Is the 1st Quarter of 2019 almost done???!! Quick a few last lessons and observations from 2018!!!!

Wow this year has been flying and busy…so I did not have a lot of time to reflect on 2018. So I wanted to say a few words before we get out of the 1st quarter of 2019.

 

2018.

What a year.

Politics, war, human and civil rights conflicts. Losses both subtle and staggering. And also great achievements to balance out the bloody churning of the 24 hour news cycle.

Other places have spoken on those serious points of 2018.

I wanted to speak on mostly light, trivial, personal minutiae that for what ever reason reverberated with me. And may just reverberate with those of you who visit me.

2018 was, despite the unsteady global outlook, personally for me… a good year.

Those I hold dear were well.

And that for me is the main measure of a good year.

So onto the minutiae:

Umm

  • I spent time in Connecticut in 2018, and absolutely loved it. New London, Mohegan Sun, Terrificon 2018. Just a fantastic trip with my better half. So enjoyed the trip so much, that we will be doing it again in 2019. If you are into Comic Book movies, and more importantly classic comic books, from the great Silver and Bronze Age, and their creators, this is the con for you. If you are with family that has only minimal interests in Comics, this Con is definitely for you, because it is held in a stunning Casino, so it is great shopping,, with great food. And the surrounding area is filled with great things to do with your family, from great small town window shopping, to cruises, and tours, and yes… excellent food.
  • 2018 saw me transition from Fire TV back to Roku Premiere+. Which served me great all year with one little caveat.

  • The Roku Premiere + while it offers improved processing speed over earlier models and a handy HDMI port, it also overs a microphone in the  remote for voice control.  As someone who works in tech two of the stupidest things I think you can have in your home, is a camera you can’t turn off ( or be truly certain when it is on) and a microphone that is always recording.
  • Too many people place devices in their home, that a smarter, more prudent, generation would have called illegal surveillance systems (cough – XBOX – cough), but because these systems come marketed as ‘must have entertainment devices’, or ‘AI convenience devices’, too many people are swayed by the sheen rather than the substance, and blithely allow invasive tech into their home without researching that tech, or means to limit violations of same. Just like before you use a car most people pay a reliable mechanic to check out the car, and seasonally tune it up, the same minimum steps should be in place for these smart/iot devices. Have a tech set it up and secure it for you, and ensure it is safe to use. That is just smart consumerism in this day and age of identity theft, and billion dollar companies unable to keep from losing your data.
  • And these are the companies you pay to put an alexa in your home. 🙂 I am not so lazy that I need an Alexa in my house, always listening to answer an inane question, or turn on a light. Such smart technology can be of use, but not when paired with an uninformed and lazy consumer.That is a recipe for your technology owning you, rather than the other way around.
  • Most notably marketing. There are billions made by game/entertainment machines that has NOTHING to do with gaming. But has everything to do with selling your data to the highest bidder. A not locked down gaming machine, is indistinguishable from a state of the art bio-metric spying machine. Indistinguishable.
  • I’m not saying do not have have a video game console in your house. I am saying be informed about the equipment you are putting in your house and how to limit egress by marketers, and privacy violations.
  • Such as the news item a couple years back of people who bought the smart TVs, unaware that it was recording them.:)
  • Smart Devices, are for smart consumers. And most consumers are not smart. I’m not being insulting, but it is a truth the marketing relies on, that people buy off of a glitzy ad, rather than research. On emotion, rather than reason. How else to explain pharmaceutical ads that sell potentially deadly products, to address the most inane issues. They rely on consumers not being smart, and wanting what is new and hip and popular. We must look at the world, with better eyes than that. All of us. Myself included feel the pull to jump aboard the band-wagon, but those are the times we have to pause, and take a step back. And really look and see where the road of good intentions… is leading you. 🙂 . It takes putting in the effort, which is contrary to the marketed status quo of, just ask your phone, or smart device to think for you.
  • For the sake of entertainment this social media generation is relinquishing rights, that took much loss of blood to get. Technology can be great, if you take the time to hold manufacturers accountable, and make the technology truly a tool that you use, rather than visa-versa.
  • All this to say, I swapped out my mic enabled remote for my Roku for a model without a mic. I do not want to talk to machines. I don’t really want machines talking to me. 🙂 And no, I don’t have a smart phone. I work with smart phones, tablets, and laptops, and desktops for a living. I do not need my phone to be a computer, I just need it to make and receive calls. 🙂
  • Having set those ground rules for the Roku, and some other privacy changes enacted, the Roku Premiere + has served me well for all of 2018. And continues to do so in 2019.

Most notably Youtube, a thing I avoided like the plague in its web version (because of lack of moderation of the sewage like comments section), is one thing I am enjoying on my big screen (non-smart) tv, thanks to Roku. The ‘comments free’ Youtube Channel App, on Roku, is easily one of my most watched channels of 2018.

And here (in a brief paragraph) are my favorite Youtube shows for 2018:

  1. AFTA COMICS
  2. SILVER-AGED DAVE
  3. REGIE SIMMONS IFBB PRO
  4. RANDY AND TAYLA
  5. RICH REBUILDS
  6. ALL THAT JAZZ
  7. BRAVE WILDERNESS
  8. FIRST WE FEAST
  9. THE GO2 GEEKS
  10. WALLACE RYAN
  11. WORKOUT
  12. HAANTI
  13. EARL GREY
  14. JOHN CAMPEA
  15. DS COMICS
  16. METAROG
  17. MINDSMASH
  18. MINORITY MINDSET
  19. OMELETO
  20. POP CULTURE PHILOSOPHERS
  21. PROFESSOR THORGI
  22. RAPID TRAILER
  23. CEREAL AT MIDNIGHT
  24. CHYCHO
  25. COMICHYJINX
  26. COMICS WITH BUELLER
  27. DR JOSH AXE
  28. FURY ROAD
  29. LEEKIRBYDITKOCOMICS
  30. THE DELUXE EDITION
  31. UFC AND MMA

 

 

And we will wrap this streaming heavy look at 2018 up with my 5 favorite Streaming Channels of 2018 from most to least watched.

  1. YOUTUBE

  2. AMAZON PRIME

  3. HULU

  4. NETFLIX

  5. PLUTO TV

Those five channels were pretty much all I watched in 2018.

Youtube I already mentioned what I watched.

As far as Amazon Prime, they have a huge selection of Big Foot, Werewolf, and other obscure horror films, which is my cup of tea. The slasher stuff I have no use for, but a good Big Foot movie, I’m there! So between many hours of movies and trailers, and their great classic and original programming (JACK RYAN season 1 was excellent) they were a solid contender for most popular streaming channel.

HULU allowed us to keep up with broadcast TV, (ex. AMERICAN NINJA) as well as original programing and classic series. Netflix ran a distant fourth for me, but did have some fun shows and movies as well.

Finally PLUTO TV scratched the itch for us when we wanted the Cable experience.

There you go guys, a streaming intensive look at 2018. Come back for upcoming installment on some of the music, book, and shopping notables of 2018. 🙂

 

 

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Best Short Horror Films of 2019 Week 8!

Best Short Horror Films of 2019 Week 8!

 

https://i.ytimg.com/vi/mPtCeemqdE0/hqdefault.jpg?sqp=-oaymwEjCPYBEIoBSFryq4qpAxUIARUAAAAAGAElAADIQj0AgKJDeAE=&rs=AOn4CLDh_UfxcZNe5u6425f8IB_xRSS0rgCLAP, CLAP– A 2017 short film according to youtube, I just became aware of this one tonight. Directed by Brandon Piskorik and starring Aaron Burt it is everything you want from a 5 minute horror film. A setting, a narrative, a looming dread, and a payoff. It is a fantastic short film, so I was a bit surprised to see even IMDB has no entry for it. And there is seemingly no webpage or online poster image promoting the short. To go to the effort to make a quality film, then to spend no effort to publicize it seems to me a missed opportunity.

Horror while a popular genre, is a hard genre to get right. Get the editing wrong, the timing wrong, the pacing wrong, and it becomes dreary rather than dreadful (in the horrific, hoped for tone, you want your horror film to hit). Piskorik gets it right here. A solid B+. Worth a look.

 

Another worth a look short is DOOR TO PURGATORY, also from 2017 this one is written and directed by Alexandra Balda. There are no surprises here, from frame one this is a pretty straight forward horror tale, but it is told and photographed well, with a protagonist you find likable and want to keep following.

At 13 minutes it is longer than most shorts but is 13 minutes well spent. There are minor things that distract, showing too clearly and too long the horror element, and too much of the mustache twirling villain at the end. But beyond that it is a solid first short film. A solid C+.

And the things the film CLAP, CLAP failed to do to publicize that movie, is not repeated here. As this movie is on IMDB, is a festival circuit participant (and winner) and has a poster. Alexandra Balda is a filmmaker I look forward to seeing more from.

 

Now films that did not make the cut and why:

STICKS- while arguably more professionally assembled than others on this list, what hurts this is what hurts most horror films, whether short or long. People reacting without any commonsense. Seemingly the protagonist is a caretaker. Why she is cleaning the house at night, well people get busy no biggie. So i’ll ignore that. However, why on earth would any sane person go up those stairs given the circumstances of the short? Why would any sane person open a door given those circumstances? they wouldn’t. It is bad, lazy writing, and a waste of everyone’s time. And the movie is an insult to the viewer’s intelligence.

TOOTH MAN- Not as slickly made suffers from the same issue. Characters acting completely braindead. With reason and commonsense seemingly a foreign language. You are babysitting and discover a bag of bloody teeth after a noise, and the possibility of an intruder, any sane person gets the kid and you get out of the house, and call the police/parents from a neighbors house. But no, not in this movie. I understand you need to create a situation of isolation for protagonist and threat, but you do that through smart writing, not lazy writing. On top of that I hate movies where adults lie to kids. Or husbands patronize wives about the obvious crazy stuff that happens in these movies. When those scenes happen they take me completely out of the movie.

 

 

Streaming / VOD Recommendations for this Weekend!

 

 

 

I just got done watching for the second time RIPPER STREET Season 4 Episode 3 ‘ Some Conscience Lost’.

And for the second time I come away from it feeling… Awed.

It is television at its finest, both harrowing and hopeful, and indictment and an inspiration.

I have been a cheerleader for RIPPER STREET for years, calling it the best show on television. Revisiting this 4th season episode ( a season where most shows, if they make it this far, fall apart at. Shows like HELL ON WHEELS and BEYOND HUMAN (UK) and LOST coming immediately to mind) I am struck by the fact the show continues to be excellent, and continues to if anything be leveling up. A Fantastic, fantastic show.

I have been impressed with star Matthew Macfaden, since his blistering turn on the first few seasons of SPOOKS. Here as a very different type of character, Inspector Reid, he is something of a revelation. And his performance never better than here as a man driven by the question of…. some conscience lost. However the entire cast shines, as this is very much an ensemble piece.

Also stellar is the cinematography by Si Bell, often done from low angles and behind characters, it is everything brilliant camera work should be, epic when called for, haunting when caled for, subdued when called for. And the direction by Luke Watson brilliantly brings to life a script of eloquence and heartbreak by Rachel Bennett.

What amazes about the above roster of behind the camera talent is.they are all new to RIPPER STREET. So for this episode to feel so seemless to what came before, accolades must fall at the feet of writer/show runner/creator Richard Warlow.

An achievement of an Episode. A must own season. A must own series.

 

 

 

 

VOD Streaming Movie of the Day : Blake Edward’s Brilliant EXPERIMENT IN TERROR

Glenn Ford and Lee Remick in Experiment in Terror (1962)

Blake Edwards is a name that arguably, if known at all by a modern audience, is known for the PINK PANTHER movies. But true film fans know him as one of the greatest directors of that transitional period between the all powerful studio system and the rise of auteur directors and Independent Film-making.

Cutting his teeth in fast paced, often live television, (his most notable Television work being the excellent and both evocative and ahead of its time PETER GUNN) like his contemporary Don Siegel he brought a frenetic new pace and tempo to film making. Starting with the use of jazz to denote the soundtracks of his film, rather than the more orchestral, staid, European classical influences of earlier films, his films looked to modern composers, most notably Henry Mancini to tell uniquely American tales. Also his use of pacing and editing and shot selection were all revelatory.

And his use of characters of color stands out, one of the earliest directors to use background actors of color in non-stereotypical roles, to show an America peopled with more than just the traditional studio system view of an all white America. Seeing a mixed crowd, or a crowd with people o f color and whites just sharing the same space, as people, while taken for granted today, during the making of this film… it was groundbreaking. And many theaters in the south, the film could not be shown without cuts being done to it.

Anita Loo in Experiment in Terror (1962)

Directors like him, and Don Siegel, and Stanley Kramer and Joseph L. Mankiewicz and Richard Brooks, helped transition a very blinders on/white-washed 1950s America, into the more multicultural 1960s, and they did this through our entertainment, our films and our tv shows.

They, and the actors and editors and writers helped drag a more honest view of the American landscape into the light, a view full of different people and different backgrounds, and different challenges.. Both feeding and being fed by, the civil and human rights battles being fought at home and abroad, their veracity as filmmakers, helped open the door to this concept of film as something progressive and capable of change.

From these new daring Filmmakers like Blake Edwards, we begin to get film-making  that transcends complete artifice, and stereotyping.

We get the French New Wave Films, The Pan African Films, the Neo-Realist films of Italy, and at home we get the Independent Film Movement, to include the Black New Wave Films of the 70s ( dismissively titled Blaxpoitation by people who do not realize that Black Exploitation is the first 60 years of Hollywood Films. Where people of color had no positive representation in films, most films with no persons of color at all, and the few that did have people of color, offered them typically only one token person of Color in a film, in a menial/demeaning role. Actors like Sidney Poitier, Bill Cosby, Harry Belafonte and directors like Gordon Parks, and Ossie Davis, helping to pave a view of an America that actually reflected the multitude of people in it, formerly invisible).

It is a thread, the evolution of film, that allows us to evolve from DW Griffith’s 1915’s THE BIRTH OF A NATION (which shamefully was the predominant mindset of Hollywood Film-making, both behind and in-front the camera, for the greater part of the 20th century). An evolution filled with achievements small and large, and filmmakers lauded and forgotten. A lot of films and a lot of filmmakers, and a lot of steps forwards, and moments of stumbling backward, to in a little over a hundred years go from THE BIRTH OF A NATION, to Ryan Coogler’s justifiably lauded BLACK PANTHER in 2018.

Glenn Ford, Lee Remick, and Stefanie Powers in Experiment in Terror (1962)

 

The films of Blake Edward are part of that thread. Not in any overt political manifesto, but just in his love of showing an America peopled with… the people he would see in the streets and in the crowds, his love for a veracity that transcended stereotype.

 

EXPERIMENT IN TERROR, is a pure thriller of a film, with not a wasted pound. And it has people of color in it, not because they are people of color, but because they are people, it is San Francisco of the time, before gentrification, where people you would see, came in multiple creeds and colors. It is a fantastic film that has nothing to do with ethnicity, but everything to do with being true to telling a story in a place and a time.

It is one of Blake Edward’s best films. However, Blake Edwards very rarely made anything that was not a ‘best’ film.

It is a uniquely tense, and thrilling film, even by Blake Edwards standard. I mean the tension in it holds up today. Lee Remick is one of the most beautiful women from an age of beautiful women, and she is also like most of Edwards leading ladies… delivering a phenomenally written and ground breaking tour de force performance.

Also starring the great Glenn Ford, who like the movie does not waste a moment, everything propels the story and the moment. Glenn Ford was one of those actors who never delivered a bad performance, and elevates everything he is in.

A stunning cast. A stunning script. And sumptuous film-making makes for a film that can be watched for free courtesy of AMAZON PRIME this month, but deserves in the age of digital to be owned on DVD/Blu-Ray.

 

Get your copy here:

Experiment in Terror [Blu-ray]

https://amzn.to/2Gk6ZS8

I would also recommend picking up the gorgeous poster with the stunning Lee Remick as well as the CD and Album. Please use my links as they earn this blog a few, well needed, pennies. 🙂 .

The webpage will not show this image anonymously.

https://amzn.to/2DAaUXh

https://amzn.to/2MZGK3D

 

Thanks for looking. And if you enjoy this post please like, comment or order via the links. All three are greatly appreciated!

 

 

 

Streaming VOD Roku Fire TV Channel Watching Guide For Feb 2019 : HULU Edition!

HULU

 

1st Kudos to Hulu for, in an age where Streaming Services like Netflix are going price-hike crazy, actually offering a price reduction. Applause to HULU! This and Amazon Prime in my opinion are the best two Streaming services, in terms of both content, value, and ease of use/quality of the surfing experience.

Netflix lags FAR behind both channels, in my admittedly biassed opinion.

 

Okay onto the stuff you need to catch this month on Hulu (both old and new content):

https://cdn3-www.comingsoon.net/assets/uploads/gallery/legion-season-2/dxqfn3rxkaa06zq-jpg-large.jpgThe first season of LEGION was nothing short of game changing television. Writer/Producer Noah Hawtey with this and the 2nd season of FARGO proving himself one of the best writer/producers of this new Golden Age of Television. [To that list of best writer/producers of this new Golden Age, I would add creator Drew Goddard for DAREDEVIL Season 1 (Was not a fan of Seasons 2 and 3), and Cheo Hodari Coker’s brilliant and criminally underrated LUKE CAGE Season 1 and 2. While DAREDEVIL Season 1 is the better Action Show, LUKE CAGE is the better show, both writing and importance, for reasons way beyond, one person hitting another.]

I am looking forward to Noah Hawley’s feature film directorial debut LUCY IN THE SKY (slated for this year), but until then I will be enjoying the 2nd season of LEGION on Hulu.

 

 

John C. McGinley, Nate Mooney, Deborah Baker Jr., and Janet Varney in Stan Against Evil (2016)

The Boondocks (2005)

Into the Dark (2018)

INTO THE DARK? A hulu curated series of feature length Horror Movies?? Count me in!!!!!

Dwayne Johnson in The Titan Games (2019)

THE TITAN GAMES is definitely inspired by AMERICAN NINJA WARRIOR, and while not as compelling as that show, this is still a very good mid season fill-in for AMERICAN NINJA WARRIOR.

I had my doubts about ATLANTA, but the first season made me a believer. A modern day renaissance man, Donald Glover is a creator to watch. And season 2 is now on HULU. This show and WAYWARD PINES are two shows that get painted with the TWIN PEAKS brush, as a measure of their strangeness; but both shows are far better than TWIN PEAKS ever was.

David Kellman, Robert Shafran, and Eddy Galland in Three Identical Strangers (2018)

Ted Allen in Chopped (2007)

Cities of the Underworld (2007)

The Tesla Files (2018)

 

Aldis Hodge and Jurnee Smollett-Bell in Underground (2016)

 

The first episode of UNDERGROUND Blew me away! Fantastic use of anachronistic music, and camera movements to tell this tragic and triumphant tale of horror and holocaust. It is of course not easy viewing, but is rewarding and essential viewing. I did not like and do not rewatch the film ROOTS, but the film SANKOFA which covers the same story of the slave trade but does it with such heartbreaking beauty and incredible visuals, it becomes an undeniable work of art, rather than simply a dry recounting of facts, or a pity party. That is what UNDERGROUND also brings to this shameful part of American history. The struggle of those who fought against the accepted horror of their time.

In that way, how much more heroic are they… than we. I look forward to completing season 1 and 2 this month on HULU!

 

Rick and Morty (2013)

RICK AND MORTY- much to my surprise is animation genius. LOVE IT. Right up there with the VENTURE BROS. Looking forward to season 4 showing up on HULU.

Lakeith Stanfield in Sorry to Bother You (2018)

Called both the best and worst movie of 2018, depending on which reviewer you listen to, I’m really looking forward to watching SORRY TO BOTHER YOU sometime this month. And based on the track record of certain critics, I think this one is going to end up in my loved it pile.

The Sisters Brothers (2018)

Joseph Sikora, Omari Hardwick, Naturi Naughton, 50 Cent, Lela Loren, and Sinqua Walls in Power (2014)

I LOVE this series, POWER, and am way behind on it. So HULU this month will give me the chance to finish season3 and watch season 4.

Scott Grimes, Penny Johnson Jerald, Seth MacFarlane, Peter Macon, Adrianne Palicki, J. Lee, Mark Jackson, and Halston Sage in The Orville (2017)

I loved the first season of the ORVILLE. Season two started off great, but the second episode written by Wellesley Wild and directed by Kevin Hook, wow, that was a stinker.

It is some of the worst television I’ve seen since the 4th season of HELL ON WHEELS. Meaning really god awful, editor-less and rambling and self indulgent, please-fine-me-the-remote-fast-forward television. :). The odd thing is with just a less heavy handed delivery, no need for multiple hit us over the head holo-deck scenes, it could have been a good episode. the message was sound, the delivery unfortunately over indulged.

I will be very pleased not to see the name Wellesley Wild or Kevin Hook on any upcoming Orville episodes. 🙂 . Because other than that misstep, it has been a great and balanced show, not over doing the comedy and letting the drama shine thru when called for. And the visuals/ set and ship design and CGI, are just stellar.

It is the best STAR TREK on TV since the turn of the century. Wow. Let that sink in. 🙂

Castle Rock (2018)

Runaways (2017)

Kelsey Grammer, Russell Hornsby, and Rachelle Lefevre in Proven Innocent (2019)The premise of this show, addressing wrongful convictions, is I think very timely, and intriguing. Particularly in a witch-hunt/social media lynching America where people are found guilty and punished BEFORE trial, much less a verdict. In such an America where corporations the jury and the judges, rubber stamp social media verdicts, and special interests weaponize social media… a show about wrongful convictions… I’ll take a look.

Now the above are some of the top shows on or coming to HULU in February 2019, and reasons to give HULU a look this month.

So those of you who came just for the February 2019 STREAMING TV guide can leave now.

For those of you who want one of my inconveniently timed and inappropriately placed rants, 🙂 keep reading.

 

 

That last mention above, regarding the show PROVEN INNOCENT, made me ponder upon that subject.

One of the most idiotic postings I read recently, was this commenter piling on some guy accused of harassing a woman.

This guy was calling for the usual things the mob calls for, the accused to get fired, the accused to get stoned, etc. To which was pointed out that he knows neither the ‘claimed’ victim nor ‘claimed’ accuser,  that before taking sides and handing down his verdict, maybe this should go thru due process. Due process defined as If criminal… a court of law, if civil or corporate, a board of inquiry or a federal HR complaint.

When pointed out that there is a process for proving an actual crime or wrong doing, that perhaps has nothing to do with stirring up lynch-mob justice on Facebook or Twitter, and attacking someone who should be innocent till PROVEN guilty…. this guy’s response was….

 

“I TRUST WOMEN!!!!”

That was it.

Some woman he does not know, claims some horrendous deed was done to her, last week, 5 years ago, 20 years ago, and this guy takes it as gospel and attacks wherever she points.

You know where that also happened.

Salem Massachusetts in 1692 and 1693.

As well as the United States from the age of reconstruction through the 1960s, where many a body swayed from many a tree.

“ME TOO’, may be a great movement for healing wounds, and improving conditions.

However, it has no place deciding guilt or innocence.

Only facts should do that, not the baggage of the mob.

Here endeth the aside. 🙂