Monday, October 31, 2011
Let the pumpkins be carved and the innards made in (oh so) delicious pumpkin bread. May the children go door to door begging for the treats that shall rot their teeth. As seen with Bence's post, we here at PORTEmaus enjoy Halloween mostly because of our wee bairns (and it is Lady Funkowitz's favorite holiday) but for the most part, we love sweet sweet candy. All in all, we hope that you have a fantastic Halloween and you should avoid any candy that does not come from a store (we're looking at you, candy apples) or is generic (cheap candy gets an egg to the door, gramps). From all of us here at PORTEmaus, have a safe and fun Halloween. For those visiting the Funkowitz household, we do not believe in generic candy, so do not egg us please.
As always, there can always be too much of a good thing. Case in point:
Skeletons drunk on sugar are always depressing...
In a wonderful celebration of Halloween a few years ago Twincess and another of the many sisters Funkowitz had the idea to gather all of my DVDs that could be categorized roughly into the "horror" genre. We then attempted to pick one of the movies at random every night for the week to two weeks prior. Since then this has become a favorite tradition of mine and the one film festival Twincess and I share equal(sort of) joy in. The main goal here, like anything else is exploration. This happens to be an exploration of horror. I ultimately end up creating the mix of films, which I try to include a healthy mix of new and old and always have a handful of stuff that neither of us have seen. We abandoned the random choosing quickly and I would describe a few choices (gorefest, sci fi monster movie, kid friendly fun scary, atmospheric and so on) and then let Twincess choose.
There have been some steady inclusions, A Tale of Two Sisters from Kim Jee-Won has appeared every year except for this one, and has the honor of being one of the few movies I hear Twincess REQUEST year after year. The Signal was also seen the first two years. Last year saw a stream of films neither of us had seen. We saw House of the Devil, which I felt did not deliver on what could've been an amazing homage to 70's thrillers. It also marked the first time either of us had seen Paranormal Activity, which I felt was a fun if somewhat hollow experience, but I can't imagine anyone having any desire to watch this year after year. The gimmick itself started to grow old by the end of the film. Who knows maybe we will get to part two this year. But unlike Twincess I relish in the journey and discovery involved with cinema. Not everything can be brilliant or scary in this case.
This year I worked a bit harder on the list narrowing it down much more than usual. Here's what I got.
The Mist - Frank Darabont
The Thing - John Carpenter
Monster Squad - Fred Dekker
Trick R' Treat - Michael Dougherty
In The Mouth of Madness - John Carpenter
Videodrome - David Cronenberg
The list is always subject to change, especially with stuff being released all the time. Sharing the holidays with my family is always rewarding, but this tradition so focused on being with loved ones and sharing the experience of horror films is one I look forward to every year. Also, probably the only time I'll get Twincess to watch The Thing and Videodrome.
Have a great Halloween everybody
One last thought - so ....what would you pick?
Thursday, October 27, 2011
This Cavalcade posts comes by way of a recommendation from a little over a year ago. I was told to watch this movie because the truths it contains were scary and human civilization is doomed. Thankfully, I had beaucoup hours to kill (roughly a week ago) as I stayed up for about forty-two out of forty-eight hours for a reason that is a tirade for another time. Anyway, I cued up this documentary, screened it and ultimately suffered through eighty-two minutes of frustration as it simply did not live up to the recommendation nor the subject matter... Of course, I am getting ahead of myself.
Meet Michael Ruppert, former LAPD police officer, peak oil theorist and a person very proud of the fact that he has never been asked to testify before Congress. Oh, did I mention that Ruppert thinks that George W. Bush and Dick Cheney have made him their number one enemy? This film follows an interview of Ruppert's theories regarding energy consumption and the collapse of human civilization after exhausting all of the world's oil reserves. He makes some compelling points about energy consumption and politics that I knew when I was in my teens. Of course, civilization will take a step back from where it is currently if oil is exhausted... It only is an ingredient in EVERYTHING. How insightful.
The main issue that I have with this documentary is Michael Ruppert. What are his credentials besides being a crackpot? Like I said, better people who have done the research that he was citing and they are the individuals who should be discussing such topics as peak oil or the implications of a world without oil. Ruppert simply is an arrogant and altogether self-aggrandizing individual. Seriously, no believes that you "called" the financial meltdown in the United States... Especially since everyone could see it coming. Secondly, I highly doubt that Dick Cheney and George W. Bush read your blog (sorry chummy, I will not name drop it) and decided to make you a target.
Chris Smith's documentary suffers because of Michael Ruppert and his lack of credibility. I cannot say if it was Ruppert's allegations or the fact he chain smokes through the entire documentary (which could not be good for his lungs considering the ventilation in the "bunker") and this is a shame. I mention that this is a shame as this film provides an excellent venue for discussing the subject matter. Michael Ruppert is correct, human beings will exhaust all of the world's oil and this will force a reevaluation of how we as a species will live (Co-ops, collective farming or Kibbutz's and the return to the urban environment... Adios, suburbs).
Critics state that this documentary is comparable to the works of Errol Morris and completely disagree. The Fog of War mastered this style of documentary film making and while Chris Smith makes use of the style (interspersing of Ruppert's account of peak oil with imagery and stock footage) of Errol Morris, he does not bring this documentary into the same arena as Morris. Since I have had well over a week to ponder this film (as it has been stuck in my craw), I came across an interview with Smith where he explains that the film is less about peak oil and more a character study about how obsession leads to the collapse of the individual.
This puts the film into a different context especially if one considers the text prior to the credits, which states that Ruppert is being evicted from his house. Ruppert's paranoia has cost him almost everything and it is not the ideas that should be blamed (since he has some decent thoughts). Maybe it was the over the top weeping on camera or the pooping on all other forms of energy while offering no solution to the breaking the stranglehold of oil. Again, it was a thought-provoking film (and subject in general) but coming from a less than credible source killed the effectiveness of the message.
(Two generous Rooney's as it is not a good film but people might want to check out the subject elsewhere... Say, a book.)
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Weekly WIsh List 10/26 Aliens, Legends, Avengers and Dinosaurs, and a bit of extremism for good measure.
Attack the Block - Joe Cornish
Brilliant throwback to 80s horror adventures this time featuring aliens who invade the wrong side of the tracks in London.. This is Monster Squad for a new generation. Cornish nails this film, and Boyega's Moses is one of the finest characters this year. Here's my complete thoughts. Oh yah and here's what Manny though.
The Conversation - Francis Ford Coppola
Amazing film. I like Youth Without Youth, but I hear horrible things about Twixt, and the less said about Jack the better. Seeing this we remember that Coppola was at one point the pinnacle of American Filmmaking. This belongs next to your Apocalypse Now Blu.
Captain America: The First Avenger - Joe Johnston
Marvel had a great summer, and I am completely psyched for next year's throwdown between Marvel and DC. Although there's no chance Whedon will outdo Nolan, I'm excited to see the two largest comics studios go head to head. That being said this is the last piece of the puzzle and Johnston manages to deliver on his promise. Lots of thanks goes to Evans for making the ultimate boy scout likable and interesting. Here's my original thoughts.
Jurassic Park Trilogy - Steven Spielberg & Joe Johnston
Let's get this out of the way Parts 2 and 3 are fun popcorn flicks, but far inferior to part 1. With 3 being about as empty a blockbuster as any, still fun, but nothing Johnston should be proud of.
That being said Jurassic Park is one of my top five favorite films of all time, and the last of Spielberg's great blockbusters. War of the Worlds and Minority Report just don't compare. This was the movie of my childhood, obsessed with dinosaurs I made my mom take me to see this film five times in the theater. I even had my dad take me to see it when it played at the 50 cent theater. Spielberg and Winston created magic by bringing dinosaurs to life, and filling this world with real people that we care about. The effects of this film stand up to most any shitty cgi fest hollywood has to offer. This was a blockbuster that had a soul, I cant wait to devour this set and share it with my son. RC "saw" the first film on his first day at home, I hope he grows up loving it as much as I do.
Saturday, October 22, 2011
So an old saying "Life isn't always greener on the other side," I've found to be untrue at this time in my life. Life would be so much better on the other side of the world than where I am at this point in time; I mean really it would be. Right now I'm in a deployed location Kuwait and Iraq. How can I be in two places at once you might ask....well its simple I'm not, but my job requires me to roll up and down the roads of Kuwait and Iraq.
Greetings and salutations to everyone who read this blog. First let me introduce myself, I'm the one who will be corresponding with current events, while jobbing it up in this sand filled beach with no water (Kuwait/Iraq). Not only will I be talking about things that happen here and now, I'll be bringing up some things that are totally uncontrollable and just plain stupid. Allow me to explain, I'm in the Air Force, but have been tasked out to work with the Army. Now don't get me wrong, I love working alongside my brother in arms, but I've seen and heard of some of the most dumbfounding things that make no since. One rule being that we must all wear a reflective belt while in Kuwait and Iraq. Wearing a reflective belt in Kuwait isn't that bad, but when I have to wear one in Iraq....Let me just put a giant bulls-eye on my front/back and hold up a sign that says target practice. I mean it's not like the bad guys can't see a whole line of trucks rolling down the road, with gun trucks, that we have to wear reflective belts. Now I need to clarify, while on the road we don't wear the reflective belts, but while on the base we do. Even then I don't want to wear anything that would give away my position; I mean come on people in-direct fire. Stuff still goes boom even when you aren't on the road.
Anyways as this being my first post, I hope it wasn't dry or dull, as they can only get better from here. Oh, so that old saying "Life isn't always greener on the other side," well for me life is a bit greener on the other side. Being deployed, one seems to work very hard (only if on the road), not FOBit's (different blog for a different day). I get let food, sleep when I can, and talk to loved ones when there are a means to communicate. Just remember at the end of the day, I wake up in the morning and piss excellence.
Friday, October 21, 2011
This is an adaptation of Frank Miller's ground breaking Year One storyline. This really was Miller at his best, and ranks as one of the best Batman stories of all time, and a huge inspiration for Nolan's films and Morrison's extended run. Here we get an introduction to Bruce before he is Batman, and how he first dons the cowl, and his first interactions with a young idealistic cop named James Gordon. The parallels that Miller, drew between the two are mirrored here as well as we see both men juggle with idealism and corruption as well as women who tempt them from perhaps the wrong side.
The animation is gorgeous with just a subtle inspiration from anime with some amazingly clean lines and sharp colors. There are gorgeous night shots as we see our two heroes begin to own the night. This is not tamed down animation, the violence shown is extreme and Gordon....oh my god...just wait until you see what Gordon can do. With that let's talk about the voice cast.
Bryan Cranston owns this film. His James Gordon is almost as good as Oldman. He puts so much feeling into his voice, that you feel the pain and heartache he has as he attempts to make this unsavable city a better place. He brings the perfect amount of confidence and sophistication, and most of all HONOR. When he starts to expose the dirty cops in his unit and when he decides to fight back, he does it with such controlled severity that you can't help but be in awe of him. He is a force and you fully believe that this is the man that will end up being the commissioner we all know. His sense of duty and justice is second only to Bruce himself.
Ben Mackenzie is Bruce Wayne. Now he had a tough job. Cause you know what, Kevin Conroy is the best Batman ever. No one does Batman better than Conroy, not Bale, not Keaton not West, Conroy is Batman. Mackenzie holds his own, and never once sounds like the tough boy from Chino. He even does a subtle variation on Bale's Batman voice. Mackenzie pales in comparison to the energy Cranston brings, but he more than holds his own. This movie would not have worked without him and he definitely delivers.
For those of you that haven't read, the movie chronicles the early days of Batman, which lead to some amazing scenes. The first time Bruce goes out on duty without the suit is great. Its always nice to see our hero bite off more than he can chew. The final scene with Bruce in the daylight trying to save Gordon's life is such a great precursor for their future relationship. Also, being a Batman fan, I love when they show just how awesome Batarangs can be.
This is really just Batman done perfectly in animation. Its a quick story that you wish didn't end. Those expecting crazy villains are going to be disappointed. This is Batman at his genesis, when he was out to clean up the streets, this is Bats against Falcone and crooked cops. But hey don't take my word for it. Go out and buy it. You wont be disappointed.
One last thought -Dushku is here as Catwoman/Selena Kyle. For me it's the weakest part of the movie, but I did love Selena and Bruce fighting out of costume.
I mentioned in my review of The Student that it was hard to care about anything since we never understood what the characters stood for, other than someone promising a position to someone else. Now, here there is plenty of lobbying for cabinet positions and hustling for votes, but Clooney gives us a broad idea of what each candidate represents. Morris is a new kind of politician dedicated to new energy sources, and promising a change. He is obviously very liberal and solid in his beliefs, not willing to change his stance even if it means garnering more votes and support. By doing this and setting up his opponent as a much more conservative Democrat, we have an idea of why Gosling is so passionate and why the other guy winning would be bad for the country. It gives us reason to care and invest ourselves in the story.
Clooney is great as Morris, someone who has already played the political game and is on his way to the highest possible position. He no longer has to dive in the trenches to get results, his campaign staff do that for him. As the film progresses and events occur that cause him to rethink his political stance, Clooney plays the reluctance across his face wonderfully. It's a small role but Clooney makes every moment count. Gosling turns in another strong performance as the ambitious aid to Hoffman's campaign manager. His arc starts at the height of idealism and diminishes slowly as the film progresses. A great turn in an amazing year for the young actor, I still think his strongest performance was in Drive.
Hoffman and Giammati turn in the strongest performances as dueling campaign managers who have both in the game for a long time. If any awards consideration for acting are to be had it will be for these two. They are both such great character actors to see them here dueling for the spotlight is a real treat. It'd be hard to choose a favorite since they are equally amazing in their roles, although Id say Hoffman edges out Giammati slightly, especially the scene where Gosling comes clean about meeting with Giammati.
This is a well made political thriller with a bit of Sweet Smell of Success thrown in and further proof that Clooney will have a future as both an actor and a director. He knows how to keep his films tight and concise, and uses subtle composition to make some strong visual impacts. I love the first and last scenes, you could just show those two to someone and they could probably get the results of the film, thanks to some fine acting by Gosling. This has been garnering some oscar buzz, which although it's a good film I doubt it would be in my top ten, but hey the Academy is it's own beast. Well done Mr. Clooney.
One last thought - Jeffrey Wright is such an amazing actor, the guy kills it in every film, whether he has a strong role like in Source Code, or he has ten minutes of screen time like here. Hope he is in the new Mendes James Bond film.