Thursday, October 31, 2013


The FINAL ULTIMATE movie for #10daysofjezoween is the 1990 Science is Probably Evil movie Brain Dead. (NOT Braindead aka Dead Alive.) A movie that stars both Bill Ps. Paxton and Pullman. Which is confusing. Anyway. It's about brain scientists and the troubles that plague them.

It's got a sweet ass synth score that is bomb as hell. So that alone means it's aces in my book. Basically we've got this Brain Science Man, Pullman, that studies brains in jars. He is approached by an old chum, Paxton, who is a Business Guy and needs some help. The help? A super smart Math Guy goes fucking nutso and kills his family and Paxton wants Pullman to try to... uh.. figure out why? I guess? Things eventually go sour, as they do.

The two Bills play well off of each other. Paxton is fucking hamming it up as Evil Business Man and Pullman is a bit of a sad sack Ethical Doctor Forced to Make Hard Choices. It's directed by a man that hasn't done much but written by the late, great Charles Beaumont. A man that was prolific in the horror/sci fi world and wrote many famous Twilight Zone episodes.

It's fairly serviceable. If a bit heavy handed. It does follow "Show, don't Tell" but spends a little too much time showing. It's not subtle foreshadowing if you're basically spray painting it on the wall. It's a little dark and dreary, in execution not tone. There's nothing terrible impressive about the camera work or set design. There are some interesting dream like sequences that were well done.

On one hand, the subject matter is pretty terrifying. I've read a lot about mental illness, brain surgery, lobotomies, etc. The knowledge that I might have to go down that road one day was especially frightening. An elective lobotomy and tumor removal are obviously two entirely different things but pokin around in brains is scary business! It's unsettling.

It raises some interesting questions that are just as relevant today as they were nearly 25 years ago. Man playing god, science vs nature, is it okay to meddle in the affairs of the brain? What needs fixing and who are we to decide? Madness, reality, and the intersection between the two.

I give it 2 out of 5 butts, and one brain, which sort of looks like a butt. Butt!


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Day 9: The Stuff

The penultimate movie for #10daysofjezoween is the 1985 campy horror movie *The Stuff*. Basically someone finds some… stuff. It’s coming out of the ground, it’s white and creamy (lol) and it tastes delicious as all get out. Problem? Well it’s also like an alien species or something? It basically becomes the next best thing since Diet Coke and everyone in the universe starts eating it. Big Ice Cream takes umbrage with this because it drastically hurts their sales so they hire an Industrial Espionage person. Hilarity ensues.

Larry Cohen wrote and directed it. It’s in a weird spot where it’s not quite campy or funny enough to be a horror comedy, but nowhere near frightening enough to be straight up horror. It presents some interesting thoughts and ideas on mindless consumption and how gullible the American people can be but doesn’t do it in any really interesting ways. They Live came a few years after this one, but it is a much more effective and enjoyable film.

It’s not terrible or bad, but it’s not really something I can see myself ever watching again. I can see this being a good introduction to younger kids to the genre at large, as it’s not especially scary and has a younger kid as the lead. The special effects are almost exclusively practical and pretty well done. They aren’t especially gory in a realistic way, but more fun and interesting looking. Overall I give it 2 out of 5 butts.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Day 8: Bay Of Blood

Day 8 of #10daysofjezoween! As enjoyable as this has been, I’m looking forward to the end. Being forced to watch (and later write about) a movie every single day is kind of exhausting. I just want to watch reruns of What Not to Wear! Anyway, our movie for today is *Bay of Blood* a 1971 Mario Bava movie that is as influential as it is disgusting.

Plot? Eh, who cares. A family is trying to kill off anyone that stands in the way of their inheritance in as gruesome and bloody a way as possible. Look, I know that everyone likes to consider Black Christmas (1974) or even Texas Chainsaw Massacre (’74) to be the great grandfathers of the slasher films but as South Park would say “Bava did it!” Well, I would extend that to most of the Italian schlockmasters, Bava, Argento, Fulci, etc. Anything that was done in American Horror Cinema was done by the Italians years or even decades before. This predates the aforementioned Black Christmas and Texas Chainsaw Massacre. It also predates Halloween, Friday the 13th, I Spit on Your Grave, Cannibal Holocaust, and yes, even Last House on the Left. Those that bemoan the recent trend of so called “torture p**n” would do well to remember that the Italians have been produced this for FORTY YEARS. Not that it excuses this, but it’s by no means a recent phenomenon or sign of the times or evidence of social decay, or anything along those lines.

This movie, above any other, I would probably classify as such though I am loathe to use that term. It is intensely violent, gory, and bloody. That being said the gore is well executed, Oscar winner Carlo Rambaldi (Um, ever heard of Alien? Yeah) can be thanked for that (heh), the direction is stylish and striking, and the overall production is relatively top notch. There are some beautifully well done shots and the landscape itself is quite lovely to look at. This is probably the most influential and important movie in the slasher genre. It kicked start the 1980s trend of teen horror films and even still today 45 years later it still manages to inspire and demand homage. Friday the 13th, Part 2 directed cribbed at least two death scenes nearly shot for shot. I Know What You Did Last Summer? Cribbed it.

Another interesting thing to note that while this movie was almost exclusively ABOUT the death scenes (13 in all) in the previous year Bava made 5 Dolls for an August Moon which is a murder mystery film without any actual murders witnessed. An interesting juxtaposition when viewed together. That being said I would recommend this movie to almost no one. It’s hugely influential and important to the genre but it’s also difficult to watch. It’s as brutal as it is beautiful and the score is effective and haunting but it’s also a hard pill to swallow. This is for (heh) die hard fans only. Those with sensitive constitutions should stay away. I give it 4.3 butts out of 5. The point 3 is because someone hacked away most of the butt so you’re just left with a tiny, bloody chunk.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Day 7: I Saw The Devil

Today I will be sharing Kim Jee-Woon’s 2010 film *I Saw the Devil* a South Korean movie that’s probably more in the revenge thriller genre, but here we are regardless. This is a film that has been on my list since it was released. After Jee-Woon’s previous films (A segment in 3 Extremes, A Tale of Two Sisters, and The Good, The Bad, and The Weird) it was already on my radar. Add to that the fact that the entire horror blog community was nearly universally praising it? (A feat which is about as impressive as Comic Book Nerds agreeing on the quality of a movie. If there’s anything genre fans enjoy more than slap fights over whether a movie is “hella cool” or “hella gay” I’d be hard pressed to think of it.)

The fact that it was subtitled AND nearly 2.5 hours long kept getting it pushed off. I knew I would need to devote my entirely attention to it for a long time so I always turned to something else. But I’m glad I finally did. This movie has a lot of things to praise it for. The original score is full of lush, sweeping, orchestral music. The cinematography is perfectly done and the film is as brutal as it is beautiful. The writing, special effects, choreography and direction are all top notch and there’s little to fault here.

It is exceptionally brutal.  The basic premise is a man’s fiancée is murdered and he goes on a quest to find her killer and avenge her death. This is a movie that pulls no punches. There’s plenty of blood, gore, and even nudity but it never feels gratuitous. It never feels exploitative. This is a movie about grief. A man so consumed by it that killing the cause of it wouldn’t even begin to solve it. But how do you lift it? How do you reconcile that level of loss? The rock that’s sitting on your heart isn’t going to disappear just because you put one on someone else. There’s a saying that when embarking on a quest for revenge you should dig two graves. One for Them and one for You. What a lonely place. I think some of us have felt how helpless earth shattering grief is. That level of emotional pain makes you turn outward. To push that energy out into something. Into someone. You can’t always cause that emotional pain but you can certainly accomplish something *physical*. A broken heart for a broken heart.

It is this extreme that drives our Not Quite Hero. He is blinded by his pain. He is consumed with revenge and making the killer feel the same pain that he feels. That his fiancée felt. It is an empty quest because it won’t actually solve his ultimate problem. It won’t give him peace or happiness. It won’t fill the gaping void inside of him. It won’t help him sleep at night or heal his wounds any faster. We feel the same suffering he feels. Between bouts of violence there are scenes dotted with his grief. The loss is palatable and felt in every beat between takes. We never forget what he’s fighting and why. It’s never lost in the impact of a hammer or cut of a scalpel.

We are on this journey for a reason and at the end we feel the same void. That nameless, inevitable void that cannot be filled with blood nor vengeance. Two graves have been dug and we fall screaming into the waiting earth. The guilt, shame, longing, and haunting memories fill in the spaces between the dirt. Revenge is a cold blanket, let us wrap ourselves in it and settle in for the night. I saw the devil and now I can’t look away.

5 out of 5 butts the highest possible honor.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Day 6: Cherry Tree Lane

Anyhow, Today for #10daysofjezoween I will be discussing Cherry Hill Lane. A movie that has been much buzzed about since it's 2010 release but I've been avoiding because it features sociopathic teenagers being annoying ass sociopaths (or so the brief netflix synopsis tells me) and if there's one thing I really hate in life (there are hundreds) it's smug ass teenagers being little smug ass shitheads. It just fills me with so much rage. With all that in mind, was it worth it?

The movie starts with a pretty interesting and mood setting score and we get a nice little "stuff happening on stove while character is out of focus talking" shot that seems like a trope but I can't really think of many examples of it. Maybe it's more of a "mundane domestic activities before the chaos starts" that's a trope. Either way it's effective.* It's a fairly tense lead up because we know something is going to happen but you don't know when so you're watching Boring Domestic Stuff and waiting for the other shoe to drop. 

When it does I immediately hate the chav motherfuckers as you're SUPPOSED TO but I just hate them so much. I hate smug, self righteous, think you're tough ass motherfuckers SO MUCH. Especially when they're teenagers. Ugh. It just gets my goat so much. I much prefer QUIET MENACE or INEXPLICABLY CALM AND THREATENING.

I am amused by a scene characters are watching tv and they switch to Night of the Living Dead is on for about two seconds. 

All these considered it's a very short movie at 77 minutes and much of it is little to no action with just the intruders being douchebags and saying douche ass fucking things. Thinking they are entitled to shit just because they are the Have Nots and these people are the Haves. It's infuriating and it made me just wish they'd die in a gigantic fire. Regards of their reasons or justifications I don't even care. 

Basically, everything that Funny Games was commenting on and chiding us for (railing against violence inflicted on others by wishing violence on those doing the inflicting) is present here and I'm aware of that but I really just don't care and want them to be punished. 

The camerawork is good, the score is well done, and there's very little violence or gore. I wouldn't even really classify this as a horror movie. An interesting thing is that it's basically (if almost exactly) in real time. 

Anyway, I wouldn't say I'd really reccommend this movie to anyone. It's basically horrible people doing horrible things and even if it does have things to say about class and race and SOCIAL ISSUES I don't really care because you can say those things in other, more effective ways. I've heard complaints about the ending but I mostly found it satisfying.

*while typing this up today I heard what SOUNDED LIKE LOUD SCREAMING but was just sportsball excitement. stupid sportsball

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Day 5: Relic

I didn’t have a lot to say about this movie. The monster design was pretty nifty but by and large it was pretty predictable and used way too many violin stings (which I like but it’s a total crutch so… mixed bag. 2 out of 5 butts mostly due to the nifty monster. 

Friday, October 25, 2013

Day 4: Return to Horror High

Day 4 of #10daysofjezoween brings us to Return to Horror High. A 1987 movie that I would see on basically every trip to the local video store. It had a skeleton wearing a cheerleading skirt on the cover, so it was pretty distinctive!

Anyway, basic premise: 5 years prior a series of horrible murders happened at the local high school. Now, in 1987 a film crew returns to make a movie about the subject and the same thing happens to the film crew. 

It starts in the Now with the police investigating the film crew murders, with regular flashbacks to the film crew and their antics. It switches back and forth to the present day investigation and will sometimes switch to the actual Movie being shot (that you are watching as an actual movie.)  So it's an interesting format of Now Police Investigation flash to the In Movie Movie, then In Movie Actor will break character and it will be Making a Movie mode. It's pretty neat because you have actors playing Actors, and then playing Actors Acting. Whew! It's confusing to explain but it works pretty well in movie.

During the Making a Movie parts we get a lot of interesting meta comments from the film crew about making a movie, audience expectations, and artistic integrity. There's some gore, both in the form of deliberate fake prop stuff and then the real actual killings. Some pretty unique kills and the idea of a slasher running around while a slasher is being made was a pretty unique subject matter in the late 80s. Of course, Scream 2 and Scream 3 took that subject and ran with it in its own interesting ways much later. The killer reveal was absolutely insane and hilarious and the actual ending was fresh and different (for the time period; it’d likely be seen as cliché and expected these days.)

This isn't the first "meta" level horror movie, I'm sure, but it's early enough that I'd consider it one of the fore fathers. Due to the format of a movie within a movie it’ manages to do so without seeming pandering, too self-aware, or camera winky. Does that mean it's perfect or amazing? No, not particularly. But it's pretty fun and interesting and short enough to make it worth your time. 

Neat facts: It stars Maureen McCormick (Marcia Brady) and George Clooney! This was his first movie role and very early in his acting career. He would of course go on to a steady gig on Roseanne, ER, and the rest is history.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Day 3 of Jezoween: Sorority House Massacre

Day 3 of #10daysofjezoween featured *Sorority House Massacre*, a 1986 movie produced by Roger Corman which basically should tell you everything you need to know.

Overall it’s a pretty dull affair that is basically Halloween: Sorority Edition. Heavy on kills but light on gore. Middling acting that is neither outright terrible nor anywhere near good. Exposition that is barked out repeatedly and “subtle” foreshadowing and unrelated events happening that directly tie into everything that happens in a way that is literally explaining the entire movie in plot, themes, and structure. But not in a meta or self aware way. In a babbys first film type of way. Indeed, this was the director Carol Franks first and only writing/directing credit.

They did a few things, if not well, at least decently. There were dream sequences and hallucinations that were somewhat creative and creepy. The music was about as cheesy as humanly possible but in a warm, comforting way. Boobs were basically everywhere. There was a five minute “dress up” scene that was basically just an excuse to show three girls boobs over and over and over. The camera work was adequate. The movie was short. I didn’t hate it.

It neither delivers nor offends and for that I give it 2.5 out of 5 butts. It gets an extra butt because there is a scene where a fully nude man runs away and you see his butt and it was very funny because butts. Thank you and goodnight.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Day 2 of Jezoween: Altered

For our next edition of #10daysofjezoween I bring to you a sleepy little 2006 direct to DVD creature feature film directed by Eduardo Sanchez of Blair Witch fame. *Altered.* I’ve been hearing buzz about this movie for years from friends and through horror geek blogs but managed to mostly avoid it. I tried watching it once but according to Netflix only got 5 minutes into it and likely switched to watching reruns of Golden Girls after that. I’m glad I came back.

The premise of the movie is pretty simple. 15 years ago a group of rednecks were abducted by aliens and now they turn the tables in a poorly thought out revenge fantasy. Spartan in both idea and execution it surprisingly serves up some pretty hefty themes that may or may not have been intentional.

What appears to be on the surface a relatively straight forward alien adventure film turns out to have a lot more lurking beneath. A shockingly well done examination and exploration of male sexual assault and the psychological ramifications that echo through the years. Shame, guilt, humiliation, and impotent rage are festering beneath the surface of everyone involved even years after the fact. Driven by revenge their lives are consumed with vengeance. They are incapable of moving on. They are plagued with paranoia, doubt, alcohol problems and criminal records. Their relationships falter and crumble, they cannot maintain jobs or any semblance of stability. They isolate themselves both emotionally and literally.

They were abducted, probed, and by their own admission Altered. (Hey! That’s the title of the movie!) This can’t be a coincidence. You could replace the alien with a human and change only a few bits of dialogue and story and you’d have just a cohesive film. It’s not just revenge or justice, it’s a quest for peace. You can feel the pain and grief radiating from each person and the different ways they deal with it. How do you reconcile something like this? How do you deal? You can’t tell anybody. They either wouldn’t understand or they wouldn’t believe you. Why did they pick *you*, what did you do to get their attention? It festers. Over years. The pain piles up until you’re so full of it that there’s no room for anything else in your life. And so you do the only reasonable thing you can think of, you go after it. A suicide mission that will either end in retribution or your own death.

This may seem like reaching or overanalyzing but having seen my fair share of alien abduction movies, hostage situations, exploitation/revenge films, and kidnap thrillers I can tell you this is all very unique in terms of presentation, dialogue, and story. I suspect that the screenwriter either explicitly intended for this to be an allegory or they have their own personal experience with such things that subconsciously colored their work. Either way, it serves as a fascinating glimpse into the intricate nature of the male mind and what happens when internal strife manifests into external violence when left unchecked.

All this aside it was also just straight up a well done picture. It was pretty low budget but this wasn’t a handicap for the most part. The actors aren’t as well known (or in some cases known at all) but they do a good job with the material. The sets are extremely limited but in a way that feels organic to the story so it doesn’t feel particularly cheap or hastily done. The set designer, if indeed it was a set and not an existing garage/workshop, did an exceptional job. The creature effects were pretty well done and chilling, and the gore was all practical, no CGI.

I would give this 4 very surprisingly thoughtful butts

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The List: Day 1 (The Host)

So, in the spirit of Halloween I’ve decided to do a “10 Movies I haven’t seen yet, yes I know, no I don’t know why I haven’t watched that yet, I just haven’t okay?” list. Every night I will watch a different movie I’ve been meaning to watch but haven’t gotten around to it yet and then write about it the next day.
I went about this very scientifically by scanning my legacy dvds, perusing my torrent site, and browsing the Horror section on Netflix. What I watch each night will depend on A) How much time I have and B) my particular mood.

Anyway, on with the show! Slight spoilers (mostly about the size and visibility of the monster), but nothing major. The first movie up? The 2006 Bong Joon-ho movie The Host! I know, I know, how had I not seen this yet?? Despite the fact that a good 10% of my jezoween movies are foreign I have to be in a very specific mood to watch something with subtitles because I have a gnat like attention span at times. Regardless, I had been meaning to watch this for many years but it kept being pushed off so I could rewatch Tremors for the 300th time or watch another show about Midgets.

Anyway, the film is part monster movie, part political commentary, and part satire. The basic premise is a land/sea monster runs free in South Korea and one family attempts to rescue a member of their clan. It was the highest grossing movie in South Korea at the time and is relatively unique in its vision. Not only do you see the entirety of the monster almost immediately (and often) but it’s also comparatively small; about the size of a large bus.

It’s also very slightly based on a true story. The opening scene (and the ultimate cause of the monster) is actually pretty closely based on actual events. However, no sea monsters have yet to be unleashed. (Or have they??? WHAT ARE YOU HIDING NORTH KOREA???) It features a lot of commentary (and criticism) of both American military and culture. Due to this it is actually praised by North Korean authorities, a very rare feat for a blockbuster film.Not to be seen as throwing too much shade on the US, we also see the South Korean military as ineffective, apathetic, and mostly useless.

In large parts, the film works. There are some moments that are darkly funny when they should be serious, and some moments that are darkly serious when they should be funny. The main flaw is that perhaps everything is played a little too straight and not self aware. A notch to the left and you’d have a very tight, suspenseful, dark monster flick that subverts tropes and hits you when you least expect it. A notch to the right and you’d have a blackly hilarious satire of a stereotypical monster movie that both addresses the tropes that the genre was built on while at the same time avoiding the very clichés it brings to light.
As it stands it’s somewhere between the two, which weakens it a fair bit. It seemed as if the director couldn’t pick the tone and decided to play with both sides of the fence. 

That being said it still largely succeeds. If you don’t mind strapping in a bit and putting on your safety helmet (the tonal shifts might give you whiplash otherwise) I can highly recommend this. I give this 3.5 out of 5 butts, but they are really cute butts.

Friday, October 18, 2013

The two books for month #2

I read two books for month #2, in addition to my bookclub book (We’re reading The Handmaid’s Tale in case you were wondering.) Here are my thoughts on them!

Book #1 The Kid by Dan Savage I saw this in my interlibrary ebook loan system so I checked it out (ha!) on a whim. It was written in the late 90s so it’s pretty outdated, but it mostly serves as a platform to provide some light autobiographical details about Dan in addition to chronicling the adoption process of two gay dads in the Pacific Northwest. It provided some interesting anecdotes and that is a process I knew very little about.

Of course, now it’s pretty likely that some of the rules and regulations described have changed but it was still interesting reading. Dan had his typical dry wit and it was a pleasurable and sometimes humorous read. I find it particularly interesting that I was reading it while I was learning about Rutherford B. Hayes and it featured a chapter called, I think, Rutherford B. Finger. Apparently Dan’s proctologist is the great whateverson of our 19th President! How funny. I thought that was an interesting coinkydink.

Book #2 Dr. Sleep by Stephen King I have two schools of thought on this book. On the one hand, I really enjoyed reading more about Danny Torrance and what he grew into as an adult. I thought making him a (recover(ed)ing alcoholic was a believable, if somewhat predictable, path to take. I loved most of the parts with him, his new life, etc etc. What I didn’t like? Well, the basic premise of the book itself. The supernatural justification for writing it to begin with. The True Knot? Felt shoehorned in, haphazard, and never once like any sort of legitimate threat. Like most of King’s books this absolutely fizzled in the last 15% or so and went out with not even quite a whisper so much as a cough.

I love King. I really, really do. But his strengths lie in his *characters*. I would have loved a 400 pages book that dealt with Danny and his life post The Shining. Just a guy, fighting his (not literal) demons and going through recovery and starting over. That’s the book I want to read. King is GREAT at thinking up grand and terrifying ideas but often the execution and especially the ending fall flat. Maybe this is why the Dark Tower are some of my favorite books of his, they have so much world building and character development that in the grand scheme of things to actual supernatural/hinky stuff take a far back seat.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Sometimes new is good.

After a long absence (a week, oops!) I return with actual updates. As you can see from my previous post another month as past and with it there are new things to report. Thingero today! Also known as thingero #15 on the list. Do at least one new thing a month. I got that covered and then some! Here are the various new things I did/tried roughly in the order they were done did.

Jasmine’s – This is your basic, run of the mill, Chinese place. I didn’t actually go into the physical location, it was delivered. I had sesame chicken and an egg roll. The chicken was pretty standard, no complaints (or brags) there. The eggroll was mediocre, it was pretty empty inside. Not a lot of substance there! They do deliver to me (and constantly leave menus on my door) so if I desire Chinese food in the future I’d probably go with them.

Norma’s Café – After a late night nothing beats diner breakfast at Noon! I’ve been meaning to try this place for a long time and was pretty pleased. I had a very cheesy omelet and managed to eat the entire thing. I think there was a side (probably potatoes?) but everything was delicious, the price was right, and the interior was fun and retro. IIRC the seats were Texas themed, which is always nice!
Texadelphia – This is in front of my office building but in 1.5 years have never been. I tend to prefer a lighter fare for lunch but it was pretty good. I had a standard philly cheesesteak with a side of fries, probably? Wait, no. Chips and queso. Both good. I probably won’t eat there *often* but I would be fine with going back.

I went to the State Fair and Oktoberfest which in and of themselves aren’t new, I go to the fair every year, but I did do some new *things* and ate some new food. Also at the fair I visited the Big Tex flashback type exhibit, which featured a lot of relics from Big Tex throughout the years. We also got to see the brand new actual Big Tex. He burned up in a massive fire last year and so this year he’s all new. Neat stuff!

French Camp Build Day

I am not a burner, by any means. I hate camping with a fiery passion. Or rather I don’t want to do it with a fiery passion. BUT. I do know a lot of people involved in the community. Somehow a friend of mine lured me (aka, invited and I accepted) to a build day. I spent about 4-5 hours painting, moving around heavy pieces of wood, standing around, eating donuts, moving around wood, standing around, painting, standing around… You get the idea. It was actually pretty fun and I enjoy a little (light) manual labor. So, I think that’s probably it? Good times!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Second Month Update. Haven't given up yet!

This is the second update in the grand 30 by 30 list. This was a busy month! Both personally and list wise.
(2) Healthy Eating – better at this, but still not perfect! I am eating a lot more fruits and veggies and cooking actual meals at home! (Did I have chips and queso last night for dinner? MAYBE I DID)
(3) Save money – I am doing very well at this! I must say. I’m still *spending* money though, so I should work on that next? Spending less? I managed to reduce to price of my cable bill though, so there’s that.
(6) Watch every movie on the AFI Top 100 list. – Two more movies down! Double Indemnity and Do The Right Thing. I posted reviews on the blog. I need to start watching more than just two a month.
(7) Finish my duolingo French lessons - I started this up again, though progress is slow! It also (apparently) takes away points as you stop using it so I am backtracking quite a bit! Which is good because I forgot a lot of things, again.
(8) Watch The X-Files. – Finished Season 1! I had to slow down a fair amount due to the fall tv season starting up again, but I was able to catch up over the weekend. I’ll be taking another break to watch Season 2 of Supernatural (I’m alternating) but hopefully I’ll at least get started on S2. (9) Cook one semi elaborate meal a week – I’ve been cooking a LOT more. Nothing really elaborate, but I’ve been creating meals more and I’m going to count that as a win.
(11) Start doing writing exercises. – I’ve been writing on the blog pretty regularly. I missed last week but other than that have been fairly consistent!
(13) Volunteer – This isn’t a monthly goal but I did donate blood this month, help out some dirty hippies with building things/painting things, and have been doing a lot of research into volunteer organizations.
(15) Do one new thing a month – This I covered in spades (what does that mean??? I should look it up.) Tried three new restaurants (Jasmine’s, Texadelphia, and Norma’s Café), went to an Amanda Palmer concert, and participated in a build day for French Camp. More on the blog later!
(18) Talk to my family more – talked to my brother!
(20) Learn a lot about one thing (Presidents!) - This month was Milliard Fillmore. I’ll be putting something up here at the end of the week, likely!
(21) Read more – My goal was 2 books a month and I have been successful so far! (That’s in addition to whatever we’re reading for book club, so it’s really 3/month.) This month I read The Kid by Dan Savage and Dr. Sleep by Stephen King. I’ll be putting up a post on the blog about these both later!
(22) Book club – still going strong! Figured out my groove and am enjoying it so far
(26) Send letters of thanks – I wrote a letter to my dad, but I need to mail it. Oops!

Overall I think I’m doing pretty well. I did lose a little bit of focus, but honestly not nearly as much as I expected. I’m doing pretty well at keeping my monthly goals up, but I need to start focusing on the more nebulous ones as well. That’s something to improve on for my next update! I’m finding this to be a pretty positive experience so far. It’s making me make more decisions consciously, with purpose. I don’t also think “is this something that fulfils a list item?” and it’s not something that I obsess over in my day to day, but I do think about it. If I’m bored at home and about to turn on Netflix I consider (though sometimes reject!) whether I want to watch Random B Movie #458985 or an AFI movie. When hungry and picking out a place to eat I consider whether I want to eat somewhere I’ve been a thousand times or go somewhere new. I’m thinking a lot more before doing.

Next month I would like to do a couple of things in addition to the regular monthly stuff I’ve been doing: Get back to the where I was before in Duolingo. I lost a lot of ground and I’d like to get back to my previous level. Doing at least one lesson a few times a week should get me there. Jump into researching Amsterdam trip. I need to at least lock in the month (likely April) and figure out a rough plan of action. Is there going to be travel to additional cities or countries? Is there a general area that’s preferable? Are there any specific touristy things I want to try to visit? What do I want my overall budget to be? (I’m hoping for $2,000, so I can put it all on my discover and have it paid off by trip time, minus food and incidentals, of course! No clue if that’s realistic, but hey, research!) I’ll probably throw out a post at some point soliciting ideas, so if you have any save it for later!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Moving Pictures AFI probably disapproves of

I know, I know. I need to be watching more AFI movies. But here are the non AFI movies I’ve been watching, in order of watchitude. I feel like I’m missing some? Maybe I haven’t seen as many movies this month as I thought? Additionally, I’m including two items that probably should have been on the previous one. Whatever!

The Fartist Notice the F in front there. This is another standup special, this time from Brian Posehn. I don’t have a lot to say about this. It was entertaining? If the title of the show made you laugh, you’d probably enjoy this, basically.

My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend This isn’t a movie, it’s actually a standup special from Mike Birbiglia. Calling is a stand up special isn’t entirely accurate though because while it’s *funny* it’s not the traditional setup punchline joke repeat repeat. It’s more of a storytelling/performance piece. Regardless of all that, it is definitely worth watching. It’s funny, touching, at times sad and highly relatable. I really enjoy Birbigs, schtick? I guess? His style. He’s a funny guy and charming and, yes, disarming. I loved Sleepwalk With Me and will continue to watch his stuff.

World War Z I understand why this received the criticisms that it did. It shares nothing in common with the source material save the central premise. But, I knew that going in and so I was going to judge it entirely as separate from that. The book would make for an incredible HBO style series. I forget how many chapters there are but they could probably even do one or two 12 episodes seasons with each chapter being an episode… Anyway. SO. How does the movie stand up as a movie, not an adaptation? Not terrible. But, you know, not exceptionally great either. The first problem is length. At 2 hours not only is it far too long but it FEELS like longer than that. I honestly thought it was 2.5 hours. Regardless, they easily could have trimmed it to 90 minutes without losing a whole lot.

Another problem? It’s too amped up. There’s a constant sense of either action or direct danger. There’s very little downtime. There is almost no levity. Never a break, never a moment of calm. I get that. I do. I understand the WHY but it just doesn’t work for me. I like my “Scary” movies to have moments of (intentional) levity or farce. A small chuckle or big laugh between being chased by (whatever.) It doesn’t have to be a laugh riot comedy (or zomedy) like Shaun of the Dead, either. Dawn of the Dead 2004 did a great job of balancing things. Night of the Living Dead (original) didn’t really have any chuckles but it had plenty of calm quiet time. You need a chance to breathe and WWZ didn’t really offer this. It wasn’t scary, it was just TENSE.

JASON TAKES MANHATTAN Despite the title the majority of this film takes place on a boat and that’s where the majority of the action/entertainment lies. Once they hit dry land the movie, I’m sorry but I have to do this, loses a lot of steam. It’s not the best Jason movie, but it’s also not really the worst. I went to see it at the Alamo Drafthouse on Friday, the 13th at 9:13 and it was pretty entertaining with a fully packed crowd. I would probably never see it otherwise or likely watch it again. A couple of important notes:

First of all it has Jason literally punching someones head off. Which is a sight to behead. Sorry, beHOLD. (I’m out of control! Cant stop me now!) Secondly, it actually manages to pass the bechdel test. For those of you that don’t know what that is it’s pretty simple. Does the film have at least two female (named) characters? That talk to each other? About something other than a man? The answer here is yes. It would shock you (or maybe not, if you’re reading this you’re a bright cookie) how often this ISNT the case.

But here, a horror movie where a guy LITERALLY GETS HIS HEAD PUNCHED OFF, it manages. Think about that you writers, directors, producers, even actors. Because I know so many of you are currently reading this. Thank you and good night!

INSIDIOUS 2 I really enjoyed the first installment of this, and the 2nd one, while not quite as good, was still pretty decent. It kicks off basically immediately after the first one and plays out more as a drama with ghosty bits. It lacks the veering into silly third act that the first one suffered from, and didn’t have nearly as many jump scares. It wasn’t a perfect film by any means. There is a nearly completely superfluous third child that did not need to exist, but due to a somewhat minor part of the first movie is required to be here, otherwise he would be weirdly absent. Or maybe not. I honestly forgot he even existed, but whatever. Overall: Not bad, though I am unlikely to choose to see it again.

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