Archive for the 'Entertainment' Category

Jul 13 2011

Netflix: My View

Published by under Entertainment,Personal

Yesterday it seems the whole internet blew up angry at the announcement that Netflix made. Today, there seemed to be a large counter action to that with Netflix sympathizers.

The whole Netflix community seems to be divided between “Netflix is money grubbing bastards” and “hey, who gives a fuck, it’s still a good deal”. I fall somewhere in between and I think a lot of people who fell under the former group are actually people who likely have a similar view to mine, but feel the need to overreact since it’s the internet.

Any one who knows me or has read this blog knows I’m into movies. I’m not quite a hardcore movie buff, but I’m definitely enjoy my movies. Over the years, I contemplated getting a netflix subscription but never pulled the trigger until they started the streaming service. I just don’t have the time to watch the movies on the dvd service. I also had concern over how much I could watch due to using the postal service as a delivery system.

The reality is I will go through spans, like now, where I’ve had Soylent Green sitting on my desk for a month. Summer is tough. And since I’m in a smaller metro area, I don’t have a distribution center in my city which means the turn around for disks is likely 4 days. Theoretically on a good month, I would get like 6 movies a month. Realistically on a good month, it’s 4 if I watch them within a day which really doesn’t make it worth it. That was worth the $2 for me. It probably isn’t worth the $8 for me.

Essentially it means I’m being priced out of this service. I’m losing something I had and enjoyed but have to say no since netflix’s decision has made this unavailable to me. It’s frustrating to lose something you have.

On the other side of this, the streaming is awesome. We got rid of our cable before we started with netflix and streaming has really made it so that very few members of the household miss it. Since we can stream 2 connections at a time, we likely stream somewhere between 20-30 hours a week. Absolutely and easily worth $8 a month.

If netflix had decided to increase streaming by $4, I would have said “Still worth it”. For me, they could have raised that $4, and raised the dvd combo by $2 and I would stay with both. At that point, $4 would be reasonable for dvd service and, as I stated, I don’t mind paying for a service that we get a ton of usage out of. That would have been the extra $6 I’m facing now and still be able to have my dvd service that I will sorely miss. I think the decisions they are making are really going to hurt their subscription numbers more than they anticipated.

I understand netflix is doing this in response to their own rising costs and they want to make money. I understand that, but as a consumer, I shouldn’t have to concern myself with their costs. It’s their responsibility to find a way to make money and this is how they have decided to accomplish that. Should people have reacted the way they did with anger? No. But I can definitely understand the frustration of being priced out of a service that you have been enjoying and would like to keep.

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Jul 06 2011

Good Song, Great Movie

Published by under Entertainment

I have always enjoyed the song “Carlotta Valdez” from Harvey Danger. I’ll be honest with you. I had no clue WTF it was about, though. While it sometimes bothered me, it wasn’t anything that detracted from the song for me.

Yesterday while driving in the car, the song came on from the mixed CD my wife had made for the trip to her parents. My lazy ass hasn’t yet gotten the receiver moved from the old van so we don’t have the ipod to listen to.

Anyway, I had a big eureka moment as the song came on. Listening to the lyrics, I finally figured it out.


Jimmy Stewart followed Kim to where her portrait hangs on the wall

Before I thought that was just some random strange shit that Harvey Danger had put into their song. They have a tendency to do that although most of it does truly mean something. That something isn’t always clear.

Turns out the whole song is about the great Hitchcock movie, Vertigo. Great movie with twists in true Hitchcock style that I recently watched. It’s definitely in my top 3 of the Hitchcock movies I’ve seen so far (along with Psycho and Rear Window) further strengthening my serious affinity for the director.

I’ll admit, that putting that together, even though it wasn’t that special of a task was a real mind fuck moment for me. I’m gonna blame that one on being tired, cause even writing this out now, I’m like “Dumbass, that should have been obvious”. But it really did a number on me and only made me enjoy the song even more. The band obviously liked the movie too if they went to the lengths of writing a song based on it.

The song fits so well with the movie that the video is nothing but clips from the movie adjoined to the lyrics that are explaining the scenes. It’s like a mini version of the movie without the twist ending. Enjoy.

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May 22 2011

Tick Tick Boom

Published by under Entertainment,Personal,Sports

Last night we went to the BisMan Bombshellz first bout in Bismarck. Being a busy weekend and kids were all over the place, we weren’t certain we could make it but we found a way to make it work.

I haven’t heard much advertisement other than through friends, so I wasn’t sure what to expect for a turn out. When we got to the VFW, the parking lot closely rivaled the full load from a Bobcat’s games. We almost regretted not getting our tickets early. That ended up being a non-issue. The setup they have I think they could support twice as many spectators as they can at the Bobcat’s games.

I’m going to be honest. I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. I really don’t know much about Roller Derby short of a few 5 minute ESPN segments and that episode of Psych where Juliet goes undercover to infiltrate a roller derby crime team. Not to say that all derbiers (I don’t know what they technical like to be called) are deliquents and criminals. I haven’t even seen Whip It yet (but it is on my netflix queue behind a few Hitchcock movies).

Truth be told, right now I’m kinda hoping that idea of derbiers not being violent felons is true. I’m also hoping they don’t mind being called derbiers in case I’m wrong. A few of those girls really look like they could hurt me beyond what I would consider my acceptable pain threshold for a deserved beating. It’s probably best to just try and avoid the subject and move on.

I did try to get some pictures at the event, but the lighting wasn’t allowing that possible from the bleachers. I likely could have gotten some good shots from the “suicide seating” down next to the ring, but I think the potential of coming back to the bleachers after leaving my wife with 4 kids would have put me into a situation I mentioned above in which the pain I was owed was beyond what I was comfortable facing. I will look through the pictures and see if I can “salvage” a few of them and post them online.

Speaking of the “suicide seats”, it took me most of the way through the first bout to distinguish WTF he was saying concerning them. I wasn’t sure if he was saying “Get the f’ off the floor” or “come on down”. Eventually, I grasped the point he was trying to convey was “Get your kids off the floor so we don’t get sued when your child inevitably gets bashed in the face by a wayward skate”. Understandable. Others must have had similar difficulty understanding the announcers as I saw tons of people leading their kid to certain disfigurement. Either that or after properly weighed the risks and rewards of the action and logically determined being that much closer to the skaters would be a much larger mark on that child’s life than the potential of having a skate wheel divot permanently branded on their child’s forehead. Sound call, there, bucko.

The crowd really didn’t seem to get into it for the first bout. I’m not sure if it was apathy, confusion, a lack of appropriate alcohol having been consumed, or something else I have yet to consider, but they was a marked difference between the two bouts in terms of fan participation. I didn’t mind as it gave me an opportunity to try and figure out how it worked.

As for the kids, while I don’t think there is anything wrong with it for the kids, my younger kids had difficulty grasping the subtleties of the scoring mechanics. It’s easy to understand “When the ball goes through the hoop, they score points”. It’s a bit more difficult to understand “When the girl with the star on her head passes all all the apposing team the first time, they score a point for each apposing player there after”. It basically meant I heard a lot of “Why are they cheering?”.

They still enjoyed coming out, but I don’t think they want to be season ticket holders. At least until they are able to comprehend a multifaceted system of scoring consisting of following intervals of occurrences on the field covered with 10 bodies speeding around an oval and colliding like they are being forced through a large hadron collider. Kids. What are you gonna do?

All in all, I had a good time and was glad I was able to go. I think it is something that would be fun to go with a group of friends and maybe if I can get on the floor, have a chance to get some pictures worth posting. Sans kids.

PS. If you are a derbier but find the term “derbier” unsavory, please spare my pretty face and just tell me what else to use. I mean no disrespect.

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May 18 2011

Movies: Insomnia, Whites, Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Howl’s, Fahrenheit 451

Published by under Entertainment

Since I haven’t been posting, I do have a good sized backlog of movies to post about. Thanks also in part to the DOJ for the extra time too, but that’s a post for another day. I have 28 more of these (at least) so I certainly don’t want to blow my wad all at once. Gotta pace myself.

Insomnia

Insomnia is one of the last films from Christopher Nolan I had left to watch. All that remains is The Prestige. I have that one on my list but likely won’t see it soon unless it comes on instant watch in the near future. Nolan seems to gravitate to interesting stories and, in many cases, combines those with unique formats. Insomnia is a pretty straight forward format, but the story is pretty interesting. It follows a cop as he is investigating a murder in northern Alaska in the summer. While chasing the murder, he accidentally shoots and kills his partner. Due to an ongoing investigation on himself, he hastily decides to cover up that he was the one who killed his partner. His conscience eating away at this poor judgement along with the elongated daylight of the north begin to wreak havoc on his sleeping schedule leading to yet more questionable decisions and affecting his thoughts. There are a bunch of good performances throughout the film and the story is more than interesting enough to hold it’s own. While it won’t be mistaken as one of Nolan’s best films, it’s still quite good.

Good

The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia

This movie is a documentary about a family of extreme redneck outlaws that seem to flaunt and take pride in being such. This movie is partially a follow up on the family that started out from the movie Dancing Outlaw. Dancing Outlaw covered one member of the family who got noteriety for both his dancing talents as well as his brash behavior. This movie examines the rest of the family who are likely even more rowdy than their most famous family member. Now, I should tell you this is produced by MTV. It does have kind of a Jackass feel to it and it really seems like the family lays it on thick to put on a good show. Even if they aren’t really as unruly and raucous as they seem on screen, it’s still an amusing movie.

Good

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice

I pretty much instantly recognized the main character’s voice as also being the main character from How to Train Your Dragon. Maybe my like for that movie gave this one some bonus points, but this popcorn film really exceeded my expectations. After disappointments like Percy Jackson (which I didn’t care for), I was happy to find this a good family movie to sit down and enjoy. It’s funny, well acted, and doesn’t try and take itself too seriously. There isn’t anything terribly special about it, but you don’t always need to have something extraordinary to enjoy it. If I had to choose between this and How to Train Your Dragon, I still pick the latter, but this is worth seeing too.

Good

Howl’s Moving Castle

Director, Hayao Miyazaki, is like the Jordan of anime. He has a long list of very successful and critically acclaimed movies. I think this is one of his better ones. For the first time in a long time, everyone in our house from the age of 2 to what-ever-age-my-wife-is, watched this movie in it’s entirety. I don’t think they all enjoyed it as much as I did, but it held their attention. An accomplishment in it’s own right. The story is about a girl cursed by a witch and turned into an old woman. She finds her way onto a magician’s walking castle helping him with cooking and cleaning. Together, along with a hodge podge of various other characters, they go on an adventure trying to help the magician in his quest to stop warring countries that are destroying their home. At it’s heart, it’s an anti-war movie. Miyazaki always seems to have an easy to see greater message. This one isn’t so in your face about it that it detracts from the story, though.

Great

Fahrenheit 451

I tried to find an open domain version of the book to read on my wife’s kindle. It’s one of those contemporary classics that you feel you have to read. Although I was unsuccessful, Netflix had it the movie on their instant watch list. I am more of a movie person than a book person any way. Everyone complains all the time that the books are better. I don’t always agree. I think in this case, that it must be true. There was just so much lacking from the film that it couldn’t have been that bad in book form. If you get past the costumes that seem to be plucked from the original Willy Wonka and the Tom Baker version of Doctor Who, it has the makings of a tremendous story and film. It just doesn’t follow through for whatever reason. The sole interesting piece of this movie is Julie Christie playing 2 roles as both Montag’s wife, who eventually turns him in, and the neighbor who draws him to the forbidden fruit of the books it’s his job to burn. Perhaps it hasn’t held up to the test of time for me or perhaps they tried to capture too much in too short of a time. Whatever it was, this just doesn’t seem to live up to it’s potential.

Bad

Over the last few months I’ve knocked off 7 movies from my top 50 from IMDB goal including 2 from Hitchcock. Shortly I’ll get those pieced together in a post. Exciting, isn’t it.

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Apr 13 2011

Movies: Freakonomics, Invictus, Black Snake Moan, Fat Head, Football

Published by under Entertainment

I’ve decided to save up all of my IMDB movies to do in 1 post so I still have a couple more to watch before I put those in here. This list is a bit documentary heavy with 3 of them and also I listed a couple of bad family movies I watched at the end. I don’t recommend them, but kids should like them.

Freakonomics

Freakonomics is a collection of documentary segments from content of the popular book of the same name. Each segment was produced by a different documentarian. This gives each segment a very distinct feel and tone. Despite that, the whole film was produced with a very high quality. Some of the segments try to find truth in data like the segment on finding cheating in the professional Sumo industry or in some cases, trying to find possibilities as solutions to things that have happened. A perfect example of this is the segment on how Roe Vs Wade, or making abortion legal, could have had an influence on a gradual drop in crime rates across the country 20 years after the fact. Freakonomics was written by an economist so each point is supported with real data. Some of them are pretty light heared like the way people name their children. Some not so much like the drop in crime segment mentioned above. Either way, it’s an interesting movie.

Great

Invictus

Ever since Gran Torino, I’ve been a huge fan of Clint Eastwood directed films. There have been a great number of them over the years that I never realized was his work that I enjoyed too. The sheer breadth of his work is absolutely impressive so I keep seeking out things he’s had a hand in. This one is not one of his best, though. Morgan Freeman does a great job as Nelson Mandela but there is something just amiss with Matt Damon’s character. Maybe it’s that awful fake accent. The movie is about Mandela’s attempt at bringing together a divided country by trying to get the whole country behind their World Cup rubgy team. It has it’s moments, but I wasn’t really impressed with the film.

Bad

Black Snake Moan

I’m a big fan of both Cristina Ricci and Samual L. Jackson. Even though this movie got a bunch of mixed reviews, I really wanted to see it. It’s an interesting story. Jackson plays a poor southern farmer who’s wife is leaving him for his brother. He finds a passed out and beaten Ricci in his ditch one morning and after he finds out about her promiscuous ways and sordid past, decides to take it upon himself to cure her of her wickedness. I don’t think any one would argue that Jackson plays the part of an angry black man as well as any. Ricci’s character is a bit over the top, but she does a good job with it. The movie is a bit disappointing with the ending. It’s difficult to feel any of them are really any better off. The best part about the movie is the blues music that is throughout the movie. A few are even sung by Jackson. If you are a blues fan, that in itself makes the movie worth watching.

Good

Fat Head

Fat Head is a lower budget response to the popular Morgan Spurlock documentary, Super Size Me. This documentary seems to not so much take exception to the message that fast food isn’t good for you, but more the reason’s Spurlock uses to make his point and some of the supporting information. Receiving a smaller amount of the criticism in this film is the government and popular health and nutrition beliefs that are evangelized by various government agencies. This seems to be just as well thought out as Super Size me even if it lacks the polish. There are a ton of reused jokes and the video quality definitely won’t be mistaken for a high budget film. Nonetheless, the message seems interesting and tries to support it’s points with actual science instead of opinions and suppositions. It makes for an interesting counter to Spurlock’s now infamous documentary. The really only bad thing I have to say about it is the overused term “Baloney” which he uses as almost a pun-ish battle cry for all the misinformation that gets pushed out.

Good

Two Days in April

This documentary follows 4 prospective draft picks as they prepare for what will likely be one of the biggest and most important days of their lives. The NFL Draft. It seemed fitting to watch it now since, well, I’m a huge football fan and the draft is coming up. It’s an interesting watch as you see all the stress, the hype, the struggles, the anticipation and everything else they go through over the few months leading up to that day. Almost the last third of the movie you watch as they wait with bated breath for their name to be called out and they get picked. It’s far from a great movie, but I think any sports fan (in particular football fans) would enjoy watching it.

Good

Beverly Hills Chihuahua

I won’t go into this farther than admitting I watched it. Rumor has it there was a sequel. I won’t be looking for that one.

Bad

Yogi Bear

There is a large history of the cartoon’s and pop culture icons from our youth being paraded around in sub par movies. This is no exception. The kids enjoyed it and there are a few moments that are entertaining, but don’t expect to find anything other than a soft, family friendly movie.

Bad

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Apr 07 2011

Movies: Food Inc., Darko, Megamind, Moon, About a Boy

Published by under Entertainment

I kinda fell behind again so I might put another one of these out this weekend. It’s been kinda busy around here so haven’t watched much in the last 2 weeks, but I had a good back log before then. I still have Citizen Kane on my desk so I expect to watch that this weekend. I’m looking forward to it as I’ve heard good things. Maybe I’ll wait for 5 movies from my IMDB list before I put my thoughts up on that one though.

Donnie Darko

I’ve heard a lot of things about Donnie Darko and how strange it was. I mean, if you consider a troubled teen age boy who gets visits from a bunny from the future who is trying to warn him of the end of the world strange. The clothes brought out from the 80′s are hilarious and at least they chose some decent music from that period. It was an interesting story but it does end without openly answering a lot of questions. I still don’t have a clue what was true with the story. If some one wants to explain it to me, I’m all ears. This also brought us this even more somber version of the Tears for Fears’ Mad World by Gary Jules:

Great

Megamind

I think a big portion of what makes Will Farrell funny is his physical presence. I know his expressive speaking makes him a good subject for voice acting, but for some reason, I don’t find him nearly as amusing. This is the 2nd of “Bad guy turns good” type animated films from last year and I think it falls in 2nd place in that category too. Despicable Me was just a much better story and was much better done. This is a perfectly entertaining film and kids will love it, but if you have the choice between the 2, watch Despicable Me.

Good

Food, Inc.

Food, Inc. tries to bring awareness to the industrialization of our agricultural and food industries to bring costs (and quality) down. By industrialization, I mean the factory mentality with large production, assembly lines and lower skilled jobs that concentrate on automation. It discusses the influence the fast food industry has had on it’s suppliers (agriculture) on providing quick, standardized portions and how that is filtering into other parts of our lives. This is one of the better documentaries I’ve seen lately and I think it makes a bunch of irrefutable points for even the most staunch opponents of it’s views.

Great

Moon

Think 2001: A Space Odyssey with a twist. This has a lot of familiar similarities to the Kubric classic except it’s not absurdly boring and the computer (voiced by Kevin Spacey) doesn’t appear to be evil. The basic premise is a moon mining mission is manned by clones with 3 year expiration dates at which time a new clone is thawed. When one clone has an accident and causes a new one to be reanimated early, they end up interacting with each other and piecing together the truth about their existence and have to come to terms with the fact that their perceived life is a lie. Truth be told, other than the setting of it being a space, sci-fi drama, it has little similarities to A Space Odyssey. That’s a good thing.

Good

About a Boy

About a Boy is a charming story about a douchebag playboy who befriends a troubled outcast preteen by sheer happenstance. Hugh Grant plays a remarkably convincing douchebag who is living a charmed life of leisure where the main goal in life seems to be to fill his shallow life with the next girl. The boy is a son a of single hippie mother with mental health problems and tries desperately to keep her on the right side of sanity even if it’s at the expense of his own social well being. Despite all the coming of age themes running through the story, it’s still interesting, and funny.

Great

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