Goemon : Pirate Ninja (movie review)

I was wandering through the new flicks on Netflix this weekend when I ran into this listing.

Based on a Japanese folk legend that echoes the tale of Robin Hood, this ninja thriller follows the exploits of Goemon Ishikawa (Yôsuke Eguchi), who leaves his fighting clan after its chief is murdered and uses his skills as a thief to help the poor. But after learning the identity of his leader’s killer — the traitorous XXXXXXX (Eiji Okuda) — Goemon sets out on a bloody path of vengeance, joined by his loyal friend, XXXXXXX (Takao Ôsawa)

[note: I XXX’ed a couple spoilers there.]    If you have a Netflix account, or want to sign up for the free trial, you can do so here and watch the movie.

So…why this movie review and a blatant advertisement for Netflix?   Umm, this movie is the most ninja thing I’ve ever seen.   For someone who thought the concept of a Robot Pirate Ninja was pretty cool, seeing a movie about a Pirate Ninja is a welcome experience.   Double that with the knowledge that they nailed the general attitude (as evidence by the titular character) and dedication one must have for this kind of work, and this movie is already nearing the limits of potential awesomeness.

Tell that whole story over a backdrop of action and effects that brings to mind both Dragonball Z and 300, and you’ve got a winner in my book. An epic one.    There were probably five or six scenes in this movie where the only appropriate response is, “Oh wow, that’s sooo ninja.”

So if you enjoy watching ninjas wreck shit on screen, and have been waiting for a (mostly) live action feature focused one how totally freakin’ ninja one guy can be, Goemon is the flick for you.

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I’m Still Trying to Come Up With a Title for My Book

I just thought of another good one, “Philosophy is an Action.”

If anyone has any suggestions, please let me know.  I’ve already written down some predictions of what people will think of it, and I want to check my work.

Joel, you first.  🙂

The Dark Bailout (and Joker vs. Joker)

Here’s a couple quick mash-ups made from “The Dark Knight” and Heath Ledger’s soon to be legendary performance.  When I rent a movie, I might watch it once before returning.  This one I’ve watched at least 3 times, and will probably *gasp* by a $.015 piece of plastic for $20 just to have a copy laying around.

Anyway, here’s the goods…

And the Joker v Joker one, “Whens Clowns Collide”.  This took some serious editing, but did a great job making something new out of something old.

The Greatest Movie Speech EVAR!!!

This is some good editing.

If you need to get fired up, this is two-minutes and fifteen seconds of hella awesome.

found over yonder.

Regarding the tags… there were three I didn’t know, two right after Sean Connery does his thing, and the one right after Hoosiers…I think I got the rest (with slight googling on a couple titles).

UPDATE: Finally got the St. Cripin’s day speech movie.  I can’t believe I missed frickin’ Shakespeare’s version of the pep-talk.

Still not sure about the woman hitler(!?) one and the one right after that.

I did love seeing “The Dark Knight” as a “Newsie” though.  Good stuff, great flick.

Neurons in Action (more on Obama and Blognitive Dissonance)

via

Ran across this while doing some background research for that book I’m writing (which is going very well, thanks for asking).  Yea, I know, too much blogging, not enough writing.  I’ll get back to it.  This whole cognitive/blognitive dissonance thing has been fun to explore.  What is happening in the physical realm of the brain is a willful act of self-preservation.  Neurons that should, by all rights of logic, fire in a certain direction and with a certain amount of emotional weight, are re-directed to the trash bin (no attached emotional response) and no new, dissonant, memories can be formed from new information.

To see this in action, read some of varied conversations with the “Obama is not really an American” crowd.  They can, somehow, completely ignore evidence presented directly in front of their eyes, and replace it with evidence that exists only in their heads  (rumors and allegations vs. actual documents and sworn statements by public servants).

I find the physiological (electrical and chemical)  aspects of this phenomena and the degree to which the brain tries to protect itself, fascinating.  This is why I try and have patience when dealing with sufferers of the condition.

A good example of this behaviour in a great movie is the conversation that Andy Dufresne has with the Warden in “The Shawshank Redemption.”  Andy has solid proof, and a sworn statement, that someone else committed the crime he was convicted of.  The Warden will hear none of it,  throws Andy in “the hole” and kills the witness.

Andy (Stephen King) nails the exact word I have used to describe this before, when he asks the Warden, “Why are you being obtuse?”

Well, Andy, there’s your answer.  The Warden was doing it to protect himself and his livelihood.  That’s a powerful motivator for a lot of people, and when all they have to do is ignore evidence and can find many others to bolster their assumptions, there’s a great deal of emotional baggage that must be overcome before progress can be made.

Most can’t make the journey, and cower in fear of the truth.  Telling themselves all along they are walking the righteous path, and ignoring every street sign that says otherwise.

UPDATE: For a good example of this, read this thread.

Movie Review: Indiana Jones and the Stupid Alien Artifact

I avoided this movie in the theatre.  I even refused to buy it, or rent it myself.

I remember seeing a Southpark episode about Steven Spielberg and George Lucas going around raping everyone as a metaphor for this movie.  I didn’t think it could could be that bad.

I’m glad to admit, and this doesn’t happen very often, I was wrong.  Boy, was I wrong.

The metaphor of raping an American icon and making them say they enjoyed it is *exactly* what this movie was.  Where the hell did Double-O Indy come from?  Aliens?  Really?!  That’s the best you could do?

Anyone remember that part in the movie where we go from Indy being chained up to being nice guy to the crazy man?  Yea….and then crazy man comes back…and…and…there’s just so much stupid, stupid crap in this movie.

There’s a scene I recall that was particularly cringe-worthy.  Shia LeBouf (please….can he go to rehab or something for a couple years…maybe find himself….this exposure thing…it can go too far) is straddling two jeeps cruising at about 30 or 40 through the dense jungle (yea…rape).   Anyway, as he’s going through the blatantly foreshadowed rapier-battle with a paycheck-cashing Cate Blanchett, he starts to get repeatedly smashed in the groin with the underbrush.

That’s what watching this movie felt like…being repeatedly smashed in the groin with large bits of foilage.

And the worst part about it…the absolute most nasty thing….I frickin’ smiled at the end.

Maybe I was just glad it was over, and I could now apply some salve to my wounds.  I had watched an icon (Indy) get trashed by an icon (Ford) at the direction of other icons (Lucas, Speilberg).    No wonder idol worship has been banned since time immemorial.  It always leads to sadness.

Move Review: There Will Be Blood!

Just a quick review on this one.  It was nominated for a bunch of awards and I had wanted to see it for some time, but didn’t get the chance until this weekend.

It is a very deliberately paced and honestly told story of a oil-man in Southern California.  It goes through the trials and tribulations of drilling a well and brining it to market, with all the blood and gore that such an undertaking can often entail.  The grittiness of the story and the brutal honest of the film-making are a testament to the inspiration of the story, Oil! by Upton Sinclair.

It was only when I became aware of the originator of this story that I finally “got it”.  To be honest, I burst out laughing when I saw at the end of the movie where the story had began.

I won’t go into any spoilers, but I will say that There Will Be Blood! is not a normal dramatic movie.  Those waiting for a particular act that exists in most movies will be left waiting a long time in this one.  That is because this is not a normal dramatic movie.  It is a two-and-a-half-hour parable.

And when you watch it like one, it makes a whole lot more sense and serves its purpose nicely.

NOTE: the book and the movie are only loosely related, as this review reveals.

It should also be noted that I was reminded to write this review by the Southpark last night [Episode Whatever Where Cartman Gets His Ass Kicked By A Girl (Wendy)] which ended an epic struggle with an homage to the movie.  Nicely done, gents.

It’s a Blue Planet, Although It *is* Snowing on Mars

Vote Obama or McCain: Global Electoral College | The Economist.

There’s a nice application over at the Economist that gives a feeling of how the world would vote if the concept of the United States’ “electoral college” was exported to the entire world.

Unsurprisingly, they favor the guy who is more their color.

Which is to say, blue (and off-white, to be honest).

To briefly extend the red-state/blue-state metaphor to one of global proportions, I would much prefer we live on a Blue Planet rather than a Red Planet.

The Blue Planet is beautiful and awe-inspiring.   Yes, sometimes vicious and cruel, but no more than is necessary.

The Red Planet is a planet of war and conquest (and a horrid movie).  It is a planet of heroes and tragedies.  Right now, however, we’re learning circumstances there are much stranger than previously thought.

September 29, 2008 (Computerworld) Forget trying to find evidence that there used to be water on Mars. Scientists from NASA said today that its instruments on the Red Planet have detected falling snow.

While the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has been circling the planet, the Phoenix Mars Lander has been sitting on the northern pole of the planet for several months, testing Martian soil samples for any materials — including water-ice — that could support life. A robotic arm on the lander has dug up pieces of ice, and the orbiter has sent back pictures of what look like old fractures in the planet’s surface, and trails of waterways.

Scientists today added to that mounting list of scientific Martian discoveries with evidence of falling snow. “Nothing like this view has ever been seen on Mars,” said Jim Whiteway, lead scientist for the Canadian-supplied Meteorological Station on Phoenix. “We’ll be looking for signs that the snow may even reach the ground.”

[full story]

I think the metaphorical implications of this latest discovery are quite revealing.  A planet (or politician) once thought to represent all that was glorious in war, is actually kind of cold and crying on the inside.  The sadness never quite makes it all the way out, and the devils of the past remain evident, yet the full picture piques curiousity more than respect.  We end up feeling more of a distant pity than a searing loyalty.

And so it is with the man who wants to lead a Red Planet, as the global poll numbers would suggest.

The Astronaut Musk

SpaceX has made history. Its privately developed rocket has made it into space.

After three failed launches, the company founded by Elon Musk worked all of the bugs out of their Falcon 1 launch vehicles.

The entire spectacle was broadcast live from Kwajalein Atoll in the South Pacific. Cameras mounted on the spacecraft showed our planet shrinking in the distance and the empty first stage engine falling back to Earth.

As the rocket ascended, cheers rang out during every crucial step of the launch sequence, and at the final stage their headquarters in Hawthorne, California erupted in excitement. (Wired.com viewed the launch over the Internet on SpaceX’s live webcast.)

The tensest moment came just before stage separation. At that critical juncture, the third launch attempt had failed. This time, it worked out perfectly.

Eight minutes after leaving the ground, Falcon 1 reached a speed of 5200 meters per second and passed above the International Space Station.

“I don’t know what to say… because my mind is just blown,” said Musk, during a brief address to his staff after the successful launch. “This is just the first step of many.”

SpaceX Did It — Falcon 1 Made it to Space | Wired Science from Wired.com.

Here’s the video of the launch.  It’s pretty spectacular.  I especially liked watching it in fast-motion after the rocket left the atmosphere (and the oxygen that burns so brightly).

The title of this post is a reference to the movie “The Astronaut Farmer” (the pun being his name is “Farmer”), which I happened to watch this morning, after seeing this story this weekend.  In that movie a former almost-astronaut dedicates his life to going into space.

In the movie, this obsession almost costs him his wife, his ranch, and his life.  And because it’s a movie, things mostly work out in the end (after the requisite film-drama).   A decent movie, overall, what I thought it did well in particular was illustrate the strains that obsession with an outlandish personal goal can bring to a family.   Why am I talking about this movie, and this aspect of it in relation to the story about a geek-gone-rich then goes-to-space?

Because that same journey wasn’t without personal cost…..

yes, divorce

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Sep. 13th, 2008 | 09:28 am

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I am getting divorced. We had a good run. We married young, took it as far as we could and now it is over. That’s about all I can say for now, other than that it was a very sad and very necessary decision.

To be clear here, I have no personal knowledge of the events leading to the post involving the former Mrs. Musk, nor do I know that it was “el otra mujer” that led to the breakup.   I was just struck by both the sameness and the difference between the real world we all actually live in, and the fake one that hopes to inspire real world dreams.

Movie Review: Pineapple Express

As someone in the target demographic for this movie, I’m was hoping to enjoy it a good deal more than I did.

Even going to the Inwood Theatre here in Dallas couldn’t save my movie experience, and that includes chilling on couches and drinking a cocktail.   I can certainly see how some people (i.e. young teens) will think this movie is cool simple for the subject matter.  I can understand that, but as a more grizzled veteran of the scene I didn’t really see much to spark interest in his movie.

Sub-plots got discarded, nothing really ever came together, and much like the waste of time that was “The Happening”, every retarded theory put forth by the protagonists turned out to be not only exactly correct, but later corroborated by other characters.

This was a movie that couldn’t quite ever find it’s own level of reality.  Was it a real world they lived in?  Or some comic version where people get executed multiple times and keep coming back?  If it’s the latter, why not use that as a comic device?  If the former, why does Red live forever?

I dunno about this one.  I didn’t even read much hype but I’m officially done with the Apatow/Rogen genre.  Guys, take a couple years off, write a real screenplay that you actually thought about and then film that.

Movie Review: Gonzo: HST on the Screen

Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson (2008)

Rated R for drug and sexual content, language and some nudity.

Not to mention a few subversive themes, some seriously whacked out thoughts and a cultural revolution that failed….mostly.

Overall I really enjoyed the re-mix/documentary. It’s not like HST hasn’t been covered before in film. Heck, Bill Murray covered him in 1980, and there’s Johnny Depps now evidently spastic portrayal of Thompson in “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas”. So he is no stranger to the film (or even comic book treatment) and as such has officially reached cultural icon status. This status was further cemented with his totally predicted and threatened for 20+ year suicide. When your son calls your suicide a touching family moment, you know you’re talking about a special breed of cat.

Ultimately the thing I found most worthwhile about the documentary was the live footage of Hunter doing his thing. It does, quite obviously, expose Depp’s portrayal a wee bit over the top. Thompson, the man, kept most of his meltdowns on the inside and the fact that most people felt he could hold his drugs like no other makes the floppy and stumbling performance of Depp seem overly comical.

He most certainly was a victim of his own success and his story demonstrates how difficult it is to stay consistent as an outsider when the first signs of success quickly propel one to the center of the circle. When one’s main gift is to tear apart the system from the outside, once one is firmly implanted in the middle, there’s naught left to do but party.

Which he did. Until he died.

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Rating : 7.8 out of 10 for documentaries. It was a bit slow at times, although that could have been my fault. In a strange twist of fate, this was the first movie I saw with mind unaltered in years.

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Trailer