Saturday, October 31, 2009

One-Line Movie Reviews VI

Today is Halloween and I can think of nothing better to rant and muse about than movies. So, yes, I'm torturing you with another entry of the deceptively named "One-Line Movie Reviews." I still have great designs for this recurring "article," but I'm as of yet too lazy to implement any (that, and I'm technically still homeless).

Appaloosa (2008) - Ed Harris directs this fantastic Western starring himself and Viggo Mortensen. This one flew under the radar last year, and unfortunately so. I already used the adjective "fantastic," but I shall use it again: fantastic. With Renee Zellweger as a confused and confusing love interest and Jeremy Irons as the villain, this one should not be skipped. Verdict: SEE it.

Friday the 13th (2009) - Ah, yet another beloved horror franchise joins the Hollywood "reboot wave." We already had to suffer through what Rob Zombie did to Michael Myers, but you know what? Jason Voorhees came out relatively unscathed. In fact, I rather liked it. Yes, it's cliche. Yes, there's nothing new here. But, it was done well and (surprisingly) acted well. Verdict: SEE it.

Gran Torino (2008) - I must say this now: Clint Eastwood is the best living American film director. I will repeat that: Clint Eastwood is the best living American film director. In all seriousness, Gran Torino knocked it out of the park, and is one of his best. Even more notable was Eastwood's acting. I, for one, am very glad that he rescinded on his statement to stick to being "behind the camera." Verdict: SEE it.

Marley & Me (2008) - I love dogs. I love movies about dogs. This movie is no exception. Based on the best-selling memoir, this movie is funny, sad, and everything else in between. The ending is predictable, but it still hits you hard. Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston are solid and believable, and the dogs they used to portray Marley through his life were awesome. Verdict: SEE it.

My Bloody Valentine (2009) - Man, oh, man. Slasher films typically suck. This one is no exception. But the reason this one sucks is a bit out of the ordinary. With what could be the best slasher script in many, many years, a bunch of B-list (or worse) actors decided to phone in their performances, collect a paycheck, and walk off set guilt-free. Really, this could have been very, very good. Verdict: SKIP it (unless a horror fan).

Ned Kelly (2003) - A film I had seen years ago, I watched it again with a buddy after recommending it to him. One of Heath Ledger's finer roles, this is an Australian Western based on the true story of Ned Kelly, an outlaw in Australia's version of the Wild West. The ending is, at first, unbelievable. But, as they say, truth is stranger than fiction, and I was quite surprised to find out that it really happened. Excellent film; highly underrated. Also starring Geoffrey Rush and Orlando Bloom. Verdict: SEE it.

Orphan (2009) - At face value, this is just another one of those creepy-kid thrillers that usually bore intelligent audiences to tears. Orphan, however, offers a nice twist (one that actually works and doesn't feel completely contrived) that propels the film ahead of its brethren. I couldn't help it... I liked it. Verdict: SEE it.

Punisher: War Zone (2008) - Fans of Ghost Rider, rest easy. This entry into the Punisher franchise has usurped any possibility of anyone ever calling Ghost Rider the worst comic book adaptation ever again. I couldn't even finish this dreck. It opens stupidly and just gets worse from there. Much worse. I wouldn't recommend this one to my worst enemy. I have a strong theory of why this movie was sooooo bad, but it'll seem sexist, so I'll refrain from stating it (email me if you want to know). Verdict: SKIP it. SKIP it. SKIP it.

Terminator Salvation (2009) - Let me get this out of the way: McG is a shitty director. He's barely better than Paul W.S. Anderson and Uwe Boll. That stated, the production design and the acting (along with the franchise's history) carry this film and it's not that bad. No, nothing made much sense, but it was a nice action film with some hints of James Cameron's vision left intact. Still, I hope someone comes to their senses and replaces McG. Verdict: SEE it (particulary if you're a Terminator and/or a Cameron fan).

X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009) - A sloppy movie, and one that's not much better than the dreadful X-Men: The Last Stand. Like Spider-Man 3, this film suffered from "unwise fan input" (pointless appearance of Gambit, anyone?) and no amount of fanboy arguing can explain the amount of stupidity in the script. All that aside, the relationship between Wolverine (Hugh Jackman, as always) and Sabretooth (now Liev Schreiber) was outstanding. Had we had a movie based solely on their interaction, we'd have had an amazing movie. Verdict: Meh. SEE it for Wolverine/Sabretooth... mute the rest.

Friday, October 30, 2009

A Sunset Backwards

Time's subjectivity makes me laugh. Sleep never lasts long enough and the workday is always too long. Someone once told me that I'm lost in my dreams, but how can a person get lost in something that goes away to an electronic beep at six in the morning? Being found shouldn't happen in a bedroom. Not unless what's lost is a wallet or a set of keys. Then again, who cares about a wallet when there's no money? Screw the credit cards. It'd be a blessing in disguise to lose those bastards… read more @ Panoramic Mindscapes


Thursday, October 29, 2009

Under a Hallowed Moon

She laughs a malevolent laugh as she stares at the full moon. The knife in her hand, not yet sullied by the life it was to take, gleams in the darkness, a deadly mirror reflecting the mirror in the sky. She barely notices how cold it is, though her breath is visible, gently reminding her that she left her coat in the car. There is a playful sense of fear guiding her through the field, away from the voice behind her that screams her name. Just how dangerous the moment is, she has no idea, but her feet continue their course, subconsciously… read more @ Panoramic Mindscapes


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A Thousand Words

A picture is worth a thousand words, they say. They say a lot of things that are bullshit. What does a picture of bullshit say? Not much; it's just an image. Maybe it connotes what it smells like, but what does it do for someone who's never seen a cow? Nothing. It's just a brown blob melting its way into grass. It's possible that it's still worth a thousand words, but those words would be worthless. A picture is worth a thousand words? Bullshit, I say.

A thousand words are worth a thousand words. Nothing more, nothing less. As the word count of these random thoughts approaches four figures, can you think of a picture that could accurately represent them? I doubt it. If anything, you're still thinking of the image of bullshit lying in a field. Which, though the connotation is there, is little more than metaphor in this instance, and has nothing to do with the ultimate meaning behind these random thoughts.

Do authors communicate more clearly than photographers? Of course. Imagine a fax that reads:

-The United States elects its first black President.

Think about it. Eight words. And they say something.

Now imagine a fax that's simply a picture of Barack Obama.

What does it say? It's a picture of a black man in a suit and tie. What good are these thousand words? You'd be as ignorant as you were yesterday... because you just interpreted a thousand useless adjectives. Why do you think the writings of Herodotus are more valuable to archaeologists and anthropologists than the carvings on a vase?

Because they actually say something.

A picture may be a thousand words. Or more. But it probably isn't worth it.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Before & After

- Before

It was little more than a dream. Well, she was. A hello in passing on the way to somewhere else. There was no intent behind the greeting, only a friendly gesture that should've been lost in time. But that was how he found her. A hello in passing turned into a beautiful smile, a beautiful smile turned into a soft and warm embrace, and a soft and warm embrace revealed a scent that lingered powerfully in… read more @ Panoramic Mindscapes


Saturday, October 17, 2009

One-Line Movie Reviews V

I had such great plans for this installment of "One-Line Movie Reviews." Really, I did. I was going to add information lines that would include standardized listing of director, writer(s), and actors. I was going to make it all pretty. I was going to remove the date information from the title and replace it with an appropriate Roman numeral (oh, wait... I DID do that one).

But, I'm lazy, and I had no intention of watching all of these movies, save for the dog incident that kept me from driving off into the sunset. The bastards.


The Chronicles of Riddick (2004) - a sequel to 2000's surprising Pitch Black, this film once again stars Vin Diesel as Riddick, but unwisely places Riddick at the forefront of the film (a place Riddick did not enjoy in Pitch Black). The story is convoluted, nonsensical, and completely unnecessary. The parts that are coherent are only such thanks to the heavy overuse of cliche. Verdict: SKIP it.

Cloverfield (2008) - The Blair Witch syndrome hits the monster movie genre and we wind up with, well, a decent film. Yes, the alien was never that believable, and neither was the character-interaction, but it was an enjoyable foray into what Godzilla could've been. Verdict: SEE it.

The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008) - An extremely preachy remake of the 1951 classic, this one stars Keanu Reeves and Jennifer Connelly and never hesitates to inform that we're killing our planet. Yeah, we know. While most of us don't need a movie to tell us that, I would have to go out on a limb and state that, overall, this remake was a bit better than Spielberg's could-have-been-great-but-wasn't remake of War of the Worlds. Verdict: SKIP it.

Fido (2006) - A Canadian zombie movie that suffers from the "zombie movies are metaphors for capitalist materialism" conclusion. Set up as a campy homage to the 1950s (World War II is replaced by "The Great Zombie War"), Fido features a world in which someone invents a remote control collar for zombies, allowing them to be tamed like pets and utilized as servants. The ending was solid, and the cast was stellar, but... eh. Verdict: Eh...

Mind Hunters (2004) -Directed by the oft-horrible Renny Harlin (Driven, Cutthroat Island), this one of his few movies that I can say "wasn't bad" (along with The Long Kiss Goodnight and Cliffhanger. Sorry, but Die Hard 2: Die Harder sucked donkey balls). It's hard to recommend this one, but it's a decent thriller and good cameos from Val Kilmer and Christian Slater lend it some legitimacy. Verdict: Hmm... ah, screw it. SEE it.

Monsters vs Aliens (2009) - I almost made a huge mistake and avoided this movie. The premise just seemed silly, and Dreamworks doesn't have the greatest record when it comes to animated fare (hit or miss, and much more so than Disney). However, I must say this was the most enjoyable film that Dreamworks Animation has ever put out. Hilarious, even if it at first seems awkward. Verdict: SEE it.

The Sentinel (2006) - Starring Michael Douglas in yet another authoritative role, and Jack Bauer (er... Keifer Sutherland) in yet another Jack Bauer-esque role, this film is actually very, very good. In fact, I'd call it a sleeper hit. Even Eva Longoria was competent in her role. And fans of the Secret Service will dig it. Verdict: SEE it.

Star Trek (2009) - Well, all I can say is that it's about time Paramount decided to follow suit and reboot this beloved franchise. The casting, for the most part, was excellent. The action was, for the most part, excellent. The production design, for the most part... eh. But, all in all, Star Trek was a fun, enjoyable movie. It was NOT, however, "Star Trek." I plan on getting into this point a bit more at a later date, so I'll just leave it at that. Do not misconstrue that statement, because I DID like it. Verdict: SEE it.

Taken (2008) - Liam Neeson as Jason Bourne? No, not really, but that about sums up the aesthetic of the movie. And, guess what? It works. Basically, an overly paranoid and now-retired spy's daughter decides to gallivant around Europe in an attempt to follow U2's latest concert tour. Sure, not a bad goal if you're fan of U2, but gettingd capture by human traffickers is something to avoid, no? Anyway, dad goes nuts, goes "off the reservation," and rescues his daughter. Excellent action film and certainly worthy of a franchise, if the fates will it. Verdict: SEE it.

The Taking of Pelham 123 (2009) - What's that you say? I'm one-line reviewing this again? Actually, no... I one-line reviewed the original film a while back (which was kind enough to differentiate itself by spelling out the "One Two Three" in the title). This, my dear readers, is the remake. And, like most remakes... well, no... this one rocked. Denzel Washington assumes the role formerly played by Walter Matthau (try to wrap that connection around in your head) and John Travolta takes over the Robert Shaw character. The result? Another excellent movie. Yes, the original is better, but the new subplot of Denzel/Walter having a bit of a smeared record adds more to the film than it takes away. Verdict: SEE it.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Just Another Case of Blah

Can't write anything. How typical. So it's time to disguise random and fleeting thoughts as something profound, which they most certainly are not. There was a schedule when the Atlantic Coast was abandoned, but a couple of dogs decided to delay things by going sightseeing without telling their owner. He didn't panic, but he was certainly upset and more than a little worried. Was about to give up, too, when they decided to come back. A 94-hour foray to who knows where, and they didn't think they did anything wrong? Ah, well... at least the fat one lost some weight. The little bastard.

There was a book to read when Dallas was reached, but, again, that was delayed when the dogs took off. Good thing an old college friend took her family to Disney World and left her house empty. Good thing, too, that she's not too mad at how she got pissed off the other day. Then again, she did leave the house a bit of a mess. Hah. Ah, well... just desserts in every meal, no?

And then the cats ran off. But at least they came back the next day. Cats and strange places don't mix well, or maybe they do and cats are really more loyal than dogs. There's a guy in Massachusetts who would debate that, and his wife says he secretly loves cats, but he keeps a mean face about them. Perhaps too much has been stated.

Anyway, the book has been read and must now be analyzed. But what a chore that is. Better to watch a bunch of movies with a guy that was in the Army, too. Talk about old times, complain about present times, wax poetic about new times, hope against hope about future times. Something like that. Suddenly the cross-country trip seems more trouble that it's worth, especially seeing as how the ultimate destination should be right back in the Eastern Time Zone. A rat hole known as Fort Benning. Then again, there are those lazier than others, and Benning might never be seen again, save on an episode of Ramsay's The F Word.

Funny how TV works.

Maybe time just needs to be taken to breathe... and listen to a little music.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Pet Musings: October 12, 2009

Well, well... this week has turned out to be an eventful uneventful week, and I just figured I'd share a few things concerning my dogs and cats...

As some of you are aware, my two lost dogs have returned to me. They were gone for 94 hours (from Sunday at 3:00 PM to Thursday at 1:00 PM) in a place that they were unfamiliar with. I posted an ad on, went to the local animal services, and was about to put up about 50 fliers in the neighborhood they disappeared in when, in typical fashion (don't ask), I watched in relative disbelief as my two dogs walked down the road towards the very spot I was standing. Also in typical fashion, they didn't seem to think their disappearance was a big deal, although they were both a few pounds lighter. Jerks.

My German Shepherd (you know, the loyal dog that DIDN'T run away) was at first extremely happy to see the other dogs, but quickly realized that all the one-on-one attention he had been receiving had gone away. So, he did the grown-up thing and cried all freaking night because there was no half-asleep guy sleeping in an open garage throwing him the tennis ball at 2 in the morning.

One of my cats made a break for it on Sunday (yesterday at the time of this posting), primarily because they've been stuck living in the bed of my truck for an extra week, thanks to the missing dogs. And now, due to occupational requirements, they're going to stay in the bed of my truck for yet another week because I have to finish a book and submit a critical analysis by the 23rd... and driving across country isn't really conducive to that.

Pointless Musings

The San Diego Padres finished the season with 75 wins and 87 losses... good enough for 4th place in the National League West. Crappy, I know, but a far cry better than the 5th place they held for most of the season. Ah, well... there's always next year.

Thank you, NFL Mobile (only on Sprint) for allowing me to catch last Sunday's Pittsburgh-San Diego game when I was devoid a television. And thank you, NFL, for scheduling a Chargers bye week this Sunday while I was still devoid a television.

This just in: I am reactivating all of my paper bills from all of my utilities and banks. Not having the Internet whooped my ass last week, and I ain't letting that happen again.

Eh... I'd complain about more things, but I'm tired. I'll be returning to form in a couple of weeks (I think).

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Brothers Three

For nearly five years, they were three. The first, a stray, was clearly the one in charge. Mostly due to his commanding personality, of course, but it also helped that he still had his testicles. The second, the largest (yet most gentle), was a simple and loyal soul. The only one of pure blood, he never seemed to rub it in, deferring all shows of force to the first. The third, a rescue, was extremely stubborn and extremely smart. An escape artist and a bad influence, the group's cheerleader. He put the hound in Houdini... never mind the "n" out of place.

Each were well traveled. All having originated in North Carolina, each had made there way to California and back again. Sure, sometimes the first and the third got away, succumbing to their exploratory urges, but they would always come back. The second never ran off, save for a brief period of time in which he suffered unexplained seizures and would wander in the subsequent confusion. So, for nearly five years, no matter the weather, no matter the location, no matter the state of mind, they were three. A pack of mock wolves; a group of four-legged miscreants; a collection of wilderness falsely domesticated.

But, now, after loading up in their master's truck for one more trip from North Carolina to California, the first and the third decided to explore once again, leaving the second behind. Where once was three, there is now only one. Where once was the sound of dogs wrestling in the yard, there is now only the silhouette of a German Shepherd waiting for the return of his adopted siblings. Where once there was joy in a master's glance, there is only worried pessimism. And a lack of sleep.

For his collection has dwindled to a solitary dog.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Destination Unknown

Instinct failed the species. The ability to think developed as some sort of misguided chance to survive. Yes and no were suddenly abstract concepts, shedding their emotional components in the face of nascent logic. Magic disappeared over time. And the world became a series of facts in the realm of the understood, misunderstood, a place to escape. Someone said the sky was falling, and everyone believed it except for the trees… read more @ Panoramic Mindscapes


Thursday, October 1, 2009

Flight Index

Well, I'm afraid I have to be a bit lazy with writing at the moment, as I'm packing up to move... off to the wild blue yonder, so to speak, tomorrow morning. Fun times.

But as I've often written about flight or the sensation of flying, I decided to offer an index of sorts to some old pieces. Feel free to read them all, or read them none. I'll be back on track in a couple of weeks, I'm sure.

Too Sexy to Fly?
- a satirical commentary on the strange decision by a flight attendant to not allow a passenger to fly based upon her attire.

Blue Wings - a creative non-fiction from days of yore.

Tales from the Airborne I: You Gotta Go When You Gotta Go - another creative non-fiction from military days.

Abandon - metaphoric prose about taking chances.

Falling Through Life Like Sky Through Rainbow - metaphoric prose about being lost in purpose.

A Dramatic Prologue - creative fiction about an airborne assault by Army paratroopers, interspersed with references from famous works of theatre.

The Whale and the Albatross - metaphoric prose about the strange journey that is life.

Oceans - biographical metaphor about sifting through choices.

Borne - descriptive piece about the diversity of Airborne paratroopers.

Stardust - poetic prose about falling in love for a brief moment in time.

As a special bonus, here's the poem version of "Stardust." Both the original and the poem were written at the same time as I couldn't decide which was better... ultimately I went with the prose, but here's the poem in all its aborted splendor:

Stardust - (August 11, 2009)

A slumbering impatience burns away
as falling star touches the crown of the world
light scatters as aimless journey finally reveals destination
there's a melancholic realization… read more @ Panoramic Mindscapes