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i return, with the last five movies i’ve watched.

Needless to say, the blog challenge seems to have gone the way of the buffalo. I just haven’t had the brain space this last week for consistent blog writing, and I just missed so many days. Still, it does seem the this jumpstarted me back into blogging again, so perhaps it will remain semi-regular. I’d like that, because even if it is a huge waste of time, I enjoy my little stream-of-consciousness ramblings here.

I guess a ‘Last Five Movies’ post is a good way to get my brain juices flowing again, rejuvenate the mind-grapes if you will.


1. The Do-Deca-Pentathlon


This tiny little movie by the Duplass brothers certainly isn’t perfect, but by the end, I was really glad to have watched it. It had a sweetness, and enough insightful moments to carry its forgivable (in my opinion) weaknesses.



2. Killing Them Softly


I really wanted this movie to work to a higher degree than it did. It was good, don’t get me wrong, but it could have been really special.

The performances were really fantastic, straight across the board, and director Andrew Dominik showcased those talents with some really engaging monologues throughout the film. I’d understand if people thought there were too many, but I felt that it seemed to work as part of the style of the film. The movie also had some beautiful shots and filming sequences scattered throughout.

Where the movie did fall short for me was in the way Dominik tried to tie it all together using the American economic crisis. The forced metaphor just got too heavy handed, didn’t hold up, and then you lose the glue he was trying to use to keep the whole thing together. It would have worked better as a subtext, but instead we just got repeatedly beaten over the head with it.

Again, there really are some fantastic moments, and I’d love to watch those a few more times, maybe without sitting through some of the sloppier bits again.

Sometimes, less is more.


3. Hitchcock


This was just sort of flat and uninteresting to me. Touching on deep personality issues and psychological baggage, without actually engaging them. There is some really dark stuff half depicted, and then just glossed over as if it is no big deal. I guess either don’t depict, or actually engage it, otherwise you just look confused, no? They also did a lot of hinting at his brilliance without actually revealing some concrete places it manifested. They failed the ‘show don’t tell’ test. There was also a constant cartoonish feel that isn’t really appropriate for this sort of biopic, it was just illogical for the subject matter. It worked really well in Ed Wood, but in soooo many ways, this was NOT Ed Wood. 

Among many things, the primary thing I didn’t understand was the score. You’d think the score would either be influenced by Pyscho, or by the tone they were trying to set with Hitchcock. Instead, after an opening scene that used the music from Alfred Hitchcock Presents, the rest felt like it was from a family movie about a haunted mansion or or a bad remake of Bedknobs and Broomsticks. Weird shit.


4. Oblivion


Far from perfect, but a solidly entertaining summer sci-fi movie. The things I could nitpick aren’t really things I need perfect in a summer blockbuster. After all, there are different movies made for different reasons, and we should embrace that for what it is. If the weaknesses were fixed, it would have elevated Oblivion from pretty good to spectacular, but pretty good is enough for me in this case. It’s really beautiful to look at, it’s smart as long as you don’t pick it apart too thoroughly (fair enough if you do), and brings together lots of sci-fi tropes in ways that aren’t particularly deep, but are pretty fun.

Also, M83’s score was satisfyingly and unsurprisingly epic.


5. Easy Money (Snabba Cash)


So, most of these movies I’ve basically said are good but not great. Well, here is the exception. No reservations, this movie is just great. A really well-told story. The acting is fantastic, which is important, since these characters are always toeing the line between sympathetic and unsympathetic. It is largely the performances that keep them human and keep us caring what happens to them. The direction and cinematography is also really beautiful, the pace is perfect, the film is quiet in the right moments and explodes at just the right times, it hits all the right notes… I really liked this one.

A really, really spectacular crime drama filled with thrilling and heartbreaking moments. I could have just watched the movie twice on repeat.

Now they just need to release the sequel in the US!


zombies, run! 2.

qfyeBVCA full ‘Zombies, Run!’ post has been a long time in coming. The time is now, and this is the perfect week for one, because they’ve just released ‘Zombies, Run! 2’. So far, the second version appears to be a massive upgrade for an already outstanding app.

‘Zombies, Run!’ is a smartphone app available for iPhone and Droid in which your jogs are accompanied by a fictional zombie apocalypse that adds just enough extra fun and motivation that it could just be what gives you that extra push you need to get off of your ass and run.

I started using the app when I realized just how fat I was getting, combined with the fact that all research shows that regular exercise is really good for helping with depression. This was last May, and since then I’ve run around 370 miles (it would have been even more if not losing two months to illness), and lost over 20 pounds! I can’t overstate just how out of shape I was when I started.

When I bought the app, I was hesitant to spend the $7.99 it was going to cost me. That’s a lot for an app! In hindsight, based on how helpful the app has been, I would have paid $40 or $50 happily. I’m not exaggerating. The app has been that important in helping me keep going out there consistently, helping me build the habit that now can sustain itself without the app’s help. FYI, right now the app is on sale for $3.99!

The app includes all of the features a normal running app features. It keeps track of distance and time, maps your run, syncs with a website you can use to track your progress on your computer, etc.

What ‘Zombies, Run!’ offers that other running apps don’t is extra gamification that turns boring runs into mini-adventures. With a solid voice cast, the folks who created this game have written an episodic story surrounding Abel Township, a small group of survivors trying not to succumb to the zombie plague. You are Runner 5, a newcomer to Abel who has to prove yourself and earn your keep, running outside the town gates to collect resources, lead zombies away from town, and complete other various missions, all with your trusty guide Sam Yao speaking into your headset from the communications tower.

The game also includes an interval training feature called ‘Zombie Chases’. When turned on during a run, there will be random moments when you are alerted that zombies have been detected in the area. You then need to pick up your pace to get away from the horde. If you speed up enough for the right duration of time, you escape the zombies. If not, then you need to drop supplies to distract them, which isn’t something you want to do.


You need those supplies, which you will “pick up” randomly as you run, as they are used to keep improving Abel Township. The base building feature on the new version of the app is so much more fun than the original, and it appears they’ve got some tricks up their sleeve that will create enhanced importance for how your base will impact your runs.

Season One of the episodic story had 23 episodes, and Season Two promises to feature more than double that when you include new side missions. The new season will include some free episodes, and some that require purchase, and all will be released over time in truly episodic fashion. I bought access to the entire second season as it becomes available  for five bucks, but that is half price, and will go up after this week. Definitely worth it to me.

Even if you aren’t into zombies, you should consider getting this app. It’s not scary, just fun, and is largely responsible for for me being in wildly better shape than I was this time last year, with even more improvement on the horizon!

Hooray for Zombies, Run!


quick hit.

There’s bad news, and there’s good news.

The bad news is: I’ve missed two days blogging. The good news is: I’m the one in charge of my blogging challenge, so I get a free pass! I’m just going to blog twice in a day a few times and call it good. Not today, mind you, today I’m only blogging once, because I have a shit ton of writing to do elsewhere.

I’m behind in my entire life right now. It’s been one of those weeks where I get eight hours of sleep every three days instead of getting eight hours a night, and it’s been a string of those weeks. I just can’t get myself jumpstarted again. Hopefully, I’ll sleep tonight, and then I’ll pack your sweet, pink mouth with so much ice cream, you’ll be the envy of every Jerry and Jane on the block. And by “sweet, pink mouth” I mean “mind-grapes”. And by “ice cream” I mean “blog posts.” You like that? References!



random items.

Even blogging every day, there is stuff I haven’t gotten around to sharing. Here are three things I want to share, some from recently, one from today. I’ll slip these things in here under the wire, and throw some more belated stuff up in coming days.

The National’s new music:

The new album doesn’t come out until fricking May 21st (the same day as Daft Punk), but, at least they’ve released two streaming songs to hold us over.


Catching Fire has a teaser trailer:

Color me excited!


The Way, Way Back Trailer:

Jim Rash (Dean Pelton) and Nat Faxon (Kip from Orange County), the guys who co-wrote The Descendants, are back again with a great cast, and a movie I wish came out tomorrow. Have I mentioned how much I love Sam Rockwell?


why i missed yesterday.

Oh no! I missed yesterday. Personally, I’m ok with it.

Being sick all week, I got pretty behind on house cleaning, which made yesterday even busier than it normally would have been as we prepared for my rescheduled birthday celebration. Totally worth it. I made twenty-something cocktails for my friends (and me) and everyone seemed pretty pleased with them, or they pretended to, which is still nice. I really enjoyed making drinks for everyone all night, so this won’t be the last Small Family cocktail party.

Before this lapse I blogged at least once a day for 28 days, and now I’m ready to get right back at it.



which tv shows should i watch next?

Compared to most, I don’t watch that much television. I don’t mean that in some sort of douchey and superior way. As this blog makes clear, I actually really love good scripted TV. There is plenty of TV that is smart, heartfelt, funny, moving, and/or engaging. The problem I sometimes have with television is never in a “only the stupid and low-cultured folks watch TV” sort of way, but is rooted far more in the trouble with trying to carry ongoing serial storytelling, which is really hard for writers, as evidenced by great shows that have terrible episodes, and even terrible seasons.

Anyway, there are so many shows I need to catch up on, revisit, and try on for size. So many, in fact, that I don’t even know where to begin. Thus, I come to you, my friends out there in the internets, to help me decide. I’ve got some time to figure it out. The next few months could get a little crazy school-wise, and there are some shows I’m only a few episodes behind on that I will polish off first. However, soon, many of the shows I do watch will be over, and school will no longer be a part of my life. Thus, even though I probably won’t start any of these shows for several months, I’m looking ahead for three primary reasons: one, coming up with a plan of attack will make it easier to tackle the mountain of TV waiting for me; two, looking forward to this will help keep me going through the school work; and three, I love doing dumb shit like this.

Basically, there are a few categories of shows that I want to watch. The Unjustifiably Unfinished: the shows I started, loved (or at least liked), and for whatever reason never finished. The ‘Why The Hell Haven’t I Watched That Yet?’: the shows I’m pretty confident I’ll enjoy, some are even undisputed classics, but for some reason (or no good reason) I never got around to watching them. The Curiosities: the shows that could go either way, but that I really need to check out some time (or in one case, give another chance).

Hopefully, a few of you will vote to help me decide which ones to watch first. Hell, a select few of you may even decide to join me in watching some of them. Anyway, here are the options, and the numbers mean nothing. [I left off a few non-negotiables, that I know for sure I will be watched over the next few weeks/months.]

The Unjustifiably Unfinished:

  1. Breaking Bad
  2. Dexter
  3. Bored to Death
  4. Californication
  5. Battlestar Galactica
  6. Six Feet Under
  7. Deadwood
  8. Veronica Mars
  9. Chuck
  10. The West Wing

The ‘Why The Hell Haven’t I Watched That Yet?’:

  1. Twin Peaks
  2. The Sopranos
  3. The Larry Sanders Show
  4. Boardwalk Empire
  5. Red Dwarf
  6. Black Adder
  7. House of Cards (US)
  8. Veep

The Curiosities:

  1. Supernatural
  2. Wilfred
  3. Misfits
  4. American Horror Story
  5. The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret
  6. Fringe

Well, what say you? What should I watch first from each of these lists? Help me prioritize!



warriors with iron fists and urbanized attraction syndrome. [the last five movies, 4.9.13]

I did a ‘Five Things’ recently like this, and I enjoyed it, so I decided to make it its own thing. A short rundown of the last five movies I’ve watched.


1. The Warriors


I’ve got to admit, this movie was pretty entertaining in a terribly cheesy 70’s kind of way. Sexist, and at times otherwise offensive, but not so much that I thought it wasn’t worth my time. It’s one of those cult movies I’d never seen, so it was fun to watch it and finally get a ton of references (from shows like Community and Archer) that I’d never been able to place before.

** Spoilers From the First Fifteen Minutes Follow**

I think the premise is actually pretty great. The Warriors are a small but respected gang in a near-future (that is, the near-future of the late 70’s) somewhat post-apocalyptic New York. The city is run by a bunch of hilariously over-the-top gangs, including a group of guys who wear face-paint, dress in baseball uniforms, and carry bats (no, seriously).

Anyway, The Warriors represent Spike Lee and Yasiin Bey’s Brooklyn and run Coney Island. They’re invited to a summit, during a city-wide cease-fire, where nine representatives from every gang in New York are being drawn together by an enigmatic leader with a new proposal to unite against the police. Here are the spoilers… said leader is assassinated at the meeting, The Warriors are wrongfully accused, and they have to make their way across the city while every other gang in New York tries to hunt them down. Take that plot, add in the cheesy absurdity, make a bunch of guys try to act tough while dressed like members of The Village People, and you’ve got an entertaining way to spend 90 minutes.  


2. The Man with the Iron Fists


Sweet sassy-molassy. This movie was terrible. I thought it had a decent chance to be at least mildly entertaining. Written by the RZA and Eli Roth, directed by the RZA, produced by Quentin Tarantino. I thought that at the very least it would embrace its inner schlock and wink at itself from time to time. But, no, it was earnest, and horrible.

Was someone lacing the RZA’s weed with something stronger? Seriously, this movie had nothing at all to recommend. When it was trying to be funny, it was painful. When it was trying to be serious, it was… well, not even funny, just even more painful. I literally don’t think there is another way the movie could have failed.

Meh, they can’t all be winners.


3. The China Syndrome


I would never have watched this one were it not for iCheckMovies, specifically the AFI’s ‘100 Years, 100 Thrills‘ list. It’s the story of a human interest news team no one takes seriously who visits a nuclear power plant and inadvertently witnesses a major incident, then shit gets really cray.

Michael Douglas and Jane Fonda are great in the film, but the really remarkable performance is Jack Lemmon. He’s so great!

Sure, the film stretches credulity a few times, but The China Syndrome is underrated historically and should get far more respect.


4. Fatal Attraction


Apparently, this list is brought to you by Michael Douglas. Two out of five.

This movie is famous enough that everyone knows what it’s about. Glenn Close’s performance lives up to the hype (she is terrifying), the movie is tense even if you are familiar with the iconic scenes, and it has probably legitimately kept men from having affairs (Glenn Close is that terrifying). Whatever your sexual mores might be, this film does point out the reality that when you have sex with strangers, try to at least make sure they are sane. Otherwise, you have no idea what sort of shit you might activate in their brains. Remember the words of George Bluth, Sr. “Never promise crazy a baby.”


5. Urbanized

urbanized_poster2This documentary about the current state of and future possibilities for the cities of the world, as populations continue to explode, is both depressing and inspiring. There are some truly remarkable people innovating and dreaming of what the future of cities can look like, and it’s a beautiful thing. Cities are the future whether you like it or not. However, we need to start cooperating with these innovators, or else within the next 40 years, over half of the world’s population will live in terrible slums. The documentary looks at things seriously, but shows that there is real hope to be had. Still, it can only whet one’s appetite to learn more, it can’t possible get into the details needed to truly understand the insane complexity of urbanization.



at least ‘mad men’ is back.

Spending my whole birthday sick and most of it sleeping sucked. One of the few highlights was that Mad Men is back. How are we fortunate enough to live in a world where Game of Thrones and Mad Men return within the same eight days?!? Such great dramas, and the two hour season premiere of Mad Men didn’t disappoint me one bit. It was full of the foreboding imagery, the quiet desperation, and the same remarkable truth uttered in small moments. My favorite example from this week: “People will do anything to alleviate their anxiety.” Yep, that’ll preach.

Mad Men (Season 6)



movies in theaters. [things i want to do in 2013.]

Already, some of you lovely folks have offered to help out with some of the things on my list. I will most definitely be taking you up on those offers, many times over.

In that spirit, one of the primary places I could use some buddies is in the theater-going habit. Perhaps it seems silly to create a goal pertaining to how many movies I will go see in the theater, but I like it. Going to the movies the old-fashioned way is something that easily slips through the cracks, something that I seem to let slide and won’t do for months at a time. However, I also know that when I finally get there, it is good for my soul.

Seattle's Cinerama
Seattle’s Cinerama

It was first at movie theaters as a kid where I fell in love with movies to begin with. There is a magic in sitting in community (especially when one is fortunate enough to be graced with a great co-audience), as the lights go down and the previews roll that cannot be recreated in the living room, no matter how great the home entertainment system. Indiana Jones and the Last CrusadeThe Little MermaidJurassic Park, and Robin Hood: Men in Tights are among my early theater memories, adding extra power to the movie-watching experience. As far as audiences go, I know there are films I enjoyed more because of how great the folks in the theater with me were. It’s pretty great when you find yourself watching a movie with a few hundred other people who get the same subtle jokes and love the same moments. Wonderful.

Anyway, it’s a lot harder to get myself to the theater when I have to do it alone. I’m way behind the needed pace to see the 36 movies I aim to see. I’m not against going to the movies alone, but it is far easier to get my ass to the theater if I have partners in crime.  

So, are there able-minded folks out there willing to join me in some movie joy?

Here are ten movies coming up in April and May that I want to catch in the theater (not including films that came out before this weekend):

  1. Trance
  2. Upstream Color
  3. 42 
  4. To The Wonder
  5. Oblivion
  6. Mud 
  7. Iron Man 3 
  8. The Great Gatsby 
  9. Star Trek Into Darkness 
  10. Before Midnight