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Title: Suburban Girl
Posted: January 23, 2008 (06:05 PM)
Is it just me, or does Suburban Girl look like a really good movie? Sure, it's a romantic comedy co-starring Alec Baldwin (whose only good role ever is on "30 Rock"), but to me it looks like it could be a reasonably enjoyable movie that covers slightly different ground than normal in the genre. Of course, I also liked "Laws of Attraction" with Pierce Brosnan and Julianne Moore. Maybe I'm too easy to entertain.
Title: Getting the word out...
Posted: January 21, 2008 (01:37 AM)
HonestGamers is a cool site. I know it and a lot of you know it, but there are still a LOT of people online that don't know it... but should. My thoughts constantly turn to finding those people and making them aware of this site, because I'm pathetic like that and I think about the site in one way or another pretty much constantly.
Anyway, I've set up a "Links" page on the main site. The page includes a few buttons and a banner for people who want to link to this site. I encourage all of you to do so on any other sites you post on (where it won't be disruptive, of course; there's no point being a nuisance about it and putting a sour taste in people's mouths) so that more people can find out about the site and enjoy the content it offers.
I'm also contacting webmasters at other sites that have "Links" sections to see if they're willing to link to us. I know that many won't, but every one that does provides us with more of the exposure we need. Links also let Google know that we're important, since other sites think highly enough of us to link.
Lately, I've also done more meta keywords and description updating, and made other little tweaks on the site. I'm doing what I can on my end to spread the word--and obviously, most of the burden rests with me since I built the site--and I hope you all will share your enthusiasm for the site in the weeks ahead. We have something really great right now, but it's still at the point where it isn't half as great as it could be with more people.
There's certainly a point where a site can become saturated with idiots, but we're nowhere near that just yet. Let's work to bring in the coolest gamers we know and push the site to the next level in 2008. Thanks for your support, and remember that the door is always open if you ever have any ideas on promoting the site. Pull up a chair and tell me about it!
Title: Devil May Cry 4
Posted: January 17, 2008 (11:53 PM)
Some advertising network thought I should put this on my site and/or blog and after checking it out I agreed. It's too big for the main site, but I thought I'd see if it fits well in my blog and if it interests any of you.
Basically, the way this is supposed to work is that people get the word out on the site by posting the above object wherever they can that their viewers will see it. Then whoever gets the most hits gets a nice TV and such. The runners up get copies of the game and so forth. I am just trying it to see how it works out, knowing that I stand no chance at winning. Frankly, half the reason I'm posting it at all is that I know a lot of you like Devil May Cry. I do, certainly! So we'll see how this goes.
Title: Movie Review: The Godfather
Posted: January 17, 2008 (02:47 AM)
"The Godfather" had already come and gone well before I was born. Released in 1972, it did well enough to warrant two sequels and a fair bit of infamy as one of the greatest movies ever, but none of that was such that I had the chance to see it myself until this evening. I could make a lot of excuses, certainly. There's the fact that VHS wasn't terribly common around these parts until the middle of the 80s, but then that leaves twenty years unaccounted for. Then there were my strict parents, who didn't believe in R-rated movies even for themselves, much less their children. But I've been out on my own for most of 10 years and still I hadn't seen it. Why? I guess because I figured it couldn't really be that good, that I wasn't missing out on that much. Of course, I was wrong.
Tonight, I rectified that wrong and I'm glad I did. From playing the recent video game from Electronic Arts, I knew that the story would interest me. I'd even seen a few short clips from the three-hour movie, but watching two or three minutes from the middle of the movie isn't a fruitful exercise. No, you have to start at the beginning and work forward. The beginning in this case, of course, is a wedding.
One of the things I like about "The Godfather" is that it's not afraid to take a moment to celebrate the small things that define the human condition, to make everything personal so that you not only are fascinated by the strange lives these people lead, but interested in seeing them succeed. Even as they participate in brutal activity, even as they spout off about abhorring violence while at the same time ordering a hit on someone they know can't be trusted, they are human and likeable.
The wedding is the first place where we meet Michael, a young man played by a surprisingly young Al Pacino. He's at the glorious event and he's telling his girlfriend just a little bit about the family around him. Though he's grown up around it his whole life, it's clear that he sees the fantastical side of things and doesn't really associate himself with it. He even announces rather ironically that the lifestyle he's telling his lady friend about is that of his father, not him.
Naturally, the rest of the movie lets the viewer become immersed in that lifestyle and get to know the key players in a frightening yet in some ways ideal New York of the 1940s. If you've somehow missed the movie up to this point (as I did), I'm certainly not going to spoil it with a plot summary, and if you've already seen it there's not much point in me doing so either because the story in "The Godfather" is the sort that sticks with a person perfectly well.
Suffice it to say the plot has several big twists that you probably won't see coming, yet it doesn't make them sensational. In fact, those things have been artistically downplayed, so that in a way they're more shocking to the viewer than if they had been exaggerated. This is a sort of direction we don't see much of in the current day--except in arthouse bits--and it's one of the reasons that "The Godfather" is such a beautiful film. It has all the things we go to movies to see--shootouts, intense dialogue, glorious breasts--but you don't feel like a heathen for enjoying them.
If there's a complaint to be leveled against the movie at all, it's that even at three hours, it feels way too short. When the credits started rolling I felt completely satisfied that I had seen a good movie and I knew that I would have gladly kept watching for another two or three hours. Lucky for me, they made two sequels. I'll have to make sure that I view them without waiting another 28 years.
Title: Wondering about spam...
Posted: January 15, 2008 (08:57 PM)
One of my e-mail addresses for Hardcore Gamer Magazine is posted on that site, so whenever I check my inbox I can expect a flood of messages all advertising the same basic thing: ways to increase my manhood and pleasure my woman in new ways previously only dreamed of. I noticed a Penny-Arcade comic that featured some tiny little lines of text on a mocked-up computer screen and it had pretty much the same stuff I get.
I think they must actually target video game journalists because they figure we must be lacking in the trousers or something. That account gets almost no other spam, just variants on the 'ways to improve your phallus' ones.
Anyway, the thing I'm wondering is how often orders are actually fulfilled if some sucker reads the e-mail and decides to send money. Medically, it's pretty much been proven that none of that medication will do a thing and that you're pretty much stuck with the hand (or other organ) you're dealt, but that won't stop some people from wanting a miracle 'fix.' So I'm just wondering how many people actually send money and get a package in return that contains some sugar pills or whatever.
I would imagine that most people who send money never get anything in return. Were I a richer man, I'd be willing to bet that they're spending money on a package that will never come.
Title: Movie Review: The Italian Job
Posted: January 14, 2008 (02:21 AM)
"The Italian Job" is a remake. I haven't seen the original, but I imagine it was fairly good if it inspired a remix. As for said remix, well, it's pretty good. Maybe in another 30 or 40 years, there will be another remake. Would I pay to see it? Probably not. Do I regret seeing the one I'm reviewing? No... but I'm not over the moon about it, either.
The way the film's basic plot works is this: some thieves steal some bars of gold in Italy, then there's a double-cross and most of them are left for dead. One year later, the survivors reunite to steal back that which was stolen from them... and to have their revenge on the side. So they plan a heist and then they execute.
Most of the movie covers that middle part, the planning of the actual heist. When you think about it, a movie about a bunch of people planning to do something exciting isn't particularly thrilling, but it works so far as it goes because there's some tremendous talent on-screen. Mark Wahlberg isn't my pick for actor of the year or anything, but he does a decent job here. Edward Norton plays an interesting character and does it with a lot of his usual charm, so that's interesting to watch. Charlize Theron is interesting to watch if you prefer the company of attractive females, and does a good job here. Seth Green is usually a pretty funny guy, and that was true here. Jason Statham also brings a lot to the table, and it's hard now to imagine anyone but Donald Sutherland in his role. Looking at that list, there's a lot of big names and I don't know how they all got pressed together in one movie. The film's budget obviously wasn't blown just on star power, either. Even the guys you wouldn't recognize from anything put in good performances. In fact, whoever did the casting for the remake deserves nothing but praise for a job well done. It's hard to imagine the script coming out any better with other actors.
Filming is also solid. There are some really nice action scenes and I only thought about the camera's excellent positioning once. The rest of the time, the movie just flowed and I forgot I was looking at events shot through a camera lens. Everything was positioned perfectly so that events flowed and I was able to see beautiful scenery and crazy car chases and so forth.
My problems with the movie all come back to that down time between the action sequences that bookend the film. This is a two-hour affair, and more than half of it is just witty dialogue and interesting plot twists that can't possibly hold up well to repeated viewings. When I see something like "Die Hard" or "The Transporter" or any number of other high-action movies, I look forward to different scenes and I can watch them repeatedly. With "The Italian Job," there was a lot of tension the first time through but now I know everything that happens so half my reason to watch is gone.
What that all means is that "The Italian Job" is perfect for a quick thrill if you decide to give it a rental--as my wife did--but it's not the sort of feature you'd want to have sitting on your home video library shelf. At least, not if you're like me.
Title: Movie Review: Casino Royale
Posted: January 11, 2008 (02:26 AM)
"Casino Royale" was the first movie with a new actor playing the role of James Bond in quite some time. There were a lot of people who thought Pierce Brosnan did a dang fine job--and he did--so of course the new actor was under a lot of scrutiny in the months leading up to the film's theatrical release. Then in the months that followed, there were a lot of people saying that he's the best actor yet for the role. I heard all of that commentary, and I was anxious to see for myself just how it all worked out, but time kept getting in the way. Finally, just this evening, I got my chance to see. My conclusion isn't so much that he's the best Bond, though, as that he's a different Bond.
The movie opens in stylish black and white (an effect it won't keep long) and shows James Bond in his agent infancy. In fact, as the film opens he's not even a 'double 0' agent at all. That changes, but then things go wrong and his superiors begin to think they may have chosen the wrong individual for a promotion. What follows from there is a twisting, winding sort of story that feels decidedly different from recent movies in the series, but very interesting because: 1) it has a lot of action; 2) it shows the film maker's vision of how James Bond became the super spy that has delighted us all these years.
As James Bond, Daniel Craig shows the agent's early years with excellent style. It's clear that with the change of lead actor, the people in charge of the franchise decided they wanted a fresh start. Craig is reckless but mostly effective, jaded yet the slightest bit wide-eyed as he faces a world of intrigue and danger. Perhaps most importantly, he's easy to appreciate as a person who might even make a few mistakes and say a few things that annoy you, but that you want to see come out on top of everything. The past Bond characters seem to be machines with a British accent and no real personality aside from what the formula demands. Craig delves beyond that--thanks to the material writers have gifted him, of course--and completely won me over by the end of the film.
I really don't want to touch on any plot points beyond what I've revealed, but I want to assure you that there are in jokes about martinis and cars, plus a game of cards plays prominently in the proceedings. There also is a lot of down time toward the second half of the film, yet things remained tense enough for the most part that I remained near the edge of my seat pretty much the whole way through a film that comes in just shy of two and a half hours. Where past Bond films have rightly followed a fan-approved formula that meant you almost always could predict what might happen next, this one threw enough surprises in the mix that I was never quite certain what to think.
The end result, of course, is that I can't wait to see where the franchise goes from here and I'm quite happy to have it be Daniel Craig that takes it there. He's proven himself a capable, even exemplary actor for at least this particular role, and his next appearance as Britain's finest can't come soon enough.
Title: Hilarious resume blunders
Posted: January 10, 2008 (03:30 PM)
I generally try not to link to other blogs and such, because then they look really good and I look really stupid for not being bright enough to come up with something equally entertaining myself.
However, I'm looking for part-time work lately and sometimes I might have to put in my resume, so I saw a link to real resume blunders. I thought I'd best read it to make sure I didn't make any myself. After reading through the list, I think I'm safe, but I think all of you should read through it too:
The list starts out mildly amusing but by the end I was laughing at a near-hysterical level. Some of the stuff people have put just really made me giggle. I encourage you to read the whole list (it's not as long as the scroll bar makes you think it will be).
Title: Movie Review: Rush Hour 3
Posted: January 08, 2008 (07:04 PM)
Reports I've read online take fiendish delight in claiming that "Rush Hour 3" is the worst in the series (a point I'm willing to perhaps concede), that Brett Ratner is an awful director (a point that I've yet to see proved, at least by any of the "Rush Hour" films) and that the movie is just plain awful as a general rule. That's the sort of baggage I was carrying when I watched the movie today, but I promptly forgot about all of it as I kicked back in my chair and had a good time the likes of which only a few action movies can ever hope to provide.
"Rush Hour 3" is formulaic, has cheap laughs in several instances and some of the most ridiculous action sequences yet seen in a series of films best known for cramming as many of the last into an hour-and-a-half show as possible. In spite of that--or perhaps because of it--the movie manages to be thoroughly entertaining during nearly every one of its 86 minutes. So although the movie isn't going to be an Oscar contendor, it'll probably entertain most people who watch it a great deal more than Hollywood's most prestigious films of 2007.
The story basically works like this: Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker's characters are broght together to take on various bad guys that plan all sorts of nasty things. That's been the plot of all three movies, and as usual the differences from one to the next come down to who the sexy female heroine is (in this case, a young woman with gang connections and a tendency to take off most of her clothes at the club where she works as a showgirl), who the questionable but sexy woman is (a mysterious young lady Jackie Chan is destined to meet at a club) and where the action primarily takes place (France). From there, all the movie needs to do is plug any holes with absurd kikcing and punching and it's halfway done.
Before you even sit down, you might expect to find out about some associate Jackie Chan has that he never told Chris Tucker about (check), a scene where Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker get very angry at one another and part ways (check) and maybe something involving a really long flag/banner and a very long fall (check). See, when I said this was a formulaic movie, I really meant it.
That's surely the problem most people will have with "Rush Hour 3," but I say that's picking at things for the sake of picking at them. If you can get over the notion that we've seen a lot of this stuff before in slightly different context, then you can get ready to have a lot of fun. There's a spectacularly good car chase fairly early in the proceedings, a thrilling fight between Jackie Chan and an assassin... and yes, there's even a sword fight (yikes!). In fact, most of the movie consists of fight scenes. Even when there aren't feet or fists flying, there's lots of noise because that usually means Chris Tucker is at leisure to talk and say something funny.
Chris Tucker can be a funny, funny guy. Fortunately, "Rush Hour 3" lets him do what he does best. I don't usually laugh out loud at movies, but I did a few times in the course of watching this one. The on-screen personality of the two leading stars is such that if you haven't at least snickered within the first few minutes, you might as well turn it off and go watch something else. I hear "No Country For Old Men" is very good, and there have been rave reviews for "Brokeback Mountain."
In the end, "Rush Hour 3" isn't nearly the jumbled mess that I've made of this review and it doesn't prove that Brett Ratner can't direct. In fact, it does quite the opposite. With incredible action scenes that are perfectly captured on film, a bushel full of hilarious one-liners from Chris Tucker, plenty of intense action and the expected scenes that defy the laws of physics, "Rush Hour 3" is nothing more and nothing less than a competent and thoroughly enjoyable entry in a series that apparently doesn't know when to quit. If you watch it with an open mind, there's a good chance you enjoy nearly every minute of it, just as I did. Dare I hope for a "Rush Hour 4"?
Title: Movie Review: Firewall
Posted: January 07, 2008 (01:38 AM)
Harrison Ford may be getting old, but he can still rumble his way through an action movie with the best of them. If you believe that sentence for even a second--and yes, I was being serious--then "Firewall" might be your sort of movie. Then again, it might not. It's really an odd film.
Basically, the idea is that Harrison Ford (er, that is.. Jack Stanfield) has been working in the security department at a series of Washington banks for a long time. Long enough, in fact, that he designed the security system. Now, the bank he works for has become successful enough that a larger bank is wanting to buy it out. Jack (Stanfield, not Ryan) is resistant to that, and on the side he and a friend are meeting with a gentleman who is willing to offer them a different job where they'd punch their own time cards. It sounds interesting, and Jack walks away from the meeting thinking maybe he'll go for it. Then his life falls apart.
The main thrust of the movie is that Jack is suddenly forced to protect his family as a nasty group of bank robbers (but oh, so very polite) try to force him into robbing the bank for them. Jack tries to resist at first--with poor results--and things just go from tense to... more tense... as the movie winds its way through nearly two hours of twists.
Though he has an excellent taste in movies to which he will lend his talents, Harrison Ford isn't a particularly good actor. He can be either intense or he can look like he's about to fall asleep, with not much in between. Fortunately, there are plenty of scenes that call for the former and he's able to deliver with a lot more energy than you'd perhaps expect from an actor his age. Paul Bettany also does a commendable job as the psycho leader of the group of thieves. He seems calm and urbane, but that only masks his more violent nature underneath (cue eerie music).
Of course, this sort of dynamic has been done in a lot of movies before, and it's even a fairly common thing on CBS crime dramas, so what does "Firewall" offer that those programs don't? Well, there's more blood. A bit of profanity, too. And the story, from start to finish, feels more intense and fleshed out. The director also spends his time where it can be most effective, though sometimes he telegraphs plot twists something like a half-hour before they occur. There also were a few places where it felt like little bits could be cut, but never large chunks and overall the movie felt like exactly what it was: the work of skilled professionals going through the motions to deliver a standard story with more than the usual flair.
In the end, "Firewall" isn't the sort of movie I can imagine myself watching ever again, but it was almost two hours of nail-biting cinema. The ending also convinced me that Harrison Ford can still handle the fist fights and heroics required of his Indiana Jones character. That'll undoubtedly be the better film, but if reasonably enjoyable diversions like "Firewall" keep the guy in shape, I'm all for it!