Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas films!

The snow here in Seattle has been sucking my will to live so I haven't had the desire to do much of anything at all. The misses reminded me that I wanted to do a "my favorite christmas films" list so here we go.

These films are what I consider quintesential and required films to view during the holidays. There is no "It's a Wonderful life" on this list. No "Miracle on 34th St" Nor even "How the Grinch Stole.." These are just the films that I take great joy in viewing during xmas time.

1. Die Hard
Not only is it one of the finest action films ever crafted, it also happens to be a great xmas movie! Family getting together through adversity! Foiling international Thieves! And jolly christmas tunes! (yes, Run DMC is jolly) Ok, I fully admit this only gets on the list because it takes place during christmas.

Favorite Line: Between the two FBI Agents riding in the gunship helicoptor:

Agent 1: This is just like Saigon eh Slick?
Agent 2: I was in Junior High dickhead.

2. A Christmas Story
Sure, this one is a little cliche and does get overplayed to death on TV but how can you not love this movie.

Favorite Line: oooooooooooh Fudge

3. Hogfather
This is a new addition to the list. A british production of an adaptation of the Terry Pratchett novel. Death himself takes over for the "Hogfather" (pretty much Santa) when he goes dissapearing on Hogswatch night (xmas eve) I can't do it justice here but I highly recommend it.

4. Scrooged
Yes, its just a modern take on "A Christmas Carol" but Bill Murray gives a great performance.

Favorite line: The bitch hit me with a toaster

5. The Ref
One of my all time favorite holiday films. A jewel thief hijacks a dysfunctional family while hiding out from the law. Great performances by Kevin Spacey and Denis Leary.

Favorite line: After eating the baby Jesus from a Ginger Bread Nativity scene: ugh...Jesus.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

As it is the christmas season, it's time to watch films appropriate to the season. Later on I will be posting my list of "must see" christmas movies but for now I would like to focus on one of my favorites:

Die Hard.

Easily it is one of the greatest action films ever made. It spawned its own franchise and a plethora of immitators but still today it still stands up well as great film and isn't really dated all that much....except for a few small details.

I now present: Signs your movie is stuck in the '80s.

Fact 1:
John McClane carries a gun (loaded too no doubt since he never goes for a checked bag) on a plane.

Fact 2:
Smoking... in an airport!

Fact 3:
A supporting "yuppie" character does cocaine:

I will admit this is a stretch since coke never really went away as opposed to other "period" drugs like ludes. Fuckin ludes man.

Fact 4:
Gas is 77 cents a gallon. Regular gas is still sold:

Monday, December 1, 2008

What I have been watching lately

Just a random update as to what I have had in my queue lately. Upcoming series of "The 100 Films I think everyone should see" and "I can't believe I have never seen this" will begin soon.

What I have been watching lately:

I have recently began pulling films from my youth to watch. Films I have not seen in forever and want to see if they still hold up today or if they are better left in my memory. This experiment has given us three films so far:

-Cloak and Dagger:

A boy with serious abandonment issues (after losing his mother and having a father who is a workaholic) and lives in a "secret agent" fantasy world stumbles upon a real life encounter of espionage and murder. Not a half bad little film but definitely belongs in my memory. The kid from ET pulls off a decent performance and Dabney Coleman pulls double duty as his father and his make believe Secret Agent friend. The film pulls off the story well enough but it does have a certain '80s quality to it that sets it firmly in its decade.


Sean Connery IN SPACE!!!!! Really that's all I needed to know to see this. Sean Connery plays a new Marshall sent to maintain law and order on a mining colony on one of Jupiter's Moons. A great cast that pulls of some decent performances if one can just ignore a bit of false science in this scifi yarn. One can really tell of the influence laid by Silent Running and Alien in this film that gives us an underrated adult scifi tale. I didn't actually remember much of this film from my youth so it was a treat for me. In the end, it turned out to just be High Noon in Space but nonetheless, it was an enjoyable film.

-The Final Countdown:

Cheesy scifi film from the early 80s. A freak electrical storm sends a modern day aircraft carrier back in time to December 6th 1941 right outside of Pearl Harbor. The crew must wrestle with the decision to use their superior firepower to stop the Japanese from attacking and alter history. A decent "what if" premise but unfortunately not executed very well. What could have been something really interesting turned into a movie length commercial for the US Navy. Only about 30 minutes of this thing was the actual story and the film. The rest was copious amounts of shots of life aboard an aircraft carrier and showing every small detail of what goes on there.


The misses and I have gotten back in to our love of Anime with two interesting series:


While the execution left us a little bored, the concept given to us in "The Final Countdown" was still intriguing. While watching that film I wondered what the same story would be like from the Japanese perspective. Little did I know something like this already existed. Enter this 26 episode series: Zipang. A modern day Aegis Class Cruiser from the Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force is transported in time back to the day before the battle of Midway. While we are only a quarter of the way through the series right now it looks to be a very interesting take on the concept. Modern day Japanese sailors having to contend with the war around them and the differences between their modern day view of imperialistic ways and their own desire to survive. It definitely looks like this series is going down the "change history" path but it remains an interesting take so far.

Here is the opening to this interesting series:

This one really was something unique and interesting. Set in the near future, a south western fictional Asian country (think along the silk road) is in the midst of a civil war. UN forces have come to help stop the civil war and a single flag is used as a rally point for peace. 2 weeks before the final peace negations the flag is stolen by rebels and the UN sends in a special task force to recover the flag. Using a specialized mobile armored vehicle that transforms into a realistic mecha the team struggles to find acceptance in this war torn nation. What is truly interesting about this anime is that the whole show is "shot" from the perspective of a journalist hired to document the teams exploits. Using a modern super DLSR/HD Video combo camera the look of the show is 90% through the viewfinder so it looks like this:

At first the view finder aspect (cross hairs, battery info, etc..) one sees through a camera seemed to bug me, but as the show progressed it became an integral aspect to the show and in someways the lens became a character in itself.

At only 13 episodes the story was short but was very deep and laid out well. Here is the opening that helps convey the feeling of the show: