Monday, April 20, 2009

Movie Mon. - Please Deliver Us From Obnoxious Children

Dark Matter: Well done, if bleak, drama (loosely based on a true story) about a Chinese doctoral student in cosmology whose joy over getting to come to the states to study under his idol (Aidan Quinn) turns into disillusionment and depression after he runs afoul of university politics. Interesting, although quite a downer in the last act.

Splinter: Enjoyable horror movie about a young couple whose camping trip starts off bad, turns worse after being taken hostage by a couple of felons, and then goes completely off the rails when they are trapped in a gas station by a deadly creature. Liked this one quite a bit; a fairly original creature, which was nice, plus some interesting tweaking of the usual horror character tropes. Plus, I only really had one "Oh, come on!" moment through the whole film, which is a refreshing change these days.

Slumdog Millionaire: Oscar winning drama about a young man who becomes a contestant on the Indian version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire and attracts police attention because of how well he does despite his humble beginnings. An enjoyable film, although I wish I'd seen it before all of the hype and awards had piled up; with such heightened expectations it was hard not to have a bit of a "That's it?" feeling by the end. To be clear: yes, I liked it, but was not blown away by it.

Bedtimes Story: Sub-par family comedy about a man who discovers that the bedtime stories he tells his young niece and nephew are starting to come true. This one got on my nerves something fierce; I had a few minor chuckles here and there, but overall, something about it rubbed me the wrong way.

Twilight: Adaptation of the incredibly popular teen vampire romance novels about a high school girl who moves to a new town and becomes involved with another student who turns out to be a vampire. Don't really have a lot to say about this one; I've seen better, and I've seen worse. Although, I do have to say that if Edward telling Bella "You're like heroin to me" is what passes for romance in this day and age . . . yikes.

Dead Like Me: Life After Death: Straight to DVD movie continuing the story of Georgia Lass and her fellow grim reapers, although minus group leader Rube, whose absence and replacement by a new reaper (Lost's Henry Ian Cusik) is the driving force of the plot. I was a pretty big fan of the TV series, but didn't really care for the movie, especially the new actress playing Daisy; she just did not fit the character at all.

Special: Off-beat film about a depressive meter maid (Michael Rapaport) who signs up for an experimental drug trial which causes him to believe that he has super-powers; his natural inclination is to become a super-hero, of course.

Some excellent ideas present here, but the overall execution is a bit lacking. Liked it, but not as much as I'd hoped from the trailer.

Timecrimes: Enjoyable Spanish time travel film about an ordinary man who finds himself caught up in bizarre events that send him back in time. Somewhat predictable at first, but that actually works in its favor towards the final act as some twists occur. Fans of time travel flicks will enjoy; those who are horribly confused by Season 5 of Lost, probably not.

Tell No One: French thriller about a man who was cleared of the murder of his wife 8 years earlier, only to have suspicions aroused again after a couple of dead bodies are discovered near the scene of her death, a situation that is further complicated when he received an email featuring video of his wife, alive, admonishing him to tell no one. Well done film with some interesting twists and some engaging characters, particularly the main character's less-than-reputable help in his investigation, and the main heavies employed by the big bad.

Doubt: Excellent film about a stern nun at a Catholic school in 1964 (Meryl Streep) who suspects that a priest (Philip Seymour Hoffman) has been abusing a young student. Powerful performances from all involved -- including the always excellent Amy Adams -- compliment a smart and engaging script. As much as Slumdog failed to meet my expectations, Doubt exceeded them.

The Day the Earth Stood Still: Dull yet annoying remake of the classic SF film about a strange visitor from beyond whose arrival invites aggression and paranoia from humanity. The disobedient kid made me feel borderline homicidal, and the CGI work was horribly distracting. Add onto that the film's inability to engage my interest in any character other than John Cleese during his 5 minutes on screen, and you have a big fat "meh" of a movie.


Friday, April 17, 2009

Fragmented Friday - Easing Back Into Blogging

It has now been over two weeks since I last posted, and even the posts I had done before that were quite anemic -- sad state of affairs, I know. I have no really valid excuse other than a hectic schedule and a lack of blogging motivation.

A few of the things that have been going on in the past couple of months

  • A few weeks ago, Parkerite GMC got married, which led to a mini-Parkerite reunion. The bulk of the Poker Football League crew made it, as did Coronela and Little Man Stud, although Clan Flunky was unfortunately unable to attend, to the disappointment of all.

  • I started taking Brazilian jiu-jitsu classes the last week in Februay at TXElite MMA here in town. Once again I tried to keep it a secret from PigPen so I could try to catch him off-guard with improved grappling skills, and once again I let the cat out of the bag sooner than I had planned. I'm enjoying the class a lot; it has a more informal structure than my karate and judo classes -- no bowing as you enter and leave, the instructor isn't "Sensei" but "Coach," etc. -- which actually makes it a much more inviting learning environment for me, and most of the guys there have been really cool, helpful, and encouraging. I've gone to MMA class a couple of times as well, and while I'm not as big a fan of the striking as I am the grappling -- the whole "have trouble seeing this far in front of my face without my glasses" affects punches and kicks much more than it does chokes and submissions -- it is a great workout, and I plan to attend it at least once a week. I've taken this week off because I hurt my shoulder a couple of weeks ago and wanted to give it a chance to heal up, but I plan on jumping back in next week.

  • Two weeks from today I will be in Quantico, VA for Shack-Fu's FBI graduation ceremony; can't wait. There will be a few other Denton folk heading up for it as well, which is cool, so I won't feel quite so odd-man-out as I probably would have if it had just been me and his family.

  • Tonight the Singles are hosting another Murder Mystery; the theme this time is "Murder Me, I'm Irish." Like last year, we had more people wanting to participate than we had roles, so I created 9 additional characters with clues, plus my own character who will serve as M.C./host. I will be playing Rick O'Shea, well known spiritual medium and host of the cable TV show "Bouncing Back from Beyond with Rick O'Shea." And yes, I plan to speak in an accent all night long, and no, I do not guarantee that it will be stable.

  • I recently informed Li'l Brother that I was instigating a new policy; for every day that goes by without him returning my phone call/email/text/carrier pigeon/etc., he shall incur a penalty: 30 minutes worth of being practice dummy for my jiu-jitsu and MMA. After first being informed of the policy, he responded very quickly, but it's now been over a week since I left him a message which he has not yet returned, so it looks like I'm going to have to prove to him I'm serious . . .