Monday, November 28, 2005

Trampoline Bear

I know this has been around for a while but I've never linked it. Oh man. Can't get enough of the trampoline bear video.

This in lieu of the snarky post about how we used to be the ones saying you shouldn't have secret prisons and torture people with a link to the article about how the EU has made every American with a conscience (again) ashamed of our government. OK, never mind in lieu of, here's the link. The bear video is much funnier.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Anti-Anti-Utopianism

Joshua Glen's got a relatively thoughtful article in today's Globe that reviews the Jamesonian perspective on utopian sci-fi from Bellamy's Looking Backward through the likes of Delany, LeGuin, and PKD. Ultimately, (you probably saw this coming if you know who my favorite author is) Kim Stanley Robinson is described as the contemporary author whose novels do the best job of challenging readers to imagine alternatives.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

New Model Cybermen

Link to BBC Article

Another List to Nitpick

Empire's 50 Greatest Independent Films
  • Sideways at #9?! Shouldn't be on the list. I chuckled a few times, sure, I'm not saying it's a bad movie ... it's just not anywhere near that good.
  • Sex, Lies, and Videotape? I must be the only person that thinks this is, maybe, Soderbergh's 5th best movie.
  • I'm less bothered by The Usual Suspects at #8. It would be on my list of 50, just not near the top.
  • The Terminator's inclusion, I wouldn't have thought it was 'indie'? But I guess when James Cameron does it, he just goes big.
  • 29th seems like a reach for Keitel's The Bad Lieutenant. I was bored and didn't pay much attention to it, so I don't remember it too well. But, I can't believe it's a good sign that what I remember about it is being bored and thinking "overrated."
  • The Blair Witch Project ahead of Grosse Point Blanke? I think not. At least flip them, then drop BWP (off the list) and push GPB up a few more places.
  • There's no way El Mariachi should've been the last one in.
  • Swingers belongs in the top 20, not at the back end.
  • City of God at #17 is better than at least 5 of the movies rated ahead of it.
The good thing about lists like this is there are a bunch of movies (seventeen, I think) on there that I haven't seen ... a few of which look interesting enough to add to my Netflix queue. I'm not much of a gross out/horror movie guy, so I really have no desire to see, for example, Texas Chainsaw Massacre. However, speaking of gross horror, where the heck is Peter Jackson's Dead Alive?! That's a Top Tenner they missed!

Saturday, November 5, 2005

Muay Thai Ascending

Finally saw Ong Bak: The Thai Warrior last night. I know I'm way behind the times here but I've got to rave about it anyways. If you're even just slightly disposed to like a good martial arts movie, you've got to check this one out. It's pretty much everything you look for in a movie that explores the complex themes of "guys kicking each other in the head" and "you stole my village's Buddha head and I'm going to get it back." What's nice is there's not a lot of b.s. around the secondary characters ... just enough dialogue and plot to connect the fight and chase sequences without getting mired down in the B-movie style acting.

Muay Thai has gotten kind of a bad rap ever since Bruce Lee busted up those Thai baddies in The Big Boss (Fists of Fury). When martial arts movie fans think of Muay Thai Boxing, I think we tend to see it as the second or third style used by one of the hero's opponents in a tournament, looks tough with all those knees and elbows, but the Thai Boxer always loses. Tony Jaa definitely restores some lustre to the Muay Thai style in this flick.

Lots of guys (Donnie Yen, Mark Dacascos, Van Damme) looked for a movie or two like they might pick up the mantle created by Bruce Lee then assumed by Jackie Chan and Jet Li -- a mantle which frankly needs some younger shoulders to rest upon; but, those other guys just continued to make B-movies that left people looking for something better. Ong Bak makes me think Tony Jaa's got the chops to be the next worldwide martial arts star.

CGI and wire-fu have their place but you can't fake the visceral thrill of watching a guy jump off the back of a pick up truck and bust the motorcycle helmet off an underpaid stuntman's head. There's a chase sequence in Ong Bak that would make Jackie proud: jumping through hoops, running over tables, sliding under trucks and jumping over cars. The only thing that works against the movie's energy is the woeful score: the lamest 'hip hop' and 'techno' I think I ever heard, both apparently produced on the same cheap synthesiser. Still, big thumbs up from me. If it's not already, move it to the top of your Netflix queue.
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