Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

h1

Top Films of the Decade: pt. 5 (10-1)

December 30, 2009

10. CASINO ROYALE (2006) – Reinvigorating the Bond franchise by way of Jason Bourne is possibly the smartest route the producers have taken. Bond here is all brute force, but slowly softens in the presence of Eva Green’s Vesper Lynd, who is sexy, smart and more than capable of handling Mr. Bond. After preventing the destruction of a new airplane, James goes ante a ante with Le Chiffre at a high-stakes poker game to prevent Le Chiffre from winning the money to fuel terrorism. From the exhilarating parkour chase at the top of the film to the fight inside a crumbling, sinking Venetian building, this film gets you jazzed that Bond is back.

9. THERE WILL BE BLOOD (2007) – An eerie score by Radiohead’s Johnny Greenwood permeates PT Anderson’s intense gaze into the soul of a man who consumes and is consumed by his quest for oil. Like the fossil fuel, the man, played to sheer perfection by Daniel Day Lewis, has a seething force bubbling beneath his surface, and when it explodes, nothing and no one is spared. And by the end the title’s promise is a foregone conclusion. “I. DRINK. YOUR. MILKSHAKE… I DRINK IT UP!”

8. RATATOUILLE (2007) – Whereas the previous film broods and glowers, Pixar’s film about a rat, Remy, who dreams of becoming a chef in Paris explodes with delight. Once again, Brad Bird presents his theme that daring to be extraordinary should be celebrated. Practically note perfect, this funny and moving film serves as an inspiration. Anton Ego’s reaction to tasting the dish crafted specially for his review is one of the many reasons that made this an easy choice to include in my Top 10.

7. SHAUN OF THE DEAD (2004) – Edgar Wright’s love-letter to George Romero’s zombie films manages the nearly impossible feat of making a movie that has equal helpings of wit, savvy and gore without becoming a one-note spoof like “Scary Movie”. As the zombie-pocalypse erupts, Shaun, accompanied by his shiftless buddy Ed, attempts to salvage his relationship with his girlfriend Liz. What helps is that this relationship is the heart of the movie— the zombiegeddon is just the backdrop. Brilliant and canny, this film bears repeated screenings.

6. NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN (2007) – The Coen Brothers’ finely crafted adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s novel explores Evil and its implacable, non-negotiable inability to reason as embodied by Javier Bardem’s Anton Chigurh. Though his unrelenting pursuit would not be half as interesting without the characters who stand in opposition. Josh Brolin really shines as the taciturn Llewelyn, and when his immovable object meets Chigurh’s unstoppable force, the shit hits the fan. Inbetween these two polar opposites sits Tommy Lee Jones aged sheriff on the cusp of retirement who cannot fathom the level of violence and death left in Chigurh’s wake. Woody Harrelson (also providing a stand-out performance) and Kelly MacDonald round out the stellar cast.

5. OLDBOY (2003) – Like a character in a Kafka novel, Oh Dae Su, finds himself imprisoned for 15 years for what at first appears to be no reason. Upon being released, he begins his journey of revenge, leaving bodies in his wake — armed at one point only with a hammer — seeking the one person who stole his life away. To speak more of the plot would give too much away, suffice to say Park Chan Wook gives us a twisted, darkly humorous film filled with surprises and style. As mentioned previously, the hallway fight between Oh Dae Su and about 40 thugs in one long single take is breathtaking.

4. THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS (2001) – After seeing this I may have foolishly declared, “There’s no need to make any more films” but I was mostly serious about that declaration. Wes Anderson, fresh off of Rushmore, gives us a fable out of time about the gifted Tenenbaum family — the kids’ brilliant promising futures and their fading glory as adults, and the negligent father (the irascible Gene Hackman) who wishes to make amends and bring the family back together before he kicks the bucket. Fresh, stylish and mannered with an intense scrutiny where production design is concerned, this film is dazzling to behold; every nook and cranny of the frame is bursting with detail. The performances are also a major part of this film’s charm — Gwyneth Paltrow particularly shines as the dour adopted Margot. Having not yet seen The Fantastic Mr. Fox, this is, to me, Wes Anderson’s best film.

3. THE DARK KNIGHT (2008) – Christopher Nolan revisits Gotham and creates a stunning near-perfect film that just happens to have a super-hero in it. The movie belongs mainly to Heath Ledger’s committed and stunning performance as the Joker, playing his sociopathy with nuance, wit and sharpness. Both Nolan and Ledger hold us tightly in their grip with their craft. Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard also contribute to one of the most memorable and haunting scores in recent memory. “How about a magic trick? I’m going to make this pencil disappear…”

2. ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND (2004) – The second pairing between enfant terrible Michel Gondry and Charlie Kaufman results in the perfect chemical combination. Jim Carrey wants to have the painful memories of his ex-girlfriend (Kate Winslet) erased but once the procedure starts, discovers that some of those memories were actually quite good. What follows is a dizzying frenetic chase that explores the past, one’s memories of fleeting moments, how they inform the present and, most importantly, the question of fate: is a relationship the sum aggregate of shared moments or is it the result of cosmic fate? Gondry’s best film and Kaufman’s finest script. My favorite scene is when the beach-house of a treasured moment starts to collapse into the sand as the tide rises.

1. IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE (2001) – Wong Kar Wai’s masterpiece. This movie transcends cinema and becomes sublime. A married man, Tony Leung, lives across the hall from Maggie Cheung and in spite of their respective spouses’ infidelity, they struggle to keep from submitting to the same passion despite their growing attraction to each other. The movie is all feints and retreats as the two luminous leads get closer. Never have constricting, neck-high dresses been sexier. The ending at Angkor Wat is devastating and heartbreaking. Truly a classic beyond this decade. Flawless.

– – – – – – – – – –

And there you have it. My Top 50 films. If you’ve read this far, thanks for your patience and I hope you were entertained.

Here’s looking forward to a new decade of excellent films!

h1

G.I. JOE — Cobra Commander w/MASS Element Carded Variant

November 16, 2008

I only just noticed this because it is only a packaging variation of a figure that isn’t terribly exciting to begin with. However, for completion’s sake, I offer the following pics:

Wave 8 release

Wave 8 release

1) COBRA COMMANDER w/MASS Element — Wave 8

This is the carded figure that was released initially with Wave 8. This wave was the first one to officially mark the end of the 25th Anniversary logo in the upper right corner. In its place one would find one of three different logos that would place the character’s source: 1) A faction logo such as Python Patrol or Tiger Force, 2) A “From the G.I. Joe Comic Series” logo, or 3) A “From the G.I. Joe Cartoon Series” logo. Here you will see a logo for the TV series. Also, the foil treatment of the G.I. Joe logo and card border was ended and a plain white color was substituted.

Wave 12 release

Wave 12 release

2) COBRA COMMANDER w/MASS Element — Wave 12

Much to my chagrin, this figure was re-released for the Wave 12 case assortment; while its inclusion makes sense as you get three characters with all the MASS element cannisters needed for the MASS Device, I had wished that another character had been mixed into the assortment. Anyway, completists and collector’s may find the package variation enough of a reason to seek this figure.

l. Wave 12 release, r. Wave 8 release

l. Wave 12 release, r. Wave 8 release

  • Emblem changed from Cartoon Series call-out to Comic Series call-out
  • “A Real American Hero” tagline removed
  • Artwork angle rotated clockwise slightly and enlarged
  • In the character art, Cobra sigil enlarged and placed on center of chest
  • Background explosion not as high contrasting, more diffuse
  • “Cobra Enemy!” shield moved over the stripes in the G.I. Joe logo
  • Type size of “Cobra Leader” reduced
  • Background behind the packaged figure changed from white to yellow

 

l. Wave 12 release, r. Wave 8 release

l. Wave 12 release, r. Wave 8 release

  • “Cobra Enemy!” shield removed from upper-left corner
  • File card artwork and copy reverted to that found on the Cobra Commander 5-pack version; black color-field instead of yellow
h1

Big Easy Easier Than I Thought

April 17, 2008

I don’t know what’s wrong with me but most times I make plans in advance, as the deadline creeps closer, I start getting second thoughts about those plans; I entertain notions of making excuses or secretly hoping that the plans have changed and the responsibility of making a decision negatively impacting such plans has been taken from me.

For example, I was invited to attend some friends’ wedding in New Orleans this past weekend; now there were a couple of things about this event outside of my feelings for Dom & Izzy (both of whom I love dearly) that made me nervous.

• Unfamiliar Setting — a destination wedding and I’ve never been to The Big Easy before.

• Do I Know Anybody? — I only knew the bride and groom going into this event. No way in hell could I expect “Face-Time!” when they’re surrounded by family and other friends.

For me these are big signifiers of anxiety.

And yet this past weekend I had an amazing time. I mean Amazing. I think it was those very things that I thought would be a source of anxiety that actually served as a source of energy for me.

As soon as I hopped off the plane, Dom & Izzy showed up with her sister, Ellie and her man, Adrian, and they rushed me straight to the French Quarter where the French Quarter Festival was in full swing. And before I knew it, I was in the heart of New Orleans and meeting Dom’s siblings, their significant others and some of Izzy’s friends. In one fell swoop, without their even knowing it, my friends managed to erase my fears of being in a new environment and my nervousness of meeting new people. I really enjoyed meeting these people — there was no weird awkward context; I feel that if I were to meet them at the ceremony, the vibe could have been totally different.

The wedding itself was brilliant as well; I had so much fun — one of the best I’ve attended — from the music choice (Izzy walked down the aisle to “I’ve Got You, Babe” and they walked off husband and wife to “Rock the Casbah”), to the venue (a quail farm in Covington), to the all around good vibes that meeting Dom’s family (who really are Minnesota Nice!) and Izzy’s friends and family provided.

My favorite moments: Izzy introducing me to the Hand Grenade, putting hands on Dom’s Optimus Prime, trading quotes from There Will Be Blood with Lynn, saving Dom’s life with confectioner’s sugar and ice tea, crazy dancing with Ellie, watching Adrian’s smoov dance moves, Debris Po’ Boy at Mother’s, seeing Chris Owens from 1,000 yards out (thank god!)

I am very glad both Dom and Izzy got married, and I love being reminded that special people exist in my life.

Game Over, Dom!

h1

Hello World?

April 10, 2008

So this is my first post. Monumental. I am not a blogger so I can’t guarantee frequent updates. Really this is all a cover because my workplace is interested in starting up a blog.

Now how the heck do I change those awful flowers in my widgets column?