Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Red Line shut down while police investigate...

Reports on "suspicious devices" found around Boston, one of which was harmlessly "detonated" by authorities at Sullivan Square. Another has caused the shutdown of the Red Line between Park Street and Kendall Square...

Charlie on the MBTA. A comment suggests that the "circuit board" may be a bit of LED guerilla advertising by the Mooninites. Oops.

The Bostonist.

Thanks to Keri for the headzup!

Keep on keepin on~

* Minutes later, and...
Ayep... looking at the small photo provided with the story at, I'd have to say Charlie's commenter is not in Err-or (*groan* I know =).

These Errs (not exactly "hoaxes") look to be an evolved form of throwies.

* By the end of the day, the news is reporting that the devices are part of a marketing campaign. [ADULT SWIM]

* After midnight. Found a dropping at Wired. Also, while in Harvard Square I overheard that "detonated" meant blasted with a water canon, and that the Allston New England Comics store was reported as having a "suspicious device" in its window as well.

Oops, those are Ignignokt, not Err, right?

Watch-A-Thon: update

Thanks mucho to newest sponsors Kirsten, Jackie, Stephen, Bruno and Jennifer! Your support is *very* much appreciated! =)

And now, the latest in my movie madness hit parade...
  1. January 20. GOD GREW TIRED OF US. Kendall Square.

  2. January 21. HAPPY FEET. Capitol Theater.

  3. January 22. BLOOD DIAMOND. Somerville Theater.

  4. January 23. CURSE OF THE GOLDEN FLOWER. Boston Common.

  5. January 24. NOTES ON A SCANDAL. Kendall Square.

  6. January 26. SMOKIN' ACES. Boston Common.

  7. January 27. THE KING AND THE CLOWN. MFA-Korean Film Festival.

  8. January 27. ROAD. MFA-Korean Film Festival.

  9. January 28. IF I WERE YOU: ANIMA VISION. MFA-Korean Film Festival.

  10. January 28. WOMAN IS THE FUTURE OF MAN. MFA-Korean Film Festival.

  11. January 28. TIME. MFA-Korean Film Festival.

  12. January 30. EL TOPO. Brattle Theater.
A linked title will send you to my blog ramble for that movie. I've got some unfinished rambling for the Korean Film Festival flicks this weekend, but not sure when I'll get around to completing it.EL TOPO tonight was trippy and fun. I'm not exActly sure what I saw, but I *LIKE* it. =)

Keep on keepin on~


Keep on keepin on~

*Flash banner pilfered from Working Title Films. =)

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

BSG: Everybody Loves Baltar

3.13: "Taking A Break From All Your Worries"

Frack. Half of BATTLESTAR GALACTICA was good last night. The other half was trying. There was one thread that followed the Apollo-Starbuck-Dee-Anders infidelity drama, and then another that was all about Baltar being accused of treason. Can you guess which half was frickin frackin annoying?

A couple episodes back, my friend Dan told me that he didn't understand why the Apollo-Starbuck thing was getting any spotlight at all. I kneejerk defended it, as it's about building the characters, and fleshing out their history in the "present," right? I was also really intrigued by the whole "marriage is a sacrament" programming coming out of Starbuck, and the conflict set-up on the algae planet was fun in a tension building way, y'know? Anders and Apollo going alpha male over Starbuck, and then Dee being sent to bitchslap her and fly them away. But what we had to endure in this episode... well, I'm coming over to Dan's side now. Just unnecessary. The best thing it does for the series and storytelling is to again demonstrate how they're human, just like us, and can get themselves jammed into loveless marriages. That is something I didn't need Edward James Olmos to spend half of his directing opp on.

Actually, it was bearable until Apollo's confession/apology to Dee at Joe's, just a cheeky glance away from Starbuck and Anders. That was just too much. Even more painful was Dee apparently accepting/taking him back. I wondered if this was Apollo's idea of playing the Good Guy (well, y'know, he was messing around w Kara, so, not the Great Guy) and in his head he was hoping hoping hoping that Dee would refuse to take him back.

Okay, even tho it was aggravating to watch, I guess I *did* let myself keep caring, a little, at least.

I might not have minded it so much if the scale and flavors of the betrayals the two threads focused on weren't so disparate, y'know? The back-and-forth cuts/juxtapositions felt forced to me. Maybe it's a bold (Kobol orthodox?) statement to put marital infidelity (or is it really love, and not marriage, that's suffering?) on equal footing as treason, but it's not a statement I buy. As I said before, I don't like that Starbuck so quickly flips on her "sacrament" stand. Maybe she's shaken by her "destiny" thing, but still...

I suppose I just a little bit do like that Starbuck's being gunshy on committed relationships *is* a familiar echo of old-school Starbuck's Cassieopeia-Athena dilemma. Still, all of this would've been better woven into a different episode, later on.

I would've *MUCH* rather have had some follow-up on Athena and Caprica Six! Can't believe they kept them out of the picture all episode (until the very end). They didn't even have Athena and Helo joining in on the lullabying. Foo.

So... What kinds of fights to Tyrol and Kallie have?

The Baltar stuff, although it didn't GO very far, I really dig it. The ethical part of it is a little shakey, maybe inconsistent, and I would've liked some high ground opposition to the suggestions of torture and drugs, or an explicit concession on the part of the President or Admiral that Baltar's is a special case. Or did I miss that in there somewhere? But it went to some interesting places as far as guilt and blame go, and more wavering fun with "Cylon or not?"

Fun to have his "Occurrence At Owl Creek" scenario with the resurrection hot tub. Am I supposed to believe that that was supposed to be a definitive end to Are You There, Gods? It's Me, Baltar? Because I really don't think that's what we saw. Anyone else? It was a *near* death experience, not a death, no?

Maybe, *maybe*, Baltar believes it's settled, that he's human. It's convenient, after all, now that he's back with the human fleet, right? Of course, I won't take away from him his Chosen One destiny. He's still fated to do great, altho not necessarily Good, things.

Honestly, I was caught off guard when the Prez started picking on him about the defense grid back on Caprica. I was focused on his recent historical term as president under the Cylons, and totally spaced on his involvement way back when, implying his collusion w the klankers, treason, and a literal crime against humanity. Of course, as we've seen it on the show so far, he was an unwitting player, seduced by a Cylon lingerie model. Six tells him that he must have suspected *something* though. And he repeats that, so he wonders about it, doubts himself at times. In the end, tho, he reasserts his innocence, or at least, his cluelessness, absence of malice.

I really appreciate that Adama spells it out for everyone. That it's acknowledged. He doesn't believe he's to blame. He sees himself as a victim. The Talented Mr. Baltar.

Another interesting bit. He flashes back to the nuke on Caprica levelling his place. He says that Caprica Six saved him. But frickin frackin how?!


Man, when the drugs took effect and he showed up in the water, in the dark, I was *really* hoping that he was being zapped back to the moment he regains consciousness after the nuke's shockwave back on Caprica. That we'd get to see (and maybe he would, for the first time) just how he survived that.

I was really hoping that when Adama said they had to get someone he'd trust, they were talking about Caprica Six. I knew that it would be Gaeta, as we saw him show up at Baltar's cell earlier, but y'know, I do like my irrational longshots.

Too bad Gaeta overplayed his sympathetic negotiator, Clarice Starling style, eh? I'm not exactly sure what scenario they expected Baltar to believe would NOT have him observed and recorded, tho. Baltar playing Hannibal the psychiatrist was pretty fun, and even vicious. That was surprising. I mean, I thought both that Baltar was being honest and harsh about Gaeta, playing on the guilt that kept him from pleading his own case when the secret tribunal were ready to tube him, but also that he was attempting to implicate Gaeta, just to hurt him, tear him down, by hinting at his involvement in New Caprica atrocities on records (fabrications, with baiting unsubstantial whispers into Gaeta's ear).

Nice pen to the neck action.

Was Baltar bullstuffing about The Five? He spoke as if he experienced D'Anna's vision, which wasn't the case. I was glad to get a confirmation flash (I think?) of the earlier Jiminy Six-enabled projection/vision of that stage with the white banners/drapes, the same as, or at least similar to, the environment of D'Anna's experience. Definitely meant to be the same.

I didn't go looking for the bonus clip online (is that really necessary?), but from the clip at the very close of the show, we see that the Cylons know about how Roslyn had Starbuck's stalker skinbag airlocked. How far away from the Cylon fleet were they? Jetisonning a Cylon *will* kill it, right? It needs to breathe? So, stalkerboy dies in space but gets resurrected so that he can tell the reset of the Cylons about what happened...

Does that seem right? Does this mean... something? That there's a ship in the Galactica fleet, or a station or device within a ship, that relays Cylon downloads? A booster of some kind? I can't remember the exact situation the fleet was in at the time of the interrogation of stalker boy, but I hafta think that they were a FTL jump away from any Cylon base or resurrection ships, right?

Or, is the idea that a Cylon *can* survive in a vacuum (and without food or, I dunno, ethanol?) indefinitely, and airlocking him is like the ultimate form of solitary confinement? But, intact and functional, he can be tracked and ultimately picked up by his Cylon brothers, or just know that he's within range and then kill himself to be resurrected in a tip-top skin job?

One sad thing about having Baltar back w the humans—we lose the whole BaltarTV thing. Without his presence in the Cylon fleet (nor even D'Anna and Caprica Six's) we lose our window into life in the Cylon fleet and culture, y'know?

Keep on keepin on~

Saturday, January 27, 2007

SMOKIN ACES: violent fun

site | trailer | Watch-A-Thon movie #15First, I have to mention a couple of flicks that I am *retarded* for after viewing their trailers, just once and for the first time, in front of this movie—GRINDHOUSE, a double bill of 70s inspired horror and drifter flicks by Rodriguez and Tarantino, and HOT FUZZ, Simon Pegg and friends' (SHAUN OF THE DEAD—if you haven't seen it, you are incomplete!) ingenious every-great-thing-about-the-best-action-movies-in-one film.

Oh yeah, I'm all over those! =)

I caught SMOKIN ACES last night with Keri and Susan and totally dig it. I have to say, tho, that I wanted *more* from the movie. From the trailer, I got that this was gonna be CANNONBALL RUN, only everyone's out to kill Burt Reynolds, y'know? Just the kind of movie, or movie set-up, that I wish I could've somehow written. A brilliant idea that totally pushes my cops-and-killers heroic bloodshed buttons, y'know? The trailer just psyched me into setting the bar so frickin high for it. The actual film reached that bar in moments, but didn't sustain. I'll try to explain...

The basic premise for the film. Big-time mobster in the Cosa Nostra, Primo Sparazza, is reaching the end of his days, and Vegas entertainer Buddy "Aces" Israel, an upstart outsider who fancies himself a 21st century Sinatra, is making business difficult, operating like a thug and dividing the ranks of the family. Before Sparazza exits, he wants to clean house, old-school, and puts out a $1m contract on Aces, payable on delivery of the man's heart.

Like I said, old-school.

A number of interested parties get wind of this offer, including the FBI, a bail bondsman and his bounty team, and the coldest-blooded killers in the business. Each of them wants that million dollar melon of Buddy's in their crosshairs and has little care for whomever else might get caught in them. They all converge on Aces' not-so-low profile Tahoe penthouse hideout, and...

Well, how to describe this? There's assumed and mistaken identities, hundreds of bullets, a 50 caliber cannon, torches, a rib spreader, a chainsaw, and some vicious intimate spiking. Oh, also, a lot of frickin blood. Now *that* is a Good Time =)

There is this one confrontation in an elevator at one point that my HARD BOILED-lovin R complex can only describe as beautiful...

The personalities of the characters are all pretty tasty, and painted for you in very quick, efficient strokes, which allows us to get the carnage in good time. There are quite a few moments when the supporting cast even steals the show. A freaky little Chuck Norris wannabe will dazzle you with his cracked out moves, and a totally wacked out Michael Bluth does some inspired work as a down-and-out screw-up of a lawyer. A very understated Doctor Jack shares an excellent encounter with a master assassin.

I just wanted MORE is the problem. My problem, really. Cuz I went in expecting/hoping for more. Some of my expectations might've been too much... I mean, I would've liked to have seen a Leon (THE PROFESSIONAL), an Elektra, a GROSSE POINTE BLANK Martin, a COLDBLOODED Cosmo, a GOLDENEYE Onatop, a LETHAL WEAPON 3 Jet Li, and even a GHOST DOG thrown in there, y'know? But it would take a Simon Pegg or a Sam Raimi to really get that all in there and successfully walk the line between action and parody.

If you like action flicks, don't miss this one. If you like good quirky neo-noir (PULP FICTION, SALTON SEA, LUCKY NUMBER SLEVIN), and can stand seeing quite a lot of people getting bullets or shivs inserted into their bodies, you'll dig this too.

Keep on keepin on~

Friday, January 26, 2007

Cinema Circus at the Brattle!

This Saturday morning the Brattle and the Cambridge Center for Adult Education will be running "Cinema Circus: A Family Film Festival"—some kid-friendly live and big screen entertainment.

Brattle listing | advance

I shall be making my way out to the MFA with my *purchased-in-advance* tickets for some KING AND THE CLOWN and maybe ROAD at the Korean Film Festival. =)

Keep on keepin on~


site | trailer | Watch-A-Thon movie #14This was *supposed* to be a gushing review of my third screening of the Korean horror family fun drama THE HOST, but when I got to the MFA to pick up tickets, a half hour before the 7.45 showtime, there was already a massive line of ticketholders and a not insignificant number of people waiting to buy tickets. In about 15 minutes, I was the next person in line (after a couple) at the box office window. Of course, that's when the ticket seller tells the couple, "We've sold out," and scotch tapes a handwritten sign to the window. Frack.

A frenetic museum film staffer materializes by the box office and explains to us that whoever's left in line will now form the standby ticket line. In her hand I could see a rubberbanded packet of will-call tickets for the show. Once she got us parked against the wall to wait, she began bobbing in and out of pockets of people to see if they'd bought tickets in advance and giving them their tickets.


My sister arrived a couple minutes after the standby line formed and we hung out a while, keeping an eye on the staffer and the will-call tix, and watched as the ticket holder line filed into the auditorium... Once they were all in, we talked it over and figured if we DID get a couple of the last tickets, we'd probably get craptacular seats. And me, I'd seen it twice already, so paying for a crummy view just didn't make sense, and In agreed seeing it in a more optimal situation after its wide release (sometime in March, I think) would be worth the wait. So, we bid the standby line "adieu," and took off in search of a back-up flick.

I had LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA in mind, which I knew was playing at Kendall Square. Alas, the timing for IWO JIMA didn't work out and we ended up seeing the very excellent NOTES ON A SCANDAL.

Barbara, an old "battle axe" of a schoolteacher chooses to take Sheba, the art instructor newcomer on the faculty, under her wing. Barbara is something of a loner, impatient with posers and incompetents, and she feels/convinces herself that she has found a similar, or perhaps complementary is more accurate, personality in Sheba. Unfortunately, as she inveigles herself into Sheba's life and family, she discovers that this is not the case, as Sheba repeatedly falls short of her hopes and expectations for a true friend. When Barbara uncovers a secret trespass so terrible that it could destroy Sheba's life, she suddenly understands that this doesn't have to be the end of their friendship, but the beginning of a deeper and stronger bond between the two women. She offers to keep this secret and play the role of mentor and guide, promising to keep her safe so long as she follows her direction.

Compassion or manipulation?

Tomato, tomahto. =)

Of course, things do not go as planned, and Sheba fails Barbara again and again, driving her to threaten to reveal the sordid secret to the world. Wacky UK SWF fun ensues!

Performances on all sides are excellent. Barbara's view on the world is quite skewed compared to reality, and Judi Dench is frightfully good at living it, as the sinister stalkerly matron. Cate Blanchett's Sheba is sad and beautiful and just aggravating to watch at times as she makes the wrong choices and falls prey to vicious manipulation from all sides—her new best friend Barbara, her star pupil, and even her thoughtless mother. Only her husband, played by the always perfect and dynamic Bill Nighy, is fair to her, and sadly, he's the only one that she really betrays.

Doesn't it sound like FUN? =)

A *kind* of fun, anyhow. The voiceover by Barbara—the thoughts with which she fills her diary, a record of the life full of significance that she wills into existence—shapes and slants all the characters you meet. The world thru her eyes is quite entertaining, in a vicious sort of way, as it's full of useless people and pointless goings-on. Check NOTES out for a tight little drama played out by an excellent cast, a movie that'll inspire months of late night "what if?" ethical and relationship discussions. =)

Keep on keepin on~

vball: shoeless Bri =)

"What's the story behind this picture?" you might wonder...

All both of you.

These are the shoes I played volleyball in tonight. And... They're not mine.

What the what?

See, due to scheduling of off-nights, I'd been away from vball for over two weeks, and when I suited and packed up for vball this evening at home, I spaced on grabbing my shoes. Of course, I didn't realize it until I got to the gym. Options? Let's see...
  1. Drive to the mall and buy some new shoes, and probably miss the first match of the evening.
  2. Hope/ask around for someone who's got an extra pair of size 10-and-a-half sneakers (and no fungal issues) with them tonight.
  3. Play in my boots (they've got a 3/4 or so inch sole, not good).
  4. Play without shoes.
Well, given the photo, you're probably thinking that I managed to execute on option number 2. Not so. Not wanting to miss any court time, I nixed option 1. I couldn't find anyone who could loan me any fitting shoes, so option 2 was a no-go. No way could I safely play in my boots, so "no" to option 3. Which left me with option 4. And thusly, I played my first match barefoot!

My What Has Eight Legs And Wins? teammates weren't ecstatic about my decision, but I insisted (of course). I was a little concerned with the crummy floor surface, but except for a couple of obvious divots and uneven floorboards, it wasn't an issue. The worst part of the experience was how frickin dirty the gym floor was, and so, how scrubby and dirty my feet got.

Playing on hardwood in bare feet, It actually felt kind of nice. A ghost sensation of the outdoor vball experience, y'know? I could imagine onlookers thinking I was a nutjob pining for summertime volleyball, grass or sand beneath my bare feet. They wouldn't really be wrong, either. =)

Andrew suggested that I needed a Grateful Dead tee shirt to complete my barefoot volleyball playing hippie look. Longer hair and shades would've rounded it out, too, I'm sure.

I was just setting and playing defense, so I didn't have to do any jumping. I found I couldn't send myself diving the way I usually do. Not sure if that was because of physical safety/ability without the shoes or if it was psychological, me being overly aware and concerned about my shoelessness.

It did seem that my concerned teammates kindly stepped up their passing to accommodate, tho. =)

Oh, but hey! What about those shoes, right? Well, just as we got started with our first match, teammate Kathy called her husband Bob at home and explained the situation. Bob wears size 10-and-a-half sneakers, so Kathy asked him if he could swing by and bring a pair that I could use, and, great sport and samaritan that he is, he DID!

Actually, he was kind enough to bring three pairs to choose from!
Hil and Kathy likened it to girlfriends lending each other, or travelling with, clothes and accessories. Always having options and all, y'know? Heh.

Hrmm... Come to think of it, I think the black ones would've worked better with what I was wearing...

The shoes arrived in time for the first game of the second match of the night, and we called what referee Dan declared was "the strangest time out" he'd ever seen, so that I could make my shoe selection and lace up, and I played the rest of the evening in the Puma sneaks. I can't recall now how we finished for the evening. Regardless, it was a fun night (as Thursdays typically are =).

But, oh man, I need to invest in some new knee pads. Every other week I manage to leave a decent swatch of my skin on the frickin floor. I manage to scrape myself in the oddest places. This time I lost some skin from my left leg, below the knee cap, toward the outside of my shin, when sliding on the floor. I just have crappy diving form I guess. But two weeks ago, I somehow managed to dig a chunk of skin out of my left kneecap, which was covered and protected by a knee brace AND knee pad.

I'll spare you the photo (I can post it tho, if either of you would like to see it). Bleah.

Keep on keepin on~

* January 30, 2007. And now, skinless Bri! Beware! Images of a graphic nature follow...

From the day after the scraping...And from today...The pink dent in my kneecap is what remains of the core sample I took a couple weeks earlier.


Thursday, January 25, 2007

Animation at MoS

The Museum of Science in Boston is hosting a highly interactive Animation exhibit beginning this Sunday and running thru May. Characters and scenarios from familiar Cartoon Network shows like DEXTER'S LAB and FOSTER'S HOME will take you thru the history, technology, and techniques of animation production.

For more than the press release, check out this blurb from another location...

Keep on keepin on~

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

CURSE OF THE GOLDEN FLOWER: quantity & (enough) quality...

site | trailer | Watch-A-Thon movie #13Caught CURSE OF THE GOLDEN FLOWER tonight with my sister. I totally enjoyed it. Heavy on tragedy and drama and almost humorless (I hafta say, tho, that the eldest son's sourpuss attitude does inject some snicker potential =), the royal family intrigue against the backdrop of the military coup in the front yard gives it a very Greek tragic flavor.

Royal scheming unfolds on the eve of the Chrysanthemum Festival in the Forbidden City of China. The Emperor has returned to the palace for the festival to find his Empress suffering from a worsening illness and increasing impudence, his oldest son completely disinterested in the power that is his birthright, his middle son a mature and nearly peerless warrior, and his youngest apparently idolizing both of his seniors.

The Emperor and Empress, joined in a politically strategic marriage 20-some years ago, are now more than tired of one another. They play a dangerous game for control of the throne, and their sons, confidantes, servants, generals, and soldiers are all pieces to be exploited and even sacrificed. However, somewhere along the way, their aim changes from that of securing power to inflicting the greater pain on the other. What has the Imperial doctor added to the Empress's medicine? Who secretly reports on the Emperor to his wife? Which servant has stolen the eldest son's heart from his stepmother? And why does the Empress spend her days sewing so many chrysanthemums?

The spectacle, pomp, and ceremony of the film take a few minutes to get used to. It's spread on the thickest at the opening, introducing you to some repeated palace rituals that quickly become familiar to the audience.

Given the eye candy-heavy trailers, I was concerned about over-the-top visuals upstaging the excellent cast and actual storytelling. As my sister put it, "Here's Yimou (the director)... I know, you might have *heard* that the emperor had hundreds of courtesans, but y'know what? I hear he had *thousands!* And I'm going to *show* them all to you!"


Also, you might think that the imperial guard was one thousand strong of the greatest warriors in the land, all ready to give their lives for their emperor. But you know what? The Forbidden City is big enough for at least fifty thousand, so wouldn't the emperor have that many? You can't prove that he didn't! And hey, I've got the budget to show them all to you! Each complete with a suit of armor, bow and arrow, lance, or hook-and-boomering sickle! Heck, I can *make* them for you, see? I just need to shoot or model, like, three different ones, then spread them out randomly with some computing power, and hey-presto! Just like McNuggets! You think you're seeing an army of thousands of different soldiers!

Heh heh.

It turns out that I don't see the massive scale as a negative in these battle sequences. I *am* often disappointed and annoyed with battle scenes that are about throwing huge numbers of soldiers at each other with only chaos driving the action, but I hafta say, the melees and army-vs-army scenarios all "read" very well. Some shots *are* designed for inspiring awe, while others demonstrate some clever and/or frightful strategizing on the part of one side or the other. The final battle in the Forbidden City demonstrates a kind of killing machine tactic the likes of which I haven't seen since CALIGULA. Pretty impressive.

So, I'm saying that while a lot of the film does seem to be about quantity—and rather garish and loud quantity at that—it takes turns on screen with a decent share of quality, provided by the excellent cast, tragic-dramatic turns, and satisfying action sequences. Compared to director Yimou's recent imports, I'd say FLOWER falls between HERO and HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS, closer to HERO, with more pageantry and less action.

Kinda F'd up that his excellent earlier films—JU DOU, TO LIVE, even HAPPY TIMES—don't even exist when it comes to marketing his work in the states.

For a different short take on the film from CesareB, click here.

Keep on keepin on~

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

films from Korea at the MFA

Wednesday thru Sunday at the Boston MFA—The Korean Film Festival! If you haven't seen Korean movies lately, with the likes of OLD BOY, JOINT SECURITY AREA, and THE PRESIDENT'S LAST BANG, you are missing out. Korean cinema (at least the good stuff that importers are choosing to bring over) is totally hitting my entertainment sweet spot (I think it's a small tonka truck lodged in my duodenum). The Good Stuff is full of character-driven genre-busting and delicious visual style.

I'm gonna try to hit something here every evening, so long as there's no conflict with volleyball. =)

Kicking it all off tomorrow night is another chance to catch THE HOST, which I *love* for its everythingness, and saw twice at the Brattle's Boston Fantastic Film Festival.

Check this cinematic fun out!

THE HOST: U.S. site | U.S. trailer | Magnolia Films

Keep on keepin on~

BLOOD DIAMOND: consciousness-raising old school adventure

site | trailer | Watch-A-Thon movie #12Caught BLOOD DIAMOND at Somerville Davis this evening. Helluva good film! A great balance of action, drama, and adventure, and okay, if you're not careful, you might just learn a thing or two. A compelling tale with thrills and intensity that matches CHILDREN OF MEN. The BLOOD DIAMOND story is more conventional than CHILDREN, of course—an updated and actioned-up CASABLANCA meets TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE.

Freetown in 1999 is on the verge of being overrun by rebels who already terrorize the Sierra Leone countryside. It is here, in the midst of violent civil war, that the lives of our three characters converge. Leo plays Danny, the mercenary and smuggler scoundrel, pushing arms and diamonds, playing the rebels against the government and vice versa, always out to make a buck. Jennifer Connelly is Maddie, the globetrotting journalist with a heart who may have a slight adrenaline problem. Djimon Hounsou is Solomon, the fisherman whose family has been shattered by the civil war and whose discovery of an extraordinary diamond might save them all—buy Danny his escape from Africa, provide Maddie with leverage enough to write a story that will Do Some Good, and allow Solomon to rescue his family from the ravages of the Sierra Leone conflict.

Beware, I use the word "adventure" to describe the story, but don't think it pulpy, like RAIDERS fare. The vicious assaults on villages, the abduction and brainwashing of children, the conflicts between rebel, military, and mercenary forces, are all very well done and don't hold much back, to a harrowing degree at times, as the camera doesn't wince at executions or savage beatings.

Leo's solid as the ready-for-anything South African soldier of fortune, and Jennifer's disarming as a fearless 21st century Lois Lane, but Djimon, as doting father and fierce protector, may steal the show.

One snippy criticism. I'm sure most viewers would agree it's a small thing, if it even registered at all, but for me, it broke the movie experience just a little. I wish the filmmakers would feel more comfortable with having the audience read subtitles. Some spoken dialogue *is* appropriately non-English, and so subtitled, but there are some words between Solomon and his family that I would expect to have been in the character's native tongue that are instead delivered in English. It seemed out of place and not so natural, y'know? Being aware that the director was at the helm of THE LAST SAMURAI might have set me up to be extra alert for just such a thing, tho, as I thought that SAMURAI committed a similar minor offense.

T. I. A., bra...

Keep on keepin on~

Monday, January 22, 2007

the O'Reilly/Colbert pundit exchange program =)

Colbert on The Factor: "There's a difference between imitation and emulation..."
"I'm doing you, Bill..."

O'Reilly on The Report: "30% OFF!" =)
"If you're an act, Bill, than what am I?"

Only when I saw this episode did I get that "Papa Bear" in the Colbert Nation could be spelled "Papa Bert." Everyone knows how much Stephen hates bears. =)

The same night, talking heads on Scarborough Country cover the pundit exchange program...

The next day, on the poorly animated children's show Fox & Friends, O'Reilly comments on the experience...

I don't typically care very much about football, but for Colbert's sake, I'm a bit sad that Bears scored more home runs than Saints...

The man is a frickin superhero! =)

Keep on keepin on~

BSG: do you hear a dial tone?

3.12: "Rapture (2 of 2)"

... cuz BSG is Off The Hook!


"Am I a Cylon? Frak!"

Some *SPOILERY* rambling on the Sunday night BATTLESTAR GALACTICA return episode...

I was hoping that launching the nukes would be part of the Eye of Jupiter prophecy/marker action, y'know? Like Adama doesn't do bluffs and D'Anna won't relent, so the Galactica nukes the continent, but the temple somehow protects everyone who's within it, y'know? Like the flying saucer at the end of HANGAR 18? Of course, that's not the way it went down...

Really excellent opener with Athena and Helo. Helo's steppin up to the President was grand to see. Athena's visit to and escape from the base ship seemed a wee bit convenient, but I suppose that the other skin jobs had a lot on their hands.

It's nice to see Caprica Six still sticking by her "live in harmony" guns, despite Baltar's opportunistic weaselly nature.

Which I love, heh. He totally makes this show fun.

Okay, so "seeing the face of god" is sort of the experience of meeting the five, right? And D'Anna is consistently referring to one god again and again this episode. So, for this week, I'll buy that the Cylon default setting is for monotheism.

Man, I wanted for just ONE of those charges to still be wired when Apollo pressed the button. Then maybe we could see a Cavil get blown to pieces, and a Cavil torso try to prevent D'Anna from meeting her destiny.

Damn. Boxed. But who's to say they got every last one of her, right? Wishful thinking? Yeah, I suppose her "special guest star" or whatever days may really be over... Was great seeing the other six (except for the Doc—where's he at?) discussing her behavior and the need for extreme measures, behind her back. I would've liked some comment about "too much time with Baltar," or "she's even starting to smell human," or something sort of backhandedly complimentary or admiring about how she gambled correctly on human nature, y'know?

I was a little annoyed at Brother Cavil changing his mind about caring whether or not Adama was bluffing about using the nukes. Interesting how D'Anna says, "Never over just one ship." Like it's a lesson she's learned somewhere.

Baltar's got quite an effect on the Cylon ladies. Evidence of some Cylon blood in his heritage? He's part of the cause of a revolution in Cylon culture, and then connected to the boxing of a whole model.

Is Caprica Six now a two-time Cylon murderer? Skull crushing rock for D'Anna on Caprica and neck snapping whiplash for Boomer on the base ship.

Kinda sad seeing that Boomer's backslid into traditional Cylon form. Well, "go our separate ways" detente seems to be her thing, really. She did love the Chief, after all.

I had this random thought when the Chief and Callie were on screen for somethin or other... Is it weird that Callie killed Sharon and then married the Chief? Anyone think the Chief still hits her?

How bout the Chief being somehow "in tune" with the temple? Cylon? Or perhaps just sex with a Cylon? Cylon nanite cooties?

I kinda think that part of Boomer's impetuous behavior—threatening to kill Hera—was some weird transferred/sympathtic post partem depression issue. Exacerbated at just that moment by Caprica Six's pretty pointed rub-it-in-her-face remark about how despite Athena and Boomer being biologically identical in every way, Hera still recognized Athena has her true mother.

Which is also a little sad for Boomer.

So, hey. Pretty good bit of continuity work on Starbuck's supernova painting, eh? Did Starbuck's crazy boyfriend Cylon ever get all "destiny" with her when they were living together? Cuz that's who she's referring to at the end of this episode, right? I couldn't make it out in the audio clearly, but she says SOMEone told her, "My destiny is already written," or something... and I figured it was stalker Cylon when she was interrogating him, right?

So what up with stalker Cylon since the exodus from New Caprica? He hasn't gone rogue looking for her, and he wasn't boxed for his Starbuck fetish. Was that, like, sanctioned by all seven Cylons?

Starbuck. A prophet. So, what do I think of that? Definitely possibly could be a Cylon. =)

I thought that Duala's approach to Starbuck in the downed Raptor would get half the fans thinking that she's a Cylon. She manages to somehow get PAST the sniper and advancing tin men to get to Starbuck's position, and approaches in complete silence.

Or maybe she was just considering offing her?

With a couple of clever strokes, this show could go all INFERNAL AFFAIRS for a good little run. I mean, they could discover among the civilians of the fleet, Duala's long lost twin sister... Or a supernova painting by an accomplished Caprican artist who bears an uncanny resemblance to Starbuck...

I'd really love to see a twin thing used in a story thread at some point.

Who would D'Anna have cause to apologize to? Did she personally wax or torture any humans in the episodes we've seen? She walks up to one of the five in her vision and recognizes him or her and apologizes...

I think Starbuck would definitely be a candidate for an apology. Roslyn, certainly. Adama, definitely. Hunnybunny the oracle...? I don't think that D'Anna ever threatened her, and I think that when she went looking for her in her old tent-hovel on New Caprica, before finding Hera, she had disappeared. So, I don't think D'Anna would believe she owed her an apology.

Man, I was really annoyed and surprised that Baltar wasn't the chosen one. I thought all along that he had caught the hybrid Cylon's eyes on him when she was spouting her "chosen one... enter the temple... see the five" free verse, y'know? Baltar and D'Anna were standing at the foot of her kiddie pool and D'Anna had closed her eyes in some kind of reverent meditation or prayer, and the Hybrid is apparently staring right at Baltar when she speaks of the "chosen one." I really thought that the idea was that D'Anna believed the hybrid was referring to her, and that Baltar knew that she was actually talking about him. Jiminy Six even confirmed it, didn't she? When he was giving D'Anna the "put your faith in god" pep talk?

But no. No "destiny" for Baltar. And he couldn't even get sloppy seconds at the vision.

Some nice bitch slaps this episode. Duala to Starbuck in the Raptor, Caprica Six to Boomer on the base ship, and the Chief to the Ex-President in the temple. No cat fights, tho. Foo.

Well, DUH, the supernova is/reveals the Eye of Jupiter. Don't these humans have movies or television?

And, so many hundreds or thousands of light years away, the light from that nova would be witneesed on earth by three shepards as the brightest star in the eastern sky, a guide to the little town of Bethlehem. Gotta thank Arthur C. Clarke for that one. =)

With FTL drives, the Galactica fleet (and the Cylons) could get there before the light from the nova. Frack, haven't seen a significant Mary among the humans and no Mary model among the Cylons.

Nice to see Caprica Six hitch a ride with Athena. Man, I'd really like to hear her tell the story of the Cylon revolution, even if it's only to Baltar when they're sharing adjacent cells in the brig. And what might Jiminy Six have to say about Baltar being back with the humans?

Conjecture... Aren't the visions—experienced now by both humans and Cylon—at the holy sites of the thirteenth tribe similar to projection, as Baltar's experienced it and Caprica Six described it? Didn't Jiminy Six "take" Baltar to a similar "council" scenario while on Kobol? White sheets and high seats and columns? Maybe it was with the baby hybrid in the center or on an altar? Frack, I can't remember. When it was that planetarium/night sky vision experienced by a group of humans on Kobol, it seemed like it could be holographic, holodeck-ish and immersive, but in this episode we see that D'Anna steps into a beam and experiences the vision within her mind. If the technology is the same, projection may not be unique to Cylons. It could be latent in humans, in that 90 percent that we don't consciously draw on. And the tech of the thirteenth tribe is capable of plugging into it in both Cylons and humans to communicate and bestow information.

So, what did we see tonight? The thirteenth tribe leaves a "destiny" for a Cylon and a supernova of a signpost for the humans. What up with that?

In the scenes-from-next, how annoying is it to have Starbuck rethink her stance on "marriage is a sacrament" already? And after she's given a hint that she might be some kind of prophetess or hand of the gods?

Is anyone mass producing, custom one-offing, those resurrection pods as mods for hot tubs or bath tubs?

My friend Dan tells me fans are networking online to get together for "frak parties." Sounds like poor word choice to me. i'd expect people to be dropping the keys to their vipers or raptors into the fishbowl as they walk in.

Does anyone else see Apollo and want him to say, "Mallory...?"~


Keep on keepin on~

Sunday, January 21, 2007

help Lost Boy help rebuild Sudan

As director of Project Sudan, John Dau, one of the Lost Boys featured of GOD GREW TIRED OF US, is currently engaged in raising funds to establish a desperately needed clinic in the area of the Sudan where he was born.

Check out the Direct Change Sudan page for info on John's project. For more about the film, see my movie ramble about GOD GREW TIRED OF US.

I know my redundant, subordinately-claused-up rambling doesn't do the film and its stories justice. Please, if you can, GO SEE THE FILM yourself.

Thanks to kdeutsch for the fundraising link.

Keep on keepin on~

Saturday, January 20, 2007


Alas, it's left the Brattle, but it has absolutely not left my brain... Check out the trailer (a might small, unfortunately), subtitled in English (w some wonky translation, I think), under "Story" at the movie site. And keep reading/scolling to check out some related clips, in Japanese without subtitles... Turn up the volume... =)

The girls' band, Paran Maum, ease into their Rock Festival set with the Blue Hearts' "Linda Linda Linda!"

"Like a rat, I want to be beautiful... Because there's a beauty that can't be photographed..." =)

For Paran Maum's final number at the Rock Festival, Son sings, "Owaranai Uta," aka "An Endless Song"...

"Let's sing an endless song for this asshole of a world!" =)

And here's a clip from a Blue Hearts performance of "Linda Linda Linda!"

"Even if it isn't love or affection, I won't let you go! I have a single strong power that will never be defeated!" =)

Keep on rockin on~

p.s. SYMPATHY FOR MR. VENGEANCE, THE HOST, LINDA LINDA LINDA... I am loving me some Bae Doo-Na =)

GOD GREW TIRED OF US: documentary Goodness

site | trailer | Watch-A-Thon movie #10Saw GOD GREW TIRED OF US this afternoon with my sister. An excellent documentary film focused on some inspiring subjects—John, Panther, and Daniel, three of the "Lost Boys," refugee boys who escaped civil war in Sudan to temporary shelter in Ethiopia, and then relief in Kenya, and ultimately, thru the graces of benevolent powers not exactly identified in the film, relocated to the United States. These three men were part of an exodus, and then a refugee camp, of tens of thousands. Fleeing from the violence and persecution in Sudan in the early 1980s, just children, many of whom had seen their families killed before their very eyes, all of them separated from their loved ones, they walked thousands of miles, surviving starvation and thirst, the harsh desert and wildlife, and even bombing attacks, to safety and relief in Kenya. On their march, they encountered thousands of orphans like themselves, and together banded together as brothers and family.

Refugee aid organizations in the U.S.—again, I'm unclear on the exact channels and offices involved—arrange to relocate and help start up lives in America for selected Lost Boys. They are given modest new beginnings, an apartment, three months of welfare, guidance in acquiring a social security card and work visa, and some help adapting to the strange world known as the United States (the scenes in which they encounter the wonders of our push-button automatic, individually wrapped, and disposable society are sweetly comic). The documentary follows these three men as they leave their camp and start their new lives in Pittsburgh and Syracuse.

From humble beginnings... Having been through the worst experiences you can imagine, these three men are dedicated to doing everything they can to make their lives and the lives of their Sudanese brothers and sisters better, taking every opportunity that life in the U.S. will offer them. Their devotion, dignity, drive, and eloquence... It's damn inspiring.

The filmmakers visit and revisit them in the U.S. several times over the course of years, and we find them lonely, half a world away from the family of refugees they'd known since childhood, but still, adapting, learning, and always moving forward. It'll make you think (I know how painful that can be, but it's a good thing)... Take stock... Consider the things you take for granted, all the chances you have that you may not take advantage of.

Made me feel (even more) like a slackerly spud...

Some familiar names appear in the credits in the roles of producers—Dermot Mulrooney, Brad Pitt, Nicole Kidman (who also narrates). Caused a little whisper-stir in the audience. Good for them, and great for the film and its distribution, I hope!

Check it out. Currently only playing in the Boston area at the Kendall Square cinema.

Keep on keepin on~

Watch-A-Thon: for those of you playing along at home...

First of all, *THANKS* to my newest enablers sponsors, Rachel and Keri, for their support!

And now, while I've got your attention, I'd like to use this space to do some half-@ssed paying-it-forward for some friends and supporters.

Miss Keri has begun training for this year's Breast Cancer 3-Day walk in Boston, a 60 mile walk and fundraiser for the Susan G. Koven Breast Cancer Foundation. Please support her fundraising journey—for more info, visit her donation page, and from there, her blog, for more details.

And a few states away, over in America's Heartland, Miss Camstar is doing some wonderful work with Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Lawrence, Kansas. If you can pledge your support to her labor of love, they are currently in their annual fundraising mode. Check out her donation page to see how you can help!

Okay, here's what you've been waiting for. One week into the Watch-A-Thon and I've screened the following films so far...
  1. January 13. CHILDREN OF MEN. Kendall Square.

  2. January 13. RED DOORS. Brattle Theater.

  3. January 14. PAN'S LABYRINTH. AMC Harvard Square.

  4. January 15. LINDA LINDA LINDA. Brattle Theater.

  5. January 17. THE ANIMATION SHOW 3. Somerville Theater.

  6. January 18. THE ANIMATION SHOW 3. Somerville Theater.

  7. January 18. LINDA LINDA LINDA. Brattle Theater.

  8. January 19. THE CASE OF THE GRINNING CAT. Brattle Theater.

  9. January 19. ROBOTECH: THE SHADOW CHRONICLES. Brattle Theater.
Thanks again to everyone who's supporting my movie madness. Please spread the word of my Watch-A-Thon illness to anyone you think might be up for contributing to it and the movie goodness that is the Brattle!

Also, if you think you might like to join the effort, check out the Watch-A-Thon info and consider becoming a fellow Watcher. Even if you don't raise a single dollar, you'll get to see as many Brattle films as you like thru February 18 for just one $50 donation (aka the registration fee)! Not a bad deal. Especially when you realize that in that time the Brattle will be running "Robert Altman's 70s," "Great Romances," the Schlock-Around-The-Clock movie marathon, and the 12th Annual Bugs Bunny Film Festival! Not a bad deal at all.

Keep on keepin on~

* A supercool LINDA LINDA LINDA tidbit I neglected to mention in my earlier posts—the soundtrack/non-band performance music to the film is composed by James Iha of Smashing Pumpkins! It's frickin lovely, too. =)


site | trailer | Watch-A-Thon movie #6Went back for more animated goodness on Thursday night. Looking over my first ramble, I'm surprised at the things I wrote about a couple of the films. I totally missed with "Collision," and "Overtime" is DEFinitely a tribute to Jim Henson's work on his passing.

I'm gonna hit the films again in the order they were screened. Yeah, nerdboy ("Geeks get things done, nerds don't."—Richard Clarke) that I am, this time I jotted down in the dark the film titles as they appeared.

"Welcome to the Animation Show (Beavis & Butthead)"
A Masterpiece Theatre-ish welcome to the show by Butthead and his assistant Beavis. The first new B&B material I've seen in many years. Reminded me of my old roommate J.P. who usedta do perfect recreations and channelling of any voice and character he heard. B&B were classic staples. Who'd have thought I could get sentimental about the guys who brought us "Frog Baseball?"

A wonderful Golden Book illustration style, married to some excellent trippy tunes, tells a grotesque cautionary tale for children. What's the first thing that comes to mind when you see a cute rabbit hopping along a lush green lawn? Well, for this one sweet little goldilocked girl, it's skinning it to make a lovely muff! Soon knife-wielding girl is chasing after cute little rabbit. When she and her brother finally capture it, they discover that a magickal riches-granting idol is disguised within! Wacky fun ensues! Awesome.

"City Paradise"
A Japanese newcomer to London, fresh off the plane, settles into her new flat. She unpacks her bag, pulling out a fishtank and a cassette player. She spends her day learning English from lessons on tape and going to a pool to take diving lessons. When she falls into the pool, she finds herself abducted by a giant jellyfish, who takes her to a surreal inner earth, below the London Underground. There she finds a magic wand which can take her home. Reminded me a bit of "Harpya" stylewise, a classic, trippy, piece of animated cutout photography. I'm not sure what the original media were in this one, but the look is very striking. There is a really gorgeous view of the girl looking out her window down at the rainy city streets—candy red double-decker buses dominate the traffic, and I like the way the Underground trains are used throughout, but yeah, unfortunately, the story didn't really do anything for me.

"Everything Will Be OK"
Don Hertzfeldt's latest Bitter Film! Need I say more? His layered animation and audio might be hard for some viewers to follow, but when it gets truly chaotic, well, that's what it's supposed to be—truly chaotic. This one actually jerks you around emotionally quite a bit, but laughs are allowed at all times. I'm amazed at the things that he can do sometimes, probably with very simple but creative methods, shooting onto film, and always happy to see someone getting a such great expression out of characters who are basically stick figures with smiley faces. =)

That Hertzfelt guy puts together some great absurd true slices of life... Some phrases and moments of greatness...

—Bill always preferred to take his produce from the back...

—Second place is the first loser.

—The pipe is leaking...

—Bill replied—Fine, thanks, how are you? The cashier ignored him. Bill felt used.

A stylin' animated kaleidoscope set to a soundtrack of exploding, smashing, twisting, and grinding metal. Short, sharp, and compelling in its geometry. What I didn't suss the first time around (I may have spent too many seconds cleaning my glasses and watching this as a lovely blur with great sound effects) is the significance of the symbols and colors used in the kaleidoscope. I definitely got that it started out in all-American colors, red, white, and blue, with stars appearing over and over again, and many stripes as well. Those could be explained away as pattern, built into the animation. The sickle moons, with their own stars, and the introduction of greens and yellows, I just totally missed the first time. It's really damn powerful in its simplicity. I hope everyone gets a chance to see it sometime.

Beautifully textured and kitbashed 3D computer generated animation tells the story of the last of a ragdoll tribe seeking to avenge his lost brothers on the beast that struck them down. In its dialogueless storytelling and action, it reminds me of... frack, can't remember the name of it,... it was "[something] and Blue." "Coyote and Blue?" "Blue" was some gorgeous stop motion (probably tweaked digitally, but I'll allow it) animation about a fellow and his dog facing off against a mean machiney beasty. The characters in "9" are made of beautiful junk and inhabit a landscape of abandoned objects and trash. Great atmosphere. Awesome.

There was one detail that I loved both times I saw it—the inclusion of a zoetrope among the garbage in the environment—and one thing that I only noticed the second time—that the beast, once it takes the life of a rag doll, it uses its remains to add to its own skin. Pretty damn slick.

"Davey and Son of Goliath"
The true story behind Davey and his talking dog companion. Not pretty, but answers all those nagging questions you've had. Like Moral Orel, but just a tiny bit more twisted.

"No Room For Gerold"
Wonderful combination of mundane dialogue with surreal animated visuals. You'll get to play a reality-TV style fly on the wall in the kitchen of an apartment shared by four roommates. Three of them are waiting on the fourth. Together they plan on telling him he has to move out. Can you guess who will leave and who will stay? Will it be the rhino, the hippo, the crocodile, or the deer? You'll see them, dressed in casual attire at home, having sharp and measured words over kicking their longtime roommate out. Awesome.

I would have loved for this to have been based on unscripted non sequitur audio, like Aardman's "Creature Comforts," y'know? But there's one piece of dialogue that doesn't quite work. Also, over the credits, there's the audio from an answering machine message playing, but I'm not up on my German, so I suspect I missed out on a last zinger from the animators. Foo.

"Guide Dog"
A Plymptoon, and a follow-up to his previous Oscar-nominated "Guard Dog." I love his illustration/animation style, and the way it allows him to convincingly animate at less than 12 frames per second. His characters and stories are always a bit hit-or-miss with me, tho. This... about 50-50. A bunch of small laughs, and one really clever funny bit involving birds that most folks didn't catch til the very end. But in the end, they all get it. Perhaps Plympton anticipates audiences better than I would.

"Eaux Forte"
In my head I've conjured up an explanation of this film as a spoof of a cigarette ad. A man buys a pack of smokes at a convenience store, then exits, all set to unwrap it and experience some of that cool flavor. Out on the street, tho, he's almost knocked over by a crowd running away from a monstrous wall of water. He's unfazed as it bears down on him, and when it reaches him, it sweeps him up and away. Visually, it could do with some higher contrast—the illustrations seem just too washed out, but for the most part I dig the line drawn watercolor painted images. And there's some really wonderful animation in the man's effort to stay on top of the wave, the tumbling and physics of his body and everything that's swept up with him, as well as the calmer, quieter moments of floating.

Bright, candylike, 3-D animation. Samurai warriors from opposing clans on two island camps are at war over a tiny third island directly between them. With Wile E. Coyote perseverance and ingenuity, each clans sends warrior after warrior to claim the island, one-upping each other in attempt after attempt. The character designs are sweet, like Mr. Incredible in samurai armor. Oh, you *have* to sit thru the end credits to catch the superstar cameo! =)

A tribute to Jim Henson by some very admiring CG animators. Beautiful CG, used to give life to a man's muppet creations after dark. You'll see them play some very cool tunes, prepare a feast for their creator, and then put on a last puppet show of their own in his honor.

"Game Over"
80s Arcade Games resurrected in the creative animation of collections of found objects, set to the soundtrack of the original games' music and sound effects. Centipede and Frogger are my faves, especially when the frog's appearance when he makes it safely it across the river.

"Dreams and Desires"
A British matron given to daydreams is the first among her friends to get a video camera, aka "vidjacam," and is drafted to become amateur videographer at all of their events. At the wedding of a girlfriend (whose dress is a tight and shiny red), she tries to emulate the cinematography of movie greats she admires... with limited success. She (tries to?) quote Eisenstein, and references the work of Leni Riefenstahl, and apparently reads Hitchcock and Bunuel before bed. The dialogue is heavily British accented, enough so that most people in the audience the first time around probably would've appreciated subtitles, but the handdrawn animation (with a little digital post help) is gorgeous and story-driving enough. The characters are lively and expressive, and the ways perspective and lens distortion are created in drawings are very impressive. Some kickass animating goin' on here.

I caught the very end of Bill Plympton's intro to the show this time and he expressed a lot of admiration for "Dreams." If you get to see it, I think you'll see why.

You should really see this stuff. It's good crack!

After the show they ran the student films again. I opted out of watching them again so that I could wait in in line and get an autographed postcard from Bill Plympton. If you look real close at the top photo of this entry, you'll see his spectacled animator self in the background, his face cropped on the right by the edge of the column with the poster. As I got closer to the head of the line, tho, I could see into the main auditorium and the big screen, and it worked out that I got to see part of "Fabulous somethin somethin somethin," the short that so charmed me one night earlier. Alas, I missed the title, but I *did* catch the animatrix's name this time. Lizzi Akana, a RISD student. From watching her film, I may have fallen a little bit in love with her. I hope that she sticks with animating a while and more of her work makes it out into the world.

Keep on keepin on~

* Later that day... Good old intertubes... Found Akana's film online—"Marvelous Keen Looney Bin"—Good crack. =)

I crack myself up...

Totally stupid dumb ridiculous... My sister and I just got home from a double feature of THE CASE OF THE GRINNING CAT and ROBOTECH: THE SHADOW CHRONICLES and we got to the front door of our building. My sister was in the lead, so she went looking for her keys in her bag. I meanwhile reached into my pocket and got my keys out. On my key ring was this little pushbutton flashlight that she got me as a Christmas present and I started blinking it on and off at the doorknob, and then her bag, in which she was rummaging, and then into her eyes. My sister, "Yes... That's just great... at annoying the hell out of me..."

I just kept blinking the light and told her, "Burn...."

She got out her keys and unlocked the outside door and said, "Did you just say 'burn?'" and continued on into the foyer and to our door. As she unlocked that door, I started laughing, like, really hard. I quickly laughed past the human-audible spectrum and landed in the dog-unfriendly Snagglepuss zone, y'know? Or is it Muttley I'm thinking of? And, anyhow, I was working it pretty hard, my gut started to hurt after a minute and I had to drop my bag and hold myself up with my hands on the back of a chair. I really just couldn't stop. Well, I mean, I caught myself once for a moment, and managed to sit down. Long enough to come back down into the audible range and tell her, "Sorry... I think I'm really tired..." And she left the dining room. And I took a couple of breaths. And I proceeded to jump right back into the gut busting Snagglepuss/Muttley frequencies.

It took me another few minutes to settle. I managed to make my way to the kitchen. Pour myself some water. Sit still on a stool at the kitchen counter for a spell. Until my sister walked into the kitchen and I started laughing again!

This tiime it died much quicker.

It's a tiny little flashlight, and she gave it to me as a present, and I was flashing it at her, and I said, "Burn...."



Keep on keepin on~

Friday, January 19, 2007

BSG: intermission ramble

Before 3.12: "Rapture (2 of 2)"

Before BSG returns on Sunday night (cuz SciFi apparently wants to have Jake 2.0 hold the Friday line...?) this weekend, I wanted to get some of my random zany thoughts out of my head and on screen.

Sunday night BSG. Damn. That's when the original show premiered on TV. I was over at someone else's house, our family was, for a dinner party, and all the kids, or at least, all the boys, were gathered around the telly to watch the pretty cloud tank or whatever slide show, voiced over by Patrick McNee, explaining how "even now, there may yet be brothers of man who even now fight to survive…somewhere beyond the heavens…"

Things were so simple back then.

I love the Cylon "mood" or "skin" they put on the show whenever we're focused on Baltar and the Cylons (band name, anyone?). It's so... porny! A porny PHANTOM OF THE OPERA... or an episode of "The Continental," or... Masterpiece Theater, but without pants! Like an artsy late night Cinemax flick, y'know? EMMANUELLE IN SPACE... volume 6... or something... You've got the moving camera and the cross fades, if only there was a candelabra and a grand piano or pipe organ. Baltar could be hosting creature double feature!

Wait, was there a candelabra?

It's just such a funny but sorta-right feeling atmosphere for "my life with the Cylons." I suppose given that it's thru Baltar's eyes/over Baltar's shoulder, the porniness does logically figure in. I mean, half the episodes since they left New Caprica have introduced Baltar getting out of bed with Xena or Caprica, right?

Although I've heard it from several fans of the show that it doesn't really matter whether Baltar's a Cylon or not—and I believed that for a while, cuz, his actions are what matter to everyone else—I just LOVE watching this guy so much, and it certainly matters to HIM, so I do give a damn. =)

I don't love the projection thing as some remarkable Cylon ability, but I'll buy it. Maybe we'll get an episode in the future that's all or partly from Athena's or Boomer's point of view for some good reason, and we could get some immersive take on what kind of advantages there are to it. Does Athena get to walk around in a projected environment whenever she wants? Or is she somehow cut off?

Ever since I played Quake, I've had an idea for some game tech that resembles projection, and have just been itching/waiting for it to be developed. Maybe Apple + Nintendo will figure it out.

Projection as a sort of explanation for Baltar's "happy place" with his Number Six is acceptable. I wonder what happened to Caprica's Jiminy Baltar?

In general, I'm annoyed that in a year and change, Boomer and Caprica have sort of dropped spearheading the cause of living with or live and let live with the humans. That year gone by can explain it away, I suppose, but I *really* liked the Cylon revolution and the notion and power of celebrities among the Cylons... I wanted to see it played out longer and further. The dissension that we regularly see among the Cylons now *is* a good follow-thru, but there no longer seem to be any true human-lovers, y'know?

WTF with having Honeybunny show up as an oracle on New Caprica to direct Xena to the baby? The only way I'm gonna be okay with that later is if she's one of the Cylon Five. She overtly demonstrates extrasensory abilites, and not just seeing into the affairs of humans, but Cylons as well. She's got to be Something More.

When she appeared and said what she said, did what she did, that felt like writers looking for a shortcut, a way to make something happen, but, like I said, it can be saved if she turns up again. The writers are frickin Good after all. I mean, they even got me to like Kat! Adama gets all the best lines... "While you were CAG, you made your people feel safe enough to be brave..." That's, like, the most perfect thing to say to a leader of soldiers, no?

Xena's turned herself into a Cylon Lifetime movie. "I Resurrect Myself To Feel." Or, as Baltar so eloquently put it, "Death Is Just A Revolving Door."

I wonder if the original organic Cylon, or proto-organic one, I guess, the one who created the skin jobs, also programmed Spanish television. I mean, look at the seven models we've seen. Three hot women and four inconspicuous guys, one of whom, if he wasn't Dean Stockwell, could be a troll. You could mix and match them as partners for a dozen different Telemundo variety and talk shows!

And speaking of Cylon programming, I would LOVE to see the Cylons try some absurd psyOps on the humans by broadcasting the reality channel, BaltarTV, at the fleet. Imaginary Number Six, human-Cylon identity crisis, wacky hijinks, and THREE'S COMPANY!

I'm simultaneously miffed and intrigued by Starbuck's take on marriage. She and Apollo have got a little somethin somethin goin on in a regular way, regular enough for Apollo to feel guilty about it at least, and when he brings up the option of going legit, divorcing their partners so that they can be together, Starbuck won't have it. Something about how, "This isn't a Pyramid game. Marriage is a sacrament." Kooky. Just an episode before, she gave Kat a vial of sleeping pills. She's okay with suicide/euthanasia, but divorce would offend the Gods. Proof that we ARE related to the humans of the rag tag fugitive fleet? =)

What up with the gods, anyhow? Who's worshipping what now? Is there more than one religion among the humans? Or is it the gods of Kobol or nothing?

When Baltar connects with the hybrid, coaxing her to clue D'anna and himself into the "eye of the husband," aka the Eye of Jupiter, and also the hand, which according to Baltar represents the Five, D'anna is struck by the possibility that "our gods" could be connected to "their gods." So she's talking about the Cylons having gods of their own, different from the humans'. Are the Five the gods she's speaking of? Do all of the seven Cylons consider them to be their gods?

So how and why is it we have the idea that the Cylons are monotheistic? It's only Baltar and his Jiminy Six who talk about a one true god, right? His Six has been proselytizing in his head. I can't remember any physical skin jobs explicitly talking about their one god... but dammit, I could swear it was a logical conclusion...

I'll hafta pay more attention moving forward...

Eye of Jupiter. Humans and Cylons in orbit over a planet with a site, temple, and artifact that both have come to consider holy and believe they have a claim to. The two sides are ready to destroy one another, and the site itself, before they'll let the other keep it. One side is ready and apparently willing to unleash its nuclear capabilities.

Don't you just love science fiction? Such a great way to escape reality. =)

Do we think they'll reach earth?

The basics to one possible unsophisticated no-brainer "happy" ending... The Galactica gets to earth just before the time of ancient/classical civilizations, and with their superior tech, are taken for pantheons of gods. The Greeks, of course, but I'm guessing that the Egyptians and Mayans and Aztecs and Toltecs and whoever else wants a god, just like in the original series intro. Maybe the Cylons, or some worse-than-Cylon threat, follows and they save earth humans in some last great battle that wipes out almost all their tech and the survivors, human and Cylon, walk the earth side by side w the natives.

D'Anna will of course close the infinite loop of her life and begin her reign of terror on ancient Greek territories as Xena, Warrior Princess...


And once he survives into the 21st century, Preacher Cavil will become holographic guide to Cylon tech time machine developer Captain Archer...

... or Something.

It's late. I'm talkin crazy talk.

Keep on keepn on~

Thursday, January 18, 2007


site | trailer | Watch-A-Thon movie #5Caught AS3 at Somerville Davis tonight. I'm gonna go thru the listings in the program and hit you with some description of the style and plot, if there is one to describe. No spoilers. I think there were more films screened than listed in the program, but I can't remember them now. Stupid brain.

You should really see this stuff. It's good crack!

* January 20, 2007. Wrote an updated set of reviews/rambles after seeing the show a second time.

* January 18, 2007. Remembered a couple of the shorts not included in the program...

Bright, candylike, 3-D animation. Samurai warriors from opposing clans on two island camps are at war over a tiny third island directly between them. With Wile E. Coyote perseverance and ingenuity, each clans sends warrior after warrior to claim the island, one-upping each other in attempt after attempt. Sit thru the end credits to catch the fun superstar cameo! =)

"Davey and Son of Goliath"
The true story behind Davey and his talking dog companion. Not pretty, but answers all those nagging questions you've had.

Wonderful illustrated Golden Book style to tell a very fun grotesque cautionary tale for children. It starts with a sweet little goldilocked knife-wielding girl chasing after a cute little rabbit. And it only gets better! Awesome.

"City Paradise"
Reminded me a bit of "Harpy" stylewise. "Harpy" is a classic piece of animated cutout photography. I'm not sure what the original media were in this one, but the look is very striking. Unfortunately, the story didn't really do anything for me.

"Everything Will Be OK"
Don Hertzfeldt's latest Bitter Film! Need I say more? This one actually jerks you around emotionally quite a bit, but laughs are allowed at all times. =)

A stylin' animated kaleidoscope set to a soundtrack of exploding, smashing, twisting, and grinding metal. Short, sharp, and compelling it its geometry.

Beautifully textured and kitbashed 3D computer generated animation tells the story of the last of a ragdoll tribe seeking to avenge his lost brothers on the beast that struck them down. In its dialogueless storytelling and action, it reminds me of... frack, can't remember the name of it,... it was "[something] and Blue." "Coyote and Blue?" "Blue" was some gorgeous stop motion (probably tweaked digitally, but I'll allow it) animation about a fellow and his dog facing off against a mean machiney beasty. The characters in "9" are made of beautiful junk and inhabit a landscape of abandoned objects and trash. Great atmosphere. Awesome.

"Eaux Forte"
A man buys a pack of smokes at a convenience store, then steps out onto the street. He's almost knocked over by a crowd running away from some frightful thing. It takes a few seconds, but that thing soon bears down on him and sweeps him away. Visually, it could do with some higher contrast, but for the most part I dig the line drawn watercolor painted images.

A tribute to Jim Henson? I do not know. More beautiful CG, used to give life to a man's muppet creations after dark. You'll see them play some very cool tunes, prepare a feast for their creator, and then put on a puppet show of their own, of sorts.

"Dreams and Desires"
A British matron is the first among her friends to get a video camera, and so is drafted to become amateur videographer at all of their events. At the wedding of a girlfriend (whose dress is a tight and shiny red), she tries to emulate the cinematography of movie greats... with limited success. The dialogue is heavily accented, enough so that most people in the audience probably would've appreciated subtitles, but the handdrawn animation almost doesn't need a lot of story. The characters are lively and expressive, and the ways perspective and lens distortion are created are pretty damn clever.

"Game Over"
80s Arcade Game button pusher of a short. Recreates your favorite old school arcade games by animating collections of found items to the original games' sound effects.

"Guide Dog"
A Plymptoon, and a follow-up to his previous "Guard Dog." I love his style, and the way it allows him to convincingly animate at less than 12 frames per second. His characters and stories are always a bit hit-or-miss with me, tho. This... about 50-50. A bunch of small laughs, and one really clever funny bit involving birds that most folks didn't catch til the very end. I guess Plympton anticipates audiences better than I do.

"No Room For Gerold"
Wonderful combination of mundane dialogue with absurd animated visuals. You'll get to play fly on the wall in the kitchen of an apartment shared by four friends. One of them is going to be asked to leave. Can you guess which one? Will it be the rhino, the hippo, the crocodile, or the deer? You'll have to watch to find out! Awesome.

Before and after the 8pm show they ran student animation projects from the school at the MFA, MassArt, RISD, and Harvard's VES department. There is one absolute gem in there, I'm pretty sure it was a RISD short, called... umm... "Fabulous Keen Kooky Show"...? Something like that? It's a great piece for demonstrating fun riffs on walk cycles and some cartoony exagerrations but even more, it creates some sweet grotesque and whimsical characters and within seconds, each of them instantly gets a story of his own. A damn impressive feat. And the visuals are like candy, ta boot! I *think* the credited name was something like Kim Anika...

I'm hoping to be able to make the show again tomorrow at 6.30. Maybe they'll be showing the student works again. If they are, and you're there, it's somewhere in the middle of the student pack.

Towards the end of the student reels was a short called "Snake." Not the most beautiful, but super fun and entertaining.

If you don't have to rush off for brain surgery, and they are screening the student shorts again, all of the films are decent for student work, but these two are definitely worth sticking around for.

Keep on keepin on~

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

24: Jack's back! is way scarred...

Some *SPOILERy* recap and smartass comments follow...

Watched the 24 premiere tonight, back to back to back to back, with Jill and Glen. A fun start on the whole. I think I let my guard down more than usual tonight. The show really jerked me around nicely on a few plot lines. Man, when I saw suburban dad getting sent to his doom, delivering the component, I thought damn, that's harsh. No way they're letting him walk out unless they use him to deliver the nuke, too. Then, when he gets there and Fayed thinks he might be valuable later (?), I figured that he was being set up for something Heroic, y'know? Throwing himself on a grenade, or taking a bullet for Jack, or dying in a struggle with nukular scientist guy, or swallowing a suitcase nuke...


But, no. He just gets to scream at ground zero.

I'm not a super fan of the show, not on top of everything that happened on each day. Can someone tell me how many nukes have gone off in past seasons? I caught part of a season where Kim was being deceived into staying in a bomb shelter bunker by some younger brother of Matt Dillon or Peter Berg? Wasn't there a mushroom cloud off in the distance somewhere in that season? And then there was at least one reactor meltdown, right? The one that claimed Edgar's mom? Man. Homeland Security/CTU of the near future has not got a great track record, eh?

I know, I know. It's all about the terrorism we DON'T see...

Kind of disappointing that the role of the Chinese is already (apparently) over. I was looking forward to most of a season of serious shenanigans with the East. Of course, we don't know yet what Principal Wood gave to them for Bauer's release. I'm sure that'll come back around hour 16 or so.

The President's sister was getting annoying, and the military's treatment of her IAA chief aggravating, but finally tying her story to her boss inadvertently making friends with some actual terrorists while being detained saved that plot thread for me. I was thinking she'd be an important voice to have throughout this season, for balance against the usual 24 MO of torture the hell out of everyone you meet, just to be safe, y'know? But maybe she won't have as much influence as that. Or she'll end up going out and down in some terrible situation where she stands up for her principles.

It did start out like Jack might be that "remember civil liberties?" voice himself. But those idiots had to go and detonate a nuke. Now I imagine Jack's gonna be pushing eyeballs and noses into brains all frickin day without blinking.

Hell, he frickin SHOT the unkillable agent Curtis! That's right, unkillable. I so don't want him to be dead. I mean, that was Jack Bauer holding the gun! How can he NOT know how to disable the guy without killing him, right? And besides, 24-typically, two hours don't go by without Curtis getting shot at least once, but still walking away, right? I mean, he's made to take bullets!

Of course, if anyone *could* kill him, it would have to be Jack Bauer...

And, what with not taking any bullets for so long, I suppose the next one Curtis absorbed would HAVE to be a serious one.

Fatal? Dammit. I don't want to believe it.

Ha! Awesome fun escape from Fayed scene! Rips off the monitor sleeve to get the flatline and stooge just walks right into death by hicky.

Glen: When does Jack eat?

Me: When he bites people!

I think the women got extra makeup for the early hours, so that it can fade in the later hours. I don't remember noticing that in previous episodes, but maybe it's cuz Chloe's two-years-later makeover sort of brought it to the fore, y'know?

There was quite a lot of Brokeback action in the first four hours, no? These man-on-man discussions that are shot in just such a way, with such dialogue, with such looks...? I mean, even with the mealy mouth suburban neighbor and Kumar? Offering Ahmed his good luck collar...? Oops, pendant, yeah, pendant.

Man, that American flag drape in the house for rent was just... just... TV-awesome, y'know? Jack and Assad have a discussion about how far they're willing to go and for what and Assad and his traitorous stooge are in front of that flag.

Great seeing DEEP SPACE 9's Bashir/Siddig in this grittier role. He was great in SYRIANA.

Pilfered muscle shirt and jeans in that rental. Jack's in pretty good shape for two years of torture, no? Is he still running around w someone else's cell phone? What happens when that guy has it shut off?

HA! When suburban mom calls 911 to report the Kumar hostage situation, we were totally joking about, "Please hold for the President." Or, "Stay on the line for Jack Bauer." And after a commercial break, that's exactly what they did for her! Glen of course wanted to try calling 911 right then and see if we could get Jack on the phone.

Don't know what to make of advisor Tom just yet. Maybe just a jerk, and not necessarily connected to any organized baddies. I wonder if that zit on his cheek will be there all day...?

Is President Palmer single? First bachelor President?

Enough already, eh?

Keep on keepin on~

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

"Who's laughing now?"

Check out this remarkable kickass EVIL DEAD concerto!

Thanks to Zorky and Joe J. for the decapitated headzup, and Monkey Farm Frankenstein for the heavy lifting!

Keep on keepin on~

sponsor my Brattle movie madness! v.2

A new-ish version of my Watch-A-Thon pitch. Please sponsor, donate, and pass the word. Thanks!

I'm harrassing many of you again, but only because the situation is completely new and different now—the Watch-A-Thon's officially begun and donations are now deductible for *this* year's taxes! Besides, you might have missed my earlier blast with all the holiday hooha going on, right? Also, I've edited my spiel just a bit and included a plug for LINDA LINDA LINDA at the Brattle at the very end. Please pass this email or the firstgiving link on to anyone you think would be interested in supporting the Brattle. Thank you!
the quick pitch
Okay, picture this! It's a sequel to last winter's very successful and critically acclaimed Watch-A-Thon, only this time, you are even smarter, more generous, and, as impossible as it seems, more good-looking than you were then!

The tag-line: "Sponsor* me and help me help the Brattle Theater keep on keepin on!"

Well, that or... "Save the Brattle, save the world..."

Which in phase 2 promotion would change to... "Are you on the list?"

Whaddyasay? We've even got a website up for it already!

* Sponsor, as in to pledge support, not as in to play my guide and mentor in a 12-step program...

Which is not to say that I wouldn't benefit from such help, but that's a completely different email, thankyouverymuch.
the wordier treatment
Hey, Brother---

Will you sponsor my fundraising effort? I'm participating in the Brattle Theater Movie Watch-A-Thon, running from January 12 thru February 18. This 'thon is like other 'thons you're probably familiar with in that it's a fundraising event, but instead of covering miles of asphalt, I'll be screening miles of film, watching as many movies on the big screen as possible in that time, and with your sponsorship or donation, helping to raise funds for the continued operation of the Brattle Theater in Cambridge. Maybe I've mentioned the place to you once or twice...?

They're responsible for keeping myself, and any other movie-digging Bostonian, supplied with the Good Stuff. Check out their schedule and see what I mean!

If you feel like you need a sample before showing me the money, I'd be happy to split some popcorn with you at a screening or three sometime. I *highly* recommend LINDA LINDA LINDA, playing now through Thursday night, for some irresistible schoolgirl band-that-could Goodness, charm, and fun. Do let me know. =)

I hope you'll sponsor me by making a pledge per movie watched (beware, that might cost more than you first think--I'm happy to "cap" your pledge, tho =) or make a one-time donation of support, easily done online with a (non-AmEx) credit card here...

Also, the Brattle is a non-profit 503c, which, according to Bob Loblaw, means that all contributions are tax deductible. Bonus!

From THE GOONIES to THREE NEEDLES to EVIL DEAD 2 to SERENITY to BICYCLE THIEF to KUNG FU HUSTLE to CASABLANCA to Bugs Bunny marathons--these deserving films would go homeless in Boston without the Brattle, one of the last independently run businesses in Harvard Square today. Thanks for any support you can offer to help keep the Brattle's screen glowing with the best in classic, contemporary, documentary, foreign, and cult film... and me off the streets. =)

Keep on keepin on~
now playing: LINDA LINDA LINDA!
High school. An all-girl band loses their lead guitarist and singer to an injury three days before their school festival. Unable to decide on a replacement, the remaining band members agree to let fate decide in a "whoever walks by next" kind of way. And who does fate choose? The foreign exchange student, of course! Can these girls turn her into their lead singer and together learn three new songs in time for their performance? One last musical blast together before they leave their high school days behind?

Oh, it also all happens to be set in Japan, with dialogue mostly in Japanese (subtitled in English).

It may read as cheezy, but it's good cheese, authentic cheese. Thoughtful, heartfelt, and joyful cheese. There's a lot of great sweet and awkward teenagey/high school moments throughout, and all so very naturally delivered. The girls have all got their own little things going on, of course, boys, old and new, nosiness, infighting, beef darts (amazingly, not a typo or bad translation! =), but it's nothing that some undeniably catchy Japanese punk rock can't solve!

GO SEE IT! site | Brattle

I also recommend RED DOORS, also currently playing, for a light and dark comic portrayal of a Chinese family growing up in suburban America. Father has just retired and spends his new free time listless, a ghost in his own home who can only manage a smile when reviewing home movies of his three daughters' childhoods. The oldest is now planning her wedding, but is he the right man for her? The middle daughter, med student, is having trouble meeting a nice boy. The youngest is in high school, leading a step-dance troupe and engaged in an escalating prank war with the kid across the street. Meanwhile, mother is trying to find a comfortable place between old ways and new. Family dysfunction served up by a Chinese-American writer-director.

I hafta say, tho. If you've got to choose between the two for some reason, go with LINDA 3x. (RED DOORS is due on dvd at the end of the month =).