Saturday, November 28, 2009

Gift Ideas For The Film Aficionado On Your Christmas List

The Christmas Season is upon us and you may be in need of some stocking stuffer ideas. DVDs always make a welcome gift but what if you might be buying for a bit of a movie snob. Here are a few movie ideas for the more discerning movie aficionado.


The Beast
A war movie about a Russian Tank crew in Afghanistan filmed with a very American cast. Set during the Russian Afghanistan conflict of the 70’s and 80’s we get to see a very poignant depiction of a war that is long over, yet bears a strong resemblance to one raging on right now, some of the players have changes but the war seems all to familiar. Filmed in the late 80’s The Beast is one of those hidden gems that has been passed over by most film buffs, mostly because no one has heard of it. The reasons surrounding this films poor reception are complicated to say the least but all that one really needs to know is that this movie will make you think about the current war in Afghanistan in a different light. The lack of any current films to be set in the war torn country, should be reason enough for you to give The Beast a shot. As for an idea of what you should expect to see in this movie let me sum it up briefly without spoiling anything. A Russian Tank crew is chased through the Afghani desert by local combatants; the crew begins to implode sparking a mutiny. This mutiny leads to a definite conflict between the remaining members of the tank crew, allegiances change and an exiting story of revenge is born.


Near Dark
It’s a Cowboy Vampire Movie... what’s not to like. An original take on a very old story, this vampire movie is filled great moments. Its cast if filled with familiar faces like Bill Paxton and other actors well known as supporting cast in James Cameron films. So much so, you could almost swear that Near Dark was ghost directed by the movie giant. This movie is just on of those great little movies that have been overlooked for to long. The main character is a young man who works on his family’s farm he is bitten by a beautiful vampire she looks like a transient or a crack addict. Before the young man knows it has been adopted by a family of sorts. A band of vampires clad in cowboy attire. It sounds terrible, but for the vampire movie lover it is truly a great movie, just for the reason that the vampires practically are never in the dark throughout the whole movie. As the title suggests the movies action takes place around the rising and setting of the sun. With special effects look dangerous for all involved because any time sunlight comes in contact with one of the vampires it looks as though the person has been hit by a laser beam and bursts into flames. As for the dialogue it is laughable and that is what makes it so endearing. Near Dark never made it in the box office but it is great and has aged well for a vampire and western movie.


The Magicians
A surprisingly funny and entertaining movie surrounding two magicians that used to work together in a live show until an accident pretty well ends their careers. During a part of the act a stage assistant and wife of one of the magicians is decapitated… by accident. Though, this is not what the people in the magic community think, because of certain extenuating circumstances, being it looks as though a husband simply murdered his cheating wife. With dry wit filing every line of dialogue accompanied by a simple straight forward story of underdog magicians attempting to rise to the top of an industry. This movie is excellent and unknown.


A Scanner Darkly
This is a concept movie to be sure, and as such it has a unique feel. The actors, digitally altered so as to make them look more the part, it creates a psychotropic view works with the movie’s content as it is a film about getting high. Reeves plays an undercover nark cop trying to bring down criminals attempting to sell a fictional drug by the name of Death, I guess the writers were trying to make a subtle point. Point taken. Reeves being undercover, he must take this drug which allows the format to really do its job; the animations allow one to see through the eyes of a Death induced freak-out. For originality this movie gets an A plus, there has never been a movie like it before or since. Most likely because no one liked or saw this one. Don’t let that deter you though, if you are in the mood for something very different and visually entertaining this movie will do that for you with ease. All that you have to do is get over the initial shock of the imagery or be high yourself and it is great. Robert Downy Jr. also has a great part in this film.



Tenacious D And the Pick of Destiny
This probably the most underrated movie of 2007. It made little money in the box office, and that’s just wrong, since it is something that should at least merit cult status. It chronicles Jack Black and his band mate K. G. as they attempt to raise their band Tenacious D to greatness by finding a magical guitar pick forged from the horn of Satan, the pick of destiny. The sound of that plot alone is enough to interest you. It’s not just a movie; it’s a rock opera featuring the music of the band.
Never really making it in the theaters this movie is this generations Spinal Tap. As a rock musical this movie gives you all that you could ever want from its star Jack Black. He Sings, Dances and delivers some comedic moments that need to be seen, his imaginary performance of Master Exploder is worth watching over and over as the music and the act is beyond funny. If you have ever wanted to be a famous musician and feel the gazing of an amphitheater filled with people worshiping your every sung note or guitar rip, then that scene will be a encapsulations of that feeling. The story itself is not very important, it’s the integration of the music with the movie that makes this one of the best Jack Black films of all time and one of the best musicals made in the last decade. If you want to have a good time and laugh your ass off watch this movie with your friends then sing Master Exploder on Rock Band, Repeat as necessary.

Frailty
Bill Paxton as a seemingly insane serial killer who enlists his two young sons in his rampage. This has to be the most surprisingly entertaining film since Donnie Darko, and I mention Donnie Darko to emphasize the type of movie it is, unique. There has never been a movie like it, and it’s surreal to watch…in a good way. What’s great is the scenario in the movie; what if your father suddenly goes insane and tells you he has visions of God and must kill demons disguised as humans? The result is entertainment. The movie does more with the plot than you would expect. Bill Paxton plays his part perfectly as the insane dad as he spends the movie talking about kidnapping people and killing them to his children as if it’s not crazy, and Matthew McConaughey does pretty good job as his grown son.

Rise of the Foot Solder
Now this a little British film with pretty much unrecognizable actors, but it’s big on violence. It’s the story of the rise of one of the most feared members of the football terraces, from a football fan who beats up rival fans to the leader of a criminal gang set in the 80s and 90s. This movie is obscenely violent, so much so that you are in awe of it. The actors have such thick cockney accents that you cannot make out most of what they say…which becomes pretty funny. The main character and his life are the most interesting parts of the movie since his whole life is about beating people up, using steroid and of course football.






King of California

This is very fun movie that stars Michael Douglas as a father who recently leaves a mental institution to return to his life with a teenaged daughter and begins a search for buried treasure which he believes is under a local Costco. Michael Douglas is very funny as a somewhat crazy and eccentric father with a conquistador goatee. It is one of the few movies about daughters and fathers, that is not sappy and boring. The daughter, who had adjusted to life without her crazy father, must deal with his search for treasure that she is sure is a crazy notion. The whole idea that treasure is buried under Costco is interesting, their scheme to get it that allows them to bond, and the rest is funny and endearing.

The Carriers | A Film That is Sort of About Zombies



The Carriers was released to a limited number of U.S. theaters in early September. The story follows a foursome on a mission to survive a pandemic which has a mortality rate of %100. Rather apropos given the current H1N1 paranoia that abounds in the news these days. The film is structured like a zombie film, just without the dead coming back to life, it turns out that the living infected can be much more difficult to deal with than living dead. No one ever has a moral problem with double tapping a ghoul if it gets in your way, but when you need to kill a father in front of his infected daughter in order to steal his ride to save yourself and those with you, the line is not so clear. You may recognize one of the main characters in the film as actor Chris Pine AKA Captain Kirk from the recent reboot of the Star Trek movies series. The movie feels like a family road trip from hell. To reach their favorite vacation spot two brothers cross country in order to reach an out of the way motel on the ocean to hold out until the virus dies off. Also on this trip are the significant others of the brothers, kind of, the younger brother in the story insists that the young lady he decided to bring along on a road trip during the apocalypse is just his friend. The foursome encounter many obstacles in their quest to get to the beach, false hope for a cure and the not-so-altruistic nature of people during a time of panic and disease. Although The Carriers can be slow at points the payoff is in the interactions of the characters of the story and less in the volume of gore that the zombie-like illness provides.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Swan Song Of Mininova.org | The End Of An Era and Centralized File Sharing Sites


On November 26th 2009 Mininova.org, the infamous torrent site submitted to a Dutch courts ruling and became a content distribution only service. The Dutch court determined that the website must create a file filtering system that would not allow copyright material to be posted on their site. But, due to the nature of the torrent system and creative uploaders ability to manipulate titles, copyright materials were still getting onto the site making it impossible for the site to continue as it was. The site is not closed for business altogether you can still go to the site and look at the bones of what was and all of the legally uploaded material the site has to offer. Launched January 19th 2005 Mininova.org was considered the premier torrent site world wide, offering literally millions upon millions of torrent to be shared by the public to the public. What separated Mininova.org from other file sharing middlemen was the fact that it did not require a registration to download torrents thereby allowing for a certain level of anonymity for the users, as well as the ‘cleanliness’ of the site free from malware and pornography. Most importantly, Mininova.org in its existence posed one of the truly important questions of our modern age; to what extent can one own an idea? For large corporations and the governments they influence with their financial will the answer is to no limit. The implications of these opposed mentalities are yet to be seen.
As the giant has fallen what is to become of the file sharing community around the globe? The history of file sharing has been a hot topic since the Napster debacle, when large publishing houses and musicians (most notably Metallica) took aim at the software company for copyright infringement. But this crackdown on the software based file sharing systems only brought about the next evolution in file sharing, namely torrents. A file Torrent is a small program that operates in conjunction to a vast network of other torrent users, in essence by going after centralized file sharing software programs such as Napster the only logical set was to decentralize the system, thus giving birth to the popularity of torrents. Funny fact, the little program that could or the torrent was first created to distribute John Mayor bootlegs. Who know it would take on such an important role as a file sharing tool back when it was spreading around “Your Body Is A Wonderland”.
What is next then in this ever evolving field of file sharing? Perhaps it will be as simple as another reincarnation of a Mininova.org, a clone with the same features as the original but based out of another country. Or maybe something completely different will arise to replace the fallen giant, a kind of system or technique more adaptive and simple than any other method that has ever come before. One without a head to cut off, or a business to bankrupt, one completely independent of any possible regulation. Pushing the fringe and free thinkers further away will only create an abyss the law cannot contain.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Fourth Kind | The Film’s Intent & The Reality


We all saw the trailers and we all wondered, is the story based on actual events? The film’s story unfolds in a unique style, mixing supposedly real interview footage with that of actors. Often using split screen shots to illustrate the point that this story is more of a reenactment than a piece of fiction. The story surrounds the unexplainable sleep disorder that seems to plague the Alaskan town of Nome. A rural town in the northern State which is notorious for missing residents, lost to supposedly unknown reasons. During hypnosis sessions with some of the towns residents’ the psychiatrist character Ashley Tyler played by Milla Jovovich which revealed some disturbing things surrounding an owl. An owl that turns out to be an alien(s) that crawls into peoples bed rooms while speaking in ancient Sumerian, this turns out to be the crux of the movie, this and the fact that all of Milla Jovovich’s attempts at hypnotic regression end in murder suicides or spine breaking fits for her patients.
The Strange thing about these aliens in the movie is that the seem to manifest themselves in a almost demonic possession fashion during the hypnotic regression. Other obvious parallels to possession and this movies sort of alien possession is that they both happen around 3:00am, a known hot time for demons and the like, at least in the movies. Not to mention what the aliens say through the person they possess, very The Exorcism of Emily Rose type stuff.
The Hubbub around the internet is that the story that the movie is based on is not in fact one of real people and real events. The idea that an out of the way town in one of the largest States in the U.S. has an alien problem could be bought by some of the more gullible types. What is more likely for the numerous visits to the town by the FBI due to the towns actual high rate of disappearances is most likely not because of evil alien possession and more likely do to the towns high rate of alcoholism and harsh climate. Makes sense. However, what if is just what they want you to think? Maybe, the reason there is no record of any Ashley Tyler doing sleep research in that town is because of a massive government/alien cover up. That’s right they must be working together, the aliens and the government, in a partnership to experiment on and control the general public. To what end you might ask? What other end is there for two superpowers to work towards total world domination, that means you and me people. According to this film even if the aliens were invading out bodies and minds we wouldn’t know it, because they erase our memories after they have had their way with you. Alien forget-me-nots otherwise known as a roofy.
Perhaps the reason people can’t find any information regarding the incidents revolving around these abductions/possessions is because they have been cleverly covered up by the same small town, I mean who is going to believe a town full of drunks right? Were they always drunks, though? Or is it more likely that the enormous weight of carrying such a burden like, I don’t know, the cover up of local townies being murdered and abducted just became too much. That could through a whole community into the bottom of the bottle. You need to ask yourselves this question: What is more likely, that a writer/director would purposely lie to the general public about the validity of his story or that a joint government/alien take over is imminent, the proof of which is being concealed somewhere near the Northwest Passage! You make up your own minds on that one, meanwhile, I’m buying myself some insurance.
Anti-Alien Possession Check List:
1) Tinfoil Hat
2) Alien technology proof locks on all windows and doors
3) A second tinfoil hat, this one shaped in the style of a fedora
4) An EMF detector
5) Telescope/binoculars/night vision goggles
6) Teaser
7) Weekly hypnotic sessions, just to be safe
8) Mustard, aliens hate mustard everyone knows that
9) The full ten season box set of the X-Files for research purposes
10) Last but not least, trust no one. Words to live by in a word where our own government is in cahoots with the evil builders of the pyramids.