Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Revenge of the Dinosaurs

The (ahem) oil spill in the Gulf should have alerted us to at least a couple things. Mega-corporations will stop at nothing to cover their ass once they've been caught cutting costs in the name of maximizing profits. And it proved how our dependence on oil to fuel our vehicles is a sucker bet at best. Only so many dinosaurs walked the earth, and we can't suck on their remains forever. We have to start seriously considering other, renewable resources if we plan on surviving, much less getting from point A to point B.

No matter how Big Oil would like to spin it otherwise, we're only as dependent on oil as we believe we are. Even the auto industry has come to realize that, and are offering some alternatives to the petrol-thirsty vehicles we grew up with. And some of them are pretty snazzy. . .

See what I mean? You can read more of what I'm talking about here:

Hope you like it.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

photo copyright 1996, 2010 Ray Ellis. All Rights Reserved.

Downsizing the American Dream

Hi, there.
I know I've been away for a while, but this topsy-turvy economy and  clown show of a political situation we have has kept me busy. Some days I feel optimistic about things, and others, I'm sure we;re all going to hell in a handbasket. Mostly, I just try to make some sense of it all.
That rarely works.
Anyway, here are a few of my latest random thoughts:

I haven't given up on the Dream, but thins ain't lookin' overly rosy.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

How Can Human Target Hit the Mark If FOX Keeps Moving the Bullseye?

Call me a romantic, but I've always rooted for rhe underdog. Actually, it's more of an obsession than a pastime. So when FOX added Human Target to its midseason schedule, only to shuffle it helter skelter throughout its run thus far, I made the series my current cause. Yeah, it's another implausible action-adventure show  with a touch of secrecy, but  in this age of "reality" series, it's actually refreshing.It's on the bubble, though (what a surprise, given its scattergun schedule so far!)

Trust me, though. It's a fun romp, and it moves like a rollercoaster. It's actually actually coming on it's regularly scheduled slot tonight (3/10 8P EST). Want more info? Check out my article at Hubpages here: http://hubpages.com/hub/humantargetdeservesashot

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Tme Flies, and I Was Two Stops From the Station
Excuse me for a moment while I catch my breath. . .
The holidays are finally over, and so is the decade. I see that my subtle campaign to christen the past decade with the decidedly utilitarian "2K's" went nowhere, and that's okay. But please. . . the "2 aughts"?? Does anyone outside of England even use the word "aught" anymore? Not that double zeroes sounds any better.
That was then, and this is now, which is why I've embarkted on my new crusade to quit calling the upcoming years "two thousand this and that." It's time to just call this "twenty ten" and progress acordingly. It may seem trivial now, but all you future marketers will thank me once 2020 rolls around.
Speaking of marketers, would the Chinese gentleman or bot or whatever you are please quit posting comments to my "Man From UNCLE Returns" review? I've rejected all your comments for publication since I'm not really in the busines of selling what you're selling. Peddle your wares in a place more lucrative to your market, and leave Napoleon Solo out of it.
Anyway, the past two months have been hectic, but I still found time to scour the 3-disc version of Time-Life's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Live. You can read my full review here:
My feelings about the collection are mixed, but my feelings about the current state of the recording industry are not. More about that later.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Living in a White Collar World

I've been watching a lot of TV lately.

A lot.

Truth to tell, once I got over the rush of all a new season promised, I crashed like an energy drink addict. I was all giddy at first, full of energy and fire after viewing the upfronts (well, some of them, anyway.) After a few hours of viewing all those new shows, though, the sugar of the sitcoms and the caffeine of the crime procedurals wore off, and I crashed. For all the hype, the networks weren't offering anything that they hadn't been offering for years. In fact, they were offering less--recycled reality shows and endless Leno was not my idea of innovative programming.

Fortunately, basic cable doesn't play that way. USA network, for example, may be the stepchild of NBC, but it's an unruly one. Monk wouldn't have lasted eight seasons on NBC, much less garnered all the awards it has over its run had it been on the parent network. Even in its last season on USA, it's going out with dignity and buzz. But all good things come to an end.

Filling the gap Monk will leave is the new series White Collar, which is like a shot of B12 for the prime time fatigued. It's smart, funny, and leaves you wanting more. Read my full review here:

Obviously, I'm a bit excited about White Collar. There's hope for TV after all.
I'm also excited about the news that USA is relaunching its Character Arcade (http://www.characterarcade.com/). There are a lot of new features with the relaunch, including:
-Facebook Connect Integration; sign in with your Facebook account & challenge friends
-Game of the Week promotion featuring weekly prize give-aways
-Point System to buy accessories and upgrade avatars [redeemable for physical rewards coming soon]
-New virtual trophy case-New Games including MMO and downloadable PC Games
It's all very exciting, don't you think? I'll keep you posted on all upcoming details and news as it breaks. Until next time...

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Wow-- it's been nearly a month since I've posted here. Sorry about that...
I've been very busy with what I'll laughingly refer to as "Real Life." I won't bore you with all the details, other than to say I have been writing. And I've been watching TV. A lot of TV.
And as I've been doing for going on four years now, I've been keeping up with Dexter. I scribbled a few of my impressions here:
Check it out, won't you? And don't be shy posting a comment.
See you soon-- much sooner than of late.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Tokyo! via France and Korea

Cities are organic. They may have their origins as towns—trading posts or shipping ports or strategic fortresses—but they mutate and evolve as people gravitate to them seeking shelter from the wilderness. In the process, the town takes on a symbiotic life of its own, imperceptibly absorbing its inhabitants while shaping itself to accommodate its hosts.

That’s how towns morph into cities.

And that’s how people become one with their city, whether they like it or not.

Tokyo! is a triptych of diverse short films, each of which examines an aspect of the isolation that often accompanies individuals living in the midst of millions. The common thread uniting the films comprising Tokyo! is alienation, with the city itself serving as a canvas upon which the surreal sketches are played. Two of the stories are directed by Frenchmen, and the third by a South Korean, further enhancing the otherworldly feel of Tokyo!

In “Interior Design,” writer-director Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) takes a Kafkaesque spin on finding one’s identity in the city. Loosely adapted from a Gabrielle Bell graphic novella, the story follows a young couple from the sticks trying to find their fortune in Tokyo. He’s an aspiring, if not very good, filmmaker, and she’s his unassuming but resourceful girlfriend. As he becomes more wrapped up in his importance as an artiste, she quietly tends to their day to day survival. As he becomes more self-important, she struggles to find her own voice, eventually morphing into a chair, literally. As terrifying as such a metamorphosis could be, she finds a new freedom as she explores her niche in society.

“Merde” is the contribution by director Leos Carax (The Lovers on the Bridge), and it’s part paean to Japanese kaiju films, part silent film comedy, and wholly disturbing. Merde (literally “shit” in French) is the titular character, gleefully portrayed by Denis Lavant, who rises from his subterranean home like some mad mime. At first, he’s a bothersome clown with a ridiculously curling beard and a chalky eye, snatching flowers and cigars from pedestrians, disrupting their routine before he disappears into the sewers. Deep within his lair, he happens upon an abandoned cache of hand grenades from the thirties, which he lobs at the citizenry when he next emerges above ground. Dubbed “the creature from the sewers” by the Japanese press, he’s put on trial for murder, and becomes a cause célèbre in the process.

“Shaking Tokyo” is an unsettlingly quiet film by South Korean filmmaker Bong Joon-Ho (The Host.) The main character here is a hikikomori, or urban shut-in, who’s lived with minimal human contact for over ten years. He survives on monthly checks from his father, delivered through the mail slot in his door, and apparently lives mostly on pizza delivered anonymously to his small but meticulously kept apartment. It’s lined with empty toilet paper rolls and pizza boxes, all neatly stacked as if to keep time of his solitude. His pastoral existence is abruptly disrupted by two concurrent events the delivery of his pizza by a lovely delivery girl and an earthquake. She passes out from the excitement and he’s forced to make contact with the outside world to revive her. He’s shaken by her, as well, and finally ventures into the outside world to find her. What he discovers, however, is that Tokyo has all retreated indoors to become a city of hikikomori.

Tokyo! is an act of synergy. Taken as individual films, the movie does little at first glance to portray Tokyo, the city, as a vibrant force of 21st century culture. Truth to tell, none of the three films portray Tokyo as anything more than a supporting, though omniscient, character in the lives of its citizenry. There are references to the city in all the stories—the horrors of housing in the city in “Interior Design,” xenophobia and the island’s denial of history (not to mention Godzilla references) in “Merde”, the constant threat of earthquakes on the island in “Shaking Tokyo”—but they’re only brush strokes in the larger canvas of Tokyo! Ultimately, the movie works because it’s greater than its parts. While all three episodes are complete unto themselves, they’re a bit self-conscious when taken alone. But viewed together, they become integral parts of a surreal tapestry. With elements of absurdism, science fiction and romance, Tokyo! manages to paint a portrait not so much of the city, but of the souls who go largely unnoticed until their hearts collide with the mindset of the megalopolis.

Tokyo! the DVD is unrated. It’s presented in widescreen, and Dolby 5.1, with a Dolby 2.0 option also available. Fittingly, it’s in Japanese, with English or French subtitles. Video transfer is flawless, and the subtitles are presented in a way that doesn’t distract the viewers attention from the visuals. Special features are sparse, consisting of “making of” featurettes of the individual films, and interviews with the directors, as well as the obligatory theatrical trailer.