Wednesday, December 17, 2014

QftWo 10/6-10/12: Imposters #74 - The Interview

This poster for The Interview really is wonderful. The hyperbolic nature of the Asian style is different and eye-catching. It reveals very little directly - note the untranslated Korean words at the bottom - but the bombs and such do give an idea of what you're in store for.

But who cares if you can't understand it? The graphic has a great use of color, with the white and title text breaking up the top and bottom of the image. The font for the film title is pretty neat, too, and I like the Korean translated below the stars' names.

I have to appreciate how creative and distinct this poster is - anyone would look twice (at least) at this work...

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Netflix's Great Nod to Arrested Development

I am, at times, rather sentimental. And the holidays, as well as the end of the year, always have a big impact on me. I genuinely believe in cleaning house, in every way, before the New Year. You say anything you have to say this year that you don't even want to think about next year... you clean and inventory everything you own ... and you write the blog posts that you'll regret not writing later... So:

November 29, 2014 was a nice day. You don't know why? Well, I was screwing around on Netflix for an hour, and soon after I logged in and scrolled down, I saw this:

So, first thing off, I'm half-ignoring the screen until I notice the title of this row. I nearly zoomed past it. Then, I start laughing hard because I see the second title and say, "The Vanishing of the BEADS?!?!?"

Then the second row didn't disappoint, either.

The magic and puppet-related material was smart enough, but ending on the word "illusion" was inspired. Dear heaven, I can hear the way I should read the titles.

It's easy to gripe about Netflix - I have, repeatedly - but I always give them credit when the do something creative and clever. The reality is, they often have... and certainly pulled it off this time.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Dr. Clooney to the Rescue, but is he Indian?

Well, my family's embargo on the news is over: one of my immediate relatives has one of the worst forms of cancer. The aftermath of it all (my new phrase of 2014 is "receiving catastrophic care," yaaay) is horrible, but it's equally daunting to manage the daily grind of life - work, chores, friends, future plans - while trying to maintain oneself through it all.

It's less scary, in a way, because you join in the familial effort to "steer into the skid." But being a grown-up means not only accepting bad news and helping out instead of feeling self-pity, it means adding this new burden to all that you had going on before. It means not snapping at annoying co-workers, or being harsh with a roommate when they screw up. It means showing up to a party or a date in good spirits. It means not taking your personal pain and drama out on others, because that only makes things worse - and represents a failure to act like a proper adult.

And, fortunately, it's not too hard to maintain my perspective, because I've grown up in terrible neighborhoods, because of attempted muggings and beatdowns, because of managing the family medical business at 17 years old under great pressure - with a loaded gun under my desk. Big problems shouldn't overwhelm a proper adult - and, if you're like me, it means that you try to let hard times bring out what's truly best in yourself... Even if at the end of the day you find yourself having a drink or two to help decompress.

It gets hard, though, as the initial shock at the news fades into months of sleeping in spare hospital beds and scheduling visits. But, in times of crisis, I find it helps to turn to a doctor - and not just the ones I am related to.

I was so glad when I saw this picture of George Clooney from his early TV days. It was not just a nice reminder of how times have changed, but also it suddenly struck me that holy crap, George Clooney totally looks Indian in that picture!

Even better for my mood, Clooney's appearance reminds me of a figure from one of the funniest movie posts I have ever read. The link was sent to me by Nikhat, a wonderful woman who I adore and whose blog, Being Norma Jean, can often put mine to shame.

The post in question is a plot summary of Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham..., and you will laugh hard and often throughout the course of Imaan Sheikh's coverage. KKKG's story is so uniquely insane, and Sheikh's humor - both in text and through many cool gigs - is so infectious, that I now plan to see the picture as soon as possible. I didn't even get 70% of the Indian-specific jokes Imaan made (I like just learned what Diwali is), and yet I was wiping tears from my eyes. Fine writing and comedy truly do transcend cultural boundaries...

Even better, reading the movie's surprisingly-long wiki entry reveals that the crazy-ass movie has received a ton of critical analysis, bigtime box office success, and even awards.

Yes, multiple awards! For a movie that sounds like it was written on a fever dream and directed on a dare.

Hell, at this dark time, my sense of humor is working as hard as it can, and it really helps to be reminded of something that made me laugh so much. So I feel blessed that the old Clooney picture reminded me of the film, as I can put it into my DVD queue before I forget.

And who, then, does Clooney remind me of? An actor called Hrithik Roshan, whose role in this family drama is the once-chunky and now-hunky youngest brother Rohan. Sadly, his name does not mean that a Bollywood film managed to include the country full of horsemen from Tolkien's novels. Just take a look below, read that review I linked to, and make your owns plans to watch KKKG asap.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Interstellar Problems and Thoughts

Christopher Nolan makes some fine films. Really, I didn't like The Prestige much at all, and yet it was a well-made, inventive, and original movie. And yet I've repeatedly had to write follow-up articles about the flaws in his pictures. Inception needed one Double Dip entry, as well as two Question entries to discuss thoughts about and common issues with that dream-heist story. The Dark Knight Rises required similarly protracted consideration. All of these ambitious narratives are packed with issues, both small and large - and if you click on my "Christopher Nolan" tag at the right side of the page (or at the end of this post - oh, f--- it), you can see me wrestling with that fact.

Sadly, no one sings "A Whole New World" like in Aladdin.

But only an unrealistic, childish fool expects perfection from others - especially in the field of art, where one may not always understand what a director is doing, or where one's complaints may have more to do with personal preferences or baggage than actual "objective" and "valid" criticism/critique. Interstellar is full of at least as many problems as tDKR, so the following list spells out those problems, as well as my thoughts on them. Let's get started, with one SPOILER WARNING for anyone who hasn't seen the movie.

First, the emotional miscues:

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Interstellar - Nolan's Field of Dreams

On a rainy December night, I left work early with some of my favorite people on the planet to see Interstellar on the second-biggest IMAX screen in the world (I hope frogs eat your crops, Australia!). I had an exceptional time - as did my companions... Yet this movie makes you say "uh, so..." or "but wait" quite often. This is clearly a Nolan directorial trait, as I felt that way about his last several pictures.

What's the story? Well, you'll be amazed by how natural the early exposition seems, as the movie so neatly conveys that: in the not-too-distant future, Earth has been suffering extreme crop blight for a while. The whole planet's turning into the Dust Bowl of the early 20th century, and can barely feed itself. Mankind has abandoned its ambitions (like war (sigh) and scientific progress), since scientists are not needed as much as farmers are. The farmer we focus on is Matthew McConaughey's Coop, a former astronaut-in-training.

Coop is a single father trying to ensure a good life for his teenage son and his 10 year-old daughter. But a series of inexplicable events starts to disturb life on their farm. Coop's daughter, Murphy, informs him that there's a ghost in her bedroom, and everything for this family is turned upside down when he sees evidence of it for himself. The search for answers reveals not only some hope for the future, but some of the world's greatest secrets.

The amazing thing for me was realizing how much this movie is like Field of Dreams. That 1989 pic was also located in the Midwest, and centered itself around familial relationships and faith - in people, in the impossible, in struggling on despite great difficulty.

While no one would likely categorize FoD as a sci-fi film, it too involved secret messages from ghosts, time travel and causality, and incomprehensible beings who turn natural law on its head for benevolent purposes. Both movies are intelligent, yet simultaneously display an incredible amount of heart. And both movies are packed wall-to-wall with corn.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

December Defined

5 posts were scheduled already for this month (including my overall review of 2014), but now we'll add reviews of the fine Aussie horror pic, Babadook - and Interstellar, which I found time for.

In addition, I cancelled one Reviewing with Others entry (lack of time), but will still do the one I couldn't get to last month.

Also, I got to view some more 2014 releases, and may add reviews of those, too. It's not entirely clear where I'll find time for that, but it's an idea that's percolating due to changed circumstances.

Given that Babadook is an indie film with a great central female character, I really want to promote it. And, thus, Snowpiercer won't be my last review here, so now it's starting to seem appropriate to add a few more films onto the queue...

Monday, November 24, 2014

Update on the Goodbyening

I explained the situation in this month's second post - I just need some time. November's Bill Murray entry went up today, and it was just my notes for the post...

At least I can say sorry by offering a new upload of one of the greatest songs to ever be constructed from preexisting audio:

I was genuinely pissed (it happens rarely) when the video was taken down, and I'm so glad to be able to share it again. Hopefully, the removal of the video means that content persecution a****les won't interfere with someone sharing this song.

I chose to do couple of favors by agreeing to cover two movies, and those Reviewing with Others entries will go live in the next two weeks. Probably a Sunday or Monday release for each of them.

And I decided to add two more Imposters entries, for Interstellar and The Hunger Games: Mockingbird: If We're So Hungry Why Don't We Eat the Mockingbird?. Wow, I'm imagining a Seinfeld version of The Hunger Games, and I want that so badly now. Elaine is Mistress of her District!

Cosmo Kramer won seven consecutive Games

My situation is the same as it was before, but I decided that I could/should find some spare time to add those entries. Sadly, seeing Interstellar in a theater may be impossible, so I won't be able to write it up here. What little I know of the pic reminds me a lot of Contact, 2001, and Solaris, which makes it a must-see... Then again, a lack of entries here and me skipping out on an anticipated movie are minor complaints, at best.

Thank you for coming here and reading my old posts - or the handful of new ones yet to come...

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Great Moments In... Pranking Your Friends IRL

The video explains it all, so I won't make you sit twice through an explanation of why Dominic Monaghan pranks LotR cast mate (and fellow hobbit) Elijah Woods over the phone:

Monday, November 3, 2014

Delayed Goodbyes

I was going to put up a "goodbye" post this week, but first I had one of the best Halloween Nights of my life, and then a relative had to go to the hospital. It's quite serious, and I don't have time to attend to everything else and complete the entry.

I think a Great Moments In is scheduled for this week, or maybe a Bill Murray post. That will be all that goes up this week. Wish me well.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Happy Trail(er)s: Life of Crime

I post this less from excitement to see this film and more because Hollywood is finally releasing the occasional picture starring a woman, let alone (gasp!) two women. Sure, it's here because it's being backed by Aniston and Fisher, but this happens too f--king seldom.

One day, I'll use this post to explain to my hypothetical children, "that's why Daddy watches independent movies. Because some of them tell stories about women that are not comedies (or biopics)."

Friday, October 31, 2014

The Rocky Horror Picture Show

I've seen The Rocky Horror Picture Show on a TV two or three times, and in the theater three or four times. I was lucky enough to have a girlfriend and a roommate who were both well-versed in the live show, and shouted most of the audience lines while we watched a copy at home before doing the live version that same night.

The story is simple. Brad (Barry Bostwick) and Janet (Susan Sarandon) have just attended a wedding. Overcome with love - and being enough of an a--hole to write on a church door - Brad proposes, and Janet accepts. Next, the couple is driving on a stormy night, and their car breaks down. The only sanctuary is a spooky castle... the home of Dr. Frank N. Furter (a very young Tim Curry!). The ominous inside of this large manor houses a dangerous and beguiling collection of unusual nutjobs. Will Brad and Janet keep their lives, or their innocence intact? Will they even hold on to their dignity?

(spoilers on that last point: no.)

(but maybe they think they did)

More than most any film before or since, Rocky Horror is perhaps the easiest and best example of a glorious failure. The same elements that make it a cinematic misfire are what endeared it to audiences so strongly that it's still popular - and still in theaters - 29 years after its release. Movie creators may dream that their work's success could inspire such a following, but no one imagines that their work could fail so well.

And fail it must. If the movie had been merely mediocre, it just wouldn't have generated so much interest. Instead, all of those weaknesses became strengths and the profound way that lines and scenes are dumb or fall flat actually engages the audience all the more... But I don't want to discuss much the things tRHPS gets wrong. Those are obvious: script, acting, execution, and sudden, ill-advised changes in tone are just the flaws at the top of the list.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

QftWo 10/27-11/2: Imposters #73 - Dracula Untold

Today's is a special edition of Imposters, as this one deserves nothing more than mockery. Please follow the link, press play on the video, and listen to the song as you scroll through the pictures.