Saturday, June 25, 2011

Starting My Trip to Europe and Asia


            I am taking a trip.  So far in my life I have cultivated opportunities to go places I have not been to various levels of success.  I went to Atlanta, Chicago, and Toronto with the Model United Nations in Undergrad.  I studied abroad in Beijing and Shanghai just after my graduation.  And now, some 4 years and a couple months after my last big trip, I will be taking my own little (2 month) trip to Europe.

            Tomorrow I will leave from Tampa, Florida on my way to London, England.  I'll only be there for about 22 hours, but in that time I hope to see the Tower of London and a couple other palaces/sights of interest.  Sadly my timing caused me to miss out on the bigger Stonehenge, Oxford, and Jack the Ripper tour I had been hoping for.  But I am quite happy with this.

Going here.
             Leaving London I will head to Istanbul, Turkey.  This area will take up the meatiest portion of my trip, being a 6 week study abroad venture which will hit the numerous hot spots in the city along with a few excursions out into the country.  This was the event around which I planned all the other bits of my trip.  I was committed to going as soon as I saw the Prof's power point for it in a class one day and realized that the length of the trip and the credits I would receive were greater than the trip to China I had taken after undergrad, and they were the same price.  I will also have a few free weekends that I will have to work out some plans for.  Maybe I can visit the Black Sea beach and wear a Speedo un-ironically.

And here.
             When I finally leave Istanbul I will head to Athens, Greece.  Hopefully two months from now the unrest over there will calm down because I want to see the birthplace of democracy, philosophy, and western civilization as we know it.  I will spend 10 days there as part of a tour package which will include various islands around the capital.

And here.
             After Athens I will head back to London but only long enough to drop off some luggage and take a bit of sleep so I can head to the tube and go to Paris, France.  I'll be there for about a day seeing the tourist centric locations of the Arch De Triumph and the Eifel Tower (I keep having this day dream play out in my head that I will get there and both of the French national treasures will be vastly smaller than what I pictured and when I say, "I always pictured it would be a bit bigger" a French guy behind me will call me, "Americans, size queens everyone of them" and being that I don't speak French I will just ignore the insult).

And I guess it does look pretty big.  So yeah, here too.

            From there I will bounce back to London and then to home.  Then I'll have a week of sitting around begging for money from loan agencies and then it will be back to college in Tallahassee to work my butt off trying to earn my duel Masters in International Affairs and Urban and Regional Planning.  This seems like a good course of events.

            Last month and part of this month I tried hard to produce a blog each day, and in doing so train myself to make very regular updates in hopes of chronicling my trip to the internet with my reflections.  So at the end of my trip when they ask for an 8-10 page reflection on the trip for my grades in the class (or however much they decide to request), I can hand them my blog url and say that I bested the request by about 10,000 words, many times 10,000 if you count pictures for the 1,000 words a piece that is common adage.  So my tertiary goal to 'Studying' 'Enjoy Myself', will be to (for the first time) use my blog to professionally benefit myself.  Wish me luck.

            If you liked my rambling, please click the Google "+1" button in the comments section, post the link on your facebook, or send people over from anywhere else you might social network.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Top 10 Words I Can't Spell


            This might not come as a shock but when I was growing up I was awful at spelling.  I have some form of dyslexia or thought disorder that makes me leave off letters when I write quickly or for too long, sometimes skipping over things.  So that instead of 'The' I will write 'Th', or instead of writing 'more' I will write 'mor'.  When it comes to writing larger words I could not grasp the 'i' before 'e' concept, and relied more on sounding things out (I am a very audio focused learner, it is why I talk to myself so much, I am hearing how something sounds so that I can know I am saying it correctly).

I am a Model of Self Control.

             However before I came to the modern times of spell-check and not-giving-a-shit I came up with another solution to my problems.  Whenever I would come to a word that I couldn't spell, I would just wrack my mind for a much more difficult word to use in its place.  That way, I thought, my teacher would be so impressed that I was trying to use a harder word, that she wouldn't mind that it had a misplaced 'e' or something.

            I believe that is why I also have such odd diction, I often mispronounce words, or over pronounce them, or pronounce them five or six different ways when I first read them to try and put them together in my head so I can write them down later.  So I have some people thinking I'm crazy, others who think I am from Britain because of how I pronounce random things. 

            This practice of turning 'varios' (various') to 'miscelanious' ('miscellaneous') is what I blame my current vocabulary and stilted speech on.  However I cannot spell most of what I say, which leaves me even more dependent on spell-check and not-giving-a-shit, when I have to write things out.  To that end the 10 words I use with high frequency that I can't trust myself to spell without a pause.


11) Finagle- verb; to obtain something by dishonest means. (Phinagle)

10) Flabbergasting- adjective; surprising or astonishing. (Flabergasting)

9) Philistine- adjective; materialistic and disdainful of intellectual and artistic virtues. (Filistine)

8) Troglodyte- noun; a primitive or cave dweller. (Troglodite)

7) Auxiliary- adjective; back up. (Axilary)

6) Tertiary- adjective; not of the top priority, below secondary. (Tersiary)

5) Extraneous- adjective; irrelevant. (Extrainious)

4) Delude- verb; deceive. (Dalude)

3) Deduce- verb; figure out. (Daduce)

2) Ascertain- verb; to find out with certainty. (Acertain)

1) Miscellaneous- adjective; various and irregular. (Miscelanious, my spelling has not improved since the second grade on this one)

Saturday, June 18, 2011

I Dreamed of an Alternate Universe


            I just had the coolest, most complete story dream I have ever experienced, and it fit so well into my current life that it was kinda disturbing.

            In the dream I am waking up and just ready to move home from the current housing I am in and my brother will be arriving to help me move, that is when things start to get "Twilight Zone".

A lesson in subtle tension build.
             I notice subtle differences in how my room is laid out and what items were still there and not there, like I have a space heater and not my portable fan, the nails sticking out of the wall are different than the ones I know are currently sticking out of the wall, and I have a lot more random stuff cluttering up the place that needs to be put in moving bins.  I mention all of this to my brother, Seth once he arrives and he tells me flatly that I am delusional, and I try to tell him something odd is going on but he just thinks I'm being foolish.

            Then shit got real.

            I find out that Netflix is only a fledgling industry, that Facebook doesn't exist, and that the war in the Middle East has ballooned into full on massive multi national brouhaha that demands a draft.  The world seems emptier, and more cluttered with litter, people I know and am friends with don't know me at all.  And I am aware of all the changes, and how the world is wrong.

Thankfully, alternate reality Josh wasn't in the military, a place I would find myself short on training and experience and likely to end the dream missing a limb.
             Being who I am, I come to the conclusion that I am either getting an "It's a Wonderful Life" scenario or I am in a parallel dimension (Warning: Link leads to Tvtropes).  I begin hunting down friends of mine from this world who know science and explain things, but they don't know me from a crazy guy, I have no social networking sites to work with, and it is always apparently raining there, because at one point I am running through the rain down Tennessee Street in front of bizarre-world FSU howling at the dreary wet sky.  I had no idea I liked my life so much.  It is fortunate at that time I run into a friend of mine, Rachel who is running through the rain and I basically follow her talking and joking the whole time.

Sort of a Redemption in the Rain (Warning: Link leads to Tvtropes)
            She jokes about how women in general and her boyfriend wouldn't appreciate the stalker behavior, but she and I get along and she and I end up hanging out in what passes for a gym in the alternate world which is more like a gymnasium with mats intended for stretching and calisthenics, but no weight machines anywhere.  I of course downplay the man from an alternate dimension angle when talking to Earth-2 Rachel, playing off my current predicament as being in a new place that is familiar but so starkly different, more that I am unfamiliar with Earth-2 FSU, then the entire world being dreary.  She talks with me and at the end of it all I resign myself to simply being stuck in the alternate universe and at the very least getting to the extremely sad and lousy task of finding my friends from the other world to enjoy.  She is kind of wise in the real world too, just FYI.

            I begin patronizing Netflix and telling people by word of mouth to do the same, one good thing about the alternate world, DVD's still exist and the complete series of the 90's "X-Men" cartoon is available, and in a moment of brilliant creativity I watch my brain re-do that opening theme with an alternate cast with alternate uniforms, hence why I found the dream so complete with the illusion of a story and world creation, my brain focuses on the little things.

Wish I could draw, I envisioned some cool alternate costumes.  Also, yes watching a cartoon was a highlight of my dream!
             At the end of the dream I am back home in Sarasota county and I am about to walk into a mall entrance with my parents (strangely they are not different in this world, just like Seth) when I actually start to feel the universe crumble.  I, in movie ending fashion tell them, "Guys, I feel different, I think I'm going back."  Which they are thinking, 'why has our son finally lost his mind with the whole parallel dimension thing?'  I start hearing a distant chiming (which was my alarm going off to wake me) and I hug my alternate universe family and brother telling them, "I think I'll go back to being myself again, at least I hope so, but it's good to know that you guys are still as good in any world, even if it is a shit dystopia vision like this one."  (Seriously, if I am not giving you the classic vibe of a world that is bleaker than our own with the, no Facebook,  a GIANT DRAFT DEMANDING WAR, the constant rain, persistent litter, dirty floors like vacuums are outlawed, and a seeming emptiness that permeates the air, then try to crank up your vision of it to match).

            As I feel the world start to pull away from me, my Mom says, "Well, thanks" for my dystopia comment, and I say, "I love you guys" in a dead serious fashion.  They say, "We love you too." Then.  Blackness.

            And I woke up.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Some Thoughts on "Star Trek"

            "Star Trek" as a franchise is effectively now just going to be movies I think.  The last television series, "Star Trek Enterprise" was poorly executed because it was preachy, boring, and really betrayed a lot of the concepts that the mythos had taken as its core bailiwick.  It was more like the first season of "Star Trek The Next Generation" than it should have been, and didn't have the good music or original concepts that kept that series moving forward.

I won't deny that it had potential, and I blame the creative over seeing for the issues that it faced.
             "Trek" had attempted a cartoon show in the past, and while I think that the writing and voice work were as good as the original series, mostly the animation was bad and being that it was supposed to be aimed at kids it was neither action and fun oriented enough for a younger audience, nor was it high stakes enough for the older crowd (for instance, there were force field belts for the crew, this means that not only did they not have to animate space suits, it means that phasers were now even more useless as a means of intimidation and danger).  But sadly, much like live action, I think this is a dead venue.

I won't say it didn't have potential.  I blame the animation industry at the time.
             Really I think a lot of issues come up in this area: When do you set it?  Where do you set it?  And what will be the cast make up?  We already know what "Star Trek" is about, a group of adventurers heading out to space to explore and occasionally fight evil or be turned into pawns in a cosmic chess game by some obnoxious godlike being like V'ger or Q.  If I were to try and make the series this is what I would try to do with it.

Pompous Prick.
             Take a look at the last movie, and set the series at just after the events there in.  The Federation is rocked by the time traveling terrorist, Nero and the Vulcans are all but extinct.  What remains of the Vulcan security forces join with Star Fleet completely (as they have no where else to go and the future of the Vulcan race rests with the Federation).  This intelligence and security force would be the precursor to Section 31 that was seen in "Deep Space 9".

Had Potential, which it fulfilled.
             The show will take place in an unexplored region where the Federation will be looking for new colonial worlds in hopes of spreading out to the stars in an aggressive fashion, in hopes that if a force like Nero ever appears again humanity and their allies will simply be to far flung and numerous to ever wash away from the galaxy.

You know, so they will never be... Lost in Space.
             I think that the cast will be a group of settlers out on the edge of space, they will have a Vulcan intelligence officer who will be far too willing to shoot first and ask questions later, and the central tension of the cast will be between the need of the Vulcan's to secure themselves against threats, and the desire of the rest of the Federation to continue to explore and make peaceful contact.  I think that the chief antagonist outside of this cast tension should be the Romulans, who want the remaining Vulcans to simply come and join with their civilization and cease to be a distinct race at all, a tempting offer to the members of the crew who think that the Federation are not taking the steps necessary to secure the Vulcan's as a society anyway.

            I would say that you could have a new version of Q as part of the conflict, a Founder that was sent off from the dominion, and even the Borg, since the timeline is altered you don't have to delay their introduction.

            It's not like the thing would be hard to cast, there are legions of genre actors that have just gotten off of "Lost", "Heroes", "BattlestarGalactica", "V", and "Stargate", not to mention everything that Joss Whedon has ever touched.  You could have Michael Shanks play a ship doctor, Anthony Stewart Head play the ship's Captain, and get Morena Baccarin to play the Vulcan security officer.

He could totally pull off being a Star Fleet Captain.

            It's not like other projects haven't been spinning around Hollywood since the whole damn idea got going.  People, a lot of people, would like this to get going, and I really don't think there is anything wrong with trying out something.

Holy shit.  That is Bryan Singer.
             Truth be told, while I loved the last movie it would not have been the ideal way to restart the franchise.  Creating original characters and having them do adventures based off of something previously established in the shows would have been the ideal solution, you could set it a couple decades after the last movie, have a character that wears gold face paint and suggest that the designs for Data were used, after his death, to create more androids for Star Fleet's use.  Have Bruce Greenwood play the captain, Chris Pine play the young recruit, and Zachary Quinto playing a Vulcan science officer... Hey look at that you don't even need to find a new cast, they all fit anyway.  What would the story be?  Captain Sisko, a Federation hero who disappeared after the Dominion War, having been abducted by godlike time traveling aliens has returned and is heralding a great warning, a giant planet destroying ship from the future is coming to attack the Federation.  This mysterious ship appears, destroys Vulcan with a strange super weapon and begins heading to Earth.  The crew manages to beat it, by infiltrating it and discovers a new alien threat.

Captain Ben Sisko, he's so badass that the only surface large enough to record all of his accomplishments, is his dick -SFdebris

            You have successfully tied together "The Next Generation", "Deep Space Nine", and if you wanted to you could grab Jeri Ryan to reprise her role as Seven of Nine, she having barely aged all of those years because she is part Borg, there you just tied in "Voyager" as well.  Want a reference to "Enterprise" and the original series?  Then call the new ship the "Archer" or the "Kirk" and you are done.  But honestly you shouldn't be referencing "Enterprise" nobody liked that show, even the people who claim to are just lying to themselves.  No confusing time travel, the aliens are left mysterious and thus you don't need motivations, they are just time traveling assholes.

Though I guess we do already have a science fiction icon who deals with time traveling assholes.  Worst comes to worst though and I have a winning idea: Crossover!
            If you liked my take on this, please click the Google "+1" button in the comments section, post the link on your facebook, or send people over from anywhere else you might social network.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

30 Day Movie Challenge: Day 30



            I decided to do the 30 day movie challenge as a blog series as it ties into my blog activities rather easily and I am once again not blogging my usual series with regularity in spite of saying that I would.
            Today is "The Best Movie I saw Last Year".  And it is also the last day of this series of prompted blogs, and my 60th entry on Blogspot overall.  Which means I'll go back to not writing a blog everyday, just as my blog is about to hit 1,000 views, and kill my momentum hardcore.  Anyway... Last year was loaded down with great movies, "True Grit", "The Town", and "Inception" were all incredibly entertaining even though the titles were lackluster in the extreme, and did nothing to describe what any of them were about, not so with my pick for the best movie of 2010: "Scott Pilgrim Versus the World".

Epic in an ironic sense I guess.
             I identify with the central protagonist of this film a criminal amount.  If you replace bass with Dungeons and Dragons you have me and social circle pretty much figured out.  I am by all accounts more accomplished academically, and less lecherous, but regardless Scott is very much me.
             Hey wanna hear a strange interpretation of this movie?  As Scott fights each of the ex-boyfriends to win over Ramona, this is a visual metaphor for what is happening in their relationship.  The first guy was barely a relationship, she was over him immediately; the second 'grew up' to be a movie star, but he is childishly competitive; the next guy looks better, plays better and is banging Scott's Ex better than Scott ever did, but is pretentious, and really evil; four was Ramona experimenting, and Scott mostly beats her because Ramona was never into her, she was into experimenting; Five and Six, I can't really get what was going on there, I think the reason he beat them is that the brother's pulled the 'bro's before ho's' line and got over Ramona, though Ramona still liked having power over two dudes at once; but Seven, G-Man, Gideon, is the best illustration of this.  Wanna know why the fight with G-Man is so poignant?

And it is awesome.  Though after the giant gorilla made of lightning it would have to be.


            The fight with G-Man is the first time Scott is having Sex with Ramona, and he is competing with G-Man to be her best sexual experience... That is why it is a 'sword' fight.  And what makes you better at sex?  Love, self respect, and a confidence boost from past experience with young women who don't know how lame you are in the sack (his Chinese, School Girl, Girlfriend from the beginning of the movie, and the part where the Asian girl fights Ramona, yeah that is Scott feeling insecure about dumping the awesome Chinese girl who was so crazy about him for Ramona who is cool but not nearly as into him).  So yeah, That is the gratuitous sex scene in the movie, a sword fight.  That is why there is no fight with Nega-Scott at the end, because he has made piece with his own insecurities and is ready to grow up and have a real relationship.

Yes, this is a meat-sword fight.  Taking place on a pyramid that in this metaphor is a Clitoris.  I'm probably mentally ill for making this comparison, but you know what?  I occasionally like to make controversial observations.

            And while this movie is one long sex metaphor with video games, indie music, and snarky lines throughout, it is also littered with numerous characters that are actually interesting and have history.  The timing, look, and feel of the conversations paints all of them in a good light, even the villains are good villains.

Bad guys who are enjoyable to hate.
             A brief aside on this movie.  It is based on a comic book.  And while the comic has its own good parts and allows for more breathing room for all of the very good characters and back story, fact is a comic book about an indie music scene is a poor choice of medium, and overall I did not like and did not bother to finish the comic.  So take that into you mind.  I saw this movie twice in theaters, was going to go a third time, and have seen it twice on DVD, but I can't finish reading a 7 volume graphic novel series, and I'm a fan of graphic novels.  So if you like the comic, good for you, but by no means deny yourself watching this movie because you consider it automatically a lesser incarnation, it has lots of things going for it that trump the comic.

Art style is bitching though.
             Coming in less than a month I hope to start posting everyday for 8 weeks as I travel Europe, hitting day trip in London, then 6 weeks studying abroad in Istanbul, then 10 days in Athens, then a day trip in Paris before heading back home, and starting my studies again this fall entering into the Urban and Regional Planning department's graduate school at Florida State University.  Some time when I am 28-30 I will be getting dual masters degree, and hopefully the economy will recover enough that the degree will be worth a damn by then.  Thanks for reading.

I'm going to be hear.
             If you liked my take on this movie, please click the Google "+1" button in the comments section, post the link on your facebook, or send people over from anywhere else you might social network.

Monday, June 13, 2011

30 Day Movie Challenge: Day 29


            I decided to do the 30 day movie challenge as a blog series as it ties into my blog activities rather easily and I am once again not blogging my usual series with regularity in spite of saying that I would.
            Today is "A Movie from my Childhood".  And I thought, Why do only one?  Growing up less than wealthy I watched and rewatched the same bootlegged movies dozens of times.  I loved taping movies off of the TV trying not to record the commercials and frequently missing the beat to hit record again, losing 2 minutes of movie in an attempt to not record 4 minutes of commercials.  Now, I have already mentioned "Ghostbusters" as the movie I know all the words to because I had watched it more than 100 times, but I had 4 other movies as a kid that I watched and watched and watched.  What are these movies?  Well, keep reading.

Pretty much this.
             "Aladdin" holds a certain position in my mind as my favorite animated movie growing up, it was a high adventure heroes journey film with lots of personality and great songs.  I actually learned the soundtrack in middle school chorus and with little coaching could pull most of it out of my brain for some of my bellowing attempts at singing.  I also watched the Cartoon show produced by Disney that followed, it stared the entire original voice cast sub-ing only Robin Williams for Dan Castellaneta (the voice of Homer Simpson, and the voice of the Genie in "Return of Jafar").  The cartoon was actually quite good and had a very Dungeons and Dragons in the Middle East vibe to it, with a rouges gallery that did a good job of contrasting the hero and the other cast, though lacked any original music (unlike the "Hercules" cartoon which had lots of original music, but was very weak in story and setting).

And I like singing it.

            "Masters of the Universe".  I swear to god, if Lego would just get its shit together and start selling models based on Nostalgia for old cartoons and movies I want then to produce a "Ghostbuster's" fire house, and a Castle Grey Skull.  I used to play with the toys for "He-Man and the Masters of the Universe" that had belonged to my uncle John at my grandmothers house and the universe while cheesy holds a lot of charm for someone who likes a blend of science fiction, super hero, and fantasy to produce a Jack Kirby like over the topness.  This movie is a live action rendition which transports the Masters to 80's Earth, where they meet Monica from "Friends" and Lt. Tom Paris from "Star Trek: Voyager"... I shit you not.  The fight scenes are below standard and the special effects are far below those of industrial light and magic (which is ironic because this movie lifts more influences from "Star Wars" then one might think possible, not to mention how they steal the opening credits from "Superman" without so much as a 'thank you sir').  Strangely, the movie could be sold entirely on the performance of Skeletor, who is so apologetically evil that he even keeps his word, acting authoritarian but logical and frequently with honor (at least when he has the upper hand), it's actually quite fun.

WHERE IS THE REBOOT OF THIS?
             "The Goonies", holy crap it is so goofy fun.  It has escaped criminals, and booby traps, and pirate treasure, with puzzles and team work and lots of kids cursing, and Corey Feldman being a dick.  How can you not like this movie?  If you haven't seen it, it is about of smart mouthed poor kids who go looking for a local legendary pirate's gold in hopes it will keep them all from being evicted and their neighborhood leveled.  Strangely you're introduced to the antagonists first and as they run from the cops each of the kid protagonists is introduced, it's rather clever.

I am fairly certain this all started by naming various forms of masturbation, with the Truffle Shuffle and One Eyed Willy just sparking something in Donner's brain.
             "Monster Squad" is basically "The Goonies" vs the MGM stable of classic movie monsters.  It is like what if "VanHelsing" had been made with a sense of reverence and love of the source material and had a soul instead of being hammered out on a weekend and hoping the leads star power would be enough to sell tickets to rubes.  You want Cheese, holy hell this thing will constipate your mind with the cheese.  I highly recommend this movie, as my brother and I bought the special edition of it on DVD last year and very much enjoyed hearing that Liam Neeson was passed over for the part of Dracula, though I have to say the guy they got new what he was doing.

And yes, there is a "Ghostbusters" reference in the first 5 seconds of the Trailer.  I went through a lot of ghost/monster interest as a kid.  I expect it to wind down sometime around my death in the year 2257.
             So those more or less make up my childhood.  I hope that grants you a measure of insight into my mind.  I just realized that I put about 30 links in this blog.  I need to cut back on those.

            If you liked my take on this movie, please click the Google "+1" button in the comments section, post the link on your facebook, or send people over from anywhere else you might social network.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

30 Day Movie Challenge: Day 28


            I decided to do the 30 day movie challenge as a blog series as it ties into my blog activities rather easily and I am once again not blogging my usual series with regularity in spite of saying that I would.
            Today is "A Movie that has the worst Special Effects".  This is a relative prompter just like the "Makes you Laugh" or "You watch when you are angry" tags I have already covered.  The fact is, if you buy into a story, if you like the characters, the setting, the progression, then even if the effects aren't perfect, you can still accept the limitations of the production, give them a pass, and accept that even the magic of movie making has limits when hundreds of millions of dollars are being spent at a pace that could probably be made to make the world better, rather than filled with crap like this movie.  What Movie?  "Twilight".

Love!  It's totally about love!  No anti-feminist BS here.

            "Twilight" wasn't even the worst movie I saw that year, really it wasn't even in the top five worst movies of that year.  I can't really tell if that is because I saw so many movies that year, or because it was a bad year for movies over all (which I don't accept as "The DarkKnight" was there getting snubbed for best picture).  But here is why I think it had the worst special effects: I honestly can't see where the money that went into this production went.

            I have seen better special effects on episodes of "Smallville" (which you would think a show that has been on the air for 10 years would have a link to a descent video on Youtube showing the Special effects, but it is just a bunch of fan made whiny emo trailer... Much like "Twilight" I suppose), and I fucking hate "Smallville".  There are scenes of Clark Kent getting hit by cars and buses and them exploding around him in rather awesome fashion, makes me weep for the lost potential of that show, but also makes me mad at how pathetic "Twilight" is.  Have seen the piggy back through the forestscene?  It looks like he is bicycle kicking while they lift him with wires up a clear cut path in the woods.  It is fucking pathetic.

            And the Fucking sparkles!  Why does it look SO shitty?  WHY?  It is supposed to be a dramatic reveal in the movie, and it is laughably bad, because it looks like a shitty camera filter.  Though the concept of someone sparkling in the sunlight sounds so stupid on paper I have no idea what else they could have done.  So how about this?  They cut it.  It is a lame effect, and moody shit head vampires have been calling themselves monsters without body glitter since before 1900, the scene adds nothing.  Maybe it works on paper for people who read these shitty, sexless, harlequin romance novels, but it looks like crap on film.  Cut it.

Sparkle!
             Let me say something on matters of scale as well.  I hate, more than any other movie, "The Phantasm".  It is the worst movie I have ever seen, and it looks like the worst movie a person could have ever seen.  Everything about it is bad.  But you know what?  It's barely a movie.  It cost $300,000 dollars to make.  Or slightly less that 1/100th what they produced "Twilight" for.  "Phantasm" is shit, but it was made from shit.  "Twilight" looks like shit, and it was made out of gold.  That is a special type of lazy bullshit.  And you say, "Well what movies with a budget of less than 40 million dollars which have special effects that beat 'Twilight'?"  I can name three that work incredibly well as illustrations on how crappy this movie did.  "Serenity" is a space opera that includes numerous fight scenes, awesome locations, and extreme set pieces, it cost 2 million more dollars to make.  Then there is "District 9" which has amazing make up, CGI and sets that are very dark and grimy, it cost 7 million less dollars to make.  And finally I say "Dogma" which cost 27 million dollars less to make, has an all star cast, and includes scenes of walking on water, and costuming that (while not stunning) are passable, simply because the movie isn't about the effects, its about the dick jokes.

Sparkles belong in Equestria, not vampire movies.

            Now, I'm going to say something to the fans of "Twilight" because the words, "The effects were never key to the story in 'Twilight' either, it is about lo--".  SHUT UP!  SHUT UP!  SHUT the FUCK UP, for one second.  I could write a huge multi-part review of all the things wrong with this garbage, just like I did to that "Harry Potter" movie, not the least of which is the complete lack ofplot and characters.  My point would only be, that if you have a 15 minute scene in which the vampire shows off his super powers to clit tease his mortal girlfriend, then the special effects are a central part of the movie's narrative, it is one of the protagonist's defining traits, and it is a joke.  Fail.

Considering "Twilight" is self insert fan fiction on the part of its creator...
            If you liked my take on this movie, please click the Google "+1" button in the comments section, post the link on your facebook, or send people over from anywhere else you might social network.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

30 Day Movie Challenge: Day 27

            I decided to do the 30 day movie challenge as a blog series as it ties into my blog activities rather easily and I am once again not blogging my usual series with regularity in spite of saying that I would.
            Today is "A Movie that has the best Special Effects".  Here is what everyone will expect a movie enthusiast to say: "Avatar".  And here is what I say to that: "NOPE!".  "Avatar" was a special effects experiment with a terribly simple characters and formulaic story, and over did it on everything else.  If you have amazing special effects, good for you, but special effects are tool used to help progress a story, outlining a story to show off a visual effect is not good movie making.  You want to know what I think is the best special effects?  "Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King".

This was the first time a fully CGI character was done convincingly.  This is the process that made "Avatar" possible and it looks better because it is juxtaposed with reality.

            Having effectively built from the first film through the second the third film in the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy has everything in motion and presents the largest battles, in the most majestic scenes, with the crowning music of awesome everyone could feel booming through the theater.

            Is there gay subtext in this movie?  I don't care.  Are there too many endings?  No.  Is it better than the book?  I'm going to assume yes, as I grew impatient with Tolkien's writing style a third of the way through book one ("The Hobbit", by contrast, remains one of my favorite books of all time, a list I finally got around to banging out).

Though, making Ian McKellen look like a wizard really only takes a bathrobe and a walking staff.

            "Return of the King" contrary to Kevin Smith's opinion is the trilogy of this generation, showing in so many ways how to correctly tell a sweeping magical story with clear forces of good and evil clashing for the fate of the world, blowing out of the water the "Star Wars" prequel trilogy in its use of basic story telling to make real resonant impact in the audience.  It is gorgeous.

            "Return of the King" advanced movie making technology by leaps at the time.  Having CGI monsters numbering in the thousands on screen and doing so in such a way that made them look real and alive was revolutionary, prior to this movie such effects would have to be done with actual people in costume either cloned or cut out using camera angles, or actually having a few hundred extras (Think "Lawrence of Arabia").  Trolls. Orcs, Ents, Dragons, and Giant Eagles are all present allowing skilled artists to present their work alongside talented actors.  It is dazzling to behold, and that is before the ghost army sweeps in and kills 10,000 evil monsters.  And what is more, there was good practical effects in this movie too, with costumes, props, and sets made in interesting fashion to show very simple illustrations of majesty and beauty that a mythology like "The Lord of the Rings" (practically a religion) sort of demands.

And there were giant elephants.
             Honestly I think I would hail this thing for just one accomplishment that it did so well, that of forced perspective.  Creating sets that turned to accommodate moving cameras and actors who through the whole thing have to orient themselves far to the left of the actor they are speaking to so as to complete the illusion.  It is so well designed and executed that it overshadows the CGI of the movie.

            If you liked my take on this movie, please click the Google "+1" button in the comments section, post the link on your facebook, or send people over from anywhere else you might social network.

Friday, June 10, 2011

30 Day Movie Challenge: Day 26

            I decided to do the 30 day movie challenge as a blog series as it ties into my blog activities rather easily and I am once again not blogging my usual series with regularity in spite of saying that I would.
            Today is "A Movie that makes me Laugh".  Which I think is sort of a useless prompter.  I watch comedy like drivers watch the road.  I watched a comedy last night, I am currently watching an online comedian make fun of a movie from the 80's, I read comedic novels ("Mogworld") and Blogs ("Remedial Batmanology") and the first thing I did in undergrad upon moving into a dorm that had cable, my first encounter with cable, was to watch "Comedy Central Presents" (Brian Regan, the Lewis Black).  So what is a movie that makes me laugh?  "Office Space".

Lotta white on this poster, but it gets the vibe right.  Nothing going on anywhere, but you are smothered by work.
             There are few things that bother me more than being a person who lives an unremarkable or joyless life, I can stand being joyless if I am successful (sort of like "Citizen Kane") and I can tolerate being poor so long as I am happy (like Richard Mayhew in "Neverwhere"), but "Office Space" illustrates exactly the sort of personal breakdown and rebellion I would experience living a life of cubicled hell that Ron Livingston goes through each day.  I generally dislike most people and being caged in an area having to listen to shit heads give me instruction over and over again is enough to make me beat my own head into a neck stump.

Also, the nameless boss from "No Country for Old Men" is in it.  And pretty much steals the movie.
             The movie follows everyman played by Ron Livingston (who gives a shit what his character's name is, he's playing himself, the poor man's John Cusack, who is in turn the poor man's Robert Downey Junior).  This everyman finally has a break through during therapy that allows him to simply stop caring about his job and start living his life the way he wants, and he gets rewarded for it, he then decides to take it one further and just rob his company a penny at a time and that is when he bites off more than he can chew.  Really it has a lot of the same themes as "Fight Club", but I'm not going to go on and on about that again.  And "Office Space" has Jennifer Aniston playing a girl next door waitress who in short order illustrates all the shit that I have come to associate with the service industry.


            The movie is hilarious, go watch it.

            If you liked my take on this movie, please click the Google "+1" button in the comments section, post the link on your facebook, or send people over from anywhere else you might social network.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

30 Day Movie Challenge: Day 25


            I decided to do the 30 day movie challenge as a blog series as it ties into my blog activities rather easily and I am once again not blogging my usual series with regularity in spite of saying that I would.
            Today is "A Movie that I think should not be remade".  A movie only ever needs to be remade for a small little group of reasons.  One might be that the concept or themes failed to be adequately explored in the original material, that the characters and universe could have supported a deeper exploration of the material (yesterday's suggestion of "Highlander").  Another reason is that the idea was good, but poorly executed, creating a vision that had so much potential but due to poor acting, or poor effects, or just a bad camera the movie is held back by arbitrary and fixable limitations ("Clash of theTitans" versus "Clash of the Titans", which will have to get remade again in a few years because the main actor is so far below adequate).  The last reason is that it is a recognizable mythos that regardless of number of iterations so long as a smart artist is put behind it the characters in question can deliver a new and engaging story ("Batman and Robin" versus "Batman Begins").  But there are times in which movies are good enough, and hold up well enough over time that no remake would ever be really warranted, this holds true especially for movies heavy in dialogue, or those that speak very much to a time and place, the movie I picked today does that.  What film do I think emboldens its era well enough, and has production values that meet the needs of the narrative unquestionably?  "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington".
Trailers back in the day were more of the "It's good, go and see it" which was a far cry from the trailers today which show you why you should go see something.

            This is my second favorite movie of all time after "Fight Club" and they fall on the same themes (beating back against a corrupt system that is out to marginalize or destroy you) but fall so far apart on the methodology scale of things that they are not even recognizable.  "Fight Club" seeks to tear down the corrupt system with bombs, while rejecting modern society through acts of violence visited on each other, "Smith" embraces the ideals of the system, and uses the systems own rules to expound his position as an honest man who is being attacked by those who have hijacked the system.  I suppose there is also a parallel in that Smith was a boy scout leader, and Tyler was a leader of a men's social organization for guys who felt like society treated them like children.

You know how much that office/apartment costs on the retail market?  More than a Senator could afford, must be a lobbyist's base of operation

            The plot of the film is this: After a senator dies the 40 something Smith (Jimmy Stewart) is appointed by the governor to take his place, Smith is surprised by this as he has done nothing but be a community leader even though his father was in politics.  Turns out Smith was appointed more or less as a publicity stunt and is expected to just slack jaw his way through Washington.  When Smith proposes a bill to create a national campground on land political bosses were planning on destroying to built an unnecessary public works project, the bosses falsify evidence that Smith is trying to use his office to profit off of his park idea.  Smith filibusters the Senate in hopes that his words will show him to be innocent.  He is tremendously boned.  Much like everyone who was involved in the Keating Five loosing a huge amount of face in the real world regardless of how little or how much they knew was going on (that being one of the initial reasons I wasn't going to vote for Senator McCain, before Sarah Palin came along and dwarfed all other reasons).  And the end of the movie is rather hope inspiring, though I will admit that it is unlikely.

Though ending on this image would have been a little dark.
             Go watch this classic movie.  It stars Jimmy Stewart, who was very much the precursor to what Tom Hanks has been for the last 30 years, a very nice everyman who is easy to identify with and respect.  The sets look authentic to Washington, and even the black and white element helps place this movie in the time of its creation as it deals with themes that were very much part of the time.  I would love to see a movie like this one in modern times, and I think that "Thank You For Smoking" was about as close as I could hope for, with maybe the short lived television series "Mister Sterling" (that was criminally under rated and only failed because it was created in the storm of political shows that appeared following "The West Wing" becoming the best Television show of all time.

Go watch this too, it is awesome.

            If you liked my take on this movie, please click the Google "+1" button in the comments section, post the link on your facebook, or send people over from anywhere else you might social network.