Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Iron Man 2

So I watched Iron Man 2 tonight. I'm pretty ambivalent about the whole thing. Didn't love it. Didn't hate it. Had a few good jokes. Scarlett Johansson was pretty attractive. So was Gwyneth. But seriously, overall it was pretty meh. Everything just felt so crisp, sharp, and sterile. This doesn't seem to make sense given that Mickey Rourke's villain had cool gold teeth, a scar on his face, and bad ass Russian mob tattoos. His character had some serious potential but everything about his character just seemed to be going through the motions. I don't really put the onus on Rourke for this. I am more disappointed in the writing and the directing of his story. Oh yeah, Sam Rockwell was pretty decent as well. Really everyone was pretty decent. But I still can't get that excited about the whole thing. Like I said before, everything was just so sterile. I think that is the perfect word to describe it. If anybody asks me what I thought of Iron Man 2 in the future I am going to reply with this one word. Sterile.

PS The flying battle sequence in How To Train Your Dragon was way more enjoyable than the flying battle sequence in Iron Man 2. Not that the sequence in Iron Man 2 was bad. It just didn't excite me that much. I found myself looking forward to it just wrapping up so I could use the restroom and then go play some volleyball. Sterile.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Death Note

Thanks to the wonders of Xtorrent, iSquint, and iPhone combined with a couple of hours a day on the underground, I have been able to delve into the world of anime. After having worked my way through Blood +, Full Metal Alchemist, Samurai Champloo, Evangelion Neon Genesis (don't get me started on this series, I am still angry about the last 3 or 4 episodes), and Baccano! I decided to start watching Death Note. I am about 20 episodes in now and just finished the first story arc.

I am struggling to find the proper hyperbole to express just how brilliant this series is. To my relatively untrained eye, the animation is fantastic. Many of the characters are loathsome for various reasons yet extremely compelling. The tension between L and Light is so thick I want to eat it with a silver spoon and a side of creme fraiche. Many episodes have found me reminding myself that I need to breathe. Mini spoiler alert - there is one scene where Light is having a little mental show down with the fiancée of Ray Penbar - (sounds so much cooler with a Japanese accent) FBI Agent, as the sun is setting and a light snow begins to fall that is so perfectly constructed. The tension. The beauty. The tragedy. The sadness. Amazing.

But wait. There's more. I haven't even mentioned the shinigami yet. The voice acting for these Japanese death gods is some of the best you will ever come across. I love their cackling laughter and harsh voices. I love their painted faces and magical eyes. Plus the apple addiction makes for some good physical comedy.

Something I found interesting was that the series has an extremely high level of exposition. It seems like two thirds of each episode is comprised of hearing the characters verbalize their thoughts to themselves. Surprisingly this method of telling the story has worked for me so far.

One last thing I want to mention. As I said before I just finished the first story arc of the series. I am 2, maybe 3, episodes into the next story arc and I am a little concerned. I miss the shinigami and I miss the conflict between L and Light. I haven't really bought into the crime syndicate thing yet. Hopefully this tangent is resolved shortly and we get back to L versus Light.

So if anybody has any good recommendations for which series I should watch next, let me know. I have already started watching Trigun on the side with my flatmate and really like it.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Keep The Lights On

One of my favourite songs of late has been Keep The Lights On by Wave Machines. I love the bassy-synthy-poppy sound of this song. Great summer music that will make you happy and more than a little smiley.

I "discovered" Wave Machines and this song thanks to the excellent How To Make It In America mixtape. The Kid Cudi remix of Symphonies off this same mixtape is the bomb dot org as well. You can download the entire mixtape here. Also, if you didn't watch the first season of How To Make It In America than go out and track it down now. One of my favourite new shows in quite some time. The Rasta Monsta storyline and Renee absolutely kill me.

PS For all you Bookfacers out there, the embedded video for Keep The Lights On might not show up in the post. I can't remember how the Facebook feed works and whether or not it pulls the videos with the text. If it happens to not show up, click through to the actual blog post to see the embedded video. It is pretty good and might be worth your time. Plus the actual blog is way better than the Bookface.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Guaranteed Grins

Yeek Yeek Woop Woop I ain't playin' around. Make one false move, I'll take you down.

Gifs of Popular Rappers brings a smile to my grill each and every time I visit. Each. And. Every. Time.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Lost w/ Spoilers

Time for a quick little update on where I am at with Lost now that we have completed 12 episodes in the final season. I am still fully on board. I have really enjoyed this season so far. The episode from two weeks ago - Happily Ever After - was probably in my top five Lost episodes to date. It resonated with me in a similar manner to that of the previous Desmond/Penny love story from season 4 - The Constant. With regards to the episode from last night - Everybody Loves Hurley - it worked for me even if Libby looked like she had really aged in the last couple of years. It was another nice addition to the sweet and comedic Hurley sub-genre.

I have always appreciated Hurley's comic relief and enjoy seeing him find happiness. Even if that happiness is tainted by his questionable decisions and actions on the island. Hurley, original Locke, Sayid, Jack, Sawyer, Kate, they are all so easily manipulated. Ghost Michael knew exactly what to say and Hurley was putty in his hands. I am kind of happy that Miles didn't seem to buy into Hurley's lame-o little excuse about dead people being more trustworthy ergo we should just do what they tell us to do.

But back to Michael. I hope all you hard core island mythology enthusiasts are happy. One more "mystery" was resolved. There is no longer any doubt about the whispers. I do have a complaint about how this was revealed though. I wish the writers would have stuck with the show as opposed to tell method on clearing up this mystery. Not sure why the writers felt obligated to beat the viewers over the head with the exposition used to "explain" that the whispers are the voices of the dead souls trapped on the island. I already completely understood that from the initial scene with Michael where we heard the whispers and immediately Michael appeared. I put those two pieces together from that. I didn't need the second scene with the exposition. I hope this doesn't become a recurring trend in the attempt to satisfy the dumb people. I believe that David Mamet might have an opinion on this.

So yeah, Lost. I am still fully immersed in the story and eagerly await each new episode. Can't wait to see how it all wraps up and am definitely going to miss it when it is gone. Future Lost posts are sure to come as we work through the final 6 episodes.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

It's Better In The Wind

I just came across this sweet new blog titled It's Better In The Wind. Captivating Photos. Motorcycles. Traveling across the United States with a group of friends. Artists with a vision. Excellent graphic design. What more could one want? Not much my friends. Not much. I loved this line from the description of the project:

"We are young but not naive, we are tired but not jaded."

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Sci-Fi Opera

I have been listening to quite a bit of Puccini over the last couple of months. I just can't seem to get enough of that opera music. Whether I am walking down the street, riding the tube, or forecasting cash flows, it just seems to make everything so much more dramatic. And by dramatic I mean dramatic in the enjoyable way. Not the I throw dishes, vases, and anything else that isn't tied down at you and sometimes may even want to stab you with a knife because I just love you so much kind of way.

I think it is because of this relatively new affinity for opera that I enjoyed the latest episode of Caprica as much as I did. Bear McCreary, the music supervisor/composer type guy for Caprica composed a mini opera as part of the music for this episode. Turns out he also has a blog where he talks about putting the music together for each episode. He even embeds little audio files. Thanks Bear. Such a gentleman. So yeah, I really enjoyed the mini opera that went along with the episode. Totally increased the drama for me in a really good way. If you haven't seen the episode yet or do not plan on ever watching the episode you should still click on a few of the audio files. You might find yourself wanting to give Caprica a chance. Even if you aren't that much of a sci-fi fan. Also, if the whole sci-fi thing kind of turns you off on the idea of Caprica, you may still want to give it a chance. The sci-fi serves as more of a backdrop or setting for the story of two families and their emotional struggles as well as an exploration of what makes us "alive" rather than the driving force of the story. Plus the production design around the New Cap City in V World is awesome. Totally film noir with zepplins. Thats right. Zepplins!

Speaking of zepplins, the latest episode of Fringe also had a sweet zepplin in it to go along with the great little gag of using the retro 80's font to signal flashbacks. But wait, there are more ties between Caprica and Fringe. This one actually made me laugh when I saw it. In the latest episode of Fringe, the cinema marquee in the 1985 alternate/parallel universe was advertising Back to the Future starring wait for it..... Eric Stoltz! And with that I terminate this meandering post that covered two sci-fi shows, zepplins, opera, and an opera composer named Bear.

PS The male part of the Caprica opera is sung by none other than Alessandra Juiliani. That's right, Felix Gaeta himself. The dumbass who lost his leg in BSG and who I totally wanted to punch in the face because he was almost as annoying as Starbuck.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

How to Train Your Dragon

Over the weekend I decided to try out the relatively new cinema at the Westfield Shopping Centre in Shepherds Bush. The Vue there was claiming to have some Xtreme 3D Viewing experience that was reportedly pretty awesome. Here are my brief opinions after checking it out:
  • The screen was fairly large but not as wide as I would have liked.
  • The sound was pretty underwhelming.
  • The seating was not that comfortable - the seats were narrower than I was expecting for a theatre of its purported caliber.
  • The picture quality was above average. Especially for the UK.
  • The interior was cavernous in a bad way.
So overall my experience with the Westfield Vue was pretty meh. However, as far as UK cinemas go, it was pretty good. It compared favorably with the Vue at Leicster Square. However, I came to the conclusion that I would much rather go to the HMV Curzon in Wimbledon. The picture quality is far superior. When it comes to sound, the Curzon crushes all competition. And finally, while the screens are much smaller I decided I really prefer the more intimate setting of the Curzon. So yeah, it is official. The HMV Curzon is my cinema of choice in the UK. This opinion is subject to change because I still haven't found the opportunity to try out the Electric Cinema in Notting Hill. I have a feeling it isn't going to quite measure up because it already has quite a few things working against it. This can be discussed in a later post after actually giving it a go though.

But now on to the main event. I wanted to give How to Train Your Dragon a go because way back in the day when I was on the audit grind at Dreamworks Animation, HTTYD was in development/pre-production and I was interested in seeing how the final product compared to the original concepts etc.

Newsflash, it was pretty damn good. Much better than I was expecting. I really enjoyed the story and how it steadily built to the climactic battle scene. Very good pacing. I also found the main character to be quite likeable and I was pulling for him from the start. I thought the 3D looked great. There were just a few parts where the depth of field was kind of messed up and the images looked flat. My only real complaint about the film was the Scottish accent of Gerard Butler. Since when do Vikings have heavy Scottish accents? It took a while for me to let this go and just sit back and enjoy the scenes which involved him speaking. While his accent may have bothered me, his beard most definitely did not. I loved the shape, texture, and enormity of it. Made me smile every time he came on screen.

The best part of the film though was the EPIC battle against the Queen Dragon. Jaw droppingly amazing. Those 5 minutes or so were totally worth the price of admission alone. Visually stunning. Took my breath away. Because of the 3D and the perspective, I felt like I was caught up right in the middle of it all. Seriously, go watch HTTYD for this scene alone. So enjoyable.

So for a quick little recap, the Westfield Vue? not as Xtreme as advertised. How to Train Your Dragon? much better than anticipated. Two thumbs up actually. Totally worth seeing in 3D.

Oh yeah, one more little bit I almost forgot. During the trailers before HTTYD, Sky ran a little ad for their new 3D channel that totally blew me away. They showed a ballet clip, a football (soccer) clip, and a rugby clip and I was absolutely stunned. If they can somehow make the real thing look as good as that ad did than I am fully on board the 3D TV bandwagon. Like I said in the sentence before, if they can guarantee that the real sports action looks as good as the probably staged sports action they showed than I will never want to watch another sporting event in 2D again. I may want to repeat myself for a third time. It looked that good. The added depth of field was mesmerizing. So it is with much more anticipation that I wait for the 3D TV saga to unfold.