KingSigy's blog

8:10 PM on 08.28.2012

Redemption For Convicts?

There may be some slight spoilers for the latest episode of "Breaking Bad." Nothing about the ending, though.

“Breaking Bad” certainly knows how to get me thinking. While this isn’t the first time I’ve written about the show, this blog actually applies to my life in a better way than before. I still haven’t murdered anyone (thankfully), but I certainly know the feeling of dealing with repercussions of my actions.

At the end of this week, I will be leaving one of my current jobs. I’ve spent two years at this supermarket, but the time has come to move on in my life. If I want to get ready to make my move across a few states, then I can’t have anything holding me back.

Still, leaving all the people I’ve come to call friends is very tough. It’s not something I haven’t done in my past, though. I left my high school friends to go to another high school in 2004. I left all of my friends in Florida so that I could boost my college GPA. Now everyone at my job will be without me.

This is a very tough thing that I hate doing. What I’ve learned from the past, though, is to not let things fade. There are a few key people that I will be keeping in touch with and I plan to talk to them for the rest of my life, regardless of whether I ever physically see them again. I do not want to lose them.

This is hardly anything serious, though. The more harrowing subject matter comes from recent news in my home town. An old friend of mine from middle school was arrested for possession of child pornography. I was quite shocked when I discovered that news. How could that kid possibly commit something so heinous?

This current season of “Breaking Bad” sees Jesse Pinkman looking for a way out of the meth game. He’s tired of hurting people and is seeking a new path in his life. He wants to make amends with the evil he has performed and possibly find redemption. If I’m willing to let a murderer become a beacon of light in my life, shouldn’t I be able to look past my old friend’s awful activity?

Even if I can’t, what is in store for his future? How can he possibly ever form a lasting relationship with a woman when he’ll be forced by law to inform her that he is a pedophile? Does Jesse have the same kind of issue for his relationships?

Obviously one character is fictional and the other is a flesh and blood human, but the implications are pretty intriguing. How does one get past the atrocities in their life? When you commit a deadly or serious act, does that follow you till the end of your days?

Will my old friend forever be labeled a sex offender and generally sick individual? Would Jesse Pinkman still be a cold-blooded killer into his late 60’s? I’ve had troubles in my own life getting over stupid petty crimes like stealing food in the high school cafeteria; I can’t possibly imagine ever dealing with the knowledge of being a sexual deviant.

Walter White on the latest episode of “Breaking Bad” even tells Jesse, “If you believe that there’s a hell…We’re already pretty much going there.” There is no possible way for redemption in Walt’s eyes and that’s how I feel my old friend’s life will be viewed.

I haven’t seen this kid in a year or so, so I won’t ever be accepting him back into my life. Still, I just wish he changes his ways now. I’m all for second chances, but knowing this kid for close to a decade has shown me that he really doesn’t learn. I fear he’ll fall back into his “hobby” without much resistance.

As for Jesse…I don’t really know what else to say. As I’ve matured over the years, I’ve come to understand the reasoning people take for murder. Yes, it’s a serious offense to human nature and is irredeemable, but sometimes you just need to become a martyr. If Jesse truly believes in the notion that the people he has destroyed were evil, maybe he won’t be so easily persuaded back to the dark side.

Still, I just wonder if people truly get another lot in life. Does salvation await convicts? Do they deserve it? Who’s to truly say? Whatever the answer, I’m always happy when media makes me think. “Breaking Bad” truly is one of the best shows ever conceived and I’m grateful that it lets me envision fantasies of meth cooking and murder without the actual terror and destruction of character.   read

8:29 PM on 07.09.2012

Is This Even a Remake?

I have a confession to make. Until very recently, I had never seen Jet Li’s “Fist of Legend.” What put we off were internet descriptions that labeled the movie “A Remake of Bruce Lee’s ‘Fist of Fury.’” Seeing as how that is arguably my favorite movie of all time, I vowed to never watch the Jet Li version.

Then something changed. Just last year, the film “Shaolin” was released. Starring Andy Lau and Nicholas Tse with a guest appearance by Jackie Chan, the film was yet another telling of the destruction of Shaolin at the hands of the Qing government. As I looked online for more information, I noticed that the film was a remake of Jet Li’s debut movie, “Shaolin Temple.”

Well, consider me a hypocrite, but I own “Shaolin Temple” and really enjoy the film and still managed to also quite like “Shaolin.” While I wouldn’t go so far as to call the updated version essential, it did pack some good fights and seeing Chan in his old age actually be used as a bumbling idiot/master was awesome.

So after I had finished that film, I figured the time was right. I would finally put aside any prejudice I had against Jet Li’s take on the Bruce Lee classic and see if the critics were correct. Everything I read claimed the film was classic Li and packed quite a punch (no pun intended) in the action department.

This was true. While the film definitely has flaws, it provides a surprisingly deep take on the character of Chen Zhen. Having to deal with Chinese Nationalism and coming to understand the meaning of tolerance, the film is fairly poignant, if a bit xenophobic.

The most striking thing to me, though, is how vastly different the two films are. While they are definitely chop sockey/kung fu films through and through, the approach to narrative is in such a different league that the film may as well be labeled an original.

This same thing happens with “Shaolin Temple” and “Shaolin” as well. The debut Jet Li film is very light hearted and portrays a coming of age for a young warrior within the walls of the Shaolin Temple. Andy Lau’s version is very dark, violent and introspective.

As for the “Fist” films, finding similarities is nigh on impossible. While one fight scene is staged in the same manner, nothing is repeated in the updated film. Jet Li gets to employ his own style that is more rigid and violent than Bruce, but helps to showcase some of his Japanese training.

Where Bruce Lee’s film was more a revenge tale, Jet Li’s is a reflexive take on what makes Kung Fu worth understanding. A love story exists in both films, but in Bruce’s, the sideplot is settled long before the end credits roll. In Jet’s, nothing is definitive, even during the closer.

Will you ever come home?...MAYBE!

As I think of all the American remakes I’ve seen, I wonder why our films can’t persue a similar pattern. Most remakes from Hollywood almost follow the plotlines of their original films verbatim. Then you get films that simply tack the old name on to sell nostalgia to the older crowds while retaining none of the authentic charm.

To use some recent examples, “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” is pretty much the same exact film as “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.” The only truly noticeable difference, aside from lack of catchy music, is that Wonka takes a much greater focus in the film.

Tim Burton’s vision is to have Wonka explained as a depressed child at heart. Instead of leaving an air of mystery to a humorous and enigmatic man, Wonka is stripped down and damaged on the whole. Everything else, though, is the same.

The supporting characters all retain their personalities and Charlie’s family is portrayed in much the same manner. The grandfather is calm, understanding and supportive. Beruka is still a bitch. We even get that same, fat blueberry girl.

“3:10 to Yuma” and “True Grit” don’t stray far from their original roots, other than providing deeper insight to the characters at hand. Both films are still Westerns and still filmed in an old-fashioned style, though production values are through the roof.

Hell, even that shitty Shia LeBeouf movie “Disturbia” is a remake of the Hitchcock classic “Rear Window.” They both follow a paranoid man pent up in his house imagining a disaster that may not really be…or is it?

I swear that bastard found my porn!

I’m all for taking the Chinese idea of showcasing different sides of the same coin. If I want to witness more of Chen Zhen, why shouldn’t I get deeper insight to his character or completely different setups for set-pieces? Sequels aren’t the only way to continue learning about someone.

As sad as this last example will make me feel, Disney sort of did this with “Lion King 1.5.” That follows the exact plot of the original classic (which was a remake of Hamlet!), but uses two different character’s perspective to give us clues as to how the story effects everyone.

To bring this to a different form of media, the Metal band Nevermore produced a cover of Simon and Garfunkel’s “Sound of Silence.” If you never listened to the classic folk song, you’d have no idea they were even related. It’s shocking how much angst you can wring from simple lyrics or how disparate the tones can be for the SAME THING!

But that is exactly what I like in my revisions. The reason people bitch and moan about remakes are because we don’t want to see the same thing over and over. We like new, even if familiarity also comforts us. So, why not give us the same story, but from an entirely abstract and individual viewpoint?

Are there any remakes like this that you would recommend? I’m eager to dig into more cinema and see how changes to similar formulas can excite me (and no, do not recommend English language remakes. Those suck.).   read

6:56 PM on 05.16.2012

Visual Mastery: Rihanna

A few weeks ago over on “That Guy With The Glasses,” Nostalgia Chick posted a video detailing her top ten guilty pleasures. She listed off some awful movies and gave legitimate reasons for her liking of them (except for the Grinch). I was pretty awestruck by the gesture.

Most people assume I hate everything and I always feel like I don’t give shitty media enough of a far chance. So in these past few weeks, I’ve been mulling around and trying to discover some bad media that I truly enjoy, myself. I’ve come up empty handed…for the most part.

There is one artist, though, that I seem to genuinely enjoy despite disliking a bunch of her songs. That, my dear readers, is Rihanna. Born Robyn Rihanna Fenty to Monica Braithwaite and Ronald Fenty, the Barbadian native has come a long way in her career. Starting off with simple pop tunes and progressing into dance, techno and even reggae, there is a tremendous body of work to this young women’s name.

To this day, Rihanna has sold over 8 million albums. Her career started in 2005 and she has made an album almost every year since. While that sounds like a tremendous amount of material to release, most of her songs reflect different themes and sounds between albums.

My favorite aspect of her work, though, is all of her music videos. There is such a style and flair to these videos that it’s hard not to notice the evolution of her music. Maybe she’s not getting more mature or adult, but she’s certainly producing videos that are worth watching. It’s almost in the vein of Michael Jackson, though not as feature length.

To start the discussion of her evolution, what better place to look than her very first video, “Pon De Replay.” It’s amazing how laid back and civil this video is compared to some of her latest work.

It almost looks like the video was shot on a budget of a few hundred dollars. There are very few extras or costumes and people literally just dance the whole time. There is no plot aside from, “This music is really low.”

It blends well with the party aspect of the song. Rihanna started off being a simple pop starlet and her first few songs didn’t tackle any really difficult topics. I suppose when you’re 17, the biggest thing in your life would be that music isn’t being pumped out at a high enough decibel.

The colors are really nice, though. I like the touches with the LED lights and how the dance floor seems to match the outfits. Rihanna wear’s some green and we see green lasers in the air. It’s eye catching, to say the least.

For her next album, though, Rihanna started to venture into tougher territory and no song looks at that better than “Unfaithful.” This rather sappy and sloppily written power ballad covers the idea of Rihanna being a cheater and ruining one man’s life. That’s stuff most young people don’t really contemplate.

As progressive as the song may be, it wasn’t very good. The video is fairly engaging, though. A lot of the shots encapsulate the fake romance Rihanna is having with one guy and later shots reveal the sexy and electric love she is sneaking around with.

I’m still kind of baffled by the included piano scenes, though. I’m not sure what they entail, other than that the song is played on a piano. I’m surprised at how well cellphones are used, though. Most movies can’t even get that modern aspect of life correct, but the quick 2-3 second short of “B Down in 5” is great.

Still, with as crappy as the song may be, I’m genuinely surprised at how well of a story the video tells. We may not understand the characters names or pasts, but we definitely are given a grasp of their emotional balance.

Jump forward a year to her next album, “Good Girl Gone Bad,” and we’re treated to Rihanna’s breakout hit (and the first song I actually heard by her), “Umbrella.” This is where the magic of makeup and costume design really start to take form for Rihanna. Everything is very flashy in this video.

The first shot, alone, shows that Rihanna is truly onto something. Lying down with one leg up, sitting in a foggy room and wearing skin tight black leather and a fedora, this girl looks tough. I certainly wouldn’t want to get in a fight with her (at least not in the truest sense of that word).

While Jay-Z’s verse is completely throwaway, his part of the video is even astonishing. The man is rapping in a rainstorm of sparks while dancers stand and look like bouncers. There is a touch of bravura about this video that lets the viewer know that no punches are being pulled in getting their attention.

Rihanna then begins to feel herself up and strike sexy poses while the camera zips in and out of focus and shakes at bit. I certainly get the feeling that the viewer is meant to be basking in her beauty and the makeup sells that to me. While she looks strong and fierce, her eyes seem hungry and excited and it’s enough to drive any straight man into frenzy.

Then we get to the somewhat goofy part of the video. Rihanna begins to dodge some CGI water and dance around. While I personally don’t care for these moments, the evolution of budget and special effects is reflected here. Rihanna would later perfect these moments and just having video proof that she was experimenting with such ideas is fun to watch.

I’m not so sure about the French maid/Victorian thing, but again, seeing an early idea that later gets perfect is nice. The green screening is pretty bad (or the backdrop is just poorly shot), but Rihanna looks like she’s having a blast, so it’s still an enjoyable scene.

The silver stuff, though…Wow. I have no idea what kind of significance this even has with the song (which is a ballad about having a friend’s back), but it absolutely is awesome. It’s almost avant garde in a way, but shouting something like, “FREAKIN AWESOME,” is also acceptable.

With the bar being raised so high, how else could Rihanna top this? Well, after a few videos that are rather bland, we finally reach “Disturbia,” another breakthrough hit for the artist.

The video captures a Halloween vibe and showcases Rihanna dressed up as a monster in a torture chamber. That is most definitely a hard sell. Despite how unappealing the idea sounds, the video is a pure wonder to watch.

The song discusses feelings of anguish and despair and I don’t really know what better visuals you could use than monsters and zombies. Some of the silver screens best monsters are literal monsters, so why not stick with that?

The video is shot in a very grainy style and everything has a strange fast motion approach. Things will be in slow mo and then speed up, only to return back. It creates the sensation that these “creatures” are moving irregularly and inhuman, leading to the belief that this truly is terrifying.

It’s also frightening to see how much of a transformation Rihanna has taken in her physical appearance. She doesn’t look as young and vibrant anymore. She’s more calculated and confident. She also is chained to a bed and scrambling around for dear life.

While I can’t say anything about her Hollywood style acting (I’ve yet to see a feature film with her), she definitely could be a pretty good costume actress akin to Doug Jones. That is mainly the aspect that sells this video, too. Everything just looks so vile.

That shot of Rihanna in the cage with white contacts is just awesome. She’s writhing around and looks sick and just nails it out of the park. That random guy in leather standing next to the cell is also pretty freaky, too. Her making love to a mannequin is also fucking weird.

Even though there isn’t a whole lot of significance in the video with regards to the song, it’s just a great watch. Music videos lost a lot of creativity in the turn of the century and ever since the rise of YouTube, most artists don’t even bother to make video companions to their work. It’s great to see Rihanna in this video making everything unconventional seem appetizing.

This would escalate further in the videos for her next album, “Rated R.” Not only do the visuals take a huge jump forward into an otherworldly aspect, but everything just seems to have a larger budget. No expense is sparred.

Just take a look at the video for “Hard.” Obviously Rihanna is aiming for a military angle, but everything is just so bombastic. The visuals echo the loud thumping in the song and explosions are just par for the course.

There is also the fucking raccoon style painting Rihanna dons with spiked shoulder pads, a la The Road Warrior. It creates a fierce atmosphere and a general “no bullshit” style look. This little lady isn’t messing around with anyone.

Seeing her command forces also mirrors the fame Rihanna has gained at this point. Her fans are rabid and willing to defend her at any cost. Much like internet fandom will do, these people have formed an army (A Kiss Army, if you will!).

Then there’s the obligatory sexual gestures Rihanna uses to lure people in. Her clothes are skimpy and her body movements suggestive. It’s all tantalizing, if a little clichéd at this point. I don’t think I can name anything else where some lady is dry humping a pink tank barrel, though.

For her very next single, Rihanna would channel the aesthetics of contemporaries like M.I.A. and produce a highly stylized video for “Rude Boy.” This is one of my favorite songs by Rihanna, if not solely for her aggressive sexual wording.

Using slow motion and super imposed color, everything about this video is a delight. It looks like a comic book on acid and the use of floating words, negative colors, rotoscoping and repeated movements makes everything electric and captivating.

There’s also a scene towards the center where Rihanna is in a black and white room with writing all over the walls. She’s in some Zebra skin outfit and is doing yoga. It works well to the songs attitude and style. This girl really wants whoever this “Rude Boy” is.

It’s after this album, though, that the artist has begun to falter with video production. Maybe this is just due to the fact that her music is becoming simpler in theme, but none of her other videos are even worth mentioning.

“Only Girl in The World” can be summed up by the color pink. Everything is pink, including Rihanna’s hair, and nothing really happens. We see some of the techniques used in “Rude Boy” such as slow motion, but the artist is mostly dancing around in a field.

I suppose it’s pretty to look at and Rihanna is drop dead gorgeous with red hair, but I’m not very engaged by anything else. The song is repetitive and dull and the video just looks like Candy Lane. It’s too saccharine for my tastes.

“Man Down” is a cool idea for a song, but the video is just very bright. It doesn’t fit the dark tone of the song. I’m also a bit confused on how I’m supposed to take the video. Obviously the song is about vengeance, but the video focuses a bit too much on the physical appeal of Rihanna.

“S&M” is just…wrong. Rihanna had a very tumultuous incident with singer Chris Brown and was abused by him. The details are very graphic, but you would think that producing a song about enjoying sadomasochism would be the farthest thing from her mind.

Apparently she’s into that, though, and the video just makes me feel sick. She’s being wrapped in plastic at one point and in another scene she’s sitting on an old man and whipping him. I have no idea why she would promote this image after being abused, but I guess I’m not the multi-million dollar artist.

Her newest album has seen Rihanna record some of the simplest lyrics I’ve heard this side of a techno album. Her songs are now one verse symphonies and hardly move past the track’s title in terms of depth. It’s very shocking to see an artist who has tackled unfaithful commitments, sexual aggression and friendship turn into an archetype of a pop star.

That aside, one of Rihanna’s most controversial videos comes from her newer album. The song “We Found Love” can be interpreted in many different ways, but Rihanna chose to highlight the “wasted youth” demographic. What ensues is chaos.

While I can appreciate that Rihanna is emphasizing that love can blossom in many different ways, why exactly is there so much drug use? We’re given a 4 minute opera of debauchery and it doesn’t even look appealing in the least.

Well, that’s not entirely true. The thing is filmed like a Danny Boyle movie and all the camera angles are fantastic. But we don’t even get any of the story like we saw in “Unfaithful” or have any of the neat visual effects like “Umbrella.”

For that matter, the costume design is also solely lacking. I seriously doubt that any of the costume designers had to stress themselves out to get a “druggy” type look. It’s also troubling to me that Rihanna chose something so basic to illustrate the “hopeless place” she’s referring to in the song.

Why couldn’t we just go with poor people? Or better yet, highlight some of the poverty in her nation of Barbados. Not only would that have gotten the point across more, but she would be doing a service to her country.

Regardless of that, her latest video at least takes a step back in the right direction. “Where Have You Been” is incredibly straightforward in it’s lyrical aspirations and the video reflects that. Rihanna just dances in different countries and with different styles.

So while I’m definitely missing the days where her videos were fashionable, at least we get to see Rihanna dress up in Indian garbs and dance around with flames on her hands. That certainly provides visual punch.

There is also some weird crocodile skin thing in the beginning, but I’m mostly just struck by the direction of the video. Her songwriting may have lost its magic, but the directors she hires unquestionably know film.

Looking forward, I’m not sure what else I can say for Rihanna. She is most assuredly a guilty pleasure for me. You obviously see me complaining about some of the things she produces, but I still have a lot of admiration for her artistic intents.

While I would like her to return to the depth and introspection she was doing with “Good Girl Gone Bad,” it’s hard not to appreciate that someone like her is around. While most modern pop is either radio fluff or forgotten within a few short weeks, Rihanna seems to just keep going.

I’m still hearing “Shut Up and Drive” and “S.O.S.” on the radio. These are songs that are close to 8 years old, which would be a death sentence in the pop world. That Rihanna has these songs in the collective conscious along with newer work is pretty extraordinary.

I can’t help but feel that her fire is almost out, though. I may listen to her newer work from time to time, but I can’t even get behind it. It’s so damn simple and this is coming from a guy who actively listens to techno with fiery fervor.

The girl has obviously made her millions and nothing is going to stop her from straying on whatever course she has chosen. I know she can do better and I really want to see her transcend her other pop contemporaries, but I don’t think there is anything else I can say.

At the very least, Rihanna knows how to produce good videos. That is an art that most musicians struggle with today. Hopefully I’ve inspired some of you to take a trek through her work. I know that, while I might not enjoy her work, I’ll always be awaiting her newest video single.

So if you'd like to discuss more Rihanna with me (or any other artist, for that matter), make sure to contact me on Twitter @KingSigy. Why not hit up Rihanna, too? @Rihanna I know that I'll be sharing this with her, whether she wants to read it or not!   read

7:34 PM on 04.01.2012

Hungering For Cinema

I’ve finally gotten my film itch back and man is it great. I’ve watched a lot of kung fu, recently, and plenty of engaging cinema to quench my intellectual thirst. I’ve seen great sights, listened to dramatic and moving scores and witnessed intense, visceral scenes.

I always love when films start with some slow exposition to build character. It’s great just hearing two people trade small talk in their natural setting. It feels like being a part of their world and digging into their psyche, despite not amounting to a lot. I also like witnessing their smiles when they chat.

I adore how the camera swoops around scenery and basks in the glory of nature. Crepuscular rays and gently flowing leaves; it all brings a sense of serenity to my mind and body. Soaking in those pure details and dreaming of being in mystical lands is what I live for in films.

I can’t get enough of violent fight scenes, either. When fists connect, weapons are narrowly avoided and cars collide, my blood gets boiling. Quick camera cuts and eclectic editing can make a fight scene seem almost real. Fantastic choreography can also send your mind racing with possibilities for what’s next. It’s all so cathartic.

There may be minor spoilers in this blog for “The Hunger Games”. Please be warned. Read at your own discretion.

“The Hunger Games” made me realize this about film. It contains everything I have mentioned, but it also is lacking in the same fields. I’m not going to be the person who rains on everyone’s parade, though. I thought the film was “okay,” for lack of a better word. Still….

My main problem with the film comes from the lack of character development. The beginning scenes have main character, Katniss, speaking to her friend, Gale, and it’s the stuff I usually adore. They talk about nothing and we should be getting a clue as to what their personalities are like. It’s too bad this doesn’t come up again, though.

Don't worry, you'll soon forget me.

Likewise, one of the secondary characters, Rue, is never given any kind of explanation. I know she was chosen for the games like the other people we’ve seen, but why does Katniss bond with her so quickly? Why does Rue look up to Katniss? Why does the death scene lack any dramatic impact?

We also get to the love interest of the film, Peeta. This aspect of the film is incredibly lacking. Not only does Peeta start the idea as a joke, but when the two finally do embrace their mutual love, the film feels sloppy. The dialog becomes hackneyed and the reaction shot of Katniss’ friend actually made the entire theater laugh.

There is just no motivation for any of the characters in the film. They are thrust into a situation and that is simply it. I suppose survival should be the only thing that we care about, but I’d really like to know the stakes of everyone involved. At least Katniss is given the trait of protector, or else the movie would really feel pointless.

The action scenes were pretty lackluster. The camerawork in the film is pretty bad. It feels almost like Paul Greengrass if he wanted to induce vomiting. There are hardly any still shots and most of the movement is filmed too closely. It is very hard to distinguish what is occurring.

Not to mention that out of the 24 people selected to participate, 12 of them die within the first few minutes of the actual game. I assume this was done to give greater focus on “key” figures in the book, but it just makes the proceeding film take longer to finish. Instead of having consistent action, we just get Katniss walking around for awhile and killing next to no one.

I’m also not quite sure what purpose the training sequences served. I guess there has to be some reason why Katniss gets sponsorship, but she hardly uses her archery skill in the film (save for one key scene). Peeta is also detailed to having great strength, but never utilizes it in the film. In essence, the training does nothing to setup any of the characters.

I did really enjoy the score, though. I’ve had many problems with modern cinema using licensed music and this film really surprised me. Not only does it have a very minimalist vibe, but the soundtrack is very moving. Its sounds sweep and its low-key vocals enchant.

Please have more of this.

I also was very fond of the locales chosen for film. I’m surprised to say that North Carolina is very beautiful, but this film brings out the best of it. Woodland settings are a favorite of mine and the greens were very lush. The beginning was also framed with some slow pans that highlighted the natural simplicity of the area and I just love it.

I can’t help but share these feelings. There inherently isn’t anything wrong with “The Hunger Games” other than how derivative it is. Nothing in this film hasn’t been done before or done better. The plot twists can be seen from a mile away and the film fails to build any tension.

To sum it up nicely, “The Hunger Games” reminded me why I love cinema. It’s just too bad that I don’t love the film.   read

9:19 AM on 02.18.2012

The Boy Who Revels in Darkness

I’ve never been a big proprietor of sex in media before. I’ve written about how I wished it would stay out of video games and that I’m even against it in films for simply not advancing the plot. I’ve never understood why people get so agitated by sex when its purpose is negligible at best.

Recently, I’ve been sucked into the Millenium trilogy by Steig Larsson. This involves all of the books/films with “The Girl Who…” Talk about reversing an ideology completely. Not only are the gut-wrenching rape scenes incredibly affecting, but even the sex scenes are mesmerizing.

This observation came after I began watching “The Girl Who Played With Fire.” I certainly thought the sex scenes were important in the previous film, but I was literally blown away at how great the second movie portrayed the main character, Lisbeth Salander. She was using sex as a means of escaping.

Not only that, but her thrusting and moaning seemed angered. She was shifting her aggression at life into this other person not for their enjoyment, but for her own relief. Once she was done, she traded a scene about her birthday and then left. Done deal.

Lisbeth isn’t afraid to be herself. She wears her hair in Mohawks, pierces whatever body part she feels and even dresses like Pinhead. Her look is fantastic. She’s become a character of her own and doesn’t even need to speak.

Lately, my life has seen a few depressing turns. I’ve taken on a second job and it’s getting to me, mentally. I’ve been at work for almost a full month straight and I find I have little time for anything.

One of my co-workers had questioned me about whether I had a girlfriend. After I told him no, he responded with, “You’re lucky.” Quite honestly, he’s right. Why the hell would I want a girlfriend? I haven’t really seen a very successful relationship in my life.

One of my older friends had gone through six different girls and still has problems with his current. My other co-workers complain about how their girls bitch about not doing anything or aren’t satisfied with their lives. I can even look to my parents and see how estranged and miserable their marriage is.

Why would I subject myself to that? All I’ve ever really wanted from a girl is sex, so why run from that? I think it’s time for me to give into my inner Lisbeth and just go for what I’m craving. Enough with the formalities and deception.

This bothers me, though, as I’ve always held women in a fairly high regard. I usually sympathize with how a woman feels because of how life has treated them in the past. It sickens me to think of how men simply objectify women and take from them what they want.

But deep down, that’s exactly who I am. Lisbeth showed me that being the “bad guy” isn’t necessarily so bad. Sometimes you just need to embrace who you are and run with it. Life is too short to try and conform to a societal norm.

So I’m not going to. I’m going to be forth coming and blunt with women from now on. Enough bullshit. If that makes me a monster, then so be it. All I really want is sex! It's time to make that happen.   read

7:56 AM on 01.15.2012

A Musing Dream: The Game of Death (Short Blog)

2004 was a monumental year for me. Not only did I play through some of the biggest video games of my teenage life, I also came into another hobby; Martial Arts films. It all started with my friend, Jim, lending me a classic and it turned into an obsession.

Fast forward to today and I’m starting to become nostalgic. Kung Fu video releases are becoming increasingly difficult to come by and even modern films are starting to lose the classic ways. The last film to come out in the west was “Shaolin” with Jackie Chan and Andy Lau, but I have no real means of seeing that.

Regardless, if there is one thing I’ve truly wish to see above all others, it would be the complete project of Bruce Lee’s “Game of Death.” At the time of Lee’s untimely death, he had been working on a dream project. It was to feature fighters from the East and West and demonstrate a lot of philosophy behind fighting. It would also feature a finale that lasted around 10 minutes and showcased a surprisingly agile Kareem Abdul Jabbar.

At present, not much is known about the true intentions of the film. I can reiterate the Wikipedia page, but I’ll spare you that and link over. Still, what became of the footage is a travesty.

Hong Kong studios weren’t above exploiting their stars. Hell, after Lee’s death, Golden Harvest tried endlessly to repeat his success. Jackie Chan was almost ruined with “New Fist of Fury,” but that’s just how Hong Kong studios were.

Still, cobbling together footage that Lee shot with a flimsy plot and video of his funeral is just ridiculous. To this day, I have not fully watched the “movie” version of “Game of Death” simply out of principle. It disgusts me.

So if I could, I would have Lee finish his vision of the film. That obviously will never happen, but I’m sure it would have been insane. I could link to any number of fight scenes from the official 45 minutes released, but I think I’ll just link the entire thing.

If you’d like to actually own this, it can be found as an extra feature on the 2-disc “Enter the Dragon” DVD or the Blu-Ray. Both include a documentary called “Bruce Lee: A Warrior’s Journey” that showcases a very good portion of his life along with this footage.

What gets me so pumped about this footage is how Lee brings out the best of his opponents. While the movie would have been a huge propaganda piece for Jeet Kune Do, Lee’s personal fighting style, he does highlight the talents and flaws of his foes with extreme depth.

There’s also the goofy charm of Hong Kong cinema in the final scene. Why on Earth would someone be hyper sensitive to light? Well, we need to showcase this as an action film, so why not? It’s just so hilariously over-the-top that you can’t help but love it.

It somehow evokes the style of a video game to me. I could easily see “Game of Death” being resurrected as a beat-em-up style game. While you’d have to fill in the blanks and we’d never be able to understand Lee’s true philosophy, at least we could have a complete version of the film that would involve a fairly accurate Lee.

So while this is all just a pipe dream, seeing “Game of Death” would make me ecstatic. My dream won’t come true, but a man can always dream.   read

9:18 AM on 12.09.2011


Well, this has been an interesting week for television. I’ve seen one show that made me question my sexuality and another that strengthened my hatred for “Glee.” Intriguing…

This past Tuesday’s episode of “New Girl” focused on main character Jess’ struggle with her sexuality. She is falling for a new guy and is extremely worried that her previous sexual history will not be adequate enough for him.

On Thursday, “Community” did their yearly Christmas spoof and decided to bag on “Glee.” It was a hilarious take on the stupidity of that show and offered some extremely humorous songs and one incredibly sexy dance.

Now, watching “New Girl,” the first thought that always comes to my mind is; how can anyone find Zooey Deschanel unattractive? She is a goddess and a delight to watch. The fact that this show is trying so hard to make her goofy just rubs me the wrong way.

Still, even with that, “New Girl” has been pretty decent. The side characters aren’t the greatest, but Zooey often portrays her character with believability and tackles themes that most women of her age group suffer with.

Case-in point, this past weeks episode. I don’t buy that Zooey can’t find a date for six years, but there are plenty of people (both male and female) who have trouble finding someone else. When she brings that agitation forward and then proceeds to delve into the male mind a bit, it’s fairly entertaining to watch.

I never thought I’d see a filmed piece of media where Zooey is watching porn online. That’s just mind boggling. What makes it better is that, when asked by one of her room mates, she laments on how she lost five hours of her life.

She mentions that the only thing she ever learned about sex was from her ex-boyfriend and, comically, the Clinton impeachment trial. Well, other than actual experience, I can relate to that. I know nothing of sex and my fears are becoming more of a reality as I grow older.

She wants to please her new boyfriend and I’d love to please anyone whom I loved. It’s hard to really place into words what ignorance feels like, but this episode definitely nails it pretty damn well.

Then there’s “Community.” I actually watched “Glee” for a full two years before I gave up. Every damn song became too poppy and the plotlines were so outrageously insulting that I just couldn’t continue.

“Community” tackles that idea by, first, killing off the previous Glee team. The episode constantly references this event and the teacher usually has an upbeat smile on his face while recounting it, all like Fox’s moronic show.

What happens next is that the teacher gets one of the cast members to sucker his friends into performing the Christmas pageant by working to their weaknesses. At one point, Alison Brie says to Chevy Chase, “They’re just trying to pander to your demographics well documented historical vanity.” Yeah, pandering is putting it nicely.

Still, as mean spirited as the show gets, this episode certainly hits all the correct criticisms about “Glee.” The show is lousy, too serious and often a shuffle of ridiculous plotlines involving things that we’ve never seen before.

Then Alison Brie dons a sexy Santa outfit and dances like a burlesque woker. In the same week that I questioned whether I could ever be sexy, I was suddenly thinking about how I wanted sex more.

Pandering at its best, right? “Community” has tackled the idea of its female co-stars being sex icons, but never overtly gone for it. This episode throws Brie into the lion’s den and she comes out victorious.

So what am I left with here? Doubts about how any real application of sex in my life will be meaningful and relief that I still find things sexy…Confusing.

Regardless, I’m happy to see that television in the modern era hasn’t all become like “Glee.” I can still watch hilarious shows and get deep meaning from them. As long as everyone doesn’t bust into stupid renditions of song, I think I’ll be safe.   read

7:01 PM on 11.30.2011

Capacity For Murder (Short Blog)

There may be some slight spoilers for anyone who cares. Nothing too major is discussed, other than the endings of Season 2 and 3.

“Breaking Bad” is easily one of the best shows I’ve ever watched. That is a statement I will take to my grave. It is completely enrapturing and always thought provoking. Be it through sheer shock value or intense dialog, the show constantly one ups itself and brings a macabre smile to my face.

The characters on the show run the gamut of morality and are often trotting the line into evil. It’s the only show besides “The Shield” where it is truly hard to connect with anyone, yet Vince Gilligan and crew have written some wonderful characteristics into their characters that make them pleasurable to watch.

As such, I find myself bonding with the character of Jesse Pinkman, played by Aaron Paul. The kid is a meth addict with a failure of a life. The series shows his eventual spiral into evil at the hands of Walter White, portrayed by Bryan Cranston.

Jesse starts off on the wrong side of the law, but he isn’t an inherently evil person. His actions mostly harm himself and his family life is devolving based around that. Since Walter is essentially blackmailing him into cooking meth, he has no choice but to soldier through the cesspool and trek deeper through the darkness.

There’s one point during the second season where Jesse loses his girlfriend due to an overdose. He completely blames himself and even remotely connects a plane crash to his “failure.” In the next season, taking on a new persona that he assumes is evil, he eventually kills a man to save Walter.

You can see it's not easy for him.

What this does for me is make me think; do I have the capacity for murder? I’m not going to blame “Breaking Bad” for giving me that thought or even claim that I will now become a convict. What I’m questioning is this: would I react the same way as Jesse?

See, I bond so much with Jesse because I feel like my life is spiraling downward. Family deaths have caused me to lose contact with a bunch of my family members. I remained home this past Thanksgiving because I didn’t feel like I could bond with anyone.

I also had a close problem with my alcohol intake. I was bordering on alcoholism while I was trying to impress some girl, a status that I’m still very scared of. While I do sometimes get drunk, I’ve never returned to the level of insanity that I previously could.

Some of my older co-workers give me problems, as well. My reactions aren’t outward at them, but I often get incredibly distraught at home and tend to lash out at whoever crosses my path. It’s sickening when I think about it, but my rage needs to be let loose.

This makes me think back to my teenage years when I often would punch walls or instigate verbal fights with other classmates. With how awful I perceive my life to be now, could I honestly kill someone?

Jesse eventually breaks under the impression that he needs to save his partner, but he soon becomes cold blooded and takes more lives. This is something that wasn’t present during the first two seasons of the show, where Jesse was visually sick at the thought of murder.

Will there ever be a time where I just break? Is it possible that someone will push me over the line and I’ll react with violence and bloodlust? I honestly think that answer is no and I’m pretty sure that none of the situations in my life are as serious as the predicaments that Jesse found himself in.

I don't think I'll be killing the entire Colombian Cartel anytime soon.

Still, the very idea that I can bond with such a low-life character and that I see a lot of similarities just makes me wonder. It says a lot when a show as gritty and brutal as “Breaking Bad” can create a character so plausible that I have to stop and examine my own psyche.

At the very least, I’d probably be just as wrecked over the death of a loved one as Jesse. Maybe that’s a plus?   read

8:07 PM on 10.12.2011

Haunted - Conquering My Fear

One of the definitions of “Haunt,” as according to Merriam-Webster, is; “to have a disquieting or harmful effect on.” I cannot recall much in my life that has done that to me, other than one video game. That belongs to “Resident Evil 4.”

My friend and I were eagerly anticipating this game. We watched pretty much every trailer and I even recollect a moment where I claimed the game would, “Be the Best video game ever.” While that statement isn’t too far from the truth, something funny happened along the lines.

I became afraid of what I was seeing. Villagers with demonic eyes, wielding sharp objects and bum rushing you with murderous intent; it was terrifying to me in a way I had never experienced before. Throw in the idea of instant death enemies and gigantic, over-powered boss fights and I was almost ready to give up.

Ah christ!

I put on a façade that I was hardcore, though. I really did want the game and I wanted others to believe I cared about it. I’m not quite sure why, but those were my actions. When the game finally came out, I immediately picked it up and popped it in my Gamecube. I played for a grand total of 20 minutes before I gave up out of fright.

I couldn’t take the tension of facing the unknown. The way death was lurking around the corner or bear traps were waiting for me or gigantic boulders were coming; it was insane. Couple all of that with the fierce difficulty curve and I was dead on arrival.

What didn’t help was how my friend was using Action Replay and still failing. Even he couldn’t deal with the difficulty and cheats couldn’t help him. I was so terrified at this point that I almost traded the game back, but I held onto the hope that I would be able to conquer my fear one day.

It took me 2 full years before I tried playing the game again. During that time, I heard from another friend of mine that most of the game was difficult. He had trouble slaying some of the bosses and he often had to quit for a few days to rebuild his strength to continue. How was that supposed to alleviate my fear?

Well, when I got my Wii and was out of games to fool around with, I figured that I might as well attack the cause of my anxiety once and for all. As it turns out, the game actually kept me scared for other reasons.

This is not an uncommon sight.

Before that point in time, not many games existed with the sole intent of destroying your morale. “Resident Evil 4” is unique in that death isn’t simply a game over screen. Most of the time, your character is mutilated or decapitated. If you check YouTube, you can find a near 10 minute video of character deaths.

That idea, alone, scares the ever-living soul out of me. When I’m trekking through a game, I don’t want to feel like I’ve failed and life is over. That’s what makes the game work, though. When you conquer a tough situation and know how gruesome failure can be, the accomplishment is like curing a major crisis.

The few successes I had in the beginning just made the entire experience wonderful. You come up to a tough area, get eviscerated or annihilated and then come back with a new found fear/respect for your foes. It makes you more careful, more calculated and even tenser at the thought of death.

One of my best moments from the game comes during the middle. You face off against this enemy that looks like a Predator. He is called Verdugo and he is nearly impossible to kill. The entire idea is to freeze him with canisters of CO2 and wait for an elevator.

He is your nightmares personified.

Well, aside from scaring the piss out of me, I was constantly running away and screaming while doing so. I was so afraid of failing that I didn’t even want to look the beast in the eye. Well, during an almost successful attempt, the guy jumped at me and decapitated me. I can remember my reaction clear as day.

The buildup of astriction and angst was tenfold, but the failure was just incredible. I couldn’t believe that I lost and I immediately headed back to surmount this bastard. When I finally overcame the beast, I was ready to throw a party.

Circumventing this foe wasn’t the end of my troubles, though. When I watched my friend cheating, he was on a boss I hadn’t even encountered yet. I saw the creature lash out and devour my friend, so I was so damn terrified of that happening to me.

Not too far after, I finally strolled into the very same boss battle. It was a fight with the antagonist, Salazaar, and I wasn’t ready. While I didn’t get consumed by him, I was nearly paralyzed at the thought of that giant creature eating me. I failed a few times out of adrenaline build up.

Thought you could best me? Think again!

When I eventually beat the game, I began to wonder what all the fear was for. Maybe just anticipation got the best of me? Hearing the stories of friends bombing at the game didn’t provide any sense of ease to me, so I let that thought permeate in my mind.

To this day, though, nothing was managed to give me a sense of dread like this. There are some other games that I’m sure will be scary to me, but I now know that I have the strength to tackle nearly any obstacle put in front of me.

Thank you, Capcom. You managed to scare me silly and make me feel invincible. That is definitely an amazing feat.   read

10:56 PM on 07.07.2011

Superhuman: My Spidy Sense Aint Tingling

I do need to apologize for not writing more often on this site. My life hasn’t been particularly busy, but I’ve seen so little in the way of films recently that I felt writing about the past wouldn’t make sense. In this instance, though, the past is a very valuable source.

Once upon a time, Super Hero movies used to suck ass. Now, not every single film was a disaster (The first two Batman movies are still pretty good), but studios didn’t really give full attention and care to the respective properties. It wasn’t until Marvel stepped up with “Spider-man” in 2001 that people began to actually care more about men-in-tights.

I wasn’t the biggest fan of the original Toby Maguire film, but the sequel blew me the hell away. I remember going opening day with some friends after school and not even shouting anything obscene or negative. I had so much respect for the scenery, the acting, the editing; that movie was the definition of a superhero film.

Years later, I finally rewatched the film (my sixth time, mind you) on FX’s DVD on TV only to come to one conclusion; the movie was goofy as all hell. There are so many scenes where Macguire stutters his lines out or stares mindlessly into the camera and don’t even get me started on how bad Kirsten Dunst is.

While Sam Raimi’s work on “Evil Dead” and its sequels is pure campy fun, it doesn’t mesh entirely well with the world of Spider-man. I still find it hilarious when the doctor in the morgue tries to saw off one of Doc. Ock’s tentacles, but why is the cut so ridiculously cheesy? How am I supposed to take this villain seriously?

Just what the hell is this? Frankenstein?!

I also have a pretty big beef with the Mary Jane plotline, too. Back in the day, I thought the interactions between the two characters were fairly realistic, but everything is just stilted. It’s awkward just hearing them speak, let alone trying to extrapolate what kind of emotions the characters are feeling.

Mary Jane is such a damn tease, too. She’s all over Peter in one scene and then she’s with the astronaut. Next scene, Peter’s back in her life, but then she’s mad that he misses her play. It’s a weird on again, off again style and it really baffles me.

It doesn’t help that Spider-man saves her three times throughout the film. Mary Jane is supposed to be a strong and independent character, but she’s constantly screaming for help. Peter is fighting with the fact that he can’t be with her because of his enemies finding out his identity, but yet she’s getting captured in practically every other scene.

The whole scene where Spider-man stops the train also really makes no sense, either. Peter removes his mask, for some reason, and nearly passes out from the sheer power it takes him to stop a speeding train. There had to be at least one person on that train who would have sold him out.


Even putting that aside, why is the acting so damn forced. Everyone slowly utters their lines and barely moves their faces when talking to Peter. You just found out who Spider-man is, why aren’t you more excited?! I’d be screaming at the top of my lungs.

To the movies credit, the CGI is actually pretty decent still. The next sequel, even with a bigger budget, failed to look nearly as impressive. When Doc. Ock is lobbing bricks and cars through the air, it definitely blends fairly well with the environment.

But then you combine that with the ridiculous nature of the action scene at the bank. Peter and his aunt are sitting with the teller when Peter suddenly kick’s his aunts’s chair across the room. That actually sounds a lot more bad-ass then it looks on screen. The CGI implementation for Aunt May just looks asinine and conflicts with the world around her.

I know this sounds very harsh, but the way I had the film built up in my head just didn’t pan out after half a decade. It’s surprising to go back to a film that I considered the pinnacle of superhero movies and find out it doesn’t even compare to “Thor”.

Marvel is getting pretty adept at their movies, though. Both “Thor” and “X-Men: First Class” are fairly decent movies with some good acting and editing. The CGI is also heads and shoulders above a lot of the competition and looks almost realistic with the styles of the films.

Knowing that a new Spider-man movie is being made, I’m only optimistic for the future of the franchise. Marvel clearly knows how to make movies now and getting rid of all the bad factors from the Raimi films can only mean good things.

Looking like this, though, has me slightly worried.   read

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