Thursday, January 24, 2008

Cloverfield Review

I really wanted to see this, but was also hesitant, because I thought it would be another "Blair Witch Project", a movie I hated.

What a pleasant surprise to see that it actually had a story. It has been told many, many times before, namely in multiple "Godzilla" films, but the "live coverage" look made it seem fresh and new.

A problem I have with the shaky camera bit in 2008, however, is that there are more and more stabilizers in cameras these days, that the shakiness is almost moot, yet camera operators keep doing it. A telling scene is one where the crowds are surrounding the head of the Statue of Liberty (mercilessly out of scale I might add), and they are using their cell phones to capture the action and the images in their phones are quite stable and everyone's trying to get a good shot.

Finally, at 85 minutes, it's just a tad too long to make this feature film worthy. It would have made for a marvelous half-hour episode of the original "Twilight Zone".

Overall, it is worth seeing just to see a very noble experiment, but be prepared to get a little queasy with all of the camera movement.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

"Liverpool 8" is Great!

Ok, people probably think that since I am a Beatles fan that I like anything and everything The Beatles put out. Not so. I am, however, very impressed with Ringo Starr's output for the last decade. Every album, save for "Choose Love" from 2005 has been remarkably good. It's too bad most other Beatle fans don't think so.

"Liverpool 8" follows in the traditions of 1998's "Vertical Man", 1999's "I Wanna Be Santa Claus", 2003's "Ringo Rama", and 2005's "Choose Love". "Choose Love" was a major disappointment compared to the others on this list, but still leaps and bounds ahead of Ringo's late 70s and early 80s output. In fact, if you compare the last decade to Paul's solo output, Ringo's has been far, far superior (although Paul finally emerged with a good album last year with "Memory Almost Full").

For those wanting to explore Ringo beyond "Yellow Submarine" and his early solo hits, I'd recommend the above five studio albums. They are all hard-rocking and are fun, "good time" albums that all feature catchy hooks and melodies.

I have listened to "Liverpool 8" three times already since purchasing it yesterday, and know that I will be listening to it a lot more.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Persepolis Review

I recently saw an advance screening in San Francisco of "Persepolis", an
animated feature film based on the graphic novels by Marjane Satrapi. The
screening was through the SF branch of ASIFA, courtesy of Karl Cohen. I invited
Lee Hester of Lee's Comics to join me to see this and he enjoyed the screening as well.

The screening had its share of a few comic book notables in the audience, namely
Trina Robbins ("Go Girl" and "From Girls to Grrrlz") and her partner Steve
Leialoha ("Spider-Woman" and "Batman" among others). Lee shared some of his
popcorn with them.

As for the movie, I didn't know what to expect. I actually expected a
disturbing, depressing tale and even though I have eyeballed the graphic novels
(on sale at Lee's Comics!), I never have actually read them for that very
reason. I shouldn't have had such a jaundiced view.

What a refreshing surprise to find that it wasn't really about any particular
political events, although the overthrow of the Shah and the Iran-Iraq War was
mentioned and even shown briefly, it wasn't the main focus of the story.

The real story was about Satrapi herself and her story is so universal, it
really could be told anywhere by anyone. I could even write a story about my
struggles of trying to be a writer and trying to maintain a job and
relationships that would be vaguely similar to Satrapi's.

There were some truly funny moments including Satrapi's pursuit of pirated audio
music cassettes and also her escapades with her various loser boyfriends.

That said, the film is not bereft of some tragedy, but like I said, it isn't the
sole focus. Satrapi has had a well-rounded share of life experiences.

The film is in French with English subtitles, but don't let that keep you away.
It's a very entertaining feature film. I suppose it didn't have to be animated,
but I am glad that it was and it is somewhat similar in art style to Charles

Incidentally, Persepolis is the name of an ancient Persian ceremonial capital.
Of course, the present day capital of Iran is Tehran.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

No Country For Old Men Review

I love the Coen Brothers. I have loved every movie they have done except "The Ladykillers", which I do not know why they did. It's like remaking "Gone With the Wind" or something.

Anyway, I'm happy to report that "No Country for Old Men" has taken the Coen Brothers back to "Blood Simple" and "Miller's Crossing" territory with excessive gore and a great story.

Javier Bardem is a totally ruthless killer and Tommy Lee Jones personifies the real cop, meaning that Bardem gets away with it, and Jones can't find any clues. This is what makes the film disturbing for people. They hope that "CSI" would come to the rescue.

If you are not a Coen Brothers fan, or if you aren't familiar with their work, I'd suggest starting with "Fargo" and "The Big Lebowski", arguably their two best films. Follow this up with the aforementioned "Blood Simple" and "Miller's Crossing" and then try this, and you will be deeply impressed.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Simpsons Movie Review

I haven't written a blog in awhile just because I have been exceedingly busy with the holidays and such. Anyway, I finally saw the "Simpsons Movie" last night on DVD and have to say that I half like it. I have given up on "The Simpsons" as of last season as the writing has really gone downhill. I didn't even want to see the movie because of this. I later found out that the movie was written by some of the older writers. This made me more excited to see it.

What's interesting is there is a joke about 2/3's of the way through the picture where it says, "To Be Continued" at the top of the screen. What's amazing is that the last half hour of the movie really sucked!!

I believe the first hour of the movie was written by the earlier writers, while the last half hour was written by the current team. It's just that noticeable! See for yourself if you don't believe me. I was laughing for the first hour and then then laughs completely dropped off especially when they were trying to be funny.

Even the first hour had moments of lousy humor...Spider-Pig, give me a break!!

Ultimately, what could have been the best Simpsons story just felt like a standard half hour show padded out to 90 minutes. Very disappointing.