DavePod

I am an admitted gadget junkie. I like technology. I won’t buy myself pants, but I own a Kindle. I will not pay someone to wash my car, but I will pay for Microsoft points so my avatar can have a lightsaber (which is pretty bitchin’…check it out, gamertag “sleeplessdave”). With the exception of cell phones, which I loathe and will not ever enjoy using, if it’s technology, I want it. That being said, I could probably live without most of it. I remember life before it. The exception would be my iPod. I do not recall the last time I left my house without the DavePod. Yes, I named it the DavePod. Actually it’s the DavePod 3.0 because it’s my third in eight or nine years. It’s a 120GB of instant entertainment that gets me through work, my commute, travel, life, the universe, and everything. I have 5500 songs on there and 2600 movie scenes that I’ve used software of dubious legality to lift from DVDs. I watch Lost on my iPod. Yes I have a TV that is perfectly functional, but in the same way that I bristle at being told on what day to love my spouse, I get irritated having to plan my day around TV viewership. If you have a pod yourself, are you listening to podcasts? If not, why not?!? There are a ton of great podcasts out there on every subject imaginable and they are free! Just to give a quick plug to three of the best that some may not know about:
1. The Bugle-An Audio Newspaper for a Video World: a weekly audio newspaper by The Daily Show’s John Oliver and his friend Andy Zaltzman. Consistently one of the funniest things in all of media and completely overlooked.
2. MYSS-Movies You Should See: for movie lovers this is a great treat. It’s a group of British friends who pick a movie each week and dissect it at length. It’s funny and the films are almost always fantastic. Even when you disagree with them, it’s engaging and makes you feel like you’re talking about movies with a bunch of friends.
3. PTI-Pardon the Interruption: Mike Wilbon and Tony Kornheiser’s sports talk show has been on ESPN for eight years and I’ve either watched or listened to it since the beginning. This is actually how I get 90% of my sports news these days. Both are outstanding sportswriters and have a great rapport on air.

Are you addicted to your pod? What podcasts do you listen to?

Renaissance News Vol.2 Issue 1

I used to do a weekly newsletter for my friends (yeah I know and you are correct, I was getting absolutely no action at that point in my life) covering all the cool tidbits that I ran across on the net regarding the entertainment world. I miss doing that, so I thought I could make it a weekly feature here on the blog. So let’s see what I’ve found notable over the last week or so….

  • For those of you who own a Wii and not a real game system, Super Mario Galaxy 2 will be released on May 23rd.
  • Matt Damon will be playing Robert F. Kennedy in a biopic based on the Evan Thomas biography of the late Senator.
  • They’re making a Speedy Gonzales movie….so….yeah…let’s watch them mess that up. Oh I’m being too pessimistic? George Lopez is voicing him. So still optimistic?
  • Ian McShane (Deadwood) has joined Penelope Cruz and Johnny Depp in the cast of Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. McShane will be playing Blackbeard. No, there is no hope that this won’t suck.
  • Bruce Willis says that he thinks Die Hard 5 will start filming next year and that M. Night Shaymalan is still considering doing Unbreakable 2. I’d be extremely hyped with that second piece of news if I thought Night was still capable of his early brilliance.
  • Mark Strong (Sherlock Holmes) has been cast as Sinestro in the Green Lantern movie. This I’m extremely excited about. GL is my favorite non-Batman DC character. Strong joins the cast which already includes Tim Robbins, Ryan Reynolds, and Peter Saarsgard.
  • Scream 4 will begin shooting in May, just in case you were clamoring for that.
  • Christoph Waltz (Inglorious Basterds) has joined Robert Pattinson and Reese Witherspoon in the adaptation of Sara Gruen’s brilliant novel Water for Elephants.
  • James Cameron is writing a prequel novel to Avatar that will lead up to the beginning of the movie.
  • Logan Lerman (Percy Jackson) is the leading candidate to play Peter Parker in the reboot of the Spider-Man franchise.

Shutter Island

Shutter Island

I hate Martin Scorcese. I want to be very clear about that right upfront. Oh, I’m well aware that he’s “the greatest director in modern cinema”. I know. It’s not an ignorant opinion. I’ve seen Goodfellas, Raging Bull, The Departed, Taxi Driver, Gangs of New York, and pretty much every film he’s ever done (with the exception of The Last Temptation of Christ-which is the reason I hate him personally). They suck. They’re not just average films or slightly suboptimal films, they are awful films. You can stand here and argue the virtues of his body of work for decades and all I’ll see are hours of doddering, boring films with dialogue notable only for the hilarity of its awkwardly prolific profanity. Have I appropriately set up my mindset towards Scorcese films? The most frustrating thing about him and the reason I keep watching them (apart from a masochistic desire to see why I’m the only one who feels this way) is that I always suspected that he could make a film I loved. I thought The Aviator and The Color of Money were ok. I liked the beginning of Gangs of New York. Then I saw the trailer for Shutter Island and was gobsmacked. It looked amazing. It was creepy and compelling and then I saw it was by him and I just knew he was going to do it to me again, damn his little squinty eyes. However, he didn’t. I have to stand here and say that Shutter Island is fantastic. It’s so fantastic that if they hadn’t delayed it into 2010 from its original release date in October, it would be a serious best picture contender.

Shutter Island follows two US Marshals (Leonardo DiCaprio and Mark Ruffalo) as they investigate the disappearance of a patient from a high security mental hospital. As their investigation goes forward they encounter stonewalling from the staff, warnings from the patients, and a hurricane that traps all on the island. Scorcese paces the film masterfully, channeling Hitchcock, as he slowly ratchets up the tension through flashbacks, dreams, and hallucinations that flesh out the back story of DiCaprio’s character. He does this so gradually and so unrelentingly that I noticed at one point that my jaw was clenched firmly shut and my legs were tensed. It’s not a horror film, it’s not frightening, rather it’s suspenseful and viscerally nerve-wracking with a script that has only the normal amount of R rated dialogue and not Scorcese’s usual F-bomb-a-palooza.

DiCaprio turns in a fantastic performance as does Ruffalo, Ben Kingsley, Michelle Williams, Patricia Clarkson, Jackie Earle Haley, and the rest of the stellar cast. I went through the movie totally engrossed, but unprepared for the level of emotion and depth the picture gained once the end was revealed. Like films such as The Sixth Sense, The Usual Suspects, and Psycho, repeat watchings will grant this film an entirely new layer of complexity as you examine the actions and dialogue in a new light. It was a very good film going into the last 20 minutes, but those last 20 minutes made it a great film.

9.75/10

Daybreakers


DAYBREAKERS

There’s an inherent sustainability problem with vampires ruling the earth. I’m sure you’ve thought about this as much as I have, but should vampires one day rule the earth (which they will, oh they will….if the zombies don’t come first) there’s a problem. If everyone’s a vampire, what do the vampires eat? That’s the problem facing the world in Daybreakers, which manages to do something nearly impossible in the post-Twilight, Buffy, True Blood world: tell an original vampire story.

Vampires rule the world. Humans are down to 5% of the population and most of them are being milked like animals in blood pumping stations to support the appetites of the population. These aren’t the demon possessed vamps of yore. Essentially all that happens to you when you become a vampire is you live forever and you need to drink blood, so most people are all about signing up. Oh, there is a bit of a catch. Should you not drink blood regularly, you shrivel up and turn into Nosferatu’s ugly steroid-pumping cousin in a matter of days. Ethan Hawke plays a hematologist working on a blood substitute and struggling with the morality of how humans are treated by the vamps.

Perhaps the pleasant surprise of my first theatre going experience of 2010 has quite a lot to do with the fact that this was a vampire movie starring Ethan Hawke so there was a pretty low expectation threshold going into the film. The movie is a smart take on the vampire genre that doesn’t take itself too seriously, is filmed very stylishly, and has some very smart ideas to weave into the vampire mythos (including a cure that I thought was clever). It’s not a great movie, and every time Willem de Foe says anything at all, I was wincing, but it’s a fun movie with a lot more brains than the genre typically offers.

7.25/10

Olympic Thoughts II: Vancouver 2010


A little over halfway through the games now and I can tell you that stage 2 couch neck has me looking at my monitor cockeyed. I must confess that my Olympic watching the last day or two hit a wall that even my fanaticism could not overcome: Ice Dancing. Ice Dancing is not a sport. It is the only sport on the entire program that I would instantly eject given the title of Grand Olympian (in my dreams, this often happens). It’s dance. That the dance happens on ice, makes really no difference. Is snow dancing in the winter games? No. Is ballroom dancing in the summer games? Nope. It’s art not sport and it’s boring art at that. So when the compulsories came on, I freely admit that I flipped on my Xbox and shot zombies in the head for several hours.

My complaints about the unpreparedness of the venues continues. The women’s downhill was a slaughterhouse as competitors tripped over icy bumps on the course. Over half of the qualifiers in aerials crashed because the snow they were landing on “had the consistency of grapenuts”. Grapenut snow is not optimal. I’m so biased because of my love for Vancouver that I actually think I’m being overly kind. If these games had gone to South Korea (as they were a few votes away from victory) then I think I’d be apoplectic.

The US team continues to put in a dominating performance. 24 medals at the time of this post and well in the lead of the medal count. Fantastic performances by Julia Mancuso, Lindsey Vonn, and Bode Miller leading our ski team. US hockey beat Canada for the first time in 50 years. Shaun White and Shawni Miller repeat. Apllo Ohno passes Bonnie Blair as the most decorated athlete in US Winter Olympic history. Great performances abound. Tonight…more ice dancing. Grrrrr.