I was out sick from work a couple days last week and totally forgot about blogging. I think Facebook is usurping my blog thoughts, which is why I post less frequently now. It's so much easier to share a quick thought than to sit down and focus on a post. I'm going to have to think about how to force myself to share more on here. I shall start with a post about Nic Cage's most recent flick!
I went to see this at the cheap theater with E from work, who is one of my new movie buds. I like her, especially because when I cried that nobody wanted to go see crazy Nic's latest with me, she was game in a heartbeat.
The Sorcerer's Apprentice introduces us to Dave as a young boy. He's on a field trip with his class and is flirting with a girl named Becky. He sends her a note that asks her to check a box indicating whether or not she's interested in being his boyfriend. She passes the note back toward him, but a series of events takes the note and Dave on a little detour. He ends up a few blocks away in an a curiosity shop of sorts, in the company of Balthazar (Cage), who seems to know him. Balthazar steps away and tells Dave not to touch anything, which of course means he's going to touch something - a nesting doll that contained Bathazar's arch-nemesis, Maxim (Alfred Molina). The two men battle in front of Dave and end up trapped in a magical urn for ten years.
When they come out, Dave is a science nerd in college (Jay Baruchel), and his life is turned upside-down by Balthazar's claims that Dave is prophesied to be the the next Sorcerer's Apprentice and that he needs to help stop Maxim from unleashing a terrible force on the Earth. I actually really liked these early segments, of Dave as a boy and as he is introduced to Balthazar and Maxim's world of tricks. It's kind of like Harry Potter's first introduction to the wizarding world. There are some impressive sights, like Balthazar's giant mechanical bird and a scene in a festival where a Chinese dragon comes to life.
I liked the scientific emphasis in the story. The actual art of magic is explained as creating vibrations and reactions in matter. I thought it was a nice little spin and could even see some of that working as a good book for kids that could sneakily teach them some scientific principles. And Dave is researching Tesla coils too; as he pursues Becky (Teresa Palmer), who loves music, there's a scene where he's able to make music with the charges from the coils. It's a little bit cheesy, but I thought it was kind of a cool idea.
What was surprising to me about the movie was that it wasn't half as cheesy as I expected it to be. I thought everything was going to be over-the-top and probably a bit campy. It was a lot more subdued than I thought it would be, including Cage's performance. Both he and Molina carried the movie along at a sort of believable level - if they had taken it further, I think the movie would have derailed.
The movie's ending isn't as interesting as its beginning, and the final scenes are underwhelming in comparison. Despite this anticlimactic feeling, I felt the rest of the spectacle was enough to make this an entertaining family movie. Color me surprised.
My buddy Derick informed me that thanks to the new channel, The Hub, I will now be able to watch The Wonder Years again. Before this the only thing I had were copies I made of VHS tapes of the Nick at Night run borrowed from a friend. In addition to The Wonder Years, they also show Fraggle Rock, Family Ties, Doogie Howser, G.I. Joe, and another not on DVD classic, the live action Batman show. Yeah, this might be the only channel I watch from now on.
This really put a smile on my face. If you've seen the original teaser, you know just how awesome this is. Props to Michael J. Fox for doing it. Speaking of BTTF, I am really looking forward to the Blu-Ray release later this month. The quality of the transfer that I have seen looks incredible!
That is the question I've been getting a lot lately. Unfortunately what I'm up to does not really involve this site. Hopefully that will change a bit in the future, but only time will tell. What I'm up to right now involves pretty much three things:
3) Dungeons & Dragons.
Right now what little free time I have left after work and Smodcastle I spend either watching TV (still totally behind on everything) and playing or planning D&D. I have a new group I'm playing with that I am doing the Dungeon Mastering duties for. It has been a blast so far! Speaking of D&D, there is a cool contest going on at Troll in the Corner! They are giving away a bunch of Essentials gear.
On the B&B front, we are having Keith Coogan, star of such films as Adventures in Babysitting, Toy Soldiers, and Don't Tell Mom, The Babysitter's Dead on the show on Friday. If you are in the area, come on down! If not, feel free to post your questions here!
Robert Reich appeared on Fresh Air this week and discussed his new book, in which he submits that the root cause of our economic problems is the huge income disparity in America. You may have heard similar claims before, but I not like this. Nobody today speaks as convincingly as Robert Reich about America's economy and what we can do to fix it.
I know I say this a lot, but seriously, you should go listen to it. Now.
Geekscape has the press release:
Comic-Con International: San Diego (Comic-Con), the largest comics convention of its kind in the world, today announced it will be staying in San Diego for the foreseeable future.
Comic-Con reached a self-imposed attendance limit at the San Diego Convention Center (SDCC) in 2007 and has had to cap attendance at approximately 125,000 people each year since. In looking at ways to better accommodate the growing demand from attendees and exhibitors, the nonprofit organization considered proposals for a move to larger facilities in Los Angeles or Anaheim after the expiration of its SDCC lease in 2012. This decision keeps Comic-Con in San Diego through 2015.
So there you have it. See you in San Diego!
The summer of Roku has pretty much turned into me letting old TV shows monopolize my time. My movie watching levels are down, so I don't feel such an urgent need to post reviews. Sorry! Just to share, I have finished four seasons of Doctor Who, one season of Torchwood, and Firefly. Ric and I are going through The Guild and Freaks and Geeks right now, and I'm going through Veronica Mars on my own. Ric has loved listening to me watch Doctor Who, so now he's starting the entire series, so I have a feeling I'll be re-watching a lot of it. I think I may need to start making some movie-watching quotas!
At least the $1 Tuesday deals get me going to the cheap theater once in a while. Cyndi and I went to check out Knight and Day. I know in the past I've professed a dislike for Tom Cruise, but that was mostly because he always seemed to be so fake any time he stepped out of the action genre and tried to tackle a real role. But, when Cruise does crazy, it seems to suit him well, as evidenced by Magnolia, Tropic Thunder, and even a cameo in an Austin Powers movie. The trailers for Knight and Day tapped into his crazy and used it to suit him. I liked that idea, and hoped that the movie would have the same feel.
I have to tell you, I was surprised by this movie. I didn't necessarily have high expectations, but it was actually kind of fun. Cruise plays Roy Miller, a secret agent who into a girl named June (Cameron Diaz) at the airport. Against Roy's plans, June ends up on his flight and witnesses more than she should, so he tracks her down and kidnaps her to try and protect her.
The script keeps things moving the entire time, and Roy's constant instructions for June are actually fun. Cruise plays Roy without any winks and nudges, and Diaz simply reacts to her unlikely situation and mysterious/crazy new acquaintance. That's what works for both of them.
I liked the changing locales, which take the characters all over the globe. Once June is on board with Roy, things do go a little bit too far, though. My limit was seeing a motorcycle chase go through through the running of the bulls and a bull fight in a stadium - seriously.
While it certainly isn't the best movie of the year, Knight and Day has turned out to be a fun little action/adventure flick with two likable leads and an overall good tone and pace. Especially for a buck, it was definitely worth my time, but I wouldn't have regretted seeing it for more.
If I had been drinking coffee while watching this, then the words "a film by Joel and Ethan Coen" would have made me do a real-life spit take.
Why was I not informed of this before now, Internet?!
So we have Jeff Bridges reuniting with the Coen brothers for the first time since The Big Lebowski, plus Josh Brolin back for more after his performance in No Country For Old Men. Nice.
I was afraid the Coens had exhausted their creativity between 2001 and 2007, but they are really on a roll lately. I can't wait to see this.
NPR is now streaming The Age of Adz by Sufjan Stevens, as part of their First Listen series.
That is all.
I'm writing a rare post from work.
There are lots of sporting activities and things going on after school, and as I was walking down the hall just now I overtook a kid going in the same direction, probably about 8 years old. He said, "Hi, coach." I informed that I am not a coach, and he said, "Oh. You look like my coach."
I asked, "Who is your coach?"
The boy said, "I don't really know."
"You don't know his name?"
Then the boy very seriously informed me, "We just call him Coach Sexy Biceps."
I have some honest questions for my Christian readers. If I am misunderstanding what you believe, please correct me.
Do you believe that your god knows about a cure for cancer and yet refuses to share that information with humans? If he knows everything and is capable of communicating with humans (two ideas most Christians would agree with), then why is he holding out on us? Millions of people have prayed fervently for the god's help in the fight against cancer. There are any number of ways he could communicate this vital information: A full-page ad in a major newspaper, a half-hour special on network television, a semester long class at a university, a press conference at the Mayo Clinic, or if subtlety were important he could anonymously scribble the some hints on a whiteboard in a cancer research facility.
What would you think of a team of researchers who discovered a cure for cancer and then refused to share it? I think it would be a vile thing to do and I don't see how it's any better if the perpetrator were a deity. Of course, a cure for cancer is just one of the many pieces of information that humans are desperately seeking. An omniscient deity could have revealed all kinds of information throughout human history and saved millions of lives. But so far those answers have come from the painstaking work of scientists and inventors, not from religious texts or traditions.
How do you reconcile the idea of praying for someone who has cancer with the idea that your god is withholding the information that would answer your prayers?
Sometimes I enjoy delving into a director's body of work all at one time, so I can really get to know him and how he works. It can be depressing at times, even when the movies are fantastic. I've already seen a good number of Bergman movies, and right now, I'm struggling my way through many more. I have to admit that the man has a wonderful eye. The closeups, the framing and staging of each scene, the way he can get his actors to emote so much, and the depth of his themes are all impressive.
But man, I am so depressed lately. In the past couple months, I've watched Autumn Sonata (girl confronting unloving mother), Through a Glass Darkly (girl going crazy), Persona (girl losing identity), Cries and Whispers (girl dying while sisters flash back to why they are all emotional cripples), and The Virgin Spring (girl gets raped and murdered).
I'm feeling rather stupid too. I should probably pick up a book on Bergman, but while I appreciate his movies, I don't necessarily enjoy them all that much, and I'm not sure I want to spend a lot of time reading about his work since I don't find myself feeling very invested in it. I know there's more substance than I have the patience to decipher. I'm trying to coax myself into going to the Truth and Lies exhibit at the Academy, to see if it'll give me any inspiration.
They're also having a series of his films at the LACMA too, but the movies I haven't seen already don't work with my schedule. A review of that series captures a little bit of how I feel while watching his work: "When Bergman gets the balance between action and introspection just right, his films can be uniquely, discomfitingly harrowing. When he leans too hard on free-floating torment, however, the result is art as oppression." At least this review gives me hope in that I'm not the only one who struggles.
I have to admit that the play-like feeling of several of Bergman's movies is also starting to bother me. At least my most recent watch was The Virgin Spring, which was a good change of pace from a world of emotional monologues and cutting arguments.
All that is to say that I'm not so sure I want to sit down and write reviews for these movies. It's feeling like a chore, and I never want my blog to feel like a chore.
Maybe a few quick thoughts, and a Bergman Roundup, when I'm done with everything? Yes, that sound good. I think I'll skip ahead and review a Tom Cruise movie next. Yes, you read that right. Variety is the spice of life, you know, and my variety goes from Bergman to Cruise in a matter of hours; and I don't even like Cruise - but more on that later!
Sylvester Stallone seems so hit and miss with his movie projects. There are certain times, in some of the Rocky movies, or even in movies like Cop Land, where he shows a certain aptitude for making character-driven movies, even if the character comes out between a lot of action scenes. In The Expendables, there are certain glimpses of that, but most of the movie feels rather generic, at it seems like he's just trying to turn up the violence to make up for what's lacking.
The cast of the Expendables is something everyone talked about, and it's the only reason I had any interest in the movie. Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Bruce Willis, and Arnold Schwarzenegger, all in one flick? Sounds like fun with all those huge action stars, right? Well, really, this is a Stallone-Statham pairing, with Jet Li's character being abused, and then the non-supserstar actors like Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture, and Steve Austin take up more time than I wanted. Sadly, the promise of Bruce Willis was a weak one. He shows up for one scene along with Schwarzenegger, and the two trade some boring lines before taking their exits. So really, the only person left of any interest for me was Jason Statham. He does have some cool moves, especially the scene where he sits in a gunner seat at the nose of a plane and explodes a pier.
The movie does succumb to some cliches that remind us these that Stallone is an old boy, and he's reliving his action movie glory days. The thing that made me laugh the most was an unnecessarily long segment in which the Expendables run through a building and stick explosives to the walls. The music soars and they run down hallways while sticking clumps to walls.. for a very long time. Maybe it wasn't actually that long, but I couldn't figure out why it was so emphasized. With the amount they seemed to plant, I thought they were planning to wipe out an entire city.
Overall, I've already forgotten most of what I saw because the film was rather generic. It wasn't terrible and didn't have a lot of cheesiness to it, but it didn't impress me much either. I can say that I enjoyed it well enough in the theater, but it certainly didn't overwhelm me with how awesome these Expendable guys are. It's probably worth catching at the cheap theater or for a mindless rental. All I know is that Statham stood out as being not-so-expendable as an action star while I really couldn't care less if I saw the others in an action movie again.. especially the way Stallone's still using closeups on himself despite the way his face is morphing over the years. Seriously, those eyebrows!
A friend of mine, Brian Apodaca, has created quite a comic book and was nice enough to send me a copy of it to check out. The title of the book is Zombie Outlaw and it is available for purchase here. It's a pretty cool story that takes place on a college campus where two friends manage to unleash a zombie deep in the bowels of the library and I'm guessing chaos is going to ensue in future episodes. The writing is very clever and the artwork fits the tone of the book quite well. I am definitely looking forward to future issues. Check out a preview page of the book by clicking here.
Wow, I have eaten so much cake this week. I'm going to have to watch my eating for a while and joy a lot to make up for it!
Wednesday night, we celebrated Ric's mom's birthday a little late and we all went mini-golfing together after we had a little bit of cake.
Erika and Justin were in town to visit family and go to a wedding, so on Thursday night they stopped by to drop off a bottle of Justin's homemade wine, which was tasty! We got to catch up with them for a while and let them get to know the kits.
Friday night Erika's parents were having anyone who was available over for food and conversation. Justin fried up some of the fish he caught last week, and we all had cake to celebrate Justin's birthday a little bit early.
Saturday the cats didn't want me to sleep in and made as much noise as possible so I'd get out of bed. I did what they wanted, but surprised them by leaving the house instead of paying attention to them. That'll learn them. I went shopping at Lowe's and Target for my mom's birthday. My parents never do anything to renovate their house, but recently my sister and I have convinced my mom to let us help her with her den. For her 60th birthday gift, I'll be spending many weekends painting and fixing it up, and to start her off we got her a bucket of primer. After a quick jog at the park, I went home to get ready for Stacy and AJ's wedding. Ric and I joined Erika and Justin and sat in the hot sun for a brief ceremony and then enjoyed the diversity of the reception, which included BBQ food, lots of candy, lottery scratchers as wedding favors, and fair games with prizes. Check out our Wanted shots!:
Sunday after church, my family got together at BJ's to celebrate my mom's birthday and then we all had cake at Grandma's. I topped off the day with some TV catchup.
Hope everything's good with all of you. I'll try and crank out some movie reviews soon. I've been watching a lot of Bergman and don't really feel like writing about him, so I've been putting it off.