Sunday, May 31, 2009

Up (2009)


I was going to attempt to write this yesterday, in an attempt to strike while the something or other is hot, but then forces intervened and I wound up not getting online till just now. But hey!! Pixar at it again, huh?

(More after break.)

I'm going to try something a little different with this post, as I'm going to split my take on the film into "Praises" and "Criticisms". The "Criticisms" section is going to be longer--which doesn't mean that I disliked the film. (If I were going to assign a value onto the movie, I'd give it a 6 or 7 out of 10 (with 8 being the equivalent of ****, 9 being **** +, and 10 being **** ++... it's kind of convoluted, so I don't ever attempt breaking the rating system out in public.)) PRAISES: -Not that I am one to place a lot of value in critical opinion (but I am), but I had heard through various grapevines that the first 10 minutes or so act as probably the best moments of the film. This is almost correct. This is also where Pixar works their succinct storytelling magic™, conveying a lifetime of love and loss in a simple, understated, and mostly dialogue free opening. It gives the film a certain weight that makes the rest of the adventures taken in the film tinged with bittersweetness.

-The thing is... it's actually the first 20 minutes that dwarf the entire film (well... maybe the first 20 minutes... whenever it's discovered that the little kid is also on the floating house is when it shifts to "buddy movie" or something). After we get a summary of Carl's life, the transformation into the realities of modern life come as--well, not necessarily jarring, since you know something will have to transform Carl from crochety old man into daring adventurer, but it makes you buy the idea of Carl wanting to escape from dull modernity and live--literally--on the edge. In fact, I'd probably even want this portion of the film extended a little more, just so the viewer feels they deserve the inevitable escape even more.

-Oh, and the initial shots of the house flying up in the air by balloon has this blissful grandeur that at least made the $7.50 worth it. I mean, the house carried by balloons has probably been seen millions of times thanks to ads and everything, but seeing on the big screen has a striking magnificence that even I was a little surprised by. Maybe it was the score--which was quite lovely, for the record-- or maybe it was the way Pixar used colors (in the massive collection of balloons floating in the sky, in the reflections of onlooker's faces as they gawked at the colorful array). Either way, I was impressed (I was stuck as to how to conclude this thought, so I thought maybe I could make a "joke" and say "color me impressed" instead... but then I felt like I should be shot in the face.)

Then the little kid appeared.

CRITICISMS:
-OK, so Pixar makes a lot of good films. If you're going for today's exemplary animation films--well, you're probably going to be focusing square on Pixar. The problem with Pixar is that--whether it's because they're owned by Disney or because they know children is one of their primary audiences--they cater too much to the young audience at the expense of making their film truly great (of course, some exceptions... WALL-E acheives greatness, The Incredibles for the most part lacks that "capture the kiddie demographic" feel, and things like Ratatouille I need to watch again).

Now, with this film... the characters are perhaps as rich and complex as any other film out there (although maybe the main villain is a bit too "villainous" to be real, although they at least give him some justification), which isn't something that one would expect with a truly "children's film". But... I guess there's speculation as to how Disney is going to make craploads marketing this film with a 70+ year old character as the lead, but really, they have nothing to worry about. Cause they take the troublemaking yet endearingly cuddly sidekick archetype and repeat it three times.

So we have Russell, the overweight yet thrillseeking wilderness exploring kid that Carl will obviously form some life changing bonds with over the course of the film, and that's fine. But then we get the colorful bird--the apple of the villain's eye--that joins the adventure, who is quick and helpful but also a little careless (sort of like the Road Runner, in a way.) And THEN we get Dug, the talking dog who... is a dog (i.e. stupid and loving, but it's funny because he's a talking dog and verbalizes these traits and stuff). And so Carl, Russell, the bird, and Dug join together and go on all sorts of crazy and silly adventures that as a 9 year old I would just love.

The problem is that the overwhelming cuteness... it's a bit much, and it distracts from what I found appealing in the film--that is, the tale of a man finally living his dream but doing so without the company of his long-loved wife.

I had some other things I wanted to cover, but in the process of writing this I forgot. Either way, WALL-E reigns supreme as the best Pixar film... but hey, Up doesn't suck as much as Cars. So you take what you can get.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Budgeting and such

This is something I might do every once in a while... it's kind of silly, but we'll see how it goes, and if I like it, it stays. If you don't like it... well... no one's reading this at this point anyway.

(More after break.)

ANYWAY. So I'm currently unemployed, which is a barrel of fun. I have a few job prospects, but none of them are anything too major, and are more small part time gigs that'll pay meager wages. So I decided to try to keep my spending limited to an average of $10 per day... which might be a little difficult for me. Here I'm going to track my spending in (hopefully) an effort to keep me spending as little as possible.

Monday:
$0.

The benefits of spending time at home is that you don't have to spend anything if you don't feel like it.

Tuesday:
$10.50.

$3.50: Today my May term class began. It's kind of a cool class, maybe if I'm motivated I'll write about it later, but for the purposes of this it pretty much means that since I'm in town from 4:30-10:00, I have to buy dinner. The $3.50 spent was at Burger King, because I was feeling thrifty and such.

$5.00: That thriftiness was thrown out the window when I felt guilted into giving a homeless guy $5 right as I was caught with my wallet out sorting my money. Fudge.

$2.00: Snack and a soda for a movie.

Wednesday:
$109.50.

$100f'n.00: My REQUIRED text book that I could not find anywhere else, and has NO RESALE VALUE AT ALL. DAMN IT ALL TO HELL.

$1.50: Runts. Because I like Runts.

$8.00: Chipotle burrito and a drink.

Thursday:
$8.50.

$0.00: DVDs at the library. Not an expense or anything related to this post... I just wanted to feel like I'm doing something right.

$8.50: Chipotle burrito and a drink.

Friday:
$11.50.

$11.50: Groceries! I got some peanut butter and some bread, which I think should tide me over for a while (jelly destroys the heart and the soul of the peanut butter sandwich, by the way... as if it thinks the sandwich is too great, so it inserts itself into the sandwich to bring it down to the jelly's level). And I had lunch purchased for me, and everything was superb.

Today:
Probably a lot.

Gonna go see Up today, and might do something for dinner. Exciting times, for sure.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Richard Manuel is alive and well!


I had a pretty cool celebrity sighting yesterday--while heading to class on the bus around 2:30 PM yesterday, I saw Richard Manuel of The Band get on the bus shortly after I did.

I didn't talk to him because... 1) if I were a celebrity, I'd get pretty annoyed with people coming up to me asking if I were actually who I thought they were, and 2) Richard Manuel has been dead for 23 years.

(More after break.)

Or maybe not. I watched The Last Waltz a while back and noticed how strung up on heroin he looked, with these strange tics that would cause him to jerk his body around in a bizarre way every once in a while. WELL... this guy turned the tics up a few notches, seemingly unable to contain his body from jerking around constantly. Which I would assume is what Last Waltz-era Richard Manuel would look like 30 years down the road.

The only problems with the theory that this dude was in fact Manuel are that 1) he had significantly less gray hairs than I would think he would have (although Just For Men could easily solve that, I suppose), 2) his eyebrows were less bushy (I suppose he could have had them trimmed, though), and 3) Richard Manuel is dead.

If we're able to figure out those three problems, though... I'm 100% sure that was him.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

A movie I'm looking forward to:

I don't know how to embed videos into my text with this, but here we go.

This here folks, is the trailer to Bad Lieutenant: Port Of Call New Orleans.


Oh goodness yes.

I mean, I'm thinking that Werner Herzog is just doing this for a bit of a cash grab so he can fund his next film quite easily. That would be fairly logical given the tone of this trailer.

But man... I'm really hoping he is intentionally making this as absurd as possible. I hope--kowing he was making something f'n ridiculous--that he thought about the lead role for like 3 seconds, called Nicolas Cage up, and then later on forced him at gun point to star in it (not that Cage would need any incentive to star in something like this). Because I will love him dearly for it. I will get his name tattooed on my chest, or something stupid like that.

Unfortunately (not to spoil anything in the trailer or anything), there's no release date given, which means that when I'm broke and homeless, I might not necessarily know which day to work overtime in begging for money.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A general complaint about the travails of lacking a television:

Well... it's not that I don't have a TV. So nevermind the title.

Anyway, the NBA Playoffs are on. I don't follow sports to the extent that other people do, but I like to be a well rounded individual, so a little dabbling in athletic competitions is always alright with me (I would also... you know--participate in said activities as well, but I'm terribly out of shape. And lazy.) And while I don't really pay much attention to the NBA during the regular season, when the players have something to actually play for, it becomes much more exciting and intense. Which is good.

Except when you don't have a TV hooked up to receive any channels.

(More after break.)

This is a problem I've had... well, never. Whenever I wanted to watch a playoff game, I've had access to a TV--either mine, my parents, or somewhere close to where I live. Not that way anymore. Maybe this is for the better, because LeBron James is going to lose the series, and the f'n Los Angeles Lakers are going to win the title, but in case someone beats the Lakers in a dramatic, inexplicable, Kobe Bryant-is-so-distraught-he-loses-the-will-to-live type of way... I want to say I experienced this moment.

So my replacement for actually watching the games has been ESPN.com's Gamecast.

The positives of it is that it updates the game in real-ish time, so I know generally what the score is at that time, who scored the latest bucket... all that stuff (plus, for baseball, it has this "percentage of winning" graphic, which swings wildly in close games, going from Cubs at 77% to Marlins at 51%. It's cool. Except whenever I've paid attention to it... the Twins were in the lead with a comfortable margin... and then blew the game each time.)

The negatives? Well, when LeBron hit the 3 at the buzzer to win it for the Cavs... my experience of that was waiting for something to happen, and then seeing a little ball go towards the basket in the basketball court graphic... and then the score changed. So my reaction was more like "hey, that's cool." Where as if I were actually watching the game, I'd probably think "HOLY F'N BALLS THAT AMAZING." I probably wouldn't actually think that, but for the sake of this argument, let's go with it.

So basically, the whole "follow the game online" experience needs a little tweaking to make it... well, more of an experience. Here's what I would do:

1) We need a commentator. Not someone who is actually watching the game, mind you, but someone who's following the game online just like us. Cause... you know... good sporting events need someone to give the event that extra kick of gravitas, and having someone with just as little access to the game as the rest of us gives us someone to relate to. I guess theoretically one could just insert the radio broadcast into the game, but that's boring. I'm thinking about having some guy on ramble about Call Of Duty 4 and how his girlfriend hates that game interspersed with comments like "oh hey, Cavs took the lead. Cool."

2) The play-by-play is useful in getting to know the essentials of what's happening, but it needs to be more in depth. So instead of just saying stuff like "Dwight Howard" misses 7 ft shot (Varejo rebound)", it needs to say stuff like "refs clearly favoring the Cavaliers," "Nuggets are getting crowd riled up as the Lakers plod lifelessly," and "Kobe acts like his usual dickish self in complaining about an obvious foul." It'd make us feel like we're somewhat there and everything... and any bias towards teams I like and against teams I dislike is favorable.

3) Something to celebrate pivotal moments... like, I don't know, LeBron makes a huge play, and on the court graphic penguins start jumping up and down in celebration. I think that'd get me more into the game, at least...

I don't know. Something needs to be done here, and since I'm poor and unemployed, I instigating the change is out of the question.

I have nothing more to say. Plus I have a headache. I have internet access at my place now. That's cool.

Monday, May 25, 2009

!!! ... !! ! .... ! .....

Today is Memorial Day.

I mention this because in a few years, when someone (most likely me) stumbles upon this post and wonders what all went down this day in the world, they'll know that people didn't work, ate hot dogs and watched baseball or something. Then they'll look back on this day in fondness, because hot dogs + not working must = good time. I will have made their day.

Except if I read it. Cause today made me realize that I was screwed when I wasn't born Amish.

(More after break.)

I'm at home right now, which means that there's not much to do. Which means that we all usually get the urge to get out of the house. But that means we usually head to Target, because we're all boring and can't think of anything better to do.

Actually, today we were all so bored, that we went to Target, Best Buy, AND Barnes & Noble. Oh yeah. Wild and crazy right here, everyone. The problem is that I really can't spend any money.

The second problem is that looking around made me want oh so much. Like the new Punch-Out game? Would TOTALLY be mine if I felt like I had money to spend. And I mean... it's not like I'm completely and terribly broke right now. But since I am unemployed and not seeing much of a light at the end of some sort of tunnel, I *will* be broke and needing spare change to pay rent and all that fun grown up stuff... looking at all the items I may desire but might never get sort of blows. Especially when that's the primary reason for making the trip out to stores.

In a way to make myself feel better, I decided that this was the fault of this consumerist culture that is obviously super evil and the reason for all hatred in the world. And in that moment, I started feeling Amish.

Let's list the reasons why the Amish are better than us.

1) They wouldn't get bored ever because their either working in the fields all day or sleeping. Or that's what I hear from television.

2) In case terrorists or aliens somehow find a way to take down the world's electrical systems, leaving the entire nation electrically powerless... well, I'm assuming the entire nation would riot and start burning major metropolitan cities as a way to pass their time. Meanwhile, the Amish will be back in their rocking chairs, shrugging, wonder to each other "what the f is the big deal?", and then shortly thereafter they will rise and take over the nation. I'm 42% sure that this is actually going to happen.

3) ... That's all I got, actually.

But still. I'm thinking about my current financial situation and I'm figuring how much I'm wasting on stupid crap, and if I were to just cut out something like video games and such... I'd probably save at least $200 a year or more, which is kind of a lot, and replace it with something less expensive. Like knitting.

Of course, since I've grown up listening to commercials and doing whatever the television tells me, that's never going to happen. But it's still something that I could try to make a few strides in.

Cause when aliens attack and revert us back to the pre-historic age, maybe I can snag a government position when the Amish take over the government.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Boredom is to blame for many things...

Grumplestiltskin.

At this moment in time… and probably for a while, I am unemployed.

Well, sorta. I’m actually at work while I write this. Except that it ends… today, actually. So let’s just say that I am indeed without income.

More background for you folk: I just got out of college, double-majoring in two pointless degrees, and had just gotten used to the whole college bubble before it was ripped away from me and forced me into something they call “the real world.” Which I believe is a place where everything is miserable, and you’re better off dead.

(Oh. Actually, I have one three week class starting next week. So I’m not done with college just yet, I suppose. What’s the point of this post again?)

I'm supposed to hate everything and bemoan the fact that I have to pay the bills and worry about finances and what not... but I don't, really. Well... actually, I do.

OK. OK. Ignore everything that I have said so far. We're just going to start this all over again.

THINGS SLASH JACKSON HAS BEEN DOING IN HIS FREE TIME

by Slash Jackson

1) Playing this flash game. Over and over again.

(I want you dead, cat.)

2) Nintendo 64. As I mentioned, I recently stole my brother's N64 from home when I went back to pick up a mattress for my new place. Unfortunately, the games my brothers had were limited at the time to only Super Mario 64 and a bunch of wrestling games. I like Super Mario 64, but I was playing and the Little Big World pissed me off in various ways, so I haven't touched it since then. The wrestling games are fun, however... even if it makes me feel uncultured for even touching them. I blame you and your pretentious bias against anything sleazy.

3) Movies.

So a while back ago... way back when I was naive and deciding to expand my cinematic horizons or something like that. I decided that I would attempt to see every film on the IMDB top 250. Cause that's a cool goal to have, right? Completing it means you get to watch a bunch of movies, and a bunch that the popular consensus deems to be pretty doggone awesome and everything. I'd be the coolest kid on the block.

Of course, I found myself rather disinterested in the whole pursuit once I realized the amount of dreck actually on the dang list. (Like Braveheart. And The Matrix.) But still, I find myself trying to hit 250, even if it's less of an active pursuit now. Maybe it's because I have little else to do with my free time. Maybe it's because I want to be able to say "yeah, I've seen all the movies on the IMDB Top 250. And they all SUCKED BALLS." That'd sound pretty impressive, right?

Well, impressive to a 12 year old, in any case.

Anyway. So yesterday I saw M, Brief Encounter, & All Quiet On The Western Front, all of which appear on the Top 250. And honestly, were it not for the list, I probably wouldn't be seeking out the last two films to watch either.

...

*goes back to the cat game while he tries to figure what he was going to say*

Aha! You are bested once again, little kitty!

Anyway, as for Brief Encounter & All Quiet On The Western Front... I didn't really care for any of them. The latter I didn't care for because I watched it at 4 AM in the morning, and was essentially using it as a sleep deterrent. As for Brief Encounter... eh. The film plays out as an insignificant diversion for two Britians bored with their mundane upper-class lifestyles or something... and that's pretty much it. I suppose it was competently made and all that crap, but they weren't trying to do anything but present a doomed romance here, and if you're going to do that, you better have characters and ideas that are new and intriguing. It didn't, so there.

I guess what I'm getting at is that... well, the IMDB list doesn't really make a whole lot of sense. You knew that, though. You don't need me to tell you that. I'm stopping right here.

(M is really good, though. But again, you should know that. It's really remarkable how effective the use of sound is here--especially considering it was Fritz Lang's first sound film. But not just the whistling and all that jazz, but the way in which he sometimes doesn't use sound, or lets one particular sound just float out there in space on its own--makes it all the more tense and chilling. Oh, and the first time I watched it, I fell asleep. Cool, huh? You just ain't gonna get that sort of insight anywhere else, kids!)

Thursday, May 21, 2009

You think you know what this will be about...

but you have no idea...

By that, I mean that *I* have no idea what this will be about. I had the vague idea of starting something up for a while now, but I have hesitated in actually creating a site because I wanted to first figure out what type of niche I want to write about (cause, you know, who other than my mom is going read this inconsequential thing unless it caters to some crazy niche market, like a Polish foot fetish site or something). Well that whole plan never materialized, but I felt like creating a little corner of the web anyway, because I feel like my opinions are capital I Important and these opinions are best being distributed so the whole world can hear.

Hi Mom!

So yeah. This is the first post. What do first posts usually look like, anyway? I'm assuming that they give a brief overview of what the site will do and why you should stick around, but really... who is going to be reading this now? No one knows this site exists, except me and me alone. And even if this damn thing is still breathing after a few months, it's not like anyone is going to go into the archives and search out that first post so they can finally figure out the intent behind all that is written. That's stupid. This is all stupid.

But... if you want something to that effect, I guess I can say that I'm probably going to write a lot about film and music and all that stuff, because that's what I find interesting. I also like to complain about life... so that'll probably appear. Umm, and other stuff. Whatever comes to mind. Hey! I recently reacquired a Nintendo 64. I could write about that.

I don't know. It's 2 AM, and I got like 4 hours of sleep, and I'm "working" till 7 AM, and generally I'm just tired and cranky... give me a break. Or something.