Posted on November 24th, 2019
I see you've tuned in to the same Bat-Channel at the same Bat-Time, because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Printing Errors. I've designed nearly a dozen books and I've made my share of mistakes along the way. But one thing I've never done is run text into the gutter. And yet Marvel's "The Art of the Movie" books excel at it. Including Marvel's Avengers: Endgame, The Art of the Movie which was released last week...
It shocks me every damn time. How are you supposed to read this shit? Even if you tip up the opposite side at a 90° angle, it's tough...
I guess you're supposed to break the binding and pound it flat? This is infuriating. These are not cheap books.
• Thanksgiving Art. Artist Hannah Rothstein created Thanksgiving dinner plates as imagined by various artists in 2014 (and a second helping in 2015). The results are pretty great...
To see all of her photos, be sure to check out her website.
• Nippon Bunka. When I saw that the latest season of Queer Eye was in Japan, I was curious to see how it was going to work... but didn't tune in right away. And when I finally decided to take a look, I was surprised at how some of the language came rushing back to me. Then mortified because there were a lot of cringeworthy moments. They obviously didn’t take the time to learn anything about Japanese culture, and I finally had to stop watching half-way through the third episode. I just couldn’t take it any more. The show was highly disrespectful of how Japanese culture works, and how people there have a mindset to fit into society for the benefit of the greater harmony. It is essentially Americans invading these people’s homes, trouncing over everything they believe, and telling them how much better there lives would be if they were more American. Then likely not realizing that politeness would preclude the Fab-Five being told if the Japanese person in question was uncomfortable or didn't want to go along with what was being dumped on them. It was just too awful. Then I read this article and see it went even deeper than I realized. Quite a step backwards from the shows that came before.
• Not Cats. There is absolutely NO condition under which I want to see this movie. If I am in a coma... and you visit me... and this is playing on the television... CHANGE THE CHANNEL! Good Lord what a heinous CGI abomination. I mean, yeah, I wasn't interested in the Broadway musical either... but at least THAT I understood. This CGI weirdness is absurd, and I would have rather they had this amazing cast just dress up like they did at the theater performances. THAT I would have probably watched. When it came to HBO or Netflix or whatever. But this?!?
• Whoa. Well these natural works of art by Andy Goldsworthy are amazing...
I found out about them over here.
• Awww. Melts.
The entire channel is gold, and you can visit it here.
Until next time, Bat-Fans.
Posted on November 22nd, 2019
My favorite director is Quentin Tarantino.
I love every one of his films, and the fact that he writes his own material is just icing on the cake. His encyclopedic knowledge of cinema gives him the perfect toolbox for creating perfect movies. He knows what works and what doesn't work, and puts only the stuff that works into his art. The only thing I don't like about Quentin Tarantino is his long-standing proclamation that he is stopping after ten films. I hope he ends up ignoring that and only stops when he feels he's done, because I can't believe somebody with his talent and success could ever just... stop.
Which brings us to his 9th film... Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, which was just released on digital. As with all of his movies, I absolutely loved it...
Spoiler Alert. There are spoilers below.
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is the story of Rick Dalton (perfectly captured by Leonardo DiCaprio) a fading star who had a famous TV show in the 50's called Bounty Law... along with his best friend and stunt double Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt being as amazing as ever). As his career eventually becomes playing a series of bad guys in movies... and a run of Italian Westerns... he has to grapple with the approaching end of his career and an uncertain future. At the same time, Dalton and Booth have the misfortune of becoming entangled with The Manson Family during the Summer of Love thanks to Dalton's home being next door to Roman Polanski and his wife Sharon Tate.
At this point you need to know that, in real life, Sharon Tate (who was 8 months pregnant) and the friends who were staying with her were murdered by Manson's followers at her home.
But in Tarantino's alternate history accounting of events, the Manson followers recognize Rick Dalton and decide to kill him instead. Unfortunately for them, they proceed to be brutally killed by Cliff Booth and Booth's dog (and Rick Dalton with a flamethrower). It's glorious. Much in the same way I loved to see Hitler and his brigade of upper-echelon Nazi fucks get brutally murdered in Inglourious Basterds, it's pure cinematic joy to see the Manson pieces of shit get the tables turned on them and get killed in the most painful, horrendous ways possible.
They call that cinematic justice. Which is a nice departure from the world we live in.
And that's the movie.
It's not as complex a narrative as the time shifts in Pulp Fiction or Kill Bill, but this allows Quentin to be laser-focused on the characterization, which is pretty close to his best yet. And a film I highly recommend, if you're so inclined.
And because it's bound to be asked by somebody, here is where I rank the nine films of Quentin Tarantino (that he both wrote and directed)...
In reality, they are all #1 films to me. The only reason I can rank the movies at all is because there are specific things that register in my head for many of them. Pulp Fiction was the first Tarantino movie I saw. Kill Bill had some of the most remarkable fight scenes of all time. Inglourious Basterds and its revisionist history blew my mind, Jackie Brown was sublimely character-driven with a fun twist... that kind of thing. And any time I re-watch Jackie Brown it becomes my #1 film for a few weeks just because Pam Grier is flawless.
Rumor has it that Quentin Tarantino is working on a Star Trek film. I have no idea how it will fit in with the various Star Trek properties... perhaps it won't, which would be fantastic because Tarantino could just go nuts and do a true Quentin Tarantino film that heads wherever his imagination takes him. I'm not sure this if this is what I'd want to be his final motion picture... if, indeed, he sticks to his ten-and-done promise, but I'll take what I can get.
Tarantino has yet to go wrong in my book.
Posted on November 17th, 2019
Don't despair that yet another weekend is over, because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Mando. After only two episodes of The Mandalorian I am prepared to say that it's my favorite thing to come out of Star Wars since The Empire Strikes Back. Or at least tied with Rogue One. I am just completely shocked that they are using their big budget on something more than pew pew space battles. It's all story development... and they are taking their time to get to where they're going. And making everything look 100% gorgeous along the way...
And now I want a Baby Yoda doll. But who doesn't?
• MACLUNKEY! And, speaking of Star Wars, I still can't get over how stunning the 4K remaster of the movie looks. Seriously... it looks like it could have been filmed last week! IT WAS RELEASED IN 1977! I was compelled to watch because I heard that the "Han Shot First" scene which was "reimagined" into a "Greedo Shot First" scene is now a "Han and Greedo Shot at the Same Time" scene...
It's all so damn stupid. Han shot first. It was filmed that way. Any attempt to make it seem otherwise is just fucking embarrassing because it looks fake. BECAUSE IT IS FAKE! Why not just admit that Han Solo had a dicey past but in the end his hero nature prevailed? It sabotages nothing. It changes nothing. And the more you try and play it otherwise, the more you are drawing attention to it. Which is actually more than damn stupid... it's insulting.
• The King. Since the debut of The Impossible Whopper, I've eaten at least a dozen of them. Including the perfect one I had this morning...
For the most part, I absolutely love them. But here's the thing... like any burger, a number of factors go into how good each one tastes. Unripe, tasteless, tough tomato? Not so good. Ripe, flavorful, juicy tomato? Very good. Lettuce core that's tough and rancid? Not so good. Leafy, fresh lettuce? Very good. It goes on and on. Ordinarily, I'd chalk this up to rolling the dice in a game where I'm happy to play and take my chances. But when they cost $7.50 each? For that kind of money I would hope that Burger King would be a little more careful about making sure everything is good. Because... $7.50?!? Still cheaper than so many other vegetarian options out there... assuming you can find them in the first place.
• Axel! And so Netflix not only ponied up what I'm sure is an ungodly amount of money to Eddie Murphy so he would film a standup special... they must have backed up another dump truck full of cash for him to make a fourth Beverly Hills Cop movie...
I loved the first two... liked the third one... and am hoping against hope that they will make the fourth one be worth a crap. After the long, long, long time that the franchise has languished in development hell, this is probably our last shot.
• Root Beer. I love Japan and adore the Japanese people. I see videos like this pop up in my feed and it's weird how the language starts coming back to me. I really should make time to refresh my skills and get back to Japan one of these days...
For the record, I love root beer. And A&W Diet Root Beer is fantastic.
• Watching. All-in-all I liked what Zack Snyder did with Watchmen. At least I did until the end where he completely changed Ozymandias's plan and fucked everything up. Which, in retrospect, is no surprise. He has absolutely no respect for the source material and feels as though he can "improve" on everything. In the case of Watchmen, he jettisoned the shock of a giant psychic alien squid destroying New York City, thus depriving us of one of the original series' greatest moments. In tonight's episode of the HBO series, which follows the graphic novel instead of Snyder's film, we finally got to see it in a flashback...
Now, this is not really a spoiler since it already happened back in 1987. And if it is a spoiler, how sad that you never read one of the greatest comic book series of all time before watching the show.
The HBO Watchmen series has been good... very good. And with each new episode I like it even more. But then I have to remind myself that the guy in charge of the show is Damon Lindelof. Talk about somebody who can fuck up an ending. This was one of the guys responsible for Lost. And so... while this series is delicious in all the right ways (mind-bogglingly good scripts and incredible performances) I'm holding onto my final judgement until all nine episodes have aired.
Until next weekend then...
Posted on November 12th, 2019
And so Disney+ is finally here.
Unlike Apple TV+, the content you get is staggering. Tons of shows and movies from the Disney archives (some of them having been buried for a long time) plus shows and movies from Disney affiliates (every episode of The Simpsons is right here). And of course the new shows and movies they have been promoting from the very start which will leverage their Disney, Marvel, Star Wars, Pixar, and National Geographic properties. I got in on a pre-purchase deal that dropped the cost to less than $4 a month, and at that price this is a bargain and a half for what you get.
Granted, the Marvel shows that I'm really looking forward to are a ways off yet, but I'd pay $4 a month for The Mandalorian alone, so it's all kinda a no-brainer.
And now, just as I did with Apple TV+ content, I am dropping my thoughts on what Disney+ originals bring to the table, from my favorite to least favorite...
The Mandalorian. The entire reason to get Disney+ from the get-go is right here. And, with the exception of Rogue One, it's better than most of the Star Wars stuff that's been released in the past 20 years. Mostly because Jon Favreau and Co. just didn't care about anything but taking all the cool stuff from Star Wars and doing something truly new with it. Between the mysterious nature of Pedro Pascal's namesake Mandalorian... and a freakin' fantastic appearance by a droid from the IG-88 series (IG-11). If you have even the smallest, most basic interest in Star Wars, here's your show. And reason enough to climb onboard the Disney+ train.
The Imagineering Story. The first of six episodes looking behind the scenes of creating the Disney parks. It's fantastic, featuring archive footage and modern interviews to explain how Disneyland (and everything that followed) came to be. Really cool stuff here... like a look at the incomparable Mary Blair at work. I'd pay the $7 price of admission just to watch this series.
Marvel: Expanding the Universe. A quick 12 minute sneak peak of all the stuff I am dying to watch on Disney+ (AKA the entire reason I subscribed). There's precious little new information here, but it definitely gets you excited for what's to come.
SparkShorts. These independent Pixar shorts are, well, everything you expect from Pixar. The first three (Purl, Smash and Grab, and Kitbull) were excellent, so there was no reason to expect anything less from Float. And it doesn't disappoint. Gorgeous animation about a dad trying to deal with a kid who can... float. It's sweet, heartfelt, and amazing. Interesting to note that Disney+ has added other amazing Pixar shorts like Bao and Piper to the service as well.
The World According to Jeff Goldblum I am not quite sure what this is supposed to be. It's essentially just Jeff Goldblum being Jeff Goldblum at his Jeff Goldblummiest while looking into a subject through the lens of Jeff Goldblum. The result is pretty great, but not exactly groundbreaking. Other shows have done this kind of thing better. But none of them had Jeff Goldblum, and that's the point isn't it? In the premiere, Jeff gets into the inexplicably cutthroat world of sneakers and the jaw-dropping price that people are willing to pay to get collectible pairs. Along the way we get mini-lessons about where vulcanized rubber came from, how companies like Adidas create sneakers, and other tangents. No mention of sweat shops in Indonesia paying children $1 a day to make the sneakers though. I guess you could call this superficially educational... superficial edutainment? Though Jeff slaps back against flat-earthers and dinosaur deniers, so there's that. Definitely watching this one.
Lady and The Tramp. The live-action remakes from Disney have been a mixed bag. Some of them are amazing (Jungle Book was fantastic), some of them are okay (Christopher Robin has great elements, but kinda flails) and some are just bad (Dumbo was sincerely lacking). The animated Lady and the Tramp was beautiful to look at, but not a favorite. I didn't expect the live-action remake to change my mind. But they pulled out all the stops to create a good film. No, it's not a cinematic masterpiece (and is not as good as the original), but the rescue dog stars they got were great. The casting was perfect (Sam Elliott as Trusty? Come on!). And the CGI talking effects were well-done. This is kinda a perfect example of what Disney+ should be. A place for movies not quite reaching the quality of a feature-film release, but deserving of more than some $9.99 direct-to-video dump.
Marvel Hero Project. If there's a promise for Disney+ outside of the obvious, shows like this are it. Inspiring, true-life stories that find heroes in humanity and showcase how they are changing our world... THEN, ZOMG, MADE INTO A MARVEL COMIC BOOK! The first issue has Jordan, a girl with limb differences, working to make the world more accessible for everyone. There's an awful lot to like about this show... even without the Marvel element... but made oh so much better because of the Marvel element. I mean, yeah, fashioning a "glitter arm" and shooting sparkly glitter at people may seem like a silly idea to build an episode around, but when you see the show you "get it." It will be interesting to see what future episodes will bring.
Noelle. Given my predilection for Hallmark Christmas movies, I thought this would be right up my alley. Anna Kendrick and Bill Hader? Oh my garland! Sign me up! And yet... it's not that at all. Instead it's more like a remake of Elf but not really nailing it. Sure it's cute, clever, brimming with Christmas charm, and has the eternal optimism you expect from Disney... but it's all kinda meh despite incredible production values and a great cast. Santa has retired and his son doesn't have the confidence, skills, or desire to take over, so it falls to his daughter Noelle. Given the date of the Disney+ debut, I suppose there had to be a Christmas movie. And this wasn't bad. Though I wonder if kids will be able to get into it? My guess is not.
Encore! Kristen Bell attempts to revive old productions of amateur high school musical theater... with the original cast! The first episode is Annie with the cast of a 1996 Santana High School production. I don't like musicals, at all, but was fascinated by the concept. And Kristen Bell. They start with a catchup of where all the cast is today... police officers, teachers, stay-at-home moms, and such. Then gather them together with a professional director, music director, and choreographer to stage a modern take on the original. And along the way you get to see them come together and rehash the past and discuss what's been happening in their lives. The result was okay... but ultimately not my thing. Not the personal drama nor the musical theater. And yet... I might keep tuning in on occasion? It's an interesting idea for reality television for sure.
Ask Forky a Question. Cute to see Forky and Ham again, but this first short (What is Money?) was pretty uneventful. Just Forky being Forky and nothing really happening.
Pixar in Real Life. A godawful attempt to bring Pixar into the real world. This first one brings in the control panel from Inside Out to the real world where passerby can control the emotions of two actors. Pointless and not the least bit entertaining. It's five minutes long. I made it to a minute-and-a-half before bailing.
Disney Family Sundays This is some kind of weird-ass crafting show for kids. But a horrifically bad one. In the first episode they make Dumbo's circus tent. The supplies include A PRE-MADE CANOPY TENT?!? WTF? Who has that laying around? Can you even buy that? Then you essentially hot-glue-gun a bunch of garish crap to the pre-made canopy. This is what passes for "crafting" now-a-days? Pathetic. And I just don't get it. First you have to watch the show, then you have to make a massive laundry-list of supplies to go buy (or try to find to buy), then you have to watch the show again as a step-by-step. Lame. I guess I should have expected some cheap "filler" shows to fill in the gaps, but this?!?
High School Musical: The Series No. Won't do it. This is where I draw the line.
And that's it.
Well, not really. Tons of Disney, Marvel, and Star Wars content await. Including some stuff from my childhood that I didn't expect to ever see again... like The Love Bug series (including Herbie Rides Again with Helen Hayes) and The Cat from Outer Space. And stuff I don't own that I'd definitely like to revisit (including Saving Mr. Banks and Hannah Montana).
I've read about people having connection problems with Disney+ but haven't had any major problems. Once or twice I've had an error pop up...
...but after I dismiss and restart the program everything works just fine. And, much to my surprise, the program picks up right where the problem occurred. Nice!
The Apple TV interface is fairly good. The web interface is pretty bad. No navigation within the site... you have to use your browser's back button. But, in both cases, the content played just fine so I can't really complain.
Disney+ is off to a good start. But it's what's to come that has me excited to be a subscriber.
Posted on November 10th, 2019
Hallmark Channel Christmas is in full swing this Sunday, but I'm making time for blogging anyway, because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• OctoCup. I don’t know whether to be happy... or bust out crying because of how we’re destroying this planet with our filth...
Probably both. Poor creatures of earth. Fuck the climate change debate... clean up the planet because we have a moral reponsibility to do so. Humans are not the only thing living here.
• Madalorian. By and large, I've been disappointed with the post-Star Wars offerings. The prequel trilogy was utter crap. The sequel trilogy is lacking. Solo was okay, but not a homerun. And while I did love Rogue One for being the most Star Wars since The Empire Strikes Back, it had serious story issues. The final movie in the trilogy of trilogies, Rise of Skywalker arrives in December and looks like it will be a delicious special-effects spectacle. But what I'm really forward to? Jon Favre and Pedro Pascal's The Mandalorian coming to Disney+ on Tuesday...
Boy does that look good. Firmly set in the Star Wars Universe, but giving us something new outside of what the past films are mired in. I sure hope it lives up to the hype.
• AT&T Nickel Diming. Upgrading my iPhone through the Apple Upgrade Program was a mess. Worthy of an entire blog post when I have time to document the horror I went through with Apple. Turns out that the fun was just beginning because when I got my AT&T bill, there was a $30 upgrade fee on it. Even though AT&T didn't do a damn thing. The process of activating and transferring my phone was entirely automated and done by me! This is just another case of AT&T squeezing money out of their customers by nickel-and-diming them to death. When I called AT&T to ask them what in the hell they did to merit a $30 charge, their answer was... all the carriers do it. Which may be true. But AT&T costs considerably more than other carriers. And so... time to investigate a possible change. Free HBO that's a massive pain-in-the-ass to activate via AT&T's pitiful AT&T TV Now service (formerly DirecTV Now) is not worth it. Not by a damn sight. And they're dishonest assholes who still charge you full price, even when they are blacking out channels and not paying for them.
• Rank. Step One of getting rid of our fatally-flawed and totally shitty two-party system stranglehold is adopting ranked-choice voting. And... oh my.. here is something interesting.
• Padded. I have been attempting to use the new Adobe Photoshop on iPad. Except, despite it's name, it is NOT Adobe Photoshop. Not even remotely close to Photoshop. Of course I knew that there were going to be sacrifices (especially in the beginning), but this pathetic effort is so feature anemic as to be laughable. For one thing... no resizing or crop tools. I mean, sure there's a "crop tool" but you can't set a dimension. Your only choice is to "lock current ratio." THAT'S IT! Need a certain size? Fuck you. Need a certain resolution? Fuck you. Need a certain ratio? Fuck you. And... oh yeah... the crop tool doesn't snap to edges! What a fucking joke. It's not like I'm upset because I can't use all my filters and am demanding that every possible obscure feature from the desktop Photoshop be added... but holy fucking shit! CROPPING IS A BASIC FEATURE! IT'S NOT EVEN A BASIC FEATURE... IT'S LIKE THE MOST RUDIMENTARY FUNCTION OF AN IMAGE EDITING PROGRAM THERE IS! Pathetic. Can't believe we waited a whole YEAR for this?
• Wavy. Boy does this bring back memories of crossing The Drake Passage! I always wondered how they managed to cook on rough seas!
There were two times in crossing that dishes were thrown from our tables. Thrown. Which is why the expedition company I went with have to replace half the dishes every season.
• Punch Away. WE LITERALLY FOUGHT A WAR AGAINST THEM!
And now... back to our regularly-scheduled Christmastime programming...
Posted on November 6th, 2019
Well that was fun.
I flew to Minneapolis for one day because I am a Marvel Studios completist and just HAD to do Avengers: Damage Control at The Void (thanks to Kyle for being a good sport and doing it with me!). It's an immersive VR experience that's part game, part virtual world. You strap on a backpack filled with tech, don a VR helmet, then walk through a physical "studio" which has been remapped in your goggles with an entirely new reality. Along the way you fight Ultron robots and stuff...
So far as the technology goes... it’s pretty glitchy. You're in the "experience" with three other people and move from area to area with them. But the physical representations of the other "players" is not entirely stable or accurately mapped. Sometimes you'll look over at somebody and they will be walking in place oddly or randomly switch directions. The hybrid Black Panther /slash/ Iron Man suits you get mapped on you are pretty cool though...
The mapping of your real hands to your virtual hands is... okay-ish. But many times my hands would disappear or jump to a wildly different spot. Kyle has tattoos on his arms and hands which made it so one of his virtual "hands" rarely functioned at all. And it’s a little tough to “get into the action” when your hands keep disappearing! So... helpful hint, I guess... if you have arm/hand tattoos, maybe you need to wear white lycra sleeves and gloves or something?
That being said... the coolest part of the experience is not the "game" part. It's being able to look around at the world they created, which is absurdly cool. I almost wanted to go back through again so I could ignore the battle and just see all the stuff going on in your environment that's 360° around you. You go from Shuri's training center to Doctor Strange's Sanctum Sanctorum to a full-on battle with Ultra-Ultron on a New York City rooftop. And along the way you meet a goodly selection of Avengers...
The major characters in Damage Control are Shuri, Doctor Strange, Ant-Man, and The Wasp. And they actually got Letitia Wright to act in it, plus Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Rudd, and Evangeline Lilly to voice their CGI characters (which is why it was worth my flying to Minneapolis to see it all, since it's the real deal and not some imitation video game. Though all the other characters who speak were imitation, but done pretty well. I guess they ran out of budget to get all the stars?
Seattle doesn't have a The Void location. And not all locations have Avengers: Damage Control. I just picked the cheapest to get to, which was the Mall of America in Minneapolis (surprisingly, it would have taken more miles to get to Las Vegas or a South-California location, which is weird because they're closer). The price of admission is $40. I don't know that it's worth that to somebody who isn't a fan of Marvel movies... and felt a little overpriced even for somebody like me who is. Apparently the Avengers experience is a limited-time engagement through the 15th, so if this is something you absolutely must try, then you might want to get some tickets and get on that.
Right now, things are still a bit glitchy, and those glitches do take away from the experience. I'd imagine within another five years you'll just put on some VR specs and be able to do this kind of stuff in your living room perfectly. Until then, you can invest in an Oculus VR headset and have a non-walk-through experience at home, or go to a VR space like The Void and take what you can get.
And what I need to get is some sleep, because I have to be up at 4am to head home.
Posted on November 1st, 2019
The commercialization of a people's traditions and culture is a practice which fascinates me. Partly because those traditions are usually sanitized for those who would never make even the slightest effort to understand their origins. But mostly because it creates this disgusting mingling of cultural identity blending with people who loathe those behind the culture. The same people who proudly hate immigrants are the same people who love eating a burrito while chugging $5 margaritas at a bar on Cinco de Mayo. The same people who laugh at the plight of our neighbors to the South trying to escape horrific violence are the same people who get sugar skull tattoos and decorate their homes for the Day of the Dead.
Which is "Dia de los Muertos."
Which is today.
Generally speaking the Day of the Dead is actually a three-day holiday. It begins on All Hallows Eve (October 31) when altars are built to invite the spirits of dead children to visit. On All Saints Day (November 1) spirits of dead adults are invited to visit...
Then it all culminates on All-Souls Day (November 2) when the spirits of relatives are honored by visiting their gravesites to light incense and decorate them with marigolds, skeletons, calavera de azucar (sugar-skulls), and all kinds of other decorations and offerings... including the departed's favorite foods and drinks or, in the case of children, their favorite toys...
I say "general speaking" because Dia de los Muertos is celebrated in many different ways... even between regions of a single country like Mexico where it is a national holiday. Here in the USA there are, of course, traditional celebrations in our Hispanic communities. Everywhere else, Mexican and Latin American bars and restaurants use it as a way to promote their businesses. And, naturally, there are those who just think that sugar-skulls look cool so they display them on their dashboard or on their mantle for exotically fun decorations.
And then there are the cultural-appropriation-for-profit endeavors which actually do try to honor the traditions on which the original culture was built so they can enlighten and educate. Take for example the 2017 Pixar film Coco which is a beautifully animated movie that uses Dia de los Muertos as inspiration for both its story and visuals (it's where the stills above come from). This is a jaw-dropping, gorgeous film with a heartwarming message that works very hard to honor rather than exploit the culture which is responsible for it...
This is not to say that there are not those who would believe that Coco is a prime example of exploitation of a people by a mega-corporation that is appropriating their culture for money... and that's a valid assessment. But there are also those who see the film as a celebration of their culture, and are happy that their traditions are being represented and given visibility so beautifully. This piece on the reaction of indigenous peoples of Oaxaca watching Coco (many of whom had never been to a theater before) is wonderful to see.
As somebody who is not native to Dia de los Muertos, has never had it be a part of their culture, and knew almost nothing about it aside from seeing sugar skull tattoos on Ink Master, I was grateful to Disney/Pixar for educating me about the Day of the Dead. It's thanks to Coco that I took the time to read up on the holiday by those whose culture is responsible for it. And after educating myself I was able to truly appreciate what a beautiful celebration it is. Not necessarily for the dead... but for the living who keep their spirit and memory alive.
If you haven't seen Coco yet, this weekend would be the perfect time to remedy that. And if you have? It's a great time to watch it again. I know I will be!
Posted on October 21st, 2019
And lo after these many months, the final trailer for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker has been released.
This is supposed to be the final movie in a trilogy of trilogies which follows the story of the Skywalkers from Anakin to Luke to... Rey? Perhaps? I mean, Anakin and Luke are dead, so if Skywalker is going to do any "rising" it will have to come from somebody else, assuming they don't come back from the dead. And what else is there? Just Rey. But wouldn't it be funny if it were Rose Tico?
I dunno about the story... I haven't been terribly impressed with what we've gotten so far... but boy do the special effects look amazing! I'm guessing that there will be a space battle to end all space battles, and that will be alright with me. It's why I keep going to these things, to be honest.
The best I can hope for is that this will land somewhere above Star Wars: The Force Awaken but, let's face it, that might be a bit of a stretch when they're going to be focusing on wrapping up everything...
Guess we'll find out in December.
Posted on October 20th, 2019
Don't let the short, cold, grey days get you down, because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Who Watches? Tonight was the premiere of HBO's new Watchmen series, which is a continuation of the graphic novel by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. I enjoyed the first episode quite a lot, despite many, many. misgivings. Primary of which is using extreme violence against Black persons and the Tulsa Race Riots as entertainment fodder. I always worry that there are people watching not because they find the horror in it all, but because that's what they get off on watching. Anyway... the original comic book series was an epic work of storytelling genius, and having somebody like Damon Lindelhof (who helped turn Lost from a promising television show into a steaming pile of idiocy) was worrisome. But, if this first episode is any indication, we're in for a wild, action-packed ride. But, even better, it seems to be building to... something...
The new series constructs its story around racism and our ever-escalating conflict with white supremacy. While admirable, I'm going to have to reserve judgement on whether it's an effective take until the end. As for the show itself, HBO put some serious money into it, and it shows. On top of getting top-shelf talent like Regina King, Jean Smart (who was oddly absent the first episode), Louis Gossett Jr., Don Johnson, and Jeremy Irons(!)... it looks gorgeous, and the weird world that Moore and Gibbons created feels fully realized. If you have HBO, it's kinda a no-brainer to tune in. But if that's not incentive enough, here's Dave Gibbons drawing Regina King's character, Sister Night...
Eight weeks to go until we find out where this is all going. Hopefully somewhere worthwhile. All we need is for Lindelof to drop the ball at the end like he did with Lost.
• A Mystery. After watching the premiere of the new Nancy Drew I cannot fathom how in the hell the conversation went at the initial meeting. But I'm guessing it went something like this...
NANCY DREW SHOWRUNNER: My plan is to get some of the best talent available to write compelling mysteries with a modern slant. Really push boundaries on excellent storytelling and give viewers some best-of-class television to sink their teeth into.
NETWORK EXECUTIVES: Or you could just put a bunch of nonsensical drama in it with some gratuitous sex and not give a flying fuck about the quality of the mysteries and stories. Would be cheaper that way.
NANCY DREW SHOWRUNNER: And a pile of worthless, forgettable shit it will be then.
NETWORK EXECUTIVES: Put Scott Wolf in there. That'll fix everything!
NANCY DREW SHOWRUNNER: And a pile of worthless, forgettable shit with an appearance by Scott Wolf it will be then.
NETWORK EXECUTIVES: Start the first episode with Nancy really getting pounded... we're talking shaking a cup of coffee off the nightstand kind of sex pounding. But put her on top so we don't get complaints about having a weak female lead.
Nancy Drew is an iconic character who deserves far better than this crap. How it got greenlit is a mystery.
• Shoot Your Shot. I love this series anyway... but this episode with Mindhunter's Holt McCallany is one of my favorites to date...
What a cool guy!
• Nest, Take Two. I have two sets of security cameras... one is hardwired with local storage and the other is a cloud-cam system by Nest (now owned by Google). The Nest cams are really great, but frustrating because their per-camera pricing for cloud storage is way too expensive. Amazon's cloud storage has a far more reasonable single fee which covers all your cameras. I was going to switch in February when my current Nest contract runs out because the cost to buy all-new Amazon cameras would be offset after just one year. And this week I found out I no longer have to do that. Somebody at Google Nest decided to get serious about being competitive and announced all new cloud storage pricing which will cover all my cameras for one fee like Amazon. So that's refreshing.
• Eyeroll Territory. Not content to let their legacy as some of the greatest filmmakers in the history of cinema speak for itself... two old men insist on criticizing modern filmmaking, and come across as pathetic, jealous, entitled egomaniacs. Just fuck off already. Nobody who loves what Marvel is doing gives a single fuck about your asshole opinions. I mean, holy shit... Coppola acts like he never made "Supernova," one of the biggest pile of shit movies I've ever seen. What a joke.
• Programming. And, lastly, because I just can't help myself... something to read if you're a code-geek like me: The Lines of Code That Changed Everything. It's pretty fascinating. Even moreso if you've ever programmed before.
And... scene. Have a good week!
Posted on October 13th, 2019
I've been catching up with preparing my home for winter this weekend, but I had to make time for blogging, because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Compare. I am putting this video here because I just can't believe it exists. Arun Maini (who has a great YouTube Channel) compared all the iPhones ever made for quality and features, plus showed and unboxing of each as well...
One of the most shocking parts of this video is the end where he compares the cameras. I maintain that the camera in the new iPhone 11 Pro may be the best camera I've ever owned. No, it can't really compare my Sony DSLR... but, in some ways, it actually eclipses it. First of all, it fits in my pocket and is with me at all times. Second of all, it has capabilities you could only get from a device with a massively powerful computer in it... like Night Mode and the forthcoming Deep Fusion. Aside from all that, it's just capable of taking amazing, amazing photos.
Of course the biggest shock is the benchmark escalation...
I mean... wow. As an aside here, I've owned the following: 2G (The Original), 3G, 4, 5, 6, 7, X, XS, and 11 Pro...
I kept all the boxes (except I can't find the box for 7). I think the only actual phone I kept was the 5 (it's in the shadows up there in the corner) because I loved the look of it so much (the 4 is a close second). I also have a 2G Original around here somewhere. The other phones I donated because the trade-in value is always worth less to me than helping somebody out... or, as of the iPhone X, I returned it to Apple as part of their iPhone Upgrade Program.
• Vieux Carré. They are building a Hard Rock Hotel in New Orleans at the Northeastern corner of The French Quarter. I was staying just around the corner from the construction site, and walked by while I was there to check things out. Unfortunately I couldn't see much... and, even more unfortunately, there was a horrific accident which has left two workers dead and one still missing...
As the push to get things done ever cheaper and faster escalates, worker safety seems to be pushed aside. I sincerely hope that's not the case here.
• GROUCH. I do not care how many accolades that the Joker movie gets... I have zero interest in seeing it. The "real" Joker was a career criminal who was driven insane when he dropped in a vat of chemicals. The key takeaway being that he was always a criminal. In this new movie, Joker becomes a criminal due to mental illness, and I'm not here for it. The film is a completely unnecessary revision that simply doesn't interest me. Maybe one day when it's free on HBO or whatever, I'll give it a try out of boredom... but I'm not rushing to the theater to see it. Last night on SNL, there was a parody for Oscar the Grouch which brilliantly captures how I view Joker...
Perfect. THIS IS PERFECT!
• Three. It came out a short while back that Kevin Smith had finally manages to get Jeff Anderson onboard for Clerks 3. He had written a script ages ago, but Jeff didn't want to do it. Apparently after some discussion, Smith decided to write an all new script inspired by his heart attack that Anderson could get onboard with. Needless to say, I'm ecstatic...
Kevin Smith has made some of the favorite films. He kinda lost me when he took a detour into Cop Out, Red State, Tusk, and Yoga Hosers... but the idea of getting another Jay & Silent Bob movie this month followed by another Clerks? Too good to be true.
• Vileness. You will be absolutely amazed what Portuguese street artist, Vile, can do with cans of spray paint...
Check out the story over at My Modern Met for more of his mind-blowing graffiti art.
• Apple and TV. I absolutely loathe the way Apple handles the video media they peddle. They charge more money than any other provider to sell you something you are forced to watch with their shitty, shitty apps. AppleTV is a grotesque mockery of interface design that barely works. The iPhone and iPad apps are missing so many critical features (LIKE SORTING YOUR HUNDREDS OF PURCHASES) that they're a heinous burden to use. And now there's the TV app for my Mac that came with their new Catalina MacOS. It is the very definition of crap. I never thought I'd be longing to go back to iTunes, but at least it was functional. The TV app is fucking garbage. They regularly send you to places that have no content... THEN DON'T GIVE YOU A FUCKING "BACK" BUTTON TO GO BACK TO WHERE YOU WERE!
And just try searching for stuff you want to buy. I dare you. I double dare you. I am so fucking embarrassed for Apple that I feel like vomiting. And if Steve Jobs were alive today he'd probably burn the company to the ground. After he strangles all the dumbasses who thought that "butterfly" keyboards in MacBooks was a good idea.
• Stellar. Christopher Nolan's Interstellar is a movie that I didn't like at first but, as time went on and I gave it another chance, I came to appreciate it as pretty good sci-fi. The high-concept science behind it is fascinating. Yes, the way that Nolan tried to inject "humanity" into it was a kludge, but it's still an entertaining story. And while I found everything pretty straightforward (despite some glaring plot holes), I found this cool (spoiler-filled) graphic which explains the time shifts in a great way...
Of course I ended up watching the movie again last night just to follow along. I like it even better the third time through.
See you next Sunday, buckaroos.