Sunday, August 30, 2009

Torrent Picks 8/30/09

Well its that time again, for me to do my torrents for the week, this week I'm gonna do things abit different, going off the idea of theme weeks like I did last week, but this week, its gonna be animation, mostly Anime I think, but animation none the less..

so with that said, lets get right into it...

Grave Of The Fireflies: On the final days of World War II, 14-year-old Seita and his four-year-old sister Setsuko are orphaned after their mother is killed during an air-raid by American forces in Kobe, Japan. After having a falling-out with their aunt, they move into an abandoned bomb shelter. With no surviving relatives and their emergency funds and rations depleted, Seita and Setsuko must struggle to survive their hardships as well as those of their country, which is on the losing end of the war. This film was the first film I watched in film study during high school, and to this day it still blows me away. Its just so good, its so sad, and so moving, and so beautiful that it just makes you cry. It really does give you the idea that no matter what side you're on, war and whats left behind after it, is hell, utter hell. It tells the often forgotten story of what happens after a battle, to those who are left behind, after the soliders move on to something or somewhere else, and the people are left with no help, no relief, no nothing, they're left to survive on just their own abilities and choices. This film is the kind of film that kicks you right in the stomach and forces you to see its point. I love that in a film, I really do.

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time: This is one of those films, that at first you would think looks really silly, but as the film goes on, you discover its not, and it has a really good message, and doesn't just dazzle you with beautiful artwork, as many anime films do. This is the story of Makoto Konno, a high school student who after avoiding a fatal accident at a train stop one day. At first she used her new found power selfishly, so she's not late for school, so she can cheat on tests, and apparently spent 10 hours reliving a karaoke session for about 10 hours straight. She starts to notice that what she's doing, is starting to have effects on everyone around her. Makoto ends up using up more of her leaps to recklessly prevent undesirable situations from happening, including an awkward confession of love from her best friend Chiaki Mamiya. Eventually she discovers a numbered tattoo on her arm which counts down with each leap. She determines that the tattoo indicates that she can only leap through time a limited number of times. With only a few time leaps left, she attempts to make things right for everyone, but impulsively uses her final leap to prevent a phone call from Chiaki asking if she knows about time-leaping. As a result, she is unable to prevent her friend Kōsuke Tsuda and his girlfriend, Kaho, from being killed in the accident at the train crossing that Makoto was originally involved in. As Makoto watches the accident in horror, time suddenly stops. From there you realize the true nature of whats going on in the film and what its really about, and you see it come to its important life changing end. It really is a great film and I seriously think if you are willing, you should give it a try. Its just so beautiful in its own way.

The Place Promised in Our Early Days: I first must beg forgiveness for the large size of this file, but I assure you, it is completely worth it, this is one of those films that makes you realize its just artwork that moves, almost every single shot could be put in a frame and put on a wall, its seriously that good, which is why I hope you don't mind the large file size. Now with that said, lets get into the film shall we? The Place Promised in Our Early Days takes place in Japan during the late 1990s in an alternate timeline. Though it is not directly explained in the film, the world in the anime apparently diverges from Japan's in the decades following World War II. In 1974, Japan underwent the Separation: the southern part, including the main islands of Honshū and Kyūshū, were occupied by the United States, while the northern island, Hokkaidō (or Ezo, as it is called in the anime), was occupied by the "Union" (presumably referring to the Soviet Union). Also in that same year, the Union began the construction of a strange tower on Hokkaido designed by a scientist named Ekusun Tsukinoe. On a clear day, the incredible height of the tower makes it visible from as far away as Tokyo. By the 1990s when the story begins, the U.S. occupation of southern Japan has ended, and the two nations have formed a pact called the Alliance. Hokkaido remains under the control of the Union; contact between the North and the South is all but suspended; and border clashes are common. An underground group committed to reunifying Japan known as the Uilta Liberation Front exists in the South. Covertly supported by some Alliance government officials, it makes incursions into and executes attacks on Union territory. The anime follows the story of three friends living in Aomori on the northern end of southern Japan: two boys, Hiroki Fujisawa and Takuya Shirakawa, both child prodigies; and one girl, Sayuri Sawatari. In 1996, the three are in eighth grade, their last year of middle school, and they are fascinated by the Hokkaido Tower visible across the Tsugaru Strait to the north. On the last day before spring break, one of Sayuri's friends, Kana Matsuura, confesses to Takuya that she has romantic feelings for him, but he does not return her feelings. Takuya tells Hiroki that he should date Kana instead, but Hiroki declines, as he is actually romantically interested in Sayuri. Hiroki stays after school for archery practice while Sayuri stays after school for violin practice; they ride the train home together and get to know each other, and Sayuri becomes close friends with the two boys. The two boys have found a crashed Maritime Self-Defense Force drone plane. Naming it the Bella Ciela, they work on rebuilding the plane, scrounging parts from their workplace, the Emishi Manufacturing factory, with the help of their boss, Mr. Okabe. The three teenagers promise to one day fly to Hokkaido to visit the Tower. However, before they can do this, Sayuri mysteriously disappears during the summer. From here the film jumps ahead three years into the future and tells you of what has happened to these three friends, even explaining where Sayuri disappeared too, and eventually leads to the climax of the film that if i tell you about will really ruin it for you, which I won't do. There is just so much going on in this film and its really hard to not tell you it all, as you can tell by the big write up i did here... hehe. Seriously, this is a beautiful film. One of my three favorites by Makoto Shinkai.

Only Yesterday: In 1982 Taeko is 27, unmarried, has lived her whole life in Tokyo and now works at a company there. She decides to take another trip to visit her elder sister's in-laws in the rural countryside to help with the safflower harvest and get away from city life. While traveling at night on a train to Yamagata, she begins to recall memories of herself as a fifth-grade schoolgirl in 1966, and her intense desire to go on holiday like her classmates. During her stay in Yamagata, she finds herself increasingly nostalgic and wistful for her childhood self, while simultaneously wrestling with adult issues of career and love. The trip dredges up forgotten memories, the first stirrings of childish romance, puberty and growing up, the frustrations of math and boys. In lyrical switches between the present and the past, Taeko wonders if she has been true to the dreams of her childhood self. While mostly realistic in its depiction of Taeko, the expressionistic influences in Takahata's work are often marked by scenes where a character's imagination comes to life on screen. After Taeko encounters her first love, she turns and runs up an invisible staircase towards the sunset and swims in the sky. The scene ends with her gently descending on to her bed, then cuts to an outside shot of her house where a giant heart emerges from her window. These expressionistic sequences run counter to Takahata's realistic storyline, but are consciously used by the director to transition back and forth from reality to the unreal world of animated fantasy, leveraging the advantages of animation in order to develop the character. This film was ment to be one of those odd "lets do an anime aimed at your average movie goer instead of either genre fans or children.." and where alot of times that fails, this, didn't fail at all, infact its done incredibly well and is regarded as one of those hidden gem movies that you don't find unless you really dig for it.

Porco Rosso: I would be hounded by some of the anime fans I know if I didn't include a film by Hayao Miyazaki, most people see Miyazaki as a god in the world of animation, mostly siting films like "Howl's Moving Castle", "Spirited Away", and "My Neighbor Totoro" as the bigger of his works, but I'm not really a big fan of them honestly, I'm actually more a fan of his lesser known films, of which, I find Porco Rosso to be one of the most endearing. The film tells of the story of Porco and his would-be romance with Gina, who runs a sea pilots' club and hotel in the Adriatic Sea. The plot revolves around Porco's friendship with a girl named Fio, who is a talented aircraft engineer, and his rivalry with a hotshot American pilot named Curtis. Porco has been cursed with the face of a pig, though the origin and nature of the curse is never fully explained. Originally a WWI ace pilot in the Italian Air Force, Porco has grown disillusioned and now makes his living as a bounty hunter guarding ships in the Adriatic sea from pirate gangs with planes. Though rivals, Porco and the pirates manage to coexist with a minimum of bloodshed. For relaxation, he and other pilots spend their evenings on neutral ground at the Hotel Adriano, the establishment run by Gina. The film is sort of a toss back to old world hollywood film noir, where films about a renegade pilots that go on to do good and live an exciting life after realizing there is nothing in the war for them to fight for, could actually be seen as believable, plus, its really fun as far as films go. And really, who can't enjoy alittle fun now and then?

Well thats it for now, I hope you all enjoyed my little trip to the far east's world of animation, and hopefully if you've never been much of a fan, maybe i can convert you now :). So, until next week, I hope you all have a great time...



Friday, August 28, 2009

My Childhood Hero

We all have childhood heroes don't we? Someone we wanted to be like when we were young and wide eyed and such, someone that was the embodiment of who we wanted to be, and who we idolized. Everyone had one at some point in their lives, and anyone that says otherwise is a liar. Now I've joked over the years about who mine really is, some people think its either Grimlock or Rodimus Prime from the Transformers, or Don Quixote from The Man of La Mancha, or Doctor Who, given how my personality is alot like the character's portrayal by both Chris Eccleston and David Tennant, and though I have been a huge fan of Doctor Who, they are wrong. There are many other guesses that I get, but those are the ones that are most prevalent among most of the people the subject comes up with. But they are wrong. My real childhood hero is someone, though fictional, is abit obscure by today's standards, and i guess I don't mind that, but still, to me, this guy is the greatest thing ever..

You see, my hero, the man I've wanted to be like my whole life, is a space pirate by the name of Captain Harlock. One of the magnus opuses of Leiji Matsumoto, an anime creator who is often overlooked or forgotten outside of Japan, most would recognize his work Space Battleship Yamato, called StarBlazers here in America, and don't get me wrong, Starblazers is awesome, but for me, there is nothing better then Captain Harlock, and his crew aboard the Arcadia. After all, how awesome is a massive crew of space pirates dressing and acting like its the era of pirates on Earth, speaking victorian english and flying through space in a huge space ship thats basically a giant switch blade knife? I mean that just drips puddles of awesome and win everywhere it goes, nah, not puddles, lakes, lakes of awesome and win, thats more correct. Harlock was just such a great character, a long coat, dark hair the was long and covered an eye in the front all mysterious looking, and was the ultimate smooth criminal, the kind of guy you knew not to cross, but was just too cool to stay away from, even if you knew it would be for your own good.

Here in America we had very little knowledge of Harlock and his story, only really having very small regional airings of a series called "Captain Harlock and the Queen of a Thousand Years" which was sort of a copy and pasted together amalgamation of the series Space Pirate Captain Harlock and the series Queen Millennia, which made for some super strange copy and paste stories, because though in a similar style and universe, the two main characters, never actually share any time on screen together, it was kind of a mess and only lasted one year here in the states, and wasn't really shown in many markets, lucky for me, growing up in the Boston television market, which is known for its independent channels supporting early anime, I was able to see it, and enjoy it to a degree that it still sticks with me all these years later. On a similar note, the Boston market's indie channels supporting early anime is why i was lucky enough to see the rather infamous "Force Five" series, which only aired in the new england market and Virginia, and later two networks in Texas for a short time, its concept was a rotating line up of five different early anime everyday, and featured afew other creations of Leiji Matsumoto, and some other shows that went on to become legendary animes that were never aired here in the states outside of that show, but thats a story for another time.

I'm sure alot of you might be puzzled by why I love the character of Captain Harlock so much, sure, on paper he doesn't look like much, an early space pirate with a style thats been duplicated many times over the years, and a personality that has been as well, and I can see why many would assume that, but you have to understand, for me, its way beyond that. Its a far deeper reason as to why I love the character, and why I've wanted to be him for most of my life. You see, it all started in 1985, with my father, the man that first introduced me to anime, but, it goes deeper then that, see, to me, Captain Harlock is the representation of who, in my mind, I saw my father as.

See, to understand what I mean, you have to understand the kind of man my father was, when I was young, he was the coolest man on the planet. By the time I was born, my father had straightened out his addiction to cocaine and pot, and had become something so much more then just a former addict trying to do the right thing so he can be a good father, my father was magic. He became what the modern vernacular defines as a geek; a brilliant man who was fascinated by things others saw as silly or not really "adult matters", my father was a huge fan of animation in all its forms, he loved cartoons of all sorts, he loved claymation, and puppetry, he also loved movies, and television, and music, all from all over the world. He loved to play with toys too, and though I don't admit this enough, I became the man I am today because of him. I can remember saturday mornings, back then saturday mornings were the time when the best cartoons were shown, oh sure, during the week you'd catch some really good ones, transformers and the like, but for the new england tv market, the indie channels on saturday morning where the place to be. And they're some of my most fond memories.

I remember my father would wake me up about 6am so we could both shower, get dressed and eat breakfast in time for 7am, when the magic would start. we would let my mom sleep in, because saturday mornings, those were our time. I remember it vividly to this day, channel 68 WQTV, their line up consisted mostly of early anime, with some mostly forgotten 1960s and 1970s kids aimed shows near 11am. I still remember the line up, and as we'd sit there enjoy our way through reruns of Kimba The White Lion and Speed Racer, and first run series at the time like Battle of The Planets, Voltron, Robotech, and then StarBlazers, it would then be time for Captain Harlock and The Queen of 1000 Years, and thats when both of us would stop fidgiting about, and laughing and joking, and just sit and watch. Harlock was my dad's favorite, he would always talk about how cool his ship, The Arcadia was, and how awesome Harlock himself was, and how he thought Queen Emeraldas was the most bad ass woman pirate there had ever been. I didn't really pick up on all of what he was saying back then, but in time, as I got older I would understand all of what he said. Looking back, I think my father knew that I would grow up to have the same affection to the character that he did. Looking back, I think he encouraged it, infact, I still have the toys he bought me of the ship when I young infact.

I know alot of people might find this silly, me transplanting the image of my father into a fictional character, but, it isn't really. See, I didn't know it at the time, but my father was a schizophrenic, and what I thought as a child was just someone that enjoyed life and enjoyed things that most would see as childish, it was because in his mind, he kind of thought he still was a child. And when I was 10, my dad's mind finally snapped, and he went from being the brilliant, playful, joyful man he was, to a dark angry violent man. And he stayed that way until the day he died back in January. I guess, to deal with it all, I transfixed the man that i saw as my father, onto the character he always wanted to be, and always acted like, which is why I grew to be such a huge fan of Harlocks. I guess its a way of me, making sense of all that happened with my father as I got older.

Its funny, through all the bad things became with him, I never lost all of the things he taught me, all the joy and wonder, and magic, and all the other things about this world of Entertainment that I loved so much that I make a living in it now, its all thanks to my dad. And I know that now that he's gone, and that he's cured of his mental illness, I think he's proud of me.. And I think he'd laugh at the fact I have friends who look alot like the characters from Captain Harlock.

So, I guess I just felt like sharing that. I'll be back tomorrow with something else maybe, and definately on Sunday for torrents, I might do anime movies, i'm not sure yet... I'm still thinking about it, anyway, i'll see you all then.

Oh and if you haven't checked out Captain Harlock, all his different shows to date, or the many sibling shows; Space Battleship Yamato, Queen Emeraldas, and the others which I can't remember at this moment, you should, they're pretty awesome in a retro kind of way.



Sunday, August 23, 2009

Torrent Picks 8/23/09

Well, its that time of the week again, time for me to post some movies that hopefully all of you will either give a watch and either enjoy or just out and out laugh at, because as I've said many times over, the best movies, really are the ones that are so bad you don't need mood medication after watching...

so with that said, lets get down into it shall we?

Night Nurse: Remember I was talking last week about pre-code hollywood? Meaning hollywood productions before they instilled a ratings system and such? Well one of the films that most people cite when mentioning the films of that era, is this one, Night Nurse, a 1931 film noir style thriller about gangsters and socialites and night shift nurses and such, its seen as one of Barbra Stanwyck's best roles, and is an early appearance of Clark Gable, who plays a mobster posing as a rich family's driver. The plot kind of floats around the idea of prohibition and how alot of rich people got in line with the early mobsters who were able to provide them alcohol and other contraband items that the rich were known to enjoy do to the fact they were infact rich. There also happens to be a fair amount of, what for the 1930s, was seen as overtly sexual imagery, by which I mean the two nurses in the film, Stanwyck and Joan Blondell, dressing and undressing, with alot of focus on them as they do it. One could argue that this semi-loose plotted film, could be one of, if not the first, sexploitation film, sure, there is no real nudity, but with the adult content dialog and how they show women in general in the film, one could really argue that its possible. I consider this one of those films you have to see before you die, sure its not life changing, and the whole bootlegging booze plot is kind of tired, but hey, its a fun little romp through would could be the first film of a genre, so, give it a shot, you might enjoy it.

I'm No Angel: I'm kind of in a pre-code mood today I guess, which is why I'm bringing this one out, I'm thinking I might do all pre-code this week, or as many as I can find, they aren't the most well sourced films in the world, anyway, this one here is a favorite of mine, plus it allows me to put something up that I been waiting to do for awhile now, post a Mae West film. This film, as you'll find with films of its time, has a kind of loosely held together plot, alot of which we would look at today and wonder how exactly it was possible. Mae West scars as Tara, a woman who entertains people at a circus sideshow by doing your average burlesque style show, singing, dancing and such, she's admired by many rich men who send her money and gifts and whatnot, she's got an exboyfriend named Slick, because I guess in the 1930s Slick was a common name, once she gets tired of Slick and his 1930s tough guy hair and zoot suit, she decides to hire a lawyer to file charges on him, I'd assume for looking like a generic thug from the old Dick Tracy comic strip, you know, copyright infringing and such... To gain this extra cash, Tara takes on the role of lion tamer with the circus, which makes her very rich, I guess back in the 1930s it was pretty rare to see a drugged out bisexual drunk woman put her head in a lion's mouth, which would I guess explain how she became world famous for it. After that, the film takes Tara to new york city, where she meets some rather rich men, one of which is played by a young Cary Grant, both of these men take a liking to her, even though one is engaged to another woman, from there the film kind of spirals into your normal average Mae West movie plot, two men fighting over the same woman, one already betrothed to someone else, one tells the other's future wife, who then goes and has a fight with the woman West is playing, normally calling her a "guttersnipe" (oh NO she di'n't!!) or something akin to that, and in the end, West's trampy character normally wins. Its your basic 1930s exploitation plot, but, West did save Paramount from going bankrupt, so can't hate on a girl for that, plus I do make fun of West's movies alot, but they are engaging in their own strange way, they sort of make you wanna watch them no matter how strange or bad they seem by today's standards, so if you've not seen this one, really give it a shot, see how you like it.

Scarface: Yeah, you can't do pre-code, or Paul Muni films with out this one, the original Scarface, long before Al Pachino came along in the remake of this, there was Paul Muni heading up, what was in the 1930s, an all star cast, and add to that it was directed by the great but forgotten Howard Hawks, as well as produced by Boris Karloff and Howard Hughes, and you can not help but end up with a gem. Even if its a gem thats hidden in the shadow of its reinvisioned remake thats more commonly known. Scarface has a simple plot, gang warfare. Oh sure its been played out so many times in film and on radio and television and other media for decades sense this film, but none of it, I think has ever really come close to getting it as beautifully done as Scarface did. Its loosely based on the life of Al Capone, and its important if for no other reason then it was one of the first american films to be seen in limited release. The studio wanted alot of the film changed, the ending and alot of the violence they said would make the film unable to be screened in some states, and after altering, reshooting, and still getting the same answer, Howard Hughes said screw it, and released the film in the states taht would allow it, thus making it one of the first films people literally would drive an entire day to see if needs be. I truly do consider this film the greatest gangster movie ever made, and when you really look at some of the films it beats, thats an impressive title to hold, its just so great, you've got the great but forgotten Paul Muni, who just shines as Scarface, where he's as amazing as he was in last week's "I am a Fugitive From A Chaingang", which I also raved about, plus, if him and his all star for the 1930s cast doesn't grab you, the directing by the forgotten but so brilliant Howard Hawks, the man I honestly think stands as the greatest american director of that era, if not of all time, dwarfing often raved about Cecil B. Demille's work easily.

Waterloo Bridge: The next stop in my pre-code trip this week is Waterloo Bridge, this is *technically* a pre-code film, well actually its a 1940 update of the 1931 film of the same name, for which I couldn't find a torrent, but, i could find one for the 1940 version starring Viviene Leigh, which is good, but I do much rather the 1931 James Whale directed version that stars Mae Clarke, and was set in world war one, and wasn't a flashback story, as well as it being Whale and Clarke's brilliant follow up to earlier in the year's Frankenstein, but, seeing as I can't seem to find a torrent, gonna bite the bullet on this one... Anyway, with that being said, here is the background on the film: On the eve of World War II, a British officer revisits Waterloo Bridge and recalls the young man he was at the beginning of World War I and the young ballerina he met just before he left for the front. Myra stayed with him past curfew and is thrown out of the corps de ballet. She survives on the streets of London, falling even lower after she hears her true love has been killed in action. But he wasn't killed. Those terrible years were nothing more than a bad dream is Myra's hope after Roy finds her and takes her to his family's country estate. From here the film sets up to and has its tragic end, though it differs from the original, and is one of my least favorite parts of the film, instead of going for true to life impact, they went for tragic followed by sadness, and though I admit, on its own this ending is alright, i felt the originals ending where Myra is killed in an air raid as she's walking over Waterloo Bridge to be better. As well as the fact that in the original pre-code film Myra was a prostitute, which actually made abit more sense given the story. But still, check it out, its a pretty good way to spend an afternoon, even if it differs greatly from its original content, which also, if you can find, totally should watch.

Red Headed Woman: Our final stop on our tour through pre-code hollywood is the film some think really made Jean Harlow a star, a saucy jaunt through the promiscuous life of a young secretary willing to do anything to get into high society life, and it goes by the name of Red Headed Woman. Harlow stars as Lilian 'Lil' Andrews, and well, I ain't saying Lil's a gold digger..., but I'm sure you know how the rest of that line goes. Anyway, Lil will do whatever it takes to get herself out of her life, which as she sees it, is boring, pedestrian and poor. She goes about seducing her boss, an aging wealthy business man who, breaks up his marriage in order to marry Lil, much to the surprise and shock of his now exwife. High Society shuns Lil, because most of the time in the 1930s High Society people are jerks and wanna hate on a sister for making that money money (yeah yeah), this doesn't bother Lil all that much really, I guess when you're a gold digger by trade, you get used to people hating on you for it, Lil eventually meets a coal tycoon who's a business friend of her husband's, she then, in true gold digger fashion, seduces this man as well, and then says she won't tell anyone if he has a party in her honor at her mansion, knowing that no one will dare to offend one of the richest men in the country, the party looks like a success at first, until Lil's only friend points out to her that everyone's left early for a party across the street for the exwife of Lil's husband, why you would live across the street from someone who's husband you stole is beyond me honestly, but, I don't claim to understand the mind of gold diggers, so, party on, Lil temporarily leaves for New York City, to recoup and get away from the stress of those around her, while she's gone, her husband finds a handkerchief of hers at his friend's home, guessing what she's done, he tells his elderly father, who shows him pictures he hired a detective to follow Lili around took, showing both her affair with her husband's friend, but also the man that drives his limo around. From here all hell breaks loose, and with out spoiling the ending for you, it proves once again, that if you think far enough ahead, you'll be able to get yourself out of anything.

Well thats it for this week, I hope you all enjoyed our little trip back to the pre-code era of Hollywood, where all the women were prostitutes and gold diggers, and all the men were either rich socialites or mobsters with impeccable hair, its a great throw back to the days when the world wasn't so uptight and it wasn't all so happy and friendly as you would be lead to believe...

so, until next week, I hope you enjoy these films as much as i enjoyed finding them..



A Picture Says A Thousand Words....

Sophia Loren and Jayne Mansfield in 1957...

I shall leave you all to ponder its its importance to the universe.....



Tuesday, August 18, 2009


I've been putting off doing this review for abit, seeing as the pilot already aired on television back in April, but, I figure sense i've been doing this thing with soon to be appearing television series, I might as well do this one too, you know, to be fair, interesting side note, it seems the only pilots hitting the net so far are FOX, normally by now we've seen almost all of them and the shows that aren't gonna make it, but its still early... so we'll see how that goes...

Here is what Fox's website says on Glee:
From Ryan Murphy, the creator of "Nip/Tuck" and "Popular," comes GLEE, a one-hour musical comedy that follows an optimistic high school teacher as he tries to transform the school's Glee Club and inspire a group of ragtag performers to make it to the biggest competition of them all: Nationals.

McKinley High School's Glee Club used to be at the top of the show choir world, but years later, a series of scandals have turned it into a haven for misfits and social outcasts. WILL SCHUESTER (Matthew Morrison, Broadway's "Hairspray"), a young optimistic teacher, has offered to take on the Herculean task of restoring McKinley's Glee Club to its former glory with the help of fellow teacher EMMA PILLSBURY (Jayma Mays, "Ugly Betty"). It's a tall order when the brightest stars of the pitch-imperfect club include KURT (Chris Colfer), a nerdy soprano with a flair for the dramatic; MERCEDES (Amber Riley), a dynamic diva-in-training who refuses to sing back-up; ARTY (Kevin McHale, "Zoey 101"), a geeky guitarist who spends more time avoiding bullies than chasing girls; and TINA (Jenna Ushkowitz, "Spring Awakening"), an awkward girl who needs to suppress her stutter before she can take center stage.

Will's only hope lies with two true talents: RACHEL BERRY (Lea Michele, "Spring Awakening"), a perfectionist firecracker who is convinced that show choir is her ticket to stardom; and FINN HUDSON (Cory Monteith, "Kyle XY"), the popular high school quarterback with movie star looks and a Motown voice who must protect his reputation with his holier-than-thou girlfriend, QUINN (Dianna Agron), and his arrogant teammate, PUCK (Mark Salling).

Driven by his secret past, Will is determined to do whatever it takes to make Glee great again, even though everyone around him thinks he's nuts. He's out to prove them all wrong - from his tough-as-nails wife TERRI SCHUESTER (Jessalyn Gilsig, "Nip/Tuck") to McKinley's cheerleading coach SUE SYLVESTER (guest star Jane Lynch, "Best In Show," "Role Models") to an ?ber-hip world that thinks jazz hands and sequined tuxedos litter the road to infamy rather than pave the way to Hollywood dreams.

Featuring a soundtrack of hit songs from past and present, GLEE is produced by Ryan Murphy Television in association with 20th Century Fox Television. Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk and Ian Brennan are co-creators of the series. Murphy, Falchuk and Dante Di Loreto serve as executive producers, while Ian Brennan and John Kousakis serve as co-executive producers. Murphy directed the pilot.

Remember what I said last time out about how a show's press release isn't always what the show is about and how its just to give you an overview of the cast and who makes it? Thats half true here this outline is actually pretty true to the pilot, however honestly this doesn't really do the show justice, because I honestly believe its gonna be the winner in the race for best new series. Now to some that might be a bit of a jump, specially for a series that at the surface looks like another teen aimed fluff series, but, like "Gossip Girl" proved two years ago, and some could argue "10 Things I Hate About You: The TV Series" has done over this summer, even a show in that field can have some teeth and enough power to stay around on story, casting and content instead of starring "Generic Attractive Teenager A" and their "dreamy" eyes, Generic Attractive Teenager B" with their "perfect hair" and "Generic Marketed As A 16 Year Old Sex Symbol A" with her skin tight way to adult for her to be wearing clothing, and so on, you get the idea. The only difference between Glee and most of the other shows in its field, much like 10 Things, it doesn't really take itself seriously, it would rather poke fun at the stereotypes created by other shows in its field then to actually give in to them, I do love when a series is brave enough to break ranks that way, and when a network backs it fully for doing so.

For those of you that didn't see the pilot when it aired as a special in April, or haven't watched the streaming episode of it on, or where in another country and not aware of it at all, here is a more indepth look at the plot..

Glee tells the story of high school teacher Will Schuester, he's a quiet, depressed, Spanish teacher that seems to have given up on ever becoming more then he really is at this moment, he has a wife named Terri who is very demanding and tends to be rather, forceful and vocal about how she wants to live and seems to not care much for what Will thinks of it, which doesn't really help much for Will's self esteem, the only things that seem to give Will any moniker of joy at all, is when he stands infront of the award case in the front of the school he works at, and looks at the awards for glee club from about 10 years before, Will seems to flash back to his days when he was in glee club and how happy it made him, and how he feels he's lost that. The other thing that makes him remotely happy, seems to be the scatter brained School counselor Emma Pillsbury, both Emma and Will both show noticeable attraction to each other, but seem to scared to ever actually make a move on it, infact its Emma, in one of their cute but awkward conversations, Will decides to resurrect the one thing that made him happy, he decides to restart Glee Club. After abit of bargaining with the principal, who mocks his idea and tells him its going to fail, he puts up a signing sheet and waits to see who signs up.

Given how little people sign up, everyone that tried out, gets into the group, the "gleeks" as they're called are as follows; Rachel Berry, a girl who's two fathers have claimed is destine to be a star, she believes in this so much that she will do whatever it takes, she states she's so committed to her path that she posts videos of her singing different songs on myspace every single day, she's repeatedly turned down by the Cheerleaders when she wants to join their quad and is mocked and bullied by other students who find her weird, given her overly peppy attitude, its infact Rachel that says the show's tag line "Being a part of something special makes you special, right?". She's then followed by, Artie Abrams, who is in a wheelchair who plays guitar and has friends in the Jazz Club. Tina Cohen-Chang, an asian girl that actually does a great version of Katy Perry's "I kissed a girl" when she first appears. Kurt Hummel, a sharp dressed young man who really has a great voice, even if he looks like he's 10. And Mercedes Jones, a fashion loving diva who thinks she's a superstar. she seems strong willed but really wants the club to work out. Now with the group in place, they try and get themselves together as a group, but it just isn't working, they're still missing something..

Thats when by chance, when trying to get new members by talking to the football team, Will discovers, that quarterback Finn Hudson, has an incredible voice, and after working hard to get him to give Glee a try, Finn has a flashback to how music has always been a part of his life, and how much he loves to sing it, he agrees to join the club, but doesn't tell his couch or his friends on the football team at first. With Finn, the group finally comes together, and finally finish their first number, which is surprisingly good. And after they go to check out a regional Glee competition, where they watch the reigning championship team do an amazing version of Amy Winehouse's "Rehab", they start to get abit scared, but Will, with the help of Finn and Rachel are able to get them to see they're good enough to beat the champs, their practice attracts the attention of Emma, who is overjoyed to see Will actually happy about something for once. When Will goes to the principal to ask for money to get some team uniforms and stuff, he runs afoul of Sue Sylvester, the insanely cut throat head of the Cheerleader Squad, she hates the idea of the glee club and wants to destroy it. At this point we also find out that Will's wife doesn't really like what he's doing, I'm assuming because she's a selfish bitch.

Eventually Finn's friends on the football team find out he had joined Glee, and after mocking him to the point where he decides to quit and focus on Football, he happens across his friends bullying Artie and Kurt, and after they demand he stuff Kurt into a portable toilet and knock it over, he realizes that he made the wrong choice, he refuses to do it, and when he's called a loser, he says the line that probably will define his character, "Don't you get it? Were all losers, everyone in this school. No, everyone in this town. Out of all the kids who graduate maybe half will go to college and two will leave the state to do it. I'm not afraid of being called a loser cause I can accept that that's what I am... But I am afraid of turning my back on something that made me happy for the first time in my sorry life.", he then tells them that he's not quiting football, or Glee Club, stating that both are going to win trophies that year, because he's good enough to do both, and both need him. He then picks up Kurt and wheels Artie off to reunite with the club, who then choose a group name, "New Directions", given that the group is a new direction for all of them.

At this point Will comes in and tells the group that he's decided to leave them, stating that its causing problems for him with his wife, after they all try and get him to stay, he leaves, saying they will be able to find someone else to watch over their group for them. Later Will happens across Emma who then tells him how she'd never seen him as happy as he was with those kids. He then decides to return, after he hears them practicing and it makes him smile, as he realizes just how good they really are. the group is rejoiced. The Pilot ends with Sue and Finn's girlfriend Quinn, the head cheerleader plotting how to get rid of the group.

Now for my thoughts on the pilot and the upcoming series? I think its gonna seriously be the runaway hit of the new shows this year, its got the right mixture of what just about every demographic could enjoy, and when you take into account that each show has eight songs, and that when you also add in that the cast was picked because of how they sound together as well as their acting, instead of their looks or some other lame crap, you seriously do have a future hit on your hands.

So if you haven't seen it yet, and you don't wanna wait till September, go over to, or any of the many websites taht stream tv shows on the net, or find the torrent from when it aired last spring and have a look at the pilot to Glee, you probably won't regret it.



Monday, August 17, 2009

Sons of Tucson

Its that time of year again, when all the fall tv pilots start to leak out into the general population, and having already reviewed "The Cleveland Show" I figured I would keep that ball rolling by reviewing the upcoming series "Sons of Tucson", seeing as word got out today that the pilot is available on the internet.

Here is the official description from
In the tradition of "Malcolm in the Middle" and "The Bernie Mac Show," Sons of Tucson is a family comedy about three brothers who hire a charming, wayward schemer to stand in as their father when their real one goes to prison. What begins as a business relationship evolves into something more complex and compelling: a family unlike any we've ever seen. The three brothers find their dad-for-hire, Ron Snuffkin (Tyler Labine, "Reaper"), at the local sporting good store. Ron will be forced to draw on a wide array of skills and a vast bag of tricks as he steps into the patriarch role to take care of the boys of the Gunderson family. Robby Gunderson, 8, is a loose cannon who doesn't take garbage from anyone; Gary Gunderson (Frank Dolce, "Doubt"), 11, is a bright and street-savvy leader who is every bit the con man his father is; and Brandon Gunderson, 13, is a gentle free spirit who goes along for the ride.

While Sons of Tucson is grounded in the day-to-day challenges of a single-parent home, nothing in the Gunderson household is quite what it seems. An ongoing chess match between Ron and the boys will keep both parties on their toes, as neither side can afford to give up too much power or independence. Sons of Tucson is directed by three-time Emmy Award-winner Todd Holland ("Malcolm in the Middle," "The Larry Sanders Show") and produced by 20th Century Fox Television. Justin Berfield, Jason Felts, Harvey Myman and Todd Holland serve as executive producers. Tommy Dewey and Greg Bratman wrote the pilot.

Now, as is often the case with network synopses, don't take it at its word, often times a network will package a show to try and grab the viewers of former shows that they think it might appeal too, hence why it they reference two of their former shows, and how they mention Tyler's starring role on Reaper. It doesn't really tell you much of the show in general, but it tries to give you just a hint of what it is, so don't let that really be your judge.

Here is abit more descriptive plot outline of the series:

The Gunderson children are left on their own when their father is sent to jail for an investment banking scandal, after their mother leaves them alone to fend for themselves, they make their way from new jersey to Tucson Arizona, where their father owned a home and a large amount of cash that was kept hidden in case he was ever caught. Things are great for them, until it becomes time for them to start school again. There is only one issue, they need an adult to get them signed up for school. After what they say was a long time, they scope out and decide on a down on his luck guy who works at a sports store named Ron. Ron is a slacker, who lives in his car, owes money to thugs and will do anything to get out of work but still make money. After they work out a deal for him to pose as their dad, he agrees to help them for a fee of afew hundred dollars.

He signs the kids up at school and they pay him, he then tells them they need to pretend to be his kids so he can convince his grandmother to give him some valuable collectible figures he is going to sell to make the money he owes a local thug who keeps threatening him, the kids say they'll help him, but in the end, they just steal his car. He finds them at their house and after saying they really need him around, which the three dismiss and insult him on, he leaves with his car. After the youngest of the Gunderson boys blows up an outdoor fair, they show up again telling Ron they need his help again, and after they pay him they head over to the school where they go, Ron cons his way out of the boy being expelled from school, and tries to flirt with his teacher. As the show goes on through a series of events, the boys and Ron keep needing each other's help, and after realizing that it would be alot easier on all of them if they were to pay Ron and allow him to live in their home, or well, the shed out behind the house, the pilot ends after Ron's moved into their shed and has to go deal with the parents of a girl the youngest boy almost burned in his explosion.

Now see, the pilot isn't *BAD*, but its also *not good* either, there are alot of plot holes, mostly when and why the boy's mother left them, and why no one noticed when they went missing from New Jersey, or how they were able to travel across the country by themselves with no one reporting or noticing them. As well as how Ron, after stealing some young girl's bike apparently, was able to find where the boys lived, when they stated at the school earlier they walked from there to the school, there are afew other small issues, but nothing to really ruin the show I think.

So here is my biggest issue with this series, its good, it could go on to have a long run, but the problem is, we've seen it already. Its kind of like Malcolm In the Middle, but instead of the mother being a super bitch, its one of the children, infact all three of the Gunderson kids are alot like the boys on Malcolm, one is creepy and super hyper, the other is quiet and peaceful, and the other is angry and bossy, its an almost exact copy. And as for Ron, as a character he's great, but the thing is, Tyler Labine plays him EXACTLY like he played Sock on "Reaper", snappy pop culture references and slang, slacking off while everyone else does his job for him, even the boss at the store he works in is ALOT like his boss on Reaper. So like I said the show isn't a bad show, its pretty good in some spots and will probably have a nice run if FOX doesn't mess it up, its just nothing new, nothing different or fresh, its just reworking of winning concepts from other shows. I was just hoping it would be original, or atleast different in some way. But as I said, I think it'll do well, hopefully in the right timeslot, I was kind of hoping for the hour long format too, I've been saying this for years, the 30 minute comedy medium is dying out, very few non-formula three camera sitcoms remain, but still, I kind of hope they expand the show, it could actually save it at some point..

anyway, go check it out if you're interested, you might enjoy it.



Sunday, August 16, 2009

Torrent Picks 8/16/09

Ok so, its the time of the week again, and I'm back with more movies for y'all to have yourselves some looks at, hopefully they'll be as enjoyable to all of you, as they are to me..

now then, lets get right to it...

Empire Records: I talk alot about cult films, and how each generation has theirs, the world war 2 generation have all those crappy John Wayne movies where he's kicking Nazis in the ass and saying "Pilgrim" randomly. The 1950s have those shitty Elvis movies, the early 1960s had Beach movies, the late 1960s had drug movies, the 1970s had more then cult genres then Steve McQueen had hubcaps in Bullit, and the 1980s had the films of John Hughes, but the 1990s, we had ourselves afew films of our own that fit into the realm of "generational cult films", I touched on this last week with 10 Things I Hate About You, and am continuing it this week with Empire Records, one of the lesser mentioned but still pretty cult-tastic 1990s generational movies. Among its stars are Liv Tyler and Renée Zellweger long before both of their careers went into the toilet, as well as always over looked but awesome, Debi Mazar. The film is basically just a combination of many different little stories about the young people that work in a small but awesome looking record store, and their silly little issues and lives, their conflictions and confusions about growing up and becoming adults, you know the normal, questioning their place in the world and such, which is a common theme in films of this nature, and in the end, everyone discovers that no matter how different they all are, they are all friends, and come together as a kind of family in time to save their record store from closing, and is customary with films like this in the end the cast is all happily dancing on the roof as cheery pop music plays. Now sure, it doesn't sound like much, and I guess to many it might not, but its a cute and pretty funny way to spend two hours, atleast I think it is, plus its a generational film, so it helps you see into the mind of people the age group its aimed at, which always comes in handy.

I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang: I talk at times of my love for "pre-code" films, meaning movies made, mostly in the early 1930s that were made before hollywood started to use a ratings system for films "Pre-Code" normally are seen as the parent to Film Noir and the grandparent to exploitation films, infact the term "Grindhouse" comes from a pre-code film called "Lady of The Burlesque". I tend to note films like 1932's "Scarface" or 1931's "Night Nurse" normally, but one of the best, atleast in my eyes, is 1932's "I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang" which stars the brilliant but often times forgotten about entirely Paul Muni, who also starred in "Scarface" earlier in the year, Chain Gang is unique in the fact its based on a serialized story from a pulp magazine that aimed toward the detective and crime movie crowd. Its the story of Sergeant James Allen, a World War One vet who comes home and can't really find work, he accidentally gets caught up in a robbery attempt and is sent to prison, from which he escapes, he makes his way from the deep south to Chicago, where he has a second chance and actually becomes a success in construction, and becomes involved with the woman that runs the boarding house he lives in, when she finds out that he's a fugitive, she blackmails him into marriage, he agrees do to his not wanting to return to jail, its an unhappy marriage, he eventually meets Helen, whom he genuinely falls in love with, when he asks for a divorce he's betrayed by his current wife, and after what turns out to be a set up, Jim escapes again and goes on the run, leaving Helen behind. The final scene of the film, between Jim and Helen, where you see that a man who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, goes from just wanting to be free to embracing his new role of criminal, is seen by many to be the greatest scene ever shot in Hollywood, and though I can think of afew that are close, I agree with that statement, even adding to it the fact that the lighting and how Muni moves in it, which is what really makes the scene, was done because of an accidentally malfunctioning lighting system and no money left to reshoot, just makes the film so much more brilliant.

Le Mans: One of my favorite actors of all time, is with out a doubt, Steven McQueen, he's that rare mix of believable tough guy, believable sensitive guy, and just plain awesome, he was that guy that guys wanted to be, and that guy women wanted to be with, as tired and lame as that sounds, but its true. The film really has a pretty simple plot, it centers around the 24 hour Rally race of Le Mans, and is kind of what we call a "Docudrama" where its truthful to the actual race and how its done, using both stock footage and actual stunt footage filmed by real drivers, to give you that real feel. The film's small plot focuses on predominately the Porsche and Ferrari teams, how they get through the race, how they deal with accidents, and how they're job effects their family lives. Sure, its not much of a film and is alot of driving on screen, but thats all the film needs to really have, it doesn't need to be dialog heavy, the film is ment to show you that real life racing and all the inner workings there in, is truly a great drama that plays out every time they start their engines. Alot of people might find this film boring if they don't look at the film that way, and I guess I can see how that would be possible, and I guess it comes down to just how you see things on if you enjoy the film or not. But personally, I like it, but then, I'm a big Steve McQueen fan too, so.. yeah.

Man in the Chair: This award-winning independent drama stars Christopher Plummer as Flash, a man who longs for the days when he worked as a crew member on such cinematic masterpieces as Citizen Kane. When Flash meets teenage film fanatic Cameron Kincaid, he becomes an unlikely mentor and agrees to help Cameron make a film to compete in a student competition where the top prize is a film school scholarship and, for Cameron, a ticket out of his difficult home life. Flash, who sees his own life drawing to a close recruits the support of his eccentric friends at the Motion Picture home and helps Cameron make his film and chase his dream. This film is one of those passed over gems that you kick yourself for missing when you did. Its biggest thing for me, is that it stands out as a metaphor for old world Hollywood passing away and giving way to not only the newer generation, but also to the new century with hopes that all that came after it have learned what they, the first generation of hollywood had created, and the hopes that someday, their ways will return. The film itself is engaging and poignant in a way thats uniquely its own, its at times funny, and at other times sad, and it will in its moments move you.

Well, I'm gonna cut this short this week by one, given time and afew other factors today, so I hope you all enjoy... we'll be back next week with more!



Saturday, August 15, 2009

Some Great Grindhouse Trailers

One of the best things about the Grindhouse era was the trailers, and I felt that for lack of anything else to do today, I'd post you all some to enjoy.. so get out that popcorn, put on some fresh to death 1970s gear, and get lost in the era of dollar theaters and drive ins...

Here we go....

Fun Fact for those that haven't been paying attention, yes, that is my friend Maila Nurmi as Vampira, and "the walking dead" is the same man that played The Beast in "The Beast of Yukka Flats".

And finally, this is how they prevented teenage pregnancy in the 1960s...

Oh there are so many more, and I really should make this a weekly feature, but my god I can't stop laughing, my sides hurt so much from the laughing at just how bad some of these are. I guess thats what I hope you take away from this, even though there are some really bad and laughable movies out there in the Grindhouse Era, there are also alot of good ones too...



Sunday, August 9, 2009

Torremt Picks 8/9/09

Ok its that time again, for me to come up with five films that you may or may not enjoy, so, as we do, lets right into it shall we?

The Calamari Wrestler: Now its no surprise that every now and then, I just love a nice completely whacked out bizarre comedy, and though alot of those come out of the asian film market, there are very few that hold up to not only the awesome that this film is, but also the fun, the only one I can think of that comes close is 2008's "Chocolate" which I've already posted afew weeks back. The Calamari Wrestler's plot is this, a professional wrestler gets an illness that turns him into a giant anthropomorphic squid, yes, you read that right, a giant squid, he decides to use this new change in his life to his advantage at his job. He learns to adapt to the new body and arms, and gains alot of success, even against others who become sick and turned into other sea creatures, but with all of his sucess, he really just wants respect and love outside of the ring. The film is just hilarious, specially the scenes with him and the girl with whom he falls in love with, in particular are some of the most hilarious in the film. The woman's husband walks into their kitchen after he's ducked out the window, and he just stares at her, sniffs the air and says "he has been here, hasn't he? That... squid.." and she just stares at him blankly. Its just hilarious fun. Sure we all know they're people in Toho style rubber suits, but come on, who cares? Its a hilarious movie. Its also a pretty cheap alternative to mood altering drugs.

Jezebel: I do love my old school hollywood, it just has this charm to it that you don't find today, the casting, the acting, the sets, the writing, all of it, there is just a magic about it you don't find anymore. But there is no need to get depressed about it, thankfully we have the movies they made, to remind us of just how much movies right now suck compared to then. In any event the plot of Jezebel is pretty simple. Betty Davis is a super bitch. No, seriously she is. She plays a spoiled upper class socialite living in New Orleans and engaged to a doctor, because, you know, thats always what happens to super bitch rich girls, they marry doctors. Anyway, after her doctor to be decides to not go on a shopping spree with her, Bitchy Davis decides to do, what i guess is the ultimate faux pas as revenge for this, she, an unmarried woman, does not wear white to a big social event, which I guess is a bad thing, because Doctor High Society dumps her and leaves town that night in embarrassment. Make sure you remember this in life kids, do not wear red to a social event when every unmarried woman is ment to wear white, you will get dumped. Anyway, he breaks things off and leaves, a year later, he comes back, Bitchy Davis, realizing she's made a mistake, begs him to take her back, but instead, her doctor introduces her to his new wife, from the north, where women know their place, this pisses off Betty, who talks her would be replacement to her doctor, into getting into a duel with him, because people settle things with guns in social circles, because socialites are just like rappers, Anyway the film takes some turns from there and in the end, you don't really know if our lead changes for the better or just manipulates people into thinking so. As you can tell I kind of have abit of fun with this film, I find it both entertaining and hilarious in a way that I don't believe its ment to be, but still as much as i laugh about it, Jezebel really is one of those forgotten old hollywood films that everyone wishes they could have done in their own vision. so if you wanna chuckle or two, or are up for a flashback to the early days of hollywood, when stars were stars, not just marketing images, like we have today, then give it a go.

The Last Starfighter: I've always had a special place in my heart for 1980s movies, I don't know if its because they were the movies of my youth or what, but I have always loved them, and for me, one of the most definitive films, was ofcourse, The Last Star Fighter. This film, along with the one I'm putting next, are what I like to call "ultimate geek films", you see, this film lives out one of the biggest post star wars dreams of all time, to be picked to save an alien race by leading whats left of their star fleet into battle against an unstoppable foe. Oh sure, the film seems abit lame by today's standards, and alot of the time its laughable, but thats it charm, its whole appeal is that this film is so horribly bad you have to just laugh at the whole thing. The plot is as follows, Henry lives in a trailer park in California, which is run by his mother, he loves a girl named Ellie, but can't be with her because his mom needs him to constantly fix everything. His only outlet is the play the one video game outside the small on site store, they game is called "Star Fighter" and it looks alittle like one of the early Star Wars video games. Alex beats the game's high score, much to the delight of everyone in his small little trailer park, who come out to see him beat it. Alex is then visited by a man in a car that looks alot like the Delorean shows up, and after explaining that he's not space Carl Malden from the streets of space San Fransisco, he takes Alex up to space and explains that he was playing a recruitment simulator used to select people to fight against an evil alien threat. From here the movie tells the story of how all but one ship has been wiped out, thus leaving Alex to live out the ultimate geek fantasy, single handedly saving an entire galaxy from an insane warlord who will take over the entire universe if they let him. Sure this film has its flaws, but its still awesome in that cheezy kind of way, so if you haven't seen it yet, you should give it a look, plus, its historically important because its the first film thats F/X where totally done on a computer.

The Explorers: Remember what i was saying about how there are movies that are ultimate geek movies? Among the most beloved of them is this film, The Explorers, this film, like Last Starfighter, this film is the stuff right out of some nerd's self starring sci fi story, a group of childhood friends build their own space ship out of junk, and fly off to space, where they meet and learn about life from aliens. Its best described as The Goonies meets E.T, and though some might look at it as just a toss away children's movie from the 1980s, it has gained a rather notable cult following, even bigger now that the film is available on a quality made dvd now. Here is the plot outline: Ben is obsessed with aliens, and one night he has a dream about a circuit board. He proceeds to draw out the board; with the aid of the brainy Wolfgang, the two friends begin to assemble the device. After a fight at school, Ben meets Darren, a new kid in the neighborhood that appears to be tough. The three continue working on the circuit board. All three have a recurring dream which includes seeing each other and flying about a giant version of the circuit board. They quickly discover that the circuit board enables the creation of a sealed bubble that can be remotely steered. Its force can push through the ground and allows space travel. The first bubble is made in their workshop, and is about 3 inches diameter, and makes holes in anything that it goes through. Their next experiment is away from town. The bubble is about 5 feet diameter and forms around one of the boys and gives him a scary unexpected flight. After this they build their space ship out of a Tilt-o-Whirl car, glass from washing machines and afew televisions, as well as a garbage can, the ship is then called "Thunder Road", and they set off for the stars. Now sure, as I said this sounds like a toss away forgettable movie, but its got an endearing charm to it, and makes people just love it. I happen to be one of those people, I always look back at this film fondly and it brings a smile to my face whenever one of the rare cases of me seeing it on television happens.

Foxy Brown: I've always loved blaxploitation films, this is no hidden thing, and among those, one of the best is ofcourse, the iconic Foxy Brown. Set in the era of giant afros, giant platform shows, and bellbottoms that are so huge you could shelter a whole family under them in the rain. Here is the plot of the film: When her government-agent boyfriend is shot down by The Man, Foxy Brown seeks revenge . She links her boyfriend's murderers to a "modeling agency" run by the campy villains of Steve Elias and Miss Katherine. Foxy decides to pose as a prostitute to infiltrate the company, and helps save a fellow black woman from a life of drugs and sexual internment. Oh sure it sounds like a cesspool of a film, but its really not, its a cult classic that just begs to be seen, plus, come on, the afros are amazing....

Well thats it for now, sorry about the lateness of this, I had a very busy day, anyway, enjoy.



Thursday, August 6, 2009

RIP: John Hughes

John Hughes, the man that defined the 1980s by making, or having a hand in almost every single hit movie from that decade, passed away suddenly today, while having a morning walk in Manhattan where he was visiting family, John suffered what would become a fatal heart attack, he was 59 years old.

Hughes is always be remembered for creating such iconic films as Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club and Weird Science, and many others that defined the cinema of the 1980s, after that time, Hughes stepped back, and semi retired, having made his money and his place in movie history, he tended to his farm and his family, and would come out to support independent film whenever he felt his presence was needed.

He will be remembered for his work, for his contributions to the world, and most of all, how he taught two entire generations that sometimes, being the odd one that stands out from the crowd is the one who really is the coolest person of all.

I'm gonna miss you John. May you find peace in that big movie lot in the sky.



Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Cleveland Show: Must Miss TV

I have been debating for awhile know if i should actually do a review of this series, or if i should just let it speak for itself, and after sitting in a graveyard and then sitting by a pond where I skipped some rocks and had some antisocial guy thinking time, and I decided, that its best to do the right thing and tell the world just how horrible of a pilot episode this is.

Now let me state at the jump off, I am a very large fan of Family Guy, the series that has spun off The Cleveland Show. So I hope that no one mistakes my dislike of what I'm seeing here as disdain held over from the other show for some reason. Personally, I feel that even though Family Guy over uses jokes at times or repeats them, its still a quality well done comedy, that stands out from the crowd in ways most shows like it can't. So lets not get any misunderstandings alright?

Now, as any of you that are aware of Family Guy, are aware that Cleveland Brown is the middle aged black guy who hangs out with Peter and the Griffin Family and friends, he's a nice, slow speaking, easy going, relaxed guy, he doesn't let many things bother him, or get him down, he just needs to not take baths when Peter Griffin is doing his shenanigans, given that more then likely the front of his house will get destroyed and he'll end up on his front lawn. Cleveland has a son named Cleveland Jr. when when we last saw him was skinny and had ADHD, and he has a now ex wife named Loretta, with whom he's been separated from, for many of the Family Guy's seasons.

When The Cleveland Show starts, you find Cleveland in the local bar with his friends from Family Guy, as they sit around having a beer, he tells them his divorce is finalized, and he's lost his house to his ex wife Loretta. After asking his friends if he can stay with one of them and each coming up with a very lame excuse as to why he can't, he says "I understand..." he then goes home and takes a bath, and as happens whenever he takes a bath, Peter Griffin, who lives across the street and is the star of Family Guy, lights off a giant bottle rocket, that flies off, hits Cleveland's house and destroys the front of it, tilting his second floor bathroom's floor downward, and his tub, full of water and him, crashing to the front yard. After years of this happening, Cleveland finally has enough, says he's decided to leave town, and tells everyone he knows. Which makes them all sad and start to realize that they kind of have taken Cleveland for granted all these years.

The next scene shows us Cleveland's good bye party, where he tells everyone he's going to California, where his old baseball hitting coach Joe Torri has offered him a job as a talent scout for the his baseball team The LA Dodgers. Everyone expresses shock at this, not knowing Cleveland knew Torri, to which Cleveland points out that one of the reasons he's leaving is because of the fact no one seems to care or ask anything about him, they just expect him to go along for the ride on everyone else's misadventures, and that he feels its time he have some of his own. Everyone sees the point he's making and wish him luck at what he is planning to do with his life. The next scene is Cleveland and his son Cleveland Jr., who has now gone from skinny and ADHD to fat and talks slow and kind of muffled, muffled because apparently he's always eating something, are packed up and ready to leave for their cross country trip to a new life. After their good byes, which I guess will leave people saying "Good bye chocolate people" for awhile, they start driving.

This is the point where the theme song is played in the episode, I have to admit the theme song is kind of almost cute, but not enough to keep me singing it or coming back for more, infact, outside of the bits before Cleveland leaves for his new life, the theme is really the only thing that really made me laugh in this entire pilot.

After the theme, is when the speeding train derails and falls into the canyon of crap and fail below...

On their trip Cleveland and his son drive through Stoolbend Virginia, which happens to be Cleveland's hometown, which he only mentions in passing at first, they drive through the center of town, Cleveland and his son comment on how they still have a Woolworth's Department Store and comment on how they through they'd gone bankrupt years ago, leaving Cleveland to say "I guess no one bothered to tell them..". As they go, Cleveland starts to talk about his youth there, and decides to show his son the baseball trophies he'd won for the local high school. They stop at the school, Cleveland can't find the trophy case, so he goes to find someone to direct him to it, he is shocked to find his first love Donna, who is working at the high school. They talk and Cleveland discovers she's a recently separated, and that she has two children with Cleveland's former best friend, and Donna's soon to be ex husband Robert. After some flashbacks that show how Cleveland always took care of her and was nice to her, while Robert was always taking credit for all the good Cleveland did for Donna, Cleveland decides he's going to atleast try and tell her how he's always felt about her.

Cleveland and his son show up at Donna's house for dinner that night, thats where they meet Donna's neighbors, Lester the redneck, Holt the wanna be 80s style hipster, and Tim, the Russian sounding bear that wears a shirt and tie and works in an office. Lester is a skinny jean vest wearing, missing tooth having redneck who seems to always carry a shotgun and to stupid to notice that Donna is black, but shoots at Cleveland and his son then says "hey Donna, there were some black fellers on your lawn....." followed by "oh wait, they're with you... and you're black." or something, Holt is a short man with a Brooklyn like accent and feels the need to make up for his short size with always having expensive gadgets and a fancy car, he also seems to not like to tell people he lives with his mother. Tim is a Russian sounding bear with a smoking habit and the need to mock humans that get frightened at the fact he's a bear, he has a son and a wife, who I'm assuming are also bears, you know, because bestiality is a frowned on in most places. From here we meet Donna's two kids, her teenage daughter Roberta, who apparently is strong enough to "fight off six Al-Qaeda's" which seem to ambush her at random times, and we also meet Donna's son Rallo, who is five years old, has a large afro and seems to say whatever comes to his mind. After dinner, Cleveland decides to take Donna up on her offer to let them stay for afew days, this allows Cleveland to put his plan to tell her how he feels into action, and to also show her that he's a good male role model, he helps out both of her children, teaching Rallo how to "play it cool" so no one notices him misbehaving, and puts he puts the fear of god into Roberta's boyfriend, a white kid named Federline Jones, who seems to be under the impression he's actually black. On their last day there, Cleveland discovers that Donna's ex, Robert has come back to try and make things work, this finally makes Cleveland lose his temper and after he yells at Robert and tells him he's not good enough for Donna and tells her all the things Robert used to make him do and then take credit for, Donna decides to stay with Cleveland, telling him she loves him and was waiting for him. The episode ends with them getting married and Cleveland saying "I might not be a major league talent scout, but I think i hit me a home run.." followed by his trademark laugh.

Now, see, here is my thing, it isn't that its a *bad* show per say, so much as its mostly things we've seen over and over again before. Its the same concept as Family Guy, just with different characters, and alot of times the same jokes too. Now I don't mind running or recurring jokes and skits, if they're done right they're very funny and never lose their charm, its just, why do we need another program thats doing them? If we're getting enough of them with Family Guy, why do we really need the exact same jokes on a show that is basically Family Guy but with a black family? Atleast American Dad writes its own material. But this, seems kind of like, for lack of a better term Bizzaro Family Guy, and well, I don't know if thats really so much funny as it is lazy on the writers parts.

I guess this pilot is different then the final product, and I guess this doesn't include the Pennyapples, a British family that lives next door and lives as if its Victorian era england, who are supposed to be part of the show as well, but even still, the joke that all British people live in that era is already been used on Family Guy as well, so its really just using the same jokes over and over in that respect till.

I just don't know, I'll give the show a chance, but I have to say its not looking like its gonna be all that great. Though I could be wrong, last year's pilot for the American take on "Life On Mars" was a total bomb, so much so the network ordered a completely new pilot and recasting, and then the redone pilot premiered, I loved it. So who knows? but, really I'm still not holding out alot of hope here.



Sunday, August 2, 2009

Torrent Picks 8/2/09

Well its that time of week again, for me to put out some torrents that I think everyone might enjoy, or atleast give a look too.. anyway with that said, i'll just get right into it...

Gran Torino: I'm going to say what I've said all along about this film, this film is the best ending to the story of "Dirty Harry" Callahan, the tough as nails cop that Clint Eastwood is known for playing. Ofcourse anyone thats heard of this film knows that Gran Torino isn't really the final film of the Harry Callahan series, but its written as if it is. Clint Eastwood stars as Walt Kowalski, a widower who holds onto his prejudices despite the changes in his Michigan neighborhood and the world around him. Kowalski is a grumpy, tough-minded, unhappy old man, who can't get along with either his kids or his neighbors, a Korean War veteran whose prize possession is a 1972 Gran Torino he keeps in mint condition. When his neighbor Tao, a young Hmong teenager under pressure from his gang member cousin, tries to steal his Gran Torino, Kowalski sets out to reform the youth. Drawn against his will into the life of Tao's family, Kowalski is soon taking steps to protect them from the gangs that infest their neighborhood. Its just an amazing film from start to end, will have you sitting there in awe of it, and all that it is. Its moving, its beautiful and its very much the kind of film you don't want to miss out on. Just simply amazing.

Suburban Mayhem: I talk alot about how with the internet there really is no boundary for films, and no real excuse to not find or see something extraordinary that the world is buzzing about do to lack of it being in your local theater or rental store. There is no excuse anymore, between downloadable films and online specialty dvd shops. One of those films that people have been buzzing about was 2006's "Suburban Mayhem", an ambitious aussie film set in Golden Grove, a suburb of the city of Adelaide, South Australia. It tells the story of Katrina, a teenage mother who sleeps around with various men, when her father threatens to call social services to take her daughter away from her, she hatches a plan to murder her father, believing that she can't live with out her daughter and she decides to not even consider the idea of ever working for a living, and that the money she would gain from his death would keep her going for many years. After deciding this is her only course of action, Katrina takes it onto herself to travel from one of her many lovers to another to find someone that will do the job for her, and with out telling you much of what happens, because I do hate spoilers ever so, Katrina becomes infamous in Golden Grove for more then just her habit of sleeping around. This film is great, its an awesome snapshot of what we call a "black comedy", meaning a film thats darkly funny, which this film definitely is. Plus I just loved the print add campaign for it, giving it that old 1940s pulp comic book feel, just the right touch for the right film. If you've not seen it, and I'm betting alot of you haven't, you really should, its just perfectly done dark fun. Oh and if you are paying attention, you'll see Mia Wasikowska in the film as Layla, for those of you that don't yet know, Mia Wasikowska is set to make her big star breakthrough in Tim Burton's soon to be released Alice In Wonderland as Alice.

A Bronx Tale: This is one of those films that you forget about until you find it years later on weekend afternoon television, and the memory of just how awesome it is sticks with you, this is one of the lesser known De Niro films, but to me, its probably one of his best. He still is playing the loud guy from The Bronx role, but this time, he's not playing it as a cop trying to clean up the streets or a gangster who runs them, this time he's playing a father who just wants his son to grow up and be a better man then he is, to rise above all the crime on the streets and make something of himself, when watching it I often wonder if he's channeling his own father when playing the role, given that De Niro's own upbringing was somewhat similar. Set first in 1960 De Niro plays Lorenzo Anello, a bus driver who works hard to get by, alot of times working himself to the point of exhaustion, but he's honest, he works a good job and is living above all the crime in the neighborhood he's lived his whole life in, at the age of nine, his son Calogero witnesses a crime done by local mobster Sonny and his crew, after keeping quiet and not telling the police what he'd seen, Sonny takes a liking to Cal, who starts to visit Sonny and his men at the bar below where Cal and his father lives. This doesn't sit well with his father obviously, the film jumps ahead to 1968, Cal is 17 years old and is forced to choose between his two mentors, Sonny and his Father, he also starts dating a young black girl, much tot he dislike of his racist friends, who beat up her brother and plan a raid of sorts on the mostly back neighborhood where Cal's girlfriend lives. The film tells the story of how Cal learns to do the right thing, and eventually chooses his side, and which of his mentor's paths to follow. For all its brilliance and seemingly prefect depiction of life in The Bronx in the 1960s, there are some rather violent scenes, the scene where Cal's friends raid the black neighborhood being probably the most violent in the film, followed by the scene where a gang of bikers get decimated by the local mafia to the song "The 10 Commandments of Love" by The Moonglows, but I don't believe any of the violence actually takes away from the film and the story, it tries to show that life in the 1960s in The Bronx, New York wasn't exactly safe and carefree. If you've not seen this, you really should, Its just so well made and touching in a way I personally wasn't expecting it to be. I love when a film does that, makes you have hope for the film industry in a way it does.

Candy: This film has to be one of my favorite guilty pleasure movies of all time. On paper Candy looks like it should be a hit, it has an all star cast of who's who in the late 1960s; Marlon Brando, Richard Burton, James Coburn, Walter Matthau, Ringo Starr, John Astin (Gomez of TV's The Addam's Family), and Ewa Aulin as the title role are among the many stars that appear in the film. You would think that with a cast like that, a film would be an instant hit, well, it wasn't. Loosely based off the novel "Candy" by Maxwell Kenton, a modernization of the 1759 french satire "Candide" written by Voltaire, it tells the story of Candy Christian, a beautiful young girl in the late 1960s who's young and beautiful and blond in the world where being blond beautiful and wearing go-go boots with a mini skirt will get you anywhere, Candy is rather naive and trusting, and is completely clueless in the fact that most people seem to want to use her curious and trusting nature for their own, normally perverted needs. The opening sequence shows a ball of light we assume is Candy (Ewa Aulin) descending to Earth from outer space. In the next scene, she is in school, where her father (John Astin) is also her teacher. She attends a poetry recital by eccentric poet MacPhisto (Richard Burton), who offers her a ride home in his limousine. At her home, MacPhisto gets increasingly drunk and continues to recite poems, inspiring Candy and the Mexican gardener Emanuel (Ringo Starr) to have sex. After this scandal, the family decides to send her off to a private school, and she embarks on a psychedelic journey during which she meets a number of strange people, including a sex starved military general (Walter Matthau), a doctor who performs public operations (James Coburn), a hunchback (Charles Aznavour) and a fake Indian guru (Marlon Brando). The film is one of those films that is so bad it swings all the way back around to incredible, simply on the fact its just so hilariously done. John Astin plays two roles, T.H Christian, an uptight repressive super straight and narrow teacher, and his brother, Jack Christian who's an active swinger who openly lives a life of sex, drugs and rock and roll with his girlfriend, and I think for the first 30 or so minutes at times steals the show in these roles, delivering one of the best lines in the whole film during the confrontation with Emanuel's family, "This isn't some Boarder town with no laws where you can come and go as you please..... doing.... Mexican things!", the whole film is full of lines that are just as funny, its just the way Astin delivers the line is so perfect. So if you're up for, or need a really good laugh, give this film a look, sure Candy isn't by any means an incredible film, and sure its funny to laugh at good actors in roles that don't really fit them, but thats the fun of it, the whole completely shlock feel of it, sure its bad, we all know its bad, it knows its bad, and laughter is the way it gets spanked for being so bad. So give it a look if you haven't seen it yet, you won't be let down, or need anti-depressant drugs for awhile after seeing it.

10 Things I Hate About You: With my recently reviewing the television series based on this film, and with me being such a big fan of it, I felt the need to add the film to my picks for this week, sure, some call it lazy, others call it great, me, I don't really care, i just love the film and wanted to share it, and I figured friday's review was the perfect opening for me to put it in the list. So, for those of you who don't know, let me break this film down for you. Its a modernization of the play The Taming Of The Shrew, released in 1999 and considered by many to be the definitive movie of that era, though some still argue "can't hardly wait" should hold that title, but we'll get to that movie next week. The main plot of 10 things is as follows: popular girl in school Bianca Stratford can't date until her older sister Kat has a boyfriend of her own, its some strange rule that their over protective father has instilled in the household, a generic looking male model who goes to their school decides he wants to get Bianca to date him, so he enlists the help of a kid named Patrick, who everyone fears and shys away from to take out Kat so him and Bianca can date, he also enlists the help of new to their school Cam to be the "cover date" believing that if once they were able too, Bianca's dad wouldn't allow her to date a guy who was a male model, Cam agrees to help because he really likes Bianca, and Patrick agrees to get Kat to date him because he's getting paid to. The film really tells the story of Kat and Patrick and how even though he was to be paid to date her, he falls in love with Kat, who also falls in love with him, when word gets out that he was paid at first to date her, Kat is hurt, and for the rest of the film Patrick spends his time trying to win her back, while Bianca discovers he would rather be with Cam then the other guy, near the end of the film Kat reads the poem she wrote for which the film is named. Its a great film that is just so enjoyable and fun to watch, and really hits the core of the 1990s perfectly. If you've not seen it you really need to give it a look, you won't be sorry.

Well thats it for now, I'll be back with more torrents next week.....