Thursday, November 08, 2007

Really cool things.

The following things are cool.Canonically cool.

Stranger Than Fiction, I though Will Ferrell was just a zany comedy genius, turns out hes a great actor too.

The Lyrics Plugin for Winamp. Its great for sorting out those pesky Mondegreens.

This man, who I had the opportunity to see live recently here in Dublin, is very funny.

And since I'll be there this weekend, Dominicon a games convention with a real nice relaxed vibe.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

159: The Pianist

This is one I started watching before but bailed out on some time ago. Its not the kind of movie thats gonna cheer you up! Based on the book by Wladyslaw Szpilman about his own survival in German occupied Poland through WWII.

This is a war movie without the war, Its filmed in such a way that we see everything from Szpilmans point of view as he movies from safehouse to safehouse avoiding the S.S and meeting people who are in hiding like himself and members of the polish resistance.

Adrien Brody is fantastic as the reticent and eccentric Szpilman. He conveys his state of fear and sheer incomprehension at the atrocities he sees everyday brilliantly. It's very easy to see why the film won its 3 Oscars. Its extremely well put together . Given the subject matter it probably goes without saying but it is pretty tough going in places, there are a couple of brutal on screen executions . This movie reminds me of Schindlers list , its brilliant but emotionally draining.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Synchronous tunes.

I've noticed a lot of the traffic coming here is for people searching for 'synchronicity'. Since my movie related ramblings are probably not what people are looking for I thought I'd offer something to cater for those folks.

Well kind of , it's actually something I've been thinking of putting together for a while and was just looking for an excuse to do so.

Basically this is a list of music tracks that have the same title but by different artists and are not cover versions. It could be argued that that is a synchronous event! (Of course given that most of them are one word titles maybe thats pushing it).

One Love by Bob Marley,The Prodigy and Massive Attack.

I have a little bit of trivia on this one. Marleys video features Paul McCartney and Suggs from Madness. I have also read in an biography of the band that the prodigy used to sing U2s 'One' on the way home after a night out. I'm guessing thats where their title came from.

One by U2, Metallica,Lamb

Ok this is cheating really.. There is a plethora of songs entitled 'one' so moving on..

Rise by PIL, Primal Scream and by Gabrielle!

lets be clear here I'm no Gabrielle fan, shes' purely here because the song titles are the same, but I think its pretty safe to say neither stole the title from the other!.

Religion by Front 242, Philip Glass

I like the contrast in these two.

Wandering Star by Portishead, Lee Marvin

Wandering Star is one of my favorite songs ( no not the lee marvin version!)

Collision by Faith No More, Front Line Assembly also Front 242 (but I can't find a audio or video link.)

Fire It Up by Busta Rhymes and Modest Mouse

Busta Rhymes has a lot to answer for .. defiling the Knight Rider theme tut tut tut.
Modest Mouse on the other hand

Weirdly enough, I've been listening to Nouvelle Vague for the last couple of days. I knew all the original versions of the songs except for one 'This is not a love song' , I wasn't looking for it but while looking for links for this article I came across the video for 'This is not a love song' by PIL. Maybe I'm looking too hard but I thought that was synchronous.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Mountains of Madness news

There has been some wonderful news.
Guillermo Del Toro has bumped Mountains of Madness up his priority
list, looks like he'll be starting after Hellboy wraps up (which I believe
will be in the next couple of months).

for those who have never read it the text can be found here.

The next question I guess is casting, professor Dyer, Danforth and to a lesser extent professor Lake are the central characters to the story.

I'm thinking unknowns would be best but maybe someone like Alfred Molina could handle on of the professors. I think it is likely Doug Jones will be involved somehow.

Any ideas?

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Confess 2007

just a quick linky to boost the official confess page in the google search for
Confess 2007.

See you all there.

Friday, June 15, 2007

158 : Dr. Strangelove or : how I stopped worrying or learned to love the bomb

I wasn't expecting a lot from Dr. Strangelove , black comedy isn't my cup of tea usually, I probably wouldn't have made it past the credits if the film wasn't on the list. The opening sequence of a bomber being refuelled mid flight while a monotonous voice over tells us about rumours of a secret Russian Doomsday device.

In saying that the minute Peter Sellers appears on screen as Captain Mandrake (an RAF captain transferred to a US air force base) you know this is going to be an interesting movie.
I've only ever seen Sellers in the Pink Panther movies and Fu Manchu, he is absolutely brilliant in this film. He plays three roles, the aforementioned Mandrake who is the stereotypical british officer type who loses his composure as the film goes on, The president who valiantly struggles to keep the whole mess from escalating (but ultimately fails) and of course the eponymous Doctor. Theres not enough of the doctor, thats the only criticism I have of this film.

Dr. Strangelove is a top scientist who advises the war room, he is incredibly creepy and yet ridiculous . All strange ticks , odd smiles and an arm that wants to kill him apparently!

The basic premise is that a General (called Jack D. Ripper , the first in a line of dumb names including Colonel "Bat" Guanu and Mjr. "King" Kong) suspects the commies are poisoning "our precious bodily fluids" and decides to instigate a nuclear mission, reasoning the president will have to commit to an all out attack to avoid soviet retaliation. The president however endeavors to prevent the attack from succeeding by alerting the Russian.

There are three sets . The first is within General Rippers locked-down base (where the beleaguered Captain Mandrake is imprisoned. The second is the war room where the president ,General "Buck" Turgidson and the Russian Ambassador provide the entertainment ( "This is the war room! you can't fight in the war room") . And finally there is the bomber which is destined to drop the bomb.

(I'm assuming thats not a spoiler, The most iconic image from this movie is Slim Pickins riding the bomb to earth)

The war room is the centerpiece with the best gags and most cutting satire, the paranoid ("we cannot allow a mineshaft gap!" and Hardware ( "Buck" is clearly envious of the Russian doomsday device when its existence is revealed) obsessed military.

I was surprised to spot James Earl Jones in a minor role as the Bombadier of the plane crew,
the dvd indicates this was his first movie role.

I can't recommend this movie enough. It is brilliant.

p.s its also in black and white.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

New blog.

Quick post. I've just created a new blog for non-movie related stuff,
Its primarily going to be a place to store all those handy little tricks and tools
that I come across while working, that I inevitable have to figure out all over again several
months later.. well no more, now they have a home, and now hopefully they'll be
useful to some of you too

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Spider-man 3

So its been and gone. And in one word it's disappointing. really disappointing.
In fact I can't stop analysing whats wrong with it.

So in an effort to exorcise that demon, here are 7 things I think were wrong
with spider-man 3 (in no particular order):

  • Editing - or lack thereof, it feels like they just filmed it and kept everything

  • Not giving the viewers any credit - did we really need to be retold
    all the characters background again? Did every single emotion need to be spelled out in words?

  • Acting - Maguire is great, don't get me wrong and Dunst is solid, but
    they can't cry (at least not in the blubbering way the script seems to have required of them)

  • Unnecessary characters - I don't know if the screenwriter(Alvin Sargent) is just trying to cram these people in for the fans but Captain Stacy and Gwen stacy do nothing for the story and just eat extremely valuable screen time. And I hate to say it, even Venom is superfluous.

  • Cheese - for want of a better word the pieces that gave the last few
    movies heart have been overblown here and just make you cringe.
    No longer is the awful spider man theme from the 60s
    cartoon played as a novelty by a busker on the street. Its played
    by a brass band, at and apparent "we love spidey" event.

  • Plot overload - Everyone gets their own subplot and none of them
    are resolved to any satisfaction.

  • characterisation - The characters do and say things that don't really make sense. Why did peter kiss Gwen? Why did sandman help venom? Why didn't the butler say something earlier? Why is aunt may now a fortune cookie?

Here is what I think happened. Sam Raimi had his villains ;Sandman ,
Green Goblin II. The studio and the fans wanted Venom. He caved and
then had 3 villains stories to deal with as well as tying up the threads
from the previous movies. Reading the wikipedia entry for the film it
seems Sargent looked at splitting the movie into two to do it justice but
couldn't find a decent ending for the first movie. So it remained one
bloated movie. Suddenly sam has a lot more to do, a lot more
characters and a lot more shooting and a lot more CGI and what suffers?
he can't give the scenes the attention they deserve. I think its telling that
there's none of the playful references to his own back catalogue that were
seen in the last movie. (crash zooms, the scene with doc ocks arms killing
the doctors). I think he just didn't have time and the movie as a whole
suffered because of it.

Just to be clear, I'm a big fan and I think a lot of things were done right.
The whole look of the movie is fantastic, CGI is flawless( venom is perfect,
Sandman effects amazing ), The action scenes are great. James Franco
is the best actor in the movie. Topher grace makes great use of his limited screen time.
Sam Raimi kept the humour which made the first two so funny. Bruce Campbell. J.K. Simmons eats the screen (again).

Spider-man 1 was the movie that relaunched the comic book movie genre.
Will it die with spider-man 3? Probably not, spidey 3 has already beaten
the box office records. And it looks like some of the best are yet to come,
Dark Knight and Iron man look good and I personally think Hulk could be
excellent too.

So, another spider-man?

I hope so. I don't think Sam Raimi got it so wrong that he 'broke' the
franchise. And there are still a lot of stories to be told for this character.
Whether Sam, Tobey and Kirsten will be back is hard to tell.

As for the story?

I'm biased but my personal favorite spider-man story is
"fearful symmetry :Kravens last hunt" It features the black costume
(not the symbiote) so there's some continuity there.But its also a bit
more adult and has some real darkness, not the Peter Parker in black
eyeliner kind. It'd mean introducing a new Villain but I suspect that'd
have to happen anyways. I think it would make a great movie.

Failing that, maybe go for something from the current spider man
writers? how about revelations/when the stars turn cold ? The Morlun
character is excellent and it gives Aunt May a reason to be in the movie.

Just my 2 cents.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Blade Runner

Wow, heres a turnup for the books. I came across this on Digg, It seems
that there is a new Bladerunner 'Special Edition' DVD being released and it contains
recently filmed footage
apparently the actress who played the Replicant Zhora has mentioned it on her official website (theres not a lot of info there
just that she has reshot scenes in her original costume which she kept all these years.

Thats 25 years for those who are counting.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The big time.

So Wayne finally got his EP together and
had his launch night in Sligo. Great night too, it even struggled on despite an unscheduled guest appearance
from yours truly! Yes it looks like he is heading for the big time now. Mind you after reading
this I'm not so sure thats a good idea!,
still I guess he'll save on the album artwork. The CD sounds great and you can even order it
from the last rule (which as it happens is an online
gaming supplies pusher I mean retailer

To keep this blog slightly on topic. I'll talk a little about Evil Dead.
I got this on UMD recently and watched it during the train journey down to Sligo.
I had seen it before (and its superior sequels). Its pretty dated stuff and
the acting is well about as much as can be expected from one of the original
'video nasties'. Theres some great camera work in it though, lots of weird
perspective shots.

And I can't go without mentioning Mr. Bruce Campbell the man whose career was
launched as the hard done by protagonist, Ash. He chews up the scenery
and makes the movie as he deadpans and pratfalls his way through serveral
bizarre and ridiculously gory encounters with the 'deadites' .

*Edit: forgot to mention I spotted what I believe is a poster for the original
'The hills have Eyes' in the first scene in the basement, a little nod to
wes craven, trivia fans.*

I cannot help though to compare it to Army of Darkness (the last film in the trilogy)
and find it wanting, although admittedly any pretense at horror has well disappeared by
the final film. So perhaps thats not a fair comparison.

As a final note I see we're being experimented upon.
I hope we get a clean bill of health.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Google and Heroes.

A quick plug before I get to the meat and bones of this post. Mr. O Connor has a couple of new videos of him singing on his myspace He also has an single launch the end of next month 21st april in Sligo..

So onto the Google goodness. First off the Blogger site has had a bit of a facelift, customising your page with rss feeds and the layout elements you fancy is a piece of cake now. Also gone is the dreaded "Publishing..." delay. My one complaint is that the preview, while nice and fast isn't giving me a true view of what my layout is going to be.

For example, this line when I view it in the preview all fits onto one line.
As you can hopefully see thats not the case when its published.
Not hard to get around, I'm simply using <P> and </P> to handle
my line formatting now..

The other google tool I've started using (having applied for a free account and recieved it ages ago) is Google Analytics, basically its webstats for your website. And in typically google fashion its everything you want from a webstat service and then some. Its pretty hardcore your basic dashboard offering you a view customised for executive ( pretty colours and nice graphs), webmaster( browsers your visitors are using, javascript/flash/java compatibility) how many visitors 'bounce' arrive at your page and immediately leave and Marketer (keyword analysis, adword clicks and other 'evil' stuff).

Analytics lets me know that that the canadians are my biggest visitors (big shoutout to the canadians, I've always liked 'em) and search keywords that bring people here from google tend to be the names of actors and movies. y'know actors like Harrison Ford, Christian Bale, Kirsten Dunst,Maggie Gyllenhaal and movies like Casablanca, Requiem for a Dream and The Shawshank Redemption. ( Sorry that was mean, apologies if you just if you came here while searching for a movie starring Christian Bale and Maggie Gyllenhaal. There isn't one currently but you can always hang on for this this

The last thing I want to mention is Heroes. If you haven't heard about it here's the quick
rundown, Its a TV series about a group of people who start to manifest 'powers' flight, telepathy
and even manipulating the space-time continuum. I watched the first 7 episodes last night, and
its only brilliant. The use of the powers is kept very low key and the story, each character has their own very down to earth problems, takes center stage. Highly recommended, I put it right up there with battlestar.

Friday, March 23, 2007

157: Once upon a time in the west.

Epic spaghetti western and pure Sergio Leone, lots of close ups of
uglypeoples faces and plenty of Gunplay. There are echos of
"The Good the Bad and the Ugly" in that the male leads fill those
roles nicely, Charles Bronson as the enigmatic 'Harmonica' (we
never find out his real name) Fonda as the child murdering (just so
there is no doubt about his depravity) bad guy Frank and
(quick IMDB lookup) Jason Robards as the
really-not-as-bad-as-he-initially-seems bandit Cheyenne.

When I say epic I'm not kidding it clocks in at just under 3 hours.
And a lot of the time you feel every minute of it. From the brilliant
opening scene where 3 of franks gang are waiting at the train station
for Harmonica. It must be 10 minutes of the three of them just standing
around in silence barring the background noise ( a dog barking, a fly
buzzing dripping water etc) , the movie opens with 10 minutes of nothing
happening and I was absolutely riveted. brilliant.

Speaking of silence the movie is pretty sparse on the dialogue but what
little we get is great stuff. My favorite is when Harmonica gets off the
train and is faced with Franks henchmen..
"you bring a horse for me?"
laughs, "looks like we're one shy.'
"no.. you brought two too many"

Once he out-dialogues them, he then out-guns them. classic stuff.

One thing that really stood out for me with this movie is that the
audience are assumed to be able to put two and two together,
expositionary dialog is kept to a bare minimum. So its pretty engaging stuff.

When we were kids my brother and I saw the 'Man with no name' trilogy
a lot as my Dad was a big fan. To my mind this film is much darker than
those movies, but maybe thats just because Its been so long since I've seen
them, I'll have to pick them up and see.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Lovecraftian movies

I'm very excited about Guillermo Del Toros planned adaptation
of the Mountains of Madness (now if only he'd stop letting
other projects jump the queue - I'm looking at you Tarzan and
Hellboy 2).

I was thinking how there hasn't been a worthy adaptation of
any of lovecrafts material as yet.

There are a couple of contenders though:
The Re-animator was reasonably successful,
but to my mind it was never one of the definitive lovecraft
stories and I believe liberties were taken with the story and
tone of the piece. I'm not really in a position to judge it
as I've never actually seen it.

HP Lovecrafts Dagon was a DTV release,
and the cover does not instill confidence again I haven't seen
it but I think with bad movies at least you can generally judge
them by their cover. leastways I can't think of any good movies
with bad covers?

Call of Cthulhu by the H.P. Lovecraft Historical
Society is probably the closest direct adaption of Lovecrafts
material cleverly put together as a black and white silent movie.
Still waiting on my copy so I can't confirm this.

The Mouth Of Madness directed by John Carpenter,
starring Sam Neill looks like it should be the winner here
even though not directly adapted from a lovecraft story. And its
pretty good but its kind of heavy handed and knowing in its
Lovecraft referencing and is more Carpenter than Lovecraft,
no bad thing but not the best lovecraftian movie.

Here are a couple of movies I think are more lovecraftian even
though they don't advertise it.

Alien/Aliens - Think about it, unspeakable relentless alien
horror jarring humanity from its view as the center of the
universe.Add in a healthy does of absolute hoplessness and thats
pretty close to what we're looking for. You could even say that
Ripleyis something like the Randolph Carter character, her
encounters resulting in her ending up alien herself, or you might

Pans Labyrinth I think what really grabs me about
this movie is the fact that the 'real world' part is so real.
It's a case of the dragon in the woods, the more real the woods,
the more real the dragon. The time period (1930s) is not so far
from the period of lovecrafts stories either. This movie is
the one that convinces me of Guillermos ability to successfully
make "The Mountains of Madness".

Also an honorable mention for Hellboy with is "Ogdru Jahad" in
their crystal prison.

But back to "Mountains", to my mind the important thing to
get right is the scale of the thing. It has to be Epic (note capital E) .
The most important shot of the film? That tiny little plane slipping
through the gap in the mountains to reveal the dead alien city.

The Elder things will be tricky, Fungi-Plant-animals don't exactly
inspire terror.

But If anyone can do it Mr. del Toro can.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Spam considered useful

Believe it or not the only thing that eventually made me post here
again was the volume of comment spam I was getting. There was
enough to give me that righteous 'I'm taking back whats mine,
damn your eyes' motivation.

Now that I'm back I guess I'll continue blogging my journey
through the 1001 you should see before you die. conveniently
enough its just been my birthday and one of the things I picked
up was a bunch of DVDs.

Amongst them:

"Evil Dead" (which I have seen many many times and probably
won't blog about),

"Equilibrium" (which was unlikely to appear in the 1001 movies
but I like much better than the matrix sequels),

"Anchorman" (again not a contender but allegedly quite funny),

"Top Secret" ( long time since I seen this but still a heck of a lot
better then the scary movie/epic movie crap we get these days)

and finally - "Once upon a time in the west", which I believe is in
the 1001 so that should be the next one reviewed. stay tuned..