Author Archive

Piranha 3D: The 3D Invasion

3D movies are a gimmick, usually used to drive up ticket prices. Most of the films it’s used in lately do not need it all, and generally pull it off poorly. 3D was originally used in the 70’s and 80’s as a way to make bad horror movies look a little better and get people in the theater. Piranha 3D brings things back to basics, following this tradition, and embracing it.

Horror movies as of late try and take themselves way too seriously, which is not always necessary. When your premise is thin, it usually just makes the characters unlikable and the drama seem forced. Or, even worse, they just strictly rely on gore, shock value and jump scares (I’m looking at you, Eli Roth). Piranha 3D does not fall into this trap. The writers of the movie realized how ridiculous their plot was and they ran with it, but the actors still take their role seriously, making for a very enjoyable movie.

Piranha 3D is a killer fish movie, if you couldn’t figure it out from the title. The plot is simple: Prehistoric man-eating piranhas are released from an underground cave during spring break. If you need a better synopsis than that, then this movie is not for you. It’s a basic premise that is nothing more than excuse for nudity, gore, death, and suspense, as god intended in horror movies. The movie delivers fantastically in all these areas. It’s made clear the fish are a threat to anyone in the water, and when they attack, it’s brutal. Continue reading

Let The Right One In vs. Let Me In

“Let Me In” is the 2010 American version of “Let The Right One In” a 2008 Swedish film directed by Tomas Alfredson. I watched “Let the Right One In” (to be referred to as LTROI hereafter) at home on a lonely night when I was in a weird mood and wanted a movie to match. It left an impression. I wasn’t sure how to feel about “Let Me In” (obviously to be referred to as LMI hereafter), directed by Matt Reeves. I referred back to my experiences of The Grudge, both the Japanese and the American version and since I found merits in both versions, I thought this would be a similar experience, so I tromped off to the movie theater, with some vague memories of how it was all going to go down.

After I watched the American version, I came home, and instantly sat down to watch the Swedish film. I was unsure of how I felt and that left me troubled.

The American version is faster paced, with many of the small side stories  (primarily to do with the neighbors) completely cut out. Also, it starts in media res and then cuts back to two weeks leading up to the event. This allows you to be shocked to attention so you can sit through the actual plot of the story before either gore or heart rending angst can be tossed your way to keep you interested. Maybe the American audience is just so inured to pain and horror in our movies that the producers didn’t think we could face up to the plot in its original order and at its original pace. If you are not the type of person who can sit through a number of scenes where nothing of import appears to be happening, then the US version is probably all you need to get from this story. However, the original invokes much deeper and more genuine feelings for the main characters. Continue reading

Repo Men: An Inflight Movie Review

Flying has become a bit more pleasant these days. Sure, you have to get to the airport ungodly early and are now in danger of a cavity search due to a concealed umbrella, but at the same time most international flights now have individual TV screens and a pretty decent selection of movies.

Repo Men is one of the movies that caught my attention as I forced myself to stay awake on a trip from the UK back home (screw jetlag, I’m not gonna let it make a subhuman out of me any longer than necessary). I read the quick summary and it sure rang some bells. The plot is basically about repossession of past due human organs, now why does that sound familiar? Well, maybe because of Repo! The Genetic Opera.

Since I am currently on a plane and therefore cut off from the lifeforce that is Internet data, I can’t tell which movie came first (obviously I found some internet now, and yeah, The Genetic Opera (2008) has 2 years on Repo Men(2010)). In either case, despite the similarity in plot line, they are completely different and both excel within their genre. Continue reading

Playing on the Edge of a Cliff

The Cliffs of Moher are apparently Ireland’s largest tourist attraction. And like the good tourists that we are, we got on the bus from Dublin and made the 4 hour journey over to the West side of Ireland to see the Atlantic from 700 feet away, vertically.

The Visitor Center is worth mentioning as it is in fact an enormough Hobbit burrow, built into a hill, so as to not mar the landscape. Inside is laid out in the flat sheets of stone mined from the surrounding areas.

The cliffs of Moher themselves are a true wonder. Extending as far as the eye can see, they are properly jagged with water endlessly working to erode the rocks from below. Continue reading

Simon Munnery’s “Self-Employed” via the Fringe Festival

This year I chose to take a trip to Scotland over the usual booze-fueled expedition to a Metal Music Fest somewhere in Europe. I grieved for a while, but a choice had to be made and I’ve never seen Edinbourgh (pronounced Eh-din-bur-row or even Eh-dn-bra), the capital city of Scotland. By happy coincidence we arrive in the middle of the Fringe Festival, which takes place there every year during the last three weeks or so of August.

The Fringe Festival itself deserves a few words of description. It is a smorgasbord of the arts, with theater, musical performances of all sorts, street performers and comedy galore. The whole city center becomes a collection of venues, where you can walk into a store to buy some pants and a performance may be taking place in their downstairs space converted for the honor. Street performances range from mimes, to musicians congregating in large bands with huge selections of instruments, to acrobats from all over the world performing feats atop 6 meter poles. Many of the events are free, and many of these free events are absolutely excellent. Most others are anywhere from 5-20 BPS (British Pounds Sterling), which is pretty affordable when you’re used to Broadway prices. And the best part, for me anyway, was that practically everything on the festival menu has a taste of comedy to it.

It was tremendously difficult to find a recent picture of Munnery, so here is the best Internet had to offer.

My absolutely favorite performance took place at The Stand Comedy Club. It was a performance/stand-up by Simon Munnery, entitled “Self-Employment.” We squeezed ourselves into a dimly lit basement with chairs, stools and tables scattered anywhere a square foot could be had. The stage was a few inches away from the tables of those in the front and a pull-down screen on the side of the stage promised some sort of a short film. Continue reading

Running into Classics: Around the World in Eighty Days

In my mad desire to prove some unspecified thing to some unspecified person, I have decided to run the New York City Marathon. I have made this decision several years ago, but failed to train for it for the past two years. This year my failure was not as great. I’m certainly not ready for anything as serious as 23.2 miles, but I’m getting there. What “getting there” entails is basically running for as long as I can, and so far, that’s about an hour and forty minutes. The problem with this is that I can only zen out for so long before I realize that not only am I in pain, but I am also bored. My brain has been rewired due to recent technology advances (a.k.a. the iPhone) and now expects constant entertainment. So I began to download audiobooks from the public domain, the ones that are out of copyright and where a nice amateur reads them for you and records it on their PC. This wonderful place is called Librivox.

That long-winded intro was meant to explain why all of a sudden I will be reviewing really, really old books, also known as classics. What’s the point of reviewing them? Hasn’t everyone read them already, isn’t this why they’re called classics? Everyone read ‘em and liked ‘em and kept on reading ‘em through the ages.  Well, I have doubts about our generation. We have too many new things to amuse ourselves with, and our desire for the next new thing definitely overcomes any interest we have in anything classical, since we all know it just means really, really old. So, I’ll try to bridge this gap a bit today by telling you, faithful reader, about Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne. Continue reading

True Blood vs. Sookie Stackhouse Books

“True Blood,” a hit HBO series based on the Sookie Stackhouse books by Charlaine Harris, has been my guilty pleasure as soon as I saw an advertisement for it and for a second thought they really were trying to sell people synthetic blood. Instead, they were selling the show, of course, but for a moments, I was torn out of what I knew as reality and I liked it. Yes, it’s about vampires, and yes, there are lots of good looking people in it, but no, it is not “Twilight” for adults. Neither is it as deplorable as “Vampire Diaries.”

In case you aren’t yet a rabid fan of the show, here are some basics: Sookie Stackhouse, barmaid in Bon Temps, Louisiana, can read minds. She is tormented by this gift, because she has very poor control of it. A man walks into her bar and he is a blank. She is instantly attracted to the sound of nothing that she is getting from him. The reason his mind is not broadcasting to her, is because he is a vampire, but despite that, they fall madly in love. The world “True Blood” takes place in is much like our own, with one key difference. All the weird shit you read/heard about (barring outer space), is probably true, and it’s also pretty well organized. A Japanese corporation develops Tru Blood, a drink emulating the nutritional value and flavor of human blood, and bam! Vampires, who were real all along, can now leave the underworld and come into the limelight. The idea is that they no longer need to drink from humans and are therefore tame kittens that we no longer need to fear. Continue reading