Saturday, July 21, 2007

Birthdays Redux

I never had a chance to go on last night and post so I'm giving belated birthday wishes, this time to the wonderful Dame Diana Rigg. She turned 69 yesterday.

I was going to hang out and watch some Avengers episodes (and post something on the blog, as mentioned before) but Jen wanted me to come with her to this ridiculous Harry Potter midnight book purchasing thing at a local bookseller so the opportunity was sort of squandered (and it wasn't all her fault because I did have time to watch the end of Ocean's Eleven when I got home, too).

Anyway, Happy Belated Birthday, Diana. May there be many more.


Wednesday, July 18, 2007

More Birthday Wishes

The always adorable Kristin Bell celebrates her 27th birthday today. S'funny since Jen and I were watching Veronica Mars tonight.


Friday, July 13, 2007

Birthday Greetings and a Treat

On this Friday the 13th I'd like to extend some birthday greetings, Meanwhile... style, to the man in the hat, Harrison Ford. He turns 65 today.

And to celebrate, the fine folks over at Indy 4 gave us THIS.


More Than Meets the Eye?

I'm just gonna spout off here so if there's no coherent flow then don't worry. Also, there may be a spoiler or two, so if that concerns you, don't continue.

Anyway, I just got back from seeing Transormers with my brother tonight and I would say that the subject line is an apt description of what I saw. Considering it was a Michael Bay movie, I was expecting something more along the lines of Bad Boys or The Rock as far as style and attention to plot were concerned, but being apart from the Bruckheimer machine appears to make some difference because this is probably one of the best Bay movies I've ever seen.

Not to mention one of the most expensive GM car ads I've ever seen.

Was it the best Transformers movie I could have ever imagined? No, not really. There are some good ideas crammed in there and, technically, it's an extremely well done movie. It's definitely the best special effects I have ever seen from ILM (these robot fight sequences must have been like wet dreams for the animators) or any company currently working out there.

They also don't get bogged down with a lot of exposition, which is good since it would not only make the movie slow and plodding, but sound just a little foolish, as well. I mean, we used to get picked on for knowing about these toys and cartoons when we were kids (coincidentally by the same people who are flocking to the theatre and saying, "that's the coolest f***ing movie I've ever seen, man"). This is a pretty silly concept and they managed to sell it with bells on, so props to the marketing guys and the filmmakers.

Still, the movie does lose narrative focus somewhere in the middle. The human story, the one that's supposed to help us relate to these events and, really, the audience is supposed to be seeing the movie through Shia and Megan's eyes, gets sunverted by the Government knows there are aliens and we really need to wrap up all this set-up we've done in the next 45 minutes or else narrative.

That said, they do have a shitload of plot, character. action and dialogue to handle and they do a very good job of it, overall. I mean, they only introduce a fraction of the toy line so it isn't as top heavy as it could have been, and the Bumblebee/Shia story does go a long way to helping keep things anchored. Shia himself was convincing and entertaining and how cool is it that they got the cartoon voice for Optimus to be in the movie?

To sum up, for plain and simple entertainment value, I'd give it 3.5 points out of 5, and for sheer spectacle, I'd give it 4.5 out of 5. Definitely worth seeing in the theatre if you go and probably worth spending some hard-earned money on.

Autobots, roll!


Thursday, July 12, 2007

First Time Donnie Darko Viewer

I just watched Donnie Darko for the first time last night. It was reccomended to me a year ago by a co-worker so I went out and acquired a copy of the Director's Cut but never got around to watching it. Then, a couple of days ago, another co-worker at my new job sprung the "Have you seen Donnie Darko?" question out of the blue and it got me thinking about checking out the movie again.

Having the day off, and free reign of the house, yesterday, I got into a vibe of getting to some movies I haven't had a chance to check out. A friend gave me a copy of Saw a looong time ago and I figured with the family gone it was the perfect time to watch it. The same with Donnie Darko only, after watching 20 minutes of the movie, I was convinced that Jen would like it as well and decided to hold out 'til the evening and do it as a movie night sort of thing.

To make a long story short, we got inot it, I thought the movie was phenomenal (Jen liked it, too), that it was one of the best films I've ever seen and that I would highly reccomend it to anyone who ever had a curiosity about the movie but was afraid to pick it up.

I'll also probably go and track down a copy of the theatrical version to see it as it was originally presented because I enjoyed it so darn much. I think there may be an audio commentary on that version as well, and I think it would be neat to listen to that one after hearing the Director's Cut one.

Anyway, I just wanted to throw that out there and share the love as I am wont to do. I'll leave you with a fun clip from the film where Donnie discusses his thoughts about smurfs.


Monday, July 09, 2007

Favourite Videos 4

This was Bowie's least 'interesting' video from Earthling but was, stylistically, the most appealing to me as a piece of mini-cinema. I can't argue that 'Little Wonder' wasn't a great, trippy little clip to watch, but everything in this video from the lighting to the composition to David's jacket and sweater combination and the use of Trent Reznor as the 'bad guy' left a lasting impression on me.

I think the fact that it was story based (something most of his videos from this period were not) probably had a lot to do with why this one stands the test of time and why it made the list.

Watch, enjoy, comment...


Sunday, July 08, 2007

Farewell, Moonshadow

First, a little history.

20 odd years ago, Epic, a mature imprint of Marvel Comics, published a 12-issue series, which was a coming of age sci-fi fantasy fairy tale for adults - Moonshadow. Created by writer J.M. DeMatteis and artist Jon J Muth, the book helped, along with its Epic brethren, to redefine American comic books and spearheaded the fully painted comic story, something that came to be en vogue a few years later. It was a difficult project to pigeonhole into any one genre and the creators operated under very few restrictions since nobody knew exactly what it was they were creating. As a result, what is arguably one of the finest comic book works to ever be crafted on this continent was produced, packaged and sold with little fanfare.

On a personal note, at this time I was just discovering John Byrne's Superman revival and the creation of the new DC Comics Universe post-Crisis, so I, unfortunately, missed this landmark book on its release. Not being a complete cloth-eared nincompoop, however, I did eventually discover it in the back-issue bins (through an ad in the back of an issue of Elektra: Assassin, I'm sure) and found myself drawn, first to the beautiful painted covers by Muth, and then to the magical, heartfelt and inspired writing of an author who's work I'd only ever seen in the pages of Marvel Team-Up, The Defenders and Justice League. This was good stuff. I made a point of buying up every issue I could find.

Before finally completing my Epic run it was republished for a new audience to discover with new covers, better paper, and supplemental material at DC's aforementioned Vertigo imprint (something DeMatteis and Muth apparently lobbied for). This was followed shortly thereafter by its sequel, Farewell, Moonshadow, which featured the original creators, DeMatteis and Muth, reuniting to tell the final chapter in the life of the young wanderer. Not a comic book, per se, the story was told in prose and comic format with spot illustrations and panel work done by Muth. It's a powerful, enchanting tale of found and lost love, and how an individual's journey to awakening never truly ends.

I just completed reading the maxi-series yesterday and about a half-hour ago I finished the sequel. I'm going to risk some cool factor by saying that the saga as a whole deeply touched me (as it has since the day I first laid eyes on it) and had me a little teary by story's end. I hesitated to put the book down for a few minutes because it would have meant the end of something that I wasn't quite ready to let go of just yet. I wanted to hold the moment for a few seconds longer, then proceeded to tell Jen that she should read it, too.

The only thing just as good as experiencing it yourself is seeing someone else going through it as well. Just as I encouraged Jen to try it, I throw out the invitation to you. Find a copy, crack it open, see what you think.

And if J.M. or Jon happen to stumble by this post, a humble and profound thank you to the both of you.

I'm going to leave this post with one of my favourite images from Farewell. It's a spot illo from a dream sequence and it features Moon's mother and the hat of his best friend, Ira. Both figure and object carry greater meaning when you've read the previous work but I think it's striking, poetic and just plain beautiful to look at. I want to make prints of them all.


Friday, July 06, 2007

Things Are Looking Up

Or are they?

I'm not really sure, one way or the other, but I can say that today had some good points, for a change, that managed to outweigh the crappy ones. Work was a disaster, as usual, but I had a good chat with some of my workmates afterwards, I have an option of going in tomorrow if I want to and for time-and-a-half because of a scheduling error (which also gets me a 2-day weekend if I go that route), and I'm listening to JET: Rare Tracks, which is bringing me a lot of good feelings right now. A good shower, some clean clothes, a little decompression time and things are looking a little better than they were only 2 hours ago.

There were a couple of good customers who helped take the edge off, too. I should be sure to give credit to where credit is due, especially when I can so rarely ascribe it to that particular demographic. There was a lady who showed up right in the middle of a total clusterfuck wanting help with an air conditioner problem. Now, usually, I hear air conditioner and problem and I want to run, but this lady was really great to talk to and probably managed to keep me from snapping entirely before lunch.

There was also a younger girl who was working for a local television production, Rabbit Falls, who came in to get some materials for props that will likely be appearing in a future episode. She wanted these 4x8 sheets cut into 4x4's, so we had a good 20 minutes to chat about University, television, work, life the universe and everything.

They both acted like cooling rods in a nuclear power plant that keep the reactor from going poof, pop, ping! One in the afternoon before lunch and one just before the end of my shift. I'm wondering if there's some synchronicity or cosmic intervention involved there at all.

Another hopeful sign tonight was after the aforementioned good conversation with work people I walked out into the parking lot to go home and found a dollar lying on the ground.

If that's not the universe telling me that things are levelling out, I don't know what is.

Anyway, I'm going to go figure out what I'm doing tonight. Looks like going to see Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer is an option. I got a free pass, so...


Thursday, July 05, 2007

Favourite Videos 3

'Perfect Drug' was a bit of a departure for Trent Reznor both visually and musically and when I first caught this video my antenae perked up instantly. It borrows a lot from Coppola's Dracula and Anne Rice, to be sure, and the rest of it is coloured by your usual Victorian Goth motifs, but something about this rich, surreal four minutes of angst managed to imprint itself on me and I've never tired of watching it. I also never got a chance to watch it much since it didn't get a lot of airplay around here (so hooray for YouTube) so it was kind of fun familiarising myself with it again.

If you happen to like the song, be sure to check out the album version on the Lost Highway soundtrack. It has a longer drum solo/breakdown which just makes the song for me. It's worth checking out if you can.



Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Favourite Videos #2

The Police's 'Every Breath You Take' has the distinction of being the first music video I ever saw, or at the very least, the first one I clearly remember seeing. It was on NBC back in, I guess, 1984 on a show called Friday Night Videos. I think it was followed by Duran Duran's 'Hungry Like the Wolf' and Prince's 'Little Red Corvette'. For a 10 or 11 year old who had just spent the last year in a communist country the experience was revelatory. I'd always had a love for listening to music but now I could watch it too. That night with my brother and mother in front of the tube managed to spark, not only a lifelong love of The Police, but an appreciation for what a really good music video can be.

Those of you who were around at the time know that there was a lot of shit being mass produced to fill a hungry market and the artistry that we've become accustomed to with video directors over the years wasn't so much en vogue at the time. Seeing this stark, noirish, high contrast and painfully simple video that fit the song more in tone and theme than in trying to tell any kind of story, while showcasing the band in what is, essentially, a performance video was something I really responded to. It's a little abstract, a little haunting and very beautiful.

Since starting down this path I've gone through a lot of videos from favourite songs, past and present, to see where they stand on the 'all-timers' list. I found that even though I still love many of the songs, the videos really weren't anything 'important' or overly clever. It sounds lame to say it but there needs to be a deeper connection for me, somehow. Like a movie you finish watching, leave the theatre, go 'round to the box office, buy another ticket and go back in to watch it again just to experience it again. Watching this clip the other night cemented its place on the list.

As always, your own comments are encouraged.



Monday, July 02, 2007

My Favourite Music Videos

A conversation with my brother has sort of inspired this line of posting. He has recently discovered Radiohead's 'Creep' and we began talking about the band's videos. A casual mention of 'Just' and it's clip sparked a "That's one of my favourite videos of all time" response and it has since stuck in the back of my head.

'Just' is one of many videos I've been keeping in my noggin as part of my running tally of favourites so I decided that I would, through the magic of YouTube, share said mini-movies with y'all and maybe spark a comment or two in the process.

I'll start off with 'Just' since it's responsible for all of this.

Yeah, I just can't say anything bad about that one. Love the song, love the premise, beautifully shot, well acted...I never get tired of watching it.

Feel free to toss out any of your own opinions. I'd love to hear them, good or bad.


Sucks to Be Me

I'll warn you ahead of time that this is a bit of a self-indulgent-feeling-sorry-for-myself post inspired by the retarded events of the last 24 hours.

You ever get that feeling where you just want to shake your head, lie or sit down and listen to some music that gets right under your skin and massages that lingering knot in your brain? Or possibly read something that does an equally fine job of filling that hole in your soul? That certain something-something that helps put just a smidge of poetry back in your life? That's basically me for the last couple of months and today was just another notch on the wall.

After a reasonably blah morning and decent afternoon, I went on to meet some people from work for a stat holiday dinner - which was good and bad in it's own way - then came home to discover that I'd forgotten my keys when I left. Shortly before I left, I had mistakenly given them to Jen thinking they were the car keys. She probably put them back in the key jar and I totally forgot about them. I tried calling her on her cell and ended up driving around for a couple of hours until I could finally get a hold of her to let me in. She was out with a friend and wasn't answering her cell phone, which is funny when you think of them as a reach-you-anywhere sort of technology.

I'm just glad I wasn't lying in the street bleeding to death.

Anyway, I'm home, I'm cranky as hell and I've pissed away a day that was supposed to be a kick back and relax sort of Monday before I have to go back to work.

The urge to shop is becoming slightly overpowering at this point.

Happier thoughts in my next post, life willing.