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I felt more than slightly sad yesterday as I read about Harold Ramis' death, and the more I think about it, the more I realize how much I associate him with Jamie.

As with most kids my age, playing Ghostbusters was just as common as running around with a flashlight and claiming Jedi Knighthood. He, LilBro, and I would run around as the original three. Jamie, wearing glasses, would be Egon. I was Peter and LilBro was Ray, but I don't know if there was any real reasoning behind those two choices, but Jamie was always Egon because he wore glasses.

I've got this sneaking suspicion that Jamie held Egon as a role model, someone he could easily identify with. Jamie liked his fun, but he also enjoyed doing things that society at large thought was nerdy--maybe not collecting spores, mold, and fungus, but model building and painting, D&D, etc. Egon was also the genius without whom the Ghostbusters would never be able to actually bust ghosts, and Jamie loved trying to invent things and experiment. It could all be bull--Jamie had one of those old science kits with the transistors and LEDs even before Ghostbusters was a thing--but the idea seems to fit just right.

Years passed. We enjoyed things like Groundhog Day together, and probably any number of Harold Ramis movies--back catalog things like Animal House, cameos in movies like As Good as it Gets (first movie seen in Geneva with my family, though Jamie was still in New Jersey at the time), and such. After he moved to Switzerland and I came back from Wooster, I told my family that we should watch Analyze This. We picked up the DVD and enjoyed it immensely, and it became a brief running gag that everyone in my family would do Robert De Niro's pointy hand gesture and go "You! --You're good!" whenever we were acknowledging one of us being correct about something.

That must have been the summer of 2000, because not that long afterward, the car accident happened.

Most of you know that Jamie died in a car accident. I'm not sure how frequently I mention that my mother was also in that car, and almost literally hung on by a thread; her seatbelt, while keeping her from dying, still caused some serious gastrointestinal injury which never healed 100% but quite close. The same paramedics that pronounced Jamie "expired" at the scene quickly rushed my mother to the Doctor's Medical Center at Modesto which wasn't that far off, where in a miracle of all miracles they apparently specialize in gastrointestinal surgery.

Of the days spent waiting for my mother to recover, of the days we passed in the hospital by her side, one of the first things she did when she was conscious enough to take any action was to do De Niro's pointy hand gesture. She was still in a breathing apparatus and probably wouldn't have had the strength to say anything anyway, but the gesture was enough to tell us she'd be good.

Lastly, while the accident happened at the end of August, we didn't hold the funeral until the end of October (as documented in my very first LiveJournal entry ever). After the funeral was over, after (or before? I really don't remember) the dinner, we all went and watched Bedazzled and had a good laugh, even if it was an otherwise forgettable film.

Harold Ramis and my brother will apparently forever be tied together in my memory, and maybe that's why his death hit me more than I thought it would.
loopychew: (Default)
Okay, the lipsync is awesome.

loopychew: (Default)
Looks like my debate about whether or not to watch the A:TLA movie (over the whitewashing) are completely unfounded, as critics are tearing into it like a steak dinner.

Okay, TOTALLY dropped from the "maybe" list.

Iron Man 2

Apr. 29th, 2010 10:22 am
loopychew: (Default)
Okay, I wasn't as surprisingly blown away at this one as I was the original, but it was, in fact, an awesome movie and well worth watching. Stay tuned; if you haven't heard, there is a post-credits sequence.

Cut for potential spoilerage. )

In conclusion, worth the ticket, totally, even if it lacks Sabbath to close like the first one did.
loopychew: (Default)
[livejournal.com profile] karenhealey hit me with the one-two punch of link to this post regarding the casting of white kids as at least three of the four heroes in Avatar: The Last Airbender, and the most recent casting of the Fire Nation players.

Anyone who hasn't seen this show ought to give it a chance. For all of the superficial facets pointing to it being your traditional Saturday-morning cartoon, it's incredibly smart, with genuine character-based humor and development, well-animated action sequences, smart plotting, excellent acting (they actually cast kids for the main characters), and a fully-realized world. They specifically plotted this show out for three seasons, and they know how they were going to spend every single half-hour episode. Small details that are mentioned offhand may show up in more significant capacity further down the line, and there are numerous scenes that are out-and-out gorgeous to watch. [livejournal.com profile] spectralbovine does an incredible job summarizing the awesome that is this show, and it pains me to realize that so many people on my flist (and a few of the people I know in RL) have worn their love of this show on their sleeves and I didn't stop to think about it until mid-last year.

Now, like I said, the "fully-realized world" was an incredibly important part of the atmosphere in Avatar. It pretty much lives and breathes, and you can see how much work was put into creating it. Each of the different cultures takes its element from a different culture: The Water Tribe is very heavily Inuit-influenced (note their manner of dress and the color of their skin, as well as their villages), the Air Nomads (more or less extinct as of the beginning of the show, hence the sub-title "The Last Airbender") more or less based on Tibetans (their mode of dress), and the Earth Kingdom and the Fire Nation based on different eras of Chinese rule. The inhabitants of this world are more or less Asian.

For the movie, we currently have:

Main characters from "Hero" races (Two from the Water Tribe and an Air Nomad thus far): White.
Characters from "Villain" race: Iranian, Indian (two thus far), Maori.

I think the best word to summarize all this is "blargh." While I like all the actual actors playing the characters (at least, the Fire Nation characters--I don't really know any of the main characters), I just want to spend my time banging my head against the wall hearing about the casting choices and its basic implications.

Y'know what, though? I don't have to watch this film. I don't know how they're planning on distilling something like Avatar into a couple of hours, anyway, even if it's apparently planned to be a trilogy. I do highly recommend checking out the TV series when you can, though.
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For those of you who can't get enough Joss, you've probably already seen it. For the rest of us, here's the trailer for Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, about which all you need to know is that it's Joss Whedon, Nathan Fillion, and Neil Patrick Harris.

(Okay, it's not a movie per se, but close enough.)
loopychew: (Default)
Saw Speed Racer with [livejournal.com profile] damienroc yesterday at the Metreon in San Francisco, on an IMAX screen.

Short summary: Watch it on the biggest screen you possibly can, leave any notions that you are an adult behind for a couple of hours, have an absolute fucking blast, then turn your normality back on and never worry about watching it again.

Let's get the less-relevant stuff out of the way first. Outside of the setpieces, Speed Racer fuses the feel-good naïveté of 60's cartoons with the cheeseball slapstick found in 80's comedies. And somehow, it works. Between action scenes involving NINJAS!!!!!!, John Goodman's wrestling moves, the little excited kid in the background miming karate punches, and, uh, the monkey, the movie is goofy enough to charm.

There isn't much that can be said about the acting, because thanks to the fact that it resides in its own cartoon world, you don't really care about the acting. Or you wouldn't, if it weren't for the fact that the actor who plays Royalton (Roger Allam) manages to chew scenery so furiously that he makes you wish there were other memorable performances. Speed Racer was played by Emile Hirsch with the right amount of earnestness, but he can never shake off the fact that his character archetype is never really memorable. The same goes with pretty much everyone else, and I would argue that the ONLY reason Allam's role stands out is because of the nature of his archetype. The best that can be said about the acting in the film is that everyone seems to be having fun giving what would otherwise be considered phoned-in performances. I think it's a directorial wink to the audiences, though I wouldn't have believed so had it been a different cast and crew helming the show.

On the other hand, Christina Ricci has a blink-and-you'll-miss it helloooo red dress that I couldn't get enough of. Or maybe I just have a weakness for Christina Ricci.

So, yeah, the visual style. The racing is extremely OTT, but that's pretty much a given. Again, it really needs the biggest screen you can get to indulge in everything. I saw the first seven minutes ahead of time on my laptop, and thought it looked okay. The very same seven minutes on an IMAX screen were a wonder to behold.

They pull out all the stops for the second act, an obstacle course named The Crucible which would normally be The Big Race, except for the fact that they'd already mentioned the actual Big Race thirty billion times beforehand. Which kind of sucks, because The Crucible is where most of the really fun stuff lies. The ending serves as a climax to the character arcs that nobody really cares about (although it finishes in that Big Thrilling Climax complete with the character meditating on everything he's heard throughout the film), but The Crucible is where most of the all-out action is, including the use of the different buttons on the Mach 5, the crazy stunts, and all that jazz.

And boy, is it fun to watch. Going into the Metron, I joked with [livejournal.com profile] damienroc that I wasn't ready to watch this movie without a heavy dose of Dramamine (or that's how it would've gone, if I hadn't botched the punchline by forgetting what Dramamine was called), but quite honestly, the racing sequnces WORKED. While from time to time it careens straight off the path of visually-inundating-but-cohesive into to what-the-fuck-just-happened-my-eyes-were-stabbed-with-pixels-land, for the most part the race sequences looked spectacular. Even the opening "race," in which a young Speed crosses the finish line after taking on a bunch of hand-drawn competitors, manages to be visually arresting. The sursursurrealistic appearance drives the race sequences straight through the Uncanny Valley and never gets out, which only adds to the cartoony feel of it all, thus marking one of the few times the Uncanny Valley benefits a film as opposed to detracts from it.

Even during the non-race sequences, you're constantly bombarded visually. There aren't a lot of straight cuts, instead using close-ups of characters as...uh...wiping agents (I honestly have no idea how to describe it, no matter how dirty that sounds!), keeping to the idea of Everything In Motion. Even a shot of Mom Racer making and serving sandwiches becomes a dynamic, dramatic shot when sandwiched between wipes of Sparky drawing out blueprints and Pops working on an engine.

And the color! It's like they took all the color that was missing in the Matrix Trilogy and shoved it into this movie instead. The whole aesthetic, between the color, the characters, and the settings, is what happens when the Wachowski Brothers force Tatsunoko Productions and Hanna-Barbera to have kinky, kinky sex at gunpoint. And although that sentence doesn't make sense, I like the way it sounds, so it stays.

Suffice it to say, visually the whole thing is arresting, but really, you don't expect anything less, or anything else, from the Brothers Wachowski. Which is why you want to watch it on the largest screen possible.

I can understand the poor reception of the movie amongst a lot of the critics out there. This pill is a pretty hard one to swallow for those people not used to a world full of the Wipeout games and Junkie XL. I had already turned down watching this movie once in favor of watching Iron Man a second time, 1) because I figured my uncle and I would probably be completely blind from the constant visual bombardment afterward (his nine-year-old son wanted to go watch it, while his twelve-year-old daughter wanted to watch What Happens in Vegas) and 2) the critics said "no, Speed Racer, no." I'm pretty thankful that what seemed like a whimsied suggestion at first actually happened, because I definitely got my fifteen bucks' worth out of the whole thing.
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So, I just watched Iron Man.

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loopychew: (Default)
Voici the one thing that is distracting me from want of Rock Band.

WANT. NOW.
loopychew: (Default)
Ever since the release of Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End last year, I've been thinking about the Western perception of Chow Yun-Fat, particularly for film roles.

I was so happy to hear that Chow Yun-Fat was in PotC, because it was a major role in a flagship movie franchise! He was playing a pirate captain! A random paragraph in Empire which described him playing pranks on Johnny Depp, saying, "I'm a pirate! I can do whatever I want!" had me even more overjoyed, because here it looked like we were going to get the Asian Captain Jack Sparrow, and who better to play the part?

Needless to say, while the movie was entertaining enough (don't look at me that way), Chow's character was...not worthy of a marquee. He had about as much time on screen as any of the marquee actors in The Golden Compass did. Not to mention the character he portrayed felt like visual- and character-shorthand which could be translated to "Me Chinese! Me mysteelious and sneaky, like all pilots...but Chinese! Me so horny...for Kiela Knightly!" (Admittedly, I can understand the sentiment behind that last sentence.)

This serves to reinforce a conclusion I've drawn that the US entertainment industry pretty much doesn't get how he got so popular in the first place (in HK/Asia, at the very least).

Yes, he's devilishly handsome and looks badass with a couple of pistols or a sword in hand. But there are plenty of actors and non-actors who can do that. After watching The Replacement Killers, Anna and the King, The Corruptor, and PotC, it seems to me that, in the US, there are only two qualities that separate him from all the other action poster-boys of, say, the 80's and 90's:

  1. He's Asian.
  2. He's a superstar IN Asia, and a cult favorite everywhere else.

There appears to be a Hollywood shortlist for Chinese badass dudes they need to include to try and appeal to the HK film geeks (real and wannabe). If the role calls for a Chinese badass dude who can fight and needs to look wise, they demand Chow Yun-Fat. If they need a Chinese badass dude who can fight and needs to look relatively youthful and /or cold, they ask for Jet Li. If they need a Chinese badass dude who can fight, tap dance, and juggle crystal balls while dodging gunfire at the same time, they phone Jackie Chan. Stephen Chow isn't on this list simply because he hasn't acted in any Western movies yet, but I'm sure he'll find his way here eventually.

Look at these films I listed above, or even at Stranglehold, the video-game spiritual sequel to Hard-Boiled. Hell, look at his entire Western release schedule, as well as the marquee imports (CTHD, and although I can't really speak for Curse of the Golden Flower having not seen it, the trailer and summary makes me think it would support my hypothesis) since he started acting in the West. With the exception of Bulletproof Monk, has he ever exhibited anything more than a Squall Leonhart-level of emotion? You see him in a lot of pensive, emo-boy-style (chimo-boy?) passive looks, some twisty angst faces, and the highly regal airs, but not much more than that.

Compare this to some of his previous collaborations with John Woo, during his HK days. Yes, there was the guns-akimbo, slo-mo and reel-speed acrobatics that everybody watched and thought, "Awesome!" about.

Then there's the time on the screen he spends NOT shooting everything up.

  • In A Better Tomorrow II (not remembering enough offhand about ABT I to really call on it, though I might add stuff later), Ken Lee is introduced in a scene which has him cooking rice, sitting down and mocking the mafiosi in his restaurant with a range of expressions from utter contempt to condescension to a pleading for comprehension to mock crying to outright anger over a plate full of rice, and finally kicking ass, subduing all but the lead mafioso in about ten seconds.
  • Everyone remembers Hard-Boiled's teahouse gunfight and hospital sequence. Less remembered but equally important is the levity he brought to his character everywhere else, from the camaraderie amongst his fellow police officers to the jealousy he felt for Teresa Mo to a few other things I'm sure I'm not recalling right now. All this was lost in Stranglehold, which is a bit understandable since it's an action videogame and the cutscenes shouldn't last too long. Yes, he's a crack shot and death in a police uniform, but it's important to remember that for all the badassery in the movie, if it weren't for a baby pissing on his leg, he never would have survived.
  • There's also Once a Thief, which is not incredibly popular, I guess, though I think anyone who liked Woo/Chow collaborations owes it to themselves to watch it once. Chow gets to really unleash his charisma here, playing the alternately goofy/abusive/charming member of a trio of thieves. Any movie where Chow Yun-Fat gets a wheelchair-bound dance sequence, and manages to throw homages to Bruce Lee and God of Gamblers in the end fight gets a plus in my book.
  • Speaking of God of Gamblers, it's Chow Yun-Fat re-enacting Rain Man's Vegas segment, with some action sprinkled about! I really need to find that movie again sometime.

A lot of his HK films aren't action films involving gun- or sword-play. Even post-US-debut, he's had a lead role in a dramedy (The Postmodern Life of my Aunt) and a cameo role on an indie comedy (Waiting Alone).

It basically comes down to CYF being the Asian equivalent to, say, Lethal Weapon-era Mel Gibson, or Bruce Willis in the Die Hard/Moonlighting phase of his career, or Russell Crowe nowadays.

It really says something horrible when Bulletproof Monk (which, while I find it underrated--don't look at me that way--isn't more than somewhat entertaining) is pretty much the only Western movie in which CYF gets to show any sort of charisma, and thusly some of his more endearing traits.

Dammit, Hollywood! Chow Yun-Fat has dramatic chops, too! Once this damned strike is over, get to writing a script where he can actually use'em!
loopychew: (Default)
Well, if nothing else, I wouldn't have known that Heath Ledger is dead were it not for my routine scanning of my flist before I went to bed.

It feels weird since I was just reading an Empire article about The Dark Knight, and I honestly don't have any words of significance to say about it. I've gone through about ten minutes of shocked, started utterances of, "Holy shit, Heath Ledger is dead!"

Off the top of my head, I've seen The Brothers Grimm and Brokeback Mountain. The latter is unforgettable, and although it was uncomfortable seeing that movie next to my mom, the ending made me teary. And I was/am (which tense DO you use in this situation?) looking forward to seeing him as The Joker, though the moviegoing experience is definitely going to be a lot stranger now.

Enough filler, though. I'll just continue to repeat to myself, "Holy shit, Heath Ledger is dead!"
loopychew: (Default)
A couple of days ago, I was hanging around with Emmanuel and talking about the new Batman movies and how much more realistically-OTT they happened to be. The topic of Robin and Batgirl came up, and I spent more time than was appropriate trying to figure out how they could possibly be introduced into the new movieverse without taking the whole "applied realism" feel of the new movies and Schumachering it, as well as make them into relatively-realized people.

I've still got a few problems here and there with how to pull it off, obviously, but I probably put in more time than I should have into thinking about this anyway.

In order for Robin to work, they'd need an actual kid, probably about 12 or 13, to play the role, and act accordingly. This is obviously kind of difficult because most kids are pubescent at that age and their voices are bound to change during filming. But you need that kind of youth for the father/son aspect of the Batman/Robin relationship to work. I mean, how could anyone really think Chris O'Donnell could pass for "young enough to require a ward?"

So, yeah. My first thought, purely in terms of appearance (since I only saw him in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and was too distracted by how wrong the movie felt to pay attention to his performance), is Freddie Highmore.

As for Batgirl, my first thought was "old enough to make a relationship between her and Batman plausible, young enough for said relationship to be disturbing." There needn't actually be a relationship between the two. Also, seeing what we have of Jim Gordon's family in Begins, I don't think it's possible to introduce her as his daughter. Rather, I can only imagine that they'd kind of make her a Sakura Kasugano to Batman's Ryu, to make her a kind of Batman otaku.

My first thought, again mostly about appearance since I don't think I've seen any of her movies, is Evan Rachel Wood.

I'd type more, but I think I'm gonna run out of the office for the time being. While this was more or less a passing fancy, I'm curious to hear your suggestions for treatments of these or other Batman characters.

Anagrams.

Sep. 9th, 2007 12:27 am
loopychew: (Default)
"Bourne Identity" ---> "I don't be, yet I run."
"The Bourne Supremacy" ---> "Become: a pushy return."

I'll think of one for The Bourne Ultimatum when I watch the damn thing.
loopychew: (Default)
Having just gone through the "I've seen XX out of XXX movies!" meme on Facebook, I decided to look through the envelope I keep my movie tickets in and index them here as they are. Some of them are faded enough that I had to spend a couple of minutes trying to glean off the traces where the printer ink would have been before I could figure them out.

This is by no means a complete listing of the movies I've seen since the first ticket listed--I can tell you immediately, there was a ticket for X-Men in August 2000 that I would kill to have, for sentimental reasons (having it for sentimental reasons, not killing for sentimental reasons)--but it encompasses most of it (I'm pretty sure I saw a lot more movies in the theatre in 2001, like Ocean's Eleven). I can immediately list said X-Men ticket, Crash, and either Jarhead or Batman Begins, depending on which Hollywood ticket that was, amongst the missing. There was also the family outing to Enchanted to which I appear to have misplaced the stub around Thanksgiving 2007. Sometimes things simply get lost when they've been building up in my wallet for a long time, despite my attempts to preserve them.

I'm not sure if this list will be added to in the future, or if I'll simply post a refresh from time to time.

The listing: )
loopychew: (Default)
Thumbs up: I finally passed Bark at the Moon Expert yesterday.
Thumbs down: The new TMNT movie is only available dubbed in French around here.
loopychew: (Default)
Working title: JACKIE CHAN'S IKEA ADVENTURE
Gist of the movie: Jackie Chan. At IKEA.
Plotline: A corrupt CIA official plans on selling plans for a brand new, supersecret WMD to an Irish mobster. The drop point: An IKEA wastebasket, which Jackie Chan happens to pick up as one of many items on a new-apartment-shopping-spree with his girlfriend.

Insert 80 minutes of furniture-based thrashin' here.

END CREDITS: More inspired by Jackie Chan's American works, in which a good number of outtakes involve flubbed lines, the end credits sequence will consist of five to ten minutes of Jackie Chan attempting to read the names of various IKEA catalog items.

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