Tuesday, April 12, 2011

More movies and less computer

Well, dammit, my favorite computer hauled off and died on my ass. I'd made a Xubuntu box from a decrepit laptop a while ago and came to love it. It was the best internet computer evar. I would follow links with impunity knowing that it wouldn't suddenly get all borked up from some damn script running, or some stupid hacker trap.

On a Windows box, half the time I will hold the mouse over the link to read the URL before clicking through, afraid some evil site will wipe out the computer, along with precious and un-backed-up pics of my wife and kids.

My sweet little Xubuntu box was fast. The multi-tasking was just awesome. I'm still taken aback when a Windows machine pauses to ram something through memory or swap crap on the disk. I miss the smoothness and speed of good 'ole Xubuntu.

The loss would've stung more if I relied on local software to get things done, but I've moved mostly to Google Office to write stuff I'm going to put on the web or notes for work and such. I'm still paranoid enough (because I know a LOT of system administrators) to not use anything but a local machine (nothing on the web or a network) for stuff I want kept private. It's just a simple fact that if your stuff resides on someone else's system, someone else can look at it. Fuck "the security of the cloud" stuff; that's a lie along the lines of "the check is in the mail" and "I'll pull out." I've heard actual IT professionals who claim to know what they're doing claim the cloud is secure due to the fact that everything is so distributed. I managed to withhold a snort of derision when that was uttered.

I'm talking to you, fiction writers. Seriously. Keep that novel local. Back it up religiously. Heck, print it out. I have a writer buddy who does that just to see the stack because it encourages him.

So, now I have to find a new place to put private stuff. (Note: before I completed this post, I was given an abandoned laptop that has no fan and no moving parts outside of the hard drive. It's cool, quiet, and lasts for hours on one charge. That more than makes up for the fact that it's not all that peppy, and the fact that it's Windows. I am in strong like with this baby.)

Enough whining. Here are some of my thoughts on movies I've seen lately.

You Again

Sigourney Weaver and Jamie Lee Curtis star as the mothers of competitive daughters and who have their own contentious past.

Kinda cute, but really aimed at the ladies - the way movies with lots of things that go boom or splatter are aimed at teenage boys. I think the ladies will like (not love) this movie, but if you are the SO, you might want to have a book lying around ready to go, which luckily I had. I was able to pay attention to both and easily catch the good parts.

The thing I enjoyed the most was an extra from the web, that you can view here.

Due Date

Practically a remake of Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, but with some R-rated jokes tossed in. A little rote, at that.

Yeah, I laughed. Zach Galifianakis is always fun to watch.

Worth an hour and a half.

The Switch

Another Jennifer Aniston romcom. Even with Jason Bateman, who's a treasure, I found this one kind of a yawn. There really were no surprises left over from the preview.

Why in the hell can't Aniston find a good script?

Love and Other Drugs

My my. If you want to see Anne Hathaway quite nude and simulating lots of sex, this is the go-to flick for that.

I recall Hathaway, when hosting the Oscars, bemoaning the fact that most actresses who did a nude scene in a serious movie typically got an Oscar nod. I wondered what movie she meant until I saw this. You see, it's a serious movie because her character has Parkinson's. And screws a lot because it doesn't matter anymore.

Only worth it if you wanna see the aforementioned. And you can fast-forward to those parts to save precious minutes of your life, of course.

World's Greatest Dad

Bobcat Goldthwait directs Robin Williams as the father of Daryl Sabara ("Juni" of Spykids). Daryl's character is a high school lout who kills himself through autoerotic asphyxiation (what David Carradine died from IRL). Robin's character is a teacher who's a frustrated writer.

He doesn't want it to get out how his son actually died, so he unlatches the body from its yank station and hangs it in the closet, then writes a suicide note and fake journal, which finally launch him into the literary fame he's always wanted. Hilarity ensues.

Not that good. I recommend a pass on this one.

TLD: Between this movie and the Anne Hathaway movie, a lot of my sweet, innocent memories of much better movies I've watched with my kids (the Spy Kids series and Ella Enchanted) got kinda crumpled. I think I might begin avoiding latter movies from the stars of kid movies.


I freakin' hated hated hated this movie. It was like watching someone with a brain disorder wander down the street for a couple hours, then just turn a corner and disappear, leaving you to wonder only why you bothered to watch the whole thing.

Basically, Matt Damon is psychic since he got brain damage as a kid, so when he meets people who have died and come back, or people who've lost someone, he can see some vague details about each. The end. Really.

Life as We Know It

This is the movie I enjoyed the most of those in this post.

Katherine Heigl stars as a single woman who, as one of the Godparents, ends up with the child of her best friend when she and her husband die in a car accident. She has to share the duty with the best bud of the husband, whom she despises, of course. Wouldn't have a movie otherwise, right?

Well, to my surprise, this is one of the better movies about raising a kid I've seen. It balances the agony with the ecstasy, and gets it pretty much right. They even manage to give the baby a bit of a personality.

I think people who have kids will dig this more than those who don't; however, this is a primo date movie/chickflick, so if you're a single dude an not opposed, watch this with your sweetie and you just might have a good time, and see a decent movie.

Social Network

Ah, the much-lauded movie about the creation of Facebook and the intestinal explosion of lawsuits that followed.

My wife couldn't get through it, and I found it alternately boring and infuriating.

I don't know which kind of people I find more repugnant, uber-rich entitled brats or jerkwad IT creeps. (I've met my share of both.) Outside of the girl who dumps the guy who then creates an early version of Facebook to humiliate her, there's not one sympathetic character in the flick. That's especially distressing since the events and people are real. (Even this week there are still stories in the news about who's suing whom, still.)

So, I spent half the time repelled and the rest wondering why there's so much leeerve for the thing.

I think I'll recommend you decide for yourself, since I'm in the minority here. At least get it from the library or Redbox in case you think it sucks, too.

Fair Game

I really wanted this to be good, given that it, too, is based on real-life events when Dick and Bush illegally outed CIA agent Valerie Plame for petty political revenge, and to try to cover up the lie of the justification of the war in Iraq.

But, for some reason, it's a little dull even though there appears to be enough intrigue in the events that - had it been done right - would've made it pretty good.

I did wonder if my simmering anger ruined the movie for me, because as far as I'm concerned, all the officials who perpetrated the crimes should be getting an ass-pounding in prison at this very moment, and not one of them are. But, no, it's just too much of a spinach movie that sorta squandered a great story.

I used to say that the Republican's goal in America is to turn us into just another third-world backwater much like all of the continents south of us, but now I say, we're there! When the tippy-top of our govt. can do this and not one of them is punished, when income disparity is so large, and when more developed countries view our labor force the way we view China's, dude, WE'RE THERE!

If you want to know the events, however, this is the place to go.

Btw, I think this is the only time I've seen a flick where the real-life person is actually prettier than the actress who plays her, which is something since Naomi Watts is a cutie.

Foo Fighters: Back and Forth

This is a wonderful little documentary making the rounds on cable right now. It covers the entire career of the awesome Dave Grohl, and the journey of the Foo Fighters thus far.

I need to recuse myself a bit, because shows on rock history and minutia are like crack to me. When VH1's "Behind the Music" premired, I was unable to tear myself off the couch if one was on. Eventually, when my wife would hear the theme music, she would sigh heavily or mutter an obscenity under her breath. I'd offer, "Hey, at least I don't like sports," which was once met with a weary, "at this point, I almost wish you did." I am in music geek heaven when I watch one of the "Classic Album" docs.

Anyway, Foo Fighters: Back and Forth is full of great and sometimes trying moments. I've often wondered what it would be like to be the drummer in a band led by one of the best drummers ever. That question is addressed and answered by both of the guys who've had the privilege.

My family's favorite moment was when Grohl is trying to lay down a guitar part for the new album that's just been released, and his little daughter comes up and pecks him on the shoulder, admonishing him for not taking her swimming like he'd promised. Bless his heart, while one of his heroes, Husker Du's Bob Mould, lays down a vocal, he suits up and hits the pool with his girl.

This is a must if you're a music fan, or a fan of the Foo's. Check your local listing.

Sucker Punch

It'll have a dedicated following, but Sucker Punch pretty much sucks. Critical consensus concurs.

My buddy and I were all amped up to see it. I went into it cold, not even remembering the preview. I did see some production stills on the web accidentally and those only made me look forward to it. On top of it all, my buddy has very similar tastes in movies, so I expected at least something good, if not great.

When it was obvious that it sucked out loud (more on the audio in a bit), I gave up and just decided to go with it. About then my buddy leans over and says, "I guess this is 2011's
Heavy Metal
." Which was precisely what I was thinking at that very moment.

TLD: This generation not only has its Heavy Metal, it also has its
(or Run, Joey, Run, if you want to address sheer horribleness and not just universal hatred towards): Rebecca Black's

Stylistically, it's very rich. The visuals are solid, express a consistent vision, and are total eye candy. It strives to be pornographic without nudity or sex and violent without blood. (A young friend of mine thinks this is because they wanted to keep a PG-13 rating, though it really felt like a deliberate stylistic choice to me.) I think the only blood you ever see is in the "real" opening scenes, and even then it's just a smear on someone's hand when the character checks to see if another is hurt - you see more blood when you have a bloody nose.

The episodes of the movie are each set to a classic rock song that directly references the theme of that segment, most performed by someone other than the original artist, probably because they needed to be extended and matched to the action.

That would've been OK, if whomever equalized the songs wasn't completely DEAF. All of the songs blare at you in monochromatic mid-range; the entire bass spectrum is simply not there. When in-your-face music is a major aspect of the picture, you'd think you'd make is as lush as possible and take advantage of the sound systems theaters have. And I know it wasn't the theater's fault, because the explosions and such certainly make use of the bottom end of the dynamic range. I'd love to know the story behind who made that choice, because it was a very very bad one.

Finally, I don't know why the movie is called suckerpunch, because it telegraphs its "Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" ending within the first 10 minutes of the flick.

If you see it, see it on DVD so you can adjust the equalization for enjoyment.