Results tagged “movie” from kwc blog

Movie: Iron Man

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ironman.jpgI saw Iron Man last night and enjoyed the movie. All jokes about Robert Downey, Jr. and how he didn't have to act aside, lets think about the boldness of the movie's construction for a second.

Most hero origin movies (Spiderman, Batman Begins) spend the early part of the film having the protagonist become the hero and then you get a bunch of bad-guy-butt kicking to fill the rest. Almost the entire Iron Man movie consists of Tony Stark building the Iron Man suit. The bad guy fights are essentially debugging. I can just see the writer/producer meeting now:

"Fans love superhero origin movies. Let's make the entire movie about Tony Stark building his suit."

"I dunno, can we really fill two hours with him building his suit?"

"I know! We'll have him build two suits!"

Kudos to Robert Downey Jr., who as a result of this writers' decision shares most of his screen time with robotic arms (whose last roles were suicial GM-car-building robots) and a cellphone. Even Gwyneth Paltrow takes her acting cues from the robotic arms, dutifully holding items for Tony Stark while he shouts orders at her.

But really, it works somehow.

Before Iron Man was the Incredible Hulk preview. It's the only movie I can think of where a remake was justified by how bad the previous movie was. Another Marvel property, The Punisher, comes to mind, except that I don't think that anyone expected either version to be good.

Photos of Mountain View Kwik-E-Mart

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2007-07 - Kwik-E-Mart and Misc 031 2007-07 - Kwik-E-Mart and Misc 002

2007-07 - Kwik-E-Mart and Misc 006 2007-07 - Kwik-E-Mart and Misc 035

Krusty O's and Buzz Cola are currently sold out, but the Mountain View Kwik-E-Mart was a fun visit. The whole store -- inside and out -- has been redone, and it should stay up through the end of the month. Maybe by then I'll be able to try some Simpsons merchandise, as the signs implore me to do. More photos if you're interested.

Mountain View Kwik-E-Mart

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Simpsons 7-11According to the 7-11 Kwik-E-Mart Locator, one of Mountain View's 7-11's has been redone Simpsons-style:

San Francisco, CA/Mountain View, CA

Clang, clang, clang went the Squishee; ding, ding, ding went the Hot Dog!

1380 Pear Avenue
Mountain View CA, 94043

Appropriately enough, across the street from the movie theater

Happy Jobs Day!

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ratatouille.jpgI've happily been tracking Ratatouille's high RottenTomatoes score (94%) as well as the nibbles of iPhone propaganda that Apple has been releasing on a daily basis. I'm pretty sure I'll fit Ratatouille into my weekend schedule, but I'm still flipping a coin on the iPhone.

I tempted myself by visiting the Palo Alto Apple Store line -- it's Web 2.0 in a Line. Blogger/podcaster Scoble+son are first in line, the Zooomr folks are streaming video, and the SmugMug folks are brandishing their logos. Apparently Kevin Rose and Leah Culver (of newly revealed Pownce fame) were there to shoot some Diggnation footage. AT&T gave out some nice "I Have iPhone" shirts to those in line.

jobs.iphone.jpgMyself? I'll probably swing by the Apple Store one more time closer to 6pm to see if I'm tempted. If the reports are accurate -- that there are at least 500 units at the store -- then there really isn't much point in waiting in line, unless you really want one of those shirts.

Chubbs!

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One-eyed gator pulls golfer into pond

Chubbs: Back in 1965, Sports Illustrated said I was going to be the next Arnold Palmer.
Happy Gilmore: Yeah? What happened?
Chubbs: They wouldn't let me play on the Pro Tour anymore.
Happy Gilmore: Ah, I'm sorry. Because you're black?
Chubbs: Hell no! Damned alligator BIT my hand off!
Happy Gilmore: OH MY GOD!
Chubbs: Yeah. tournament down in Florida. I hooked my ball in the rough down by the lake. Damned alligator just POPPED up, cut me down on my prime. He got me, but I tore one of the bastard's eyes out though. Look at that.
Happy Gilmore: You're pretty sick, Chubbs.

Spiderman 3 suuuuuucks

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I didn't expect it to be as good as the second -- I just wanted it to be as good as the first. But it's just bad. The whole audience bonded together as we struggled to make it through to the end.

Seven Kurosawa

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1) Why didn't I know that Rashomon is public domain? I love that movie.

2) After finding out (1), I did a Google search and found out that Sanshiro Sugata is also public domain and on Google Video. There's a whole bunch of 1940s Kurosawa films I've never seen, including this one. All Japanese movies pre-1953 are public domain, so now its just a matter of finding them.

3) Regardless, I love my Criterion Collection restorations (even if I end up buying the Seven Samurai from them twice).

4) parakkum sent me the Seven Samurai Drinking Game, which is good if you subtract out references to exact scenes (e.g. Kambei "gets shorn bald" is a silly drinking game rule, but "Has to remind himself he's bald by rubbing his head" is a good rule).

5) Speaking of which, I finally scanned in the painting I had Scott Morse do at APE 2006. Morse noted that he's a bit sadder in this painting than he was in the movie:

Scott Morse - Kambei - Seven Samurai

6) It goes well with my Yojimbo Comic-Con '05 commission

Scott Morse - Yojimbo

7) Tacked onto the seven like he was in the movie, Kikuchiyo, from Comic-Con '03:

Scott Morse - Kikuchiyo - Seven Samurai

d and I were watching A Bug's Life a couple of weeks ago, which naturally for me brought up the topic of Seven Samurai -- A Bug's Life = Seven Samurai + Three Amigos. Amazon must have been psychic because it was not long after the Seven Samurai Criterion Collection re-release popped into my recommendations window and then seconds later was one-clicked into my possession.

Akira Kurosawa has been a popular director for The Criterion Collection's restorations. Seven Samurai was the second movie that Criterion released* and now, 320+ movies later -- about 12 of them Kurosawa -- they have decided to revisit one of their first restoration efforts with an expanded, 3-disc re-release. This re-release is still labeled Criterion Collection #2, but the original Criterion release looks like a joke in comparison. The most noticeable improvement for me was the reduced flickering, which had bothered me in the original release. Another improvement was the beautiful new packaging, which contains small booklet of essays and stills from the movie. There were clearly other areas of improvement, but I wasn't sure exactly how much better it was. It had been awhile since I watched the film and the new release still has scratches, problems with fades, and other sorts of aging issues.

I popped the original release back in and I felt like I was watching the YouTube version. There were chunky artifacts everywhere and all the details were blown out: expressions on faces, details of costumes, backdrops, all were trash in comparison. The original release was clearly over-compressed to fit on a single disc, which was fixed with the new two-disc version, and the clearly the 320-or-so movies that the Criterion Collection since their original Seven Samurai release has taught them a thing or two about restoration. The only bit of restoration I'm on the fence on is the new opening title sequence. I rather liked the old, faded title sequence of the first release, which set the mood well for an old samurai film. The new title sequence features crisp white-on-black lettering, which is probably closer to the original intent.

To be clear, don't be expecting it to look like the movie on release day: the original master was lost. Have no doubt, though, you will notice the difference if you own the original Criterion release. This is not one of those things were videophiles point out that you can count more hairs on Aragorn's beard.

If you don't own the movie, perhaps you want to give it a shot. At least it will give you a chance to recognize where movies like A Bug's Life and The Magnificent Seven are drawing from, or what Lucas is referencing when Yoda rubs his head in thought. The samurai characters of Kambei, Heihachi, and Kikuchiyo are among my favorites that Kurosawa has created and the tension between samurai and farmer plays out so well in the movie, showing you shades of gray in good and evil that many movies ignore. The good thing about being a newcomer to this film is at least you won't be troubled by the $30 you already spent on the previous release ;).

* A little factoid: Jean Renoir is another popular director for The Criterion Collection. Jean Renoir's Grand Illusion was the first movie released under that label. Renoir's and Kurosawa's versions of The Lower Depths were later released as Criterion Collection #239.

Movie: Casino Royale

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casinoroyale.jpgI went to the Spy Museum in DC, which I thought would be good preparation for Casino Royale, but as it turns out, it wasn't. The new 007 flick is less spy-gadgety and much more blunt assassin who's not much for covers. With this latest reboot of the 007 series, the producers decided to do away with the Pinky-and-the-Brain-world-domination schemes, Swiss Army cars, and overly cute dialog, instead delivering something more realistic: a bad guy who's just trying to make a paltry $100M. Even Dr. Evil wouldn't be blown away. The bad guy does have one ridiculous trait -- crying blood -- but you can almost believe that all of this all of this is happening as we speak. It is perhaps for that reason that the new Bond feels more violent and dark, as every punch is more believable. Or perhaps it is the fact that even the opening credits do away with the female silhouettes, instead treating you to scene after scene of silhouettes being murdered.

Daniel Craig plays this Bond role well: a gentleman in a suit with a psychopath beneath. Well-adjusted human beings don't go around murdering people in bathrooms. The psychopathic elements remind me of Frank Miller's Batman and the more realistic spy drama reminds me of Rucka's Queen and Country, but at its heart you still feel that you are watching a Bond movie, albeit stripped of some of its more silly trappings.

A lot of the reviews have been billing this as a origins-style movie, ala Spiderman and Batman Begins, but that seems to be misplaced in my opinion. Bond is still learning in this film, but that is not the nature of this film.

I'm a bit surprised by the sky-high 95% Rotten Tomatoes score, which you generally see for movies that are more well executed than this. I attribute it in part to lowered expectations from previous films, as this movie is not without its faults. It is a very long 2 hours and 24 minutes, the pacing is a bit off with some really rough cuts, and my mind still hasn't made chronological sense out of the cuts in the casino scene. But is a good action film, assuming you like something a bit darker but still PG-13.

You've got snakes

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Snakes on a Plane continues to have an entertaining Internet marketing campaign. It has been mostly due to people on the Internet parodying the concept, but they've been wise enough to play up the parodies and remixed them into a video they showed at Comic-Con, where they also displayed this hilarious safety card promo poster. The latest addition to the marketing campaign are customized Samuel L. Jackson phone/e-mail greetings. You select from a variety of options to customize the greetings, and I found myself wasting plenty of time seeing what kind of messages you could get. They really know their audience. When you select a hobby for the person you are sending to, among the options are both "smoking cigarettes" and "smoking other" (Samuel L. Jackson will implore them to "stop smoking that whacky tobacky.")

Tour de Comic-Con: Friday's stage

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I haven't really posted about yesterday's stage, but today's stage was so awesome that let's just leave it at my "Tired" entry for now and move onto this morning and afternoon.

Entertainment along the route picked up throughout the stage. After Snoop Dogg and Lando failed to show up for their session, things picked up dramatically with a rollicking Battlestar Galactica session. They probably gave away too many Season 3 spoilers, but Edward James Olmos and Lucy Lawless added a lot more entertainment to this year's panel. The day ended with the New Line Cinema event. Kenan Thompson was a hilarious host and things got great once the Final Destination 3 promo was done. They showed a clip from the upcoming Tenacious D movie (hilarious rock opera clip with a Meat Loaf and Dio) and then, what we were waiting for, Snakes on a Plane, featuring Samuel L. Jackson, live snakes (anaconda!), a 10-minute clip, and a hilarious mashup of some of the fan parodies. Samuel L. Jackson played his bad-ass part well, kinda like a Bruce Campbell session but with a lot more muthafuckas thrown in.

The schwag points in this year's Tour have been much more difficult to come by: the movie studios aren't giving away schwag at their presentations, there's a lot less t-shirts, a lot less posters, a lot less of everything, which doesn't make much sense as this is the biggest Tour de Comic-Con ever. Or perhaps it's so big that companies don't want to give out that much anymore. m and I are probably going to save some crucial weight tomorrow and leave our poster tubes behind as they are fairly empty.

Nevertheless, this year's Tour has some of the best schwag booths ever -- so good that I hestitate to call it schwag. After trying yesterday and only coming up with a Magic Booster pack, Team Uni got five Star Wars Attack on Endor sets that retail for $20 each. Team Uni also picked up three Boba Fett limited edition Bust-Ups, which non-limited versions retail for $4-5.

The sketches also went very well for kwc, who has been working since Thursday to get a Mignola sketch but has failed repeatedly. Today, success, as I now have a Hellboy sketch to add to my collection as well as a Stephen Silver sketch. honeyfields and my sketch books are much less full this year, but the focus has been much more on getting sketches from specific people and it has paid off. kwc has gotten sketches from Mignola, Kazu, Silver, Sakai, Guenoden, Kurtz, Aragones, and Gabe, which is a happy haul.

For both the schwag and sketch point competitions, this year's strategy has been much more in the style of Michael Rasmussen and Richard Virenque: ignore the piddling Cat 4 and Cat 3 climbs, go hard on one of the stages and take all the big climbs. Today's stage was that stage for us. With over $100 in retail with about an hour's effort each, Team Uni can coast to the finish, though we may pick up an extra Endor set or two just in case.

One Cars review in

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and it's positive. I skimmed the review so as to reveal as few spoilers as possible, but the reviewer was gaga for it. I guess this would give it a RottenTomatoes score of 100%, if RottenTomatoes had worse methodology. I'll maintain a no-hope stance until the real RT scores start coming in.

Elsewhere on kwc.org

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4th Law of Robotics

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  1. A robot may not harm a human being, or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
  2. A robot must obey the orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
  3. A robot must protect its own existence, as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.
  4. "A robot must activate its red LED when disregarding the First, Second, or Third Law."

irobots.JPG hal.jpg terminator.jpg cylon.JPG

Sony recently cancelled the Qrio, an action that was attributed to cost-cutting and product division reorganization. Closer observers know that Sony was trying to forestall the robot uprising:

redqriob.jpg

See also: RFC 3514 - The Security Flag in the IPv4 Header

TiVo Download Trial experience

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I watched my free TiVo download of Red Trousers last night. TiVo is experimenting with letting users download video over the Internet and this free offering was either a beta test, publicity, or both. Red Trousers wasn't exactly the best video to judge the new technology. It's been awhile since I've last saw it so I don't know if some of the poor video quality was because it is a cheaply shot documentary about Hong Kong stuntmen or because TiVo compressed the heck of it.

The video quality is akin to VCDs -- it doesn't really look like the Best/High/Medium/Basic settings that you might be used to. It doesn't have the big blocky jumbles that you really notice on Medium and Basic, but it is clearly lower resolution than Best. Text is bit harder to read and there were a lot of edge artifacts. There were also spots in the video that seemed jerky and the color levels seemed off (blacks weren't right), but I don't know if that was the compression or the way Red Trousers was shot.

There is a blue recording icon when you are downloading the video. Unlike streaming video from other TiVos, you have to wait until the entire video downloads before you can start watching it, which probably means they don't think they can transfer it enough to show it in real time. I have no idea how long it took, but it doesn't matter too much as you can still record other shows at the same time. It would probably be more annoying if you were trying to have people over to watch the video and you were all sitting around waiting for the blue icon to go away.

It's hard to rate the overall the TiVo download technology as this wasn't the full experience. How much will it cost? Will you get to keep the video? Is this targeted at movies or TV shows? How will I choose what video I am downloading? I'm a bit annoyed at the lower video quality, which is probably enough to make me pass this up for movies, but for the right price the sit-on-your-butt convenience might be worth it.

Movie: Serenity

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serenity.jpgIn short, a good, but not great action film.

I have only seen half of one Firefly episode and I hated it. If one were to show me synopsis of each episode I won't even be able to pick out which one I had watched. That said, I'll probably give the show another shot, which won't show up in the box office receipts, but may be an effect that gives more fuel to Whedon's trilogy campaign.

The movie was rewarding in a way that space dramas made from TV shows generally aren't. At the end of the hour-long TV show you know that all the scratches will be buffed back out and this trait often shows up in the movie adaptation. Star Trek movies, in particular, are handcuffed by the need to maintain consistency in their well-documented timeline. Whedon was willing to put the Serenity story first ("I'm a leaf on the wind") even if it meant roughing up his well-crafted universe -- perhaps having only half a season on the books was a good thing. The movie still has the burden of syncing to the TV show, the actors feel more like TV actors, and the special effects are TV-rate as well, but I give the movie a lot of credit for making an entertaining sci-fi/space-samurai-spaghetti-western/Whedon-esque movie out of a $40 million budget.

(NOTE: My only significant complaint is that it was darn hard to understand the dialogue all the time. Out of four of us that went to see the movie, I know that at least three of us missed a line here and there. I felt that I needed subtitles or TiVo.)

Movie: Batman, the IMAX Experience

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I don't know if I need to add my voice to the chorus of parakkum, ln m, and o.t.a., so I'll try at least to be short.

I saw Batman: The IMAX Experience at The Tech, which has a dome-style IMAX screen. Very early in the film, when there's this wide shot of Himalaya-ish mountains, I thought to myself, "Now THAT's IMAX!" Later on in the film, I started to get a little twigged at the fact that one eye on each actor's face was always bigger because of the fishy effect of the dome (we weren't seated dead center). There were also problems following the fight scenes. It was just too big and too close. I thought this was the fault of the IMAX projection, but from the reviews, it appears that even on a normal screen you really can't tell what's going on.

Overall, I thought this was the best of the Batman movies, though they definitely emulated the Spiderman model. Batman Returns still has the best villains, but this felt like the better story.

Movie: Madagascar

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honeyfields got us into a screening of Madagascar, Dreamwork's latest animated film. This is the first time I've seen a feature film where there was someone involved in the making (Rex Grignon, head of the character animation department) answering questions afterwards -- it was like having your own abridged post-commentary track there in the theater, without having to wait for the DVD.

Rex talked about how they wrote some new software for this film to try and make the CG rendering more cartoony -- i.e. unlike Shrek, where the characters had skeletons that followed natural laws, animators in this film were able to stretch, bend, and distort as needed in order to get more dynamic poses and motion. For example, if a character moved quickly, they could stretch out the hands/fingers and pop-out the eyes a bit to give a sense of faster motion.

Rex also mentioned some of the footage that ended up on the cutting room floor, a lot of which probably features Ali G's/Sascha Baron Cohen's improvs. Cohen's character Julian role was rewritten after the first recording session during which Cohen would turn a single line into an extended riff. One of these riffs, in which the Julian joyfully proclaims "spanking machines for everyone!" didn't make the cut; after a test screening with mothers and children: 1. The children found spanking machines frightening 2. The mothers didn't find hundreds of lemurs dancing to spanking machines entertaining either

As much as I enjoyed having this live commentary, though, Madagascar is not a good film. It seems that someone was aware that the story wasn't very good because nearly every shot has to have a gag; they are so afraid of people paying attention to the story that some gag has to be going on in the background, or some story-stopping movie reference has to be thrown in. Granted, many of these gags made me laugh and chuckle, but a good film has to know when not to tell a joke.

Blasted midnight

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I was shopping for Episode III tickets online and came across this difficult-to-interpret listing:

screenshot

12:30am is listed last, which would seem to indicate that it means the morning of the 20th, but if I click on 12:30am it tells me that I would be purchasing tickets for "12:30am the evening of Thu, May 19."

parakkum has clarified that they actually mean "12:30am the morning of the Fri, May 20," as it appears that the real midnight showing tickets are listed when you choose Wed, May 18.

Because they haven't sucked enough

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Not only have they put Toy Story 1 and 2 DVDs out of print, Disney is going to further wreck the series by making not one, but two sequels (apparently Disney gets the rights once they split).

Comic-Con Schwag

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Schwag is a big component of Comic-Con. I wasn't on as much of a schwag hunt this year, but I think I did manage to pick up some items that will survive in my possession, rather than get tossed in the trash several months from now when I realize how useless it is. I was also trying to be minimal in the amount of stuff that I was toting around with me, and, for the most part, I avoided posters, which are hard to keep in good condition.

1. The Tie Fighter Fleet of destruction.

tie fightersparakkum and honeyfields graciously donated their Imperial fighters to my fleet so that it would be more impressive.

I like the lego minis -- they have the proper amount of abstractness. I much prefer them to the mid-size lego models that assume too much detail; you become too aware of the differences between the model and the real thing. Not quite the Uncanny Vally, but perhaps similar.

On a similar note, s was talking to me during the ride home from the airport about McCloud's work and how McCloud discusses how abstraction in comics serves to allow the reader to project their own impressions on the work. I think they minis work this way -- I even found my subconscious playing the Imperial March as I assembled the minis, but that may just be because I'm insane.

2. Advance reading copy of Rucka's new Queen and Country novel, A Gentlemen's Game

honeyfields got me a copy of this while I was snapping photos of Buffy. Rucka signed it, "After this, everything changes." It contains numerous spoilers for the upcoming Q&C comics, so unfortunately this will have to sit on my shelf for awhile.

3. Incredibles poster by Mike Mignola (Min-yola, not Mig-nola)

Apparently Brad Bird is a big fan of Mignola's art, and the poster is a nice depiction of Mr. Incredible. I will try and get a photo once it is back in my possession.

4. Sky captain t-shirt

I liked this t-shirt because, unlike most free t-shirts, it isn't an advertisement first and a t-shirt second. A Punisher t-shirt I got, for example, has URL for the movie below the skull.

Honorable mention: The Grudge hat

It's a high-quality black hat with bright red kanji letters on the front. I think I will take a knife to it and cut out "The Grudge" translation that's on the back of the hat, at which point it will become a cool item.

Comic-Con: Kung-fu Extravaganza

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parakkum says that this has gone downhill over the years. This year there were a couple of interesting clips for me, but overall the selection was poor.

Musa: never actually showed the clip he wanted to, and rather than recognize that the wrong clip was being played, he would wait until the end of the scene and then say, "that was the wrong clip." It didn't matter too much: myself, honeyfields, and parakkum all hated the freakin' movie.

All Men Are Brothers: This is cheesy fantasy kung-fu, but absolutely hilarious. By far the best clip of the night.

Butterfly Sword: A Michelle Yeoh/Tony Leung movie with a cool arrow maneuver.

Running on Karma: not particularly memorable for me. Not sure why he chose this one. About this guy (Andy Lau) who had the ability to see through cause and consequence and reenact previous scenes of violence. He also shadow boxes a piece of tissue.

Men Suddenly in Black: this movie is about a bunch of guys who are intent on cheating on their wives. The clip contains a hilarious a non-violent John Woo homage with cameras and other implements.

Master Q: don't even remember this one. I think this was the one where these guys take on a taoist demon with a mirror, but I don't know.

Red Trousers: a behind the scenes movie about stuntmen that we saw the trailer for

Legend of the Condor Heroes: boring anime that was being plugged

Movie: Musa

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MusaIMDB users think that Musa is fantastic, but personally I thought this movie sucks. It's probably also fair to say that parakkum, honeyfields, and meta all thought it sucked as well. I picked this up in Chinatown with the help of rcp (who complained about not wanting to have to watch a movie with Chinese subtitles :) ) and I expected big things from a $60M war epic -- Hero was good, right?

Musa is a Korean war epic that takes place in China, where the band of Korean warriors struggle the make it safely back home. Along the way it manages to become a protect-the-princess flick, and then after that a confused mish-mash of other epics, like Seven Samurai. There's also probably more blood and dismemberings in this film than Kill Bill Vol. 1.

Instead of defining itself as an epic with its own character, Musa instead felt like a bunch of other epic movies edited together with Asian actors substituted in. The flow of the story is disruptive, the characters inconsistent, and suspension of disbelief becomes difficult when the character motivations are so thin.

As I mentioned at the start, though, apparently other people liked this movie, so if you want to borrow it from me, feel free; I don't think I'll be watching it again soon ;).

Movie: Punisher

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Brian's Books hooked me up with a free screening pass, so me, bp, and pqbon all went to go see it. The free pass was good, because I really wasn't planning on paying to go see the movie, but I did want to see it in the hopes of washing the previous Punisher movie from my brain.

This Punisher movie was neither good nor bad, kinda lukewarm mediocre. It didn't really know what it wanted to be. It spent a really long time doing the whole origin story, and then it drifted for a really long time through a series of cheesy campy scenes where the Punisher doesn't really punish anybody (well, he does punish three people, but he wasn't actually seeking them out).

He sits around a bit, meets his dorky neighbors + one hot Rebecca Romijn-Stamos, and tries his best to annoy John Travolta. It didn't help that I think John Travolta is a terrible villain. Everytime I see him in a role like this, the movie automatically feels cheesy. For further reference, watch Broken Arrow. The movie also tried to throw comedy in during this long part, but it was the type of comedy that was of the "look at this funny goofy guy" sort, which I was puzzled to see in a Punisher movie.

The final paragraph is a semi-spoiler, don't read of if you've read enough or don't want more of the movie structure revealed.

Japan theme

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Japan at NightI'm still refusing to watch the Last Samurai, partly because it's a rergurgitated flick clothed in samurai armor, and also because the phrase "Last Samurai" should never be associated with Tom Cruise. I have, however, watched Lost in Translation and Kill Bill, which I think were fun, good movies, though in very, very different ways.

The New York Times has used these three films to write an article on Japan in Hollywood, which is a nice casual read. It's difficult to see Kill Bill as a movie portraying Japan... it seems more accurate to describe it as a movie portraying Japanese cinema, a caricature of a caricature, though I did like the brief visit to Okinawa. Lost in Translation, on the other hand, I thought was an excellent portrayal of being immersed in Japanese culture for the first time. The article delves into the complaints about the movie being racist, but, to me at least, the movie hits far too close to home and lacks the condescending tone for that category.

One of the funniest parts of the movie for me was when Bill Murray does the celebrity commercial for the whisky. It still surprises me everytime I see one of the celebrity commercials on Japanese TV, and watching Murray act out this scene I can't help but wonder if the actors for the actual commercials suffer as much as he is. Speaking of which, I found a link to Japander on evhead today. You can check out all the silly Harrison Ford et al commercials there if you like.

I'll leave you with one final Japan-related link which I managed to spot today. It's the source of the image accompanying this article: Japan Nighttime Skylines (via Gen Kanai via MetaFilter)

Four days

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gollumFour days left. We should strangle them in their sleep

gollumno... no... too risky... unless...

gollumWe let 'her' do it... yes....
(dedicated to honeyfields for getting us tix)

The past two weeks of Style Invitational were kinda boring, but the one three weeks ago was brilliant. The contest description and my favorites below.

Week 524: "...scramble the words of any book or movie, and come up with a new product. An extraordinary week; great entries, and in great numbers. Good ideas too popular to reward with prizes: Ferris Bueller's Off-Day (a boring movie); Mr. Washington Goes to Smith (the father of our country as a cross-dresser); The Rye in the Catcher (a documentary on alcoholism in sports), and The Wrath of Grapes (various vegetal revenge scenarios)."

Kampf Mein: And other German-Chinese recipes. (Bob Wallace, Reston)

"What? Did Daddy Do You in the War?" A young girl learns of her father's overseas affair when a Korean woman comes looking for him. (Russell Beland, Springfield)

The Red Man with One Shoe: The story of Nikita Khruschchev. (Tom Witte, Gaithersburg)

Powers of Austin Man: International Mystery: How the governor of Texas became president of the United States. (Brian Lochrie and Jennie Reiff, Lake Forest, Calif.)

F.J.K. : In this documentary, disappointed Harry Potter fans complain about the author. (David Vacca, Washington)

The Virtues of Book: Bill Bennett's guide to Vegas gambling. (Chris Doyle, Forsyth, Mo.)

Big Wedding, My Fat Greek!: The behind-the-scenes story of Jackie's ultimatum to Onassis. (Judith Cottrill, New York)

Phantom Wars Episode Menace the One-Star: A brigadier general tries to avoid becoming the scapegoat for America's failure to find the weapons of mass destruction. (David Vacca, Washington)

Bride of the Father: The unauthorized biography of Soon-Yi Previn. (Larry Cynkin, Kensington)

Blue Devil in a Dress: High jinks ensue when the Duke basketball team fields a transvestite power forward. (David Vacca, Washington)

The Style Invitational (washingtonpost.com)

Matrix Persona

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Aw yeah, I'm Neo.

You are Neo
You are Neo, from "The Matrix." You
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Movie: Legend of Suriyothai

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I saw The Legend of Suriyothai at the Castro theater with Amanda, Adam, Josh, and Gesara. Among the notable attendees were the director/prince, Peter Coyote (identified by Gesara, the rest of us had no idea who he was), and Danny Glover (only seen by Adam). The movie seemed good, but it was clear that it was hastily cut to shorten it (though it was still a very long movie). There are many, many scenes and many characters that have to be followed over a long time frame, and to add even more confusion to situation, the actress that plays the young Suryiothai also plays Suryiothai's daughter later in the film.

After the movie we visited the Odeon Bar where we got to experience "It's Christian Karaoke night here at the Odeon." We didn't stay for the whole show.

As the movie was very hard to follow, I've tried to transcribe an outline below that will (hopefully) remember what happened.