Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Fall Preview UPDATE The Muppets

The Muppets are never mean to anyone. Jason Segel has said this quote in practically every interview and it really stands out as the soul of this movie. This is not cynical or ironic, these are the Muppets in all their surreal slightly vaudevillian and silly glory. As candy coated and fancy free as the exterior of the film is there is a deep sense of nostalgia and loss for that which is what we had. It is an interesting blend of melancholy and joy that weaves throughout as the Muppets attempt to recapture the magic they had in their heyday.

The film succeeds first and foremost as great family entertainment, with a glowing stamp of approval from junior columnist RC. This is a film that knows what it is. Bobin and Segel keep it set just outside the real world where music numbers and Muppets are commonplace. Also they are constantly breaking the fourth wall with some witty one liners. Like the best family entertainment there are some heavy themes here, such as finding your place in the modern world or being able to recognize true love. Whether that is the romance between a frog and a pig or the love of entertaining trumping your desire to be monetarily successful, such as Grover giving up his place as the head of a company. One of my favorite bits involves Animal giving up the drums in order to control his anger. This idea that stability is achieved at the cost of your true passion is a great metaphor for the artist and a strong thematic point for an otherwise light film. But everyone has this arc as we see each of the Muppets rediscover the bliss they achieve when performing and working together. Perhaps the films greatest achievement is making Kermit an actual complex character.

Kermit is the man. He is the lynchpin that can hold everything together and the only person capable of getting everyone back for one last show. I'll be honest and say it's been awhile since I've seen one of the Muppet films, but I never remember Kermit being this complex of a character. When we first see him he is visibly worn down living alone in a house that is far too big for him. The first song he sings as he walks up a hallway reminiscing is heartbreaking and we see that he is actually scared to embark on this journey because he actually has doubt that he can do it. For the first time I really believe that he cares about Miss Piggy as much as she loves him, and seeing Kermit grow as a character is one of the most accomplished bits of writing I've seen. I never thought I would see a film I'm which Kermit becomes humbled and attempts to regain his confidence. By the end of the movie we see Kermit in full on MC mode as he leads the Muppets in a wonderfully modern version of their show.

Segel does an amazing job at keeping the script a mixture of homage and full blown Muppet zaniness. Like The Artist honors silent films and is a great silent film in its own right this is a brilliant love letter to the Muppets while being an amazing Muppet film itself. We all know I'm the optimist of this crew but aside from Amy Adams’ out of nowhere solo I can't imagine anyone not enjoying this incredibly entertaining film. They manage to keep it positive and happy and bright without ever being coy. A great family film and a great film in general. Here's hoping our children will now get the chance to experience further adventures of the Muppets.


One last thought - this film and Hugo(my review should be up shortly) both push past post modernism and venture into nostalgia reminding us of a time without cynicism and when filmmakers truly were magicians who achieved the impossible where people could travel by map and take rocket trips to the moon. If this is the direction family film is going then RC is in for a wonderful cinematic upbringing.

Fall Preview UPDATE kinda Margin Call

I remember hearing about Margin Call at Sundance, and hoping it could deliver on the promise of potential that everyone was buzzing about. I'm here to say the film delivers on all promises. This film from first time director J.C. Chandor has a great script backed up with some solid classical direction. He keeps his shots simple and tight. With each boardroom getting smaller and smaller as we realize just how grave the situation is. Featuring some
all star turns from Spacey and Bettany proving that underneath vampire killers an angel assassins he's a damn good actor.

Stanley Tucci is the head of risk management for a major corporation. During a period of downsizing he gets let go, but before he leaves he passes off some work he was doing to Zachary Quinto. Quinto finishes the work and discovers the economic catastrophe that awaits them. The rest of the film moves at a breakneck pace as late night meetings are called in order to figure out how to cut their losses and ultimately unload billions of dollars of worthless stock which of cours will cause a ripple effect with which we have all seen the results of.

Spacey is Oscar worthy here as the head of sales who happens to have a conscience and fights desperately against having his team sell shares that are worth less than zero. He has the character with the most inner conflict and their is a bit with his dog, which is a symbol of his soul here. His dog is dying and he is struggling to save his dog but without ruining too much(I'm sure you know what happens in the end) he fails and ultimately buries his soul. It's a restrained performance and his morning speech to his sales staff is riddled with such frustration underneath that it should be studied. If the film
garners any attention outside of the incredible script then I say it goes to Spacey as best supporting actor nominee.

Ah the script. The script is incredible creating realized characters out of some incredibly greedy an selfish people. Bettany finally chooses some material that shows off how good he really is. He plays a sort of voice of reason as his tirade towards the end puts the blame right back on the public for being stupid enough to think money could grow on trees. The script moves fast and is riddled with jargon all throughout but I can't imagine anyone who actually cares about the material having trouble keeping up. This
is powerful adult drama with some high stakes, but rather than robots and aliens, these repercussions are real. There is a constant obsession with money throughout the film. The way it plays is not really about greed but more of a modern day obsession with how much everyone makes. It is an interesting commentary on the socially connected lack of privacy we love in which profile pages, job status and dollar signs define who we are as people.

This is the sleeper hit of the year I you ask me. Thoroughly impressed at the restraint the director shows for his first time out. Rather than announce his arrival with a fast cutting over stylized slick piece of cinema(not there's anything wrong with that if done right) he gives us an amazing examination at one of the worst economic crises of our time and let's the script and actors home through some simple direction. This year has announced the arrival of some new talent to say the least. This and Take Shelter definitely go head to head for the best new director award so far.


One last thought - Jeremy Irons as the head of the company is amazing and of course Manny's man crush Stanley Tucci turns in solid work as well.

Oh, How The Mighty Have Fallen.

You are considering to abandon your presidential aspirations, say it is not so Herman Cain! It seems that he is floundering under the weight of accusations of various sexual improprieties, which have culminated in allegations of an affair. I will be the first to point out that not addressing the "elephant" in the room certainly did not work to your advantage, did it? Also, I have said it before, why did you not investigate your past (with a private investigator) to ensure that their are no "skeletons in your closet" and if something is found (presumably, these allegations would have)... Well, then you save your time and money by not running.

This is the first lesson in politics. Also, do not bring the almighty Creator into the mix when your private life is rife with allegations of infidelity. Seriously, I said it before, did you consider your private life or any before running? I bet it was just a spur of the moment thing, just something to do on daily list.

I know, I know... I am kind of beating a dead horse but this is a lesson that Pops Funkowitz taught me when I was young. If you want to run for political office, you best have money and a clean record. If I was taught that when I was young then what is Cain's excuse. When the first allegation came out, he should have been honest and addressed it. Sure, his credibility and reputation might take a hit, he would lose some points but he could salvage it (He would lose any impending lawsuits though, so I kind of get it). By ignoring it made matters worse... Actually, the news of a thirteen year affair did that.

Now, Cain comes from the party that prides itself on being moral and crucifying other politicians (cough, cough... my man Bill) for the exact same thing, this is difficult to rebound from. Of course, Cain steadfastly denies having an affair with Ginger White and that makes sense. However, if the allegations of "showering her with gifts and paying for her to travel to events where Cain was speaking" is true than that is a horse of different color. In no point of human history has a male (married on top of it) paid for gifts or travel expenses without expecting a little something in return (unless said male wants to sleep on couch or get divorced). Here is a thought Hermy (can I call you that?), if these allegations are false and baseless, have you ever thought of a lawsuit (you know, defamation of character and such)? Not surprising considering you did not do the necessary due diligence on yourself prior to running...

Of course, it kind of leads me to believe that they are true... I am just saying. Will this derail the "Cain train?" At the very least, it will take the steam out of it and what is a train without steam besides a device that died in the mid-twentieth century?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

You know, Benjamin Franklin was on to Something.

It is Thanksgiving and from my perspective, it is the greatest of all holidays (Although, it is quickly becoming a forgotten one). Sure, Halloween has the costumes/ candy and Christmas has presents. Thanksgiving has the winged and altogether delicious beast shown above. You cannot beat a succulent and moist turkey! In fact, I am creating a new movement (yes, I am creating yet another movement), to resurrect the cause of Benjamin Franklin's of getting the national bird to be the turkey.

Any whether you bake, broil or flash fry it, have a turkey leg for us here at PORTEmaus. Gather those close to you and have a great Thanksgiving, consume as much food as possible and then pass out. After all, you need your rest if you decide to venture out into the world for the blackest of Fridays.

From one turkey enthusiast to another,

Monday, November 21, 2011

Nerdlert #10 Milestone of my gaming life Legend of Zelda turns 25

25 years with my princess and she still manages to find herself in trouble year after year. That's right folks this year is the 25th anniversary of The Legend of Zelda. For the past quarter century hordes of loyal gamers have been throwing boomerangs, pushing blocks, carrying fragile items, entering dungeons and so on. The Zelda games are my favorite series of games, period. Ocarina of Time is the greatest video game of all time, and now with the release of Skyward Sword word is Ocarina might have met its match. I can't wait to find out if that's true. But first I thought I'd take a trip through some of Link's adventures outside of the canon of the main series of games.

Link as an exclusive character in Soulcalibur 2 for the GameCube.

Link more than holds his own against a more mature character roster than Smash Bros. and brings along some of his toys for good measure. This weapon based 3d fighter is perfect for anyone wishing to go slash happy with our favorite hero.

Link as an action figure.

These were awesome and took some concept art of link and turned it into these super cheesy toys. The first iteration of Link looked like this so in the instruction book or your favorite copy of Nintendo Power there was always an artist's rendition of Link.

Fake trailer Link

A few years ago this fake trailer was released on April Fool's day. I remember having some nerd buds really bummed that this was a joke after all. Me, I say thank god that wasn't real, I think it's a great idea, but aside from myself, Peter Jackson, and maybe Anthony Mann I don't think anyone should touch a feature film based on Zelda.
Link is a horny brute, but for kids.

I loved the cartoon. Every Friday I rushed home just to be sure I didn't miss a thing. That being said even back then I knew something was a bit off on my favorite characters. Zelda was a prude entitled princess who could care less that Link saved her EVERY week. Link chased after Zelda, or doing the alpha male thing and beating everyone up. The fairy was named Sprite and pined after Link, cause apparently Hyrule had become a romantic love triangle. Even Ganon who looked badass was just a bumbling fool who surrounded himself with even more idiots. But like I said I frakking loved it, it was Link and Zelda as cartoons, I couldn't ask for anything more. So excuuuuuuuse me, Princess.


One last thought - Ocarina of Time, the greatest Zelda of all time, has nothing to do with finding the Triforce. Believe me Mr. V and I spent hours scouring websites for any hint as to where it might be, they're all fake. The only thing you get is pictures of it in the cut scenes

Weekly Wish List 11/14 and 11/21 Xmas, Apocalypse, French Masterpiece and childhood

I'm late with this as usual, but the holiday season is quite busy at my alter egos actual place of employment. Being that I'm kind of a big deal there(someone has to show people how to properly fold some knits) I get quite caught up. NO EXCUSES THOUGH right? so I apologize to my humble fan base(you know who you are), but here once again is an installment of two weeks worth of home video picks.

The Rules of the Game - Jean Renoir
Simply put, one of the finest films ever to grace the silver screen, and a high point in the absurdly brilliant career of Renoir. This is a tale of romance between classes and the chaos that ensues once people begin to venture outside of their class in order to find love. All of this taking place on a hunting trip an aristocrats grand estate. Aside from being a gorgeously shot film, Renoir plays with framing better than anyone working today. There is a scene in which characters are going to sleep and he uses deep focus to dolly through a hallway and as we move we see the various relationships play out in a chaotic dance of comedy and passion as action takes place on various planes. This is a must own for any lover of cinema.

Infernal Affairs - Wai-Keung Lau
Like The Departed? Well this is the original. In case you didn't know The Departed was a remake of this awesome Hong Kong crime story. You know the plot already, but don't let that stop you from discovering this film. The movie is just as good as Scorsese's and as you watch it you realize just how much he stayed close to the original while adding in just enough to make it something new. Andy Lau and Tony Leung play the two main characters and really shine in their roles. I urge all of you to check this out, and discover a great film that inspired one of the best American filmmakers.
Bellflower - Evan Glodell
A story of two young men who spend their lives affixing flamethrowers and additions to muscle cars in anticipation of the impending apocalypse, before a woman comes in between them and their lives spiral down in a web of violence? Glodell uses custom cameras to shoot his debut film and as most of you know I'm always down to give someone trying something different a shot. This is the kind of passion project that sounds like he could have something real special on his hands, or be incredibly ambitious and fall short of his dreams. Either way I'm excited to check this out and hopefully discover a new talent.

Super 8 - J.J. Abrams
Best movie of the summer? Well that's up for argument. But Abrams ode to Spielberg and the movies of his youth is an amazing accomplishment. A heartfelt tale of youth, parents, and aliens Abrams has ushered in a new age of Amblin style entertainment. Here are my original thoughts.

Prep and Landing - Kevin Deters Steven Wermers
This is a Disney special that aired a few years ago. RC and I discovered it on a business trip last year and immediately fell in love. This is a story of elves who prep houses for Santa in order to streamline the process(Arthur Christmas has an eerily similar plot) for Santa. The best elf is Wayne and he's is jaded at being passed over for promotion time and time again. It's a short film with a gloriously warm holiday message. B t dubs I frakkin love Christmas. This is a cute film that everyone can enjoy sharing with their family, and it comes with two other adventures of these precocious elves. My favorite part? The overly dramatic reindeer ...laughing all the way my friend ...laughing all the way.


One last thought - Wes Anderson is a curious filmmaker. He has a distinct style which oddly enough causes him to be inconsistent. Rushmore was the previous high point before The Fantastic Mr. Fox, and if you havent seen it I can't imagine a better way than on this criterion blu

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Weekly WIsh List UPDATE Crazy, Stupid, Love

Ryan Gosling and Michael Fassbender are having amazing years. They both have starred in multiple films, portraying completely different characters, and have managed to choose some quality projects. For my money Fassbender has the best performance of the year with Shame, but Gosling isn't far behind with his amazing restraint in Drive. While Drive is easily my favorite Gosling performance and vehicle of the year(heh) his performance here as a smooth talking lothario who trains Steve Carell how to get his groove back is nothing short of spectacular and a testament to his range and gifts as an actor. But I'm getting ahead of myself. The movie in question Crazy, Stupid, Love manages to be a a romantic comedy for actual adults. It is able to funny, and heartwarming without completely treating its audience like braindead idiots, now it is not without its problems, but thanks to some great performances and a smart script the film raises itself above the rest of the standard Katherine Heigl fare out there.

I usually like to start with the performances so let's start there. Gosling is just firing on all cylinders this year, and like I said above each of these performances could not be more different. Here Gosling has charisma to spare as the stylish lothario who teaches Carell the ways of the fairer sex. He has a difficult role, in that the "ladies man who finds the one to turn his life around" is very tired concept, but Gosling breathes new life into it and we never for a minute feel like anything is forced.

Carell is a talented man. His comedic acting is great, but when he does these subdued performances is when he really shines. The guy is funny in his soul so he brings that impeccable timing to the role, but also an amazing amount of soul and emotion to the role. We feel every heartache and reluctance as he goes through the horrible journey of a divorce. Gosling and him make an amazing pair and to be honest I would love the two of them to make more films together as they play off of each other as well as anyone. The two of them really make the movie work and Carell shows that he is much more than a Daily Show correspondent or Michael Scott.

The supporting cast does some decent work, including Julianne Moore as the cheating wife who still loves Carell, and Emma Stone continues to show that she is an exciting young comedic actress. Marisa Tomei is fine and brings a decent amount of crazy, but she was a bit forced at parts.

Everyone involved really benefited from a strong script that had just the right amount of wit and cleverness, despite taking some jobs at my alter egos longtime employer. My biggest gripe with the movie comes from the climax. The movie builds until everyone comes together and emotions fly back and forth as secrets and feelings and identities come to light. As the emotion manifests itself into physicality the scene becomes hilarious and entertaining, but sadly a bit convenient for everyone involved. I felt as if the writer needed to begin wrapping the movie up and so they brought everyone together despite no previous knowledge of the relationships involved. Again it's a small problem, but one I keep thinking about.

The title of the film should give you an idea as the subject matter. The film praises love in all of its glory. Whether it be the crazy the stupid or the overwhelming life changing perfection that is pure love, the film treats each aspect with sincerity as it explores how love can be so many things to so many people. It takes pride in the confusion and heartache that love creates as well as showing just how powerful love can be, whether it is a little boy crush, the love of your soul mate, or finding the one person who can actually make you want to settle down. This is not the most positive film, but I would venture to say that the hopeless romantics out there will get more out of it than you cynics. The directors take us through all these aspects of love over a two hour period and really dive deep into the emotion in subtle ways that most would shrug off, it is a complex story with more layers than is seen at first glance. I really enjoyed this film, and is a great film to share with your loved one.


One last thought - was Kevin Bacon always this badass?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Nevermind where I been....holy crap am I screwed!!

It's becoming frighteningly apparent that I'm completely unprepared for the inevitable Zombie Apocalypse. The more I read survival articles, the more I watch 'The Walking Dead', the more I realize that I'm freakishly f*cked when that time comes. So what kind of things are needed to survive? I'm sure you've seen these lists before, but so what....here is another list of stuff you need to survive the Zombie apocalypse....which could also be called 'Things that Gonzi is lacking for when the Zombie Apocalypse comes and will thus be Zombie Food"

I wonder how I rank on zombie food taste scale

-Physical Prowess: I was dancing with Gonzi Jr. the other night. More specifically, breakdancing. Even more specifically, attempting to breakdance. Specifically even more specific, attempting to breakdance horribly. So there I am, doing my thing. Gonzi Jr isn't really in the mood to dance so I really lay on the moves and finish him before he even starts. As I basked in my shameless victory, I thought "Man..I'm totally fit and have the cardio needed for survival situations." Fast forward a couple days as I sit here typing..with a bandage wrapped knee...barely able to walk. Thinking "Man..I wouldn't be able to outrun a morbidly obese zombie with a tumor on their running leg!"

-Weapons: Guns and Kitchen knives are great and all...but holy crap do I need some Zombie Hunting weapons. It seems like a crossbow would be a good investment. Some machetes could also prove useful. By the way, how the hell do I not have a machete? They are a rite a of passage for Latino boys....right after the christening...you get a candle and then the Machete.

Machete is prepared when the shit hits the fan

-Food/Rations: I see two ways to look at this....A. I'm a food addict and I would get really cranky if I didn't get my share of the rations like every two hours. B. That said...I could live on peanut butter. What better non perishable food item to live out your days in the apocalypse then jars upon jars of extra crunchy JIF.

I'll be prepared when Peanut Butter is the new currency

While I do bring certain assets to the table. For example, I can make the tough decisions like who should be tripped first so the others can get away from the mob of zombies chasing us. Ummm...what else...I've seen a couple of George Romero movies. Not all..but a couple....OHH..I beat 'Dead Rising 2" on PS3 and have some pretty good ideas for make shift weapons...in theory.

But I'm not too proud to say that my liabilities probably outweigh my assets to the team and overall objective. So yeah. If we all end up in the precarious situation that is the zombie apocalypse...I'd be willing to draw straws to see who's in and who's out.....

Just know...when I cross over to the Zombie Side......I will dedicate my undead life to tracking you down and gnawing your stupid cheeks off.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

PETA's Latest Outrage? A Digital Plumber in Raccoon Suit Bestowed by Leaf (In his new game)... Consider This Strike 3.

Oh Mario, I hope you did not kill and skin that raccoon you wear

I am just curious, does the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals ever read their press releases or have meeting where they discuss what stances they are going to take? As for their latest source of outrage, I am going to hazard that answer is a "no." I am as liberal as they come but I cannot get behind such blatant stupidity. Case in point, remember that sweet suit in Super Mario Bros. 3 where Mario transforms into raccoon, can fly and shapeshift into a statue. Well, those folks at PETA, bless their hearts feel that it sends the wrong message. I have another question to ask, are you kidding me?

Yes, in this game, you hunt and skin virtual animals

Back to the irritation at hand, what exactly is the wrong message being sent by a virtual and fiction plumber who can fly by way of feather? As I recall, there is not a level in Super Mario Bros. 3 or this new 3d game in which the user is forced to bludgeon a Japanese raccoon dog to death then skin it and wear its bloody carcass as a suit. I am wondering where the outrage was for the hunting and skinning aspect of Red Dead Redemption? Talk about inconsistent! I am going to put it out there, if a kid is playing a video game, I highly doubt they would be active enough to go out, track, trap, kill and skin a wild (and possible rabid animal) then repeat. I have not even mentioned that then they would have to learn how to sew the multiple skins into a suit.

This is like beating a dead animal but PETA (as an organization) is clinically insane or at least the people who comprise it are. Seriously, I cannot fathom this method of activism. It is like being the fire monitor at school and screaming "fire" multiple times in home room. If they are seeking to reduce the seriousness of their cause, then by all means sound like a stark raving loon. Which will ultimately make them irrelevant in the eyes of the public or depending on who you ask they already have. Consider this the last straw, I am all for dealing with actual violations of animal rights such as poaching, abuse/ cruelty and against wearing fur but I hereby wash my hands of you PETA.

Moreover, I am going to rush out and purchase multiple copies of the brand new Super Mario Bros. because it does promote several messages. One is the message of good times and another is the message of quality gaming. Sorry to break it to you PETA but it is not a handbook for animal cruelty or getting kids to wear skins. It is a game where an obese plumber fights a lizard and somehow bags a princess while jumping from toadstool to toadstools. Sounds more "drug" related than anything, no wait, it is a children's (and altogether classic) video game. Consider this the end PETA, I shan't mention your name anymore and I shall support a less insane animal rights groups. Good day.

The Plot Thickens: More Milestones!

Avast! We have come to that point where another milestone has come and gone. For some, hitting twenty thousand hits is a mere trifle but to basically do this in six months, is something else. For you see, there was a point where I could not even get members of the clan Funkowitz to read this website. After adding the talents of the incomparable Hawk, Gonzi and of course, Bence... We were off to the races!

You might think this is just waxing poetic but the amount of traffic that we do now (which is modest in the great scheme of things... very modest) is roughly ten times what we did before (from month to month). I suppose you have to start some place. The past year and a half have been quite the ride and I have thoroughly enjoyed it.

As always, we are but five humble gents, who always are thankful for the patronage of such classy readers as you! From here, we look forward to the future milestones and continued growth. I do not know about you but the prospects certainly are exciting.

Your humble servants,
Messrs. Funkowitz, Bence, Hawk, Gonzi and Totty

Thursday, November 10, 2011

You're familiar with the phrase "man's reach exceeds his grasp"? It's a lie: man's grasp exceeds his nerve.:" The Prestige

Film Foray RETROspective no. Six: The Prestige

The Prestige

Is there a more complete American (He holds dual citizenship with England) filmmaker (or otherwise - forgoing Nationality) than Christopher Nolan. This assertion caused a minor disagreement with Bence but having watched The Prestige for like the sixth or so time, I hold steadfast in my high opinion of Nolan. Furthermore, this film illustrates that no other filmmaker creates "complete" films than Christopher Nolan (as a digression, is there a better writer or storyteller these days than his brother, Jonathan? Doubtful and again, The Prestige highlights this opinion) and this film is complete from the perspectives of story (and screenplay), acting, cinematography... You name it.

When I first saw the trailer for this film about two dueling magicians, I was kind of upset because it was not another Batman film. Like my fellow gents here at PORTEmaus, I was blown away by Batman Begins and was highly impatient for the sequel. I sat there and immediately thought "you have Bale and Caine" but you could not make another Batman film? In spite of this, I was excited to see this film and it did not disappoint. Having read the novel (which inspired this RETROspective), you cannot have a more unique film adaption than this film.

It retains the skeleton or essence of this novel. It follows the cyclical conflict between Alfred Borden (Christian Bale) and Robert Angier (Hugh Jackman) whose hatred began with the accidental death of Angier's wife. The conflict culminates with the creation of a magic trick so fantastic that it furthers Angier's obession (and hatred) for Borden. This takes Angier clear around the world to seek out the expertise of the world's greatest inventor, Nikola Tesla (This is a reference to my personal dislike of Thomas Edison). Armed with Tesla's machine, Angier takes the step from illusions (and deception) and into science, leading to a physical manifestation of the illusion.

After finishing this film, I am surprised that not many people rank it up there with Nolan's other monumental works (his entire catalog). I am not saying this is a forgotten film but when there is the discussion of Nolan, it is simply Memento, Dark Knight and Inception. Hell, it is never discussed as one of the greatest period pieces of all time or even from the perspective of not being based off of a work by Austen or Shakespeare. I would like to think that this has a lot to do with the inferior "magic" movies that were released in 2006 (Scoop and Illusionist) but I doubt we will even known as there is no debate.

In retrospect, The Prestige is not only an underrated film but it is a great one as well. You have to hand it to Nolan as he actually made me believe that Scarlett Johansson had the ability to act... Which is something that no one has seen since. Anyway, at the very least, the cinematography and art direction were singled out for Oscars. They did not win and it is kind of travesty, if you watch the film then you will understand my point. Anyway, you know a film is great when Christopher Priest's (the author of the book) reaction was "'Well, holy shit.' I was thinking, 'God, I like that,' and 'Oh, I wish I'd thought of that.'" Such a reaction speaks volumes about this film.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Weekly Wish List 11/1 and 11/8 Slacking again

Alright I know definitely slacking lately. With the little guy turning the big THREE last week was packed full of Holiday 2 flow and festivities for the family.

I have to say as amazing as last week was for home video releases, this last month in general was pretty limp in its selection of Halloween/Horror films. Well whatever, at least there's already a large selection available. Anyway here's the past two week's picks.

Crazy Stupid Love - Glen Ficarra, John Requa
I don't hate romantic comedies, I hate formulaic derivative stories with nothing new to deliver. There's nothing wrong with being able to "guess" the movie but damnit when you have actors playing cardboard cut outs and each film follows the same beat then I get upset. Anyway, fuck Nancy Meyers, hopefully this lives up to its promise as being an intelligient witty romantic movie for adults. Steve Carell is great, especially when he's subdued, Gosling is a badass and always intriguing. I even like Emma Stone, so I'm excited about this, Twincess and I should be checking this out soon.

Bunraku - Guy Moshe
Hyper stylized assassin movie starring Josh Hartnett and Ron Perlman. This is actually on my Fall Movie Preview but unfortunately was released for all of one week(maybe two) and I was unable to catch it. This is the film I know the least about, and sometimes that's the best way to see a film.

Cars 2 - John Lassiter
So I guess this article was right. Critically panned, this probably seals the deal for Pixar losing the Oscar this year. BUT it is Pixar, and I do have the little guy, this is worth a look if only for that. Also this comes with the new Toy Story short which for us is absolutely worth the price alone.

Mortal Kombat Legacy - Kevin Tancharoen

This is just an amazing story of what is possible these days with home cinema. This guy made a trailer/sizzle reel type piece in order to show people that a decent Mortal Kombat movie could be made. He then gets the chance to do a webseries which was decently successful, and now word is he is going to be bringing Mortal Kombat to the big screen. Tancharoen does the smart thing and brings the gritty to all the fantastic that exists in the world of Mortal Kombat. Having said that I saw the sizzle reel which was kinda cool, and I've seen the first two episodes. Better than the existing movies for sure but so far nothing too crazy. Like I said an amazing story, and one that I'm willing to support to check out the rest of the series.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - David Yates

Last in the series. You really don't need me to tell you to buy this. An amazing accomplishment in saga storytelling.


One last thought - apparently Kaufman and Clooney argued quite a bit over this film.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Now, the Fun Begins Since The Media Coverage Amps up and the GOP is Pressured Into Finding a Candidate that is "Sane"

This is not seeming so far fetched.

The first Tuesday in November has come and gone, this means that the Muckraker is moving into 2012 Presidential coverage (I am thinking up a title for these posts) with less than one year before many of us will enter the ballot box. With that said, here we go.

I overheard a conversation earlier were there was a discussion about Obama not being reelected. Certainly, one is entitled to their opinion but that was the long and short of it. This is the question that I pose you all... Who exactly will the Grand Old Party run against him. There has been a cavalcade of candidates paraded in front of cameras and frankly, none of them seems to be great. Flash foward to the very dim hours of this morn and a Yahoo! article exclaimed that bickering on subjects (this time Herman Cain's alleged harassment) help President Obama. First things first... Uh Duh.

Let's return to the candidate cavalcade and the Republicans simply do not currently have a viable Presidential candidate. This is explainable by the fact that the "frontrunner" changes every few days. Why is that? The media has a short attention span, the Republicans began the process far too early and none of the candidates have longevity. This too is elementary, my dear Watson. Whoever is calling the shots at the RNC needs to be fired as they are allowing anyone to run for President. Who is vetting these potential candidates? Evidently nobody. There is nobody that is sane enough to capture the sweet nougat center of American politics... The undecided.

You have extreme Conservates... I mean Tea Partiers (Ron Paul and Michele Bachmann), straight loons (Rick Perry) and people who (allegedly) is a sexual harasser (Herman Cain). Honestly, that leaves poor old Mitt Romney (who I call "catcher..." get it... Catcher's Mitt. Horrible, I know), who will not get the nod because of his chosen religious beliefs (This came up for Lieberman), very progressive of you America. I suppose the obvious question should be asked. Why do you care so much Manny? To be honest, I love politics (natch) and I would like to see the best that either side has (Presidential elections are like the Super Bowl to me... Poor analogy since the Super Bowl is the Super Bowl to me as well) and have them "duke" it out.

However, unless John "Third Time is a Charm" McCain enters the race, I do not see that happening. That was sarcasm. Who am I kidding, we know where I stand on this issue. I bet you guys wish that George W. Bush could have pulled a Grover Cleveland... Damn those pesky term limits.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

New Tune Tuesday 11.1.11 - The Beach Boys (finally) Smile plus Decemberists, Florence and the Machine and more

Beautiful Melodies telling you Terrible Things vol. New Tune Tuesday 11.1.11

I'm a bit belated here, but that's just how it goes. I'm knee deep in deadlines and post-production on my newest short film, and between that and heading out of the country for a bit on Friday, this will be a relatively short NTT. So I won't be delving into crap like the new Susan Boyle or Justin Bieber's Christmas album. Unfortunately I don't have time this go around to talk about how that corporate manufactured trash kills your ears. Anyhow, we'll get to the new ear bud, but a quick trip to the news blender...

Justin Townes Earle wins Song of the Year Award:
JTE was built for music, the son of Steve Earle and named after Townes Van Zandt, how could he not be? He's one of the best Americana songwriters out there today, and if you don't believe me, check out his Yuma EP or his latest full-album offering, Harlem River Blues. Anyhow, JTE recently won the Song of the Year Award, for the title track of said latest full album offering, from the American Music Association Awards. I'm glad to see him getting some recognition, besides battling his demons, the man can write a tune. Please, please, check out Harlem River Blues. If you don't like that song, don't bother reading any of my stuff ever again.

Westerberg makes Bastards-esque cameo in "Ghost on the Canvas" video:
For those in the know, Paul Westerberg is my favorite songwriter of all-time besides only Bob Dylan. Recently, Glen Campbell, battling Alzheimers, made one last album, Ghost on the Canvas, which comes from the title track, written by Westerberg about a guy who talks to dead painter Vincent Van Gogh in his sleep. It's an excellent album of it's type, and Campbell and his illness make him perfect for tackling a song about the place between life and death and the difference between dreaming about color and dreaming in color. Famously, in the 1980's, Westberg's band the Replacements, fresh on a major label deal, found a loophole as to not have to appear in their first music video, for "Bastards of Young," instead just filming a stereo and record player playing the song as a man's shoulder, arm and head could just barely be seen sitting on a couch listening. So here, in the video for "Ghost on the Canvas," Westerberg makes a similar cameo, later painting "4 ghosts," including Johnny Cash. It's one of the most clever music video cameo's I've ever seen. Oh, and Westerberg and Campbell (who's covered a couple other of his tunes such as "Sadly Beautiful") still have never met...

RELEASE OF THE WEEK (11.1.11): The Smile Sessions, The Beach Boys
Some people, uneducated musical people, are quick to dismiss the Beach Boys as pop fodder, as "Surfin' USA" and nothing more. Little do they realize that Brian Wilson is one of the truest genius' of music. Producers and mixers today can't do with 99 audio tracks what Wilson could do with 4, and that's the truth of it. Also the truth is that the Beach Boys Pet Sounds stands alongside Dylan's Blonde on Blonde and the Beatles Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band as not only the most influential rock albums of the 1960's, but the best and earliest examples of a rock/pop record and it's mixture of lyrical prowess, hooks, arrangements and especially the world that goes into the sound and mix as an art form int he truest sense. Then the legend begins, the Beach Boys went off to make their Pet Sounds follow-up, Smile, and it wasn't meant to be. The 1966-67 sessions were ultimately abandoned and thus Smile became the greatest unfinished rock album in history. In the years after it's been heavily bootlegged and some of the tracks ultimately showed up on other albums. The work that went into it is extraordinary and pure Brian Wilson: Just look as the song "Good Vibrations," which was worked on in studio for SEVEN months. People today are lazy and spoiled and don't realize the game changing work that song was for studio recording and mixing. Wilson was revolutionizing the usage of 4 and (then brand new) 8 track recorders and editing together numerous sessions from numerous versions. He split arrangements into sections, he produced backing tracks with session men as the band was out on tour, and in the days where mono was becoming increasingly unpopular to the stereo format, Wilson did most mixes in mono, which provides an artist with more sonic control over what the listener hears, despite of what type of sound system they may listen on. Stuff that is everyday today, Brian Wilson was doing when no one else was.

FINAL THOUGHTS: So here we are, the Beach Boys have reached their 50th anniversary and the holy grail of 60's rock n roll gets an official release. These sessions contain no new overdubbing or recording (ala the Rolling Stones on the Exile on Main St. re-release bonus tracks) and it's released in enough various packages to please a fan of any size or bank account. Pick it up, and thank me later. I was at a favorite record store mine on release day and one of the workers there, a sweet girl who'd never even thought to give the Beach Boys a chance, was loving it.

AVAILABLE ON: 2CD, 2LP VINYL, 5CD/2LP/2 7" SINGLES Deluxe Box Set with 60 page booklet, MP3

Other Notable Releases (11.1.11)
Long Live the King, The Decemberists
An EP coda of sorts for the Decemberists The King is Dead, released earlier this year, this 6-song EP is largely acoustic and keeps the Americana/appalachian sound and feeling of that earlier LP. There is a slight country tinge with some steel guitar on some tracks. Honestly, it's not going to make anyone forget how great this band once was. It's got some solid tracks (my favorites being the opener "E. Watson" and the more rocky home demo "I4U & U4Me," I also like the closing track, "Sonnet") but it's largely (a big word for a short release) a bit boring and repetitive. Not a bad release, it's decent and above average and you can't go wrong for $ or $8, but it's not making me clamoring for a new LP right now.
Available on: CD EP, Vinyl EP, MP3
Ceremonials, Florence and the Machine
This will be a lot of folks release of the week, and for good measure. Even though it's a bit over-produced at times (it's got that UK pop sound that will remind you of PJ Harvey or Kate Bush, it almost sounds like a UK U2 at times), it's a dark, brooding artist album that will certainly satisfy fans. Florence Welch certainly has a voice, whether it's growling along or taking a foot off the pedal for a ballad or showing influence from Adele on a more Gospel tinged number. All in all, despite not being a fan of a lot of the production and sound, it'll please the fans big time.
Available on: CD, Deluxe CD w/ Extra Tracks, Vinyl, MP3
Lulu, Lou Reed & Metallica
If you want to know just how far Lou Reed has fallen, listen to his cover of "Peggy Sue" on the recent Rave On Buddy Holly tribute. Off key, and seemingly out of his mind. Adding far past prime Metallica in the mix? Well, it just makes it worse. This is pure and simple, the TRASH of the WEEK. I hate saying that, because let's face it, Lou Reed is pretty cool. It's really an unbearable train wreck: the songs are too long, the spoken word style really gets old in that element, and doesn't mesh with the backing music or vocals - AT ALL.
Available on: CD, Vinyl, iTunes MP3

Well, that's it for this week friends. Between my new film, trip out of country and some upcoming work gigs, I don't know when I'll be back here on the 'Maus. But when I do return, you'll know it, I'm not sure why or how, but you will.
Until then, send me some spam at HawkMaus@gmail.com