Movie / TV Trailer of the Day or First Netflix Show I have been excited for in a Long Time!

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The poster above is by Jonathan Burton, commissioned by Universal Studios to honor the original 1931 Dracula film, but in spirit it seems perfect to capture this new Netflix distributed DRACULA that is on the horizon. The new trailer looks… AWESOME!!! View it at the link below.

Lets make no mistake Francis Ford Coppola, his questionable stance on current films aside, in his heyday made some phenomenal films. APOCALYPSE NOW, and GODFATHER on anybody’s shortlist of 100 best films.

However, some of his less celebrated movies, are the ones I love the most. TUCKER starring Jeff Bridges, is a masterful film. And his BRAM STOKER’S DRACULA, is the last word in the vampire film. I love my Universal Films, I love my Hammer films, PENNY DREADFUL had its moments (a poor third season ruined it for me), but Coppola’s DRACULA has been the undisputed best take on the Dracula myth.

Based on the trailer alone, this new DRACULA, may be a worthy new take on Stoker’s most celebrated tale.

The trailer has me looking forward to it, and excited for it, which is something I have not been for a Netflix property in sometime. So yeah, this one goes on my must watch list. 🙂

 

 

DEALS OF THE DAY

Book of the Day! HALL OF HISTORY BERMUDA’S STORY IN ART!

Hall of History Bermuda’s Story in Art Hardcover – 2011 by Graham Foster

An essential gift for anyone who has visited or plans on visiting Bermuda!

I have been to Bermuda. I have been to the Commissioner’s House, which is one of the highest points in Bermuda and looks out over the ports, and incoming tourist ships, like a lord looking over his domain.

It is a stunning multi-floor living, breathing, part of history… and work of art all at once. 

There are so many amazing things about that building, and all the history and import crammed into it. From rooms of priceless coins, to rooms of birds, to rooms of canons and the implements of war. To the architecture itself that swoops over and above and around you, all the towering ceilings, the marble, the limestone, the pillars, the hand wroth wood, the massive windows, the airy, beautiful verandas, with the salty breeze coming off the sea, blowing in. The building is at once a work of art, gilded with beautiful architecture of a bygone age of pomp and circumstance, and also a massive and imposing monolith of war. 

So much glory, in one building.

And one of those glorious things, you can just make out in he picture above.

It is a mural, a massive, massive mural, years in the making, that leads up, and up the main hall and the main stairs, And is astounding. It is hundreds of years of Bermuda History, of an island that for 800 miles in every direction… is all alone in the night. It is the history of that magical, beautiful, mysterious, at times foreboding island… done in vibrant colors, and verdant hues.

The absolute overwhelming detail of that mural, is JAW DROPPING. It can not all be taken in in one visit, or likely even in a dozen of them. 

Thankfully in 2011 the artist created a book, a massive tome, befitting the massive mural it covers.That book was sold out when I visited Bermuda in 2014. I wish I had it when I was there, it would have been a great compliment to my tour of not just the Commissioner’s House, but Bermuda in General.

There are now a few copies of this increasingly scarce book, (when copies become available people are snagging this book and putting it away in their private collections) currently available.

If you are a fan of art, plan to visit Bermuda, or have visited Bermuda and want a great reminder of your cruise/trip, this is the book for you. Also makes a great gift for that traveler in your life.

Get your copy here!

Purchases thru the link, earn this blog always needed pennies, but more than that, you get a work of art, that may just be the most stunning coffee table book you will ever own.

INSANE (2010) – Amazon Prime Streaming VOD Movie Review

insane


INSANE- A 2010 film by directors Anders Jacobsson & Tomas Sandquist, INSANE makes the most of its single location setting, wringing for the most part passioned performances from its nubile young actresses and quirky actors and marrying that to some effective and creepy camera work and one of the more demented boogie men since Hitchcock’s Norman Bates.

However I have no interest in seeing women butchered, I’m not a slasher fan, I’m a mystery/thriller fan… so around the 2nd butchered girl, I’m losing interest in this film. I want to fast forward to the comeuppance of the villain. But thankfully the pattern breaks slightly with the third girl which keeps me watching to the end.

Unfortunately it is a distasteful ending, to a distasteful movie. The movie is better directed and performed than most slashers, unfortunately it succumbs to the slasher rule of super-powered killer, and moronic brain dead victims. This movie goes so far as to try to make the bad guy ‘relate-able’ by given him the worn back-story, ‘I was traumatized as a child’. As if that is ever an excuse for being a detestable adult yourself.

I despise these movies where the slasher is made the hero, some franchise character; which is why I was never a fan of the Halloween or Friday the 13th Films, The first Halloween is great, but they should have stopped there.

Another failing of INSANE is its over reliance on gore. I think the filmmaker is very effective at creating a creepy atmosphere, and effective stalk and chase scenes, but I feel this all goes out the window when he needs to play to the bloodhounds by giving us ever more egregious examples of the destroyed human form.

As someone who thinks the human form is beautiful and a work of art and a fragile achievement, I don’t relate to seeing people destroyed or dead rather than alive. That’s not the draw of a roller coaster, mangled bodies and twisted piles of steel after a crash; the draw of a roller-coaster is the chase, and the momentum, and the perilous high of the unknown and slightly out of control. And that’s the same draw of a good thriller/horror movie.

People remember the shower scene in PSYCHO because it’s a beautifully photographed, masterfully directed moment of madness, redeemed from mundaneness by surreal, stylistic direction. We watch films to see the work of filmmakers, and throwing blood and guts at the screen does not a filmmaker make.

There is nothing in INSANE, while definitely inspired by PSYCHO, that will be remembered as vividly or hauntingly as PSYCHO.

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However INSANE has moments of style and perspective that try to elevate it from the usual brain-dead slasher flick but these moments get aborted with the distasteful gore scenes. And the ending is more of this copycat ode to murderers as supermen killers that get away with it.

That concept, ‘villains winning’, never appealed to me. Never will. I know life is filled with examples of villains winning, however art should be better than that. I was raised to believe in Justice, and at the very least Crime and Punishment.

I was raised to believe in Heroes, people who are there to rescue maidens from dragons, which why for me Michael Mann’s MANHUNTER is a far superior movie to Demme’s SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, and why I have nothing but distaste for the HANNIBAL tv show.

I think the things we glorify as a society are the things we become. I’ve always believed in glorifying heroes, however in our DEXTER, SHIELD, HANNIBAL, BATES MOTEL, VIKINGS generation we get the opposite of that. And don’t get me started on VIKINGS(they went around murdering, torturing, raping, and stealing, largely from unarmed villages and settlements, yet now we have a show that darts completely around this to portray Vikings as sensitive, women’s lib supporting, misunderstood mariners. Mendacity. The effing Vikings made the Nazis look benign, yet we have a TV show glorifying and whitewashing them).

INSANE is part of that cinema geared to the morality of monsters, and that is its greatest weakness. INSANE has moments of true creativity, but by the end it is in strict formula territory.

By the end of INSANE I wasn’t better for watching it, and if the thing you spend over an hour of your life watching doesn’t in someway elate or enrich you, than what the hell is the point.

Summation [and possible spoilers]: A good cast and some effective camera work, let down by a derivative script and moronic ending. Less concern with making a super powered franchise character and more concern with making a good film would have served this movie well. Yeah when we get the upper-hand over a murdering maniac is the time to worry about our relationship. Really? It is brain dead lapses like this that ultimately makes this a waste rather than a winner. Grade: D.

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Where are they Now: As of this writing the directors have not done another movie. Of the cast, David Lenneman (Fred in the Swedish series REAL HUMANS), Alida Morberg, and Lars Bethke have had sporadic bit parts since, with most of the cast doing nothing since.

On FCC vs Comcast vs AT&T vs TimeWarner vs NetFlix vs Hulu vs DVD vs Bluray!

I’m someone who is not enamored of the godawful mess the FCC has made of the airwaves.

By this I refer to the FCC basically giving away the Analog spectrum, previously allocated to the people, to big business and government interests, and saddling the American people with a shoddy and crippled digital delivery method, that necessitates paying a cable provider if you want anything approaching viewable service.

And even then you are still not guaranteed against occasional picture dropouts or pixelation, as the provider continually adjusts bandwidth to maximize profit.

Yes, most people had cable prior to the forced digital switch-over (land-grab), but not all. Some of us were content with our rabbit ears.

Now, post the forced digital march to our new digital reservations, try and look at TV without a cable provider and just using your digital converter. Go ahead… try. I’ll wait.

Hum,,,, hummmm.

See? Atrocious isn’t it? It is a national embarrassment.

If I stop in, anywhere where they have TV without cable (homes, auto shops, waiting rooms, you name it) and you look at what has become of ‘free’ tv, in the wake of this governmental stickup… it makes me… angry.

Really, really not happy.

As I said, I didn’t have cable before the FCC sold America’s airwaves to the highest bidder, and I don’t have cable now. And no I don’t do Hulu, or online viewing of mainstream shows, because that’s poised to be as big a rip-off as the cable companies.

Because just as it’s nonsense, that you are getting DVD (much less HDTV) quality service with the cable companies, it is even more of a fallacy with the online providers. Because those companies are not trying to offer you the 4GB of Data that constitutes a DVD, or 10+GB of Data that constitutes the bandwidth for a Bluray disc, they particularly are not trying to offer this bandwidth per program/per customer. You are talking easily hundreds, if not thousands, of GBs of Data per month, per customer, if they were trying to offer you real disc quality (DVD/HDTV) programs.

In an age when broadcast providers are trying to limit service past 5GB a month?

Heck no.

They are cutting costs, which means cutting bandwidth, which means they have to compress whatever programs they send you well below the levels you’ll find on the physical media. Which is why even with HDTV, the quality varies wildly, not just from channel to channel, or program to program, but from moment to moment as the bitrate is adjusted on the fly, and that bandwidth steals from Peter to pay Paul.

And worse comes to worse, you even get drop outs, which is horrible on ‘free’ digital, but is inexcusable when you’re paying for the service.

So watching anything on cable… is a crapshoot at best.

And online, be it Hulu, Netflix, whatever is the same. And with the few major broadband providers all talking about capping traffic/bandwidth limits, it’s only going to get worse, particularly as the number of users increase.

So sure, watch your movie or television series via cable or online if that’s your cup of tea, and you’re not bothered by paying for spotty and sporadic quality.

It bothers me though.

DVD and HDTV/Bluray being a bastardization of film, is a compromise which I can live with. But online and cable, by the time they reach the end user, is like stated, variable and unreliable, numerous compression and toggling tricks imposed to the point it becomes something I refuse to pay for.

That and not being a TV guy to begin with, for years I’ve just done DVDs, and recently Blurays.

But that said, I’m not a fan of Blurays.

I find Blurays , which I find quality-wise to be a very minor improvement over a well mastered DVD (examples being ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST and CLIMATES), to be not worth paying more for.

The only reason I pick up a Bluray over a DVD, is if they are the same price, AND the Bluray offers more features (recent examples being WATCHMEN DIRECTOR’S CUT [this is the version to go with, not the Ultimate cut], Fritz Lang’s METROPOLIS dual format limited edition steelbook, and SPIRITS OF THE DEAD… all three on most reviewers 2010 Best Bluray list).

Don’t get me wrong. Bluray is an improvement, mostly in clarity over DVD, but it is a minor jump, compared to the major leap in quality from VHS to DVD.

It’s just not big enough of a difference, for me to really get excited about or pay more for. But I acknowledge it’s an improvement.

Now, what is not a Bluray improvement over DVD, and something I really hate about Blurays, is the slip-shod packing.

Even the so-called high-end SteelBook cases for Blurays, to put not to fine a point on it, are garbage; such as the aforementioned METROPOLIS Steelbook.

And regular Bluray packaging is even worse. It’s a shoddy, inconsistent form factor, with garish ugly colors (yes, I know you call yourself Bluray, but take it from me… lose the garish blue color on the packing ), and cheap, damage prone slipcovers/materials (SPIRITS OF THE DEAD anyone?), and pithy non-existent back cover description.

Package wise it lacks the aesthetic strengths, elegance and simplicity, and to an extent beauty of the 13+ year old medium of the DVD (the year 1998 generally regarded as DVDs wide-release on the world stage).

And by the time that is ready to change, we (the whole entertainment/electronic market) will be onto our next media storage format. So yeah, I generally say no to cable, and will be sticking with DVDs to catch up on tv shows people are recommending.

And as far as Blurays, as it currently stands I don’t see them making up more than 1% of my DVD purchases, anytime soon. They need to be at least the same price as a DVD, and offer more features, otherwise I’ll stick to the DVD, a tested and versatile medium, that doesn’t suffer from idiocies such as zone lockdowns, and “so-called” digital copies(nothing more than a way to erode fair use, and get you to install nothing more than a glorified rootkit virus on your computer).

Did I mention I dislike Blurays? :).

But on a serious note, make technology yours. Use it and don’t let it… own you.

Here endeth the rant. :).

2010 The Year in Review: BEST/FAVORITE MOVIES

Okay, okay

Early AM , February 2011.

Been meaning to get this Best of 2010 list compiled, so without further procrastinating:

Best movies I saw in the theaters in 2010:

BOOK OF ELI- Great film by the Hughes Brother. Finally a film to live up to the promise of their masterful debut, MENACE TO SOCIETY. And people know what I think of the King James Bible specifically, and organized religion in general, and I thought the film transcended my problem with both of those things, to be ultimately a visually amazing, and dynamic film, about the need to… walk with faith.

WOLFMAN- Contrary to many, huge fan. Check out my review posted seperately.

AVATAR- I saw this in IMAX 3D, and it was the only film of the year that was TRULY worthy of that expansive format. James Cameron’s return to the big screen has been much discussed, much praised for its success and much, in hindsight it seems, a bit railed against for its success, however I thoroughly loved the experience of the film. Technically James Cameron again advances technology and film, creating a 3D that is an actual evolution over the six decade old technology. Plus I quite enjoyed the story, as a story, and the fact that at its heart, underneath its futuristic trappings, it’s a simple parable about the issues that face us today. Which is what scifi, at its best does well. Scifi when its good, endures, because it uses our tomorrows to highlight our todays. And AVATAR does that. That said how it is told, the effective and immersive IMAX 3D aspect (accept no other 3D) is part of its allure, so much so that I don’t think the film is particularly rewatchable outside of an IMAX 3D theater. The story while good, isn’t particularly nuanced or novel once removed from its 3D heart, the imbibing of the world created, doesn’t really lend itself to repeat viewings, but I will probably still get the DVD for the extras, as I’m a huge fan of DVD commentaries particularly.

IRON MAN II

TAKERS

EXPENDABLES

TRUE GRIT

SALT

RESIDENT EVIL AFTERLIFE IMAX 3D- The 3D was okay. Not great, not AVATAR immersive, but okay, and well done in places. Plus I surprisingly, enjoyed the movie.

GREEN ZONE- Very well done film.

Movies I saw in the theater that I liked the least in 2010:

PIRANHA 3D- Always nice to see buxom babes, however seeing buxom babes die horribly… not really a fan of that. It is what it is, a relatively mindless t and a horror flick/dramedy. Not horrible, just not particularly good or interesting,

INCEPTION- Another Nolan Film, that just doesn’t particularly engage or interest me.

PREDATORS- Brody doing that stupid gravelly voice is just horribly miscast as a tough guy, and the movie– just by rhe numbers plot, and uninspired direction.

DAYBREAKERS- Okay, but relatively uninteresting and forgettable.

Wow. I saw a surprising number of movies in the theater in 2010. Didn’t realize how many until wrapping up this list. Mostly I thought it was a pretty damn fantastic year.

Okay next post we’ll cover best DVDs/TV of 2010. See you then!

The first year of the 2nd Decade of the 21st Century… IS ENDED!

Closing out the 1st year of the 2nd decade of the 21st century (which is what 2010 was, if you didn’t know) I find myself once again at that odd summing up place:

“I’m an oooooddddddd

And Vicious man but I’m still

Stan Ding

And the dark is all around

But it’s a

Lan Ding”

Copyright 2010-2011

That little refrain of mind sums up me making it through this year. A battle of inches, a grueling ground war, every well-fought over piece of foot forward, weighed against every crushing foot back

A year of successes: Travel some, Publish one, secure peace of hearth, those quiet places internal, discover roots unknown, E & V, Celebrate generational additions, Syd. try hard, steps definite. Lots to celebrate.

But all weighed against this sense of treading water… not well. Of real, personal connections and “opposition to save us from ourselves” always… not quite realized.

Of a whole world of people having conversations about the meaningless, while the meaningful is blown to hell.

An odd,summing up year.

“You’re so filled with inconsolable rage”
— QUANTUM OF SOLACE (Good if flawed movie, but excellent opening title/credit sequence and surprisingly good song by Keys and Black)

Current Comic Book Reads Fall 2010: Jonathan Hickman’s S.H.I.E.L.D 1-3

SHIELD 1-3 by Jonathan Hickman published by Marvel Comics. Jonathan Hickman, of NIGHTLY NEWS fame, has an interesting premise in this book about the secret history of SHIELD. Unfortunately the book’s promise, three issues in, is hampered by art that is a bit too reminiscient of 90s image art (if the cover art was indicative of the interior art, that would help a lot), and also by a central character who has yet to emotionally connect with the reader in any way. The praise for this book was heavy, but it hasn’t quite earned it yet. Plus the white ancient Egyptians/Nubians… uh yeah… that never works for me.

In many ways it seems a weak precursor to the far better illustrated and, to this point, more engaging EARTH X in terms of seeking to create a conspiratorial, larger historical tapestry for the Marvel Universe.

But it is only 3 issues in. And Hickman is an interesting and innovative writer, so I’m willing to give this a couple more issues, before jumping ship. One of the reasons I picked this up in issues rather than waiting for the trade, was that I thought the issues would have detailed backmatter/letters pages, and unfortunately that, so far, is not the case.

So if that trend continues there is no incentive for me to pick up the individual issues. And if Hickman doesn’t begin to invest his story with some type of emotional resonance, ie characters we care about (the one failing I do notice about Hickman’s work… it’s cold), there won’t be any incentive to pick up the trades either.

Grade:C.