Sunday, August 31, 2014

the Wicker Man

The sun went down and I grabbed Marie to watch it with me for her first time. I've seen it a bunch of times and love it. I pick up new details each time. More dialogue, more nuances.

I think the acting is even better than I remembered, too. Subtle and convincing.

The air of conspiracy is harrowing. The pagan gods vs Christian god is interesting. The film does a good job at holding up a mirror to the absurdities of all religions, pantheistic as well as monotheistic. It's truly a great horror film. No monsters. No blood. Just the most evil creature of all...mankind. Mankind and superstitions. Fuckin a. A nightmarish combination if ever there was one.

The way the film is told through music is actually pretty cool. It's only as campy as you let it be. If you absorb yourself in's just part of the story. Part of the village. It's an interesting storytelling technique to employ for a horror film especially.

Marie was digging it until the final chapter. The actual wicker man sacrifice. Just too grounded in reality for her these days. Torture and religious persecution and whatnot. It's pretty grim. Very well acted, though.

I still love it. The Wicker Man is a very unique, haunting, horror film. Just how I like em.

How he didn't succumb to her seduction is beyond me.

Eyes Wide Shut and the Wicker Man: creepy masks, creepy films.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Eyes Wide Shut

Marie left for the night so I had quite a few hours to myself. I decided to watch one of the 3-ish hour movies I have on deck. Papillion, the Great Escape, and Eyes Wide Shut. I ended up with the latter because I was in the mood for something dark. And nobody does "dark" better than Kubrick.

It's not a common opinion to hold, but Eyes Wide Shut is my favorite Kubrick film and one of my absolute all time favorite films, period. Ever. In the world.

I bought a Starbucks, waited for dark, and popped in the disc. I have the double-disc Director's cut. It's fucking brilliant.

I saw this in the theatre and it's a film I definitely like to revisit periodically. It blows me away every time. Tonight was no exception. I grow fonder of it with each viewing, same with Taxi Driver.

Tom Cruise is a dude who's ruined his career and credibility with his Scientology nonsense. But when I watched this flick I didn't see Tom Cruise. I saw Dr. Bill. Cruise's idiocy went right out the window (thankfully) and I was instantly absorbed into Kubrick's world. Cruise does a phenomenal job portraying his character, and moreover portraying a Man. I liken it to Bill Murray's performance in Lost in Translation. Those two examples are just amazing representations of a man's psyche. It's an instant connection and self-recognition when you watch both actors in those flicks.

Manliness aside...the score is exceptional. It's beyond creepy. It's beyond tense.

Colors are lush. Editing is great. Definitely some Hitchcockian nods to both. I see some Vertigo in the color for sure. And just general Hitchocockian approach to psychological visual story-telling.

I have the screen-play. Picked it up at a garage sale. I need to read that still.

Anyway, Eyes Wide Shut is a masterpiece of suspense. It's a fucking masterpiece.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Pumping Iron

I just watched Pumping Iron. I'd never actually seen it the whole way through, just clips here and there.

It's a really cool snapshot in time as it follows the 1975 Mr. Olympia competition. It's a pretty superficial documentary that is more like a band's tour diary than anything else. You don't really get into anyone's psyche. It's just light-hearted banter between various body-builders. You actually don't learn very much at all. So from that perspective it's a failure. But on the is entertaining. So you gotta give it that. It'd be worth it for Arnold's "cumming" monologue alone.

Arnold comes across like a bit of an arrogant douche. No surprise there. Ferigno comes across as a simple child.

The best part about it is the motivation factor. You watch it and you want to lift hard. That's all there is to it. It's a 90 minute pep talk. It'll be fresh in my mind when I hit the gym tomorrow.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

People Who Eat Darkness

Who isn’t fascinated with Japan? The place is fucking insane. I’d love to go one day and soak in the soba noodles, bask in the glory of neon lights, sex toy vending machines, and bosozoku. I want to feel girls’ boobs on the subway on my way to the tearoom filled with cats. One day…

Anyway, I can’t remember how I came across People Who Eat Darkness. GQ maybe? Or a recommendation on Amazon? Regardless, I just read through 450 pages pretty freakin fast. I  inhaled the book in a matter of days. It was gripping stuff. It’s a true story about a young, hot, English woman who goes missing in Japan. 

The author was an expat reporter who covered the case from day one. He cobbles together years of personal interviews and experience to bring this story to life. It’s a pretty well-rounded book covered many aspects of the girl, her family, and her assailant. I don’t want to go into much detail cuz that’d spoil things. It’s a mystery, a hunt, a court case, an ethical nightmare, and a variety of twists and turns. 

The Japanese are so bizarre. So über nationalistic, so introverted, so polite, yet so unique, extroverted, and fucking bananas at the same time. They’re uptight and they’re over the top. It makes perfect sense. It’s the same logic in Detroit. The city sucks so bad that it compels people to try that much harder to be awesome and kick ass. The shittiness fuels the awesomeness. Great adversity builds character and innovation. Japan is the same. It’s so repressed, so stoic, so culturally codified that the only logical reaction is to take every form of rebellion to the extreme. It’s the land of tentacle porn. 

I’m getting off topic. I don’t read a lot of true crime cuz I genuinely don’t like dwelling on something heinous that actually happened to someone. I’d prefer if it was fictional. But I took a chance on this. And I don’t regret it. It ruled. 

Learn about salarymen and hostesses. Learn about the Japanese judicial system. And see how the actions of one man can have a radical, irreversible impact on the lives of many. For the worse. 

If you read one true crime murder mystery this year…this is the one.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Meat is for Pussies

JJ, you gotta love him. You don't always have to believe him, but you gotta dig his stories. You've probably read Evolution of a Cro-magnon, JJ's bio. If not, go do it! Order that shit now!

Meat is for Pussies is exactly what it says it is; a book on getting fit, kicking ass, and taking names.

JJ lays out his argument for eliminating animal products from your life. He's 54 and is constantly doing Ironmans and triathlons, etc. The dude is in great shape and he's been vegan for most of his life.

This book is engrossing. It reads just like his bio. It's blunt. And it's pretty lowbrow, let's be straight. It's an honest book that dispels common myths about eating meat, protein, and whatnot. He interviews and cites a plethora of different vegans throughout the book. They come from all walks of life. They all have their own stories and achievements to tell.

He lays out fitness plans, there's a cookbook aspect to it, and there's a scientific aspect. He has some pretty generic quotes from the likes of Thoreau and Einstein peppered through the book. Nothing very deep or unique as far as that goes.

But the important thing is that it works. The book makes you question your choices. You can't deny what he's saying and it motivates you. It's the good kick in the ass that you need. It's funny, but it also makes you stop and order 9 grain bread with Earth Balance spread instead of white bread with butter.

It's going to stick with me for a while. I'm already changing my habits. I strongly suggest you read this book. At the very least you'll find it a quick, funny, entertaining read. But hopefully it affects you on a deeper level and you stop and think before you buy some processed food shit or cook a chicken.

Meat is for pussies.

the Walking Dead: Volume 21 All Out War Part 2

I was really looking forward to this one. It looked like they'd got themselves in a pretty fucked up position by going to war with Negan. I wanted to see how it all panned out.

Another good book in the string of good books. I think The Walking Dead would definitely be more powerful if you read an issue per week. But since I read the TPB's I have to wait and there's too much time between each one. You have to play catch-up each installment.

One day I'll read them all again from volume 1 through whatever. There certainly doesn't seem to be any sort of end in sight for the series, though. We'll see what happens. I like doing that with Preacher, for instance.

It's a bit of a surprise ending. Another cliffhanger. It's a unique situation. Let's see what Rick does in the next issue...

Conan: Volume 15 the Nightmare of the Shallows

The story of Conan and his lover, Belit, continues in Volume 15 of the Dark Horse books.

Couple different artists in this tome. Dug the first one more. I prefer when Conan's treated with more realism, rather than with an abstracted comic-book style approach.

This one is closer to a return to form. Writing was good, but I'm just not into reading about Belit this much. Part of the attraction to me is that you never know what's going to happen. What kind of crazy ass predicament will the young warrior find himself in. What woman will he bed? And will he decapitate? I prefer to think of Conan as someone who doesn't really fall in love. I'm not into humanizing him. I want him to scale 200 ft walls with his bare hands, climb through a window, and bang a king's daughter or something. Then do it all over again in a different town, with a different daughter, facing a plethora of magical beasts along the way.

Anyway, this was pretty good. I really need to buy that Robert E. Howard Conan anthology.

Next TPB I want to see more decapitations.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Burning Rubber

I got into F1 this year. And I've been hooked. It's brilliant once you start to understand the rules and the details behind it. And there are a lot of rules and a lot of details. It's crazy shit.

I've been a fan of racing movies for a long time, but it wasn't til now that I made the leap from watching movies about LeMans and F1 to actually watching the races and following the teams. One of my co-workers told me to stop by his desk one morning. I did so, and he handed me this book. I immediately put it on deck and started reading it as soon as I could.

Burning Rubber is a great read. It charts motor racing's origin, pre-FI, and then takes the reader on a journey from the inception of the championship up until the 2009 season. It's comprehensive. Exciting. It's all the best bits from 1950 onwards, all rolled into one. Charles Jennings is witty. The book is obviously factual, but Charles doesn't mince about. He'll throw in his commentary, his opinions, and take his digs at people. I felt like his chapter on Senna was a bit nasty, though. Almost like he wanted to be contrarian to everyone who holds Senna on a pedestal. Expose some nasty bits or something. Anyway, it's one man's opinion. And it's a very entertaining opinion at that.

This is a fascinating read for anyone who considers themselves a petrolhead. Even if you've never watched an F1 race in your life...if you love cars and love going this book.