Monday, February 25, 2013

My Day and Movie Reviews Because you just keep begging me to talk about my dull personal life Sep 20, 2012 2:06PM PST

Today was my big interview day. I woke up at 7:40am, having set my alarm for 7:15am, and on 2 or so hours of sleep after deciding to just stay awake through the interview, then crashing somewhere around 4am or so, I drove in parking lot traffic on I-35E for about an hour. I seriously do not remember breaking 10mph until I was halfway to my destination. There weren't any accidents, everything was just that congested. At least it wasn't as bad as Houston traffic; the trade-off being Dallas roads are not as well-paved and sure as hell not as well-labeled. The highway tells you when to get off about the same time my annoying GPS voice on my phone does much of the time, which is two feet in front of the exit, usually.

As for the actual interview, I feel pretty good about it. I didn't have the education or experience in business some of the other candidates had, but coming from a background in service, having a BA, even if it's not directly relevant to what I was applying for, should give me an edge I hope, and I definitely gained some good presentation skills "working" for the university radio and tv stations in college. We'll see.

The best news is, I got a check in the mail for 146$ and some change right after the interview and already stashed it safely. I must say, 

Heads up: Uncensored, apparently. Not that it's family friendly in any form to begin with.

In news you might actually care about, here's some movie reviews of what I've been watching since last Friday:

6 inches forward and 5 inches back

Did I ever mention I was extremely socially liberal? Cause I am. But even I don't really care for weird for the sake of weird. Luckily, this movie has good humor, a fairly engaging storyline, and some great music. Sadly, the really good parts are a bit more scattered than I'd like.

This is one of those movies that, in a way, if you're not offended by it, loses some of its appeal. Some of the double entendre jokes are funny and clever, it has a sort of 90s MTV shot-by-a-music-video-director feel, and the political musings about Berlin/Germany before and after Reagan told Gorbachev to tear down the wall can be inciteful, and also humorous. But I've seen the Spinal Tap story of a band humorously down on its luck a few times now, and while having the star be a she-male that underwent a botched sex operation to marry her/his black (male) U.S. Army lover, giving her/him two other love interests in a wig-obsessed band member, and his/her former partner, a deeply religious Christian boy who has become famoud performing songs he/she wrote and whom he/she is now following are appreciated new elements, I still felt bored a few times.

That's not to say it's a bad movie; on the contrary, the photography and art direction is full of interesting frames that could easily be famous portraits on their own, several of the songs are just as fun musically as they are lyrically, and there's an above-average story and great cast of characters, but it just didn't hit for me all the way through. For every amazing song, there was a clunker, for every hilarious scene, there was a joke that got stale from being repeated. I still reccommend it, but just don't expect it to be amazing. I only knew about this movie at all cause of this guy's review, which is much more in-depth, so if you're curious and want a second opinion, click that link.

I will say, in its favor, it has one of the best songs and accompanying music videos I've seen with "Origin of Love." 

Watching this with the girl that I stayed with the same night and is now my girlfriend was an experience, I'll tell you hwat, Bobby.

The other song I found memorable was the title song, which has the exact opposite energy to "Origin of Love." It's also the song that made me want to see the movie to begin with.

If you're squeamish, you might want to skip this song's bridge...

Oh, and the fact that the famous boy the main character is basically stalking is named Tommy Gnosis reminded me of a favorite Bad Religion song of mine.

The godfathers of punk rock, and their underrated prog rock experiment, ladies and gentleman.

Anyway, if it piques your interest there's a lot of good here, and it looks like you can watch it on Youtube, so check it out, just quell your expectations a bit, and don't expect Indie movie of the decade material.

That was the first movie I watched with my current girlfriend last Friday, but the second, and best, and the one we started holding hands while watching towards the end (which makes us sound so innocent, which is funny) which led to my current relationship status on Facebook was Princess Mononoke. 

Mother Nature: It becomes a wolf when it's pissed

Now this movie really doesn't need any more reviews. Like Hedwig, it also has a really in-depth review already, hundreds more where that one came from, and it's fellow 1upper halochief's favorite movie. 

All I can say is the plot, characters, and presentation are all as great as everyone tells you.

The music is like Lord of the Rings in how gorgeous and inspiring it is, only unlike the racous LotR theme, it's also got a subtle, almost sleep-inducing (in a good, soothing way) quality to it. The animation is amazingly fluid, by today's or any other time's standards. 

Its characters and plot are (apparently) born from a maturing of the director Miyazaki, telling a story of strong human characters and one who's message is one of balance between man and nature, and how that can be upset and rectified, rather than his previous works which I'm told are more South Park Prius owner sniffing their own ass, man sucks, nature is awesome diatribes. 

It's also a great film for female role models, and had that going for it way before Legend of Korra (one of my favorite TV series ever, along with its predecessor, Last Airbender), though I do think it takes that to a bit of an extreme. See, wolf girl pictured above is fine, and a badass, and I'd say about equal in strength to the lead male character, so like the man coexisting with nature thing, their dichotomy is a great dynamic. However, one of the main settings is a village where a strong, but loving woman has greatly helped the village's economic standing by staving off demons with lots of fire power and giving the women jobs producing iron. Which by itself is great, and a good expression of female power. I don't think that the men had to be depicted as useless cowards to get that across, though.

This woman has a male bodyguard that is constantly implied to be a complete dumbass. So why hire him as your damn bodyguard? A female villager loves her husband who the male lead brings home, but other than some asides, you can't tell why, cause he's depicted as having coward as one of his only character traits. I guess the whole village swooning over the young stud male lead was supposed to balance it out, but it still seemed unbalanced. Oh well, girls have probably had to put up with the opposite unbalance in most other movies, so I can't complain too much.

Other than that, my only problem is the casting of Billy Bob Thornton as this guy

I give you: Redneck of the East

Billy Bob's delivery is fine, don't get me wrong, it's just he plays it straight, and, well, look at that fucking nose. I mean the rest of the face almost resembles Billy Bob, but that nose. My God.

If it seems like I'm reaching for stuff to bitch about, cause otherwise there's not much I can talk about except what a great movie this is, I am. You should watch it. Be warned though, this is the one Studio Ghibli film Disney wouldn't distribute; Miramax did the honors because it's a pretty violent cartoon by American standards. Honestly though, if you're kid is mature enough to handle some blood and swearing, it's still a beautiful movie, even if I can't remember what exactly happened at the end except that nature was restored the same way it is when you beat the plant boss in Metroid Prime, or how plants magically grow back in the Lion King when Scar loses political office. To be fair, Mononoke actually establishes its magic element, but I still think it's funny how nature works in cartoons.

The last movie we watched that night was Daria: Is It Fall Yet?

"Oh joy. I'm in a theatrical length PSA. Fun, huh?"

Daria is one of those things I remember fondly, but can't honestly claim to remember very well outside of the basic premise, mostly because I didn't have cable. We never had cable until I went to college and dad got a Time Warner bundle so he could watch Fox News (and to be fair, I watch Fox while he does, he watches Jon Stewart with me, we're a happy... loving-but-not-quite-bipartisan-family-with-a-complicated-relationship-of-interdependence-cause-I'm-staying-at-my-parents-to-save-money-while-looking-for-work-after-college-but-I-also-loan-them-money-from-my-savings-during-emergencies-and-help-out-around-the-house... hyphens!), so I remember seeing All That and other Nickelodeon stuff at friends' houses, Beavis/Butthead MTV stuff at family members' houses if they weren't in the room, and loathing Dragonball Z for being so dialogue heavy and boring when I visited the next door neighbors' and watched cable with them.

Still, a lot of the times when I see Daria now, I'll recall seeing most of an episode, and I still enjoy the humor, but this movie... is a bit on the nose. It's still funny, because of the characters and how they play off one another, even got a bit of drama between Daria and her boyfriend...ish, guy. But it also more or less announces that it's an after school special, the way 90s sitcoms like Boy Meets World and Home Improvement were seemingly required by law to do every few episodes (and considering what I know of FCC standards for public service on widely broadcasted media, I'm not sure I'm kidding).

Daria learns to accept her feelings, her best friend learns that bisexuals are sluts, the two blond retards lose their lifeguard jobs, a young boy learns from Daria of all people that life's not so bad, Daria's sister learns the value of an education, and a black man learns to quit. Two of these things are not like the others... o.k., that's not exactly what happens with the bisexual or the black guy, but I felt I'd mischaracterize the movie by simplifying it.

And that's what most PSAs and this flick are guilty of: mischaracterizing and simplifying life's proble... wait, no, this was the late 90s. Never mind, the black guy could easily have just found another job, as could the retarded blond kids, and whatever degree it was Daria's sister got actually might have had value. I thought we were talking 2012 reality. Close one! Yeah, I know, I should be less bitter since I had my interview go well, but I'm still annoyed how long it took to find even that fresh out of college. Oh well, things looking up.

Anyway, this one I can't really reccommend this too highly unless you love Daria (my girlfriend does, and she loved this movie), but it does have some good laughs (mostly from the crazed teacher and the oblivious, saccharine counselor) and I enjoyed it overall, but it is the dullest of the three movies I watched with my girlfriend that Friday.

Finally, yesterday we watched Battle Royale on Netflix.

It's fitting Contra is in the subtitle of this poster, mainly because of this guy:


I got your Konami Code right here, motherfucker!

Picture that does joke much better justice here, for some reason won't post on this blog

Widely believed to be the inspiration for the Hunger Games trilogy, this 80s (can you tell? Seriously, look at Kawada's bandana up there, it's like if Ahnuld was born as a Japanese high school student all the parents thought was too big to be playing on the opposing little league team) movie, also based on a book, features more blood, more guns, and most importantly, NO SHAKY CAM, unlike Hunger Games (which I am a fan of, movie and book, and currently reading Catching Fire).

Since everyone knows the basic premise of Hunger Games, I'll just go over the differences and compare/contrast for much of this review

- Where in Hunger Games,  the child soldiers killing other child soldiers is due to a government wanting to establish dominance over all its people, this game is about respecting your elders, not the government. Japanese youth has turned into shitty, self-absorbed, and teenagey teenagers, and there's a guy in a track suit who's not having any of this shit!

- Much like President Snow from Hunger Games, track suit guy has an army behind him. Unlike President Snow, his motivation isn't keeping peasants from revolting, but mostly just personal issues with loneliness and his daughter's lack of affection. Seriously.

- Where in the Hunger Games, contestants specifically train for the "games," and supplies are provided through a cornucopia at the start, along with sponsorships, these kids find out on a typical school day they're a randomly selected class for the Battle Royale experiment, and are given one bag with bread and water, and one bag with a weapon in it, ranging from guns to tin can lids.

- Where Hunger Games had game makers randomly make parts of the battlefield more dangerous, BR contestants are given ample warning where danger zones will be at what times, and are encouraged to evacuate the areas.

- Where HG has its survivors mentor the newbies, the survivors here are just transfer students, one of whom signed up for the games.

- The most obvious similarities between BR and HG are that both have announcements of who died that day, the only difference being that BR has 50 players to HG's 12, and in HG a national anthem is played while dead contestants' pictures show in the sky. In BR, it's just track suit guy saying the names and assigned numbers of the dead.

I have to say that as a movie, I very much prefer Battle Royale to Hunger Games. It's much faster paced, better shot, and I know it's ironic to the message, but I enjoyed that it was violent the way Hunger Games was in book, but not in movie form. In book form, I've never read BR, but I'm not sure I connected as deeply with the characters here, and many of them were... I swear I'm not a racist... kind of hard to tell apart other than the five or so main characters, and the group that starts building a bomb. To be fair, the main contestants do strike a chord, but so many of the relationships appear out of thin air for the viewer, and aside from characters the movie spends its time with, having 50 contestants makes it hard to really feel much more than sorry for many of the characters when they're killed.

That said, the plot twists and surprises are really well-handled, and I highly reccommend it to anyone who loves the Hunger Games concept, but would prefer it were better shot and kept some of the gore.

Bullet Bills

- What are your plans this weekend? Judge Dredd is getting great reviews, so I think I might take the girlfriend, maybe a matinee of ParaNorman  for $2.75 at the theater near my house too, cause I hear that's great as well. That is, if we don't head to the art house theaters in Dallas to see the Joaquin Phoenix movie. Killer Joe was great, and my friend loved this one, so maybe I'll have to make the drive downtown again to the Magnolia or Angelika.

- Speaking of anticipated movies, I'm most stoked for Wreck-It Ralph this year. What about you guys?

- I'm currently thinking of how to split up my SNES blog. I might start with games we actually owned first and go from there. In any case, My Gaming Timeline blogs are gonna get much bigger from here on.

- Hope you guys had a good day, and if not best wishes in future! 





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