Saturday, January 30, 2016

The Girl on the Train

Marie picked this book up when we were up north, if I recall. It was described as a Hitchcockian thriller, and I LOVED the typography on the cover, so I figured I'd give it a read after Marie.

I wouldn't call it Hitchcockian. Let's get that out the way. The characters are a far cry from anything Hitch would have created. But that aside, I found it a worthwhile read. It really built and built to a satisfying crescendo. The last 100 pages really picked up the pace and the final 50 were total edge of your seat stuff.

Enough characters and twists, but not too many. It kept you speculating, but didn't serve up so many red herrings that you just threw your hands up in defeat or frustration. A very easy read. Very well paced.

The thing that struck me right off the bat was how feminine the writing was. I gravitate towards male authors, just as Marie gravitates towards female authors. Sometimes it can be a jarring change when you read the opposite. The first couple pages seemed unlike anything I'd read in a long time. The characters were from a totally different perspective. I wouldn't like to read a lot of what I would deem overtly feminine writing, but it's good every once in a while. The problem is that it's less relatable as a man. But I got used to it and it stopped being as noticeable or as 'problematic' as I quickly got into the story. It's just interesting to see the differences. A man would have written this story very differently. Not better, just different.

It seems like the kind of novel that would adapt really well to a movie...and lo and behold it's already been shot and is due for an October release this year. I'll watch it.

If you like mystery/suspense/thriller type of stuff, then this is definitely worth a read.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Cool Hand Luke

God damn, this movie is so fucking good. It's been a couple years since I've watched it I really felt in the mood for it the other night.

Right off the bat you know it's awesome because of the editing and cinematography. Sam O'Steen edited the likes of Rosemary's Baby and Chinatown, so that kinda speaks for itself. It's incredibly artistic and evocative. Powerhouse Lalo Schifrin provided the score. Top class collaborators.

I'm sure you've seen Cool Hand Luke. Incredible performances by the whole cast. It really is a timeless, flawless movie.

The interesting thing that came to my attention this time was a lot of the religious aspects. Cool Hand Luke is famed for its Christian symbolism. If you do some research on the web you'll see a lot of people interpreting it as a very affirmative movie promoting God and denouncing the worship of false idols. But I've also read a review proposing that it was the ultimate rejection of God. And it was all about being an individual. Of course, you see what you want to see. I prefer to view it as the latter. A monument to self-reliance and absolute rejection of the Christian mythology. But the truth is that it's probably the former stance. Who cares. The themes don't get in the way of the brilliance of the story and the way it's told.

Hard not to put this in the top 10 movies ever. Gotta be a contender. The car washing scene with Lucile? Gimme a break. You're RIGHT THERE with the prisoners. You're going nuts. It's amazing.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

On Any Sunday: The Next Chapter

So I already wrote about On Any Sunday: The Next Chapter about a year ago. PJ brought over the blu-ray and I checked it out. However, since we started up a new season of Motorcycle Movie Night, I decided to share it with the whole group.

We watched it on the Chief's glorious big-ass TV and it looked fantastic. It's a very visually stimulating movie. It's got a real chill vibe. Very Cali. Very down to Earth and friendly. The Browns are big on the positive and familial aspects of motorcycle culture. It's not about 1%s and 'freakin' out the squares.'

There's some very inspirational footage of disabled and deaf riders absolutely tearing it up way harder than I'll ever accomplish.

I'm not gonna write much more about it cuz you can just click the link above and see what I wrote the first time around. It all still holds true.

Life of Ryan

I followed up Class of '92 with Life of Ryan. It's a very similar documentary that tracks Ryan Giggs' ascension to management after David Moyes was sacked with four games left in the season. Giggs ran the show for four games and then as you know Rudy van Gaal took over. Although he's about to get sacked now, too, right? Jose Mourinho tipped to take over? I'm out of the loop. Too much time on F1.

Anyway, it seems like it was made by the same company as Class of '92. Not sure if it was. Can't be bothered checking. The Cantona interview is the same one.

This is very revealing. If you're into football then this is a great peek behind the curtain. Check it out. If you don't like football then you'll find it boring.

Monday, January 18, 2016

The Class of '92

I just saw this pop up on Netflix along with a separate Ryan Giggs doc, which I'll watch, too.

This doc recounts the special story of six lads making their way through the Manchester United youth program and all becoming stars in their own right. They eventually go on to win the treble in '99 and solidify themselves as a legendary squad in British football.

Great Manc' soundtrack. Mani from the Stone Roses is even one of notable talking heads, along with the likes of Tony Blair and Danny Boyle. Current interviews conducted especially for the film as well as a decent amount of historical footage.

If you love football then watch this movie. Really good stuff.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Love Sex Fear Death: The inside story of the Process Church of the Final Judgement

I picked this up when it came out a few years ago. Snagged it in a cool bookshop in NYC. I was in the mood to revisit it so I gave it a second read. I have a notoriously poor memory so why not...

The Process were a cult that formed in the 60's in England, set up chapters across the world, and raged on til the early 80's in various forms. They eventually disbanded and formed Best Friends animal sanctuary in Utah (which has its own reality TV show right now).

They wore capes. They were intelligent people. And they loved German Shepherds.

It's an interesting tale of how a charismatic leader can get smart people to do dumb shit. Thankfully nothing legitimately bad happened as a result of the cult. They weren't bad people. It was the 60's and people were looking for answers. They were afraid of nuclear annihilation. Shit was heavy. The Process seemed like a good idea. In fact, it's kinda funny how people in modern cults with historic backgrounds (like Christianity) would probably laugh at the Process, but the similarities are everywhere. They created their outlook, they had writings, they played music during gatherings, they gave up their belongings (except the leaders, who of course lived like kings), and they travelled the world. It was all a load of bollocks, just like all religion, but the good things that transpired were no less valuable to the participants. And there aren't any Processeans (according to the author) who grew up maladjusted or worse off for their time with the Process. Many of them went on to lead 'normal' lives afterwards, but with those life-defining moments helping to build their character. So it's all good in the end.

It's just bizarre to me that so many seemingly smart people could be so self-assured and alpha on certain levels, yet be complete followers. Fuck that.

This insider insight into the Process by one of the original founders is definitely a good read. No one dies. They do some pretty cool shit. And it's a great study of mind-control.

Great visual aesthetics.

Journey to Le Mans

What we have here is a decent documentary about a small British team's road to Le Mans. There's not a lot of background or info on Le Mans, the cars, the team, etc. It just throws you in and assumes you're a fan of motorsport. I am, so that's fine. But I still felt it could have done with a bit more breadth of scope. 

Jota is a private team that's been racing in the European endurance circuit for a number of years. This doc follows them on one season as they select drivers, race in qualifying races, and finally make it to the big day. 

Pretty good quality. Tiff Needell does some of the v.o., so it's not a shoestring budget or anything. But the one shitty thing that really irked me was the music. It was horrible. Sounded like they just bought the rights to some garbage for $1000. Total pre-fab studio shit that sounded like an even pussier Evanescence or something. It was the detail that made this seem like less of a pro effort than it was. Music didn't fit. It sounded cheap and crap. 

But other than that it was a good doc. Worth watching if you're into motorsport. It's the F1 off season so you might as well get your fix while you can. 

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Conan: Shadows over Kush

Just read the newest Conan TPB from Dark Horse. Another grande story, with specters of Conan's corsair past haunting our long-haired hero. Wizards, slaves, torture, decapitation, whores, kings, peasants, and treasure. All there.

Wasn't overly keen on some of the art. I prefer Conan to be depicted as a massive Dorian Yates looking motherfucker or a Muscle Beach era Arnold. But he looked more like an effeminate Arnold when he was 19 in some of these drawings. Not the larger-than-life hulking beast we all know Conan was. ;) So I wasn't hip to that slightly girly, young vibe.

There was a decidedly different tone to some of the dialogue. Conan seemed a little wittier and more sarcastic than normal. It was quite amusing. Not a huge difference, but noticeable.

I found the denouement to the story a bit too swift. I think it could have unfolded over a few more pages. But that's fine.

I hope the next TPB picks up where this one left off, because I'm eager to see what comes of his next foray with his new tongue-less blonde bombshell and pack of freebooters.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Hitchcock Truffaut

Marie and I went down to the DIA to catch this flick after a stellar dinner at Antietam. We'd been looking forward to it for obvious reasons. Two of our favorite Directors in the room discussing Hitchcock's oeuvre. We're there.

I have the Hitchcock Truffaut book that the film is based on. It's a very detailed work released by Truffaut. He spent 40 hours interviewing Alfred in 1962 about each one of his movies and then using those recordings as the backbone of the book. Hitch was 63 and Francois was 32 at the time.

The book is much better than the film. It was good but a little bit of a let-down. At times the Director has a subtitled French film on screen while Truffaut is speaking in French and a translator is speaking in English. It's quite impossible to both comprehend what's happening in the subtitles as well as what the translator is saying. We both found that to be a pretty obvious oversight. No one ever said, "hey, that's kinda disorienting or distracting," in any of the pre-screenings?

Aside from that it was still pretty good. If you're a film nerd you should own the book. It's like the bible of moviemaking. The documentary is a decent add-on, though.

So yeah, worth seeing, but nowhere near as revolutionary and important as the book.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Bury Me an Angel

Watch this trailer. Tell me you don't want to see this flick. I dare you.

This was as bad ass as it looks. Only better. It had a witch in it for god's sakes. Nudity, exploding heads, a witch, awesome bikes, and a great soundtrack.

Oh how things can change between the late 60's and the early 70's. This flick is one of the edgier ones. I forgot to mention the "i" word...INCEST. Yeah, this flick had it all.

Definitely one of the more entertaining biker flicks. This one's up there. I gotta try and get ahold of the soundtrack. Cool proto-metal shit like T2 etc.

A must-see if you like awful acting, weird plots, and angry women on violent rampages.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Chasing Tyson

Watched another one of the ESPN 30 for 30 series. This was an hour and seventeen minutes documenting Evander Holyfield's rise through the ranks, and focusing on his two bouts with Tyson.

I was gunning for Holyfield from the get-go. He just seems like a nice dude. Straight up nice dude. I have no beef with Tyson. He was a phenomenal fighter in his prime and one hell of a celebrity. He got a real bum deal in the shape of Don King (piece of shit). But anyway, back to Holyfield. This is a good story, well told, with some exciting classic 90's footage.

Recommended. Stream it on Netflix.

Black Mass

This was an unexpected Christmas gift from my wife. I didn't know much about Whitey Bulger, but who doesn't like a good true life mafia yarn?

I dug in and emerged 3 or 4 days later. It was a page-turned, for sure. Two reporters authored a very well-researched account of Whitey Bulger, the FBI agents who handled him, and the Italian mob. The issue with the book is that it kinda read like a research paper. They didn't manage to weave a tale anywhere near as masterful as the likes of Erik Larson. Black Mass is more a listing of "this happened then this happened." They tell it in a way that's at least easy to comprehend, because it could quickly have gotten off the rails with so many double-crosses, betrayals, and Italian names flying back and forth.

It's definitely a fucked up story and a huge black mark on the FBI for having a process that could sustain such treachery and lawlessness for so many years. It's a bummer of a tale.

The Hateful Eight

The first movie I saw in 2016 will undoubtedly be the best movie I see all year. Tarantino is back and The Hateful Eight is another freakin masterpiece.

It starts off with a unique opening theme by Ennio Morricone. Very classic. The typography is right on the money, too. The stage is set for what is essentially Reservoir Dogs Part Deux, but dressed up as a frozen Spaghetti Western.

It's absolutely awesome from beginning to end. Trademark dialogue, great cinematography, over-the-top violence, and a totally wild and inventive story that keeps you glued to the screen for three hours.

There's nothing more to say and everything more to say. It's a Tarantino film. It's spectacular. You have to see it. Total slow burn. It's essentially eight people in one room just talking.