12.31.2008

End Of The Year Best/Worst Spectacular!

Because every other movie blog in existence does it, why shouldn't I? Yes, it's time for my 'end of year' list of the best (and worst) everything of the year. And let me say now that these lists will only include movies that I've actually SEEN. And due to where I live, I haven't seen a lot of the higher-praised films of the year, such as Gran Torino, Milk, The Wrestler, Frost/Nixon, Doubt and Let The Right One In (though I've tried with this last one... but that's a long story).

And the total count for movies I've seen in theater this year is... 53. And then there were at least 5 or so that I saw afterward (on DVD or what have you) that came out this year, but I didn't get a chance to see in theater. So if you count those, I'm in the upper-50s. But otherwise, I've basically seen (in theater) about the equivalent of one movie a weekend, and that doesn't count all the movies I saw more than once. Anyway...

Just a few side notes before we get to the lists, however:

- This is the same list (just extended on in a few cases) for the LIONs for LAMBs poll over at the LAMB.

- I included The Orphanage in my list of options because it was released in January, even though it was up for Oscar noms for LAST year (and I guess is therefore considered a 'last year' movie). But as it wasn't officially released in the US until THIS year, I felt okay to include it.

- When it comes to the 'Worst' films of the year, it was somewhat difficult, because I often stay away from films I know are going to be bad, so I can't honestly say what the worst films of the year are except for those that I've actually seen. There's only one (well, three) exceptions, and those are the three Uwe Boll films that came out this year, but I didn't include those on the list because it's an automatic knowledge that this man's movies are always the worst of the year.

So without further ado, here are the lists:

The Top 10 Best Movies of the Year

10) Hellboy II: The Golden Army - Just some all-around great fun, much like Iron Man was.

9) Changeling - Not everybody loved it. In fact, there were quite a few people who didn't like it at all. I don't think it'll win any Oscars, but I thought it was a great movie with some amazing acting.

8) Iron Man - Downey Jr. rocked. Nuff said.

7) The Orphanage - Again, it's a bit iffy whether this could be counted under 2007 or 2008, but as it's wide release was January 2008, I'm going with that. And I felt it was one of the best movies of the year at the beginning of the year. I still feel that now.

6) Burn After Reading - A slow start, but a great ensemble cast and some fun comedy about absolutely nothing. Brad Pitt was on a role this year.

5) The Curious Case of Benjamin Button - Either you loved it or you thought it was a bit too sentimental for your tastes. Personally, I loved it.

4) Role Models - Hands down the best comedy of the year. I don't care what others say. Yes, it was better than Pineapple Express and Forgetting Sarah Marshall.

3) Kung Fu Panda - The second best animated film of the year. It doesn't have the deepest most intricate story, but the animation was great, the characters were great, the comedy was great... it was just great all around (and really, truly surprised me when I went to see it expecting not to like it).

2) The Dark Knight - In a close second, the movie didn't reach my number one position because I felt some of the actual Batman/Bruce Wayne scenes that did not include The Joker were lacking at times.

1) WALL*E - Not only the best animated film of the year, but I think the best overall film of the year. There's nothing about this movie I really dislike.



Top 5 Worst Movies of the Year

5) The Ruins - I saw this due to a trade-off. I would see this movie so that another fellow blogger would see a movie I wanted him to see. We both hated the respective film the other made us watch.

4) The Strangers - Either you think this movie was incredibly stupid and the most unscary thing you've ever seen... or you think it's simply the scariest movie ever made. Obviously I'm in the former group.

3) The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor - I knew it was going to be bad, but I was promised a Harry Potter trailer that I didn't get. So I got stuck with a bad movie without the good part to make up for it.

2) The Spirit - Hahahaha.... where to begin...

1) Diary of the Dead - Similar to The Orphanage, it could be a little iffy on the exact release of this film, but as its rather limited release was a few months into 2008, I went with that. And George Romero, I'm ashamed of you. What happened? This was just beyond awful.



Acting
(Note: Nobody from Diary of the Dead or The Spirit will be listed, as each entire cast would be under 'worst').

Best Actor in a Leading Role - Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark - Iron Man
(Again, he just owned the role).

Worst Actor in a Leading Role - Hayden Christensen as David Rice - Jumper
(Pure cardboard).

Best Actress in a Leading Role - Belén Rueda as Laura - The Orphanage
(I don't often notice acting in foreign films, but I noticed her. And that says something).

Worst Actress in a Leading Role - Liv Tyler as Kristen McKay - The Strangers
(It was between her and Zooey Deschanel in The Happening, but Zooey is my woman, so I just couldn't do it. So I went with Liv. How blank can you get? Well, there is Hayden Christensen...).

Best Actor in a Supporting Role - Heath Ledger as The Joker - The Dark Knight
(Well, who else did you expect?).

Worst Actor in a Supporting Role - Luke Ford as Alex O'Connell - The Mummy 3
(No acting ability at all).

Best Actress in a Supporting Role - Amy Ryan as Carol Dexter - Changeling
(She wasn't in it much, but she stole the show every time).

Worst Actress in a Supporting Role - Maria Bello as Evelyn O'Connell - The Mummy 3
(She was no Rachel Weisz).


Misc.

Best Cast - Burn After Reading
(Great year for Brad Pitt, though I think it was a great ensemble effort that was pushed that little extra to making this spot due to J.K. Simmons).

Best Movie Poster - The Dark Knight
(It was between that, Vantage Point, and Saw V. Regardless of what your opinions were of the latter two movies, they had some pretty cool looking posters. But I went with The Dark Knight because that movie had about a million different posters, and every one of them was awesome).

12.30.2008

THE SPIRIT.

Oh, God… I don’t even know where to begin. I’m not even going to bother with a plot summary, because I just saw it and even I don’t know (or care).

This movie was bad. Really bad. Horribly, horribly bad. I didn’t even want to see it, really, but one of my friends called me up last night, and she was feeling bored and a bit down, so she dragged me out to see this movie (even against my warnings of low ratings). There were only about 4 other people in the theater. 2 minutes in, and I’m staring at the screen like “What the hell is this? Please don’t tell me she’s liking this.” About 10 minutes later, she turns to me and says “This is the worst movie I’ve ever seen in my entire life.” And from there, the movie experience was heavenly.

We totally MST3K’d this bad boy. And I don’t even think the others in the theater cared, either, because they laughed along with us half the time (I mean, we weren’t doing it super loud or anything, but it occasionally dipped into ‘hearable’). If I had seen this movie alone, I might have even walked out for the first time in my life. But since she was with me to experience it and riff on it, it made this literally one of the funniest movies of the year.

I can’t even pull out samples of what was bad. Just pick any of the 103 minutes and there you go. The only good parts I’d say were Jaime King as Lorelei the glowing face of death, which probably made up about 1 minute (maybe 2, as she does have a little chunk of time toward the end) of the whole film. Oh, and the women were hot.

But everything was terrible. The dialogue, the constant monologue to NOBODY (even the CAT walked away), the acting, the story, and even the visuals. With Sin City, the color scheme was used artistically. In this movie, it was used randomly and with no real rhyme or reason. The movie was meant to be cheesy, but it didn’t work at all like, say, Speed Racer did. But I do admit that it will be a nice quotable movie like Napoleon Dynamite… except, you know, Napoleon Dynamite was actually good and re-watchable.

I’ll just end it here. This movie was just plain awful. It’s only watchable if you’re with friends (at least one) that you can sit there and riff on it with. And there’s so much to work with, too, that it’s just ridiculous. It’s like Frank Miller took a third of the cast from an asylum, a third from hobos on the street, and the last third from anywhere and just made them drunk. Some of the cast probably a mix of the three (just see the mud pit fight between The Spirit and The Octopus toward the beginning for further proof). But once he had that drunken, crazy cast, he paused every 30 seconds and asked “Okay, how can we make this movie as terrible as possible?” The result was The Spirit. I don’t know how to rate this movie. I’m just going to rate it on the quality of the film, not the entertainment value that my friend and I personally made from it. I still have no idea what I watched.

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She's Gone From Suck to Blow!

12.29.2008

Short Review: Nightwatch.

Premise: A law student takes a job as a night guard at a morgue, and he starts to notice odd things happening. Meanwhile, a serial killer continues his streak of murder.

Starring: Ewan McGregor, Nick Nolte, Josh Brolin, Patricia Arquette, Lauren Graham, and John C. Reilly.

My Reaction: How can a movie with such a cast be so… bland? The first half is pretty good with some decent suspense/spookiness, but if you’ve had any experience with any thriller ever, you know that the person being set up as the killer is so freaking obvious it can’t be him, which takes away all the mystery (because you then know who it has to be). And because of that, along with the second half of the movie, everything turns into a venture into the non-logical and plot holes. I would rate it pretty average, and I can’t understand how it has such an above-average score on imdb. And I only rate it as high as I do because of some pretty entertaining scenes early on, some particularly creepy moments, and some good acting from Josh Brolin in particular.


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Stop Saying Okay! Okay.

12.28.2008

THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON.

When in most films with a gimmick, if you take the gimmick away and just have the story play as normal, the movie would be boring. The case with this movie is half and half. During the backdrop of Hurricane Katrina, a young woman (Julia Ormond) reads a diary to her dying mother, which tells the story of one Benjamin Button. Benjamin Button (Brad Pitt) was born old and grows young as his life goes on. His father Thomas (Jason Flemyng) abandons him thinking him some kind of monster, and he’s adopted by a young black woman named Queenie (Taraji P. Henson), who runs an old folks’ home. But when Benjamin meets a young girl named Daisy (Elle Fanning, Madisen Beaty, Cate Blanchett), he immediately falls in love. The movie tells the story of their lives when they’re both with and without each other, with one getting older and the other younger.


Let me first discuss my opening statement. There were times when the movie’s story was so captivating that it would have been interesting with or without the reverse aging in play. But the other half of the time, the plot relied heavily on that idea. To make a long story short, the story was good, but it was really long with some parts that were probably unnecessary and could have been cut out. I was really into the movie most of the time, though. But during the last hour or so (maybe more like thirty minutes), I was really looking down at my watch, wondering how much longer the movie had. And a lot of what could have been cut came from the beginning of the movie, as it really was a slow start getting to the main plot of the story (though there really isn’t a plot, honestly. It’s more of a character study).


And the acting was good overall, especially with Brad Pitt (who I think is good in just about anything). But the most curious part of all dealt with the ages of the characters as the movie went on and how they looked amongst each other in correspondence to how old they should have looked. Now, it would take a lot more concentration on my part to really nit-pick at that, so I’ll leave that be. But there was one thing about the acting that I really didn’t like, and that was Cate Blanchett’s narration as an old woman. I could hardly understand a word she said, and she would always narrate important parts of the story, which upset me as I only understood half of what she was saying. And there is one age discrepancy I’d like to bring to attention, which is the young Daisy. When she’s first introduced, imdb has her listed as 7, though she’s played by a 10-year-old and talks like she’s older. And then toward the end of the movie, during some voice-over narration, there’s a mention of how she would have been about 5 when she first met Benjamin, and that threw me off completely.


And speaking of more visual aspects, and with Daisy, there was another discrepancy that bugged me. Benjamin makes note of how he’ll never forget Daisy’s bright blue eyes, and he repeats that a few times at the beginning. And Elle Fanning had these gorgeous bright blue eyes. But throughout the movie, Daisy’s eyes are continually changing color. The Daisy played by Madisen Beaty looked like her eyes were nearly brown, and Cate Blanchett’s eyes would go from pale blue to light blue. With all the money spent on Benjamin’s looks, they could have least thrown a few dollars in for some contacts. Though on the more positive side, the visuals were excellent. The older Benjamin (in looks) reminded me of the CGI from the Final Fantasy movies with such attention to detail. But the visual effects that blew me away the most weren’t of the older Benjamin, but of the younger. The way they made Brad Pitt look so young made even the similar process at the beginning of X-Men 3 look shabby.


But my favorite moments of the movie were the smaller moments. First, the man who had been struck by lightning and all his stories. Those had my audience laughing, and I thought they were a fun touch. But my favorite part in the entire movie was the brief segment around the middle of the movie, I suppose it was, when Benjamin tells a story of intersecting lives and how changing one thing could have changed everything, so therefore how every little action causes a greater reaction. I really loved that scene, and it really stuck with me during and after the film.


I really don’t see how people are comparing this to Forrest Gump (I guess that’s just for people who haven’t actually seen it), as I don’t think they’re anything alike at all. Not to mention that, technically, Benjamin Button was written first. I had no idea until the credits that it was based on a short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald. But then again, who the heck knows anything about what F. Scott wrote outside of The Great Gatsby. So the movie does have some faults, but it is an all-around great movie and great experience, especially during all the scenes with Katrina raging in the background, when you know what’s going to happen, even if the characters don’t (dramatic irony!). But anyway, I’d recommend the film. Another Brad Pitt success.


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A Keanu 'Whoa'

12.27.2008

Unrelated to Movies: Yet Another Finished Book.

It's that time again! Another novel has been completed (my fifth to date). My one main test-reader is still to finish reading the final chapters, so I have yet to find out what anybody thinks of the finished project/rough draft. But anywho, I really like how it turned out, even though I took a lot of risks with it. But you don't care about all of that right now. You just want to know what it is and all the stats and whatnot. So here we go!

(And before we begin, let me preface by saying that the book is largely based around and/or inspired by the poem "Annabel Lee" by Edgar Allen Poe).

Page Count: 341.
Word Count (According to WORD): 73,261.
Chapters: 27.

(NOTE: Ironically, it is the same number of chapters as my previous novel. And also, in comparison to the rough draft of my previous novel, while it is a whole 9 pages shorter, it is only a few hundred words shorter, almost beating it out in the word count war for longest first draft. Anyway, onto more interesting things.)

Title: The Kingdom by the Sea.

Story synopsis (as of right now, anyway):
---------------------------

The world had come to an end—just not in the way anybody foresaw. When the world became overrun by mythical creatures and other strange monsters, humans were driven into hiding in their underground Safe Havens until they could once again re-claim the planet. And the only hope the human race has in doing such a thing resides in the New Military, a faction of individuals who work together to both keep others safe as well as find a way to clear the Mainland. Annabel Lee, raised by the New Military from infancy, is one of the best, and nothing truly tested her skills until 8-year-old Melanie was discovered traveling the Mainland with no clue to her past.

But a Faerie warrior by the name of Kailen, who has the ability to see Annabel Lee in his dreams, knows a secret about both her and Melanie of which neither are aware. And after Melanie's catalytic arrival, the cycle of fate begins to turn, starting the change needed in order to reclaim the planet. There are two heroes—one in the Human Realm, one in the Magical Realm—and both are about to learn that the one place they need to go to discover truth and bring peace back to an anarchic world is the heart of both realms, the ruins of the ancient Faerie Kingdom, the Kingdom by the Sea.

-------------------------


Yes. It's a novel about Faeries and other mythical creatures. But these are not your Tinkerbell Faeries or happy-go-lucky faerie tale creatures. I based them all on the original source material, the original folklore, wherein Faeries lived in hierarchies and could be more fearsome, even warrior-like. And they are not small and pixie-like, either. They are very much like humans.

And then there are the other creatures throughout the story. I borrowed from many different mythologies, bringing in such nasty monsters such as Wendigo (zombie-like creatures) and Redcaps (ferocious, blood-crazy goblin-like creatures). There's the middle-ground creatures, too, such as the Will-o-the-Wisp (AKA Spooklights). And then there are the more benign beings, such as Sprites and Nymphs (the Sprites being quite similar to the Faeries). Of course, there are more that I haven't mentioned on all levels, as well.

That's it for me for now!

12.24.2008

Twas The Knight Before Christmas...

This was just too awesome to pass up posting...

12.22.2008

DVD Review: Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog.

So I saw this when it came out for free on the internet a while back, but the DVD was just released (exclusively through Amazon), and I just got in my copy, and I’ve been watching it all afternoon. For those of you who don’t know, Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog is Joss Whedon’s (of Buffy, Angel, and Firefly/Serenity fame) newest venture into the cult fan base. It stars Neil Patrick Harris as Dr. Horrible, an up-and-coming super-villain who just wants to make it into the Evil League of Evil. He posts up blogs on the internet that portray his life of crime, his crush on fellow Laundromat companion, Penny (Felicia Day), and how the overly cheesy Captain Hammer (Nathan Fillion) continues to ruin his life. Oh, and it’s a musical.


The ‘movie’ itself is only about 40 minutes long, but it feels like a full-blown film in how it really just pulls you in with its characters and story. You root for Dr. Horrible, even though he’s evil, and you loathe Captain Hammer, even though he’s technically the superhero. It just shows, yet again, the amazing writing of Joss Whedon.


And the music itself is incredibly catchy and all really good. My personal favorite is “Brand New Day,” but everybody has their own. And boy can they all sing, including Neil Patrick Harris. He has an amazing voice. Felicia Day does, as well. Nathan Fillion is the weakest, but that doesn’t matter, because it’s Nathan Fillion. He’s awesome in everything. Not to mention the cheesiness factor of his character offsets any care about his singing ability (it’s not bad, mind you. It’s just no Neil Patrick Harris).


But why buy the DVD when you can watch it online for free, you ask (and legally)? Well, for one, most of the online copies you can find are poor quality and the audio is off from the video. Oh, and you have to watch all three Acts separately (unless you somehow download them and merge them together with an editing program). But then there’s all the special bonus features on the DVD that are so worth it. Besides the behind-the-scenes featurettes, which are always fun, you have (fan) audition videos for the Evil League of Evil, wherein all but about 2 of them (and there’s 30 minutes worth) are musicals themselves.


And then there are TWO commentaries. And you might be asking… two commentaries for a 40 minute movie? What’s the point? Well, one of the commentaries is a musical! Yes, you heard me right. They recorded a whole other slew of songs that span the entire movie—commentary style. There’s a couple that could have used some work, honestly, but then there are some really good ones that rival even some of the songs in the movie. The topics range from the writer’s strike to how the cast feels about each other to why certain actors took certain roles and how they felt about that. And it’s really a whole new experience from the movie itself. In fact, you can watch the 40 minute movie, and then turn on the musical commentary and watch it over again, and then you’ll have a full-length feature… sort of.


But anyway, I really recommend this DVD, especially if you’re a fan of one of the following: superheroes, super-villains, musicals, Neil Patrick Harris, Nathan Fillion, Joss Whedon, blogging, horses, freeze rays, laundry, or frozen yogurt. So yeah… go get it. It’s only available through Amazon, though. But it’s worth it.


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Royale With Cheese

12.21.2008

2 In 1: Knocked Up and Forgetting Sarah Marshall.

So I saw Forgetting Sarah Marshall (a long time ago, actually… as this review has been sitting on the shelf for a while, so to speak), and I knew I’d have to put the review in with a 2 In 1, but couldn’t figure out the other movie to do it with. But then I finally decided to pair it up with another Judd Apatow film (and both including Jason Segel, Paul Rudd, and Jonah Hill... and possibly others), Knocked Up. And both films seem to be a little overrated. And, it seems that both are the best when the smaller characters are on screen, including Paul Rudd. So let me first start with the older of the two, which I’ve seen numerous times and have just gotten around to formally reviewing.



Knocked Up.


The best way to describe Knocked Up is to give a quote by Paul Rudd’s character within the movie: “Marriage is like that show Everybody Loves Raymond, but its not funny. All the problems are the same, but, you know instead of all the funny, pithy dialogue, everybody is really pissed off and tense.” And the movie is quite similar… sometimes it’s funny, but most of the time, it’s just a bunch of really pissed off people and tense moments.


Ben Stone (Seth Rogan) is a stoner loser. Alison Scott (Katherine Heigl) is a successful TV reporter who just got a promotion. Going out to celebrate with her sister Debbie (Leslie Mann), Alison goes clubbing and has a drunken night of fun with Ben, resulting in sex, which leads to the inevitable pregnancy that the film revolves around. So the rest of the film showcases the relationship between the two, as well as juxtaposing the relationship between Debbie and her husband Pete (Paul Rudd).


Now, to go back to my opening, there’s a lot of situational comedy that presents itself, even in the concept (stoner loser gets successful woman pregnant, and both are forced to cooperate in order to be there for the baby). But what happens throughout the film is mostly uncomfortable, tense scenes full of fighting, pissed-off people.


But the best parts of the film are those with the supporting cast, or even the tiniest of cameos or roles: Paul Rudd, Jason Segel, Jay Baruchel, Joanna Kerns, Harold Ramis, Alan Tudyk, Kristen Wiig, Bill Hader, Ryan Seacrest, James Franco, and Ken Jeong… among others. Seriously, my favorite part of the entire movie isn’t even in the movie. In the extended/deleted scenes, you can see the full, uncut version of Ken Jeong’s Dr. Kuni scene. That had me laughing so hard, much more than any of the rest of the movie did. The best part of the actual movie was Paul Rudd’s ‘chair’ scene in Las Vegas. And not even the whole scene itself including Seth Rogan’s ranting, but simply Paul Rudd’s tiniest movements or words (“It tastes like a rainbow!”). Hell, even Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann’s kids in the movie (which I believe are actually Leslie Mann and Judd Apatow’s kids) were entertaining.


As for the others, specifically Katherine Heigl and Seth Rogan, I just had difficulty caring… moreso with the former. It’s hard to care about a budding romance when you can’t stand one of the two. I mostly couldn’t stand Katherine Heigl for the majority of the movie and thought she was pretty much a bitch. The times when she didn’t get on my nerves and was actually likable were few and far between, such as when she’d sit on the couch looking for nudity in a movie for Ben’s website. Though I’m not saying Seth Rogan’s character was a saint, either, but at least he had personality outside of ‘stick-up-the-butt’.


So yeah, there were good moments, there were funny moments, but the majority just didn’t work for me. The movie is a romantic comedy. But when you can’t stand one or both of the pair in the romance, and the movie is more about being tense and fighting over being funny, it basically fails at its job. It does live up to the Judd Apatow degree, but I’m just not with everybody who says it’s his best work and much better than 40-Year-Old-Virgin and Superbad. It’s good, yeah… but it’s not great.


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I Am McLovin!



Forgetting Sarah Marshall.


So I finally got around to seeing Forgetting Sarah Marshall. It was about what I thought it would be. Peter Bretter (Jason Segel) was just broken up with by long-time girlfriend and famous TV actress Sarah Marshall (Kristen Bell), the show for which he writes music. After some random advice given to him by his step-brother Brian (Bill Hader), Peter decides to go to Hawaii to try and forget about his ex instead of moping around and having meaningless flings. Though when he gets there, he discovers that Sarah is also there, along with her new boyfriend, British rock superstar Aldous Snow (Russell Brand). Fortunately, a nice employee by the name of Rachel (Mila Kunis) tries to cheer him up, though Peter starts to get closer to her than he first expected.


The movie had a lot of funny moments, most of which were thanks to some of the smaller, more underused roles. Paul Rudd and Jonah Hill’s underused characters were great, more specifically Rudd’s (Hill’s whole subplot was nearly pointless). And then there was the newlywed couple with sexual difficulties who were pretty funny (“Christ is between your legs!” had to be the funniest line in the film). But for me, the guy who stole almost every scene he was in was Russell Brand as Aldous Snow. Everything he said was just plain funny, mostly because of how he said it in his very nonchalant kind of way.


But the movie did have quite a few dragging moments. It could have been trimmed down quite a bit. The beginning of the movie, before he gets to Hawaii, seems like it takes forever to get through. I wanted to get to the story already, but there were more and more scenes of him just moping around and crying. Then he finally gets to the island and does more moping around and crying. I know the movie was called Forgetting Sarah Marshall, and the point was him trying to get over her, but I think we got the point after the 30th fetal-position crying scene. And, though I think he’s a fun actor, Jonah Hill’s whole part in the movie could have been trimmed down a bit, too. The only reason I think he might not have been was due to him, for whatever reason, being in just about every plot-important scene in the movie. I mean, I don’t know if it’s some unspoken rule that every Judd Apatow-linked film has to be at least two hours long, but they should really work on that a bit.


I really don’t have much else to say about the film. When it wasn’t dragging or unnecessary, I thought it was funny and entertaining (which it was, more often than not). I’d totally watch it again.


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A Keanu 'Whoa'

12.19.2008

SEVEN POUNDS.

When I saw the trailer for this, I thought it looked really good. However, as I was going into the movie, I still didn’t know what I was going to be seeing. Unfortunately, I still didn’t know what I was seeing until about halfway into the movie. Ben Thomas (Will Smith) is supposedly an IRS Agent going around doing a bunch of really big favors for seven different strangers, and for reasons unbeknownst to the audience. The first we meet is a blind man named Ezra (Woody Harrelson), who Ben is a complete jackass to. But then we come across Emily Posa (Rosario Dawson), a young woman with congenial heart disease. The relationship between Emily and Ben builds until they become more romantically linked. But Ben still has his mysterious mission to complete, even if it’s now become slightly complicated.


Let me start off by saying I thought the film was really good. I enjoyed it quite a bit. However, it tries to be too much of a mystery to the point where you really have no idea what’s happening… ever. Is Ben really the douche he seemed to be within the first ten minutes? Why is he helping these strangers? How are they connected? Or are they? Is he really helping them out, or is it part of something greater? What the hell is his plan, anyway? Everything about it is spoken in such ambiguous terms, it was almost like hearing “You know that plan about that thing we talked about that one time at that place? Well, it’s the next one’s turn now in the process of the thing I’m doing which you know of because of our history together… you know, because we know each other from sometime back in the day.” There were really moments where the movie almost felt like it was going out of its way to stay mysterious. Though the second it shows one of the first flashback glimpses of what occurred, everything snaps together and the movie becomes easier to follow. But this is two-fold, because this moment happens at the middle of the film (or so). So you’ve just gone through the first half of the film shrouded in confusing mystery, but now you’re going through the last half of the film with everything easily figured out.


However, those were really the only issues I had, and they really didn’t bother me all that much. I’ve read other reviews stating things like the movie is very slow moving, or it’s overly sappy or whatever. I didn’t have any of these issues. I felt that maybe the first 10 or 15 minutes or so were a bit confusing, especially in trying to figure out what kind of person Ben Thomas is (douche or saint?), but besides that I didn’t find it slow moving at all. And there’s some romance in there, and there’s a lot of heartfelt moments (no pun intended) that add up, but I didn’t think it was overwhelming at all.


In fact, Will Smith has shown once again that he can carry a movie. He did a very fine acting performance here. You never know what’s going on in his head, but you can always tell how conflicted or sorrowful or happy or whatnot he is just by looking at his face. He really dug himself into the character. The same with Rosario Dawson, too, who really showed that pain of not being able to live her life to the fullest because of her heart condition. But the one person I want to give the shout out to here is Woody Harrelson. He’s not in the movie very much, but he’s always a presence in the back of your mind, and I think that says something about how he pulled off the character. I constantly wanted to see what was going to happen next with his character, and he’s really only in the movie about 3 times, each time less than 5 minutes.


So besides some editing (or possibly writing) issues, I thought the movie was very good. It does tug at the emotions. It makes you happy when you’re supposed to be, sad when you’re supposed to be, and even uncomfortable when you’re supposed to be. I think that says something about the actors and actresses, because it was really all about the acting once you got the story figured out.


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I Am McLovin!

12.18.2008

LKMYNTS: I'm A Cyborg, But That's OK.

So I’ve wanted to see this movie for a very long time, and I finally got around to doing so. Though this movie is incredibly hard to come by (even outside the US), so finding a way to watch it was that much more difficult. But it was written and directed by Chan-wook Park, the same guy who did one of my favorite movies, Oldboy. However, it couldn’t be any more different (including the fact that Oldboy was an action/drama, and this is a comedy… for the most part, anyway).


I could attempt to give you a plot summary here, like I usually would, but that’s incredibly difficult for one major reason: there’s really no plot. The best I can describe it is thus: Young-goon (Su-jeong Lim) is a young woman who loses touch with reality after her schizophrenic grandmother is taken away (basically leaving her in the care of her overprotective mother). Young-goon, highly affected by her grandmother's fate, also seems to gain schizophrenia and suddenly believes she’s a cyborg, and she makes a promise to her mother not to tell anybody about it (so they couldn’t keep her locked up). Well, they put her in an insane asylum wherein she talks to electronics and meets a young man by the name of Il-soon (Rain), who is a thief that wears different masks in order to take people’s souls (and, in essence, their mental disabilities). But when Young-goon refuses to eat any food in fear of breaking down, Il-soon takes it upon himself to try and get her to eat before she starves to death.


But with a movie that is just shy of two hours long, that miniscule plot really doesn’t stretch itself over the whole time frame. No, what the movie really banks on is its cast of characters. The whole movie is more of a character study than a plot-driven tale. All of the other asylum inmates each have their own mental issues (obviously), most of which get their own moments to shine. And it’s really the attention to detail that this movie really pulls through. The camera can be just steadily going down a hallway or through a courtyard, and in the background you see each character doing their own thing and staying perfectly in character, even if they’re not even remotely close to being the focus of the scene.


But of course the two main characters are those of Young-goon and Il-soon, who form the almost heartbreaking romance (heartbreaking because of the circumstances) of the film. To me, Rain stole the show as Il-soon. Whether he was hopping around like a rabbit (and digging out his wedgies immediately after), stealing other people’s ‘souls’ and taking over their character traits, fidgeting with his masks, or earnestly trying to help Young-goon stay alive, he was really the most interesting character of the entire movie. And what I really loved about both the characters is that there were a lot of hints as to what happened to both of them in their pasts to bring them to this point, but it’s never just spelled out for you. And there’s always that hint of sadness linked in with the comedy. And that’s really the genius of Chan-wook Park, because if you’ve seen Oldboy, you know that his movies are very psychological and never only one layer deep.


Though this really brings me to one of my only issues with the movie: sometimes it tried a bit too hard to give another metaphor (because truly, the movie was nothing but metaphors and symbolisms). You know that everything is fake and all the fantasy elements are just happening in their heads, but there were moments I felt didn’t need to be in the movie and could have been trimmed down a bit. They were few and far between, but they were there. Because a movie with so little plot—as well as the fact that the first half of the film and the second half of the film don’t really match up in what’s been focused on (the other patients all but disappear in the last third of the movie)—doesn’t need to be almost two hours long. Other than that, the movie was golden.


At first I also really disliked the ending. It ends, and I’m staring at the screen like “what the hell?” But after a couple minutes to digest it and think about it, the more brilliant it became to me (and this was before I read about a part I actually didn’t catch, which just adds to its brilliance). It’s a lot like Oldboy’s epilogue, to me. I didn’t much care for that at first, either. But both endings are very open-ended, leaving you up to so many different interpretations. And I really don’t want to spoil anything (so if you’ve seen the movie, leave a comment so we can discuss it).


I also wanted to talk about the visuals and cinematography of the film, which were just beautiful. There’s a lot of use of color pallets all around. The movie is just very bright and colorful and really gorgeous to watch. The only iffy visuals were the CGI moments during the cyborg fantasy with the guns. Otherwise, it looked really good. And the camera work was great, as well. There were a lot of interesting shots with mirrors, and there were some good long-shots down hallways and such (nothing as epic as the side-scrolling battle in Oldboy, though).


Really, my last notes about this film are that you can’t go into it expecting your brain to function properly. Most people who have disliked the movie have straight-up said they disliked it because it didn’t make any sense. Well, after the brilliant opening 10 minutes (confusing at first, brilliant in hindsight) that basically foreshadow the fact that nothing can be taken logically or at face value, you should know what you’re getting yourself into. It’s a movie about crazy people, and you’re going to be submersed into their world fully. The best I can describe it is that it’s like at the end of that Robin Williams movie, What Dreams May Come: the guy says not to stay in the house too long or he’ll start to lose his mind and go crazy, too. Well, the longer you stay with the movie, the crazier you have to think in order to keep up with the utter randomness and chaos of the film. But in the end, the movie is really beautiful and touching… if you can understand it.


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A Keanu 'Whoa'

12.13.2008

So, I suppose it's official now...

Between the hours of 11 AM and 1 PM (or thereabouts) today--December 13, 2008--I attended a ceremony that, for whatever reasons, decided to bestow upon me (and a bunch of other people) a Bachelor's degree (mine, specifically, in English... teaching certificate should be coming shortly, as all I really have left to do for it is register to receive it and get fingerprinted).

So I suppose I'm officially a college graduate now. Hoorah!

12.11.2008

40 Inspirational Movie Speeches In 2 Minutes.

This is just freakin awesome. I had to share it. This guy really had some time on his hands. It almost inspired me to do something like it myself...

12.10.2008

R2D2... The One With Five Trailers.

I haven't posted anything in a couple days, I know... but just to appease everybody, here are some interesting trailers!

- First, we have the ever-so-popular (and newest) trailer for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Even the music is epic!

- Now, this trailer for Fast and Furious is pretty cool... it shows how all the original cast are back, too... and there's just something about the music that pumps me up.

- Dragonball Evolution? Almost nothing like the show, but at least James Marsters is Piccolo... and to hear Goku powering up for the Kamehameha at the end is pretty fun.

- Is it just me, or is The Unborn actually looking to be a good horror movie? It's just so rare for that to happen these days (I think one of the last great horror movies to grace the silver screen was 28 Weeks Later... though I might be forgetting one). Maybe it's just the fact that Gary Oldman is in it that gives it some form of credibility. I mean, Gary Oldman wouldn't be in a crappy movie, right? ... right?

- Finally, I'll leave you with the newest of the trailers (next to the Dragonball one), Terminator Salvation. The full trailer just was released the other day, and it actually looks pretty good. It doesn't even look like it's being directed by a guy named McG. Although... it does kind of set up the whole mystery of the film... and then spoil it by giving us the answer about a minute later.

12.07.2008

Thoughts On The Original Star Wars Trilogy.

So this weekend I did something that I haven’t done since I was a little kid: I watched the original Star Wars trilogy. Granted, they were the updated versions (which I’ll get to momentarily), but the original trilogy nonetheless. Now, let me prelude by saying most of what I have to say has probably been said thousands of times by more avid Star Wars fans than myself, but I now want to put myself among the (lesser) ranks with my own opinion now that I’ve re-watched the first ones at a more recent time in my life.


There’s really no reason to do a movie-by-movie focus. I can talk about all three at once. The first two are obviously the best (with Empire inching out on top, of course). Return of the Jedi wasn’t terrible, but it had a lot of problems with making me want to actually focus on the film. The whole first part of the film at Jabba’s was great. And the speeder chase through the trees is awesome. The final showdown between Luke, the Emperor, and Vader? Good stuff. The rest, though? It was… alright. And I’m not gonna riff on the Ewoks, either. I think the biggest issues dealt with the fact that the first two films were these gritty, religious, Hero’s-Journey epics, while the third was more of a light-hearted romp into the land of slapstick and fantasy. It just didn’t feel like it fully belonged (outside the specific scenes previously mentioned).


And speaking of religion, I now understand where people are coming from in some annoyance with the prequel trilogy. The Force is symbolic for religion, obviously, and you have to have faith in it in order to be strong with it. And then there’s the ‘good’ and ‘dark’ sides of it. But then you get into the prequel trilogy, and it’s midiclorians? The Force has gone from religion to science? That just doesn’t seem right (or as awesome).


And another thing that made me question the prequels was the fact that in the original, Luke was able to become a Jedi in a matter of a year or so (I’m not sure how long is between Empire and Jedi, though I figure a good chunk of time). However, in the prequels, Anakin is said to be way too old to even begin training (granted, Yoda says the same of Luke), but Anakin was only like… 8. Luke was much older than that. And not only does it take over a decade for Anakin to become a full-fledged Jedi, but they blame starting his training too late (I believe) on him going to the dark side. If it was so late for Anakin at his young age, then Luke really must have been God-like to withstand the Emperor.


But anyway, back to the original trilogy. The biggest issue I had with them mainly started in Empire, which was Han and Leia’s relationship. It comes mostly out of nowhere and doesn’t really develop. It just happens. But besides that, the only other issue I had came with the revamp of the special effects. Because when the stop-motion looks better than your re-done computer graphics, you know something’s up. I would have much preferred seeing the original versions. Not to mention the whole Han versus Greedo issue that stemmed from it. I wasn’t even a hardcore fan, and even I felt like adding in Greedo’s initial shot diminishes the character arch of Han from anti-hero to hero. Though that will annoy me when people say “Han shot first!” Because technically, Han didn’t shoot first. He just shot. It requires two people to shoot for there to be a first or second, and if you say Han shot first, you’re acknowledging the re-vamped version as the appropriate version, in which it is actually Greedo that technically shoots first. So congratulations, you’re stupid in two different ways (sorry, I just felt like making a Role Models reference).


I really don’t want to beat a dead horse here, though. I’m pretty much in agreement with the vast majority on almost every aspect. My opinion doesn’t differ much from anybody else. I’d say the only differences would be that I don’t find the Ewoks to be annoying (just out-of-place), nor do I dislike Jar Jar Binks from the prequels. But the prequels aren’t really supposed to be the focus of this Thoughts On… though I really think I’ve already messed that up. Oh well. Might as well stop while I’m ahead. Though if you’d like my opinions on any of the films or certain aspects of any of the films, just hit me up in the comments, and I’d be happy to converse with you about it (in fact, that’d be quite loverly).


So until next time!

12.05.2008

Book Review: "The Tales of Beedle the Bard" by J.K. Rowling.

Yesterday (12/4/08), J.K. Rowling's newest 'book' was released: The Tales of Beedle the Bard. Now, for those of you who haven't read the Harry Potter books, this probably won't make any sense to you. The Tales of Beedle the Bard played a huge role in the final installment of the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, specifically the story "The Tale of the Three Brothers." The book is supposedly a translation from ancient runes by Hermione Granger and includes an introduction and specific footnotes by J.K. Rowling, with special notes on the stories (along with his own personal footnotes) by Albus Dumbledore.

But this book wasn't always going to be up for sale. At first, Mrs. Rowling only made about 7 bejeweled copies that she was giving to those close to her, and the final one up for charity auction. But due to a giant fan uproar that nobody who wasn't filthy rich would ever be able to read it, J.K. Rowling decided to mass produce it, though give all proceeds to charity (as she has always done with her other companion books, Quidditch Through The Ages and Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them). There were two versions available for buy: the regular hardcover copy, or the leather-bound, bejeweled version for $100+. Needless to say, I went for the regular.

The book is a quick and easy read, at only a little over 100 pages (and huge font). There are only five little fairy tales, and all of them include notes afterward by Dumbledore. Let me first discuss each story.

"The Wizard and the Hopping Pot" comes first and is an interesting and highly moralistic story. In fact, it's probably the most straight-forward and obvious with its moral. It's about a bad-tempered wizard who inherets a magical cauldron from his father, though refuses to use it to help the people of his village.

"The Fountain of Fair Fortune" is second and probably the most lighthearted of the five. And as it is the most lighthearted, it is almost the most uninteresting and predictable (with one exception... I really didn't see the last line coming). It's about three witches and a knight who journey through the trials and tribulations before them in order to get to a fountain that is supposed to cure all their ills, even though only one of them can be selected to be cured.

"The Warlock's Hairy Heart" is the third and easily the most demented and dark of the five. There are some descriptions in there that I really didn't expect to find, especially after following a story like "The Fountain of Fair Fortune." It's about a man who finds love trifle and silly, so he performs a specific dark magic to make himself invulnerable to it... but then decides that he wants to attempt marriage after all.

"Babbity Rabbity and Her Cackling Stump" is fourth and, despite the oddest named of the fairy tales, is one of the more entertaining ones. It made me wonder what was going to happen next. It's about a foolish king who threatens death to all who use magic, but wants to be the only (and therefore most powerful) wizard in the land, so he hires an apparent sorcerer to teach him, though he's nothing more than a con man.

"The Tale of the Three Brothers" is the final story and the one that each Harry Potter fan should know if they've read the seventh book. The story is much like something one would find by reading the Canterbury Tales, I've always thought. It's about three brothers who cheat Death and, as a reward, each choose an item to better themselves: the Elder Wand (the most powerful wand ever created), the Resurrection Stone (a stone that could supposedly 'bring back' the dead), and Death's own Invisibility Cloak (which would never wear out).

All five stories are unique and entertaining in their own way, but I found the true entertainment of the book came from Dumbledore's notes. These extended my knowledge into the magical world and its vast and expansive history. It was always interesting to read about the different 'people' that lived in the past of the magical world and how they helped to establish how things came about in the modern day. There's really not much more to say about this. The stories were entertaining, but it was all the extra notes that made this read very much worth it. I can't wait to see if they're going to model the look of The Tales of Beedle the Bard in the seventh/eighth movie(s) after the $100+ version of the book. I think that'd be pretty cool.

Overall, if you're a fan of the books, you know you'll have to get this. If you follow the movies instead of the books, I'd stick away from this for now, as it is slightly spoilerous to some of the future events that have yet to occur in the films. But if you prefer the movies over the books to begin with, there's no point in addressing you, as you wouldn't go out to buy this anyway. But for those who are book fans... check it out. It's worth it.

(Note: Just keep in mind, even in the realm of Harry Potter, these were stories (fairy tales) for little kids, so don't go in expecting HP-level depth or anything. The most you'll find is discussions of morals and slight racism/equality in Dumbledore's notes).

12.03.2008

The Student Teacher Chronicles: The Last Three Days + Epilogue.

I had a week off for Thanksgiving and had to come back a little more. It’s time for the last three days. Here we go!

Monday


So I didn’t do much first period, as usual. Then I taught for about half of each period for second through fifth. We finished up the unit of vocabulary we had been on, talked about the new week of homework, and then discussed how everybody needed to actually finish what was actually due the Friday before Thanksgiving break. Then my mentor teacher took over and talked to them for a little while before letting them loose to work on stuff. The only class that really didn’t do much was fifth period, which my mentor got on them about. But the really weird part was sixth period, which I’ve been used to teaching on my own since nearly the beginning of school. Well, my mentor teacher basically took over completely, so I just sat back and observed the entire class period (occasionally inserting a random comment or joke) as they started a new one-act play. But it was completely bizarre (and slightly frustrating) not to do anything for that period. Then my mentor had to go to yet another meeting, so I was left alone for a while with instructions to leave at 4 PM and close the locked door behind me. Well, I did… but then I went into another teacher’s room with a couple other students who had been in there with me and talked to them for another 30 minutes just randomly, so I didn’t actually leave until about 4:30. But it was good fun.


Tuesday


I started off Tuesday by giving my mentor a thank you card (with 10 special lines written in it of why I was thankful for her… and I made 10 because I know she’s OCD and would want an even number, which made her happy. She also complimented my use of anaphora) and a small gift card. Then first period, I basically sat back while they finished up a quiz and then gave some biblical allusion explanations. I did, however, have to grade the last presentation/question set for that class, as they didn’t go before the break.

Second through fifth period was totally random. All the periods got pretty much the same announcement speech (about what was due this week and about the next day being my last day and how we could all just party). But what each class got accomplished was different. Second period worked on different things (depending on what was owed), and we got into some interesting and fun discussions about random things from math to religion. Fun times. Third period went to do that physical training thing that first and fourth periods had to go to during my solo teach, but then came back and talked a little bit about literary term stuff. Fourth period got the most done (mostly because it’s a split lunch/long class). They got pretty far with the lit terms discussion. But the one guy who gets on most everybody’s nerves finally took my mentor over the edge, and she was forced to send him out of the room. Fifth period was mostly a discussion between my mentor and the class on how she can help make the class better as there are so many people failing (due to laziness, really). So in other words, I didn’t do anything but sit back and chat with some of the students throughout the classes.

Then sixth period was fun, even though I still wasn’t doing anything. Of course, I had created my biggest bonds with the students in this class, so I had some of the biggest reactions to the me leaving/party time discussion (and some of the funniest). But they finished up the play, though the reading of it was hilarious as always.

And during seventh period conference, a woman came in to work with my mentor teacher on something for her Safe and Civil Schools group, which took the entire conference. I about fell asleep while they were talking (because not only did I have no idea what they were talking about, but I wasn’t included in any of it, nor did I have anything else to do). But as soon as the bell rang, the room was bombarded by students wanting help for stuff (most of which was stuff that was due WEEKS ago). By the time everybody had got stuff in order and my mentor had a couple talks with some parents (both on phone and in person). But throughout the day, it was funny, because she got permission from two different parents of two different kids to feel free to beat them if they act stupid in class (ironically, both for students in fourth period).

But then my mentor teacher got a call from her husband and had to leave, so we just left then, which was about 5. Oh, I also had another teacher come in and give me the whole congrats/best wishes/glad to know you thing since she wasn’t going to be there the next day. And that leads us to…


Wednesday – The Final Day


So, did I fail to mention that on my last, final day of student teaching, my mentor teacher is also NOT there all day due to yet another meeting? Nor were half of the other teachers, either. A rather ironic way to end student teaching, but still… Well, my mentor teacher was there before school, but that was it. Then she left for meetings all day off-campus.

So first period we finished up with biblical allusions (which was fun). One of the girls also brought cupcakes (chocolate), which is—of course—a hearty breakfast. I took the one with a yellow smiley face ring on it. At the end of class, I started them on what they would need for the next day.

Second through fifth periods didn’t bring anything for the class, though. But second period, one girl (and a quiet one I didn’t talk to much, at that) brought me this large baggie full of what looks like powdered-sugar-covered chex mix, but tasted more like Reese’s peanut butter cups chex. Awesome stuff. Otherwise, all the regular classes did was study for and take their vocab quiz and then work more on essay/project stuff. The only other real thing of note was the in fifth period, all we really did was riff on each other the whole time, though I did gain a lot more respect for not only being able to dish it out, but for being able to take as much as I did.

On the other side of that spectrum, the Crazy Girl in sixth period can dish it out, but cannot receive it. While everybody else was saying how much they’d miss me, she was saying stuff like “I’m not going to miss you. I’m happy you’re leaving,” and other things like that. So when we started new vocab words, I had her read number 12, which just-so-happened to be the word ‘obnoxious.’ She wasn’t thrilled, and she threw a fit. Then she was in a really bad and grumpy mood for the rest of class. And at times, she resorted back to her "I'm the best writer in the world and will be famous someday" thing, in which I would roll my eyes at her and continue doing whatever. But another thing this class did was put together what my mentor called the “Book of Jobe” (get it?) and passed it around the room to say nice things about and/or to me. I’ll get to what Crazy Girl said shortly (because it was special).

But what I was most surprised about was them giving me a gift bag (which happened to say “New Baby” on the front) and some…interesting stuff inside. The most interesting is a tall red candle with a picture of Pancho Villa on the front. Then there was an un-opened VHS tape of an old Zelda cartoon show. And then a Napoleon Dynamite birthday card with things written in it by almost everybody in the class. It was the most random gift bag ever, but it completely personified that creative writing class.

The only other major thing I did that day was proofread a 15-page research paper for one of the other teachers, which I gave back and talked to about during seventh period conference (just briefly). Then I just cleaned up the room a bit and left, just in time to see that new teacher walking down the hall, so we just walked out together. I was out by about 2:55 or so. And it was a melancholy joy (also known as a bittersweet moment), because while I was glad to be done with student teaching, I will miss some of the students a lot. But life goes on, and so does teaching, and I’ll meet new sets of kids every year. That’s just something else I’ve learned during this experience. And that leads us to the last thing I want to say…


Epilogue


I knew I wanted to give my final thoughts in an epilogue at the end of all of this, and I figured I would just write about everything I’ve learned in this experience. But after today, I found out exactly what I want to say here, which is the most important thing I probably could have learned in the whole experience.

My biggest issue was that I was too nice and too laid back, which let them run all over me at times. I wanted everybody to like me as well as do well, which just wasn’t going to work. And I realized that early on with one particular student, so I knew I had to do something special, something different in order to get through to this person. And I couldn’t have been happier to read Crazy Girl’s final words to me in the “Book of Jobe” after they had all gone on to their last classes of the day. The following are her own words:

“Bye.
I really don’t think I have anything nice to say. I won’t remember you or miss you, but you will remember me. I will prove you wrong. So have a nice life.”

What you might see as arrogant or rude, I see as success. I knew early on the only way to get this girl to succeed was to play at what she treasured most: her ego. The more I pushed her and tested her, the more she hated me, but the more adamant she was at succeeding. And regardless of the fact that she never picked up on the reverse psychology (even better that she didn’t), I am glad to know that I did what I set out to do with her.

So what I learned was this: It doesn’t matter whether or not they all love you; if you can get them to the point where they will do anything to want to excel in life, even if it involves hating you to get to that point, then you have succeeded in your job. Because teaching isn’t all about making long-term friendships; it’s about getting individuals to want to learn and excel in life. And if you can get them to do that, you are a teacher.

And right now, I feel like a teacher.

12.02.2008

Can You Believe It? It's Been A Year!

About one year ago, I was browsing the IMDb homepage when I saw the daily poll about some guy known as Fletch from Blog Cabins who wrote an article on why old movies were basically overrated (at least according to him). So I checked out the article, then browsed the rest of the blog, as well. You see, I wasn't a big blog reader or anything (in fact, I never really did it at all). But I just wanted to check out what else this movie lover thought.

Then I found his weekly posts on what was then the current season of Survivor. They were absolutely hilarious and spot-on. Now, I don't know what went through my mind at that point, but something whispered in my ear (perhaps the voices... who knows) that I could start my very own movie blog! I knew nothing of blogging and never read blogs (outside MySpace)... but it seemed to be a fun idea.

On December 2, 2007, Boomstick Reviews was born. It was very basic, and my first post was a Top 10 that I had written before and posted on my MySpace. Five days later, I posted my very first movie review on Boomstick Reviews: The Golden Compass. From there, I began posting different movie reviews and articles and Top 10 lists, etc.


On December 9, 2007, Fletch inducted the blog into the Large Association of Movie Blogs (also known as the LAMB). I was just member number 17 back then, and now the LAMB has over 200 members. I'm glad to say I got in on the ground level and have been able to help out with it as much as I have.





Then, on January 15, 2008, I was really bored and made a post entitled "Random Ramblings of a Demented Doorknob" (also known as R2D2... no relation), because I had a bunch of different things I wanted to talk about that wouldn't fit under a specific topic. I, along with Fletch over at that 'Blog Cabins' place, mentioned how we really loved that title. In fact, I liked it so much, I began pondering with the idea of changing Boomstick Reviews to this better-sounding title.

So on February 1, 2008, I figured I'd give the place a bit of a makeover. With some counsel from Fletch, I changed up the ratings system, the title, the color scheme, and basically everything else. The ratings system put in place was similar to the one used over at Blog Cabins, with pictures and movie quotes to symbolize the particular rating.

The next big event to occur was on my birthday, February 20, 2008, when R2D2 hit the IMDb Hit List with my quite popular yet controversial article "10 Years, 10 Great Screenplays" (mostly controversial because I can't count, and it was actually 11 Years/Screenplays... and also because I hadn't actually seen all of one of the films I chose). Regardless, this event shot up my readership from basically nothing to around 14-20 (after the IMDb linkage went away, that is).

Over the next few months, I would introduce different article/review styles, some of which stuck, some of which didn't. The more popular of which included Little Known Movies You Need To See (LKMYNTS), DVDs Or Death!, Thoughts On..., Short Review, A Week Of... Blog-A-Thons, 2 In 1 reviews, and Pre-Emptive Strike Thursdays (AKA P.E.S.T.).

But on June 12, 2008, my readers decided that they wouldn't mind if I included book reviews on the blog, as well. Also, around that same time, I joined Unheralded Reviews, as well, posting what was essentially the reviews I posted here over there. But anyway, on June 19, 2008, I posted my first book review, a review of Twilight by Stephenie Meyer. I continued posting book reviews every now and then, and I also added in a special article type about Page-To-Film adaptation reviews. The Twilight book reviews brought up my readership a little bit more.

Then, unfortunately for my enraptured readers, I began student teaching in August, which took away a lot of time for movie watching and reviewing. But to keep everybody updated as to how things were going with me, I began posting The Student Teacher Chronicles. The months continued tiringly, but I kept at it as best I could. And now, finally, it is once again December 2, but now a year later. My student teaching ends tomorrow, as well, so you will be getting the final Student Teacher Chronicles then.

So now this blog (for all intents and purposes, as everything from Boomstick Reviews is still here) is one year old! Over the past year, I have reviewed and scored numerous films (130, I believe). 99 of them have been given above-average scores, 13 have been given average scores, 15 have been given below-average scores, and 3 couldn't be given scores due to particular peculiarities (Those three being Sunshine, George Washington, and North). Needless to say, I apparently enjoy more movies than I dislike (either that, or I just watch films that I'm nearly positive I'll enjoy).

In conclusion, I would like to thank all of my readers who have stuck around this long or who are brand new and are just beginning to get use to the randomness. And I want to specifically thank Fletch over at Blog Cabins for helping me out so much in the beginning stages of my blogging adventure, for getting me into the LAMB and letting me do everything I have for the LAMB, and for just being a friend.

And now that the sappiness is overwith, let's eat some cake!... What? There's no cake? What the hell kind of party is this? Oh well. Anywho, happy one-year to the blog and a big thanks to everybody who constantly keeps up my readership count to around 30. Now let's try to at least double that for this next year!

(By the way, you might notice a couple new things on the sidebar... primarily, scroll-boxes that include all of the reviews I've done for both books and films in alphabetical order... they were a pain to put together, so you better enjoy them!).

12.01.2008

Short Review: Blood & Chocolate.

Premise: A female werewolf in Bucharest falls for an American graphic novel artist. However, the leader of the pack also has a thing for her, and doesn’t like that she wants somebody else.

Starring: Agnes Bruckner, Hugh Dancy, Olivier Martinez, Bryan Dick.

My Reaction: The acting wasn’t terrible. The story wasn’t terrible, though starting to get very old and overused now (think Twilight, but primarily with werewolves instead of vampires… yes, I know there are werewolves in Twilight, but that’s why I said primarily. So in other words, it’s much more animalistic than flowy/showy/pretty). The romance could have been more believable, though. The special effects were very basic. The werewolves themselves were simply wolves (like… real wolves). So no costumes, (blatant) animatronics, or CGI was needed, though the transformation special effects were cheesy. Some decent suspense, too. All in all, not a good movie… not a terrible movie.


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