Thursday, November 22, 2012

I Know You, I'm Just Like You. We're Both Sipping Dreams.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Things That Should Be Mandatory

I'm going to make this a double feature. I saw two movies this past week, and both of them were inspired, beautiful, and imaginative. Anyone who loves a good movie should see both of them. They take, in no particular order, the number 2 and number 3 slots for the best movies I have seen all year.

Life of Pi Review

The Life of Pi is not just an amazing movie, and you should watch it. It is not just a beautiful script with wonderful actors telling an amazing tale set to vivid and evocative imagery and music that touches on every emotion in the spectrum of human feeling effectively. Yes, it is all of those things, but I also feel that it is the first movie to really prove that a movie can be designed so thoroughly around 3d that the final result simply wouldn't be quite the same if you saw the movie without it.

Every frame of this film is a work of art, and it is fully aware that its story is allegorical. It plays on it, and it makes a powerful impression with impossible images that each stand out as inspired.

The movie has to be taken as a whole. Some of the decisions feel a little clumsy in the beginning of the movie, but over the course of the plot they make more and more sense. Irrfan Khan as older Pi is one of those choices. As the film opens and as we are introduced to older Pi he seems extraordinarily plain in every way. Even his voice lacks anything compelling. As he narrates it becomes clear that his opening is a brilliant stark contrast against the events, and his voice becomes a calm narrative force when everything else feels terrifying and isolating.

Enthralling and captivating contrasts fill the entire film beginning to end. Having read the book, the initial trailers didn't seem to understand what the book meant, or the way it felt. Ang Lee does get it, astoundingly so. Lee gets it and shows it off in the way every animal is captured and in how every single moment is filled with living things.

The only two criticisms of film would be the dialog for the writer. It comes off as a little cheesy and heavy handed. Rafe Spall does what he can with it, and he does well enough that a lot of people may not even agree that it is a little thin. Being contrasted against the beautiful narrative and dialog of Pi Patel may even be the only reason it felt that way. The other would be a very slight heavy handedness of the emphasis on faith in the narrative toward the middle of the film.

About three times the movie made statements that felt forced and unnecessary. The symbolic structure of the movie is so well done that it just was not necessary to have it pointed out so many times. Even if you feel that a certain level of it was needed at some points in the film, it goes just a hair too far, and the audience is not quite left to draw their own conclusions despite being told that they should.

Overall Life of Pi is am amazing work, and a film that is worth watching. Try and find the time to go see it because movies like this just do not get made very often and especially not with a budget like this. Vote with your dollars and let them know that they made the right decision when this movie got funded.

Rise of the Guardians Review

You should watch this movie. I'm starting to sound like a broken record, and I know that two movies in a row is a bit difficult to justify, but that's the plain simple truth. This movie is excellent. It is thoughtful, beautiful, and touching. In some ways it manages to cut deep and rip at something important and essential. It pulls a few of its punches short and those few pulled punches stopped this from being one of the best movies ever made instead of just one of the absolute best animated movies ever made. Even when Rise of the Guardians holds back, it does so beautifully and with grace and you will never even notice.

Peter Ramsay has managed to capture a sense of wonder and amazement in the entire world. All of the major characters manage to deliver something unforgettable to the viewer that speaks to that part of you that loves what belief represents.

The opening is incredibly abrupt. The movie opens almost immediately with the essential exposition that is in all the trailers. There is so much substance to Rise of the Guardians that the film needs to get this information to the audience and out of the way of the narrative as soon as possible.

And the part that's really amazing? The action is intense and meaningful! All of the conflicts and characters are arranged and in play inside of the first ten minutes. Everything is coming together and moving in a whirlwind. The basic elements of the plot start with the rogue good guy joins the organized team of heroes, but it makes this seed into its own thing.

Santa Clause manages to be one of the best Santas put to film. Alec Baldwin delivers his lines superbly. His character is layered, responsible, and feels like a natural leader figure. Jack Frost feels like more than a thin representation of roguish rebellion being forced into a role of responsibility because he is more than that. We are told that it is important to find your core identity early in the film and then we are shown this theme being reinforced throughout the plot.

Jude Law makes his villain sympathetic and plays well off of Jack Frost's character. I make a note of the performances by Alec Baldwin and Jude Law, because they are exceptional; but, Chris Pine, Isla Fisher, and Hugh Jackman each turn in excellent performances.

This movie lives and breaths both spectacle and substance, and on top of it all it has some of the very best action of the entire year. Watch it. You won't regret it.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Interview With a Cultural Vampire

Today I will be interviewing Netsenshi. He is a good friend of mine, and also a local photographer and cosplay artist.

DS: So, I thought I'd start out asking about your alternative lifestyle. How long ago did you come out publicly as a cosplayer?
netsenshi: Publicly I came out in 2005
DS: How did that come about?
netsenshi: After having attended a couple anime conventions already, I asked myself two questions. What costumes are popular, and what characters have I not seen cosplayed before. I had noticed there were a lot of costumes from the Squaresoft game Kingdom Hearts, specifically the mushrooms. I then frowned, because my favorite mushroom characters in games are the power ups and Toad's from Super Mario Bros. I was then inspired to make my first costume, The Poison Mushroom, for the anime convention Kamikaze con.
DS: Of the costumes you felt were missing, why start with The Poison Mushroom?
netsenshi: I think I started with him because I thought it would be easy. It's a character that has appeared in only one game, and since it was a power up and not an actual person, It left a lot of room for creative interpretation.

DS: Was it as easy as you thought it would be?
netsenshi: No.
netsenshi: My first attempt is somewhat embarrassing. I used a grim reaper outfit, Halloween makeup for the face, and used about two pillows to make the mushroom cap originally. The hat never stayed in place so I had to modify it there. It was extremely heavy and uncomfortable. The makeup was cheap, and it burned my eyes. I later had to go back to the drawing board and completely redesign the character.
DS: How many different characters have you created costumes for?
netsenshi: Well, I have sketched out many different costumes on paper as well as wanted to do others, but I haven't actually fulfilled a lot of them. I have finished costumes for 10 different characters. The Poison Mushroom has had 3 different incarnations though, so 12 different completed costumes.
DS: So, The Poison Mushroom is the only one you've done multiple times?
netsenshi: I've done a couple different iterations of the 1-Up mushroom. I mainly only count the first costume on that one though, because I only made the cap and recycled the mask from one of my Poison Mushroom costumes. The rest of the costume was different plain clothes, each incorporating the color green when I wore it.
DS: I'm to understand you're one of the minds behind the Pose Off panel that has been circulating around a number of conventions. Maybe you could share a bit about what that is and who you made it with, perhaps give a bit of background about its origination?
netsenshi: The Pose Off first started in 2005 in Austin, Tx at the convention Ushi-Con 4. It was started without a name randomly that sunday with several people present. The main person was my good friend Geoff Greer. I didn't have much to do with that one, but ultimately I helped refine it under the name The Pose Off months later. What the event is, is it's a competition amongst two or more individuals in a period of three rounds. The first two rounds have the contestants repeating the pose of a moderator, while the third round has them come up with their own pose. We used to always try and make it where the contestants would always win one, and force it into the third round, as me and Geoff were big into 2D fighting games like Street Fighter and Guilty Gear. Eventually though, we admitted that the first couple of rounds are more for our entertainment and is a way to help the posers come up with poses for their third round.
DS: You have also created several cosplay and gaming videos, correct?
netsenshi: That's correct.
DS: How did that start?
netsenshi: 10 years ago, my girlfriend at the time showed me how to make music videos to anime in windows movie maker. Later, I started going to anime conventions. I might have been inspired by my friend Marzgurl's anime convention videos, but I eventually decided to make some videos eventually after buying a flip video camera. A year or two later, my friend Evan Normand asked me to make videos on a website with him, and I did that for a year or so. I always intend to make more videos, but I never end up getting around to it.
DS: Why didn't you?
netsenshi: My friend Evan Normand is currently in school, so I ended up having to come up with most of our content. I ultimately got burned out quickly after making several gaming videos for the website .After taking what I thought was a shorty break, I attempted to start back up after buying a camera that captures in HD. My other hardware is really old, and conversions take up a lot of time, if they convert at all.
DS: Are you working on any projects currently?
netsenshi: Outside of my blog and future commitments to Louisianime, none come to mind.
netsenshi: I would like to do some Let's Play videos, but I don't know when and if I will get to them any time soon
DS: We are running out of time for today's interview, and I don't want to keep you for too long. Is there anything else you would like to say to my readership before we say goodbye?
netsenshi: Yes. There is. I urge your readers to try many different things, simply on the whim to do so. Do NOT scoff at things because you think they are embarrassing. I could have gone to anime conventions years before my first one, as well as traveled abroad a couple years sooner if I would have done that 100% of the time.
DS: Well, thank you so much for your time, I hope you have a wonderful afternoon!
netsenshi: You as well. Drive carefully

Sunday, November 11, 2012

It Should Be Like Breathing

“And then I felt sad because I realized that once people are broken in certain ways, they can't ever be fixed, and this is something nobody ever tells you when you are young and it never fails to surprise you as you grow older as you see the people in your life break one by one. You wonder when your turn is going to be, or if it's already happened.”

— Douglas Coupland

Anything I touch is my instrument, be it with words or fingers. It is a mistake to limit the scope of what is art and music.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Skyfall Review

Every single scene and line of dialog in Skyfall is brilliant on its own. The visuals are beautiful, the characters are interesting, and the music is stunning. The problem is that they took all of these scenes that are amazing by themselves and put them together, and they don't work so well like that.

The plot is overly complicated, which is not necessarily a bad thing on its own. Problems with the overcomplexity arise, however, when halfway through the film the basic execution of the evil scheme could have been done without any planning or forethought. Every climactic culmination of the villain's schemes is reduced down to just marching straight at what they want to kill after a long and complicated plan that appears to have worked but accomplished nothing.

Criticizing a Bond film for being predictable just feels wrong. That is part of the point, after all, however in this case the predictable plot points are so obvious that they are tiring. Skyfall plays its twist cards too early, and then stretches out too long after the fact trying to ride on events of the first half of the movie. The entire last half of the film is pure straightforward resolution without any real story progression.

The absolute best part of the movie is the villain. Silva is played by Javier Bardem, and every second he is in the film is compelling. Daniel Craig also does a superb Bond. The rest of the cast is on par with the superb technical and artistic quality of the film. THe visuals are stunning, and almost every frame is a work of art and every conversation could stand on its own as enjoyable Bond style snippets, so being on par in this case is high praise.

If you love Bond movies, see it anyway. This is not the worst film in the franchise, by far. If you're not a fan, maybe take the time to watch the movie when it comes out on video. It was largely enjoyable. It is certainly a very passable action flick.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

I Really Can't Help It

Weeds by David Scott

How fast they grow!
They spring from the ground
streaking right up to my hip.

I can't rip them up fast enough!
For every one I yank out,
four burst out!

My hands torn raw,
my arms exhausted,
without progress.

Tomorrow I'll call a lawn service.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Fried Cornish Game Hen?

So, I'm going to have a small thanksgiving gathering at my house in the evening after I have spent the morning with family. Not enough people will be there to justify a turkey, so after a little bit of thought I decided to do fried cornish game hens, which will feel like overkill in a turkey frier.

I've started looking up some recipes:

Fried Cornish Game Hens
Whole Berry Cranberry Sauce(made some of the best EVER last year)
Sweet potato recipes(I might do sweet potato gnocchi with butter sage sauce)

I will keep updating as I consider what to make for the day, but I'm excited to have started thinking about it. For the veggies I am considering green bean, or possibly corn. Hard to go wrong with either of those. Anyone who'd like to come and is able to is absolutely welcome, I'd love to see everyone I love that day.

Monday, November 05, 2012

Wreck it, Ralph.

So, loved Wreck it Ralph. It isn't anything new, but everything it does, it does do very well. The film makes excellent use of its talent. John C. Reilley's performance is likeable and humorous. Sarah Silverman manages to pull off a mildly annoying, sympathetic, and entertaining character. So, she basically plays herself, but less vulgar than usual.

A game like this probably could have gotten by on just the cameos of famous game characters alone. A lot of people really thought that's all they would get, but Wreck It Ralph manages to deliver an engaging story and use the myriad of game characters as set dressing rather than a crutch. The story doesn't feel either new, or fresh, but it has some original ideas that, and what isn't new is pretty classic.

It's one of the best movies I have seen all summer, really. I highly recommend it.

By the way, I am looking forward to failing NaNoWriMo this year.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

It's All Noise

Finished reading A Feast for Crows last night, and so this morning I read through Signal to Noise in an hour. Loved it. Then moved on and started reading Pirate Cinema by Cory Doctorow. He's probably my favorite author right now.

Tonight I am going to go see a screening of Wreck it Ralph! I will let you know what I think of it tomorrow morning or afternoon or never.
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