Sunday, September 27, 2009

Torrent Picks 9/27/09

Well this is once again time to sit down and come up with 5 films that hopefully all of you will have not seen, and will enjoy once you do, after all that is my goal with all of this, to broaden your cinematic horizons, so, with that said, lets get right back into it after missing last week shall we?

American Gangster: This is one of those films that was hyped beyond belief, and lived up to that hype, but soon faded into obscurity, its noted for the fact its one of the very few true to history depictions of an of the American mobsters of note. It tells the story of Frank Lucas, the heir apparent to the rule of Harlem in the wake of the death of legendary gangster Bumpy Johnson, who is kind of a folk hero of sorts, this film follows the rise and fall of Frank Lucas, which is in fact the tale of a cat and mouse style situation between Frank Lucas and police officer Richie Roberts, who dispite having a really silly name, is the only cop with enough heart to even attempt to go into Harlem and take down Lucas. The film follows their lives both personal, and at odds, as you see that they aren't really all that different from each other. Which really is a great concept, it proves that even in reality, that sort of story happens. It follows the two as they one up each other and eventually make attempts on each others lives, all the way to the very, where Lucas is sent to jail and finally Lucas' release from jail in the early 1990s. Its a brilliant film but also very over looked inspite of its high profile and promotional material being all over the place.

All About Eve: This is one of those classic films that is full of iconic imagery and performances, like, the kind of thing you watch and you know that its important that you watch it, that you have seen it, and you fully understand the film. Here is the plot; At first Margo Channing (Bette Davis) is amused at the admiration of her fan Eve Harrington (Anne Baxter), but enjoying the attention, hires her as her personal assistant. Margo is a great stage actress and her success blinds her to the fact that Eve us using Margo to advance her own career dreams to become an actress, too. Eve first makes plans for Margo's personal engagements, but always makes herself look like the one who was thoughtful and kind. By winning over Margo's friends, they dismiss Margo's concerns that Eve is up trying to undermine her. Then, Eve works on Margo's professional life, showing manager, directors and playwrights that she is very sharp and a quick study. By the time Margo is trying to get Eve out of her life, she is hired as her understudy for the most important part in a play she has ever had. Now the competition is on to see who is the greater actress and who will fail. Seriously if you haven't see this, you gotta.

Corpse Bride: This is one of my favorite claymation films of all time, its just so amazing, and bright and beautiful, even for a film about a man that marries a dead body. Its just a delightful bit of work and I can sit and watch it over and over and over, and never be bored with it, I love that in a film. Its cute enough to keep all ages happy, and its beautiful enough for everyone from the truly dark inside, to the lovers of wonder, to enjoy, here is the plot: In a Victorian era town, the Everglots, a family of recently bankrupt aristocrats, reluctantly agree to marry off their daughter Victoria to the timid Victor Van Dort, son of nouveau riche fishmongers. Despite their initial uneasiness about the situation, having never before met, Victor and Victoria hit it off immediately. Unfortunately, after his clumsiness ruins their wedding rehearsal (accidentally lighting Victoria's mother's dress on fire), Victor is banished until he can learn to recite his wedding vows properly. Victor wanders deep into the forest while practicing, eventually performing a flawless mock recital. In doing so, he places his bride’s wedding ring on a tree root resembling a human hand. However, it turns out it is a hand, which comes to life and grabs Victor by the arm. Emerging from the earth is Emily, the "Corpse Bride," a beautiful undead girl in a moldy bridal gown who declares Victor her husband. From there all sorts of hilariously odd things happen and its just lots of fun for everyone involved. Its great too because its true to the fairy tale I'm told its based on, which, I'm informed is Estonian. It even has the old world concept that a woman that is brutally murdered by her husband or a rapist or lover, will be reborn as a butterfly... which is a beautiful touch.

The Getaway: This is one of my very favorite of all Steve McQueen films, and thats something because I'm a huge Steve McQueen fan. I mean really he's a god of film and awesome to me. Anyway, here is the plot to this film: Carter "Doc" McCoy (McQueen), an incarcerated criminal, is suffering from the isolation of prison life in Texas. After being denied parole, he sends his wife Carol (McGraw) to do whatever's necessary to make a deal with Jack Benyon (Johnson), a corrupt businessman in San Antonio. Benyon has Doc paroled on the condition that he take part in a bank robbery with two of his minions, Rudy (Al Lettieri) and Frank (Bo Hopkins). A guard is killed and Rudy attempts a doublecross, shooting Frank and drawing a gun on Doc, but a prepared Doc beats him to the draw and shoots Rudy several times. Doc meets with Benyon to divide the money. Benyon also attempts to doublecross him before being shot and killed by Carol. It is clear to Doc now that Carol had to sleep with Benyon in order to guarantee his release from prison. Angry and taking it out on her, Doc gathers up the money and the couple flees for the border in El Paso. A bloodied Rudy, having secretly worn a bulletproof vest, is still alive. He forces a rural veterinarian named Harold (Jack Dodson) and his young wife Fran (Sally Struthers) to treat his injuries, then kidnaps them in order to pursue Doc and Carol. Meanwhile, Benyon's brother Cully (Roy Jenson) and his thugs also go after the McCoys. Doc and Carol fight over her indiscretion with Benyon. At the train station, a shifty con man copies a locker key from Carol and lifts their bag of money from a locker. Doc follows the thief onto a train and forcefully takes it back. The injured con man and several witnesses are taken to the police station, where they identify Doc's mug shot. From here the film goes into fast gear and it just brings from a smart and just amazing ride to an awesome and unforgettable end.

The Secret of NIMH: This is, by far one of my favorite films of all time, its one of my favorite books, and one of my favorite cartoons, plus its by forgotten genius Don Blooth, who doesn't get as much respect as he should. Here is the plot: Mrs. Brisby, a shy and timid field mouse, lives in a cinder block with her children on the Fitzgibbons' farm. She is preparing to move her family out of the field they live in as plowing time approaches; however, her son Timothy has fallen ill. She visits Mr. Ages, another mouse and old friend of her late husband, who provides her with some medicine from his laboratory. Mr. Ages warns her that Timothy cannot go outside for at least three weeks or he will die. On her way back home she encounters Jeremy, a clumsy but compassionate crow. The next day spring plowing begins, and though Mrs. Brisby is able to stop the tractor, she knows she must come up with another plan. With the help of Jeremy she visits the Great Owl, a wise creature living in the nearby woods, to ask for help. He tells her to visit a mysterious group of rats who live beneath a rose bush on the farm and ask for Nicodemus. Mrs. Brisby goes to the rats' home, where she is amazed to see their use of electricity and other human technology. She meets Nicodemus, the wise and mystical leader of the rats, and Justin, an extremely kind and friendly rat who is the Captain of the Guards. She learns that her late husband, along with the rats and Mr. Ages, was a part of a series of experiments at a place known as NIMH (which stands for the National Institute of Mental Health). The experiments had boosted their intelligence to human level, allowing them to easily escape. However, the rats have concocted "The Plan", which is to leave the farm and live without stealing electiricity from humans. Nicodemus then gives Mrs. Brisby an amulet that gives magical power when its wearer is courageous. Because of her husband's prior relationship with the rats, they agree to help Mrs. Brisby move her home out of the path of the plow. Mrs. Brisby volunteers to drug the Fitzgibbon's cat, Dragon, so that they can complete the move safely. Only mice are small enough to fit through the mouse hole leading to the house, and Jonathan was killed by Dragon while trying. Later that night, she successfully puts the drug into the cat's food dish, but the Fitzgibbon's son Billy catches her and convinces his mother to let him keep her as a pet. While trapped in a birdcage, she overhears a telephone conversation between Mr. Fitzgibbon and NIMH and learns that NIMH intends to come to the farm to exterminate the rats the next day. She manages to escape from the cage and runs off to warn Justin. Meanwhile, the rats are completing the move during a thunderstorm. However, Jenner and his hesitant accomplice Sullivan, who wish to remain in the rose bush, kill Nicodemus, making it look like an accident. Mrs. Brisby arrives and tries to convince the rats that NIMH is coming and that they must leave immediately. Jenner becomes angry and knocks her down. Justin rushes to Mrs. Brisby's aid, and a sword fight between him and Jenner ensues, which ends with Sullivan, himself mortally wounded, killing Jenner and saving Justin's life. Mrs. Brisby suddenly realizes that the house is sinking in the mud it landed in. Despite the best efforts of the rats, they are unable to pull it from the mud. However, Mrs. Brisby's will to save her children gives power to the amulet, which she uses to lift the house out of the mud and move it to safety from the plow. The next morning, the rats have already gone to Thorn Valley with Justin as their new leader and Timothy has begun to recover. Jeremy also finds "Miss Right", an equally clumsy crow, and the two fly away together.

And there we are, some more of the best movies i've ever seen, i hope you enjoy :D



Thursday, September 24, 2009

Sorry about the lack of posts

Been a very busy week here prepping and writing up on the new fall tv season, i been under it all, sorry for the no torrents last sunday, and lack of posts this week, just been so very busy I couldn't find time, will fix that next week though. Stick with me y'all.



Friday, September 18, 2009

District 9

thought i had posted this earlier, I apologize for the lateness.

District 9
A Film About The Way Human Beings Really Are
Even If We Don't Want To Admit It

When I first read the rumblings across the wire about a rumor that the stand out sci fi film of 2009 might come out of South Africa, a film industry not really known for making sci fi films, I at first dismissed it, laughed it off, South Africa is known for its depressing stomp on your throat in a pair of sharpened baseball cleats, and when you think its done, it stomps some more and grinds, then it does it more. Because they're just that depressing. So the idea of them pulling a sci fi film of any note off was a long shot at best. But, I must admit, this film comes dangerously close to hitting the Sci Fi bullseye, which honestly, is a good thing, the kind of good thing that people are just left agape wondering if what they just saw was the closest thing to a religious experience that most of the world will ever have, that is what a film is supposed to do, just leave you wide eyed and open mouthed in wonder. District 9 does not disappoint when it comes to doing that, and you can trust in that.

Here is the plot: The film is done in a faux documentary style, explaining everything and introducing everyone who you will need to know through interviews, that slowly fill in the puzzle of what is going on in this film, its brilliantly done, even if its hard to figure out at first. Thats probably one of my very few problems with the film, its slow somewhat confusing beginning 15 or 20 minutes, though they are needed, given the fact they introduce and set up everything you will need for the film, the main characters, what District 9 is, how the aliens got here, things of that nature, if you need a reference to get what i mean, think the way Jurassic Park started, that slow but important opening. After the slow moving set up, the film's pace quickens once you actually get inside District 9 itself, and see not only the hellhole that it is, but how the humans treat the aliens, or "prawns" as they call them given their likeness to shrimps, you truly see what this film is about. Its really a metaphor for the years of South Africa's Apartheid rule. Once your mind connects the dots, you fully understand what this film is about. its about the struggle for freedom, equality, and the most basic of human rights, the right to not be treated like a lower creature just because you are different.

Through flashbacks and cuts to archival footage, you meet the main players of this film; Wikus van de Merwe; our central character, he works for MNU, a large multinational weapons development and private security force, who oversee District 9, Wikus' job is the head of the Department for Relations with Extraterrestrial Civilizations, a job his father inlaw Piet Smit, a high ranking director at MNU promotes him too on the day Wikus goes into District 9, during this part you also meet Colonel Kobus Venter, the film's main villain, and head of a unit of soldiers despacted to accompany Wikus and his people into District 9. At this point its explained that the aliens are being moved from their hovel town outside of Johannesburg South Africa, to a large place of land many miles away which will be called District 10.

It is at this point we learn how the aliens ended up here in the first place, In 1982, a large alien spaceship stops above Johannesburg, South Africa. Reports suggest that the ship became stranded after a command module separated from the ship and dropped to Earth, nowhere to be found. After cutting their way inside, an exploratory team discovers a large group of unhealthy and leaderless arthropod-like species. These alien creatures, derogatorily referred to as prawns, are taken from the ship and housed in a government camp inside Johannesburg called District 9, which soon turns into a slum. You then, through a series of clip interviews see not only what the average person thinks of the aliens being here, but also you see just how bad things are inside District 9, they talk about the Nigerian gang that runs the illegal businesses, dealing in weapons, food, even interspecies prostitution. You are then told that one of the main things leading to MNU controlling District 9, is that they wanted the weapons and alien tech that the prawns have, even though it has been discovered that the weapons and tech are all bio-locked, meaning if you are not of their genetic make up, you can't use any of it, they mention that at one point before first contact was made, that a small escape pod sized part of the ship fell off, and though no one could find it, they believed that was the key to the ship's control, as well allowing humans to access the weapons. This is also where you discover that the move, is really just a big scam to strip the prawns of all their tech and weapons they brought with them from the ship.

From here you jump back to Wikus, as he and his group, along with the military unit that is their escort, enter District 9. And you can't help but look in awe at just how bad it is, and it makes you wonder, if we ever do make first contact, will we be this bad? will we embrace them at first, and then reject and mistreat them if we discover the aliens aren't what we all dream them to be like, and more so, if they come to us looking for help, will we just try to exploit them for what we can gain from them, then cast them aside to live in hellish squaller. As you move around District 9, you are bombarded with hellish imagery worse then anywhere in the 3rd World, you also see that with out us taking the time to attempt and teach them communication, simple misunderstandings can become deadly, you see one prawn kick a man so hard he not only loses and arm, but his life when he impacts with a wall several feet away, you then see that prawn be killed with out a second thought by the military envoy, you see several situations just like this as the film goes, shootings, brutality, even the burning of a nursery full of babies, it gets to the point where you really start to question if humanity deserves to be in contact with the creatures of another world, or if we truly are as narrow minded, violent and primitive as the film depicts. But I guess that would be the point of it all in the end wouldn't it? At this point you see two aliens in a shack using what looks to be a biological science station, where they are distilling some form of fluid, which is quickly stuffed into a canister and smuggled away when Wikus and his people knock on the door.

The alien that takes the canister is designated for filing and locational reasons, with the name Christopher Johnson, Christopher's young son, one of the few children allowed to grow in District 9, greets Wikus and his people at their door while Christopher hides the canister. As he's asked to leave his shack for means of inspecting, they discover the hundreds of computers linked together inside the shack, all of which are considered contraband and must be taken. During the inspection Wikus finds the canister and is accidentally sprayed in the face with the black fluid inside. Christopher is outside demanding his rights when Wikus comes out looking as if he's doing to be ill. At this point the crew decides its time to leave District 9 for today. Wikus returns home to a surprise party in his honor, only to be taken aside by his father inlaw and told if he doesn't do a better job with the relocation to District 10, he will be fired. Apparent his father inlaw has no idea what the difference between a disciplinary hearing and a surprise party is, it makes you wonder if he really has lived an interesting life or not, but you soon realize you don't really care, because during the party Wikus starts to bleed a black fluid that looks alot like what is in the container he was sprayed with. He is taken to hospital and it is soon discovered that under the skin of his left arm, is the arm of one of the aliens.

Whatever was in that canister is turning Wikus into an alien, and after discovering this he is rushed to a special lab inside the MNU main office where its discovered that that he not only has an arm like one, but also their speed, their agility, and their strength, as well as, and most importantly to his father inlaw, he can operate alien technology and weapons. Wikus screams in horror and fear as they force him to test out alien weapon after weapon at times with a gun to his head, eventually using what appears to be an alien flamethrower on steroids he is forced to kill a prawn, which he protests the action of, screaming how its not right or fair, eventually he uses his alien strength to escape, MNU brands him a fugitive, claiming he had contracted an alien sexually transmitted disease and was in a sense a typhoid marry running loose in the city of Johannesburg, a claim his wife does not believe. Wikus goes to the only place he feels he can get answers, he heads back to District 9, to the home of Christopher Johnson, who upon seeing him and his arm decides to help, in exchange for Wikus' help regaining that canister he took earlier, as Wikus starts to understand the alien's language, Christopher takes him under his shack and explains to him that the module that fell from the ship over 20 years ago, was the command module and that the canister that sprayed wikus was a bio fuel, that powered the alien mothership, and that the fuel will allow the alien ship to leave earth for the first time sene its arrival. Realizing the only way to save himself and the aliens is to help Christopher, Wikus agrees to help him regain the canister, and after gaining some earth and alien tech and weapons from the Nigerian Gang Warlord, they head off to raid the MNU building and regain the canister.

From there the film switches into overdrive for what is possibly the best 45 or so minutes of straight up punch you in the face action you will see in years as Wikus and Christopher fend off not only the MNU Military Compliment head by the insane and sadistic Colonel Kobus Venter, but eventually Nigerian gang members bent on revenge for what Wikus does to them when gaining weapons from them. Its an insanely fast paced, lightening fast version of the shoot outs of the wild west with all three sides going at each other all at once, somewhere in the total chaos, Wikas gains control over an alien battle mech, which he uses while Christopher tries to get the command module into the air, after the Nigerian gang members are delt with, it leaves Wikus to take on Venter and his men while Christopher heads for the ship. It all leads up to a final showdown between Venter and Wikus that just leaves you on the edge of your seats waiting for whats going to happen next, its truly an awesome climatic scene, and one that will leave you happy you came to see this film. I won't spoil the actual ending of the film but it does leave it open for a second one if they see fit, though given that it would be a sort of Judgment Day type situation, I find myself worrying about the idea of a follow up, given that the idea of us being judged for our primative and brutal ways by aliens is so over done. Plus, sometimes a story is best left open ended, where you can write your own ending.

As I said at the start, this film did not let me down, yes, it does have a very slow, but very important to the rest of the film starting point, and its very easy to get yourself mucked up in that and lose interest, but don't, stick with it, because the boring set up is needed for the rest of the film to make sense, and once you get out into the actual District 9, the film picks up speed and just rolls through its run time with compelling and action that if anything will give it the status of a sleeper hit for the year. I whole heartedly recommend this film to anyone that is a fan of brilliant writing, awesome special effects, or super high end well written sci fi. So if you get a chance, seriously, check this out, you will not be disappointed at all.



Jennifer's Body

Jennifer's Body
Or: A Study In Why Megan Fox Shouldn't Do Movies With Out Giant Robots

On the off chance you've been living under a rock, or in the bowels of some super unknown paramilitary rebel hide out hidden deep under a hovel town in Burma, then you, unlike the rest of the world, are not aware that Megan Fox, star of Transformers and current hot girl that says stupid things, has a new movie coming out by the name of Jennifer's Body. Now you also might not be aware that this film, is, for the sake of opening statement politeness, nothing more then a modern day version of a sexploitation film. And though I am sure many a person will shell out their hard earned money to see this film, after all, if you put an attractive woman that everyone's talking about on film teasing glimpses of her body and sexuality, there will always be people that go and see it, simply because of those reasons, I personally, can not say that this film was of any real worth. It is basically an excuse to take hollywood's current "it" girl, and trot her out on screen and have her be sexy and say moronic things that the more perverse of people be talking about for days, as the blog and photoshop their way through making the film remotely remembered for nothing more then else then its in your face exploitation of Megan Fox and her current place in pop culture and movie history. And though I can see how on paper this would look like marketing genius, but honestly, it just makes Fox's fame burn out just that much faster.

Here is the plot to the film: Jennifer's Body is about small town high school student Jennifer (Megan Fox), who is possessed by a hungry demon. She transitions from being "high school evil" - gorgeous (and doesn't she know it), stuck up and ultra-attitudinal - to the real deal: evil/evil. The glittering beauty becomes a pale and sickly creature jonesing for a meaty snack, and guys who never stood a chance with the heartless babe, take on new luster in the light of Jennifer's insatiable appetite. Meanwhile, Jennifer's lifelong best friend Needy (Amanda Seyfried), long relegated to living in Jennifer's shadow, must step-up to protect the town's young men, including her nerdy boyfriend Chip (Johnny Simmons). That is basically it, no hidden things that surprise you or a plot twist that makes you somehow feel you haven't waisted your time watching this film, its all pretty much right there. Which when you compare it to writer Diablo Cody's last film, Juno, this dark comedy just does not live up to the same iconic cult status that Juno gained, though I would venture to guess in its own way this film might gain cult status, even if only among lovers of bad movies and grindhouse fans that are into exploitation films, and ofcourse it will be very popular with lonely teenage boys.

The film is said to be a comedy, but really its just a hack, slash, and female ogling film that does nothing more then cringe your way through two hours of She-Demon Megan Fox, going around treating high school girls like crap, teasing the boys, and coming as close to making out with her "pet nerd", a dumpy girl, ironically called Needy, because Diablo Cody used all her good imaginary names on the characters of Juno and Wishmaster the Horse that Wrote Poems, and I'm sure some will find it entertaining as Fox's demonic side comes out and starts to go all black widow on all the boys in school, seducing them and then when they're ready for some action, opening her mouth to reveal her demonic side's way of eating, there is alot of blood, alot of low brow humor, alot of almost nudity, lots of teases of girl on girl interaction, even an idioticly played joke about Fox's claim of being bisexual, when her demonform and Needy face off, Needy states "I thought you only attacked men.." to which Fox, covered in blood and demon stuff proclaims "I go both ways", which though only giving me a slight chuckle, I'm sure will be the big talked about joke scene for those who see the film, and will be asked to any woman who feels shallow enough to dress up as Jennifer for halloween or something, but honestly, I find nothing remotely redeeming in this film save for afew small chuckles, and the hilarity I'll have at all the perverts going insane for all of the almost and semi-nude scenes of fox. It'll be almost as funny as people that believe Wishmaster the Horse That Wrote Poems is a real film and not something I tossed for a random comedic moment.

More so then the movie itself disappointing is the fact that Diablo Cody actually felt this was a good idea for a screenplay, it leaves me wondering if her Oscar for Juno was a fluke win in a year when there weren't many other films to match it in creatively written dialog that year. Seriously, I have nothing against Cody's work, I just think maybe she should stick to straight up comedy instead of this horribly bad excurition into both sci fi and horror, two fields she shouldn't venture into again, ever, infact to be honest, she shouldn't even rent movies from the sci fi or horror sections at a movie rental store, she should really just stick to what she knows, sarcastic socially detached teenagers who isolate themselves so they can feel ways about stuff or have babymaking sex instead of watching the blair witch project on Starz, or she should just write about airheads and strippers, the things she knows and is good at writing about. Don't get me wrong, she's not a bad writer, its just, she doesn't have alot of range, and people shouldn't encourage her to expand that range.

So in the end, is Jennifer's Body worth watching? I wouldn't say for all no, I would say it shouldn't be taken as anything more then a toss back to the sexploitation and slasher genres of the grindhouse era, or toted up with films such as Glitter and Honey, and however many other crappy star vehicles you can think of that were ment to capitalize on the star power and sex symbol status of whoever the main star is. I would say though, if you are intent on seeing it in a theater, wait about a month, after the film bombs it will be released to dollar theaters, because honestly, the film is only worth about 2 dollars of its ticket cost.



Sometimes TV Gets It Right

Earlier in the day, word came down from the TV Gods at ABC Family, that the network notorious for canceling excellent programing for no reason, has almost redeemed itself in my eyes after the unjustly canceling of The Middleman, today, word came down from the evil lair that is Disney/ABC's media headquarters, that the fledgling series based off the film that is the 1990s biggest cult juggernaut, 10 Things I Hate About You, will get a second season. Word was sent out stating that ABC Family intends to air the remaining 10 episodes of the first season in January 2010, much to the rejoice of many.

As anyone that read my review will tell you, I was among the masses ready to pan this series to the depths of hell for treading such sacred ground, but like many others, i was soon eating my words as I watched the series progress, and found myself loving it, and excitedly looking forward to the next episode. I am overjoyed it was allowed a second go round, and I hope it garners a third as well, my only real hopes for once they start to film season three, they do two things; 1) as I have said before, expand to an hour long program, because once you start to get settled into it, its over, I know less is more, but come on, it can handle the hour long format, and 2) Find a role for the great Julia Stiles, her role in the original film as Kat Stratford defined and jumpstarted her career, and most of us who came of age to the original film would love to see her appear as a teacher, or an aunt to the Stratford girls or someone that makes expanded cast appearances. Personally, I'm hoping they could write her in as a Teacher or Aunt, because I would LOVE to see Julia and her signature role's new owner Lindsey Shaw try to out Kat each other, would be hilarious.

Sometimes the TV does indeed get it right. Today is a good day.



Sunday, September 13, 2009

Torrent Picks 9/13/09

Well its that time of the week again, when I dig deep into the recesses of my vast film knowledge and pull out five movies that some of you probably haven't seen before, or that you've forgotten or overlooked for some reason. Anyway with out any farther delay, lets get to it shall we?

Across the Universe: Here is the plot: During the mid-60’s, a young Englishman named Jude journeys to America to find his father. After locating him, Jude also makes friends with siblings Max (Joe Anderson) and Lucy. After deciding to ditch college, Max heads to New York City with Jude. They find jobs and share a building with artist-types. Lucy visits for the summer. She has graduated high school, her boyfriend has died in Vietnam, and she brings a draft letter for Max. Jude and Lucy grow close as Max prepares for Vietnam. After Max leaves, Lucy is distraught. She joins an anti-war effort. Her obsession with the group creates a jealousy in Jude. This strain grows until Lucy leaves him. When Jude sees her at a protest later on, she is being arrested. Attempting to help her, he is arrested and deported. After a firefight in Vietnam, Max returns wounded, physically and mentally. Meanwhile Lucy sinks deeper into her anti-war group, eventually discovering they are making bombs. When an explosion occurs at the group’s headquarters,lives are left in question. The story ends with a song, as to sad or exultant is left for viewers to learn. Now what sets this film apart obviously is the soundtrack and how its used, its a brilliant mixture of music video meets musically driven story, its kind of like the film August Rush, but with all Beatles songs. Plus for it to win me over thats a big thing, because I'm not really a big fan of The Beatles.

Papillon: Here is the plot: French criminal Henri Charriere (Steve McQueen) is better known as 'Papillion', which is French for the butterfly tattoo he bears. Sentenced to exile for a murder he says he did not commit, Papillon meets fellow prisoner Louis Dega (Dustin Hoffman) on board of the prison ship taking them to the infamous Devil's Island prison in French Guiana. Small in stature and near-sighted Dega is a gentleman counterfeiter whose schemes have impoverished a number of fellow prisoners. They are understandably unhappy with him so he and Papillon strike a deal between them. The tall, muscular convicted murderer will protect Dega from his enemies and Dega will finance Papillon's escape attempts with money secreted on and in his body. Although his first attempts to escape fail and are rewarded with solitary confinement and savage treatment, Papillon and Dega persist in seeking freedom against what seem to be impossible odds, even enlisting the aid of the denizens of the leper colony and constructing a raft of coconuts. Its no real surprise that this movie is here, after all long time readers will be aware of my hero worship of Steve McQueen, who is just possibly one of the best actors to have ever lived, he could do just about anything, he filled that whole left by James Dean as that iconic eternal bad boy that had a heart of gold, and he played everything from a race car driver, to former military men, this film is just another example of his versatility and range, plus, early Dustin Hoffman gives a great performance too.

The Other Boleyn Girl: here is the plot: The Other Boleyn Girl is set in period England during the reign of King Henry (Eric Bana) and tells the story of the two Boleyn sisters, Anne (Natalie Portman) and Mary (Scarlett Johansson). The story is based around the transformation of the two Boleyn girls after they enter the court of King Henry, this in turn affects their relationship with each other and The King with elements of romance, betrayal and intrigue. In the beginning Mary entrances Henry and is invited to join the King's court. However after she bears his bastard child she is locked away and Mary's ambitious father tries to secure a place for Anne in the King's court to replace her. This leads to conflict between the sisters and ultimately in Anne seducing the King and forcing him to marry her. However, Anne is unable to produce a male heir which leads to further complications and England is torn apart as the King struggles to produce a male heir for the throne due to his struggle with the two Boleyn sisters. This film is here because its one of those films that gets passed over when its first released, dismissed because it seems alot like some other film that was released around the same time, but with the attentions to detail and the care put into how everyone really looked as if they were from that period, its just a beautiful film.

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes: here is the plot: Lorelei Lee (Marilyn Monroe) and Dorothy Shaw (Jane Russell) are showgirls and best friends. Lorelei is engaged to Gus Esmond (Tommy Noonan), a man willing to do anything for her, especially spend his money. Gus’ father does not approve of the marriage, and tries to stop his son from sailing to France with Lorelei to get married. The senior Esmond hires a private detective, Ernie Malone, to follow them and spy on Lorelei. Malone begins to fall in love with Dorothy, who accompanied Lorelei on the journey. Lorelei has smelled money on Sir Francis “Piggy” Beekman (Charles Coburn), a married, wealthy owner of a diamond mine, and begins to wile her way into his pocketbook. Malone snaps pictures of Lorelei flirting with Beekman, but the girls create a scheme to get the film back. Beekman is happy his wife won’t see the pictures, so he gives Lorelei his wife’s diamond tiara. Lady Beekman believes her tiara is stolen, and Gus, thinking Lorelei is a thief, cuts off her credit, leaving the girls broke and alone in Paris, but they always come up with a scheme to get back on their feet and get their men. Now, this might not be the best of Marilyn's films, but, this is the most iconic, with the dance number being the most mimicked of her scenes, btw, the seven year itch is the second most iconic of her films, and as many do, I have always had a soft spot for Marilyn, and I included this because honestly, I've yet to actually put anything of hers on here.

Stalag 17: here is the plot: During WWII a group of Americans were incarcerated in a German POW camp called Stalag 17. After an escape-attempt-gone-wrong that resulted in the deaths two men, prisoners in their barracks start suspecting there is a German stoolie in their midst. Sefton (William Holden) is the chief suspect. He's a wheeler-dealer who always seems to get extra perks the other men don't get. After Sefton bribes guards in order to spend a night in a women's barracks, his barrack-mates are convinced he's the snitch and beat him severely. In order clear himself, Sefton decides to find the real culprit. Amidst this two new prisoners arrive including Lt. James Dunbar (Don Taylor). Dunbar’s companion boasts that Dunbar was responsible for blowing up a crucial German bridge. Of course, this information gets back to the Germans who immediately seize Dunbar for questioning. When the men hear that Dunbar's to be taken to Berlin, they hatch a daring plan. While causing a major distraction, they hide Dunbar. The Nazis are furious when they can't find him. Sefton, in the meantime, has learned who the stoolie is. Using the informant as a distraction for the Germans, Sefton and Dunbar make their escape. This is here because, though I'm not a fan of most war movies, but something about this one has always resonated with me, no idea why, but it just always has. And hopefully it will with you too.

Alright thats it for now, I hope you all enjoyed these as much as i enjoyed bringing them to you...



Thursday, September 10, 2009

The FCC And How It Kills Television

For those of you that don't know what the FCC is, here is a brief summery of its definition on Wikiepedia:

The FCC was established by the Communications Act of 1934 as the successor to the Federal Radio Commission and is charged with regulating all non-federal government use of the radio spectrum (including radio and television broadcasting), and all interstate telecommunications (wire, satellite and cable) as well as all international communications that originate or terminate in the United States. It is an important factor in U.S. telecommunication policy. The FCC took over wire communication regulation from the Interstate Commerce Commission. The FCC's mandated jurisdiction covers the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. possessions. Due however to close geographic proximity to the United States, the FCC also provides varied degrees of cooperation, oversight, and leadership for similar communications bodies in other countries of North America. The FCC has a 2009 proposed budget of $466 million which is funded by $1 million in taxpayer appropriations and the rest in regulatory fees. It has 1,899 "Full Time Equivalent" federal employees.

Now what this basically means in plain English, is that the FCC is the final word on all things radio and television in the United States Of America, they decide on if something is allowed on the air or not. Meaning they pick what we get to see and what we don't. They claim to do this in our "best interest" but I often wonder about that. Many times I've called into question how exactly this works, because from where I sit, they look as if all they do is hold us all back. Now, before you think I am completely against the FCC and what they stand for, I understand the need to keep things like nudity and swearing away from the younger children, but I feel that with the broadcast laws, more specifically, the laws referred to as "Safe Harbor Laws", are all we would really need to prevent anything of that nature. Safe Harbor Laws, are basically an internationally agreed upon laws that denote that certain things can't be aired before certain times at night. This is why "prime time" television normally starts at 8pm in most countries, and as the night goes on, the programing gets more aimed at adults. By law after 9pm at night, American programing, just like other counties, should be allowed to swear and show anything, as long as its in context to what the show is about. Honestly, the FCC shouldn't step in unless things become gratuitous for the sake of gratuitous, meaning no excessive swearing, violence and nudity or sexual context. The FCC shouldn't step in unless these things are brought into question.

However, they don't do that. They instead, claim that all television programing aired in America be run past them first. That isn't right, it isn't fair, and its if anything, giving ultimate power to a television special interest group, because that is what they are, the FCC is nothing more then a conservative special interest group. See, I believe that each network's Standards and Practices Department really should do good enough of a job to decide what should and shouldn't be allowed on their network's airwaves, they know the Safe Harbor Laws, and should be allowed to air what they see is fit, not what the FCC tells them is alright. Adding the screening by the FCC before they get the go-ahead to air each episode is moronic and redundant, and it doesn't do any good, it just waters down the product.

I know this is just my personal belief, but I have to tell you, I have to watch alot of programing, and alot from other counties, of which, i would venture to say 85% of beats what we make here in America. So yes, i am against overt censoring, and against stunting of creativity, as well as forcing personal beliefs on others, but I'm also against the national product, which love it or not is entertainment, looking like crap compared to things from other countries. But mostly about the censoring and watering down of programing.

Think about it, have you really looked at some of the most popular and beloved american tv series? By today's FCC regulations, classics like "All In The Family", "The Jeffersons", "I Dream Of Jeanie" and even "Laugh In" wouldn't be allowed to have aired in their original forms. There is no way Jeanie's concept would have allowed it on television today, the idea of a single man who finds bottle that contains a super hot almost naked girl who is willing to do anything to please him would have been rejected before it ever aired, ofcourse today it would have been written in a crude lowbrow manor but still, it wouldn't have made it on the air. All In The Family wouldn't have been allowed to air either, between its constant political cogitations, and the constant using of racial slurs such as "nigger", "Spic" and all of the others Archie used in a casual manor, yes, we all look back and love Archie for his "old folksy racism" which was used to mock the older generations political and racial beliefs, but today? no that wouldn't make it last the FCC today. And even Laugh In, the sketch comedy show that stands up against anything made today, and also is the first and only television show to have an interim US President appear on it, it wouldn't matter, with its political and drug culture jokes and situations, as well as a body painted Goldie Hawn, dancing all super sexy like. There is no way by today's standards the FCC would allow that stuff on the air.

What really gets me though? That they complain about violence, but seem to have no issues at all with the old school Looney Toons and Tom and Jerry cartoons, all of which are insanely violent even by today's standards. How a cat and mouse that constantly gut each other, and a rabbit who's not only an asshole, but also shots a retarded man in a hunting outfit in the face with a shotgun right after attempting to get said retard to believe he has a chance sexually with him, is considered alright, but if you say the word "nigger" or "shit" you are hung on the gallows.

Whats even funnier is, if you look back through american television history, you see alot of adult content, and alot of questionable content things, that wouldn't make it on the air today no matter how hard they tried. But you know what the funniest about it is? All these older programs, kids that grew up watching them didn't turn out that bad. Kids that grew up watching I Dream of Jeanie didn't go out and try to find bottles of hotness they could boss around, kids that watched All In The Family didn't go calling every black person a nigger or every Spanish person a spic, they grew up pretty normal. So you see, in all honesty, the FCC doesn't really do anything but push its own agenda. Which doesn't really benefit America, it just hurts it. And that is why it needs to be dissolved.



Why "Americanizing" Programs Doesn't Work

I was reading recently that once again, Fox is trying to adapt the cult British series Absolutely Fabulous for American programing. And have to say, after over 10 years of attempting to adapt this series, enough is enough. Seriously, as much as I love Absolutely Fabulous, or "Ab Fab" as its called for short, it just can not, and will not work with in the way American television is made. Its just not possible. Yes, it has a rather large cult following that is still big today, but it just will not work. The humor and writing that would be needed to write a show of this nature just will not make it past the FFC. They would feel a show thats basically a comedy about two rude, ignorant, social climbing, constantly drunk cougars and their misadventures as they slosh their way through life, isn't really appropriate for American viewers in its original form, so they would, as they have done with many other shows, strip it down to the point there is almost nothing recognizable there. They wouldn't be constantly drunk, they wouldn't be as smart mouthed or rude, they'd be dimwitted but think they aren't. That would be the American version of Ab Fab that they would allow on the air. Thats how the FCC rolls, they break things down, till they're almost devoid of all entertainment or stimulation, and think thats ok. But to be fair, I've long stated my issues with the FCC and how they operate.

The thing is, adapting a series for american viewers is a tricky process, not only because of the FCC, but also, alot of the time, a concept and writing staff that does great in one country, will not do great in another, because sometimes, stories and concepts don't really translate well. A recent example would be the Australian comedy "Kath and Kim", which in its original form, an Aussie comedy about a mother in her 40s thats trying to finally start a life for herself after her daughter gets married, only to realize that her daughter is a spoiled brat who at 28 thinks that "trophy wife" is an occupation, the show follows them and their odd little life as the mother ties to get her daughter to go back to her husband and allow her to live her own life. Now, the show in its original form was infact rather funny and ran for afew years, however, when it was adapted for American viewers, using basically the same jokes as the original version, it just didn't work out, and it was quietly canceled with no ending or even really a notice, it wasn't that the show wasn't funny in America, the jokes and situations just didn't all translate well. Which isn't uncommon. A similar thing happened the two times the British cult series Red Dwarf, was piloted and tested on American viewers, though unlike its original form, the American adaption fell flat on their faces, both times striking out with a less then 10% positive feed back from the test audience. The biggest complaint from the feedbag interviews? "I didn't get the jokes". Which means, as funny as hearing someone say "Your head looks like a giant novelty condom" in a british made series is, in an American series we're left wondering what exactly a giant novelty condom looks like, and only being left with images of the love scene from The Naked Gun film with the full size body condom. See, it just gets lost in translation.

In a similar way, recently when Israeli series "The Mythological X", was adapted into "The Ex List", the only way its writers knew how to write it, was to write it as a lackluster "single woman looking for love" type show, of which, we have dozens of already. The Ex List failed because they tried to adapt it just abit to far, and make it just another show like so many we have seen before, leaving us wondering what the point was of adapting a series about a woman that was told she'll marry the man of her dreams with in the next year, and that its someone she'd dated before, so she starts to go through all of her exboyfriends, to find him, when you downplay it and make it basically "men suck and will do nothing but treat you like crap, but hey lets laugh about it", which seriously, watch Lifetime for 2 hours you'll see, and also see adds for, about 20 shows like that. There was no humor, there was no awesomely done subplots or well thought out characters for her exboyfriends to be, they were just generic negative stereotypical male characters you'd find in any show that aims only at women, not that aiming a show at women is a bad thing, its just, its original form was way more then that, and well, it lacked that state side.

Now don't get me wrong, we here in America are able to understand and enjoy foreign humor and drama, but it seems to play best these days, when we know its foreign. Now yes, I know people will bring up shows like The Office and All In The Family and Sanford and Son, and how they're adapted from British programing, and went on to great success, but there is one key difference between those, and most of the adoptions out there, those shows were only adoptions in concept, not on content. You didn't see Archie Bunker trying to force a joke that only makes sense in the context of British humor with an American accent, and American wording, or Dwight from The Office calling people British insults, that would get insane comedic reaction in its native tongue. Thats what I mean by translation, calling someone "a right bloody chav" is hilarious in the context that we all know thats a British term, some don't know what it means, but will understand its an insult in that culture and know to laugh, if said in an American tongue, it just sounds stupid.

I should note at this point that the reason I keep using British programing for examples is because they're the most widely adapted by American television networks, there for are the easiest to recognize, and not for any personal favoritism or anything of that nature.

Now, I'm sure alot of you are wondering, how to counteract this kind of thing, do we stop borrowing ideas? Do we hit the writers until they stand up against the bully that is the FCC? Well no, but in a perfect world both of those things would be awesome. What we do to counteract is simple, we just start airing the programing as it is. Every other country in the world airs our programing, they don't adapt American programing, they just air it as it is, they let the humor and drama speak for itself, they don't feel the need to make it fit their country and its ideas, they just air it because they feel it will translate well as it is, and judging by the international ratings, they're doing a great job of it. American broadcast should take a lesson from that concept and just air things as they are, no more of these adaptions that fall just short of the mark, or are way off the mark because they've been hacked and slashed and watered down to appease the FCC. Its always been said, if a program is good, it will translate and be enjoyable anywhere in the world, maybe its time the network business men who claim thats true of their product, put that to the test. Plus, importing afew shows that are hits would be cheaper then producing a remake anyway.

But thats just my thoughts on the matter, so who knows?



Sunday, September 6, 2009

Torrent Picks 9/6/09

Ok so, its that time of the week again, time for me to give you some torrents that I hope you all enjoy, so with that done, lets get right into it shall we?

alright then :)

District 9: I know alot of people were kind of iffy on this film, but personally, I loved it, I loved the realistic feel of it, how they put you in the middle of it, even though the film is done as a documentry of sorts, looking back after the incidents have happened. Here's the plot: In 1982, an alien ship stops directly above Johannesburg, South Africa. Reports suggest that the ship became stranded after a command module separated from the ship and dropped to Earth, nowhere to be found. After cutting their way inside, the exploratory team discovers a large group of malnourished and leaderless arthropod-like aliens. The creatures, derogatorily referred to as prawns, are taken from the ship and housed in a government camp inside Johannesburg called District 9, which eventually turns into a slum. In the first decade of the 21st century, Multinational United (MNU), a private military contractor, is placed in charge of policing and relocating the 1.8 million aliens to District 10, a new camp 240 kilometers northwest of Johannesburg. Now with out spoilering the movie too much, you find out that the move really is more akin to that of an ethnic cleansing of sorts, or a world war 2 era concentration camp type feel to it. Which is really what they're going for here, the idea that we're watching the degrading and mistreatment of what is basically the only thing we know of as other worldly beings, and you start to get the feel that the way they treat these creatures is kind of how we would treat an alien race after we discover that first contact isn't really what we expected it to be. I will admit, the last half hour or so of the film is overly violent, but when you look at the film in context that its rising up against oppression, its expectable. Worth watching if you would like a different style of alien film.

Monsters Vs. Aliens: I'm a big fan of light and fun humor, when its done right, its totally awesome, and when its bad, its really bad, in this case however, its incredibly cute and very good. Plus its got a great cast, I mean come on, Hugh Laurie of the tv show House as a crazy human sized cockroach? how awesome is that? The film starts out with Susan, who is about to marry the man of her dreams, she's happy and all excited, but then, a meteor hits her. No, literally, she is hit by a meteor, like, from space and everything. She walks it off, because I guess meteor hits aren't as powerful as once thought (take THAT big bang theorists!) and she continues about her day, all of a sudden as she's about to marry the love of her life, when she starts to glow, literally, and then she starts growing, as does her clothing, which is always good, the world doesn't need more naked 50something foot tall women running about, 5 are enough. Susan is then taken to Area 52, which is way more secret and hidden then Area 51. She then finds out this is where the government stores monsters. She is given the name "Ginormica" in the news, and is then, after meeting the other monsters, she's given a tour of the complex and told the story of each of the other monsters there; Bob; An indestructible gelatinous mass created when a genetically-altered tomato was injected with a chemically-altered ranch dessert topping. Dr. Cockroach, Ph.D: A brilliant but mad scientist who, in an experiment to imbue himself with the resilience and abilities of a cockroach, ending up with a giant cockroach's head and some personality features of the cockroach, but gained the ability to climb up walls and high resistance to physical damage. The Missing Link: A 20,000-year-old fish-ape hybrid who was found frozen and thawed out by scientists, only to escape and wreak havoc at his old lagoon habitat. And Insectosaurus: Formerly a 1 inch (25 mm) grub transformed by nuclear radiation into a 350 feet (110 m) monster with the ability to shoot silk out of his nose. He is unable to speak clearly, and is mesmerized by bright lights (usually used to lead him to other locations); he also has a close bond with the Missing Link. Eventually, the meteor that hit Susan and caused her to grow is detected by an alien warlord called Gallaxhar, who knows it is made of the most powerful substance in the universe quantonium, he sends a giant robot to retrieve it, and after the military has no effect on the robot, its decided that if the monsters can beat the robot, they will be given their freedom, with out giving away alot of the film it gets really good, and really cute, and just becomes alot of fun to watch. Its the kind of film that you don't need to be all super serious with, you just need to know how to laugh at a blob who's in love with a plate of Jell-O and understand that Insectosaurus is the cutest giant monster on the planet.

Broken Embraces: Broken Embraces (Spanish: Los abrazos rotos) is a 2009 Spanish film by Pedro Almodóvar set in the 1990s and present day. The film centers on a four-way tale of dangerous love, and was shot in the style of a hard-boiled 1950s American film noir. The cast includes many Almodóvar regulars such as Ángela Molina, Lola Dueñas and Penélope Cruz (her fourth film with the director). Here is the short plot: "Harry Caine" (Lluís Homar) is a blind writer who shares his life with his personal assistant Judith (Blanca Portillo) and her adult son Diego (Tamar Novas). Slowly, events in the present begin to bring back memories of the past. He hears that millionaire Ernesto Martel has died; a young film-maker, Ray X, appears and turns out to be Martel's son -- Ernesto Martel Junior -- in disguise; and Diego is hospitalized after being slipped a mickey in a Madrid night spot. "Harry" collects Diego from the hospital and looks after him to avoid worrying his mother, and thus the main storyline is told in flashback as "Harry" narrates a tragic tale of fate, jealousy, abuse of power, betrayal and guilt. This is one of those films that you start to wonder about after hearing all the buzz, wondering if it can actually live up to the hype that it generates and all the acclaim its awarded, but I must say, this is one of those cases where it really does. If you really wanna see one of the hidden gems of the non-english speaking cinema, don't miss this one, you'll be really missing out.

Linkeroever: I talk alot about how foreign films actually do the genres we know here in the states alot better then us, and though some could argue thats not true, I tend to use films like this one as an example of how they do. Linkeroever, a Belgian film that's name translates to "Left Bank", an apparently popular location in the Belgian city of Antwerp, is billed as a horror film, but infact, its not really a horror film at all, its more of a mental thriller, that sucks you into the film's world and into the mind of its characters, and leaves you guessing the whole way through. It tells the story of Marie and Bobby, and how they meet and then move in together in a large apartment building on The Left Bank section of Antwerp, which, other then being fun to say, is apparently a somewhat swanky place to live if you're young and don't mind coming down with mysterious unexplainable illnesses and almost constant nightmares. Marie comes down with an unknown sickness that her doctor's first think are do to her job as a professional runner, but its later stated they don't know what causes it. As she gets worse, she starts to have these surreal dreams that almost border on nightmares, meanwhile the neighbors start to become aloof and rude, and Bobby starts to become angry and violent. As this happens, Marie gets worse and worse, as she discovers whats really going on The Left Bank. This is the kind of film that just leaves you in awe at times, it doesn't play on the shock value and gore that horror films these days do, those things aren't here and aren't needed, it makes you believe that the unknown and the unseen is the truest horror of all. Truly brilliant. I should state I couldn't find subtitles for this, but I'm sure any of the sites out on the net that do subs could have them.

Yojimbo: Yes, I know, a big surprise, another Akira Kurosawa film from me, who ever saw that coming? And ofcourse, its just another film that blows my mind every single time I watch it. For those of you that haven't seen Yojimbo, here is the plot: Sanjuro, a wandering samurai enters a rural town in nineteenth century Japan. After learning from the innkeeper that the town is divided between two gangsters, he plays one side off against the other. His efforts are complicated by the arrival of the wily Unosuke, the son of one of the gangsters, who owns a revolver. Unosuke has Sanjuro beaten after he reunites an abducted woman with her husband and son, then massacres his father's opponents. During the slaughter, the samurai escapes with the help of the innkeeper; but while recuperating at a nearby temple, he learns of innkeeper's abduction by Unosuke, and returns to the town to confront him. Its alot deeper then that, but with out giving to much away, that will do for a good explanation. Yojimbo, like Seven Samurai, was eventually used as the basis for the american westerns of the 1950s and 1960s, mostly the ones that made Clint Eastwood a star. Yojimbo is one of those films that you really need to watch more then once, to fully get it all, sure you get the basic story of a ronan playing two gang leaders against each other, but you need to really understand why, and to really get that, you need to watch it afew times. Plus, its just an incredible film. Enjoy.

Well thats it for this week, I hope you all enjoy these, and take the time to watch and love these as much as I do...



The Definition of Beauty....

My oh my, how I do love Veronica Lake...

and finally, her in "So I Married A Witch" my favorite film of hers, and also, the film the tv show Bewitched is based on...

they just don't make them like her anymore... She was the original hollywood bombshell, before Marilyn Monroe, before Jayne Mansfield, before Sophia Loren, before any of them, there was Veronica Lake... so many try to be her, but they just can't do it...

oh if you click some of these, they're like, super ultra high rez