Now Watching: CRAWL OR DIE (2014) via Rokuโ€™s Amazon Prime VOD Channel

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CRAWL OR DIE – Mixing part ALIEN, part DESCENT, part TANK GIRL and sporting committed performances by its cast, particularly Nicole Alonso as Tank, who carries the bulk of the movie, CRAWL OR DIE manages to be more than its influences. Written and Directed by the fantastically named Oklahoma Ward and co-produced and conceived by star and producer Nicole Alonso CRAWL OR DIE manages to, transcend its inspirations, to feel fresh and be a surprisingly compelling 91 minutes of film.

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Ostensibly a monster movie it becomes for star and audience something of an endurance test, filled as it is with moments of repetition, belly-gazing, and frustration,,, but mostly it is about the will of Man or in this case Woman… to survive. An addictive tale of endurance, and the will to go on, and it doesn’t hurt that you have the fine form of Nicole Alonso to follow through those tunnels (while unlikely someone would strip down to their underwear to crawl through a tunnel, having watched the movie, I for one am quite supportive of the decision ๐Ÿ™‚ ).

Add to that a well done creature design, a definite call to the designs of HR Giger, immersive sound design, and an unusual and frenetic title/credit sequence and you have a movie deserving of being far more well known and well seen than it is.

This is the type of film that is a great reason for DVDs and Blurays to still exist in the age of streaming, because yes I saw it for free on Amazon Prime, but I immediately wanted to own this in the best quality available, complete with Director’s and cast commentary, and special features; because for me, and others, documenting the the process can be as interesting (and sometimes moreso) as the movie.

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Unfortunately CRAWL AND DIE currently has no such DVD/Blu-Ray version, and it is indicative of a failing of the industry, companies releasing these bare-bone DVDs without special features. As a rule I do not buy DVDs unless they have director’s commentary and special features.

I think these small independent film productions (such as this or FRANKENSTEIN’S ARMY, BLOOD GLACIER, THE ARROYO, CUT TO BLACK, PRAYER TO A VENGEFUL GOD, THE VALDEMAR LEGACY, AT THE DEVIL’S DOOR, THE FORBIDDEN GIRL) are doing themselves a disservice by not mining the, if not large, passionate and influential DVD/Blu-Ray aficionado market, as well as providing for posterity a little bit of documentation of the process and promotion/aggrandizement of their cast and crew.

That aside CRAWL OR DIE (far better than the other, more offensive, title that early on was bandied about for it), potentially the first in a trilogy… comes strongly Recommended. Grade: B+.

For those of you who want to try before you buy go here:

Crawl or Die Streaming

For those of you like me who like the permanence of physical media (not needing access to the cloud to view a given film, or being at the mercy of data throttling) go here:
Crawl Or Die DVD

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Deal of the Day : ANOMALY


DEAL OF THE DAY:
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The ANOMALY Hardcover is touted as something new under the graphic novel sun, in terms of scale and scope.

At over 7lbs,and nearly 17″ wide by 12″ tall and 370pages… this tale by co-creators Skipp Brittenham and Brian Haberlin that is equal parts STARSHIP TROOPERS meets BLADE RUNNER meets AVATAR lives up to its impressiveness and hype.

In a world racing toward digital, it shows in its tactile art object glory, why print will always have its audience. There is a wow factor with interacting and touching, and even smelling a well designed art book, that can not be replaced or replicated by a tablet or laptop. Don’t get me wrong, digital has is strengths, and ANOMALY using built in AR codes in the book, and a website, makes digital and tablets and phones part of the conversation if you so choose.

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But ANOMALY, the book, remains a wonderful experience whether or not you have a signal, or your device has power, which is the strength of the ancient technology of books. It is self sufficient, and does not suffer the obsolescence most technology falls victim to.

I have books from the 1950s and you can hand those books to anyone who can read… and the magic in those books can be consumed with no problem nor external player needed. That cannot be said of most technologies since. Most people can no longer play 8track tapes or laser-discs or records or video tapes or even cds. All of which are mediums far newer than my book of the 1950s however far more temporary based on their dependence on a player to translate the storage medium. A book in that way remains superior technology, being both a storage medium and a player.

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And the rate of technological obsolescence is speeding up, as companies hurriedly race to produce the next thing to get you to re-buy what you just bought, but in a new format. More than likely in less than 10years, your huge collection of mp3s will be as useful (and as used) as real audio files. And no doubt your Blu-rays and certainly your DVDs will (as the players break, and the market stops producing new content and new players) go the way of the Laser-disc, as a format that time, for good or ill, has passed by.

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However, books such as ANOMALY, the ancient technology, will remain accessible and valued. Indeed ever more valued as tangible items, and physical quality, become ever more a cost, publishers and manufacturers are unwilling to undergo.

At $75 retail, it is not cheap by any definition, but neither is it overpriced. And to paraphrase Shakespeare’s Henry the Vth, “if you wear it, it will only wear better and better over time’. Add to that Amazon has it at a substantial discount, and you have today’s DEAL OF THE DAY. Details here:

Anomaly : Price your copy here!

If you appreciate this post, and agree this installment’s DEAL OF THE DAY is for you please use the link above to purchase it. You’ll get a great item and this blog will earn a couple pennies to keep the proverbial doors open, and keep bringing you more DEALS OF THE DAY posts. It’s a win/win! ๐Ÿ™‚

Short Film: FIRST THEY CAME

FIRST THEY CAME

Great little short film/psa courtesy of the excellent site NO FAT CLIPS.

Site has not been updated in a while with new content, but hopefully it will be updated soon. because it is sites like this that should be the future of media on the web.

Sites that allow you to view and stream and download in open-source formats, and are moderated (in other words free of vulgar or ignorant comments) offer an environment that should be popular, rather than the unmoderated, profanity prone You-Tube.

Sites such as NO FAT CLIPS. See for yourself!

FIRST THEY CAME View it here!

Digital Revolution: Discussing the Greedy and the Ungoverned, And Entertainment as prelude to War!


I feel a rant a’ coming.

You new to the blog may want to skip this one. You old timers… jump in… the water is like you like it, deep and treacherous. ๐Ÿ™‚ .

Or be mollified by the following disclaimer:

This is an imaginary story. The following is all fiction except for the parts that are true… I leave you to determine the one from the other…

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There are a lot of great things about the digital revolution, not the least of which is the ubiquitousness of content. Which makes this sense of foreboding I have about the coming bad, a bit troubling.

I think you have… to have been around before cable, before on demand, before 500 channels, before DVD or CD, before Internet household presence, before even the home computer to truly appreciate just how amazing are the strides made in many areas, not least of which is the creation and dissemination… of entertainment and information.

If you are a movie fan you can, without leaving your house, have at your viewing pleasure just about every film made in the last 100+ years of cinema. More, you can have films from multiple nations, multiple languages easily subtitled into your language.

As a film fan who was around during the age of VHS, I remember that just locating a cult or foreign film was a HUGE production. You had to find those resellers/stores often in the back of magazines, send away for the catalog, then order the film.

And with the Internet it made that search a bit easier. Allowing you to stumble across someone’s site who had a VHS movie you were looking everywhere for. And you would get the VHS tape, and it would be a third generation, copy of a copy, really not good quality, but at the time— you were just elated to have it, and be able to see this film that you couldn’t find anywhere else.

It was that way with everything: Books, records, cassettes, lps, and then Laserdiscs DVDs and CDs. The Internet being a huge way for resellers to connect with buyers. And fly by night companies came and went.

But a few questionable startups, Ebay and Amazon among them, grew legs and found themselves not just a fad, but soon a fixture of this Internet phenomenon. And all these shaky startups, these microsofts and apples …these cowboys that proliferated in a time before software patents and lawsuits to stifle competition, began to thrive.

Suddenly content in digitized formats, and the explosion of storage capacity created an age of ready access, on demand availability, of almost everything.

Great. Wonderful. Beautiful. I mean this has allowed for the rise of podcasts, one of the greatest audio revivals since the dawn of radio. And if you’re an Itunes or Hulu or Archive.org patron, it’s just opened up the history of entertainment to anyone with an Internet connection and the desire to explore. That’s the great part, That’s the wonderful part of the digital revolution.

Here’s the bad part. The digital revolution is not being driven by quality concerns or for love of the medium, it is being embraced by decision makers because of two reasons 1/cost savings and 2/control.

I understand both those things in moderation, but moderation is a word that business doesn’t really practice. Cost savings has come to mean some suspect things, two of the most disturbing is the replacement of physical media, and part and parcel of that… is the elimination of the reseller.. the middleman.

I like resellers, I like mom and pop shops, I like middlemen, and I think gearing an economy to do away with that whole part of the conversation, is to gear the economy to in essence do away with a middle class of any kind. It is gearing an economy toward those who own and those who work and pay— landowners and serfs with no middle ground.

And a lot of people think nothing of it, because it’s just book stores, or comic stores, or DVD stores closing. But let’s extend the same thing to McDonald’s.

What if automation tomorrow allowed McDonald’s to do away with the middleman, the franchises?

What if they could get the food to you the consumer without going through a middleman? Say click a button on your laptop, and the food teleports into your hands, whatever. Stay with me here. Because technology gives you the ability to do something, should you do that thing? Is that thing necessarily the best thing for your company, your customer, your economy?

That’s a heck of a question, and I don’t pretend to have the answers. But what I’m saying when it comes to the digital revolution with books, dvd, cds, and the thousands of stores and businesses and millions of employees we are making obsolete, I feel as though no one is even asking the obvious questions, among them… ‘Should we do it this way?’

I feel big business is not looking beyond their own pockets, to see see what is best for their customers and their country. And that’s a very nationalistic thing to expect of a company, to think in terms of their country. But considering our congress in its infinite wisdom allows companies to actually have a say in drafting the laws of a country, ie basically gives to companies greater rights than citizens, I think it’s not too much to ask from those companies the loyalty of citizens.

And those companies that cannot, for whatever reason of conflict or commerce, think in terms of what is best for America— should not have the right to lobby our Congress and make laws for America.

So I view these companies making these grandiose and sweeping changes to America, without regard for the good or ill it will bring… as a great danger for our nation. For any nation. To have someone who has no concern for your nation, making policy in your nation… leads us to the world outside our door.

From gas at $4 a gallon to Americans struggling to keep their homes.

And entertainment is part of it as well.

The elimination of physical media plays into this, creating a market where there is nothing to resell, and worse… nothing to really own. So no need for your favorite DVD reseller, because DVDs are being prepared for the pasture.

You want to view this film, you buy it digitally from the studio for the price they set, and in the absence of any ability to resell– their price is unmoderated by a free market. In other words they can charge whatever they think the market can bear.

While a lot of people embrace this idiocy that a company’s only priority is to generate more income for their stockholders, that’s flawed thinking that led to our recent market melt-down. It comes back to what I said, about a company working withing a nation, has the same inherent priorities as a citizen within that nation…and that is to do no harm to that nation.

And more and more, the actions of companies working within sovereign shores is to do nothing but harm, is to shatter economies, devastate populations, victimize neighborhoods. Actions that if done by someone not hiding behind the mask of incorporation… we would call… acts of terror.

I’m saying that the joys of itunes today, and Amazon kindle today, and digital comics today, and Warner on Demand today, extrapolated on their 25 year plans into tomorrow… points the way to an America completely shorn of any gradations between the few ultra rich oligarchies and the masses of struggling poor.

I’m saying a war of economies, without fail… drives far more literal and bloody wars.

I’m saying don’t be so quick to jump on the bandwagon of eliminating DVDs, eliminating CDs, eliminating physical books, eliminating middle men— because you’re going to find that in a society shorn of middle men to moderate the greed and abuses of those on the top to those on the bottom, the joys of immediate gratification today, will spell the horrors of rampant price gouging, inflation, and poverty tomorrow.

And in the absence of true ownership (digital, in reality of how it is disseminated, being something that is rented… not owned), suddenly you may find those 99cent prices give way to $99 dollar prices, when you have allowed them to destroy or outlaw all other ways of you getting that product.

And how long before some products, are deemed unacceptable to make viewable via streaming or priced out of being readily available for viewing.

Historically, ethnically diverse items are oft at risk for obsolescence through marginalization. The most politically active films of Ousmane Sembene (CEDDO, CAMP DE THIAROYE, and GUELWAAR) never received DVD releases in his lifetime, and to this day are still not available on DVD (THIAROYE had a spotty release before disappearing).

Rather than freeing films and filmmakers from the tyranny of commerce (which digital has the potential to do), under the auspices of the greedy and the ungoverned you’ll see more marginalization and more control over the ideas disseminated to the masses.

So the lesson? Not to allow these companies, Itunes/Apple, Sony, Disney, Microsoft, Netflix, Time Warner, etc… to be ungoverned.

And how much is our entertainment a smokescreen for our aggressions? How much is our entertainment, the last, best drug, or the last, best cheerleader, for the aggressions of our time?

And how much do our aggressions allowed, ignored, take out of America?

The reports of America’s decline are rampant. They are in every aspect of our everyday life, the skyrocketing inflation that has destroyed many a nation before America, is all throughout America.

But our eyes in America, are filled and dazzled and misdirected… by such false fire, that the obvious becomes… indistinct. Almost invisible.

But not quite. If you take the time to look, the signs are there.

In-fact once you are looking in the right direction, (‘got my mind right boss’) the signs are clear and present. America is well on the way to becoming a third world nation, it is being pushed to these ends.

I said pushed.

With your tax dollars, and the blood of your children… the rich have just spent the last few decades pacifying (ie invading and toppling) African/Middle Eastern nations and carving a new western acceptable pleasure nation for themselves, an entertainment nation, where all the studios are in a hurry to setup shop, and a middle East Disney World and Marvel World and all the 3D rides and luxury and cinematic excess you can want is being built there. It is called Abu Dhabi, this paradise, and it is being built over the bodies of the massacred.

Infact, a cynical man might even say it’s very similar to the way, in the wake of World War II, the allied forces led by the US and Britain, set up the Israel state, by pretty much massacring the millions of Jews and Arabs and Nomads, who already lived in that region.

And yeah I did say Jews. We weren’t just killing Arabs to setup Israel. The region was already home to Jews, who lived without issue, for generations next door to Arabs. Unfortunately most of them weren’t Western acceptable Jews, they weren’t European Jews… that is to say they were Black.

So these Jews, and Arabs, and Nomads woke up one day to find the rest of the world was calling their home Israel, and they weren’t invited to the house warming. And then the missiles came.

So similarly the Middle East we’re bombing into existence today, is being done so, over blood both ancient and irreplaceable. All so that the rich have a place to vacation… while America burns.

I’m such a cheery, glass half full guy aren’t I?

But seriously, it begins simply. As all our falls do.

It begins with a laugh.

With you laughing with them. With the ones who will eviscerate you.

It begins with us rolling over the simple rights of the many for the grandiose greed of the few.

So… don’t make it easy.

Resist.

At every step, ask of them and ask of yourself… ‘Who profits from this and who loses?’. And by your answer to that question, will you know the nature of your nation and the nature of yourself.

And by your answer to that question… be ruled.

Here endeth the lesson.

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Woah! Only here on this blog, can you go from digital disenfranchisement to the fall of nations. ๐Ÿ™‚ And even crazier is— the line between the two should be ridiculous, it should feel far-fetched. It should feel… ludicrous.

But it doesn’t.

It should feel like a laugh. But it doesn’t.

It I have to be perfectly honest, it feels like…

It feels like we’re running out of time.


The Most Interesting Movies Spring 2012 April Update!

What strikes me, in looking at the upcoming movies for the rest of the Spring is there is a shocking lack of films that are not stupid mean-spirited comedies or stupid mean-spirited 'thrillers'. There is also a staggering lack of diversity, as with the exception of Samuel Jackson, and one Blair Underwood film, you can pretty much slap the label "All White" on every single film coming out this spring and be not far wrong.

Films or television shows that recall the 70s where you could have numerous characters of color in significant roles (that's key) both in front of and behind the camera are few and far between.

That said, movies with characters of Color in lead roles, not just as tokens or secondary characters, get made all the time, both domestic and foreign.

You can see them at the film festivals. Unfortunately they just don't get picked up for distribution.

Brilliant ones such as the Cuban made EL BENNY, which is one of my favorite films of the last ten years. And the fact that most of you have never even heard of it, much less seen it says volumes about everything that is wrong about America's monopolized and color conscious theatrical and DVD distribution system. "Oh this film has more than two people of color and it's not a comedy or a 'mama drama'? Nah, we're not distributing that movie."

Of course not. That would take away theater space from films such as the umpteenth AMERICAN PIE idiocy. ๐Ÿ™‚

So if that's what I'm not looking forward to, you may ask "what, that is making it to theaters, looks interesting?"

Good question.

Answer: a few look intriguing. Not necessarily good, but perhaps because of Director or Star or in the case of KEYHOLE premise… at least interesting.

Here are the posters of ones I'll be keeping an eye out for this Spring:

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KEYHOLE- Genres: Drama Thriller Language: English, French
Synopsis: After a long absence, gangster and father Ulysses Pick (Jason Patric) arrives home to a house haunted with memories, towing the body of a teenaged girl and a bound and gagged young man. His gang waits inside his house, having shot their way past police. There is friction in the ranks. Ulysses, however, is focused on one thing: journeying through the house, room by room, and reaching his wife Hyacinth (Isabella Rossellini) in her bedroom upstairs. The equilibrium of the house has been disturbed and his odyssey eventually becomes an emotional tour, as the ghostly nooks and crannies of the house reveal more about the mysterious Pick family.
Haven’t seen a trailer yet, but the description/premise intrigues me. Seems a bit experimental and potentially original.

THE CABIN IN THE WOODS- Written and produced by Joss Whedon, this film looks to be a genre bending flick from what little I know of it. Count me interested enough to find out for myself.

SAMARITAN- This looks like a nice little crime thriller, but the trailer gives away pretty much the entire film. But that aside I’m still interested in seeing it. I would just urge people to avoid the trailer.

If you think I missed a film worth seeing this spring, feel free to put in your two cents. But I don’t think I missed any. :).

Linux, Cloud Computing, Trusted computing, Gnome and other technologies to be concerned about!

As much as previous posts have lambasted Microsoft, Linux is not without its faults.

The major one being Linux distros, following in Microsoft’s Footsteps to a degree with the instant on technology, and integration of the web into the desktop experience.

Jumping on the idiotic ‘Cloud’ bandwagon, which is really if you think about it, a process to reduce your desktop to the thin client paradigm of yesterday.

The difference being that rather than trusting a centralized server for serving applications and storage of your sensitive information, the cloud is you trusting the entire internet with access to your desktop and your data. It’s the evolution of this inherently moronic Youtube, Facebook, twitter idiocy where the bulk of people blithely surrendering privacies to strangers at best, and corporations at worst.

Everyone moving to reduce the desktop experience to the same thin client style interface as the mobile experience. Hey it that’s your cup of tea, you want the entirety of your life freely roamed and stored on the internet, well more power to you, though every week brings news of one online database after another being violated and hacked.

Not to say a desktop can’t be hacked, but you’re looking at one point of failure, as opposed to having via peer to peer, and facebook, and gnome, and numerous other sites, now potentially thousands of points of failure, and entry to your sensitive data.

Ubuntu, a great Linux distro, unfortunately is also embracing this ‘no-desktop’ paradigm, as is Gnome with their latest update.

It is not for me.

I want to decide when and if my computer connects to the internet, with this new instant on/cloud push, being shoved down peoples’ throats, you don’t turn on the internet, the internet turns you on… and that is a dangerous and insecure place to go.

Trusted Computing, another Microsoft word game, doesn’t mean you can trust your computer, it means Microsoft and its partners can trust you, because they have every bit of information about what you are doing with your computer.

So Ubuntu, you’re going in the wrong direction. Gnome, you’re going in the wrong direction. And Microsoft … well that goes without saying.

I would suggest people avoiding any version of Gnome later than 3.0, (3.0 has a lot of issues, but it’s a lot to like about it as well, and with a little work you can clean up most of its garbage and built in insecurity) and I do find many Linux distros are heading toward this cloud idiocy, and becoming problematic because of it (example being Opensuse 11.2? very good, 11.3? not so much, 11.4? pretty darn broken. However Gnome 3.0 on top of 11.4 does resolve many of 11.4s issues).

So, in summation, just research your computing options with care, and realize that ease of use, at some point becomes ease of abuse.

Word to the wise.