Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Reviewing with Others Pt. 46: 100 Yen

Well, it's an hour and 40 minutes later than I planned for, but my latest indie screener review is ready. The film is called 100 Yen, and it's a documentary about Japanese video arcades - why their popularity has been so enduring, how they're different than their US counterparts, the origins of Japanese arcades, as well as the big trends in game styles.

I have long ago greatly curtailed my video game activities, but the premise alone and the chance to learn about some cultural differences was a huge appeal. I also wanted to see what the Japanese did with their devices - they are to technology as the French are to wine. My review went up about 6 minutes ago and you can read it here at Man, I Love Films.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Schedule For July-Sept

I might not update the About page for this site, but I'll add this update here and now (and no, it doesn't count as one of this week's four posts). I will have indie movie reviews up every Wednesday at 6PM Eastern time, and Sunday at 3PM Eastern time. I've already been doing that for a couple of weeks, but the schedule is now set, and it's set to run through the end of September, at least.

This creates an obvious problem, as I like to publish - as regular readers already know - one review, one Fan-made Gem, one Question, and one "random" entry per week. Since these Reviewing with Others entries are going to be so prominent, something's gotta give. It wouldn't even be a problem, save that (a) I haven't received many Questions from people outside myself or DJ lately, and (b) I've had these rotating entries - every two weeks, there's a Great Moments in... post and once a month, I dedicate something to the wonderful Mr. Bill Murray.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Question for the Week of Jul 29 - Aug 4: Indy Film's Racist-ey Overtones

You heard about the accusations of racism and insensitivity for Temple of Doom. What do you think?
So let me first note that I wrote one of my first long-ass posts about the entire trilogy, as well as my first Question entry (a silly one) and a later Question (which is one of my favorites). If you search for "Indy" on this site, you'll see it's come up other times, too.

I learned about the complaints when I was reading up on the series a few years ago. For once, I'll just use the Wiki entry:
The film's depiction of Hindus caused controversy in India, and brought it to the attention of the country's censors, who placed a temporary ban on it.[4] The inaccurate depiction of Goddess Kali as a representative of the underworld and evil met with much criticism as she is instead the Goddess of Energy (Shakti). The depiction of Indian cuisine was also condemned as it has no relation whatsoever with "baby snakes, eyeball soup, beetles and chilled monkey brains." Shashi Tharoor has condemned the film and pointed to numerous offensive and factually inaccurate portrayals.[5] Yvette Rosser has criticized the film for contributing to racist stereotypes of Indians in Western society, writing "[it] seems to have been taken as a valid portrayal of India by many teachers, since a large number of students surveyed complained that teachers referred to the eating of monkey brains."[6]

While this has some basis in fact, I think it was just a dumb, careless mistake. I can't really imagine Steven Spielberg espousing bigotry, much less risking damage to his reputation in that way. I've bagged on Lucas, but even the racism complaints about the Prequels pretty much came off to me as "this old white guy just doesn't put enough thought or perspective into what he's doing."

I know that such an answer is very brief, and maybe comes off as dismissive or facile. I've been subjected to multiple forms of bigotry in my own life - both for ethnicities that I do/don't belong to as well as for having long hair and being called the gay slur - and I simply cannot abide it, whether or not that prejudice actually applies to me or mine.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Reviewing with Others, Pt. 45: The History of Future Folk

First things first - I have decided to publish reviews twice a week for the foreseeable future - that's the way it goes, even if some of my regular features have to take a hit to make that happen. It's rough, but life goes on...

This week, I had the pleasure to watch the low-key indie comedy/scifi film, The History of Future Folk. I really enjoyed it, and I hope you like my review over at Man, I Love Films.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Question for the Week of Jul 22-28: Movie Grades and Me

How seriously do you take movie grades, and what effect do specific scores have on you?
Well, for one thing, I've mentioned in various earlier reviews the ratings given to films by Rotten Tomatoes or Metacritic or IMDb. Without providing specific examples, I have complained about some of these scores, while I have used others to support my feelings about a particular movie. I don't always do this, but if you put "RT," "Metacritic," or "IMDb" in the search box on the right, you'll see how often they've come up.

When it comes to those specific sites, you have to remember that they all aggregate the ratings given b critics and/or site users. This means that the numbers are weighted in a particular way, where some reviewers strongly dislike a picture that others do strongly like. IMDb's system, in particular, is infamous for working very differently from a simple weighted-average.

And, of course, you also must remember - as I've noted in a couple ways over the last three years - that different people react to movies differently. Some people want a challenging pic, while others just want mindless fun. Tastes change as you get older and do (or don't) get experience watching various kinds of films. Some folks hate certain genres, or have a very high (or low) bar to watch, e.g., a romantic comedy or a black-and-white or a silent motion picture.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Reviewing with Others Pt. 44: Versailles '73: American Runway Revolution

My latest indie screener experience is Versailles '73: American Runway Revolution. It's about a competitive fashion show that took place in Paris, in 1973, to raise money to restore the then-crumbling Palace of Versailles. Through new interviews, as well as old footage and photos, V '73: ARR shows what happened when American fashion designers stepped up their game and made a major splash on the international scene.

If you'd like to read my thoughts on this movie, my review goes up at 6PM EDT here at Man, I Love Films. Watch the trailer below to get an idea for whether it'll be your kind of thing. My next entries come out tomorrow (a Question) and Sunday (a 2nd RwO).

Monday, July 22, 2013

Recommended: LotR Bloopers

Browsing the web, I managed to find a great clip of bloopers from Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings trilogy. I haven't reviewed them here, but I did enjoy them quite a lot (the last one less than the rest, oddly), and I think you'll like it, too.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Reviewing with Others Pt. 43: The Pirate Bay: Away from Keyboard

Friends and strangers, I have had the pleasure to watch and review The Pirate Bay: Away from Keyboard. It's a Swedish documentary about the law suit against The Pirate Bay, the infamous online torrenting site.

I'll state this much now - the story behind the making of this film is damn interesting. Aside from the experience of seeing the movie itself, it also gave me fuel for yesterday's Question entry.

In any case, my review just went live and you can read it here at Man, I Love Films.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Question for the Week of Jul 15-21: Vimeo, huh?

This week, excited readers will be treated to Reviewing with Others #42 (it's like a Lost flash-forward), which will direct them to an off-site review of The Pirate Bay: Away from Keyboard. The movie, of course, stands out for many reasons. However, this was also my first time watching a movie using Vimeo and an HDMI adapter for my TV. I used to devote time to discussing the use of Hulu and Netflix and Amazon, and it's worth giving Vimeo the same attention.

Please note that if you read RwO #41, you know I reviewed a film in which the founder of Vimeo describes how he started the site. Jungian synchronicity, right? Or did I just need a quick entry?

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Fan's Mom Recounts The Matrix

I guess it's past time for me to ask you a Question: Have you ever watched a movie with someone who really didn't get what was going on? It might've been a friend who was drunk or high, it might've been someone who was cooking while hearing the movie from another room, or missed 20 crucial minutes. Hell, it might've been someone who's... not so bright.

I have to believe that we've all been there at some point. Lots of movies can be dense or badly-written. Plenty of viewers have limited attention spans, or aren't very perceptive.

What I have for you today comes courtesy of Clipnation. It's shows what happened when a film fan watched The Matrix with his mom, then recorded (and animated!) her response when asked the (apparently) not-so-simple question: what happened in this movie?

All I will add is that the results are hilarious:

Monday, July 15, 2013

Great Moments in... Sad Scenes (Kid Edition)

It's not a perfect film by any stretch, but lots of kids really enjoyed 1984's The Neverending Story. It's an inventive and original kids' story, told in an inventive way that intuitively appeals to children. The storytelling convention in which we watch a boy read a book during a storm works nicely with the cuts to the action of the story as it progresses. I suppose all the puppet-work really helps.

And, hey, what kid doesn't like animals? It seems like so much of childhood education involves learning the names and characteristics of penguins, dinosaurs, bears, insects... Children feel a sense of curiosity at their fellow-creatures, like dogs, cats, and horses. I hope every child on this planet knows that horsies are, indeed, pretty.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Reviewing with Others, Pt. 42: The Startup Kids

I've just watched and reviewed The Start Up Kids, a straight-forward documentary about the programmers and entrepreneurs who, more and more, are becoming big players in the new media industry. It's a brisk 57-minute pic, and I liked it. You can read more here at Man, I Love Films.

I'll see you all tomorrow!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Question for the Week of July 8-14: Hulu Plus Ads?

First, a brief scheduling note: the last two weeks been incredibly busy, full of events I've been happy and honored to attend, as well as a wealth of problems on the home front.

I can hardly finish my indie movie reviews when my fridge shuts down during these sweltering Summer days, much less during an ant infestation. With everything cleared up now, expect the next review (The Startup Kids) to go up over the weekend. As with all my Reviewing with Others entries, I will post a link to the appropriate page on the Man, I Love Films site.

Also, I have a few typos that I have to fix from the last 2-3 enties, but I have to juggle a friend's request to take pictures for her, a few more screeners, and preparing some of those reviews. These minor typos will be gone shortly.

And we're moving on...
Why did Hulu do something as dangerously annoying as putting ads in its pay service?
Before I moved in to my new digs, I hadn't used Hulu Plus since I wrote about testing out the trial 2 & 1/2 years ago. I've had occasion to check it out now - as an Xbox app, of all the things - and I must state that I'm impressed with how the service has grown in that time.

However, like the person who asked this week's Question, I was taken aback that Hulu Plus comes with ads, just like the free service! Now, it's worth noting that the ads seem generally shorter than for the free service, but they are still ads. Who wants their paid-for movies and TV shows getting interrupted so we can learn about all the things that we don't want to buy?

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Teaser Trailer for the Id-iology Director's Next Film

Last year, one of the most difficult-but-rewarding movies that I watched and reviewed for Man, I Love Films was Id-iology. The director, Will' Terran, presented viewers with a group of dysfunctional, damaged people, then made us watch along as their psyches and lives spiraled into deeper unpleasantness.

It would have been so easy to write off the picture as the emotional equivalent of a snuff film - that's how I largely responded to Boys Don't Cry and Breaking the Waves - but, I instead found that it had a lot to say and ask about these troubled souls. It presented a playwright's sense of character and drama, with fine performances from the cast. Whereas Eli Roth uses torture to do no more than make an audience feel stimulated (in the worst sense) or shocked (in the cheapest way), Mr. Terran was presenting us with all sorts of philosophical/psychological/artistic themes and whatnot. I was impressed instead of just repulsed, and was happy to promote its release on DVD in February of this year.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Question Follow-Up: More Sequels

I really liked Thaddeus’s picks in Thursday’s QftW about sequels, and I couldn’t resist chiming in with a few of my own picks.

Zero Effect – Since Thaddeus loves this film as much as I do, I was surprised it didn’t make his list. Given the big resurgence of Sherlock Holmes stories and variants in the past decade, I'd be more interested to see Bill Pullman, Ben Stiller, and Kim Dickens back together than to see Nick Rowe of Young Sherlock Holmes return. Zero Effect might be one of the worst-marketed films of all time. The trailer:

Made it look like Stiller is the film’s star, and Pullman’s Darryl Zero is some sort of idiot or idiot savant doing a Dumb and Dumber-style performance, when Pullman’s performance and the detective story being told are both much less wacky than we're led to believe. Then again, Zero Effect also had bad timing: when the film was released in January 1998, Stiller was up-and-coming; based on Independence Day and While You Were Sleeping, Pullman was probably a bigger star at the time. In July, There’s Something About Mary came out, making Stiller a super-duper megastar, too late to help Zero Effect’s box office and likely killing any chance of him revisiting the indie detective comedy in the future.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Honest Trailers: Skyfall

I haven't promoted Honest Trailers for a little while. They do good work, but maintaining this blog becomes both too easy and too predictable if I were to frequently post about HT, Cinema Sins, and How It Should Have Ended. I haven't become successful enough at online writing to sell out and start phoning it in - and I hope don't even when I do become successful.

Despite my roommate getting it on DVD two months ago, I still haven't had time to watch Skyfall yet. Regardless, what Honest Trailers had to say about this most recent (and most successful) Bond film had me laughing quite hard and quite often.

I hope you enjoyed it! See you all tomorrow!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Question for the Week of July 1-7: Sequel? Fine

What movies would I like to see sequels of?
I wrote a while ago about remakes I wouldn't mind seeing put to film.

So, yes, there's also a Sequelitis tag on this site, and it signifies moments wherein Hollywood has created sequels that are either (a) foolish in concept or (b) insultingly stupid in execution. The basic barrier that any sequel has to meet is whether the picture feels like a simple retread of what's already happened and whether it has a real story to tell about the protagonist or world of the film itself. So often, those standards have been let down greatly, so here's my two cents on what could/should work - at least, for me...

So which movies do I think deserve (or demand) a follow-up?

Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins - For one thing, the title already lends itself to further stories. For another, I always respected Fred Ward's work, and really enjoyed the attitude and style of this picture. If someone decided to tell more stories with that protagonist - or its general setting - I would be happy to watch them. They'd get extra credit for folding Joel Grey's masterful "Chiun" (even though it's Asian-face, he's awesome) back into the story.

The Adventures of Buckaroo Bonzai Across the Eighth Dimension - this insane, original, ridiculously-plotted picture actually announces that there will be a sequel, titled "Buckaroo Bonzai Against the World Crime League."

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang - from a story perspective, it would make no sense for another Shane Black movie to star Val Kilmer's "Gay Perry," or Robert Downey Jr.'s lead, Harry Lockheart - much less Michelle Monaghan's actress/damsel in distress, Harmony. But damn, that film was fun.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Red Letter Media Star Wars IV Commentary

Since January 2011, I've discussed my favorite film fans, Red Letter Media, many, many times. They're classy, skilled, insightful, and dead-funny.

I love their ongoing Half in the Bag reviews, as well as their nearly bi-monthly Mr. Plinkett film reviews... A lot of their work has centered on the Star Wars franchise, and, in August 2012, they released a commentary track to be played alongside the Special Edition of Star Wars: A New Hope. It'll make you laugh pretty hard.

Since then, RLM has also released a Plinkett commentary track for Star Trek 5: The Final Frontier. Keep in mind that these Plinkett works are supposed to be the ramblings of an insane old guy who keeps killing his wives, making pizza rolls, and often discusses his gastric problems. It can get a little gross at times, but they're smart enough to not use this humor idiotically - and, at least it's appropriate to the character.

Enjoy, everyone!

Monday, July 1, 2013


The show that ABC cancelled mere moments after takeoff is, in fact, brilliant. It's brilliantly bad and brilliantly ill-considered, so entertaining is it in its foolishness.

You must understand - Zero Hour has Nazis, a holy artifact, hints of genetic experimentation (!), violent priests operating like gangsters, a hostage-taking terrorist played by Michael Nyqvist, the male lead in Girl with the Dragon Tattoo... That artifact is protected by a globe-spanning mystery that is so silly and so dumb that it will creep into your heart and set up shop. It was cancelled after 3 episodes.

Oh, heaven, it's so bad! Okay let me set up a clip: Anthony Edwards (ER, Goose) plays Hank. In the pilot, his wife (Laila) has been kidnapped by Nyqvist, brilliantly-cast as the infamous terrorist-for-hire, "White Vincent" (nailed it) - dude assassinates people, he blew up a plane. The FBI is now all over Hank, but in the third episode he just blindly runs into a trap/meeting with his wife's captor.

But the baddie is a very, very odd man, who opens with philosophizing and asks Hank how he first met Laila. Hank confusedly repeats the question. Vinnie clocks him right in the face. Hank reels, starts talking. Then WV goes on a tangent, musing about Time itself right before this vid begins. Get ready for a treat, ya'llThe vid was made private, so here's Nyqvist discussing the show:

If you don't understand why I find the above to be endlessly amusing then there's something broken inside of you. It's okay if we don't hang out. The screaming, the freakout, dude just pimp-slapped a super-terrorist, the on-the-nose dialogue - with super-special "no I was aiming for your husband" burn - everything about this show is amazingly bad and well-produced.