Archive for Movies

Horns, you know, that book.

Posted in Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 22, 2014 by urbannight

I decided to read Horns because I had been hearing that the book was pretty good.  It would have been if I thought it was actually aimed at the YA audience instead of adults.  I am a bit let down by it.

All the characters are in their 20’s and acting like they are 10 years younger, about early High School years.   This is why I thought maybe it was supposed to be a YA book.  But it turns out it wasn’t.

I also thought it was supposed to be set in England but it isn’t.  It is in the U.S.   I didn’t come to that conclusion because Daniel Radcliffe was playing the lead character, Ig.  I came to that conclusion early in the book when Ig is thinking he needs to get some medical help with his horns.  And, more importantly, by the way the characters sound in my head.  They only make sense to me if I imagine that they are all middle to late 20 somethings who were not able to go to University and who were all on the dole because of too many people and not enough jobs to go around.  Everything makes more sense that way.

The first section of the book, Hell, has been the most enjoyable.  I really liked reading how people started telling the truth about everything to Ig and didn’t seem to be completely aware of it.  They saw the horns, know it was somehow off, and then it slipped on by and they forgot.  So far, it is the best part of the book.

Part two is Cherry, named for Cherry bombs, virginity, and I think there was a third

Official movie poster.

Official movie poster.

reason but I forget now, just like people forgetting those horns.  It tells the entire back story about the time when Ig met the love of his life, nearly drown, became friends with the guy who really kills the girl, (that is not a spoiler as the book reveals that before the start of this section), and sets up the relationships between all the characters.

I don’t remember the name of the third section.  It bounces back to the present and explores how Ig handles finding out who killed his girl, how Ig is dealing with the knowledge that his girl wanted to break up with him the night she died, and starts to explore the really bad things Ig did the night before he woke up with horns.  He also explores more of the boundaries on what he can or can not do with the new abilities the horns seem to give him.

And that is where I am at with the book.  It has been relegated to the bathroom to read when I’m stuck on the toilet.  The concept is a good one but the execution is not. Oh, the writing isn’t bad, other than the fact that I think the writer was going for an adult audience and yet the characters feel and sound like teenagers and the overall feeling of the book is Young Adult in nature, despite the language sometimes used in book.

Connections Between Missing Baby Lisa Irwin and the Movie The Tall Man

Posted in Economics, Economy, Education, Entertainment, Life, Movies and Theatre, Politics, Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 2, 2013 by urbannight

Lisa Renee Irwin went missing almost two years ago after her mom put her to bed and then had a few drinks. She would be almost three now. Half a year later, someone attempts to use a debit card stolen that same night on a website for buying false birth certificates. FBI thinks the baby is still alive.

So do I. Kidnapping babies to sell for illegal adoptions has been around for a long time. It is not as common as it once was. Now days, you are more likely to hear about people who kidnapped babies to raise as their own.

Still, after watching The Tall Man on Saturday, I can’t help but wonder. The thriller was well acted and I’ve seen worse acting and writing hit the big screen while this went straight to DVD, as far as I know. I never heard of it until it came up on my Netflix feed. I’m revealing the ultimate plot twist when I tell you that it ends up being about a woman who helps kidnap abused children and gets them to safety. It might not have been so objectionable except it wasn’t just abused children. It was children of poor families or single parents struggling to get by as well. It equated losing your job because the business closed to child abuse, as if you can control something like that.

Now think about it. There were a couple sightings of a man with a baby that night. Once I think was caught on video but maybe I’m thinking about a different case. Someone probably watched the family to get the pattern of behaviors down to know the best opportunity to take the baby. Imagine someone seeing a family where dad works the night shift and mom has a couple of drinks alone, after the kids are put to bed. Imagine the person thinking it was the perfect baby to take because the parents didn’t have an ideal, 8 – 9 lifestyle, and a June Cleaver mom. In fact, the person probably thought he or she was doing the baby a favor.

The movie came out after the kidnapping. But it glorified kidnapping children to save them. Even if the only thing they were saving the child from was poverty or less than perfect families rather than any real physical or emotional abuse. The reason it is an irresponsible movie is because this kind of kidnapping is still going on and should NOT be glorified.

Originally, I just wanted to look up any latest developments on the Lisa Irwin case. (I couldn’t find any) and complain about how the case just seemed to stop. I didn’t mean to turn it into a longer rant about the movie I watched a couple days ago.

“Better Quality Movies”

Posted in Entertainment, Movies and Theatre with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 29, 2013 by urbannight

For random amusement factor, brought to you by The Pessimist calendar, is a quote by Lloyd Kaufman.

I shared a quote on another blog and thought I would mention it here.  Because I’m so far behind this year because it exploded in business.

He was the producer of somethings called ‘Stuff Stephanie in the Incinerator’ (3.1 IMBD) and ‘Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead (6.1 IMDB – I’m a little shocked by that one).

For a very low score on the first, and a small number of reviews, there are a surprising number of good reviews.   It is apparently in the “its-so-bad-its-good” category.   It is also one of those movies where the title is misleading.  I often wonder if misleading titles are based on scenes that got cut or re-editing changed the movie in a way that the title was now meaningless.

The second title has a surprisingly high score given the title.  It sounds appallingly bad.  I may have to consider watching these one day for a B movie review. 

Anyway, this producer once stated that, “It is up to us to produce better-quality movies.”   Which sounds hilarious with his movie titles.

Given the movies this year in general and this summer in particular, it is an even more hilarious quote.

What is going on….

Posted in Apartments, Entertainment, Gaming, Hobby, Movies and Theatre, Reviews, Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 15, 2013 by urbannight

I have not been coming up with as many good ideas as last year.  Or, I do have a few, but when I have time to jot them down, I can’t remember them.

So I’ve posted less.

And it looks like I’m in for another move again.  Fairly soon too.  So I may end up having a moving process to talk about. 

Tonight is my gaming night, but tomorrow I’m going to start the ambitious task of whittling my stuff down my 25%.  It may be painful.  But I need to have less stuff.  I really do.

So, it will be slice of stuff for a bit. 

I do need to write about a rather bad movie I saw last week.  I was watching 1980’s comedies.  One movie with an all star cast was not funny at all.  It was sad.  Just sad. But more about that later.

Random Thoughts on Random News in No Particular Order

Posted in Advertising, Life, Movies and Theatre, Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 19, 2013 by urbannight

the-incredible-burt-wonderstone

1. Apparently two movies opened and totally bombed as Oz stayed in first place. These were The Call and The Incredible Burt Wonderstone. I have a theory here. Lack of advertising. I’ve not seen a trailer for either at any of the films I’ve seen and I’ve never heard of either title so they can’t have advertised very hard at all. You can’t expect to fill the theaters if you don’t advertise. The article says there was a strong marketing push for Burt Wonderstone. I wonder where that marketing money was spent?
2. North Dakota is passing a strict abortion law that would ban abortions at around 6 weeks into the pregnancy. Some people don’t even know they are pregnant until after that point. It’s just not a human being at that point. I’m just so sick of men controlling women’s reproductive rights and I really think it is wrong that any person has the right to tell another person she must have a baby she can’t afford, or care for, or any reason. But at the same time said people don’t want to do any thing to help the mother’s or the babies once the child is actually born and actually exists as another person.

gun-control1<

3. Some Sheriff in Colorado is refusing to enforce two gun control laws. One is requiring the background check when transferring ownership of guns between two people and another limiting the size of gun magazines. He says they will be impossible to enforce so he isn’t going to bother. I didn’t know law enforcement was allowed to pick and chose what they want to enforce or not enforce. How hard would the first one really be to enforce? You have to do something similar when transferring a car. Of course, a car is a lot more obvious if it isn’t plated. People see it going down the road. A gun isn’t so obvious. As for magazine size, if it holds to many rounds, it is illegal. Sounds simple. It’s not like they want to run around and examine every single gun. It’s more a case of getting in trouble if you get caught with one. Sure, he is correct when he says that it won’t stop the criminal from getting guns. But laws against murder are not stopping murderers, so does that mean we should stop arresting people for murder?

tiny-house-inside1

4. Tiny homes are adorable. Very cute. I think it triggers that spot in me that really desired a play house as a child. I could probably manage in a 600 sq ft one but the 220 sq ft ones are totally insane. I would probably need three of them. One to live in, one for my books, and one for my stitching and scrapbooking supplies. It’s the 120 sq footers that really get me. The shower is too tiny to turn around in, there is a sink and a stove but no place to cut and prep your meal. The photos were at such weird angles that you could not get any idea of the layout. Where was the bed/sofa in relation to the ‘kitchen’ and exactly where was that miniscule shower located? The single person dwelling had a toy shed behind it. A shed anyway, with several toddlers toys in front. There isn’t room in that box for an adult and a child. Where did the toddler sleep? Maybe the shed. The shed looked like it was bigger than the house. The 612 sq footer was over half a million. 649,000$. A little over a thousand dollars a sq ft. But the photos show that the materials were all high end, with a very fancy shower mosaic, and high end appliances. Very Top Drawer, so to speak.

7:00 Movie Hour – The Thirteenth Floor

Posted in Entertainment, Movies and Theatre, Writing with tags , , , , , , , , on March 1, 2013 by urbannight

In 2000, this 1999 film was nominated for the Saturn Award for Best Science Fiction Film, losing to The Matrix.   I’m guessing it is, in part, because The Matrix is more obvious and a bigger thrill ride.

Image

The Thirteenth Floor is a murder mystery, pure and simple.  It is also a reality trip as you eventually realize that there are multiple realities going on and the reality you thought was ‘real’ may not be after all.

The movie feels slow.  In fact, it is not.  There is a lot going on and you switch scenes often and the plot starts fast and keeps going.  The reason the film feels slow is that so much of it has very little physical action and movement.  People are talking, People driving from point a to point be, people are standing at bars.  While the scenes change quickly, the physical activity of the actual people are minimal for most of the movie.  The result is the feel of a slow movie despite the rapid progression of the plot.

The movie starts with the murder of Fuller, an elderly gentleman who owns a massive computer company and had just created a new VR environment on a floor of his building.  His friend and protegé, Hall, wakes up to find a bloody shirt in his hamper and no memory of anything after he got back into town and when he woke in his bed.  He later meets a daughter of his friend that he never knew existed.  The film follows Hall as he goes in and out of the VR program of 1937 LA, tracking Fuller’s last movements, trying to find a letter Fuller left him.  Hall learns that reality isn’t what he thought it was.

The acting is well done and the movie is visually interesting as is partly a period piece.  The scenes set in the 1930’s are really nice.  But, overall, there is a muted, washed out quality to film.  It is more like the movie is done in sepia tones than anything vibrant.

While the story was interesting, the plot twist somewhat obvious but still engaging, and acting was good, the movie does not come off well.  The sensation of slowness, the lack of action, the lack of movement, and the dull colors and overall darkness (lighting issue, not mood issue) of the film brings it down.

If they were going to film it that way, the mental puzzles needed to be stronger.  I would say that if it is on sometime, go ahead and watch it, but it might not be the type of film you go out of your way to find.

Was it really a Good Day to Die Hard or was it a bit of a fizzle?

Posted in Entertainment, Movies and Theatre with tags , , , on February 16, 2013 by urbannight

Sometimes my replies to other blogs get a little long and I just need to post them as a blog entry.

A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD

Image Credit: Frank Masi

I saw A Good Day to Die Hard this morning. I felt good about it at the time. Then I read a review that was pretty negative.

I thought it was better than that. I was satisfied after I left the theater. I enjoyed the film and the adrenaline rush. I felt like it tied off John McClane put the period on the franchise. He is getting old. He needs a break. And he wants to square things up with his kids.

But I also feel like we lost part of the scene at the beginning. It had an incomplete feel to it.

As to the action, the scenes early in the film had the most energy and they lost steam as the film went on.

The constant references to being on vacation didn’t really work. It was supposed to tie into part of the cab scene that was in the trailer but wasn’t in the film. This film was not edited well.

Some of the trademarks were not there. But there was an awful lot of glass. In fact, there was so much glass getting shot out and falling all over the place that it seemed really overdone.

The parts with Yuri’s daughter were not done well. The character development and her part in everything was just badly done.

I didn’t get the business about the one guy who could have been a dancer. I feel like there was something more that tied into it which ended up on the cutting room floor.

I think John was supposed to come off as very tired. It fit.

I thought the awkwardness between father and son was appropriate.

The movie ended with John and his kids walking in the light of a setting sun. The imagery was that of the sun setting on the entire franchise. Sort of a this is it sensation.

The odd little conversation about the son being John McClane Jr seemed like it might be a loop hole, in case they want to do any more Die Hard movies with the son as the main character. But I don’t think it will happen.

Actually, now that I pull it apart, the film really does have issues. Still, I left the theater feeling glad that I went to it. The gut feeling was satisfying. Its the mental analysis that is a downer.  The last Die Hard film was much better.

The Last Stand

Posted in Entertainment, Movies and Theatre with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 19, 2013 by urbannight

Last Stand

This morning I went to see Schwarzenegger’s new film, The Last Stand.  I have to say that I did like it.

After so long out of the theaters, it did seem odd to hear Arnold’s heavy accent again.  Sure, he was in the Expendables 2 and had a moment in E1 but those parts could easily account for him being a foreign mercenary.   It was odd to hear a small town sheriff with a heavy Austrian accent.  But back in the day, we didn’t think twice about it.

The back story on the characters was scanty.  Poorly done.  Although, it would be more accurate to say that it felt like more had been done but ended up on the cutting room floor.  That said, the part of Agent John Bannister was particularly skimpy and under developed but Forest Whitaker did a good job with what he was given.  The most interesting character was probably Lewis Dinkum.  Johnny Knoxville seemed to have been channeling a toned down Murdock from the A-team.

You feel like you have entered these people’s lives in the middle and just get a view of one night and day.  Who they were before is not explored and who they may become as a result of these events is only hinted at in a few cases.  And for the purposes of this film, it works.  Except for the fact that I like to know a character’s motivations.  All we really know is that one group of people really just wants to keep the town save and get justice for the deaths of two of their own.

The film was filled with a fair number of very funny lines.  Everyone should know the line where Schwarzenegger says he is old.  It was in every trailer I saw.  The action seemed to work around the fact that Arnold is not as young as he once was and not in as good of shape.  The final fight scene is choreographed around the fact that Arnold is much bigger than the villain and incorporates mostly wrestling moves, giving the bigger, heavier Schwarzenegger the advantage over the smaller Eduardo Noriega, as his character keeps trying to rush headlong into each move.

Noriega also made a really sexy, if extremely dangerous, bad guy.  You almost wish you could have seen more of him outside of the car.  The other bad guys were the type of cannon fodder you were happy to see get wasted.

The movie is a fun ride but nothing that sets it ahead of other films.  On the other hand, there isn’t a lot to make it a horrible film either. The dialogue could have been written better and Arnold hasn’t gotten the feel for the delivery and timing like he used to have.  I blame it on the sheer amount of time he has been off the silver screen.  But I think it will come back to him with a little more practice.

I don’t give films a grade because I would then have to create a rubric that I would have to be able to apply to all films.   Maybe I will one day, but for now, I’ll just enjoy the shows and say what I like or didn’t like and leave it up to other people to create a grading structure.

This one I like, in a fun Saturday afternoon way.  Not great, not horrible, a few weak points but the fun of it over rides those.  Just a nice diversion.  Of course, if you want to take a look at what IMDB commentators are saying, they have already declared it a major flop and horrible and not worth viewing.  Personally, I don’t think it was THAT bad.  Like I said, a nice, Saturday afternoon diversion.

Friday’s Frustrations

Posted in Work, Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 3, 2012 by urbannight

Several years ago, no long after I was out of training on my job, the supervisor called all of us together for a meeting.  There were not very many off us, two in the room and one on a phone.  She worked from home.  He said people were making a mistake and he wanted to make sure every one understood how it was supposed to be done.

The Cause Code should always match the action of the Act of Insured/Adverse, which ever did the action that lead to the accident.  If the Insured rear ended someone else, it would be ‘struck unit ahead’.  If the adverse party rear ended the insured, it would still be ‘struck unit ahead’.  In both cases, the vehicle performing the action has struck the unit ahead of it.  So even thought there is a ‘struck from behind’ option, we wouldn’t be using it. 

He asked if we understood and we all nodded.  The he said, “If everyone understands then why aren’t you doing it?”  We were all to embarrassed to say anything.  Now this is significant because the supervisor is normally a pretty mellow person. I had never seen him this upset either before or after that one meeting.

I was the new person and I had been doing it wrong.  I felt really bad about it because I thought it was my mistake.  I felt as if we had been totally chewed out and it was my fault.  I nodded yes, that I understood, because now I did.  I left that meeting feeling about two inches tall.

It came up today because someone in the other unit was being trained by two people who were telling her two different things.  We realized that several of us were taught differently. 

Most of the new people were being taught to use the “struck from behind” option if someone else hit one of our insured vehicles.  The supervisor of my unit decided to send an email out for clarification.  The person who totally chewed us out a few years back said that if the other party hits one of our vehicles, then we use ‘struck form behind’.  Totally, opposite of what he said that day when read us the riot act, so to speak.

My anxiety levels are now through the roof.  I can’t sit still and I’m practically shaking.  I remember how I felt leaving that meeting and now it turns out I wasn’t just me, everyone had been doing it wrong.  And the other two continued to do it that way and I was the only one to ‘correct’ myself.  Only to find out that that was really that way they wanted it.  That there was no reason to have gotten chewed out like that.  I wasn’t doing it wrong after all and that horrible feeling I had after the meeting was all for nothing. 

I’m so upset about it that I can’t stop thinking about it.  I’m twice as jittery compared to my normal fidgetiness.  My left eye is twitching.  That only happens when I’m majorly stressed out.  I’m lucky my hands haven’t gone numb and curled up.  Have you seen the curled hands of long time coma patients?  My hands do that and sort of lock up when I feel a great deal of stress.  I can’t straighten them out until I relax.  It feels like there was no point to that awful meeting.  I feel like I need Goma Ae and Seaweed Sushi rolls. 

This was written Friday but not posted.  I did not have Goma Ae and Seaweed Sushi Rolls.  In fact, I do not remember what I had at all.  Oh, pizza.  At the movies.  My roommate had an even worse day and we ended up at the theater watching Red Dawn after work.  Nice violent movie with which to help one calm down.

Humans Hunting Humans

Posted in Books, Entertainment, Movies and Theatre, Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 15, 2012 by urbannight

I am actually farther along than this. New photos will have to wait until tomorrow or Wednesday.

Last night I was ensconced on the couch, madly working away at Elegant Pumpkins, watching episode after episode of Supernatural.  I fail to understand how I never saw this show when it came out about 7 or 8 years ago.  The only explanation I can find is that it must have been on opposite something I was already totally hooked on. 

Progress was being made and I really wanted to finish that one section, so I started another episode, entitled Benders.  I was trying to imagine what it could be about.

I didn’t expect it to be ordinary humans with a not so ordinary hobby.  It was all about people kidnapping other people in order to hunt them.  What really gets me is the name of the Episode.  Is doesn’t seem to have anything to do with anything.  I can only guess that it might be the surname for the weird family.  Not that it was ever mentioned in the episode.


On the whole, I’ve seen a lot of variations of this particular story.  Richard Connell has a lot for which to answer.  Or maybe it is the producer of school texted books.  Particularly Jr and Sr High Schools text books.  I don’t know if it is still a mainstay of English Lit textbooks or not, but when I was in school it was, and I know people up to 20 years older than me who remember it from school.  Everyone I mention it to goes, “oh yeah, that story”.  But no one remember what grade it was.

First published in 1924, the title was The Most Dangerous Game.   A famous big game hunter somehow gets stranded on an island where he is captured and invited to be part of a game.  Initially, because the owner of the island knew of him and admired him, he was invited to participate as a hunter.  But he refused.  The game was hunting humans.  He would send the out in the jungle with a weapon and food supplies.  If they survived three days they were allowed to go free.  No one had ever survived.  So the title was a play on the word game as something for entertainment and an object that is hunted.  This refusal angers his captor who then says that  he can either be the hunted or get beaten by the man’s huge bodyguard.

Being a world renown hunter, he chose to be hunted.  The ensuing three-day hunt ends with the hero diving off a cliff to escape.  The villain returns home to find the hero in his own bedroom.  The villain views the hunt as over.  He seems to be honoring the terms of letting people go if they survive the three days.  But the hero sees him as a monster, a beast that is no better than an animal himself.  They fight.  The outcome is not stated, but the hero ends the story with how he slept that night, implying that he defeated and killed the villain.  But it also ambiguous.  He ended up playing the part the villain originally wanted him to play.  He hunted another human.  He hunted his hunter, catching him unaware in his own den, and defeating him.  Did he learn the value of life and think less callously about the animals he himself hunted or did he end up turning into another hunter like the villain, who succumbed to the thrill of hunting people, losing his own humanity in the process?

At least 24 films have been influenced by this and at least 30 t.v. shows.  Every kid reads it in school.  It is a familiar story.  So every writer has it in the back of their minds as possible material.  No wonder we see it crop up so often.  There was a one serial killer in the 1980 who followed a similar pattern.  And the inventors of the Paintball game developed it after talking about an African hunting trip and developed the actual idea directly based on the story, creating a nonlethal way to experience the thrill of the hunt against an opponent who could hunt them back.

Like I said, as I watched yet another version of the story, I thought that Richard Connell had a lot for which to answer. I understand why he wrote it.  In part it was seems to be dealing with issue of killing humans not long after WWI.  There seems to be an element of working though the idea what is humane and what is inhumane and what it means to be human and what it means to kill. 

Maybe Richard Connell is not the one who has to answer for anything.  Maybe it was whomever decided this was a vital piece of literature and all school children should read this.  I know it was in the text books for decades.  I just don’t know for how many years and it if it is still there.  But it has become a part of the American psyche and I don’t know if it is a good thing or a bad thing.