A Dialogue on Movies, Books and More

Archive for the ‘Movies’ Category

Episode 20 – End of the Year!

Well, it is now 2012, but we recorded our latest podcast last year, when we were all relaxed and unwound after the holidays and some time off (for those of us working…).  Maybe it was just me, but I could pretty much only find stories that were basically lists, so this episode is relatively laid back and free from any real heated debate.  In fact, one might say that we… bantered.  Ha, ha.  Don’t worry, that bit of lame humor is 2011 leftovers.  This year, the three of us are going to up our game, move to our own site, get some cooler theme music, get back to blogging as well as podcasting, and change some other stuff that our team isn’t ready to unveil yet.

So.  Here is what we talk about in Episode 20 – End of the Year!

Also, I gave reviews of:

Justin mentioned a book he’s reading, Doctor Who and Philosophy: Bigger on the Inside.

And Matt got a puppy, so be jealous!

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Episode 14: In Which Zoe Disgracefully Brings Up a Reality Star

Hullo, Daylight Savers!

Last week I posted and it was Halloween(ish), now it’s Daylight Savings…  From now on, I’m only posting on holidays / special occasions with proper nouns.

Monday, we recorded Episode 14 and I lead the discussion.  In retrospect I feel like my topics were weak compared with Matt’s and other random news articles we’ve bickered about, but I won’t know unless someone points it out.  Check it out and prove me right or wrong: Episode 14.

Justin scoffed at Paranormal Activity and I was let down by In Time.

Then I brought up Kim Kardashian’s divorce and how it’s being used for a good cause by pro gay marriage / GLBTQ organizations / George Takei based on an article at The Wrap.  Matt brought up some pretty sleazy statistics on the short-lived marriage.

We tried to ruminate on an article about Gen Xers not being slackers, but it turns out, we’re not sure what defines generations…

And I found an article where really smart scientists put their formidable minds to improving boarding times

Tomorrow, we record a new podcast!

As ever, let us know how we’re doing.  Or send us a crazy news article, a funny video, some movie/show we “must see” or whatever.  Feedback is good, unless it’s coming from microphones.

P.S. Why do these links always turn up in stupid colors?

Podcast Episode Zero

Hello fellow wanderers in this adventure we call life! Too much? Way to over the top? Yeah probably, but thought I should start out on a high note since it has been awhile since Zoe and I have posted anything. Once again we blame this on life and all the little distractions that come up, like my vacation to New York (which was great by the way) or Zoe’s week from hell dealing with a conference. With that said, things have settled down and we are both hoping to start updating on time again (whatever that means for us since we’ve never really updated on time).

However, some good news comes from this break in the action. Over the weekend Zoe, myself and our friend Matt recorded a test episode of the rumored podcast. And because we are such wonderful people here at Idle Banter we are going to let you listen to it with a bit of a warning. First off, this was kind of a test episode to see how we could flow stuff together and basically see how best to make fun of me. Second, my microphone was apparently not up to par so I sound a bit metallic. I am working on that problem for the next podcast. Finally, because this was somewhat of a test there is no intro music or sound effects or really anything except the 3 of us talking. Some of that will hopefully change with the next episode.

Finally, because of the limits of a free WordPress site, we are taking Idle Banter to the next step. Our friend Matt has been gracious enough to agree to help us start our own site. Zoe and I want to do the redesign correctly so it is going to take a bit before everything is in place. However we are all excited and think this is the right move. Hopefully we can just remember to update it. We will let you know when the switch happens so you can all update your bookmarks. Because we know that you have us bookmarked. Right? Right? Thought so.

Anyway, enough of me typing away and let’s get to the podcast. You can listen to it by clicking on the link below or by right clicking on it and saving it as an MP3. We would appreciate feedback and any comments you may have. As I’ve said this was our first attempt and we will get better. Enjoy

Podcast link:

Podcast Episode Zero – Or the one where we lose all our readers.

Links from the podcast.

The Daily Grail

Hitler’s Talking Dogs

Art Thief

Nazi Blow-up Dolls

Knights of Badassdum

 

The Idle Banter Book Club

Justin: HEY ZOE, HOW’S IT GOING!?

Zoe: Shhhhhh….

Justin: Why are you shushing me?

Zoe: Because we are in a library, that’s why.

Justin: Well, whose bright idea was it to do our dialogue in the library?

Zoe: Umm that would have been your idea. You thought it would be a nice atmosphere for our blog on books today.

Justin: Well that back fired on me just a bit.

Zoe: Just a bit. So, what has been going on with you lately? It seems like it’s been a while since we’ve done a proper dialogue.

Justin: I think it has; both of our lives have been pretty busy and last weekend was a holiday so that just completely threw off everything. For Memorial Day, I was in Illinois down near Decatur for a family reunion. I have to say, southern Illinois is not the best place to go when you are on a diet. There was some wonderful food there. For lunch on the last day we had homemade fried chicken, mashed potatoes and green beans.

Zoe: Well at least the green beans were healthy.

Justin: That is what I thought as well, until I saw there were huge slabs of bacon in it. It was freaking delicious. What were you up to this past holiday weekend?

Zoe: I went home to Chicago for a high school friend’s wedding.  It was just so lovely, and of course it was just great to see some of my best friends and just hang out.  The weather was nutty–rainy and cold the first two days, then 90 the last day!  And the flights were actually easy, not to jinx future flights…

Justin: Bummer on the rain but at least the flights were good. That is usually the tricky part. So, let’s talk about books. You reading anything good lately or is there anything you are looking forward to, that is coming out soon?

Zoe: Let’s see, I just finished a super disappointing historical romance called Wicked Surrender.  Naughty name, right?  NO.  The set up on the back cover was misleading, the resolution was way past trite and cliched–in which the characters were forced to make no serious decisions after 200 pages of stressing how well-equipped they were to make the tough choices–and the characters’ personalities shifted drastically with no real rhyme or reason.  Normally, I love a good historical romance, there are tons of ways to make them creative and fun even using strict societal settings like 18th century London.  I love Ransom by Julie Garwood, Judith McNaught, Connie Brockway, and Eloisa James, and none of them has to resort to a plot that has embarrassing similarities (minus the baby–only 2 actual instances of sex, which is like super lame for the genre!) to Pearl Harbor.  Yeah, I said it.  But whatever, to get that bad taste out of my mouth, I’ve started Maybe This Time, by Jennifer Crusie, probably my all-time favorite romance writer; she has eccentric characters, quirky set ups and no melodrama.  Oh, and I’m looking forward to Laurel K. Hamilton’s Hit List (even though the last several books in the Anita Blake series were… not the best) and Naamah’s Blessing by Jacqueling Carey, both released this month!

Justin: Yeah, there is nothing worse than getting all the way through a story only to find out there is no resolution. I know authors sometimes do that to make sure you read the next in the series, but it is annoying. Finish it up, bring some closure and let me move on. If that doesn’t happen, I am probably not going to pick up the next book. Anyway, I am currently reading something recommended to me by your husband. It is a collection of short stories called Welcome to Bordertown by editors Holly Black and Ellen Kushner. The series started back in 1986 and Matt described it as the “birth” of urban fantasy. From what I gather from the intro to this collection, by one of the original authors, Bordertown was created to be a “shared-world series.” This means that a ton of authors would all write stories that all took place in this land that they created between the human world and the elfin realm. From there it apparently exploded. Well, it has been 13 years since the last collection and now Welcome to Bordertown has been put out. To be honest I was a little hesitant to start reading this book because I had never read any of the collections before and apparently they are really hard to find. However, I have now read the first story and am working on the second and I have to say they are fabulous. The world that has been created is amazing and makes me want to not only “go” to Bordertown but write my own story as well. I am glad Matt mentioned it because it was an excellent find and as a Noob to the series I don’t feel left out. If any of you like Jim Butcher’s The Dresden Files, then you will like this collection of stories because this is where the genre started. Oh and if you haven’t heard of The Dresden Files either, I would recommend them as well. Even the short lived TV series was pretty good.

Zoe:  Wow, Justin, that was an incredible speech you just wrote down there.  Got anything else you want to put out there?

Justin: Tons, we are talking books so I could go on for awhile, but how about you talk for a bit.

Zoe: Oh, Justin, I kid, I kid.  Okay, I don’t know if I could exactly talk that long about something that I’m reading just now, but I can say that I am currently exceedingly disappointed by the San Francisco Public Library system.  First of all, if I go on a wait list for a book currently all checked out, I’m on it for like 6 months and then I give up and find a copy another way.  Second of all, the reference librarians, even at the main branch, just do searches on their computer (which CLEARLY I can do myself) and have no extra suggestions or helpful librarian-like advice!  Third of all, each branch has very little books.  The one I go to the most has a children’s section downstairs, which is good-sized but not great, and then half of its upstairs is full of non-fiction (small amount, for a sampling for all the knowledge there is), DVDs and computers (half-taken by homeless people).  The novels are pitiful.  A few classics peppered in with some large print, some romance and sci-fi / fantasy paperbacks, a few narrow bookcases of mysteries, and then the most random supply of novels after that.  I wouldn’t mind except my favorite part about libraries, like bookstores, is browsing.  Not just having the names of a few authors I like and hoping they have other books by that author, not just hoping they have the first book in a new series and not just the like second and third, but finding new authors.  These libraries are so limited that there’s really not a lot of room for exploration or discovering authors that you like, and if by chance you do, you get annoyed because it IS the second book in the second trilogy of a series and the library doesn’t own the first book at ALL…  See, it makes me completely pissed off just writing that.  It makes me HUFF in ANGER.  Come on, people, e-readers are nice options, but I should not have to have one in order to read books I want.  Isn’t reading enough of an endangered species that my library should be more than less-than-mediocre?

Justin: Feel Better?

Zoe: Pfft… Not really.  California’s broke as hell and frankly I’d rather they have schools and pay teachers and cops and stuff.  I mean, I know lame libraries won’t make me give up on reading, but what about everyone else?  Money.  It’s just… complicated.

Justin: Well, don’t feel bad, it is happening everywhere. Heck I have two different library systems near me and a college and I still have trouble finding books I am looking for. It saddens me when I go into the library and see young kids browsing the movies and video games (yes that is correct, video games) rather than looking at books. Libraries are a dying breed and unfortunately so is reading. If you can’t find it on the Internet, it must not be worth it. However, that isn’t going to stop me from reading. As you all know, I am constantly reading more than one thing. For instance other than Welcome to Bordertown, I am also reading Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith and The Spook’s Apprentice Series by Joseph Delaney. Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter is an interesting twist on the life of Abraham Lincoln and I was kind of shocked about how interesting it is. You are learning a bit about Lincoln himself woven in with this great fiction of vampires in early America. Joseph Delaney’s series is equally as good. It is about a young boy who is taken on as an apprentice by the county’s spook whose job it is to get rid of ghosts and witches and other things that bump in the night. The books in the series are ones that I regret starting late at night because I end up staying up to late trying to finish them. The story so far is interesting and has kept me engaged. Both Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter and The Spook’s Apprentice are worth taking a look at. Maybe you can even find them in the Library.

Zoe: … Another mini-novel!  You are good.  All your talk makes me seriously excited for “True Blood” to start up, I think next week.  So that’s awesome.  But back on the books, I usually read more than one thing at once, but recently I’ve been busy with my actual walking-around life and attempting to write some stories of my own.  I’ve been reading some free fiction on my e-reader apps on my iPhone and mostly they’re pretty amateurish, but I’ve read some fun ones.  They’re more like short stories, but they’re actually the perfect length for my morning and afternoon commute.  There are some good supernatural vampire / werewolf / witch kind of ones, and some straight-up romances too.  Some of these have awesomely NC-17 stories too but I’m a lady so I’m not going to tell you whether they’re good or not… not that I’d know, being a lady and all.

Justin: Riigghhttt…. You know you love that stuff. I think it was you who introduced me to the NC-17 version of Y Tu Mama Tambien. But I know where you are coming from. I enjoy getting on Fanfiction.net every once in awhile and seeing what is out there. Some times you just need a break from well-written novels and have to read something absolutely ridiculous. That and at times some of the stories don’t go the way you want them to go, but thanks to the power of the Internet, someone has already written about it somewhere. Alright, any other books you are excited about before we take off for the night?

Zoe: Right, I like Fanfiction too, and if I weren’t a lady, I might like its more NC-17 cousin RestrictedSection.org.  And Y Tu Mama Tambien is a fantastic story about manhood and brotherhood and what it means to grow up, so you can shut it, it’s not sleazy in the least.  I’m not sure the same could be said of Commodore Norrington / Captain Sparrow slash at Fanfiction.net…  Back on track now: There are some books that were turned into movies that are coming out soon, and I want to read some of those before the movies are released.  The main one is One Day, about a man and a woman (played by Jim Sturgress and Anne Hathaway in the movie) who almost get together in college and then meet once a year that same day, and it’s about what’s happened in that year, how they’ve changed, etc.  Oh, and I went on a little movie trailer binge yesterday and for movie lovers, you should check out the trailers for: 50/50 with Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Seth Rogen, One Day of course, the first Breaking Dawn Part 1 with the first sign of the AWESOME baby Renesmee in utero, the new Muppet Movie with Amy Adams and Jason Segel (thanks for the reminder, Justin), and A Little Help with the American “Office”actor Jenna Fischer.  (All at: http://www.imdb.com/features/video/trailers/.)

Justin: I just saw X-Men: First Class and have to say it is great and I hope this is the “Reboot” the series needed. I will also say, that the more I see The Green Lantern trailers the more I am liking it and not just because Ryan Reynolds is an amazing actor. So we shall see how it goes. In books, I am looking forward to reading The Throne of Fire which is the second book in The Kane Chronicles by Rick Riordan. It is already out and sitting on my shelf. Also looking forward to his next book in the Heroes series which is due out this fall at some point. Oh so many books and so little time. I am just glad the weather has become nicer than it has been. Means I get to sit outside on the deck more with a good book. So hopefully it will stay this way. With all this talk of books, I think I am actually going to go read for the rest of the night. What about yourself?

Zoe: Hmm, I’m going to eat some dinner and settle in with Maybe This Time, and dream about a package my friend in Seattle sent me with tea for Matt and another Jennifer Crusie novel for me!

Justin: NICE!!

Librarian: Ok, that’s enough you two have been here long enough and are starting to get loud. It is time to go!

Justin: Well, I think that is our cue. See you all next week.

Zoe: Bye! Don’t forget to enjoy nice weather (if you’re having any) and dream about the day you can buy all the books your grubby hands can take hold of!

It Should’ve Been An Easy Job

Justin: GET IN THE VAN!!

Zoe: I’m coming as fast as I can! (slams van door shut) Step on it!

The two speed away as the cops round the corner.

Justin: I thought you said this was an easy job. It was supposed to be in, grab the gold and then out again. What the heck happened?!

Zoe: I don’t know! Matt said it was a quick easy job.

Justin: We were set up, this was all a set up.

Suddenly, out of nowhere a huge ice storm hits, blanketing the city in a new ice age.

Zoe: Say what? Hold on, I thought this was going to be a heist scene; it is starting to sound like The Day After Tomorrow.

Justin: Well, we can still label it as a heist for the first few lines and then change directions completely.

Zoe: Ah you’re taking a subtle hit at the movie we watched this week, aren’t you?

Justin: I hope it wasn’t that subtle. Dear Netflix, if you are going to label a film as a “heist film,” be sure there is actually a heist in more than ten minutes of the movie.

Zoe: Agreed–and it was at the beginning too. So if you haven’t figured out by now, Justin and I watched (or in the case of our first movie tried to watch) heist films this week.

Justin: That’s right. I think both of us saw a couple of really good heist films and one really crappy labeled heist movie.

Zoe: Come on now, give it a little more credit than that. It wasn’t a horrible movie.  It was just not what we expected.

Justin: There were some interesting shots, I will give it that, and it also had Vinnie Jones in it who is always a badass. Also it has a rather thin Val Kilmer in it as well for like ten minutes telling the guy not to Taco. Whatever the hell that means. Anyway, besides that it was kind of a letdown. Heck I was even semi-drunk for the viewing and it didn’t help it at all.

Zoe: Yeah that was kind of funny, since you don’t drink that often.

Justin: Anyway, for this week’s movie, we watched Played. It was about a guy who, after a heist goes wrong, sets out to get revenge against those who screwed him over. At least I think that is what the movie was about. At times it felt lacking. There were no real twists that I remember and everything was pretty straightforward. What are your feelings on Played?

Zoe: I liked that it was shot simply and cheaply, and I didn’t really mind the amateurish acting.  My real issue was not really understanding what was going on.  The set up was what Justin said, only from there, it was like there were several people who were the “bad guys”–I don’t object to that at all–but there was absolutely no explication.  No one introduced him/herself either so there was no way to figure out who anyone was talking about ever!  But we were entertained while mocking it, so that it wasn’t a total loss.

Justin: Yeah we kind of went Mystery Science Theater 3000 on it a bit, but every once in awhile you need a movie to just mock. You can’t have perfection all the time. Okay, let’s get the the good movies. For my first movie I went old school and I will admit it was more of a con movie than a heist movie but it was well worth it. I know it is probably a sin, but I had never seen The Sting, with Robert Redford and Paul Newman. I have to say, I am sorry that I took me so long to see it. It was an absolutely fabulous movie and the ending was surprising. I don’t know why, but I had a hard time figuring out who knew what and when and how. It was great. The acting was superb and the shots were wonderful. It was an amazing movie and I am sad that I hadn’t seen it sooner. Pick the movie up or watch it on Netflix instant, it is well worth your time. It is a longish movie but doesn’t feel like it drags. I definitely recommend The Sting.

Zoe: My first solo movie was The Town, written and directed by and starring Ben Affleck. Also starring Jeremy Renner, Rebecca Hall, Blake Lively and Jon Hamm.  The premise is simple: Affleck is the brain behind a group of bank robbers in Boston and Hall was a victim at one of the robberies, so Affleck “meets” her to see if she’s going to talk to the FBI (Hamm).  He of course falls for her / decides to reform.  There is a lot of stuff about poverty, drugs and the bonds of brotherhood.  Say what you want about Affleck as a leading man (often overrated, but not here), he writes a mean script.  The themes were incredibly subtle and the acting was never over the top or too pouty.  I especially enjoyed Blake Lively’s small role, and Jon Hamm was unexpectedly badass.  The ending went slighty… Reindeer Games (that’s for you, Matt), but it wasn’t completely out of step with the rest.  The ending might’ve been better, but I’m not sure exactly how.

Justin: The Town is one that got decent reviews and is in my netflix queue. Sounds like a good movie and Affleck can deliver a decent role now and again. Anyway, my second movie was kind of in-between the other two movies. It wasn’t fantastic and it was horrible. I decided that since I was going old school with one, I would stick with that theme and watch another older movie. So, I decided upon The Italian Job. The original one with Michael Caine and because it had Michael Caine in it I thought I would enjoy it. However, it takes more than one good actor to make a good movie. The film itself wasn’t bad. There were some funny parts and for a movie it moved along with the story real well. It was hey let’s do this heist, ok get some guys together, now we are performing the heist. I think my major problem was, I had seen the newer version with Mark Walberg, Edward Norton and Charlize Theron, just to name a few of the great actors in the film. I don’t remember much but I remember there was enough comedy and action to keep me interested. The older version just seemed lacking and I have to say may be one of those that the remake was actually better. Then came the ending, I won’t spoil it for you but let’s just say it was rather disappointing in a way. Compared to The Sting, it was just alright. If you are looking for a movie to watch on a Friday night, there are worse routes to go than the original Italian Job, but there are better as well.

Zoe: My second solo thing wasn’t a film so much as the television series “Breaking In.”  It’s about a bunch of young people lead by an AWESOME Christian Slater, who runs Contra Security: they basically try to impregnate various security systems to find its weak points and then fix it.  The main character, Cam, has a crush on the con artist, Mel, who has a grade-A lame/douchey boyfriend, Dutch (played super-greatly by the former Lex Luthor, Michael Rosenbaum).  The show unfortunately lasted this one season, and I kind of understand why.  The basic set-up is pretty simplistic and it has a limited arc before it has to get really dramatic or really silly.  But I enjoyed its movement and the dorky characters, and the excellent over-the-top boss.  It was fun and amusing, and I’m sorry it’s done now.  Good thing “Leverage” and “Covert Affairs” will start up again soon for the summertime!

Justin: I need to catch up with “Leverage.” I watched the first season on Netflix Instant and remember the cast being amazing and the story line well done. Good to know that there are some decent shows around for the summer time.

Zoe: So what is the genre for next week?

Justin: Well I was thinking we would change it up a bit for next week’s post. Instead of watching a bunch of movies I though that you, your husband Matt and myself could partake in a round-robin story writing exercise.

Zoe: Sounds like an awesome idea.

Justin: Yeah, I figured since we are all interested in writing and you and Matt being semi-professionals it would give us a chance to just have some fun. The basic concept is that the three of us will all write part of a story one after another.

Zoe: I don’t think we should tell the readers who wrote what and have them guess the author of each section.

Justin: I like the way you think!

Zoe: Why thank you!

Justin: Anyway, that is it for us this week. We are sorry that this is coming to you a little bit late. Although I am sure you all aren’t really that surprised. What can we say it has been a busy first half of the week.

Zoe: Umm I think you actually just slept Monday night and were to lazy to do anything.

Justin: Shhhh, they didn’t need to know that. Have a great night everyone.

Zoe: Bye and see you next week.

“I’d give her a HA! and a Hi-YA!”

Justin: So, let’s get right to it today, shall we?

Zoe: Wait, no clever intro this time?

Justin: Well I had an intro in mind, but it doesn’t translate well onto paper.

Zoe: It can’t be that bad.

Justin: Well it had to do with those old kung fu movies you would always see where the dubbing just didn’t quite match up with the actors’ mouths. Wanted to do something like that.

Zoe: You’re right; that doesn’t translate onto paper at all. That’s okay though, we have plenty to talk about with our first movie this week.

Justin: This is very true. So this week Zoe and I decided to watch a couple of foreign films involving martial arts. The movie that we watched in common was Ong-Bak: The Thai Warrior. This movie was absolutely ridiculous.

Zoe: That is an understatement. Now Ong-Bak is about a small-town guy who’s awesome at martial arts (the awesome Tony Jaa), and the head of the sacred statue in his town gets stolen.  So he goes into the big city, gets a few sidekicks, and goes on a boxing / fighting spree against mobsters to get it back…  Yeah.  Did I do all right explaining the premise, Justin?

Justin: Seems about right. It wasn’t that hard to grasp. To be honest, this film in all its awesomeness literally seemed like one fight scene after another. Almost looked like an audition tape for Tony Jaa. You really didn’t have to even listen to what the actors/actresses were saying. It was a very simple movie with a lot of kick ass Muy Thai choreography.

Zoe: Hell yeah it was.  Some movies suck awfully at just being all fight and no plot, and yet, this movie kept me entertained the whole time.  I mean, plenty of movies try to have “intricate, twisty” plots with lots of action and fail spectacularly; and some of those are so awful they’re good.  But this movie is just solid entertainment.

Justin: What I found even more amazing was the moves that Tony Jaa was able to pull off. I couldn’t believe it when you told me that there were no stunt doubles or wires for any of the scenes. Some of the jumps during a chase scene were incredible. That is probably what made the film wonderful to watch. Who cares about a complex story, did you just see the move that guy just pulled off? I can’t remember the number of times you and I both were like, “THAT WAS INSANE!”

Zoe:Absolutely!  It’s just as cool as watching sword fights and expert car chases.  I’m always just super impressed with what people can do.

Justin: It is amazing what people can do. It is like watching the guys at the beginning of Casino Royale pull off those crazy stunts using parkour or recently I stumbled across an old Bruce Lee audition tape for the Green Hornet. The speed that Lee exhibits is unreal. You can see the audition on Youtube HERE. Anyway, what did you watch this week for your solo movie?

Zoe: I watched Wong Kar Wai’s Ashes of Time Redux.  It was… confusing.  I actually looked up the plot on Wikipedia to see if that would make it better, or less confusing.  But no.  I know Wong Kar Wai is relatively non-linear and more… existential than focused on anything story-driven, but this was a bit over the edge for me.  Frankly, the Netflix description lead me to believe it was going to be like an arty director doing a period piece about swords-for-hire.  Instead I got this weird movie where I wasn’t sure what sections were flashbacks or if they even were flashbacks.  All these long, slow takes, cheesy voice-overs, bangs fluttering in the breeze…  I honestly got really bored while watching it.  The fight sequences were short and just messed with so that the people were blurry and bad-artful.  (Good-artful in this genre: Kung Fu Hustle, baby!)  I didn’t care about any of the characters, the worst kiss of death.  Sigh.  Did you have any better luck in your first solo movie?

Justin: Yeah, Wong Kar Wai’s movies are like that. They are always beautifully done, but at times you just go, “Huh?” Although I will say that I love his American debut film, My Blueberry Nights. Anyway, this week I went in complete opposite directions with my two solo films. Let’s get the semi-bad film out of the way first. I am not sure how to describe this first movie other than just plain weird. It was call RoboGeisha and I picked it solely because it looked bad. This movie had everything: robots, giant robots, sword fights, gun fights and all the gore to go with it. Hell even the buildings bled, which I found quite odd. The acting was not that great and the dialogue was meh. With all that said, I would totally recommend it. It had me laughing out loud several times throughout the movie, just for the stupidity of the dialogue or action sequence. For example, there was one scene toward the end where three “enhanced” Geishas were fighting with swords that came out of their asses. I kid you not, they were sword fighting with their butts and all you can sit there and do is laugh your ass off at how ridiculous it looked. It will never win an Oscar and never be a epic film. RoboGeisha was just fun and something to watch on a lazy afternoon where no thinking is involved.

Zoe: That sounds messed up, dude.

Justin: Most definitely, but fun none the less.

Zoe: Okay, I’m not going to lie.  I didn’t watch a second movie.  I can talk a lot about why I love martial arts movies, whether it’s in American or foreign movies, if you want.  Do you want to talk about your second movie first, and then I’ll comment?

Justin: Tsk tsk tsk, yes I guess since I am the responsible one I can talk about my second movie.

Zoe: Hey!  At least I didn’t lie and just pick one of the billion movies I’ve already seen!

Justin: This is true, at least you’re honest, a slacker, but honest. Anyway, my second movie was entitled Ichi. It is about a blind girl who is a kick ass sword master. She is on a journey to find the blind master that trained her. She soon meets up with a man who starts to follow her after she saves his life while he is in fact trying to save hers. They wander into town and after another battle with a bunch of thugs, who she quickly disposed of, the town is convinced that this gentleman is the true swordsman and asks him to be their bodyguard against the ruthless band of thugs who control the town. As you can imagine trouble soon follows. Compared to RoboGeisha this movie was done beautifully. The fight scenes were well done, the dialogue was decently polished and the story line made sense. It is one that I would watch again. Only the next time I would try to find one that wasn’t dubbed. I would much rather read subtitles than watch the words not quite line up with the mouth of the actor. Some day Netflix Instant will give us that option. Other than that it was a great film and I would recommend it to any martial arts movie fans. Ok Zoe, now you may proceed.

Zoe: Why, thank you.  There a lot of reasons that I like Asian martial arts movies.  The first has already been mentioned, the physicality.  I admire the skill and the dedication, and as someone who danced for a long time, I really appreciate the dance-like choreography of the fight scenes, with or without weapons.  (In fact, Ziyi Zhang of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon began as a dancer.)  Also, even if the plots are crazy and there are sword arms coming out of butts, I think that these kinds of movies do a way better job of putting three-dimensional characters and emotionality into action movies.  And they are artful in the way they look; the cinematography is well-done, the costumes and the sets are interesting and really textured, and the special effects don’t whomp you over the head or ruin the experience in any way.  These are things that American movies REALLY aren’t good at doing at all.  It’s either all wham! bam! fists flying! no brain required! or there’s no fighting at all.  Do you agree too?

Justin: I totally agree. It is for those reasons that movies like Hero, House of Flying Daggers, and The Curse of the Golden Flower are amazing and some of my top films. I would much rather have a well choreographed fight scene that lasts four minutes than a whole movie where it is just people punching each other for the whole two hours. Another good example of this was the recent movie The Warriors Way. The action scenes in there were sporadic and most of the movie wasn’t action. Which isn’t what you would get from seeing the trailer. However, there is one scene where the hero and the love interest are practicing their sword fighting by moonlight that just stands out in my mind. Like you said, the cinematography and choreography along with music just brought this scene together in one nice package.

Zoe: So how do we end this?

Justin: I don’t know… (Mouth still moves but no words come out)

Zoe: Nope still not the same affect on paper as it is on screen. But to save you from further embarrassment, I will end this right here. Please remember to comment below and if you have any suggestions on genres for us to look at, please let us know.  Have a great night everyone.

Justin: Goodbye and see you next week.

Batman or “Screw Superpowers, I Have Money”

Awhile back I promised to do a post about Batman and then never did. Then Zoe and I did a post on Superhero movies and I once again promised to post about Batman. If you are an avid reader you can see that never happened as well. However, fear not because this week you shall get your Batman post. For all of you who are going who cares about batman, (blank) superhero is better, well then I hope batman comes to your house and punches you in the face. Because honestly who doesn’t love Batman.

I could bore you with the long history of Batman, because it is a long one. He first appeared in Detective Comics #27 and was the creation of Bob Kane and Bill Finger. Honestly though if you really want the complete history of Batman, you can do a Google or Wikipedia search. It is a long history considering he has been around since 1939. He has had several sidekicks, more than a dozen or so villains and god knows how many spin offs. As with most Superheroes his story has its gaps. Although, his origin story is pretty stable compared to most. His parents get killed, he sees a bat, and decided to take up the cowl and become Batman. Now depending on which version you read where and how his parents get killed changes a bit, but it is pretty consistent. Ok enough of the back story, most of you know this already. Let’s get to the meat of this post.

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Most people know of all the movies or TV series that Batman has appeared in. Starting off with his portrayal by Adam West in the Batman TV series where the words “Pow” and “Bam” flashed across the screen with each punch to the villains face.  Although according to Wikipedia there were actually two serial Batman films in the 1940s. See you learn something new every day.  However, most people these days are introduced to batman in film one of two ways.

In 1989 Tim Burton made the well known Batman film with Michael Keaton.  Then he made a second film, Batman Returns, and that is where the story of those films should have stopped. I have no problem with these first films. Burton’s weird imagination and Keaton’s portrayal of Batman brought together a grand performance. Then the franchise decided that they wanted more money and spawned two more hideous films. I apologize if you enjoyed Batman Forever and Batman & Robin, but these films should have been locked in a vault or burned after the first screening. The Batsuit should never have nipples.

The other way that people are introduced to Batman is through the superb new trilogy by Christopher Nolan. Batman Begins brought back the darkness that was Gotham City. It was a great film that showed the start of a legend. It was to be topped by the second film The Dark Knight. I think what really made this film was Heath Ledger’s portrayal of the Joker, who is one of the most psychotic villains in the DC universe. Heath did an amazing job bringing the Joker to life. With such a grand performance and movie, I can only hope that the final film, The Dark Knight Rises, will end the series well and doesn’t go the way of Batman Forever.

Now, let’s talk about the animated versions of Batman. Growing up one of my favorite shows was “Batman: The Animated Series”. Out of all the animated series that I’ve seen this is by far one of the best and my favorites. This may be due to the fact that Mark Hamill voices the Joker in the series. That’s right Luck Skywalker voices one of the most sadistic villains and is amazing at it. Hamill is in my opinion the best voice of the Joker by far. Anyway, I have seen episodes of “The Batman” and was never really impressed with it. It just didn’t have that same appeal as “Batman: The Animated Series”. Then a few years ago, I caught another series on TV and was also disappointed. “Batman the Brave and the Bold” shows Batman teaming up with other heroes from the DC realm. However, once again it just wasn’t the same as what I’d grown up with. I know a lot of this has to do with nostalgia. I usually try to keep an open mind when watching a new series, but how do you top something that was great. Now, with all that said I will say this. I enjoyed “Batman Beyond.” This series takes place well into the future when Bruce Wayne has retired being a hero and a new character picks up the cowl. What was nice about this was it was a “different” batman so it didn’t give me the same expectations that all the other batman series had.

I have seen some other animated films with the dark knight. Batman: Mask of the Phantasm was a spin-off of “Batman: The Animated Series.” It was a decent film and if you are a fan of the animated series will enjoy watching. Another animated film is Batman: Under the Red Hood. I would highly recommend this to any fan. It was well written and the art work is wonderful. Out of the animated films it is by far one of my favorites. Unfortunately I followed this film up with Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman. This film has a very different feel in terms of art and story.  It reminds me more of the new animated series that are out. It was an okay story, but since I had just watched Under the Red Hood it was kind of a letdown.  Finally, I will end with Batman Beyond: The Return of the Joker, which brings back Mark Hamill as the voice of the Joker. What more do you need from an animated Batman film. It even throws in a nice little twist at the end for your viewing enjoyment.

I am sure I’ve left out a ton of great films and animated features. I didn’t even touch upon the comics. I am always looking for something new, so please comment and tell me anything that I might have forgotten. Also, for those of you with a twitter account I recommend you follow @God_Damn_Batman. It is a hilarious feed for those fans of the character.

So there you have it, a post about Batman, a short one at that. This is a little unusual for this blog, first for everything right? Anyway, I am sure that after all the hype it probably doesn’t live up to it. However, like I said before, I hope that it starts a discussion below. Tell me why you like Batman or why you don’t. If you have a favorite superhero let me know. Tell me what I should and shouldn’t watch. Tell me which comics I should read. Being the huge nerd that I am, I am interested in it all. I hope you all have a great weekend. The sun is shining in Ohio for the moment (finally). I am looking forward to getting out an enjoying it.