Sunday, October 17, 2004

Boston Fantastic Film Festival report

just had to make another push for everyone to go see ONG BAK: THE THAI WARRIOR.

if you like action flicks at all YOU MUST SEE THIS MOVIE! it's playing at the brattle on sunday at 5pm and monday at 10pm.

watching this movie i kept having flashes to the first time i saw DRUNKEN MASTER 2, jackie chan's all-time best action movie. this movie really is the best NEW action flick i've seen in maybe ten years. "new" may not be completely accurate tho...maybe "fresh" is more what i'm looking for. at least in an environment when most action movies keep trying to out-matrix the matrix, y'know? in ONG BAK you get to see a super-fast super-agile young star throwing around some acrobatic AND hardhitting moves (no digital enhancements, MAYbe some wirework, altho i don't remember thinking there was any when i was watching) that are relatively unfamiliar on the big screen in the states. i wonder that arcade and console tekken/street fighter type game players may know some of his moves from marquee game characters...

anyhow, the kid-star (i don't know any specifics about him, but he LOOKS young) is physically amazing, leaping, bounding, and pounding - as lucy liu described bender in an episode of FUTURAMA, "like jackie chan before he got all doughy." his choreography rocks. his acting is decent. he may need some serious voice-coaching to make it in the states in a big way, but i think his physical prowess will get him a good start if he wants it.

it's got that action/porn formula going, so don't expect anything too sophisticated in the way of plot. there's just enough there for an excuse to get our hero from one chase or fight scene to the next. in between there's actually more character development than most would expect, altho it can happen fast cuz if you've seen a lot of action flicks, you recognize the archetypes and can fill in the blanks pretty quick - the heartless mob boss, the screw-up punk gangster, the well-meaning loser, and so on...there's a good mix-in of laughs.

oh, it's subtitled, so you'll hafta read. i know, i know, at an ACTION MOVIE? it's worth it.

see this. it's good crack.

also, check out the descriptions of the other horror/sci-fi flicks playing on these last two days of the fantastic film festival. and scan the brattle calendar (link at top left of their home page) to see what's coming. they get some really great movies there.

keep on keepin on~

flicks i've seen at the BFFF so far...

feckin brilliant! it should be out this winter in the states courtesy of miramax. stars the hong kong highlander (seemingly immortal and never aging) actors tony leung and andy lau. hong kong cops vs. gangsters film. each side has a deep-cover mole planted in their opponent's camp. when the police close in on the gang boss, he sets out to flush out the double-agent, just as the police superintendent begins to suspect one of his own. it's a very smart cat-and-mouse game that sets up a dozen or so great intense confrontations. see it in its original form, before quentin or some tarentino worshipper rips it off and ruins it.

a TON of stylish action fun. i think it's available on dvd now - look for it. y'know the porn/action formula i mentioned earlier? the same applies here, but it's amped up. the out-matrixing also applies here, only this movie may actually do it (in the style and fighting departments, not the plot, character, or philosophy ones). along the way it also rips off at least a half-dozen big budget action flicks and excellent video games. but it does so with respect.

based on a japanese graphic novel/manga series, the action kicks off when a death row convict survives his electrocution. declared legally dead, he can choose between another go in the chair or volunteering to be a test subject for a super-secret government project. he chooses to join the project and finds himself bunking with another death row survivor in a high-tech observation chamber. both of them are subjected to psychological abuse that all seems aimed to pit them against one another in physical combat. as the movie progresses, you find that the real purpose behind the manipulation is far more complex, bizarre, and high-stakes than a simple deathmatch.

gorgeous movie adapation of a children's book from england. great cast of children and adults (a zany eccentric kenneth brannaugh) and...umm...creatures (conjured by team henson and voiced by comedian eddie izzard). the set-up and storytelling reminds one a bit of THE LION, THE WITCH, AND THE WARDROBE. five brothers and sisters are evacuated from london during world war one, sent to live with their uncle and cousin in the country. during their stay they trespass into the one part of the uncles mansion that is forbidden and discover a very odd fairy. having been found, he will grant the children their wishes, but, as is the way in wish-making, there are unforeseen consequences to desire fulfilled. eddie izzard turns out to make an excellent fairy! his off-the-fairy-cuff dialogue, along with the wonderfully written sharp-witted children and absent-minded professor uncle, provide entertainment for ages 5 thru 55. very fun and sweet stuff.

based on the manga series by masamune shirow, the creator of GHOST IN THE SHELL, this cutting-edge "anime" is bee-yoo-tiful. the thoughtful use of the technology behind its making sets it apart from pure-cg animated flicks (a la FINAL FANTASY - oh, you should've gone with a dumber plot and dumber ideas), and cel animation combined with cg (stuff like GUNDAM SEED...if you like animation, you've seen it around). judging by the look and style of the final product, everything, characters and environments, is modelled and animated with computer assistance, but the way humans are RENDERED by the computer is different from the way inanimate objects and their surroundings are. environmental features, like skyscrapers and vehicles and the ocean, are all treated as real/photo-real, as everything in the movie FINAL FANTASY is, while characters, are treated as inked and painted, using some kind of smart rendering algorithm, maybe supported with some human hands for touch-ups.

sorry if all of that hackish mumbo-jumbo doesn't clear anything up. bottom-line, this is some beautiful animation used to tell a decent post-apocolypse story that features some perfectly "shot" action and battle scenes. if you're an anime fan, you will want to see this.

the brattle staff is pretty certain that the screening this evening was the only u.s. showing of the original in japanese and subtitled in english. the film is slated for an english dub and american release in the near future.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

Vball hiatus | SHAUN OF THE DEAD

hoi hoi ball-volleyers---

damn it all if THIS wasn't a freakin beach weekend! frickin frackin sazzafrazzzin...grrrr...

right. pardon me. couldn't control that bit there...

i'm writing out atcha to get everyone on the same page about my vball-playing status this fall and winter...

bottom line -carnsarnit- i'm out.


i've been waffling on sending something out about this to y'all, my volleyball roundup-ees. didn't see as how it would be all that helpful to pass along this information. y'know, unlike how my plugs for NAPOLEON DYNAMITE and THE CORPORATION and midnight 70s kung fu at the coolidge corner theater have no doubt enriched your lives.~ =) but, having initially told only a few people - captains and teammates of my fall rosters - i've had questions come back at me from other folks i'd usually catch up with between games or at anna's or white horse and such. so, i figured i'd let "everyone" know whatall's up.

i went and did Something Bad to my shoulder. it felt like i initally tweaked it sometime around the second week of august. it continued to bother me and got more painful, restricting more motion, thru the rest of the summer. and on labor day at the beach i found i couldn't fully extend my right arm without a lot of freakin pain. since labor day i've seen my primary care doc and then doctor zahner (orthopedic surgeon at st. e's in brighton) about it and they inform me that my mri reveals a rotator cuff tear. my visit with doc z was this past tuesday and he told me that if i want to be able to play volleyball again at the level i was playing before the injury, i would need surgery to re-attach my muscle (or is it tendon? frack, i should've taken notes) to bone in my shoulder.

i thought about that a while and then said - gosh, that's super, but isn't there anything they could do so that i could play at a HIGHER level?

heh. actually, he said he was surprised to see this kind of damage in a 32 year-old and wanted to review the mri with another radiologist for a second opinion. i think he was maybe skeptical of just how bad my volleyball problem is. =)

so, i'm supposed to consult w him again in two tuesdays. i'm quite certain that it is a tear - sounds dumb, but i feel like i can FEEL that it's torn, that there's a loose end of something lost and sandwiched and sliding between layers of other muscle - ick! - and once dr. zaius confirms it when i see him next, i'll be opting for surgery. he told me that post-surgery recovery time could run from eight to twelve months. so, at best, back in time for some summer ball, and at not-so-best, back for the fall.

THANKS! to bruno for polling the online vb community for personal experience info on rotator cuff surgery and recovery. if you've got something to share, good, or not-so-good, about shoulder injury, surgery, and recovery, i'd appreciate hearing it.

* today you read an email dealing with a shoulder injury that changed one boy's life. how might such an incident change yours? to find out more about the rotator cuff, surgery, and the human body in general, consult the books at your local community public library! remember, reading is fundamental!

i tried brushing my teeth today only lefty, to see what i'd have to deal with for a chunk of the recovery time while my right arm is useless, y'know?...anyhow, my technique needs a little work. they'll release me from surgery only to have me back at the hospital the next day to have a toothbrush removed from my sinus.

hrmm...thinking maybe i should get my hair cropped down to a quarter inch or so all around to not hafta deal w the washing and drying. whaddyathink?

keep on keepin on,
brian out
and speaking of ripping arms out of sockets...

go see SHAUN OF THE DEAD! you think it's a movie about zombies, but really, it's about everyday life and relationships. =) if "living dead" isn't typically your favorite genre, i have to recommend this as a great gateway film. and if you're a fan of the living dead, it's a really sweet and clever addition to the existing body of quality work out there.

crazy paik digest armchair thinking - i dunno what hollywood would say about it. the studios may just be unwitting conduits, believing they're just tapping into some odd spike in marketability, figuring out that, "hey, the kids today, they just LOVE zombies!" and a huge bonus for an action flick built around the undead - it opens up all the doors to portraying ridiculous violence on screen, cuz y'know, you can't REALLY hurt them - "they're dead. they're ALL messed up." and c'mon, EVERYONE wants to take a cricket bat to the bobbling heads of their neighbors, right?

y'know, years ago there was a PC video game called CARMAGEDDON that had the player driving all around town smashing other cars and mowing down pedestrians, all the while running from suped up cop-mobiles. wow, y'know, i forget which way the restriction went now. if the u.s. was harsher or if it was europe...? well, anyhow, let's say it was the u.s. while the game was approved for release in europe, in order for the game to get a teen-OK rating in the states, the creators had to turn all of the pedestrians into zombies. a teen could mow down all the pedestrians s/he wanted to so long as they were green and kind of raggedly dressed! a bold statement on the homeless and panhandling? isn't drawing lines fun! =)

anyhow, it's looking to me like the "living dead" is a genre that's making a bit of a legitimate comeback -in gaming for several years now, and now on the big screen, w remakes of the romero classics, and me being me- i wonder why. look for something in human these times of "see something? say something!" the need for an obvious evil threat, a true unambiguous enemy...? or the dilemmas that arise from painting someone as such? i mean, you love your grandparents, right? what happens when they come THRILLERing back to life hungry for your grey matter?

or perhaps they are a reflection of ourselves, a commentary on the effect of modern life on actual living - or at least, feeling like you're living, alive?

and now, here's a group of words that have never been put together in this order before...

much like monkeys, the undead really are an excellent device for turning the magnifying glass on ourselves.


talk amongst yourselves. discuss.

Tuesday, February 03, 2004


Recently caught THE PHILADELPHIA STORY at the Brattle again and, Obi-Wan! Why don't they write movies (okay, okay, adapt plays) like this anymore? And for such a brilliant cast — Grant, Hepburn, and Stewart!


A brilliant little back-n-forth between Cary Grant's C.K. Dexter Haven and James Stewart's Macauley Connor. They are both visiting with the family of Philadelphia heiress Tracy Lord (Katherine Hepburn) on the occasion of her second wedding. Dexter is Lord's first husband and Connor is a reporter sent to cover the event...

Dexter: How bout you Mr. Connor? You drink, don't you? Alcohol, I mean.
Connor:Oh, a little.
Dexter:A lit— A little? And you, a writer? Tch tch tch. I thought all writers drank to excess and beat their wives. You know, one time, I think I secretly wanted to be a writer.

THAT is good crack! =)

Keep on keepin on~