Saturday, February 26, 2011

Drive Angry

Last night, a few of us went to see Ol' Melty Face himself, Nicolas Cage, in this, his latest film. When you go to a Nic Cage movie of recent years, you can count on a few basics:

* He'll have a maximum of three expressions: wild, angry, and hurt.

* The differences among the three are extremely subtle. If you haven't seen a lot of his work, you may not even know he has more than one expression.

* Close-ups will leave you wondering whether it's really a face or some very disturbed CG.

* Mayhem will ensue.

* He'll have sex with women who are entirely too hot and way too young for him.

* It won't be a good movie, but it might be a good bad movie.
What you won't be able to know in advance is whether you'll luck into a good bad film and truly enjoy yourself. You might, but the percentage of such winners is low.

I'm quite happy to report that Drive Angry is definitely a good bad movie. I enjoyed it more than any other film I've seen recently. That's not to say that it's a good movie--it's not--or that it somehow rises above its simple aspirations--it doesn't--but if you're into weird Nic Cage action flicks, you will have a great time with this one.

Cage clearly had some control, because the film lets him get his funk on: he drinks, shoots, smokes a huge cigar, drives American muscle cars, utters insane lines (e.g., "I never fully disrobe before a gun battle"), and fools around with those too hot and too young women I mentioned.

The plot is serviceable, and the notion that Cage broke out of Hell gets a boost from his melted face and strange manner.

What really lifts the film, however, is the performance of William Fichtner as The Accountant. This guy brings a strange humor and energy to every scene he enters, and his extremely crisp manner and appearance provide perfect counterpoints to Cage's shambling, violent portrayal.

We saw the film in 3D and though mostly the effects were gratuitous, it did somehow add to the weird badness/goodness of the movie and of Cage himself.

If you're up for this kind of flick, you'll love Drive Angry.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Brushing cheeks with Spring

Spring danced by for a visit today. Not to stay, no not yet, but to tease and to play, warm rosy cheek brushing ours but no kiss yet, no not yet. As I rushed along the highway in the blue blue day and the phone call ended, the music returned and out came this song.

Flowers swayed in gentle breezes and lovers found their passion renewed. Kids spilled into yards and games materialized on courts and fields and yards and stoops. Lungs breathed a tad easier and smiles found little resistance.

Today Spring passed by, and we all came to dance.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Sharing the pain

They scarred me, so I feel it's only fair that I give you a chance to embrace the pain, too.

First, Bonnie pointed me to this gem--and had the grace to apologize in advance for doing so.

I, however, will not apologize. I did warn you.

The next day, Jennie pointed me to this lovely bit of Japanese weirdness.

I'd definitely watch that whole movie!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Running away

Don't you sometimes think about running away? I don't mean as a child; I mean now, as a grown-up, with all sorts of responsibilities that you willingly undertook.

I certainly do. Though I have no intention of doing so, to amuse myself I sometimes come up with excuses I could use should I want to vanish for a day or three. As a person committed to helping others, I thought I'd share my current Top 5 with you; feel free to use any of them if you need them.

5. Needed time alone to sort out my feelings. (It's the last on the list because it's the most honest and, therefore, the one nobody would believe.)

4. Fell on the way to my car, hit my neck, and blacked out as I pulled myself into it. Woke up with amnesia and drove around until it passed. I've missed you all so much!

3. Government mind-control experiment. If I tell you anything else, they'll kill me. Got any tin foil?

2. A car pulled up, a man jumped out and put a bag over my head, and then they took me away. When I next could see, I was in a hotel room, where four of them, all wearing masks, used me in horrible sexual ways. No, I won't go into the details. I need a shower.

and the number one excuse for vanishing for a few days...

1. Alien abduction! I can't remember a thing, but my ass sure hurts like hell.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Obvious innovations aren't obvious

I spend a fair amount of time thinking about the future. It's a natural consequence of both my jobs. A useful way to think about what might come next is to look at innovations we've already seen. While doing that lately, I've come to wonder what causes obvious innovations to become obvious.

Adding a second passenger door to a minivan, for example, is a completely obvious move to make--but it took years to come to market. Someone finally figured it out, however, and that moment of realization is what intrigues me.

Of course, I could be misreading these events entirely. To continue with the minivan door example, it's possible that every car manufacturer knew from the get-go that minivans should have passenger doors on both sides, but none of them wanted to go first and open that cost door (pun intended).

I don't think so, though. I believe that minivans had only one passenger door because the designers conceived of them as small vans--note the name--rather than large cars. As long as the vehicle was a truck, it didn't need the convenience of exiting on both rear sides. When the designers saw it as a family car, of course it needed that other door.

I don't expect to be able to turn this area of study into real innovations--if I could, I'd probably be wealthy--but I do think it's a worthwhile line of inquiry for writers and creators of all sorts, and so I will keep after it.

Monday, February 21, 2011

On the road still: Katsucon, day 3

I'm home. I'm quite glad to be here. I leave again Monday, so I plan on enjoying my time in my own space.

Most of today went to work. Rana did all the driving, so I worked as we rolled down 95 and then 85.

I'd write more, but I'm still behind on home basics, such as mail, and it's later than the timestamp on this post says, so I'll leave you with a recommendation based on tonight's TV show break: If you're not watching the British show MI-5, you're making a mistake. Check it out.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

On the road still: Katsucon, day 2

The con shut down today, so I didn't really see much of it. I missed playing Halo: Reach in the videogame room, but that's about all that happened today that I might have joined.

We headed out in the late afternoon to see I Am Number Four. I went to see it despite having read the rather damning review from the redoubtable Charlie Jane Anders, whose work I generally adore. My motivation was simple: to determine if I could find so generic a film entertaining?

The answer, to my immense discredit, is, yes. I had a pleasant enough time, though everything Anders wrote is spot on.

I do, though, feel more than a little bit guilty about it. I don't want this movie to make a billion bucks--a fear I share with Anders--nor do I want it to spawn the sequel that its ending so blatantly sets up. It really is formulaic and largely soulless, as you would expect from James Frey's factory farm, a depressing concept if I've ever heard one.

I write SF adventure novels, and I'd love to see someone make them into movies, so it's not like I'm against the concept or the sub-genre. I would, though, like them to possess enough individuality and real characters that viewers could come away feeling from them both entertained and enlightened.

This movie might entertain you, but that's the most it will do, and it will do that only if you, as I did, forgive the completely formulaic plot and leads. Just remember to wash up afterward, and then go read a good book.


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