Category Archives: movies/books

Books, movies, tv

Remember remember, the 5th of November….

“Remember, remember, the 5th of November
Gunpowder, treason and plot;
I know of no reason, why the gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot.”

Tonight I journeyed to the Medlock Crossing Regal Cinemas to see V for Vendetta, and WOW. This movie *floored* me. I have never read the Vertigo comic of the same name (upon which the movie is based), but I immediately took to the mysterious main character, V. He now stands out as the new standard by which I shall now regard all other heroes & protagonists, and not many of my now former-favorites can measure up to the high bar set. This movie has a lot going for it. Engaging clever dialog, action, plot twists, mystery and (dare I say it), the hottest, most alluring Sapphic character I have ever laid eyes on (I don’t usually get over-excited over something like that, but I will make a happy exception this time).
The rough plot follows the struggle of a citizen (Evey), and a revolutionary modern-day-Guy-Fawkes (V) against the future-set fascist regime that rules Great Britain.
If you are into mindless action movies, then you will fail to find anything particularly exemplary about this movie (except, perhaps for the 1812 overture 🙂 ). However, those among us who enjoy some ‘cereberal’ seasoning with some of our guilty pleasures (like action movies) will find much to rave about in this film.
I’d see it again in an instant. Well worth the price of admission.

Fantastic Four

Although this movie is based upon the comic book of the same name, I can’t help feeling that the title is misleading as I found little fantastic about the movie at all.

I saw this movie Friday night at Regal Medlock Crossing (just a few hours ago) with a group of 4 other folks (Susi, Dane and 2 other people). If you are planning on seeing it in the theater for the experience, then I would strongly advise you save your money and add it to your Netflix/rental rotation instead. Unfortunately, the movie has little to offer and pales….just PALES in comparison the likes of Spiderman 2 (best superhero movie ever) or even X-men 2 (best sequel to a movie I’ve ever seen). The technical productive aspects are all there…. special effects, CG animation, great sets and competent actors. In my opinion, its mostly the script, and partly the execution that is to blame. The first 40 minutes of the movie are pretty interesting, half of the characters have thinly (if at all) veiled issues and resentment with/of one another which helped to make this part of the very-predictable plot a bit less bland than it could have been. However, after they quartet discover their new powers… the characters all run around not doing much of anything. Bad guys (Dr. Doom) do bad stuff without a logical/apparent purpose, and the good guys walk around not doing anything worthy of mention. There are (of course) scenes where their powers are used, but only in very contrived and underwhelming circumstances that are so forgettable that they are already fuzzy recollections to me.

If you haven’t been able to tell yet, I was very unimpressed with the movie. Unless you have some sort of irresistible compulsion to see it no matter how trite and average it is, I would wait to borrow/rent it… and even then only if nothing better were immediately available.

Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith

I had a very interesting day yesterday (more on that in later post), capped off by a midnight trip to AMC Theaters to see Star Wars Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith.

Although I’m not super hardcore into Star Wars lore, like most folks I am a fan of the action in the films. This third ‘prequel’ is heavy on the plot, and there is plenty of action to go around. The fact that there is a galactic war going on throughout the entire story probably has a lot to with the many many many light saber fights and blaster battles.

The basics of the plot go like this: The republic and their army of clone troops (led by the jedi) are at war with the seperatists and their droid army. The as soon as the republic starts to make headway and turn the tide of the war, it is gradually revealed that both sides have are being led by the same villain, whose strategy is to use the war to take control of the republic and eliminate the only real threat to consolidating his power, the jedi. In a strange reversal of roles (which is handled mediocrely), the champions of the republic end up joining a revolution against it. Central to the events in the movie is Anakin Skywalker, whom we all know ends up becoming a bad guy at the end of the movie.

Although the movie does explains the reasons that lead to Anakin’s ‘fall’ and transformation into a villain, it does a sub-par job of relating Anakin’s motives to his actions. All the pieces are there, but Lucas doesn’t quite go out of his way to connect all the dots. The entire scene in which Anakin betrays Mace Windu is a little strange in that all of the characters make decisions that seem out of character and forced in order to forward the plot. In the director’s commentary in Bring It On, he describes this kind of implausibility occurrence in a movie as a ‘vanity’ of writing.

One thing that did surprise me was how terrifying this movie would be for a kid. All of the villains and monsters are pretty terrifying, and a lot of good characters meet untimely ends.

Anyways, I doubt that anyone is going to see or skip this movie based on its merits as a film (you either want to see the final piece to the tale, or you don’t), but those that do plan to go see it should get a very entertaining show. My one biggest complaint about the whole thing is the teaser about seeing Qui-Gon Jinn appear from the beyond to speak to Obi-Wan. It is overtly promised near the very end of the film and never delivered upon. Punks, the lot of them.

Harold & Kumar go to White Castle

I saw this movie on reccomendation of my cousin, Jessica, who has lived in New Jersey her entire life. We were having a half-argument/discussion about why I thought she should like Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back since its set in New Jersey. She brought this movie up, which I’d been curious about since I used to like going to white castle when I lived in New York City (they have Krystal in the south, which is inferior… mostly due to the mustard they put on the burgers)… so I picked it up at Target the day it came out ($15.99).

Boiled down to its most basic components, the movie is a stoner buddy flick. It fits squarely into the genre of Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back, albeit with less cursing, more nudity, and fewer caucasian characters :-). I liked this movie. I was a little afraid of it being another high school flick: I must be starting to get old enough to the point where i’m tired of seeing people *my age* (mid-late 20’s) play high schoolers. Thankfully, Harold & Kumar the main characters, were approriately aged as recently-out-of-college 20-somethings.

There isn’t anything remarkable, positively or negatively, about the production of the movie itself. Run of the mill cinematography and direction. The actors playing the ethnically (vs nationality-wise) korean Harold and indian Kumar keep things pretty interesting and funny. One thing that made a fairly formulaic flick like this watchable was how John Cho (Harold) and Kal Penn (Kumar) avoided the time-and-time again stoner/slacker/tight-ass stereotypes that prevail in these kind of movies.

Worthy of very special note is the cameo by Neil Patrick Harris. I don’t want to spoil too much, but he plays himself and first appears as a hitchhiker that Harold and Kumar pick up. Harris is freakin hilarious, particularly when Harold and Kumar ask him about some of the behind-the-scenes liasons on the set of Doogie Howser, M.D. . His cameo alone is worth sitting through this brisk 90 minute picture.

I had been thinking of purchasing Eurotrip, which I borrowed from a friend a few months ago, but I am glad that I bought this instead. This movie is slightly more clever, and isn’t quite the same tale of rich white kids running around with the sole mission of getting some at the end of the film (the white kids in this film all get their come-uppance!). Unless you’rea fan of this movies few particular quirks that set it apart from other movies in the genre , then I might not buy this moviefor more than the $15.99 that I got it for (which is a tad expensive even). Go head and rent it. As much as I enjoyed it, I imagine this fim will be in the $10 within a year or so.

-Incidentally, I used to live with a 6-foot tall Korean guy named Harold when I was in college… maybe that’s why I identify with this movie so much 🙂

The DaVinci Code

This book was loaned to me by my cousin Jessica while I was in New Jersey during the Christmas holidays. She was off from Rutgers and reading I am Charlotte Simmons by Thomas Wolfe.
I didn’t really feel like I was that bored while staying at my aunt’s house, but once I started reading The DaVinci Code (by Dan Brown), it was pretty tough to put it down. The book wasn’t abnormally long or short, nevertheless I finished it in a mere two days.
In my opinion, this novel evaluated as a work of literature does not merit much praise or any accolades. It is an extremely popular best-selling novel, but very much in the vein of J.K. Rowling’s (Harry Potter series), Tom Clancy or Clive Cussler. This is to say that the writing is pretty much straightforward narrative… missing many of the literary devices that critics (and my english teachers) regard as one of the hallmarks of intellectual literature. A lot of best-selling novels read this way, but there are exceptions, most notably (in my opinion) Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings books. The last book I read was also more like a work of literature. I get the notion that some people don’t like narrative-type books because they dont’ find it as intellectually challenging, stimulating, or sophisticated. The DaVinci code does have some of that, but not in the way that you might think.
This is not to say that the narrative style of The DaVinci code makes it a ‘dumb’ book. On the contrary… the intellectual appeal of this novel comes about in the meticulous research, treatment and presentation of christian, religious and medieval symbology and history. The book is chock full of extremely interesting tidbits about christianity and the origin of its traditions, the actual and the widlely-mistaken. Equally amazing is the way that the author manages to piece together and reveal the fruits of what must have been intense research in tantalizing bits as the story progresses.
The plot of the novel centers around Robert Langdon, an author/Harvard college professor of religious symbiology (I imagine most professors are also authors) and his inadvertent involvement with the investigation of a mysterious murder, which turns into a race to decipher codes and clues left by a secret society and eventually to the hunt for religious artifact(s). Sound tantalizing? 🙂 It gets better. The premises in the book seem to be mostly factual products of author Dan Brown’s research. I haven’t yet looked into what is historically accurate and what isn’t, but I am sure that every person who has read this book has had the same questions come across their mind and that there are probably countless websites dedicated to the novel’s lore. I don’t want to spoil the book for you by revealing too much, but here is a shocker… Leonardo DaVinci (and his works) figure very prominently in the clues Langdon has to examine.

So, to amend my earlier statement about the literary devices present in The DaVinci code… symbiology is very integral to the novel, but these (literal) symbols are the creations of artists like Leonardo DaVinci, rather than the archetypical literary symbols one might find in a more “intellectual” novel.

My reccomendation is to make time to read this novel.

-EDIT- After googling around for some information on Dan Brown and The DaVinci Code, I found this statement on the official site:

The Priory of Sion—a European secret society founded in 1099—is a real organization. In 1975, Paris’s Bibliothèque Nationale discovered parchments known as Les Dossiers Secrets, identifying numerous members of the Priory of Sion, including Sir Isaac Newton, Botticelli, Victor Hugo, and Leonardo da Vinci.

The Vatican prelature known as Opus Dei is a deeply devout Catholic group that has been the topic of recent controversy due to reports of brain-washing, coercion, and a practice known as “corporal mortification.” Opus Dei has just completed construction of a $47 million National Headquarters at 243 Lexington Avenue in New York City.

All descriptions of artwork, architecture, documents, and secret rituals in this novel are accurate.

Amazing!

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle

I read The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami on a reccommendation from Meg Andrew, a sister of a friend of Catherine Knight nee  Peisher’s.

Meg is out in California in grad school at Stanford (i think?). This was the gist of our online conversation which led to my reading this book.

Read more at http://www.psychicgurus.org.

[13:39] Meg Andrew: isn’t there anything else you could do there?
[13:39] TarzanBoy007: on campus? not really
[13:39] TarzanBoy007: i odn’t have any gf/s down there or anything, lol
[13:40] Meg Andrew: you could bring a book and read outside watching the IM games or something
[13:40] TarzanBoy007: i did that a little bit last week
[13:40] TarzanBoy007: i don’t have a good book to read
[13:41] Meg Andrew: stop by a bookstore
[13:41] Meg Andrew: does the tech bookstore have a regular book section?
[13:42] TarzanBoy007: yes
[13:42] TarzanBoy007: but its not super large
[13:43] Meg Andrew: should still have good books
[13:43] Meg Andrew: what kind of books do you like?
[13:44] TarzanBoy007: good narrative i guess
[13:44] TarzanBoy007: depends
[13:44] Meg Andrew: that’s not a genre
[13:44] TarzanBoy007: i know
[13:44] TarzanBoy007: i don’t have a fav genre, i guess
[13:44] TarzanBoy007: antying that keeps my interst is good
[13:44] Meg Andrew: you could look for the book I just lent Jenny. we both loved it
[13:44] TarzanBoy007: what is it about
[13:44] Meg Andrew: Windup Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami
[13:45] Meg Andrew: it’s weird.]
[13:45] Meg Andrew: it’s about this normal guy, but all of a sudden completely bizarre things start happening to him
[13:45] Meg Andrew: probably Amazon has a better synopsis…
[13:50] Meg Andrew: http://www.amazon.com/…
[13:54] TarzanBoy007: sounds interesting enough
[13:54] Meg Andrew: ooh, or have you read Life of Pi by Yann Martel?
[13:54] Meg Andrew: it’s really good!
[13:54] TarzanBoy007: no
[13:54] TarzanBoy007: what is that about
[13:55] Meg Andrew: an indian boy immigrating to Canada with his family and their zoo
[13:55] Meg Andrew: only there’s a ship wreck
[13:55] Meg Andrew: and he and the tiger: Richard Parker, are the sole survivors, and drift across the Pacific in a life boat
[13:57] TarzanBoy007: which is better
13:57] Meg Andrew: I dunno
[13:57] Meg Andrew: they’re both good
[13:57] Meg Andrew: I have to go to ballet now
[13:57] Meg Andrew: good luck finding something to do
[13:58] TarzanBoy007: ok

About two weeks later I bought it at the Border’s in Buckhead. The original novel was written in Japanese by a japanese author. The book is set in Japan, but aside from some historical and geographical references, the foreign setting does not preclude the reader’s comprehension of the story (in other words, familiarity with Japan neither helps nor hinders reading this book).

As for the writing itself…. I haven’t read all that many modern novels, but I was impressed by the depth and illustration of everyday details in the story. I don’t mean to say that every landscape or scene is tirelessly described with 2 pages of adjectives and imagery a la Tolkien. The author does an impressive job connecting events, giving information and descriptions with a precision that makes you not question at all whether or not the events in the story happened at all. It *is* a fiction novel, so nothing in the story (save some historical references) really happened, but it crafts a wholly believable world with very round characters (at least, compared with what i’ve been reading *cough*JKROWLING*cough*)

Wind-Up is a strange story about a very peculiar set of events that center around the main character, Toru Okada. Toru is a middle aged man that lives with his wife in a suburb. He first notices things that have gone awry when his cat goes missing, but soon learns that the missing cat is just the start of peculiar happenings, trials, decisions and forays he will make as his normal life starts to unravel itself. He is counseled and aided by two sisters with psychic talents Psychic Journey that often does free psychic readings for him and tell him just enough to make him wonder why noone can give him any real information. Soon enough, he starts to realize that the causes of problems aren’t necessarily their real root… and that is when things really start to get even more strange.

I really enjoyed reading this book. Its not the best book that I have ever read, and I’m not even sure how good a re-read it will be… but I found it very very hard to put down every time I picked it up. I often stayed up till 4, 5, and even 6 in the morning just reading to find out what was going to happen next. The main story is not difficult to understand, but I don’t feel like I could nail down or isolate any themes in the book because so much happens. I’m not always good at that sort of thing anyways, and its not requisite to enjoying the novel. The author does go out of his way to explain the main theme of the title, the wind-up bird, which is mentioned here and there at a few points in the story.

The book has a good length, and as Meg pointed out after I’d finished it… long, good books tend to have seemingly unimpressive endings. This is probably due to a raised level of expectation from having taken to the first part of the story. I would reccomend this book to anyone looking for a solid read. When I say solid, i mean something with a little bit more to it than the pop-narrative (like Clancy, et al) that won’t disappoint you. I’ve never gone to a coffeehouse to read anything, but I imagine this is the kind of book you could spend hours there reading. Don’t bring this book there if you’re looking to socialize, though… you’ll end up not talking to anyone 😉

Well, those are my thoughts. I’ve never really reviewed a book before, so forgive me if this review lacks the proper form. Thanks to Meg for a great reccomendation! My only gripe is that the book cost $15 for a TPB (trade paperback). Which is what I’m used to spending on hardbacks.

-kevin

The Bourne Supremacy

I saw this movie on Saturday, July 24 at 9:10pm. The theater was packed with people and we (Beth and I) ended up sitting in the 3rd or 4th row. Ordinarily, sitting a little close wouldn’t be a problem but it ended up working against us because of some of the horrible, horrible cinematography in the movie.

Immediately noticeable in the opening shot of Jason Bourne, the bouncing pan of a handheld camera was very distracting and almost dizzying. Instead of lambasting the many instances of mindlessly edited, out-of-focus, milli-second-flash-cut action sequences, suffice it to say that there are plenty of instances in this movie where the directing detracts from the storytelling. The director was Paul Greengrass. I’ll probably make it a point to avoid his work in the future.

This was my first exposure the ‘Bourne’ series of books and movies. The Bourne Supremacy is a sequel to The Bourne Identity. All the pertinent background information for the movies can be gleaned from the basic premise that Jason Bourne was a secret-spy-assassin-guy and then got amnesia. On its own, the movie is alright. There are no real surprises in the plot, but the story kept me interested enough to keep watching. Comparing Damon’s portrayals of Bourne, and Loki in Dogma make me realize that he is a convincing actor and skilled at differentiating his characters. (Contrast that with the arrogant-angry-black-man Will Smith has played in just about all the movies I have ever seen him in).

Even though there is a lot of action in this movie, the action sucks. The little bit you can make out through blurs, whirs, and shakes won’t sate your appetite for seeing dudes get punched and chased.

Judging by the number of seats I saw filled when I went, I predict that this movie will be #1 this weekend, with a large drop off in the following weeks. I think I, Robot will probably have more staying power on the merits of Bourne’s bad directing.

If you really want to see it, then my advice is to rent it along with 2-3 other movies, or just wait till its available as part of your NetFlix rotation.

Spiderman 2 – Thursday, June 30, 2004

Thursday, June 30 3:18PM
I am just getting in from a noon (12:30pm) showing of Spiderman 2, which opened today. Fantastic! I really really got into this movie… the action, stunts, special effects and CGI are all great of course… but its really the effect of the whole story (writing and direction). Even though there are a great many movies I like and enjoy, I am not typically a person that raves over seeing them in the theaters, or goads friends into seeing a particular flicks without some sort of impetus. However, I am going to make a noteworthy exception with Spiderman 2. Go see it… in the theater… bring a date! Its a good date movie! I don’t want to spoil it for anyone, but a there are a few surprising scenes and plot lines that fans of the first movie will delight in seeing explored. I don’t want to give anything away, so I will leave my description at that for now. Perhaps I’ll write a full review later.

As great as it was, there are some interesting peculiarities that seem to pervade the series. Maybe they can be attributed to Sam Raimi?
There are the cameos by Stan Lee and Sam Raimi, of course…. but most *ahem* noteworthy is how Mary Jane Watson aka Kirsten Dunst’s shirt invariably gets soaking wet again in the movies, causing her to nip through her blouse. (Not that i’m complaining! Its definitely a rememberable recurrence worth mention 😉 ) I couldn’t find a screenshot from spiderman 2 that does Ms. Dunst’s assets justice, so I grabbed a publicity photo from earlier in the same scene, albeit without the level of detail noticeable in the film. -I now own the Spiderman 2 DVD and was able to make the appropriate screenshot- I also included a screen grab from the first spiderman movie. (I just realized that I have the full-screen version, bleagh… I shall have to sell it and buy the widescreen one)



Perky Kirsten Dunst
Spiderman (2002)

Kirsten in yet another wet blouse
from Spiderman 2 (2004)

I hope you appreciate that DVD screenshot. It took me HOURS to get my DVD player softwave to run correctly in order to get it. I’ll spare you a long explanation, but it has to do with the software blocking playback because my video card isn’t programmed with any copy protection. After very furstrating and exhaustive search, I finally fixed it by finding a way to block macrovision. (MPAA SUX!)

11:00PM – Went to and came back from Acworth. Ran into Kathryn after not seeing her around for a while. She just got back from California.

Site update – well, not my site. I’ve been fiddling with the domain a little bit. It started when Beth contacted me for help with installing Moveable Type(blog software) on the site. I’d read/heard a little about lots of people dropping moveable type due to it not being as free anymore, so I consulted with an online-pal/internet guru and decided to install WordPress instead. As of this entry, WordPress is up and running on Beth’s site, but she has yet to make any updates to it herself. I will probably eventually switch from blogger to WordPress, but not until i have more content up and redesign this web log’s appearance.
One site enhancement I have been unable to implement so far is syndicating RSS feeds/headlines onto my web page. I found a script that does the job, but my host doesn’t have the proper perl modules installed that it requires. I’ll email them about it and see if I can get that changed.

In other news: No new information about my shirt. I talked a little bit about it with Reed. No revelations. I have been offered as many old thunder shirts as I want as restitution. A poor substitute, but seemlingly all i’m likely to get.

Also: My 2 extra batteries for my digital camera came yesterday! I charged them up and tested them and everything seems to work correctly. Now all I have to do is find a case that can carry them along with the camera and 2 extra compact flash cards. I’ve been to Target and Best Buy, but haven’t found anything ideal. Right now i’m using this targus case which is compact enough to fit in a pocket and hold the camera + flash cards, but it lacks the compartments for 2 extra batteries.