Tag Archives: music

Close Encounters of the Third Kind: My Father’s Take

Finally, here’s the long awaited post from my Dad for his Father’s Day present. Enjoy!

On the surface, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, released in 1977, is a story of how three individuals’ lives become intertwined when some possible alien ship encounters are experienced. Roy, an electric company engineer in Indiana, has a growing need to understand if he is crazy or if he has really received a message from the aliens. Jillian, a single mother from the same area of Indiana and her three-year-old son have received the message too and the aliens have apparently taken a particular liking to the little boy. The final character is Frenchman Claude Lacombe who is part of an international team both reaching out to the aliens and investigating the people the aliens have affected.

It would be easy to say I like Close Encounters because it is a Steven Spielberg movie. He both wrote and directed the film, and it was early on in his career when I feel he had a great child-like sense of wonder in his storytelling (E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Empire of the Sun). I also think he was enjoying his time saying, “I really get a big budget and get paid for having fun?” I could say I like the movie for the gifted John Williams score. I could discuss the symbolism of communication like languages (French, Spanish, Indian, English), physical interaction (radar, toys, sign), and art (music, painting, sculpture) to show that even humans have a hard time so why do we think the aliens could easily get their message across. I could say I like the 70s costumes – which weren’t costumes at the time but who would have put Teri Garr in a short yellow nighty and robe with earthy clogs – brilliant!! And I do think the special effects are good with the alien ships, the clouds, the lighting, the sandstorms, etc. I guess the problem I have is with the aliens. Why are there three different kinds of aliens so vastly different from each other?

My favorite part of the movie is the hero portrayed by the everyman who has been tapped for an adventure – Roy Neary. Despite his obstacles – like his beautifully portrayed dysfunctional family, like everyone thinking he is crazy, like his own belief that he is on the edge of sanity – he faces his fears, does the right thing, and is rewarded in the end. Richard Dreyfuss, who had been acting at this point for over 10 years but hadn’t had a great deal of recognition except for his role of Curt in American Graffiti and Hooper in Stephen Spielberg’s Jaws, is fantastic in this role. He shows anger, wonder, insanity, happiness, and despair. He gets to be in the action sequences – driving in the chase, driving cross country, climbing the mountain; being interrogated by the “bad guys;” saving the girl. He deals with the mundane – his son’s math homework, kids that want to stay up late (watch for a great quote – “I told them they could only watch five commandments), a boss who doesn’t want to talk to him, and a wife who cares for him but can only take so much. And he does it all while trying to figure out his purpose in life. He gets the Oscar nod from me!

So do yourself a favor, when you don’t feel the need for extreme action or extreme thought but want to play with your mashed potatoes, play in the dirt, and watch a great actor having a great time with a great script, get lost in the wonder of Close Encounters. It is better than Goofy Golf or Pinocchio. I give it a 9.9 out of 10!

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Romeo Must Die

In what was considered Jet Li’s breakout American performance, I was a bit disappointed. (I personally though Lethal Weapon 4 really showcased a lot more skills…) The plot is just a crude, urban sampling from Romeo and Juliet. There were minimal stunt/fight scenes. Overall it wasn’t as action packed as the cover had led me to think. I guess I should’ve

An awkward couple?

expected half-assed amounts of martial arts from the director of Exit Wounds, Doom, and Street Fighter. Thanks a lot, Andrzej Bartkowiak…

Let’s just examine the plot to get a what bothers me about this movie. Two warring families. You have the Sing family, led by Ch’u Sing (Henry O). Then you have the black family led by Issak O’Day (Delroy Lindo. He’s that intelligent black man you see in a lot of films as a stock character actor. The smart version of Ving Rhames.) O’Day? What kind of last name is that for a black mafia family? And when have black gangs ever organized like the mafia in the first place? Weird…

This is the second time in a film I’ve seen a guy throwing a girl around…

So yes, I get the two warring families with Jet Li and Aaliyah in the middle. They don’t really love each other at first and you never get that onscreen chemistry from them. Never even a kiss. Just a hug. What I find weird is that they shot the kiss scene (that could’ve been placed anywhere in the film) and they chose to cut it out. Racist anyone? The screeners said it was awkward… Hmm…

Anyways, Jet Li is Han Sing, escaped from a high security prison in Hong Kong. He creatively escapes during one of the cooler fight scenes in the film, but how does he escape the country and make it all the way to Oakland? There is a real lack of police interference in this movie… Aaliyah is a beautiful young actress who (after watching this and The Queen of the Damned) really was taken too quickly from the

It’s all about the shades for Wong.

silver screen. She wasn’t like other R&B actresses onscreen who kinda flaunted their sex appeal. She came across as the cute girl next door you could believe and fall in love with. (Not so much in The Queen of the Damned, but just as good in that movie too.)

A beautiful and tragic young actress.

So Jet Li makes it to Oakland to discover something fishy going on with his father’s gang enterprise. His brother Po (Jon Kit Lee) has been murdered and Han Sing is on the case to find out what happened. (He used to be a police officer. Jackie Chan anyone?) The two star crossed lovers meet (if you can call them lovers) and their families war around them. With some betrayal and only the slightest bit of martial arts, this movie comes to its conclusion: happy ending.

But it wasn’t such a good ride to the happy end. Coming from a 2000 film, the ghetto speak was tired and old. If I had watched it when it had came out, I might be saying something different. But all the dawg’s and yo’s really wore on me… especially when the Chinese gangs used that slang, AND if showed up in

Some of that minimal martial arts.

their subtitle translations for some strange reason… I don’t think they have that kind of slang in the Chinese language…

And how racist this film was! It wasn’t just the speech, it was the music. Sure you have an all star cast doing the R&B hits for all the black gang scenes, but when it comes to cutting over to a scene with Jet Li or someone in the Asian gang, classical oriental music. The clangs and bows of what every person in America hears when they go into a Panda Express. There couldn’t be an infusion or anything more original for both gangs? This movie just seemed like a compare and contrast of races. The only crossover was that some black gang members miraculously knew proper Karate/Wushu form for no reason. Fancy that…

Get your head around that…

The acting was fine and I had no major complaints about that. But for some reason, and I don’t know how to put it into words, Anthony Anderson (co-star of some of the Scary Movies… and Kangaroo Jack…) just rubbed me the wrong way. He wasn’t funny, and seeing him get his ass handed to him by Jet Li just seemed satisfying… Overall though, the whole movie put me in a sour mood. I’ve seen better from Jet Li. This movie is one of those Asian/American films that takes the whole action/martial arts thing for granted. It sickened me a little bit. It was just too dated for me. They should’ve changed the title too… Romeo Must Die? More like A Vague Racist Action Movie About Building A Football Dome. There you go, all fixed. 4.3 out of 10.


A Film With Me In It

Leave it to the Irish to create such a dark and twistedly funny take on Final Destination meets the saddest of all losers who has to deal with it. A Film With Me In It is the story of Mark (Mark Doherty, writer and brother of co-star David O’Doherty) and how his career as an actor is really never going to take off. This gives an ironic sense to the title of the movie, based around an actor I’ve never heard of and a lot of my readers may have never heard of. From the very beginning, Mark Doherty’s acting comes off as quiet and reclusive, mixed with a hell of a lot of timidity. Mix this with the violent actions of the film and you have one of the funniest U.K. films I’ve ever seen.

A little more about Mark, the character. He lives in a small flat with his old arsed dog, and his completely catatonic brother in a wheelchair,

Mark, the fall guy.

David (David O’Doherty, his actual brother, as I’ve already said. The O’ makes all the difference). Being an actual comedian, it’s funny to see him not be able to say a damn thing throughout the whole film. Residing with him in his small and rundown flat is his girlfriend, Sally (Amy Huberman). She’s sick of everything that needs to be repaired and basically wants to leave Mark. Living in the same building is Mark’s alcoholic and gambling addict friend, Pierce (Dylan Moran). Fulfilling his role as the stereotypical Irishman, he’ll go out and drink, try and become a playwright, and end up at the races.

This may look familiar to another film…

Mark’s apartment is a deathtrap. The lights barely work. The window to the garden is a pair of slapped knuckles waiting to happen. Everything wobbles and creaks no matter what they try and do. And their landlord, Jack (Keith Allen) refuses to help repair anything until the rent is paid. With Mark being an out of work actor, there’s not a witch’s teat in Hell that he can ever scrape up enough dough to even fix the light bulb eerily flashing in the kitchen.

And that’s where things start to become a problem. A rising body count and a lot of individuals sticking their noses in where they don’t belong causes Mark and his “accomplice” Pierce to have to create a scenario in which all of  these “sequential accidents” cannot be blamed on the two of them. With a quick wit and a lot of dark comedy that comes from body removal, these two dig themselves a grave. Can they even get out?

That silly O’Doherty doesn’t get to say a thing.

I sincerely loved this movie. I was laughing constantly at Dylan Moran’s lines of sarcastic pessimism and Mark’s inability to respond in any way. There are a lot of tragic things that happen in this movie, and its almost hard to laugh at some of them. The measures these two have to go to is well beyond absurd. It comes up to the point of downright cruel. But what the two get out of it is a great script and some ideas that could potentially make them criminals for life.

And there was such an eclectic cast in this film! There are the Doherty/O’Doherty brothers, one of whom is a comedian. The other, more of a sick joke comedian. Even Dylan Moran is a comedian. Keith Allen has done everything from music to movies, stand up, and writing. Aisling O’Sullivan is a renowned Irish actress that takes the part of the sweet small town policewoman (AKA Garda). Round that out with a sneak appearance by Jonathan Rhys Meyers and you have yourself a wonderful little cast of simple comedy.

There’s some serious criminal activity going down.

This movie is dark. And I’m talking pitch black. There’s death, dismemberment, and not a heavy tear shed for anyone but the dog. A man down on his luck and it gets so much worse is hard to watch onscreen, especially when he just takes it. You need some sort of silver lining for a character like that. Well don’t you fret, there is one. And it may be the best little shiny cloud you’ll see all year. I was thoroughly wrapped up in this movie and its characters to the point where I would give anything for them to get away with it. If you wanna know what happens, you should definitely watch this film. You might find yourself loving it as much as I did. Although, this movie wasn’t one with me in it. 9.7 out of 10.

 

 

 

And here’s a little taste of what you’re getting into.

 


Deadman Wonderland: This Ain’t Your Average Alice…

This show was ridiculous. Not exactly a fall through the rabbit hole, but this was a wonderland all its own. Ganta Igarashi is not your typical Alice and there’s no white rabbit to lead him along his way. With a endless repertoire of  metal instrumentals and scenes of excruciating death, this show comes almost as close as Metalocalypse does with its protagonists, Dethklok. In some ways it almost goes farther. Pretty scary, right?

This show is sparked all by one little middle school massacre. A mysterious Red Man (if you remember way back when in my reviews, kinda looks like Skull Man) comes bursting through the window of Ganta’s school and kills all of his classmates. And you know who gets blamed? Ganta. Put on a trial and given the death sentence, Ganta must attempt to survive the Hell on Earth that is Deadman Wonderland.

And I would venture to guess that Deadman Wonderland is worse than Hell. There are dog races in which any participating runners have to dodge death in all forms and only one can survive to win cast points. Cast points are the

The Deadman Wonderland Prison. Fun, huh?

currency in which an inmate can buy and survive in Deadman Wonderland. It is especially important to gain cast points (not magically nerdy, mind you) so you can buy Candy. Candy are capsules of disgusting sweets that counteract the poison in your metallic neck leash. So despite being on death row to be executed, Ganta has to attempt to survive, every day.

Are we all really just prisoners of life? (Joke)

Inmates, other than being subordinate to the guard staff, are given free reign to destroy each other. Ganta is constantly in fear for his life, being a scrawny middle school midget with quite a rap of offenses that would piss most guys off. And it’s not only that. The Red Man Ganta encountered bestowed some strange crystal upon his chest that allows Ganta to use what are later referred to as Branches of Sin. This use of the blood as a weapon become quite helpful with Ganta’s “body type,” but the fallback (as there always is) is that Ganta has to fight in Carnival of Corpses (pronounced by the Japanese as Cannibal Corpse. Coincidentally, songs similar to the huge body of work Cannibal Corpse has created play during these fights) which could kill him at any moment. It just looks so promising for Ganta doesn’t it? You’ll have to watch to find out.

The voices of some of the characters are fantastic. Romi Park, famous voice actor of the Japanese version of Fullmetal Alchemist, Edward Elric, is a bit whiny, but gets the job done as Ganta. Tsunenaga Tamaki is wonderfully twisted and done by Junichi Suwabe. And finally, Senji, the badass, ripped Branches of Sin fighter Crow, is admirably done by Masayuki Katou. I was overall impressed.

Now let’s talk about that animation quality. It’s dark and bloody. Very

Pretty sick, right? Good old Red Man

reminiscent of  Metalocalypse. I guess that’s why I liked it so much (look for this review in the coming months). The fluidity of the blood coursed throughout the veins of this sadistic fighting sci-fi anime in every scene. With more swearing than I’ve ever read in any subbed anime, I gotta say it was ridiculous to hear bleeps in Japanese. With other problems that probably cut this show short to 12 episodes, its unfortunate that the show was cut so abruptly short. But it ended in a way I didn’t expect either.

The realest.

Azuma Genkaku (Toshiyuki Morikawa) was a fantastic way to end it. Tying the whole metal music themed anime together, Azuma wields an axed guitar that allows him to supersonically bend the Branches of Sin wielders to their knees. His tragic past is explored and brought to the forefront to end the show (an unfortunate end, both for the show and Azuma) although I found him to be one of the most compelling and interesting  characters in the show. With nothing certain and a future in Deadman Wonderland ahead, what will happen to little “Alice” Ganta? Check out this show, it’s definitely worth the horrific watch. A solid 9.7 out of 10.

What will happen "down the rabbit hole?"