Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Marie Antoinette (Drama 2006)

I'm a big fan of Kristen Dunst, so having her as the main character already wins this movie some points. Not too shabby at all considering that this is Sophia Coppola's 4th real film. It does bring to light the fact that she indeed has a very unique style in the way she directs. The preference for subtly and body language vs. having actual dialog is illustrated many times throughout this movie. If you saw Lost in Translation, you woulda seen a lot more of this because most scenes in that film were generally silent, but visually stimulating.

As most should already know from European History class, this film is about Marie Antoinette and her infamous reputation as being an eccentric example of 18th century royalty. The movie did detail all of this out, but it also tried to show the "person behind the glamor", as some snippet from E! would try to market it out as. The theme remained pretty constant as it focused on giving this character a fair chance to show what her environment was like and how she was guided towards a life of lavish spending, court politics, and formal etiquette.

From an analytical point of view, you can see how diluted and pussified the monarchy had become. The strong state that Louis XIV built had been passed down and weakened until it hit a whole aristocratic generation that had no fucking clue how to run a country, an economy, its military, etc. The whole of the upper class merely spent what everyone else below them made. It's no surprise that this pattern of laziness would cause the monarchy to lose power, control, and their whole way of life. Of course, from the current Democratic point of view, this is all hunky-dory becasue people became equal and all, but I'm totally a monarchist and I think it would be much cooler to have all of the regal flair that some countries still have.

Anyway, the movie was good; Kristen Dunst played a perfect queen character and I thought her silent acting was superb. I only wish they woulda showed more of what happened to the royal family after the revolution. Historians and book-writers tend to be much too interested in freedom and equality, as opposed to studying how the dissemination of a whole system of government would rip apart the reality of the upper class.
Rating - B

Monday, February 26, 2007

The Science of Sleep (Drama 2006)

What a bullshit movie. If I was in a theater I probably would've walked out. This film was just a whole mix of weird artsy shit and really lame dialogue. Even though the actors seemed like ok peeps, the sheer unbelievability of this nut-filled plot caused even the cashews to walk out of the jar. You really have to wonder how the writer/director was actually able to coax a company to produce such trash. Sad thing is that this same person created Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, which was the exact opposite; a very good flick.

Ok so we get it, the main character is kinda whacked and he can't differentiate reality from dreams. Ok fine, we all accept that. But the shit that he says can't possibly convince people around him that he's a normal chap. It's like trying to build a relationship, friend or otherwise, with a person who skips 3 words out of every sentence they say. How in Gods name would you be able to understand anything?!

I have no idea what type of audience this film caters to, but it sure doesn't make by little boat any more buoyant.
Rating - F

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Conversations with Other Women (Drama 2005)

Well this was an unexpected delight. The movie starts out with a guy attempting to hit on a girl at a wedding, and from there it turns into a very unique execution of storytelling through the use of a split screen, past shots, and smooth, innuendo-filled dialogue. Props to the writer who actually had to think of how the whole conversation would go.

Unfortunately, I can't say anything more about the plot or else it'll ruin it for you. There are only 2 main actors, and you get to see how much you can learn about people from just listening in on a conversation. Anyone who has ever been in a relationship can relate on some level with this film because, like most, they are all uniquely complicated. The acting was great, as the two peeps seemed to have a very harmonic chemistry to them; but again, the dialogue made it all shine. This will be worth a second watch just to make sure I didn't miss out on any details the first time around.
Rating - B

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Flags of Our Fathers (Drama 2006)

Well Mr. Eastwood has certainly done it again. He does have a knack for pumping out subtle movies. Was this an action packed, fast paced war flick? Oh no, it was damn slow with a ton of talking, but in the end was I satisfied? Yup.

As most have probably heard by now, this film concentrated more on the men involved in the famous picture as well as telling the parallel story of what happened before, during, and after, with a lot of realism and for the purpose of clarification. You begin to learn a lot about the 3 main characters as well as how they dealt with the overnight fame and how they never thought of themselves as heroes.

One thing Clint Eastwood can invoke from all his characters is the genuine humanistic traits of normal people. That's why Million Dollar Baby was such a hit; people were really able to connect with Hillary Swank's character, as they can in this film. It's pretty sad to hear about all of their stories and how some finished off the last years of their life; but it does show a good comparison with what the media can turn you into vs. what you really are.

Overall this film showed how war, death, and killing is a pretty bad thing to go through and how you become mentally fucked on some level if you lived through the thick of it. Again, it was a very slow movie, but the story was good and everything was put together well from beginning to end. I woulda probably sat through the credits with this one, very fitting music and pictures during the credits.
Rating - A

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Curse of the Golden Flower (Foreign Chinese Drama 2006)

Zhang Yimou's movies all have the same feel to them. He should really try to diversify in order to avoid stagnation, becasue the last 2 movies I saw from him were tweaked clones of one another.

The story for this film was actually pretty interesting. Court drama, backstabbing, and people fucking others whom they really shouldn't be fucking. I somehow thoroughly enjoyed one of the beginning scenes when it showed a bunch of court girls getting woken up and preparing for the day. Too bad the era of harems are over; I think there would be more happy people in the world if everyone was getting some ass.

Compared to other similar films such as Hero or House of Flying Daggers, the overly-done artsy scenes were kept to a minimum and the battle scenes were kinda neat to watch. For once, the plot drove this film along, while character development only existed to add to the details of the plot. Although the ending was kinda anticlimactic, I still had a fun time watching this one.
Rating - B

Flyboys (Action 2006)

Well the good thing is that I wasn't expecting much from this film, and "not much" is exactly what I got. This movie is a fine example of what a "cookie cutter" historical action movie is all about. Characters are all dry and predictable, the romance is totally unrealistic, and the "overcoming adversity" scenes make you think that you've already seen this movie before because they're all the same.

James Franco should just go back to being Peter Parker's friend because he sure can't act on his own. He's someone who has absolutely no talent and is just trying to make it on looks alone. Perhaps he will get into a car accident and come out with a mangled face and one less arm and maybe then he'll notice that he ain't shit.

The air combat scenes were actually not too shabby considering that WWI movies are few and far between. It totally got me all nostalgic over an old DOS PC game called Red Baron. As I remember, it was only sorta fun and the only things that mattered with the airplane was how agile the plane was and how much horsepower the engine had. Other than that, the planes just had different skins to them. Anyhoo, the action part of this movie met expectations.

The main chick in this movie was pretty hot for a frumpy French girl. I'm all about it, minus her long hair, but yes she is more than welcome to come to Arizona for a visit hehe.

Even though the majority of this film was average on most comparable standards, there was one scene that stuck out in my head that totally killed it for me. One of the pilots got shot down and crashed right into "no man's land", in between the French and German trenches. Our valiant hero, James Franco, somehow managed to land his plane "somewhere" and was able to run on foot to rescue his buddy. WTF. Last time I checked a plane needed a runway comprised of a long flat surface to appropriately land and takeoff. This movie had him jumping in and out of this plane as if it was some helicopter that had all the room in the world. Bullshit. Anyway, if they would have tried to make this film more realistic and less "hero-driven", it might've been an O.K. flick, but since they never listen to me, it ended up in the recycle bin.
Rating - D

Friday, February 09, 2007

Canon PowerShot SD700 IS (Random Product)

Papa gots a new toy! So lately I've been noticing that my old PowerShot SD110 is a lot slower in picture taking speed as compared to other peeps with digi cameras; my envious nature was not amused. Yeah, since I bought my 1st Canon close to 3 years back, I assumed that now would be a good time as any to upgrade since I could still get a little less than a hundred or for the old one. It's always about finding the right moment in the market or getting a super good deal. I had to pick the "moment" becasue I failed to capitalize on any of the nice holiday discounts. Canon already has a SD800 IS as well as a SD900. The SD900's reviews have been ass becasue it doesn't come with the image stabilization (IS) and only has a greater number of megapixels. And as we all should know, at this point, super high megapixels means shit and don't really make any difference to the quality at all. It's all about the stats of the lenses and SLR cameras. Anyhoo, the SD800 IS is the main flagship and thus the most expensive, so instead of dropping $390 on it, I opted to save a hundred or so and go for the 1st model with the DIGIC-II image processor. Rumor has it that the DIGIC-III processor is not all that and a bucket of cheese so yeah, I'll trust that bit of feedback becasue my wallet told me so.

I've only played with this SD700 IS for a little while, but boy am I impressed. It sure is amazing at the improvements in technology within the span of 3 years. First off, the camera turns on hella quick and takes pics just as fast. I'm talking over 100% improvement...probably 150 or 175% to be honest. The IS feature is pretty cool too; I tried to mildly shake the camera while taking a few still shots, just like an old man would, but each time the pics turned out crisp and clear. Go image stabilization, it totally goes in the "must have" category, just like having a real garage is a necessity. The LCD is also 2" x 1.25"...huge compared to the old 1" x 1.25". I'm very satisfied with this purchase; I'll totally break it in on my Asia trip as well as at all of the upcoming weddings.

Here is a bit of information that you might find interesting. So I did a general "format" on the old memory card prior to putting the old PowerShot on Ebay, right? And then I used this extractor software to see if it could still find old pics and stuff. I was amazed to discover that the format was not a real low-level format but just like a "quick format". The software totally found a shitload of old pics from back when Vanessa had her wedding and everything in between that time. Crazy. So yeah, I had to ensure that I totally did a thorough wipe of the SD card. Heads up people.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

The Guardian (Action 2006)

Humm, this was unexpected. Of course when looking at the starting lineup for this film, apprehension is probably the first thing to sink in. Costner's first and last good film was Dances with Wolves and Kutcher never had any talent to begin with, but somehow the duo managed to pull through to make this movie kinda enjoyable. The equation for this type of movie is simple; show one character, show another cocky character, throw in a girl, throw in emotional baggage, give the plot a dash of hardship, and what do you have? A run of the mill action/drama.

But even with a simple storyboard like this one had, Costner actually made himself into a believable coast guard person. The story was not super corny or cookie cutter, although they did stick with the "equation" quite a bit. The plot did do its job in detailing out the background history for the characters as well as the progression and development of each. This mainly concentrated on Costner's character and not a whole lot with Kutcher, but who gives a shit about that putz anyways right? I'd say it's actually worth watching if you're in the mood for such a film. Nothing extraordinary of course, but better than others of its class.
Rating - B

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Samsung WEP200 Bluetooth Wireless Headset (Ramdom Product)

Well here's a life lesson that I'm going to share with you: Don't ever go to BestBuy and tell yourself that you won't be leaving the store without buying something. Yeah sometimes I do that when I go rent movies. I don't do my research, end up at Casa, and then spend the next 30 minutes looking all over the store for something to rent when nothing good is out and when I'm not even in the mood to watch anything. It just so happened to be a location that I wanted to go to, but I didn't know what to do after I got there. I'm sure this doesn't happen to other people but yeah, lately it tends to happen to me.

Anyway, I was at Bestbuy and I somehow managed to coax myself to buy something that would have almost no utilization in my daily life. I rarely call or receive calls on Mr. Cell Phone, but of course I was a dumbass and bought this sucker at retail price, $90ish. Of course Amazon has it for around $40 so I got raped, but yeah...again...the lesson! The headset was actually very small and the reception was great, when you don't have a wall between it and the phone. This headset seemed to lose connection after 10 feet or so. Others that I've messed with had better range, but since bluetooth is not the most coveted wireless technology in the world, you can only expect so much from a shaky protocol. The headset fit very snugly in the ear and the operation was an easy one button push. The storage case was pretty nifty, becasue it doubled both as a case and as the charging station for the device. Of course becasue of this, if you lost the case you'd be screwed and would not be able to charge the headset but I'm sure you could buy a replacement at a highly inflated rate direct from Samsung. Anyway, pretty neat toy if you talk on your celly a lot or if you do a lot of driving, but for me, it was a regretted purchase. Thankfully, Ebay saved me from having to be reminded of yet another bad decision.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Jesus Camp (Documentary 2006)

Wow, talk about child abuse. This movie makes me all the more happy that I'm no longer stuck in small city America, becasue this shit totally goes on in lesser populated towns as well as all over the Midwest. This film follows around a bunch of children who are bred to be super bible thumpers. It's funny becasue you can totally tell the difference between a normal kid and one of these homeschooled children. The religious freaks can't talk properly to save their lives because all they know is how to say things like "Jesus, Sin, Lord, Devil, Worship, Praise, etc". Very crazy stuff.

The film also went into the fact that a whole shitload of these kids are trained to think that science is a lie, Potter is evil, and the conservative right is destined to bring some sort of religious order to government. Pretty scary when you think about how many of these brainwashed peeps there are in this country. I find it entertaining to think that without science, these kids won't do well in school or on standardized tests and they'll be forced to stay in the lower-middle to low class of society. I see Wal-Mart employee and factory assembly line worker written all over their faces. Near the end of the film it showed a few snippets of a megachurch getting preached to by that Ted Haggard feller; you know, the hypocritical gay pastor who got called out by a special friend. Hehe very funny, I wonder how he's making the mortgage payments without a job?
Rating - B