Tuesday, May 31, 2011

An Old Favorite Returns....

Because of some weird mental issue that I have, I grew up watching all kinds of movies that I shouldn't have had access to as a little kid. One of my favorites is a quirky little vampire flick called Fright Night. It was a great, cheesy vamp film that pulled together the archetypes of the vampire mythology: the young male hero, the crackpot vampire hunter, etc, and wove them into a simple story that has become an unsung classic in my eyes.

Guess what? Fright Night is going to be remade!! No, I'm serious!!! Here, check out the trailer:

It looks pretty cool. Especially, Colin Farrell as the vampire. I've always loved seeing him as the bad guy in movies. It's also cool to see Anton Yelchin again. This guy is going to be a very diverse actor. I can't wait until this one comes out!

Thoughts On... Fandom

I look around and I see, read, and hear everyone around me talking about how they are fans of this thing or that show. But, very few people stop to think about what exactly they are saying when they use the word "fan". Because very few people ever really think about the origin of the word "fan" and the meaning. "Fan" isn't really a word, it's an abbreviation. Of what you may ask? It's an abbreviation of the word: Fanatic.

Think about that for a moment. The word we casually throw around to say we have an interest in something originates from a word that is very closely associated with insanity. What’s amazing is how accurate the term is in the way we apply it to ourselves.  I can’t count how many times I’ve seen (either in person or on television) people lose themselves in their interests completely.  I mean to the point of completely disregarding family, friends, even work.

Now, I am a passionate person, and anyone who knows me can tell you, dear readers, how my interests can consume me at times. While it may not seem like it outwardly, there are always limits to how far my passions take me. Because I know there is a line between my life and my interests. I don’t dream about living in the world of my favorite shows, or dress up as my favorite characters. With the shows I watch, that would be tantamount to suicide! I don’t hunt down every single piece of information about the celebrities (actors, musicians, etc) I like. You won’t see me decorating my house like the lair of some video game or movie villain.

Why? That’s simple: I don’t care.

I don’t care who is sleeping with whom on the set. I don’t care that some musician said something to some reporter about some actor they ran into. Or that this person was caught kissing that person in this place which is “oh so scandalous” because they are in a relationship with someone else. That is just fluff & nonsense to me. It’s crap.

What do I care about? The future projects my favorite celebrities are going to be working on. Their thoughts and opinions on the subject matter they’ve chosen to work on. The reasons they decided to work on a given project, or why they left.  And, of course, the ACTUAL SUBJECT MATTER they’re working on. Most of the things I’m interested in usually gain my interest because of a key philosophical point in the subject matter. Others gain my interest because they are sufficiently complex to distract me from the problems in my life for a little while.

I have had discussions for hours on end about tv shows or books that I’ve read. And while from the outside, it might seem on the same level as the people I’m critiquing at the moment, it isn’t. Because these discussions serve a purpose, they flesh out my beliefs in my head. They allow me to challenge my worldview in situations that I would NEVER encounter in my life. When will I be battling ghosts, demons or angels? When would I need to interrogate a terrorist? When would I need to get into the mind of serial killer? I wouldn’t. But getting a glimpse of that life, even a fictionalized version of it, helps me expand my knowledge of myself. It helps me figure out what I really believe, and why I believe it.

In the end, I am not a fan… I am an enthusiast or aficionado if you like. A buff or geek, even. But a fan? Not on your life.

A Love Song Playlist...

It has come to my attention that I come across as someone who has a somewhat harsh view of love. Some say it’s so harsh a view that it’s conceivable that I don’t really believe in love. Now, I am the first to admit that I’m a caustic, sarcastic, cynical kind of guy. But not to believe in love?? I hardly think I’m THAT far gone! I’m just a bit more… critical of love than most. In fact, I’ll prove it. Here is a list of love songs from my own personal collection of music. And before you ask, yes I will swear to the fact.

*places hand on holy object of reader’s choice*
 I swear by all that you deem holy that at the time of this posting, I actually own copies of each and every one of the following songs.
*removes hand from holy object, inspects hand for burns*

01.                       01Take That – Rule The World (Full Version)
02.                       02NeYo – Closer
03.                       03 Joy Enriquez – Uh Oh
04.                       04 Debelah Morgan – I Remember (Rodney Jerkins Extended Remix)
05.                       05 Savage Garden – Chained To You
06.                       06 Jessica Simpson – Irresistible
07.                       07 Bosson – One In A Million
08.                       08 Leann Rimes – The Right Kind Of Wrong
09.                       09 Joss Stone, Les Paul, & Sting – Love Sneakin’ Up On You
10.                       10 Santana (Ft. Alex Band) – Why Don’t You & I
11.                       11 Soluna – Bring It To Me
12.                       12 Lionel Richie – Angel (Metro Mix)
13.                       13 Gloria Estefan – Everlasting Love
14.                       14 Liberty X (Vs Richard X) – Being Nobody
15.                       15 Michael Jackson – The Way You Make Me Feel
16.                       16 Usher (Ft Will.I.Am) – OMG (Album Version)
17.                       17 Santana (Ft. Michelle Branch) – The Game Of Love
18.                       18 Marc Anthony – I’ve Got You
19.                       19 Angel City – Love Me Right
20.                       20 Al Green – Love & Happiness

Okay? Are you happy now? Satisfied? Good!

Drink Up Me 'Earties, Yo HO!!

When I heard the rumors that they were going to make Pirates of the Caribbean 4, I was going to roll up my eyes, and vent some of my frustrations with highly caustic and sarcastic remarks. Then I found out who was cast in the film. More importantly, I found out who WASN’T cast. Orlando Bloom & Keira Knightly weren’t listed. A glimmer of hope lit up the dark recesses of my mind. Could it be the producers of Pirates of the Caribbean series finally realized who the real lynch pin of the series was? And that this time they were going to actually focus on Jack? No way! Then I saw the trailer, and my hopes were proven true! This time it looked GOOD!! So, I gladly went to see the fourth Pirates of the Caribbean film: On Stranger Tides. When I walked out of theaters after the end of the film, I felt fully vindicated. This was the movie that should have followed Curse of The Black Pearl.

On Stranger Tides picks up a little bit after At World’s End with some familiar faces. Obviously there’s Jack who has been trying to get to the Fountain of Youth with no success. Also returning is Hector Barbossa, only he seems to no longer be a pirate, but is now gainfully employed as a captain of the royal navy! Rumors start spreading in London that Jack Sparrow is looking to hire a crew to go find the Fountain of Youth. This is of great interest to a lot of people, including Jack himself, who had no idea this was going on. After being informed of this by Mr Gibbs (the last returning Pirates vet), Jack decides to look into what’s going on in his name… and events unfold from there.

Let’s get back to the cast, specifically the two new members of the team. And what great choices they were!! First we have Ian McShane as Blackbeard. Now, as the new bad ass pirate in the series, McShane had his work cut out for him, having to live up to both Barbossa AND Davy Jones (who was a good villain, just in a really bad set of movies). But McShane came through with FLYING colors! There hasn’t been a creepier pirate on film yet.

In his portrayal of Blackbeard, McShane brought an entirely different kind of menace to the Pirates series. Instead of going with the standard loud and obnoxious route for evil pirates, McShane infused Blackbeard with a type of cold, calm brutality that has all the more powerful an impact because of the detached, almost serene manner in which he carries out his actions. There isn’t any yelling or overt aggression. Blackbeard threatens and kills in the same way he would order lunch. And while he enjoys his lunch, his aloofness gives him the air of a man on a mission. No matter what happens, Blackbeard is going to get what he wants done. Period. And this style of behavior plays very well not only against Sparrow’s drunken chaos but also against Barbossa’s fiery intensity. The interactions between the three of them were really cool to watch.

The second addition is Penelope Cruz as Angelica, Blackbeard’s daughter. Casting Ms. Cruz was brilliant because she has the capacity to keep up with the level of energy which Depp gives to Jack Sparrow. From the moment she comes on screen, she plays Angelica in perfect complement to Jack. It’s like watching a perfectly choreographed dance. I’ve always said that watching two masters at work is always interesting. Watching Cruz & Depp bait and counter each other proves my point.

As for the direction & writing, they did exactly what they needed to in order to make the film work. They brought the story back to basics, getting rid of any unnecessary complications, while also pushing deeper into the madness behind the character’s methods, especially with Capt. Jack Sparrow. You can literally see hints of the planning Jack does in certain scenes, but you never get enough to fully predict what is going to happen next. They also got rid of the excessive comedy in this film. There are funny moments, but that’s all they are: moments; not entire segments of the film. And the director, Rob Marshall, really ordered the movie well. There wasn’t a single point in the film where the story dragged. There was always something of interest going on, but never so much that you’d get lost or overwhelmed. Marshall’s control of the movie was masterful.

In the end, all I can really say is if you liked the first Pirates movie, you’ll really enjoy On Stranger Tides. It’s Pirates of the Caribbean back to form. Moreover, it was a good time and I highly recommend it.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Return of Torchwood...

Despite being one of the best prime time sci-fi programs to come out in the last decade, Torchwood has had a lot of difficulty coming back. The last real season it had was season 2. There was a 5 episode mini-series that is now regarded as the third season called "Children of Earth". Then came news that there was going to be a US version of Torchwood. This brought up a lot of angst as the UK fans (and some of the US fans as well) figured that the US version would just screw it all up. But that effort stalled, the fans cheered and waited for some more Torchwood. And got nothing....

Then the US version became Season 4 of Torchwood, with a whole new cast of characters to back up Gwen Cooper and Capt. Jack Harkness. And now two years later, Torchwood is BACK with the original creators working with Starz to bring us the further adventures of Torchwood!! And not only that but after nothing but radio silence from the creative crew, we have our first trailer! Check it out!

This is looking like it's going to be one HELL of a ride! I mean honestly, how many times has a man being impaled been the TEASER to the show?? Right?? I can't wait to see this. Oh, and my fellow Dollhouse fans, keep a sharp eye out for Dichen Lachman (a.k.a. Sierra), looks like she's keeping the whole bad ass bit going! I'm going to LOVE THIS!!!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Life Is Hard In The City Of Angels...

As you all know, my dear readers, I am an avid movie fan. One of my favorite genres of movies is "film noir". While the specific characteristics of the genre tend to be difficult to pin down, you know when you're watching film noir. There's just something about the mood the film puts you in, the way film is shot, the manner of the actor's speech that blends in just the right way to pull you in to the seedy underbelly of a seemingly innocent or glamorous area. Film noir is an awesome genre; stylish, yet simple, compassionate, yet brutal. And it's one of the few genres that I would love to just dive into. The interesting thing is, I was given just that opportunity yesterday when, in a moment of rare solvency, I was able to purchase what is surely to be a landmark video game, L.A. Noire.

Now, I'm not one to go with fads, sticking with what's currently popular is a great way to get and stay bankrupt. But in reading up on the game, and what they were trying to do, I couldn't help myself. I just wanted to play. I saw a few of the game trailers, and I could feel the edges of that Noir vibe. So, I ordered the game and waited patiently for it to arrive. I got it yesterday, and started playing almost immediately after I got out of work.

Just the start up screens alone were awesome. The menu screen in the shadow of harsh white lights with the buzz and flicker of fluorescent bulbs immediately dropped me into that Noir state of mind. Then as the game starts, that world just solidified around me. The soft, cool jazz. The rough voice of the narrator. The presentation and style of the visuals. It all came together and immersed me directly in my own Noir world. I played the first few cases and like few games before it, time just evaporated. What felt like 20-30 minutes, turned out to be 2-3 hours. It was truly amazing!

Admittedly, I haven't completed the game yet, but I still recommend it to anyone who is into story-based gaming, and is a fan of the film noir style. If this game is a hit, and they make a sequel, I hope they try their hand at a new city. Chicago, perhaps.. or, dare I say it... New York City!  In the meantime, pick up the game. You'll love it!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


FOX is dressed in all black, with an Executioner's Hood over it's head. And with a swift, sure motion, it has let the axe fall and killed five shows. In the wake of renewing House M.D. for an eighth season and green lighting any number of new pilots (including a Bones spin-off called "The Finder"), the television network dropped the bad news for the following shows:

The Chicago Code
Breaking In
Human Target
Lie To Me
Traffic Light

This is all per the following article from The Voice of TV.Com. I was very surprised to hear that Breaking In was on the list considering the show JUST STARTED airing barely a month ago! I can understand Human Target, since the show really didn't find a solid audience despite completing two seasons. But the biggest heart-breaker in this list for me is the cancellation of Lie To Me.

LTM was one of the few shows that grabbed my interest right from the first few minutes of the show. Which was surprising because I was watching the show expecting it to suck so badly that I wouldn't make it through the first ep. Having a big name actor like Tim Roth as the lead usually usurps the budget of pilot ep so they can't afford stuff like writers and the like. And yet, the show shined! Lie To Me was a very interesting show and an exceedingly dynamic and engaging cast. And as a bonus, I learned a lot with every single episode!

Alas, never again will I marvel at Cal Lightman's insane antics or calmly ogle Foster's elegant hotness, or learn about the intricacies of human expression and emotion as displayed on the human face. I will miss it a great deal.  It is such a shame that Lie To Me will never see another "Brand New Day"...

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Death Hunts Again...

While we're on the subject of movie trailers, I just found another that looks really interesting. This is for Final Destination 5. Now I know, the movies have taken a slight downturn in the last two films, but the tone of this trailer is very reminiscent of the first film. Check it out:

Can you see what I mean? The deaths look elaborate, but it looks like they've gone back to the whole "Death takes you using your own actions" vibe that made the first two films just so deliciously diabolical to watch!!

There's also a hint of a potential rule change. That line about "kill or be killed" leads to some interesting thoughts. Up until now, everyone's been focused on saving everyone, what if you decide to save yourself by helping Death out and killing the others on "Death's List"? Would you be saved by becoming an Agent of Death??

And did you see Tony Todd? Now he's a coroner with the ME's office!!! How awesome is that?? I'm hoping it means he's going to have a much bigger role in this upcoming film, and not just the role of Death's creepiest messenger.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

A New Look At... The Barbarian...

Today saw release of the new trailer for the re-make of Conan: The Barbarian. After watching it, I find myself much more interested in the film. It comes across much as I would imagine Conan's world to be. Brutal, relentless, and bringing about a necessary violence in its inhabitants. Check it out for yourself:

The really cool part is this article where the director gives a bit of info on the mindset and tone of the film and a key piece of information. They are going for an R rating. This is fucking awesome!!

Most studios believe that in order to make serious money, any movie they make has to be, at most, rated PG-13. They figure that this allows for the widest audience to come view the movie. The problem is that the material covered in some films is undermined because of the limitations on what can be shown in a PG-13 film. Movies like Conan should have a R rating in order to fully and properly explore the depths of the material. I really wish there were more rated R films out there. It would make the catalog of films much more interesting.


Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Thoughts On... The Death of Bin Laden

Okay, it's been one day since it was publicly announced that the leader of Al Qaeda, Osama Bin Laden, was killed. I've had time to fully flesh out my thinking on the subject. And overall, I have to say, I'm glad it happened. In the end, I'm glad that this terrorist is dead. Now, I'm not going to be running rampant through the streets with signs reading "Rot In Hell", but I am pleased with this outcome.

This world is a savage place. And I'm not just talking about human actions. I'm talking about the entire planet. Animals viciously attacking each other, giant sinkholes appearing out of nowhere, massive earthquakes, and incredibly powerful tornadoes are just some of the things this world throws at its inhabitants. To live on this planet, we have to have some kind of savagery. If not, we'd go extinct. That is a fact of human existence.

And that is the part of me, that rejoiced in the execution of Osama Bin Laden. The savage part of me that immediately wants to hit back anyone who hits me. The primal part of me that sees an attractive female and wants to just take her. Psychologists call this part of the human mind the Id. It is there, in the Id, that all our dark, masochistic, self-serving impulses come from. Human civilization is made possible because we also developed the Ego and the Super-Ego, parts of the mind that are capable of seeing the benefits of not giving in to every impulse and working together with other humans for our mutual benefit. That's the part that feels shame over the rejoicing of another human being's murder.

But, I'm honest enough with myself to admit that I don't really feel shame about this. After all, I'm a big proponent of free will. And if you're free to decide your fate, you should be prepared to face the consequences of your decisions. Bin Laden reaped what he had sown. The man was a terrorist and caused too much death and destruction to just let that slide. And there was no sign of any kind of remorse or that he was going to stop. If he had walked up to a military base and surrendered that would be different. But, the U.S. military (Much Props to SEAL Team Six!!!) had to hunt the man down. He got what was coming to him.

And for those who are griping about how long it took to get to him, wake up people. These things take time. Not everything in the world is set up for instant gratification!

The trick is what happens now. Is this the end of terrorism (U.S. directed or otherwise)? Not a chance. Will life become nothing but puffy rainbow colored clouds and candy? HELL NO! We have a long line of other problems to deal with, and other threats to our nation that have to be dealt with. What I do know is this: One threat is down. I'm imagining a sign above the military "3 Billion Threats Neutralized" and counting.... NEXT!!

An Awesome Cover...

I have to admit, I gave in to peer pressure. After months of being begged, cajoled, threatened, bribed, and finally just brutally pelted with information & media of regarding the new HBO series, Game of Thrones, I finally caved and watched the show. I'm glad I did. The show turned out to be absolutely awesome. From production values to casting, it was simply amazing. I gave a detailed review in an earlier blog posting. While I'm not the only one who loved the opening episode of the show,(HBO renewed the series for a 2nd season based JUST on the ratings for the 1st ep!), I was surprised to see how much attention the opening credit sequence was getting. And that's just the CREDITS people!! The one critique I heard was from my friend, David, who didn't think it was worth all the hype, and more to point of this post, didn't really think the Game of Thrones theme was all that great, either. In case you haven't heard it, here is the opening sequence of the show. Pay very close attention to the music, okay?

Now, that is a great theme, isn't it? It fits the show in so many ways, it's epic but restrained. Powerful, yet focused. This morning, I found a video of a guy at White Noise Lab, who did a rock version of the theme. Check it out:

This is actually a fantastic version of the show's theme. It adds a level of energy to it that make the theme much more powerful. It reminds me of the score of the movie LadyHawke. Thoughts??