Saturday, April 30, 2011

Humor – Royal Wedding

If you were to ask me if I watched the royal wedding the answer would be “sort of.”  I turned on the TV to get the news Friday morning and all the coverage was of the wedding, which was already over.  I flipped to an entertainment channel and sure enough, they were already re-running their coverage.  I left it on while doing other stuff around the house, watching it now and then when it got interesting, and leaving it when it got boring.  I have to say, the most entertaining part of the whole thing was not the wedding itself, but the ridiculous heights of hyperbole the “news people” covering it achieved.  I just had to write something about the best examples.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Humor – Easter

Just a quick post to bring you some pictures of cute bunnies for Easter:

And one for the guys...

Happy Easter everyone.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Movie – Bubba Ho-Tep (2002)

I could try to sum this movie up in one sentence by saying that it’s “Elvis and JFK vs. an ancient Egyptian mummy in an old folks’ home”, but that would convey only a small part of what the movie is about.  It does convey that it’s a comedy, but it doesn’t let you know that it’s also a bittersweet look at how old folks are marginalized both by their infirmities and by the people around them.  It also doesn’t let you know that it’s a reasonably respectful portrayal of Elvis, rather than a roast or parody of him.  Finally, it doesn’t let you know that it is a sometimes touching look of what it means to be a hero.

Movie – The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension (1984)

This movie title is sometimes shortened to The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai, or even just Buckaroo Banzai.  No matter what you call it, it is just plain demented.  This film is the very definition of a cult movie.  Watch this to see the kind of movie that could never be made today.

It has a large cast of characters, many of whom are early roles for actors like Peter Weller (Robocop), John Lithgow (Third Rock from the Sun), Ellen Barkin (The Big Easy), Jeff Goldblum (Jurassic Park), Christopher Lloyd (Back to the Future), and Carl Lumbly (Alias.)  The movie also has comedian Yakov Smirnoff and character actors Clancy Brown, Vincent Schiavelli, Dan Hedaya, and Jonathan Banks.

Movie – This is Spinal Tap (1984)

This is Spinal Tap is a fake documentary about a British rock band’s ill-fated tour of the United States.  It is often credited with creating the mockumentary genre.  It is eminently quotable (“These go to 11”), has a number of scenes that have become part of pop culture (i.e. getting lost backstage), and is a favorite among the very musicians that it is making fun of.

Movies with Commentaries Done in Character

“Man, I don’t drop character ‘till I done the DVD commentary.” – Kirk Lazarus, Tropic Thunder

Some of you may not care about the extras that come on DVDs and Blu-rays.  You may just watch the movie and be done with it.  When you do this you are only getting half of the experience from buying/renting one of these disks.  Most of them usually have some extra content on them and these extras can be quite entertaining.

One of the more common extras is a commentary track.  This is an alternate soundtrack where you can listen to people telling you things about the movie that you might not pick up on yourself.  Sometimes these are really boring tracks done by Important Hollywood Directors that go on and on about what camera lens they used and what the weather was the day they shot a particular scene.  Some, like Roger Ebert’s commentary for Citizen Kane, can be both very informative and very interesting.  Some, like the original five children in Willy Wonka and Chocolate Factory doing the commentary for their movie, are hilarious.

Every now and then, some people decide to get creative with the commentary tracks, too.  One I shut off had a couple people pretend to get into a fight with each other and quit.  Another for a musical (Dr. Horrible’s Sing-a-long Blog) actually had “Commentary: The Musical” where they sang songs about the movie in the commentary.

And there have been three movies I have encountered where the commentaries were done in character.  By this, I mean that we are supposedly listening to the characters from the movie, commenting on their own movie as if they were real world people.  The three movies that have done this are This is Spinal Tap, which is narrated by the band members; The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension, which is narrated by one of Banzai’s crew members/band members; and Bubba Ho-Tep, which is narrated by “The King” (Elvis.)

You can find my posts for these movies here:

On to the reviews…

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Humor – Historically Hardcore

A while back artist Jenny Burrows did three posters for a student project.  She titled them “Historically Hardcore” and they were supposedly advertising an upcoming exhibit at the Smithsonian that was designed to make history more relevant and interesting for today’s youths.

People liked them, they got shared, and eventually the fact that they were not real got lost.  All of a sudden people were calling the Smithsonian to find out when the exhibit would be opening because they loved the concept.  In fact, pretty much everybody loved the concept, except for the Smithsonian.  Somebody there who was wound way too tight threatened Burrows with legal action if she did not remove these posters.

Since the posters had now been shared all across the internet that was pretty much impossible for her to do.  What she did do was remove any references to the Smithsonian on the posters and put them back up on her website again.

Here is my favorite:

Book – The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie

There aren’t too many seventy year old first-time novelists, but Alan Bradley is one of them.  In The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie he has created a very entertaining character.  Her name is Flavia de Luce and she is an eleven year old girl living in England in the summer of 1950.  Her mother was an adventurer who died, so she lives with her father and two older sisters in a huge old family house.  Flavia spends her days reading through the house’s massive library, tormenting her sisters, being tormented by them, and experimenting in her great uncle’s abandoned chemistry lab.  She finds that she “has a particular passion for poisons.” 

One morning she stumbles over a dead body in the garden outside her house.  Instead of being frightened she feels that it’s the most interesting thing that has ever happened in her life.  Like a miniature Sherlock Holmes she decides to figure out who he was and what happened to him.  As you can tell, she is not your ordinary little girl.

Hike and Golf – Mount Kineo

Mount Kineo from the Rockwood Boat Landing
Mount Kineo is located on an island in Moosehead Lake in Maine.  It is about halfway up the 27 mile lake, a mile across the water from the town of Rockwood.  It is a very interesting sight when it comes into view.  It juts up 800 feet from a flat peninsula and towers over its surroundings.  Many photos have been taken of it, and it’s not uncommon to find a painter also capturing its image.  It is a good hike for the whole family because it combines a little bit of an adventure for the kids and there are options for reaching the tower at the summit that can be handled by small children.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Movie – Paul (2011)

After doing the movies Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz together, Edgar Wright moved on to direct Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, and Simon Pegg went on to play Scotty in the reboot of Star Trek.  When it came time to do another movie, Wright and Pegg could not coordinate their schedules, so Pegg worked with Nick Frost to co-write the next movie they would star in.  That movie is Paul, which is still in theaters as I write this.

After doing comedies in the zombie horror and buddy cop action movie genres, Pegg and Frost decided they would tackle the sci-fi alien genre, but also in a comedic way.  It was a natural for them since they are big fans of these movies. 

Movie – Hot Fuzz (2007)

This movie was directed by Edgar Wright.  It stars Simon Pegg and Nick Frost.  Pegg and Wright co-wrote the movie.

All three of these guys loved action movies, especially the “buddy cop” action movies like Lethal Weapon, Bad Boys, Point Break, and others.  They decided to combine their love for these movies and make an action comedy of their own.  The result is both a loving tribute to the genre, as well as a good movie that can stand on its own.

Movie – Shaun of the Dead (2004)

This movie was directed by Edgar Wright.  It stars Simon Pegg and Nick Frost.  Pegg and Wright co-wrote the movie.

All three of these guys loved zombie movies and there had been a bit of a revival in interest in them with 2002’s 28 Days Later and the upcoming (in 2004) remake of Dawn of the Dead.  As you can tell from the title being a play on words on Dawn of the Dead, this movie is a comedy.  In fact, they claimed they had created a new genre, the “rom-zom-com.”  A “rom-com” is a romantic comedy, so a “rom-zom-com” is a romantic comedy with zombies.  You might not think the combination would work, but it does.

Simon Pegg/Nick Frost Movies

"Both me and Edgar are firm believers in never underestimating or talking down to an audience, and giving an audience something to do, to give them something which is entirely up to them to enter into the film and find these hidden things and whatever." – Simon Pegg

You may be asking yourself, “Who are Simon Pegg and Nick Frost?  Or even Edgar, for that matter?”

Pegg and Frost are British actors who have collaborated on a number of projects.  They are best friends in real life and this comes across on the screen.  In fact, Nick Frost was Simon Pegg’s flatmate when Pegg was an up and coming actor.  He actually got Frost into acting.

The two of them became known in the U.K. after working together on a cult TV show titled Spaced that aired from 1999 to 2001.  Edgar Wright directed all fourteen of the episodes.  In 2004 Pegg, Frost, and Wright would team up to make a zombie horror comedy titled Shaun of the Dead.  This movie was very well received and brought the three of them to the attention of American audiences and filmmakers. 

They followed this up in 2007 with a buddy cop action comedy titled Hot Fuzz.  The trailer said it was “brought to you by the guys who have seen every action movie ever made” and it showed.

Pegg and Wright co-wrote those two movies.  Edgar Wright went on to adapt and direct the movie Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, one of the ten best movies of 2010.  (See my review here.)  Pegg and Frost co-wrote their next movie, Paul, which has been in theaters the last several weeks.  It is a comedy about an extraterrestrial alien trying to get home.

Outside of these movies, Simon Pegg is probably best known to general audiences for playing Scotty in the Star Trek reboot that hit theaters in 2009.

I have not seen the TV show Spaced (if someone has, please let me know what you thought of it), but I have seen those three movies and will be recommending all of them.

You can find my posts for these movies here:

Shaun of the Dead
Hot Fuzz

On to the reviews…