the exception of the robots which worked well, although quite strange at first). I would find the film interesting for a while, and then I would be bored for a long while, then something interesting would happen, and then I would get bored again. This describes my film experience in general, ending in a very confused state. I'm sure I will see it again when it comes out on DVD, but for now, I don't think that I'd miss anything. I wouldn't encourage people to see it, but if you have the time to burn then why not. Switching gears, it has become quite frigid in the Midwest; it's snowing and everything is white and frozen. Needless to say, I miss San Diego more than ever once again. I suppose that provides me with enough motivation to keep things going and get away from the frozen tundra. Things have slowed down, I think in part because of the weather change, so there is a silver lining of sorts to the dreadful change in temperature. Well, there it is. May the Force be with us all, oh and if you haven't seen it yet Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens is the title for the new film. Should get more interesting.

The Science of Interstellar

Into the Woods Trailer (this looks great!)

Marco Polo series (could be interesting)

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

"Ideas Are Bulletproof!"

"Remember, remember the fifth of November; the gunpowder treason and plot. I know of no reason why the gunpowder treason should ever be forgot." - V For Vendetta

I thought that it was ironic that November 5 fell on right after election day over here in the U.S. where the Republicans trounced the Democrats and took back control of Senate and maintained control of the House; the see-saw of politics continues on (at least some things are predictable). Probably one of the most interesting races of the night for me was that the incumbent governor of Illinois was ousted by a new Republican challenger; we shall see how he does as the last vestiges of Rod Blagovicich (or however you write his name) are swept away. We'll see if this governor remains out of chains and if he can do anything positive about this state, or if indeed all of Illinois is ruled by Chicago. So apparently all of the mentally ill people decided to flood out of the woodworks the past couple of weeks as my job has been an unmitigated nightmare. And school is back in full swing again, so that has been.....well, challenging. I have a feeling I am really going to enjoy my degree once I acquire it and am able to utilize it in the capacity that I desire, but right now I truly hate grad school. Another ridiculously tragic occurrence is how cold it has been getting over here in the chilly tundra of Illinois; how I long for the warm, sunny beaches of San Diego. So in true form I celebrate Guy Fawkes day every year, and thus one year later where is the world in regards to liberty? Farther away sadly. I think perhaps one of the best examples of what the film V For Vendetta means to me is what happened over in the Ukraine; the people overthrew a corrupt government that was being puppeteered by Vladimir Putin and his Russian associates, and created something better, something that reflected what the people of Ukraine wanted and needed. This is what is trying to be done in Syria, and what was attempted in Egypt, Tunisia, China, and Libya; it hasn't gone as well in those places as it did in Ukraine, but Russia isn't making it easy for them either. Freedom is an idea, and it only grows if suppressed; all humans hunger deeply for freedom (along with lust and power) and will sacrifice often to acquire it. Even though we in Western civilization have nearly unlimited freedom, I have been noticing in greater frequency that we are getting more laws, ordinances, rules, guidelines, amendments and other political and legal jargon like words that are forcing people to do things they don't want to do. Even though they are small, that's how it begins; that slippery slope that nobody sees coming, not even after hit it hits you. It's only in hindsight that everything becomes clear. I would prefer that to not be us, any of us in the world. So hopefully everyone used their noodle effectively when they voted, because as unpleasant as it sounds, and I'm sure people don't like thinking about it, Hitler and the Nazis were at first voted into power. Well, there is the soap box for today. I would like to write more frequently, but I doubt that will happen; no time and no energy. Good luck, and good night all.

V's Alliterative Speech

V's Music