Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Road Games - Jamie Lee Curtis and Stacy Keach star in this Aussie made tribute to Hitchcock, channeling Rear Window through the eyes of a ex-pat trucker in the outback, on the trail of a man in a green van that may or may not be killing female hitchhikers. This film was quite spectacular. Its smart, clever, and very well done. The cinematography was quite inventive at times, and Stacy Keach, well, he's charismatic and a marvel to watch. Which is great, because a lot of the film is him in the cab of a truck talking to his dingo (or himself).
The Horde - I was excited about watching this. It wasn't as great as I'd hoped it would be, it did lag at times, but it does feature some great combat sequences. This film will from now on be credited with adding a splash of hand to hand combat to zombie films. Yes, that's right, people throwing down with zombies. Its pretty awesome.
So, that's only 16 films out of 31. Failure! I may have actually watched more, but that was last month and my memory isn't that good. Which is a really good reason to write it more frequently.
And whilst I did fail at that, I have succeeded on one front. That of training. My schedule does not seem to mesh with that of Golden Harmony anymore , which is a shame, because honestly that is one of my favourite martial arts schools of all time, so while I bide my time until our schedules align, I have instead started to take some good, old fashioned Muay Thai kick boxing at TKMT. Its conveniently located a 15 minute walk south of me. My ultimate goal, to learn Muay Boran. Muay Thai on its own doesn't hold that much interest to me. The classes will, and are, getting me into fantastic shape, and it is sharpening my punching skills, but I have always found older forms more fascinating. You're physically learning a piece of history, channeling the old ways through physicality. I find that far more satisfying than just repeating the same cycle of punches and kicks. But so far, Muay Thai is kicking my ass. Granted, I am not in prime physical shape, but I don't think I've thrown that many punches in my life. The kicking I can handle, Tae Kwon Do trained me well, I can throw kicks till the cows come home, but hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of punches, well, that is pain. A pain I love and need.
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Trick 'r Treat - For what ever reason, I completely missed watching this when it made that rounds, but thanks to Trevor I finally watched it, and was quite pleased. This Michael Dougherty fella knows how to make an entertaining horror film.
I'm really slacking on this watching a horror film a night thing. I'm trying my best, honestly. On the plus slide, I'm working more on Bluebird again as things are moving along again, I'm getting into some good shape, and I saw Reign of Assassins.
Reign of Assassins - Damn, I need to see this in theatres. It was pretty spectacular. Definitely one of the best martial arts films of 2010, along with Ip Man 2 and the Ip Man prequel. Its really well done, and some of the action is spectacular. A good old fashioned wuxia without any political flag waving.
Thursday, October 21, 2010
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Monday, October 04, 2010
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Tuesday, September 07, 2010
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
I did manage to accomplish several things over the last few days.
3 Birthday Dinners
Friday, on my actual birthday, myself and some friends went to Chimichanga's for mojitos and burritos, and it was delicious. I ate until I could eat no more, and then I ate a little more. Plus, mojitos are delicious. The perfect follow-up to that meal was Predators, which was one fantastic film. It didn't have the same level of hormone bursting masculinity the original did, but Adrian Brody did a pretty good job. Sunday my parents came for what would have been lunch, but since we were out the night before drinking and taking 1am walks through various forests, it was breakfast. Birthday breakfast was an Indian buffet at Chef of India. Spectacular times in my tummy, and again I ate until I burst. Plus, my parents stayed to watch the world cup and my mom brought this:
Yes, that's a cake. Crazy isn't it. That's me! So I ate that all afternoon, and the next day. Tuesday my sister came for dinner. We went to Finn Izakaya, because I needed to gorge myself on Japanese food. So I got the special Finn three story Bento Box. I don't know what some of the food I had was, but it all tasted delicious. Then we went to Demetries for dessert. I had some brownie cheesecake with crazy triple chocolate ice cream. Again, I ate more than I should, and it felt soooooooo good.
But, on a more constructive note, I've organized my life a little. Started my super duper work work out routine to keep me busy until I can afford the time and money to train again. Until then, P90X and my own personal kung fu training will do.
We also got air conditioning, which is awesome.
Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Also, Saturday night, history was made when Fedor lost for this first time. Ever. It was bound to happen. And granted he's really fought no one of real talent for years, he's probably gotten soft. He hasn't been challenged for a long time. And then bam, he falls into a triangle/arm bar twist combo move.
The weekend before I got really sick. I puked my guts out. Literally. For 7 hours. I hadn't been sick like that since we were in China and I got sick after eating sewage. I vomited until there was nothing but bile coming up. And then I puked some more. It felt like my body was trying to expel some demon from my stomach. It went on for hours. I couldn't hold down water for a good deal of the day. But eventually it ended. Obviously, getting sick like that from I have no idea what set off some warning lights. I needed to purge. And purge I have. I haven't had any caffeine since that vomitous day. I've been eating some what better, cleansing my inner workings. Its been tough. I've been going to bed a lot earlier, but feel generally better and seem to have more clarity. Today I worked out, and I felt like I had more energy than I had in a long time. Strange. And not so strange. Perhaps Operation Ivy was right. Healthy body, safe mind.
The Horseman - This Australian flick kicks some ass. From it's description, I was really expecting just another bloody revenge tale, but this film rises above that leaps and bounds. Peter Marshall is astounding as Christian, and his performance is mesmerizing. It also really humanizes him with the introduction of Alice, the young girl who follows him on his bloody rampage, although unbeknowest to her. It reminded me alot of Izo. Christian by the end of the film loses all of his humanity and turns into a rage filled devil, who no amount of punishment can stop. The stunts are spectacular. I loved this film.
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
UFC 115 has come and gone in Vancouver. My thoughts:
1) Chuck Liddell looked great. He didn't have a beer gut for the first time in recent memory. And he was fairing very well. Until he got hit. Once. And dropped. He's head can't take a good punch to the noggin anymore. Which is too bad. Not that I'm a huge Liddell fan, because I ain't, but I like Rich Franklin even less, so I was really hoping he would loose. Oh well.
2) Cro Cop won! Yeah! To a Sanshou fighter with no ground skills! To a guy who knocked him on his ass not once, but twice, and just stood there and let him get up. I do like Cro Cop, I love a good head kick, but if Pat Barry actually knew MMA and not just Sanshou, he would have plowed right through Cro Cop in the first round. It was a feeder fight, and fed Cro Cop Dana White did.
3) It was obvious during the pre-lim fights they show live on Spike for free, that they are cutting the fights to show as little contact and violence as they can. I know its a business, and Dana White is trying to make it more legitamized, but there were times when the camera had a perfect view of the action, and then it would cut to angle that made it more difficult to discern what was going on. I didn't dig it.
Blood and Bone - Black Dynamite converted me into a Michael Jai White fan. Sure I'd seen him in a Universal Soldier: The Return, The Dark Knight, Spawn, and the deleted scene from Kill Bill 2, but I was never fully convinced of his martial arts skills nor his on screen prescence and charisma. Until Black Dynamite. Now I can't get enough. Blood and Bone is a low budget film, but the guy who wrote the Big Hit (which I LOVE) and Love and a Bullet, which he directed, starring Treach (BAD!!!), and without MJW, it would probably have been a terrible film. Sure its got Kimbo Slice, Gina Carrano and Bob Sapp, but MJW kicks some serious ass in this film. They change camera formats throughout (you can see this pretty clearly in the making of), and it shows. Some of it looks like shit. Sometimes, when there's lots of horizontal movement in the frame, the image strobes. Some of the acting is awful. But fuck, Michael Jai White is incredible. I will buy this film solely for the guys martial arts mayhem. The end fight is pretty amazing.
Monday, May 24, 2010
I spent yesterday evening shooting time-lapse off the roof of a parking garage downtown. A mighty fun time. I spent many an evening in my younger years atop parking garages in downtown Toronto, so it was very nostalgic.
I got a Drobo. Now Bluebird will be safe forever. And ever. And ever. Thanks Craig.
Robin Hood - I expected something on par with Costner's Prince of Thieves, and that's what I got. I also got the feeling that much like Kingdom of Heaven there will be a directors cut with an hour of restored footage. I am left with the burning question: how did Marion manage to take control of the unruly feral forest children and lead them into battle. Ahead of everyone else I might add!
Thursday, April 29, 2010
I haven't gotten lazy. My regime has not been broken. I can feel the energy surging through my veins. Its pretty amazing how a little (or maybe not so little) exercise can change how your body feels in such a short period of time. It remembers. Its slowly remembering. I can feel the muscles and ligaments stretching, slowing sliding back into a place they once resided in so many years ago.
The light is also at the end of the tunnel. It grows every brighter with each passing day. Once I emerge into the light, I'll find myself in an even bigger tunnel that won't be nearly as long, but will take just as much energy and perseverance as the last. Focus. Focus. Breath. And focus.
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Tomorrow commences my return to The Drifting Classroom, Kazuo Umezu's mammoth masterpiece, so that I may partake of Nobuhiko Obayashi's cinematic incarnation, in hopes that its not as bad as I've been told. Perhaps with Umezu's words and images still fresh in my mind, it will all make sense. Although Orochi really didn't cut the mustard. I probably would have enjoyed the film more had I not read Umezu's manga.
I've also coined some phrases as of late. The latest is What Would Riki Takeuchi Do, or WWRTD. Remember you read it here first.
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
I, along with Bob and Marc from the Toronto J Film Pow-Wow has some reviews published in the Directory of World Cinema: Japan. One lifetime goal completed. I have a little black book that houses my personal goals. Some annual. Some lifetime. They range from the obvious, having a review published in a book, to watching all the films in the Zatoichi series. Also on that list, making a feature film. That will be completed this year also. Next will possibly be the creation of a small child.
A Single Man - Not that I'm the biggest Oscar fan in the world, but man, this film should have been nominated for way more stuff. Granted its now 2010, but this has jumped on my favourite films from 2009 list. Everything about it was mesmerizing. I want to see it again. Soon. It reminded me a lot of Wong Kar-wai during the Christopher Doyle years. On a side note, we had some really good Gelato from some Gelato place down the street from the Mt. Pleasant theatre. I should go for strolls down yonder more often.
Bad Blood - This film, I liked. Yes, the plot is inane. Dennis Law seems to be getting lazier with his martial arts gangster films. It seemed he took story elements of Fatal Contact, which I really really enjoyed, and fused them with the gangster genre from Fatal Move, and then combined them into one film. Luckily, some of the fights are pretty spectacular, Jiang Liu-Xia blew my frickin' mind, and any can't get enough of watching Xiong Xin-Xin in action. That guys moves in such insane hypnotic circular movements its hard to imagine sometimes that he's human. But yes, Jiang Liu-Xia. I have yet to see Coweb, but I'm sold on her. That makes the film sound even more amazing. Xiong Xin-Xin, Jiang Liu-Xia AND Kane Kosugi. I must see more of her. And that film.
Monday, March 01, 2010
So I ran, full tilt. Now, it probably wasn't more than 500 meters, which isn't a lot, even if you are running as fast as you frickin' can. But as I closed in on the van, my legs started to slow down and my breathing became more laboured. Soon my chest was burning and I could feel my air passage swelling as my asthma was kicking in. But I pressed on. And not with a moment to spare.
I charged charged the car door and climbed in, just as the cop passed by. I made it. No ticket. However, I almost collapsed in the drivers seat, and spent the next 10 minutes trying to catch my breathe. My body was sapped of all energy. I ran for maybe a minute and I was spent. I realized then, I was terribly and awfully out of shape.
So today, I started to get back into shape. Although honestly, I always keep on starting, and then have trouble keeping it up. I really stink at motivating myself. When I'm in practice I'm fine. I need someone beside me, yelling at me to push harder, and I will. But on my own, I have trouble starting the engine. Hopefully this time things will change. Hope hope.
I watched Soi Cheang's latest and was blown away. I really liked Dog Bite Dog, but did find it a tad melodramatic. Shamo I wasn't a big fan of. But Accident hit all the right notes. He did't use an aggressive camera style to engage you, instead he used stasis to let Louis Koo give any amazing and subtle performance in a very 60's style film. It was pretty breathtaking. Reminded me a lot of The Conversation.
Bodyguards and Assassins
This film really didn't impress and I really wanted it too. Yes, the production design was breathtaking, and cinematically some of it was amazing, but damn, it's classic HK melodrama at its best and worst. Basketball giant Mengke Bateer is completely miscast as an outcast monk, who uses his basketball skills to render assailants useless with his throwing of vegetables. The Donnie Yen vs Cung Le battle started out great with a stunning foot chase, but the fight falls short. I was expecting a lot more. Now yes, I understand it was made during the 50th anniversary of the Peoples Republic of China, and it really plays on that aspect far too much, making much of the melodrama almost cringe worthy.
Saturday, February 06, 2010
Borrowed this from Marc, and it blew me away. Incredibly bleak, not only in its narrative, but also the cinematography and the sound-scape. My god, I thought Come and See was the be all and end all of WW2 films but I was wrong. Larisa Shepitko, who made The Ascent, was married to Elem Klimov, who made Come and See, and there are definitely parallels between the two films, but whereas Come and See relies more on affecting the viewer by depicting atrocities and using disturbing imagery to ensure you're horrified by what you came to see, The Ascent relies purely on its cinematic audacity, the bleakness of the landscape and the protrayals by the actors to drive its message home. Blew me away.
Saturday, January 02, 2010
Taking of Pelham 123 - Not as bad as I'd anticipated. John Travolta is no Robert Shaw, nor does he try to be. He was tolerable, but unfortunately Tony Scott's direction is not. He has no idea how to use the camera other than to 'make it go fast now'. Ridley does a far better job of restraining himself so as to convey an idea or story.
Punisher: Warzone - Well, it wasn't as bad as the the previous film, also with John Travolta. However Thomas Jane played a far better Punisher. The action is over the top here, and the lighting colour palette does lend itself to a comic book feel, but the film is filled with so much hammy acting, bad dialogue and outrageously awful set pieces that it just doesn't cut it. No matter how much blood the Punisher spills. It did have Wayne Knight in it though, and he's always fun. On the plus side, it is a so bad its funny kind of film, so I did enjoy the time I spent watching it, although probably not the way I was intended too.
Franklyn - Good idea, terrible execution. Incredibly contrived. Four seemingly separate stories collide at the end in such a trite way, it really wasn't worth the time spent getting there. Eva Green is in it though, and is hot. And Sam Riley is good. But everything else is bleh. Surprised that this played at After Dark. Are they really that desperate for films, or do they just not watch them?
Rocknrolla - After the abysmal Revolver, Guy Richie goes back home and makes a restrained (read that Tony Scott, restraint, you should learn this) gangster film that is quite excellent. He tried to reinvent himself with Swept Away and Revolver and failed. Here he succeeds in spades. Sure on the surface it looks like a typical Guy Richie gangster film, but the visual orgasms that usually explode across the screen aren't nearly as explosive. Instead, he takes the time to develop character and story and all the other good stuff that's associated with cinema. And Tom Wilkinson steals the show. Very fun and very funny.
The Hang Over - This film was crazy hyped up before I watched it, but it did manage to live up to most of the hype. It made me laugh, which is what it was meant to do. Not the funniest film I've ever seen, but definitely the funniest I've seen in a while.
Angels and Demons - All I'll say is, it's better than The Da Vinci Code. They filled it with a lot of bang and zip, in hopes of covering up some of the films silliness, and for the most part they succeed. But some of it I couldn't get past. One man managed to drive around in a truck full of restrained men, and set up elaborate death rituals in a matter of minutes, all in the hopes that someone would follow the trail? What if they never got the 'Symbologist'? Then no one would have been able to follow the clues, and everything would have been for naught. It was far to complex for its own good. Doesn't make much sense. But, it did have some good deaths and Ewen MacGregor and mullet Hanks.
Avatar - On a visually creative scale, its the most amazing thing you'll see. The world they created is incredible. He beat George Lucas at his own game. However, it seemed like 99% of his creative energy went into creating the world and the technology, and only 1% went into writing the script. There were a lot of 'wow' moments, followed by a lot of 'really, that's all you can come up with for $300 million' moments. If he'd spent more time developing the script, and the characters, having them less cookie cutter one dimensional archetypes that he's used in every film he's made, and creating believeable, realistic and less cliche dialogue, this could have been one of the best films ever. However, it was not. But still damn good. However, if the film wasn't in 3-D, it probably wouldn't have been very good.
Speedracer - I quite enjoyed the film a lot. Maybe its the anime fanboy in me, but nothing has captured the look and film of anime quite like this. Everything I've ever said bad about the Wachowski's I take back. They have imagination to burn. I think they just needed someone to reign them in and tell them that dance sequences narrated by Laurence Fishbourne aren't cool. But race cars and films with Hiroyuki Sanada are!
Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan - I've been trying to watch all the original Star Treks, and this is one of the best, like everyone usually says. It captured everything about the original show that was great, plus it actually tied it into the show, giving it big bonus points. And its probably the darkest in tone. Its the Empire Strikes Back for the Star Trek world. And that is Ricardo Montalban's chest!
Star Trek 3: The Search for Spock - I'll give it to Harve Bennet and Leonard Nimoy. They took a simple idea and turned it into a great film. Christopher Lloyd wrote the book on Klingons. I didn't really remember much about this film, but what I really liked about it is how all the films seem to tie together.
Star Trek 4: The Voyage Home - When I was in grade 5 I saw this film in theatres, and it killed Star Trek for me. I'd never really seen any of the films in their entirety, but seeing this, when I was expecting space battles and alien intruders and all I got were whales, really turned me off of Kirk and Spock. Watching it again, its pretty damn good. It doesn't compare with 2 and 3, but it does manage to be funny, touching and poignant. And sadly, still relevant. Plus, the fact that there is no antagonist or villain in the film and no real on screen violence makes it a marvelous feat for a science fiction film. But one question still lingers: Where there whales piloting that large cylindrical ship, and if so, did they come from a planet of whales?