zrath: Zrath-Smiley as a TRON program (OSS 117)
Wow, I haven't posted here in a while. Like, in over a month. O_O
I still read my Friends Page every day, though. I just don't post much.
Maybe I should do a little recap for those not on Facebook.

The Oscars came and went and I DVRed the whole thing so I could start watching it halfway through and catch up to real-time by skipping over all the commercials. I had a dog in the fight, so to speak: Uggie the Dog from "The Artist". :D
Yes, I was rooting for Uggie, Jean "OSS 117" Dujardin and the whole crew of this silly French silent film about Old Hollywood. However, I would have been totally okay with Gary Oldman winning for "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" because it's GARY FUCKING OLDMAN and how the hell is this the first time he's been nominated for an Oscar!?!?!
The bulk of the Oscars wound up being divided between "Hugo" and "The Artist", with "The Artist" getting the juicy ones like "Best Film" and "Best Actor". ("Formidable! Super génial!" exclaimed Jean Dujardin).
Since then, I've seen "Hugo" and "My Week With Marilyn", and they're both very good films. I didn't even realize that Sacha Baron Cohen was in "Hugo" until the credits rolled.
I'm happy for "Rango" winning Best Animated Feature Film. "Rango" is really quite good and more than a little strange. It's amazing-looking in Bluray and a treat for fans of spaghetti and classic westerns.

The office was closed for Presidents Day and I didn't know it, so I showed up at work and found tumbleweeds in the parking lot. Oh, well, then, guess I'll run some errands and take care of some business. HA!
Post office: closed. Bank: closed. DMV: closed.
Smog Test Station: open! Smog test result: FAIL!
It was not the emissions though, there was a broken thingamabob that needed replacing, which also explained why my truck had been running a little rough lately. And the EVAP line was screwed up. I needed to deal with this ASAP so I went to Joe's to get it taken care of. I needed to pass to get my new plate sticker and the deadline was fast approaching. The broken thingymabob was connected to the engine's right-side valve cover, and I couldn't get just the thingamabob. So I needed a new valve cover. Easy-peasy, right?
Wrong! Joe's parts suppliers said it was discontinued. That didn't make sense to me! We're talking about the basic Ford V-6 engine that's in every Ranger, Explorer and Taurus (and probably others) up to at least 1994! Argh!
So Joe's guys went out looking for a valve cover at junkyards.
Since it looked like fixing this problem was going to take a while, I saved myself the local DMV headache and hit the local AAA office instead. I paid for and obtained a 60-day extension on my car registration. This gave me time to find the part needed for the F(n)ord (St)Ranger, get it fixed, and get the smog certificate. It's awesome how you can take care of most DMV transactions at AAA offices. I recommend being a member!
The needed part was found last week and I left my trusty steed at Joe's on Friday morning. I had to rent a car to get to work and to use over the weekend, as the truck would be ready on Monday. I went with a Budget office barely 5 minutes from Joe's and wound up with a silver Toyota Camry that I promptly dubbed "Maytag 1". :D
That thing had a hella twitchy throttle and very responsive steering. I don't understand how the people who own these things manage to drive them so slowly and sluggishly. Also, I really don't like these electronic throttles because the accelerator pedal has no force-feedback to speak of. It's really weak, with no resistance. With a normal throttle, the pedal gives back and gives something for the right foot to rest on. With the weak pedal, I can't rest my foot on it, I just kinda keep it poised over it and work myself into a cramped state. Blargh.
At least, the sound system was nice. No USB port though.
The truck was ready on Tuesday morning this week; I had requested an alignment as well and that took an extra day. I returned Maytag 1 and got dropped off at Joe's. It was nice to get back behind the wheel of my lil' truck. I called the smog test station and scheduled a retest for yesterday morning. The (St)Ranger passed it with flying colors, and once I got the smog certificate, I went straight to AAA to get my license plate sticker.
I had to find a socket wrench to remove my license plate frame, as it partly covered the sticker area. A bit of a pain but, on the other hand, makes it tougher to steal my sticker. :)
And thus ended the Norwegian (St)Ranger Smog Saga, by Odin's Beard! :D


Bonus Netflixing!

Killer Elite - Jason Statham, Robert DeNiro, Clive Owen, Dominic Purcell, Nick Tate (!)
The movie was pretty good. It's set in 1980, mostly in England. Statham is an ex-SAS guy who freelances and DeNiro is his mentor of sorts. DeNiro is kidnapped by a sheik who blackmails Statham into killing three SAS guys for him, 'cause each one killed one of his sons during the Oman War of 1970. It's not all shooty-bang, there's skullduggery and espionage thrown in. The director is an unknown, and seems fairly competent. And Statham can still kick ass while tied to a chair. It was fun seeing all the old late '70s cars.
There was an older gentleman who looked terribly familiar and turned out to be Nick Tate, aka Alan Carter, Eagle jockey from "Space: 1999". Holy crap!
I enjoyed the film a lot. It's not your typical mindless XTREEM ACTION 'SPLOSION shoot'em'up.
It might get added to my permanent library.

That's it for now.
Tune in next time when I realize all my Saturdays in March are spoken for!


zrath: Zrath-Smiley as a TRON program (MST3K)


Wow, really haven't done one of these in looooooooooooooooooong time!
Like, October 2009! I know, I checked.
I am filled with shame.
Okay, maybe not.
It's not like this is my job or anything.
Right, onwards!

(:in Eddie Izzard voice) Buncha movies! )

Dang, I need to do this more often...


Tags:
zrath: Zrath-Smiley as a TRON program (Boo!)


Netflixing

One Step Beyond (1959) Season 1 Disc 1
A new release from CBS Home Video, who recently brought out both seasons of one of my chilhood favorites,
"The Invaders". "One Step Beyond" is an old black & white TV anthology series which premiered before
"Twilight Zone" and so far seems to focus more on strange phenomena and the unexplained.
I have only seen the first Disc so far, so I may be in error.
None of the episodes were particularly scary, opting more for slight spookiness and weirdness.
A few examples include: a newlywed Southern belle who suddenly speaks and acts like a totally different
woman, insists she didn't commit suicide, and provides information that lead to the arrest of her killer;
a wife who senses that something bad happened to her missing husband and eventually leads the police to
the site of his car accident; several people who all have premonitions about the sinking of the Titanic
(that episode stars an impossibly-young Patrick MacNee! :D ). So yeah, you see where the show is at.
I'll be getting and watching the other discs.

Space: 1999 (1975-1977) all 17 Discs - both seasons
I used to watch this show on French TV, dubbed in French, and I remember being scared by several episodes.
This is the first time I've seen it in the original English, and the first time I've seen Season 2, which
was never shown on French TV for some reason. And the two seasons are very different in tone and pacing.
Season 1 is, according to producer Sylvia Anderson, a voyage into fear, fear of the unknown.
And wow, that explains so much! Season 1 feels like a horror sci-fi show! The opening theme music is pretty
awesome, but a lot of the incidental music is plain creepy. There are plenty of dark corners, skeletons,
horribly disfigured bodies, screaming, general creepiness and nervous laughter in the way of humor.
Brian Blessed was in one episode and wound up melted! But the one episode that really scared the crap outta
me was a little masterpiece called "Dragon's Domain", featuring a graveyard of spaceships overseen by a
tentacled creature that would teleport in, roar nonstop, and mind-control its victims into jumping into
its giant perpetually-open maw. Said maw would then spit out the dehydrated husks of its victims.
I WAS 10 YEARS-OLD, FER FANGED GOD'S SAKE!! At home, alone! I had nightmares for WEEKS!
Compared to Season 1, Season 2 is a bitching funky disco time packed with action-packed action! :D
All the music's been replaced, the intro is a thrilling disco number, and some light humor has been added.
There are unexplained cast changes a-plenty! Dr. Bergman? Gone! Kano the computer guy? Gone! Paul? Gone!
New people? Maya the alien who fills the Dr. Bergman and Spock role, and is a lot more fun to be around!
And she can turn into other living creatures! And dammit, she's cute! There's also Tony, the security chief
who likes Maya a lot and various other people who were never even seen in Season 1.
The show's lighting got brighter, chasing away all those dark corners. The uniforms got brighter too.
The show was changed to appeal more to the all-important American audience ('cause America had the money!).
Now that I have seen every single episode, I have come to the realization that I don't really like the show
much and that I used to watch it back in France just because it was on, and I loved the Eagles. And also,
Commander Koenig (Martin Landau) and Dr. Russell (Barbara Bain), the two main characters, looked a bit
like my mom and dad. It was weird to see them up there, on a moonbase, in charge of stuff. :)
My Dinky Toys die-cast Eagle Transport toy remains my all-time favorite die-cast toy ever.

The Chase (1966)
Heat + booze + bored Texas townfolks + escaped convict = recipe for disaster.
Oh yeah, this is a fun movie, filled with racism, adultery, small-town corruption, and vigilantism.
Marlon Brando plays the town sheriff, who turns out to be the only sane guy in the entire flippin' burgh.
Well, him and his wife, played by Angie Dickinson. The escaped convict is played by Robert Redford, who was
then an unknown. His wife is played by Jane Fonda. The rest of the cast includes E.G. Marshall, James Fox,
Robert Duvall, Clifton James and an impossibly-young Paul Williams. :D
The escapee is basically a good kid, just a little wild sometimes. He got sent to jail after being framed
for a crime he didn't commit. The bastard who did commit the crime is afraid the convict will come get him.
The bastard is respectable now, see? Director of the local bank, owned by the local rich guy.
The escapee broke out with a stone-cold killer, who wasted no time killing someone, and the escapee is now
blamed for that murder, which freaks out the townfolks even more. They're convinced he's coming back.
By the time the movie ends, it's a flaming trainwreck of a situation: horrible, but you can't look away.
This is why we don't hire people from Texas. :D

Wallace & Gromit: A Matter Of Loaf And Death (2008)
Just released on Region 1 DVD, this is the most recent W&M short, and it is hilarious.
It is a murder mystery, and I do believe this is the first Wallace & Gromit project to feature death,
albeit in a humorous sort of way. Watch for the Hitchcock, "Ghost" and "Aliens" references. :)
The DVD contains a couple of featurettes and one episode of "Shaun The Sheep" (the soccer one).

Batman: The Brave and the Bold: Vol. 1 (2009)
This DVD contains the first 4 episodes of Season 1 of the new Batman cartoon. The show is done in a more
lighthearted way than "Batman: TAS" and "JL/JLU", going back to the campier side, per se.
The art style is kind of chunky and I can see Kirbiesque bits here and there.
Batman is paired with another superhero in each episode, and they're pulling some of the more obscure ones,
like Red Tornado (I had to look him up) and Blue Beetle (though it's a new Blue Beetle, or something).
Aquaman seems to be channeling Brian Blessed. Green Arrow's a bit childish and very competitive with Batman.
Personally, I've been enjoying the show, it's a lot of fun. Here's one of my favorite exchanges:

Plastic Man: "Are you seeing what I’m seeing? Because I’m seeing gorillas, riding pterodactyls,
with harpoon guns, stealing a boat."
Batman: "It’s Gorilla Grodd."
Plastic Man: "It’s messed up is what it is!"

How can you not love such ridiculousness?
I wouldn't buy this DVD though, or any other "Volume". I would hold out for a complete season pack.

Torchwood: Children of Earth (2009)
I've touched on this briefly in another post. Russell T. Davis is a horrible man and I wish him misery.
What he's done to his creation is reprehensible and the acts of a petty vengeful being.
This 5-part mini-series, making up the totality of Season 3, was a crucible for me. I mean, I started
watching Season 1 of this dumb little show that apparently wrote its own slash fiction, ha ha ha. And by
the time Season 2 came around, to my surprise, I started liking the dumb little show and caring about it.
I've never had any emotional attachment to Battlescar Angstactica "Battlestar Galactica",
but dammit, I cared about that bunch of misfits led by the man who couldn't die!
I was pretty much crushed by the end of "CoE".
That horrible man says he has Season 4 all planned out.
I'm not sure I want to see what he has in store.

The Astonishing Work of Tezuka Osamu
Tezuka who? The creator of "Astro Boy", "Kimba The White Lion" and "The Amazing 3", that's who! :)
I was hoping this was a documentary about the man widely regarded as "the Disney of Japan" and "the Father
of Manga", but it turned to be a collection of his experimental animation work. Of all the shorts
gathered on this DVD, only two of them were familiar to me: "Jumping" and the hilarious "Broken Down Film".
"Jumping" is a first-person perspective cartoon about a child who starts jumping progressively higher and
farther. It's pretty neat and works in Tezuka's signature peacenik and "green" tendencies.
"Broken Down Film" is a retro black and white cowboy cartoon with an old timey soundtrack. The cartoon
is badly damaged, so the frame gets out of synch, or breaks, or dirt gets trapped. All these problems
are actually exploited by the characters in the cartoon in a rather Tex Avery-like twist. Funny stuff!
There are over a dozen additional shorts, some incomprehensibly Japanese in subject matter.
One really good short is "The Legend of the Forest", the tale of woodland critters and fairyfolk versus
evil developers. The short actually changes animation style several times during its run. It's neat!
If you're an animation buff, this is worth a rental.

House, M.D. (2004) Season 1 Disc 1
So yeah, everybody loves House and lots of people seem to have House icons on their Live Journal accounts.
I like Hugh Laurie as much as the next guy, but I disliked medical shows and coroner shows.
Maybe it's something about not liking gore, maybe it's something about losing my mom and my brother to
cancer and spending interminable hours in a pauper's hospital (LAC+USC) watching over my brother.
Recently, I decided, "to heck with it, I'm gonna see what the fuss is about".
I Netflixed Season 1 Disc 1 and started watching. Right from the first episode, there's a problem.
Rory Gilmore (well, the actress who played her on "Gilmore Girls", one of my guilty pleasures) is a patient
and I get to see a hole carved into her throat by a scalpel in loving details. Oh boy.
Okay, I figure it's just a fluke, let's press on.
Episode 2: a kid is brought in with some kind of neurological problem. Halfway into the episode,
he's strapped into a chair and a computer arm drives A LONG FUCKING NEEDLE DIRECTLY INTO HIS RIGHT EYE!
I couldn't press Eject fast enough.
Rule #1 of the Kzinti Freehold: YOU DO NOT FUCK WITH THE EYES! EVAR!
Thank you, I'm done with "House".

Taken (2008)
Aka "Liam Neeson Kicks Ass And Takes Names". I've already written about this in a normal post, so I'll
just remind y'all that this is a really cool action film packed with a few surprises.
Uncle Liam plays a retired CIA operative whose daughter is kidnapped by Albanian white slavers mere hours
after she arrives in Paris with a friend. The full fury of Uncle Liam is unleashed! DARKMAN SMASH! :D
The DVD I got from Netflix is the theatrical version, recut for a PG-13 rating to satisfy those assholes
at Fox. They did release the "Extended Cut" on DVD though, and I'm planning to get that eventually.

More later...


zrath: Zrath-Smiley as a TRON program (Superman)


Yes, yes, it's been a loooooooooooong time since I've done some Netflixing.
It's been too hot in the bedroom to sit there and type for hours on end on a Netflix post.
And all sorts of wacky crap has been happening. Some of it is still happening!
But the weather has nicely (and finally!) cooled down, so I can sit there and type my life away!
I'm gonna be keeping the "reviews" short, as there's a lot of stuff to cover.
Also, I'll have to do multiple posts.


Streamflixing (Movies streamed through Netflix)

Sphere (1998)
That movie slipped under my radar and word of mouth seemed to indicate it wasn't very good.
I thought it was good. Not great, mind you, but good and interesting. It's got little bits of other sci-fi
movies in it, like "Forbidden Planet", "Event Horizon", and has some booga-booga "Alien" moments.
A group of specialists are flown to the middle of the ocean and sent down to an underwater habitat to
investigate what appears to be a spaceship that seems to have been at the bottom for over 300 years.
The specialists are a psychologist (Dustin Hoffman), a marine biologist (Sharon Stone), a mathematician
(Samuel L. Jackson), and an astrophysicist (Liev Schreiber). Rounding out the cast are the Navy guy
in charge (Peter Coyote), the Navy technician (Queen Latifah), and Huey Lewis in a bit part. :)
We here at the Kzinti Freehold are fond of Mr. Schreiber. He's one reason we saw the "Wolverine" film.
The movie is based on the Michael Crichton novel of the same name published the year before.
Unusually, the movie lacks the "machines inexplicably fail at the critical time" signature Crichton move.
Maybe it happens in the novel. Apparently, a lot of things are different in the novel.
If we were to find this DVD on sale somewhere for $5, we'd probably pick it up.

The China Syndrome (1979)
This movie was a big deal when it first came out. And not just because it opened a few days before the
Three Mile Island nuclear accident. The film is not much too look at, lacking glamorous locations and
lavish sets, but that's not the point. It's all about the human drama and the ratcheting suspense.
A junior TV reporter (Jane Fonda) and her freelance cameraman (Michael Douglas) are on-site at a newly
activated nuclear power plant when they witness a SCRAM (emergency shutdown) event from a soundproof
observation room. The cameraman films it all on the sly, but he and the reporter don't know what happened,
since they couldn't hear anything. Back at the TV station, her boss refuses to run the story, fearing
criminal prosecution and other things. Meanwhile, the supervisor at the plant (Jack Lemmon) suspects that
something's not kosher with the reactor because he felt some unusual vibrations during the SCRAM.
The two parties investigate independently, until the supervisor contacts the reporter after he finds that
something is indeed wrong at the plant. By that time, hitmen are trying to get to him, and he winds up
going to the plant to avoid them. Upon finding the plant running at full power, he grabs a gun from a
guard, kicks everybody out of the control room and takes it over.
Not much I can say about this film, the performances are top-notch and it's drop-dead serious.
It doesn't have a music soundtrack, just whatever's playing on the radios or jukeboxes.
That's unusual.

Tango & Cash (1989)
Another one of those movies I completely and utterly missed.
I don't even remember what I was doing in 1989! Not going to theaters, apparently.
Boy, I don't know where to start with this one. It's so cheezy and Lethal Weapony, except goofier.
Sylvester Stallone and Kurt Russell do seem to work well together though. There's also Teri Hatcher and
one hell of a B-movie cast: heavy breathing tough guy Jack Palance, "Blade Runner" veteran Brion James,
James "I've been playing an old man for 50 years" Hong (also a "Blade Runner" vet), everybody's favorite
living troll-doll Michael J. Pollard, and the chin-a-riffic Robert Z'Dar (go home Jay Leno!).
The plot? Who cares! It's an '80s action movie! Okay fine, Tango & Cash are the best two cops in L.A.
and they get, like, totally framed, fer shure! And everybody believes it because they're so stupid!
Vroom-vroom, bang-bang, stuff blows up, there's a neat armored SUV with lethal gadgets.
This a beer-and-pizza-with-your-buddies kind of movie.
French lesson: Brion James' character in the film is named "Requin". That's the French word for "shark".
"Requin" is also the name chosen by French translators for Jaws, the Bond villain played by Richard Kiel.


Friendflixing (DVDs borrowed from friends)

Firefly: The Complete Series
Missed it the first time, only saw a few episodes then, was not in the mood for a space western.
Since then, I've watched the entirety of "Deadwood" and several newjack westerns, and also watched
the entirety of "The Adventures Of Brisco County Jr." (that was fun!), so I was ready to tackle this.
And you know, it's pretty good. The Chinese outbursts are a little annoying, but I guess that's one way
to get around those pesky broadcasting censors. After all, even Picard got away with "merde"! :D
It was a good TV show, with some witty dialogue and interesting characters.
It's a shame Fox killed it. Fox has killed a bunch of good stuff. And Fox ruins movies now! Jerks...

Serenity
I actually Netflixed this when it first came out, but after watching the entirety of "Firefly",
I figured I would watch it again now that I had a firmer grounding in that universe.
And I had apparently forgotten almost everything about the film because I wound up enjoying it all over
again, but on a deeper level. I was horrified anew at the revelation of the Reavers' origin. And I spotted
some of the nods to other works of sci-fi, especially the ship labelled "C57D". That one drove me nuts,
as the appellation looked familiar, but I couldn't quite place it. I had to look it up after the movie.
C-57D is the model number of the Earth saucership in "Forbidden Planet". Old school yo! :D
So yeah, I'm sure most of the people reading this have already seen it.
Yeah, it is good stuff, it's not just you. :D


Netflixing (DVDs obtained from Netflix)

The Man Who Would Be King (1975)
Ah yes, another one of those classic movies I had never seen. This one has a pretty good reputation.
And I can see why: Sean Connery, Michael Caine, Christopher Plummer in a movie directed by John Huston.
Based on a short story by Rudyard Kipling, it is a fine tale of high adventure, hubris, and friendship.
Sean Connery and Michael Caine play veteran British soldiers who have stayed in 1880's India after their
tour was up, unwilling to return to England to work unrewarding menial jobs. These worthies hatch a scheme
to invade a savage land called Kafiristan and set themselves up as kings and rob the country blind.
They draw up a contract stating their intent and have Christopher Plummer (as Rudyard Kipling) witness it.
They then go off and succeed beyond their wildest dreams! Sean Connery becomes a god! But can he stay one?
An excellent film, really, quite quite good. Definitely a must-see.
The DVD was a flippie, which is not unusual, but both sides were labelled as "Widescreen".
Movie flippies usually have the fullscreen version (FAIL!) on one side and widescreen (WIN!) on the other.
This one didn't. Oh boy, it didn't, not at all. It was all widescreen.
Also, it had the first half of the movie on Side 1, and the rest on Side 2.
And the same Bonus Features on both sides (mostly text stuff, with one making of featurette).
Whoever mastered this sucker must have thought he was making a laserdisc! :D
Because Fanged God knows nobody makes double-sided DVD players.

Star Trek: The Motion Picture
Yes, I have this on laserdisc, but not this version. No, my player is still not working right.
I was jonesing for some Star Trek MoPic action, so I rented this and I'm glad I did! You know why?
Because this is the Director's Cut made in 2000 with extra FXs by Foundation "Babylon 5" Imaging.
I had never seen it! The film was recut by Robert Wise and some new shots were completed, and it really
improves the film greatly. The pacing is much better, things are better explained, and you finally get
to see what the V'Ger ship itself looks like once out of the energy cloud.
This is the DVD I've wanted to buy for a while now, and it's apparently sold out and gone. Paramount has
released an "Original Cast" box-set that includes Star Treks 1 through 6, and what little information
I have so far seems to indicate that they're all theatrical versions. ARGH!!! Time to hit eBay!

Crank: High Voltage (2009)
Jason Statham plays Chev Chelios, the toughest man alive, in this sequel to the unhinged actioner "Crank".
The film picks up minutes after the end of the original, and that high altitude drop from the helicopter
apparently didn't kill ol' Chev, though he's definitely looked better. Some Asian gangstas grab him and
take him to a private hospital. They nurse him back to health, only to remove his heart and stick in a
battery-powered replacement. Chev escapes the makeshift hospital and soon discovers that he needs to
electrify himself regularly to recharge the artificial ticker's battery. Highjinks ensue!
As much as I like the original "Crank", I have to say that I am disappointed by this sequel.
I mean, yes, there's more of everything that made the original such a "Tex Avery on crack" insanity ride,
but there's also more unpleasant things. There's more gratuitious gore for one thing, and we here at the
Kzinti Freehold do not approve of such things. There's also some really utterly tasteless stuff going on.
And lots of innocents getting mowed down. We don't approve of that either. I felt dirty after watching this.
I have "Crank" on DVD, and I really don't think "Crank: High Voltage" will join it any time soon.
Apparently, this is David Carradine's last movie. He plays the 100 year-old Chinese pimp daddy who wants
the indestructable Chev Chelios heart for himself. (Guess a green-eyed girl won't work for him! :D )

"Lois & Clark: The New Adventures Of Superman" Season 1 (1993)
I know what I was watching in 1993 instead of this! I was watching "Seapest DDT" "Seaquest DSV",
aka "Star Trek Underwater". Both shows were on at the same time on competing networks.
Also, I was only interested in Batman, superhero-wise, via the excellent "Batman: The Animated Series".
Plus, this was more of a romantic comedy with occasional bouts of Superman.
So yeah, I utterly and completely missed this.
I have now plowed my way through the entire first season and found it goofy, or in French, "nunuche"!
It had its moments though, like Tony Jay (the voice of Megabyte in "Reboot" and Shere Khan in "Talespin"),
and David Warner as Jor-El! That's pretty cool! And James Earl Jones, if only in one episode. Cool too!
But Tracy Scroggins (aka Capt. Lochley from B5 Season 5) as a cougar? And Richard Belzer as a cop?
Yes, I know the Belz went on to be on CSI or whatever. And Jimmy Olsen looking like Scott Baio?
Anyway, Dean Caine is a pretty good Clark Kent and Superman, I admit. And Teri Hatcher is fun.
And I really like Lane Smith as a Perry White who's a Southerner and an Elvis fan. Elvis is everywhere! :D
I'm now starting Season 2 and I see that tracy Scroggins is gone and Jimmy's been replaced.
I haven't seen who the new Lex Luthor is yet, I've only watched Disc 1.
I heard the show improves after Season 1 so I'm sticking with it for now. We shall see.

Okay, that's it for now!
More later...


zrath: Zrath-Smiley as a TRON program (Pepe)


No, that's not a typo. I am posting one update for multiple weekends. In this case, two weekends.
Laissez les bons temps rouler!! :D

Saturday March 28th: slept until noon, then packed some eBay stuff and took it to the post office.
Ran various errands all over town, wound up near Downtown L.A. at 20:00, hungry, trying to think of someplace to go.
Golly, why not go to Philippe The Original, birthplace of Le French Dip (hyuck hyuck hyuck!)!?!?
So I went, and boy is it ever quaint! There's sawdust on the floor, big wooden tables and stools, old signs everywhere.
I ordered the beef dip sammich and a side of macaroni salad and a Coke (cold can, yea!).
Instead of giving you a dry sammich and a cup of "au jus" like other places do, the folks at Philippe's dip the beef
into the au jus then place it on the bun. That and the excellent-tasting au jus makes for a tasty sammich.
It's a bit pricy though, at $5.55 for a sammich about 6 inches long. Guess it's more of a touristy joint.
Well, at least, I can say I've been there! And I have the postcard and the matchbook to prove it!
I don't know why but I find it comforting that some places still give out customized matchbooks.
They're certainly more useful than business cards! :D
I pulled out the ol' cellphone and snapped a nightime pic of Philippe's facade by night, see it here.
Then I went home and watched some DVD, probably from Season 1 of "Burn Notice". That show is really growing on me.

Sunday March 29th: woke up at noon again, showered and dressed, prepared and ate lunch.
Left home around 14:30 to go see "Watchmen" at the Pacific Stadium 12 in Downtown Culver City.
Paid $8.75 for one adult matinée. Unlike AMC, Pacific does weekend matinées, same price as weekday matinées.
(By the way, "matinée" is French for "morningtime". "Matin" is "morning".)
The showing was at 15:30, but the ticket-taker wouldn't let me in until 15:10.
Went outside and enjoyed the mild weather until the appointed time rolled around.
Eventhough I own a tradepaperback of the graphic novel, I had not read it until the '80s. I decided to go see the
movie with only the bits and pieces I remembered from reading the book, and the references in pop culture since. :)
The screening room was a bit small, and a grand total of about 20 people shared it with me.
We were pummeled by TV commercials, and I thank Pacific Theatres (their spelling) for allowing me to catch up on the
latest inane ads that I don't get to see due to my lack of cable and broadcast TV reception. Thanks a lot, jerks!!
Eventually, at some point, we had movie trailers. I closed my eyes when "Observe And Report" came on. Not my bag!
The "X-Men Origins Wolverine" trailer was the perfect excuse to slip out to the little Kzin's room; I had already
seen it, and I didn't want to have to go during the movie. I shouldn't have drank some Gatorade for lunch. :)
After some more trailers, the movie started! Yea!
The opening credits are brilliant! Some of the short vignettes are recreations of famous photos and paintings!
The film itself is really well put-together, the casting is very effective, and there's tons of little things to look
for and to listen to. Of course, some aspects of the graphic novel are missing, and a few changes have been made.
This is a movie, not a miniseries, and this is based on a 23 year-old graphic novel.
There's a 3 hours and 10 minutes long version of the film heading to theaters in July of this year.
The original theatrical release is 2 hours and 40 minutes. An even longer Director's Cut will be available on DVD.
I may go see it again in July. And I'm pretty sure I will get the DVD.
After movie, I went to the Trader Joe's conveniently located nearby and did some grocery shopping.
I spent the rest of the evening kind of in a haze, still processing "Watchmen: The Movie".
For some reason, I always have a problem going to sleep on Sunday nights. This was no exception.
At around 02:00, I got out of bed, drank a tall glass of water, grabbed the "Watchmen" graphic novel and read it.
I was comparing it to the movie, looking for missing bits and modifications.
And I found myself shocked at the original ending in the book. It seemed like such a ridiculous scheme, like something
out of a bad episode of "The Outer Limits" or a really bad sci-fi novel. I find the movie ending much more interesting
and effective and insidious, on the whole. And I'm impressed at how much of the book was squeezed into 2:40.
So yeah, overall, in my own personal opinion, good job Zack Snyder and Co.!!
I finished reading at 04:00 and went to bed. There were dreams, but I don't remember them...


Saturday April 4th: slept in, woke up late, took care of computer and eBay stuff.
Managed to watch "The China Syndrome" on Streamflix, though IE crashed at least a dozen times. Grrrrrr...
(Streamflix only works with IE, so no browser recommendations please.)
Went to trader Joe's to pick up a few things, then walked across the street to Albertson's for mayo.
Saw the misspelled aisle sign, took a picture and vowed to use it as a Random. See previous post for picture. :)
Refuelled the truck, got a phone call from Jean-Louis, who had disappeared for over a week. Vowed to get together
soon to have dinner and hang out and try to think of solutions for various problems.
Drove home, made killer sammich with parbaked Ciabatta small loaf, turkey, ham, provolone and swiss.
Watched a couple of episodes of Season 2 "The New Avengers" (Steed, Purdey, Gambit).
Then played "Need For Speed: Carbon" on the ol' PS2 until 06:30!!!!
Gawd, I haven't gamed like that in a long while.
Sold the Alfa-Romeo Brera, which is a great beginner's car and looks sexay, and bought a Lotus Elise, which handles
like a slot car! Beat three bosses and wound up with their cars: Dodge Charger R/T (old-school), Aston Martin DB9,
and Mazda RX-7. The RX-7 has better handling than the Elise. How the hell is that possible? On the other hand,
the Elise has better acceleration and top speed. Hopefully I'll find a car with all three somewhere in the game.
The drift races are much harder than the ones in "NFS: Underground". I find myself unable to complete them.
And you know, I don't like drifting. I'm Mister Grip, I want my wheels firmly attached to the asphalt.

Sunday April 5th: because of marathon gaming, didn't get up until, like, 16:00.
Took photos of all of dad's Vespa Club badges and pennants. I have decided to sell them on eBay.
They're all originals from the '50s and '60s and I'm hoping to get something decent out of them. I haven't posted
them yet, I need to work up some copy for the auctions to explain what they are and the history behind them.
Dad was very active in his local Vespa Club and was instrumental in organizing the first National Vespa Meet in our hometown.
Afterwards, I put together some tasty pasta dinner then settled down to watch "Transporter 3", which is fun and has
a fairly coherent plot. In other words, it's better than "Transporter 2" and almost as good as "The Transporter".
And ladies will enjoy Jason Statham's bouts of shirtlessness. :D
There is a director commentary track done in English by the amusingly-named Olivier Megaton in a heavy French accent.
The Kzin says check it out.


And voila!
Weekends update and a wee bit of -flixing!
A bientot!


zrath: Zrath-Smiley as a TRON program (Kzintoro)


So I've had this toothache jaw-ache in my lower right jaw for the past couple of weeks.
It's either the broken molar in back or the forward molar that's missing its crown.
I don't have insurance and I don't have spare cash for the dentist, so I have to tough it out.
It was hard when the pain kept me from sleeping. I thought I was gonna lose my darn fool mind.
I was using Tylenol because acetaminophen seems to work better than anything else for me.
But I read up on it and talked to someone who works at a pharmacological company, who told me she didn't know a
single chemist who used acetaminophen themselves. So I dumped the Tylenol, switched to Motrin IB (ibuprofen),
then was recommended Aleve by auntie [livejournal.com profile] selenesue, and that's what I've been using since Sunday.
And wowie, this stuff works!
I take it every 8 hours, as recommended, and I only feel the occasional twinge from the jaw.
Eventually, I need to take care of this, but I'm not sure how.
How messed-up is it that one gets to the point where one hopes to win the Super-Lotto just to afford healthcare?
Help me Obama, you're my only hope! :D

Anyway, back around Christmas, I learned that my paternal grandmother had died back in August in France.
I didn't know her first name, she was just "mamie" (granma) to me. She owned a couple of apartments, and I'm one
of three inheritors of her estate. The other two are my aunts Pat and Marti. I've told the executor of the estate
that I want to sell my shares to my aunts, so maybe I'll get some Euros down the road. That would be nice.
Especially since I'm still at an impasse with the SACEM and DJ Pascal's royalties.
Goddamn French and their damnblasted bureaucracy...


And now, time for a lil' weekend recap!

Saturday: I was planning to run some errands in the afternoon, then attend my neighbor's party at 7:30pm.
My neighbors across the hall were throwing a housewarming party, one year after moving into their apartment.
And they posted lil' invites on all the doors of the other apartments in the building. How cool!
Anyway, I was gassing up the (St)Ranger prior to errand-running when I got a phone call from auntie [livejournal.com profile] selenesue.
She was wondering if I was coming over. I was confused by this because I thought I was going over there Sunday.
Well, no, because she was busy Sunday. So I cancelled my errands, went home, changed, grabbed some DVDs and took off.
The theme of the video party was "fun stuff you can watch and talk during", so I selected a few titles I thought were
appropriate: "CQ", "Oh Brother Where Art Thou?", "Ocean's 11", "Speed Racer", "Spy Kids" and one other.
When I got there, "Lord Peter Whimsy" was already in progress, a veritable parade of stiff upper lips. :)
We then watched an amusing student film called "1-900-Drinking-Buddies" by the daughter of one of the guests.
Rather well-done, I must say. Those classes at USC Film School are paying off!
It was about that time I talked about my jawache and my switching to Motrin IB. Auntie Selene had some Aleve,
so she told me to try some. It took a while kick in but the pain did go away. I resolved to switch to Aleve.
The crowd was split between "Ocean's 11" and "Speed Racer" for the next feature, and Speed eventually won.
The colors! The car-fu! The goofy cartoon plot and dialogue! The crowd loved it! "Perfect casting", they said!
We even watched the hilariously technobabble-filled extra feature profiling the cars and racetracks!
Afterwards, I upgraded Auntie Selene's PS3 with the newest firmware (had to use a thumbdrive because of bad wifi,
bad! connection) and showed her the trailer for the "WipEout HD" videogame in the Sony PlayStation Store.
She then finally understood why I kept saying that "Speed Racer" reminded me so much of "WipEout".
And then it was late and time to go home.
As I drove up to my apartment building, I saw that my neighbor's party was still going, so I parked, dumped my stuff
at home, and went to check it out. It was 1am by then, so most of the guests were either buzzed or sloshed.
There was cheese! Spanish Manchego, Swiss Gruyère and French Goat Cheese. There were also various other tasty things.
OM NOM NOM NOM!!!
I met family members and friends of my neighbors, and even a couple of my neighbors too. One of them has apparently
been in his apartment for 10 years. He works as a special assistant to the Scott brothers, Ridley and Tony.
Tony Scott directed the film "Domino", based on Domino Harvey's life, sort of. DJ Pascal used to date Domino Harvey.
The circle is now complete. :D
It was fun and I stayed until 4:30am Daylight Savings Time. Aaaaaaah yes, Daylight Savings Time kicked in during the
party and we lost one hour. I hate you so much, DST, you must die in a fire, as the kids say these days.

Sunday: I slept well, thanks to the Aleve. I picked up some while running my errands, then went home to do eBay stuff.
I watched Season 1 Disc 1 of "Burn Notice", recommended to me by a coworker, and I enjoyed it.
It's a bit like "Bourne MacGyver": he's an agent with lots of training, and he can make spy tools with off-the-shelf
stuff and lots of duct tape. His ex-IRA girlfriend is hilarious and reminds me a bit of Domino Harvey.
And it's got Bruce Campbell! Yeah, I'm enjoying this. I queued the other discs of Season 1.

And speaking of Netflix, I'm currently watching mostly TV shows:
1) Season 2 "The Invaders" (a childhood show)
2) Season 1 and 2 "The New Avengers" (ditto. I forgot how ruthless Mike Gambit was)
3) "The Adventures Of Brisco County Jr." (BRUUUUUUCE!! It's like "Wild Wild West", except funnier)
4) Season 1 "Burn Notice" (Bourne MacGyver with dysfunctional family and friends. Also, BRUUUUUUCE!!)
My Internet Explorer is working again, but Streamflixing is still unreliable.

And I did not go see "Watchmen". Maybe this weekend.
Oh wait, I'm probably working this weekend. And I also have a LUGOLA meeting very close to work.
Hmmmmmmmmm, this weekend will be interesting...


Tags:
zrath: Zrath-Smiley as a TRON program (MST3K)


It's Summer In October here in Lalaland, so how about a little Netflixing?
And how about a little Netflixing about exotic sunny locales like Morocco and Egypt?
Sure! Why not?

OSS 117: Cairo, Nest Of Spies (2006) -
OSS 117 is the codename for Hubert Bonisseur de La Bath, a secret agent created by Jean Bruce, a French fiction
writer. OSS 117 is originally an American Colonel from Louisiana of French descent. After service in the O.S.S.,
he worked for the C.I.A., then the National Security Council. The first OSS book was released in 1949.
The film is set in 1955 and 117 is sent to Cairo to investigate the death of OSS agent jack Jefferson, an ex-partner.
There have been OSS 117 movies before, but this one is different. Instead of trying to modernize Hubert and his world,
the creative team decided to make a period parody of the spy genre. The film is set in 1955 and tries its best to
look it in every respect: clothing, haircuts, cars, attitudes, body language, fight scenes, sets, smoking, drinking.
This is not a PC film, nor is it vulgar. It's actually a slick, classy affair totally unlike "Austin Powers".
Hubert is very French and very colonialist and insults the Cairo natives without even realizing it. There's a bit
of the Maxwell Smart in him, and some James Bond. He's good-looking, confident, and women throw themselves at him.
I was amused at the many clichéed periods bits shoehorned into this film. A rear-projection is used whenever the
characters are in a car and talking. The knife used in two separate fights is the identical obviously fake rubber
practice knife (my brother had one). OSS 117 actually assumes the infamous "Knee-Up" position (see MST3K "The Giant
Gila Monster") no less than FOUR TIMES! Hubert fights off Russians, Germans (Nazis!), and a goofy Belgian spy.
Night scenes are shot in the day with filters. The film is all shot in close-ups and medium shots and plan shots.
There's no ADD-editing, no Matrix fireworks, no CGI, no motion capture, it's all simple and straightforward.
It's very colorful, using palettes of the era, and has that "obvious film fakery" je-ne-sais-quoi vibe.
The film is in French with English subtitles, so obviously, I turned the subtitles off. :D
However, I had to rewind and watch certain scenes with the subtitles turned back on because some characters spoke in
Arabic (these scenes were subtitled in French in the original French version), and I only speak Bad Arabic. :D
OSS 117 is played by Jean Dujardin, a terrific performer who deserves a long and fruitful movie career.
And poking around IMDB reveals an OSS 117 sequel currently filming! WOO HOO!!!
And I see that he's also slated to play famous French comicbook cowboy Lucky Luke in an upcoming live action movie.
Which doesn't surprise me one bit because he definitely looks the part.
So anyway, I really enjoyed the film! It's good-looking and funny!
And on top of that, the DVD also includes a making of, a gag reel, and deleted scenes.
This is the newly-released Region 1 DVD version and it should be available everywhere.
If you're in the mood for some good clean classy retro-50's spy fun in French, Dr. Zrath prescribes some OSS 117.
Vive la France!

Iron Man (2008) - "Aw come on, this is not the most embarassing thing you've ever caught me doing."
You must see this movie. I don't care who you are or what you like, you must see this movie.
Rent it, buy it, watch it, cherish it, LOVE IT!!
My favorite movie of 2008.
'Nuff said. :D

Voodoo (1995)
When I did the "10 Things I've Done That You Probably Haven't" meme recently, I mentioned being in this film.
I also mentioned not knowing for sure I was in this movie. So I rented it to check.
About 35 minutes into the movie, I'm in it. I have screen captures! Watch for them soon, in a separate post.
I didn't watch the movie all the way through. It's some low-budget turd with Corey Feldman.
He's the new kid on campus and he gets invited to join the creepy fraternity run by a preppy voodoo priest.
Or some crap. I think it turns out the other frat guys are zombies, the original still-living kind.
Bad movie! Bad! No chicken!

Eureka - Season 1 (2006) - Sheriff: "Why does this dummy head look like me?" - Henry: "Oh, they're generic."
I caught the premiere episode of this TV show back when I had cable, and it looked interesting.
When my Netflix queue's movie backlog was cleared, I started putting TV shows in it. This was one of them.
And you know, it's not bad at all. The concept is intriguing: a small town somewhere in America that's actually
a large government thinktank and research facility. The "Half-Life" fan in me is tickled by this premise. :)
Colin Ferguson plays the US Marshall who stumbles across the town, helps them solve a case, then winds up becoming
the new sheriff. He brings a certain down-to-earth and chaotic touch that complements most of the town's highly
logical and scientific mindset. He sees things that they don't. The supporting cast is diverse and interesting.
Joe Morton (Miles Dyson from "T2") plays Henry, tow truck driver and ex-NASA shuttle engineer, and forensics,
and just about anything else you can think. Matt "Max Headroom" Frewer (gosh it's nice to see him working again!)
plays Jim Taggart, an Australian cryptozoologist who seems like a tall, gangly version of Steve Irwin.
Salli Richardson (last seen in "I Am Legend") plays Allison Blake, the Department of Defense liaison between
Eureka and the Pentagon. Also, she is very SEXAY!! RRRRRRROOOOOOWWWWWWRRR!!!
Ahem...
Tamlyn Tomita was in a few episodes. There's a name I hadn't heard in a long time! :)
And there's some other people who fill out the rest of the cast and all have their quirks.
The show is fun and geeky and dramatic and I'm Netflixing Season 2 as we speak.
Good stuff!


STREAMFLIXING

March Or Die (1977) - o/~ Tiens! Voila du boudin! Voila du boudin! Voila du boudin! o/~
This little gem was in my Netflix Save Queue for a while. There didn't seem to be any DVD version released.
Then about 4 days, I glanced at my Save list and noticed the dark blue PLAY button next to the movie title.
That usually means the title can be watched with "Instant Play" (aka Streamflix).
How bizarre, thought I, that this movie not be available from Netflix on DVD but viewable online.
So I clicked the button and watched "March Or Die".
The video quality was pretty awful. It looked like a VHS dub taped off one of the Starz cable channels.
This is a French Foreign Legion film, set in 1920 Morocco. It stars an international cast: Gene Hackman, Rufus,
Catherine Deneuve, Terence Hill ("My Name Is Trinity"), Max Von Sydow, Ian Holm, and an uncredited Richard Kiel.
The film opens at the end of WWI, with a rather moving scene of wounded soldiers disembarking a train in a
Paris station and being greeted by a crowd who promptly stars singing "La Marseillaise" (the French anthem).
We then see some German prisoners joining the Legion because it certainly beats the alternative.
We're introduced to other various characters, then the whole kit and kaboodle gets sent to Morocco, under the
command of Major Foster (Gene Hackman), the token American, who is haunted by his memories of the Great War.
His command is assigned to protect a group of archaeologists at their dig. And to find out what happened to the
previous archaelogists. Morocco is divided in various tribes and it's a dangerous place.
It's your basic Foreign Legion film, a bit like "Beau Geste" and its derivatives, though more modern.
And it was fun to hear bits of "Le Boudin", the official march of the Legion.
Hard to find and only of interest to Legion and/or desert war movie buffs.

Devo In The Land Of The Rising Sun (2003) - "...And now, we've got a retarded cowboy in charge of the country."
Simple concert film of Devo playing in Tokyo in 2003. Lots of delirious incoherent Japanese Devo fans. :)
The set list covers the first four albums:
That's Good - Girl U Want - Whip It - Satisfaction - Uncontrollable Urge - Mongoloid - Blockhead - Jocko Homo -
Smart Patrol/Mr. DNA - Gut Feeling/Slap Your Mammy - Gates of Steel - Freedom of Choice - Come Back Jonee.
I was reminded that some of these tunes ROCK HARD!
In between the tunes, there's some footage of Devo being interviewed and other things. It's during one of those that
Mark Mothersbaugh is asked how he felt about America right now (2003). He answered that America is a mixture of good
things and bad archaic things that are no good for anyone. He went on to say that Devo never believed that there was
"no future", that there was a future and that it was ugly, and they were right! And that's when he talked about
the "retarded cowboy". Holy smokes! My friends, we must break the cycle of Devolution. You know what to do next month.
(Whoops, I subverted the intent of Netflixing and turned it political.)
Anyway, Devo still rocks.
BE HAPPY OR NOT!


Tags:
zrath: Zrath-Smiley as a TRON program (Vroom)


I Netflixed and watched "Speed Racer" on Thursday Night.
Yes, the soopa-psychedelic "Deeelite"-esque motion picture.
AND I LIKED IT!
Also, the theme has been stuck in my head ever since.
Not just the original TV theme or the movie megamix, oh nooooo!!
I also have the early '90s Alpha Team techno remix stuck in there!!
AND the Alpha Team extended "naughty" mix!
And I keep cross-mixing everything and making soopadoopamegaremixes!
AAAAARRRRRRGGGGHHHH!!!!

Okay, it's really not so bad.

So anyway, yes, "Speed Racer", the reviled-for-unknown-reasons Wachowski Brothers movie.
I enjoyed it, it was fun, and it made sense in its own way.
It had cartoon physics, cartoon plot, cartoon humor, and live-action characters acting like cartoons.
It's a cartoon movie based on a cartoon TV show. Where exactly is the problem here?
Is it because certain people still feel butthurt (HAR! New slang!) over the Matrix sequels? Get over it!

I was ragging on this movie for using all-CGI cars but after seeing it, I understand why they did it.
They're some seriously insane car-fu in there and there's no way in hell you can do it in live-action.
Also, the racetracks are pure videogame fantasy. Again, impossible to do in real-life. So CGI makes sense.
"Speed Racer" starts being funny for me in the middle and stays funny until the end.
My favorite line is in French and not subtitled. During a race, a certain character completely loses it and pulls
out a .45 pistol. The reaction of the French race commentator is priceless, especially since he's been talking in
French-accented English the whole time. He goes native and exclaims: "Putain de sa mère, il a un flingue!"
Which contextually translates to "son of a bitch, he's got a gun!" (rod, heater, gat, "flingue" is slang for gun)
LOL!
I definitely want this on DVD.

Also, me being me, I am intrigued at the theoritical engineering involved in some of the race cars.
Especially the T-180 racers, with their 4-wheel steering system controlled by top-mounted roto-rings.
Are the wheels actually powered, or is the car propulsed by exhaust from the babbletech power plant?
Because if the wheels are powered, than means an electrical motor inside each wheel, which is not unheard of.
I've seen plenty of experimental vehicles with wheelmotors or hubmotors.
You'd need to run power cables from the power plant to the wheelmotors.
It's simple on conventional vehicles, really tricky on T-180s, but not impossible.
Just thinking out loud...

So anyway, if you want to experience some overly colorful sci-fi cartoony racing, "Speed Racer" is pretty much it!
Otherwise, wait for "Death Race" to hit DVD. (HAR!)


Tags:
zrath: Zrath-Smiley as a TRON program (Freakazoo)


Netflix keeps sending me stuff, and I keep watching it!
It's like cinematic Tetris! Sort of...
Anyway, onwards!

Freakazoid - Season 1 - "Pineapples. Hula girls! Surfboards. Hula girls! Hula girls! Hula girls!"
12 years after it went off the air, Warner Bros finally got off its massive suited duff and put this on DVD.
"Freakazoid" is probably the most bizarre cartoon to ever be put on broadcast television AND to be approved
for production by someone of Steven Speilberg's caliber (namely, Steven Speilberg).
Freakazoid is the alter-ego of one Dexter Douglas, a 16 year-old computer nerd who got accidentally sucked
into "Cyberspace" by a faulty chip. Yeah, well, you know, this was 1995. Anyway, he absorbed the knowledge
of the whole Internet and went cuckoo. So Freakazoid's real superpower is his insanity, which he uses to
utterly befuddle and confuse his enemies. The show contained tons of pop culture and current events
references and since it was in an early-morning time slot (you know, for kids!), it didn't do so well.
It ran for two seasons (24 episodes total) and zhen, zee plug, she was pulled!
Season 1 has 14 episodes spread over 3 sides of 2 DVDs (DVD #2 is a "flippy", with stuff on both sides).
There are commentaries on 3 episodes: 1 and 2, and whichever one has the E.T. parody.
All 3 commentaries feature Paul Rugg (writer/story editor/Freakazoid voice), John MCann (writer/story editor),
and Tom Ruegger (senior producer/writer). There are a few bonus features, nothing spectacular: a 17-minute
"making of" thing chronicling the creation of "Freakazoid", and a collection of amusing Freakazoid-less
"Freakazoid" promos. Kids' WB needed promos for "Freakazoid" but there was no footage available yet, so the
Freakacrew whipped up a languid monochrome cruise ship vacation spot thing with a relaxed female voice-over.
Then they reused the animation 6 more times while changing the voice-over and the onscreen text.
The show is just as deranged and scatterbrained as I remember it to be. It's frankly pretty stupid at times
but it's still better than what comes out of Cartoon Network and Adult Swim these days.
I will no doubt own this eventually. :D

The Call Of Cthulhu - in Mythoscope!!
I was recently made aware of the existence of this 47-minute silent film adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft's book
by the magical and mystical [livejournal.com profile] defenbaugh. To my great surprise, Netflix actually had it!
The movie was realized by a group calling themselves the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society.
They set about making a 1920's style silent black and white flick with mostly period special effects.
And you know what? It's pretty darn cool! It really captures the old-school moviemaking vibe!
If you're at all interested in the big guy with the mouth tentacles, you need to rent (or buy) this puppy!

Jumper - "Why are you walking?" "I like to walk for a change. Makes me feel normal."
So, apparently, Nightcrawler isn't the only one who can teleport. Whiny teenagers can do it too. :D
Okay okay, Hayden Christensen is not a teenager (anymore) and he's less whiny here.
He plays a young man who can teleport, and it works just like Nightwalker's power: he has to see where
he is going. This also works with photographs, interestingly enough. He eventually discovers that someone
is chasing after him and that there's a secret society dedicated to the eradication of "Jumpers".
Samuel L. Jackson is one of those "Paladins". The movie is a veritable travelogue, with our Jumper jumping
all over the world. The film isn't very good though. The special effects are pretty spectacular, with
teleportation portrayed as a violent disruption of the space-time continuum, as opposed to a simple camera
trick accompanied by a goofy sound effect. But the acting is pretty flat and there's no chemistry.
Rent it for the effects.

The Bank Job -
Based on a true story, and with some extra stuff added to make it interesting, this film gives Jason Statham
a much-needed break from his usual run of mindless actioners and allows him to stretch his other acting muscles.
Set in 1971, "The Bank Job" revolves around a group of low-rent London criminals led by Statham who are
tricked by an old flame of Statham into breaking into a bank vault so that she can retrieve some incriminating
blackmail photos of a certain royal personage taken by a Trinidadese black power leader (a nasty piece of work).
The rest of the gang is totally unaware of this and they're simply planning to take as much loot as they can
and retire. Unfortunately, some of the bank's customers are less than savory characters and they won't let
their property simply disappear. Things spin out of control as different factions vie for different items.
There's some really good performances there and a great recreation of early '70s London.
This is a British film with a British cast so not too many names are familiar to me. Aside from Jason Statham,
I recognized Saffron Burrows as the old flame and David Suchet, who's done tons of stuff.
Another film I watched with the English subtitles turned on to catch all the Britishisms. :D
This is an excellent thriller and caper film, and I heartily recommend it to all!


Tags:
zrath: Zrath-Smiley as a TRON program (The Thing)


Yes, it's been months and months and months since I've posted some Netflixing.
So let's chip away at the gigantic pile of flix, oui? Oui!
Don't be surprised if you see me mention the Sibling's opinions of certain movies.
Like I said, it's been a looooooooong time since I've posted some Netflixing.

Before The Devil Knows You're Dead (2007)
Sidney Lumet is alive and well and still directing rings around other directors. You may have heard of him,
he directed a few little films like "12 Angry Men", "Dog Day Afternoon", and "Network". Yeah...
This movie is about a robbery gone absolutely, utterly, and completely wrong, and the catastrophic
consequences arising thereof. And of course, you don't discover the extent of the catastrophe all at once.
Oh nooooooo. It's fed to you in little bits, with multiple viewpoint flashbacks. This movie is a series
of "OHMYGOD!" moments, as you gradually realize the full HORROR of the circumstances. Not a happy film!
Turning in some very strong performances are Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ethan Hawke, Marisa Tomei,
Albert Finney, and Rosemarie Harris (Aunt May from the "Spider-Man" movies!).
Hoffman looks a bit like TV's Frank (Frank Coniff) from MST3K in this, so I kept trying to imagine Frank
acting out some of the scenes in the movie, and urrrrr, it didn't work. The movie is just too grim!
The title of the film is taken from an apparently Irish expression that goes:
"May you be in heaven a full half hour before the devil knows you're dead."
This movie was loved by critics, but nobody went to see it.
It's a shame, because it's really good. Though it is very grim.

Fantastic Four (1994)
And speaking of grim, Ben or otherwise...
Oh my god, this animated series is soooooooooo BAD!!
Here's the blurb from Netflix: "Featuring first-rate animation and nonstop action, this popular TV series
follows the adventures of the planet's most renowned superheroes: Mr. Fantastic, the Invisible Woman,
the Human Torch and the Thing. Banding together, the fearsome foursome use their powers to thwart
the malevolent plans of miscreants, including the despicable Dr. Doom and his villainous myrmidons."
Okay, first of all, the animation is anything but first-rate. And the character design is as bland as
bland can be! I could not believe this was made in 1994! It looked like your basic mid-'80s Sat-AM fare!
The characters all look the same, Johnny Storm is very buff for no good reason, the voice acting blows,
the writing is atrocious, the music is awful, and can you believe they actually used the word
"myrmidons" in the above blurb? Did Stan Lee write this? Oy gevalt, as Ben Grimm might say.
When you see crap like that, it's hard to believe that, at the time, "Batman: The Animated Series"
had already been on the air for over two years! Marvel obviously learned nothing from it.
Anyway, yeah, I hated it.

Fantastic Four: World's Greatest Heroes Volumes 1-2-3 (2006)
Wait a minute, didn't we just leave this party?!!? Oh no, this is totally different!
Produced by a French company called Moonscoop, this series has been airing on Cartoon Network.
It mixes traditional 2D animation with 3D CGI and the character design is very anime-ish.
But you know what? It works! It's kinda weird at first, but you get used to it.
The writing is much better than the previous series! It's still a kid's show but it's not lame like the
previous series did. And it's just a lot of fun. Johnny and Ben prank each other, Johnny screams like a
little girl when stressed, and Reed Richards spends a lot of time doing what he does best: super science!
I've rented all 3 volumes currently available (each one has 4 episodes on it) and I want more!
So I checked Wikipedia (hee hee) and it looks like 26 episodes were made in all!
And a boxset containing all 26 episodes will be released on June 10th! Oh my! I may have to get that.
So, urrrrrrr, yeah, I like it. And the theme music is nice: minimalistic and somewhat Bond-ish.

The Descent (2006)
It's that movie about the chicks who go down into a cave, become trapped, and get stalked by monstahs!
I didn't watch it, but what I glimpsed reminded me a bit of "Alien" for spelunkers.
That's a fun word. Spelunkers, spelunkers, spelunkers.
Anyway, the Sibling seemed to enjoy it for its horror movie monster goodness.
And it's not about a bunch of cheerleaders, like the bizarrely-designed poster seemed to suggest.
(Yeah, I know it's supposed to be a skull. Some people still thought it was about cheerleaders.)

Hot Rod (2007)
Another crap SNL movie. I have no idea why I thought it had potential. It's just another piece of turd
expelled by Saturday Night Live, a show that ceased being funny a decade ago.
Makes me want to rent the SNL Season 1 and 2 (and 3 and 4 and 5) DVDs...

Interstella 5555 (2003)
This one is a bit odd. It's a Leiji Matsumoto anime film set to Daft Punk's entire "Discovery" album.
There is no dialogue at all, and I seem to remember a few sound effects here and there, but I could be wrong.
If you ever saw "Starblazers"/"Spacecruiser Yamato" and/or "Captain Harlock", then you're already familiar
with Matsumoto's style. It's a really nice piece of anime eyecandy with an actual plot, just no dialogues.
If you like Matsumoto and/or Daft Punk, y'all should check it out.

More later...


Tags:
zrath: Zrath-Smiley as a TRON program (Snotty)


Starting tomorrow, Monday January 14th 2008, Netflix's "Watch Instantly" feature, which I've nicknamed "Streamflix", goes unlimited!
Netflix will no longer allocate a monthly maximum viewing time based on the type of DVD rental account you have.
(I pay $18 a month for 3 DVDs @ a time, so I get 18 hours of Streamflixing)
You'll be able to watch all you want, as much as you want.
Only people with the supercheapskate $4.95/month account don't get to enjoy this new feature.
Apparently, this may be a reaction to some new nefarious Apple plot. :)
More details here:

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080113/ap_on_hi_te/unlimited_netflix_6

(News and link courtesy of [livejournal.com profile] m_tiger! Thanks kitty!)

(Said in Droopy Dog voice) "You know what, folks? I'm happy".


zrath: Zrath-Smiley as a TRON program (MST3K)


By the way...

I keep forgetting to mention that I have a free 1-month Netflix friends and family trial e-mail pass thingy available.

So who wants free Netflix for a month!?!??!


Reply with your e-mail address.
All answers are screened to protect your info.


Tags:
zrath: Zrath-Smiley as a TRON program (Pirate)


Arrr mateys! It be Talk Like A Pirate Day today, so be arrrrrrty!!
And have some non-piratey Netflixing!


The Corsican File aka "L'Affaire Corse", starring Jean Reno and Christian Clavier.
I found this one while viewing Jean Reno's page on IMDB. It looked like fun so I rented it. I was a bit apprehensive though
because last time Jean and Christian were together, that was in the "Les Visiteurs" films (1, 2, 3, and "Just Visiting"),
and Christian Clavier was acting like Louis De Funès or Robin Williams on methamphetamines!
I was happy to discover that he had calmed down since, as he played the role of put-upon Parisian private eye with
appropriate restraint and amusing mundaness. Monsieur Clavier plays Jack Palmer (real name Rémy François), a gumshoe
hired by an attorney to locate Ange Léoni, a hard-to-find Corsican gangster-type, who seems to have inherited a rather
sumptious mansion in Central France. Little does the P.I. know that the amusingly-named attorney (Maitre D'Argent) is
in fact a law enforcement type trying to lure Ange out of hiding. Palmer travels to Corsica and hilarity ensues.
This is pretty much a fish-out-of-water story, with the Parisian trying to cope with Corsica's quirkiness.
Much like the Spaniards and Italians, Corsicans are proud, family-oriented and quick to take affront.
One of their more endearing traits is the habit of blowing shit up, though usually at night when no one's there.
Also, the last Corsican put in charge of a country almost conquered the world. Napoléon Bonaparte, I'm looking at you.
At times, it feels a bit like "Astérix In Corsica", but it's really all in good fun. If you're curious as to why
Corsicans feel insulted when you tell them they're French, this movie will tell you all you need to know. However...
The DVD is pretty crappy. The transfer is not very good and some scenes look washed-out.
The movie is in French with English subtitles only. The DVD does not use the language and subtitle options of the DVD
player. The English subtitles are hardwired into the movie, so 1) you can't turn them off and 2) they are at the bottom
edge of the movie area. Since the protagonist wears white a lot, the subtitles have a tendency to disappear. Outstanding!
I can't really recommend this to non-French speakers because of this.
Also, the dialogue is so heavily accented that really good French-speaking skills are required.
But, if you understand French, check it out! It's a lot of fun!

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - the newish CGI film
I'm not really a fan of the Turtles, but I was curious. And the Sibling is a martial artist, so he was curious too.
The movie was okay. It had the characters I vaguely knew from seeing the toys at Toys'R'Us over the years.
I totally did not recognize Patrick Stewart voicing the immortal general. It was fun and not stupid. So yea!

Apocalypto - a really cool film that a lot of people probably missed seeing because it's by "Crazy Mel Gibson!".
If you're into ancient civilizations and watch as much Discovery Channel as I do, you can't pass up seeing this film.
It's really impressive in its reconstruction of Aztec life prior to the Europeans' arrival.
It's also an interesting study of cityfolk versus countryfolk, as the forest-dwelling natives are captured and brought
to the city to be sacrificed to the angry god, and we see the contrast between them and the city dwellers.
The leader of the city warriors reminded me oddly of Christopher Lloyd. Not the crazy Christopher Lloyd seen in "Taxi"
or "Back To The Future", but the serious, professional side that you don't often see. The warrior was, of course, a lot
more muscular, but the facial expressions and mannerisms were spookily similar to Christopher Lloyd's.
Overall, I enjoyed the film. It's only as brutal as things actually were brutal back then.

The Fourth Man - Noted pervert Paul Verhoeven serves up torrid hallucinatory gay porno nightmare
While watching the documentary "Z Channel: A Magnificent Obsession", I wrote down a few movie titles that had been shown
on Z Channel but I had missed for one reason or another (probably being too young and not into the subject matter).
This 1983 Dutch release was one of them. Knowing next to nothing about it, I Netflixed it and watched it with the Sibling.
It's about this hallucination-prone lecherous catholic gay novelist (with me so far?) who finds himself trapped into a
bizarre love triangle partly of his own making with a chick who looks like a blond version of a Nagel painting and her
lover who is some Germano-Dutch male model. There's occasional gore, copious WTF moments, and nudity, mostly male.
And to make things even worse, it's in Dutch with English subtitles. Dutch sounds like German and Flemish in a blender.
I wanted my money back.

300 - "Spartans! Tonight, we laugh all the way to the bank!"
I saw this in the theaters and enjoyed it a lot. The art direction is totally awesome and the movie's just plain fun.
Watching it at home revealed how inadequate a 27-inch Sony TV was to the task of doing it justice.
I do not for a single second entertain the remote possibility that this is historically accurate in any way.
But it's sure a lot of fun to watch. More fun than "Troy" even.


Tags:
zrath: Zrath-Smiley as a TRON program (Hellboy)


Dang, I'm just unstoppable today.
Here's a nice, short little bit of Netflixing.
Only three titles this time.


Hellboy: Blood And Iron - "Lady, I was going to cut you some slack because you're a major mythological figure..."
This is the second Hellboy OVA and I daresay it's much better than the first one, which was good but okay.
Professor Broom is in this one and the narrative alternates between present-day and the Professor's very first assignment.
I don't want to say anymore because of the way the story is set up, but I will say one thing: if the sight of blood makes
you uneasy, even if it's animated blood, you REALLY don't want to rent this one. It's called "Blood And Iron" for a reason.
Ron Perlman, Selma Blair, Doug Jones and John Hurt reprise their roles from the film, with an assortment of cartoon voice
regulars filling out the rest of the cast (Cree Summer, Rob Paulsen, Jim Cummings, Kath Souci).
The writing is solid and the story structure is interesting.
I watched this Sunday Night with Warren "Whisky" No-LJ and we had a great time.
Worth renting and worth owning.

Blood And Chocolate - aka "Werewolves In Luuuuuuuuv"
So this is kinda like "Underworld", except there are no vampires and there's a lot less gunplay.
It's romantic and schmaltzy and I guess it's a date movie. In Bucharest, or is it Budapest, there's this beautiful girl
who is a werewolf and works in a chocolaterie. She meets an American graphic novel artist who happens to be
researching werewolves for his next book. He is very persistent and she begins to fall for him.
But the Pack is not happy about this, and there's some politics and power struggles and things go bad.
It's an unremarkable film thankfully devoid of excessive gore and nastiness. The weres go from human to wolf really fast
and with a minimum of weird body-transformation, so don't go expecting "An American Werewolf In London".
Overall, it's rather blah, and only for hopeless romantics with low expectations.

Music And Lyrics - Remember the '80s? You will!!
A romantic comedy starring Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore, this turned out to be a lot funnier than we expected.
Yes, I watched this one with the Sibling last night, and we were both laughing a lot.
Hugh Grant plays the unsuccessfull half of a Wham-style '80s duo who suddenly gets tapped to write a song for Cora,
the ruling Queen Of Pop, a little-girl-faced artist patterned after Britney and the other interchangeable pop bimbos.
He's a lousy songwriter and has no idea how he's going to pull it off. In this modern age, he's lucky to get the occasional
theme park gig, so this is his chance to get out of the hole that his career has turned into and bounce back.
Into his life stumbles Drew Barrymore, playing a geeky ditzy dame with a natural talent for songwriting.
Hugh has to chase her down and almost tie her to a chair to get her to cooperate. And, urrrr, she likes it. :)
The writing is very enjoyable, with Hugh delivering some devastatingly funny lines in a very English sort of wryness.
Drew is bubbly and neurotic and reminds me of several people I know.
Sample funny dialogue:
Hugh - "The best time I've had in the last fifteen years was sitting at that piano with you."
Drew - "That's wonderfully sensitive... Especially from a man who wears such tight pants."
Hugh - "It forces all the blood to my heart."
Supporting cast includes the very tall and funny Brad Garrett as Hugh's agent, and the almost as tall and no less funny
Kristen Johnston ("3rd Rock From The Sun") as Drew's older sister who happens to worship Hugh's character.
If you grew up in the '80s and watched MTV religiously, you will find this even funnier than most.
A friend told me that Martin Fry of ABC (the pop group) had advised Hugh Grant on '80s dancing and singing,
but his name did not appear anywhere in the credits and he is not mentioned in the making of. Hmmmmmmm...
Okay-okay, one last bit of sample dialogue:
Hugh, singing - "Sleeping with a clown above my bed..."
Hugh, speaking - "'Clown' is not right."
Drew - "That's 'cloud'. Why would you put a clown in your bed?"
Hugh - "It would not be the first time."
As you can see, I really liked this movie. :)
So go rent it! NOW! I'll wait... :D


zrath: Zrath-Smiley as a TRON program (Colossus)


Doop dee doo...

So I got an e-mail from Netflix, saying "Hey Mr. Kzin!! We lowered the price of your monthly sub! Ain't that cool?!?".
And then, in a lower voice, "By the way, we can, urrrr, stream movies to your computer now".
O RLY? "YA RLY!"
Dang!
So yeah, Netflix now streams movies to your computer using a browser plug-in which probably interfaces with WiMP.
Since I have cable modem at home, I have good throughput and the picture quality is nice.
It's like watching a DVD on the computer. There's even a full-screen mode without any control panels or distractions.
Netflix says they have 3,000 titles so far and they keep adding stuff.
I watched the first 10 minutes of "THX 1138" to try out the system and it looked good.
This is going to be really handy for catching up on stuff I don't want to rent and for sampling new things!
If you remember where the cursor was when you stopped watching, you can restart the stream and drag the cursor to that point.
I'm not sure how or if one can access the special features and/or extras of the film. That may be added later.
For TV shows, there's a Play button for each episode of the selected DVD. They have lots of "Doctor Who" and "Red Dwarf". :)
And I just spotted "Ice Pirates" and "Heavy Metal"! Woo hoo!! I ain't seen those in a while!
It's all pretty new and it just went up so they're still building it and tinkering with it.
You're given a certain amount of streaming hours per billing period based on how much you pay.
I'm paying about $15 a month (2 discs at once), so I get 15 hours of streaming time.
(I downgraded from 3 discs to 2 discs after the TV died. I'm going back up to 3 discs soon since I have a TV again.)
The streaming time does not roll over from month to month, so it's use-it-or-lose-it. It's a nice bonus though!
I mean, it doesn't cost anything over the price of normal DVD rental, and heck, they just lowered their prices!
So anyway, that's all pretty nifty!
One more -flixing to add to my arsenal:
Netflixing, Homeflixing, Theaterflixing, Friendflixing, and now Streamflixing. :)


zrath: Zrath-Smiley as a TRON program (2 Stupid Dogs)


This one took forever to put together!! But at least, I'm all caught up now.

I'm huge! I'm immense! )

o/~ Idi, Idi, Idi Amin
Most amazing man that you ever seen
He be the general, the president, the king of the scene
Idi, Idi, Idi Amin o/~


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zrath: Zrath-Smiley as a TRON program (Hexy Baby)


Hey kids! Guess what?
It's time for Netflixing!
And boy howdy, have we got some doozies for all y'all!!
Start the projector, Mr. Reel!


Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind - Okay, look, Jim Carrey can act, awright? Look closely at this film.
Okay, this is wacky french dude Michel Gondry's first film, from back in 2004, and it's pretty deep.
Jim is a guy who seems to be falling for this wacky hair-dyeing chick played by Kate Winslet, but then he finds out that
said chick underwent an electronic brain operation to excise all memories of him from his mind. So he decides to have the
same thing done to him, but during the procedure, he realizes he really loves her and tries to hide memories of her.
Half the film is spent in Jim's mind as the brain "formatting" is under way and it gives Gondry a chance to do all sorts of
wacky mindbending stuff with time, space and reality. Someone online mentioned that if Kurt Vonnegut had ever written a
love story, it would have kinda looked like this, and I tend to agree. Slow-starting at first but quickly picks up speed.
Makes for an interesting date movie. :)
(Yes, I know I used the word "wacky" three times in this review. No, I don't care.)

Seraphim Falls - Dueling Irishmen playing Americans! Union and Confederate enemies post-Civil War!
Liam Neeson (Irish!) and Pierce Brosnan (Irish!) play bitter Americans, both veterans of the Civil War, on opposite sides.
Pierce is being chased by Liam and 4 unsavory characters he hired (including the kid who played Stacey Peralta in
"Lords Of Dogtown", and Ed Lauter who's been in tons of TV shows and B-movies, mostly as police or military types).
But I'm kinda cheating by telling you this because you have no idea what's going on when the movie starts. All you know
is that Pierce is all alone, up in the mountains, in the snow, trying to make it, and some asshole shoots him in the arm.
Then you see Liam and his four ruffians chasing Pierce, but you don't know why. Eventually, as the movie unreels, you're
given some information as to what's going on. You're not sure who to root for, maybe Pierce, maybe Liam, maybe no one.
Pierce is pushed to do some gruesome things in order to survive. So this film is rated R for a reason.
It's not gratuitous, it's just survival, honest and brutal. Worth checking out.

Arthur And The Minimoys Invisibles - Luc Besson tries his hand at big-budget kids flicks, wait, what?
So yeah, Mr. Fifth Professional Nikita apparently wrote or co-wrote some kids books in his copious spare time, and this film
is an adaptation of the first book. And hey, check it out! Bonus gratuitous title change! Eventhough the little bitty
troll-doll-like creatures are called "Minimoys", the title was changed to "Arthur And The Invisibles". Urrrr, aaaanyway...
Plot? You want plot? How's this? House is gonna be foreclosed unless Grandpa returns, and with major bling-bling!
Unfortunately, Grandpa's been missing for a while, and there's not enough bling to stave off Snidely Whiplash over here.
Grandpa is an eccentric globetrotting inventor and who knows where he could be? Arthur, our 10 year-old hero, likes Grandpa
very much and is desperately trying to figure out where he stashed The Treasure so he can save the house!
Live-action actors include Freddie Highmore (Charlie from the Johnny Depp Wonka film), Mia Farrow and that's pretty much it.
I mean, there are more, but none I've ever heard of. Most of the big-names are voicing the Minimoys.
The film is set in the US in the '60s, and Freddie Highmore's outrageous English accent is explained away by his attending
a private school in England and being home on vacation. From what I can tell, the live-action was shot in English and the
animation synched to the French dialogue. The animation was then dubbed in English for the American release.
English voices for the Minimoys include: Madonna (cute princess, sounding really young), Jimmy Fallon (comic relief,
sounding like Young Robin Williams), Robert De Niro (King Daddy), Harvey Keitel (some scientist troll), Chazz Palminteri
(bit part), Emilio Estevez (ditto), Snoop Dogg (some cool cat, I mean, troll, even moves like him), Jason Bateman
(as Darkos, the mentally-challenged son of the Big Bad Guy), and David Bowie (as Malthazard, the Big Bad Guy).
Okay, my biggest problem with this film is the music. Eric Serra is at the controls, as usual, but the music is too loud,
rather generic, and really just gets on my nerves. Eric's got no clue on how to score a movie of this type, and it's obvious.
Second biggest problem: the pacing. Sometimes, it's wacky-fun-fast like a cartoon. Sometimes, it's
While looking up something for this review, I came across this interesting "Original French Version Versus US Version"
comparaison posted in the IMDB message board. Link is here.
The American version seems to have been heavily sanitized by the Weinsteins, in addition to being generally mishandled,
and Luc Besson's anger seems justified now. Also, Harvey Weinstein recently called Luc Besson a has-been. YA RLY.
So, in view of this, I guess my third biggest problem with the film is the American "Sanitized For You Convenience" aspect.
But hey, you know, I'm not a kid. I'm sure kids will like this. It's pretty, it's fun, and it's magical.
So, great for kids, not so hot for adults. Bring earplugs.

The Faun's Pan's Labyrinth - the feel-good hit of last winter, NOT!!
Continuing the fine tradition of renaming stuff for the US, we have here Guillermo Del Toro's newest film:
El Laberinto Del Fauno, aka "The Faun's Labyrinth". Some executive(s) somewhere must have reasoned that the American
public didn't know what a faun was, so the film was retitled "Pan's Labyrinth", eventhough Pan's not in it, nor credited.
Anyway, this is a dark, mean, brutal film. It's pretty much the complete opposite of "Arthur And The Troll Dolls".
Set during the magical mystical time of 1944 fascist Spain, right after the wonderful little civil war that ended with
Generalissimo Francisco Franco in power, the film centers around Ophelia, a little girl very much into fairy tales.
Her mother has remarried and her stepfather is a brutal sadistic mean evil Spanish Army captain who makes Darth Vader look
like Pippy Longstockings (bonus points if you know what the hell I'm talking about :D ). Did I mention he was evil?
The family relocates to an old mill because Stepdaddy is busy crushing the rebel scum (I'm not even kidding).
The mother is pregnant and she really shouldn't have travelled all this way, so she's not feeling well. Ophelia goes out
to explore the area and discovers the old spooky hedge maze behind the mill. A fairy leads her to the center, where a
stone staircase sits, spiralling down into the ground. Down there she meets Pan The Faun, who's flippin' scary!
He tells her she's the reincarnated daughter of the King Of The Underground and blablabla (and no, it's not David Bowie),
and she needs to perform 3 tasks to return to the Underground Kingdom and take her place by Daddy's side (still not Bowie).
Is this real? Is she imagining it? Who knows? Clues point to both possibilities.
This is just the starting point, a lot of stuff happens in there with Evil Stepdad and the rebels and their sympathizers.
It's a good film, but it is brutal and depressing. And the blood, my god, the blood...
You have been warned.


And that's all for now.
I have a few more that I will post later.


Tags:
zrath: Zrath-Smiley as a TRON program (MST3K)


Theaterflixing

Because of the move and stuff, there's wasn't time nor money for going to the movies.
But the Sibling and I took time out last weekend to go see a movie at The Bridge Cinema.
We wanted to see the movie on IMAX, but it was sold out, so we saw it on the normal big screen instead.

Spider-Man 3 - "Look at poor lil' Green Goblin Junior. You gonna cry now?"
The film was not as bad as some people had led me to believe. I mean, sure, it was angsty and emo, but that's Spidey!
And the previous two films were certainly angsty. No, the thing I could have done without was MJ's musical numbers.
I mean, cripes! I thought she wanted to be a theater actress, and now she's SINGING!??! Maybe I missed something.
Anyway, the movie had lots of stuff going on. It was funny, it was gut-wrenching, and Bruce Campbell was French(?).
I liked it, but I liked "Spider-Man 2" more, mostly because Alfred Molina was simply awesome as Doc Ock.
If you don't like multi-tasking movies, you ain't gonna like this.
If you didn't see the previous two films, keep your perfect record! :D


Pre-Move Netflixing

Hell's Angels (1930) - "The first multi-million dollar talking picture!"
After watching Martin Scorsese's "The Aviator" again (we own the DVD), and seeing how much work Howard Hughes put into
"Hell's Angels", his WWI air war epic, I decided to actually rent the darn thing and see the results.
And I gotta say, for a film made in 1930, it's impressive and pretty good. And 2 hours long! And a it's a talkie!
Two brothers are visiting Germany with a German classmate. One of the brothers is a terrible womanizer and he fools around
with the wife of a German baron, who looks an awful lot like Pee-Wee Herman, and I wish I was kidding when I said this.
Anyway, Baron Von Herman comes home early and surprises the lovers. He seems to take things rather well, clicks his heels,
hands over his business card, and says to the womanizer: "my secondz vill visit you tomorrow mornink to arrange ze detailz".
At that point, I turned to Herr Brother and said "holy crap, I think he just challenged him to a duel".
And sure enough, the next morning, a couple of officers show up and mistake the womanizer's brother for the perpetrator.
And get this, the brother DOES NOTHING to dissuade them! He goes through with the duel and says nothing to his brother!
Definitely an older movie, with older values. The trio returns to Cambridge University, in England. The German student gets
recalled to Der Fatherland to fight in WWI. The brothers sign up for the Royal Air Corps. And the war is on!
You can tell this movie was done by a plane-loving control-freak because there are tons of planes in the air and the cockpit
footage really is cockpit footage! The cameras point at the pilot's faces and you can see the wind and the g-forces deform
their visages! Also, the film recreates the actual tactics and procedure used by German dirigible crews. I've seen countless
documentaries and specials on WWI, all of them just gave passing mentions that, yes, the Germans used dirigibles as bombers.
But they never explained how and never went into details. If you're an airplane buff, you must rent this film just for this!
The performances are a mixed bag. The film was originally silent, then was reshot with sound, and you can see that the actors
and actresses were used to perform in silent movies. The gestures and facial expressions are excessive, and the level of
melodrama can get pretty high. However, Jean Harlow's performance as a liberated woman is startingly ahead of its time.
Overall, it's a hell of a piece work. It's dated in some respects, of course, but for 1930, it's revolutionary.
My respect for Mr. Hughes has grown.

Rocky Balboa (2006) - "I think there's still something down there, in the basement..."
Rented at Le Frère's behest, this turned out better than expected.
Ol' Rocky's getting on in years. Adrian passed away a few years earlier. He's got a nice little restaurant and he makes a
great host. He's got a son who avoids him. His buddy still works at the meat plant. Meanwhile, in the boxing world, this
guy is beating everyone and makes it look easy. The crowds are getting tired of it. The guy needs a new challenge, or a
challenge at all since none of his opponents have been up to snuff. Those wacky guys at ESPN decide to get their computer
nerdsengineers to feed the stats of both the new guy and Rocky into a simulator and have them go one on one.
And Virtual Rocky wins! The new guy's agents see dollar signs and decide to have the fight for real. "Just an exhibition!"
On his own side, Rocky decides he wants to fight again, resumes training, and applies for the right license.
So I guess this is a film about doing what you want, what you feel is right, about not being too old for certain things.
Sometimes, old and busted kicks the new hotness' ass. :)

Happy Feet (2006) - "Yeah, I saw an animal do that once and then they rolled him over and he was dead."
This one was a little odd. I mean, okay, I actually dig the singing and dancing and general party atmosphere, and it's
actually really damn funny when the Latino penguins show up, but there's some weird stuff going on there. There's some
subtext about tradition, religion and nonconformalism and then it's got humans! Lots of humans! It becomes political fiction!
It's, I don't know, just weird. You know, they gave the Best Documentary Oscar to "An Inconvenient Truth" this year.
Did they give the Best Animated film Oscar to "Happy Feet" because of the ecological message? I mean, "Cars" was the usual
Pixar good, though not great, and what I've heard about "Monster House" ranges from "bleurgh!" to "super!".
I really wanted "Over The Hedge" to be nominated and to win. But, a PC Oscar win for "Happy Feet"? That would suck.
But I'm probably wrong...


Post-Move Netflixing

The Queen (2006) - "Oh dear lord, what did Diana do this time?"
Helen Mirren becomes HM Queen Elizabeth II right before your eyes in this film that recalls the painful week following
the death of Lady Diana in that fatal car crash in Paris. The monarchy's lack of reaction caused a lot of animosity from
the many thousands of people who were mourning her passing. Newly-elected Prime Minister Tony Blair had to do something...
In addition to rock-solid performances, you also get an interesting inside look at the workings of the Royal Family, all the
protocol and pomp and procedure surrounding the Royals. This is the kind of thing the brother and I really enjoy, these
gritty political dramas like "Thirteen Days" and to a certain degree "Good Night And Good Luck". But while I find "Ghost In
The Shell: Stand Alone Complex" riveting, he has a tendency to fall right asleep watching it, unless there's gunplay. :D
So anyway, really good stuff! And well-trained corgis FTW!!

Volver (2006)
I'm afraid Pedro Almadovar's films are not ones I'm interested in, so I didn't watch this.
It was rented for the The Sibling's perusal. I'm not sure if he liked it or not.


Netflix just delivered Blood Diamond, The Good Shepherd, and The Last King Of Scotland.
These will be reviewed at a later date.


zrath: Zrath-Smiley as a TRON program (The Bishop)
Theaterflixing:

Pathfinder - aka "Spamfinder", because it's full of bloody Vikings! :D
Okay, so there's these Vikings, and they land in Northern America somewhere and pillage and murder a village of Indians
American Indians Native Americans, and one of the Vikings' kid is left behind because he's a wimp and he wouldn't
decapitate one of the natives. Or is he left behind because the Drakkar he was on had a horrible traffic accident on its way
out? It's not clear in my mind anymore. Anyway, a kindly Ind... Amer... Native American woman takes the Vikingling in.
The village council is all, like, "do not bring your evil here", and the Chief is, like, "STFU, the kid has a DESTINY!".
So the Vikingling stays and grows up to be a fine Native American Viking and finds a hottie Pocahontas who's already taken.
And then, a large force of bloody Vikings return and hilarity ensues! And by hilarity, I mean wholesale slaughter and death.
Can our Vikindian defend his village from the Spamlovers? Well, no. He was out hunting. Whoopsie. Okay, can he save the
other village from the Spamlovers? The village which harbors his Pocahontas Of Luuuuv? Maaaaaaaaaaaaybeeeee!
The film seems to be shot in black and white and grey with a touch of blue.
It's filmed in Canadaland during the winter, so it's all mountainous and snowy and cold and misty-foggy.
The film is kinda like "The New World" (remember that snoozefest?) but colder and with Vikings and an actual plot.
It's still a b-movie though. Worth a rental if you like Vikings and/or Indians American Indians Native Americans.

Hot Fuzz - Disclaimer: I have not seen "Shaun Of The Dead", and I probably won't for quite some time.
This Simon Pegg film is a better remake of "The Wicker Man" than the actual remake with Nicholas Cage!! :D
London supercop gets promoted to small sleepy village with slightly eccentric denizens.
He got promoted because he's a goddamned overachiever and he makes the rest of the force look bad.
Anyway, people in sleepy village start dying but they're all accidents! Really! They're not muuuur-deeeers! That's crazy!
The film is seriously funny and parodies Hollywood buddy-cop movies in amusing and very English ways.
Aside from Simon Pegg, the movie stars Edward Woodward (the Original Wicker Man!), Timothy Dalton (that suave bastard!),
Jim Broadbent, Bill Nighy, and these are just the ones I'm familiar with. I bet Anglophiles will recognize more.
The film is hilarious, with some action and some gruesome moments quickly defused with more humor. Rated R.
So, yeah, I liked it. The sibling didn't see it though, he opted to go see "300" again.
"Bring the noise!"


Netflixing:

Curse Of The Golden Flower - In China, there are a lot of people. This is handy for massive battle scenes.
The newest film from Yimou Zhang ("Hero" and "House Of The Flying Daggers"), an adaptation of a classic
1920's Chinese dramatic play set during the Tang Dynasty, a time of opulence and wealth (check these costumes and sets!).
Gong Li plays the Empress, who must drink medicine prescribed by the Emperor every two hours. The Emperor, played by Chow
Yun-Fat (and looking a leeeeetle bit like my late father, yikes) says the Empress is anemic and must therefore medicate.
And yet the Empress' health does not improve. And what is this new ingredient added to the brew?
If you like palace intrigues, gorgeous costumes and sets, intense performances, and swordfighting, go rent this now!
You will be blown away by this incredible, meticulous, action-packed, emotional rollecoaster of a film.

Harsh Times - "My worst nightmare is you with a badge and a gun."
Christian Bale plays an asshole. I have never seen him like this. He plays Jim Luther Davis, ex-Army Rangers, Iraq vet,
looking to get into the LAPD and bust some heads. He drives around Downtown and South Central L.A. in his almost-cop Ford
Crown Victoria with his latino buddy Mike, ostensibly helping Mike look for a job, but really just fucking around.
Jim-boy fails his psych test at LAPD so they kick him to the curb. Homeland Security wants to talk to him though, sweet!!
LAPD probably pegged him for a nutbag, a little too eager to enFORCE the law. He's definitely a bad influence on Mike.
Jim's got a girl in Mexico he wants to marry and definitely needs a local job to bring her in. That's not what he's gonna
get though, and things are about to get bad for our friends. Real bad.
The blurb on the DVD says "from the creator of Training Day", so that gives you an idea of the kind of vibe this has.
It was written and directed by David Ayer, and this is his first directing gig. For a first time, not bad.
The dialogue rings true for a couple of homies (white and latino) who grew up together in South Central.
L.A. is a crazy town...


zrath: Zrath-Smiley as a TRON program (300-Stroll)


Post 2: Electric Boogaloo!

Still trying to keep it short and sweet, but man it's hard!
With this post, I am effectively completely caught up on Netflixing! Le yea!
However, there's some Homeflixing to talk about (Homeflixing involves DVDs we actually own).
That will have to wait.
In the meantime, open the door, sit in the seat, turn the key and go!!!


Hollywoodland 2006 - Did the Man Of Steel pull the trigger? Or was he helped?
I like Ben Affleck. I think he is a good actor and he simply needs to get better parts. Thankfully, this IS a better part.
George Reeves, Superman, the Man Of Steel, one of Hollywood's great mysteries. Did he or didn't he? We don't know.
The film also stars Adrian Brody as private dick Louis Simo, hired by Reeves' mom to investigate her son's death. Diane Lane
plays Toni Mannix, wife of Eddie Mannix (Bob Hoskins), with whom George Reeves is intimately involved (Toni, not Eddie :)
The film uses flashbacks to show key parts of Reeves' life, all seamlessly blended with the detective's investigation.
You're presented with three possible versions of what could have happened and left to make up your own mind.
I enjoyed this one. It's well done, very interesting. I've always been fascinated by Superman and those who've played him.

Tideland (2006) - "New one from Terry Gilliam puts Kzin to sleep! News at 11!"
So, you know, I've seen a lot of Terry Gilliam films. I love some of them and I like the rest, but this one?
This one's a toughie. I just didn't care for it at all. It was creepy, it was messed up, and yet somehow boring.
I turned it off halfway through. And if you know me, that's a pretty strong statement. I tend to watch things to the end.

Without A Paddle (2004) - Why does Matthew Lillard look so much like the guy who plays Tom Paris on "ST: Voyager"?
Yes, this is the pseudo-Deliverance comedy flick with Seth "Lil' Buddy" Green, Tom Paris and that other guy.
One of my brother's buddies recommended it to him, so we rented it. It was actually pretty funny, though it's not
"Harold And Kumar Go To White Castle" funny. Three childhood friends reunite after the death of their friend and decide
to go on the camping trip planned by the deceased. Their goal is noble: find D.B. Cooper's treasure, somewhere in Oregon.
Or is it Washington? Can't tell, it's all GREEN!! (:plays the banjo)

Flushed Away (2006) - "I find everyone's pain amusing, except my own. I'm French!"
Oh noez! It's an all-star cast!! Hugh Jackman! Kate Winslet! Ian McKellen! Jean Reno! Bill Nighy! Andy Serkis!
That's it boys, we blew the budget on the celebrity voices, we can't afford anything else! Have the screenplay done by
that mailroom clerk, and we'll get some bewildered tribesmen in New Guinea to do the animation. What? There's money left?
Huzzah! Let's make the movie in England! With computers! Because water sucks in stop-motion.
I watched this last night, and it was funny as hell. There are some really clever gags and some dastardly puns.
Also, lots of visual references. When Roddy the rat is picking an outfit, he vacillates between a Bond tuxedo and a yellow
and blue Wolverine outfit (Roddy is of course voiced bu Hugh Jackman). Roddy's human owner has a stuffed lion modeled on
the one from "Madagascar" and several plush rabbits that look like the ones from "W&G: Curse Of The Were-Rabbit".
During the freezer sequence, one of the victims is a Han Solo rat. A cockroach reads "La Métamorphose" by Franz Kafka.
This is definitely freeze-frame heaven. There is a lot of nutcracking in this movie though, must be an English thing.
Also one gratuitous French Surrender joke (must have been put in for the American audience).
Hmmm, I just realized yet another reason why "Top Secret" (with Val Kilmer) rocks: no cheap-shot French Surrender jokes.
Eventhough French Resistance guys are a major part of the plot, there ain't a single French Surrender joke in the whole film.
Anyway, clever (mostly), funny (very), well-done, English, must be an Aardman film!
Another winner from the House Of Wallace & Gromit.

Color Me Kubrick (2005) - Who knew Stanley Kubrick was this faaaaaabulous?!?
Based on the true story of Alan Conway, two-bit gay con-man who impersonated Stanley Kubrick in the late '90s.
Thi was made by people who actually worked with Kubrick: Brian Cook (director) - assistant director on "The Shining", "Barry
Lyndon" and "Eyes Wide Shut". Anthony Frewin (screenplay) - Stanley Kubrick's assistant from "2001: A Space Odyssey" onwards.
At times, it feels like a Kubrick film. Also, it uses music from Kubrick films. It's more Kubrick than Kubrick! :D
John Malkovich plays the title role and does a bang-up job, as they say. Amusing little film for mature audience.
Produced by Europa Corp and ubiquitous French dude Luc Besson.

Ned Kelly (2003) - Like "Deadwood" with different accents and cursing
The classic story of a man done wrong who only seeks justice in the face of injustice and a crooked system. Heath Ledger,
Orlando Bloom and Geoffrey Rush star, which means that most of my female readers have probably already seen this film. :)
Yes, the sibling and I do like our westerns and that includes Australian ones. Though the Australian westerns seem bleaker
because of those damned English lording over everything. Goddamned Pommie bastards...

The Guardian (2006)
"Your wife left you. Your best friend is dead. You sound like a country song. If you had a dog, he'd be run over by now."
And the country song would be about Ben Randall (Kevin Kostner), veteran rescue swimmer in the US Coast Guard.
His wife has left him. His best friend died in front of him when a wave slapped their Seahawk out of the sky during a rescue
in stormy seas. His superior send him to the academy to teach and work through his tough time. Enter the young turk swim
champ (Ashton Kutcher, and he can act!) who's gonna knock over all the records. But he has a dark past! Oh noez!!
Yeah, it's a little cliche and stuff, but it's interesting to see the Coast Guard rescue squads in action.
The film is certainly more interesting than "Ladder 49", which was, among other things, dull.
And hey, Clancy Brown is in it! Not a life-changing film by any means, but of interest to sea movie fans.

Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut (1980) - What if they made three movies and only released two?
In a world where Richard Donner was helming both "Superman" and "Superman II", the schedule started to slip, so a big push
was made to finish "Superman" and release it. By the time the movie came out, Donner and the Salkinds (who financed and
produced the films) were no longer talking. The Salkinds brought in funny-guy Richard Lester to reshoot part of "II", and
what came out in the theaters (and on home video) was an amalgam of Donner and Lester footage, edited to Lester's (and the
Salkinds') taste. Meanwhile, Donner's "Superman II" sat around in the vault.
Now, that film has been rebuilt and edited to Donner's taste and is now out on DVD for millions of Superman fans to enjoy.
The start and end points of the film are the same as "Lesterman II", but the road between the two takes many different turns.
For example, the Fortress Of Solitude scenes feature Jor-El only. His wife is nowhere to be found.
I don't want to say anything else as it would fall into the realm of spoilers. Just rent it and discover it for yourself.
I think, overall, I prefer "Donnerman II". I prefer the pacing and mood as compared to "Lesterman II".

Dark Portals: The Chronicles of Vidocq (2006) - aka "Vidocq" (2001), aka "La Cité De WTF?!?"
So my good friend [livejournal.com profile] trailer_spot once told me that a "rather dodgy" "Vidocq" film was released in France a while back.
I filed that datum for later use and went about my business. Last week, I happened to be at Best Buy, browsing the DVDs,
and I came across a strange title with a mirrormasked hooded figure on the cover. It looked a bit like one of the humanoid
robots from "The Black Hole", the ones that ran the Cygnus. I looked at the title and locked onto one word: "Vidocq".
Sure enough, this was a domestic release of the French film Trailer Spot had warned me about, saddled with a ridiculous
nonsensical name ("Dark Portals"? What portals?!!? Are you on crack, Lionsgate?). As soon as I got home, I looked it up on
Netflix and placed it in my queue. Vidocq is a popular and real character from after The French Revolution. I used to watch
a TV show of his exploits on French TV in the '70s. Vidocq was played quite effectively by Claude Brasseur.
Eugène-François Vidocq was a petty thief in his youth who spent a couple of years in the Revolutionary Army, then deserted
and pursued a life of crime. He was caught and sent to "le bagne" (think penitentiary, except 10 times worth). One week
after his arrival, he escaped! He was arrested a year later and sentenced to another bagne. He escaped that one the next
year, gaining himself some major respect from the criminal element. And yet, he turned his talents to fighting crime.
He was first an informant for the Paris Police, then in 1811 was put in charge of the new "Brigade De Sureté", an outfit
specialized in undercover work and staffed with ex-cons. Some decried his methods as unsound but he got the job done.
"La Sureté" continues to this day as "la Police Nationale", which I guess would be equivalent to the US Marshalls.
Vidocq was fired and rehired twice during his 17 years at the Sureté. He eventually resigned and opened a paper mill.
Which means he also published books. That business failed, so he opened the first private investigation firm in France.
This is where the movie comes in: Vidocq as private investigator, portrayed by Gérard Depardieu.
The film opens with Vidocq in hot pursuit of a mysterious hooded figure with a reflective mask through a massive gunpowder
and cannon factory. He corners the figure and they do battle, but the figure fights rather well and seems to possess
strange abilities, like disappearing inside its cape and hood. Or calling forth flocks of birds. Seriously weird stuff!
Vidocq falls to his death, his partner at the firm starts drinking heavily and a young writer claiming to be Vidocq's
biographer shows up and seems determined to find out who the mysterious figure is.
Any way you look at it, it's a weird film. Some of the themes don't reflect the kind of things that Vidocq usually had to
deal with. The movie uses a lot of extreme close-ups and overhead shots, which my brother feels are tricks to save money
on sets and locations by not showing them. Some of the colors are bizarre and the film does at time ressemble a comicbook.
We watched it in French and it was a bit hard to follow. I have no idea how good the English dubbing is.
This is what happens when Frenchies take drugs and watch "Brotherhood Of The Wolf" one time too many. :)

Viva Maria! (1965) and Bandidas (2006) - What a difference 41 years make! Or does it?
In this corner, "Viva Maria!", an amusing French western (yes!) shot in Mexico and set in 1907, starring two French
bombshells: Brigitte Bardot (aka B.B.) and Jeanne Moreau. Both women are named "Maria" but they couldn't be more different!
Maria-Bardot is a tomboy, daughter of an Irish terrorist, always blowing shit up with Daddy. After he dies, she goes on the
run and meets up with Maria-Moreau, a cabaret performer in a stereotypical traveling circus. The troupe gets mixed-up in the
local revolution and hilarity ensues! Also stars a youthful and dashing George Hamilton. The film's sense of humor definitely
includes a healthy dose of slapstick, and you sometimes feel like you're watching a live-action "Lucky Luke" comicbook.
("Lucky Luke" being a Far West-flavored, very popular classic of the French graphic novel world)
And really, it's hilarious to watch a hot French blonde berating and shaming an entire Mexican village, in French!!
So, 41 years later, Luc Besson's production company (Europa Corp) resurrects the concept with two Latino bombshells!
Okay, one Latino bombshell (Salma Hayek) and one Spanish bombshell (Penélope Cruz). Dueling accents ahoy!!
The story is a little different: Maria (Cruz) is a poor farmer's daughter whose father is killed by land-grabbing American
railroad thugs, Sara (Hayek) is a privileged daughter of a local noble who deals with the same land-grabbing American
railroad thugs and meets an untimely death. Circumstances bring them together and they start robbing banks to steal all the
Americans' money. It's a fun action flick with a good solid supporting cast: Dwight Yoakam as creepy bad guy, Steve Zahn as
clumsy but sharp early CSI cop, Sam Shepard as kick-ass veteran gunfighter, and one of the most amazingly-trained horse you
will ever see, definitely a passing homage to Lucky Luke's trusty and talented mount: Jolly Jumper.
Aie caramba! Las Bandidas son muy caliente!!
Looking at the two movies, "Viva Maria!" seems more mature, yet possesses a more innocent and child-like sense of humor.
Whereas "Bandidas" seems more immature and more entertaining. The intended audiences were quite different.
It's an interesting contrast. Neither film is "better", they're just different.


"And I'm spent..."


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