Monday, February 28, 2011

Academy Awards 2011 Postshow

This year at the Academy Awards just about everything happened as the experts predicted.  "The King's Speech" won Best Picture, Natalie Portman won Best Actress for "Black Swan", Colin Firth won Best Actor for "The King's Speech", and "Toy Story 3" won Best Animated Picture.  Naturally every single Hollywood pundit started complaining about the hosts, like they do every year.  The musical numbers were tedious, and of course, the weird attempts at homages to past Best Picture winners were complete duds.  And to nobody's surprise, James Franco acted like he needed half a bottle of scotch just to force himself onto the stage.  Perhaps he was trying some of the titular weed from "Pineapple Express".  Still I'd take Franco in a chemically-induced coma over Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin again, so I gotta say that ultimately last night's Oscars were not that bad.

Even if James Franco seemed like he might nod off during his bits, Anne Hathaway took over most of the slack.  But despite her cute semi-nerdy yet glamorous charms (mostly due to two beautiful giant eyes) she was no Billy Crystal... so it seems that the Academy pulled out a red alert and air-lifted Billy Crystal in for the show.  I'm not entirely sure why James Franco decided to host at all, if only to just add another line to his tombstone:  "James Franco, Academy-Award nominated actor, Peter Parker's boyfriend, Oscar host for one year..."  Anne Hathaway at least is somebody I'd watch again, even when doing unfunny bits like the Hugh Jackman song without Hugh Jackman she shines through as a great host.  Personally I still miss Ellen DiGeneres and hope she comes back one year.

So anyway, the rest of my comments are just assorted little bits here and there, which is why the rest of this post will be done in the most organized fashion known to human kind:  with bullets!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Academy Awards 2011 Preshow

Well the universe just collapsed.  So I'll just go on like nothing happened, because facing a nightmare of such proportions will probably make me go insane.  In all honestly, I shouldn't be writing right now, but I will anyway since it might make me feel better.  I miss my Michael...

ANYWAY.  Another year, another Oscars.  I mentioned last year that the Academy Awards are about as important as the Superbowl, at least to me.  Really all the Academy Awards need are a way to make bets on them.  Its kinda pointless to put money down for "Black Swan" when I know with some certainty that "The Social Network" is gonna win anyway.  Maybe you could bet on which minor technical award like "sound editing" will put the most members of the audience to sleep.  This year luckily, Cablevision and ABC are not fighting a brutal war, so that means the airwaves for the Oscars will be totally clear!  Yay!  I'll most likely miss them considering the Wake, but you know, that's how it goes.  You'll all be second next to my baby.

Its easy enough to be cynical about the Oscars, considering them to be nothing more than the crooked machinations of old bitter fogies who couldn't see a good movie if it were given to them via suppository.  However, I am far more forgiving.  The Academy does have a bias, but not against hipness or entertainment.  They like actor movies, films where the performers break out of their regular personas and really take the craft of acting to its very limit.  So a movie like "Tron: Legacy" will never get much respect from the Academy.  I don't entirely agree with such an assessment, but I wouldn't call it an "illegitimate" viewpoint.  The Oscars still are the best standard of awarding high achievement in filmmaking.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


I'm not a difficult man to please.  I don't go into movies with ridiculously high standards, demanding that every single film I see be an amazing completely unrepeatable work of art.  Don't get me wrong, when movies are true masterpieces, I'm filled with wonder at the glory of creation like everybody else.  But still, really all your movie needs is to is be entertaining, fun, and have a decent premise to get me fired up and make me happy.  Just try to be original, don't insult my intelligence, and keep it entertaining and your movie will pass.  Maybe this standard is too high.  Ultimately every year I only think about two dozen of the hundreds of movies made are any good.  But I don't think I'm being unreasonable.

"Sanctum" was a movie I had hope for.  It has a really good premise:  scuba divers exploring an unexplored underwater cave get trapped.  Left to die, they must somehow wander out of the cave weathering total darkness, low supplies, and one of the most dangerous environments known to man.  Just add monster catfish people and it could be the greatest movie ever made!  Its like "The Descent" only made worse:  because now the cave is underwater.  One false move and you're drowned.  Even without catfish people (which sadly this movie lacks*) it has a really good opening idea.  A nice survival adventure in the most extreme circumstances imaginable barring crashing into the Sun.  To make an idea this good totally fail, you'd need one of the worst scripts ever written, a cast of awful unlikable morons, and a main character that looks and acts like Tidus from "Final Fantasy X".

And guess what?  It has all those things.  Just about every character in this movie is an idiot, and they all have the disaster that befalls them coming.  It didn't take me long before I decided "screw these human stupids, I'm rooting for the cave".  If the point of this movie is man vs. nature, then nature is a far more sympathetic character and more likable than any person here.  Usually only romantic comedies make me wish the whole cast dead.  "Sanctum" is ground-breaking in at least that respect.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Bleach Recaps: Ep. 192, Nel's Secret, a Big-Breasted Beauty Joins the Battle!?

First of all:  their title, not mine.  I would have called this episode "Bouncy Bouncy Juicy Juicies Yay for Booby Boobies".

We can easily gather from the title that the main focus of tonight's episodes is boobs.  Big honking massive prehistoric hooters.  Terrifying titties so gigantic you can't help but jump for joy.  Boobage so bodacious you burst with bliss.  Awesome arm rests.  Bouncing bazookas.  Cosmic coconuts.  Double-stuffed dingers.  Elephantine entertainment.  Fiendish floaters.  Grand gazzongas.  Hulking honkers.  Intense eye-magnets.  Jurassic jobblies.  King-sized knockers.  Lovely lolas.  Macro missiles.  Naked nugens.  Oval offerings.  Plumping party-favors.  Quixotic quibblies.  Raging racks.  Super squeezables.  Terrific ta-tas.  Unbeatable ultrasauruses.  Voluminous vulgarians.  Whomping whammies.  Yummy yuzzoos.  Zany zeppelins.  And um...  breasts.  Come on gentlemen, let's hear it for sleaze!!

"Bleach" this week was not horrible to say the least.  Granz and the two moron comic reliefs have been safely left behind in the other plotline while we focus entirely on Ichigo's battle with the Spoony One.  Then he tags out for a new warrior to step in... can you guess who?  And that new warrior has some huge... "fighting skills".  Ridiculously huge ..."skills".  Penis-drainingly huge ..."skills".  Oh yeah.

Saturday, February 19, 2011


When your life has become a wide-awake nightmare of utter sorrow, I'd say its a good time to go to the movies.  If its a good movie its a good movie, if its a bad movie you have something to complain about other than the misery that's drowned your existence.  So that's exactly what I did:

"Unknown" is weirdly enough the very first 2011 film I have ever seen.  So far there just has not been anything that looked even remotely interesting, and "Unknown" is not immune.  I basically saw this movie out of sheer desperation to see any movie, just as long as it wasn't "Justin Bieber's Never Say Never"* or "Big Momma's House 3".  When you're this desperate, you just find an actor you like and go see his newest movie.  Liam Neeson is awesome in just about everything he does, from "Ponyo" to "Love Actually" to "Star Wars", so "Unknown" literally could not fail.  And it didn't, so I guess it we all had a happy ending.  Plus the overwhelming misfortune in my life has gotten a bit better, so I suppose its time to write a post again.

"Unknown" is an interesting film because you are never entirely sure where the movie is going to go.  Liam Neeson goes to Berlin with his pretty wife half his age, but after an accident has lost all identification.  Then another man has taken his place and his wife does not recognize him.  Has he gone insane?  Or is there something larger at work here?  What we have here is a decent enough thriller with a very elegant final twist.  Definitely a good way to spend an afternoon.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Bleach Recaps: Ep. 191, The Frightening Banquet, Szayel Aporro Theater

Here we go again.

Tonight's episode title implies that we will be spending a lot of time with Szayel Aporro Granz, Espada #8.  Granz represents the recurring anime villain known as the "overconfident deranged homosexual".  For that reason, he will immediately claim to be an absolute master of combat who could defeat the heroes any second he wants, but never actually does.  Instead he toys with them in increasingly wacky ways, gives long speeches about how much prettier he is, and then finally gets beaten thanks to his incredible stupidity.  So far, Granz, despite claiming to be the "smart guy" of the Espada Crew, has consistently shown himself to be the stupidest of the bunch.  Granz is a moron.  Just to show how stupid this guy is, two seasons ago, Granz let Renji and Uryu run away for five minutes while he got changed.  This guy couldn't beat a paraplegic.

What personality flaw do you think will be this guy's undoing?  Well, that's a question for another time, because the Granz battle really only is half the episode, and is not concluded in any way.  In fact, what fighting there is interrupted by... My God... Dondochakka and Pesche, the (ugg) comic reliefs.  I'm going to admit something right now, I don't care for comic relief characters.  If a character exists only for the reason of being "funny" and does not really have anything to add to the plot, they aren't going to get much respect from me.  What do these two idiots do?  Nothing!  R2-D2 and C-3PO were comic reliefs, but they also were very nearly the perspective characters of "Star Wars" and had some important skills the heroes needed.  And R2-D2 and C-3PO were actually funny, unlike these other two.  Dondochakka just mugs the camera, then gets yelled at by the real characters for being stupid.  This isn't humor, its assault.

When Ruby Rhod is funnier and more tolerable than your characters, you have a problem.  Hell, these two morons give Jar Jar a run for his money.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

127 Hours

"127 Hours" is the story of a man who cuts his own arm off in order to survive being trapped in some remote corner of the American Southwest.  Now that sounds like an Internet shock video that people would only watch drunk on a dare, then make reaction videos on Youtube.  What makes the whole movie so disturbing is that this isn't just some shock video using cheap special effects, it was actually done by a real person in a "triumphant true story".  Impressively, this movie is actually really good, overcoming its unusual subject manner in such a way as to also create a new genre all by itself.

There haven't been many movies like "127 Hours".  Few filmmakers would bet everything upon the single performance of their leading man, James Franco.  Indeed, the vast majority of this movie takes place in a single location, essentially the same scene.  Worse, the storyline is something that typically would only be covered by documentary programs such as "I Shouldn't Be Alive".  Basically this movie has to take an extreme survival story documentary, dramatize it, and somehow or another do it well.  There of course have been films depicting extreme survival conditions before ("Alive" comes to mind), but no film has depicted an incident where a person has survived impossible odds all alone.

The movie definitely works.  Danny Boyle manages to both horrifying his audience with awful scenes of self-mutilation and depict the single worst possible situation for a person to fall into, but also lifts us up.  For a movie whose subject manner essentially amounts to how random disasters can fall down upon us without warning, its surprisingly inspiring.  "LOVE IT."

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Grindhouse Double Feature: Machete and Piranha 3D

A few years ago, possible life partners Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez teamed up to create "Grindhouse" a silly send-up to the seedy 70s exploitation films of their youth.  The "Grindhouse" movies were supposed to be silly exercises in lowest common denominator entertainment.  What we were promised was simple:  action, humor, and fun.  What we got were intentionally awful movies that perhaps were less homages than jokes.  Jokes on the audience.  If Tarantino and Rodriguez wanted to prove how bad 70s and 80s B-movies were, I suppose they succeeded, because both of those movies stank and stank badly.

Tarantino's "Death Proof" is a wonderful test of endurance:  how long can you watch these chicks talk about nothing while thinking you're about to see some gore?  I passed, but clearly some serious damage has been done to my brain because of it.  As for Rodiguez's "Planet Terror", though considerably more entertaining, was just a giant mess of a movie with some of the most bizarre casting I have ever seen.  Why is Federico from "Six Feet Under", a guy who is an inch away from being a midget and about as threatening as Paddington Bear, trying to be a badass action star?  "Planet Terror" was simply bad.  Its the ugly step-child of cinema that you just never can never love no how hard you try.  It was as bad as "Snakes on a Plane" and twice as stupid.  Yeah, I know 70s Grindhouse movies were never going to be "Citizen Kane" but that's not a license to half-ass your work.  Both Tarantino and Rodiguez have done better.

Luckily in our new decade two new silly exploitation-style films have been released, and these actually manage to do it right.  "Machete", also by Robert Rodiguez and technically within the Grindhouse label, is a high-action fiesta of Mexican rage and ridiculous excitement, and "Piranha 3D" is a glorious bloody celebration of the good ol' days of monster movies.  These are movies where Danny Trejo rides a motorcycle armed with a front-mounted gatling gun, two porn stars take a naked underwater swim, and intestines are used as rope.  Just like a nasty Taco Bell burrito, these movies are grimy, disgusting, and impossible to not love.  Yeah you might complain about the stomach pains, but you know that next week you'll be back for more.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Bleach Recaps: Ep. 190, Hueco Mundo Chapter, Restart!

Hey look, a new season!  New opening credits, new ending credits, and we've finally returned to the main plot.  Shusuke Amagai's tangent universe has collapsed thanks to the helpful guidance of Frank the Bunny, so now we're back twenty-eight days in the past where Amagai never existed and none of the events I recapped here ever happened.

Are your hopes up?  Time to crash them down.  "Bleach" may have finished its filler season, but there's still so much filler to be had.  For example, in this episode, the recap starts all the way back at when Aizen gave himself a more METAL doo, and fled to Hueco Mundo.  For the next half of the episode, "Bleach" replays Ichigo's fight against Ulquiorra and Grimmjow.  The Grimmjow fight isn't bad since that actually was easily the best fight in all of "Bleach"'s sixteen dozen episodes.  But do I need to watch it again?  If I wanted to I could just watch it online in a second, but that's the thing:  I wanted to watch new things today, not the same old nonsense!  If this was a clip show, I could almost have accepted it.  I wouldn't have liked it, but at least I could have watched something else.  Clip shows are also a nuisance I've made peace with over the years.  They're common enough, even in anime*, that its no longer an egregious thing.  But for some reason tonight "Bleach" simply decided to have half an episode.  No particular reason, just half an episode.  Quality!

In case you haven't noticed, I'm not very happy about this.  I'm glad to see that "Bleach" is willing to explain things a bit to people who say, don't know about Aizen or his Doom Fortress or his Arrancar Army of Ultimate Darkness or his badass couch, but must we all suffer half an episode for this?  I'd like to give half a recap out of vindictive rage but I can't.  I have a job and I do it well (needless typos notwithstanding).

Friday, February 4, 2011

Fire Emblem

At the moment I have really nothing at all to talk about blog-wise, so I'll just write about something that I've had in reserve for awhile:  "Fire Emblem", the series.  Yes, it does actually exist, and not just as obscure bonus characters in "Smash Bros".

"Fire Emblem" is the hardest RPG franchise in human history.  This is a controversial claim, I know, but its true.  In the days since the old Nintendo, video game producers have moved past game development with the mind-set of "how hard can I make this game?" to "how good can I make this game?"  "Fire Emblem" has not.  If you took the sheer insane difficulty of "Ice Climbers", condensed it into solid form, wrote Satanic symbols on it, then fed it to a strategy game, "Fire Emblem" is what would be created (this is actually how Nintendo makes the cartages, by the way).  This is a franchise where if you make one false move then twenty minutes of hard work come crashing down because a single archer snuck through your line and shot down Caeda.  Then she's dead forever.  Keep on going without her and you'll be crippled all game, and you'll lose unit after unit.  Play like that and you're going to have nothing but a ruin of an army with no hope of taking down the - typically dragon - final boss.  Guess what then?  Time to start all over, twenty hours earlier, to the beginning of the entire game.  This is insanity incarnate.  "Fire Emblem" isn't very subtle about how it despises you for playing it.  In fact, "Fire Emblem" is a series that despises all mankind, and if given the chance would eradicate our race.

Yet for whatever insane reason, I honestly enjoy playing this franchise.  Why?  Well, I have a whole post to explain that, now don't I?