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Weekly Stumblings (10/5)

A short list to top off your Monday.  But with daylight savings giving us an extra hour, it’s all good.

Simple Resume Designs: http://www.stumbleupon.com/su/2VovXh/www.ispsd.com/12/resume-design-ideas/

Awesome Minimalist Disney Posters: http://www.stumbleupon.com/su/1x5Bga/totallyloveit.com/minimalist-posters-of-disney-films/

Drug Reference Manual: http://www.stumbleupon.com/su/1jFwcB/www.madatoms.com/site/blog/popular-drugs-reference-manual/

Nothing Else Matters Stretched to 800% (now I know what I want played at my funeral): http://www.stumbleupon.com/su/8YH3vq/soundcloud.com/inaudiblewhisper/metallica-nothing-else-matters-stretched-to-800/

 
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Posted by on November 5, 2012 in Blog

 

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Epic Movie Scenes: Final Rap Battle/B-Rabbit vs. Papa Doc (8 Mile)

There comes a time we all step outside our comfort zone.  4-5 months ago, I gave in to a more drunk-induced tone.  No, I’m not out and about drinking jet fuel on the clock (yet), but a couple White Russians and Flying Grasshoppers aren’t a bad way to make you forget, least of all those horse piss drinks everyone calls beer.  Likewise there’s a movie featuring the good ol’ Slim Shady that pleasingly takes me out of my heavy metal comfort zone.  Linkin Park posers aside, we metal fans like crap-rap being kept out of our credible metal.  Go figure then that 8 Mile, a movie high on character and low in style, frequently turns out to be worth my while.

And while we’re at it, let’s talk about that final rap battle, damn it!  At this point the chips are down and our buddy B-Rabbit has been made out like a clown.  Crap has hit both the floor and the ceiling, so now he’s ready to rap down the door with so much pure feeling.  If my rhymes are sounding forced at this point, do us all a favor: Relax and take up a joint.  Drugs, violence, alcohol, to those upper-class slugs it’s all same while they stand and talk all tall.  Take it from me, at this point in the movie, cheesy sounds quite breezy.  So don’t let your superior, cynical and critical self turn you away and move the movie off your shelf.  Suck it up and enjoy the moment like anyone wasting two whole precious hours.  And if my sad attempts at rhyme and rhythm aren’t enough to influence your curriculum for the day then maybe a blunt, simple “**** it” will do.

 
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Posted by on October 25, 2012 in Blog, Film, Movies

 

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Double Feature: Fantasia & Fantasia 2000

Anyone who’s followed Doug Walker knows his favorite Disney animated film is the original Fantasia.  He’s touched on this at least two times between his Top 20 favorite films and last year’s Disneycember.  As a kid, Fantasia was almost this silent horse figure to me.  I’d watch it repeatedly–much like the original Star Wars films, but it never really crept up in discussion with others.  But hey, not all dark secrets need to remain locked away, just like my virginity.  Disney have protected me well.

One of the few Disney films I haven’t seen (or hadn’t, as of this post) is Fantasia 2000, which came out around that sour transitioning period from elementary to middle school for me.  Since then my interest in the movie catapulted, especially when I saw bits and pieces of the grander parts.  And since I was in the middle of a walk to my nearby BlockBuster (yes, we still have one here) I decided to treat myself to a double feature of both Fantasia films.

Heading in, I feel like the proper way to tackle these films is to talk about each segment individually since that’s essentially what these films are.  Admittedly they’re both achieving similar results by attempting to create an experience of sound and visual, but when you look back on these movies, you think of them in bits and chunks.  I’ll simply have to make them slightly more interesting than your generic track-by-track review off of Amazon.

So first up we have the original Fantasia which, believe it or not, is over 70 years old now.  And the film still looks great to this day, outdoing several contemporary releases from more than just artistic and visual standpoints.  It was supposed to mark a new direction for Disney, but fell short of being a monumental enough hit; kind of the same way The Dark Knight Rises’ box office isn’t big enough since it was outdone by The Avengers.  Because as we all know, the inferior crap earns the most money.  But I digress.

Fantasia opens with the Toccata and Fugue in D Minor by Johann Sebastian Bach, gradually transitioning from the choir to colors, shapes, patterns and the like meant to compliment the music.  This is just a wonderful and vibrant combination of sound and visual with the music being passionately represented by what are often abstractions.  It’s a piece that sticks with you well after even one viewing.  I’d also say it’s one of the film’s most memorable selections, simply because it embodies what I think the film is really about: Music and visuals expressing and complimenting each other.

The opening of the Nutcracker Suite has become synonymous with Christmas, so it’s only fitting that the collection of pieces included depict the changing seasons.  This is where hints of a story come into play, but it’s less about a story and more this barely cohesive guideline.  It works for telling something but never gets in the way of the overall experience.  Like the weather and seasons, you’re picked up and swept away as the music sways through the peaceful and upbeat sections.  Besides, how can your attention not be caught after seeing mushrooms and flowers moving around just a notch shy of salsa dancing?

By now The Sorcerer’s Apprentice has become THE piece most would synonymize (yes, I made that up) with Fantasia.  I mean, you’ve got the titular character of said piece on the cover of the film’s box art, what else is there to say?  This is also where the film finally tells a definite story, one that, upon recent viewing, I’ve elected to refer to as “Moses after officially taking up sorcery.”  Maybe Mickey was somehow born from Moses, maybe he was just adopted.  Either way, this remains an enjoyable, charismatic scene that, like the previous two segments, sticks with you.  Whether that’s because it’s most frequently used when referencing the film or the fact it’s a good piece I leave for you to decide.

The longest individual segment from the film, Rite of Spring, has always stood out to me.  A key part of it was definitely the dinosaurs, something I was obsessed with as a kid.  Seeing it now I have to say the music used is quite dark, which the visuals have a tendency to compliment, especially during the opening half with smoke coming up to indicate lapses in time.  There are other parts like the T-Rex, the drought, volcanoes erupting and terrain shifting which build to make an enthralling 15 minutes.  In some ways I’d argue this as my favorite part from the film because it’s always the one that draws me in the most.  And go figure with the dark engagement, since it’s followed up by…

The intermission, also where we “meet the soundtrack,” which provides a brief demonstration of a few instruments in a bit of a visualizer style.  It’s entertaining and gives us a nice idea of what some of the individual selections of instruments are like, but is strictly what it’s labeled as: an intermission.

Afterwards we move to a far more colorful and upbeat piece with Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony, something I’d prefer to call “a more fulfilling film than Hercules could ever muster to.”  Much of what we get here can be disputed as silly and certainly romantic, but my guess is that’s in keeping with Greek tales (please don’t hurt me, hardcore scholars).  I think it’s a good piece overall, especially with the centaurs and cupids, but I’d be lying if I said it was very engaging.

Then we get Dance of the Hours, which is supposed to provide stretches that apparently represent the times of the day, but I probably wouldn’t draw that reference were it not pointed out.  Of all the pieces between both Fantasia movies, this one is probably my least favorite, since hippos and elephants dancing is less fascinating and more…odd.  I’m all for ballet style too, it’s a key reason Black Swan worked–not as good as it should’ve, but that’s another debate–it’s just this isn’t a piece to really grab you and, even with a reasonable runtime, it simply drags.

Thankfully, the film’s closing is far more rewarding with a return to the darker and more engrossing Night on Bald Mountain, followed by the wonderfully calming Ave Maria.  Apparently the two were picked because they’re so different from one another, but I always found the transition from one to the other to be very seamless.  Rampaging and viscous darkness succeeded by an almost brooding calm that builds to something faintly triumphant is such a wonderful combination which only does one thing for the entire film: Complete it.

This brings us to Fantasia 2000, a surprisingly shorter but expectedly interesting sequel that, in most respects, lives up to the standards set by its predecessor.  One area I’ll admit that the film loses points is with the cameos from celebrities, which make my attempts at wit and satire look about as successful as a George Carlin stand-up performance.  Set that aside and we have a real treat of a film that consistently delivers what it should, especially given the fact it’s a more modern film.

So what better way to kick things off than with Beethoven’s renowned Symphony No. 5, which does a fantastic job assuring us the visuals will be terrific and do well to accompany the music.  There are points here and in the other pieces that don’t seem to take advantage of a few sways in the music, but they’re minor distractions at worst.  Admittedly, however, the intent for this opening to simply depict abstractions is quickly disproved since we’re given some sort of a narrative, even thematically.  But this remains a solid opening and serves to foreshadow the inevitability that I’d never reach anything remotely close to this film’s artistic prowess.

Pines of Rome has become a favorite for many people, which is very easy to see and understand.  I’ll admit the eyes on the whales are a bit distracting, but otherwise it’s a great segment which builds to one fantastic climax sure to get your jaw stuck on the floor.  This is definitely a segment to watch and feast on Blu-ray.

Rhapsody in Blue is in the running for my favorite piece from the film since it rings with today’s troubled times while paying homage to the 30’s and 40’s.  The art style here is phenomenal and a rare treat when most animation nowadays is either the standard 2D style that Disney became synonymous with or the highly detailed 3D courtesy of Pixar.  It’s a bit on the long side, but the connections made between characters pulls you and grips you surprisingly well, especially for an almost comedic piece.  From the get go with the outline of the buildings I knew this was going to be a great segment and it did not disappoint in the least bit.

As is Disney tradition, their adaptation of The Steadfast Tin Soldier alters things in a way that gives audiences young and old the most accurate depiction: That all obstacles have a totally happy ending.  Like the Pines of Rome, there’s a 3D-esque look to this piece that almost makes it seem transcendental for Disney, especially for the time.  The plotline is a bit out of touch, but the core story is easy to get behind.  As a bit of a side note, since I only just saw the film recently, this piece immediately reminded me of Hugo with Sacha Baron Cohen’s character.  Thankfully, that was one of my favorite parts of that film, so it helped to strike a chord with me.  Definitely not the strongest part of the movie or the most memorable, but it’s not totally forgettable, unlike Dance of Hours (fortunately).

Easily the most infamous musical part of Fantasia 2000 is The Carnival of the Animals, sparked by the question “what would happen if you gave a yo-yo to a flock of flamingoes?”  I think the real question to ask was given courtesy of James Earl Jones (“who wrote this?”).  Despite its reputation, I don’t mind the piece at all.  In fact, I rather enjoy it since A, it’s fun and upbeat and 2, it’s short and harmless.  Is it the worst piece of the entire film (outside of the cameos)?  Probably, but that’s like saying Peanut Butter M&M’s aren’t as good as Reese Pieces.

Cue a retread of The Sorcerer’s Apprentice and we move on to Pomp and Circumstance, which might as well be called “Noah’s Graduation Ceremony.”  A tired joke perhaps, but it is easy to think about some sort of graduation when the animals board the ark.  Given that our key player here is Donald Duck, you can tell it’s going to be a less serious film.  Also, did anyone else see the piece as a big throwback to An American Tail with Donald narrowly missing his love over and over?  If there’s any piece that I’d argue the animation as being less than impressive, I’d probably point to this one.  That said, there’s some fun slapstick humor to be had and it did get a few decent laughs out of me, which is something we can all use more of.

And we wrap things up with the Firebird Suite, which I hotly anticipated (pun not intend) after each piece ended.  As viewers of the film know, this is some of Disney’s best animation, easily holding up over a decade later.  The story and use of color here is top notch, surpassed only in scope by Pines of Rome and rivaled in emotion only by Rhapsody in Blue.  I actually took a Nature Writing course (no, I’m not a hippie) in college and one article I read was that controlled forest fires are actually necessary and beneficial for tree and plant life since it essentially rejuvenates them in the long run.  This might not necessarily be the message of the piece, but it’s some good food for thought; especially so when you take the message of becoming bigger, better and stronger after things have hit their worst.  It’s a terrific tale of recovery and a definite contender for the Top 5 pieces between both Fantasia films.  And most importantly, we get another solid conclusion to a very worthwhile release.

 
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Posted by on September 27, 2012 in Blog, Film, Film Review, Movie Review, Movies, Review

 

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Weekly Stumblings

The great thing about blogs is that even though you can orient them towards a certain topic, veering off-course is never too crazy or unexpected.  Besides, when you’re your own boss, who’s gonna stop you?

Anywho, some of my readers may or may not be familiar with a little site known as StumbleUpon.  If you don’t, check it out.  But be warned: One does not simply stumble one more time.  In a nutshell, you give the site your interests and then it randomly brings one webpage up at a time that it thinks you’ll like.  From there you like (or dislike) pages so it can offer similar and better selections for you.

I only just started using it a week ago and have liked over 100 pages.  Many of these have included fat-inducing dessert recipes that will probably destroy my weight maintenance goals.  But there are quite a few pages which offer something quite different and interesting.  And since I love to share finds–even with complete strangers–I thought I’d offer another recurring feature for my blog which I simply call “Weekly Stumblings.”  Given how much I love the site and the fact I still get a bit of free time from my job, it shouldn’t be too tough to keep these coming.  And it means I’ll have at least one post to provide each week.

And these will be posted every Monday so that the few followers I have might have something to help brighten the worst day of the week.  So here are the first of many Weekly Stumblings:

Stripes: http://www.stumbleupon.com/su/2WazJ4/blogoscoped.com/files/stripes.html

What Song Are You Listening To?  http://www.stumbleupon.com/su/7S0Cn5/kottke.org/11/05/what-song-are-you-listening-to

Black Mirror: http://www.stumbleupon.com/su/2FJXGl/rorrimkcalb.com/arcadefire.html

Musical Square Lights: http://www.stumbleupon.com/su/9GDCbS/img44.imageshack.us/img44/6182/music.swf

Hats Micael Reynaud: http://www.stumbleupon.com/su/1zH1lc/lh6.googleusercontent.com/-EsD8QYy0C84/Tlw7ZWzsB_I/AAAAAAAACps/3wrxrhikIN0/w401/Hats_Micael_Reynaud.gif

Deep Dish Chocolate Chip Cookie: http://www.stumbleupon.com/su/2XYnO9/www.healthyfoodforliving.com/?p=34410

Pillsbury Funeral: http://www.stumbleupon.com/su/1NIYqv/www.cs.columbia.edu/sip/sipit/funeral.txt

Should You Buy That Gift? http://www.stumbleupon.com/su/2Wjxcu/www.mint.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/mint-gift-flowchart2.png

Why I’m Broke: http://www.stumbleupon.com/su/2OYc7b/www.thisiswhyimbroke.com/?p=y

100 Ways to Cook: http://www.stumbleupon.com/su/8nh9UU/www.endlesssimmer.com/100-ways/

25 Beautiful Animal PIctures: http://www.stumbleupon.com/su/2wfUq0/www.beautiful-animals.com/25-most-beautiful-animals-photography-on-stumbleupon/

35 Brilliant Advertisements: http://www.stumbleupon.com/su/2jAzUI/www.rsvlts.com/2012/07/19/35-brilliant-advertisements/

Where the **** Should I Go for Drinks: http://www.stumbleupon.com/su/1yYrLo/wherethefuckshouldigofordrinks.com/

Paris Panorama: http://www.stumbleupon.com/su/1QGIv5/www.gillesvidal.com/blogpano/paris.htm

Book Quotes as Illustrations: http://www.stumbleupon.com/su/1uCI8s/www.mymodernmet.com/profiles/blogs/favorite-book-quotes-become-fantastic-illustrations

CN Tower Timelapse: http://www.stumbleupon.com/su/1W419k/wvs.topleftpixel.com/flash/cntower_timelapse.swf

 
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Posted by on September 3, 2012 in Blog

 

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Quote Review: Pirate Radio/The Boat That Rocked (2009)

“How about it, then?”

The cast and characters make this the perfect type of silly, feel-good nostalgia-inducing movie.  Sure, there are too many ends for the movie to develop or nicely resolve, but most of the faces are too memorable to simply shrug aside.

 
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Posted by on September 1, 2012 in Film, Film Review, Movie Review, Movies, Review

 

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2012: The Movies You DON’T Want to See

It’s funny that we live in a financially downturned economy when we’ve got movies like Avatar setting box office records.  I suppose it’s merely a reminder that, even when poverty-stricken, people still have the income to feed companies millions for sequels, remakes, spin-offs and adaptations all at once.  What’s amusing about this is that we’re so quick to pay for stuff we already have, often previously presented in a superior way nonetheless.

Be that as it may, with another summer on the horizon we have a splurge of movies coming out which some will be puzzled to decide between.  A few people even go to theaters without a single clue as to what’s showing and ask those in-line “what looks good?”  To that I wonder: We always ask and look at what’s worth spending half a new DVD release to see once, but what about upcoming releases that aren’t even worth watching a trailer for?  Summertime is easy time for film companies to draw in audiences again and again; so to help you know which ones are, without doubt, not worth wasting time or money on, here are some of 2012’s films that you do NOT want to see.

The Lucky One

The dog food totally isn’t a metaphor for Mr. Sparks’ novels.

If there’s any medium you can find several of the same story already done in, it’s books.  Some authors distinguish themselves with actual effort and, dare I say, variety from book to book.  Nicholas Sparks, on the other hand, shows about as much distinction between his books as one french fry from another at McDonald’s.  But wait, this adaptation of The Lucky One has a returning soldier from war; oh Nick, you’re so relevant and resonating with the times!  But wait, it’s another love story…with two leads who, if the trailer is any indication, make Keanu Reeves look melodramatic in the Matrix sequels.  I could find more depth in a teaspoon of water.

What To Expect When You’re Expecting

What?  You think this is fun?

Yes, nothing says fun and comedic gold quite like a film centered around pregnancy and its effects on several people.  If that alone isn’t enough, this movie is based on a pregnancy guide no less; this is how stripped of good ideas Hollywood’s become.  The trailer certainly isn’t doing any favors for this movie either, since it only looks like Grown Ups, Knocked Up, Hall Pass and half a billion other forgettable romantic comedies tossed into a mold-spewing blender.  We have decades upon decades of trite movies like this piled up already, it’d be a better investment to give Doug Walker $10 for each of his 20-minute Nostalgia Critic videos–at they’re entertaining.

Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted

We need to get away from the studios; I hear they’re planning to toss us in Burma next!

Just like Ice Age, the people behind Madagascar seem intent on driving what was an earnest animated film further into forced franchise fodder.  Being a film about animals, kids are bound to beg their parents to go see it like they would for a toy at Wal-Mart.  As far as the films on this list go, Madagascar 3 might be the least deserving of presumptuous dismissal, but that’s like saying a $200 pair of Beats headphones is a better investment than the $300 pair simply because you’re paying less for a still-overpriced item.  Except Madagascar 3 is coming to us in 3D (shocker there!) and even (post-converted) IMAX.  Whoops.

Madea’s Witness Protection

Please, take her away.  I’m here against my will.

Some people simply beat a dead horse.  Tyler Perry, on the other hand, prefers to find a herd of them, decapitate each one rather violently and crush them with cinder blocks until they’ve reached the Earth’s core.  Okay, maybe I’m being a bit harsh but honestly, who (besides Perry) wants to see this Madea creature keep polluting our theaters and stores?  I’d be more interested in seeing a sequel to White Chicks, not that the Wayans should take that to heart.  We already have over a half dozen films of Madea, which begins to make Michael Bay’s milking of the Transformers name seem innocent by comparison.  All he’d have to do to catch up is spit out two Transformers movies a year and the two can bask together while we collect the AYFKM memes.

Katy Perry: Part of Me 3D

Oh, yes, I totally hate being famous.  Yeah, attention is the LAST thing I want.

You’ve really got to hand it to people like Katy Perry and even Justin Bieber.  They give the world nothing but terrible music and an equally awful film about their pre-puberty struggles.  And yet people actually waste their time and shell out millions upon billions of dollars to hear and watch them.  If I didn’t know any better, I’d say everything they provide is insurance so that, when they look more deplorable than their music, they’ll still have more money than any decent, hard-working individual would earn in twenty lifetimes.  I might be getting off topic but that’s essentially all this upcoming Katy Perry feature is shaping up to be.  It’s trying to cater to people by saying “chase your dream,” but if that were so most of us would probably be pimps smoking illegal substances while making Zombieland a reality.  Of course, that might just be wishful thinking, but it’s certainly more promising than the idea of watching this…thing.

Step Up Revolution

Your Project X ain’t got nothin’ on this!

In some ways films are great for seeing things we might fantasize about, but half the time it’s all just exploitation.  Us Americans are easily the fattest and laziest slobs on the planet, yet we only take the hottest of the hot in Hollywood and have even taken to dancing so much that we’re getting a fourth Step Up movie.  These movies are really just gimmicks, which wouldn’t be too bad if we didn’t keep getting a slight twisting of the original seven freaking times.  Film franchises like Saw have suffered from this by overstaying their welcome.  Then there’s a film like The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, which may have been just another car movie to most, but the reason it actually worked was because the drifting ultimately took a backseat to a little something called the story.  But hey, we’re in a time where people elect to rattle their cars apart with Dubstep, so it shows what I know.

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2

Because red lips are too mainstream.

Given its bad rep, I’d think audiences would have the common sense to avoid the Twilight travesty.  But the unfortunate reality is it continues to be a multi-million-dollar franchise.  I leave it to you to answer me this: What does Twilight offer to make me care?  Perhaps there’s something about being torn between a pale pedophile with a sparkling chest and a crazily buffed up boy with no real acting emotion that speaks to the younger female demographic.  But heck, even as a guy who likes to quench his testosterone with a theatrical viewing of something like The Expendables, I can find entertainment in a “girly movie.”  I’ve at least somewhat enjoyed cliche dumps like Along Came Polly, 13 Going on 30 and How Do You Know.  Yet Twilight continues to astound me and I have to ask why so many people keep going to see these movies?  I suppose if there’s anyone the recently released teaser might interest it would be rednecks, what with Bella eying an innocent deer in the woods, but that’s just a small, tingling suspicion…I hope.

How about you?  What films coming out this year do you absolutely refuse to see?  Which ones do you wish people would have the sense to avoid?

 
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Posted by on April 13, 2012 in Blog, Film, Movies

 

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