Sunday, October 30, 2005

Closer

I do believe that I must be coming down with something because, for some inexplicable reason, on Friday night I willingly watched a Julia Roberts movie.  On top of that, I actually enjoyed it… a good amount… and thought Roberts did a great job with her part.  Yes, I now know what it must be like to be crazy.  And in this state of insanity, I thought very heavily about this movie, Closer, and realized that it very accurately portrays three distinct and different chapters of relationships as they are in our current society.

It used to be, back in the days of Saved by the Bell, after school specials, and romantic comedies that people would date, encounter some problems, work them out, and then everything would be wonderful.  Our characters would live happily ever after completely dismissing everything that had previously happened.  I always thought, and I suppose still do to some degree, that relationships would always work that way.

As I grew up I saw relationships that my friends were in get… complicated, much more complicated than the glorified Hollywood romantic comedies made relationships seem.  Then I saw relationships fail.  I saw the hurt, the misery, the prolonged love, the longing, and all of the other complex emotions that came with the fallout of a failed relationship.

Even later, I saw some failed relationships work themselves out and come back together, each with their own unique results.  Some ended up more messed up than before while others became idealistically sound.  It was never a guarantee that things would work out, and that’s assuming the people in the broken relationship ever gave it a second chance.  Most of the time the people involved would often just let their hate, hurt, and misery build up, forever putting a wall between two people that had previously loved one another.

So how does Closer fit into this?  It just so happens to bring to light the darker, more realistic side of today’s relationships.  No longer is the dating world as simple as it used to be (or that I imagine it was).  Fidelity is no longer a rule, but more of a suggestion.  Love isn’t forever, but is something very fleeting that must be held on to with everything you have lest you lose it.  Then again, falling back in love seems just as easy as falling out.  Relationships have become cold.

Now I’m not saying that I subscribe to the concepts I have brought up, but I do realize that what I believe is really quite far from how things actually happen.  I try to believe in the perfect relationship, in love that will last forever, and in fidelity above everything else, but the older I get the harder it is to keep hope alive.  It’s not gone, don’t worry, but sometimes it’s overshadowed by the moral decay on display in today’s current dating scene.

Just like I used to think that being an adult would be so easy, I also thought relationships would just magically work.  Thing is, as I grew up I found out life wasn’t easy, and the more I’ve dealt with relationships the more I’ve realized they are more complicated than I could have ever expected.  The many layers of psychology that go into every interaction you have with someone can drive someone nuts if they try to examine all of them, which I sometimes find myself doing, but only because I crave knowledge and I also don’t want to get hurt.

Throughout Closer’s runtime, you can see the layers of complexity building up around each of the characters and their respective relationships with those in their lives. There were parts of the movie that were hard to watch, not for the usual reasons such as blood, guts, strong sexual content, or grotesque language, but because of the emotional outpouring of some of the characters—the heartbreak, heartache, and evil things that can be done in the name of love or revenge.

Closer gives you a look at the darker side of today’s relationships and, in my opinion, the realistic side of today’s dating environment.  Cheating, lying, jealousy, revenge, power plays, distrust, and secrecy—so much of what makes up today’s relationships, and so much of why I’m always afraid of being hurt.  It’s a crazy dating world out there, so if you find something wonderful, go with it.  Chances are you might never find something as good ever again.  Conversely, when you are hurt be careful not to get hurt again, but don’t be too cautious that you can never give anyone a chance.  It’s a precarious balance that is often hard to find, but one that is essential to finding relationship happiness.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Buy My Comics!

I've been going through my massive comic book collection in some of my spare time and I've decided that over the next couple of weeks I'm going to be offloading a bunch of them onto ebay for everyone out in cyberspace to bid on and buy. I figured that a lot of these I'll never read. Some I don't know why I bought in the first place. Others I read and just have no real reason to hold onto them. Any way you look at it, though, I am going to be listing a bunch of comic auctions over the next couple of weeks, so keep checking my ebay profile to see what I have up. Currently I have a bunch of 90's Marvel comic listings up. They may not be the most valuable comics in the world, but some of them were decent reads. Anyways, just thought I'd pimp my auctions here for those of you who might be interested.

My auctions!

Friday, October 28, 2005

Can You Hear Me?

I was rummaging around through some old documents on one of my thumb drives and I came across some old poetry. A lot of it was pretty much crap and I wonder why I deleted it, but some of it sparked memories I haven't thought about in a long time. And, oddly, one poem that I wrote for a friend of mine who died during my junior year of college can now just as easily apply to how I feel in the aftermath of my great grandmother's death this last year. So, anyways, here's what I'm talking about. It's nothing too good, but it did stir up a lot of emotions I'd thought I'd left behind.

Your face is there in my dreams
Haunting me from the great beyond
You know how much I miss you
So many tears I cried when you left
I never got to tell you farewell
I wanted to say it while you could still hear me
But I waited too long
Everything else seemed so important
You would always be there
I never thought you’d leave me so young
If only I had another day
To tell you how much you meant to me
And how much love I had for you
I’m so sorry I couldn’t do it earlier
When I could see you eye to eye
But please hear me now
As I cry to you a tearful goodbye

Because Dancing Robots Rule

I saw this video a long time ago and loved it. I found it again while trying to keep myself amused this morning between proofing documents. The concept of Transformers break dancing just plain rocks to me. If I were a giant robot the first thing I would do, other than smash Tokyo (come on, you can't NOT smash Tokyo if you're a giant robot) would be to learn how to break dance.

What I would love to see now is a combination of this video and the episode of Robot Chicken where Voltron gets served by some gelatinous green villain that carries a boom box with him throughout space as he attacks unaware spaceships. Voltron vs. Optimus Prime in a dance off to end all giant robot dance offs.

You know, speaking of Transformers and Voltron I wonder which was copying which when you compare Voltron to, say, the Destructicons. They both stem from the same concept--take a bunch of smaller robots (or tiger robots for Voltron) and combine them into a larger, more bitchin' robot. Hold on, I'll find out...

...ok, after some extensive research (thank you Google), it turns out that Voltron first started airing in September of 1984 while the Transformers started airing in October of 1984. Now I know that the Destructicons didn't come into play in the Transformers galaxy until at least the second season, so it's pretty much apparent that the Transformers stole the idea from Voltron (which no doubt stole the idea from some other show that came out before I was born and, thus, know nothing about).

With that said, I still think the Destructicons would totally beat the living bejesus out of Voltron, even though he has that kick ass, yet totally wonky looking, sword. I'll always remember the Destructicons transformed into Devastator ripping into the Autobot base in the movie and how totally bad ass they were.

Now if it was a dance off between the two, I know Voltron would have way better moves than Devastator. He's just too big and clunky. It would be like a robot Vin Diesel dancing against a robot Christopher Lambert. Robot Lambert would win every time.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Dwindling Traffic



Well, as you can see from the above chart, traffic through to my site has been on a sharp down swing. Thinking about it, though, that’s not unexpected. Over the last couple of weeks I was so busy with work and dealing with other issues, I haven’t had time to really put up any good content. A few small smatterings complaining about work, a couple cd reviews, and a story or two just don’t cut it if you want to keep visitors returning.

I might not lose reader’s who use RSS to keep up on what I do, as I know that I keep up on all of the blogs that I read by just keeping their RSS feed active in my aggregator, so even if the blog only updates once a week or even less, I will still always be alerted of new content and don’t have to visit the site until.

For people that don’t use RSS and just surf sites on a regular basis to catch new content, a lack of anything new will quickly lead to a site getting removed from the regular visitation rotation, and potentially from the bookmarks list altogether. I think that this is what has probably happened to this site over the last couple of weeks.

On the other hand, the number of people who keep up on this site via RSS is slowly growing, which is good. I think it’s a lot hard to lose a reader who uses RSS to keep up with your site than a traditional reader. So in an attempt to keep what readers I have left entertained, I’ll try to keep the content flowing now that I have a little bit of a lull at work. I’m sure my workload will pick up again soon, but until then, I’ll make the most of my free time that I can.

Spontaneous Allergies

In my lifetime, I’ve never been found to have any allergies and I’ve never felt like I’ve had any type of allergic reaction to anything.  That being said, is it possible to just spontaneously develop allergies, and in the same realm of though, can they just spontaneously disappear?

The reason I’m wondering this is because all this week I’ve had a somewhat runny nose and my eyes have been as dry as the Sahara, as well as more bloodshot than… something that’s really bloodshot.

Truth be told, my eyes do have a habit of getting bloodshot for no apparent reason and then miraculously healing themselves a few hours later.  I attribute it to having sensitive eyes.  I’m making that assumption because any amount of dust or smoke will make my eyes hurt and tear up quite quickly.  This is one of the main reason I’m glad they implemented the smoking ban at all of the bars and clubs in Minneapolis—I can finally go to concerts without feeling like my face was going to unceremoniously eject my eyeballs from their sockets to end the pain they were causing.

Now as I think back over this week, nothing has really been different.  I get up, go to work, work out, hang out at my house, and do the regular things, but for some reason this week my eyes felt the need to torture me.  One of my co-workers asked if I had allergies and I said no.  She told me that it’s not impossible to develop allergies at any time.  But would they come on this quick?  I kind of doubt it.  Especially since this morning my eyes appear to be back to normal.

In conclusion, my eyes were really a big pain in my face this week and made keeping them open for prolonged periods of time a whole lot of not fun.  Thankfully they’re back to normal, but I’m still really weirded out as to why they got all funky all of the sudden, for no apparent reason.  Frickin’ eyeballs.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Allele - Point of Origin CD Review



About a month ago Cold released their latest offering, A Different Kind of Pain, which showed the band progressing very strongly in a mellow direction when compared to their previous efforts. The edgier and heavier elements of their sound that was previously a big part of their unique brand of grunge, sludge, nu metal had disappeared and been replaced by a more introspective and tender demeanor. No doubt this pissed off some fans, and validly so -- even though they were making great music, it wasn’t what some fans were looking for. To those disgruntled fans, as well as emotional metal fans, I implore you to go give Allele’s Point of Origin a listen.

Part of the reason, I believe, that Allele sound a lot like Cold is the fact that their lead guitarist is none other than Kelly Hayes, Cold’s previous lead guitarist. Haynes isn’t the only member coming into Allele from a big name band, though. Guitarist Lane Maverick used to be with the oft pretentious metal unit Otep. Fortunately, none of that pretentiousness carried over into Allele.

Now I would be lying if I told you that Point of Origin didn’t feel very strongly Cold inspired, but depending upon who you are and what your feelings are towards Cold’s back catalog, this could be either a very good or very bad thing. In many respects, this is a good thing. The grungy side of the radio friendly metal genre has had very few participants as of late, and none of them have been very strong. Recent efforts by Seether and Smile Empty Soul have had a hard time capturing the market and in their wake, Allele has the potential to show that it is possible to make a good, gritty metal disc in today’s heavily saturated metalcore and emo market.

What Allele brings to the table, that many of their contemporaries do not, is the ability to create a radio friendly sound without totally selling out to the clich├ęs inherent with creating that type of music. All of the songs do follow a basic verse/chorus/bridge format, as well as conform to many of the conventions of the genre, but within those boundaries they excel at what they do. Catchiness is key for this genre and Allele definitely are that.

Sure, there are a few weak songs here and there that straddle the line of being boring or sounding too much like other songs on the cd (or other aforementioned bands), but that is not unexpected. On the other hand, songs such as the leadoff track, “Fake”, as well as “Closer to Habit” and “Immune” show that it is possible to create thought out, interesting, and listenable songs all within the confines of the genre the band has chosen to be a part of.

It’s relatively easy to take one listen to a band that is a part of the radio friendly rock/metal genre, dismiss it as subpar, and move on, but often in doing so you will miss out on a band that does what they do well, and that’s exactly what Allele is -- a band that does what they do well. They know their place, they know their boundaries, and they excel at what they do.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

What a Meeting That Would Be

Gary: For tomorrow's meeting the dress is business casual, as that is what was specified by the people we will be meeting with.

Me: So, business casual = jeans and a death metal t-shirt, right?

Karl: No, for you it’s leather pants and no shirt.

Gary: ...You at least need to go with a shirt, preferably mesh or fish net.

Me: Good call, then my chest shaving won't go to waste.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Ramallah - Kill a Celebrity CD Review



Before this review really gets underway, I would like to present you with the first line of lyrics spat out at the listener on Ramallah’s disc Kill a Celebrity. I do this because I believe that your overall enjoyment of this cd will definitely vary based upon your reaction to what you read below… so read away (and pretend it’s being screamed at you in a distorted, murky hardcore voice):

“I’d love to detonate a car bomb at the goings of your precious MTV, and put some sarin gas in the central AC at the VMA’s, and watch those beautiful faces turn ashen grrraaaaaaaayyy.”

And with those words spit out, the rest of the band jumps into the song and tries their hardest to pummel you with an intro breakdown that I’m sure is the best thing ever (in their minds). Thick, grating power chords thunder over some deep drumming and bass… just like almost every “heavy” song that came out in the late 90’s. Just from this first song, it’s easily apparent that Ramallah is using music as tool to further their agenda rather than using an agenda to help in making creative, deep music. This might sound like a bad thing… well, ok, it definitely does sound like a bad thing, but that’s only because it is.

With such over the top lyrics like those above, song titles like “Shock and Awe”, “Drink the Kool-Aid”, and “Oscar Cotton”, and the simplicity found in most of the songs, it’s hard to view this band as anything more than a novelty that will only appeal to the dimmest of the hardcore crowd. With that said, I can see a ton of 16 year old kids who “hate the system”, “want to fuck the government”, and “would like to kill a celebrity” cranking this cd as loud as the tiny factory speakers in their 1987 Nova will go, with the windows rolled down, looking angrily at every passerby, hating the world.

There are many reasons why only 16 year old, pretty stupid, hardcore kids will get into this cd, such as that the scenester hardcore kids won’t touch this disc with a 10 foot long pair of girl pants because of songs like “A Day in the Life” that sound like a bad mix of Nickelback, synthesized melodic vocals, and a bouncy pop beat (with a little hardcore too, I guess). The radio rock kids won’t touch it because it’s too “hard”. The metal kids won’t touch it because, even though the guitars have a metallic overtone to them, they’re still all following simplistic hardcore chord progressions with a bunch of breakdowns thrown in, which will bore metal kids who want shredding. Seriously, there really isn’t a market outside of stupid, pissed off, 16 year olds for this band. Hopefully they realize this and give this demographic the hard sell. If not, they shouldn’t plan on selling a lot of cds.

Part of me wanted to like this band because they were just a simple hardcore band with bad tough guy lyrics that I could throw on when I watch the presidential addresses on mute, but then there was the other part of me, the part that realized songs like “Bye-Bye”, with its hardcore-lite style, and all of the other songs with lyrics that made me want to laugh out loud, was something I couldn’t listen to with a straight face or seriously recommend to anyone as anything more than a “listen to this, it’s great (in a bad way)” disc that’s worth spinning once or twice.

I will definitely recommend this cd to everyone, however, if Ramallah actually follows through on their cd title. The world would be such a better place without the likes of Paris Hilton, Jennifer Lopez, Billy Bob Thornton, Ashton Kutcher, and all of the other ass clowns that should never have become famous. I’ll be here waiting, Ramallah… start the throat slashing whenever you feel ready.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Dress Me Up

I’m trying to figure out what I want to be for Halloween this year.  I’m drawing a blank on what would be a good idea, and I really want to have a cool costume this year.  In the past I haven’t deviated too much from my usual dressing up as a girl costume.  In the last few years the only time I didn’t go as a girl was when I went as The Crow.

As I’m watching Monday Night Football, I’m attempting to think of some good ideas and I’ve thought of a couple actually, but I don’t know how feasible some of them are (or how much I really want to dress in the appropriate gear to sell the costume).  Anyways, here are some of my ideas so far.  You might notice a cartoon theme throughout and that’s intentional.  I thought being a cartoon character might be fun. What do you think?

--He-Man: Could easily do the costume, but I’m not sure I want to be dressed in such a small amount of fabric.  I don’t think I’m in good enough shape or self confident enough to do it.
--Danger Mouse: I don’t know if I’d be able to make a mouse head, but I could do the white pants, shoes, shirt, red belt, and eye patch.
--Inspector Gadget: This could be fun. I’m trying to figure out what would be a good gadget, though.  Maybe the helicopter blades that come out of the hat?
--Rick Hunter (from Robotech): I loved this cartoon as a kid, but I think making the costume might be a little hard.  It might be fun to try, though.
--Captain Murphy (from Sealab 2021):  It might be hard to find a bright blue uniform…

Anyways, those are a few of my initial ideas.  If you have any good suggestions or know of anyone that would want to help me make a costume let me know.  I want to avoid simply dressing up like a girl yet again this year.

The End of a Rampage

Today is a sad day in the comics blogoverse.  One of my favorite blogs to read, mainly for the snarky commentary on the oft overly nerdy realm of comic book based message boards, Fanboy Rampage is closing down as of today.  I only started reading it about six months or so ago, but I’ve really enjoyed it ever since I found it.

I never knew how nerdy, nutty, and totally out of touch with reality that some comic fans could be before running across this site.  There were more than a few times that I had to read something that Fanboy Rampage found on a comics message board and reposted for our viewing pleasure to make sure that my eyes weren’t deceiving me.  Comics fans couldn’t be that insane, could they?  Apparently they are.  

Now I have to find a new place to go to find my snarky nerd commentary (other than Fark and Slashdot).  So if you have any suggestions, let me know.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Acrobats, Frisbees, and Food, Oh My!

Finally, after these couple long and grueling weeks of work, I had a chance to go out and have a truly fun, laid back, and enjoyable day.  Lord knows I needed it!

So I did end up working a little during the morning yesterday, but once I finished that, the rest of the day was good, trust me.  I can only let work keep me chained down so much, even though I’m sure everything I needed to get done isn’t going to do itself over the weekend.  But that’s a worry for Monday morning.

With it being such a beautiful fall day, a round of disc golf was definitely in order.  I ended up shooting a round out at Hansen Park, a course I’ve never played before, but it was a very beautiful park.  With the leaves changing colors, a warm breeze blowing across the open areas, and mostly blue sky overhead it turned out to be one of the few wonderful fall days we get her in Minnesota.

Once disc golf was wrapped up, I grabbed some supper at a place called Panini, I believe. I should really have tried harder to remember the name of the place because they made a killer toasted wrap.  Imagine a Roli Poli wrap, twice as big, and toasted just so perfectly.  It was scrumptious, and more than I could eat in one meal (so I had breakfast for this morning as well!).

With a full belly, the main even of the night was yet to come—Cirque du Soleil.  I had never been to a Cirque du Soleil performance before, and all I really knew about them was from what I’d seen on brief clips shown on documentaries and the quintuplets episode of South Park.  I did know, however, that I wanted to go so when a friend invited me to come with her, how could I say no?  Wonderful company, a beautiful night, and a spectacular Cirque du Soleil show… what more could you ask for?

The performance we saw was Corteo, a performance about a dead clown and his trip through the afterlife.  Yes, I know it sounds morbid, but it was actually an amazing performance.  I’m quite the sucker for watching feats of human ability, and there were tons on display during the show.  Acrobats, dancing, juggling, aerial stunts… they had it all.  To top it off, the music was also very enjoyable and fit with the different scenes flawlessly.  So if you’ve never been to a Cirque du Soleil performance, I would highly recommend it.  They’ll be here in the Twin Cities until October 23rd, so catch them if you can.

In the end, as the day came to a close and I was driving back to Jared’s place, I had to smile and chuckle to myself at least a little—this was just the type of day I had needed for quite a while now.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

War Wounds

I managed to do it yet again, although this time I actually found a way to do it worse than I have in a very long time. That’s right, I shaved and in the process somehow ripped half of my face off.  Not only do I have the little nicks, cuts, and scrapes along my neckline, but this time I added a nice, big, open, raw war wound on my chin.  

Somehow, someway while I was attempting to shave my chin area, my razor sheered off not just a little piece of skin, but a hearty chunk of epidermis.  In doing so, my chin was bleeding profusely for about 20 minutes.  While I was taking my shower after shaving, there was a pretty steady stream of blood that ran down my chin and chest.

After I got out, it still wasn’t done dripping blood all over the place so I stopped bleeding with a Kleenex for a while and eventually the pace of the bleeding slowed down enough that it had a chance to scab over.  So now I have a wonderful looking divot in my lower chin.  Hip hip hooray for shaving!  Man, I suck at it.

Speaking of stupid things I did today, I made up a word while I was on a call with a client today at work.  When we were discussing some changes to a document, I wanted to let the client know that I understood the concerns that were expressed, but I also wanted to express to them that they needed to understand some other issues with the document.  With those two thoughts in mind, I managed to eek out the sentence, “Yes, that’s quite understanded, but I think…”

Understanded.  Shows what dumb things you can say when you’re on the 10th day of work in a row, averaging more than 9 hours per day, and talking calendar days, not work week days.  It’s like I’m running some kind of work marathon right now.  I just hope it’s towards the end. If not, I might just end up speaking in complete gibberish, and I’m sure that’s probably not good for client interaction.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

What's So Hard About Hello?

A smile, maybe a nod?  A hello, hi, or how are you possibly?  Any type of acknowledgement would be good, but instead all I get are cold stares, looks to the side, and the feeling that I’m not good enough to be said hi to.  I’m talking about my daily runs here in the suburban wasteland of outer Rochester.

Every week I try to put in 15 miles running.  Sometimes I get a little more, sometimes less.  I know it’s not much compared to the heyday of cross country when I was putting in upwards of 50-60 miles in a week, but ever since I destroyed my ankle freshman year of college I’ve never been able to do much more than 3-4 miles at a time.

When I go running, it’s usually after work, which happens to be the prime time for running in our subdivision.  I initially thought that would be a good thing.  Lots of people to say hi to and get to know, right?  I couldn’t be more wrong.

Just tonight I passed three different runners and not a single one even looked in my direction.  One even did that thing where she looks just enough away from you that she can still see what you’re doing in her peripheral vision, but doesn’t have to make eye contact.  I still said hello and tried for eye contact, but I got nothing.  No response. No nothing.

I don’t know if it’s one of the ten commandments of suburban lifestyle to be so aloof that you don’t acknowledge that other people exist, but I sure don’t fit this mold.  Growing up on a farm in the country, it was highly abnormal not to say hello to just about everyone you saw, regardless of if you knew them or not. Here in suburbia, that’s not the case at all.  I think I might have a better chance of winning the Powerball, twice, than I would of getting an honest to goodness “Hello” in this area of town.

A lot of it, if you ask me, stems from the elitist nature that this town perpetuates. There is so much money in this town and everyone is so concerned about their image that I think it’s more important for everyone to be competing with their neighbors, trying to be better than them, than it is to simply get to know them.

I don’t get it.  I’m just trying to be friendly.  Since when did being nice become such a rare trait?

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Swords!

As I was cleaning up the basement a little this evening, trying to take a break from work, I remembered that I never put up a picture of the katana set that I picked up while I was on vacation with my family in the Wisconsin Dells a little more than a month ago.

When I go on vacation, I try to pick up a dagger, sword, or other such sharp, piercing object as a souvenier. This year I just decided to bite the bullet, empty out my wallet, and get a katana set to put up in the living room in the basement. You never know when you might need a set of three differently sized killing weapons, like if ninja squirrels were to attempt to overtake my basement because of the strategic value it holds in their ongoing war against the Clan of the Painted Raccoon.

So, without further adieu, and because I need to get ready for bed after a long weekend of work, which did include a fun trip to the Minnesota FallCon, which I'll get to later, here are my swords:

Swords

Thursday, October 06, 2005

No More Time

Rick + totally crazy work deadlines = 12 hour or more work days

A side effect of this equation is the lack of time for blogging. Sorry, blame work. I do.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Push It to the Side

My memory, a picture show
Never ending and always sending
Images that I can’t touch
They’re there—vivid as the light to my eyes
People and places that will always be
Etched in my heart but no longer with me
A postcard from my past
How I wish I was there
But it is too far to travel
Too far? Too impossible…
As feelings are stirred up within me
What I see I realize can no longer be
Time and circumstance are my foes
They’ve taken so much, yet they leave with me
Reminders of their stolen spoils
With closed eyes I wish
That I could steal back what’s been taken
But my hopes have been forsaken
The joy of today is so happily swept away
To be consumed by the pages of the past
I have to forget everything from yesterday
Because memories have too high a price to pay
Everything ends up in the past
No matter what, nothing can last…

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Sex and Violence

Being in some kind of movie watching fetish mood the last couple of days, I managed to take in four films in three days.  On Thursday I watched Dummy, which was a simultaneously cute and darkly funny.  Give it a look if you get a chance.

On Friday I watched Serenity, as you may have noticed from my previous post.  Yesterday I watched two movies—A History of Violence and Hero.  I’d seen Hero before and enjoyed it just as much the second time through.  What really impressed me, though, was A History of Violence.

You would think from the name of the movie that it would be a gratuitously violent, big-budget, piece of crap that Hollywood churned out to cash in even more on the graphic novel/comic book to movie craze.  You would be completely wrong in thinking that, however.  I was thoroughly engrossed throughout the entire film, mostly because of the realistic look it takes at violence, how it affects those who have experience with it, and what tools can be used to create violence against others.

There actually isn’t a whole lot of traditional violence to be found in the movie.  Yes, there are a few very gory killings to be seen, but what is much more interesting are the other ways in which you see violence manifest itself throughout the film.

What got the biggest rise out of the audience when I saw the movie wasn’t some of the nasty and brutish gore that was splattered across the screen, but the two sex scenes.  Both of them serve a purpose and add a great amount of depth to the characters involved.  Both scenes involve the main character, Tom, and his wife.  The first scene shows an instance of how sex can be used to express the love shared between two people.  The scene permeates good feelings and love.

The second sex scene shows a completely different side to sex.  It is no longer an expression of love, but instead becomes a tool of violence.  It isn’t a scene of rape, as you may assume, but of consensual sex, but in the aftermath you can see how it was abused by both parties to hurt one another.  Tom uses it as a way to release his hate in what he may think is a positive release while his wife uses the moment to exert her control over him, that by not kissing him and not allowing him to, that she no longer does it with love, but only to feed an animalistic urge.  

The transformation of sex from a thing of beauty to an ugly instrument used to bring pain adds a layer of depth that many filmmakers would avoid adding because sex is seen as taboo by our society.  As terrible as seeing sex used as tool of violence, the audience should have been just as aghast at the gory murders carried out, but there wasn’t more than a peep from those around me.  

Anyways, in the end, after all of this pointless rambling, what I’m trying to say is that this movie deserves your attention and it deserves to be seen before you indulge in the myriad of bad movies that Hollywood constantly shoves down your throat.  This movie has a depth and intensity that I haven’t felt in a film since Crash.  

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Serenity

Being the gigantic nerd that I am, I went to the first available showing of Serenity yesterday.  Ever since there were rumblings about a potential movie based off of Firefly, one of the best sci-fi creations of this millennium so far, not so much because it blazed any new trails, but because it went down the same trails in style.  Serenity does much the same thing.

It is basically a chase film at its core, but what makes such a simple plot fun is Whedon’s characters and his trademark dialogue.  As opposed to some of the more well loved sci-fi of the last 10-20 years (Star Wars, Star Trek, Babylon 5, Stargate), the good guys in Serenity aren’t really all that good.  There is no clear cut definition of hero and villain, but instead a stratification of villains.  Our protagonists are simply less antagonistic than the antagonists.  

Mal, the captain of the ship struggles with his sense of morality while living the life of a thief on the run. He is loyal to himself, and only to a lesser degree, his crew.  In any mainstream movie, sci-fi or other, you know the good guy’s MO and how he’ll react to every situation.  Throw those preconceived character stereotypes out the window before you see this movie.  The crew of Serenity will shoot first, will play dirty, and won’t hesitate to take advantage of someone for their own gain.

It’s this moral ambiguity present throughout the film that makes it seem so much more grounded and real than the majority of the other sci-fi films out there.  True, no sci-fi movie can really be “real” in a realistic sense, but it can be real when it comes to characters and character interaction.  So when you see this movie, if you do (I highly recommend you do), don’t go to it for the special effects or sci-fi atmosphere, do it for the characters and the dialogue. They’re what really make the film.

On a side note, I was quite intrigued by two of the trailers I saw before the movie—Jarhead and Stay.  Jarhead looks to be a tremendously deep and gritty look at the insanities of the Gulf War.  With Jake Gyllenhaal as the lead and the director of American Beauty onboard, you won’t be able to keep me from this.  Stay, starring Ewan McGregor and Ryan Gosling looks to be a psychological thriller full of angst and confusion, the only way a psychological thriller should be made in my book.  You can bet my ass will be in the theater when both of those come out.

Now I just have to find time to take in A History of Violence.  All the reviews make it sounds just as good as I imagined it might be.  Maybe I’ll try to see it today.  If not, I plan on catching it sometime this week.