Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Might as well throw in my ten cents on Pat Robinson's Jesusade

Well... Tim and Waldo have already covered this.

So all I really have to add is that Pat and Steven Segal need to have a cage match... in the THUNDERDOME! The battle of the ages to see who has the best snake oil energy drink.

I'm not sure who would win actually. I mean, Pat might have High Fructose Christ syrup, but does he have the ASIAN EXPERIENCE?

Now if only Pat would start up a blues band...

You know... this is got me thinking. If the Glimmer Man and Pat Robyourson can have health drinks... I SHOULD START ONE TOO!

I'll call it Opossom-UP.

The idea behind it will be that you'll live forever... only look dead. Sorta like White Lightning or a zombie potion. I wonder if the sushi guy at Asian Buffet can hook me up with a little puffer venom...

I actually do hope Pat bottles his magic juice. The ads could be priceless. I wonder which catchy slogan they'll have.

I think "Jesusade... is it in you?" would probably be too Quaker for him. Although "savor the flavor of the savior" might be acceptible. They should target county youths, hanging out in the sticks all day. Those kids are sure to need a cool refreshing can of the Lord as part of their balanced trinity. Pat could never go wrong with, "to make a hot day nice, have an Iced Christ." It could tie in real nice with that rumored Captain America movie as well. Maybe they could have Captain American and Bible Man team up against the evil heathen hippy health drinks.

Ok... I'm done. I just wish Pat would be too. I poke Jesus in the ribs to make people luagh. He does it for money. Linus needs to wet-towel-whip that man's ass. Problem is he'd probably like it.


Thoughts on Final Fantasy VII Part 2: Advent Children: THE MOVIE...

Can you keep a secret? Back in the day... I was a hardcore lightweight RPG gamer. That's a strange thing to call one's self I know. Might seem like a joke, but I'm serious. I call myself that because I know what a hardcore RPG gamer is. I had lots of friends of varying degrees of dedication and/or flat out addiction, and I know I'm not up to snuff. That said, I love old school RPGs. I love the epic scale, the strategy, the narrative and character development. A good RPG is like a good soap opera, it's a guilty pleasure and that's half the allure: the sheer amazement that you have been drawn into caring about a cluster of pixels that by today's graphical standards would hardly be fit to make up a freckle on the face of their all too real character renderings. I played a few of them and helped out friends with a lot more. I still own the original Nintendo version of Final Fantasy among many others like Breath of Fire. I call myself a light weight because I couldn't find it in me to dedicate the HOURS it took to beat many of these games myself, often teaming up with friends who could knock out a game in a three to six weeks. (I've spread some games out over the span of several years.) Still, I can talk about obscure things like how the original Final Fantasy might be in a similar if not the same world as Dragon Warrior because in one of the towns, you can find Edward's gravestone. Edward being an important figure in Dragon Warrior, whose various possessions such as his sword and armor are the best in the game. I also know that anyone looking for a really fantastic RPG that's been all but forgotten need look no further than the wonderful but tragic Lufia series... unless you hate puzzles with the same passion that I do.

I also own Ultima... the original... with the BASIC drawn 3D caves... and the rocket ship... yeah.

Ok... so I hope I've established my gaming cred. This is supposed to be a film review of sorts and I haven't even mentioned the game - I mean movie that it's about yet. I'm sure a lot of the above doesn't even make a lick of sense to non-gamers, or maybe it does. An RPG is a Role Playing Game for those not in the know, and though that can apply to a lot of things...

Tell you what... I'll do a proper geek-out on RPG gaming later. Too much time has been wasted rambling. Let's get to the movie.

I'm sure I've sacred a lot of people away already. Ya probably wondering if there are six movies already made that you missed. Have they all been straight-to-video after Final Fantasy: Sprit Within or something?

Well... let me explain. (WARNING: more geeky gamer speak, but relevant this time.)

Final Fantasy was in fact originally a game back in the day. It still is so I hear. They're working on part XII right now. The title (which is in a contest with The Never Ending Story for most silly... and winning) comes from the fact that it was an all or nothing deal. If the game flopped, the company would go under. With each following game the attitude held true (even if the situation wasn't quite so) and the games have thus been the kings of the hill, almost always being at the forefront of the genre. Aside from this, each game has been different. Until recently with Final Fantasy X2 the games never were direct sequels. Some things carried over like giant chickens you could ride around on called Chocobos, Airships and a chacater calld Cid. Think of the sequels as being Lord of the Rings meets Sliders. Actually the games seem to have probably drawn some influence form the original Ulitma with its mix of technology in a fantasy environment. (Ulitma is generally believed to be the first computer game of the RPG genre.)

The movie Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within was a continuation of this idea of pushing technology to the limit. The underlying themes and essence of Final Fantasy is there, but it's the furthest departure from the original themes.

So hopefully that clears up that you don't have to worry about any other Final Fantasy titles to appreciate Advent Children. It's a world of its own. Although there is still the question of weather you need to have played Final Fantasy VII, which this is a cinematic sequel to, in order to understand what is going on. Let's hold off on that for the moment.

If you want a plot summery go somewhere else. I'm lazy, and if you have put up with reading this long you are probably of the ilk that need not a summery from me. Let's get down to the nit picking.

The first thing I had a problem with are the villains in this go around. I'm sorry but I have no patience for this Bishonen stuff. A villain needs to evoke something from me to be a good villain. I need it to either scare me, make me believe they are a dangerous SOB, or they need to engage me in some other way, like leave me morally troubled about how my beliefs relate to theirs. Something, ANYTHING! These three "Remnants" do nothing for me. They are wimpy sissy boys. They don't even evoke a real sadistic streak like some sissy boys can. They ain't even super intellectual sissy boys. They're just sissy boys right out of some day dreaming 16-year old girl's sketchbook. They're a bigger threat to the catwalk than the world. The biggest problem with this for most fans will probably be the fact that they know well what the Remnants are not living up to... Sephiroth. That guy was a badass mother. The villian of FFVII, he was cold, evil, and killed people... with a sword so long it would give Pyramid Head a boner. (Actually a lot of swords in FFVII would probably give Pyramid Head a Boner... but one thing at a time.) He had his drama moments, but he weren't no sissy boy.

There is some reason behind the Remnants. As their name suggests, they are not normal humans, but the remains of Sephiroth. They are in a sense children. Having existed for only two years, their childish qualities are with reason... but that doesn't really make it all ok. The characters are still underdeveloped on a script level, and behave like obnoxious Japanese super models. Too much is implied weakly where some more time alone with them would help. Some of the dialog in this is painful beyond words. I'm really not clear what age demographic they were going for.

Along with the pretty boy villains with cliché Japanese villain poses, I noticed a lot that was very dissatisfying... the monsters. WHERE THE HECK ARE THE MOSNTERS? This is FINAL FANTASY! I want monsters out of the wazoo! There are only two kinds in this film and frankly that ain't enough. There should have at least been five... AT LEAST. There weren't even Chocobos, and dagnabit I want me some hot Chocobo riding action! That's the only reason to make a sequel to Final Fantasy VII. The game was perfectly conclusive. So give me some high rendered bird riding! But no... not even a feather. Also the whole film takes place in a rather isolated area, no globe spanning here. We only get a little airship action near the end and that's just the cavalry arriving. Not much sailing the high clouds on this outing. Which would be another reason to revisit one of these classics.

So do you need to know the original game? I'd say it would help a lot. They do explain a bit, but overall this is a film for fans. There is little help offered for those in the dark as to who the cool guy in red is or what the hell is up with that cat thing with a crown on its head riding that other cat thing. They just assume you know all these cool characters that show up out of nowhere and never really bother to flesh them out.

Biggest pet peeve of all... the goddamn little girl. They always have to have obnoxious kids around to ruin a perfectly good sci-fi fantasy film, and boy did they give Jar-jar a run for his money this time. This little girl is so annoying... much violence I came to wish upon her.... She is also done more photo-realistic for some reason. I like how they chose not to go the Spirits Within rout on this film and kept the characters more fantasy-like in design, but this whiny little brat sticks out as almost photo real from a mile away, and her color pallet never seems to match up with the environment around her. She looks like she was pasted in from another movie!

This film has Tokyo pop smeared all over it. There is no real Final Fantasy drama. Those little 16-bit pixels from back in the day had more depth and originality to there performances than any of this shit. And the Godzilla-esque showdown at the ending is completely cheapened by the half-ass illogical decision made by all the other fighters NOT to help Cloud (da Hero) fight the super-evil bad guy to the death. I watched it three times hoping I missed some shard of reasoning... but the closest I found was that they had all gotten weak (though not weak enough to do some fine ass kicking just a few minutes ago) and if anything Cloud was stronger now... so having all six, or however many of them there were, help gang up one guy... when many of them had guns and the one guy didn't... would be a bad idea... so they should let Cloud fight him ALONE... even though this ONE GUY has a box that if he opens will turn him into Sephiroth... making the world a very shitty place to be in...

Yeah... that makes sense...

And the list goes on and on. The problem with Final Fantasy is that it is EPIC. To do it right, you have to make it Peter Jackson scale EPIC... times three!

So now to feebly attempt to say nice things about it.

Ok, there are some nice things to be said actually. Cloud's Sword(s) is crazy cool. I mean... this ain't the big hunk of metal from the game. This thing is like a mega-ultra Power Ranger from back in the day when Power Rangers were Mighty Morphine... I mean Morphin.... This sword is a bunch of swords that interlock into a big one but can be taken apart for all kinds of coolness. The way they are held in Clouds new supped up bike... I ain't seen a bike that sexy since Akira!

Then there is the fighting... it's sick. Perhaps will give you motion sickness though. No really... it's like they saw the mob fight from Matrix: Reloaded and said... Pansies. But much like that fight, as insanely cool as much of it is... there is no weight to it. No umph. It's all CGI and in a fantasy world that don't give a damn about physics. After a while, you don't feel any drama with the blows...

Still... some of the most insane fighting you'll ever see...

Also... much like Godzilla: Final Wars, I was left scratching my as to why there was so much Kung Fu Fighting. You go to Godzilla to see men in rubber suits stomp model cities, and you go to Final Fantasy for epic plots, melodrama, using magic, shooting guns (if you're of the post VI gaming generation) and fighting monsters. Sword duels are obviously expected and some martial art brawling is more than welcome... but this movie is saturated in them. They are pretty damn cool and I'm not saying cut any of them... but give me monsters and magic! Give me FANTASY!

As mindless fun, this film has a world of cool fights. They are shallow, but very cool looking. I love the Final Fantasy games and don't feel this does them justice. I liked Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within and feel that as radical a deviation from the gamming norm as it was, it was miles closer in sprit to Final Fantasy than this film.

Still, for mindless fun... ain't too bad.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

I saw THE ICE HARVEST last night...

... and I fucking loved it!

If that statement bothers you, then like most of the films I review, you probably should not watch it. Because this film has one thing to say about things you shouldn't say, and that's fuck ya'all! Cause it's going to say whatever the fuck it wants to and show you whatever the fuck it wants to and it's not going to give a fuck what you think about it!

I had no idea Wichita had so many strip clubs...

Get the point? It's R for a reason.

Normally that attitude does not work for me. I "got" Team America and what they were doing, and honestly... I don't give a flip. (*GASP!* He said FLIP!) I really didn't like the film. The idea that if you take a piss on everyone, then your not really pissing on anyone may have some logic to it in the strange realm of political correctness and satire, but I left that film with wet shoes that smelled funny. Not the funny that makes you laugh either. It was the funny like kitten ass and the Florida visitor center. I have enough trouble with general foot stank. I don't need that on top of it.

The Ice Harvest isn't a satire though. It's not using that safety blanket word. It's Harold Ramis cutting the shit. He's not making a warm fuzzy safe comedy like the Bedazzled remake this time out. This is Harold's dark side... and if there's any tongue in this film's cheek, it's very likely to slither out of a bullet hole in its face.

If I were going to compare Ice Harvest to two films, they would be Casablanca and Pulp Fiction. It's similar to the latter, only it's a single story, has none of the cartooney bits and made it more substance and less style. (The film does have style though.) It's a strange film that can make you laugh at situations like someone putting a bullet in a wife's head and the husband being indifferent about it.

One of the things that makes Casablanca so easy to watch over and over is the layered quality that came out of the number of very different and talented writers that worked on it. There's a bit of that in Ice Harvest as well... only... there was only one writer behind this baby, and that's Dr. Spengler himself! This is one of the best films he's written since Groundhog Day, yet like nothing he's ever done before. It goes from shockingly coarse, to tear wrenchingly hilarious, to very effectively suspenseful and gruesome to flat-out one of the best noir films since Twilight.

Everybody in this is top notch with arguably the exception of Connie Nielsen. She's the femme fatale and she's a little to blatant about it. I'll give her credit for her transformation since I didn't even recognize her in this, but it felt out of place. It would be like Darth Vader wearing a T-shirt that says "I banged a senitor, fathered Luke Skywalker, joined the darkside, fell into lava helping take over the galaxy and all I got for it was a shiny helmet and this damn shirt!" all the way through episodes IV and V and expecting the audience to gasp when he says, "Luke... I AM YOUR FATHER." The film is perfectly laid out; Connienison just needs to take off that damn shirt... uh... I mean play her character less obviously... yeah...

(What? I'm off the single wagon. The geek-sequenced leisure suit has been returned to the subterranean phone booth!)

Either way. Even if the femme fatale backstab can be seen coming a mile away... it's handled so well I'm going to put it up there with Criss Cross as one of my favorite backstab noir moments.

John Cusack does good stuff here. I'm a die hard of his bleeding heart trench-coat films. It's like The Cure, or Woody Allen: either you hate'em for doing the same thing a hundred times or you love'em for it. That said, this is more somewhere between Cusack's performances in the The Jack Bull and Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. By the near end we might see Cusack give the darkest performance of his career though. However you want to tag it, I liked him in this. Everyone's a son of a bitch in this film, and he's a real lovable bastard.

Randy Quaid is back with avengence. I love him when he plays evil. I know I've said my peace already, but dag nabbit he was fantastic in Brokeback Moutain! I want more Evil Randy. (No, no. None of that watered down crap like he pulled in FLOOD a.k.a. Hard Rain a.k.a. Morgan Freeman gets to play with guns.) In the last few years he's really learned how to scare the shit out of me, and though he's hamming it up a tad in this, he's still giving a taste of the good stuff.

Old Billy Bob is still one of those guys you got to just throw your tabloids out the window, shut the heck up, and admit is a damn good artist. He's a good writer, a good actor with range, and in stuff like this, he has the good sense not to be a movie star and try to steal every scene he's in. His antics with "THE TRUNK are hilarious, but throughout the film he plays his character on its rung. For that, I've got to give him respect. Really adds depth when everyone is doing their job well without worrying about upstaging. The layered effect might make this a very re-watchable film. Time will tell though.

Last but not least... Move over Jack Black... you had your Cusack humping fun, but Olivier Platt is here to show you how a real diva plays it! If you find The Platt funny... this film will make you laugh till it hurts. If you don't find The Platt funny... this film will make you laugh even harder. This is his masterpiece. His shining moment. This is hands down the funniest shit I've ever seen him do. I had trouble breathing, and the tears have not come from my eyes so profusely thanks to a film since Shadowlands... only these were da happy ha-ha kind and Shadowlands were the "Bambi's mom is... WAHHHH!" kind. Platt is great in this. He's never been so shameless... and it's never worked so well.

What more to add? Hmmm... I really loved this film! Not much more to say. I don't want to spoil a bit of it. I just want to whore myself out to the cause and hope that this movie gets a lot of attention. It totally slipped past my radar. Walked right past it for four sweeps at the rental. Then finally I grabbed it.

I sat down with perhaps all the wrong members of my family to watch a film with this much stripper action and foul language, and by the end we were laughing, cheering, and even talking about buying it. How many movies can you say that about?

Mr. Ramis... this new direction for you... good stuff. Hope we get more. I love me some noir and this is tasty, tasty stuff.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Wait... wasn't this a film review blog?

Yeah... I know. I've kinda been rambling like a mad man with the opossums in me pantalones... as opposed to rabling like a mad man... with the opossums in me pantalones... yeah.

I've been trying to figure out how I feel about this blog and its future. I've been busy devouring movies from my back log... I've been distracted by good things, bad things, ugly things, and few really wonderful things happening in me life. I've been busy with the work. I've been busy with the lazy. And many, many other things... But I'll try with time to get busy with the blog again.

The show shall go on!

For now... I shall chew on all the above, and pine for this fallen comrade.


Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Brokeback Kelly... When Terrorists Penetrate DEEP!

Howdy folks! Been awhile I know. I made a pilgrimage to Suffolk Virginia only to discover, to my great disappointment, that I'd misheard the boasts that it is the "penis capital of the world." What was actually said was, "it's the peanut capital of the world." I guess with the window down and the Berry White blasting... it just got twisted on its way to my ear. This really did bum me out. I thought I'd found the perfect setting for Brokeback Mountain 2: The Evening Star. Sadly, the place was just rows and rows of salty nuts. Though they were fun to suck on, bought a couple bags for the road.

But anyway... I'm digressing. There is important late breaking news hot of the presses from several days ago that I must report to you. It seems that the Department of Homeland Security has discovered a new threat to America. One more treacherous than Kim Joug-il, more plushie than Saddam Hussein, and more... um... not tall than Osama bin Laden! Forget the avian flu, never mind the sex trade and immigration issues and put aside those piercing debates over which new game consol is going to rock the others trousers off. THIS IS NOT A TIME TO TALK ABOUT THE WEATHER! For we have a real threat upon us right now. We've got Richard Kelly. No, not the Who Wants to be a Millionaire dude and the gal that replaced Kathie Lee "I eat babies for Christmas" Gifford. (Though I'd agree, the latter in particular is more dangerous than a syringe of rancid mayonnaise between your toes.) No, I'm talking about Richard "Donnie Darko" Kelly! Now... anyone who saw his director's cut of Donnie Darko, is already aware that we are dealing with a dangerously unstable person. A person who is reckless enough to think trusting Tony "I'm a midlife crisis that makes Oliver Stone look GOOD!" Scott with a script! (Domino... anyone?)

Apparently, Homeland is investigating Richard Kelly as a possible terrorist because there is a guy named James Kelly on their terrorist list. That's about the best I could dig up. I Googled him and got several sites saying the same thing over and over. That makes me think this might just be a false rumor spreading across the web. The story seems a little odd. Especially under the current climate. The fact that some speculation about this being over his new film Southland Tales and its comments on post 9/11 Homeland Security procedures almost makes me want to yell "publicity stunt!" Still, we are living in an age where films that criticize do actually get some flak. Most notably, the documentary This Film Has Not Yet Rated, which looks at the MPAA and how films get rated. It critiques the rating system... so they gave it an NC-17 rating to ensure it would not get a large release... and Blockbuster. So it's not impossible, but still not likely.

I really hope this isn't real. I mean, sure, it would totally kick ass if Steve Earl got to write Richard Kelly Blues and stir up the sedition fearing rightwing. It could be the biggest scandal since... well... R. Kelly! But the fact is all that juiciness ain't gonna get squeezed. Look at Richard Kelly's Donnie Darko fallowing... If someone puts him under the guillotine... we're gonna get another Green Day album. That's the kinda thing that makes the baby Jesus cry the big anime tears. Nobody wants that. So I'm hoping it's a joke.

Oh and before I get mobbed about Donnie Darko being the greatest film of all time... I love the film. The so called "director's cut" is what pissed me off. It's kinda like how star wars fans got pissed with the special editions and shit. If anyone is really going to lose sleep over this, I'll try and break it down some time down the road.

Also... I have not written a review of Brokeback Mountain... but seeing as I'm looking to write the straight-to-DVD sequel, it can be safely assumed that I did see the film. There are a lot of reasons I have yet to get around to it, mostly the same reasons I haven't gotten around to reviewing anything in a while, but the big one is I didn't have anything to add. All those reviews that say it amazing and great and stuff... they're right. That's all. It's a really fucking good movie. Don't care how you feel about gay people. The movie is GOOD. I'm a feminist (and a satirist, so quit laughing!) and that didn't stop me from LOVE-ING Hustle and Flow. Why? Because it's an amazing movie. I love how old these films feel. Not dated. I mean, that feeling when you watch a film like Get Carter and you see that look on Michel Caine's face when he watches the porno his little niece was in, tears rolling down his eyes. (Much ass kicking follows this scene by the way. It wasn't directed by Todd Solondz after all.) You see, scenes like that... you get this feeling in your gut. You can't help but mumble... they don't make them like that anymore. But lately they've come mighty damn close. These last couple years have produced a hell of a of a lot of damn good movies. You just have to look for them.

Anyway, all I could add about Brokeback, is that making a movie about gay cowboys and trying to avoid it being seen as a "gay cowboy movie" is hard, so it's probably not wise to name one of the characters JACK TWIST. That's asking for a buttload of dumb jokes. Oddly I seem to be the only person on the web that caught it. Everyone has been busy cracking on the name of the film.

"Huh-huh. Brokeback Mounting!"

"Yeah, yeah. Huh-huh... More like Smoke Crack Spouting!"

Ok, again I'm probably the only one that got THAT creative. Most of them were too dirt dumb to mention and I think you get the point.

Speaking of dumb. Everyone who thought Brokeback wouldn't make any money. Yeah... kinda dumb there. You have two of the hottest young men in Hollywood... potentially getting it on. If it were Salma Heyak and Scarlet Johansson... no one would be talking... they'd be too busy with the old JACK TWIST. Girls like da hot gay love too (though I must admit Ang seriously let them down in that department.)

The thing that struck me most about the Brokeback though, is that Randy Quaid gave perhaps the performance of his career... and nobody even noticed. That pissed me off. Rock on Randy. Ang... you need to give this man more solid work.

Well... that's it. Hope we don't get anymore Green Day albums. The opossums have spoken!


Monday, May 01, 2006

Have you talked to your saplings about sex?

Somewhere in the world, this conversation has to have gone down. Probably some stoned couple on a futon watching Evil Dead. The girlfriend in the Invader Zim shirt is all like... "Well, the least that redneck demon tree could do is wear a condom!"

And then it starts. The long philosophical ponderings of Ent spawn... and naturally, the dangers of sexually transmitted diseases.


But of coarse... that could never happen...

Or... could it?

So remember kids. You get the urge to hug a tree... always make sure you know that tree's history, and make sure you wear protection. Don't let this happen to you!