Monday, October 30, 2000

Movie Review: Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2

Sometimes I like to measure my enjoyment of a movie by the number of times I look at my watch during the flick. If I never look at my watch, well, that doesn't mean that the movie was necessarily wonderful, but it does mean that it kept my attention, good or bad. If I check my watch one or two times, I'm either bored, disinterested, or both.

Yesterday, I went and saw Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2, which afforded me 90 minutes to look at and appreciate my watch. It's a stainless steel diver's watch, with stainless steel band and a locking clasp mechanism to keep it on my wrist. The clasp is a bit loose, and I've been meaning to get it fixed, but it holds up. It has a little box in the face that tells me the date, but only the day # (e.g. today, it says "30," for Oct. 30). On the first of each month that follows a month that has less than 31 days, I always have to manually change the date from 31 to 1, because my watch isn't really all that smart. It doesn't know whether it's August or February.

The face doesn't have any hour numbers, just little dashes that glow for a little while when it gets dark -- they have to absorb some light first, and the glow doesn't last that long. The hour, minute and second hands glow as well.

It also has that spinning thingie that diver's watches have. You know, you can turn the outside border, which has numbers on it (0, 10, 20... up to 50 and then back to 0). I guess this is to help divers in some way, but I'm not a diver, so it doesn't really matter. The faceplate has a thin but long scratch in it, which vertically stretches almost imperceptably from the 12 "dash" to the 6 "dash." I think it gives it character, and it's not too noticeable.

There's also a little text info between the center of the watch (where the hands all meet in the middle) and the 6 "dash." It's in tiny little font, that says ADV 4500 (model # maybe?), 100 meters (330ft) (I assume this is how deep I could go underwater, wearing my watch. I never get deeper than 8 feet, in a swimming pool.)

Recently, I had a bit of a scare when I misplaced my watch. Oddly enough, I thought I had lost it in a movie theater. I was seeing Meet the Parents (very funny, by the way), and my wrist was a bit uncomfortable, so I took off the watch and put it in my pants pocket. It wasn't there when I checked at home, but after a couple days, it turned up in my coat pocket. I really like my watch -- it was a gift for my 18th birthday. It's the kind of nice watch you pass down to your kids, and they pass it down to theirs. It's a really, really good watch.

The quality of my watch is inversely proportional to the quality of Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2. For those of you who forget what "inversely proportional" means from high school math, it means that as good as my watch is, that's how bad this movie is; as much as I love my watch, that's exactly how much I hate Blair Witch 2. By that logic, I arrive at the conclusion that my watch is perhaps one of the best watches ever made.

Monday, July 17, 2000

Movie Review: X-Men

When I saw the first trailer to X-Men, a few months back, I thought of the word "God" immediately followed by the word "No." It looked horrid. It looked cheesy, lame, not good. We're talking Batman & Robin not good. Ludicrous. Silly. "God, no," I thought.

A few weeks ago, I saw a second trailer for X-Men. It had less action, more dialogue, more focus on characters. My thoughts were, "That doesn't look so bad now. Maybe I will see it after all."

And saw it I did. Three times this past opening weekend. I kept hanging out with different friends who wanted to see it and so I went each time, once Friday night, once Saturday night, and once Sunday night. I didn't mind a bit. It's a pretty damn good movie. Here's why:

  • Treats subject matter right - I've never collected comics. I've read a few. Never the X-Men. But I could tell from the film that director Bryan Singer treated these characters and their stories with respect and care. The film takes itself very seriously, never straying into camp, never resorting to cheesy dialogue, silly villains, over-acting. Some comic fans have said it's not completely faithful to the back stories of some of the characters. But the spirit and themes of the comic and its characters have been retained. It works.
  • Characters & story above action - There is so much exposition and character-driven dialogue and story in X-Men and so few action sequences. Good. Successful action films are only successful if you care about the characters. By now, we've seen it all when it comes to action: explosions, fist fights, gun fights, etc. There's only so much you can do. But when you spend time introducing the audience to your characters, letting them get to know and understand and care about them, when they get into a fight, the audience is involved, they worry, they cheer, they gasp. It works.
  • Rogue & Wolverine - This film is ultimately their story. Again, some comic fans get a little ruffled about this. The movie is called "X-Men", not "Wolverine, Rogue, and the X-Men." It should be equally about all of them, right? No. Not yet. The vast majority of the world has not read an X-Men comic, and doesn't know these characters. With a world of mutants and superheroes and the like, there is a risk of the audience thinking how inherently silly these ideas are. You absolutely need to have a character the audience can identify with, a skeptic, someone who questions and points out how silly these things are. Hence, Wolverine and Rogue. These two characters come to the X-Men as outsiders, and Wolverine is especially aware of how preposterous it is to dress up in costumes and call yourselves by nicknames like "Cyclone" and "Storm." The relationship between Wolverine and Rogue is the core of the film, and it works.
  • Patrick Stewart & Ian McKellen - these two outstanding actors and their characters' relationship with one another add so much class and elegance to this film, it could not be nearly as good without them. Stewart is the thoughtful, intelligent, hopeful Charles Xavier to McKellen's equally intelligent, yet not-so-hopeful Magneto. And the idea of the first five minutes of the film--starting out with Magneto's back story--is ingenious. We understand and can even sympathize with his lack of faith in humanity, and even the drastic actions he takes. It works.

There you have it. This movie could have sucked. It could have been a Batman & Robin or a Superman III or IV. But it isn't. It's classy, it's serious, it's fun. It's the first hour of Superman, minus the superb John Williams score.

It works.

Wednesday, June 14, 2000

Movie Review: Shanghai Noon

This happens to a lot of movies. A decent, entertaining film gets a bad, bad trailer that makes it look not-so-decent and fairly stupid. It happened with The Iron Giant and now it has happened to Shanghai Noon.

Jackie Chan plays Chan Wang, an imperial guard who goes to the American old west to rescue a kidnapped princess (the incredibly hot Lucy Liu). On his way, he teams up with bumbling outlaw Roy O'Bannon (Owen Wilson), a sort-of cowboy/surfer hybrid. On their way, they battle Roy's former gang of idiots, a corrupt marshall, and a former Chinese imperial guard who now enslaves Chinese immigrants to work on the railroad.

First off, Owen Wilson gives one of the funniest performances I have ever seen. His whole low-key, self-referential approach to being a cowboy had me in stitches, and is the perfect foil for Jackie Chan's wound-up high energy persona. The writing is clever and the dialogue quotable. Perhaps the story is a bit predictable, and gets a little too serious whenever the princess plot is addressed, but it doesn't matter. The ride itself is well-worth it. The fight scenes are fast, funny, and entertaining, unlike, say, Mission: Impossible 2's.

I've seen it three times, believe it or not, and I recommend it to anyone looking for something fun and light-hearted and just plain good to see.

Movie Review: Mission: Impossible 2

"Hi, I'm super-cool Tom Cruise. I'm gonna do a slow motion backflip kick that is going to last for approximately 27 minutes. Look! Look how cool this move is! Are you watching? It's really cool, huh? Are you watching? I'm flipping over backwards while kicking him in the face. Check it out! Did you see it? Wow, man. Oh, it's a good thing I brought along these rubber masks - one of my face and one of the bad guy's lieutenant's face, because I knew I would run into him and I would beat him up. I'm also glad I brought this masking tape for his mouth, whew, that was a lucky call. Oh, and I'm sorry that the first half of the movie was slow, slow, slow, and spent on establishing a tremendously shallow relationship with the thief girl - a relationship that the rest of my movie completely hinges upon for believability. Hmmm... wasn't it odd for a professional international thief not to know the difference between left breast pocket and right breast pocket?"

"I'm Thandie Newton, the actress who played the thief. I'm going to stand on the edge of this cliff and make everyone think I'm going to kill myself. I'm going to stand here for 45 minutes. Okay... okay... I'm going to jump! Wait. Okay... I'm going to jump now. Wait. Okay, now I'm really going to do it. Hold on. Alright, now I'm going to--hey, it's a helicopter! Oh, I'm saved. Good thing I didn't jump when I had the chance."

"I'm John Woo, bird lover and director of Mission Impossible 2. This movie would be 12 minutes long if not for the technique of slow motion. I like pretty white doves. They symbolize goodness. I will show you how much goodness they symbolize in this 92 minute slow motion shot of Tom Cruise, the good guy, and a white dove. Look. Look! See?"

"I'm TL, movie-goer. I am grateful that I still have my old student ID so I didn't have to pay $9 for this steaming pile of slow motion shit."

Friday, May 5, 2000

The World According to Student Bloopers

By: Richard Lederer
St. Paul's School

Submitted by: Jimmy Patterson

I was shown this joke in my Western Civilization II class. My teacher, who told us the joke, made a copy of it for me. I thought that the hilarious comments in this paper were funny enough that it should be posted so college students can read it.

One of the fringe benefits of being an English or history teacher is receiving the occasional jewel of a student blooper in an essay. I have pasted together the following "history" of the world from certifiably genuine student bloopers collected by teachers throughout the United Stars, from eighth grade through college level. Read carefully, and you will learn a lot.

The inhabitants of ancient Egypt were called mummies. They lived in the Sarah Desert and traveled by Camelot. The climate of the Sarah is such that the inhabitants have to live elsewhere, so certain areas of the dessert art cultivated by irritation. The Egyptians built the pyramids in the shape of a huge triangular cube. The pyramids are a range of mountains between France and Spain.

The Bible is full of intresting caricatures. In the first book of the Bible, Guinesses, Adam, and Eve were created from an apple tree. One of their children, Cain, once asked. "Am I my brother's son!" God asked Abraham to sacrifice Issac on Mount Montezuma. Jacob, son of Issac, stole his brother's birth mark. Jacob was a patriarch who brought up his twelve sons to be patrilrchs, but they did not take to it. One of Jacob's sons, Joseph, gave refuse to the Israelites.

Pharaoh forced the Hebrew slaves to make bread without straw. Moses, led them to the Red Sea, where they made unleavened bread, which is bread made without any ingredients. Afterwards, Moses went up on Mount Cyanide to get the ten commandments. David was a Hebrew king skilled at playing the liar. He fought with the Philatelists, a race of people who lived in Biblical times. Solomon, one of David's sons, had 500 wives and 500 porcupines.

Without the Greeks we wouldn't have history, The Greeks invented three kinds of columns-Corinthian, Doric, and Ironic. They also had myths. A myth is a famale moth. One myth says that the mother of Achilles dipped him in the Rivier Stynx until he became intollerable. Achilles appears in the Iliad, by Homer. Homer also wrote the Oddity, in which Penelope was the last hardship that Ulysses endured on his journey. Actually, Homer was not written by Homer but by another man of that name.

Socrates was a famous Greek teacher who went around giving people advice. They killed him. Socrates died from an overdose of wedlock. In the Olympic Games, Greeks ran races, jumped, hurled the biscuits, and threw the java. The reward to the victor was coral wreath. The government of Athens was democratic because people took the law into their own hands. There were no wars in Greece, as the mountains were so high that they couldn't climb over to see what their neighbors were doing. When they fought with the Persians, the Greeks were outnumbered because the Persians had more men.

Eventually, the Ramons conquered the Geeks. History call people Romans because they never stayed in one place for very long. At Roman banquets, the guests wore garlic in their hair. Julius Caesar extinguished himself on the battlefields of Gaul. The Ides of March killed him because they thought he was going to be made king. Nero was a cruel tyrany who would torture his poor subjects by playing the fiddle to them.

Then came the Middle Ages. King Alfred conquered the Dames, King Arthur lived in the Age of Shivery, King Harlod mustarded his troops before the Battle of Hastings, Joan of Arc was cannonized by George Bernard Shaw, and the victims of the Black Death grew boobs on their necks. Finally, the Magna Carta provided that no free man should be hanged twice for the same offense.

In midevil times most of the people were alliterate. The greatest writer of the time was Chaucer, who wrote many poems and verse and also wrote literature. Another tale tells of William Tell, who shot an arrow through an apple while standing on his son's head.

The Renaissance was an age in which more individuals felt the value of their human being. Martin Luther was nailed to the church door at Wittenberg for selling papal indulgences. He died a horrible death, being excommunicated by a bull. It was the painter Donatello's interest in the female nude that made him the father of the Renaissance. It was an age of great inventions and discoveries. Gutenberg invented the Bible. Sir Walter Raleigh is a historical figure because he invented cigarettes. Another important invention was the circulation of blood. Sir Francis Drake circumcised the world with a 100-foot clipper.

The government of England was a limited mockery. Henry VIII found walking difficult because he had an abbess on his knee. Queen Elizabeth was the "Virgin Queen." As a queen she was a success. When Elizabeth exposed herself before her troops, they all shouted "hurrah." Then her navy went out and defeated the Spanish Armadillo.

The greatest writer of the Renaissance was William Shakespear. Shakespear never made much money and is famous only because of his plays. He lived in Windsor with his merry wives, writing tragedies, comedies and errors. In one of Shakespear's famous plays, Hamlet rations out his situation by relieving himself in a long soliloquy. In another, Lady Macbeth tries to convince Macbeth to kill the King by attacking his manhood. Romeo and Juliet are an example of a heroic couplet. Writing at the same time as Shakespear was Miquel Cervantes. He wrote "Donkey Hote". The next great author was John Milton. Milton wrote "Paradise Lost." Then his wife dies and he wrote "Paradise Regained."

During the Renaissance America began. Christopher Columbus was a great navigator who discovered America while cursing about the Atlantic. His ships were called the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Fe. Later the Pilgrims crossed the Ocean, and the was called the Pilgrim's Progress. When they landed at Plymouth Rock, they were greeted by Indians, who came down the hill rolling their was hoops before them. The Indian squabs carried porposies on their back. Many of the Indian heroes were killed, along with their cabooses, which proved very fatal to them. The winter of 1620 was a hard one for the settlers. Many people died and many babies were born. Captain John Smith was responsible for all this.

One of the causes of the Revolutionary Wars was the English put tacks in their tea. Also, the colonists would send their pacels through the post without stamps. During the War, Red Coats and Paul Revere was throwing balls over stone walls. The dogs were barking and the peacocks crowing. Finally, the colonists won the War and no longer had to pay for taxis.

Delegates from the original thirteen states formed the Contented Congress. Thomas Jefferson, a Virgin, and Benjamin Franklin were two singers of the Declaration of Independence. Franklin had gone to Boston carrying all his clothes in his pocket and a loaf of bread under each arm. He invented electricity by rubbing cats backwards and declared "a horse divided against itself cannot stand." Franklin died in 1790 and is still dead.

George Washington married Matha Curtis and in due time became the Father of Our Country. Them the Constitution of the United States was adopted to secure domestic hostility. Under the Constitution the people enjoyed the right to keep bare arms. Abraham Lincoln became America's greatest Precedent. Lincoln's mother died in infancy, and he was born in a log cabin which he built with his own hands. When Lincoln was President, he wore only a tall silk hat. He said, "In onion there is strength." Abraham Lincoln write the Gettysburg address while traveling from Washington to Gettysburg on the back of an envelope. He also signed the Emasculation

Proclamation, and the Fourteenth Amendment gave the ex-Negroes citizenship. But the Clue Clux Clan would torcher and lynch the ex-Negroes and other innocent victims. On the night of April 14, 1865, Lincoln went to the theater and got shot in his seat by one of the actors in a moving picture show. The believed assinator was John Wilkes Booth, a supposedl insane actor. This ruined Booth's career.

Meanwhile in Europe, the enlightenment was a reasonable time. Voltare invented electricity and also wrote a book called "Candy". Gravity was invented by Issac Walton. It is chiefly noticeable in the Autumn, when the apples are flaling off the trees. Bach was the most famous composer in the world, and so was Handel. Handel was half German, half Italian and half English. He was very large. Bach died from 1750 to the present. Beethoven wrote music even though he was deaf. He was so deaf he wrote loud music. He took long walks in the forest even when everyone was calling for him. Beethoven expired in 1827 and later died for this.

France was in a very serious state. The French Revolution was accomplished before it happened. The Marseillaise was the theme song of the French Revolution, and it catapulted into Napoleon. During the Napoleonic Wars, the crowned heads of Europe were trembling in their shoes. Then the Spanish gorrilas came down from the hills and nipped at Napoleon's flanks. Napoleon became ill with bladder problems and was very tense and unrestrained. He wanted an heir to inheret his power, but since Josephine was a baroness, she couldn't bear him any children.

The sun never set on the British Empire because the British Empire is in the East and the sun sets in the West. Queen Victoria was the longest queen. She sat on a thorn for 63 years. He reclining years and finally the end of her life were exemplatory of a great personality. Her death was the final event which ended her reign.

The nineteenth century was a time of many great inventions and thoughts. The invention of the steamboat caused a network of rivers to spring up. Cyrus McCormick invented the McCormick Raper, which did the work of a hundred men. Samuel Morse invented a code for telepathy. Louis Pastuer discovered a cure for rabbis. Charles Darwin was a naturailst who wrote the "Organ of the Species". Madman Curie discovered radium. And Karl Marx became one of the Marx Brothers.

The First World War, cause by the assignation of the Arch-Duck by a surf, ushered in a new error in the anals of human history.

Thursday, February 17, 2000

Movie Review: Pitch Black

Caught a sneak of this film last night. Apparently, Pitch Black has been completed for quite some time and his been sitting on a shelf for months and months. Pretty stupid move, I think. Since reading Harry Knowles' review on Ain't It Cool News, I've been looking forward to this one with a great deal of excitement. Story-wise, I didn't know what to expect - but my expectations were fairly high nonetheless. I was not let down.

I will not reveal any plot details here other than: "small band of people need to survive scary threatening monsters." That's all you need know. It's not as good as Aliens, but then again, what is? It is, however, pure entertainment from the very beginning to the very end. The cast of fairly unknowns is excellent - and it is a pleasure to see people cast for talent rather than looks (unlike, say, Starship Troopers). I must say, any doubts I had about Vin Diesel vanished completely after this film.

Anyhow, if you're looking for a really fun time at the movies, Pitch Black is for you. If you're not looking for fun, see The Talented Mr. Ripley.

Saturday, January 1, 2000

Top 51 Worst Pick-Up Lines

1. Your name must be Daisy, because I have the incredible urge to plant you right here!

2. Roses are red, violets are blue, I like spaghetti, let's go screw

3. Just call me milk, I'll do your body good

4. Your body's name must be visa, because it's everywhere I want to be

5. Can I buy you a drink, or do you just want the money?

6. I may not be Fred Flintstone, but I bet I can make your Bed Rock

7. I may not be the best looking guy here, but I'm the only one talking to you

8. My love for you is like the energizer bunny, it keeps going and going

9. That shirt looks very becoming on you, but if I were on you, I'd be coming too

10. Yo Baby, you be my Dairy Queen, I'll be your Burger King, you treat me right, and I'll do it your way right away

11. I'd like to screw your brains out, but it appears that someone beat me to it

12. I enjoy doing maintenance, you look like someone I would like to "tinker" around with

13. You must be from Pearl Harbor, cause baby you're the Bomb

14. If you were a new hamburger at McDonald's, you would be McGorgeous

15. Is that Windex? Because I can see myself in your pants

16. I'm a bird watcher and I'm looking for a Big Breasted Bed Thrasher, have you seen one?

17. Wish you were a Pony Carousel outside Walmart, so I could ride you all day long for a quarter

18. Wanna Play House? You be the screen door and I'll slam you all night long

19. If you're going to regret this in the morning, we can sleep until the afternoon

20. Oh, I'm sorry, I thought that was a braille name tag

21. If you were a car, I'd wax you and ride you all over town

22. Guy: "Would you like to dance?"
Girl: "I don't care for this song and surely wouldn't dance with you"
Guy: "I'm sorry, you must have misunderstood me, I said you look fat in those pants"

23. Excuse me, do you have your phone number, I've seem to have lost mine

24. I look good on you

25. I'm new in town, could I have directions to your house

26. If your left leg was Thanksgiving and your right leg Christmas, can I visit you between the Holidays?

27. You look like a girl that has heard every line in the book, so what's one more going to hurt?

28. Fuck me if I'm wrong, but is your name Yolanda?

29. I love every bone in your body - especially mine

30. Excuse me, do you wanna fuck, or should I apologize?

31. You might not be the best looking girl here, but beauty is only a light switch away

32. Do you want to dance, No? Well I guess a fuck is out of the question

33. Hi, I'm a necrophiliac, how good are you at playing dead?

34. I lost my bed, can I borrow yours?

35. You must be Jamaican, because Jamaican me crazy

36. My recipe for love is one cup of you, one cup of me, knead till hard, and serve hot

37. Are your legs tired, because you've been running through my mind all day long

38. You be the tree, and I'll wrap you like a Koala

39. Hey baby, I'm like American Express, you don't want to leave home without me

40. Do you have a quarter? My mother told me to call home when I met the girl of my dreams

41. The word for the night is legs, legs go back to my room and spread the word

42. Hey baby, what's your sign? Caution, slippery when wet, dangerous curves ahead, or yield?

43. Hi my name is _______, remember it, cause you'll be screaming it all night long

44. I can't find my puppy, can you help me find him? I think he went into this cheap motel room

45. Was your dad a farmer? Cause you sure have great melons

46. Want to play conductor?? You be the engineer and I'll go.... Choo choo

47. You must be Jelly, cause jam don't shake like that.

48. The fact that I'm missing my teeth just means that there's more room for your tongue

49. Guy: "Haven't I seen you someplace before?"
Girl: "Yes, that's why I don't go there anymore"

50. Hi, my name is Skippy, like the peanut butter I stick to the roof of your mouth

51. Hi, my name is Pogo, want to jump on my stick?