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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 



things i want to do in 2013.

I suppose April is a bit late to start sharing the stuff I want to do in 2013. Better late than never? Every year I make a list of stuff I want to try to do over the course of the year, that way I can look at it from time to time to offer me some motivation to get cracking on my goals as the months pass by.

Some are purely story based, i.e. movie or book related. Some are more concrete and harder to accomplish. They aren’t vague resolutions, like “Get In Shape!” Instead, they are specific, like “Run a 10k” and “Run a 24 Minute 5k.”

I’ve decided to share the list with you, because that will add a bit of added impetus to get this stuff done. Some are personal, but whatever, here’s to throwing caution to the wind! I think I’ll offer more specific updates eventually, and go a bit deeper into a few, but for now, here is the list so far:

  1. Read 52 Books [As of this writing, I’ve read 14.]
  2. Finish My Integrative Project
  3. Complete My MDiv
  4. Watch 250 Movies [I’m behind on this one, 62 as of this writing.]
  5. Find a Way to Afford Therapy Again
  6. Start Blogging Consistently Again [Check!]
  7. Finish ‘Trigger Fiction’
  8. Run a 24 Minute 5K
  9. Run a 10K [Did this for the first time last week.]
  10. Try to Publish Something
  11. Finish Writing a Novel
  12. Organize The Basement [It was in rough shape, but I’ve made really great progress so far!]
  13. Come Up with a Legit Halloween Costume, Also, Attend or Host a Big Halloween Party
  14. See 36 Movies in the Theater
  15. Actively Work to Get Medicated [In process, but there’s definitely been an improvement!]
  16. Attempt Karaoke
  17. Get Weight Back Into the 160’s
  18. Buy a New Suit
  19. Master Five Cocktails, Along With Their Common Variations
  20. Run An Officially Timed 5K
  21. Work Full-Time [Conventionally or Unconventionally]
  22. Complete Two+ DIY Projects
  23. Host Six Parties and Six Dinners
  24. Leave the Continent [We’re going to Scotland and England with Em’s family in July.]
  25. Finish Patronizing All Downtown Ballard Restaurants

There are a few things I want to add, things related to concerts and whatnot, but for now, there is the 2013 To Do List. I also made one for my 30’s for my birthday last year, so I’ll share that one soon, too.



only god forgives. [trailer park.]

Danish filmmaker Nicolas Winding Refn’s films are extremely beautiful, and extremely violent. I really love the way Refn sets up every single shot, and how his musical choices at once complement and contrast with each scene. He also gets really amazing performances from his leading men. Thus what made Drive one of those films I just couldn’t get out of my head, it stays with me still. It’s a film I’m sure I’ll see many more times to come. It captures me in so many ways, none of them comforting. My response to Drive is here.

I’m really excited that Gosling and Refn have teamed up again, and the trailer appears to indicate another film that is both remarkable, and difficult to watch. Gosling looks like he’ll be as perfect in this as he was as The Driver.

Now, if only Gosling and Refn would team up yet again, while also bringing back Tom Hardy (who was amazing for Refn on Bronson).



the books of march.

2013-04-03 23.21.51

March’s reads were all pretty light, as it was a busy month in a number of other respects. The good news is, the books were all enjoyable to varying degrees.

The Raven Boys I’ve already written about. The Peculiar is an imperfect yet impressive debut by a kid who started writing the book when he was sixteen. The Age of Miracles is a coming of age story set at the end of the world. Siddharta is a lovely story marrying western psychological concepts and eastern spirituality. And I decided to read Alice in Wonderland to check another classic off of my list, it had a delightful British wit that made the story more enjoyable than the adaptations I’ve seen.

Hopefully I can get through an even better pile in April!


before midnight.


As film franchises go, this one is pretty special. Before Midnight marks the third film in the series, and continues the trend in which a new film comes out every nine years. Each installment gives us another brief glimpse into the lives of two characters who met on a train and spent an evening in Vienna in Before Sunrise

They are both highly praised films, but Before Sunset is the one I really love. Seeing these two people trying to come to terms with who they are as adults, even people as successful as these two characters, wondering about the gap between who they dreamed they would be and who they are actually becoming… and the pain and honesty in the two lead performances is just so wonderful. These really are two of the smartest actors in the business. The films are also beautifully filmed and directed as well. The writing is sharp, and the lead actors actually improvise a lot, too, making the dialogue really natural and genuine. I’m so excited for the third film.

If you haven’t seen the first two films and ever plan to watch them, I’d recommend skipping this trailer so it doesn’t spoil anything.